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: Mysterious Handsome Stranger

Kai: Josh Crute

Thor: Tamara Parliament

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: Tamara Parliament

Bae (e.g., E1 Comms): Jon Krause

Chance: Mysterious Handsome Stranger

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: Mysterious Handsome Stranger

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: Mysterious Handsome Stranger

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/