Season 1, Episode 10: When Did You Last Experience Fear

As X and the crew of the Enforcer One continue to deal with THE HAPS, darker secrets about the Ra Initiative, X's parents, and even X herself begin to surface. (Quite literally.) Listen in for scintillating conversations, startling revelations, and perhaps even a mild descent or two into madness.




X: If fear is the mind-killer, what is it that gives your mind life?

It’s Girl In Space.

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


[[SFX: Tape recorder click.]]

X as a child, played back over a tape recorder: [[Whispered, child’s voice.]] I woke up. I woke up and I wasn’t in my bed. I was in the glasshouse, and Mommy was crying, which was scary because she never cries. She was digging under the big maple tree and crying, and I wanted to go to her and tell her it’s okay, but… I was scared. So I stayed quiet and hid.

But I don’t think I hid very well because Daddy found me, and scooped me up and carried me back to bed. I asked him what was making Mommy sad, and he said Mommy was making herself sad, which didn’t make sense.

Daddy tucked me in and kissed my forehead and told me to go back to sleep, and I could tell that he was sad, too. He told me not to get up again until morning, no matter what. Then he left.

And I didn’t hear Mommy crying anymore.

Now I’m… [[Gasp, quiet, breathing.]]

[[SFX: Door opens.]]

[[SFX: Footsteps approach.]]

Singh: [[Gently.]] Go to sleep now, Little Bird. There’ll be plenty to record in the morning.

[[SFX: Tape recorder button cuts off halfway through “morning”.]]

[[SFX: Transition.]]


[[SFX: Cavatica, Dash core.]]

X: So… what is it you really want? You didn’t radio me just to tell me things we both already know.

[[SFX: Soft double-beep from the Councillor’s side of the radio.]] Council Member 1: [[Smiles thinly.]] You’re right. It’s a distraction.

X: What?

Chen: ...Crap.

[[SFX: Loud thud. X’s tape recorder clatters to the ground.]]

Chen: X? … X! Talk to me!

Frost: [[Drily.]] She’s unconscious, genius.

[[SFX: Gun charging, stage right.]]

Frost: She patch you up?

Chen: Yeah.

Frost: Nice. Usually, when I give people a fighting chance, they don’t fight so well. Any last words?

Chen: You don’t have to do this.

Frost: Unfortunately, I do. Nothing personal, brother.

[[SFX: Rumbling as the Cavatica tilts, breaking, accompanied by a deep sound.]]

[[SFX: Gun blast goes wide, hitting a console. Rubble falls.]]

Frost: [[Shouts, startled, as the ground shakes.]] Aaah!

Chen: [[Grunts/hisses with pain, but manages to stay atop the gurney.]] Aaah!

[[SFX: The rumbling dissipates.]]

Frost: [[Alarmed.]] What was that?!

Chen: [[Alarmed.]] I don’t know! This thing’s been falling apart since before we arrived!

Frost: That wasn’t just the ship falling apart. That was an impact.

[[SFX: Deep sound.]]

Chen: [[Disbelieving.]] Are they… Is the Enforcer One firing on us?

Frost: [[Shakes head, confident.]] They wouldn’t fire on us. Not with me on board.

Chen: [[Drily.]] Must be nice.

Frost: Mmm. As scintillating as this conversation is… [[SFX: Gun charging.]] I’ve got a schedule to keep. [[Sighs, perhaps rolls eyes.]] What. What are you going to do with that IV stand? Ward off my gun blasts?

Chen: [[Shrugs.]] You never know.

Frost: I admire your tenacity, brother.

[[SFX: Gun blast. Chen’s body slumps against the gurney.]]

Frost: …But sometimes you just gotta know when you’re beat. [[Turns, stoops to pick up X. Grunts slightly with the effort.]] All right, little lady. Let’s get you back to the --

[[SFX: Rumbling as the Cavatica tilts and further breaks. Deep sound.]]

Frost: What is that? -- What in the...?! [[Perplexed.]] It’s… [[Disbelieving sound, perhaps a chuckle.]] That’s not possible. I --

[[SFX: Loud explosion; recording is abruptly cut off.]]

[[SFX: Transition.]]


[[SFX: Cavatica, Dash core.]]

X: [[Wakes up slowly.]] Mmmgh. Chen? [[Beat, then worried.]] Chen?!

Chen: [[Weakly, struggles to make his voice heard.]] I’m here. [[He coughs, sputtering blood.]]

X: [[Crawls over to him.]] Oh my gosh. You’re --

Chen: [[Not fine.]] I’m fine, X. I’ll be fine.

X: You’re not -- you’re not fine! This is not what “fine” looks like! [[Her voice trembles.]] How… [[Takes a deep, centering breath.]] Okay. I can help you. The wound’s cauterized, but we need to stop the internal bleeding.

Chen: [[Shakes his head.]] X… I’m okay. It’s okay. This is my job. This is what I do.

X: [[Upset.]] It’s a crappy job and you shouldn’t have to!

Chen: I want to.

X: [[Bordering on hysterical.]] Well, too bad! You’re not gonna… You’re not going to die! I don’t want you to! I won’t let you! [[Beat.]] …Hm. Think we could put your brain into Kai’s chassis?

Chen: I’m… just gonna flat-out say “no” to that one.

X: [[Exasperated.]] There are no bad ideas when you’re brainstorming! [[Desperate, though trying to remain calm.]] Okay. [[Deep breath.]] I re-attached my dad’s arm once. We live in an age of space travel. We have false gravity. We have frickin’ Charlotte, for crying out loud. Nothing is impossible. Come on… That stupid Fixer pulled through, and she was like a billion years old. You’re young and strong and healthy, so there’s no reason why you can’t, too. [[Pauses, grimaces.]] Ugh. I just found your…

[[SFX: Rustling.]]

Chen: What, are you gonna… ?

[[SFX: Wet thump.]]

Chen: Uh. Ooookay. I guess… yep. This is happening. You just dumped my severed arm right in my lap… I’m just… gonna… [[Passes out.]]

X: [[Soothing.]] It’s all right. Rest up, buddy. We’re going to make everything okay again. [[Almost threatening tone.]] I’m not gonna let you give up and die.

[[SFX: Rubble shifts, stage right.]]

Frost: [[Coughs, badly injured.]] It’s what he wants.

X: I didn’t ask you. [[Slowly; vaguely unhinged.]] And oh! Heyyy. Are you the one who did this to Chen?

Frost: Yeah. [[Coughs, wheezes, then defiantly:]] Go on, then. Kill me. I’m not afraid to die.

X: …What is up with everyone and death?! Why would I kill you?! I’m not going to kill you! None of you are going to die! [[Glares.]] At least, not until you answer my questions.

Frost: [[Amused, despite pain.]] Are you threatening me?

X: Yeah. Be scared. Also, tell me what happened.

Frost: You understand I blew Chen's arm off, right? And that he is most likely going to die? [[Pause.]] Just curious. You don't seem too broken up about it.

X: Oh, don't worry. I'm angry. But I know better than to act on it and do something stupid. Now. What happened after you knocked me out? Why is the dash core such a wreck? Why are you buried underneath all that rubble?

Frost: [[Disbelieving chuckle.]] Ship got grabbed.

X: Grabbed? By what?

Frost: The star! Out there. [[Momentary silence.]] It… it reached out, like… an arm of fire or something? And… moved the Cavatica? [[Sinks into disbelieving laughter.]]

X: [[Unfazed.]] Ra. Yeah.

Frost: …The star. Reached out.

X: [[Plainly.]] Yes.

Frost: The red dwarf star. You don’t… [[Beat.]] You believe me?

X: [[Plainly.]] Yes.

Frost: [[Freaks out, finally.]] What’s going on?! Why do you believe me? Why are we having this… freaky tea party conversation? Is there anyone… normal around I can talk to?!

X: [[Plainly.]] Not likely. I’m not normal. Ra’s not normal. There's very little normal about this particular point in space and time. [[Sighs.]] I know you’re just doing what the Councillor told you to do… You’re just doing your job. I get that now. And Ra’s just doing his job. And I’m just here to do mine. [[Deep breath.]] Sit tight. I’ll send someone to start digging you out. [[Mutters.]] Eventually.

Frost: I don’t…

X: I know. You don’t understand. How about this: you try to move or dig yourself out, or come after any of my crew… and Ra will “reach out” to you again. But this time, he’ll melt through that tempered crystal and you’ll burn and freeze simultaneously, your blood boiling and your eyeballs shattering, all while getting pumped full of so much radiation you’ll turn into a giant tumor and then disintegrate on a cellular level.

Frost: [[Coldly, back in familiar territory.]] I’m not afraid to die.

X: I know -- you said that already. I just wanted to give you fair warning.

[[SFX: X begins to clear away the rubble around the wheels of Chen’s gurney.]]

Frost: What are you doing?

X: [[Sighs, as though it’s obvious.]] I’m clearing out the rubble so I can get Chen to the glasshouse. Then I’m going to fix him. Then, I’m going to fix you. Then, I’m going to fix the Cavatica and this giant flipping mess we’re all in. Okay?

Frost: … You’re crazy.

X: [[Softly, without humor.]] Yeah.

[[SFX: X leaves, pushing the gurney.]]

[[SFX: Transition.]]


[[SFX: Cavatica, Glasshouse.]]

X: [[Wearily, beyond exhausted.]] Day… 10,320, hour… 23:06. Status update. [[Pause.]] Uhhh. I got Chen to the glasshouse, which… [[Sighs in defeated exhaustion.]] Well, more on that later. For now, I’ll just say that the… ship-quake affected more than just the dash core. Chen is… well, he’s resting for now. He went into hypovolemic shock, though we finally got his IV all set up, so he should be okay again soon. Maybe.

Thankfully, Dani was here with Charlotte, working on Kai, when the ship got knocked off-kilter, and -- again, thankfully -- they were both uninjured and able to help me treat Chen.

Speaking of which… We did the best we could -- and I do have some experience with limb reattachment, but… we’ll see.

Otherwise, Charlotte’s back to working on Kai, and Dani…

Dani: [[Steps in.]] Dani is here to make sure you get some rest.

X: Hey. Did you sedate… ?

Dani: [[Firmly.]] Yes. Assistant Frost is sedated. Again. [[Exasperated exhale.]] And your head is bleeding. Again. Here. Give me that. [[She takes X’s recorder.]]

[[SFX: Tape recorder click.]]

[[SFX: Transition.]]


[[SFX: Cavatica, Glasshouse.]]

X: [[Voice sounds clear and awake again.]] Whoo. Day 10,321, hour 12:32. Apparently I needed some rest. Again. [[SFX: Attempts to sit up.]] Aaaaagh. My head. It’s… ohhh. That’s blood. [[Vaguely puzzled.]] There’s blood in my eyes?

Dani: [[Hurries over.]] Oh my gosh! Go lie back down right now! You have bled through those bandages, like, four times and I am so tired of changing them!

X: Oh. [[Blinks, taking everything in.]] Where’s Chen? Is he… ?

Dani: He’s okay, yeah. He was conscious for a few minutes earlier -- his fluid levels are back to normal -- and said something about spiders before passing out? [[Hurriedly amends.]] Not, like, unconscious passing out -- like, passing out asleep. The okay kind.

X: [[Smiles slightly.]] Good. And… what’s the assistant’s name? Frost?

Dani: I take immeasurable joy in sedating them every four hours or so.

X: And how are you? Has anyone checked in with you?

Dani: [[Considers.]] I’m… good. I like knowing I can help you guys out.

X: You are so fantastic. Thank you so much. [[Considers.]] Oh man, this should totally earn you your doctorate!

Dani: [[Beat.]] I… don’t think it works like that.

X: Honorary doctorate?

Dani: Get some rest. [[Pause.]] I’m gonna go check on Charlotte. She zoomed off to the engine room pod wit Kai’s chassis a couple minutes ago for some strange and unknown reason. Promise me you’ll lie down?

X: Mmmyep.

Dani: Okay. Sleep well.

[[SFX: Footsteps as Dani skitters off. Door opens and closes in distance.]]

X: Okay. We’re all okay. -Ish. [[Sighs, looks around.]] The glasshouse pod, though… it’s… grim. Everything’s broken. [[Beat.]] Well, not everything -- none of the crystalline structure is cracked or broken, or else we’d have been dead hours ago.

But there are tree branches down everywhere, and roots are exposed, and the pathways are buried in mud and leaves… and the aviary’s door is off its hinges, which means we’ll be playing “52 bird species pickup” later… [[Dismayed.]] Oh.

[[SFX: Walks several steps, through grass.]]

X: Your roses. I’m… oh. I’m so sorry, Dad.

[[SFX: Walks several more steps, through grass.]]

X: Oh! And the swing’s down. [[Inspects it.]] Well, at least that we can fix -- [[Stops short.]] Wait. What’s… ?

[[SFX: Slow footsteps through grass, one at a time.]]

X: Huh. Some of the maple tree’s roots got exposed, too, but I don’t… [[Frowns, confused.]] Oh. Well. That’s just… [[Beat.]] Wait. I thought that was just a dream? [[Pause, reassures self.]] It was definitely a dream. She was crying, and you kissed my forehead and told me to go back to bed… Right? I didn’t see anything. [[Laughs nervously.]] That’s just a big round white rock, probably. Which is really hard to say, by the way. Big round white rock. Big round white rock. Big round white rock.

[[SFX: Door opens in distance; footsteps and Charlotte’s hydraulics approach.]]

X: [[To self, anxiously.]] …I… really should go lie back down.

Charlotte: [[Repeats, a la “Warning.”]] Triumph. Triumph. Triumph.

X: [[Turns.]] Hey! Dani! Charlotte! What’s the -- [[Gasps.]] Kai!!!

Kai: Hello, X.

X: Oh my gosh!

[[SFX: X’s footsteps in the grass -- just three or four steps.]]

Dani: Wait -- no! Don’t run -- ergh.

X: Kai! I’m so happy to see you! Well, I mean, I’ve been seeing you, technically -- or, your body at least -- er, I mean, your chassis? [[Makes a face.]] Sorry, that sounds super weird and creepy. Ugh. I’m just so stoked that you’re functional again!

Charlotte: I am [[blip]] also happy to see you.

X: [[Ignoring Charlotte, continues rambling.]] Oh man! I have this super-weird urge to run up to you and, like, squeeze your torso?! I mean… [[Laughs awkwardly.]] What’s that all about, right?!

Dani: [[In the background.]] ...That’s called a hug.

Kai: [[Matter-of factly.]] How about instead, we remain calm and civil so as to not worsen the massive blunt force trauma you’ve managed to incur on your forehead? [[Pause.]] Also, I am glad to see you as well.

Dani: [[Sternly.]] X, you bleed through those bandages one more time and I will end you.

Kai: [[To Dani:]] I am impressed by your devotion to your work. [[Turns to X:]] How is Chen?

X: [[Solemn.]] Not great. Sleeping, for now. That stupid assistant shot him through the shoulder this time -- close range. His lungs and heart were exposed, and we had to re-attach one of his arms. Thankfully, we’ve got the mother lode of antibiotics, bandages, IV fluids, and hemostatic sponges, so… I’m optimistic.

Kai: You usually are. [[Pause.]] And how are you?

X: Eh. [[Waves a hand dismissively.]] Just a lil’ bump to the head. I was more worried about you, actually. [[Winces.]] I’m so sorry I couldn’t fix you. I’ve never been good with machinery…

Kai: [[Stiffly, perhaps offended.]] It’s fine. Don’t worry about it.

X: [[Continues rambling.]] Ugh, and I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I’m so glad Charlotte was here!

Dani: Me, too. It was her idea to harvest the final part we needed to repair Kai from the engine pod.

Charlotte: [[Pleased.]] Would you like to live -- [[blip]]?

X: [[Smiles.]] Nice. Thank you, Charlotte.

Charlotte: [[Primly.]] You are welcome.

X: Oh man. Kai, I’m just so glad you’re back. I have so many questions for you! Like, were you conscious the whole time your suit was out of order? I mean, I was so afraid that you were trapped there in the darkness, screaming silently, staring out at us helplessly from within the metal prison of your suit…

Kai: [[Still stiffly.]] I am fine now, thank you.

X: [[Catches on to Kai’s discomfort.]] Aaah, sorry, I don’t mean to be all ramble-y… I’m just super excited you’re back!

Dani: [[Tactfully changes the subject.]] Yeah, so… um… Charlotte and I took a quick stock of the ship, and it turns out the damage from the earthquake wasn’t nearly as bad as we thought! [[Beat.]] … Earthquake? Shipquake? Tremor? [[Shrugs.]] Whatever we’re calling it.

X: I like "shipquake"? That sounds accurate. And… what is the damage?

Dani: Well, we’ll cover the bad news first just to get it over with. The communications pod is gone. Like, it finally broke off and sailed away and is officially gone forever. But it had been kinda hanging on by a thread, so… maybe it’s not that much of a surprise?

[[Continues on.]] Also, the hull of the cockpit pod was ruptured, and we lost a lot of atmo before we could get it patched up. So basically, the whole thing’s off-limits right now. Even though it’s not technically my field, I tried grafting some of those pink crystals onto the rift to see if they’d help reinforce the seal, and so far they’re responding with a nice even growth. They really flourished with the addition of some heat.

[[Considers.]] Oh, and Frost is still trapped and sedated in the dash core. They might be in shock, too, but… [[Shrugs.]] I kinda don’t care since they're actively trying to kill us… [[To Charlotte.]] What else?

Charlotte: There was also significant damage along the portside corridor.

Dani: Oh right, yeah.

Charlotte: [[Continues.]] The trauma from the communications pod breaking away bent and ruptured several of the support beams near the one remaining magnetically sealed pod.

X: Uh-huhhh. And… what’s in that pod again?

Charlotte: Aural receptors malfunctioning.

X: [[Rolls eyes.]] Okay. Is the door still sealed?

Charlotte: Affirma//tive. [[Blip.]] Yes. For now.

X: [[Nods.]] Okay. What else?

Dani: Just some minor buckling in the bulkheads and floors… some furniture and personal items out of place… broken glass… [[Shrugs.]] But… that seems to be the worst of it.

X: Wow. [[Relieved.]] Not too terrible. Thanks for checking. We can totally deal with all of this.

[[SFX: Bedsheets stirring on gurney.]]

Chen: [[Weakly.]] Deal with… what?

X: [[Can hardly contain excitement.]] Oh my gosh! And Chen’s awake! Heee! Everything is so amazing!

Chen: [[Coughs blood.]] Yeah. Amazing. [[He spots Kai, and sounds genuinely pleased.]] Hey! Kai -- good to see you again.

Kai: The same to you, sir. I regret I was not around to help you take on the councillor’s assistant.

Chen: Oh, I did just… just fine on my own. [[Coughs up more blood.]]

X: Yay. Good. [[Claps hands, rubs them together.]] Now -- who wants to help me round up the birds and get them back into the aviary? We only had a few dozen species to begin with, and they’re not all exactly… friendly toward each other, so I’m worried that number might be rapidly dropping. Chen, you’re exempt, of course, but I could actually use your help with --

Dani: [[Frowning, taking a step forward.]] Wait. Is that…?

X: What? [[Follows her gaze.]] A rock? Yes.

[[SFX: Dani takes a few steps into grass.]]

Dani: Nnnnno… [[Tone sounds definite.]] That. There. Under the maple tree.

X: The big white rock wedged underneath those exposed roots?

Dani: [[Eyes X.]] No. [[Beat.]] Um… not to alarm you or anything, but I’m… pretty sure that’s a human skull.

Chen: What?!

X: [[Blinks. Then, dismissively:]] Noooooo. We’re all just tired and stressed and suffering from massive amounts of blood loss and head trauma! Plus, it’s been a super long day…

Chen: [[Attempts to sit up slightly, squints into the near distance.]] I… [[Grunts with pain.]] I think she might be right.

X: [[To Chen, covering up a deeper emotion, perhaps fear/anger.]] Okay, you were unconscious until about 30 seconds ago. You’re probably hallucinating.

[[SFX: Dani steps forward into the grass/dirt, prods at the tree roots.]]

Dani: [[Squats down for a closer look.]] Yeah. This is very clearly a human skull. Male… probably aged six to seven months…

X: [[To self, chuckles helplessly.]] What?! That didn’t really happen…

Chen: [[Peers at X closely with concern.]] What didn’t happen?

Dani: Oh my gosh! [[SFX: Scrabble of dirt.]] Look… There’s more than one!

Charlotte: [[Blip.]] Would you like to live forever?

X: I… no! [[Breathing quickens into hyperventilation.]] It was a dream.

[[SFX: Flies.]]

X: [[Desperate, nervous.]] Here -- they’re seriously just rocks. I’ll show you!

[[SFX: X takes a couple steps forward through the grass.]]

Chen: I don’t think that’s a good idea. [[Calmly, to Kai.]] Kai, why don’t you help X re-bandage her head over there, by the waterfall and the orchids?

Kai: Roger that.

X: [[Snaps.]] Hey! Don’t talk about me like I’m not here! And don’t treat me like some hysterical invalid and usher me off to safety or whatever! I’m a scientist, and you have no idea what I’ve been through or dealt with or seen or done over the years. Okay? You have no idea what I’m capable of. In fact, I’m … I’m… [[Trails off, wipes her face absentmindedly. Stares at her fingertips, alarmed.]] Aaaah! What is this? This is blood.

Kai: [[Calmly.]] Yes. There is blood literally dripping down your face from your massive head injury.

Dani: [[Looks up briefly, frowns.]] Aw, come on! I’ve rebandaged that thing four times!

X: [[Mollified.]] Ah. [[Falls quiet.]]

Kai: [[Gently, though not condescending.]] Let’s assess your injuries, get you bandaged up, and then we’ll come back and figure all of this out.

X: [[Voice ever-so-slightly shaky.]] Yeah. Okay.

Kai: Here. [[Offers an arm.]]

[[SFX: They begin to walk away. Waterfall eventually fades in.]]

Charlotte: Do not judge us too harshly.

Dani: [[Distant.]] Oh my gosh… there’s…

Kai: [[Talks over Dani, to X.]] It wasn’t that bad.

X: [[Glances up at Kai.]] Hmm? What wasn't that bad?

Kai: Being… off. Out of commission. It wasn’t all darkness and silent screaming. It was… quiet. Nothingness. Peace.

X: Oh. [[Thinks for a moment.]] That sounds… kind of nice, actually. Restful. [[Beat.]] Would you… um. Have preferred to stay that way?

Kai: No.

[[SFX: They stop walking.]]

Dani: [[In distance.]] … four… five… six…

Chen: [[Wearily, in distance.]] Look out -- there’s one to your right. No, your other right.

X: [[Distracted, turns, frowns.]] Sounds like they’re…

Kai: [[Firmly.]] They’re just doing their jobs. We’ll join them again when we’re done with ours here. Hold still --

[[SFX: Bandage is removed from X’s head.]]

X: [[Hisses in pain.]] Aaaaaah. Wow. That really… Ugh, it’s like echoes of pain rippling through my skull. [[Pause.]] You know, I never did find out what happened --

Kai: [[Inspects her forehead, assesses quickly.]] Hm. Looks like a compound cranial fracture caused by a blunt object to the forehead. I’m assuming said object was the stock of a Caldwell Enterprises Bulk Rifle.

X: [[Attempts a joke.]] You know, you really shouldn’t assume…

Kai: [[Drily.]] I’ve heard. Speaking of which, has anyone checked you for a concussion?

X: No, but I’ve had them before and I know what they feel like. And I don’t think… [[Trails off.]]

Kai: [[Drily.]] What was that about assumption?

X: [[Narrows eyes suspiciously.]] You’re really trying to keep me away from what’s going on by the maple tree.

Kai: [[Evenly, perhaps slightly wearily.]] No, I’m trying to assess whether my friend has a serious brain injury.

X: [[Pleased, amused.]] … Are you finally admitting that we’re friends?

Kai: If it means you’ll pay attention and let me help you, yes. Here -- look up for a second. Do you have a headache?

X: Obviously.

Kai: Nausea?

X: [[Considers.]] I’m kind of hungry, I guess?...

[[SFX: Flashlight click.]]

Kai: Sensitivity to light?

X: [[Surprised.]] Woah. You have a flashlight in your neck?

Kai: All right. You seem to be --

X: [[Suddenly distracted.]] Chen’s looking at me weird.

Kai: [[Matter-of-factly.]] He’s worried about you.

X: No, this is… hm. Now Dani’s looking at me, too.

Kai: [[Relents with a sigh.]] Stay here. I’ll go find out --

X: How about we both go?

[[SFX: X begins walking back to the tree. Waterfall fades.]]

X: [[Calls out to Dani & Chen, almost defensively.]] What? What is it?

Chen: What happened here? Do you know? Did you know these bones were here?

Dani: [[Surveys the area, hands on her hips.]] There are the remains of at least seven bodies here.

X: [[Reels a bit.]] Woah. What?! [[Thinks about the question; to Chen:]] Uh… no! I had no idea… [[Considers.]] Oh. Well, maybe? [[Pauses for an uncomfortably long time. Embarrassed.]] I don’t know… I mean… I used to have these… dreams?

Chen: [[Expression unreadable; echoes her word.]] Dreams.

X: [[Nods.]] Yeah. But they weren’t… I mean, they didn’t mean anything. They were just… dreams!

Dani: [[Gently.]] Like what?

X: I don’t know… flies and a metal door on a beach… Drones hovering over the ocean… A… some sort of vehicle collision? A white-haired woman in a green chair next to a vase full of lilacs?! [[She shrugs, helplessly.]] They don’t mean anything.

Dani: [[Encouraging, without being condescending.]] That’s all right. You said… did you have one about the maple tree?

X: [[Nods.]] I… um. I was little, and my mom was crying and… um. [[Realization.]] Burying… something? [[Horrified.]] Oh my gosh.

Chen: Uh-huh.

X: [[Panicked.]] I… I thought that sign was like, I don’t know. A family crest or something? Not a… a grave marker!

Kai: [[Reads the plaque.]] Honorem Lutum Sanguine.

Dani: [[Translating.]] “Honor in dirt and blood?”

Chen: [[Disgusted.]] There’s no honor in this. They’re children.

X: [[Protectively.]] Woah, wait, you don’t even know what happened here!

Chen: [[Calmly.]] Do you?

X: [[Caught off-guard.]] No! But… look, my parents were good people! There’s a logical and rational explanation as to what’s going on. [[Looks at Charlotte.]] Charlotte, can you tell us what happened here?

Charlotte: Aural recept --

X: No. Do not even tell me your aural receptors are malfunctioning.

Charlotte: Find me. Find me. Find -- [[Blips. Begins to play recording of a human-sounding female voice.]] “The children are the key. But we… I need your help. The station can’t survive // another incident…”

X: [[Frowns.]] That’s the recording she played for us the other day.

Dani: The children are the key? The key to what?

Kai: [[Simply.]] Whatever they were working on.

Chen: Which was…? [[He looks to X to prompt her for the answer.]]

X: Why… is everyone looking at me? [[Voice rises slightly in pitch.]] I don’t know what they were working on! [[Looks around.]] I promise!

Chen: That’s all right. We’ll start out easy. What was the Ra Initiative?

X: [[Looks at them like it’s obvious.]] It’s… just Ra.

Dani: [[Coaxing.]] Okay… but in what capacity? What were they doing to Ra?

X: [[Confused.]] No… you don’t… [[Sighs.]] They weren’t doing anything to him. At least, not at first.

Chen: [[Coaxes her to continue.]] Then… [[Pause.]] Help us understand.

X: They made him. Ra is the first human-made star in our galaxy.

[[SFX: Low sound. Silence as the others digest this information. Then, everyone bursts out with several questions at once, all talking over each other:]]

Dani: Wait. Wait. Wait. How do you… make a star?!

Chen: Are you saying… your parents made Ra?! [[Frowns.]] …Wait, what does that even mean?

X: I wasn’t actually involved with that part of the --

Charlotte: Do not judge us too harshly.

Dani: Wait -- so… what did Charlotte mean when she said the children are the key?

X: I don’t know. I’m still --

Dani: [[Demanding.]] Are the bones here related to Ra somehow?

Charlotte: Aural receptors malfunctioning.

Chen: Did Ra really reach out earlier and grab the ship? How did that even happen?

X: I don’t know. I didn’t see --

Dani: Is Ra sentient? [[Frustrated sound.]] How is Ra sentient? That doesn’t make any sense.

Charlotte: Would you like to live forever?

Chen: Does Ra have… an agenda? [[Half-laughs as he realizes how silly that question sounds. Muses:]] Can a star have an agenda?

Dani: Is Ra even actually a star?

X: Well, uh, that I can --

Charlotte: Triumph. Triumph. [[Blip.]] Warning. Warning. Warning.

Chen: Why didn’t you tell us any of this earlier?

Dani: …Wait, what does that make you?

X: [[Frustrated sound.]] All right. [[Shouts.]] Enough. [[The chatter (including Charlotte) ceases.]] Just… I need, like, a second.

[[Incredibly awkward pause. X takes a deep breath.]]

X: [[Nervous joke.]] Okay, maybe more like a million seconds. [[Sighs.]] Yeah, okay. Look… This is all… it’s a little overwhelming. …And by a little, I mean a lot. [[Beat.]] I just… yes, Ra actually is a human-made star, and the humans who made him were my parents. And yes, we’re… [[Carefully.]] Connected. Ra and I. But I don’t think that’s pertinent to whatever’s happening here. I mean… [[Pause.]] It’s… complicated, me and Ra. I don’t even really understand it, much less know how to explain it.

Dani: Okay… all of that weird star stuff aside, you never noticed that your parents were slaughtering helpless children? You didn’t hear, like, any screams in the night or anything?

X: Yeah, I don’t… I guess now that I look back on it… I mean… I could have… [[Pauses.]] Wait. Are you… are you saying this is my fault?

Dani: No! Just… how did you not know what was going on?

X: I… [[Sounds defeated.]] I don’t know. They said science was the portal to discovery. They said… it was good. They said I was good. I… trusted them.

[[SFX: Heartbeat, flies, high-pitched whine.]]

Dani: Gosh! No, I didn’t mean --

Chen: [[Calmly.]] It’s all right. We’ll get this all figured out.

X: I’m… I’m sorry. [[Backs away.]] I just need… [[Backs away.]] Just a few minutes to process…

Kai: Here --

[[SFX: Heartbeat, flies, high-pitched whine increase.]]

[[SFX: X’s footsteps.]]

[[SFX: Transition.]]


[[SFX: Cavatica, Glasshouse. Waterfall is prominent.]]

X: [[Voice is flat.]] Day 10,321, hour 22:43. [[Pause.]] I’ve talked about perfection before, on this recorder… how it’s an unattainable human construction, how we’re obsessed with the supposition that we can be -- or become -- something that we actually can’t.

The arrogance that the limited can achieve the limitless -- that something without an outer limit even can be achieved… it can’t. Perfection is the shiny object atop an infinite pedestal.

I’ve talked about beauty, too -- especially here in the glasshouse pod, where there’s so much light and warmth and abundance. Where beauty is everywhere every day, in everything from the cherry blossoms and oranges to the ferns, lilies, finches, aloe plants, spiders, hibiscus, cacti, and yes -- even the fish. [[Represses a shudder.]]

But I don’t think I’ve ever talked about good. [[Frowns.]] You know, the force diametrically opposed to the equally vague and confusing notion of evil?

[[Pause.]] We wrap so much up into our concept of “good”-ness. Everything from the massive umbrella of ethics to the… the smallest twitch of a smile. The littlest gesture. Actions, behaviors, habits, patterns of speech, decisions, thoughts, dreams -- they all merit judgment, if you care to apply it.

Maybe that was where I failed.

Maybe I could have prevented this -- or at least some of it. If I’d have known what to look for, or what to do. If I’d have known what they were doing. Why they were doing it. What they hoped to accomplish.

[[Disgusted with self.]] But we -- or at least, I was so eager to coast along the easy route -- the loving, cared-for route -- that I didn’t notice the slow disappearance of embryos from that drawer.

Or if I did notice, I didn’t think to question it -- where they were going, what was happening to them.

Or… if I did question it, I stopped before my mind landed upon an answer that would be troubling, or frightening, or -- worse -- uncomfortable.

My mother asked me for a new specimen about every 10 months or so, give or take. It meant she was starting a new project, which was always an exciting time for our family. I would bring her one of the embryos from the drawer, and she would send me off to help my father tend the gardens.

[[Bitter.]] I thought I was helping. I thought it was okay to trust them.

I thought I was doing something… good.

And… maybe I was? [[Sighs.]] Maybe they had weighed the moral cost -- maybe they were working on curing diseases or building healthier human children or… I don’t know. Un-destroying the Earth?

Maybe they were working toward… heh. [[Wryly.]] What does Caldwell Enterprises call it?... The “greater good”?

[[Pause.]] But what gets me is that, right now, I don’t know. I don’t know what they were doing.

[[Disgusted with self.]] Because I was doing what was easy -- blindly following orders. I should have thought to challenge them. Question them. Heck, I should have asked more questions, period. I was so focused on being a “good” little human daughter that I didn’t stop to think if, in doing so, I might be serving a purpose that wasn’t.

Kai: [[Cautiously; has been here the entire time.]] X, I really don’t want to interrupt your monologue, but… aren’t you being a little hard on yourself?

X: [[Darkly.]] Yeah. Well. Maybe it’s finally time I was held accountable.

Kai: [[Reasonably.]] You were a child. Children trust their parents implicitly. They do what their parents tell them. Their brains aren’t developed enough to discern right from wrong or to challenge authority… especially unprompted.

X: Maybe mine was, and I’m just a huge coward.

Kai: Or maybe you don’t even fully understand what it is you’re blaming yourself for.

X: [[Laughs humorlessly.]] Yeah, but I do -- the bones of seven children under the maple tree.

Kai: Eight. Dani found another skull.

X: [[Aghast.]] … You’re not helping!

Kai: [[Firmly.]] No. I am helping. You’re just not listening. Why?

X: Uh. Because I’m right and you’re wrong?

Kai: No. I think it’s because taking on your parents’ guilt absolves them of it.

X: That doesn’t make any sense.

Kai: [[Mildly.]] Doesn’t it?


X: [[Sighs.]] You don’t have to sit here with me, you know. I know I’m not particularly entertaining right now, unless you’re really into Byronic-hero-style brooding. You can go off with Chen and Dani and Charlotte and… [[Waves a hand dismissively.]] …sort bones or whatever.

Kai: They stopped a couple of hours ago to rest. Anyway, I… prefer it over here.

X: [[Looks around, smiles slightly, and nods.]] The waterfall and the orchids, right?! Super soothing.

Kai: Yes.

X: [[Musing, staring at the glass terrariums.]] Chen didn’t like the spiders.

Kai: [[Matter-of-factly.]] They’re a critical component of any ecosystem.

X: [[Sighs.]] That’s what I said. Well, technically, I said, “Spiders are our friends,” but… that’s pretty much the same thing. [[Pauses, points.]] Did you see the terrarium in the middle?

Kai: “Araneus cavaticus”? [[Makes the connection.]] Oh.

X: [[Nods.]] Yeah. She’s what the Cavatica’s named after. Steady. Dependable. Trustworthy. [[Pause.]] Dad used to tell me… [[Yawns hugely.]] Mmmfh. [[Blinks.]] Sorry. It’s been a day.

Kai: Why don’t you get some sleep? You need it.

X: [[Warily.]] Why are you being so nice to me?

Kai: Someone has to. And you’re not being particularly nice to yourself.

X: [[Half-suspiciously, half-joking.]] You’re not going to, like, murder me in my sleep?

Kai: With me, you have a one hundred percent no-murdering guarantee. [[Considers.]] Well. With a standard point-zero-one percent variable, of course.

X: [[Sleepily.]] Of course. Good. [[Amused.]] I was actually kind of worried that if -- when -- you came back, you’d come back evil, or with, like, amnesia or a cowboy accent or something. I’m glad you’re okay.

Kai: Me, too.


X: [[Opens one eye.]] You’re actually okay? I mean, you’re not evil?

Kai: No evil. No amnesia. Just me. I promise.

[[SFX: Transition.]]


[[SFX: Cavatica, Glasshouse. Waterfall prominent.]]

[[SFX: Deep noise, accompanied by what might be a distant human male scream.]]

X: [[Gasps in terror, sitting up. Her hand frantically hits Kai.]] Kai?!

Kai: [[Reassuringly; unfazed.]] I’m here.

X: Did you… did you hear that?

Kai: Hear what?

X: [[Listens for a beat, then slowly lets out a shaky breath.]] Heh. Okay. I must be hearing things. Or maybe… maybe it was just another dream.

Kai: Likely. Hm. [[Troubled.]] You’ve bled through your bandages again. Should I be concerned?

X: [[Settles back down. Sleepily.]] Just… make sure I don’t die. Okay? I wanna help out tomorrow and I can’t do that if I’m dead.

Kai: [[Patiently, perhaps amused.]] All right.

X: [[Sleepily.]] It all becomes part of you, out here.

Kai: What does?

X: [[Murmurs.]] Everything. Nothing. It’s all one thing. I am part of the void. I am part of all matter. I am part of them. Heh. I’m even part of you.

Kai: [[Carefully.]] Are you talking about the bones beneath the tree?

X: [[Soft considering sound.]] How could I have mistaken them for a dream? [[Laughs ruefully, then recites:]] “The sphere, fragile and luminous, / takes flight rapidly, / bursts and spits out its flimsy soul, / like a golden dream…” [[Brief pause.]] Mmm. That is Baudelaire again. But... I’m not sure which translation…

[[SFX: Deep noise, accompanied by a distant male human scream.]]

[[SFX: Beating heart. Flies.]]

X: [[Fully awake again, panicked and alert. Sits up.]] Okay. Tell me you heard it that time.

Kai: [[Alert, on-edge. Nods.]] I… definitely heard it that time.

X: [[Frantic.]] Oh, crap… I totally forgot! Frost! We need to get to the others now!

[[SFX: Stinger.]]



CREDITS (In order of appearance)

X: Sarah Rhea Werner

Singh: A.R. Olivieri

Council Member: Thoreau Smiley

Cpt. Miles Chen: Lincoln Donovan

Frost: Hayley Armstrong

Dani: Jamie Killen

Charlotte: Kay Krause

Kai: Josh Crute

Written by: Sarah Rhea Werner

Directed by: Jon Krause

Produced and Edited by: Sarah Rhea Werner

Music & Sound Effects: