Oh gosh… there’s just a LOT going on right now. From echoing screams to an appropriately science-fiction-y orange mystery goo, the Cavatica and its inhabitants are in for a real treat/doom. Plus, X makes a new friend, gets a call from an old friend, and tries to keep the murdering to a minimum.
+ TRANSCRIPT & CREDITS
X: When you go searching for yourself, are you ever afraid of what you might find? I mean, think about it. Who -- or what -- is it you’re even looking for?
It’s Girl In Space.
[[SFX: INTRO MUSIC, 1:10]]
[[SFX: Tape recorder click.]]
Singh (young), played back over a tape recorder: I’m… [[Brief pause.]] I’m not always going to be here. [[Deep breath, then wry smile.]] Sorry. It’s really hard for me to say that. But it’s true. I’m not always going to be here to read you bedtime stories, or help you plant carrots, or bandage your sprained ankles, or keep your hands away from the gene splicing equipment.
[[Reflective.]] Someday, Little Bird, your mother and I are going to be gone, and it’s just going to be you out here. Alone.
And… [[Considers, struggles with something. Then his voice becomes serious, urgent:]] When that happens, I need you to do something very important for me. Okay?
I need you to go to the embryo storage tanks in the glasshouse and destroy the embryo marked SD-538. Okay? SD-538. Just… just take it out of the vial and let it expire. Or… let it go floating out of the airlock, just like we did with those beetle hybrids that didn’t work out.
[[Exhales, pained.]] I know, it sounds scary and wrong, but… sometimes doing the right thing -- the necessary thing -- is difficult.
[[Reflectively, almost to himself:]] Unbelievably difficult.
[[Shakes it off, re-gains encouraging tone:]] But you can do it. I know you can. Because you are strong and good, and you can do difficult things.
[[Beat.]] You can do the things I can’t.
[[SFX: Tape recorder click.]]
[[SFX: Cavatica, Glasshouse.]]
[[SFX: Deep noise, accompanied by what might be a distant 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: X begins to get up from her cot.]]
Kai: No -- you are injured. Stay here. I'll check it out.
X: Uh… [[Chuckles humorlessly.]] No way. Remember how I’m done blindly following orders?...
Kai: [[Exasperated.]] Not all orders are inherently bad, X. Especially when they’re issued with your safety // in mind.
X: Don’t care! I’m not letting you go alone, and I’m not letting you leave me here alone. We are officially initiating Buddy System protocol. [[Holds up a hand.]] And don’t even think about threatening to stun me… especially now that we know what stun blasts do to you.
Kai: [[Relents, irritated.]] Fine. But stay behind me.
[[SFX: Kai and X begin to jog toward the glasshouse pod door. Waterfall sound slowly decrescendos.]]
X: [[Ruefully.]] Mm, sorry. Buddy System has us going in side-by-side.
Kai: [[Skeptical.]] The tactical strategy behind this so-called “Buddy System” protocol is dubious.
X: [[Shrugs helplessly.]] Sorry. The protocol’s in place, and there’s nothing we can do about it now.
[[SFX: Their running slows. X pauses.]]
X: [[Frowns.]] Huh. Okay. Well, it wasn’t Chen screaming? Weird…
Kai: [[Reflectively, as if seeing the silver lining.]] It’s nice that for once, he’s not getting shot, maimed, mauled, or otherwise massively injured.
[[SFX: Charlotte’s hydraulics.]]
Charlotte: May I assist the [[blip]] two [[blip]] of you?
X: Not likely. Just ignore her, Kai. She’s going to -- [[Rolls eyes as Charlotte begins talking.]] Ugh.
Charlotte: [[Decisively:]] I will accompany you.
X: Nnnno, that’s okay. You stay here, and protect Chen and Dani while they sleep.
Charlotte: Sleep. [[Considers mechanically.]] Fragile human bodies need rest to recharge.
X: [[Encouragingly.]] Yes! They need you here.
Charlotte: [[Considers, blips.]] However. You are injured, and much more… soft -- soft -- soft -- [[Blip.]]
X: [[Indignant, jabs finger.]] Hey. Hey! Curvy. I’m curvy. Not… “soft”.
Charlotte: [[Continues, ignoring X’s interruption.]] -- and your robotic companion is susceptible to electromagnetic disruption... easily neutralized.
Kai: [[Annoyed.]] Hey! --
Charlotte: [[Blip. Decisively:]] I will accompany you.
Kai: [[Bristles.]] I am not a robot. [[Angrily, offended.]] And I am not so easily neutralized.
X: [[Cranky.]] Yeah, not really charming your way onto the home team, Char. Just… stay here and protect Dani and Chen. Okay? Please?
Charlotte: No. [[Pause, blip. Darkly:]] And my name is "Charlotte", not “Char”.
X: [[Taken aback.]] Jeez. Okay. What happened to your whole “selective hearing” bit?
Charlotte: Aural receptors malfunctioning.
X: [[Cheered; fondly.]] Ah, there it is.
Cyrus: [[Distant -- screams.]]
[[SFX: Deep noise, distant scream.]]
Kai: We should move.
X: Right. Yeah. Charlotte, you just… ugh. Whatever. Come on.
[[SFX: Footsteps, hydraulics.]]
[[SFX: Cavatica, Dash core.]]
X: [[Staring.]] Huh.
Kai: [[Also staring.]] Huh.
Charlotte: [[Blip.]] Foundering insect neutralize dermal marzipan encephalitis.
X: [[Ignores Charlotte.]] So… Okay. If Dani and Chen are asleep in the glasshouse, and Frost is still lying here sedated or unconscious or whatever…
Kai: [[Continues her train of thought.]] … then what… ?
[[Several beats of silence.]]
[[SFX: Deep noise, accompanied by what might be a distant scream.]]
Cyrus: [[Distant -- Screams]]
X: Oh. [[Significantly.]] OHHHH!
X: Oh gosh. I think I know where it’s coming from. This way.
[[SFX: Footsteps resume, hurried. Charlotte’s hydraulics accompany.]]
Kai: So… where are we going?
X: What an excellent question. [[Glares; significantly, to Charlotte.]] Feel free to chime in any time, Charlotte.
Charlotte: [[Blip.]] Do not judge us too harshly.
X: [[Mutters.]] Yeah, that’s what I thought. [[To Kai:]] Hey, so. Okay. Remember earlier, when Dani and Charlotte reported that the communications pod had completely broken away?
Kai: I remember.
X: Yeah, well. They also mentioned that some of the support beams near the second magnetically sealed pod had been bent and broken.
Kai: [[Looks at her sharply, understanding immediately.]] Oh. What was… [[Pause, rephrases.]] What was -- or is -- sealed up in there?
X: [[Drily.]] Heh. That’s the thing. I don’t know. I was never allowed to go into that part of the ship. Mom said it was storage for radioactive materials -- like, the kind that could actually hurt me -- but… [[Shrugs.]] I don’t know. [[Brief pause, considers.]] She sure went in there a lot…
Charlotte: You needed to be kept [[blip]] safe. Safe. Safe. Safe. Safe.
Kai: [[Ignores; over Charlotte.]] You never found a way in?
X: [[Shakes her head.]] No. Once those magnetic seals are engaged… Well, you saw how long it took Thor to break through the one on my parents’ pod. And she had a pneumatic drill. [[Looks at Kai askance.]] Wait -- did you seriously think I’d be able to get in there?
Kai: Think of it as a testament to your stubbornness.
X: [[Takes it as a compliment, smiles.]] Awww. Thanks.
[[SFX: Deep sound, screaming.]]
Cyrus: [[Distant -- Screams.]]
X: [[Back to business.]] All right. It’s just around this --
[[SFX: Boom/low rumble. Their footsteps stop abruptly.]]
Kai: Oh. Jeez. [[Stares in stunned silence.]]
X: [[Simultaneously, with Kai.]] Oh my gosh. [[Stares in stunned silence.]]
Charlotte: Do not -- [[Blip.]] // judge us too harshly.
[[SFX: Ra sound. Creaking metal.]]
X: [[To Ra, absently.]] Yeah, I know. This is… [[Grimaces, coughs, waves smoke away.]] Mmmh. A lot of smoke. [[Beat; glances at Kai.]] I’m just gonna…
[[SFX: Cautious, almost hesitant, footsteps amid rubble.]]
Kai: Watch your head. Actually, watch your… everything. Those edges look sharp.
X: [[Shocked.]] ...Wait, you’re not gonna try to stop me from crawling in there?!
Kai: [[Dryly.]] Acts of futility are just so… futile.
X: [[Pleased.]] Yay. Are you coming with me?
Kai: Yes. Buddy System protocol is in effect, after all.
Charlotte: [[Decisively:]] I will stay here.
X: [[Rolls eyes.]] Whatever you need to do, Charlotte.
[[SFX: Careful footsteps amidst rubble.]]
X: [[Coughs, waves away smoke.]] Wow. Once we get this place checked out, we should start sealing it off. I think this pod’s about to go the way of the communications pod. And that way is… [[Waves a hand.]] Away, forever.
Kai: Roger that.
X: At least we can be sure there wasn’t a hull breach in here -- [[Stops.]] Oh. Wow. [[Moment of silence, then, to Kai:]] Uhhh… just a sec, for… posterity or whatever. [[Into recorder; clears throat.]] Okay, so… um… Day 10,321… hour… [[Distracted.]] I don’t know. Super-late.
[[Deep breath.]] We -- uh, Kai and I -- just… [[Starts over.]] Well, a hole got smashed through the interior wall of the second magnetically sealed pod -- the portside one -- and… now we’re… in it. [[Brief pause.]] The pod, I mean… [[Drily.]] Though maybe some other figurative stuff as well. [[Gets bearings.]] Okay. Uh. There’s a lot of smoke and dust, but so far…
Kai: [[Distant, right; echoes slightly.]] Did you see this?
X: See what? [[Walks over. Frowns, interested.]] …Ooooh. And some kind of… dripping orange goo? Not sure what that is. Want to take a sample and put it in… [[Pause, rustling sound, glass clinking.]] This vial?
Kai: Roger that.
X: Thanks. [[Steps back.]] But, ah, overall… we’re standing in a large, open space about five or six times the size of my… well, the size of what used to be my cabin pod. [[Pause.]] Hey Kai, could you shine your… ? [[SFX: Click]] Thank you. Uh. There are metal shelving units all over the walls, and multiple crates and barrels that all have “Property of Caldwell Enterprises” stamped on them, so I think it’s safe to say this room was initially used for storage. [[Glances at Kai.]] Please note: That was a hypothesis, not an assumption.
