|"A Clockwork Nebari"|
The Nebari return for Chiana, and make some shocking revelations along the way...
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Crichton and Chiana return from a planet, where Chiana had used her "talents" to gain information about the slave auctions where D'Argo's son is believed to be. They had to leave Aeryn and Rygel down on the planet to cover them because when Crichton was getting Chiana out of a muddle his pulse pistol (which he's named "Winona") jammed, and so they both expect Aeryn to be mad. But when she and Rygel return, she calls Chiana over to apologise for not looking after her better, and she says saving Chiana was in the past and now she's looking to the future. Rygel says that they have a surprise for her, when she notices that Aeryn is not carrying her pulse pistol, and she always carries a pulse pistol. Noticing how strange this is, Crichton tells Chiana to go and talk to D'Argo, but before she can leave, a Nebari woman appears and says it's time to go home! Chiana realises that Aeryn and Rygel have been mind cleansed, and attempts to run. Aeryn stops her, and when Crichton's pistol fails, Varla stuns them.
A damaged Nebari ship docks on Moya, carrying a Nebari man named Meelak, who has also been looking for Chiana. Meanwhile, Aeryn places a Nebari collar on Pilot, who tries unsuccessfully to resist. Varla gives him the coordinates to the nearest Nebari colony, where she wants them to go. Aeryn tells Pilot that their ship had a run in with Peacekeepers, probably from Scorpius' Command Carrier, so they should stay on full alert. If Moya starbursts, the collar will give Pilot a lethal injection.
D'Argo, Chiana and Crichton are in a cell with Chiana chained up, and she explains that the cleansing Varla has used is a temporary, drug-induced version, but it's just as effective. Crichton asks her why Varla would go through hell just to get to her, but before she answers Meelak appears to see Chiana, and activates D'Argo's collar, leaving him writhing in pain. Zhaan follows him, but won't help as she has also been cleansed.
Whilst Aeryn fixes some of Varla's wounds, she says she knows Chiana and she's not dangerous. Varla disagrees, saying that Chiana jeopardises their attempts to eliminate violent and aggressive behaviour in their society.
When D'Argo's been taken to be cleansed, and Crichton realises he's next, he asks Chiana to tell him what all this is about. She tells him of her brother, Nerri, who is now dead (see log Taking the Stone). She and Nerri wanted to escape Nebari Prime at a young age, but were given exit permits by the government. At the time, they didn't question why it was so easy; they just ran. Two cycles later, Nerri found out why. They flushed a contagion from their systems, after someone high up in "The Establishment" (the governing body) gave him the antibody. Nerri left Chiana to get away alone, because knowing he could identify the traitor would put her at risk. She says that The Establishment is trying to infect as much of the galaxy as it can with the contagion, and they want to find out who gave Nerri the antibody. They infected her, and hundreds of others, during a routine physical that they gave, knowing that they would go out and transmit the contagion. Crichton asks her why she didn't tell them this before, and figures that they're after her because they probably think she's still in contact with Nerri. Suddenly Meelak appears and activates Crichton's collar, and says it's his time.
As a weeping D'Argo apologises to Crichton for all the bad things he's done, Crichton is cleansed. Meanwhile Varla invites Chiana to eat, and asks where Nerri is. Chiana says that he died a quarter of a cycle ago, when Varla shows her a hologram of Nerri being identified as the leader of an assault on Nebari freight convoys less than ten solar days ago. Meelak says that The Establishment has sent out many "messengers" infected with the contagion for over twenty cycles. It spreads quickly, shows no outward symptoms, and waits for a specific time, ordained by The Establishment. They expect it to have infected enough people in civilisations to throw those worlds into chaos, so when the emissaries arrive they'll be met with minimum resistance. Varla threatens to use Chiana to get to Nerri if she doesn't reveal his location.
The cleansed Crichton sees images of Scorpius telling him to fight what they've done to him, and he tells Pilot that the cleansing didn't work – his visions sucked away the drug. Pilot says he can't alter the course because Aeryn keeps coming to check on the status.
As Varla is talking to Chiana, Crichton enters and says that Moya's speed and safety has been affected by a flood in her amnexus system. Varla leaves, so Crichton tells Chiana that he's not cleansed (and hits her to prove it). He wants to get the others back, and she says that the drugs rely on the rate of the being's metabolism, and mentions how great Rygel's is.
Crichton visits Rygel, and finding that he is unaffected, says they have to do something fast. However, Rygel has other ideas, and refuses to make the Nebari any angrier. Meelak appears and asks why Crichton wants Rygel's help, when Rygel says he doesn't think the cleansing is working on Crichton. This prompts Crichton to hit him, and Meelak realises that it's not working.
Meelak takes Crichton to Chiana's cell, where he asks if it has any communication devices in it. When they say no, he gives Crichton a weapon and says they don't have much time. He uses Chiana's DNA to activate a message from Nerri, who says he's doing important, dangerous work, and the person delivering the message is one of his people, under orders not to take her to him, because it's too dangerous at this time. He just wanted Chiana to know he's alive and well, and tells her to keep herself hidden. Meelak says that Chiana is the only thing Nerri cares more about than the resistance, and when she asks him to take her to Nerri, he reminds her of his orders. He has some important data to take to the resistance, which he'll do when they reach the outpost. He says that if he helps, he's jeopardising his position and everyone relying on him. Chiana says that she'll tell Varla, but he knows she won't.
Crichton asks Pilot to try and fake a return of the Peacekeepers to convince Varla to allow starburst, but without DRDs he needs someone to reconfigure some wiring. Crichton finds Rygel, and after chewing him out he says he and Pilot have a plan and Rygel must help. Aeryn comes in and asks what they're doing, and unconvincingly they tell her they're fixing something for D'Argo because he's ill. Crichton then goes and tells Chiana the plan, and says that she must do her part at the right time. Aeryn bumps into D'Argo, and says it's odd that he's fine as Crichton just told her he was ill.
As Crichton and Rygel are doing the job, Pilot says Chiana already has the Nebari on command. Chiana tells Varla that she'll cooperate without the need for cleansing. Crichton is still not ready, when D'Argo appears and asks what he's doing. Aeryn also comes along, and says that since he lied they're not cleansed. They try to take them away, but Rygel drops his tools on a wire, which causes a burst of electricity, knocking them unconscious.
Varla says that Chiana is wasting her time, when Crichton enters command saying that PK prowlers are shadowing them, and their Command Carrier has just entered Moya's sensor range, and Pilot puts a Carrier image on screen. Chiana says that their only defence is starburst, but Pilot is restrained. The carrier fires, and causes explosions and damage. Crais appears on screen saying they'll be destroyed, but Varla still refuses to let Pilot starburst, as she believes the Peacekeepers will aid the resistance if they get Chiana, so she attempts to kill her. Pilot manoeuvres, throwing everyone around, and Meelak objects to Varla killing Chiana. Crichton jumps on Varla but she turns him around, and Crichton tells her it's all a rouse, and Pilot stops the broadcast. Chiana attacks her but she fights back, so Meelak kills her, saying that she betrayed the spirit of their people.
Rygel has D'Argo, Aeryn and Zhaan locked up, and they're angry, saying that the cleansing has worn off. D'Argo says that they're in the vicinity of the slave auctions for his son, but Rygel says Pilot's plotting a course so all they need to do is stay there and metabolise.
Meelak is leaving, and Chiana asks to go with him, saying she wants to help, but he and Crichton say she'd be recognised. She tells Crichton she wants to see Nerri, but he says she can't compromise what her brother is doing. He says Nerri is alive – take that, as it's more than she had yesterday. She wants to go, but Crichton says since when do people like them get what they want, as Meelak leaves.
Synopsis by Dani Moure
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