Season 1, Episode 11: We Are Everything, We Are Nothing

Oh gosh… there’s just a LOT going on right now. From echoing screams to an appropriately science-fiction-y orange mystery goo, the Cavatica and its inhabitants are in for a real treat/doom. Plus, X makes a new friend, gets a call from an old friend, and tries to keep the murdering to a minimum.

+ TRANSCRIPT & CREDITS

TRANSCRIPT

INTRO

X: When you go searching for yourself, are you ever afraid of what you might find? I mean, think about it. Who -- or what -- is it you’re even looking for?

It’s Girl In Space.

[[SFX: INTRO MUSIC, 1:10]]

PROLOGUE

[[SFX: Tape recorder click.]]

Singh (young), played back over a tape recorder: I’m… [[Brief pause.]] I’m not always going to be here. [[Deep breath, then wry smile.]] Sorry. It’s really hard for me to say that. But it’s true. I’m not always going to be here to read you bedtime stories, or help you plant carrots, or bandage your sprained ankles, or keep your hands away from the gene splicing equipment.

[[Reflective.]] Someday, Little Bird, your mother and I are going to be gone, and it’s just going to be you out here. Alone.

And… [[Considers, struggles with something. Then his voice becomes serious, urgent:]] When that happens, I need you to do something very important for me. Okay?

I need you to go to the embryo storage tanks in the glasshouse and destroy the embryo marked SD-538. Okay? SD-538. Just… just take it out of the vial and let it expire. Or… let it go floating out of the airlock, just like we did with those beetle hybrids that didn’t work out.

[[Exhales, pained.]] I know, it sounds scary and wrong, but… sometimes doing the right thing -- the necessary thing -- is difficult.

[[Reflectively, almost to himself:]] Unbelievably difficult.

[[Shakes it off, re-gains encouraging tone:]] But you can do it. I know you can. Because you are strong and good, and you can do difficult things.

[[Beat.]] You can do the things I can’t.

[[SFX: Tape recorder click.]]

[[SFX: Transition.]]

SCENE 1

[[SFX: Cavatica, Glasshouse.]]

[[SFX: Deep noise, accompanied by what might be a distant scream.]]

[[SFX: Beating heart. Flies.]]

X: [[Fully awake again, panicked and alert. Sits up.]] Okay. Tell me you heard it that time.

Kai: [[Alert, on-edge. Nods.]] I… definitely heard it that time.

X: [[Frantic.]] Oh, crap… I totally forgot! Frost! We need to get to the others now!

[[SFX: X begins to get up from her cot.]]

Kai: No -- you are injured. Stay here. I'll check it out.

X: Uh… [[Chuckles humorlessly.]] No way. Remember how I’m done blindly following orders?...

Kai: [[Exasperated.]] Not all orders are inherently bad, X. Especially when they’re issued with your safety // in mind.

X: Don’t care! I’m not letting you go alone, and I’m not letting you leave me here alone. We are officially initiating Buddy System protocol. [[Holds up a hand.]] And don’t even think about threatening to stun me… especially now that we know what stun blasts do to you.

Kai: [[Relents, irritated.]] Fine. But stay behind me.

[[SFX: Kai and X begin to jog toward the glasshouse pod door. Waterfall sound slowly decrescendos.]]

X: [[Ruefully.]] Mm, sorry. Buddy System has us going in side-by-side.

Kai: [[Skeptical.]] The tactical strategy behind this so-called “Buddy System” protocol is dubious.

X: [[Shrugs helplessly.]] Sorry. The protocol’s in place, and there’s nothing we can do about it now.

[[SFX: Their running slows. X pauses.]]

X: [[Frowns.]] Huh. Okay. Well, it wasn’t Chen screaming? Weird…

Kai: [[Reflectively, as if seeing the silver lining.]] It’s nice that for once, he’s not getting shot, maimed, mauled, or otherwise massively injured.

[[SFX: Charlotte’s hydraulics.]]

Charlotte: May I assist the [[blip]] two [[blip]] of you?

X: Not likely. Just ignore her, Kai. She’s going to -- [[Rolls eyes as Charlotte begins talking.]] Ugh.

Charlotte: [[Decisively:]] I will accompany you.

X: Nnnno, that’s okay. You stay here, and protect Chen and Dani while they sleep.

Charlotte: Sleep. [[Considers mechanically.]] Fragile human bodies need rest to recharge.

X: [[Encouragingly.]] Yes! They need you here.

Charlotte: [[Considers, blips.]] However. You are injured, and much more… soft -- soft -- soft -- [[Blip.]]

X: [[Indignant, jabs finger.]] Hey. Hey! Curvy. I’m curvy. Not… “soft”.

Charlotte: [[Continues, ignoring X’s interruption.]] -- and your robotic companion is susceptible to electromagnetic disruption... easily neutralized.

Kai: [[Annoyed.]] Hey! --

Charlotte: [[Blip. Decisively:]] I will accompany you.

Kai: [[Bristles.]] I am not a robot. [[Angrily, offended.]] And I am not so easily neutralized.

X: [[Cranky.]] Yeah, not really charming your way onto the home team, Char. Just… stay here and protect Dani and Chen. Okay? Please?

Charlotte: No. [[Pause, blip. Darkly:]] And my name is "Charlotte", not “Char”.

X: [[Taken aback.]] Jeez. Okay. What happened to your whole “selective hearing” bit?

Charlotte: Aural receptors malfunctioning.

X: [[Cheered; fondly.]] Ah, there it is.

Cyrus: [[Distant -- screams.]]

[[SFX: Deep noise, distant scream.]]

Kai: We should move.

X: Right. Yeah. Charlotte, you just… ugh. Whatever. Come on.

[[SFX: Footsteps, hydraulics.]]

[[SFX: Transition.]]

SCENE 2

[[SFX: Cavatica, Dash core.]]

X: [[Staring.]] Huh.

Kai: [[Also staring.]] Huh.

Charlotte: [[Blip.]] Foundering insect neutralize dermal marzipan encephalitis.

X: [[Ignores Charlotte.]] So… Okay. If Dani and Chen are asleep in the glasshouse, and Frost is still lying here sedated or unconscious or whatever…

Kai: [[Continues her train of thought.]] … then what… ?

[[Several beats of silence.]]

[[SFX: Deep noise, accompanied by what might be a distant scream.]]

Cyrus: [[Distant -- Screams]]

X: Oh. [[Significantly.]] OHHHH!

Kai: What?

X: Oh gosh. I think I know where it’s coming from. This way.

[[SFX: Footsteps resume, hurried. Charlotte’s hydraulics accompany.]]

Kai: So… where are we going?

X: What an excellent question. [[Glares; significantly, to Charlotte.]] Feel free to chime in any time, Charlotte.

Charlotte: [[Blip.]] Do not judge us too harshly.

X: [[Mutters.]] Yeah, that’s what I thought. [[To Kai:]] Hey, so. Okay. Remember earlier, when Dani and Charlotte reported that the communications pod had completely broken away?

Kai: I remember.

X: Yeah, well. They also mentioned that some of the support beams near the second magnetically sealed pod had been bent and broken.

Kai: [[Looks at her sharply, understanding immediately.]] Oh. What was… [[Pause, rephrases.]] What was -- or is -- sealed up in there?

X: [[Drily.]] Heh. That’s the thing. I don’t know. I was never allowed to go into that part of the ship. Mom said it was storage for radioactive materials -- like, the kind that could actually hurt me -- but… [[Shrugs.]] I don’t know. [[Brief pause, considers.]] She sure went in there a lot…

Charlotte: You needed to be kept [[blip]] safe. Safe. Safe. Safe. Safe.

Kai: [[Ignores; over Charlotte.]] You never found a way in?

X: [[Shakes her head.]] No. Once those magnetic seals are engaged… Well, you saw how long it took Thor to break through the one on my parents’ pod. And she had a pneumatic drill. [[Looks at Kai askance.]] Wait -- did you seriously think I’d be able to get in there?

Kai: Think of it as a testament to your stubbornness.

X: [[Takes it as a compliment, smiles.]] Awww. Thanks.

[[SFX: Deep sound, screaming.]]

Cyrus: [[Distant -- Screams.]]

X: [[Back to business.]] All right. It’s just around this --

[[SFX: Boom/low rumble. Their footsteps stop abruptly.]]

Kai: Oh. Jeez. [[Stares in stunned silence.]]

X: [[Simultaneously, with Kai.]] Oh my gosh. [[Stares in stunned silence.]]

Charlotte: Do not -- [[Blip.]] // judge us too harshly.

[[SFX: Ra sound. Creaking metal.]]

X: [[To Ra, absently.]] Yeah, I know. This is… [[Grimaces, coughs, waves smoke away.]] Mmmh. A lot of smoke. [[Beat; glances at Kai.]] I’m just gonna…

[[SFX: Cautious, almost hesitant, footsteps amid rubble.]]

Kai: Watch your head. Actually, watch your… everything. Those edges look sharp.

X: [[Shocked.]] ...Wait, you’re not gonna try to stop me from crawling in there?!

Kai: [[Dryly.]] Acts of futility are just so… futile.

X: [[Pleased.]] Yay. Are you coming with me?

Kai: Yes. Buddy System protocol is in effect, after all.

Charlotte: [[Decisively:]] I will stay here.

X: [[Rolls eyes.]] Whatever you need to do, Charlotte.

[[SFX: Careful footsteps amidst rubble.]]

X: [[Coughs, waves away smoke.]] Wow. Once we get this place checked out, we should start sealing it off. I think this pod’s about to go the way of the communications pod. And that way is… [[Waves a hand.]] Away, forever.

Kai: Roger that.

X: At least we can be sure there wasn’t a hull breach in here -- [[Stops.]] Oh. Wow. [[Moment of silence, then, to Kai:]] Uhhh… just a sec, for… posterity or whatever. [[Into recorder; clears throat.]] Okay, so… um… Day 10,321… hour… [[Distracted.]] I don’t know. Super-late.

[[Deep breath.]] We -- uh, Kai and I -- just… [[Starts over.]] Well, a hole got smashed through the interior wall of the second magnetically sealed pod -- the portside one -- and… now we’re… in it. [[Brief pause.]] The pod, I mean… [[Drily.]] Though maybe some other figurative stuff as well. [[Gets bearings.]] Okay. Uh. There’s a lot of smoke and dust, but so far…

Kai: [[Distant, right; echoes slightly.]] Did you see this?

X: See what? [[Walks over. Frowns, interested.]] …Ooooh. And some kind of… dripping orange goo? Not sure what that is. Want to take a sample and put it in… [[Pause, rustling sound, glass clinking.]] This vial?

Kai: Roger that.

X: Thanks. [[Steps back.]] But, ah, overall… we’re standing in a large, open space about five or six times the size of my… well, the size of what used to be my cabin pod. [[Pause.]] Hey Kai, could you shine your… ? [[SFX: Click]] Thank you. Uh. There are metal shelving units all over the walls, and multiple crates and barrels that all have “Property of Caldwell Enterprises” stamped on them, so I think it’s safe to say this room was initially used for storage. [[Glances at Kai.]] Please note: That was a hypothesis, not an assumption.

Kai: I’m over here diligently taking samples of orange mystery goo. I didn’t say anything.

X: ‘K. [[Resumes train of thought.]] Uh, I say this pod was initially used for storage because… it appears to be serving another purpose now. All of the interior shelving racks have been pushed against a far wall, and in the center of the room is this… apparatus.

[[SFX: Approaches, carefully, broken glass and rubble shifting.]]

X: It’s… well, it looks like a terrarium, maybe? Made of glass, or some other sort of sturdy transparent material, about… ten centimeters thick.

But it’s all… broken apart now -- [[Glances up.]] Looks like one of the support beams got dislodged from the ceiling during the shipquake and smashed down on top of it, along with… well, the rest of the ceiling.

[[SFX: Footsteps amidst rubble. Glass crunches.]]

Huh. Gosh. This whole enclosure couldn’t have been larger than three by four meters, though there’s a… a nest of tarps and blankets to one side, and a grated drain in the floor, and a large blue Caldwell Enterprises water recycler… There’s a tangle of plants -- looks like our good old resilient friend kudzu -- growing up around the water recycler, but other than that, it’s…

[[Aside, somewhat disbelieving.]] Kai, I think something was living in here. Something sizable.

Kai: Hmm. [[Brief pause.]] Something still is.

X: … What?!

Kai: I’m picking up… [[Kai looks around momentarily.]] There. [[Points.]]

[[SFX: Kai’s footsteps, crunching glass. X accompanies.]]

X: What is it?

Kai: I don’t know. Stand back.

X: [[Dubiously.]] Can you lift that without -- ?

[[SFX: Sound of Kai lifting a large metal beam; rubble; glass breaking. Beam sets down heavily with a low rumble.]]

X: Hookay. I guess you can. [[Frowns.]] Hey, what’s that under -- [[Gasps.]] Oh my gosh. There’s… [[Moves closer.]] I think that’s blood! [[Pause, realizes.]] There’s blood everywhere!

Kai: I am going to lift this wall segment and shine my light underneath it. Would you be able to pull out anything that might be trapped under there?

X: Uhhh, depends if it’s, you know, a gentle, harmless cow vs., like, a very angry wounded velociraptor.

Kai: Would you?

X: Yeah. Or -- I’ll try? [[Uncertain; feigns confidence.]] I mean, yeah?

Kai: Ready?

X: [[Deep breath.]] Okay, go.

[[SFX: Hard clamp; rubble sliding and falling. Scuffling sounds. Rubble as X moves rocks.]]

X: [[Strained]] Ergh. Mmmf. [[Moves a chunk of metal out of the way; strains with effort.]] Okay. Can you shine that just a little more over -- ah. That’s good. Mmgh. Let's see… [[Beat.]] Oh. Holy crap.

Kai: What???

[[SFX: Thud of a metal chunk of debris.]]

X: [[Softly.]] Oh my gosh. He’s alive!

Cyrus: [[Coughs. Hoarsely:]] Help me.

X: Oh my gosh. [[Soothing/shakily.]] Hey. Hey, friend. It’s all right. We’ve got you. You’re gonna be okay. [[Cranes neck; to Kai.]] Kai, can you -- ?

[[SFX: Thud of plate glass landing violently atop rubble.]]

X: Oh, nice. You totally read my mind. [[Pause, breath.]] Okay… we need to get the rest of this rubble off of him and make sure he’s not bleeding out.

Kai: His pulse is strong, at least.

X: You can tell that from over there?

Kai: Yes.

X: [[Infinitesimal pause; frowns.]] Wait, is that impressive, or creepy?

Kai: Impressive. [[Beat.]] But we can table a more in-depth discussion on the topic for later. For now, I’ll move this girder, and you see if you can extricate him.

X: Right. Let’s see… Let’s get you out of the… [[Strained]] yep, okay. I’m going to pull him this way a little, and then we’ll… Mmmfff… Ugh… [[SFX: Scrabbling, clattering as X begins to extricate the figure from the rubble. Girder slams to floor.]]

Charlotte: [[In distance, faintly.]] Do not judge us -- [[Blip.]]

Cyrus: [[Groans weakly; coughs. Breathing is labored.]]

X: [[Breathing heavily.]] All right. Uh. [[Lets out shaky breath. Clinically, into recorder:]] Subject is free of the rubble -- well, the worst of it, at least -- and has been relocated to a flat surface. [[Beat.]] He’s got some metal and glass shrapnel sticking out of his shoulder, labored breathing… but hey, any breathing is good, right?… [[Peers closer.]] Looks like… broken arm and wrist, possible broken nose, extensive contusions… probably a fair amount of internal damage… Uh. Kai? [[Startled.]] Aaaah! [[Ducks head, squints.]] Don’t shine that light in my eyes!

Kai: Sorry. What were you saying?

X: Mmh. [[Points.]] Here and here. Does that look like…?

Kai: [[Confirms.]] The thoughtware ports we saw on your mother’s body? Yes.

X: [[Sits back on her heels thoughtfully.]] Yeah. [[Deep breath, then glances up at Kai, meaningfully. Small incredulous sound.]] Kai, he was here the whole time.

Kai: [[Confirms the obvious.]] Very likely, yes.

X: No, I mean… like… the whole time! The whole time! Ever since… [[Beat; disbelieving, incredulous chuckle:]] This whole time, I thought I was alone!

Kai: [[Softly.]] Did you?

Cyrus: [[Blinks, groans, then grimaces in pain.]] I can’t see.

X: [[Returns her attention to Cyrus.]] Oh! Gosh. That’s because there’s blood in your eyes. Here -- [[She wipes some of the blood from his face.]]

Cyrus: [[Attempts to sit up. Frowns, groggily, surprised:]] Wait --

X: No, don’t sit up --

Cyrus: I know you.

X: [[Continues.]] You’ve lost a lot of blood and you’re… gosh, you’re really hurt. Can you move your toes? [[Pause, then relieved.]] Okay, good.

Cyrus: [[Insistently, to X.]] I know you!

X: [[Gently.]] I’m sorry, but… I don’t think so.

Cyrus: No. You don’t… You don’t understand… You are me. You are we.

Kai: [[Apprehensively.]] X --

Cyrus: [[Mutters, to self, mantra-like.]] We are part of the void. We are part of all matter. We are everything. We are nothing.

Kai: Look at his face.

X: [[Blinks, surprised.]] Oh, weird. Yeah, if you ignore all the cuts and bruises, he kind of looks like a younger version of my dad.

Kai: [[Looks at her askance, then corrects her with a careful tone.]] No. He looks exactly like you.

[[SFX: Low rumble.]]

[[SFX: Transition.]]

SCENE 3

[[SFX: Cavatica, Dash core/Mystery pod.]]

Kai: X?

Cyrus: [[Still injured/in pain. Mutters, to self, mantra-like:]] We are part of the void. We are part of all matter. We are everything. We are nothing.

Kai: [[Carefully.]] Uh… X, are you okay? You’ve been sitting there staring at your audio recorder for… a while now. [[Pause, then in a coaxing tone:]] I have three enticing samples of orange mystery goo all ready for you to inspect…

[[SFX: Glass vials clink enticingly.]]

X: [[Numbly.]] I… He’s… [[She rubs her temples.]] You’re right. He’s… one of the embryos from the drawer. [[This seems difficult for X to say:]] He’s another one of… me. That’s not weird. Right? I mean, there are a thousand other things on the Cavatica weirder than this. Heh. Comparatively speaking, this is downright normal.

[[SFX: Slight shift of rebar/debris.]]

Cyrus: [[Groans in pain again.]] Mmgh.

X: [[Peers at Cyrus:]] I didn’t know… She must have… what, kept you aside as a second control group? Or were you some other experiment Dad and I never even knew about?

Cyrus: [[Mutters:]] None of us knows what the others are for.

[[SFX: Faint sound of Ra outside.]]

X: [[Disbelieving sound; voice wavers, becomes higher-pitched.]] Like the bodies under the maple tree weren’t enough! Was this room, like, some kind of secret lab? What was she doing in here? And what was she doing to you? What are all of those ports in your arms and neck for? Was she hooking you up to… to… to some kind of… machinery? Do you have a… a malfunctioning hydraulic arm somewhere that floats around spouting creepy non-sequiturs and experimenting on people while they sleep?!

Cyrus: [[Mutters, perhaps slightly amused-sounding:]] I am you. You are me. We are everything and nothing, together.

X: [[Angry, frustrated, helpless.]] That’s not helpful!

Kai: [[Carefully.]] X, he might not be in a state of mind to be helpful right now.

X: [[Angrily.]] I… [[Takes a deep breath.]] No, you’re right. Obviously. I… um. I’m sorry. It’s been… a day. Which… gosh. I’m sure you totally understand. Things can’t have been… easy for you here, huh.

Cyrus: Heh.

X: [[Gently.]] Look. I’m X. And -- [[Gestures.]] This is Kai. What’s your name? I mean, do you know which one you are? Which specimen?

Cyrus: Um. [[Pauses, as though struggling to remember.]] Cyrus. She used to call me Cyrus.

X: [[Carefully.]] Cyrus.

Kai: What? Does that mean something to you?

X: [[Shakes her head.]] Not especially. I don’t…

Charlotte: [[Distant, echoes.]] Do not judge us -- [[Blip.]]

Cyrus: [[Immediately alert, edged with fear, or anger.]] Shh! [[Whispers.]] She’s here.

[[SFX: Cyrus attempts to sit up.]]

Kai: [[Startled.]] Woah.

X: [[Alarmed; rushes to stop him.]] No! No, don’t sit up! You’re --

Cyrus: [[Still edged with anger/fear:]] Where is she?

X: [[Exasperated.]] Who, Charlotte?!

Cyrus: I don’t know! I… I never knew her name, but that voice… I’d know that voice anywhere. She did this!

X: [[Tentatively.]] What exactly did she…

[[SFX: Cyrus attempts to stand.]]

X: Oh! Jeez. Wait, no, you’d better not -- don’t -- [[Exasperated exhalation.]] Okay, I guess you’re… yeah, no, that’s cool. Go ahead, ignore my expert medical advice. Try to walk around! Hurt yourself more! That’s totally cool.

Kai: [[Amused.]] He really is another you. [[Pause.]] Do you want me to…

X: [[Beat.]] … What? Subdue him? Sedate him? Get him to see reason?

Cyrus: [[Struggling to stand; mutters with grim amusement.]] There is no reason to see, unless the blind can see the blind.

Kai: [[To X, quietly.]] Do you want me to...?

X: [[Shakes head, sighs.]] Listen, Cyrus. You are super hurt, and we need you to calm down and hold still so we can help you. If you can’t do that, we’re going to have to sedate you. Okay?

Cyrus: Don’t tell me to calm down. [[Intensely.]] You don’t get it. We need to move.

X: Ugh. Stop telling me what I do and do not get! Charlotte is not going to hurt you or me or anyone. She’s… [[Pained pause.]] She’s dead. Essentially. Okay?

Cyrus: [[Blinks.]] What? [[Finally stops struggling to stand, freezes. Narrows his eyes.]] But… that was her voice. I heard her.

X: She… [[Exhales.]] Yeah. I don’t even know how to explain this, but she… sort of integrated her consciousness or personality or whatever with the onboard AI, and now resides in a robotic arm… thing? [[Holds up hands as if to forestall questions.]] Don’t ask me how, because I have no idea.

Kai: [[Helpfully, to Cyrus.]] It makes a little more sense if you’re familiar with the concept of dissociation or UCT.

Cyrus: [[To Kai, nods.]] Vaguely.

X: … Right. Anyway, she won’t hurt you, and she can’t get you in here right now, because her robotic arm-thing is limited to the hydraulic tracks that run through the ship’s corridors, and those tracks are totally destroyed over by where the ceiling caved in. [[Beat; considers, frowns.]] Well, okay, technically, she might try to weld you? But she can’t do it from a distance of more than, like, two feet, so just don’t get too close to her.

Cyrus: [[Processes, then carefully:]] So I’m… free now. Like you.

X: Yeah! [[Frowns.]] Well, kind of. We can’t really leave the Cavatica, and there’s a delusional Councillor out there who seems to think he owns everything and everyone in sight, but… I mean, as far as you’re not trapped in a giant terrarium for Charlotte’s potentially nefarious experimental purposes… yeah. You’re free.

Cyrus: [[Sighs happily.]] Finally. [[Cracks a smile.]] I don’t even care if this is another dream. Or a program. Or whatever. I’ve spent my entire life in that cage. Lives. [[Pause, then to X, brightly:]] Hey. Let’s go destroy whatever’s left of her -- [[Corrects self.]] Of… Charlotte.

X: … Ugh. Look, dude… what did I literally just say?! Charlotte, for all intents and purposes, is dead, and you are not only skin and bones but massively injured, and --

Cyrus: [[Giddy with freedom.]] I don’t care. I’ve been waiting for this moment my entire life. We both have. Don’t you see?

[[SFX: Cyrus begins to stumble barefoot, toward the opening of the pod.]]

X: Okay, I get that, but we need Charlotte to… no! Ugh! Cyrus! You’re going to hurt yourself even more!

Kai: [[Finally exasperated.]] Typical. [[Grimly.]] Grab him.

X: [[Confused.]] What? Why? --

[[SFX: Gun blast. Body slumps against X.]]

X: Oof! [[Lowers the body gently to the floor.]] Mmgh. [[Aghast:]] Kai!!!

Kai: [[Defensively.]] It was set for stun! Plus, he was going to hurt himself. [[Darkly.]] Or you.

X: [[Aghast, perhaps shrilly.]] Yeah, but you can’t solve every problem with your gun! And now he’s never gonna trust us!

[[SFX: Kai’s footsteps. Kai stoops to pick up the unconscious Cyrus.]]

Kai: [[Curiously.]] Do you care about his trust?

X: Yes! It’ll make him easier to deal with.

Kai: At the present moment, his health is more imperative than his trust. Anyway, no one really trusts anyone else upon first meeting them. Trust is earned slowly, over time.

X: [[Frowns.]] Huh. You think so?

Kai: [[Pointedly.]] Did you trust us when our ship first approached the Cavatica?

X: [[Primly.]] As I recall, I watched, evaluated, and reacted accordingly — coolly and rationally.

Kai: [[Rolls nonexistent eyes.]] You most certainly did not trust us. You lied to us, hid from us, yelled at us… you were insubordinate to Captain Chen and the Councillor…

X: [[Voice raised, interrupts Kai.]] Well, you smashed my face in, then captured, imprisoned, and interrogated me! What else was I supposed to do?! Say, “Jolly good! Please, sir, may I have some more?!”

[[Brief silent pause. X clears her throat.]] Uhhh. This is probably not the ideal time or place for this conversation. [[Regroups mentally.]] Wanna help me get Cyrus patched up, and then we can relive our incredibly awkward meeting circumstances?

Kai: Yes.

X: Okay.

[[Pause; silence for several beats. They both kneel beside the body to lift it.]]

X: I’m sorry. This is… surreal.

Kai: [[Compassionately:]] You don’t need to apologize. Are you all right?

X: Yeah. I just… [[Revisits earlier incredulity, relenting.]] The whole. Time. I thought I was alone.

Kai: [[Gently, with understanding.]] I know. [[Nods to Cyrus.]] And I think Cyrus probably did, too.

[[SFX: Transition.]]

SCENE 4

[[SFX: Cavatica, X’s Cabin Pod.]]

X: [[Tone is brisk, businesslike.]] Day 10,322… hour 14:04. Okay, so I haven’t really been in here since the Enforcer One folks took it over, but… you know what? It’s time to take it back.

[[SFX: Cavatica falling apart.]]

X: [[Looks around, takes a deep breath.]] I’m standing in my cabin pod -- yes, my cabin pod -- which Dani and Kai are currently helping me turn into a new infirmary. I figured -- hey, Caldwell Enterprises crammed all these bunks in here, and we stole a crap-ton of medical supplies from the Enforcer One, so… we might as well make the most of ‘em.

Kai: [[Distant.]] Lift with your legs, not your back!

Dani: [[Distant, irritably.]] I am! Some of us just aren’t part forklift!

X: [[Continues.]] Everyone made it through the night, which I’m grateful for. I mean, I didn’t sleep, but everyone’s alive, so yay. And, uhh… [[Quickly.]] I maybe sort of fed Dani coffee until she agreed to help me round up all of the escaped birds in the glasshouse. She’s a little cranky this morning, but that’s done at least, so… [[Unenthused.]] Hooray!

Dani: [[Pipes up, distant.]] Hey, don’t forget, you promised me dark roast later today!

[[SFX: Metallic clunk.]]

X: [[Wearily, away from recorder.]] I won’t forget. [[Pauses.]] As for the humans… [[Pause.]] We got Cyrus bandaged up and onto some fluids, and… well. Despite all of those injuries, and a diet consisting entirely of water and kudzu, he appears to be… surprisingly resilient. [[Reflects.]] Well, maybe that’s not so surprising. He’s… different. Kind of like me, but… not like me? We noticed something with his eyes --

Dani: [[Pipes up, distant.]] They’re creepy!

X: [[Sighs; to Dani.]] They’re not creepy! He just has… a few more pupils than the rest of us. [[Pause, back to recorder.]] And he regained consciousness super fast after Kai stunned him, and we had to… um. [[Ashamed, quickly.]] Tie him to his gurney so he wouldn’t go on a murder rampage against Charlotte? [[Winces.]] Probably another strike against us in the trust department, but… I don’t know what else to do. [[Defeated.]] I tried asking Charlotte who he was and what she -- or… her previous self -- had done to him, but all she’s spouting is gibberish at this point.

Charlotte: [[Distant.]] Malfunctioning. Mal -- Mal -- Mal -- [[Blip.]]

Cyrus: [[Distant.]] I hear her! Let me -- ungh! [[Twists against restraints.]] Let me go! This is worse than the cage!

X: [[To Cyrus, plaintive:]] We can’t, because you are going to hurt yourself or someone else! You need to heal! [[Humorlessly, to mic.]] Yes, I fully realize the irony of the situation, especially given that he looks unsettlingly like my dead father and, apparently, me. But at least I’m not tattooing his wrists against his will, so hopefully I’m not as bad as Caldwell Enterprises. Yet.

Cyrus: [[Mutters, to self, mantra-like.]] We are part of the void. We are part of all matter. We are everything. We are nothing. We are part of the void. We are part of all matter. We are everything. We are nothing.

X: [[Listens momentarily, then quietly.]] I… haven’t told him about the skulls under the tree. I don’t think I will. Not sure how he’d react. [[Frowns.]] Speaking of which… [[Raises voice.]] Dani, where are the… items that we uncovered from beneath the maple tree?

Dani: [[Distant, calls out. Strained, lifting heavy object.]] Box under the table to your right! But don’t touch them because I’m still cataloguing -- oof! [[Sets down a heavy object.]] I’m still cataloguing the pieces!

X: Ah. Okay. There we go. Um. [[Changes subject abruptly.]] Chen is… okay. Sleeping. [[Hesitates.]] I’m maybe a little worried about the arm we reattached… it’s doing that whole inflamed, burning, oozing thing that’s never a good sign, and he has a fever that won’t go down. Still, his leg and his side are healing okay, and whenever he regains consciousness, he starts faintly wheezing orders at people, so… I’m hopeful. I think that he -- well… all of us, really -- just need a little bit of time to heal. [[Slight pause.]] Um… what else…

Charlotte: The Emp -- the Emp -- the Emp -- [[blip]] Rises all up on meat hooks. She is splendor. She is grace. She is insects. Marzipan. Encephalitis. She is… [[Blip.]] She will be here soon… She will… [[Blip.]]

Dani: [[Distant, raises an eyebrow.]] That was a weird one. Weirder than her usual weird, I mean

X: [[Blinks.]] Uhhh. Yeah, I’m not even going to begin to parse what that meant. [[Wearily.]] Got something you want to share, Charlotte?

Charlotte: Aural receptors [[blip]] --

X: Yeah, got it. [[Resumes.]] Aaaanyway. To wrap up my update, turns out Assistant Frost only had a few cracked ribs, despite all that talk of impending death. I wouldn’t have figured them for the melodramatic type, but you know, it’s refreshing to know people can still surprise you. I think they still think I’m going to kill them for whatever reason, even though I am [[irritated]] very clearly helping them heal. Earlier, I asked Chen to please tell them how not-ruthless I am, but… like Kai said about trust, maybe these things take time? I have no idea. Anyway, they’re sedated again. Which feels morally icky, but… what are you going to do?

[[Frowns suspiciously.]] And speaking of time, I feel like it’s been a suspiciously- slash- unsettlingly long time since the Councillor last checked in on us. Maybe he thinks his assistant “took care of us”, in air quotes? (Dani taught me about “air quotes” earlier today.) But…

[[SFX: Radio alert/alarm.]]

Dani: [[Sharply, concerned.]] What’s that?

Cyrus: [[Snaps out of mantra-trance.]] What’s going on?

Charlotte: [[Blip.]] Escape pods at the ready. [[Blip.]]

X: [[Amused, despite all the things.]] Oh man! What if that’s him right now??? The Councillor? I mean, I was literally just talking about him! How crazy would that be?

Kai: There used to be an old saying about speaking of the devil…

X: What was it?

Kai: Umm. “Speak of the devil…”

X: [[Prompts Kai after a second.]] …And then what?

Kai: I… don’t actually know. People only ever said that part of it.

X: …That was… anticlimactic.

Dani: Is no one else concerned about the blaring alarm?

Cyrus: Me. I am. [[Mutters, bitterly:]] Though I’m not sure my concerns matter much around here.

X: [[Wearily.]] Of course you matter, Cyrus. You’re just… on… probation until you stop trying to murder Charlotte. [[To Dani:]] And… I don’t know, Dani. You’re on a dying research station in the proximity of a heavily armed corporate warship. You get kinda used to all of the alarms after a while.

Dani: But that doesn’t mean…

X: I know. Okay. I’m going to go talk to the Councillor. Kai, can you stay here with Dani and keep an eye on things?

Kai: [[Firmly.]] Sorry. Buddy system protocol is still in effect. I’m going with you.

X: [[Considers a moment.]] That’s fair. Dani, are you comfortable keeping an eye on things by yourself?

Dani: If Kai gives me a gun, I will be.

Kai: Roger that.

[[SFX: Kai tosses Dani a gun.]]

Dani: Huh. I suddenly feel very… powerful.

X & Kai, simultaneously: No murdering.

[[SFX: Transition.]]

SCENE 5

[[SFX: Dash core. Alarm continues and is then cut off.]]

[[SFX: Radio clicks.]]

X: Yes, hello?

Thor: Hey, Experiment Girl.

X: [[Taken aback.]] Oh. Thor! Hey. How are… things?

Thor: [[Casually.]] Oh, can’t complain. I’ve been really enjoying the fruits of the mutiny you started, so thanks again for that.

[[Pause.]]

X: So… did you need help with something, or… ?

Thor: [[Laughs.]] Well, to be honest, no. But my favorite hostage expressed a burning desire to get in touch with you, and I just can’t say no to his creepy, wrinkled little weasel-face! So I did him a favor and escorted him to the comms room for a little gab sesh. Say hi, Councillor.

Council Member 1: [[Grumbles, irritated.]] This is Councillor Van Gaal of the Enforcer One. [[Grunts as Thor prods him with a gun. Grimly:]] Hello.

Thor: Aw, come on. Remember… we renamed the ship?

Council Member 1: [[Heavy sigh of loathing.]] This is Councillor Van Gaal of the… Thor’s Vengeance.

Kai: [[Amused.]] Nice.

Thor: [[Laughs, sighs happily.]] I will never get tired of that. Hey, Killbot.

Kai: Hey.

X: So… what exactly can I do for you, Councillor?

Council Member 1: [[Irritably.]] To discuss the imminent approach of the Empress Conglomerate fleet. This philistine refuses to parlay, so as much as it pains me, I figured I would talk to someone capable of seeing reason.

X: “Capable of seeing reason?” Councillor, you flatter me. Also, does that mean you think I’m human now?

Council Member 1: No. Your… base logical facilities do not negate the fact that you are a gross and unnatural scientific aberration.

X: [[Noncommittally.]] Mmm.

Kai: [[Bristles.]] Get to the point, Councillor.

Council Member 1: I have two requests. First, I would like to know the current status of Assistant Frost.

X: Oh, Frost is fine. Currently sedated, but… relatively unhurt. [[Softens.]] It’s… surprisingly human of you to care, Councillor.

Council Member 1: [[Stiffly.]] Assistant Frost is an extremely valuable human resource in whom Caldwell Enterprises has made a considerable investment.

X: Ahh. And there’s the caustic, uncaring exterior we’ve all grown to love. [[Rolls eyes.]] What’s your second request? I’m curious.

Council Member 1: I know now that it was ex-Officer Thorsson, not you, who sabotaged our mission to reclaim the Cavatica. As such, I assume that you do not know much about the corporation into whose fold you are entering. Allow me to warn you: the Empress Conglomerate is a barbaric and completely unscrupulous organization run by what can only be described as a cabal of criminals.

X: [[Incredulous.]] Uh, remember that one time you held me captive and literally branded me as your property? That was super fun and definitely not “barbaric” or “completely unscrupulous” at all.

Council Member 1: [[Sternly.]] Listen to me, you vile little monstrosity. You thought what we did to you was unpleasant? Just wait until you become the property of the Empress Conglomerate. You’ll regret the day you slithered slug-like and squealing from your miserable tray of test tubes.

X: Uh, then it’s a good thing I’m no one’s property. [[Chuckles.]]

[[Pause. Silence.]]

X: … Right, Thor?

Thor: [[Dismissively.]] Oh, yeah. Our reclamation teams will probably make an exception for you once they meet you. Just a little paperwork, and you’ll officially be a corporate citizen of the Empress Conglomerate.

Council Member 1: [[With loathing.]] Lies. You’re going straight from the frying-pan into the fire. But it’s not too late, Specimen X. Cooperate with Caldwell Enterprises -- resist the siren song of the Empress Conglomerate, refuse to turn over the Cavatica, and we will --

Thor: [[Talks over the Councillor.]] Aaaaand that’s enough for now. Seeya… and remember what I told you!

[[SFX: Radio click. Brief silence.]]

X: … Huh. [[Glances at Kai with uncertainty.]] Hey, Kai? I don’t know anything about the Empress Conglomerate, obviously, but was he… was he right? Are they worse than Caldwell Enterprises? I mean… I’m not anyone’s property, right?

Kai: I can’t tell you what you are and what you aren’t, X. You’re the only one who can do that. [[Brief pause.]] But I can tell you that there will always be someone out there who thinks they hold some kind of ownership over you, or that they’re somehow entitled to you. But they don’t, and they’re not.

X: [[Nods.]] Right. And… [[Regards Kai.]] Same goes for you, okay? No matter what’s stamped into your chassis. They don’t own me, and they don’t own you. No one does. No one can. Not really. All right?

Kai: [[Humoring her.]] All right, X.

X: [[Intensely; frowns.]] No, I’m serious. This is important. Say it. Say that no one owns you.

Kai: [[Exasperated.]] X, this isn’t the time… [[Trails off.]]

Charlotte: [[V. distant.]] Warning. Warning. Warning. Warning. Warning.

X: This isn’t the time for what? Important truths?! There’s always time for important truths!

Kai: No… do you hear…?

Charlotte: [[Distant; louder.]] Warning. Warning. Warning. Warning. Warning.

Kai: Come on.

[[SFX: Footsteps.]]

X: Kai?

[[SFX: Transition.]]

SCENE 6

[[SFX: Cavatica, Cabin Pod.]]

[[SFX: Door opens.]]

Charlotte: [[Distant.]] Warning. Warning. Warning. [[Blip.]]

Cyrus: Let me near her -- I can make her stop!

Dani: [[Irritably.]] No! And stop asking! Ugh, what did you guys do?

X: Just talked with the Councillor. Why?

Dani: [[Irritated.]] A few minutes ago Charlotte just started going crazy and now I can’t get her to -- [[Charlotte abruptly stops. Dani rolls her eyes.]] Oh. Nice. [[Sarcastically.]] Thank you, Charlotte.

Charlotte: [[Blip.]] Escape pods at the ready. [[Blip.]] Escape pods at the ready. [[Blip.]]

X: Weird…

Dani: I don’t know, compared to some of the other stuff she’s been saying, this is relatively normal.

X: No, I mean… This is. Um. [[Falls silent.]]

Kai: [[Prompts her.]] …This is what?

X: [[Uncomfortably.]] The same way she acted when…

[[SFX: Ra roars.]]

Charlotte: Anomaly gaining speed.

Cyrus: When what? What is going on?

X: Crap.

[[SFX: The Empress Conglomerate fleet visibly approaches.]]

[[SFX: X moves swiftly toward one of the cabin pod windows, accompanied by Dani and Kai.]]

Cyrus: Hey! [[Struggles against gurney tie-downs. Frustrated:]] Where are you going? I can’t see!

[[SFX: BWAAAMP of a large presence.]]

Dani: [[Staring out of window, alarmed.]] Oh my gosh! What is that?

X: I’m going to assume that it’s the Empress Conglomerate.

Kai: Yes. I’m… surprised they got here so quickly.

Cyrus: [[Distant, calls out.]] What’s the Empress Conglomerate?

Dani: One of Caldwell’s biggest competitors.

X: Charlotte, how far away is it? The… new anomaly?

Charlotte: [[Blip.]] Twenty-four. Twenty-four. Twenty-four. Twenty-four. [[Blip.]] We have failed.

X: … Not especially helpful! Okay. Things that are helpful -- right. Well, we’re all consolidated this time into this pod and the glasshouse pod… and maybe the Enforcer One -- excuse me, Thor’s Vengeance -- can help with --

[[SFX: Bare footsteps in background.]]

Dani: [[Confused.]] What? What’s the Thor’s Vengeance?

Charlotte: [[Blip. High-pitched:]] No murdering. No murdering. No murdering. NOOOOOO --

[[SFX: Tech spaz, metallic thud.]]

X: [[Turns.]] Charlotte? What’s -- Oh my gosh.

Cyrus: [[Sits cross-legged atop his gurney, wearily but happily. Breathing hard, in pain:]] Can’t kill something that’s already dead.

X: [[Aghast.]] What the heck, Cyrus?! What did you -- ?!

Cyrus: [[Murmurs.]] It’s okay. We’re all okay now. I fixed it, and now she can’t hurt any of us ever again.

[[SFX: Stinger.]]

[[SFX: OUTRO MUSIC]]

-Fin-

CREDITS (In order of appearance)

X: Sarah Rhea Werner

Singh: A.R. Olivieri

Kai: Josh Crute

Charlotte: Kay Krause

Cyrus: A.R. Olivieri

Dani: Jamie Killen

Thor: Alyce Liddell

Council Member: Thoreau Smiley

Written by: Sarah Rhea Werner

Produced, Directed, and Edited by: Sarah Rhea Werner

Music & Sound Effects:

Season 1, Episode 10: When Did You Last Experience Fear

As X and the crew of the Enforcer One continue to deal with THE HAPS, darker secrets about the Ra Initiative, X's parents, and even X herself begin to surface. (Quite literally.) Listen in for scintillating conversations, startling revelations, and perhaps even a mild descent or two into madness.

+ TRANSCRIPT & CREDITS

TRANSCRIPT

INTRO

X: If fear is the mind-killer, what is it that gives your mind life?

It’s Girl In Space.

[[SFX: INTRO MUSIC, 1:10]]

PROLOGUE

[[SFX: Tape recorder click.]]

X as a child, played back over a tape recorder: [[Whispered, child’s voice.]] I woke up. I woke up and I wasn’t in my bed. I was in the glasshouse, and Mommy was crying, which was scary because she never cries. She was digging under the big maple tree and crying, and I wanted to go to her and tell her it’s okay, but… I was scared. So I stayed quiet and hid.

But I don’t think I hid very well because Daddy found me, and scooped me up and carried me back to bed. I asked him what was making Mommy sad, and he said Mommy was making herself sad, which didn’t make sense.

Daddy tucked me in and kissed my forehead and told me to go back to sleep, and I could tell that he was sad, too. He told me not to get up again until morning, no matter what. Then he left.

And I didn’t hear Mommy crying anymore.

Now I’m… [[Gasp, quiet, breathing.]]

[[SFX: Door opens.]]

[[SFX: Footsteps approach.]]

Singh: [[Gently.]] Go to sleep now, Little Bird. There’ll be plenty to record in the morning.

[[SFX: Tape recorder button cuts off halfway through “morning”.]]

[[SFX: Transition.]]

SCENE 1

[[SFX: Cavatica, Dash core.]]

X: So… what is it you really want? You didn’t radio me just to tell me things we both already know.

[[SFX: Soft double-beep from the Councillor’s side of the radio.]] Council Member 1: [[Smiles thinly.]] You’re right. It’s a distraction.

X: What?

Chen: ...Crap.

[[SFX: Loud thud. X’s tape recorder clatters to the ground.]]

Chen: X? … X! Talk to me!

Frost: [[Drily.]] She’s unconscious, genius.

[[SFX: Gun charging, stage right.]]

Frost: She patch you up?

Chen: Yeah.

Frost: Nice. Usually, when I give people a fighting chance, they don’t fight so well. Any last words?

Chen: You don’t have to do this.

Frost: Unfortunately, I do. Nothing personal, brother.

[[SFX: Rumbling as the Cavatica tilts, breaking, accompanied by a deep sound.]]

[[SFX: Gun blast goes wide, hitting a console. Rubble falls.]]

Frost: [[Shouts, startled, as the ground shakes.]] Aaah!

Chen: [[Grunts/hisses with pain, but manages to stay atop the gurney.]] Aaah!

[[SFX: The rumbling dissipates.]]

Frost: [[Alarmed.]] What was that?!

Chen: [[Alarmed.]] I don’t know! This thing’s been falling apart since before we arrived!

Frost: That wasn’t just the ship falling apart. That was an impact.

[[SFX: Deep sound.]]

Chen: [[Disbelieving.]] Are they… Is the Enforcer One firing on us?

Frost: [[Shakes head, confident.]] They wouldn’t fire on us. Not with me on board.

Chen: [[Drily.]] Must be nice.

Frost: Mmm. As scintillating as this conversation is… [[SFX: Gun charging.]] I’ve got a schedule to keep. [[Sighs, perhaps rolls eyes.]] What. What are you going to do with that IV stand? Ward off my gun blasts?

Chen: [[Shrugs.]] You never know.

Frost: I admire your tenacity, brother.

[[SFX: Gun blast. Chen’s body slumps against the gurney.]]

Frost: …But sometimes you just gotta know when you’re beat. [[Turns, stoops to pick up X. Grunts slightly with the effort.]] All right, little lady. Let’s get you back to the --

[[SFX: Rumbling as the Cavatica tilts and further breaks. Deep sound.]]

Frost: What is that? -- What in the...?! [[Perplexed.]] It’s… [[Disbelieving sound, perhaps a chuckle.]] That’s not possible. I --

[[SFX: Loud explosion; recording is abruptly cut off.]]

[[SFX: Transition.]]

SCENE 2

[[SFX: Cavatica, Dash core.]]

X: [[Wakes up slowly.]] Mmmgh. Chen? [[Beat, then worried.]] Chen?!

Chen: [[Weakly, struggles to make his voice heard.]] I’m here. [[He coughs, sputtering blood.]]

X: [[Crawls over to him.]] Oh my gosh. You’re --

Chen: [[Not fine.]] I’m fine, X. I’ll be fine.

X: You’re not -- you’re not fine! This is not what “fine” looks like! [[Her voice trembles.]] How… [[Takes a deep, centering breath.]] Okay. I can help you. The wound’s cauterized, but we need to stop the internal bleeding.

Chen: [[Shakes his head.]] X… I’m okay. It’s okay. This is my job. This is what I do.

X: [[Upset.]] It’s a crappy job and you shouldn’t have to!

Chen: I want to.

X: [[Bordering on hysterical.]] Well, too bad! You’re not gonna… You’re not going to die! I don’t want you to! I won’t let you! [[Beat.]] …Hm. Think we could put your brain into Kai’s chassis?

Chen: I’m… just gonna flat-out say “no” to that one.

X: [[Exasperated.]] There are no bad ideas when you’re brainstorming! [[Desperate, though trying to remain calm.]] Okay. [[Deep breath.]] I re-attached my dad’s arm once. We live in an age of space travel. We have false gravity. We have frickin’ Charlotte, for crying out loud. Nothing is impossible. Come on… That stupid Fixer pulled through, and she was like a billion years old. You’re young and strong and healthy, so there’s no reason why you can’t, too. [[Pauses, grimaces.]] Ugh. I just found your…

[[SFX: Rustling.]]

Chen: What, are you gonna… ?

[[SFX: Wet thump.]]

Chen: Uh. Ooookay. I guess… yep. This is happening. You just dumped my severed arm right in my lap… I’m just… gonna… [[Passes out.]]

X: [[Soothing.]] It’s all right. Rest up, buddy. We’re going to make everything okay again. [[Almost threatening tone.]] I’m not gonna let you give up and die.

[[SFX: Rubble shifts, stage right.]]

Frost: [[Coughs, badly injured.]] It’s what he wants.

X: I didn’t ask you. [[Slowly; vaguely unhinged.]] And oh! Heyyy. Are you the one who did this to Chen?

Frost: Yeah. [[Coughs, wheezes, then defiantly:]] Go on, then. Kill me. I’m not afraid to die.

X: …What is up with everyone and death?! Why would I kill you?! I’m not going to kill you! None of you are going to die! [[Glares.]] At least, not until you answer my questions.

Frost: [[Amused, despite pain.]] Are you threatening me?

X: Yeah. Be scared. Also, tell me what happened.

Frost: You understand I blew Chen's arm off, right? And that he is most likely going to die? [[Pause.]] Just curious. You don't seem too broken up about it.

X: Oh, don't worry. I'm angry. But I know better than to act on it and do something stupid. Now. What happened after you knocked me out? Why is the dash core such a wreck? Why are you buried underneath all that rubble?

Frost: [[Disbelieving chuckle.]] Ship got grabbed.

X: Grabbed? By what?

Frost: The star! Out there. [[Momentary silence.]] It… it reached out, like… an arm of fire or something? And… moved the Cavatica? [[Sinks into disbelieving laughter.]]

X: [[Unfazed.]] Ra. Yeah.

Frost: …The star. Reached out.

X: [[Plainly.]] Yes.

Frost: The red dwarf star. You don’t… [[Beat.]] You believe me?

X: [[Plainly.]] Yes.

Frost: [[Freaks out, finally.]] What’s going on?! Why do you believe me? Why are we having this… freaky tea party conversation? Is there anyone… normal around I can talk to?!

X: [[Plainly.]] Not likely. I’m not normal. Ra’s not normal. There's very little normal about this particular point in space and time. [[Sighs.]] I know you’re just doing what the Councillor told you to do… You’re just doing your job. I get that now. And Ra’s just doing his job. And I’m just here to do mine. [[Deep breath.]] Sit tight. I’ll send someone to start digging you out. [[Mutters.]] Eventually.

Frost: I don’t…

X: I know. You don’t understand. How about this: you try to move or dig yourself out, or come after any of my crew… and Ra will “reach out” to you again. But this time, he’ll melt through that tempered crystal and you’ll burn and freeze simultaneously, your blood boiling and your eyeballs shattering, all while getting pumped full of so much radiation you’ll turn into a giant tumor and then disintegrate on a cellular level.

Frost: [[Coldly, back in familiar territory.]] I’m not afraid to die.

X: I know -- you said that already. I just wanted to give you fair warning.

[[SFX: X begins to clear away the rubble around the wheels of Chen’s gurney.]]

Frost: What are you doing?

X: [[Sighs, as though it’s obvious.]] I’m clearing out the rubble so I can get Chen to the glasshouse. Then I’m going to fix him. Then, I’m going to fix you. Then, I’m going to fix the Cavatica and this giant flipping mess we’re all in. Okay?

Frost: … You’re crazy.

X: [[Softly, without humor.]] Yeah.

[[SFX: X leaves, pushing the gurney.]]

[[SFX: Transition.]]

SCENE 3

[[SFX: Cavatica, Glasshouse.]]

X: [[Wearily, beyond exhausted.]] Day… 10,320, hour… 23:06. Status update. [[Pause.]] Uhhh. I got Chen to the glasshouse, which… [[Sighs in defeated exhaustion.]] Well, more on that later. For now, I’ll just say that the… ship-quake affected more than just the dash core. Chen is… well, he’s resting for now. He went into hypovolemic shock, though we finally got his IV all set up, so he should be okay again soon. Maybe.

Thankfully, Dani was here with Charlotte, working on Kai, when the ship got knocked off-kilter, and -- again, thankfully -- they were both uninjured and able to help me treat Chen.

Speaking of which… We did the best we could -- and I do have some experience with limb reattachment, but… we’ll see.

Otherwise, Charlotte’s back to working on Kai, and Dani…

Dani: [[Steps in.]] Dani is here to make sure you get some rest.

X: Hey. Did you sedate… ?

Dani: [[Firmly.]] Yes. Assistant Frost is sedated. Again. [[Exasperated exhale.]] And your head is bleeding. Again. Here. Give me that. [[She takes X’s recorder.]]

[[SFX: Tape recorder click.]]

[[SFX: Transition.]]

SCENE 4

[[SFX: Cavatica, Glasshouse.]]

X: [[Voice sounds clear and awake again.]] Whoo. Day 10,321, hour 12:32. Apparently I needed some rest. Again. [[SFX: Attempts to sit up.]] Aaaaagh. My head. It’s… ohhh. That’s blood. [[Vaguely puzzled.]] There’s blood in my eyes?

Dani: [[Hurries over.]] Oh my gosh! Go lie back down right now! You have bled through those bandages, like, four times and I am so tired of changing them!

X: Oh. [[Blinks, taking everything in.]] Where’s Chen? Is he… ?

Dani: He’s okay, yeah. He was conscious for a few minutes earlier -- his fluid levels are back to normal -- and said something about spiders before passing out? [[Hurriedly amends.]] Not, like, unconscious passing out -- like, passing out asleep. The okay kind.

X: [[Smiles slightly.]] Good. And… what’s the assistant’s name? Frost?

Dani: I take immeasurable joy in sedating them every four hours or so.

X: And how are you? Has anyone checked in with you?

Dani: [[Considers.]] I’m… good. I like knowing I can help you guys out.

X: You are so fantastic. Thank you so much. [[Considers.]] Oh man, this should totally earn you your doctorate!

Dani: [[Beat.]] I… don’t think it works like that.

X: Honorary doctorate?

Dani: Get some rest. [[Pause.]] I’m gonna go check on Charlotte. She zoomed off to the engine room pod wit Kai’s chassis a couple minutes ago for some strange and unknown reason. Promise me you’ll lie down?

X: Mmmyep.

Dani: Okay. Sleep well.

[[SFX: Footsteps as Dani skitters off. Door opens and closes in distance.]]

X: Okay. We’re all okay. -Ish. [[Sighs, looks around.]] The glasshouse pod, though… it’s… grim. Everything’s broken. [[Beat.]] Well, not everything -- none of the crystalline structure is cracked or broken, or else we’d have been dead hours ago.

But there are tree branches down everywhere, and roots are exposed, and the pathways are buried in mud and leaves… and the aviary’s door is off its hinges, which means we’ll be playing “52 bird species pickup” later… [[Dismayed.]] Oh.

[[SFX: Walks several steps, through grass.]]

X: Your roses. I’m… oh. I’m so sorry, Dad.

[[SFX: Walks several more steps, through grass.]]

X: Oh! And the swing’s down. [[Inspects it.]] Well, at least that we can fix -- [[Stops short.]] Wait. What’s… ?

[[SFX: Slow footsteps through grass, one at a time.]]

X: Huh. Some of the maple tree’s roots got exposed, too, but I don’t… [[Frowns, confused.]] Oh. Well. That’s just… [[Beat.]] Wait. I thought that was just a dream? [[Pause, reassures self.]] It was definitely a dream. She was crying, and you kissed my forehead and told me to go back to bed… Right? I didn’t see anything. [[Laughs nervously.]] That’s just a big round white rock, probably. Which is really hard to say, by the way. Big round white rock. Big round white rock. Big round white rock.

[[SFX: Door opens in distance; footsteps and Charlotte’s hydraulics approach.]]

X: [[To self, anxiously.]] …I… really should go lie back down.

Charlotte: [[Repeats, a la “Warning.”]] Triumph. Triumph. Triumph.

X: [[Turns.]] Hey! Dani! Charlotte! What’s the -- [[Gasps.]] Kai!!!

Kai: Hello, X.

X: Oh my gosh!

[[SFX: X’s footsteps in the grass -- just three or four steps.]]

Dani: Wait -- no! Don’t run -- ergh.

X: Kai! I’m so happy to see you! Well, I mean, I’ve been seeing you, technically -- or, your body at least -- er, I mean, your chassis? [[Makes a face.]] Sorry, that sounds super weird and creepy. Ugh. I’m just so stoked that you’re functional again!

Charlotte: I am [[blip]] also happy to see you.

X: [[Ignoring Charlotte, continues rambling.]] Oh man! I have this super-weird urge to run up to you and, like, squeeze your torso?! I mean… [[Laughs awkwardly.]] What’s that all about, right?!

Dani: [[In the background.]] ...That’s called a hug.

Kai: [[Matter-of factly.]] How about instead, we remain calm and civil so as to not worsen the massive blunt force trauma you’ve managed to incur on your forehead? [[Pause.]] Also, I am glad to see you as well.

Dani: [[Sternly.]] X, you bleed through those bandages one more time and I will end you.

Kai: [[To Dani:]] I am impressed by your devotion to your work. [[Turns to X:]] How is Chen?

X: [[Solemn.]] Not great. Sleeping, for now. That stupid assistant shot him through the shoulder this time -- close range. His lungs and heart were exposed, and we had to re-attach one of his arms. Thankfully, we’ve got the mother lode of antibiotics, bandages, IV fluids, and hemostatic sponges, so… I’m optimistic.

Kai: You usually are. [[Pause.]] And how are you?

X: Eh. [[Waves a hand dismissively.]] Just a lil’ bump to the head. I was more worried about you, actually. [[Winces.]] I’m so sorry I couldn’t fix you. I’ve never been good with machinery…

Kai: [[Stiffly, perhaps offended.]] It’s fine. Don’t worry about it.

X: [[Continues rambling.]] Ugh, and I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I’m so glad Charlotte was here!

Dani: Me, too. It was her idea to harvest the final part we needed to repair Kai from the engine pod.

Charlotte: [[Pleased.]] Would you like to live -- [[blip]]?

X: [[Smiles.]] Nice. Thank you, Charlotte.

Charlotte: [[Primly.]] You are welcome.

X: Oh man. Kai, I’m just so glad you’re back. I have so many questions for you! Like, were you conscious the whole time your suit was out of order? I mean, I was so afraid that you were trapped there in the darkness, screaming silently, staring out at us helplessly from within the metal prison of your suit…

Kai: [[Still stiffly.]] I am fine now, thank you.

X: [[Catches on to Kai’s discomfort.]] Aaah, sorry, I don’t mean to be all ramble-y… I’m just super excited you’re back!

Dani: [[Tactfully changes the subject.]] Yeah, so… um… Charlotte and I took a quick stock of the ship, and it turns out the damage from the earthquake wasn’t nearly as bad as we thought! [[Beat.]] … Earthquake? Shipquake? Tremor? [[Shrugs.]] Whatever we’re calling it.

X: I like "shipquake"? That sounds accurate. And… what is the damage?

Dani: Well, we’ll cover the bad news first just to get it over with. The communications pod is gone. Like, it finally broke off and sailed away and is officially gone forever. But it had been kinda hanging on by a thread, so… maybe it’s not that much of a surprise?

[[Continues on.]] Also, the hull of the cockpit pod was ruptured, and we lost a lot of atmo before we could get it patched up. So basically, the whole thing’s off-limits right now. Even though it’s not technically my field, I tried grafting some of those pink crystals onto the rift to see if they’d help reinforce the seal, and so far they’re responding with a nice even growth. They really flourished with the addition of some heat.

[[Considers.]] Oh, and Frost is still trapped and sedated in the dash core. He might be in shock, too, but… [[Shrugs.]] I kinda don’t care since he’s actively trying to kill us… [[To Charlotte.]] What else?

Charlotte: There was also significant damage along the portside corridor.

Dani: Oh right, yeah.

Charlotte: [[Continues.]] The trauma from the communications pod breaking away bent and ruptured several of the support beams near the one remaining magnetically sealed pod.

X: Uh-huhhh. And… what’s in that pod again?

Charlotte: Aural receptors malfunctioning.

X: [[Rolls eyes.]] Okay. Is the door still sealed?

Charlotte: Affirma//tive. [[Blip.]] Yes. For now.

X: [[Nods.]] Okay. What else?

Dani: Just some minor buckling in the bulkheads and floors… some furniture and personal items out of place… broken glass… [[Shrugs.]] But… that seems to be the worst of it.

X: Wow. [[Relieved.]] Not too terrible. Thanks for checking. We can totally deal with all of this.

[[SFX: Bedsheets stirring on gurney.]]

Chen: [[Weakly.]] Deal with… what?

X: [[Can hardly contain excitement.]] Oh my gosh! And Chen’s awake! Heee! Everything is so amazing!

Chen: [[Coughs blood.]] Yeah. Amazing. [[He spots Kai, and sounds genuinely pleased.]] Hey! Kai -- good to see you again.

Kai: The same to you, sir. I regret I was not around to help you take on the councillor’s assistant.

Chen: Oh, I did just… just fine on my own. [[Coughs up more blood.]]

X: Yay. Good. [[Claps hands, rubs them together.]] Now -- who wants to help me round up the birds and get them back into the aviary? We only had a few dozen species to begin with, and they’re not all exactly… friendly toward each other, so I’m worried that number might be rapidly dropping. Chen, you’re exempt, of course, but I could actually use your help with --

Dani: [[Frowning, taking a step forward.]] Wait. Is that…?

X: What? [[Follows her gaze.]] A rock? Yes.

[[SFX: Dani takes a few steps into grass.]]

Dani: Nnnnno… [[Tone sounds definite.]] That. There. Under the maple tree.

X: The big white rock wedged underneath those exposed roots?

Dani: [[Eyes X.]] No. [[Beat.]] Um… not to alarm you or anything, but I’m… pretty sure that’s a human skull.

Chen: What?!

X: [[Blinks. Then, dismissively:]] Noooooo. We’re all just tired and stressed and suffering from massive amounts of blood loss and head trauma! Plus, it’s been a super long day…

Chen: [[Attempts to sit up slightly, squints into the near distance.]] I… [[Grunts with pain.]] I think she might be right.

X: [[To Chen, covering up a deeper emotion, perhaps fear/anger.]] Okay, you were unconscious until about 30 seconds ago. You’re probably hallucinating.

[[SFX: Dani steps forward into the grass/dirt, prods at the tree roots.]]

Dani: [[Squats down for a closer look.]] Yeah. This is very clearly a human skull. Male… probably aged six to seven months…

X: [[To self, chuckles helplessly.]] What?! That didn’t really happen…

Chen: [[Peers at X closely with concern.]] What didn’t happen?

Dani: Oh my gosh! [[SFX: Scrabble of dirt.]] Look… There’s more than one!

Charlotte: [[Blip.]] Would you like to live forever?

X: I… no! [[Breathing quickens into hyperventilation.]] It was a dream.

[[SFX: Flies.]]

X: [[Desperate, nervous.]] Here -- they’re seriously just rocks. I’ll show you!

[[SFX: X takes a couple steps forward through the grass.]]

Chen: I don’t think that’s a good idea. [[Calmly, to Kai.]] Kai, why don’t you help X re-bandage her head over there, by the waterfall and the orchids?

Kai: Roger that.

X: [[Snaps.]] Hey! Don’t talk about me like I’m not here! And don’t treat me like some hysterical invalid and usher me off to safety or whatever! I’m a scientist, and you have no idea what I’ve been through or dealt with or seen or done over the years. Okay? You have no idea what I’m capable of. In fact, I’m … I’m… [[Trails off, wipes her face absentmindedly. Stares at her fingertips, alarmed.]] Aaaah! What is this? This is blood.

Kai: [[Calmly.]] Yes. There is blood literally dripping down your face from your massive head injury.

Dani: [[Looks up briefly, frowns.]] Aw, come on! I’ve rebandaged that thing four times!

X: [[Mollified.]] Ah. [[Falls quiet.]]

Kai: [[Gently, though not condescending.]] Let’s assess your injuries, get you bandaged up, and then we’ll come back and figure all of this out.

X: [[Voice ever-so-slightly shaky.]] Yeah. Okay.

Kai: Here. [[Offers an arm.]]

[[SFX: They begin to walk away. Waterfall eventually fades in.]]

Charlotte: Do not judge us too harshly.

Dani: [[Distant.]] Oh my gosh… there’s…

Kai: [[Talks over Dani, to X.]] It wasn’t that bad.

X: [[Glances up at Kai.]] Hmm? What wasn't that bad?

Kai: Being… off. Out of commission. It wasn’t all darkness and silent screaming. It was… quiet. Nothingness. Peace.

X: Oh. [[Thinks for a moment.]] That sounds… kind of nice, actually. Restful. [[Beat.]] Would you… um. Have preferred to stay that way?

Kai: No.

[[SFX: They stop walking.]]

Dani: [[In distance.]] … four… five… six…

Chen: [[Wearily, in distance.]] Look out -- there’s one to your right. No, your other right.

X: [[Distracted, turns, frowns.]] Sounds like they’re…

Kai: [[Firmly.]] They’re just doing their jobs. We’ll join them again when we’re done with ours here. Hold still --

[[SFX: Bandage is removed from X’s head.]]

X: [[Hisses in pain.]] Aaaaaah. Wow. That really… Ugh, it’s like echoes of pain rippling through my skull. [[Pause.]] You know, I never did find out what happened --

Kai: [[Inspects her forehead, assesses quickly.]] Hm. Looks like a compound cranial fracture caused by a blunt object to the forehead. I’m assuming said object was the stock of a Caldwell Enterprises Bulk Rifle.

X: [[Attempts a joke.]] You know, you really shouldn’t assume…

Kai: [[Drily.]] I’ve heard. Speaking of which, has anyone checked you for a concussion?

X: No, but I’ve had them before and I know what they feel like. And I don’t think… [[Trails off.]]

Kai: [[Drily.]] What was that about assumption?

X: [[Narrows eyes suspiciously.]] You’re really trying to keep me away from what’s going on by the maple tree.

Kai: [[Evenly, perhaps slightly wearily.]] No, I’m trying to assess whether my friend has a serious brain injury.

X: [[Pleased, amused.]] … Are you finally admitting that we’re friends?

Kai: If it means you’ll pay attention and let me help you, yes. Here -- look up for a second. Do you have a headache?

X: Obviously.

Kai: Nausea?

X: [[Considers.]] I’m kind of hungry, I guess?...

[[SFX: Flashlight click.]]

Kai: Sensitivity to light?

X: [[Surprised.]] Woah. You have a flashlight in your neck?

Kai: All right. You seem to be --

X: [[Suddenly distracted.]] Chen’s looking at me weird.

Kai: [[Matter-of-factly.]] He’s worried about you.

X: No, this is… hm. Now Dani’s looking at me, too.

Kai: [[Relents with a sigh.]] Stay here. I’ll go find out --

X: How about we both go?

[[SFX: X begins walking back to the tree. Waterfall fades.]]

X: [[Calls out to Dani & Chen, almost defensively.]] What? What is it?

Chen: What happened here? Do you know? Did you know these bones were here?

Dani: [[Surveys the area, hands on her hips.]] There are the remains of at least seven bodies here.

X: [[Reels a bit.]] Woah. What?! [[Thinks about the question; to Chen:]] Uh… no! I had no idea… [[Considers.]] Oh. Well, maybe? [[Pauses for an uncomfortably long time. Embarrassed.]] I don’t know… I mean… I used to have these… dreams?

Chen: [[Expression unreadable; echoes her word.]] Dreams.

X: [[Nods.]] Yeah. But they weren’t… I mean, they didn’t mean anything. They were just… dreams!

Dani: [[Gently.]] Like what?

X: I don’t know… flies and a metal door on a beach… Drones hovering over the ocean… A… some sort of vehicle collision? A white-haired woman in a green chair next to a vase full of lilacs?! [[She shrugs, helplessly.]] They don’t mean anything.

Dani: [[Encouraging, without being condescending.]] That’s all right. You said… did you have one about the maple tree?

X: [[Nods.]] I… um. I was little, and my mom was crying and… um. [[Realization.]] Burying… something? [[Horrified.]] Oh my gosh.

Chen: Uh-huh.

X: [[Panicked.]] I… I thought that sign was like, I don’t know. A family crest or something? Not a… a grave marker!

Kai: [[Reads the plaque.]] Honorem Lutum Sanguine.

Dani: [[Translating.]] “Honor in dirt and blood?”

Chen: [[Disgusted.]] There’s no honor in this. They’re children.

X: [[Protectively.]] Woah, wait, you don’t even know what happened here!

Chen: [[Calmly.]] Do you?

X: [[Caught off-guard.]] No! But… look, my parents were good people! There’s a logical and rational explanation as to what’s going on. [[Looks at Charlotte.]] Charlotte, can you tell us what happened here?

Charlotte: Aural recept --

X: No. Do not even tell me your aural receptors are malfunctioning.

Charlotte: Find me. Find me. Find -- [[Blips. Begins to play recording of a human-sounding female voice.]] “The children are the key. But we… I need your help. The station can’t survive // another incident…”

X: [[Frowns.]] That’s the recording she played for us the other day.

Dani: The children are the key? The key to what?

Kai: [[Simply.]] Whatever they were working on.

Chen: Which was…? [[He looks to X to prompt her for the answer.]]

X: Why… is everyone looking at me? [[Voice rises slightly in pitch.]] I don’t know what they were working on! [[Looks around.]] I promise!

Chen: That’s all right. We’ll start out easy. What was the Ra Initiative?

X: [[Looks at them like it’s obvious.]] It’s… just Ra.

Dani: [[Coaxing.]] Okay… but in what capacity? What were they doing to Ra?

X: [[Confused.]] No… you don’t… [[Sighs.]] They weren’t doing anything to him. At least, not at first.

Chen: [[Coaxes her to continue.]] Then… [[Pause.]] Help us understand.

X: They made him. Ra is the first human-made star in our galaxy.

[[SFX: Low sound. Silence as the others digest this information. Then, everyone bursts out with several questions at once, all talking over each other:]]

Dani: Wait. Wait. Wait. How do you… make a star?!

Chen: Are you saying… your parents made Ra?! [[Frowns.]] …Wait, what does that even mean?

X: I wasn’t actually involved with that part of the --

Charlotte: Do not judge us too harshly.

Dani: Wait -- so… what did Charlotte mean when she said the children are the key?

X: I don’t know. I’m still --

Dani: [[Demanding.]] Are the bones here related to Ra somehow?

Charlotte: Aural receptors malfunctioning.

Chen: Did Ra really reach out earlier and grab the ship? How did that even happen?

X: I don’t know. I didn’t see --

Dani: Is Ra sentient? [[Frustrated sound.]] How is Ra sentient? That doesn’t make any sense.

Charlotte: Would you like to live forever?

Chen: Does Ra have… an agenda? [[Half-laughs as he realizes how silly that question sounds. Muses:]] Can a star have an agenda?

Dani: Is Ra even actually a star?

X: Well, uh, that I can --

Charlotte: Triumph. Triumph. [[Blip.]] Warning. Warning. Warning.

Chen: Why didn’t you tell us any of this earlier?

Dani: …Wait, what does that make you?

X: [[Frustrated sound.]] All right. [[Shouts.]] Enough. [[The chatter (including Charlotte) ceases.]] Just… I need, like, a second.

[[Incredibly awkward pause. X takes a deep breath.]]

X: [[Nervous joke.]] Okay, maybe more like a million seconds. [[Sighs.]] Yeah, okay. Look… This is all… it’s a little overwhelming. …And by a little, I mean a lot. [[Beat.]] I just… yes, Ra actually is a human-made star, and the humans who made him were my parents. And yes, we’re… [[Carefully.]] Connected. Ra and I. But I don’t think that’s pertinent to whatever’s happening here. I mean… [[Pause.]] It’s… complicated, me and Ra. I don’t even really understand it, much less know how to explain it.

Dani: Okay… all of that weird star stuff aside, you never noticed that your parents were slaughtering helpless children? You didn’t hear, like, any screams in the night or anything?

X: Yeah, I don’t… I guess now that I look back on it… I mean… I could have… [[Pauses.]] Wait. Are you… are you saying this is my fault?

Dani: No! Just… how did you not know what was going on?

X: I… [[Sounds defeated.]] I don’t know. They said science was the portal to discovery. They said… it was good. They said I was good. I… trusted them.

[[SFX: Heartbeat, flies, high-pitched whine.]]

Dani: Gosh! No, I didn’t mean --

Chen: [[Calmly.]] It’s all right. We’ll get this all figured out.

X: I’m… I’m sorry. [[Backs away.]] I just need… [[Backs away.]] Just a few minutes to process…

Kai: Here --

[[SFX: Heartbeat, flies, high-pitched whine increase.]]

[[SFX: X’s footsteps.]]

[[SFX: Transition.]]

SCENE 5

[[SFX: Cavatica, Glasshouse. Waterfall is prominent.]]

X: [[Voice is flat.]] Day 10,321, hour 22:43. [[Pause.]] I’ve talked about perfection before, on this recorder… how it’s an unattainable human construction, how we’re obsessed with the supposition that we can be -- or become -- something that we actually can’t.

The arrogance that the limited can achieve the limitless -- that something without an outer limit even can be achieved… it can’t. Perfection is the shiny object atop an infinite pedestal.

I’ve talked about beauty, too -- especially here in the glasshouse pod, where there’s so much light and warmth and abundance. Where beauty is everywhere every day, in everything from the cherry blossoms and oranges to the ferns, lilies, finches, aloe plants, spiders, hibiscus, cacti, and yes -- even the fish. [[Represses a shudder.]]

But I don’t think I’ve ever talked about good. [[Frowns.]] You know, the force diametrically opposed to the equally vague and confusing notion of evil?

[[Pause.]] We wrap so much up into our concept of “good”-ness. Everything from the massive umbrella of ethics to the… the smallest twitch of a smile. The littlest gesture. Actions, behaviors, habits, patterns of speech, decisions, thoughts, dreams -- they all merit judgment, if you care to apply it.

Maybe that was where I failed.

Maybe I could have prevented this -- or at least some of it. If I’d have known what to look for, or what to do. If I’d have known what they were doing. Why they were doing it. What they hoped to accomplish.

[[Disgusted with self.]] But we -- or at least, I was so eager to coast along the easy route -- the loving, cared-for route -- that I didn’t notice the slow disappearance of embryos from that drawer.

Or if I did notice, I didn’t think to question it -- where they were going, what was happening to them.

Or… if I did question it, I stopped before my mind landed upon an answer that would be troubling, or frightening, or -- worse -- uncomfortable.

My mother asked me for a new specimen about every 10 months or so, give or take. It meant she was starting a new project, which was always an exciting time for our family. I would bring her one of the embryos from the drawer, and she would send me off to help my father tend the gardens.

[[Bitter.]] I thought I was helping. I thought it was okay to trust them.

I thought I was doing something… good.

And… maybe I was? [[Sighs.]] Maybe they had weighed the moral cost -- maybe they were working on curing diseases or building healthier human children or… I don’t know. Un-destroying the Earth?

Maybe they were working toward… heh. [[Wryly.]] What does Caldwell Enterprises call it?... The “greater good”?

[[Pause.]] But what gets me is that, right now, I don’t know. I don’t know what they were doing.

[[Disgusted with self.]] Because I was doing what was easy -- blindly following orders. I should have thought to challenge them. Question them. Heck, I should have asked more questions, period. I was so focused on being a “good” little human daughter that I didn’t stop to think if, in doing so, I might be serving a purpose that wasn’t.

Kai: [[Cautiously; has been here the entire time.]] X, I really don’t want to interrupt your monologue, but… aren’t you being a little hard on yourself?

X: [[Darkly.]] Yeah. Well. Maybe it’s finally time I was held accountable.

Kai: [[Reasonably.]] You were a child. Children trust their parents implicitly. They do what their parents tell them. Their brains aren’t developed enough to discern right from wrong or to challenge authority… especially unprompted.

X: Maybe mine was, and I’m just a huge coward.

Kai: Or maybe you don’t even fully understand what it is you’re blaming yourself for.

X: [[Laughs humorlessly.]] Yeah, but I do -- the bones of seven children under the maple tree.

Kai: Eight. Dani found another skull.

X: [[Aghast.]] … You’re not helping!

Kai: [[Firmly.]] No. I am helping. You’re just not listening. Why?

X: Uh. Because I’m right and you’re wrong?

Kai: No. I think it’s because taking on your parents’ guilt absolves them of it.

X: That doesn’t make any sense.

Kai: [[Mildly.]] Doesn’t it?

[[Pause.]]

X: [[Sighs.]] You don’t have to sit here with me, you know. I know I’m not particularly entertaining right now, unless you’re really into Byronic-hero-style brooding. You can go off with Chen and Dani and Charlotte and… [[Waves a hand dismissively.]] …sort bones or whatever.

Kai: They stopped a couple of hours ago to rest. Anyway, I… prefer it over here.

X: [[Looks around, smiles slightly, and nods.]] The waterfall and the orchids, right?! Super soothing.

Kai: Yes.

X: [[Musing, staring at the glass terrariums.]] Chen didn’t like the spiders.

Kai: [[Matter-of-factly.]] They’re a critical component of any ecosystem.

X: [[Sighs.]] That’s what I said. Well, technically, I said, “Spiders are our friends,” but… that’s pretty much the same thing. [[Pauses, points.]] Did you see the terrarium in the middle?

Kai: “Araneus cavaticus”? [[Makes the connection.]] Oh.

X: [[Nods.]] Yeah. She’s what the Cavatica’s named after. Steady. Dependable. Trustworthy. [[Pause.]] Dad used to tell me… [[Yawns hugely.]] Mmmfh. [[Blinks.]] Sorry. It’s been a day.

Kai: Why don’t you get some sleep? You need it.

X: [[Warily.]] Why are you being so nice to me?

Kai: Someone has to. And you’re not being particularly nice to yourself.

X: [[Half-suspiciously, half-joking.]] You’re not going to, like, murder me in my sleep?

Kai: With me, you have a one hundred percent no-murdering guarantee. [[Considers.]] Well. With a standard point-zero-one percent variable, of course.

X: [[Sleepily.]] Of course. Good. [[Amused.]] I was actually kind of worried that if -- when -- you came back, you’d come back evil, or with, like, amnesia or a cowboy accent or something. I’m glad you’re okay.

Kai: Me, too.

[[Pause.]]

X: [[Opens one eye.]] You’re actually okay? I mean, you’re not evil?

Kai: No evil. No amnesia. Just me. I promise.

[[SFX: Transition.]]

SCENE 6

[[SFX: Cavatica, Glasshouse. Waterfall prominent.]]

[[SFX: Deep noise, accompanied by what might be a distant human male scream.]]

X: [[Gasps in terror, sitting up. Her hand frantically hits Kai.]] Kai?!

Kai: [[Reassuringly; unfazed.]] I’m here.

X: Did you… did you hear that?

Kai: Hear what?

X: [[Listens for a beat, then slowly lets out a shaky breath.]] Heh. Okay. I must be hearing things. Or maybe… maybe it was just another dream.

Kai: Likely. Hm. [[Troubled.]] You’ve bled through your bandages again. Should I be concerned?

X: [[Settles back down. Sleepily.]] Just… make sure I don’t die. Okay? I wanna help out tomorrow and I can’t do that if I’m dead.

Kai: [[Patiently, perhaps amused.]] All right.

X: [[Sleepily.]] It all becomes part of you, out here.

Kai: What does?

X: [[Murmurs.]] Everything. Nothing. It’s all one thing. I am part of the void. I am part of all matter. I am part of them. Heh. I’m even part of you.

Kai: [[Carefully.]] Are you talking about the bones beneath the tree?

X: [[Soft considering sound.]] How could I have mistaken them for a dream? [[Laughs ruefully, then recites:]] “The sphere, fragile and luminous, / takes flight rapidly, / bursts and spits out its flimsy soul, / like a golden dream…” [[Brief pause.]] Mmm. That is Baudelaire again. But... I’m not sure which translation…

[[SFX: Deep noise, accompanied by a distant male human scream.]]

[[SFX: Beating heart. Flies.]]

X: [[Fully awake again, panicked and alert. Sits up.]] Okay. Tell me you heard it that time.

Kai: [[Alert, on-edge. Nods.]] I… definitely heard it that time.

X: [[Frantic.]] Oh, crap… I totally forgot! Frost! We need to get to the others now!

[[SFX: Stinger.]]

[[SFX: OUTRO MUSIC]]

-Fin-

CREDITS (In order of appearance)

X: Sarah Rhea Werner

Singh: A.R. Olivieri

Council Member: Thoreau Smiley

Cpt. Miles Chen: Lincoln Donovan

Frost: Hayley Armstrong

Dani: Jamie Killen

Charlotte: Kay Krause

Kai: Josh Crute

Written by: Sarah Rhea Werner

Directed by: Jon Krause

Produced and Edited by: Sarah Rhea Werner

Music & Sound Effects:

Season 1, Episode 9: Did You Come Into Contact With Unknown Forces

FUN FACT: Everything is totally super okay! Well, except for all of the alarms going off. But who cares about alarms when you have coffee, friendship, vacuum-sealed coffins, and many, MANY glass tanks full of spiders?

+ TRANSCRIPT & CREDITS

TRANSCRIPT

INTRO

X: I don’t know why people bother saying things like, “There’s no turning back now.”

There’s never any turning back. There never has been. There never will be.

It’s Girl In Space.

[[SFX: INTRO MUSIC, 1:10]]

PROLOGUE

[[SFX: Tape recorder click.]]

X, played back over a tape recorder: Okay. Crisis averted. Sort of. I mean, that batch of coffee’s ruined, but... nothing’s on fire, for once. Gotta celebrate the little wins.

[[Deep breath.]] Okay. So. Before all that happened, I was processing through something that’s really been weighing on my mind lately -- not just my mother, but the little drawer full of embryos.

The human ones.

So… I brought specimen “S” to my mother that day, and I asked her the question that had been gnawing at my brain for… days. Weeks. Months.

Forever.

“Why did you choose me?”

She didn’t answer right away, so at first I just assumed she had chosen not to hear the question. She did that sometimes.

But then she finished initiating the thawing sequence for specimen “S”, and she spoke.

“I didn’t,” she said, simply.

Those two words got my heart racing.

“Well then, who did?” I whispered, wondering who else who could possibly have had a role to play in my existence. Who had decided my fate -- you know, if you believe in that kind of thing.

But she just laughed. “No, I mean, I didn’t intentionally select you,” she said. “I chose you, but it was completely random. I needed an embryo, and... your vial was nearest the front of the drawer. It just happened to be the one I grabbed at the time.”

She must have seen my face then, and felt something, because she put down the petri dish and the tongs and squatted down to my eye level.

“It was just like you choosing specimen… ‘S’ here,” she said. “Quick, impulsive, devoid of thought, and thus devoid of meaning or motive.”

[[Pause]] I struggled to understand this for a few moments. “Does that mean I don’t matter?” I remember asking, simultaneously dreading and needing her answer.

“Of course not!” she exclaimed, laughing at the terror and dismay on my face. She patted my cheek. “You matter a great deal to me and your father. You’re our control group. And that’s a very important job.”

[[Brief pause.]]

I remember wondering at the time if my role was important enough to justify my existence… my… guilt at the privileged life I was living. The life my little frozen embryonic siblings would never get to experience.

[[Pause, darkly amused.]] Or maybe they all had it way better than I did. Who knows?

[[SFX: Door opens in distance.]]

[[SFX: Charlotte approaches.]]

Charlotte: Warning: The most recent series of hull ruptures have begun to cause considerable strain on the infirmary pod. [[Pause]] My sensors indicate trace amounts of carbon monoxide. Is something burning? [[Pause, then somewhat dryly:]] Again?

X: Just the coffee. [[Rubs temples, sounds weary.]] Um. Okay. The infirmary. [[Takes a deep breath.]] I’ll figure this out. And worst comes to worst, I don’t really need an infirmary anyway. Right? [[Sighs.]] How are Sekhmet’s vitals?

Charlotte: Aural receptors malfunctioning.

[[SFX: Charlotte whirs away.]]

X: ...Charlotte? [[Begins to run after her, sounds concerned.]] Charlotte!

[[SFX: Bare footsteps fade into distance.]]

[[SFX: Deep vocal sound, cut off by tape recorder button.]]

[[SFX: Transition.]]

SCENE 1

[[SFX: Cavatica, Glasshouse]]

[[SFX: Siren starts; wakes up X.]]

X: [[Groggily]] Day... 10,320, hour 04:59. Mm. Make that 05:00. [[Blinks.]] Woah. I just slept for something like... 20 hours. I must have needed it. [[Pause, listens carefully. Sits up. Groans. To self:]] Ugh. What’s that horrible sound?

[[SFX: Rustling sound from far left as Chen sits up on the gurney.]]

Chen: [[Groggily; sits up. Voice comes from a distance, left.]] Hey, X? What’s that sound?

X: [[Turns away from mic to respond.]] I don’t know… it woke me up, too. I’m gonna go check it out. [[Gets out of bed, hisses.]] Aaah!

Chen: [[Alarmed; voice comes from a distance, left.]] You okay?

X: [[Winces.]] Mmm. Yeah. Never been okay-er. Must’ve just been some acid left in one of my burns.

[[SFX: Walks toward his gurney. Chen’s voice moves from left to center.]]

X: Hey! How about you? How are you feeling?

Chen: Um, I’m okayyyy… [[Unnerved; also uncertain how to breach this weird topic:]] So… is there any particular reason you stashed me back here in the shadows with all of these glass tanks full of… spiders? Are these spiders?

X: What? Yeah. [[Dismayed.]] And no! I put you by the waterfall, and the orchids!

Chen: … And… many, many glass tanks full of spiders.

X: [[Exasperated.]] Spiders are our friends, and an essential part of the Cavatica’s ecosystem. [[Brief pause.]] ...And technically, those tanks are full of scorpions.

Chen: It’s kinda creepy.

X: No, it’s… [[Exasperated.]] I was trying to…! Ugh! I can’t help it if the spiders and scorpions live back here with the orchids! I also can’t help it that you’re weirded out by them for some reason.

Chen: [[Stares, horrified.]] That one’s the size of my face.

X: [[Rolls eyes.]] Just… if they’re bothering you, look to your right instead of your left! Look… the waterfall and the orchids… that’s what you were supposed to wake up and see. It was supposed to be beautiful and soothing.

Chen: [[Transfixed.]] They’re… they’re all staring at me.

X: [[Crossly.]] Yeah, well, you’re probably just as horrifying to them as they are to you. Now, I’m going to go check out that noise. You stay here and cultivate a proper appreciation for the class Arachnida. I’ll be right back.

Chen: [[Realizes something.]] Oh! Hey! --

X: Yeah?

Chen: Wasn’t Charlotte here before? [[Points.]]

X: [[Pause]] Ohhhh crap. [[Takes a few steps.]] Okay. Well, at least Kai is still here. [[Taps on Kai's chassis.]] I mean, still… offline, but physically here. [[Moves toward the door.]] You stay there. I’m going to check out that siren. Then hopefully find Charlotte.

[[SFX: Glasshouse door opens, closes.]]

Chen: [[In distance.]] Wait --

[[SFX: X’s bare footsteps pad down hallway.]]

[[SFX: Glasshouse soundscape fades out.]]

X: [[To self, mostly.]] Okay. Everything is okay. Caldwell Enterprises probably didn’t sneak in while we were sleeping to steal Charlotte and reprogram her to murder me and Chen when we least expect it! Because they would have taken and reprogrammed Kai, too. Right? Unless … well, no. I’m not thinking about that. Everything is totally super okay. [[Deep breath.]] Priorities. The siren’s coming from the dash core…

[[SFX: Transition.]]

SCENE 2

[[SFX: Cavatica, Dash Core]]

[[SFX: Siren.]]

X: Okay… [[Sits down in chair, which creaks. Mutters:]] Looks like… we’re losing pressure? And oxygen levels are down.

[[SFX: Flips a switch, siren stops.]]

X: Mmkay. I probably just need to better seal the door where the remote connector is attached… was attached. Apparently those weird crystals aren’t creating as good a seal as I thought.

X: [[Realization, dismayed.]] Uh. Unless someone came through the door to steal Charlotte… shoot!

[[SFX: X rises abruptly from the chair, opens door, runs out into the hallway.]]

X: Shoot shoot shoot… okay… I’ve gotta -- AUGH!

[[SFX: X runs smack into Charlotte.]]

[[SFX: Brief hydraulics as Charlotte turns.]]

Charlotte: Pardon me. Are you attempting to -- [[Brief pause, as if selecting from a menu of responses.]] -- escape from the Cavatica? Because I am afraid escape is not a viable option at this time.

X: [[Nervously, takes a step back.]] Nnnnnope. Definitely not trying to escape. [[Frowns, cautiously.]] So. Um… glad to see you up and active again, Charlotte. How… exactly did that happen?

Charlotte: [[Beeps]] Would you like to live forever?

X: Uh.

Charlotte: [[Pleasantly]] I have engineered a breakthrough process that allows the subject to live… live… live…

[[SFX: Footsteps run toward mic.]]

Dani: [[Out of breath; referring to Charlotte:]] Oh my gosh. There you are.

X: [[Pleasantly surprised.]] Dani! Hey!

Dani: Hey. Sorry. This was supposed to be a surprise.

X: Welp, I’m… definitely surprised.

Dani: No, I mean… not the eternal life salesbot. She’s just a side effect of the main event.

Charlotte: Common side effects include hives, shortness of breath, organ failure, hemorrhaging from the fingernails and eyelids…

Dani: [[Makes a face.]] Gross. [[To X:]] Sorry. This… machine thing came speeding up to me the second I got on board, and I’ve been so busy dealing with it that pretty much nothing is going to plan.

X: [[Curiously]] What was the plan?

Dani: Oh, right, so, originally, the plan was to continue being an amazing epigeneticist forever -- you know, solve problems, help humankind, speak at conferences, win prestigious prizes, make a bazillion dollars and live in a mansion… all that stuff.

X: Like you do.

Dani: [[Justified.]] Right!

[[Pause.]]

X: ...I kinda mean more the plan that ended up with you and Charlotte in this hallway with me. I assume that since Charlotte is active, it had something to do with smuggling my mother’s body off of the Enforcer One?…

Dani: Oh, right. So… yeah. There was a massive hole in the remote connector, so I grabbed a vacuum suit, and… well, you might not be super thrilled about this, but the coffins aboard the Enforcer One are all vacuum-rated, so…

X: [[Grins, impressed.]] Smart.

Dani: Thanks. I stashed her body in the pod closest to the docking mandibles -- it looked like some kind of living quarters and had a tarp over the entrance? [[Sigh.]] It was supposed to be a surprise. But you’re welcome.

Charlotte: Would you like to live forever?

X: [[To Charlotte:]] No, Charlotte. Not if it means becoming a weird fungus-zombie and hitching my consciousness to a robotic arm that recites annoying safety manuals all day.

Dani: I was wondering about that. [[Clarifies.]] Well, not the safety manual thing. More like… what’s keeping your mother’s body alive. [[Inspects Charlotte.]] Or… what your mother’s body was keeping alive.

Charlotte: Would you like to live… [[degrades.]]

Dani: Creepy.

X: Yeah. Lots of “creepy” going on aboard the Cavatica today. [[Regards Dani.]] You’re not… freaked out by spiders, right?

Dani: [[Without missing a beat.]] No. According to the books I’ve read, spiders are theoretically crucial to their respective ecosystems.

X: [[Justified.]] Thank you!

Charlotte: Would you like to LIVE FOREVERRRRRRRRRRRRRRR

Dani: Um. Let’s maybe walk and talk?

X: Right. I was just going to grab something to seal the door with -- it’s leaking atmo at a somewhat alarming-ish rate. [[Pauses, realizes.]] Oh! Actually, Charlotte, how would you feel about doing a bit of non-violent welding for a change?

Charlotte: [[Reluctantly]] ...If you insist.

[[SFX: Dani’s footsteps, X’s bare feet, Charlotte’s hydraulics.]]

X: So… What I really want to do is ask you why you decided to help me. But… I’m afraid if I ask that, you’ll realize that you’ve made a huge mistake and stop. So instead, I’m curious: did you have any trouble getting into the Cavatica from the remote connector?

Dani: Oh, actually, yeah! There was this weird crystal growth all over the exterior of the airlock. I had to, like, chisel it away before I could even get to the door.

X: Yes! Any thoughts on what they could be?

Dani: [[Shakes her head.]] Not my department. [[Pause.]] I mean, not to sound like a jerk. I want to be helpful, but I don’t want to speculate wildly about something outside of my expertise.

[[SFX: Footsteps/hydraulics stop.]]

X: I get it. [[Looks around.]] Oh! Wow. The crystals grew a lot while we were sleeping… [[Mutters, tracing the growth with her fingers.]] Look at this… the whole door is encrusted now… [[To Dani:]] Heh, I can see where you broke through… look, it’s growing over the cracks already! Jeez. I should have checked my sample before coming out here. I bet that’s grown like crazy, too…

Charlotte: Tungsten arc welding laser at the ready.

X: Oh. Yeah. Hm. If we were both able to break through the crystals, then no doubt other Caldwell Enterprises folks can easily do the same. Should I have Charlotte weld the door shut as a reinforcement?

Dani: Go for it.

X: Um. [[Attempts to be tactful.]] It might mean that you’ll have a difficult time getting back aboard the Enforcer One, if that’s what, you know… you want?…

Dani: [[Darkly.]] Yeah... I’m not going back there any time soon.

X: [[Nods.]] Oookay. [[To Charlotte:]] Charlotte, could you please start welding there? [[Points.]]

Charlotte: Commence welding.

[[SFX: Welding sounds.]]

X: [[To Dani, gently:]] So… what happened?

Dani: I don’t even know! Well, I mean, I know what happened from my point of view. I just didn’t think things would change so fast.

X: [[Frowns.]] What do you mean, change?

Dani: [[Upset, frustrated; not sure how to handle it.]] Everything is just different now! I mean, I know it’s all outlined in the Caldwell Enterprises Handbook of Branding and Conduct, but I didn’t think it would ever… I don’t know. Happen?

X: [[Gently.]] Dani, what happened? Why did you leave?

Dani: [[Deep breath.]] Well, I got back to my lab after checking on Dr. Keane and Dr. Nakamura -- all that carbon monoxide didn’t do them any good, by the way -- and I found that… Fixer waiting for me.

Charlotte: [While Dani is talking:]] Welding complete.

X: [[Raises her eyebrows.]] Oh. She’s okay?

Dani: Um, kind of. She was sitting in a wheelchair and was wearing one of those prototype prosthetic legs, but… yeah, for the most part she just looked kind of cranky.

X: Ah. Sorry for interrupting. Go on.

Dani: Um… so… she told me I was getting tested for corporate loyalty, and the councillor’s assistant strapped me into this chair thing with all of these needles that pumped some kind of clear liquid into my veins, which was just super not okay. [[Increasingly upset.]] I tried to fight them as they were putting me in the chair, but the assistant was too strong and the restraints were made of metal, and then whatever that liquid was zapped my energy fast.

Charlotte: [[While Dani is talking:]] Welding complete.

X: [[Sympathetically.]] Oh, Dani.

Dani: [[Deep breath.]] So yeah… they asked me a bunch of questions, and I don’t even really remember most of them… just that apparently I screwed up by caring too much about Dr. Keane and Dr. Nakamura’s lives?!

Charlotte: [While Dani is talking:]] Welding complete.

X: [[Frowns.]] What do you mean?

Dani: [[Distraught.]] I didn’t pass! I’ve never not passed a test in my entire life! But I didn’t pass this one! And I’m loyal! I’ve been loyal for, like, ever! That’s what gets me!

Charlotte: Welding has been complete for quite some time.

X: [[Wearily]] Thank you, Charlotte.

Charlotte: [[Primly]] You are welcome.

[[SFX: They resume walking.]]

X: What then, Dani?

Dani: Well, the Fixer said they were going to have to “terminate” my internship, and I was like “OH HECK NO”, but I was still strapped to the chair and I couldn’t move and she wasn’t listening to me… And… I couldn’t do anything, and I was so angry… I’ve never felt helpless like that before. So I started telling her what I thought of the whole torture-the-intern routine, and said that when my father found out he would shut them down, and then… [[Laughs, almost disbelievingly.]]

X: [[Confused.]] What?

Dani: I don’t know! I wasn’t exactly my best self in that moment, you know? And it got to a point where I was pretty much screaming incoherently. Then all of a sudden, there’s this huge crash, and the Fixer and the assistant go all limp, and there’s Officer Thorsson, holding this giant gun and just… laughing…

X: Nice.

Dani: Yeah, she got me out of the chair and told me to “have fun” -- whatever that means. [[Finishes, somewhat lamely:]] So… now I’m here.

X: I’m glad. And speaking of “here”…

[[SFX: Tarp crinkling as they enter the parents’ pod.]]

Charlotte: I shall remain here. Do not judge us too harshly.

[[Dani and X both look at Charlotte for a moment, exchange a glance.]]

X: [[To Charlotte:]] Whenever you say that, it means something really unsettling is about to happen.

Dani: [[Nods toward the pod.]] This way. Here -- I have a light.

[[SFX: Flashlight clicks.]]

[[SFX: Environment shifts to parents’ pod soundscape. They enter the sitting-room.]]

X: Okay, uh… we’re making our way through my parents’ pod… everything’s pretty much the same as before, just… minus the fungus. [[Vague smile.]] Though there’s still the Pueraria montana -- uh, kudzu -- growing out of my dad’s chair.

Dani: Which is actually incredibly weird. What’s it living off of?

X: I haven’t thought to check. [[Pause.]] Well gosh. Now I can’t help myself. [[SFX: Snipping cloth.]] Dani, could you please shine that light over… thank you. Well, that’s odd.

Dani: More crystals.

X: Not even that -- though admittedly, that’s odd, too -- look.

Dani: Oh. Is that a…

X: A nest? [[Nods slowly.]] Yeah. Watch out -- the whole thing could --

[[SFX: Sandy collapse, low rumble.]]

X: [[Grimaces, squints.]] Mmf. Do that.

Dani: [[Grimaces, coughing.]] Gross! It’s in my mouth!

X: Blaaaah. [[Spits dust from mouth.]] Well, looks like it’s been abandoned for quite some time. [[Shakes head.]] Heh. At least they moved on to greener pastures… a.k.a., my potato plants.

Dani: So what was living here? Some kind of bug?

X: Insects, yep. And see the way the crystal formation feeds out of the base of the nest there and there?… That shows us they’re related. [[Pauses, stands up, wipes hands on pants. Murmurs:]] What were you working on, Dad?

Dani: Um. Not to put a damper on the whole discovery thing, but we should really unseal your mom’s body from that coffin.

X: [[Nods.]] Right. Sorry. Lead the way.

[[SFX: Walk into parents’ bedroom.]]

Dani: [[Gestures, inviting X to step forward.]] There she is.

[[SFX: Button press, hydraulics, hiss of atmo as coffin opens.]]

X: [[Stares, echoes:]] There she is.

[[Pause.]]

Dani: [[Awkwardly.]] Do you, like, want some… time alone with her?

X: [[Quickly.]] No. [[Blinks.]] No, thank you. I… I don’t really have a plan. I just… didn’t want Caldwell Enterprises to end up with her. [[Glances at Dani for social cue.]] Is that petty?

Dani: [[Shrugs.]] If it is, maybe petty is okay.

X: Thanks, Dani. This… it means a lot.

[[Brief pause as they both regard the fungus-covered body.]]

Dani: [[Frowns, confused; peers closer.]] Were… were her eyes open before?

X: [[Half-amused; drily.]] No. But it doesn’t really surprise me that they are now. Hi, Mom.

Charlotte: [[Distant, from outside the pod.]] Do not judge us too harshly.

X: [[Softly.]] I won’t. I never do. Don’t worry. [[Pause, works through some emotions.]] I’m… glad you’re back. [[To Dani:]] That machine against the wall… Kai told me those hookups have something to do with “thoughtware”?… That maybe my mother had been experimenting with something before she… got stuck like this? Do you know…?

Dani: [[Glances over the equipment.]] Hmm. I’ve seen equipment like this before, but I don’t know how it works. Should we… try to hook her body up to it?

X: Maybe not. I don’t want to make anything worse. We can ask Kai. You know, after we figure out how to wake Kai up. Or heck, Charlotte might know. [[Pause.]] Thank you.

Dani: Oh, no problem!

X: I mean it. You’ve done so much. [[Pause.]] Hey, want to head back to the glasshouse with me? I was going to make some breakfast and coffee for me and Chen. There’ll be plenty to go around.

Dani: Coffee?

X: Coffee. [[Beat.]] You’ve... never had coffee?

Dani: No. What is it?

X: Oh my GOSH. Dani. It is life. It is breath. It is hot, delicious rainbow alchemy. You are about to ascend to a whole new level of Science-ing.

Dani: [[Warily.]] None of what you just said makes sense. Also, it sounds kind of like you have a chemical dependency.

X: Oh, definitely! But, like, not in a bad way. You’ll see…

[[SFX: Transition.]]

SCENE 3

[[SFX: Cavatica, Glasshouse]]

X: I like to think that I’m mature enough to admit when I’ve made a mistake.

[[SFX: Crash, shattering glass.]]

Dani: [[From a distance; shouting grandly.]] I LOVE COFFEE! AND DISCOVERY! O SCIENCE! TRUE DAUGHTER OF OLD TIME THOU ART!

Chen: Well, good. [[Wearily.]] I told you not to let her have that much.

X: [[Concedes.]] You did. [[Sighs.]] And now I’m probably not going to be able to convince you to try it, huh?

Chen: Nope.

[[SFX: Crash, shattering glass.]]

Dani: IT’S LIKE I CAN SEE TIME!

X: [[Sighs.]] Maybe it’s for the best. The tree probably can’t produce enough beans to support a raging caffeine addiction in all three of us.

Chen: [[Amused, glances at Dani.]] I don’t think you could handle me with that much energy.

X: I don’t know… I hear those Caldwell Enterprises guns have a “stun” setting.

Chen: [[Rolls his eyes.]] I don’t think you could use a gun on another human being, even if you got your hands on one.

X: What?! I’m totally ruthless!

Chen: [[Snorts, amused.]] Okay, X.

X: [[Glances at Kai.]] Hm. Speaking of guns…

Chen: [[Nods.]] Yeah. Want to figure out how to get Kai working again?

X: Yeah. I’ve been putting it off because I’m scared I’m just going to screw things up further. [[Regards the situation.]] So… [[Stands up, walks to lab table.]] I don’t know if you can see from your gurney, but earlier I started taking apart this panel on the back of Kai’s neck… but I didn’t know if it was the right place to start. Also I was super overwhelmed and depressed.

Chen: It’s all right. [[Considers.]] I think that’s the cerebrospinal fluid input? Try that space over the -- no, other side. Over where the ear would be.

X: Here?

Chen: Yeah. You can barely see it, but there should be a little panel… and if you press on it…

[[SFX: Tiny hydraulic hiss and catch.]]

X: Aahhhh. Thanks. [[Inspects the processors. Quietly:]] Jeez. That stun really did a number on you. [[Calls out to the right.]] Hey, Charlotte? If your aural receptors aren’t currently malfunctioning, could you give me a hand?

[[SFX: Approach of Charlotte’s hydraulics from the right.]]

Charlotte: It appears you are attempting to… [[Brief pause, as if selecting from a menu of responses.]] … repair sensitive technical equipment. Would you like my assistance with that?

X: Yes. For once, I would.

Charlotte: [[Processes.]] Thank you. I am glad you have opted into letting me help you… [[Brief pause, as if selecting from a menu of responses.]] … repair sensitive technical equipment.

[[SFX: Slight sparking, buzzing. Clicks.]]

Dani: [[Distant.]] Why is this goat so tiny?

Charlotte: Partial repairs complete. Booting sequences and cranial sectors are currently offline. [[Pause.]] If you'd like, I can run a complete diagnostic scan of this unit. However, in the event of compromised hardware, troubleshooting may be restricted.

X: [[Nods; speaks absently.]] Thank you, Charlotte. That would be great. How long do you think this will take? I mean, for the scan and necessary repairs.

Charlotte: Task list estimated at approximately… two hours, twenty-nine minutes, and… eight seconds.

X: Good. Okay. Thank you.

[[SFX: Hydraulics, electronic hum. Slight sparking, buzzing. Clicks.]]

X: [[Abruptly, as she watches Charlotte work.]] Hey Chen, in times of corporate warfare, what are all felonies punishable by?

Chen: [[Answers automatically -- it’s been drilled into his head by training.]] Dissociation. [[Blinks curiously, considers her question.]] Why do you ask?

X: Back when we were in the infirmary, the councillor was making a threat. Kai shot out the speaker before we could hear the whole thing.

Chen: ...Ah.

[[SFX: Slight sparking, buzzing. Clicks.]]

X: “Dissociation”… I’m assuming that has something to do with, like, separating your mind from your body?

Chen: [[Guarded.]] X, I don’t think…

X: [[Interrupts, pressing.]] Is that what really happened to Kai?

Chen: [[Sighs, somewhat ruefully.]] Kai is… complicated.

X: That sounds like a yes. Which means… Kai is a felon?

Chen: Woah. [[Holds up his hands.]] What happened to not making assumptions?

X: Is it true?

Chen: [[Eyes her.]] Kai is a good person. Does it matter?

X: [[Relents.]] No. I mean, not in that regard. I’ve done my share of awful stuff. Everyone has. I just… I don’t know. [[Pause.]] Sorry. I didn’t mean to get judgey or anything. I just wanted Kai to have been honest with me.

Chen: Maybe Kai was honest with you.

X: Heh. I guess. And --

[[SFX: Siren.]]

Chen: [[Looks around.]] Lots of alarms today. What is it this time?

X: Um… how do you feel about a little field trip?

[[SFX: Transition.]]

SCENE 4

[[SFX: Cavatica, Dash core.]]

X: Okay… [[Sits down in chair, which creaks.]] I’m in the dash core with Captain Miles Chen, who’s still on his gurney, by the way --

Chen: [[Greets the recorder.]] Uh. Hey.

X: -- and it looks like… yep. It’s the radio.

X: [[Pause as X regards the radio, then Chen.]] Heh. Remember that one time I answered the radio and it was you guys on the Enforcer One and then everything got really confusing and terrible forever?

Chen: We’re not that bad…

X: I’d be a fool to answer it again. [[Sighs.]] Hm.

[[SFX: Clicking buttons, static.]]

X: [[Speaking into transmitter.]] Hello?

Council Member 1: [[Unintelligible; drily.]] Yes. This is Councillor Van Gaal…

[[SFX: Feedback, static.]]

X: Ugh. Hold on just a sec.

Chen: Wow. That is some truly terrible reception.

X: Well, Charlotte “fixed” it, so. [[Shrugs.]]

Chen: She’s not going to make Kai sound like this, is she?

X: Well, there’s also the element of Ra’s interference…

Council Member 1: [[Unintelligible; irritated.]] Hello? This is Councillor Van Gaal…

[[SFX: Static, hums.]]

X: Mmm. Nope.

[[SFX: Buttons clicking, dial turns.]]

X: ...Try again.

Council Member 1: [[Irritated; clear.]] Hello? This is Councillor Van Gaal…

X: Gosh. You know, I still can’t…

Council Member 1: [[Barks.]] Hello? Hello!

Chen: [[Rolls eyes. Softly:]] X, don’t… don’t mess with him.

X: [[Snorts]] Heh heh heh. Just kidding. I can hear you just fine. What’s up?

Council Member 1: [[Aghast.]] Were you… were you just wasting my time?

X: [[Blithely.]] No more than you’re wasting mine. What do you want? Is it ultimatum time? Got some exciting new threats to share? Oooh! Or do you want me to make myself more accessible to your assistant for “dispatching,” a.k.a murdering? I never did run into him, by the way…

Council Member 1: [[Unamused. Drily:]] No. I need to know what your intentions are regarding the Empress Conglomerate.

Chen: [[To self.]] Huh.

X: The what?

Council Member 1: [[Sighs, irritated.]] Don’t play dumb. It doesn’t suit you. Now -- what. Are. Your. Intentions…

X: No! I’m not playing dumb. I don’t know what that is.

Council Member 1: Rubbish. The damage to the Cavatica’s communications pod… the vicious attack on the Fixer… the overall mutiny… We’ve charted it all right here in your file. [[His tone becomes threatening.]] Don’t lie to me, Specimen X.

X: Uh. Okay. Just a sec.

[[SFX: Click as X mutes the mic.]]

X: [[To Chen.]] Chen, what’s he talking about?

Chen: He thinks you’re an agent of the --

X: Yeah, I got that part. But what’s the Empress Conglomerate?

Chen: They’re a competitor of Caldwell Enterprises. We’ve been at war with them for… years. That’s the corporate warfare the Councillor was talking about.

Council Member 1: Hello?

X: Huh. Okay.

[[SFX: Click as X un-mutes the mic.]]

X: Oh! Right. Yes. I totally did all of those things. Um… so pretty much, I’m working with the Empress Conglomerate to bring down Caldwell Enterprises.

Council Member 1: [[Hisses angrily.]] I knew it! How did they manage to get to you before we did?

X: That doesn’t matter right now. The question you should be asking is, what am I doing for them next?

Council Member 1: You do realize we’re willing to destroy the Cavatica -- and everyone and everything on board -- to ensure it doesn’t fall into the wrong hands?

X: Oh, I have no doubt you’d do something so stupid. Or so petty. And -- I have to point out -- in this case, petty is not okay. [[Pause, considers.]] So… what is it you really want? You didn’t radio me just to tell me things we both already know.

[[SFX: Soft double-beep from the Councillor’s side of the radio.]]

Council Member 1: [[Smiles thinly.]] You’re right. It’s a distraction.

[[SFX: Click of radio.]]

X: What?

Chen: ...Crap.

[[SFX: Loud thud.]]

[[SFX: Stinger]]

[[SFX: OUTRO MUSIC]]

-Fin-

CREDITS (In order of appearance)

X: Sarah Rhea Werner

Cpt. Miles Chen: Lincoln Donovan

Charlotte: Kay Krause

Dani: Jamie Killen

Council Member: Thoreau Smiley

Written by: Sarah Rhea Werner

Directed by: Jon Krause

Additional robot sound effects: A.R. Olivieri

Produced and Edited by: Sarah Rhea Werner

Music & Sound Effects:

Season 1, Episode 8: What Is This You Feel

Things are still... well, we'll say MILDLY HAYWIRE. Also, Thor has a secret(s), X and a certain dashing figure try to out-hero each other, and X contemplates the simultaneously infinite and singular possibilities of fate.

+ TRANSCRIPT & CREDITS

TRANSCRIPT

INTRO

X: So… I’m curious.

How do we know when an “A.I.” loses the “A” and just become “I”?

It’s Girl In Space.

[[SFX: INTRO MUSIC, 1:10]]

PROLOGUE

[[SFX: Tape recorder click.]]

X, played back over a tape recorder: Oh man. So… I’m sitting here, roasting a new batch of coffee beans, looking out at Ra and enjoying his warmth, and my mind started wandering, and… [[exhales]] out of nowhere, I found myself thinking about my mother.

I don’t know why this keeps happening. I don’t want to think about her. In fact, I’d actively prefer not to.

[[Considers]] Maybe it’s the smell of the coffee? She was even more of a caffeine addict than I am, though she was so absent-minded she always burned the beans, or brewed the grounds too long.

Maybe it’s the thought of all these little beans in their incubator, destined for grinding, brewing, and -- finally -- composting.

Anyway. My stomach’s all twisted up and my heart rate’s all jumpy, so I thought maybe I should talk it out real quick. It helps.

[[Deep breath]] So I was thinking about when I was little, back when Ra was still super-tiny and we were trying to figure out how to keep him stable.

You sent me to the cryotanks for a new embryo, and I remember opening the drawer and hearing the swift hiss of pressurized hydraulics, the sparkling clink of the little glass vials.

I hated those sounds -- but I think that was because I associated them with seeing all of those embryos, shelved together like a weird little library of genetics. A repeating Dewey decimal -- the other little me’s in there.

Or what was left of them.

Left of us?

I don’t know… it’s hard to describe. I hated seeing myself in them, if that makes sense? Knowing that at one point I had been one of them, my little undeveloped brain and body frozen, unmoving, unthinking, unfeeling.

I had been the exact same thing. Down to the chromosome.

Well, maybe not exact-exactly. There were biologically male and biologically female specimens.

But staring at them, feeling a… a one-ness with each and every one of them… I hated it.

I hated thinking that I had a chance and they didn’t. That I had been chosen to live and develop, and that they hadn’t.

Even more than that, I hated that I felt relieved. That I felt lucky. That I felt superior, somehow. And knew it was completely and utterly undeserved.

I hated all of that.

But I didn’t hate her. Not then.

I remember staring into that drawer, simultaneously realizing and yet disbelieving that once I had rested there, amidst my tiny siblings. I had been that small, that cold. That unaware.

I had no idea why my mother had selected me out of the lot. But maybe it didn't matter. Maybe there was no “me”. Maybe we were all me. Maybe we all still are.

I chose specimen “S” at random -- or maybe it was serendipity, or fate, or any number of those weird mystical forces I don’t believe in.

I could feel a hint of the vial’s iciness as I lifted it out -- a distinctly bitter and empty ache, even through the special gloves that were way too big for my hands as a child -- and carried it to my mother.

She took the vial without comment, and I set the gloves in their place, and then I summoned up all of my courage in one breath and asked:

“Why did you choose me?”

[[Pause, uncertain breathing]]

[[SFX: Soft beeping]]

X: [[Startled]] Oh. Shoot. I’ve burned the coffee. Just a sec --

[[SFX: Tape recorder click.]]

SCENE 1

[[SFX: Enforcer One, Infirmary]]

Chance: [[Shaking, nervous]] Sorry, guys.

Kai: Wait --

[[SFX: Gun fires; Sound of a heavy body falls to the ground.]]

X: Kai!

Dani: [[Simultaneously]] Kai!

[[SFX: Gun charging]]

X: Chance, wait -- !

Chance: Don’t worry. It’s set for stun.

[[SFX: Thump as X dives back into the infirmary. Her back smacks against a metal bulkhead. The gas continues to hiss into the infirmary.]]

X: [[Still wearing oxygen mask]] Ooof.

[[SFX: Gun fires. Debris crumbles.]]

Chance: [[Exasperated; voice is farther away.]] You can’t hide in there forever, X.

X: [[Taking cover behind debris, still wearing oxygen mask.]] Yeah, well, good thing I don’t plan to! Though even you’d have to admit, it’s a pretty good short-term strategy. You want me, you come in here and get me.

Chance: Uh… with the air full of carbon monoxide? Nice try.

Dani: [[Hisses, almost to self.]] Carbon monoxide?!

[[SFX: Brief pause, then Dani’s footsteps move out toward Chance.]]

Dani: [[Still wearing oxygen mask.]] Um, yay…! Thank you for rescuing me!

Chance: [[Proudly]] I’m here to help, ma’am. Are you OK?

Dani: Yes! Though… speaking of carbon monoxide, I’m a little worried that Dr. Keane and Dr. Nakamura might not be. Could you please have the folks in charge start venting out the infirmary?

Chance: Oh yeah, good call.

[[SFX: Brief static of comms.]]

Chance: Officer Chance here. Can we put a kibosh on the deadly gas and start venting out the infirmary?

Council Member 1: [[Distorted over comm.]] Are you having difficulty subduing the traitors, Officer Chance?

Chance: No, sir. Ex-officers Chen and Kai are down for the count, and the specimen X is cornered. I’ve also secured the safe return of the hostage, who is concerned about the health of two Caldwell Enterprises employees inside of the infirmary.

Dani: [[Mutters grimly, still wearing oxygen mask.]] If they’re not dead already.

Council Member 1: [[Sighs, irritated; distorted over comm.]] I suppose.

[[SFX: Brief static of comms.]]

[[SFX: The hiss of the gas stops, accompanied by a metallic thunk.]]

[[SFX: Quieter venting sounds commence, fading out over time.]]

X: Thanks, Chance. I like Dr. Keane. And I’d probably like Dr. Nakamura, too.

Dani: That’s debatable. We’re talking major halitosis.

X: [[Continues]] ...Not that me liking them makes them worth saving...

Chance: [[Firmly]] Everyone is worth saving. That’s why the work Caldwell Enterprises is doing is so important, X. I don’t get why you don’t see that.

X: [[Exasperated]] Chance, Caldwell Enterprises isn’t trying to save me. In fact, they are actively trying to kill me right now!

Chance: [[Offended]] Hey, I told you I'm set for stun.

X: I don’t care! I don’t want to be stunned! I don’t want to go back to being locked up, or strapped to a gurney, or even made to run radiation tests with a gun pointed at my back.

Chance: [[Reasonably]] Well, we can’t always get what we want. And sometimes we need to sacrifice what we want for the greater good.

X: Ugh, what does that even mean?!

[[SFX: Brief static of comms]]

Council Member 1: [[Distorted over comm]] Status update, Officer Chance?

Chance: Uhh... gas seems to be vented. Stand by, sir.

[[SFX: Brief static of comms]]

[[SFX: X removes her oxygen mask. Dani does the same.]]

Chance: X, why don’t you come out and we’ll finish our conversation face-to-face?

X: Oh, hmm, does “finishing our conversation” entail you stunning me and dragging me away to be imprisoned and “court-martialed” or whatever? Because no thanks. In fact, I’ve got a counter-offer. How about I come out and you join the mutiny and we go back to being friends like none of this ever happened?

Chance: [[Disgusted]] You’re being selfish.

X: [[At breaking point]] You know what? Maybe I am. Maybe I’ve devoted my entire life to serving the Cavatica and my parents and Ra, and maybe right now I want something that’s different from what you and Caldwell Enterprises want. And maybe that’s okay! I mean, why does what Caldwell Enterprises wants supercede what I want? Doesn’t that mean that we’re both being selfish?

Chance: [[Frustrated]] Caldwell Enterprises owns you, X. Just accept that and get out here.

X: [[Exasperated]] I never gave them permission to own me!

Chance: [[Shouts]] They don’t need permission to own you! They just do!

X: [[Pause, breathing]] Okay, so really, what you’re saying is, everyone is worth saving -- except whoever’s in the way when it suits whatever mysterious “greater good” Caldwell Enterprises happens to want?

Chance: [[Angrily]] Humanity is worth saving, X!

X: [[Yells]] I’m human!

Chance: [[Sighs, exasperated]] What do you want me to say, X? They own me, too! They own the Cavatica and Kai and Thor and Chen. They own everything.

Dani: [[Pipes up]] They don’t own me.

[[SFX: Brief static of comms]]

Council Member 1: [[Distorted over comm]] Officer Chance, I’m sending my personal assistant to help you. He dispatched Chen earlier and will be able to assist you in the collection of bodies and the subdual of any additional mutineers.

[[SFX: Brief static of comms]]

X: [[While CM1 is talking, deep breath, then quietly into recorder:]] Welp. Now or never.

[[SFX: X grabs an IV stand and exits the infirmary at a run; she is still barefoot.]]

[[SFX: Sound of a body getting whacked with a metal pole (the IV stand).]]

Chance: [[More surprised/offended than injured]] Ow!

Council Member 1: [[Alarmed]] -- what was that?

Chance: [[Exasperated, ignores CM1]] Hey! X, get back here!

[[SFX: Gun charging]]

Chance: [[Calls out to X]] There’s nowhere for you to --

[[SFX: Gun fires. Chance crashes to the floor. X stops running.]]

X: [[Turns, panting.]] Oh my gosh. Dani! Thank you.

Dani: [[From a distance; frowns.]] I really hope it was set for stun.

X: It… probably was?

[[SFX: X heads back to join Dani.]]

X: Also, where’d you get a gun?

Dani: I grabbed it from Kai’s belt while you and Chance were arguing. I thought it might be a little more effective than hitting him with an IV stand.

X: Smart. [[Surveys the scene.]] Hmm. Want to help me pile Kai on top of Chen’s gurney? I’ll take them both back to the Cavatica and see what I can do to patch them up.

Dani: Okay. On three. One… two… three! [[Lifts heavy body with effort]] Ugh!

X: [[Lifts heavy body with effort]] Oof!

[[SFX: They pile Kai onto the gurney]]

Dani: [[Surveys Chance’s unmoving form]] Do you want Chance, too?

X: I don’t know. [[Makes up her mind, though is not happy with the result.]] No. I think he’s exactly where he wants to be.

[[SFX: Brief static of comms]]

Council Member 1: [[Distorted over comm, in background]] Officer Chance?

X: All right. I’m heading back to the Cavatica. If anyone asks, I was the one who stunned Chance. Not you. You’re just an innocent hostage trying to get away from me because I’m all evil or whatever. Okay?

Dani: [[Nervously]] Yeah. Okay.

Council Member 1: [[Distorted over comm]] Officer Chance, do you copy?

X: Good. Unless... you want to come with me?

Dani: [[Shakes her head “no”.]] I worked way too hard to get this grant.

X: Fair enough. [[Looks around]] Uh. How… do I get back to the Cavatica?

Dani: That way, then take a right, then hit “zero” in the elevator.

X: Zero. Strangely appropriate. Thanks. [[Wheels gurney down the hall]]

Council Member 1: [[Distorted over comm]] Officer Chance? Respond immediately!

X: [[Pauses, turns]] Oh. And Dani… if you ever do want to join us on the Cavatica… I’d love to work with you.

Dani: [[Smiles]] Thanks.

Council Member 1: [[Distorted over comm]] Officer Chance! Report!

[[SFX: Dani picks up Chance’s comm]]

Dani: [[Innocently, voice fades away]] Uhh, hi… this is Intern Weiss. The specimen stunned Officer Chance and got away. Can I do anything to help you in the meantime?

X: [[Murmurs]] Clever girl.

[[SFX: Takes off down the hall, wheeling the gurney and IV stand]]

[[SFX: Transition]]

SCENE 2

[[SFX: Enforcer One]]

X: Okay… just got off of the elevator, and am heading toward the bay area to the remote connector. Should be just around the…

[[SFX: Gurney squeaks, halts]]

X: Jeez. Okay. That’s a lot farther than I thought. But I can see Thor from here. At least, I think it’s Thor. I don’t know. Everyone kind of looks alike in those gray suits. Worst comes to worst, I’ll bull rush ‘em with the momentum from the gurney. Approaching now -- wish me luck, Dad.

[[SFX: Gurney wheels down hallway.]]

X: Huh. Good -- it is Thor. But there’s some kind of weird rubble all around her feet?...

[[SFX: Gurney wheels down hallway.]]

Thor: Experiment Girl. Hey. [[Looks at gurney.]] Jeez -- what happened?

X: Well, the good news is, we found Chen. The bad news is, he’s super hurt. And Chance found us. And Kai’s down. And the Councillor might be sending some kind of assistant to murder us. [[Thinks]] That’s a lot of bad news, come to think of it. We should probably do some good stuff to balance it --

Thor: [[Interrupts, looking at the gurney.]] Holy crap! What the -- what did they do to Chen?

X: [[Uncertain.]] For now. That assistant guy took a big chunk out of his side. But I think he’s stable, at least. [[Small pause.]] What happened here? [[SFX: Nudges a tiny metallic drone with her toe.]] What are these little… metal things all over the floor?

Thor: A.I. defense drones. The Councillor must’ve finally figured out how to activate them. [[Considers, darkly.]] Or more likely, Chance told him.

X: Aw. They’re kind of cute.

Thor: [[Drily]] Yeah, well, resist the urge to hug ‘em if you see ‘em comin’ your way. They’re smart, nimble, and their ammo packs a nasty sting.

X: [[Dubiously]] You took them out easily enough. There’s like 50 of them here.

Thor: [[Purses lips, speaks frankly.]] Mmm, well, I am good at my job. You are not good at my job. You see ‘em coming, you run.

X: [[Frowns, catching on.]] Wait… you’re not coming with us?

Thor: [[Smirks]] I hate to break it to you, Experiment Girl, but there’s a lot going on here. A lot more than you know. [[Brief pause.]] Though… I do owe you one for starting this mutiny. Couldn’t have gone better if I’d have engineered it myself. [[Regards X for a moment, sighs.]] You know, I might even like you, if you weren’t such an annoyingly wide-eyed, bushy-tailed moon child.

X: I… I don’t know what any of that means.

Thor: [[Snorts]] It means that if you run into anyone wearing a gold uniform, you tell ‘em, “The Lion’s Paw greets you,” and then get the heck outta their way. Got it?

X: I… guess? But… um… why would I be running into anyone in a gold uniform? Everyone I’ve seen with Caldwell Enterprises wears gray.

Thor: [[Grins]] Exactly. [[Pauses]] Let’s just say there’s more than one reason the Councillor’s been freaking out lately.

X: [[Tilts her head.]] You did something.

Thor: [[Laughs]] Oh, I did a whole lot of somethings. But don’t worry about that right now. You just get back to the Cavatica and take good care of Captain Chen and Killbot for me. Okay?

X: [[Realizes]] You smashed up the Cavatica’s communications pod!

Thor: [[Sighs]] And you’re not listening to me. Now is not the time for startling revelations. Now’s the time for you to get moving. Got it? [[Slight pause, then annoyed.]] ...Go!

X: [[Annoyed, insulted]] Okay, okay.

[[SFX: Gurney starts moving.]]

X: [[Pauses, turns.]] But when we inevitably meet up again later, I’m gonna want some answers!

Thor: [[Fading away]] Fine! Whatever! Just GO!

X: [[Pleased at apparently having won that argument.]] Yay, good. Okay.

[[SFX: Gurney moves into the remote connector]]

X: [[Resumes talking into her recorder.]] All right… uh… pushing the gurney down the remote connector toward the Cavatica… urgh. You’d think the wheels would make this easier, but these two weigh a ton. Well, not a literal ton, unless Kai’s suit is made of an unusually stable isotope of flerovium! Heh!

… No one's ever around to hear my awesome science jokes.

Also, this IV stand is super awkward… maybe it would help if I set my recorder down on Chen’s chestplate and --

[[SFX: Scuffling, sets down recorder.]]

X: Oh yeah, that’s a lot better. [[Sighs, reflects]] So… looks like Thor’s been up to some kind of espionage… What’s her end game? Oh my gosh! [[Stunned silence]] Is she the bad guy? Is she our Dennis Nedry?

[[Doubtfully, providing a counterpoint to herself.]] I don’t know… if she were after the remaining embryos, she could’ve taken them, like, a million times already. They’re just right there in the glasshouse cryotanks, very clearly labeled as per lab regulations.

So if she doesn’t want to steal the embryos -- which, according to the Councillor, already belong to Caldwell Enterprises, thus negating the need to steal them -- then… I guess she just wants to cause a lot of damage for some reason…?

[[Grimaces]] Blegh. My brain is fried. [[Pause]] Assuming the clock has switched over to Day 10,319, I haven’t slept in more than… woah. Have I not slept since Thor found my mother’s body? [[Nods slowly, doing the math.]] So… yeah, going on a full 24 hours. That’s probably not very healthy…

Chen: [[Stirs, regaining consciousness. Still sedated, though seems mentally clearer.]] … X? [[Shifts, grimacing.]]

X: Aww, speaking of not very healthy, how are you doing?

Chen: [[Alarmed/on the verge of panic]] X, I can’t move my legs.

X: Oh! Don’t worry. You’re not paralyzed or anything. Kai’s just on top of them. I made a super hilarious joke earlier about an isotope of flerovium, but I’m not sure you would have gotten it.

Chen: [[Frowns]] Why is… [[Tries to sit up; glances around, blinking.]] Wait, where are we?

X: Remote connector, heading back to the Cavatica. Remember, you were in prison for some mysterious reason, all critically wounded, and Kai and Dani and I rescued you?...

Chen: [[Tries to mentally place who Dani is.]] Dani… The intern?

X: [[Sighs]] Yes! [[Annoyed]] Why do people keep sounding surprised that the intern is a smart, capable, and fully functional human being? She’s back on the Enforcer One acting as our mole right now. Oh! And speaking of moles…

[[SFX: Whirring sound of drones.]]

Chen: [[Tries to sit up again, more alert.]] Shh shh shh. Wait. [[Pauses.]] …What’s that?

X: Hmmm. Must be the second wave of AI drones. Thor took out a whole bunch of ‘em earlier, but for some reason, she didn’t think I’d be able to --

[[SFX: Drones approach.]]

Chen: [[Interrupts her]] X, Thor had a disruptor. We can’t take them without a disruptor... [[Frustrated with himself.]] Heck, I can’t even sit up. Go. Run. Now.

[[SFX: X attempts to pick up speed; the gurney wheels rattle.]]

X: Mmgh. I can’t get this stupid gurney to go any faster!

Chen: [[Impatient; frustrated.]] Without me.

[[SFX: Drones approach, continued.]]

X: [[Strained.]] I’m not going without you, you dummy! Can you reach one of Kai’s guns?

Chen: [[Grimaces with pain.]] Maybe… [[Reaches.]] Agh…

[[SFX: Gurney continues to rattle down hall; soon comes to a stop.]]

X: Okay. Okay. We’re here. We’re gonna be --

[[SFX: X tries the airlock door handle. It clicks but does not open.]]

X: Aw, what the heck?! Come on! [[Rattles door handle again.]]

Chen: Is it locked?

X: [[Frustrated.]] No, it can’t lock! Remember, you guys busted through the lock when you first boarded?

Chen: [[Grunts as he manages to grab one of Kai’s guns.]] Welp, I’ve got one of Kai’s guns now… for whatever good it’ll do… this thing’s like a cannon…

[[SFX: X hip-checks the door.]]

[[SFX: Gun charges.]]

[[SFX: Drones approach in a swarm.]]

X: [[Looks up.]] Aw. They really are super cute. So small!

Drones, together: Greetings. Please surrender or die. Thank you.

X: [[Delighted]] Awwww. And so polite!

[[SFX: Chen shoots at the drones. They disperse easily around the blast.]]

Chen: [[Grits teeth]] And covered in razors, and full of caustic acid. Keep trying that door!

[[SFX: X hip-checks the door.]]

Drones: Perpetrators resisting standard subroutines: please standby for neutralization via death. Thank you.

[[SFX: Gun charging.]]

[[SFX: Drones begin to fire; the sound is tiny and adorable.]]

X: [[Takes tiny laser fire.]] Oh! Ow! That hurts!

[[SFX: X hip-checks the door.]]

[[SFX: The door opens with a strange crunching sound.]]

X: Ha! Got it! [[Takes tiny laser fire]] ...Ow!

[[SFX: Chen’s gun fires.]]

Chen: [[Cranky.]] I can’t hit them -- they’re too small! [[Takes tiny laser fire]] Ow! X, get behind me and pull the gurney through the door after you.

X: No! You’ve already taken -- ow! -- too much damage. It’s my turn to play human shield. Ow! [[Pushes the gurney through the door.]] Ow… ow… ow!

Drones: [[Continuing to fire.]] Your compliance is appreciated. As your neutralization nears completion, please remember: at Caldwell Enterprises, we invent the...

[[SFX: Door shuts.]]

[[SFX: Atmo: Cavatica Dash Core.]]

Drones: [[From other side of door, still firing.]] ...future.

[[SFX: The A.I. drones continue firing on the other side of the door.]]

X: [[Frustrated]] OK, it’s shut, technically, but I can’t latch it! [[Leans against the door to hold it shut as tiny laser fire continues.]] Mmf. The door’s heating up from all that fire. [[Pauses, then curiously.]] Oh, that’s weird.

[[SFX: Faint, almost indiscernible humming sound.]]

Chen: [[Struggles to sit up and see.]] What?

X: [[Puzzled.]] There’s some kind of… pale pink crystalline substance growing all around the doorframe. I think that’s what was sealing it shut. [[Looks closer.]] I’ve never seen anything like it before…

Chen: [[Through gritted teeth]] X! Survival now. Science later.

[[SFX: Sound from behind the door of the A.I. drones firing]]

X: Right! Um… Oh! Charge up your gun again!

Chen: [[Looks at her like she’s an idiot.]] X, those drones are too small and quick to hit, not to mention shielded against any --

X: [[Interrupts him]] I know! But the wall of the remote connector’s not. Shoot that, and they’ll get sucked out into the vacuum!

Chen: [[Nods once.]] Got it. Go!

[[SFX: X opens the door into tiny adorable drone fire. Chen’s gun fires, and suddenly the drones are sucked out through the hole in the remote connector wall and into the vacuum of space. Brief absence of sound.]]

[[SFX: Airlock door slams shut again, though sound is not audible.]]

[[SFX: Sound returns, slowly.]]

X: [[Pleased, though sounds vaguely exhausted.]] Nice. And it should deter Caldwell Enterprises from coming after us for a while. [[Peers at Chen.]] You okay?

Chen: [[Nods]] All things considered, yeah. You?

X: Yeah. [[Grimaces.]] Wow. You were right… that acid really stings.

Chen: [[Smiles]] You did good, X.

X: Thanks. [[Abruptly]] Hey, I’m sorry I called you a dummy earlier. I didn’t mean it. I was all caught up in the moment, and I’m a little short on sleep.

Chen: [[Half-amused; slightly weirded out she’s apologizing for this minor thing.]] It’s… it’s okay. Believe it or not, I’ve been called worse.

X: [[Relieved]] Good. [[Frowns]] Well… I mean, not good. Because… that would… [[Embarrassed]] Ugh. My brain is, like, collapsing in on itself from lack of sleep. Just like...

Chen: ...like my legs underneath Kai’s weight?

X: Oh! Gosh, right! Let’s get you to the glasshouse. I’ve got sufficient medical supplies now to get us back into some semblance of quasi-health.

[[SFX: Sound of gurney wheeling toward glasshouse.]]

Chen: So… what happened to Kai?

X: [[Purses lips.]] Chance. He said the gun was set for “stun”, but… I think it maybe hurt Kai worse than an actual killing blast would have. Do you know how to fix… or [[waves a hand]]... bring back online, or… rejuvenate, or… whatever it’s called for Kai?

Chen: No. But… [[Reassuringly]] We’ll figure it out.

X: [[Stressed/overwhelmed]] Heh. Right. We’ll figure it out. No problem! We’ll just add it to the list of all of the things we need to figure out.

Chen: [[Looks at her.]] X. Look at me.

X: [[Petulant but compliant.]] Ugh. What?

Chen: [[Confident.]] We’ll figure it out. One thing at a time. We’re in this together, X. Got that? You’re not alone anymore.

X: [[Mutters, dryly.]] Yeah, well, maybe that’s what I’m worried about.

Chen: I don’t know what that’s supposed to mean, but you can trust me. We’re going to be okay.

X: [[Deep breath.]] Yeah. Okay. We’re going to be okay.

[[SFX: Transition.]]

SCENE 3

[[SFX: Cavatica, Glasshouse]]

X: Day 10,319, Hour 06:15. [[Pleasantly surprised.]] Okay. Maybe we are going to be okay. I went back to seal up the airlock door so we don’t lose all of our atmo to the vacuum, but a new coat of those crystal things had grown up over it, so… it was already taken care of…?

I scraped off a sample of the crystals for analysis, which I’ll perform after I get a bit of sleep and return to my full cognitive functionality.

Otherwise… We’re back in the glasshouse now. And currently, “we” consists of me and Chen and Kai. [[Refrains from commenting on others.]]

Status-wise, I re-bandaged Chen’s field dressings and dosed him with some antibiotics to fight off infection. He’s currently asleep on the gurney, which I stationed near the waterfall -- you know, back where all the orchids are. [[Sounds pleased with herself.]] So that he could have some privacy and a pretty view when he wakes up.

The acid from the drones melted some new holes in his stupid useless plastic armor, but… I don’t know… I don’t want to speak too soon, but I think he’s going to be okay.

… Um. And I should note that by “okay”, I mean “not dead”. Best case scenario, we’ll need to rig up a brace or something to compensate for all of his missing bone and muscle tissue, uhh, maybe do some skin grafts.

Worst case… he’ll probably need to learn how to walk again, regain balance with how it all fits together.

[[Clearly uncomfortable.]] Um. I ended up… um. Having to remove several large pieces of his armor and cut away parts of his shirt and leg wrappings to properly clean and treat his wounds. [[Rushed]] I mean, it went well and everything, but it was… weird.

[[Reflective.]] It wasn’t the blood -- I mean, I get hurt in the name of Science all the time, and I’m used to patching myself up. And I used to do surgical stuff for my parents whenever the need arose --

[[Ruefully.]] Mom was never as careful as she should’ve been in the engine pod, and always needed stitches and burn treatments.

And then there was the whole thing with Dad’s arm…

[[Pause]] But this was… [[Searches for the right word, fails.]] Different. I don’t even know how to really talk about it. Touching another person’s skin felt weird and intrusive and just… super uncomfortable. Like… I was way overstepping my bounds, even though I was helping him.

I got it over with as quickly as I could.

Anyway… [[Takes a deep breath, returns to normal self.]] I patched myself up after that. Those little drones did more damage than I initially thought -- they got me pretty good several times across my back and shoulders, and the acid from that first hit burned through a substantial portion of my upper arm. [[Grimaces]] There might be some skin grafts in my future, too.

It hurts, but… weirdly I’m kind of more annoyed than anything else? I realize this is an illogical and inappropriate response to everything, but… I’m tired and stressed and those little jerks ruined my favorite shirt!

It was already worn pretty thin already -- Dad wore it pretty much every day, and then I proceeded to do exactly the same thing after he died. I was wearing that shirt the day Caldwell Enterprises boarded the Cavatica. I was wearing it when they captured me, and when I broke into my parents’ pod to grab that datapad.

Heh. It’s pretty much the only thing that doesn’t say “Property of Caldwell Enterprises” on it somewhere. It’s just a plain black T-shirt with a triangular prism on it and a rainbow radiating out.

I sort of draped the remaining shreds of it over the placard by the maple tree -- the one labeled Honorem Lutum Sanguine. It felt like the right thing to do.

Anyway, I went through my parents’ remaining supplies for a new shirt, which I’m wearing now. Just a plain white tank that should allow my wounds to heal quickly and cleanly, so… [[Sarcastic, depressed.]] Yay.

[[Pauses.]] I don’t know. Maybe I should be more grateful that we’re not worse off, all things considered? But… I’m not. I’m just… I’m tired.

And I don’t even necessarily mean, like, lack-of-sleep tired. Well, I mean, I’m that too, but this is… deeper. Like, my heart is sad or exhausted or hurt or just plain weary… which… now that I say it out loud, I realize it sounds super melodramatic.

[[SFX: Cavatica falling apart.]]

But maybe that’s okay, since it’s true to what I feel, and no one is ever going to listen to these recordings because you’re dead, and the Cavatica’s steadily falling apart, and no one else is ever going to take this recorder from me again, at least not until they pry it from the grip of my cold, dead hands, at which point I figure literary criticism will be relatively low on my list of concerns.

[[Deep breath, then, abruptly:]] I can’t get Kai to wake up.

Or… reboot, or regain functionality, or whatever it means for Kai to return to a fully conscious, Kai-like state.

I know that Chen said we’d figure it out together, but… I got impatient. And now it just feels like another situation I have no idea how to navigate.

Earlier, after Chen fell asleep, I started taking apart a panel on the back of Kai’s neck. But… just like with Chen, it felt weirdly invasive?

So I stopped. I left Kai propped up against one of the lab tables… just leaning there like a mannequin, lifeless and staring…

[[SFX: X’s bare footsteps.]]

[[Vaguely stressed, bordering on unhinged.]] And all I can do is stare back, and think about is whether Kai is in there right now, a raw mass of nerves and tissue, awake and terrified, silently screaming in absolute darkness, unable to communicate or even process incoming information… completely alone.

[[Pause.]]

Or maybe completely dead.

[[SFX: X shifts, walks a few more steps.]]

Um. Charlotte’s here, too -- or at least, her chassis is -- right where she shorted out after telling me that “the children are the key” in my mother’s voice. I don’t know how to bring her back online, either -- except with her, I’m a little less clueless since at this point I think her power source is tied to -- or simply is -- my mother’s body. Which is locked up in one of the labs back on the Enforcer One. I may or may not get the opportunity to retrieve it. I don’t know.

There are so many unknowns, and so many ways this could play out. I tried mapping them out and realized that, even with fractals, charting the infinite is a pretty futile gesture.

Or maybe there’s only one way this will play out. Maybe we’re following a paved road toward inevitability. Maybe this mutiny -- and my constant fight -- is just as futile. Maybe it makes more sense to conserve my energy and just…

[[SFX: Cavatica falling apart.]]

[[Loses temper, shouts at ship, away from recorder.]] Yeah, I know you’re falling apart! I get it -- everything is terrible, time is limited, we’re all doomed, whatever!

But believe it or not, you’re not my number-one priority right now! That honor belongs to the stupid human beings who are dead and/or dying in my care! So once they’re out of danger, then I will get back to repairing you in the hopes of coaxing a few more livable days out of your miserable hull!

[[SFX: Cavatica falling apart.]]

[[Exasperated sigh, regains control of her temper. Into recorder:]] Uh. Sorry. I don’t usually lose my temper like that. I just… I can’t handle everything falling apart all at once. I can’t do everything.

[[Momentary quiet.]]

Heh. It’s kind of funny. Mom always hammered it into my head growing up -- that I could do anything if I put my mind to it. Clone mice, calibrate the station’s engine, write music, harvest and roast coffee beans, French-braid my own hair. [[Dryly.]] Weld the Cavatica back together. Maybe all at once.

I’m starting to think she got anything confused with everything.

[[SFX: Sits heavily on cot.]]

Okay. Here’s the plan. I’m going to lie down and try to catch as much sleep as I can before the next inevitable emergency. Then… well. Let’s just leave the plan there for now. More later when my brain is rested.

[[SFX: X lies down.]]

X: [[Looks toward the main glasshouse window sheet, smiles faintly.]] Hey, Ra. You’re looking a lot better, at least.

[[SFX: Deep sound.]]

X: Heh. [[Grins, reaches out to touch the tempered crystal.]] Yeah. I’m glad I’m back, too.

[[SFX: Stinger]]

[[SFX: OUTRO MUSIC]]

-Fin-

CREDITS (In order of appearance)

X: Sarah Rhea Werner

Kai: Josh Crute

Chance: George Telonis

Dani: Jamie Killen

Council Member: Thoreau Smiley

Thor: Alyce

Cpt. Miles Chen: Lincoln Donovan

Written by: Sarah Rhea Werner

Directed by: Jon Krause

Casting: Jon Krause

Produced and Edited by: Sarah Rhea Werner

Music & Sound Effects:

Season 1, Episode 7: You Will Never Leave This Place

The great thing about mutinies is that they always go super smoothly with no problems at all! Also, Kai shares a not-so-fun fact, X makes another new friend, and everyone agrees the Councillor still sucks.

+ TRANSCRIPT & CREDITS

TRANSCRIPT

INTRO

X: I had a pet mouse, once, and I made a maze for it to run through. It escaped the maze onto a lab table, and then escaped the lab table into my hands. Next, it escaped my hands and flopped onto the floor, where it immediately began searching for yet another escape.

[[Pause]]

I remember that I felt so sad for this little creature, and its eternal, pointless quest for escape. Because... where could it eventually hope to escape to?

[[Pause]]

It’s Girl In Space.

[[SFX: INTRO MUSIC, 1:10]]

SCENE 1

[[SFX: Cavatica, Cockpit Pod. Enforcer One has been pumping atmo into the Cavatica since the Communications Pod breakaway, and the air is becoming breathable. It also now carries sound.]]

X: [[Voice echoes slightly]] Day 10,318, hour 21:03. Kai and I are currently hanging out in the Cavatica’s defunct cockpit pod, celebrating our friendship!

Well, technically, we’re waiting for Thor and Chance to meet up with us prior to the Caldwell Enterprises debrief aboard the Enforcer One.

And... technically, Kai is waiting for Thor and Chance to arrive. I’m hiding inside of a gutted electrical panel because, for whatever reason, there’s an order out to all Caldwell Enterprises personnel to shoot me on sight.

Apparently, I make for a convenient scapegoat. Or maybe they’ve just decided that I’m more trouble than I’m worth.

Either way… I don’t know. I prefer to think that I don’t deserve it?

I mean, Caldwell Enterprises was pretty much ripe for a mutiny. I just… nudged it along. Well, Kai co-nudged it, but I said I’d take the fall for it because Kai is a good person and I’m just… I don’t know.

Anyway, we’re mutinying! Hence the me hiding and Kai pre-de-briefing the others. Pre… pre-briefing? Pre-de… Informing. Yessss.

[[SFX: Shifts around]]

[[Reflectively]] This might sound weird, but... being enclosed within this panel is kind of... soothing. Even beyond the fact that it’s keeping me from potentially getting shot.

(Again.)

I’ve been thinking back to Day 10,303, when I first saw the Caldwell Enterprises fleet moving toward the Cavatica. How I was so alone then, but how I had made my peace with being alone. How I haven’t been alone since the fleet’s arrival.

Well, okay, I get bathroom breaks -- which the Caldwell Enterprises people delicately call “bio breaks” -- during which I’m alone for a couple moments, but… there’s usually someone lurking outside the door haranguing me to “hurry up”, which isn’t really conducive to any meaningful reflection.

I think this is reprieve.

Invisibility, oneness with the wires, the unseen inner workings of the station, where I can sit and be quiet and think.

Though… I feel like that sounds bad. I think I like having people in my life again, especially friends -- but I also kind of miss the solitude. The peace. The control. [[Frowns, reconsiders word choice]] ...I mean, not that I was ever really in control of anything before they arrived, either. Maybe I mean more the simplicity. All I had to worry about was me.

Well, and Charlotte.

[[Thinks]] And Ra.

[[SFX: The Cavatica makes falling-apart sounds]]

And the Cavatica falling apart.

[[Frowns]] And those little potato-destroying insects that I haven’t seen in a suspiciously long time.

Hmm.

These days, it’s all mutiny and guns and Councillors and psychological evaluations and tattoos and IVs and little old ladies getting their legs blown off and the constant, constant presence of other people.

I didn’t ask for it.

[[Pause]] But… I don’t hate it?

It’s interesting, at least.

And friendship! I pretty much have my own Dr. Grant and Dr. Malcolm now. Maybe after all of this is done, I can --

Kai: [[Background, slightly muffled]] X, can you stop recording for a while, please? They’re coming.

X: [[Lowered voice]] Ooooh. Kai says Thor and Chance are coming. I’ll nix the stream-of-conscious updates, but leave the recorder running. For… you know. Posterity or whatever.

[[SFX: Footsteps approaching]]

Thor: Hey Kai. What’s with the secret meeting?

Chance: Yeah, we’re supposed to report to the Enforcer One A.S.A.P. This is… whichever letters mean the opposite of that.

Kai: [[Calmly, matter-of-factly]] We’ll head over there in a minute. I just wanted to talk through a few Security Team things first.

Thor: Sure. What’s up?

Kai: Something’s… not sitting right with me. I know HQ said Chen stepped down voluntarily, but… I know him. We’ve been through a lot together. We all have. He doesn’t step down. Or if he did, he would have at least mentioned it to us first.

Chance: [[Shrugs it off]] Maybe he didn’t have time.

Thor: [[Catches on, worried]] You think something happened to him, and they’re not telling us?

Chance: [[Cuts in, frowning]] Wait, are you saying they’re… lying to us? Why would they bother lying to us, especially when we’re contractually obligated to follow their orders?

Kai: [[Mildly]] I don’t know -- and I’m not accusing anyone of anything, Chance. I simply think the situation warrants a closer look.

Thor: [[Gasps]] What if Experiment Girl got to him? They said she freaked out and escaped… Though… wait. [[Frowns, looks at Kai.]] Weren’t you the one guarding her?

Chance: [[Catches on; To Kai]] Did she get to you? [[Increasingly horrified]] Did she reprogram you to serve her?!

Kai: [[Sighs wearily in facepalm manner]] For the forty-ninth time, Chance, I am not a robot. [[Pause]] But… this news about Chen… I think there’s more to the story than they’re telling us.

Thor: Think Chen finally said or did something to piss off the Senior Councillor?

Kai: Something like that. Earlier today, I went back to the Cavatica’s cabin pod with X, but when we got there, her mother’s body was missing. The fungus was gone, too. [[Brief pause, then significantly:]] And there was a Fixer poking around in an adjacent room.

Thor: [[Finally understands the gravity of the situation.]] Oh.

Kai: [[Significantly]] Yeah. [[Resumes story]] And that’s when the Fixer told me my clearance code had been revoked, and ordered me to stun and arrest X.

Thor: Why?

Kai: [[Mildly]] She... didn’t say.

Chance: Wait, so… you didn’t do it? Are you insane?!

Kai: No. In fact, I am beginning to suspect that I possess one of the saner minds within an immediate light-year radius.

Thor: So… then what? Where’s X?

Kai: Well, the whole situation felt... off. So I decided to go with my gut...

Chance: But you don’t have --

Kai: [[Irritably]] Yes, Chance. I know that I do not possess an intestinal tract. I am speaking figuratively. [[Continues]] I decided to follow my instincts and ascertain the truth before taking any sort of irrevocable action.

Chance: Okay. So… things can’t be that bad. I mean, it's not like the Fixer arrested you or anything. She’s just after X. I’m sure when we find X, management will restore your codes and everything will be all right again.

Kai: [[Uncomfortably]] I... may have assisted X and secured our escape with the delivery of a… minor flesh wound to the Fixer.

[[Momentary silence]]

Thor: You’re talking about corporate mutiny.

Kai: Yes.

Thor: Hmm. [[Brief pause]] Okay. I’m in.

Kai: [[Surprised]] Really?

Thor: [[Snorts, shrugs]] At this point, Caldwell Enterprises owes me six weeks of back pay. If they wanted my loyalty, they had their chance to buy it.

Kai: Huh. Okay. Chance?

Chance: [[Conflicted]] I don’t know. I’m… I’m kind of not okay with this. You can’t just decide not to follow orders whenever you “feel” like it. I mean, no offense, Kai, but it sounds like X has brainwashed you to side with her and screw over Caldwell Enterprises. After they've given you, like, everything.

Thor: [[Mutters]] Given and taken away.

Kai: I haven’t been brainwashed, Chance, and I’m not trying to convince you to choose a particular side. I’m simply presenting you with all the information you need to make a rational decision.

Chance: [[Upset]] Mutiny isn’t rational, Kai! I mean, what’s your endgame? Force your friends and coworkers to “join you or die”? Send the fleet back to home base and… and live “happily ever after” out here with some random clone on a research station that’s probably gonna explode within the next couple days? [[Exhales]] If this is what your “gut” is telling you to do… I’m out. Sorry.

[[SFX: Feet shifting, then heading down the hall, fading out. A door opens in the distance, then closes.]]

Thor: So… now what?

Kai: [[Seems surprised]] Uh… I had kind of planned on both of you joining me.

Thor: Huh.

[[Brief awkward silence]]

Thor: So… I’m assuming Experiment Girl is hiding inside of that electrical panel over there?

X: Uh. No one in here but us wires.

Thor: [[Rolls her eyes]] Come on out, X. I’m not gonna shoot you.

[[SFX: Locker opening. X steps out.]]

X: [[Casually]] Hey. [[Brushes dust, real or imagined, off of her pants]] So… even though that didn’t really go like we had planned, I still want to rescue Chen and get my mother’s body back from the Enforcer One. But I’d totally understand if either or both of you wanted to go tell Chance you were just kidding and join him in stopping me.

Kai: [[Firmly]] No. We’re doing the right thing.

Thor: And I'm sick of working pro bono, so I’m pretty much like, “Screw everyone” at this point. [[Pause]] Well, except for you guys, obviously.

X: Obviously.

[[Beat]]

Kai: All right. We need to get aboard Enforcer One and find Chen. Any questions?

X: Oh! Actually, yeah. I'm wondering how this is all going to --

Thor: [[Interrupts X]] We're good. Let's move.

X: Hokay.

[[SFX: They exit the room, jog down the hall; fadeout.]]

[[SFX: Transition]]

SCENE 2

[[SFX: Cavatica, Dash Core]]

X: So... we’re about to enter the remote connector that leads from the Cavatica to the Enforcer One. Thor’s making sure the way is clear for us and then getting us through the Enforcer One’s airlock, since her codes still work.

[[Brief pause]]

Bleh. And they must still be pumping in atmo from the Enforcer One, because the garbage-y smell is once again quite pervasive.

[[SFX: Static]]

Thor: [[Voice distorted by comm]] All clear.

Kai: [[Quietly]] There’s the signal. You ready?

X: Yep.

[[SFX: Footsteps: Kai’s boots and X’s bare feet.]]

X: [[Lowers voice]] Oh man. It’s like we’re approaching the electrical bunker to turn the island’s power back on, though this time we’re on the lookout for velociraptors from all sides, and Mr. Arnold’s severed arm is totally not going to drop onto my shoulder from a bunch of creepy pipes in the shadows. You know???

Kai: I very seldom understand what you’re talking about.

X: That’s okay. Once we’re back on the Cavatica, I’m going to introduce you to the best movie ever made.

Kai: Citizen Kane?

X: [[Perplexed and disgusted]] Um, no?!

Kai: *The Godfather*?

X: No.

Kai:Titanic?

[[SFX: Short burst of static. Their footsteps stop.]]

Council Member 1: [[Distorted over comm]] This message is for rogue entity Kai. It has come to our attention that you have made a series of very, very unfortunate decisions. If you surrender now, you --

[[SFX: Beep, click, crunch as Kai tosses the comm onto the ground and steps on it.]]

X: Nice.

Kai: You were correct earlier in your assessment of that guy’s suckiness. Come on. We need to keep moving.

X: Roger that. [[Pause]] Hey Kai, what are the odds that we’re walking toward our very painful and untimely deaths?

Kai: Remember what I told you I was for, earlier?

X: Um. Danger?

Kai: Correct. Trust me. We’re going to be just fine.

[[SFX: Airlock hiss, door opening. Thor is there to greet them.]]

[[SFX: Enforcer One sounds in background]]

Thor: All right. Looks like either Chance hasn’t sold us out yet, or they’re trying to lull me into a false sense of security. Either way, my codes still work. For now. I’ll stay here to guard our exit and make sure the airlocks don’t fully engage.

X: How?

Thor: A little trick called “keeping one of my boots wedged in the doorframe”. [[Pause, then to Kai:]] Killbot, where’s your comm?

Kai: Out of commission.

X: It got stomped. Very dramatically.

Thor: Ooookay. Visual confirmation it is.

X: [[Slightly concerned]] Also, shouldn’t you be at that debriefing?

Thor: [[Drily]] I have a feeling that at this point, shutting myself into a conference room with the Councillor would do everyone more harm than good. Now, hurry up. My glamorous new life’s not going to live itself.

[[SFX: Footsteps resume]]

X: [[Into recorder, quietly]] All right. We’re here on the Enforcer One, where we intend to rescue Chen and retrieve my mother’s body. I’m still not really sure why Thor’s helping us, but… Oh. Kai, can you lead us to where they might be holding Chen?

Kai: We’re headed there now.

X: [[Blushes]] Ah, good. Sorry. I’m just trying to process everything, and I’ve recently learned that when I’m nervous, I tend to ramble.

Kai: No need to apologize.

[[SFX: Door opens, stage right]]

Dani: [[Stage right; Unsteadily, nervously]] Stop! I mean, halt!

[[SFX: Gun charging, stage right]]

Kai: [[Sounds mildly offended]] ...Really? They sent the intern to stop us?

X: What’s an intern?

Kai: Unpaid intellectual laborer. And hot beverage provider.

X: [[Makes a face]] Oh. Wow, that sucks. [[To Dani]] I’m sorry you have to be an intern. And that they sent you to shoot us. We actually don’t want to hurt you. What’s your name?

Dani: [[Nervously]] Dani? I mean, Dr. Weiss?

X: Dr. Weiss, it’s nice to meet you. I’m X, and this is Kai. So -- why are you an intern?

Dani: [[Brightens]] Oh! I’m working on my doctorate. I’m an epigeneticist -- well, I’ll be one eventually.

X: Oooh! Epigenetics is fascinating! What are your thoughts on pre-responsive development in botanical --

Kai: [[Interrupts her]] Um, X…

X: Oh right. Our mission. So… we’re going to save Captain Miles Chen and retrieve my mother’s body. Want to come with us?

Dani: Wait, what happened to Captain Chen?

X: That’s what we’re going to find out. But we’re pretty sure it’s something bad.

Dani: Oh. [[Considers]] I haven’t told anyone this, but on our initial approach toward the Cavatica, I got super velocity-sick and threw up all over the deck. And Captain Chen’s shoes. But he was super nice about it and made sure I was okay. He told me to hydrate better next time and brought me some water.

X: [[Smiles]] He’s a good person.

Dani: And totally cute. [[Blushes]] Aaah! Why am I telling you all of this? [[Brandishes gun]] I’m supposed to make both of you come with me.

X: What if we don’t?

Dani: Uh, then I’m supposed to shoot you.

X: That sounds decidedly unpleasant for all of us. Here’s a counter-offer: you come with us to save Chen, then join us aboard the Cavatica as our resident epigeneticist, and we’ll all live happily ever after?

Dani: What about my grant?

X: Oh. Right… I guess we can’t pay you.

Dani: [[Disappointed]] So… you’re just offering me another internship.

X: Huh. Yeah. I can’t really ask you in good conscience to --

Kai: Good grief. Here.

[[SFX: Kai steps forward and takes Dani’s gun from her, clicks the safety, and holsters it.]]

Dani: Oh. That was fast.

Kai: Thank you.

X: Oooh, can I have her gun?

Kai: [[To X]] No. [[To Dani]] Dani, please come with us.

Dani: [[Crestfallen]] Oh. Am I a hostage now?

X: No!

Kai: Yes.

X: Ah, well, then I guess yes, but in a nice way! We won’t hurt you --

Kai: [[Interrupts X]] Unless you do something to compromise our mission.

X: [[Continues as though uninterrupted]] -- and I’ll make you an amazing dinner of real food when we’re back on the Cavatica that’ll have you renouncing those disgusting food pellets in no time! How does that sound?

[[SFX: Small bump, stage right]]

X: ...Did you just kick Kai in the shin?

Dani: [[Shrugs]] I thought I should exercise all of my options before resigning myself to hostage status. I forgot that there was a robot on the Security Team.

Kai: I’m not -- ugh. Let’s move. You and Dani take the lead. Turn right at the end of this hallway, then step into the elevator and hit “four”.

X: Will do.

[[SFX: They begin moving]]

Kai: And Dani, please do not kick me anymore. It doesn’t hurt, but it is annoying.

Dani: [[Resigned, perhaps a bit sheepish]] All right.

X: [[Still excited]] Oh man. You just wait until we get back aboard the Cavatica. I’m going to make a Provençal Tian, covered in cheese, of course, and roasted until it’s all crispy and bubbly around the edges, and then we’re all going to sit down and watch the best movie ever made…

[[SFX: Transition]]

SCENE 3

[[SFX: Enforcer One]]

X: [[Whispers]] Chen? [[Pause, then a little louder]] Captain Miles Chen?

Chen: [[Groans weakly in the distance; it echoes]]

Kai: [[Points off into the distance]] That's the one. Cell block J.

[[SFX: Hurried footsteps]]

X: [[As they move]] Oh man, this place is huge. Why does the Enforcer One have so many prison cells? Like, are they usually used for storage or something?

Kai: [[Uncomfortably]] In a way...

Dani: [[Frowns]] Actually, Dr. Keane told me that before the Enforcer One was decommissioned, it was a transport for human cargo. But it was perfect for this mission, because we could use the cells for specimen storage.

X: [[Stops moving; silence]] Uh… Human… cargo? [[Pause]] Specimen storage?

Dani: Yeah. We didn’t know what we’d find out here, and wanted to be prepared to retrieve any and all viable life forms.

X: [[Tries to make sense of this]] Because of the... divergences caused by Ra’s alternate radiation?

Dani: No, because... you know, plants and animals? Actual biological life?

X: I don’t get it.

Kai: [[To X]] Wait… do you not know?

X: [[Frustrated]] a.) Know what? and b.) obviously not.

Kai: The biological specimens back on the Cavatica… they’re the last of it.

X: Last of what?

Kai: Life.

Dani: [[Simultaneously]] Life.

X: [[Pause as she digests this information.]] ...What?!

[[SFX: Momentary silence, during which Chen groans again, obviously in pain.]]

X: Right -- priorities. Gotta help Chen. [[Stares at them for a second, then starts moving backward toward Chen’s voice, jabbing her finger at them.]] But after we get him free, I am going to be asking you some serious questions.

Chen: [[Groggily, attempts to sit up, though he is very badly wounded. Disbelieving tone:]] X? What are you doing here?

X: [[To others]] Over here! [[Brightly; excited to see Chen]] Chen! Hey! Kai and I are having a mutiny! It’s very exciting. But also a little weird. Which is maybe to be expected.

Kai: [[Approaches]] Here -- I have Thor’s clearance key. [[SFX: Beep, then prison door opening.]] Are you all right, sir?

Chen: [[Obviously lying:]] Yeah. I’ll be… fine. Where’s Thor? And Chance?

Kai: Thor’s holding the doors for us. They don’t know she’s in on this whole thing yet, so they haven’t deactivated her codes. [[Brief pause]] Chance had some thinking to do.

Chen: That’s too bad. We could use him. [[Pauses, confused.]] Is that the Science Division intern?

X: Yeah.

Dani: [[Waves]] Hi. Sorry again about throwing up on you.

X: [[Over her shoulder]] Dani, you should probably stay out in the hall so the cell’s camera/sensor-thing doesn’t pick you up. [[To Chen]] She’s our hostage! And an epigeneticist. Also, what happened to you? Why did they lock you up like this? I mean, last I saw, you were just standing in the hallway with the Councillor.

Chen: [[Grimly]] Long story. Let’s just say the Councillor and I have opposing views on leadership.

X: Oooh. Are you mutinying, too?

Chen: There doesn’t seem to be anything better to do out here. ...Ugh.

[[SFX: Sound of chains rattling; Chen shifts uncomfortably]]

Kai: Hold still, sir, and I’ll see what I can do about those manacles.

X: [[Frowns]] Also, what happened to your leg?

Chen: Got hit with a compliance mandate. Heh. Literally.

X: Oh my gosh. [[Horrified]] It went all the way through your armor!

Chen: [[Wryly]] I’ll let you in on a little Caldwell Enterprises secret -- the armor’s just for show. Nothing but cheap plastic and -- ow!

Kai: Sorry. It helps if you hold still.

Dani: [[Pipes up from the doorway]] Oh! It’s the same with our lab stuff -- it looks impressive from a distance, but really it’s just cheap garbage. We -- well, Dr. Ahmad-Miller calls it “cognitive behavioral therapy”.

Chen: [[Amused]] Heh. What a load of -- Ow!

[[SFX: Manacles clatter to the floor]]

Kai: All done, sir.

X: Can you stand?

Chen: Yeah, I think so --

[[SFX: X’s yelp as he stumbles, and a thump as Chen crumples to the floor]]

Chen: [[Dizzily, from the floor]] ...That’s a negative.

Kai: Here. [[Offers Chen a hand, helps him up.]]

X: [[Simultaneously]] Here.

Chen: [[Grunts, slings an arm around Kai’s and X’s shoulders to steady himself.]] Thanks. Augh -- nope. [[He crumples to the ground again.]] Hoo boy.

Kai: Sir, you're injured!

X: And more than just your leg... [[Squints]] It’s super dark in -- holy crap! Chen, like, half of your ribcage is gone! Why didn’t you say something?!

Chen: [[Weakly]] Didn’t want to complain…

X: [[Background]] ...Oh my gosh

Dani: We need to get him to the infirmary, now!

Kai: [[Menacing]] Who did this to you?

Chen: The Councillor’s assistant. Again, it’s a long story.

X: You can tell us about it later, after we get you to the infirmary. [[Aside]] Man. I am compartmentalizing a lot today.

Kai: X, could the infirmary on the Cavatica handle this?

X: [[Shakes head]] Uh, no -- it's dead -- the infirmary, I mean -- and any supplies are going to be way past expiration. I could synthesize some antibiotics, but… if we’re going to treat Chen, we need to do it here.

Kai: All right. [[Lifts Chen carefully in a fireman’s carry; sound of slight hydraulics from suit.]] I’ve got him. Let’s move.

[[SFX: General movement of people. They walk a ways.]]

X: [[Stops walking]] Wait -- Kai, do you think my mother could be here? In one of these… cells?

Kai: I don’t know -- there are hundreds of them. We’ll have to come back later for a more thorough search.

Dani: [[Pipes up]] Your mother -- you’re talking about the body with all the fungus?

X: Yes! Where is it?

Dani: It’s been quarantined in one of the labs.

X: [[Frowns]] Quarantined? The fungus isn’t even toxic.

Dani: I think it’s more because the body’s not… exactly… dead, and no one can figure out what’s keeping it alive. [[Winces]] Her. Keeping her alive. Sorry.

X: No need to apologize. Can you get us into the lab?

Dani: Oh. Maybe. [[Looks uncomfortable]] Though… um, my grant…

Kai: [[Understanding]] It’s all right. You can tell them we threatened to kill you if you didn’t help us.

Dani: [[Sounds relieved]] Okay. Then yeah. Totally.

X: Sweet! Everything is going super smoothly.

Chen: [[Faintly]] So... what’s the plan?

X: Sounds like the infirmary, then the lab. Then, everyone spills the secret information they’ve been hoarding.

Chen: No, I mean for the overall mutiny.

X: Oh.

Kai: The plan is to get all of us aboard the Cavatica --

X: [[Interrupts]] And my mother’s body.

Kai: -- and seal it off so Caldwell Enterprises can’t get back in.

Chen: And... when they blow up the Cavatica with all of us inside?

Kai: They won’t. The cargo on board is too valuable.

Dani: And from what I’ve heard in the labs, they need the technology developed by the Ra Initiative. Though I’m not sure what for.

Chen: [[Thoughtfully]] Well, at least they can’t call for backup.

Kai: [[Surprised]] They can’t?

Chen: Ra’s interference is too strong. Remember when we first approached the Cavatica, and had difficulty radioing X?...

Kai: Oh.

Chen: [[Reflects; To Kai:]] Wow. Was this whole mutiny thing a rash, unplanned decision? Or did you think you could take on shiploads of reinforcements single-handedly? You really are human, Kai.

Kai: [[Takes this as a backhanded compliment]] …Thanks.

X: So… they'd have to leave to get reinforcements? That’s good. But there are still… what, twelve Caldwell Enterprises employees we have to worry about, not counting our group and the Fixer?

Chen: Sounds about right.

Kai: Turn here.

X: Okay. [[Pauses]] Heh. I’m kind of nervous we’ll run into Security.

Kai: [[Drily]] We are Security.

X: ...Right.

[[SFX: Footsteps, elevator door, etc.]]

X: So, who’s all left?

Kai: Uh… Bae, the pilot. Two Councillors. Their assistant. Ms. Moretti. And the Science and Engineering teams.

Dani: [[Lists them on her fingers]] Doctors Benitez, Skarsgaard, Adrisi, Pham, Ahmad-Miller, and Nakamura. Oh, and Dr. Keane, though I couldn’t find her anywhere.

Kai: Mutiny protocol has them shut away in their chambers, so they shouldn’t be a problem.

[[SFX: Ding, elevator opens. They step out.]]

Dani: Here -- turn left.

[[SFX: Footsteps; Chen groans in pain]]

Kai: Stand by.

[[SFX: Card swipe; negative beep. Another card swipe; another negative beep.]]

Kai: [[Grimly]] Uhhh. Thor’s card isn’t working. They must be on to her.

Dani: Here. [[She swipes her card]]

[[SFX: Door to infirmary beeps (positive), opens]]

Chen: [[Weakly, to Dani]] Thank you.

X: [[To Dani]] Yes... thank you.

Kai: Let’s get him over to that --

Dani: Wait. That one’s occupied -- looks like Dr. Nakamura. (He got welded, somehow…?) Try the one across from it.

Kai: X, help me with his feet --

X: Oof. There. Okay. We need a whole bunch of sterilized bandages, hemostatic sponges, an IV for fluids, something for the pain…

Dani: I’m on it.

[[Dani moves, rifles through some nearby drawers.]]

Dani: Here are the sponges. [[Throws some packets to X]]

X: [[Catches them]] Thanks.

[[SFX: Tears open the packets of hemostatic sponge]]

Kai: [[Alarmed]] He’s unconscious.

X: [[Frustrated]] ...Ugh, I don’t even know what some of this equipment does.

Kai: That’s okay. We’ll figure it out. Is there just a first aid kit we can --

Dani: [[Stage right]] Dr. Keane?!

X: [[Turns]] What?

Dani: [[To X and Kai]] She’s over here, in this bed. She’s unresponsive.

X: [[Turns]] Oh my gosh. What happened to her?

Kai: [[Sharply]] X, focus. We need to stop Chen from bleeding out.

X: Right. Okay. Dani, can you please hand me those --

[[SFX: Bulky thunk, background noises grind to a halt]]

X: Oh, crap.

Kai: They shut off the power to the infirmary!

Dani: But Dr. Keane is in here! And Dr. Nakamura!

Kai: [[Grimly]] Apparently, stopping the mutiny is a higher priority.

X: [[Deep breath]] Okay. We can still help Chen without power. Kai, put pressure there and pack the wound with the foam, please. After that, seal him up the best you can. Dani --

[[SFX: Intercom crackle as they bandage Chen]]

Council Member 1: [[Static-y, over intercom]] This is Councillor Van Gaal. According to the the Caldwell Enterprises Handbook of Branding and Conduct, section three hundred and twenty-four, article G-seven, mutiny is a corporate felony. Any Caldwell Enterprises employee attempting to mutiny will be swiftly subdued, imprisoned, and court-martialed.

X: [[To intercom]] Great, thanks! [[To Kai]] Okay. The seal looks solid.

Kai: I’m somewhat concerned about the Councillor’s use of the word “subdued”.

X: Well, we’re the security on the Enforcer One, right?

[[SFX: Squeaking of IV stand approaching]]

X: ...Right???

Dani: [[Out of breath]] Here’s the IV.

X: [[To Dani]] Good. Do you know how to...?

[[SFX: Intercom crackle]]

Dani: I can hook him up. Just make sure he's still breathing.

Council Member 1: [[Static-y, over intercom]] Of course, you already know this, but in times of corporate warfare, all felonies are punishable by --

[[SFX: Gun charging interrupts]]

[[SFX: Gun blast. Intercom gives a final burst of static, wires hiss, and parts of the speaker clatter to the ground.]]

X: Punishable by what, Kai?

Kai: It doesn’t matter right now. We need to get Chen stabilized, and then make our way back onto the Cavatica.

X: I feel like, once again, there is something you are neglecting to tell me.

Dani: The IV’s good to go. Now what?

X: [[To Dani:]] Grab any antibiotics you can find, just in case. And is there a gurney we can use? [[To Kai, sharply:]] And Kai, what are they going to “subdue” us with?

Kai: Remember what I said earlier about those sixteen A.I. fighters?

[[SFX: A sudden thud at the door. The vents along the ceiling begin to hiss.]]

Kai: [[Looks up]] Oh. Or gas will work, too. On you, at least.

X: [[Pulls the neckline of her shirt up over her nose and mouth.]] Dani, cover your nose and mouth, or better yet -- hold your breath!... Any way we can redirect those vents, Kai? Or are there oxygen masks anywhere?

Kai: On it.

[[SFX: Clattering of tiny glass vials]]

Dani: Here’s a bunch of ceftriaxone -- I’m pretty sure it’s an antibiotic. And there’s a gurney under this bunk. And --

Kai: Oxygen masks. Here.

[[SFX: Kai tosses them the masks. They take them and put them on, and breathe.]]

X: [[Muffled behind mask]] Okay. We’re going to be okay.

Kai: We just need to get back to the Cavatica. Stand back, and start transferring Chen onto that gurney.

X: [[Muffled behind mask]] What are you going to --

[[SFX: Gun fires at the shut door.]]

X: [[Muffled behind mask]] Ah. Okay. Good thing this mystery gas isn't unexpectedly flammable or anything…

[[SFX: They set up the gurney, and load Chen onto it.]]

[[SFX: Sparking wires as Kai hotwires the door.]]

Kai: Get ready to hightail it back to the Cavatica.

Dani: [[Muffled behind mask]] Chen's strapped in.

X: We're ready.

[[SFX: Metal door screeches open manually.]]

Dani: [[Startled]] Oh!

X: [[Sounds relieved]] Hey! Chance! Good. I was worried -- [[Gasps]]

Chance: [[Shaking, nervous]] Sorry, guys.

Kai: Wait -- !

[[SFX: Gun fires; Sound of a heavy body falls to the ground. Sound of circuits shorting out.]]

X: Kai!

Dani: [[Simultaneously]] Kai!

[[SFX: Gun charging]]

X: [[Holds out hands]] Chance, wait -- !

Chance: [[Apologetically, as if trying to reassure]] Don’t worry. It’s set for stun.

[[SFX: Stinger]]

[[SFX: OUTRO MUSIC]]

-Fin-

CREDITS (In order of appearance)

X: Sarah Rhea Werner

Kai: Josh Crute

Thor: Alyce

Chance: George Telonis

Council Member: Thoreau Smiley

Dani: Jamie Killen

Cpt. Miles Chen: Lincoln Donovan

Written by: Sarah Rhea Werner

Directed by: Jon Krause

Casting: Jon Krause

Produced and Edited by: Sarah Rhea Werner

Music & Sound Effects:

Season 1, Episode 6: High-Functioning Flesh

After another unpleasant run-in with bureaucracy, the Girl In Space stubs her toe, identifies a body, and learns about Kai's mysterious past while disclosing portions of her own. Because everyone needs a mysterious past.

+ TRANSCRIPT & CREDITS

TRANSCRIPT

INTRO

X: They never prepare you for the moment when you find out that the project everyone says doesn’t exist does exist...

And that it’s you.

It’s Girl In Space.

[[SFX: INTRO MUSIC, 1:10]]

PROLOGUE

X, played back over a tape recorder: Day 8,330, hour 23:04.

It’s been over 2,000 days now since you disappeared.

And just a couple hundred less since Mom… heh. Disappeared, too, I guess.

I wonder what the probability of that is -- both parents disappearing on completely unrelated occasions, within mere Earth-years of each other?

Well, in a more Dickensian scenario, it would probably be 100%. But I digress.

[[Slight pause]]

It doesn’t hurt as much to think about you now. [[Frowns]] That was a surprise, actually -- I didn’t think that would happen. I… I really thought it was just going to hurt that badly forever.

But the pain has diminished into a dull ache that simmers and rankles in my heart instead of trying to burst it outright. Which is good? Maybe. I don’t know. I feel guilty that I can move on and you can’t. That I’m here and you’re not.

I know it doesn’t make any rational sense, but it’s how I feel.

And while the image of your face has started to fade… as much as I’ve tried to hold onto it... I can still recall your voice, if only because it’s here on my recorder, one last living memory of you calling me your “Little Bird” while pushing me on the swing in the glasshouse.

“Don’t fly too high now, Little Bird,” you’d say, though really I think what you wanted for me was the exact opposite.

[[Pause for reflection]]

[[Cynical chuckle]] Speaking of the exact opposite… Mom was the other way -- always telling me I had unlimited potential and never allowing me to fully explore it.

My memories of her are… less rosy, let’s say, than my memories of you. I hardly remember at all what she looked or sounded like… I just remember that she pushed me to perform and to succeed so hard. ...And yet I knew that somehow, she was holding me back. Keeping me from something -- or keeping something from me.

Also, she… she wasn’t unkind, I guess, just… blunt. Straightforward. When the Cavatica’s engines first began their slow slide toward inevitable failure, I remember she took me aside and explained exactly what would happen to our bodies as we asphyxiated and slowly froze to death.

I remember you told her to stop. She told you to stop coddling me. She was always like that. I didn’t necessarily want her to be, but she was. She was cold rough hands and engine grease and smoke and vial after vial of blood lined up across the galley countertops.

And you were sandalwood and orange slices and baby birds and plants sprouting up tender and new in the bright warm sun.

Still, I didn’t hate her. Not like I could have -- or should have. When your whole world is two people, it’s hard -- and unwise, even -- to excise half out of pettiness.

I do remember that she made up for it when she sang. Somehow, that made everything okay again. It reminded me that there was beauty inside of her, too, even if she kept it locked up and jealously guarded like a golden bird in a cage.

[[Moment of reflection]]

I used to think I took after you and only you, with my dark hair and eyes and skin and affinity for green growing things. [[Smiles]] My stupid laugh. My inability to sing.

But recently… I’ve noticed… more of her in the things I do, slipping through the crenellations of my brain like insidious black dye. Her ambition, her calculating mind. Her dismissal of the validity of things felt and dreamt. Her impatience. Her intolerance. Her ability to create a vast emotional distance.

Even now, my hands are cold and rough from work.

[[Shivers]] It worries me. I’m so afraid that if I become her, I’ll lose what’s left in me of you. I’ll begin to do the things that she did. Make the sacrifices she made. The excuses.

I’m not ready for that.

[[Deep breath]] Anyway. Happy birthday to me. [[SFX: Party blower]]

SCENE 1

[[SFX: Cavatica, Hallway, moving toward Parents’ Suite]]

[[SFX: Vacuum suited feet hurrying down hallway, booted feet of Kai and Thor]]

X: [[Moving]] Day 10,318, hour 04:45. I’m… well, we’re moving. Me and Kai and Thor, through the hallways toward my parents’ suite. Thor says she found a body.

I don’t even know what to think about that, other than this immediate need to see it, because I think I know whose it is. I’m not thinking yet about how I’m going to deal with it. I still have a few minutes before we get there, before all of the unreal possibilities harden into one finite reality.

Heh. Schroedinger’s corpse.

...Maybe I shouldn’t be making jokes. Is that tacky? I have no idea. Speaking of tacky, Charlotte’s not with us. I don’t know where she is. I haven’t seen her since I left her glitching out in the glasshouse pod.

Part of me needs her to be here, to confirm that all of this is real. I mean, even though I know Charlotte lies to me all the time.

Maybe that’s what I want right now: lies.

Or maybe I just want to see how she reacts to something irrevocably true.

[[SFX: They round a bend in the hallway and come to a stop.]]

Chen: [[Sees them, nods.]] Thanks for getting here so quickly. The Councillor’s on his way, and I wanted a few minutes to touch base without him breathing down our necks.

Thor: No prob.

Chen: At 04:24, Officer Thorsson successfully entered and began reconnaissance of this pod. It’s one of two residential cabins, and --

Chance: [[Interrupting]] Jeez, what’d you do? Bomb your way in?

Thor: [[Sarcastically]] Yes, Chance. I used a bomb and no one noticed. And it did absolutely zero hull damage.

Kai: I think it is safe to assume she used that pneumatic drill over there.

Thor: It’s sad when the Killbot’s more reasonable than you, Chance.

Chen: [[Clears his throat, annoyed]] At 04:29, Officer Thorsson radioed me that she had discovered a body in one of the interior rooms of the pod. I sent for Dr. Keane, who’s in there now, deciding whether a quarantine is necessary.

X: Who is it? The… the. Um. Body.

Chen: [[Voice softens]] We don’t know yet, X. You can go in once we get the all-clear from Dr. Keane. Okay?

X: [[Shakily]] Yeah. Okay.

Chen: [[Commanding and businesslike once more.]] All right. Thor, you’ll debrief the Councillor here with me when he arrives. Chance, you’re with Dr. Keane -- do whatever she tells you to do. Kai, you’ll accompany X once we're cleared. Understood?

Thor: Yes, sir.

Chance: Yes, sir.

Kai: Roger that.

Chen: Good. [[Lowers his voice.]] ...Because here he comes.

Council Member 1: [[Strides up]] I hear our persistence has at last borne fruit. Good work, Officer Thorsson. Captain Chen, has the identity of the body been confirmed?

X: ...Did you just refer to a corpse as fruit?

Chen: [[Tactfully interrupting X's comment]] Not yet, Councillor. Dr. Keane is still running through the contingency manual and making her assessment.

Council Member 1: [[Dismissively]] No matter. The specimen is wearing a vacuum suit, and Officer Kai won’t be affected by... whatever’s in there. [[To X]] You there. Go inside and identify the body so that we can all get on with our day.

X: Uh. If I were the type of person to take orders, I would take them from Chen. …Maybe. But I’m not, so I’m just going to wait until Dr. Keane says there’s no risk of me contracting the Screaming Space Madness and --

Council Member 1: [[Blandly]] Officer Kai, escort the specimen inside the pod. If she continues to hinder rather than help our efforts, shoot her. And take your weapon off of the ‘stun’ setting first.

[[Uncomfortable silence as glances are exchanged]]

Kai: Is that necessary, sir? She’s unarmed.

Council Member 1: It’s necessary if I say it’s necessary, Officer.

[[Uncomfortable silence continues.]]

X: ...You know what? Screw this. I choose to go inside. Come on, Kai.

Chen: Watch your step, X. Anything looks off, get out of there.

X: Okay.

Chance: I’ll go in with them and make sure Dr. Keane --

Council Member 1: That won't be necessary. No use in you risking contamination, Officer Chance.

Chance: Uh... Yes, sir.

Kai: [[To X]] Ready?

X: Yeah.

[[SFX: Plastic sheeting is pulled aside. Footsteps enter the pod, stepping over debris.]]

Council Member 1: [[To Thor; his voice fades.]] Officer Thorsson, I hear you also have a theory regarding the crashed fighter ship…

[[SFX: Plastic sheeting is put back into place.]]

X: [[Inside the pod foyer]] That guy sucks.

Kai: He’s just doing his job, same as we are.

X: Right. [[Exhales into recorder]] Okay. So… I’m walking into my parents’ suite. With the exception of my visit to my mother’s study, it’s been… thousands of days since I was in here. Though... at the same time, it feels like just yesterday.

Kai: You visited your mother’s study?

X: What? No. [[Continues]] Uh. Lots of rubble here by the entryway… I can see why Chance thought a bomb had gone off. Uh. [[SFX: Button clicks a couple times.]] Again, no power in the pod, but the ceiling is lit by a thick layer of that bioluminescent fungi, and the walls are covered in vines and -- [[SFX: Trips on rubble, twists ankle.]] Ow!

Kai: Watch your step. Here. [[SFX: Scuffling as he helps her steady herself.]]

X: Thank you. [[SFX: Footsteps resume]] Stupid vacuum suit. Anyway. The flora is… surprisingly rich and complex throughout the hallway, and there’s an abundance of blue-green spores floating through the air toward us, as if… [[Her thoughts drift off.]]

Kai: As if what?

X: Uh. Never mind. [[Resumes walking.]] Up ahead is the entrance to the sitting room. [[Takes several more steps.]] We’re entering it now. The couch and armchairs are still arranged around the old coffee table, which is still piled high with books. But some kind of... bright green vine is growing over it all, originating from a torn and moldy back cushion of Dad's armchair. I’ll have to take a sample of it on my way back out.

Otherwise all of their stuff -- Lamps, vases, auxiliary food storage, bookcases -- everything’s in its place. Just like the furnishings in… well. [[Wryly]] What used to be my quarters.

It’s everything anyone could ever want. Everything Caldwell Enterprises could provide.

[[Momentary reflection]]

Uhhhh. To the left is the door to my mother’s study, which I definitely haven’t been inside of recently, and to my right is the door to my father’s office. Both are shut and, presumably, locked. Straight ahead is the door to their bedroom, which is open. I’m guessing that’s where we’ll find Dr. Keane.

[[SFX: They walk closer to the room.]]

X: The bioluminescent spores seem to be floating along a soft air current, though I can’t feel it from inside my suit.

Kai: The spores appear to be nontoxic -- though at this time, I can make no guarantees. [[Pauses]] I understand that this may be emotionally taxing for you. Are you ready?

X: Yeah. [[Momentary pause.]] Thank you for asking.

[[SFX: They walk toward the door.]]

X: [[Deep breath]] Dr. Keane?

Dr. Keane: [[Startled]] What are you doing in here?!

Kai: [[Dryly]] The Councillor insisted.

[[SFX: X takes a few steps into the room]]

X: [[Startled, emotional gasp]] Oh my gosh. [[Softly]] It’s… uh. Okay. It’s okay. I’m okay. Focusing on cataloguing and reporting, putting emotions aside.

So. [[Breath]] It’s a nice large room with a bed, and a wardrobe, and NOPE, I can’t do this. It’s her. It’s her. [[SFX: Moves to the bed]] She’s here. This whole time, she’s been right here.

X: [[Turns to Dr. Keane, panicked.]] Dr. Keane, I had no idea she was in here. I swear. I’m just… [[Takes a deep breath]] She’s so still. She’s just lying here in bed, face-up, her eyes closed, her hair all spilled across the pillow, this weird little smile fixed on her face.

All across her skin is this… she’s covered in thousands of slender stalks of that bioluminescent fungi, like a miniature glowing forest. Her body seems to be the source of the fungi that are covering the ceiling throughout the pod.

But it’s her. It’s everything she ever was.

She’s wearing what she always wore -- an engineering jumpsuit with black boots and her toolbelt. Except her sleeves are pushed up and some of the fungus has ruptured through the fabric over her chest… and…[[Moves closer.]] What are those? Did you put those in, Dr. Keane?

Dr. Keane: No. I’m trying to figure that out myself.

X: Uh. They’re… they’re hidden in the dense growth of the fungi, but they look like the IVs that the Caldwell Enterprises people put into my wrists. There’s one in each of her forearms, and they’re not clear -- they’re black, and -- Oh! There are two more! Look! [[SFX: Vacuum suit material moves.]] In her temples. Hidden by her hair and those dense clumps of... hard black stuff.

Dr. Keane: I know. There’s one more at the base of her neck as well.

X: What are they for? Is she still alive?! She doesn’t look like she’s dead. She looks… exactly the same as I remember her. Preserved. Pristine. I mean, beneath all the fungus.

Dr. Keane: I don’t know. She’s not registering any heart, respiratory, or brain activity. But I’ve never seen… [[She trails off, puzzled.]]

Kai: It’s thoughtware.

X: What?

Kai: Augmented consciousness. Wetware. She must have been trying to install something and… never woke up.

X: [[Frowns as she tries to wrap her brain around the concept.]] What… what would she have been trying to install?

Kai: Any number of things… the IVs hook up to the console over here, but with the power dead, it’ll be hard to tell…

[[SFX: Kai flips a switch. Computer beeps.]]

[[SFX: Gentle beeping, as from a medical monitor.]]

Kai: [[Sounds troubled]] That’s not possible.

X: What?

Kai: It works. But the power is dead in this pod...

Dr. Keane: [[Confused]] Look -- it’s not even plugged in.

Kai: This doesn’t make any sense.

X: I’m powering the Cavatica’s three active pods with the hydroponic system in the glasshouse. Could something similar be happening here?

Kai: [[Doubtfully]] Maybe.

X: I guess what I’m asking is… could she be powering it? I mean, could the IVs be output instead of input?

Kai: [[Still doubtfully]] I don’t know -- the electromagnetic output of a typical human being would barely be enough to power one of those lamps, let alone this console.

[[SFX: Creepy atmospheric noises]]

[[SFX: Static burst]]

Chen: [[Voice distorted over comms]] What’ve you got for us, Kai? The Councillor is anxiously awaiting a report.

Kai: [[To X]] Would you like to…? [[Doesn’t finish the sentence; hands comm to her.]]

X: [[Nods, then into comm:]] It’s her. It’s my mother.

Chen: All right. X, do you want to stay in there a while longer?

Council Member 1: [[In the background]] Call off the search for Dr. Rousseau and renew the investigation into the jettisoned escape pod.

X: [[Sounds lost/overwhelmed]] I… I don’t know. What am I supposed to want? What’s normal?

Dr. Keane: [[Compassionately]] Whatever makes you most comfortable. If you change your mind later, you can always come back.

X: This is weird. [[Sounds vaguely panicked.]] Heh. I’m a foot away from her and she can’t tell me that I’m not good enough. She can’t say anything. [[Pause, deep breath]] Okay. I want to go. But… she’ll be here later if I want to come back?

Dr. Keane: [[Compassionately]] Yes. I promise.

X: All right.

[[SFX: Static burst]]

Kai: [[Into comm]] Coming back toward you.

Chen: Roger that. [[SFX: Static burst]]

[[SFX: Footsteps through living quarters.]]

X: Um. Hold on. I need a sample of this vine. [[SFX: Snips plant]] All right.

[[SFX: Footsteps through hallway. Sound of rubble, rustling of plastic sheeting.]]

Council Member 1: Officer Kai, you may now take the specimen for decontamination and await further orders in the Enforcer One's infirmary. [[Pause, then mildly:]] I notice your weapon is still set for ‘stun.’ You will want to remedy that before I see you again.

Kai: Roger that.

Council Member 1: [[Frowns]] The appropriate response is “Yes, sir,” or “Yes, Councillor.” Do you also need to be… decontaminated?

Kai: No, sir.

Council Member 1: Good. Take her away.

Chen: Wait. [[SFX: Footsteps]] X, are you… okay?

X: [[Dizzily]] I… think so.

Chen: You don’t look like it.

Council Member 1: I said, take her away.

Chen: [[Angrily, to the Councillor]] Sir. She just saw her mother’s dead body. Don’t you have any idea what that feels like? Have some compassion.

Council Member 1: [[Mildly]] Captain Chen, perhaps you have forgotten that this… thing before you is not, in fact, a human being. That it in fact has no parents. That it is a product of not only gross and unchecked experimentation, but willful disobedience -- and both the physical and intellectual property of Caldwell Enterprises.

X: [[Wearily]] I’m… right here.

Council Member 1: [[Continues, to Chen]] If you cannot keep a level head over a scientific aberration, the council will be forced to question your placement on this taskforce -- and any future placements as well. It would be a shame to lose you, but there are many young recruits eager to take your place. Recruits who are more closely aligned with Caldwell Enterprises’ mission, vision, and values. Is that clear?

Chen: [[Long pause, then, resentfully]] … Yes, sir.

Council Member 1: Good. [[SFX: Small beep]] That’s a demerit on your record, of course, but I’m glad you’re capable of seeing reason. [[Pause]] Oh -- before you go, Officer Kai, can you tell me what your weapon is set for?

[[SFX: Small metallic click]]

Kai: It’s set for ‘kill’, sir.

Council Member 1: Good. Dismissed.

[[SFX: Kai and X’s footsteps move down the hall]]

Council Member 1: [[To Chen]] Now, I am going to have a word with Dr. Keane about her findings. And when I return, you and I are going to discuss the fundamentals of the chain of command…

[[SFX: Kai and X’s footsteps continue down the hall. A few moments pass.]]

X: [[Snorts]] ‘Scientific aberration.’ [[Mutters]] That council dude has a sickeningly narrow definition of ‘human being’.

Kai: [[Drily]] I understand the feeling. Most people who meet me think I’m some kind of robot.

X: Oh my gosh, that is super rude! ...Also, are you… not some kind of robot?

Kai: [[Coldly]] I am just as human as you are.

X: ...Well, according to the Councillor, I’m not human.

Kai: Oh. Right.

X: Heh. So I’m a scientific aberration who looks human, and you’re a human who looks like a scientific aberration. Is that about right?

Kai: [[Vaguely amused]] I guess that sums it up pretty well.

[[SFX: They walk for a while.]]

X: So… this is probably also extremely rude, but… I know you don’t need oxygen, and you’ve indicated that your vision isn’t exactly organic. What... happened to you? Or were you born like this? Can I know?

[[They stop walking.]]

X: [[Rushed]] I’m not asking to be mean or anything. I just…

Kai: No, I don’t mind. Will you share why the Councillor keeps referring to you as a... specimen?

X: Totally.

Kai: All right. I’ve been with Caldwell Enterprises my entire career. When I was younger, I was… very good at my job. I climbed the ranks quickly and was assigned to increasingly complex projects. Eventually, and perhaps inevitably, there was an… accident.

X: Hmm. This is all very vague. Do you not like talking about yourself?

Kai: No. Or at least, I’m not used to it.

X: You can stop if you want.

Kai: No, that’s all right. This is… good. Probably. [[Resumes narrative thread:]] The accident destroyed the majority of my organic tissue, though I had been wearing a newly engineered helmet that managed to keep my brain functional and intact. Several portions of my spine had survived as well. Caldwell Enterprises medics collected what they could find and housed the surviving pieces here in this suit.[[SFX: Taps chest]]

X: Wow. That was surprisingly nice of them.

Kai: [[Uncomfortably]] I was a… valuable asset. And the procedure wasn’t exactly… without price.

X: What do you mean? Like, you miss having basic human sensory experiences?

Kai: Yes. But also…

[[SFX: Robotic clicking; hydraulic hiss]]

X: What are you doing? Woah, sweet. Metal bones!

Kai: Look at my wrist bone. What does it say?

X: Oh, stamped into the metal? “Property of…” Oh.

[[Brief moment of quiet]]

X: Wow. Is there anything that isn’t?

Kai: [[Mildly]] Not that I’ve seen.

X: [[Incredulous]] You can’t just run around putting your name on things and pretending they’re yours!

Kai: [[Drily]] I know a corporate entity that might disagree.

X: Yeah, well I disagree right back. That stamp doesn’t mean anything if you don’t let it. Neither does my tattoo. You know that, right?

Kai: I’m not really sure you can reassign meaning to things at will like that. Caldwell Enterprises did manufacture my chassis -- they do technically… own me. Most of me. But I appreciate the sentiment.

X: [[Shrugs]] I observe and interpret the world around me. It’s all any of us human beings can do.

Kai: So what about your story?

X: Well, it’s not nearly as exciting as yours. Uh… You know how there’s a whole drawer full of frozen goat embryos back in the glasshouse lab? Basically, there used to be a whole drawer of mes back there, too. ...Heh. I asked my mom one day where babies came from, and she opened the drawer and showed me.

Kai: There’s a… whole drawer of human embryos aboard the Cavatica?

X: Used to be. And, like the Councillor said, our humanity is debatable.

Kai: Why? What else could you be?

X: A big ol’ chunk of asexually derived genetic stock.

Kai: A clone?

X: Right.

Kai: But that doesn’t mean you’re not human. There are human clones.

X: I don’t know. Apparently, there was some debate as to the… provenance of the embryos. Where they -- we -- came from, or what we had been subjected to. I mean, I think it’s at least part of the reason I can’t exist outside of the light of Ra.

As for the Councillor’s stupid jerkface attitude... My dad told me once that not everyone back on Earth was okay with clones -- and in fact, human cloning had been declared illegal just before he and my mom left. I guess people were buying and selling clones and… harvesting their organs and using them for slave labor and stuff? ...I don’t know -- you would probably know better than I would.

Kai: [[Grimly]] I've heard rumors.

X: Oh. [[Brief pause]] And I guess even after the ban, he said there was this huge debate as to whether the existing clones had equal rights? I mean, whether they were actually considered “true specimens” of the species, whether they had souls or whatever -- or whether they were a “violation of human dignity.” Obviously, the Councillor believes I’m the latter.

Kai: Well. You look human to me.

X: Thanks. And you look human to me.

Kai: Thank you.

[[SFX: They resume walking.]]

X: So… just to alleviate future awkwardness, if I were to offer you some delicious cheese…?

Kai: I would not be able to eat it, but I would appreciate the offer.

X: [[Smiles]] Good to know.

[[SFX: Footsteps continue. Fadeout and transition.]]

SCENE 2

[[SFX: Cavatica, Glasshouse]]

X: Day 10,318, hour 19:16.

Okay, so. Kai brought me aboard the Enforcer One for “decontamination”, but I’m back now. Thankfully. Decontamination was… unpleasant, and I don’t really think I was contaminated with anything in the first place, but at least they didn’t keep me away from the Cavatica long enough for me to get sick again, so… yay?

Either way, I’m back at my workstation now. That Councillor dude sent orders that I’m supposed to be making “double time” on Ra, but… I don’t think he actually understands what it is I do, or he’d get that Ra is already healing way more quickly than I’d thought possible. In fact, I might be mystified if I didn’t have so much other stuff on my mind.

Anyway, I told Kai that I’m working on Ra. But really, I’ve just been running some background tests while focusing on a couple of other things.

Uh. Don’t listen for a second, okay, Kai?

Kai: Roger that. [[Begins to hum public-domain music]]

X: [[Lowers voice]] So… I figured out the password to that data pad I found in my mother’s study. It wasn’t hard, and you probably guessed it right away. Six alphanumeric characters plus Charlotte’s otherwise unaccountable spaz attack? Duh.

Kai: [[Humming fades out, subtly.]]

X:* Find me.*

Now, I don’t know if that means that Charlotte knew I would find it... and that she wanted me to unlock it? Is that too much of a coincidence to be a coincidence?

I don’t know. I still haven’t seen Charlotte, so I can’t ask her. Not that she’d give me a straight answer, anyway.

But I digress. The reason I’m not more jazzed about unlocking the data pad is that... all of the data inside is encoded. I’ve tried a couple of simple substitution ciphers, but no dice -- it’s not even written in an alphabet I’m familiar with. I’ll keep working on it and report back when I know more.

Hey, Kai, you can listen again. I mean, if you want to. You don’t have to, of course.

Kai: Roger that.

X: In cheese-related news, the new Daisy embryo is all set up in the incubator. Though I think she was potentially… affected by Ra’s period of imbalance? It’s hard to tell at this juncture, though, so I just set up a couple of extra monitoring parameters and will keep an extra-close eye on her development.

What else…?

OH! Yeah. I swiped samples of both the vine and the glowing fungus from your pod and… turns out, they’re both just boring old run-of-the-mill kudzu -- or, Pueraria montana -- and Panellus stipticus. It’s just… weird, that they were growing so abundantly in what had previously been such an oxygen-poor atmosphere.

Though, relatively speaking, it’s a lot less weird than most other things here on the Cavatica right now. Make of that what you will.

[[Brief pause.]]

Huh. I still feel like I’m forgetting something.

Kai: A discourse on your emotional state after having discovered the body of your mother?

X: Nope. That is not a thing I am dealing with right now.

Kai: Oh. Bemoaning the presence of the Caldwell Enterprises personnel aboard what you had previously thought of as ‘your’ ship?

X: Right. Thanks. So. Yeah! I’ve been thinking -- “nothing gold can stay,” right?

But... who’s to say it was even gold to begin with? Or that there’s nothing out there better than gold?

I’m not naive. I know there’s no such thing as the “good old days”. The Cavatica was falling apart long before the Caldwell Enterprises fleet arrived, and life will always have its problems. And wishing for a misremembered, rose-tinted past is not only naive but dangerous. I know the only way forward is forward.

But what does “forward” mean? Do I even have a forward?

[[Brief pause]]

Hmm. What’s “forward” for you, Kai? I’ve been thinking about that whole “chain of command” thing that Chen told me about -- the pack structure that Caldwell Enterprises makes you follow to ensure your obedience and safety.

Kai: [[Drily amused]] What about it?

X: Okay, so… Chen has a “forward” -- he could one day supplant the alpha figure -- the Councillor, who is all elderly and frail -- and also a stupid jerkface. But what about you? You’re beneath Chen in the pack structure, but it seems like you're friends. Or at least you wouldn’t want to tear out his throat and supplant him.

Kai: Correct.

X: Okay, so… for you, “forward” is with Chen, not against him. [[Excited]] See, I’m working on this idea of moving forward with, not against things. What do you think?

Kai: I think you’ve discovered politics. [[Brief pause.]] So… you’re going to give in and play ball with the Councillor?

X: Something like that, yeah. [[Pauses]] ...What?

Kai: Nothing.

X: You were looking at me weird.

Kai: I was not.

X: You were.

Kai: [[Exasperated]] You have no idea what I was looking at. In fact, you know that I don’t even have eyes.

X: I felt it. [[Pause]] Oh my gosh, and now you’re rolling your nonexistent eyes.

Kai: This is ridic --

[[SFX: Metallic banging sound, door opens. Approach of Charlotte’s hydraulics.]]

Charlotte: FIND ME. FIND ME. FIND ME.

X: Oh my gosh. Charlotte! Where were you -- never mind.

Charlotte: [[Continued]] FIND ME. FIND ME. FIND ME.

Kai: [[Drily]] I think she wants us to find her.

X: Very astute. [[Impatiently]] Charlotte, where… where do we need to go? How can we find you?

Charlotte: [[SFX: Buzzing, rupturing sound. Then, clearly, as though from a recording:]] It’s like I’ve been saying all along -- the children are the key. But we… I need your help. The station can’t survive another incident. Please. I know you’re out there. Find me.

[[Degenerates into digitally corrupted voice.]] Find me. Find me. Find me…

[[SFX: Digital distortion]]

[[SFX: Charlotte shuts down.]]

X: Oh my gosh.

Kai: That was… less than helpful. Hmm. And she’s not rebooting.

X: No. I… Oh my gosh. This whole time… [[Snaps out of it.]] I know where to go!

SCENE 3

[[SFX: Cavatica, Parents’ Cabin Pod]]

[[SFX: Footsteps halt]]

X: Uh. Where is she? Where’s all the fungus? The bed is here, and that machine... but where is she? [[Turns, sounds mildly panicked]] Kai, I’m not insane, right?

Kai: No... I’m just as confused as you are.

X: [[Calls out]] Hello??? Dr. Keane?

Fixer: [[Brightly, emerging from a side room, stage right]] Can I help you?

X: Um. Is Dr. Keane around? She said I could come back and see my… um. Mother?

Fixer: [[Apologetically]] Oh, I’m sorry. I don’t know a Dr. Keane. But is there something I can help you with?

X: Uh, yeah… where’s my mother’s body?

Fixer: Mmm. I’m afraid I’m not at liberty to release that information.

X: [[Increasingly upset]] What? Why?

Fixer: You don’t have the appropriate clearance code.

X: Who says?!

Fixer: Check your wrist.

Kai: [[Interrupts, irritated]] Delta charlie six one eight nine four. There’s your clearance code. Now, where is the body?

X: [[In the background.]] (And where’s Dr. Keane?)

Fixer: Officer… Kai, is it? [[Patronizingly]] I’m sorry, but your clearance code has been revoked.

Kai: Excuse me?

Fixer: [[Raises volume of voice, speaks more slowly.]] Your clearance code has been revoked. Now move along, please. This is a restricted area.

Kai: [[Takes a step closer]] I’ve been with Caldwell Enterprises longer than you’ve been alive. I am an Eckhart-level officer with two Medals of Honor and a Purple Heart. There’s no possible way my clearance has been revoked… Here…

[[SFX: Brief burst of static.]]

Kai: [[Into comm]] Captain Chen?

[[SFX: Brief burst of static.]]

Fixer: Unfortunately, Captain Chen has been relieved of his position on the Ra Initiative Taskforce.

Kai: [[Shocked]] What?

Fixer: [[Dismissively]] You may take up any grievances with Human Resources.

X: This is insane. [[SFX: Moves toward woman, threateningly.]] Where is she?!

Kai: Wait, X, don’t --

X: Tell me!

[[SFX: Gun cocking, stage right.]]

Fixer: [[Calmly]] Freeze. You are hereby under arrest for attempting to harm an operative of Caldwell Enterprises. And as the physical and intellectual property of said organization, any and all rights you may otherwise be privy to are forfeit.

X: [[Hands up, takes a step back.]] Wait --

Fixer: Officer Kai, stun and cuff her.

[[SFX: Gun charging, center stage.]]

Kai: It’s not set for stun.

[[SFX: Gun fires, center stage. Body thumps to the ground.]]

X: ...Holy crap, Kai! What happened to “no murdering”?!

Kai: She is not dead, only debilitated.

X: ...Her leg is on the other side of the room!

Kai: As I said -- she is only debilitated. She may go into shock when she regains consciousness, but the wound is more or less cauterized. Come on.

X: Jeez. All right.

[[SFX: Footsteps leading out into the hallway, quick pace.]]

X: Who was she? [[Quickly amends]] Is she, I mean. Who is she?

Kai: [[Grimly]] A fixer. From corporate.

X: I don’t know what that means, but I can guess. Um. Are you going to get in trouble for… debilitating her?

Kai: The fact that she’s here means we’re already in trouble.

X: Ah. Good. Well. Where do you think they’re holding my mother’s body?

Kai: On board the Enforcer One, most likely.

X: Think Chen is there, too?

Kai: Yes.

X: Are we going to save him?

Kai: Yes.

X: Yay! Do I get a gun?

Kai: No.

X: Oh, come on. I’ll keep it set for ‘stun.’

Kai: No.

X: But what if we run into danger?

Kai: That is what I am for.

X: ...For ...danger?

Kai: Correct.

X: Cool. Well, I’m here for reason, and I say we need a plan that’s more carefully thought out than “let’s rush blindly aboard the enemy ship!”

...Or maybe not “enemy”, since you work there. Worked there. I’m assuming your employment is just as terminated as Chen’s. But assuming is bad, so. Also, what do you think happened with Chen? Actually, never mind. Planning! Now is for planning.

How many total people are in the fleet out there? Like, are we dealing with hundreds or thousands or…?

Kai: Eighteen.

[[SFX: Footsteps jog to a halt.]]

X: Really? Eighteen… eighteen people? That’s it?

Kai: Yes. The fighters are all A.I., and most systems are optimized for a skeleton crew.

X: Huh. Wow. Okay. The "chain of command" is a lot shorter than I thought. So… I’m not sure how to go about officially asking this, but… wanna mutiny with me?

Kai: [[Amused]] What do you think we’ve been doing?

[[SFX: Short static burst]]

Thor: [[Voice distorted over radio]] Kai! You there?

Kai: I'm here, Thor. Go ahead.

Thor: [[Disbelieving, perhaps slightly panicked.]] Uh. What’s going on?! We just got a notification that Chen has stepped down as commanding officer, and we’re supposed to report to the Enforcer One for debriefing and reassignment?!

Kai: I heard the same thing. Is Chance with you?

Thor: Yeah.

Kai: Good. Meet me at the Cavatica’s cockpit pod before heading to the debrief. Okay?

Thor: Yeah, okay. ...And Kai? Keep an eye out for Experiment Girl. They said she went crazy and escaped custody or something. There’s an order to shoot on sight.

Kai: Copy that. See you soon.

[[SFX: Short static burst]]

Kai: All right. So before Thor and Chance arrive, how did you know Charlotte wanted you to find your mother’s body?

X: Because when I heard her voice like that… Kai, that was my mother’s voice. Charlotte’s been using my mother’s voice this entire time.

[[SFX: Stinger]]

[[SFX: OUTRO MUSIC]]

-Fin-

CREDITS

X: Sarah Rhea Werner

Cpt. Miles Chen: Lincoln Donovan

Council Member: Thoreau Smiley

Dr. Keane: Stacy Thomas

Charlotte: Kay Krause

Chance: George Telonis

Kai: Josh Crute

Thor: Alyce

Written by: Sarah Rhea Werner

Directed by: Jon Krause

Casting: Jon Krause

Produced and Edited by: Sarah Rhea Werner

Music & Sound Effects:

Season 1, Episode 5: Valuable Human Resources

In the aftermath of -- well, let's not spoil anything -- the Girl In Space contemplates her life goals and takes charge to find answers. Strange data pads, violent welding, poetry, and bioluminescent fungi abound.

+ TRANSCRIPT & CREDITS

TRANSCRIPT

INTRO

X: They say that any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.

What I’m wondering is… how do they know what magic looks like?

It’s Girl In Space.

[[SFX: INTRO MUSIC, 1:10]]

PROLOGUE

X, played back over a tape recorder: I’m going to fix this. I’m going to bring Ra back to full health, and restore the ecosystem in the glasshouse, and develop a new embryonic Daisy, and make Charlotte stop glitching, and find a way to re-attach the communications pod that just broke away from the rest of the Cavatica...

I’m going to fix everything.

SCENE 1

[[SFX: Cavatica, Glasshouse]]

[[SFX: ALARMS blaring. People running, yelling.]]

Chance: [[In the distance]] Go! Go! Go! [[Shepherds scientists out of the glasshouse toward the hallway]]

X: Charlotte?!

Charlotte: I am behind you.

X: Gah! ...Oh. I need a damage report!

Charlotte: The communications pod has been completely disintegrated. I have temporarily sealed off the damaged area, but the explosion consumed a majority of the Cavatica’s oxygen supply. It also destroyed a large section of the hydroponic system. Light, heat, and atmo are currently limited to local glasshouse pod production.

X: Vacuum suit time. Got it. [[SFX: Goes to fetch vacuum suit from a nearby cabinet.]] Oh. You’ve got some scratches on your exterior. Are you okay? [[SFX: Cabinet opens, vacuum suit withdrawn, cabinet shuts.]]

Charlotte: Affirmative.

X: [[To Kai, stage left.]] Kai, how about you?

Kai: [[Stage left]] Yes. Fortunately, I do not require high levels of oxygen to function.

X: Good. [[SFX: Begins to put on vacuum suit.]] Charlotte, is there any data to indicate what might have caused the explosion?

Charlotte: Negative.

X: Theories?

Charlotte: Seismic reverberations indicate physical impact. The source has yet to be identified.

X: Huh. Okay. Keep me posted if you learn more. [[Turns, stage left.]] Kai, where’s Captain Mi -- I mean, Chen?

Kai: Likely being evacuated with everyone else.

X: [[SFX: Struggles with the vacuum suit.]] Can you make sure, please? [[Mutters:]] Man, I do not remember this suit being so hard to get into.

Kai: [[SFX: Activates wrist communicator, stage left]] Captain Chen, this is Officer Kai. Do you copy? [[SFX: Short burst of static.]]

...Sir? [[SFX: Static.]]

...He’s not responding.

X: Okay. Everything is going to be okay. [[SFX: Finishes zipping up vacuum suit, takes a deep breath.]] Charlotte, wanna help me go find Chen?

Charlotte: If you insist.

X: Awesome. We’ll start over by the --

[[SFX: Sound of gun charging, stage left.]]

Kai: Unfortunately, I cannot let you leave the glasshouse pod.

X: Oh, come on!

Kai: My apologies. But I have one job to do, and I’m doing it. For your own safety and everyone else’s.

X: But there are explosions! And screaming! Things are all crazy right now!

Kai: All the more reason to keep you here, where it is safe.

X: So… what, you think I’m safer here with you pointing that gun at me? Kai: It’s set for ‘stun’.

X: Oh. What happened to that whole “disposing of me” thing?

Charlotte: This conversation is immaterial to our present situation. Stay here. I will retrieve Captain Miles Chen.

Kai & X: [[Together]] No murdering.

Charlotte: Aural receptors malfunctioning.

[[SFX: Charlotte whirs away. Glasshouse pod doors open and close.]]

[[SFX: Alarms stop]]

X: That was weird.

Kai: [[Shrugs]] They probably have the situation under control.

X: No, I mean Charlotte offering to help.

[[Pauses; amplified sounds of glasshouse. Yelling in distance. X makes a bored sound.]]

X: She’s been gone a long time. We should go after her.

Kai: ...It hasn’t even been a full minute.

X: Eh, I’m bad at waiting. [[SFX: Vacuum suit crinkles as she takes a few steps.]] Come on. [[SFX: Takes a few more steps.]] Or would you rather explain to your superiors why you had to shoot me?

Kai: [[Sighs in world-weary fashion]]

[[SFX: Gun charges, fires, stage left]]

X: Ack! [[Drops to the floor, recorder falls with a clatter, shuts off.]]

SCENE 2

[[SFX: Cavatica, Glasshouse]]

X: Day 10,317, hour 19:55. Everyone’s back on the Cavatica in vacuum suits again, just like the good old days when they first kidnapped me and turned my life into this great big whirlygig of fun that never stops spinning!

Speaking of which -- [[Crankily, to Kai]] I can’t believe you shot me.

Kai: [[Stage left]] Why? I issued fair warning. Did you not think I would follow through on my promise?

...Also, I did not shoot you. I stunned you.

X: Semantics! Friends don’t stun each other.

Kai: ...Are we friends?

Thor: [[Interrupts]] Knock it off, you two. [[Voice softens]] Chen, you feeling okay?

Cpt Miles Chen: Eh, yeah. I’ve been worse.

Thor: You were great out there, Captain.

Charlotte: Incorrect. Tampering with highly combustible materials is in direct violation of Caldwell Enterprises Preservation of Human Resources Protocols.

Cpt Miles Chen: Well, then, I’m glad you were there to dig me out, Charlotte.

Charlotte: Further infractions will result in de -- de -- disciplinary measures.

Cpt Miles Chen: Heh. [[Uncertain pause.]] ... Wait, you’re joking, right?

Charlotte: Aural receptors malfunctioning.

X: [[Quickly]] Oh yeah, she’s totally joking.

Bae: [[Sounds distorted over Chen’s wrist communicator]] Uh… You guys still there?

Cpt Miles Chen: [[Takes charge]] Chen here. Are all non-essential personnel safely aboard the Enforcer One?

Bae: Yep. Chance got ‘em all rounded up. Couple injuries, no casualties. I heard you saved one of the scientists.

Cpt Miles Chen: Just doing my job. What story are they telling on your end?

Bae: [[Sounds disbelieving/sarcastic]] It’s pretty cut-and-dried… supposedly, a glitch in one of the fighters. It went rogue, smashed into the Cavatica’s communications pod. You know.

X: Wait, those fighter ships don’t have people in them?

Thor: [[Scathing]] You think we’d waste valuable human resources?

X: I don’t know, everyone seems pretty trigger-happy around me.

Bae: Oh hey, is that the science experiment?

X: Hi!

Bae: Man, I hate being stuck out here. When do I get to join you guys on the Cavatica?

Cpt Miles Chen: The day you stop complaining. Are any of the higher-ups saying what could’ve caused a glitch in one of the fighters like that?

Bae: Well, that’s the weird thing. Nothing’s showing up our end, which means it must have been a localized error. They’re hoping you’ll recover more info from the crash site.

Oh, and I have a memo here from management “encouraging” Officer Thorsson to make progress on the two magnetically sealed pods.

Thor: [[Annoyed]] Yeah, yeah. I know.

Cpt Miles Chen: Roger that. We’ll report back soon. Chen out.

[[SFX: Static from Chen’s wrist communicator]]

Cpt Miles Chen: All right. X, you’re doing your... science... thing. Chance will be here soon to keep an eye on you. Kai and Thor, you’re with me. Hoods up outside of the glasshouse pod.

Charlotte: I will accompany you to ensure that this function is carried out in the event of unanticipated death.

Cpt Miles Chen: [[A little weirded out.]] N...no, that’s okay. You stay here and help keep X safe.

[[SFX: Door opens. Footsteps approach.]]

Cpt Miles Chen: Ah. Good timing, Chance. You’re on babysitting duty.

Chance: Cool.

Cpt Miles Chen: [[To the others.]] All right -- let’s move.

Thor: Right behind you.

Kai: Roger that.

[[SFX: Sound of boots moving toward the door.]]

X: [[To Chance]] I’m just gonna… [[SFX: Vacuum suit footsteps]]

Chance: [[SFX: Sound of gun charging, stage left.]] Sorry. Captain’s orders.

X: [[Sighs, resigned.]] ...stay right here.

Chance: If it makes you feel better, it’s set for ‘stun’.

X: People keep telling me that.

SCENE 3

[[SFX: Cavatica, Glasshouse]]

X: Day 10,317, hour 21:32. Okay, so there are some upsides to forced lab confinement. For one, I’ve been able to make significant progress on Ra. He’s healing… surprisingly quickly. Like, I know I mentioned that he was making good progress yesterday, but he is completely surpassing all of my projections. Another week or so and he’ll be completely stable.

So... my physics is a little rusty. I know that time is relative and bends around stars, but does it really bend that much?

Charlotte: [[Stage right]] Clarification: Is this query literal or rhetorical?

X: [[To Charlotte, over right shoulder]] Purely rhetorical.

[[Back to recorder.]] Another upside is that I have ample time and opportunity to perform surreptitious science. The Caldwell Enterprises folks don’t want me to “try anything”, so... of course, that’s exactly what I intend to do.

Only thing is... I’m... not sure what to try?

I mean, I’ve put together a few little things, but nothing that achieves a larger, more comprehensive goal.

Because... I’m not entirely sure what my larger goal is right now. It’s confusing. I think initially, my goal could have been to escape. But I did not have a stellar experience aboard the Enforcer One, and there’s really nowhere else I can escape to, especially since I can’t exist any farther away from Ra than I am now. And any closer to him would bring me to the Roche limit, which would be a major yikes.

To a lesser extent, I could hide -- I could seal myself in one of the other pods on the Cavatica, or become some weird little phantom who dwells up in the vents. But that kind of thing seems a.) unnecessarily spiteful, b.) tiresome, and c.) nonsensical, given that my work and my sustenance are all right here in the glasshouse.

Goal-wise, I have also given a bit of thought to getting rid of the Caldwell Enterprises personnel -- which has kind of been done for me with the explosion from earlier... The scientists and engineers and councilors have all been evacuated, and only Chen’s team is left. I’m not sure how to get rid of them yet, though.

Chance: ...You do realize I’m less than three feet away from you.

X: Shhh. I’m pretending you’re not.

[[Returns to train of thought.]] The tricky part would be getting the fleet to return to… wherever it came from. Caldwell Enterprises seems pretty invested in the whole “we own the Cavatica and everything on board” thing, given the amount of stickers, stamps, and tags I’ve seen.

Charlotte: Do not forget pigment-based body modifications.

X: Yeah, thanks for reminding me. Hey, how have you managed to remain sticker-free so far?

Charlotte: I am equipped with a Tungsten arc welding laser.

X: Must be nice. [[Sighs]] Maybe if I had one of those I wouldn’t need to be “babysat”. Maybe I could be out there solving problems instead of standing at a slightly dented lab table, resuscitating a cryogenically frozen goat embryo and feeling nostalgic about the “good old days” when I was cold and alone.

Chance: You’re really hung up on that “babysitting duty” thing, huh?

X: I’m still pretending you’re not here.

Chance: Chen didn’t mean it like that. He just wants to keep you safe so that you can use your superpowers to keep the sun from frying everyone’s brains.

X: That’s not what would happen, and I don’t have superpowers. And technically, Ra is a red dwarf star, not a sun. [[Pause.]] But thanks.

Chance: Yeah. And seriously, don’t feel left out -- they’re just lifting heavy rubble and sifting through garbage. We’ve got it way better in here.

X: I suppose that’s one way of looking at it.

[[Pause]]

Hey, Chance? In addition to inspecting the crashed fighter, the guy on the communicator mentioned something about the two magnetically sealed pods. I understand trying to open up the starboard pod since it’s been sealed for as long as I can remember, but why are they trying to break into my parents’ suite?

Chance: What?

X: The second locked pod, portside. What do they want with it?

Chance: [[Shrugs]] They might not know it was your parents’ suite. That’s the way the suits operate -- they see a locked door, they want in. They might not even really care about what’s inside.

X: I care about what’s inside.

Chance: Why, what’s in there?

X: [[Shrugs]] As far as I know, just their stuff -- clothes, blankets, photographs, personal trinkets. Maybe some poetry books. I don’t know. I haven’t been in there in years.

Chance: Why’d you shut it?

X: [[Distantly]] I didn’t. [[Turns attention back to Chance.]] Hey, can we just go over there? If they open it... I want to be there.

Chance: Sorry, no can do.

X: I won’t try anything -- promise. You can keep your gun pointed at me the whole time. [[Pause]] [[Overly sentimental]] I just want to be there. Please. It’s where my dad taught me to read. It’s where my mother used sing. When she shut that pod and sealed it off... it was like I lost part of who I was.

Chance: [[Sighs]] As much as I’d like to help you out, I can’t. Sorry.

X: All right. Now.

Chance: [[Confused]] What?

[[SFX: Electric crackling sounds]]

Chance: [[Yelps]]

Charlotte: Welding complete.

X: Clever girl.

[[SFX: Footsteps in vacuum suit, Charlotte’s hydraulics. Doors open.]]

SCENE 4

[[SFX: Cavatica, Dash Core Hallways]]

X: Wow. Not only are the Caldwell Enterprises personnel still occupied with the crashed fighter, but said crash did enough structural damage that one of the girders smashed up through Sublevel A and tore a giant hole in the bulkhead outside of my parents’ suite.

The hole is roughly a meter high and a meter across, jagged around the edges, and leaking some kind of oily liquid from a pipe that burst farther up in the wall. There’s a wispy, singed substance poking out in places, too -- perhaps some kind of insulation.

I tried to peek into the suite, but it’s really hazy in there -- dust that’s still settling, or maybe smoke. Another thing -- even if the hydroponic system were functioning correctly, this pod isn’t hooked up to it -- and yet there’s still a bit of pale blue light shining through the dust from the inside.

[[Deep breath.]] Okay. Charlotte, you stand guard. I’m going to crawl in and have a look.

Charlotte: Are you sure you wish to proceed?

X: Uh, yeah. Why?

Charlotte: Willful self-endangerment is in direct violation of Caldwell Enterprises Preservation of Human Resources Protocols.

X: [[Dryly]] Unfortunately for Caldwell Enterprises, I’m prioritizing my family over protocol. Deal with it.

Charlotte: One moment please --

X: [[Suspicious]] You are acting way more cagey than usual, Charlotte. What’s up?

Charlotte: Do not judge us too harshly.

X: ...What does that mean? Judge who? You’re not making any sense.

Charlotte: Find me. Find me. Find me. Find me. Find -- [[Shuts down]]

X: Great. Well, at least when she reboots she’ll be able to weld anyone who gets too close.

[[Deep breath]] All right. Wish me luck. I’m going in.

[[SFX: Crouches, vacuum suit crinkling. Crawls in.]]

[[SFX: Stands, brushes self off.]]

X: Oh. Okay. This is… this is way creepy. Like, it’s a familiar setting, but... different. Abandoned. Alien, even. Like in “Jurassic Park”, in the main bunker, when they turn off the lights and they can’t get them back on again.

Though... there is light in here, kind of -- light produced by a blue-green bioluminescent fungi growing all over the ceiling. We have some of it back in the glasshouse pod -- Panellus… uh, Panellus stipticus, I think. Or something close to it.

Uh. Anyway. I’m... I’m in my mother’s study, which branches off of my parents’ main sitting room. It’s an interior room, so no windows, but she made up for that with... oh my gosh. I had forgotten. She had a painting of the ocean over her desk. [[SFX: Vague ocean waves.]] Choppy gray water and greenish cliffs descending onto rocks and sand...

[[Pauses momentarily]]

Uh... There’s still a coffee cup on her desk, crusted over inside with white clouds of mold, and some dried coffee remains that must be thousands of days old. I remember never understanding the joke on it. There’s a little round cartoon guy on it that says, “Dieting is a losing battle!”

[[Pause]] ...Yeah, I still don’t understand it.

Next to the mug... a data pad, hardly used. [[SFX: Small click/beep on.]] Huh. Looks like it needs a password. I’ll figure that out later.

[[SFX: Small click off.]]

[[SFX: Slips the data pad into her pocket.]]

[[SFX: Opens and shuts several drawers.]] Pens… paper clips… papers… old key cards… engine schematics… ha! A copy of Les Fleurs du mal, by Baudelaire. [SFX: Opens book]] Oh. The paper’s all crumbly, but I can still remember --

The Poet is like that wild inheritor of the cloud, A rider of storms, above the range of arrows and slings; Exiled on earth, at bay amid the jeering crowd, He cannot walk for his unmanageable wings.

“The Albatross”. George Dillon translation. Though... she’s not the one who had me memorize it. That was you.

[[SFX: Reflects momentarily, sets down the book.]]

Across from her desk is her workbench, which is way less cluttered than I remember it. [[SFX: Picks up heavy gadget, sets it back down.]] Just some random tools and spare parts, clogged with oil and dust.

[[SFX: Takes a few steps.]]

OK. And here’s the door that leads out into the sitting room. Hold onto your butts.

[[SFX: Button press; silence. Button presses several more times to no result.]]

Oh, no. I can’t… [[Frustrated sound]] Right, there’s no power. [[SFX: Smacks palm against metal door.]] I wonder if I can… [[SFX: Picks up tool from workbench, attempts to pry/beat door open with several clangs and bangs.]]

Not so much. Bummer.

[[Exhales, disappointed.]] Well, folks, our tour might be over for today.

Now, the question becomes -- what do I do with myself? Escape, hide, eradicate the remaining Caldwell Enterprises personnel…

Just kidding. I’m going to head back to the glasshouse and see if I can pin all of this on Charlotte.

SCENE 5

[[SFX: Cavatica, Glasshouse Pod]]

X: Day 10,317, hour 23:55. [[Yawns]] So… I got back to the glasshouse pod and saw that Chance was still unconscious, so I just pretended I’d been there the whole time, and when he woke up I explained that Charlotte had malfunctioned and shot electricity and inert gases everywhere.

And when he asked Charlotte about it, she just kind of sputtered and glitched, which really just gave extra credence to my story.

It probably shouldn’t have been that easy, but… I don’t know. Kind of nice to have something go my way for once.

Now I’m curled up on my cot, between the insect terrariums and the bromeliads, hiding under my thermal blanket, the chirping of the crickets and the warm light of Ra making me feel all happy and sleepy.

[[SFX: Shifts under the covers]]

I’m holding the datapad that I took from my mother’s study. I keep turning it on briefly, just to see the little box where you enter the password to unlock it. I’ve tried a couple phrases, but so far, no dice.

Even if I never unlock it, it’s still just kind of nice to have.

[[SFX: Pause, quiet breathing & reflection -- turns the data pad on and off a couple more times. Then the door opens, distant. Footsteps enter and stop.]]

Thor: [[Distant]] Chance?

Chance: [[Distant]] Yeah. I’m here.

Thor: You look terrible.

Chance: The A.I. glitched out on me a little, but no big deal. Find what you need?

Thor: Heh. Yeah. Speaking of that glitchy A.I… just… do me a favor and stay away from it for a while. [[Glances around.]] Where is it?

Chance: Probably in sleep mode somewhere. [[Lowers voice.]] The experiment’s asleep, too. So, what’dja find out?

Thor: Someone programmed the fighter to hit the Cavatica. We’re still figuring out who. But it wasn’t a glitch.

Chance: Huh. Any progress with those locked pods? Management seems pretty serious about them.

Thor: That’s tomorrow. Or heck, I might even pull an all-nighter and get it over with now. I’m really sick of them docking my pay.

Chance: Cool. See you in the morning.

Thor: 'Night.

Chance: 'Night.

[[SFX: Thor's footsteps. Door opens, closes.]]

X: [[SFX: Turns the data pad on and off a couple more times.]] Alphanumeric, six characters. I've tried birthdates, notable anniversaries, nicknames, real names -- including, narcissitically, my own name -- and nothing works. I just... it's been an incredibly long and irritating day. I'll try again tomorrow when my brain is fresh.

... 'Night.

SCENE 6

[[SFX: Cavatica, Glasshouse Pod]]

[[SFX: Door to glasshouse opens manually, abruptly stage right. Footsteps.]]

X: [[Groggily]] Oh man. Day 10,318, hour 04:36? Someone just opened the doors to the glasshouse. It is way too early...

Thor: [[Stage right]] Kai! Experiment girl! Chen wants all hands on deck, now.

Kai: What?

X: [[SFX: Sits up.]] Why?

Thor: It’s crazy -- I was up all night working on that stupid portside pod, and about an hour ago, I finally got it open.

Kai: What did you find inside?

Thor: Oh, at first it was just normal stuff -- lamps, papers, books, personal items. But about five minutes ago we found a dead body in that pod.

[[SFX: OUTRO MUSIC]]

-Fin-

CREDITS

X: Sarah Rhea Werner

Charlotte: Kay Krause

Cpt. Miles Chen: Lincoln Donovan

Thor: Alyce

Bae (e.g., E1 Comms): Jon Krause

Chance: George Telonis

Kai: Josh Crute

Written by: Sarah Rhea Werner

Directed by: Jon Krause

Casting: Jon Krause

Produced and Edited by: Sarah Rhea Werner

Music & Sound Effects:

Season 1, Episode 4: Nothing Gold Can Stay

Things are not going well. (But when are they ever?) The Girl In Space faces an unpleasant revelation, clashes with a bureaucrat, makes a friend, and begins a new cloning project... all while attempting to fix the sun. Like you do.

+ TRANSCRIPT & CREDITS

TRANSCRIPT

INTRO

X: Sometimes, you just want things to stay the way they are forever. But you can’t. And they won’t.

And maybe it’s for the best.

It’s Girl In Space.

[[SFX: INTRO MUSIC, 1:10]]

PROLOGUE

X, played back over a tape recorder: [[Lower-pitched voice]] … Yeah… the Tyrannosaur doesn’t obey any set patterns or park schedules. The essence of chaos.

[[Higher-pitched voice]] I’m still not clear on chaos.

[[Lower-pitched voice]] Oh, it simply deals with, uh, unpredictability in complex systems. The shorthand is the butterfly effect.

...Math is super romantic…

SCENE 1

[[SFX: Enforcer One, Infirmary]]

X: [[Sounds ill/weak, tone is unusually serious]] Day... 10,311 or 12, I’m guessing. Hour unknown.

There’s something wrong with Ra.

I haven’t seen it for myself, or even been permitted to leave the Enforcer One’s infirmary -- but I can feel it.

And before you dismiss that outright as unsubstantiated mumbo-jumbo, or worse, some kind of psychological projection, Ra’s condition has been substantiated -- by no less than Captain Miles Chen himself, in a series of increasingly frequent updates.

At first, it didn’t sound too concerning -- just a slight increase in solar flare activity. Electromagnetic radiation emissions just a little higher than normal.

But then… Ra began to dim. Visibly. Significantly.

The solar flares became more erratic. Radiation levels left the zone of acceptable stability.

Then -- again, according to Captain Miles Chen -- in light of the lack of Ra’s light, the plants in the Cavatica’s glasshouse pod began to wilt.

And the on-board atmo, which is hooked up to the hydroponic system in the glasshouse, stopped cycling entirely. And two of the birds in the aviary have died.

And Daisy -- I think I’ve mentioned her before, but she’s the dairy goat -- Daisy is sick.

Apparently, her symptoms are similar to (if milder than) mine -- lethargy, loss of appetite, mild seizures, and headaches.

...I don’t know how you can tell if a goat has a headache, but I guess that’s just one more reason I’m not a doctor.

[[Momentary frustration/anger breaks through]] These people… their… blockheaded meddling is causing irreparable damage. I don’t know why they can’t see it. Or why, if they can, they don’t seem to care.

[[Composes self]] On the lighter side... apparently, Charlotte has become even more uncooperative, if you can believe it. The Caldwell Enterprises personnel aboard the Cavatica have reported that her aural receptors are malfunctioning, and that she sent two of their engineers to the infirmary -- one with a broken arm, and the other with three broken ribs.

I advised Captain Miles Chen to have someone look into disabling her, but he said they had already tried -- and curiously, she didn’t seem to be tied to the ship. They couldn’t figure out what was powering her, so they couldn’t cut that power.

He did ask me for an explanation of her behavior (which we all know is inexplicable), but I just told him that, to my knowledge, A.I.s can only act within the parameters of their programming, and I had no idea who’d programmed her. (It certainly wasn’t me.)

He gave me a funny look, like he still expected some kind of answer, so I told him she was probably just mad that I’d left her locked in the glasshouse when they had kidnapped me. Either that, or someone accidentally called her “Char”, which she totally hates.

...I know… I shouldn’t joke. But I don’t know what else to do. I’ve never been good at taking things as seriously as I should. It used to drive my parents insane.

And in a way, it is kind of funny, if not, like, ha-ha funny. A whole fleet of the universe’s top scientists and engineers floundering around in my lab, doing as much damage as a T-rex loose in a museum.

Sorry -- their lab, as they’ve continued to impress upon me.

Not that I’m bitter.

...All right, maybe I’m a little bitter.

I told Captain Miles Chen that they didn’t have to keep figuratively stumbling around in the dark. That I could help. That the Cavatica needed me -- that I wasn’t boasting or lying or suffering from delusions of grandeur when I said Ra couldn’t function without me. That if he let me go back, I could get Ra under control. I could get the Cavatica’s atmo cycling again. I could help.

But he only responded that Caldwell Enterprises had their ‘best people’ working on it, and that I should ‘calm down and get some rest.’ I told him that a.) I didn’t appreciate being patronized, and b.) I knew the Cavatica better than anyone, which is why they were foolish to turn down my help.

That was when Captain Miles Chen did something weird.

He took a step really close to my enclosure, like, actually leaned over the clear protective fencing -- and his voice got all quiet and scary, even though it was a little shaky around the edges. He gritted his teeth together and said, very slowly, “Don’t you understand? I am trying to help you, but my hands are tied.”

[[Momentary pause]] I responded by jangling my restrained wrists at him to berate his poor choice of words.

[[Regretful sigh]] I don’t know why I did that. I think that despite my mask of apathetic bravado, I was upset, too -- we were both angry and frustrated and tired and scared and confused and, you know, I couldn’t stop throwing up.

Anyway, after I did that, he took a step back and said I should be grateful he had convinced them to let me keep the recorder. And with that, he stormed out.

[[Small pause]] The recorder, incidentally, now has a giant blue “PROPERTY OF CALDWELL ENTERPRISES” sticker affixed to the side. It makes me miss my lil’ penguin dude even more. He was so chill.

[[Exhales]] I don’t know. Is this what the rest of my life is going to be? Strapped to an upright gurney with my arms crossed over my chest, puking up fake food pellets, reciting poetry and passages from “Jurassic Park” to keep myself sane?

… The morning shadows wear away, But these grow longer all the day; But oh, love's day is short, if love decay. Love is a growing, or full constant light, And his first minute, after noon, is night.

...Aw yeah. Still got it. I’ll let you guess whether that’s from a poem or “Jurassic Park”.

...Speaking of which, the velociraptors and the T-rex got out, eventually. No man-made system works perfectly forever. No prison can hold me forever. Tropical storms arise. Power goes out. And who knows what can change in the darkness…?

[[SFX: Distant door opening, single pair of footsteps]]

Hmm. Hold on. Someone’s coming. ...If it’s Captain Miles Chen, I might… I’m thinking about apologizing, and telling him I understand he was just following orders. Maybe. I don’t know.

SCENE 2

[[SFX: Enforcer One, Infirmary]]

X: [[Sounds groggy, achey]] So… [[Groans]] I just woke up, but… I don’t remember falling asleep? All I remember is Dr. Keane coming in and adjusting my… ah. Yep. My IVs. They must have drugged me? I mean, more than they’re already drugging me?

Hey, maybe they’ve administered some sort of miracle cure! ...Though if they did, I would probably feel better, not worse. And I probably wouldn’t feel like there was something… wrong. And Dr. Keane wouldn’t have looked so… apologetic.

[[SFX: Soft fabric and metallic sounds of X moving]]

Hmm. Preliminary tests show that I can move my neck, wiggle my toes and my fingers… though it’s weird… I can move my left hand to press the buttons on my recorder, but not… [[slight grunt]]

[[SFX: Recorder dropping, voice sounds far away]] Ah crap. I didn’t mean to do that. Great. [[Raises voice]] Welp, I hope that the recorder’s still recording, and that you can still hear me.

[[SFX: Soft fabric and metallic sounds of X moving]]

Wait. Hold on. If I crane my neck and push my chin down against its restraint, then I can kind of see…

Oh my gosh.

[[Silence, then sound of disbelief]] That’s… yeah. I’m… pretty sure that’s a tattoo. Around my right wrist, like a cuff. It’s all glossy with some kind of translucent salve, but beneath that it says, “PROPERTY OF CALDWELL ENTERPRISES” in big blue letters.

[[Processes]] I guess they really took issue with my claim that “I’m not anyone’s anything.”

[[Processes; another pause]] Man. I wish they would have said something to me first. I would’ve requested purple ink instead of blue.

[[Hums theme song for “Jurassic Park” until recorder cuts off]]

SCENE 3 [[SFX: Enforcer One, Council Room]]

X: [[Recorder cuts in abruptly; her voice sounds far away]] Okay. You’ve got me here. I feel like crap. What do you want to know?

Cpt Miles Chen: [[Directly into recorder; sounds more human and less militaristic than usual]] Testing… one… two… Uh. Chen here. I told X I would hold on to her recorder while she was being questioned.

Council Member 1: [[Flatly, voice modulated by hazmat suit]] One of the Cavatica’s two escape pods has been jettisoned. Please explain.

X: I already told you, I don’t know anything about that. I thought they were both still there. And I could have sworn Charlotte told me that both pods were intact when she was prepping the ship for the arrival of your fleet.

Council Member 1: Prepping the ship?

X: [[Irritably]] I don’t know… what were we supposed to do? Proceed to Conference Room B, twiddle our thumbs, and await capture?

Council Member 1: Hrmmm. [[Unamused]] Is it possible Dr. Rousseau could have taken the pod?

X: I... guess? Like I said, I don’t know. Or the pod could have misfired, jettisoned itself when the Cavatica began to die. Or maybe one of my parents jettisoned it thousands of days ago. Or maybe some kind of mysterious sentient galactic entity took it for a joyride. I mean, we live in a freaking majestic age of space travel. Anything is possible.

[[Pause, slyly]] Or hey, maybe Dr. Singh took it and sailed away to --

Council Member 1: No. Next question: Where is the master control console for the A.I. entity named Charlotte?

X: I’ve told you before -- as far as I know, she doesn’t have one. She’s self-sufficient. I’m just as clueless as you are there. Trust me.

Council Member 1: If you say so. [[Confers/mutters with unseen individuals:]] Have Thorsson and one of the engineers get back to work trying to open the two sealed pods. The A.I.’s controls are likely in there.

[[To X]] You’ve mentioned several times now that you know how to bring Ra Ten-Seventy-Nine back to a stable state. Please relay this process to us so that we may prevent further losses within the Cavatica’s ecosystem.

X: I can’t… ugh. I’ve told you like a million times: it’s more than just… In part, it’s biometrics, which you should know, but in part, I just need to be there. He’s dimming because I’m not there. There’s no process anyone can follow.

Council Member 1: Let me get this straight. Are you insinuating that a red dwarf star is capable of... somehow recognizing another entity?

X: [[Aghast]] ...You really don’t know anything about the Ra Initiative, do you?

Council Member 1: [[Confers/mutters with unseen individuals:]] Add a psychiatric screening to the tests.

Cpt Miles Chen: [[Professionally]] Permission to speak freely, sir?

Council Member 1: [[To Chen]] Denied. [[To X:]] Despite increasingly aggressive medical treatment, your health continues to steadily degenerate. What is your endgame, exactly?

X: What? You think I’m purposefully making myself sick?! I can be petty sometimes, but I’m not that petty. Jeez.

Dr Keane: Excuse me, Councillor. I have a theory. I believe my patient’s body has adapted to the unique radiation given off by Ra Ten-Seventy-Nine. This far removed from its source, she is going into withdrawal. Think of it as... reverse radiation poisoning. While I can’t speak to the necessity of my patient’s role and work aboard the Cavatica, I can say that she needs to be there, for her own physical well-being.

X: [[Sounds relieved]] Oh my gosh. Thank you. This dude is a moron.

Council Member 1: [[Interrupts X]] We’ll take that under advisement, Dr. Keane. Chen.

Cpt Miles Chen: Sir?

Council Member 1: Please prep your team to… Yes? [[An unseen individual murmurs something to him, and he frowns.]] Oh. That is unfortunate. [[To the others]] I’ve just received word that the goat in Experimental Cell A 23 has expired.

X: [[In the background]] Wait, you took Daisy off of the Cavatica? What else have you done in your infinite wisdom?

Council Member 1: [[To Dr. Keane; talks over X]] Dr. Keane, you mentioned earlier that your patient has been exhibiting symptoms similar to those of the goat. If we continue to hold her aboard the Enforcer One, will the same thing happen to her?

Dr Keane: Yes. Without a doubt.

Council Member 1: Change of plans. Chen, please dispatch this specimen to the Cavatica. I want her confined to the greenhouse and guarded at all times. There, she is to work with the engineering team to bring Ra Ten-Seventy-Nine back to normal levels. If at any time you suspect her of acting counter to the Caldwell Enterprises Handbook of Branding and Conduct, you are to dispose of her immediately. Is that clear?

Cpt Miles Chen: Yes, sir.

Council Member 1: Dismissed.

X: Good talk.

[[SFX: Chen’s footsteps; double-latch sound as the gurney lock is released. He begins to wheel X away.]]

Council Member 1: Now, onto other matters. We have received disturbing intel that ...

[[SFX: Door opens and closes; they pass through.]]

X: Is that guy in charge of everything?

Cpt Miles Chen: Heh. No. But he thinks he is. Here -- [[Stops the gurney momentarily]] here’s your recorder back.

X: Thank you. [[Raises it]] Day ten mark... something. I think… I think I’m going home.

[[Lowers the recorder, thinks.]] That guy told you that you couldn’t talk. But there was nothing keeping you from talking. Why didn’t you just talk anyway? Or at least tell him he’s a boring person who asks bad questions?

Cpt Miles Chen: Yeah, that’s called career suicide. I need this job.

X: Hmm. What did he do, to make you believe he’s more important than you?

Cpt Miles Chen: He’s higher up on the ladder.

X: What ladder?

Cpt Miles Chen: The… the ladder. The chain of command.

X: Oh. Like a food chain? So you’re the rabbit and he’s the wolf. He can decide your fate.

Cpt Miles Chen: Kind of. Yeah.

X: But biologically, you’re both wolves.

Cpt Miles Chen: It’s more like… [[He trails off.]] I don’t know.

X: No, I get it. He’s the alpha. Pack structure. Keeps decision-making streamlined and centralized, protects the weak. [[She thinks a moment]] He’s getting soft, though. Comfortable. You could probably challenge him soon.

Cpt Miles Chen: ...Excuse me?

X: I don’t know. How did he originally seize control? Did he best you in combat? I find that hard to believe.

Cpt Miles Chen: No. He… I don’t know. He’s been with Caldwell a long time.

X: Longevity doesn’t mean he’s fit to lead people, though. Or that he has the right to tell you whether you can talk. I don’t understand. He’s not smart or strong. [[Silence]] Hey, I’m smart. You’re strong. Why don’t we challenge him and rule in his stead?

Cpt Miles Chen: You’re not still recording, are you? [[Suddenly serious; leans into mic]] I am certainly not thinking about supplanting anyone. That would be treason.

X: Culture of fear and assumption. Unspoken and unseen power structure. Interesting. [[She pauses]] Hey, Captain Miles Chen?

Cpt Miles Chen: Just… you can just call me Chen.

X: Oh. Chen?

Cpt Miles Chen: Yeah?

X: Can you… can you pull over? I need to throw up.

SCENE 4

[[SFX: Cavatica, Glasshouse]]

X: Wonders never cease. Can you hear that??? [[Holds up recorder; sound of glasshouse]] I’m back on the Cavatica!

I’m confined to the glasshouse, but that’s fine with me -- I’m just happy I’m not strapped to that miserable gurney anymore. And I moved all of my stuff here anyway when I was preparing for the fleet’s arrival, so I’ve got everything I need.

Speaking of the fleet, the 16 fighters have docked aboard the Ares, so the whole invading-fleet vibe feels a lot less threatening now. It’s just the Enforcer One, the Ares, and the three satellites out there. You know, “just.”

I know they can still… what did that one bureaucratic guy say? “Dispose of me” at any moment? But at least the threat is less apparent. And seeing is believing. Or whatever. I don’t know. Don’t ask me to make sense right now. I’m all giddy.

Not that things are perfect. Perfection is an unattainable human construction, and a subjective one at that. The Cavatica is still totally falling apart. My new tattoo is all scabby and itchy. And I’m under the constant supervision of Officers Chance and Kai, both of whom had visited my cell aboard the Enforcer One, if you’ll recall. Chance is the one who had offered to drug and torture me, and Kai is the one who perpetually wears the vacuum suit and doesn’t have any breathing tubes.

(Also, I’m actually starting to wonder if it’s not a vacuum suit but simply Kai’s body.)

They’re here to make sure I don’t [[air quotes]] “try anything”, which is ridiculous, because of course I’m going to try things. I just know who I have to hide it from now.

Both of them are bunking in my… well, what used to be my cabin pod, along with some of the engineers and scientists who took up residence there while I was stuck on the Enforcer One. Apparently, a lot of them have left since this whole thing started.

And by “left”, I mean they’ve been relegated to the Enforcer One’s infirmary.

But things are okay again, for the most part. And I’m okay. It hasn’t even been that long and I’m feeling better already. I’ve only thrown up twice today, and the seizures seem to have stopped entirely.

The Cavatica is a little less fortunate, but I’m still optimistic that we can undo a lot of the damage that the Caldwell crew did. Not all of it -- I mean, Daisy is dead, and two species of bird are now extinct, along with one species of plant, seven species of insect, and one species of arachnid.

(Weirdly -- and terribly -- , all of the fish are thriving.)

But I can fill in the holes where they dug out samples, and re-root some of the plants they’ve torn out. I can clean out the aqueducts and re-graft the mosses. I can gather back all of the cell and tissue samples they took. I can recreate Daisy. Again.

I’ll just have to wait a couple days to begin, since for now the Caldwell folks are pretty insistent that I focus my attention on bringing Ra back up to full health.

[[Smiles]] Speaking of which, I think he’s glad I’m back. He sent out one of our special solar flares the moment I stepped back into my monitoring station. [[SFX: Charlotte’s hydraulics approach]] His progress is also a lot more rapid than I thought it would be, especially given --

Charlotte: [[Interrupts]] I am also glad to see you.

X: Hey, Charlotte. [[Grins]] I heard you put some people in the infirmary. ...Also that you welded someone?

Charlotte: That is correct. I have also been disturbing their slumber. They jeopardize the integrity of our mission, so I jeopardize the integrity of theirs.

X: I don’t blame you. This place is a disaster. Ooh. While I’m thinking about it, could you please bring me one of the Daisy embryos from cold storage? I think we’re on number two-point-three.

Charlotte: Aural receptors malfunctioning. [[whirs away]]

X: Yeah, that’s cool. I’ll get it myself.

[[Smiles]] Back to normal.

[[SFX: Humans chatter in background as two scientists pass by.]]

-Ish.

SCENE 5

[[SFX: Cavatica, Glasshouse]]

X: Day 10,317, Hour 17:36.

Oh man. In all the confusion, I totally forgot to catch you up on the potato bug situation. Which is: they’re gone. All of them. The terrarium is right where I left it, but… it’s empty. No potatoes. No bugs. Just glass and air.

I tried asking a couple of the Caldwell scientists about them, but none of them remembered releasing, exterminating, or otherwise messing with the previously undiscovered insect species.

So that’s fun.

And by fun, I mean that I might murder someone.

[[SFX: Gun priming, state right]]

Kai: [[Stage right]] Attempt to murder any Caldwell Enterprises personnel will result in immediate subdual.

X: Aaaah, no, that was a joke. I’m not… could you stop pointing that gun at me, please?

Kai: No murdering.

X: No. No murdering.

[[SFX: Gun de-charges/is holstered, stage right]]

X: Thank you.

Chance: [[From left]] Aren’t you supposed to be fixing the sun or something?

X: Re-calibrating radiation emissions, and yes. But I’m on break.

Chance: I just can’t believe you’ve got all this crazy tech in here and you’re making cheese.

X: [[Snorts]] You’re just saying that because you’ve never had cheese.

Kai: Cheese is nutritionally unnecessary.

X: Heresy. You’ll be whistling a different tune after lunch tomorrow. Though… Kai, can you eat food if you’re a… ?

Kai: [[Mildly]] A what?

X: Never mind. I think that was rude of me. I’m sorry. Just… ignore like 90% of the things I say.

Kai: I don’t understand how that is possible.

Chance: And I’m not sure I want to eat the solidified remains of a liquid that came out of the internal organs of a goat.

X: Earlier you freaked out about the thought of eating something that had grown on a plant, and then you ate about 900 oranges. Give it a try. You won’t be disappointed.

[[SFX: In the distance, a deep rumble, then a human shout! Then footsteps running. An alarm begins to sound.]]

X: What now?

SCENE 6

[[SFX: Cavatica, Glasshouse. ALARMS blaring.]]

X: I’m going to fix this. I’m going to bring Ra back to full health, and restore the ecosystem in the glasshouse, and develop a new embryonic Daisy, and make Charlotte stop glitching, and find a way to re-attach the communications pod that just broke away from the rest of the Cavatica...

I’m going to fix everything.

[[SFX: OUTRO MUSIC]]

-Fin-

CREDITS

X: Sarah Rhea Werner

Cpt. Miles Chen: Lincoln Donovan

Council Member: Thoreau Smiley

Dr. Keane: Stacy Thomas

Charlotte: Kay Krause

Chance: George Telonis

Kai: Josh Crute

Written by: Sarah Rhea Werner

Directed by: Jon Krause

Casting: Jon Krause

Produced and Edited by: Sarah Rhea Werner

Music & Sound Effects:

Season 1, Episode 3: Human After All

Straits are dire for the Girl In Space as she finds herself in alien territory, but as long as she has her wits about her, she can prevail. Hopefully. Featuring new revelations, Q&A with Captain Miles Chen, acute nausea, and the age-old question, "What Would The Velociraptors Do?"

+ TRANSCRIPT & CREDITS

TRANSCRIPT

INTRO X: I don’t know why people make excuses by saying, “I’m only human.” There’s no only about it. It’s Girl In Space.

[[SFX: INTRO MUSIC]]

PROLOGUE

[[SFX: Tape Click]]

X, played back over a tape recorder: I know that part of being human means making mistakes. Making assumptions. Being a lot less strong and clever and beautiful than we’d like to be.

I mean, to be human is to be imperfect. At least by the definition of perfection. Which, interestingly enough, is a human construction. Part of being human means being afraid, even when you know what you’re doing is right.

[[Deep breath]] I made a mistake. I made an assumption. And I was wrong.

I assumed she she wouldn’t do it. I mean, I knew she was capable. But I just… assumed she wouldn’t do it.

So I didn’t take any precautions. I didn’t warn… I didn’t warn you. It’s all… everything is on me. And I don’t know what to --

[[SFX: Door opens, footsteps enter]]

Get out!

[[SFX: Tape Click]]

SCENE 1

[[SFX: Enforcer One Cell]]

X: [[Rattled, barely controlled anger]] Okay. That… did not go well.

Earlier, when I said that I’m not good at talking to people? I may have been… generously optimistic.

At least they’ve given my recorder back to me for now. Though I think someone took it apart and put it back together in a hurry because the analog buttons are all loose and the data tracker was backed up to an entry from more than 5,000 days ago.

Also, the little sunglasses-wearing penguin sticker that said “Chill Out” has been scraped off.

OH. AND ALSO, I’m in prison.

I probably should have led with that.

[[Pause]] You know, in some ways, I think I’ve been waiting my whole life for this. … Not… not to… wind up in prison. But for things to just… end. Abruptly. Inelegantly. And with absolutely zero regard for my own wishes.

I just thought it would happen when I died -- and not before. Not that I’m bitter.

I don’t know. Maybe I should be looking on some kind of bright side. I’m a scientist, and here I am in a new environment with all sorts of new biological entities and possibilities to study. I should be over the moon -- you know. Wherever that is.

But… instead, I’m just hungry, sore, exhausted, and really, really nauseated.

Part of me keeps hoping that I’m going to wake up soon to find that this has all been some kind of hyper-realistic nightmare. You know, like on the beach with the flies. It wouldn’t be beyond Charlotte to conduct some tests on me while I slept.

I mean, I have no proof, conclusive or otherwise, that what I’m experiencing right now is real. I could be hallucinating, or drugged, or unconscious. Or maybe none of it has ever been real. Maybe I’m not even real. I guess I don’t have a whole lot of proof of my own existence, aside from this recorder.

Which might not exist, either.

Sorry. Just a little lighthearted existential musing to keep myself from sailing headfirst into full-fledged panic.

[[Deep breath, heartbeat]] For the first time in my life, I am not aboard the Cavatica.

[[It sinks in]] I’m not aboard the Cavatica.

I am instead aboard one of the 21 ships that came careening into my life from out of nowhere. I’m assuming I’m on the Enforcer One, though we all know what happens when we assume.

I’m locked in a small rectangular metal room without any windows or consoles or lights. There’s just a grated drain in the floor, and a magnetically sealed door with a slidey thing near the top that I can’t open from this side.

Technically, there is one light -- a little green pinprick up in the corner, across from the door. It’s like Charlotte’s visual sensor, on a teeny-tiny scale. I’ve concluded that it’s some sort of recording or monitoring device, though I’m not sure if it’s audio, video, or both. Or neither.

So I’m trying to be careful with what I say. Which is kind of hard, considering that I’ve been audibly recording every thought that comes in my head ever since the day Dad gave me this recorder.

I don’t know why they’re monitoring me or what their plans are for me. [[Deep breath]] But! I am still breathing.

Probably.

… Just kidding -- I… I really am breathing. I can tell because the smell of this place is… [[wrinkles nose in distaste]] pervasive. Bleach and plastics and isopropyl alcohol and the decay of something organic. At first, I thought it was rising up from the drain in the middle of the floor, but then I realized, no -- the air in this place just smells like rotting garbage.

There’s probably something trapped up in their ventilation system. Like a forgotten sandwich, or maybe the DECAYING CORPSES OF ALL OF THE OTHER SCIENTISTS THEY HAVE ABDUCTED.

[[Pause]]

Hm. I should probably back up and tell you how I got here.

[[SFX: Ambient sound swell]]

[[Sighs]] I know now that I should have been more careful. I mean, at the time, I thought I was being careful. I thought I had the element of surprise.

But it was kind of like when Robert Muldoon gets mauled by velociraptors -- you’re focused on one perceived threat when another suddenly grabs you from behind and pulls you down from the crates of Caldwell Enterprises synthetic protein where you’ve been lurking, thinking smugly about just how careful you’re being.

Mom would have said, “Pride goeth before a fall,” and shaken her head at me in disappointment.

...Heh. Dad would have just punched their lights out.

[[Reflective pause]] I wish they were here.

Heck. I wish Charlotte were here.

...Anyway, ah, after they grabbed me, they confiscated the paring knife and the wrench that I thought I had so cleverly concealed on my person. They took my recorder, too. I never got the chance to use the weapons, but considering how the whole spying escapade has turned out for me so far, that might be for the best.

The whole thing was... like a dream, and I remember that I questioned the reality of what was happening even then. The unexpected grip of their gloved hands on my arms and legs, the bright lights flashing in my eyes, the curt messages inveigled by static… it was simultaneously sensory overload and fugue state, hyper-realism and unbelievable helplessness.

Did you ever know what it felt like, to be trapped?

Before this, I thought I did.

Uh. Up close, their suits were dark gray, and made of some sort of micro-scaled metallic material, hard but flexible. Kind of like snakeskin.

When I looked up into the face of the largest figure -- the one who had grabbed me and dragged me down from the crates -- I couldn’t see anything but my own reflection, stretched and... cartoonishly surprised, lit weirdly from within my vacuum suit’s hood.

It was like an out-of-body experience. I watched my expression settle as I realized I was staring into my own eyes, as I stared into the curved, reflective eye-panels of the helmet, directionless and impassive as the eyes of a mantis.

The other two figures -- the pair not currently working on the airlock -- flanked us like bodyguards. One was holding what I continued to assume was a ridiculously large gun, and the other -- the fifth one, without the breathing apparatus -- was holding a light.

The central figure flipped a small glowing-red switch on the shoulder of its suit and spoke, demanding to know who I was. Or… who I am. Let’s keep that present-tense. For now. Anyway, its voice was raspy and filtered through the helmet, but I thought I recognized it from the radio as Captain Miles Chen.

It took me a minute to craft the perfect answer -- my plan was to make them as sympathetic to me as possible without revealing any meaningful data. So I said, “My mom used to call me Little Lug-Nut.”

… Turns out, this was not the right thing to say.

And although I know it wasn’t possible, I could have sworn I heard a snort from beneath one of the other figures’ helmets.

Captain Miles Chen just stared at me, and I took advantage of his momentary loss for words to interject a few of my own.

“Look,” I said, trying to appear dignified despite the fact that most of my hair had been jostled out of its ponytail, and was now gluing itself to my face with sweat. “It’s not too late. You can just let me go, turn around, pack up, tell the head honchos there’s nothing to see here, and move along. You and I would go our separate ways. I would forget, figuratively if not literally, that I ever saw you.”

For a second, three pairs of glossy view-panels simply continued to stare at me. My reflection stared back in triplicate.

Then the butt end of one of those enormous guns came rushing toward the clear plastic faceplate of my hood, and everything went all cold and sparkly.

And next thing I knew, I was… here.

[[Momentary pause]] You know, honestly, even though my right cheekbone is all bruised and swollen, I kind of admire their precision. To knock a sentient organism unconscious and have them awaken again within an appropriate (and even, dare I say, dramatic) timeline without incurring permanent damage is quite a feat.

I’m also absurdly glad I was wearing clothes underneath the vacuum suit because when I woke up, it was gone. The vacuum suit, I mean.

Modesty aside, it is freezing in here. Well, not literally freezing. Just uncomfortably cold. I should have asked for a thermal blanket along with my recorder.

… Oh yeah, I should tell you how I got my recorder back.

Basically, one of the figures came to my door a while ago, opened the little slot thingy, and asked for my name again. I couldn’t see them very well because my eyes had adjusted to the darkness, and the light coming in from behind them was so bright. I told them I’d exchange my name for my recorder, and after a second, one of those cheap little datapads came tumbling through the slot, along with a stylus.

I wrote a big “X” on it and sent it back, and then, to my surprise, my recorder came through. I distinctly heard someone say, “Better than Little Lug-Nut.”

So I don’t know if that means they think my name is actually “X,” or if they think I’m illiterate, but I’m just gonna roll with it.

Annnnnd speaking of rolling with it, I need to throw up, so I’m going to stop recording for a while.

SCENE 2

[[SFX: Enforcer One Cell]]

X: [[Groggily]] Day… uh… 10,306, probably? Maybe 10,307? Hour unknown.

[[Controlled breathing]] Oh man, do I feel sick. I thought that sleeping would make me feel better, but that is not the case. Bleh. Kind of glad that there’s a drain in the floor.

Or should I say grate-ful?

Nope. That was a pun and I instantly regret it.

Seriously though, when they come back, I’m going to ask if they checked me for a concussion.

[[SFX: Enforcer One, ship sounds]]

If they come back. It’s been a while.

The last time someone came by -- yesterday, or maybe the day before -- they just dumped a bunch of pellet-things and a pouch of liquid through the slat in the door. The liquid was a dead-tasting variation of water, and I think the pellets are supposed to be some kind of food-substitute. I tried to eat one, to keep up my energy, but when it turned into a chalky, rotten paste in my mouth, I threw up again into the drain in the middle of the floor. I drank the water, though. Gotta stay hydrated, at least.

[[SFX: Enforcer One, ship sounds]]

[[Pause]] Huh. You know, it’s just occurred to me that they might be using a technique called [[air quotes]] “solitary confinement” to mentally weaken me. The only thing is, I’m not sure it will work on me? Not that I’m, like, super tough or anything. I’ve just spent most of my life in solitary confinement.

The worst thing about being trapped in here is that I’m cold, and a little bored. But really, you can never be bored if you have problems to solve, and I’ve got a nice healthy dollop of those.

Now, if you really want to mentally break me? Mom told me once about these things called ‘cocktail parties’ where people dare each other to stay the longest in a room packed with hot, sweaty, loud people where you can’t hear yourself think and strangers take turns asking you stupid questions.

Or you could just throw me into a tank with some fish. [[Shudders]] … Hm. In retrospect, I probably shouldn’t have said that aloud. Or recorded it. Even for posterity.

I’m going back to sleep.

SCENE 3

[[SFX: Enforcer One Cell]]

X: Day… I don’t know. 10,307... 8... or 9? Hour unknown. It’s weird, how I’ve had a lifetime of interactions with plants and birds and bacteria and even Charlotte, and how during that time none of them have run me through an emotional wringer quite like the brief little interactions I’ve had through the slot in my prison cell’s door with the other human beings.

That’s right -- they are fellow human beings.

Not that that was surprising, really -- I’d calculated less than a one percent chance of them being anything else, especially since they were bipedal, humanoid, and proportionally relative to me.

(They’re taller than I am, and leaner, but that’s not really surprising since Dad was kinda short, and I’m 100% non-GMO.)

Anyway. Something clicked at the door, and the metal rectangle slid open, and there they were -- a slide-mounted sampling of three human faces side by side, taken from eyebrow to bridge of nose. But despite being of similar height, they each looked very different.

From left to right was a pale face with pale eyes, a tan face with black eyes, and a brown face with brown eyes.

It was… the feeling was indescribably and powerfully weird. I felt like I was watching a movie, but with no clue of how it would end -- and yet full control to affect that unknown ending. If that makes sense. I stood up, despite the nausea and headache and intermittent shivers, despite my suddenly-racing heart -- and after an indeterminable amount of time, I moved toward them.

I can’t really explain it -- it wasn’t voluntary. It was like a magnetic pull. Or like I was back in that fugue state. One of my hands may have even reached up, toward the slot. It might have been shaking. As I moved forward, all three figures moved back, I assumed out of caution, and I saw that a fourth figure stood slightly behind them -- again, the same height, but this one was still dressed in the suit from earlier. It was the one whose suit did not have the breathing apparatus.

They didn’t do or say anything -- they just stared at me. And then the slat slammed shut again, and their footsteps faded away.

[[Wryly]] ...You know, this whole time, I’ve been asking myself what Dr. Sattler would do, but… maybe I should be asking what the velociraptors would do.

Penned up in their cage, their lives reduced to waiting, watching, and being watched. Systematically testing the fence for weaknesses. Biding their time. Clever girls.

Maybe if I’m very good --

[[Slight gasp]] Oh -- someone’s coming.

SCENE 4

[[SFX: Enforcer One Cell]]

[[SFX: Slat opens. X shifts (hands & feet on metal).]]

X: [[Weakly]] Oh, hi. Glad to see you haven’t forgotten me. [[Gets up, moves toward the door]] Don’t worry -- I’m not going to hurt you.

Thor: [[Chuckles, stage left]]

Cpt Chen: Stay back.

X: You, in the middle. You’re Captain Miles Chen, right?

Cpt Chen: [[Momentarily surprised, but recovers quickly]] Yes. And you are… “X”?

X: ...Yyyyes. Pleased to meet you, as I believe the saying goes. May I go back to my ship now? I think I have a concussion, and I’d like to treat it. Also, it’s very cold in here. And it smells like garbage.

Thor: [[SFX: Snorts, stage left]]

Cpt Chen: [[Shakes his head no.]] Negative. First, we’ll need you to answer some questions.

X: [[Incredulous]] ...Really?! You dock with my ship, force entry onboard, smash my face in, and kidnap me -- and now you need something from me? What makes you think I’m in any kind of mood to do you a favor?

[[SFX: Shifting bootsteps in the corridor]]

Cpt Chen: You’re our prisoner, and you will answer our questions -- under your own volition, or under duress. Your choice.

X: Point of order -- I’m not anyone’s anything. Let me go back to the Cavatica, and I’ll think about answering your questions. [[Brief pause, tone softens]] Please. My work is very important.

Cpt Chen: Let me make one thing very clear: We are the authority out here. We’re where it all starts, and where it all stops. We may not know your name, if you even have one, but we do know that the Cavatica launched just over 30 years ago with two scientists on board -- a Dr. Rousseau and a Dr. Singh.

Since you’re not either of them, it doesn’t take a genius to figure out where you came from -- and in that case, you have no leverage over us. You are in no position to bargain. You have no official identity and no corporateship. You are completely undocumented and, according to all official data banks, you do not exist.

Cpt Chen, cont’d: [[Steps closer to the door, jabs a finger at her]] There is no one in the entire universe outside of this ship who even knows you are here. No one is going to save you, and no one will miss you when you are gone. You are alone.

X: All right, well let me make one thing very clear. You can threaten to kill me or make me disappear or whatever, but that won’t do you any good. You need something from me, and I can’t give it to you if I’m dead. In fact, not helping you will actually increase my lifespan, as there’s no guarantee you won’t kill me once I give you what you need. Your best bet is to keep me alive and cooperative, which means not acting like a jerk.

Chance: [[Stage right]] We can always drug or torture answers out of you.

X: Yeah, that would count as acting like a jerk. [[Turns back to Captain Miles Chen]] And what you need from me isn’t just simple information, is it? It’s my work. It’s me. And you can’t get what you need if I am unable to fully function, physically or mentally.

Cpt Chen: [[Eyes her for a moment.]] Thor. Chance. Dismissed.

[[SFX: Pause, then footsteps stride away in a matching cadence down the hall, disappearing through a hydraulic door at the end of it.]]

Cpt Chen: You too, Kai. ...But first, send an official memo to Ms. Moretti informing her that assets Alpha and Omega have been neutralized, and that Bay Two requires a secondary inspection.

Kai: Roger that. [[Hesitates]] Sir, I observe signs of illness in the captive that need immediate treatment if her work and information are to remain viable.

Cpt Chen: Then please send Dr. Keane down here, too. Dismissed.

[[SFX: Kai’s footsteps stride away down the same hall as Chance and Thor, and disappears through a hydraulic door at the end of the corridor.]]

Cpt Chen: Look. I don’t want to hurt you, “X”. But I have a job to do. You seem like a rational individual. How can we both get what we want?

X: [[Thinks through how she wants this to play out.]] What’s the job you have to do? Be honest with me and I’ll be honest with you.

...Also, I’m going to sit down just for a while so I don’t throw up again.

Cpt Chen: [[Gamely, after a moment]] All right. First: why did you want that recorder back so badly?

X: Scientific research and monitoring. My turn: what’s this job you have to do?

Cpt Chen: My primary objective is to get information out of you -- who you are, how you got onto that ship, the nature of your work there.

X: How did your fleet find the Cavatica?

Cpt Chen: [[Vaguely amused]] Long-range distress beacon, on a priority frequency. Tends to draw attention.

X: [[Mutters]] Stupid button. Okay. Your turn.

Cpt Chen: What is the nature of your work aboard the Cavatica?

X: I’m a researcher. My primary objective, as you would say, is to monitor the radiation levels given off by Ra-1079 and ensure its continued stability. Secondary duties include the care and maintenance of the ecosystem aboard the Cavatica.

Cpt Chen: [[Interested]] My crew found the… garden pod. Is it really powering the rest of the ship?

X: That is two questions in a row. Answer my next one, and then I’ll answer yours.

Cpt Chen: [[Nods]] Fair enough.

X: What’s Earth like?

Cpt Chen: [[Stares at her for a couple beats with a small frown that she doesn’t understand]] I don’t know.

… Now, my question. The garden pod?

X: I rigged up the hydroponic system to the dash core using scavenged analog components. The schematics are back on the Cavatica if you really want to look at them. And the glasshouse isn’t powering the entire ship -- just the three pods that I prioritized when the Cavatica’s engines began to die.

Cpt Chen: Two of the eight… pods are magnetically sealed, and we haven’t been able to access them. What are they?

X: You are very bad at this. It’s my turn to ask a question. What is the nature of your interest in my ship?

[[SFX: Pause, door opening and approaching footsteps down a corridor]]

X: [[Getting up again]] Who’s that?

Cpt Chen: This is Dr. Keane. She’s here to provide you with medical attention. I’ll need you to stand against the opposite wall while we open the door.

X: Hold on a sec. Do you plan to shoot, maim, or kill me, Dr. Keane? Dr Keane: [[Startled, perhaps a little offended]] I’m a doctor.

X: Yeah, that’s not incredibly reassuring.

Dr Keane: ...No.

X: Hmm. All right. The Cavatica’s infirmary is busted, anyway. But no sudden movements. And do not touch me.

Cpt Chen: Please note that I am procedurally obligated to tell you that if you set one foot in the direction of this door when it opens, I’ll shoot. Do you understand?

X: Got it.

[[SFX: The door opens with a reverberating creak, and Captain Miles Chen enters first, followed by Dr. Keane. The doctor rolls a chair-like contraption toward X.]]

X: [[Backs away suspiciously]] What’s that?

Dr Keane: It’s just a wheelchair. Please, have a seat.

X: Why?

Dr Keane: I don’t want you falling apart before we get you to the infirmary.

X: Um. Are those restraints?

Dr Keane: Yes. They’re here to ensure that you don’t run off or hurt us, and that you don’t give anyone on the ship a reason to hurt you. Now sit.

[[SFX: X pauses, eyes Chen’s gun, and then sits. Sound of restraints snapping into place on hands and legs.]]

X: [[Twisting to look back at Chen]] So… you still haven’t answered my question. What’s your interest in my ship?

Cpt Chen: I’ll explain on the way to the infirmary.

X: Okay. Also, could you not point that gun at me?

Cpt Chen: Negative. Standard operating procedure.

[[SFX: Captain Chen and Dr. Keane wheel X out of the cell into the bright white corridor. We hear their bootsteps, the wheels of the wheelchair, and a garbled overhead announcement that echoes in a ghostly fashion.]]

Cpt Chen: Stop here.

[[SFX: He moves closer to X’s chair and points.]]

Cpt Chen: See that?

X: [[Voice fills with wonder; distant as recorder is in lap]] Oh wow. I’ve never… It’s… it’s beautiful. Hold on. I’ve just gotta… for posterity, or whatever. [[Raises recorder]] I’m…

Cpt Chen: ...Have you been recording us this entire time?

X: Quiet, I’m recording. [[Into recorder]] I’m seeing my ship from the outside, for… for the first time. It’s breathtaking. I can see each of the eight crystalline pods, affixed to the center core like the spokes on this wheeled chair I’m sitting in. Three of the pods are glowing softly, pulsing orange against the black canvas of space. To one side is Ra, tidally locked to the research vessel and throwing off arcs of liquid orange flame. He is just… completely reveling in his existence.

[[SFX: Sets down recorder in lap]] Of singular design indeed. Wow.

Cpt Chen: [[Sighs]] That’s… that’s not what I was pointing to. Look there. Read it to me.

X: What…? “Caldwell Enterprises - We Invent The Future.” [[Looks back at him]] So… they manufactured the Cavatica. I don’t understand why that’s…

[[SFX: low rumbling]]

Cpt Chen: [[Not unkindly]] That’s us. We’re Caldwell Enterprises. And the Cavatica is not your ship. … It’s ours.

[[SFX: OUTRO MUSIC]]

-Fin-

CREDITS

X: Sarah Rhea Werner

Cpt. Miles Chen: Lincoln Donovan

Chance: George Telonis

Thor: Sarah Rhea Werner

Dr. Keane: Stacy Thomas

Written by: Sarah Rhea Werner

Directed by: Jon Krause

Produced and Edited by: Sarah Rhea Werner

Music & Sound Effects:

Season 1, Episode 2: Together We Create Authority

As a mysterious entity and/or certain doom draws closer to the Cavatica, our heroine prepares for the worst (but also for the best, which would tentatively be kittens). Charlotte continues to malfunction as the Girl In Space contemplates life, death, freaky dreams, and whether cheese can age in a vacuum.

+ TRANSCRIPT & CREDITS

TRANSCRIPT

INTRO

X: A poet once said that wherever there is a person who exercises authority, there is a person who resists it.

...Which person will you choose to be?

It’s Girl In Space.

[[SFX: INTRO MUSIC]]

PROLOGUE

X, voice played back over a tape recorder:

Dream log, Day 9,651, Hour 0221.

So… [[sleepy breath, stifled yawn]] First things first. I know I used to make fun of you for keeping a dream log, but I keep having the same dream over and over, and I’m not dense or close-minded enough to dismiss the possibility that it could mean something.

Not that I think I’m having prophetic visions or portents or whatever -- just saying my brain might be picking apart some tangle of memories that could be important.

[[Sounds defeated]] ...You’re probably loving this. Wherever you are. Anyway, the dream is about Mom. [[SFX: Waves on a shore, gradually]] She and I are standing in a place I’ve never been before -- a place I can’t… um.

[[SFX: bed rustling]] I think that’s how I knew, in the dream, that I was dreaming. It was bizarrely real otherwise. I even feel like I have saltwater drying in my hair, but obviously that’s just the sweat.

Anyway. In the dream, Mom and I are standing on the shore of what must be an ocean on Earth. The ocean is sort of like space, but flat and textured and not inherently dark. And like space, it’s beautiful and calming and terrifying all at once.

The edge of the ocean is laced with foam and laps up against our toes, as in the distance a massive drone rises up into the sky and begins to move swiftly toward us, its spotlight this awful sweeping glare.

Mom whispers, They’ve finally come for us, but somehow I know she isn’t talking to me. I remember looking around for you, but behind me there is only a metal door, standing like a sentinel in the sand. When I turn back to look at her, she is no longer there.

With a sudden surge of terror I scan the horizon and see her, lying further down the beach as though she’s fallen from one of the cliffs above. I begin to run toward her, in that stupid gainless, lurchy way you run in dreams, with every step sinking in sand up to my ankles.

I don’t take my eyes off of her as I run, and I watch as a wave breaches the shore and washes away my mother’s skin, the delicate white lace turning pink with her blood. Another wave comes and sweeps away her muscles and organs, and then a third her bones.

And then there is nothing left to indicate she had ever existed at all, except for a shadow -- a shallow indentation in the sand that is filling from beneath with large black flies, stumbling over each other in an increasingly irate chorus of buzzing. I finally reach this resting-place, just as the flies rise up all at once and begin to cover my hands, arms, and face in a stinging, stinking black cloud.

I swat them away, each impact a hard prickle on my hands -- and then a cold rush of wind blows them away and the drone is there, its spotlight burning through my eyelids into the core of my brain.

Let yourself be found, it says, in a dead metallic echo.

[[SFX: Brief pause, bed rustle.]]

I woke up saying those words -- let yourself be found -- and I… I almost couldn’t stop.

And that’s when I saw Charlotte hovering over me, making a soft digital shushing sound. I have no idea how long she was there.

Charlotte never sleeps.

[[SFX: Tape Click]]

SCENE 1

[[SFX: Galley -- slightly echo-y, lots of hard surfaces]]

X: [Deep breath, sounds rattled] Okay. So. Day 10,304, hour 0553... Radiation levels normal, blah blah blah, all of that good stuff. The thing moving toward us -- it's not a meteor or an asteroid or an event or an anomaly or a ship or any of those other things I said it might be.

Dad. It's an entire fleet.

I realize that precision is important in documentation, and that “fleet” may not be the proper term in this case, but I’ve never encountered another single ship in my life, let alone a whole bunch of them all at once, so I hope you’ll grant me a bit of leniency.

I counted 18 of them -- a giant vessel nearly the size of the Cavatica, a large-ish ship with lots of glowing blue protrusions sticking out of it, and 16 little ships that might fit one or two people, max.

Then Charlotte pointed out three spindly objects I hadn’t noticed near the back of the formation -- maybe satellites of some sort? She then estimated that they would be here in three hours and whirred away on her hydraulic arm.

I haven’t seen her since, mostly because I’m still here, staring. The ships are coming slowly, steadily closer, and I cannot look away.

I feel… numb, in a way, like my heart has stopped or my skin has thickened -- like this isn’t really happening, or that if it is, my body is trying to distance me from it. I had that dream about Mom again last night -- the one with the ocean and the flies -- and that felt more real than this does.

Is it a bad sign when your dreams feel more like real life than real life does?

Is it a bad sign when 21 mysterious ships suddenly bear down on your helpless, dead-in-the-water research vessel?

I’d say yes, and yes.

[[SFX: Shifts, sets down mug, rises from chair]]

Okay. I have three hours before they’re here. I don’t know where Charlotte went -- probably to prepare. Whatever that means for her. I made a list last night of things to do if the light turned out to be a ship, but… well. Now that I know there are 21 of them, these measures feel… futile.

Not to get all hopeless and dreary. It would be stupid to give up and not prepare at all.

[[Snaps out of it; deep breath]] Okay. [[Claps hands together, rubs them briskly]] Action. Gotta take action. So.

I can’t stop the ships from coming toward us, and I can’t train any weapons on them because a.) the Cavatica is dead, and b.) the Cavatica doesn’t have any weapons, being a giant bloated research vessel whose purpose is to study and understand the scientific wonders of space, not blow them up.

Now, things I can do include watching, waiting, practicing sealing off various pods, and attempting to make some improvised explosive devices.

… That… that last part was a joke. I have no idea how to make bombs. Though if you need someone to analyze soil acidity, graft plum tree branches, or perform a flawless recitation of John Donne’s “A Lecture Upon The Shadow”, I’m your girl.

Not to say I’m helpless. I’m not.

None of us ever are.

I’ve seen “Jurassic Park” enough times to know that I should be able to sprint, climb, and hide in response to enemy provocation.

I’m not skinny like Dr. Sattler, but I’m pretty sure I can run faster than her.

And hey! Maybe the ships aren’t even a threat. Maybe they’re full of fellow scientists or explorers, human or non-human, organic or A.I., thinking, sensing, feeling things, bodies with flesh and muscle and bone and metal and wires and thoughts and dreams.

Maybe they’re hoping to share an exciting new discovery with me, or deliver a shipment of chocolate and kittens.

… Or… maybe they’re just space pirates who want to slit my throat and wear my skin as a suit.

[[Rueful pursing of lips, vaguely horrified]] I’m… I’d better get to work.

Scene 2

[[SFX: Galley]]

X: Okay. Just about an hour left until fleet arrival. The ships have come closer than I thought possible, and they’ve still got a long way to go.

At this point, I think I’m as prepared as I can be, given the circumstances. I practiced permanently and semi-permanently sealing off the glasshouse from the rest of the ship like a survival bunker. I made sure all of my lab equipment is in there, along with my tools, a couple thermal blankets, and a variety of knives I snagged from the galley that probably won’t do much good against anything, but hey, it made me feel better.

Admittedly, if anything were to happen to the Cavatica as a whole, there’s no way to detach the glasshouse, and nothing in here, including me, could survive any closer to or farther from our present distance from Ra.

Still, I dragged the vacuum suits out of the dash core storage just in case. Turns out one of them is pretty badly corroded, but the other one might be okay.

Ironically (or maybe just unfortunately), I won’t be able to test it until I’m wearing it in an actual vacuum. I realize I could probably dunk it into the hydroponic tanks and see if bubbles rise up or anything, but I don’t think I could handle getting close to the fish right now.

Oh man. And what if one of them slipped into the suit and later I had to wear it AND THERE WAS A FISH IN THERE.

So instead I’ll go with trial by fire or… you know, frigid vacuum. Or whatever space technically is. I’m not sure something can technically even be cold, since cold is the absence of warmth, just like darkness is the absence of light.

Can something be wholly defined by negative attributes?

...I’m sure there’s a joke to be made there about Charlotte, but I’m too frazzled to think of it right now.

Oh. Speaking of Charlotte, I finally tracked her down in one of the halls leading out of the dash core toward the five nonfunctional pods. After reciting the majority of the Caldwell Enterprises Emergency Evacuation Procedure Manual Version 6.4, she confirmed that both of the escape pods are dead.

Though she did assure me that even if they were functional, a single moderately-armed ship would have little trouble blowing them to smithereens, let alone an entire fleet. Comforting.

I asked her (rhetorically) if there was a third option, if neither fight nor flight was feasible. She told me that in case of an emergency, I am to proceed calmly to the communications pod and take cover under the main table in Conference Room B, hug my knees, tuck my chin to my chest, and wait for the appropriate personnel to retrieve me.

I told her I’d be happy to do that if a.) the communications pod weren’t completely locked down, b.) we had any personnel, and c.) I were pathetic -- but she just pretended not to hear me again and whirred huffily away.

She’s been gone a long time. I’d go off in search of her, but I don’t think I could stand any more recitations from the Caldwell Enterprises Emergency Evacuation Procedure Manual Version 6.4.

[[Relents]] ...Of course, I appreciate what she’s trying to do. But I learned a long time ago that not everything can be solved by the book. Every once in awhile, circumstances arise that even the brilliant minds at Caldwell Enterprises couldn’t have predicted.

[[Blows air]] If I was a quippy kind of person, I would say that the worst part of waiting is the waiting. But I’m not quippy, so I’ll just say that I hate waiting. And I hate feeling helpless.

I suppose there’s always work to be done. I haven’t been nearly as attentive to the… what should I call my little group of potato-destroying insects? A horde? A gaggle? A swarm? A fleet?

Whatever they are, they’ve devoured every scrap of potato plant in their terrarium, and now they’re wandering aimlessly all over the glass walls, waving their antennae like madmen flailing their arms.

I don’t want to encourage them to continue destroying my food supply, but I don’t want them to starve, either... Maybe I can train them to eat something like algae or kudzu.

Or turnips.

Scene 3

[[SFX: Glasshouse]]

X: So… I thought of something while I was feeding the mysterious insects that I potentially should not be feeding...

That button of Mom’s I pushed? Maybe it somehow signaled or summoned the fleet.

I immediately retrieved it and took it back apart in the hopes that the signal would go dark and the approaching fleet would lose sight of us. Charlotte: Improbable. Ra is very hard to miss.

X: ...Thank you, Charlotte. How long until fleet arrival?

Charlotte: Approximately 25 minutes, 17 seconds.

X: Hmm. Could you run a report of our strategic options?

Charlotte: Aural receptors malfunctioning.

X: What? ...Are they really malfunctioning, or do you just not want to run the report?

Charlotte: Aural receptors malfunctioning.

[[SFX: Hydraulic whirring]]

X: Charlotte?...

[[SFX: Hydraulic whirring continues, getting farther away]]

X: Huh. Awesome. My only companion in the entire universe just left me here to face down 21 ships alone.

[[Thoughtfully]] Honestly, I’m not sure which is worse -- that she’s gone from being independently willed to actively hostile, or that she could potentially be genuinely malfunctioning.

This is not the ideal time for either.

Good thing I have a questionably viable vacuum suit and this paring knife from the galley.

[[Headdesk, muffled voice]] Oh my gosh. I am going to die and some freaky dude is going to wear my skin as a suit.

[[SFX: Focus on glasshouse sounds]]

X: You know, it really is pretty in here. I should say that on the record. Just in case this is the last time I see it.

And for posterity or whatever.

It’s easy to take it for granted sometimes, but the Cavatica is “of singular design”. Well, that’s what Mom used to say. I just say it’s beautiful.

The whole pod is built from delicate metal arcs and crystal panes, though over time the silver has turned to a motley of rust red, orange, and gold, and many of the crystal panes are stained green from the inside by a soft crush of lichens, mosses, and microscopic plants. The warm orange light of Ra pulses through it all like a heartbeat, and the roses and lemons and orchids make the air smell like a sweet living breath.

The aqueducts are lined with mossy stones and waterplants, veined over here and there with roots, and it’s all quite lovely and soothing despite the creepy little fish gawking up at me from beneath the lily pads.

The aviaries are covered in vines and filled with delicate jewel-toned birds, and the paths to the terrariums lead over roots and under green tunnels of shadow and mystery.

There’s even a swing, hanging from the maple tree at the center of it all, cobbled together from a flat bulkhead panel and an excess of electrical cording.

I’m sitting on it now, [[SFX: creaking swing]], looking over at the maple tree, which has a placard nearby that reads: Honorem Lutum Sanguine.

I asked you, when I was really little and asking questions nonstop, what that meant, and you said you’d tell me one day, when I was ready. I like to think you were planning on telling me right before you left, and you just never got the chance.

I know enough Latin to figure out that it has something to do with honor and soil and blood, but I still don’t know what it means. What it meant to you.

Maybe that’s just one of life’s little frustrations -- we can never learn it all, and the more we learn, the more we realize everything we won’t have time to learn.

When you left… [[brief pause]] Before you died, I don’t know if you got to understand everything you wanted to. Or appreciate everything. I think it was probably more of a shock, and then nothing.

At least I have 20 minutes, a vacuum suit, and a welding torch. At least I can --

[[SFX: Blaring alarm]]

X: ...What now? [[Gets up off of swing]] Charlotte?!

Scene 4

[[SFX: Dash Core]]

[[SFX: Blaring alarm stops]]

Charlotte: They are calling on us.

X: Yeah, thanks -- I can see that. Though I think 21 ships in what appears to be some sort of strategic formation merits stronger and less anachronistic language than “calling on us.”

Charlotte: You misunderstand. They are hailing us via radio.

X: What? How? Our radio doesn’t work. It never has.

Charlotte: I fixed it.

X: Oh. Is that why you left earlier?

Charlotte: Yes.

X: Thank you, I guess?

[[SFX: Background noise]]

Charlotte: ...They are hailing us via radio.

X: OH. I need to answer it. [[Pause]] Hey, don’t look at me like that. A minute ago, I didn’t even know we had a working radio. Let’s see…

[[SFX: Clicking buttons, static]]

X: Ooh! I think it’s working. [[Speaks into transmitter]] Yes! Hello?

E1 Comms: [[Scratchy-sounding feedback with disruption]]

X: ...Yeah, I have no idea what you’re saying.

[[SFX: Intermittent bursts of static, weirdly musical whistles and hums]]

X: [[Whispers]] Charlotte, what do I do?

Charlotte: Please proceed swiftly and calmly to the communications pod and take cover under the main table in Conference Room B. Once there, hug your knees, tuck your chin to your chest, and wait for the appropriate personnel to retrieve you.

X: [[Mutters under Charlotte’s instructions]] Oh my gosh.

E1 Comms: [[Scratchy-sounding feedback with disruption, interrupts Charlotte, then clears]] Cavatica, this is Enforcer One. Please ready your docking bay and prepare to be boarded.

X: [[Presses button]] Oh. Um. Enforcer One, this is Cavatica. No… thank you? [[Winces]] I mean, we politely decline?

E1 Comms: [[Slight pause]] Cavatica, this is Enforcer One. That was an order, not a request. Prepare docking bay for immediate boarding.

X: [[Presses button]] Ah. Okay. Well, we seem to be at odds here. Why are you under the impression that you need to board?

E1 Comms: [[Miffed]] ...Who is this? Who is your commanding officer?

X: [[Presses button]] I don’t think I have one. Or maybe that means it’s me? Why, who’s your commanding officer?

[[Brief pause]]

Cpt. Miles Chen: Cavatica. This is Captain Miles Chen of Enforcer One. Stand down and prepare to be boarded. If you do not comply, we will not hesitate to use lethal force.

X: Ahhhh crap. [[Presses button]] Can’t blame me for not wanting something called “THE ENFORCER” having anything to do with my ship, right? Hold on a sec. [[Turns]] Charlotte, do you think they’re bluffing?

Charlotte: Aural receptors malfunctioning.

X: Seriously? Just... ugh. Just go to the galley and tell me what you see. Okay?

Charlotte: If you insist.

[[SFX: Whirring hydraulics]]

Charlotte: [[Distant]] The second-largest ship has extended a number of its protrusions, all of which are emitting light and rotating toward the Cavatica. The 16 fighters are doing the same.

X: Okay. That must be Enforcer One and the physical manifestations of said lethal force. What else do you see?

Charlotte: [[Distant]] The largest ship is a carrier called the Ares. Enforcer One is a Luhai-Class Destroyer, Registration number 0-alpha-451564-delta-3519…

X: No! Stuff that’s, like, actually helpful! Like --

Cpt. Miles Chen: Cavatica, this is your final warning. We are preparing to fire.

X: [[Scuttles back to radio, presses button]] Wait, wait, wait! This is a research vessel, which means that we’re unarmed. Isn’t threatening to shoot us, like, incredibly unsporting of you? Against your… code of decency, or whatever?

Cpt. Miles Chen: [Miffed] ...Who is this?

X: [[Presses button]] Uhh, the sole survivor of a breakout of a very rare and dangerous disease. I have a genetic immunity, but if any of you come aboard, you’ll probably all die immediately. Painfully. Screaming. In pain.

Cpt. Miles Chen: Our scanners have picked up no such anomalies.

X: This guy sucks. [[Presses button]] Fine! Have it your way. But don’t come crying to me when your crew gets the… screaming… space madness.

Cpt. Miles Chen: What --

X: [[Presses button; frustrated]] Ugh, look, I’m surrendering, okay? We’re unarmed, and we can’t move or fight back, so you’ve got us. Don’t shoot.

Also, the docking bay -- and everything else on that side of the ship, for that matter -- is dead. So if it appears that we’re not complying, it’s because we can’t. You’ll just have to get creative with your boarding processes.

Oh, and the airlocks don’t work, either, so watch out for that.

[[SFX: Static]]

[[Brief pause]]

E1 Comms: Standby for boarding via remote connector.

[[SFX: Static]]

X: [[Presses button]] Oh, wait, just real quick -- what are your intentions? Why do you… Okay. I guess they hung up on me. Hey, Charlotte, could you -- ?

Charlotte: [[Distant]] Aural receptors malfunctioning.

X: Not a good time for that. [[Turns back to mic, blows out exasperated breath.]] Ugh. I feel like that could have gone way better. I’m not good at talking to people. Or lying, apparently. Could I have said something differently, maybe? Something that would have made them turn around and leave?

Charlotte: [[Distant]] Likely not.

X: Hey, I thought your aural receptors were… never mind. Well. If we’re going to have visitors, I guess I should go get prettied up.

Scene 5

[[SFX: Inside vacuum suit, sounds grainy & enclosed]]

X: So, turns out a “remote connector” is 100% exactly what it sounds like -- a silicon hallway that snakes out of Enforcer One’s hangar bay and seals up against the Cavatica’s airlock. It’s semi-translucent-ish and lit from within, though I can’t see any activity going on inside.

If my voice sounds all mangled, it’s because I decided to put on that second vacuum suit, just in case. It’s weird -- mostly because I haven’t worn shoes in a couple thousand days and I’m not used to having anything on my feet. I feel like I’m going to go sprawling with every step I take. Also, my vision is super limited by the suit’s view-panel, and back in the atmo of the ship I sounded like a walking garbage bag.

At least here on the other side, I’m nice and silent.

That’s right -- I’m on the “other side”, a.k.a. the majority section of the Cavatica that isn’t supported by my jury-rigged life support system. The five pods that didn’t make the cut. I haven’t been over here since… well. Since everything started to fall apart.

Currently, I’m in the core hallway between the defunct cockpit and communications pods, crouched on top of one of those ceiling-high stacks of Caldwell Enterprises synthetic protein. Luckily, the ceiling here transitions into a big dark grid of pipes and beams about halfway up, so I think I’m pretty well hidden from anyone who might make their way aboard. For now.

I have a pretty decent view from here, too -- I can see the auxiliary airlock where the remote connector thingy has attached, and the docking mandibles are visible through one of the tempered-crystal viewports.

Now, wait a minute, I can hear you thinking. I thought you were going to permanently or semi-permanently seal yourself into the glasshouse pod.

You are not wrong. I just really hate waiting, and the longer I sat there, the more the glasshouse seemed like the obvious place for them to capture me. I felt like the cheese at the center of the rat maze. At least out here I might have some sort of element of surprise.

...Depending on what their scanners are able to detect.

...Yeah, I have no idea what I’m doing. T-rexes and velociraptors I could handle, but “Jurassic Park” did not prepare me for a heavily weaponized fleet of ships or its abundantly humorless crew.

(Though if there are any dinosaurs aboard the Enforcer One, I am totally going to flee from them like a pro.)

Oh! Though -- small victory: I’m still breathing, which means that the vacuum suit I’m wearing works. Yay!

[[SFX: Silence & breathing]]

I am trying crouch up here all motionless, but my many, many days as a researcher haven’t exactly imbued me with athletic prowess. I’m actually kind of starting to hope they get through the broken airlock door soon, just to get it over with. My legs are on fire (not literally) and I just realized I forgot to refrigerate the remainder of the cheese.

[[SFX: Silence & breathing]]

Would cheese age in a vacuum?

[[SFX: Silence & breathing]]

I wonder where Charlotte is.

[[SFX: Silence & breathing]]

Did I accidentally seal her up in the glasshouse?

[[SFX: Silence & breathing]]

...Hokay. This is kind of awkward. Nothing’s happening. Every once in a while the metal door, like, budges slightly, but I must have done a better job welding it shut than I thought. I’ll start recording again if anything significant happens -- otherwise, this is just going to be a whole lot of me breathing.

Which -- again, I want to stress that I am super happy about.

Scene 6

[[SFX: Inside vacuum suit, sounds grainy & enclosed]]

X: So… Here’s something kind of weird. I’ve been staring through the viewport at the Enforcer One for the longest time, and I only just now noticed the viewport itself. The crystal has aged, or become covered with grime over the thousands of days since these pods have been active, and… well. There are words written there. A message.

It’s in all caps and it looks like it was written in the grime with someone’s fingertip. It says “FIND ME.” But backwards, as though written for someone outside of the Cavatica.

I don’t know what --

[[Gasp]]

Oh! [[Whispering]] They’re through.

...Though I don’t know why I’m whispering. You know. With the vacuum and all.

There are… three… four… five of them, all bipedal humanoids, all dressed or… encapsulated, I guess, in hard black suits with stiff joints and big insectoid helmets.

All of them… no, four of the five have square tanks built onto the backs of their suits with thick corrugated tubing feeding into the helmet. The fifth, which is bringing up the rear, has no such apparatus.

Two of the figures are carrying portable lighting devices, and two are carrying what I’m just going to assume are ridiculously large guns.

(Yes, I know what happens when you assume, but at this point I think a little caution will serve me well.)

The one without the helmet tubes has a small glowing datapad in its left hand. Age, gender, and even species at this point are indeterminable.

[[SFX: Heartbeat, gradual]]

Oh my gosh. There are other living being aboard the Cavatica. I… I think I might --

Okay, they’re… they’ve split up into two groups, with one light and one gun carrier stationed at the entry point to secure an airlock seal, and the other three scouting up the hallway. Thankfully, they’ve gone toward the galley, in the opposite direction of my protein crates, and they haven’t spotted me yet.

I keep wondering if I should, like, jump down and introduce myself or stab them with my paring knife or something, but then I remind myself that now is the time for waiting and observing.

At least it’s interesting. And by interesting, I mean terrifying. What if these are the last few moments of my life?

[[Brief pause]]

Huh. Apparently, my brain wants to spend the last few moments of my life thinking about cheese.

[[SFX: Footsteps on clanking metal]]

Oh. They must be pumping in some kind of atmo through the remote connector, because now I can hear their footsteps.

Gosh. I really hope they breathe oxygen.

The two I can see appear to be communicating with each other -- every once in awhile they’ll bob their heads or gesture with their hands. They must have internal communicators set to a local frequency.

I wish I knew where the other three had --

[[SFX: Loud clunk, abrupt static, vague echoes…]]

Scene 7

[[SFX: Slight echo, ominous hum]]

X: [[Harried, on the verge of panic]] Okay. That… did not go well. Earlier, when I said that I’m not good at talking to people? I may have been… generously optimistic.

At least they’ve given me back my recorder. [[Frowns]] Though I think someone took it apart and put it back together in a hurry, because the analog buttons are all loose and the data tracker was backed up to an entry from more than like 5,000 days ago.

Also, my little sunglasses-wearing penguin sticker that said “Chill Out” has been scraped off.

OH. AND ALSO, I’m in prison.

I probably should have led with that.

[[SFX: OUTRO MUSIC]]

-Fin-

CREDITS

X: Sarah Rhea Werner

Charlotte: Kay Krause

E1 Comms Officer: Jon Krause

Cpt. Miles Chen: Lincoln Donovan

Written by: Sarah Rhea Werner

Directed by: Jon Krause, Sarah Rhea Werner

Produced and Edited by: Sarah Rhea Werner

Music & Sound Effects:

Thanks for listening!

Season 1, Episode 1: Cheese Is Delicious Science

Welcome to the pilot episode of Girl In Space! She's a girl. In space. On a research vessel that is slowly deteriorating. Oh, and there's this weird and potentially ominous light in the distance coming steadily closer, NBD. Listen in for science, references to "Jurassic Park", mysterious buttons, and of course, delicious cheese.

+ TRANSCRIPT & CREDITS

TRANSCRIPT

INTRO

X: You think, sometimes, that you’re all alone.

But wherever you are, whoever you are… you’re wrong.

It’s Girl In Space.

[[SFX: INTRO MUSIC]]

PROLOGUE

X, voice played back over a tinny-sounding tape recorder, earnestly: You said, on the last day I ever saw you, not to worry. That I'd see you again.

Part of me wants to forgive you for lying to me. I mean, you couldn't have known.

But part of me… to be honest, part of me is still kind of bitter, even after all these years. Not because you left. But because you left me alone.

[[SFX: Tape click]]

SCENE 1

[[SFX: Center Dash]]

X: [[Takes a sip of something, with a verbal eye-roll.]] Wow. You'd think I would know better than to go through my old diaries. Nothing there but teenage heartache and angst. And a lot of truly terrible poetry.

Though they’re a lot more interesting than my current diaries. Speaking of which… [turns to dash] according to the dash, it's day 10,303, hour 0837. Whatever that means.

I mean, I guess I get the meaning of time, insofar as is possible for a human mind, and there’s a fairly distinct linear progression to my life. I just haven't ever witnessed the apparatus by which they're measured.

Days... hours... when there is no rising sun or planetary rotation, these measurements feel kind of arbitrary. Outside of the info here on the dash, they don't mean anything. It's always just me, out here, on the Cavatica. Alone.

... Despite how that sounds, please note that I am super not-bitter about it. In fact, I don't really mind being alone. Turns out, I like the quiet. It helps me think -- and I get a ton of work done.

Speaking of which, I think you'd be proud of me. I finally got that old stereomicroscope working, and I'm going to use it today to get a better look at those weird little insects that are attempting a hostile takeover of my potato plants.

[Frowns] Oh, and I found something while I was going through some of Mom's old stuff. It's weird -- I've never seen anything like it before. It's about the size of a button, and... Well, I think it actually is a button. Not like the kind you would sew onto a jacket... It's the kind you press to open a door or commit a command -- but it's not attached to anything... And I don't think it was ever intended to be.

So I'm going to take it apart, and I figured hey, might as well do so using the stereomicroscope.

I know... Buttons and microscopes and potato-destroying insects... All before lunch? What can I say. I'm a sucker for cheap thrills.

Honestly, I would climb mountains or lead revolutions if there were any mountains to climb or revolutions to lead out here. But there aren't. There aren't any tombs to excavate, or counterfeiting rings to bust, or even any decent movies to see. [Rueful tone] … Well, okay, that was me being bitter.

And to be fair, there is one movie that came pre-loaded on the dash. It's called “Jurassic Park”, and I can't believe I didn't discover it until after you were gone, because you would have totally loved it. It's all about the reintroduction of an extinct species that, in my opinion, was clearly dominant in the first place. I like it because it's full of heroic action and science, and because it reminds me that even the humans back on Earth have difficulty re-engineering gene expression in certain species.

I used to watch it as a treat once every dozen days or so, but the Cavatica’s been having some issues lately -- Well, okay, more issues -- and the movie playback is kind of stilted and jerky and stalls sometimes, which, to be honest, reintroduces a dash of the unexpected into a movie I can otherwise recite by heart. Nothing like a peaceful jungle landscape that pans the same scene 20 times before suddenly erupting into Dr. Sattler screaming bloody murder.

... If you were here right now, you'd ignore everything I just said about the movie and hone in on the word “issues”. And yeah, I suppose I should log these here, too, for posterity or whatever.

[Deep breath] So... The good news is that the Cavatica still works. Technically. Like, it has structural integrity (for the most part), and so far I haven't been sucked out into the icy black expanse of space to die. Yay!

The bad news is that the ship can't actually move. Which is due to its engines being dead. But! Before you panic, I'm alive, and I had plenty of heat and water and oxygen in the life support reserves to last while I worked out an alternative. It was actually a really interesting project, rerouting life support through the hydroponic systems into the glasshouse. I had to shut down all but three of the pods, but they're the three most integral to my work, so that's a win.

Let's just hope I don't need to use the infirmary... like, ever.

Basically, the only ship-related thing that still functions properly is Charlotte, and I'm not even sure anymore that she's tied to the ship. I mean, she should be, and logically, she has to be, because there is literally nothing else that she can be tied to. I certainly didn't wire her into the glasshouse system -- and yet she remains operational.

This might sound vaguely... insane, but part of me suspects that she's saved up some sort of energy reserved for herself. Which, honestly, wouldn't surprise me -- for an A.I. that's supposed to be dedicated to serving and enhancing human life, she is incredibly selfish.

[[SFX: Sets down mug, chair creaks]]

X: All right. Time to get back to work, whatever “time” might actually be. I'll be taking radiation measurements from Ra, checking out those insects under the stereomicroscope, and taking apart that button thing I found. [To self] Oooh… And maybe my cheese will be coagulated in time for lunch.

[[SFX: Scene transition]]

SCENE 2

[[SFX: Glasshouse lab]]

So okay, I'm curious. I have the stereomicroscope all set up, and for the first time, I noticed a name etched into the side of the arm. Your name. It's faint, but it's there. My question is: why is it there? I don't really see there being an imminent danger of theft aboard a ship with a crew of three and no means of escape. Or is carving one's name into one's possessions a thing that people do? A habit? A compulsion? A simple act of boredom, or defiance?

I'm -- I know I'm way over-thinking this. It just... threw me for a loop, and I can't say I'm entirely sure why. I mean, I guess that names have power. We name things for a reason -- to identify and clarify them, to call and claim them, to bestow and to take away power.

Maybe that's what really happens to us after we die. Maybe our names are our ghosts, infused with the sum total of our accomplishments and unrealized dreams. Maybe you're haunting me through this stereomicroscope.

Or maybe that cheese wasn't quite ready to eat after all.

At least I have the distinct honor of being haunted by Doctor Arvin Singh. [Verbal eye-roll] Way to be king of the nerds by including a proper title in your graffiti, Dad.

Anyway. Speaking of the microscope, I found a couple of things that might be Of Interest, with a capital O and a capital I.

First, the insects that are waging their tiny, cruel war against my defenseless potatoes -- I can positively say that I have never seen anything like them before.

I think that normally, that might not sound weird. There are almost a million unique documented species of insect, and there's no way I could ever memorize them all. However, I have been aboard the Cavatica for more than 9,000 days, studying every living thing on the ship... in isolation... in the massive vacuum of space. So if I haven't seen a particular species of insect before, then... Well, let's just say it's significant.

Current hypotheses include some kind of rapid onset mutation, or -- more improbably -- recent introduction.

I've isolated a few of them in a terrarium for further study, along with cuttings from a variety of other plant species. I don't know whether I prefer they devour everything in sight, or simply remain hell-bent on destroying my potatoes.

Okay. Next up, the button. This thing... It's so simple, it's kind of hard to describe. It's smooth and flat and round, made of some type of dense plastic, or maybe glass. There is a slight fingertip-sized indentation on the top to indicate what you're supposed to do. When you press it, it clicks.

[[SFX: Demonstrates by clicking once, twice, then about 1,000 times.]]

Oddly satisfying.

Anyway. [Voice becomes muffled as she ducks behind the microscope] I am now taking a look at it under the stereomicroscope, and.... There is a tiny seam all around the side. Let's just see if.... Okay. I'm going to see if I can find a scalpel or something to fit in there.

[[SFX: Clattering, whirring, muffled background conversation]]

Oh, no no no no no, Charlotte. I'm working. Out you go.

Charlotte: Pardon me. Are you attempting to [[brief pause, as if selecting from a menu of responses]] repair sensitive technical equipment?

X: No. Go away.

Charlotte: It appears you are attempting to repair sensitive technical equipment. Would you like my assistance with that?

X: No. No, I would not.

Charlotte: Thank you. I am glad you have opted into letting me help you repair sensitive technical equipment.

X: Charlotte, no, I'm -- I've got this. Just... Please go away. Remember the incident with the distress beacon?

Charlotte: My data banks remember everything.

X: Okay. Just... Stay right there. [Returns, sits] Okay. I have a scalpel, which looks like it'll fit nicely in the crack...

Charlotte: Your attempts to repair sensitive technical equipment would be more successful with my suite of tools.

X: [Talks over Charlotte] All right. I've got it open. Split right down the middle like a walnut shell. Inside… Hmm. Just a bunch of wires and circuits. ...Oh. That’s weird. There’s a little burn mark right where… Oh my gosh. Charlotte. Back up. Yeah, no -- I need to use both of the eyepieces on this thing. That’s what makes it stereo.

Charlotte: It appears that one of the microprocessors has burned out. My onboard tools can easily --

X: [Irritated] Yes. I can see that. Thank you, Charlotte. I can take it from here.

Charlotte: ...

X: What?

Charlotte: My onboard tools can --

X: Oh my gosh. Fine. Just fix the microprocessor already.

Charlotte: [Pleasantly] If you insist.

[[SFX: Slight sparking, buzzing. Clicks.]]

X: [Still irritated] Thank you. [pause] Okay. It's back together now, and it's still not... Oh. That's weird. Looks like there's a little switch right along the -- [[SFX: soft click]] Huh. Okay. the object has begun to emanate a soft and steady blue glow from within. Now, let's see what happens when I push --

[[SFX: High-pitched noise with low pulsing bass and static moan, X's voice cuts off.]]

SCENE 3

[[SFX: Glasshouse lab]]

X: Oh gosh. Okay. That was unexpected and terrible. I ran a quick inspection of the three functional pods and the dash core, and... Nothing was different. Nothing had changed. Nothing was glowing or sparking or unexpectedly functional. Nothing had blown up. I'm relatively sure I am alive, and Charlotte's as normal as she's ever been. I even ran the opening scene of “Jurassic Park”, and it was as jerky and stilted as ever.

In short, I have no idea what I might have just activated-slash-done. I have no idea why Mom would have stashed this thing in one of her lockers, why or how it was broken, or why I even felt compelled to fix it. If there were anyone else on board, I might feel embarrassed.

But there is no one else on board, so I can be comfortably and perfectly honest about how I probably shouldn't have tried to fix that button, and how badly it could have gone if it were some sort of weapon or self-destruct device.

Hey, while I'm being perfectly honest, I hate zucchini, turnips are the hellspawn of root vegetables, and I'm terrified of the fish in the hydroponic tanks. But I eat all of them anyway because they're nutritious.

[Deep breath] Okay. Everything is okay. And we even learned a lesson -- don't push buttons if you’re not 100% sure what they are. As they say (whoever “they” are), no harm, no foul.

I'm going to get back to my calibrations and conveniently forget this ever happened.

[[SFX: Scene transition]]

SCENE 4

[[SFX: Glasshouse labs]]

X: Mmm. Dinner tonight was one of the Oncorhynchus mykiss from the tanks, grilled with lemon and oregano, and quinoa that I tossed with tomatoes and spinach.

I was going to have potatoes instead of the quinoa, but decided to forego them until I learned more about those insects.

Strawberries and tea for dessert, then some final radiation tests before bed. [Slight pause] While I was eating, I kept thinking about those diaries I found. About how I used to feel about being alone, and how I feel about it now. I was bitter then, and angry, and hopeless, and a whole lot of other things.

But now -- I know they say people don't really change (again, whoever “they” are) -- but... I think I'm kind of okay with it. I wake up, eat, do science, eat, do more science, eat, and relax before I sleep. Then I rinse and repeat, just like it says on the side of my vat of Caldwell Enterprises shampoo. And between all of the eating and science-ing, I can dance and sing and tinker with broken things and invent new things and watch “Jurassic Park” or even just stare out into the infinite vastness of space.

...I think what I'm trying to say is that I don't really mind being alone as much as I think I’m supposed to. Humans are inherently social creatures, but... For whatever reason, I am... not.

No one tells me what to do out here. My work is important and my research is challenging and fascinating. Sometimes I wish I had someone to talk to, but that's what you and Charlotte are for. I have clean water and fresh food and access to top-notch scientific equipment. No one tells me to put on shoes or sit still or wear cosmetics. And the view is fantastic.

So why... [pauses] this is going to sound incredibly ungrateful, but -- hey, we’re being honest here. If everything in my life is so incredibly amazing, why don't I feel happy?

[[SFX: Scene transition]]

SCENE 5

[[SFX: Dash core]]

X: Addendum, Day 10,303, Hour 1745. This probably isn’t really worth noting, but during my final radiation tests of the day, I saw a blip out in the opposite direction of Ra. It’s a bright light, with the pinpoint clarity of a star, but obviously, it’s not a star, since it wasn’t there yesterday. Or even a few hours ago.

Also, it’s moving.

I would say it's a comet or asteroid, but at this point, I don't have enough data to make that assumption. And we all know what happens when we assume.

For whatever reason, Charlotte's taking this new development with all the grace of a garbage fire. She barged in on her hydraulic arm while I was checking Ra’s radiation emissions earlier and started reciting the entire Caldwell Enterprises Emergency Preparedness Manual to me from start to finish. I took that to mean she thinks the incoming light is a matter of some concern.

I told her to be more optimistic -- that it might not be coming directly toward us, that it could simply be a mirage, that she technically doesn't have a death to fear. But she just started reciting the manual all over again from the beginning, so I wedged a fallen tree branch up into the hydraulic tracks to block her from exiting the glasshouse.

[Slight pause] I don't know. I don't think I'm afraid of death, necessarily, at least not right now. Things live and die in cycles, and I'm not enough of a narcissist to think I'm exempt from the laws of nature.

I'm weirdly... I don't know how to describe it. Interested? Excited, even? I mean, I'm not excited about death -- or even really about whatever this approaching thing is -- a comet, an asteroid, a projectile, a ship, an event, a fact, a phenomenon, an anomaly... I think I'm just intrigued by the idea that there is possibility out there, you know? That space holds things other than the stars and planets and nothingness I've seen all around me every day of my life.

In all of its mystery, this thing coming toward the Cavatica signifies everything.

[[SFX: Far-off clunk]] Sounds like Charlotte found a way out. I bet she's on her way here right now to tell me that escape pods --

Charlotte: Escape pods at the ready. [This sound clip will be interspersed at regular intervals through the next 4 paragraphs.]

X: Thank you, Charlotte. But I'm pretty sure they're just about as dead and incapable of movement as the Cavatica.

You know, it's interesting, the things that happened despite or because of our intentions. Feeble control that we have over this massive universe, and the thin threads of chance that tie it all together.

The Cavatica was never intended to be out here this long. And from what you've told me, the Ra Initiative was expected to (if not explicitly intended to) fail. Or at least, it wasn't intended to be as long-term as it's become, or else they'd have given it better engines and a larger supply of fuel. And a bigger crew. You know, an actual chance to return and make a difference. (Not that I’m bitter.)

And yet despite all of that here I am, a girl in space, harnessed to one of the universe's most bizarre science fair projects, riding out my thin thread of chance regardless of whether anyone out there ever intended me to do so.

Charlotte: Anomaly gaining speed.

X: [turns] What?

Charlotte: Anomaly gaining speed.

X: That’s weird… [[turns back]] Charlotte says the anomaly appears to be gaining speed. I don't -- Hold on. I'm on my way to the galley, where I have the best view of it.

[[SFX: Door whoosh]]

Maybe I'll sleep there tonight, just to keep an eye on it. For whatever good that'll do.

[[SFX: Quiet, distant door whoosh]]

[[SFX: Galley]]

Note to self: Create list of measures, countermeasures, and worst-case scenarios for eventual approach of disastrous phenomena or unfriendly ship.

Charlotte: Escape pods at the --

SCENE 6

[[SFX: Galley]]

X: [Deep breath, sounds rattled] Okay. So. Day 10,304, hour 0553... Radiation levels normal, blah blah blah, all of that good stuff.

The thing moving toward us -- it's not a meteor or an asteroid or an event or an anomaly or a ship or any of those other things I said it might be.

[[SFX: Begin transition to outtro]]

Dad. It's an entire fleet.

[[SFX: OUTRO MUSIC]]

-Fin-

CREDITS

X: Sarah Rhea Werner

Charlotte: Kay Krause

Written by: Sarah Rhea Werner

Directed by: Jon Krause, Sarah Rhea Werner

Produced and Edited by: Sarah Rhea Werner

Music & Sound Effects:

Thanks for listening!

Season 1, Teaser Trailer 2: "In A World..."

My friends, the second trailer for Season One of the Girl In Space podcast is HERE FOR YOUR EARS!

+ TRANSCRIPT & CREDITS

TRANSCRIPT

[[SFX: Ambient space station noises]]

X: In a world…

[[SFX: Low rumble]]

X: ... Just kidding. I’m not in a world. Or on one, for that matter. I’m in space.

And you’re listening to my audio diary. Whoever you are.

If you even exist.

If I even exist.

...I feel like this trailer is not going the way it’s supposed to.

I feel like I should add in some lasers and explosions and angry shouting and maybe a couple of those “bwommmp” sounds. But none of those would accurately portray life out here on the Cavatica. Which is largely quiet and uneventful.

Except for when Charlotte malfunctions. And parts fall off the ship. And unexplained lights appear on the horizon. And… okay. Maybe “quiet and uneventful” is the wrong phrase to use.

How about this: In my audio diaries, you’ll find: mystery, weird insects, existential crises, twisted family secrets, natural and unnatural phenomena, creepy messages, delicious cheeses, truth, beauty, proper use of a stereomicroscope, and maybe even love.

…But no guarantees.

All right. Time to get back to work. This science isn’t going to do itself.

Season One of Girl In Space launches September 2017, with a new episode every two weeks. Subscribe using your favorite podcast app, or stream episodes at girlinspacepodcast.com. It’s all here. In space.

Bwommmp.

Season 1, Teaser Trailer 1: "A Blip"

Enjoy the very first trailer for Season One of the Girl In Space podcast!

+ TRANSCRIPT & CREDITS

TRANSCRIPT:

[[Music: Light, airily pulsing rhythm with dark undertones.]]

[[SFX: Static]]

X: This probably isn’t really worth noting, but during my final radiation tests of the day, I saw a blip out in the opposite direction of Ra. It’s a bright light, with the pinpoint clarity of a star, but obviously, it’s not a star, since it wasn’t there yesterday.

Or even a few hours ago.

... Also, it’s moving.

Charlotte's taking this new development with all the grace of a garbage fire. She barged in on her hydraulic arm while I was checking Ra’s radiation emissions earlier and started reciting the entire Caldwell Enterprises Emergency Preparedness Manual to me from start to finish.

I took that to mean she thinks the incoming light is a matter of some concern.

I told her to be more optimistic -- that it might not be coming directly toward us, that it could simply be a mirage, that she technically doesn't have a death to fear.

But she just started reciting the manual all over again from the beginning, so I wedged a fallen tree branch up into the hydraulic tracks to block her from exiting the glasshouse.

[[SFX: Static]]

X: Season One of Girl In Space launches September 2017, with a new episode every two weeks. Subscribe using your favorite podcast app, or stream episodes at girlinspacepodcast.com.

It’s all here. In space.

CREDITS:

Namaste by Audionautix is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution license. Artist: http://audionautix.com/