Kai: I’m over here diligently taking samples of orange mystery goo. I didn’t say anything.
X: ‘K. [[Resumes train of thought.]] Uh, I say this pod was initially used for storage because… it appears to be serving another purpose now. All of the interior shelving racks have been pushed against a far wall, and in the center of the room is this… apparatus.
[[SFX: Approaches, carefully, broken glass and rubble shifting.]]
X: It’s… well, it looks like a terrarium, maybe? Made of glass, or some other sort of sturdy transparent material, about… ten centimeters thick.
But it’s all… broken apart now -- [[Glances up.]] Looks like one of the support beams got dislodged from the ceiling during the shipquake and smashed down on top of it, along with… well, the rest of the ceiling.
[[SFX: Footsteps amidst rubble. Glass crunches.]]
Huh. Gosh. This whole enclosure couldn’t have been larger than three by four meters, though there’s a… a nest of tarps and blankets to one side, and a grated drain in the floor, and a large blue Caldwell Enterprises water recycler… There’s a tangle of plants -- looks like our good old resilient friend kudzu -- growing up around the water recycler, but other than that, it’s…
[[Aside, somewhat disbelieving.]] Kai, I think something was living in here. Something sizable.
Kai: Hmm. [[Brief pause.]] Something still is.
X: … What?!
Kai: I’m picking up… [[Kai looks around momentarily.]] There. [[Points.]]
[[SFX: Kai’s footsteps, crunching glass. X accompanies.]]
X: What is it?
Kai: I don’t know. Stand back.
X: [[Dubiously.]] Can you lift that without -- ?
[[SFX: Sound of Kai lifting a large metal beam; rubble; glass breaking. Beam sets down heavily with a low rumble.]]
X: Hookay. I guess you can. [[Frowns.]] Hey, what’s that under -- [[Gasps.]] Oh my gosh. There’s… [[Moves closer.]] I think that’s blood! [[Pause, realizes.]] There’s blood everywhere!
Kai: I am going to lift this wall segment and shine my light underneath it. Would you be able to pull out anything that might be trapped under there?
X: Uhhh, depends if it’s, you know, a gentle, harmless cow vs., like, a very angry wounded velociraptor.
Kai: Would you?
X: Yeah. Or -- I’ll try? [[Uncertain; feigns confidence.]] I mean, yeah?
X: [[Deep breath.]] Okay, go.
[[SFX: Hard clamp; rubble sliding and falling. Scuffling sounds. Rubble as X moves rocks.]]
X: [[Strained]] Ergh. Mmmf. [[Moves a chunk of metal out of the way; strains with effort.]] Okay. Can you shine that just a little more over -- ah. That’s good. Mmgh. Let's see… [[Beat.]] Oh. Holy crap.
[[SFX: Thud of a metal chunk of debris.]]
X: [[Softly.]] Oh my gosh. He’s alive!
Cyrus: [[Coughs. Hoarsely:]] Help me.
X: Oh my gosh. [[Soothing/shakily.]] Hey. Hey, friend. It’s all right. We’ve got you. You’re gonna be okay. [[Cranes neck; to Kai.]] Kai, can you -- ?
[[SFX: Thud of plate glass landing violently atop rubble.]]
X: Oh, nice. You totally read my mind. [[Pause, breath.]] Okay… we need to get the rest of this rubble off of him and make sure he’s not bleeding out.
Kai: His pulse is strong, at least.
X: You can tell that from over there?
X: [[Infinitesimal pause; frowns.]] Wait, is that impressive, or creepy?
Kai: Impressive. [[Beat.]] But we can table a more in-depth discussion on the topic for later. For now, I’ll move this girder, and you see if you can extricate him.
X: Right. Let’s see… Let’s get you out of the… [[Strained]] yep, okay. I’m going to pull him this way a little, and then we’ll… Mmmfff… Ugh… [[SFX: Scrabbling, clattering as X begins to extricate the figure from the rubble. Girder slams to floor.]]
Charlotte: [[In distance, faintly.]] Do not judge us -- [[Blip.]]
Cyrus: [[Groans weakly; coughs. Breathing is labored.]]
X: [[Breathing heavily.]] All right. Uh. [[Lets out shaky breath. Clinically, into recorder:]] Subject is free of the rubble -- well, the worst of it, at least -- and has been relocated to a flat surface. [[Beat.]] He’s got some metal and glass shrapnel sticking out of his shoulder, labored breathing… but hey, any breathing is good, right?… [[Peers closer.]] Looks like… broken arm and wrist, possible broken nose, extensive contusions… probably a fair amount of internal damage… Uh. Kai? [[Startled.]] Aaaah! [[Ducks head, squints.]] Don’t shine that light in my eyes!
Kai: Sorry. What were you saying?
X: Mmh. [[Points.]] Here and here. Does that look like…?
Kai: [[Confirms.]] The thoughtware ports we saw on your mother’s body? Yes.
X: [[Sits back on her heels thoughtfully.]] Yeah. [[Deep breath, then glances up at Kai, meaningfully. Small incredulous sound.]] Kai, he was here the whole time.
Kai: [[Confirms the obvious.]] Very likely, yes.
X: No, I mean… like… the whole time! The whole time! Ever since… [[Beat; disbelieving, incredulous chuckle:]] This whole time, I thought I was alone!
