Season 1, Episode 8: What Is This You Feel

Things are still... well, we'll say MILDLY HAYWIRE. Also, Thor has a secret(s), X and a certain dashing figure try to out-hero each other, and X contemplates the simultaneously infinite and singular possibilities of fate.




X: So… I’m curious.

How do we know when an “A.I.” loses the “A” and just become “I”?

It’s Girl In Space.

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


[[SFX: Tape recorder click.]]

X, played back over a tape recorder: Oh man. So… I’m sitting here, roasting a new batch of coffee beans, looking out at Ra and enjoying his warmth, and my mind started wandering, and… [[exhales]] out of nowhere, I found myself thinking about my mother.

I don’t know why this keeps happening. I don’t want to think about her. In fact, I’d actively prefer not to.

[[Considers]] Maybe it’s the smell of the coffee? She was even more of a caffeine addict than I am, though she was so absent-minded she always burned the beans, or brewed the grounds too long.

Maybe it’s the thought of all these little beans in their incubator, destined for grinding, brewing, and -- finally -- composting.

Anyway. My stomach’s all twisted up and my heart rate’s all jumpy, so I thought maybe I should talk it out real quick. It helps.

[[Deep breath]] So I was thinking about when I was little, back when Ra was still super-tiny and we were trying to figure out how to keep him stable.

You sent me to the cryotanks for a new embryo, and I remember opening the drawer and hearing the swift hiss of pressurized hydraulics, the sparkling clink of the little glass vials.

I hated those sounds -- but I think that was because I associated them with seeing all of those embryos, shelved together like a weird little library of genetics. A repeating Dewey decimal -- the other little me’s in there.

Or what was left of them.

Left of us?

I don’t know… it’s hard to describe. I hated seeing myself in them, if that makes sense? Knowing that at one point I had been one of them, my little undeveloped brain and body frozen, unmoving, unthinking, unfeeling.

I had been the exact same thing. Down to the chromosome.

Well, maybe not exact-exactly. There were biologically male and biologically female specimens.

But staring at them, feeling a… a one-ness with each and every one of them… I hated it.

I hated thinking that I had a chance and they didn’t. That I had been chosen to live and develop, and that they hadn’t.

Even more than that, I hated that I felt relieved. That I felt lucky. That I felt superior, somehow. And knew it was completely and utterly undeserved.

I hated all of that.

But I didn’t hate her. Not then.

I remember staring into that drawer, simultaneously realizing and yet disbelieving that once I had rested there, amidst my tiny siblings. I had been that small, that cold. That unaware.

I had no idea why my mother had selected me out of the lot. But maybe it didn't matter. Maybe there was no “me”. Maybe we were all me. Maybe we all still are.

I chose specimen “S” at random -- or maybe it was serendipity, or fate, or any number of those weird mystical forces I don’t believe in.

I could feel a hint of the vial’s iciness as I lifted it out -- a distinctly bitter and empty ache, even through the special gloves that were way too big for my hands as a child -- and carried it to my mother.

She took the vial without comment, and I set the gloves in their place, and then I summoned up all of my courage in one breath and asked:

“Why did you choose me?”

[[Pause, uncertain breathing]]

[[SFX: Soft beeping]]

X: [[Startled]] Oh. Shoot. I’ve burned the coffee. Just a sec --

[[SFX: Tape recorder click.]]


[[SFX: Enforcer One, Infirmary]]

Chance: [[Shaking, nervous]] Sorry, guys.

Kai: Wait --

[[SFX: Gun fires; Sound of a heavy body falls to the ground.]]

X: Kai!

Dani: [[Simultaneously]] Kai!

[[SFX: Gun charging]]

X: Chance, wait -- !

Chance: Don’t worry. It’s set for stun.

[[SFX: Thump as X dives back into the infirmary. Her back smacks against a metal bulkhead. The gas continues to hiss into the infirmary.]]

X: [[Still wearing oxygen mask]] Ooof.

[[SFX: Gun fires. Debris crumbles.]]

Chance: [[Exasperated; voice is farther away.]] You can’t hide in there forever, X.

