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 [[SFX: Cabinet opens, vacuum suit withdrawn, cabinet shuts.]]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: