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
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]]
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.
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]]
[[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.
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?
[[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.
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.
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.
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?
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?
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.]]
[[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.
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.
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?
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.
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?
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!
[[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?
X: Are we going to save him?
X: Yay! Do I get a gun?
X: Oh, come on. I’ll keep it set for ‘stun.’
X: But what if we run into danger?
Kai: That is what I am for.
X: ...For ...danger?
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…?
[[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?
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: OUTRO MUSIC]]
X: Sarah Rhea Werner
Cpt. Miles Chen: Lincoln Donovan
Council Member: Thoreau Smiley
Dr. Keane: Stacy Thomas
Charlotte: Kay Krause
Chance: George Telonis
Kai: Josh Crute
Written by: Sarah Rhea Werner
Directed by: Jon Krause
Casting: Jon Krause
Produced and Edited by: Sarah Rhea Werner
Music & Sound Effects:
- "Undercover Vampire Policeman" by Chris Zabriskie is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution license. Source: http://chriszabriskie.com/uvp/ Artist: http://chriszabriskie.com/.
- "Clean Soul" by Kevin MacLeod is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution license. Source: https://incompetech.com/wordpress/2013/06/clean-soul/.
- "Bass Atmosphere - Deep Rumble" by Thalamus Lab is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution.
- "Dark Ambience" by PatrickLieberkind is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution.
- "River Teign and birds in early spring" by Philip Goddard is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution.
- "LowerGunCock.wav" by woodmoose is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution.
- "Jurassic Park" is a trademark and copyright of Universal Studios and Amblin Entertainment, Inc.
Thanks for listening!