X: [[Taking cover behind debris, still wearing oxygen mask.]] Yeah, well, good thing I don’t plan to! Though even you’d have to admit, it’s a pretty good short-term strategy. You want me, you come in here and get me.

Chance: Uh… with the air full of carbon monoxide? Nice try.

Dani: [[Hisses, almost to self.]] Carbon monoxide?!

[[SFX: Brief pause, then Dani’s footsteps move out toward Chance.]]

Dani: [[Still wearing oxygen mask.]] Um, yay…! Thank you for rescuing me!

Chance: [[Proudly]] I’m here to help, ma’am. Are you OK?

Dani: Yes! Though… speaking of carbon monoxide, I’m a little worried that Dr. Keane and Dr. Nakamura might not be. Could you please have the folks in charge start venting out the infirmary?

Chance: Oh yeah, good call.

[[SFX: Brief static of comms.]]

Chance: Officer Chance here. Can we put a kibosh on the deadly gas and start venting out the infirmary?

Council Member 1: [[Distorted over comm.]] Are you having difficulty subduing the traitors, Officer Chance?

Chance: No, sir. Ex-officers Chen and Kai are down for the count, and the specimen X is cornered. I’ve also secured the safe return of the hostage, who is concerned about the health of two Caldwell Enterprises employees inside of the infirmary.

Dani: [[Mutters grimly, still wearing oxygen mask.]] If they’re not dead already.

Council Member 1: [[Sighs, irritated; distorted over comm.]] I suppose.

[[SFX: Brief static of comms.]]

[[SFX: The hiss of the gas stops, accompanied by a metallic thunk.]]

[[SFX: Quieter venting sounds commence, fading out over time.]]

X: Thanks, Chance. I like Dr. Keane. And I’d probably like Dr. Nakamura, too.

Dani: That’s debatable. We’re talking major halitosis.

X: [[Continues]] ...Not that me liking them makes them worth saving...

Chance: [[Firmly]] Everyone is worth saving. That’s why the work Caldwell Enterprises is doing is so important, X. I don’t get why you don’t see that.

X: [[Exasperated]] Chance, Caldwell Enterprises isn’t trying to save me. In fact, they are actively trying to kill me right now!

Chance: [[Offended]] Hey, I told you I'm set for stun.

X: I don’t care! I don’t want to be stunned! I don’t want to go back to being locked up, or strapped to a gurney, or even made to run radiation tests with a gun pointed at my back.

Chance: [[Reasonably]] Well, we can’t always get what we want. And sometimes we need to sacrifice what we want for the greater good.

X: Ugh, what does that even mean?!

[[SFX: Brief static of comms]]

Council Member 1: [[Distorted over comm]] Status update, Officer Chance?

Chance: Uhh... gas seems to be vented. Stand by, sir.

[[SFX: Brief static of comms]]

[[SFX: X removes her oxygen mask. Dani does the same.]]

Chance: X, why don’t you come out and we’ll finish our conversation face-to-face?

X: Oh, hmm, does “finishing our conversation” entail you stunning me and dragging me away to be imprisoned and “court-martialed” or whatever? Because no thanks. In fact, I’ve got a counter-offer. How about I come out and you join the mutiny and we go back to being friends like none of this ever happened?

Chance: [[Disgusted]] You’re being selfish.

X: [[At breaking point]] You know what? Maybe I am. Maybe I’ve devoted my entire life to serving the Cavatica and my parents and Ra, and maybe right now I want something that’s different from what you and Caldwell Enterprises want. And maybe that’s okay! I mean, why does what Caldwell Enterprises wants supercede what I want? Doesn’t that mean that we’re both being selfish?

Chance: [[Frustrated]] Caldwell Enterprises owns you, X. Just accept that and get out here.

X: [[Exasperated]] I never gave them permission to own me!

Chance: [[Shouts]] They don’t need permission to own you! They just do!

X: [[Pause, breathing]] Okay, so really, what you’re saying is, everyone is worth saving -- except whoever’s in the way when it suits whatever mysterious “greater good” Caldwell Enterprises happens to want?

Chance: [[Angrily]] Humanity is worth saving, X!

X: [[Yells]] I’m human!

Chance: [[Sighs, exasperated]] What do you want me to say, X? They own me, too! They own the Cavatica and Kai and Thor and Chen. They own everything.

Dani: [[Pipes up]] They don’t own me.

[[SFX: Brief static of comms]]

Council Member 1: [[Distorted over comm]] Officer Chance, I’m sending my personal assistant to help you. He dispatched Chen earlier and will be able to assist you in the collection of bodies and the subdual of any additional mutineers.

[[SFX: Brief static of comms]]

X: [[While CM1 is talking, deep breath, then quietly into recorder:]] Welp. Now or never.

[[SFX: X grabs an IV stand and exits the infirmary at a run; she is still barefoot.]]

[[SFX: Sound of a body getting whacked with a metal pole (the IV stand).]]

Chance: [[More surprised/offended than injured]] Ow!

Council Member 1: [[Alarmed]] -- what was that?

Chance: [[Exasperated, ignores CM1]] Hey! X, get back here!

[[SFX: Gun charging]]

Chance: [[Calls out to X]] There’s nowhere for you to --

[[SFX: Gun fires. Chance crashes to the floor. X stops running.]]

X: [[Turns, panting.]] Oh my gosh. Dani! Thank you.

Dani: [[From a distance; frowns.]] I really hope it was set for stun.

X: It… probably was?

[[SFX: X heads back to join Dani.]]

X: Also, where’d you get a gun?

Dani: I grabbed it from Kai’s belt while you and Chance were arguing. I thought it might be a little more effective than hitting him with an IV stand.

X: Smart. [[Surveys the scene.]] Hmm. Want to help me pile Kai on top of Chen’s gurney? I’ll take them both back to the Cavatica and see what I can do to patch them up.

Dani: Okay. On three. One… two… three! [[Lifts heavy body with effort]] Ugh!

X: [[Lifts heavy body with effort]] Oof!

[[SFX: They pile Kai onto the gurney]]

Dani: [[Surveys Chance’s unmoving form]] Do you want Chance, too?

X: I don’t know. [[Makes up her mind, though is not happy with the result.]] No. I think he’s exactly where he wants to be.

[[SFX: Brief static of comms]]

Council Member 1: [[Distorted over comm, in background]] Officer Chance?

X: All right. I’m heading back to the Cavatica. If anyone asks, I was the one who stunned Chance. Not you. You’re just an innocent hostage trying to get away from me because I’m all evil or whatever. Okay?

Dani: [[Nervously]] Yeah. Okay.

Council Member 1: [[Distorted over comm]] Officer Chance, do you copy?

X: Good. Unless... you want to come with me?

Dani: [[Shakes her head “no”.]] I worked way too hard to get this grant.

X: Fair enough. [[Looks around]] Uh. How… do I get back to the Cavatica?

Dani: That way, then take a right, then hit “zero” in the elevator.

X: Zero. Strangely appropriate. Thanks. [[Wheels gurney down the hall]]

Council Member 1: [[Distorted over comm]] Officer Chance? Respond immediately!

X: [[Pauses, turns]] Oh. And Dani… if you ever do want to join us on the Cavatica… I’d love to work with you.

Dani: [[Smiles]] Thanks.

Council Member 1: [[Distorted over comm]] Officer Chance! Report!

[[SFX: Dani picks up Chance’s comm]]

Dani: [[Innocently, voice fades away]] Uhh, hi… this is Intern Weiss. The specimen stunned Officer Chance and got away. Can I do anything to help you in the meantime?

X: [[Murmurs]] Clever girl.

[[SFX: Takes off down the hall, wheeling the gurney and IV stand]]

[[SFX: Transition]]


[[SFX: Enforcer One]]

X: Okay… just got off of the elevator, and am heading toward the bay area to the remote connector. Should be just around the…

[[SFX: Gurney squeaks, halts]]

X: Jeez. Okay. That’s a lot farther than I thought. But I can see Thor from here. At least, I think it’s Thor. I don’t know. Everyone kind of looks alike in those gray suits. Worst comes to worst, I’ll bull rush ‘em with the momentum from the gurney. Approaching now -- wish me luck, Dad.

[[SFX: Gurney wheels down hallway.]]

X: Huh. Good -- it is Thor. But there’s some kind of weird rubble all around her feet?...

[[SFX: Gurney wheels down hallway.]]

Thor: Experiment Girl. Hey. [[Looks at gurney.]] Jeez -- what happened?

X: Well, the good news is, we found Chen. The bad news is, he’s super hurt. And Chance found us. And Kai’s down. And the Councillor might be sending some kind of assistant to murder us. [[Thinks]] That’s a lot of bad news, come to think of it. We should probably do some good stuff to balance it --

Thor: [[Interrupts, looking at the gurney.]] Holy crap! What the -- what did they do to Chen?

X: [[Uncertain.]] For now. That assistant guy took a big chunk out of his side. But I think he’s stable, at least. [[Small pause.]] What happened here? [[SFX: Nudges a tiny metallic drone with her toe.]] What are these little… metal things all over the floor?

Thor: A.I. defense drones. The Councillor must’ve finally figured out how to activate them. [[Considers, darkly.]] Or more likely, Chance told him.

X: Aw. They’re kind of cute.

Thor: [[Drily]] Yeah, well, resist the urge to hug ‘em if you see ‘em comin’ your way. They’re smart, nimble, and their ammo packs a nasty sting.

X: [[Dubiously]] You took them out easily enough. There’s like 50 of them here.

Thor: [[Purses lips, speaks frankly.]] Mmm, well, I am good at my job. You are not good at my job. You see ‘em coming, you run.

X: [[Frowns, catching on.]] Wait… you’re not coming with us?

Thor: [[Smirks]] I hate to break it to you, Experiment Girl, but there’s a lot going on here. A lot more than you know. [[Brief pause.]] Though… I do owe you one for starting this mutiny. Couldn’t have gone better if I’d have engineered it myself. [[Regards X for a moment, sighs.]] You know, I might even like you, if you weren’t such an annoyingly wide-eyed, bushy-tailed moon child.

X: I… I don’t know what any of that means.

Thor: [[Snorts]] It means that if you run into anyone wearing a gold uniform, you tell ‘em, “The Lion’s Paw greets you,” and then get the heck outta their way. Got it?

X: I… guess? But… um… why would I be running into anyone in a gold uniform? Everyone I’ve seen with Caldwell Enterprises wears gray.

Thor: [[Grins]] Exactly. [[Pauses]] Let’s just say there’s more than one reason the Councillor’s been freaking out lately.

X: [[Tilts her head.]] You did something.

Thor: [[Laughs]] Oh, I did a whole lot of somethings. But don’t worry about that right now. You just get back to the Cavatica and take good care of Captain Chen and Killbot for me. Okay?

X: [[Realizes]] You smashed up the Cavatica’s communications pod!

Thor: [[Sighs]] And you’re not listening to me. Now is not the time for startling revelations. Now’s the time for you to get moving. Got it? [[Slight pause, then annoyed.]] ...Go!

X: [[Annoyed, insulted]] Okay, okay.

[[SFX: Gurney starts moving.]]

X: [[Pauses, turns.]] But when we inevitably meet up again later, I’m gonna want some answers!

Thor: [[Fading away]] Fine! Whatever! Just GO!

X: [[Pleased at apparently having won that argument.]] Yay, good. Okay.

[[SFX: Gurney moves into the remote connector]]

X: [[Resumes talking into her recorder.]] All right… uh… pushing the gurney down the remote connector toward the Cavatica… urgh. You’d think the wheels would make this easier, but these two weigh a ton. Well, not a literal ton, unless Kai’s suit is made of an unusually stable isotope of flerovium! Heh!

… No one's ever around to hear my awesome science jokes.

Also, this IV stand is super awkward… maybe it would help if I set my recorder down on Chen’s chestplate and --

[[SFX: Scuffling, sets down recorder.]]

X: Oh yeah, that’s a lot better. [[Sighs, reflects]] So… looks like Thor’s been up to some kind of espionage… What’s her end game? Oh my gosh! [[Stunned silence]] Is she the bad guy? Is she our Dennis Nedry?

[[Doubtfully, providing a counterpoint to herself.]] I don’t know… if she were after the remaining embryos, she could’ve taken them, like, a million times already. They’re just right there in the glasshouse cryotanks, very clearly labeled as per lab regulations.

So if she doesn’t want to steal the embryos -- which, according to the Councillor, already belong to Caldwell Enterprises, thus negating the need to steal them -- then… I guess she just wants to cause a lot of damage for some reason…?

[[Grimaces]] Blegh. My brain is fried. [[Pause]] Assuming the clock has switched over to Day 10,319, I haven’t slept in more than… woah. Have I not slept since Thor found my mother’s body? [[Nods slowly, doing the math.]] So… yeah, going on a full 24 hours. That’s probably not very healthy…

Chen: [[Stirs, regaining consciousness. Still sedated, though seems mentally clearer.]] … X? [[Shifts, grimacing.]]

X: Aww, speaking of not very healthy, how are you doing?

Chen: [[Alarmed/on the verge of panic]] X, I can’t move my legs.

X: Oh! Don’t worry. You’re not paralyzed or anything. Kai’s just on top of them. I made a super hilarious joke earlier about an isotope of flerovium, but I’m not sure you would have gotten it.

Chen: [[Frowns]] Why is… [[Tries to sit up; glances around, blinking.]] Wait, where are we?

X: Remote connector, heading back to the Cavatica. Remember, you were in prison for some mysterious reason, all critically wounded, and Kai and Dani and I rescued you?...

Chen: [[Tries to mentally place who Dani is.]] Dani… The intern?

X: [[Sighs]] Yes! [[Annoyed]] Why do people keep sounding surprised that the intern is a smart, capable, and fully functional human being? She’s back on the Enforcer One acting as our mole right now. Oh! And speaking of moles…

[[SFX: Whirring sound of drones.]]

Chen: [[Tries to sit up again, more alert.]] Shh shh shh. Wait. [[Pauses.]] …What’s that?

X: Hmmm. Must be the second wave of AI drones. Thor took out a whole bunch of ‘em earlier, but for some reason, she didn’t think I’d be able to --

[[SFX: Drones approach.]]

Chen: [[Interrupts her]] X, Thor had a disruptor. We can’t take them without a disruptor... [[Frustrated with himself.]] Heck, I can’t even sit up. Go. Run. Now.

[[SFX: X attempts to pick up speed; the gurney wheels rattle.]]

X: Mmgh. I can’t get this stupid gurney to go any faster!

Chen: [[Impatient; frustrated.]] Without me.

[[SFX: Drones approach, continued.]]

X: [[Strained.]] I’m not going without you, you dummy! Can you reach one of Kai’s guns?

Chen: [[Grimaces with pain.]] Maybe… [[Reaches.]] Agh…

[[SFX: Gurney continues to rattle down hall; soon comes to a stop.]]

X: Okay. Okay. We’re here. We’re gonna be --

[[SFX: X tries the airlock door handle. It clicks but does not open.]]

X: Aw, what the heck?! Come on! [[Rattles door handle again.]]

Chen: Is it locked?

X: [[Frustrated.]] No, it can’t lock! Remember, you guys busted through the lock when you first boarded?

Chen: [[Grunts as he manages to grab one of Kai’s guns.]] Welp, I’ve got one of Kai’s guns now… for whatever good it’ll do… this thing’s like a cannon…

[[SFX: X hip-checks the door.]]

[[SFX: Gun charges.]]

[[SFX: Drones approach in a swarm.]]

X: [[Looks up.]] Aw. They really are super cute. So small!

Drones, together: Greetings. Please surrender or die. Thank you.

X: [[Delighted]] Awwww. And so polite!

[[SFX: Chen shoots at the drones. They disperse easily around the blast.]]

Chen: [[Grits teeth]] And covered in razors, and full of caustic acid. Keep trying that door!

[[SFX: X hip-checks the door.]]

Drones: Perpetrators resisting standard subroutines: please standby for neutralization via death. Thank you.

[[SFX: Gun charging.]]

[[SFX: Drones begin to fire; the sound is tiny and adorable.]]

X: [[Takes tiny laser fire.]] Oh! Ow! That hurts!

[[SFX: X hip-checks the door.]]

[[SFX: The door opens with a strange crunching sound.]]

X: Ha! Got it! [[Takes tiny laser fire]] ...Ow!

[[SFX: Chen’s gun fires.]]

Chen: [[Cranky.]] I can’t hit them -- they’re too small! [[Takes tiny laser fire]] Ow! X, get behind me and pull the gurney through the door after you.

X: No! You’ve already taken -- ow! -- too much damage. It’s my turn to play human shield. Ow! [[Pushes the gurney through the door.]] Ow… ow… ow!

Drones: [[Continuing to fire.]] Your compliance is appreciated. As your neutralization nears completion, please remember: at Caldwell Enterprises, we invent the...

[[SFX: Door shuts.]]

[[SFX: Atmo: Cavatica Dash Core.]]

Drones: [[From other side of door, still firing.]] ...future.

[[SFX: The A.I. drones continue firing on the other side of the door.]]

X: [[Frustrated]] OK, it’s shut, technically, but I can’t latch it! [[Leans against the door to hold it shut as tiny laser fire continues.]] Mmf. The door’s heating up from all that fire. [[Pauses, then curiously.]] Oh, that’s weird.

[[SFX: Faint, almost indiscernible humming sound.]]

Chen: [[Struggles to sit up and see.]] What?

X: [[Puzzled.]] There’s some kind of… pale pink crystalline substance growing all around the doorframe. I think that’s what was sealing it shut. [[Looks closer.]] I’ve never seen anything like it before…

Chen: [[Through gritted teeth]] X! Survival now. Science later.

[[SFX: Sound from behind the door of the A.I. drones firing]]

X: Right! Um… Oh! Charge up your gun again!

Chen: [[Looks at her like she’s an idiot.]] X, those drones are too small and quick to hit, not to mention shielded against any --

X: [[Interrupts him]] I know! But the wall of the remote connector’s not. Shoot that, and they’ll get sucked out into the vacuum!

Chen: [[Nods once.]] Got it. Go!

[[SFX: X opens the door into tiny adorable drone fire. Chen’s gun fires, and suddenly the drones are sucked out through the hole in the remote connector wall and into the vacuum of space. Brief absence of sound.]]

[[SFX: Airlock door slams shut again, though sound is not audible.]]

[[SFX: Sound returns, slowly.]]

X: [[Pleased, though sounds vaguely exhausted.]] Nice. And it should deter Caldwell Enterprises from coming after us for a while. [[Peers at Chen.]] You okay?

Chen: [[Nods]] All things considered, yeah. You?

X: Yeah. [[Grimaces.]] Wow. You were right… that acid really stings.

Chen: [[Smiles]] You did good, X.

X: Thanks. [[Abruptly]] Hey, I’m sorry I called you a dummy earlier. I didn’t mean it. I was all caught up in the moment, and I’m a little short on sleep.

Chen: [[Half-amused; slightly weirded out she’s apologizing for this minor thing.]] It’s… it’s okay. Believe it or not, I’ve been called worse.

X: [[Relieved]] Good. [[Frowns]] Well… I mean, not good. Because… that would… [[Embarrassed]] Ugh. My brain is, like, collapsing in on itself from lack of sleep. Just like...

Chen: my legs underneath Kai’s weight?

X: Oh! Gosh, right! Let’s get you to the glasshouse. I’ve got sufficient medical supplies now to get us back into some semblance of quasi-health.

[[SFX: Sound of gurney wheeling toward glasshouse.]]

Chen: So… what happened to Kai?

X: [[Purses lips.]] Chance. He said the gun was set for “stun”, but… I think it maybe hurt Kai worse than an actual killing blast would have. Do you know how to fix… or [[waves a hand]]... bring back online, or… rejuvenate, or… whatever it’s called for Kai?

Chen: No. But… [[Reassuringly]] We’ll figure it out.

X: [[Stressed/overwhelmed]] Heh. Right. We’ll figure it out. No problem! We’ll just add it to the list of all of the things we need to figure out.

Chen: [[Looks at her.]] X. Look at me.

X: [[Petulant but compliant.]] Ugh. What?

Chen: [[Confident.]] We’ll figure it out. One thing at a time. We’re in this together, X. Got that? You’re not alone anymore.

X: [[Mutters, dryly.]] Yeah, well, maybe that’s what I’m worried about.

Chen: I don’t know what that’s supposed to mean, but you can trust me. We’re going to be okay.

X: [[Deep breath.]] Yeah. Okay. We’re going to be okay.

[[SFX: Transition.]]


[[SFX: Cavatica, Glasshouse]]

X: Day 10,319, Hour 06:15. [[Pleasantly surprised.]] Okay. Maybe we are going to be okay. I went back to seal up the airlock door so we don’t lose all of our atmo to the vacuum, but a new coat of those crystal things had grown up over it, so… it was already taken care of…?

I scraped off a sample of the crystals for analysis, which I’ll perform after I get a bit of sleep and return to my full cognitive functionality.

Otherwise… We’re back in the glasshouse now. And currently, “we” consists of me and Chen and Kai. [[Refrains from commenting on others.]]

Status-wise, I re-bandaged Chen’s field dressings and dosed him with some antibiotics to fight off infection. He’s currently asleep on the gurney, which I stationed near the waterfall -- you know, back where all the orchids are. [[Sounds pleased with herself.]] So that he could have some privacy and a pretty view when he wakes up.

The acid from the drones melted some new holes in his stupid useless plastic armor, but… I don’t know… I don’t want to speak too soon, but I think he’s going to be okay.

… Um. And I should note that by “okay”, I mean “not dead”. Best case scenario, we’ll need to rig up a brace or something to compensate for all of his missing bone and muscle tissue, uhh, maybe do some skin grafts.

Worst case… he’ll probably need to learn how to walk again, regain balance with how it all fits together.

[[Clearly uncomfortable.]] Um. I ended up… um. Having to remove several large pieces of his armor and cut away parts of his shirt and leg wrappings to properly clean and treat his wounds. [[Rushed]] I mean, it went well and everything, but it was… weird.

[[Reflective.]] It wasn’t the blood -- I mean, I get hurt in the name of Science all the time, and I’m used to patching myself up. And I used to do surgical stuff for my parents whenever the need arose --

[[Ruefully.]] Mom was never as careful as she should’ve been in the engine pod, and always needed stitches and burn treatments.

And then there was the whole thing with Dad’s arm…

[[Pause]] But this was… [[Searches for the right word, fails.]] Different. I don’t even know how to really talk about it. Touching another person’s skin felt weird and intrusive and just… super uncomfortable. Like… I was way overstepping my bounds, even though I was helping him.

I got it over with as quickly as I could.

Anyway… [[Takes a deep breath, returns to normal self.]] I patched myself up after that. Those little drones did more damage than I initially thought -- they got me pretty good several times across my back and shoulders, and the acid from that first hit burned through a substantial portion of my upper arm. [[Grimaces]] There might be some skin grafts in my future, too.

It hurts, but… weirdly I’m kind of more annoyed than anything else? I realize this is an illogical and inappropriate response to everything, but… I’m tired and stressed and those little jerks ruined my favorite shirt!

It was already worn pretty thin already -- Dad wore it pretty much every day, and then I proceeded to do exactly the same thing after he died. I was wearing that shirt the day Caldwell Enterprises boarded the Cavatica. I was wearing it when they captured me, and when I broke into my parents’ pod to grab that datapad.

Heh. It’s pretty much the only thing that doesn’t say “Property of Caldwell Enterprises” on it somewhere. It’s just a plain black T-shirt with a triangular prism on it and a rainbow radiating out.

I sort of draped the remaining shreds of it over the placard by the maple tree -- the one labeled Honorem Lutum Sanguine. It felt like the right thing to do.

Anyway, I went through my parents’ remaining supplies for a new shirt, which I’m wearing now. Just a plain white tank that should allow my wounds to heal quickly and cleanly, so… [[Sarcastic, depressed.]] Yay.

[[Pauses.]] I don’t know. Maybe I should be more grateful that we’re not worse off, all things considered? But… I’m not. I’m just… I’m tired.

And I don’t even necessarily mean, like, lack-of-sleep tired. Well, I mean, I’m that too, but this is… deeper. Like, my heart is sad or exhausted or hurt or just plain weary… which… now that I say it out loud, I realize it sounds super melodramatic.

[[SFX: Cavatica falling apart.]]

But maybe that’s okay, since it’s true to what I feel, and no one is ever going to listen to these recordings because you’re dead, and the Cavatica’s steadily falling apart, and no one else is ever going to take this recorder from me again, at least not until they pry it from the grip of my cold, dead hands, at which point I figure literary criticism will be relatively low on my list of concerns.

[[Deep breath, then, abruptly:]] I can’t get Kai to wake up.

Or… reboot, or regain functionality, or whatever it means for Kai to return to a fully conscious, Kai-like state.

I know that Chen said we’d figure it out together, but… I got impatient. And now it just feels like another situation I have no idea how to navigate.

Earlier, after Chen fell asleep, I started taking apart a panel on the back of Kai’s neck. But… just like with Chen, it felt weirdly invasive?

So I stopped. I left Kai propped up against one of the lab tables… just leaning there like a mannequin, lifeless and staring…

[[SFX: X’s bare footsteps.]]

[[Vaguely stressed, bordering on unhinged.]] And all I can do is stare back, and think about is whether Kai is in there right now, a raw mass of nerves and tissue, awake and terrified, silently screaming in absolute darkness, unable to communicate or even process incoming information… completely alone.


Or maybe completely dead.

[[SFX: X shifts, walks a few more steps.]]

Um. Charlotte’s here, too -- or at least, her chassis is -- right where she shorted out after telling me that “the children are the key” in my mother’s voice. I don’t know how to bring her back online, either -- except with her, I’m a little less clueless since at this point I think her power source is tied to -- or simply is -- my mother’s body. Which is locked up in one of the labs back on the Enforcer One. I may or may not get the opportunity to retrieve it. I don’t know.

There are so many unknowns, and so many ways this could play out. I tried mapping them out and realized that, even with fractals, charting the infinite is a pretty futile gesture.

Or maybe there’s only one way this will play out. Maybe we’re following a paved road toward inevitability. Maybe this mutiny -- and my constant fight -- is just as futile. Maybe it makes more sense to conserve my energy and just…

[[SFX: Cavatica falling apart.]]

[[Loses temper, shouts at ship, away from recorder.]] Yeah, I know you’re falling apart! I get it -- everything is terrible, time is limited, we’re all doomed, whatever!

But believe it or not, you’re not my number-one priority right now! That honor belongs to the stupid human beings who are dead and/or dying in my care! So once they’re out of danger, then I will get back to repairing you in the hopes of coaxing a few more livable days out of your miserable hull!

[[SFX: Cavatica falling apart.]]

[[Exasperated sigh, regains control of her temper. Into recorder:]] Uh. Sorry. I don’t usually lose my temper like that. I just… I can’t handle everything falling apart all at once. I can’t do everything.

[[Momentary quiet.]]

Heh. It’s kind of funny. Mom always hammered it into my head growing up -- that I could do anything if I put my mind to it. Clone mice, calibrate the station’s engine, write music, harvest and roast coffee beans, French-braid my own hair. [[Dryly.]] Weld the Cavatica back together. Maybe all at once.

I’m starting to think she got anything confused with everything.

[[SFX: Sits heavily on cot.]]

Okay. Here’s the plan. I’m going to lie down and try to catch as much sleep as I can before the next inevitable emergency. Then… well. Let’s just leave the plan there for now. More later when my brain is rested.

[[SFX: X lies down.]]

X: [[Looks toward the main glasshouse window sheet, smiles faintly.]] Hey, Ra. You’re looking a lot better, at least.

[[SFX: Deep sound.]]

X: Heh. [[Grins, reaches out to touch the tempered crystal.]] Yeah. I’m glad I’m back, too.

[[SFX: Stinger]]



CREDITS (In order of appearance)

X: Sarah Rhea Werner

Kai: Josh Crute

Chance: George Telonis

Dani: Jamie Killen

Council Member: Thoreau Smiley

Thor: Alyce

Cpt. Miles Chen: Lincoln Donovan

Written by: Sarah Rhea Werner

Directed by: Jon Krause

Casting: Jon Krause

Produced and Edited by: Sarah Rhea Werner

Music & Sound Effects: