Tuesday, April 24, 2007

The End of the Road II

16. INT. CHAPEL (DAY)

The screen shows Peri hurrying after the Doctor.

GREAT HEALER
Have the modifications carried out on the statue at once.

The image changes to the DJ. The Beatles I Need You plays in the background.

DJ
Usually this place is as quite as the grave but not tonight!

He giggles at his joke.

DJ
President Vargos’ dearly departed wife who died oh-so-suddenly and oh-so-mysteriously two days ago is on an express trip straight to the Planet of the Deceased. No idea if she’ll be cured cause no one’s saying just why she’s dead. Is it plague? Famine? Old age? Heart failure? Or just a normal death because we still don’t have a cure for that?


17. INT. DJ’S RECORDING SUITE (DAY)

As before.

DJ
I’m sure that one day in the far future we’ll have cured death entirely, but by then Tranquil Repose will be totally redundant cause everyone whose ever been dead will be brought back to life. All I can think of is that my audience share will be big when I help the entire population of history catch up with the latest news – a task only this DJ is willing to do.

The DJ leans back in his chair, hands behind his head.

DJ
But seriously though, guys, a word of warning: remember that although I am playing swinging Earth sounds of the 1960s, YOU – yeah, YOU the listeners – are in suspended animation. I just wanted to emphasize that because three days ago one of you seemed to forget about that and decided to try and phone in a request and in doing so, popped open your caskets. And if you want to know what happens to cryogenically suspended bodies if revived incorrectly, trust me – you’re better off not knowing. I’m just repeating this on behalf of the five attendants who are still trying to mop up the mess. We do NOT want a repeat of this, all right?

The DJ reaches out and punches a control panel. One of the images in the grid expands to fill the screen showing a starscape with blinking cursors.

DJ
Looks like the autograph hunters are out in force. We’ve had two unscheduled arrivals in the last few minutes. One of them is...

The screen image changes to show the TARDIS.

DJ
...a rather unusual-looking blue box marked POLICE. Obviously added security and a connoisseur of Old Earth like your favorite DJ. And the other is headed for the local protein production plant owned by Madame Kara Wadras! I wonder just who Madame Kara intends to entertain today?


17. MODEL SHOT

We see the collection of factories sitting stark against the snow. Purple smoke pours from chimneys. The shuttle is parked next to an admin building – pyramidal, like Tranquil Repose, but smaller without the logos.


18. INT. KARA’S OFFICE (DAY)

Similar in design to the DJ’s room, but a large office with neat, corporate art of the 47th century. The d├ęcor is purple and white and KARA, who sits at her desk, is also dressed in purple. She has a purple turban and a lot of make up. She sits at her desk. The doors to her office slide back and VOGEL enters – a short man, stooped slightly, with a beard and a medallion.

KARA
Ah, Vogel. Have the meeting moved forward to today, I want the factories ready for the Presidential inspection tomorrow, once Vargos has finished with TR.

VOGEL
Yes, madam.

He looks awkward. Kara looks up.

KARA
Has he arrived?

Vogel is relieved at being understood.

VOGEL
Yes, madam.

KARA
Then send him in.

The door opens and someone dressed in black enters, crossing to stop at the desk. Kara rises and shakes his gloved hand.

KARA
My dear Commander. I would have met you on your arrival, but a small crisis in the process department diverted me. My sincerest apologies.

LYTTON
It is something I have become accustomed do. Like debt collectors, assassins are rarely welcomed – and when we are allowed on home territory, it is usually through the side door.

We now see who it is.

KARA
You are a philosopher. How charming.

VOGEL
I sensed it at once, madam.

KARA
I think we shall get on very well.

LYTTON
Then I take it you are eager to get down to business?

Kara’s smile shrinks slightly at Lytton’s bluntness.

KARA
Yes, Commander Lytton. We have a great deal to discuss.


19. EXT. TRENCH (DAY)

The Doctor and Peri are walking up a road with tall brick walls on either side. The top of the walls is a level on its own with more trees and purple shrubs.

PERI
So, you’re saying humanity colonized Nekros because they visited during the eleven years of the millennium when the planet is actually nice and warm. They built all these nice stone buildings and rural landscapes, and then winter came and it stayed.

DOCTOR
Always winter, never Christmas.

PERI
So they retreated back to colony ships and left all this lovely work to the elements.

DOCTOR
More advanced technology was needed for buildings. There are a few subterranean towns in the warmer regions, but most live into bio-domes, like TR.

PERI
TR?

DOCTOR
Well, I say bio-domes. Pyramids are vogue at present.

PERI
And now we’re just a few days away from the REAL winter when this whole planet turns to an icicle and we’re visiting the coldest place on the planet at present... why?

DOCTOR
Because that is where TR is located.

PERI
Why? Why do they need the cold?

The Doctor stops and looks around. They have come to a dead end. Peri sighs.

PERI
No way in or out... What is this? A prison?

DOCTOR
The inmates are hardly in a position to get out anyway.

PERI
Inmates?

The Doctor checks the walls of the cul-de-sac.

DOCTOR
There must be an entrance! A door or something – no door, no letter box. And no letter box, no post! But we’ve followed this dry stone wall for two minutes and nothing!

PERI
Back the other way?

DOCTOR
You’re right.

Peri starts to head back down the path.

DOCTOR
We can’t afford to take the long route. Especially with the end of the road in sight. We’ll go over the top.

Peri turns to stare at him.

PERI
‘Over the top’?

DOCTOR
Over the wall.

PERI
OR... we could use the TARDIS?

DOCTOR
No we can’t.

PERI
Why not?

DOCTOR
The TARDIS will attract attention. Unwanted attention. Come on, Peri.

He stands before the rear wall and makes a stirrup with his hands.

PERI
Isn’t this undignified behavior for a 900 year old Time Lord?

DOCTOR
You think this is the first time I’ve scrambled over walls like a small boy sneaking into an orchard on a scrumping spree? Besides, it’s too late for me to start acting dignified. Come on.

Peri places her boot into his hand and they begin to scale the wall.


20. INT. DJ’S RECORDING SUITE (DAY)

The DJ is now dressed as a 1950s rocker – Elvis wig, mirrored sunglasses, leather jacket with studs. He now speaks in a vague Elvis-impersonation. Cliff Richard’s Devil Woman plays in the background.

DJ
Hey there guys, I say: Hey there guys! For those of you who are appreciate of the humanoid female form, we have a maiden from the blue box coming this way. Not often we get one of those around here. Normally this place is as quiet as a grave!

He laughs. We see the image on the scanner expand to show Peri, climbing over the wall.

DJ
She’s reached the outer perimeters of the complex and I can’t help but wonder which one of your lucky fellows she’s coming to see.

A pause. The DJ sighs, speaking in his ordinary voice.

DJ
Well, don’t all answer at once, will you?


21. EXT. ABOVE THE TRENCH (DAY)

A camera mounted on a swivel in the trees peers down at Peri reaches down and helps the Doctor up onto level ground.

PERI
Good thing these clothes are practical, huh?

DOCTOR
Local customs. On Nekros, women’s legs are to be covered at all times.

PERI
Nice to know how advanced people are in the future. Sounds feudal. Or is it just because of the cold?

DOCTOR
Does it matter? It’s polite to honor the customs of this place. Not to mention safer...

There is a loud, brittle snap. The others look up and around.

PERI
What was that?

DOCTOR
Do you want me to find out?

PERI
Not really. But there hasn’t been any sign of life since we arrived. Is there much wildlife here?

DOCTOR
The odd voltrox, the occasional speelsnape.

PERI
Do they bite?

The Doctor smiles reassuringly.

DOCTOR
Only each other. Come on.

PERI
I’d have thought they’d be vegetarian, with all these plants growing in the wilderness.

They head off between the trees.

DOCTOR
Ah, yes, the weed plant. Do you want a flower for your collection?

PERI
If I’m going back to Earth, I’m going to impress the college with something.

DOCTOR
Yes, well, with your grades that’s a sensible policy.

They laugh as they move out of sight. We pan across to see two figures in white jumpsuits – therefore rendering them near invisible. This is NATASHA and GRIGORY. Natasha is a determined and attractive young woman, while Grigory is an older, tired-looking man. He carries a machine pistol but still looks anxious.

GRIGORY
Who are those two?

NATASHA
No idea. Maybe they’ve got the same agenda.

GRIGORY
So what do we do?

NATASHA
We keep going. We’ve got this far, there’s no going back now.

GRIGORY
I had a horrible feeling you’d say that.

Natasha holds up a small pistol and waves it threateningly at Grigory.

NATASHA
Move already!

He rises and hurries off. Natasha follows. Another camera watches them.


22. INT. CHAPEL (DAY)

Their retreating shapes are shown on the screen.

GREAT HEALER
Inform Takis there are body-snatchers in the complex. No, wait! Disregard. Raise the alarm on my mark. In the meantime, get me Kara.


23. INT. KARA’S OFFICE (DAY)

Lytton stands by the window looking outside while Kara and Vogel watch on.

VOGEL
Er, this of course just one of the many factories on Madame Wardas owns. Originally the factories were used to refine the snow outside into water, but now they have been turned over to protein generation.

LYTTON
This factory is larger than any of the others on Nekros. Why is that?

KARA
This is the seat of my business, Commander. A permanent seat that not only produces food extract but also coordinates all the others. It was converted from the major refinery ten years ago, and is now the administrate centre.

LYTTON
Your monopoly is well known.

KARA
Not as well as you, Commander. Your reputation is like a fanfare throughout the galaxy – anyone would feel humble in the presence of such a master craftsman such as you. See how, as a man of action, you prefer to stand, ready like a coiled spring to pounce!

Lytton turns to look at her. What is she on?

LYTTON
No. I’ve been sitting down for the last six hours on transit here. You are romanticizing unnecessarily, Madame Wardas. Shall we discuss while you called me here?

Kara whispers to Vogel in what sounds like awe.

KARA
Such commitment. He is indeed the man for our cause.

LYTTON
I am a hired assassin, Wardas. I follow no cause bar my own. Now what do you want? I would assume you wish me to kill someone but you seem to believe I am some contemplative knight who donates to charity, so tell me – this time without your amateur performance.

Vogel glares at him, finally sounding something other than obsequious – annoyed.

VOGEL
Commander Lytton, Madame Kara Wardas was renowned for her screen career in the first half of the century – her talent is without parallel!

LYTTON
Then she has no need to practice on me.

Kara scowls, clearly having enjoyed acting silly. She opened a black box on her table and takes a small glass tube containing a thick purple goo.

KARA
As Vogel said, the refineries have been converted and are now dedicated to producing high protein concentrate which has been the staple diet of the Pherran colonies for the last decade. No space whales or institutionalized cannibalism for us. We sell this product to planets established and still-developing across the galaxy – at a ridiculously low price.

LYTTON
No doubt it embarrasses and frustrates your accountants.

Kara tries to stay polite.

KARA
This product is eliminating famine from the galaxy.

LYTTON
For the moment. Until the next... “mystery” plague sweeps across the cosmos, wiping out all the food supplies it can and turning the rest poisonous.

VOGEL
Our scientists are still trying to determine the cause of that calamity.

Lytton arches an eyebrow.

LYTTON
I could have told you for nothing.

KARA
You know the source of the contamination?!

LYTTON
I do. I also know it’s not relevant. Nor do I need your pitch in how your companies are doing everything to improve the quality of life for humanity. We don’t have much time before the Long Cold arrives and makes space travel impossible and I don’t intend to stay on Nekros any longer than I have to. What do you want?

Kara and Vogel exchange looks.

KARA
Your mention my company’s work, Commander Lytton. We could do much more if we were able to work in peace. Do you know of the Great Healer?

LYTTON
I would be hard-pressed to find someone who didn’t.

KARA
He arrived on Nekros ten years ago and demanded my factories turn over to producing this new protein. Initially I opposed...

LYTTON
Until you realized how profitable it could be to work with instead of against him. Your status has certainly risen – from a small time actress to second most powerful person in the Pherron system. Is that what you want? Me to assassinate the Great Healer? So he may heal no more?

VOGEL
It is a pretentious title for a decidedly evil man.

KARA
The Great Healer holds this planet in a grip of fear.

LYTTON
Unofficially?

VOGEL
Of course.

LYTTON
And invisibly. You don’t need to appeal to my better nature, Madam. I don’t have one.

KARA
He sits like a spider at the heart of Nekros, bleeding my factories dry with his constant demands for money.

The communicator chimes. Vogel crosses to it.

LYTTON
Extortion?

KARA
Yes.

LYTTON
But what does he use all that money for?

VOGEL
Madam. The Great Healer begs a discussion.

KARA
I am in an important business meeting.

VOGEL
He says he expected that. He still wishes to speak.

LYTTON
Shall I leave the room?

KARA
Not necessary. He never communicates visually. Stay silent and put him through.

Vogel nods and presses a button. The voice of the Great Healer is heard.

GREAT HEALER
Ah, my dear Kara...

Lytton’s eyes widen in recognition.


24. EXT. THE GARDEN OF FOND MEMORIES (DAY)

The Doctor and Peri trudge into view.

PERI
Pyramids, huh? Just like in Egypt.

DOCTOR
They considered pyramids symbols of rebirth and resurrection. Seems appropriate. This is TR – or Tranquil Repose.

PERI
Doesn’t sound very alien.

DOCTOR
What did you expect?

PERI
I don’t know. Something more mysterious. Worthy of you getting all upset about. Have you been here before?

DOCTOR
Yes. Just the once.

That’s the end of it, clearly.

PERI
So what’s this place for?

DOCTOR
Death.

PERI
Great.

DOCTOR
I mean it. Causes, treatment, burial – they come from far and wide to use Tranquil Repose. A whole cornucopia of diseases ran wild through the galaxy years ago, the sufferers came here.

PERI
Why?

DOCTOR
Because its cold – cryogenic suspension. They are frozen, mostly before the point of the death and will be revived once the curse for that particular ailment is found. Of course, that will take years so when they are frozen they get a grand burial service.

PERI
So it’s a combined cemetery and funeral home?

DOCTOR
Exclusive as well. It costs a lot. Most of the people who come here are the rich and or famous, they’re the only ones who can afford it. Locals of course get discounts.

PERI
Are they all sick?

DOCTOR
Some die of other means. Most arrive here dead.

PERI
So its too late for them, surely?

DOCTOR
The technology to bring people back to life exists in this period, but at best can only buy you a few more hours of life. Some use that to say goodbye, others use Tranquil Repose so when they are brought back they can be healed.

PERI
Right. Do they have a success rate?

DOCTOR
No. Most of the diseases have had cures found but those cures need to be developed so the people in suspended animation can survive application of treatment. Ironic. If they’d stayed out of this most of them would probably be cured by now.

PERI
And they call it Tranquil Repose? What a tacky name. Sort of thing you’d find in the States.

DOCTOR
America doesn’t have a monopoly on bad taste.

PERI
I know. We just wish it were otherwise.

They both smile briefly.

PERI
So why did you want to come here?

The Doctor opens his mouth to reply. Suddenly there is a shrill alarm. They look around in surprise. Another alarm joins him.

PERI
What’s happening?


25. INT. DJ’S RECORDING SUITE (DAY)

The alarm is going off here as well. The DJ revolves in his chair. Motorhead’s Ace of Spades plays in the background.

DJ
Uh-oh – you guys! We have you-know-what in the building – looks like one of you could be in for a SUDDEN defrosting!

He laughs.


26. INT. RECEPTION AREA (DAY)

All the attendants look around, panicked at the alarm. Jobel waves frantically.

JOBEL
Stay calm, please! This is a professional establishment if you numbskulls would be kind enough to remember. Takis, find out what’s happening!

Takis nods and he and Lilt turn and hurry off. Tasambeker approaches. Jobel spots her and moves towards her, then roughly shoves her aside. She falls flat on her arse.

JOBEL
I am the Chief Embalmer, does that count for nothing these days?! Order, I say!


27. EXT. THE GARDEN OF FOND MEMORIES (DAY)

The Doctor and Peri run behind the cover of a statue.

PERI
But what caused that alarm?

DOCTOR
No idea, but let’s just assume the usual happened and stay under cover!

At that moment, Natasha and Grigory run into view. Hidden, the Doctor and Peri do not see them or visa versa. The duo run straight ahead and out of sight.

NATASHA
We must have been spotted! Keep running!

They head down into the entrance.


28. INT. OUTSIDE RECEPTION AREA (DAY)

An alcove with a sign saying WELCOME TO TRANQUIL REPOSE/ALL VISITORS PLEASE/REPORT TO RECEPTION. Nastasha and Grigory enter as the alarm ends. They hide behind a display of peacock feathers. Takis enters and glances at where they are hiding. He shows no surprise, and continues heading for the double doors, as if nothing had happened. The duo begin to remove their white suits, revealing they are dressed as attendants underneath.


29. INT. RECEPTION AREA (DAY)

Even more disordered than before. Takis enters and Jobel turns to him. Lilt and Tasembeker approach as the attendants mill about.

JOBEL
What is the meaning of that alarm?

TAKIS
Malfunction, sir.

JOBEL
I was told the maintenance program was completed yesterday.

LILT
Maybe it was a voltrox or something, setting off the systems?

JOBEL
Possibly, Mr. Lilt. Get it checked out immediately and if it happens again you’ll be thrown outside when the Long Cold starts up!

TAKIS
We’ll check the systems ourselves, Mr. Jobel. Twice.

Jobel and Takis lock eyes.

JOBEL
Always the cautious one.

TAKIS
That is why I’m the security officer.

JOBEL
No doubt.

Jobel turns away and bumps into Tasambeker.

JOBEL
Get out of the way, Tasambeker.

He addresses the others.

JOBEL
The emergency is over – false alarm, you can collect your inferior wits!

He turns back to the sarcophagus but bumps into Tasambeker again. He glares at her.

JOBEL
What do you want? You’re always under my feet!

TASAMBEKER
I’m sorry, Mr. Jobel...

JOBEL
That’s not answering the question!! What do you WANT?!

TASAMBEKER
I checked with surveillance when the alarm went off.

JOBEL
Fat lot of good that did. ...Well?!

TASAMBEKER
I was told to inform you that they’ve detected the President’s space craft, it’s just entered the Pherran system.

Jobel nods, suddenly businesslike. He addresses Takis and Lilt.

JOBEL
Oh good, let’s hope they’re on time. Last report said the old witch was already starting to froth – and we know what leads to. It’s a good thing the casket is lead lined or she could crumble to dust before they even reach Nekros!

TASAMBEKER
Not with you in charge, Mr. Jobel.

Jobel looks at her, offended at her existence. He speaks slowly, as if to an idiot.

JOBEL
That. Was. Supposed. To. Be. A joke. Tasambeker. If you’ve finished dragging your knuckles around, we have work to do.

He claps his hands and addresses the other.

JOBEL
Right! I want to see you ALL in fresh tunics and FULL funerary makeup before the President arrives. We don’t want the poor thing uncertain as to who the corpse is, do we?

He smiles smugly. No one laughs.

JOBEL
I’m surrounded by philistines. I’m wasted on this planet, I really am. MOVE!

The attendants start to disperse.

JOBEL
Check with surveillance Mr. Takis. I don’t want the arrival of President Vargos to set off the sprinkler system. When everyone needs me, I shall be in my office!

He strides off. Tasambeker watches him go longingly. Takis and Lilt watch her, amused and rather pitying. She notices and becomes angrier, hostile.

TASAMBEKER
What are you two staring at?

LILT
Give it up, Tasambeker. It’s embarrassing you wandering around like a splay-footed sceeg on heat.

TAKIS
You’re wasting your time with Jobel. He’s not interested with you.

TASAMBEKER
I don’t know what you’re talking about!

TAKIS
You should listen to the gossip in the staff rooms. Everyone knows. It’s pathetic.

TASAMBEKER
GET ON WITH YOUR WORK, TAKIS!

TAKIS
Mr. Takis. I’ve known Jobel for sixteen years and between you and me...

He leans forward to speak to Tasambeker who, despite herself, listens eagerly.

TASAMBEKER
Yes?

TAKIS
It’s for the best you’re not his type.

Tears are in her eyes and she turns and waddles away with what dignity she still has.

LILT
That was a bit harsh.

TAKIS
I had my reasons.

LILT
But...

Takis plucks a weed flower from a display and waves it, at the same time signaling silence. He indicates with his eyes “over my shoulder”. Lilt looks – a security camera high on the wall staring down on him.

TAKIS
Let’s go, shall we?

Takis and Lilt head off in the direction of the sarcophagus. Moments later, the doors open and Natasha emerges, looks around and rushes across the room. Once in shelter she waves to Grigory who glares at her in exasperation and follows.


30. INT. KARA’S OFFICE (DAY)

Lytton sits, relaxed, hands behind his head, amused to listen at the business discussion. Vogel stands beside Kara, casting evil looks at Lytton for his silent mockery. Kara massages her temples, trying not to lose her cool. She’s intimidated.

KARA
It’s all very well to make these demands, Great Healer, but you already take most of the profits my factories make.

GREAT HEALER
I created the product that you manufacture. I have a right to the money. AND royalties.

KARA
I am well aware of that, Great Healer. I would willingly sell the bones of Vogel if would help your cause.

VOGEL
And I would give them willingly.

KARA
You see how devoted we are? But you’d get very little for him – dead or alive – and I would be without a secretary and good secretaries are hard to find...

GREAT HEALER
If you must stall me, Kara then you can avoid such crude prattling. I want more money. I need more money. I cannot complete my researches without it – and without those researches many, many people will die. Your customers will die. Your profits will drop.

Kara grimaces.

KARA
We shall do our best for you, Great Healer. I’m... sure Vogel can engage in a little creative accountancy on your behalf.

VOGEL
I already do, madam – I’m the past master at the double entry.

KARA
Then you must make it make a triple. You heard what the Great Healer said.

GREAT HEALER
The Great Healer is the means by which you obtained your wealth Kara. Forget that at your peril

KARA
I am sorry. Please accept my apologies.

GREAT HEALER
I would sooner accept your money, Kara. Have the relevant proceeds sent through to me at once. Goodbye, Kara.

There is a chime. Kara scowls.

VOGEL
Connection terminated, Madam.

KARA
Well, Commander Lytton, will you do it?

LYTTON
Yes, I will. I’m not interested in your political ambitions. I have my own reasons to undertake this mission – and that includes my fee.

VOGEL
Your own reasons?

Lytton smiles up at them.

LYTTON
Let’s just say killing the Great Healer has long been an ambition of mine.

- to be continued...

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