Kai: [[Softly.]] Did you?
Cyrus: [[Blinks, groans, then grimaces in pain.]] I can’t see.
X: [[Returns her attention to Cyrus.]] Oh! Gosh. That’s because there’s blood in your eyes. Here -- [[She wipes some of the blood from his face.]]
Cyrus: [[Attempts to sit up. Frowns, groggily, surprised:]] Wait --
X: No, don’t sit up --
Cyrus: I know you.
X: [[Continues.]] You’ve lost a lot of blood and you’re… gosh, you’re really hurt. Can you move your toes? [[Pause, then relieved.]] Okay, good.
Cyrus: [[Insistently, to X.]] I know you!
X: [[Gently.]] I’m sorry, but… I don’t think so.
Cyrus: No. You don’t… You don’t understand… You are me. You are we.
Kai: [[Apprehensively.]] X --
Cyrus: [[Mutters, to self, mantra-like.]] We are part of the void. We are part of all matter. We are everything. We are nothing.
Kai: Look at his face.
X: [[Blinks, surprised.]] Oh, weird. Yeah, if you ignore all the cuts and bruises, he kind of looks like a younger version of my dad.
Kai: [[Looks at her askance, then corrects her with a careful tone.]] No. He looks exactly like you.
[[SFX: Low rumble.]]
[[SFX: Cavatica, Dash core/Mystery pod.]]
Cyrus: [[Still injured/in pain. Mutters, to self, mantra-like:]] We are part of the void. We are part of all matter. We are everything. We are nothing.
Kai: [[Carefully.]] Uh… X, are you okay? You’ve been sitting there staring at your audio recorder for… a while now. [[Pause, then in a coaxing tone:]] I have three enticing samples of orange mystery goo all ready for you to inspect…
[[SFX: Glass vials clink enticingly.]]
X: [[Numbly.]] I… He’s… [[She rubs her temples.]] You’re right. He’s… one of the embryos from the drawer. [[This seems difficult for X to say:]] He’s another one of… me. That’s not weird. Right? I mean, there are a thousand other things on the Cavatica weirder than this. Heh. Comparatively speaking, this is downright normal.
[[SFX: Slight shift of rebar/debris.]]
Cyrus: [[Groans in pain again.]] Mmgh.
X: [[Peers at Cyrus:]] I didn’t know… She must have… what, kept you aside as a second control group? Or were you some other experiment Dad and I never even knew about?
Cyrus: [[Mutters:]] None of us knows what the others are for.
[[SFX: Faint sound of Ra outside.]]
X: [[Disbelieving sound; voice wavers, becomes higher-pitched.]] Like the bodies under the maple tree weren’t enough! Was this room, like, some kind of secret lab? What was she doing in here? And what was she doing to you? What are all of those ports in your arms and neck for? Was she hooking you up to… to… to some kind of… machinery? Do you have a… a malfunctioning hydraulic arm somewhere that floats around spouting creepy non-sequiturs and experimenting on people while they sleep?!
Cyrus: [[Mutters, perhaps slightly amused-sounding:]] I am you. You are me. We are everything and nothing, together.
X: [[Angry, frustrated, helpless.]] That’s not helpful!
Kai: [[Carefully.]] X, he might not be in a state of mind to be helpful right now.
X: [[Angrily.]] I… [[Takes a deep breath.]] No, you’re right. Obviously. I… um. I’m sorry. It’s been… a day. Which… gosh. I’m sure you totally understand. Things can’t have been… easy for you here, huh.
X: [[Gently.]] Look. I’m X. And -- [[Gestures.]] This is Kai. What’s your name? I mean, do you know which one you are? Which specimen?
Cyrus: Um. [[Pauses, as though struggling to remember.]] Cyrus. She used to call me Cyrus.
X: [[Carefully.]] Cyrus.
Kai: What? Does that mean something to you?
X: [[Shakes her head.]] Not especially. I don’t…
Charlotte: [[Distant, echoes.]] Do not judge us -- [[Blip.]]
Cyrus: [[Immediately alert, edged with fear, or anger.]] Shh! [[Whispers.]] She’s here.
[[SFX: Cyrus attempts to sit up.]]
Kai: [[Startled.]] Woah.
X: [[Alarmed; rushes to stop him.]] No! No, don’t sit up! You’re --
Cyrus: [[Still edged with anger/fear:]] Where is she?
X: [[Exasperated.]] Who, Charlotte?!
Cyrus: I don’t know! I… I never knew her name, but that voice… I’d know that voice anywhere. She did this!
X: [[Tentatively.]] What exactly did she…
[[SFX: Cyrus attempts to stand.]]
X: Oh! Jeez. Wait, no, you’d better not -- don’t -- [[Exasperated exhalation.]] Okay, I guess you’re… yeah, no, that’s cool. Go ahead, ignore my expert medical advice. Try to walk around! Hurt yourself more! That’s totally cool.
Kai: [[Amused.]] He really is another you. [[Pause.]] Do you want me to…
X: [[Beat.]] … What? Subdue him? Sedate him? Get him to see reason?
Cyrus: [[Struggling to stand; mutters with grim amusement.]] There is no reason to see, unless the blind can see the blind.
Kai: [[To X, quietly.]] Do you want me to...?
X: [[Shakes head, sighs.]] Listen, Cyrus. You are super hurt, and we need you to calm down and hold still so we can help you. If you can’t do that, we’re going to have to sedate you. Okay?
Cyrus: Don’t tell me to calm down. [[Intensely.]] You don’t get it. We need to move.
X: Ugh. Stop telling me what I do and do not get! Charlotte is not going to hurt you or me or anyone. She’s… [[Pained pause.]] She’s dead. Essentially. Okay?
Cyrus: [[Blinks.]] What? [[Finally stops struggling to stand, freezes. Narrows his eyes.]] But… that was her voice. I heard her.
X: She… [[Exhales.]] Yeah. I don’t even know how to explain this, but she… sort of integrated her consciousness or personality or whatever with the onboard AI, and now resides in a robotic arm… thing? [[Holds up hands as if to forestall questions.]] Don’t ask me how, because I have no idea.
Kai: [[Helpfully, to Cyrus.]] It makes a little more sense if you’re familiar with the concept of dissociation or UCT.
Cyrus: [[To Kai, nods.]] Vaguely.
X: … Right. Anyway, she won’t hurt you, and she can’t get you in here right now, because her robotic arm-thing is limited to the hydraulic tracks that run through the ship’s corridors, and those tracks are totally destroyed over by where the ceiling caved in. [[Beat; considers, frowns.]] Well, okay, technically, she might try to weld you? But she can’t do it from a distance of more than, like, two feet, so just don’t get too close to her.
Cyrus: [[Processes, then carefully:]] So I’m… free now. Like you.
X: Yeah! [[Frowns.]] Well, kind of. We can’t really leave the Cavatica, and there’s a delusional Councillor out there who seems to think he owns everything and everyone in sight, but… I mean, as far as you’re not trapped in a giant terrarium for Charlotte’s potentially nefarious experimental purposes… yeah. You’re free.
Cyrus: [[Sighs happily.]] Finally. [[Cracks a smile.]] I don’t even care if this is another dream. Or a program. Or whatever. I’ve spent my entire life in that cage. Lives. [[Pause, then to X, brightly:]] Hey. Let’s go destroy whatever’s left of her -- [[Corrects self.]] Of… Charlotte.
X: … Ugh. Look, dude… what did I literally just say?! Charlotte, for all intents and purposes, is dead, and you are not only skin and bones but massively injured, and --
Cyrus: [[Giddy with freedom.]] I don’t care. I’ve been waiting for this moment my entire life. We both have. Don’t you see?
[[SFX: Cyrus begins to stumble barefoot, toward the opening of the pod.]]
X: Okay, I get that, but we need Charlotte to… no! Ugh! Cyrus! You’re going to hurt yourself even more!
Kai: [[Finally exasperated.]] Typical. [[Grimly.]] Grab him.
X: [[Confused.]] What? Why? --
[[SFX: Gun blast. Body slumps against X.]]
X: Oof! [[Lowers the body gently to the floor.]] Mmgh. [[Aghast:]] Kai!!!
Kai: [[Defensively.]] It was set for stun! Plus, he was going to hurt himself. [[Darkly.]] Or you.
X: [[Aghast, perhaps shrilly.]] Yeah, but you can’t solve every problem with your gun! And now he’s never gonna trust us!
[[SFX: Kai’s footsteps. Kai stoops to pick up the unconscious Cyrus.]]
Kai: [[Curiously.]] Do you care about his trust?
X: Yes! It’ll make him easier to deal with.
Kai: At the present moment, his health is more imperative than his trust. Anyway, no one really trusts anyone else upon first meeting them. Trust is earned slowly, over time.
X: [[Frowns.]] Huh. You think so?
Kai: [[Pointedly.]] Did you trust us when our ship first approached the Cavatica?
X: [[Primly.]] As I recall, I watched, evaluated, and reacted accordingly — coolly and rationally.
Kai: [[Rolls nonexistent eyes.]] You most certainly did not trust us. You lied to us, hid from us, yelled at us… you were insubordinate to Captain Chen and the Councillor…
X: [[Voice raised, interrupts Kai.]] Well, you smashed my face in, then captured, imprisoned, and interrogated me! What else was I supposed to do?! Say, “Jolly good! Please, sir, may I have some more?!”
[[Brief silent pause. X clears her throat.]] Uhhh. This is probably not the ideal time or place for this conversation. [[Regroups mentally.]] Wanna help me get Cyrus patched up, and then we can relive our incredibly awkward meeting circumstances?
[[Pause; silence for several beats. They both kneel beside the body to lift it.]]
X: I’m sorry. This is… surreal.
Kai: [[Compassionately:]] You don’t need to apologize. Are you all right?
X: Yeah. I just… [[Revisits earlier incredulity, relenting.]] The whole. Time. I thought I was alone.
Kai: [[Gently, with understanding.]] I know. [[Nods to Cyrus.]] And I think Cyrus probably did, too.
[[SFX: Cavatica, X’s Cabin Pod.]]
X: [[Tone is brisk, businesslike.]] Day 10,322… hour 14:04. Okay, so I haven’t really been in here since the Enforcer One folks took it over, but… you know what? It’s time to take it back.
[[SFX: Cavatica falling apart.]]
X: [[Looks around, takes a deep breath.]] I’m standing in my cabin pod -- yes, my cabin pod -- which Dani and Kai are currently helping me turn into a new infirmary. I figured -- hey, Caldwell Enterprises crammed all these bunks in here, and we stole a crap-ton of medical supplies from the Enforcer One, so… we might as well make the most of ‘em.
Kai: [[Distant.]] Lift with your legs, not your back!
Dani: [[Distant, irritably.]] I am! Some of us just aren’t part forklift!
X: [[Continues.]] Everyone made it through the night, which I’m grateful for. I mean, I didn’t sleep, but everyone’s alive, so yay. And, uhh… [[Quickly.]] I maybe sort of fed Dani coffee until she agreed to help me round up all of the escaped birds in the glasshouse. She’s a little cranky this morning, but that’s done at least, so… [[Unenthused.]] Hooray!
Dani: [[Pipes up, distant.]] Hey, don’t forget, you promised me dark roast later today!
[[SFX: Metallic clunk.]]
X: [[Wearily, away from recorder.]] I won’t forget. [[Pauses.]] As for the humans… [[Pause.]] We got Cyrus bandaged up and onto some fluids, and… well. Despite all of those injuries, and a diet consisting entirely of water and kudzu, he appears to be… surprisingly resilient. [[Reflects.]] Well, maybe that’s not so surprising. He’s… different. Kind of like me, but… not like me? We noticed something with his eyes --
Dani: [[Pipes up, distant.]] They’re creepy!
X: [[Sighs; to Dani.]] They’re not creepy! He just has… a few more pupils than the rest of us. [[Pause, back to recorder.]] And he regained consciousness super fast after Kai stunned him, and we had to… um. [[Ashamed, quickly.]] Tie him to his gurney so he wouldn’t go on a murder rampage against Charlotte? [[Winces.]] Probably another strike against us in the trust department, but… I don’t know what else to do. [[Defeated.]] I tried asking Charlotte who he was and what she -- or… her previous self -- had done to him, but all she’s spouting is gibberish at this point.
Charlotte: [[Distant.]] Malfunctioning. Mal -- Mal -- Mal -- [[Blip.]]
Cyrus: [[Distant.]] I hear her! Let me -- ungh! [[Twists against restraints.]] Let me go! This is worse than the cage!
X: [[To Cyrus, plaintive:]] We can’t, because you are going to hurt yourself or someone else! You need to heal! [[Humorlessly, to mic.]] Yes, I fully realize the irony of the situation, especially given that he looks unsettlingly like my dead father and, apparently, me. But at least I’m not tattooing his wrists against his will, so hopefully I’m not as bad as Caldwell Enterprises. Yet.
Cyrus: [[Mutters, to self, mantra-like.]] We are part of the void. We are part of all matter. We are everything. We are nothing. We are part of the void. We are part of all matter. We are everything. We are nothing.
X: [[Listens momentarily, then quietly.]] I… haven’t told him about the skulls under the tree. I don’t think I will. Not sure how he’d react. [[Frowns.]] Speaking of which… [[Raises voice.]] Dani, where are the… items that we uncovered from beneath the maple tree?
Dani: [[Distant, calls out. Strained, lifting heavy object.]] Box under the table to your right! But don’t touch them because I’m still cataloguing -- oof! [[Sets down a heavy object.]] I’m still cataloguing the pieces!
X: Ah. Okay. There we go. Um. [[Changes subject abruptly.]] Chen is… okay. Sleeping. [[Hesitates.]] I’m maybe a little worried about the arm we reattached… it’s doing that whole inflamed, burning, oozing thing that’s never a good sign, and he has a fever that won’t go down. Still, his leg and his side are healing okay, and whenever he regains consciousness, he starts faintly wheezing orders at people, so… I’m hopeful. I think that he -- well… all of us, really -- just need a little bit of time to heal. [[Slight pause.]] Um… what else…
Charlotte: The Emp -- the Emp -- the Emp -- [[blip]] Rises all up on meat hooks. She is splendor. She is grace. She is insects. Marzipan. Encephalitis. She is… [[Blip.]] She will be here soon… She will… [[Blip.]]
Dani: [[Distant, raises an eyebrow.]] That was a weird one. Weirder than her usual weird, I mean
X: [[Blinks.]] Uhhh. Yeah, I’m not even going to begin to parse what that meant. [[Wearily.]] Got something you want to share, Charlotte?
Charlotte: Aural receptors [[blip]] --
X: Yeah, got it. [[Resumes.]] Aaaanyway. To wrap up my update, turns out Assistant Frost only had a few cracked ribs, despite all that talk of impending death. I wouldn’t have figured them for the melodramatic type, but you know, it’s refreshing to know people can still surprise you. I think they still think I’m going to kill them for whatever reason, even though I am [[irritated]] very clearly helping them heal. Earlier, I asked Chen to please tell them how not-ruthless I am, but… like Kai said about trust, maybe these things take time? I have no idea. Anyway, they’re sedated again. Which feels morally icky, but… what are you going to do?
[[Frowns suspiciously.]] And speaking of time, I feel like it’s been a suspiciously- slash- unsettlingly long time since the Councillor last checked in on us. Maybe he thinks his assistant “took care of us”, in air quotes? (Dani taught me about “air quotes” earlier today.) But…
[[SFX: Radio alert/alarm.]]
Dani: [[Sharply, concerned.]] What’s that?
Cyrus: [[Snaps out of mantra-trance.]] What’s going on?
Charlotte: [[Blip.]] Escape pods at the ready. [[Blip.]]
X: [[Amused, despite all the things.]] Oh man! What if that’s him right now??? The Councillor? I mean, I was literally just talking about him! How crazy would that be?
Kai: There used to be an old saying about speaking of the devil…
X: What was it?
Kai: Umm. “Speak of the devil…”
X: [[Prompts Kai after a second.]] …And then what?
Kai: I… don’t actually know. People only ever said that part of it.
X: …That was… anticlimactic.
Dani: Is no one else concerned about the blaring alarm?
Cyrus: Me. I am. [[Mutters, bitterly:]] Though I’m not sure my concerns matter much around here.
X: [[Wearily.]] Of course you matter, Cyrus. You’re just… on… probation until you stop trying to murder Charlotte. [[To Dani:]] And… I don’t know, Dani. You’re on a dying research station in the proximity of a heavily armed corporate warship. You get kinda used to all of the alarms after a while.
Dani: But that doesn’t mean…
X: I know. Okay. I’m going to go talk to the Councillor. Kai, can you stay here with Dani and keep an eye on things?
Kai: [[Firmly.]] Sorry. Buddy system protocol is still in effect. I’m going with you.
X: [[Considers a moment.]] That’s fair. Dani, are you comfortable keeping an eye on things by yourself?
Dani: If Kai gives me a gun, I will be.
Kai: Roger that.
[[SFX: Kai tosses Dani a gun.]]
Dani: Huh. I suddenly feel very… powerful.
X & Kai, simultaneously: No murdering.
[[SFX: Dash core. Alarm continues and is then cut off.]]
[[SFX: Radio clicks.]]
X: Yes, hello?
Thor: Hey, Experiment Girl.
X: [[Taken aback.]] Oh. Thor! Hey. How are… things?
Thor: [[Casually.]] Oh, can’t complain. I’ve been really enjoying the fruits of the mutiny you started, so thanks again for that.
X: So… did you need help with something, or… ?
Thor: [[Laughs.]] Well, to be honest, no. But my favorite hostage expressed a burning desire to get in touch with you, and I just can’t say no to his creepy, wrinkled little weasel-face! So I did him a favor and escorted him to the comms room for a little gab sesh. Say hi, Councillor.
Council Member 1: [[Grumbles, irritated.]] This is Councillor Van Gaal of the Enforcer One. [[Grunts as Thor prods him with a gun. Grimly:]] Hello.
Thor: Aw, come on. Remember… we renamed the ship?
Council Member 1: [[Heavy sigh of loathing.]] This is Councillor Van Gaal of the… Thor’s Vengeance.
Kai: [[Amused.]] Nice.
Thor: [[Laughs, sighs happily.]] I will never get tired of that. Hey, Killbot.
X: So… what exactly can I do for you, Councillor?
Council Member 1: [[Irritably.]] To discuss the imminent approach of the Empress Conglomerate fleet. This philistine refuses to parlay, so as much as it pains me, I figured I would talk to someone capable of seeing reason.
X: “Capable of seeing reason?” Councillor, you flatter me. Also, does that mean you think I’m human now?
Council Member 1: No. Your… base logical facilities do not negate the fact that you are a gross and unnatural scientific aberration.
X: [[Noncommittally.]] Mmm.
Kai: [[Bristles.]] Get to the point, Councillor.
Council Member 1: I have two requests. First, I would like to know the current status of Assistant Frost.
X: Oh, Frost is fine. Currently sedated, but… relatively unhurt. [[Softens.]] It’s… surprisingly human of you to care, Councillor.
Council Member 1: [[Stiffly.]] Assistant Frost is an extremely valuable human resource in whom Caldwell Enterprises has made a considerable investment.
X: Ahh. And there’s the caustic, uncaring exterior we’ve all grown to love. [[Rolls eyes.]] What’s your second request? I’m curious.
Council Member 1: I know now that it was ex-Officer Thorsson, not you, who sabotaged our mission to reclaim the Cavatica. As such, I assume that you do not know much about the corporation into whose fold you are entering. Allow me to warn you: the Empress Conglomerate is a barbaric and completely unscrupulous organization run by what can only be described as a cabal of criminals.
X: [[Incredulous.]] Uh, remember that one time you held me captive and literally branded me as your property? That was super fun and definitely not “barbaric” or “completely unscrupulous” at all.
Council Member 1: [[Sternly.]] Listen to me, you vile little monstrosity. You thought what we did to you was unpleasant? Just wait until you become the property of the Empress Conglomerate. You’ll regret the day you slithered slug-like and squealing from your miserable tray of test tubes.
X: Uh, then it’s a good thing I’m no one’s property. [[Chuckles.]]
X: … Right, Thor?
Thor: [[Dismissively.]] Oh, yeah. Our reclamation teams will probably make an exception for you once they meet you. Just a little paperwork, and you’ll officially be a corporate citizen of the Empress Conglomerate.
Council Member 1: [[With loathing.]] Lies. You’re going straight from the frying-pan into the fire. But it’s not too late, Specimen X. Cooperate with Caldwell Enterprises -- resist the siren song of the Empress Conglomerate, refuse to turn over the Cavatica, and we will --
Thor: [[Talks over the Councillor.]] Aaaaand that’s enough for now. Seeya… and remember what I told you!
[[SFX: Radio click. Brief silence.]]
X: … Huh. [[Glances at Kai with uncertainty.]] Hey, Kai? I don’t know anything about the Empress Conglomerate, obviously, but was he… was he right? Are they worse than Caldwell Enterprises? I mean… I’m not anyone’s property, right?
Kai: I can’t tell you what you are and what you aren’t, X. You’re the only one who can do that. [[Brief pause.]] But I can tell you that there will always be someone out there who thinks they hold some kind of ownership over you, or that they’re somehow entitled to you. But they don’t, and they’re not.
X: [[Nods.]] Right. And… [[Regards Kai.]] Same goes for you, okay? No matter what’s stamped into your chassis. They don’t own me, and they don’t own you. No one does. No one can. Not really. All right?
Kai: [[Humoring her.]] All right, X.
X: [[Intensely; frowns.]] No, I’m serious. This is important. Say it. Say that no one owns you.
Kai: [[Exasperated.]] X, this isn’t the time… [[Trails off.]]
Charlotte: [[V. distant.]] Warning. Warning. Warning. Warning. Warning.
X: This isn’t the time for what? Important truths?! There’s always time for important truths!
Kai: No… do you hear…?
Charlotte: [[Distant; louder.]] Warning. Warning. Warning. Warning. Warning.
Kai: Come on.
[[SFX: Cavatica, Cabin Pod.]]
[[SFX: Door opens.]]
Charlotte: [[Distant.]] Warning. Warning. Warning. [[Blip.]]
Cyrus: Let me near her -- I can make her stop!
Dani: [[Irritably.]] No! And stop asking! Ugh, what did you guys do?
X: Just talked with the Councillor. Why?
Dani: [[Irritated.]] A few minutes ago Charlotte just started going crazy and now I can’t get her to -- [[Charlotte abruptly stops. Dani rolls her eyes.]] Oh. Nice. [[Sarcastically.]] Thank you, Charlotte.
Charlotte: [[Blip.]] Escape pods at the ready. [[Blip.]] Escape pods at the ready. [[Blip.]]
Dani: I don’t know, compared to some of the other stuff she’s been saying, this is relatively normal.
X: No, I mean… This is. Um. [[Falls silent.]]
Kai: [[Prompts her.]] …This is what?
X: [[Uncomfortably.]] The same way she acted when…
[[SFX: Ra roars.]]
Charlotte: Anomaly gaining speed.
Cyrus: When what? What is going on?
[[SFX: The Empress Conglomerate fleet visibly approaches.]]
[[SFX: X moves swiftly toward one of the cabin pod windows, accompanied by Dani and Kai.]]
Cyrus: Hey! [[Struggles against gurney tie-downs. Frustrated:]] Where are you going? I can’t see!
[[SFX: BWAAAMP of a large presence.]]
Dani: [[Staring out of window, alarmed.]] Oh my gosh! What is that?
X: I’m going to assume that it’s the Empress Conglomerate.
Kai: Yes. I’m… surprised they got here so quickly.
Cyrus: [[Distant, calls out.]] What’s the Empress Conglomerate?
Dani: One of Caldwell’s biggest competitors.
X: Charlotte, how far away is it? The… new anomaly?
Charlotte: [[Blip.]] Twenty-four. Twenty-four. Twenty-four. Twenty-four. [[Blip.]] We have failed.
X: … Not especially helpful! Okay. Things that are helpful -- right. Well, we’re all consolidated this time into this pod and the glasshouse pod… and maybe the Enforcer One -- excuse me, Thor’s Vengeance -- can help with --
[[SFX: Bare footsteps in background.]]
Dani: [[Confused.]] What? What’s the Thor’s Vengeance?
Charlotte: [[Blip. High-pitched:]] No murdering. No murdering. No murdering. NOOOOOO --
[[SFX: Tech spaz, metallic thud.]]
X: [[Turns.]] Charlotte? What’s -- Oh my gosh.
Cyrus: [[Sits cross-legged atop his gurney, wearily but happily. Breathing hard, in pain:]] Can’t kill something that’s already dead.
X: [[Aghast.]] What the heck, Cyrus?! What did you -- ?!
Cyrus: [[Murmurs.]] It’s okay. We’re all okay now. I fixed it, and now she can’t hurt any of us ever again.
[[SFX: OUTRO MUSIC]]
CREDITS (In order of appearance)
X: Sarah Rhea Werner
Singh: A.R. Olivieri
Kai: Josh Crute
Charlotte: Kay Krause
Cyrus: A.R. Olivieri
Dani: Jamie Killen
Thor: Alyce Liddell
Council Member: Thoreau Smiley
Written by: Sarah Rhea Werner
Produced, Directed, 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/.
- "Bass Atmosphere - Deep Rumble" by Thalamus Lab is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution.
- "River Teign and birds in early spring" by Philip Goddard is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution.
- "Collapsing Building Interior" by EFlexTheSoundDesigner is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution.
- "Breaking Windows with Stick" by YleArkisto is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution.
- "Cardboard Boxes and Glass Smash" by laft2k is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution.
- "Wounded jungle animal" by Robinhood76 is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution.
- "Anvil" by Benboncan is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution.
- "Noise" by bennstir is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution.
- "Industrial Pack" by Ferdinger is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution.
- As always, "Jurassic Park" is a trademark and copyright of Universal Studios and Amblin Entertainment, Inc.
Thanks for listening!