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: