Season 1, Episode 13: Force Of Nature

Welcome to the Season One finale! In this special hour-long feature, Captain Miles Chen undergoes an unexpected medical procedure, X negotiates a problematic cease-fire, Ra speaks out, and we find out what happens when you damage something you don’t own. As always, thanks for listening, and keep being awesome.




X: Sometimes you just need a moment to pause, collect your thoughts, and ask: “What would the velociraptors do?”

It's Girl In Space.

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


[[SFX: Tape recorder click.]]

SINGH: (Frustrated.) Don't -- ugh. Liz...

[[SFX: Footsteps through a metal corridor as he strides after her.]]

SINGH: Liz! Come on. Don't make me do this!

ROUSSEAU: (Mildly.) I'm not making you do anything.

SINGH: You are if you move forward with this. [[Lowers voice, speaks rationally.]] Look. If you go through with this... I can't protect you.

ROUSSEAU: [[Turns, angrily.]] I don't need you to protect me. I never have.

SINGH: [[Stung, incredulous.]] So what has this been this whole time? Huh? What has this meant to you? Anything?

ROUSSEAU: That's not what you're here for and you know it.

SINGH: Oh? Then what am I here for? Tell me.

ROUSSEAU: Moral support.

[[SFX: She stuffs something into a nylon bag and walks down the corridor.]]

SINGH: Moral... [[Rolls eyes, goes after her.]] Oh, yeah -- that's all I'm good for.

ROUSSEAU: [[Walking.]] Well, what do you want me to say? You're a pacifist! A farmer! A gardener! You feed baby birds and harvest tomatoes and... and... that's it!

SINGH: That is literally the entire purpose of this space station!

ROUSSEAU: [[Stops walking. Turns, jabs a finger at his chest, eyes sparking. Sharply:]] Wrong. That was its old purpose. Its new purpose is going to spring us forward about ten thousand years in human evolution and innovation.

SINGH: [[Sighs. Quietly:]] At what cost, Liz?

ROUSSEAU: It's worth it.

SINGH: It's a bad idea.

ROUSSEAU: There's no such thing.

[[SFX: Rousseau resumes walking, followed by Singh. Singh makes an exasperated sound, then follows her as she resumes walking. A door slides open and shuts behind them. Rousseau slings her nylon bag onto a table and hops up onto a metal surface.]]

ROUSSEAU: Here -- help me with these IVs.

[[SFX: Singh grabs the bundle of IVs and holds them away from her.]]

SINGH: No! I'm not gonna let you do this to yourself!

ROUSSEAU: [[Aggravated.]] Help me or get out of my way!

SINGH: No. I am in your way for a very good reason!

ROUSSEAU: [[Exasperated.]] Look, you can't make an omelette without --

SINGH: [[Interrupts her.]] -- breaking a few eggs, yeah, but who said we even needed an omelette in the first place?!

ROUSSEAU: [[Makes an exasperated sound.]] It's for the greater good.

SINGH: No, it's not. Not anymore. The "greater good" has evolved, Liz. It's moved on without us. And this thing you're working on... this monstrosity...

ROUSSEAU: I know how you feel about it, and that's not going to change my mind.

SINGH: What will? [[Beat, then the cracks begin to show.]] I can't lose you. We can't lose you.

[[SFX: Clattering of lab equipment, several beeps.]]

ROUSSEAU: [[Sharply.]] Don't bring her into this.

SINGH: Why? What you're doing is going to affect her as much as it affects me.

ROUSSEAU: You're not going to lose me.

SINGH: You know what I mean.

ROUSSEAU: [[Coaxing tone.]] No, that's the whole point. You'll always be able to find me.

[[SFX: We hear a faint echo of "find me..."]]

SINGH: [[Sighs.]] I don't want to have to find you. I just... stay with us. Just like you are. Please.

ROUSSEAU: [[Pauses, looks at him. Her words have a strange ponderous weight.]] I love you. Do you know that? I've always been bad at expressing it, but...

SINGH: [[Voice softens.]] I know. I love you, too.

ROUSSEAU: [[Pause, deep breath.]] I'm so, so sorry --

[[SFX: An audible thump, an analogue button click. Rousseau's voice becomes distorted with static.]]

X: [[Whispered.]] ...Dad?

SINGH: [[Alarmed. Shouts:]] WAIT! --

[[SFX: The atmosphere rushes into silence. Tape recorder click.]]

[[SFX: Transition.]]


[[SFX: Cavatica, Dash Core.]]

KAI: [[Alarmed.]] X, can you take a look at this...?

X: [[Dismissively.]] Just a sec -- [[Eyes Dani, intensely.]] Dani, call them back.

DANI: [[Blinks.]] What?

X: Call them back and tell them we can give them what they need.

DANI [[Uncertainly.]] Um... okay...

KAI: [[Insistently.]] X! I need you over here!

[[SFX: Tearing sound, squelching.]]

CYRUS: [[Horrified.]] Yeah. You’re... gonna want to see this.

X: What’s -- [[Turns, horrified.]] Holy crap!

DANI: Chen!

X: Oh my gosh. [[Horrified, to Kai:]] That was... that was all under his bandage?!

KAI: Yep.

X: [[Deep breath, centering pause.]] Jeez. Okay... Chen, I need you to hold still and keep breathing. Okay?

CHEN [[Freaking out.]] Uhmmmmm...

X: [[Sharply.]] Hey! [[Snaps fingers. Intensely:]] Chen. Look at me. Hold still and keep breathing. Got it?

DANI: [[Under her breath, background.]] Ugh. This is just a whole lotta gross.

CYRUS: [[To Dani, entranced by the gore.]] You are not wrong.

CHEN: [[Takes a deep breath.]] No... yeah. I've got it. Breathing. Right. Can do. [[Breathes steadily. Then:]] Uh. Is my arm...?

[[SFX: Chen cranes his neck to attempt to see what's happening to his arm.]]

X: NOPE. [[Keeps Chen from looking at his arm.]] Hey. Hey! Chen, look at me. You're gonna be okay. [[X turns her head and points.]] Dani, put pressure there and there, and see if you can keep the bone from... [[Grimaces.]] Mmmgh. Shifting any further.

DANI: [[Grimacing.]] Ugh. Got it.

[[SFX: We hear the rustling of cloth.]]

DANI: [[Winces.]] Ew. Oh man, this is so super mega-gross... [[Amends, fake-cheerfully:]] I mean, but like, yay, I get to be helpful! Which is what life is all about!

KAI: [[Presses.]] What can I do?

X: [[Mutters to self:]] Ugh... these tendons are all tangled... and there's... [[Exhales.]] Kai, I need you to... yeah, see if you can get the bugs... um. Out of there, somehow?

KAI [[Determined.]] Roger that.

DANI: [[Nauseated.]] Ugh, they're... wow. They're really diggin' in there, aren't they.

CYRUS: [[Fascinated.]] That is... deeply and truly disgusting.

DANI: [[To Cyrus, annoyed:]] You could help, you know.

CYRUS: Nah, I'm good back here.

[[SFX: Squishing, popping sounds amidst the squirming and rustling of fabric.]]

CHEN: [[In pain, obviously.]] Aaaaah!

KAI: [[Frustrated.]] These insects... ugh! I can't kill them without hurting Chen! They're latched on!

X: Here... um... can we pull them off individually...? [[Grits teeth.]]

[[SFX: A squishing, popping sound.]]

X: [[Continues, concentrating.]] Echhh. Gosh, they're really on there good... and they're... huh. Secreting some kind of... hmm. [[Quickly.]] Hey, Cyrus, can you --

CYRUS: [[Holds up his hands.]] I'm good back here.

X: Ugh...

KAI: [[Increasingly alarmed.]] They're eating him from the inside out!

X: Well, okay, we don't know that... just... stay calm. [[Inspects.]] It's... huh, okay, fortunately, right now they're just affixed to the necrotic tissue -- [[Clarifies.]] Uh, the, uh... dead stuff -- so we should be able to... [[Lightbulb moment.]] Oh! Charlotte!

CHARLOTTE: [[Pleasantly, disembodied.]] Yes?

X: This is you! Isn't it?! These bugs... Are they acting as your immune system or whatever right now?! Like, performing a debridement of the wound???

CHARLOTTE: Yes. My newly bioengineered immune system is available for the benefit of all allies aboard the Cavatica. [[Pauses, amused.]] Community immune system. Commune system.

CYRUS: [[Flatly, immediately.]] No. The puns are bad enough. You are not bringing back the portmanteaus.

X: [[Exasperated.]] Charlotte! What do we need to do to help Chen?!

CHARLOTTE: [[Serenely.]] Nothing. You merely need to sit back, relax, and enjoy the healing process.

CHEN: [[Disbelievingly.]] Relax?!

DANI: [[Aghast.]] Enjoy?!

KAI: [[Skeptically.]] Healing?!

CYRUS: [[Coldly, mutters:]] Don't believe anything she says.

[[SFX: Brief pause, insect sounds.]]

CHEN: [[Groans in pain.]] Gah... aaahhh...

X: [[Quietly understanding.]] They're... they're amputating his arm, aren't they. The insects. Debridement being the first step.

CHARLOTTE: In this case, the only step. But yes.

KAI: ...What?!

X: [[Quietly angry, ignoring Kai.]] Okay, but... Charlotte? You didn't ask him if that was okay. Chen didn't give you permission to do... any of this.

CHARLOTTE: Much of the arm's tissue had turned necrotic, as you observed yourself. The arm was a loss either way.

X: Okay, yeah, but...

KAI: [[Panicked, over X and Charlotte:]] No -- we need to re-attach it!

CHARLOTTE: [[Continues, smoothly.]] Logically, Captain Chen's only choice would have been between saving more or less of his remaining living tissue, so I assumed that, like most organic creatures, he would tend toward the more.

X: Assumption is not a good basis for any decision.

CHEN: [[In pain, but lucid.]] X, you don't...

X: [[Continues.]] You need someone's permission to do something like this, Charlotte! You can't just take charge of another person's life like... like frickin' Caldwell Enterprises!

[[SFX: Sound of gun charging.]]

X: [[Turns, continues.]] Woah, wait! Kai... no! You cannot shoot the insects!

KAI: [[Reasonably.]] I have exceptional aim.

X: No! Plus, they're... [[Relents, exhales.]] ...helping him. Kind of.

CHARLOTTE: [[Lightly.]] Why are you fighting against what is clearly the best and most logical option for Captain Chen?

CYRUS: [[Flatly.]] Uhh, because you're evil? And about as far from altruistic as even a human entity could get?

CHARLOTTE: [[Clipped, to Cyrus.]] I was addressing Specimen X, not you.

KAI: [[Insistent.]] And it's definitely not what's best for Chen.

X: Kai! Oh my gosh, put your gun down! This is not one of those times when violence is the -- [[Gets cut off.]]

CHEN: Not to... mmgh. Nitpick. But. Technically, you didn't ask me before you re-attached my arm, either.

X: [[Surprised, nods.]] Huh. That is an excellent point.

KAI: [[Fiercely.]] Sir. Losing your arm is not. An. Option.

[[SFX: A heavy, wet thump as the amputated arm drops to the deck. Flies swarm.]]

CHEN: [[Mildly.]] You're right. It's an actuality.

[[Many responses simultaneously:]]

DANI: Groooossss!

X: Oh! Jeez!

CYRUS: Ugh, sick...

KAI: [[Commanding.]] Let's get that on ice!

DANI: [[Background.]] We have ice?

KAI: [[Background.]] It's an expression!

X: [[Leans in to Chen, intensely.]] Chen! Hey! You still with us? How do you feel?

CHEN: [[Numbly, in a daze.]] Weeeeeeeirrrrd.

X: [[Kindly.]] Yeah, I'll bet... Well, the good -- and... potentially troubling? -- news is that you're not losing any blood...

DANI: [[Breathlessly, interrupts.]] Does it hurt?

CHEN: [[To Dani:]] Um... [[Shifts, calibrates, considers.]] No? I think... I think I feel better?

DANI: [[Disbelievingly.]] Better?

CHEN: Yeah. Relieved, kind of. Like when you throw up after feeling nauseated for hours.

KAI: You might be in shock, sir. Remember to breathe.

CHEN: [[Irritably.]] I am breathing.

CHARLOTTE: [[Smoothly.]] Yesss. Breathe. Rest. Enjoy the insects' anesthetizing secretions.

CYRUS: How is everyone okay with what she's saying?! Does that not strike anyone else as incredibly ominous?!

X: Yeah, I just... I guess... if he had to lose the arm, it was maybe... better this way?

CYRUS: [[Crossly, to X.]] So you're trying to justify it now?

X: [[Defensively.]] Well, the insects were able to perform a more precise and less traumatic surgery than I could have! And... that's a good thing!

KAI: [[Impatiently.]] We are losing time. X, what did you use to preserve the arm the first time around?

X: Uhh... [[Looks around, uncomfortably.]] Well, gosh... that time, we had...

CHARLOTTE: Preservation of Captain Chen's arm is neither viable nor practical. The tissue is long dead. You know I am correct.

KAI: Too bad we don't have any -- [[Gets cut off.]]

CHEN: [[Authoritatively, irritably.]] That's enough!

[[SFX: Everyone goes silent. The insect noises remain.]]

CHEN: Pauses, takes a breath.) All right. Look. Kai, I appreciate the gesture, but... I don't want a dead arm sewn back onto my body. In any capacity, for any reason. It's just... not appealing. Okay?

KAI: But... what if we could revive it?

CHEN: [[Firmly, ending all discussion.]] No. I knew the risks when I took this job.

KAI: But --

CHEN: Let it go. [[Loudly as possible in his condition.]] The rest of you... thank you for doing your best to help me. But I think it's time to let nature take its course.

DANI: Nature is gross.

KAI: [[Mutters, crankily.]] It's not technically nature.

CHEN: [[Firmly, to Kai.]] Well, it's the closest thing we have.

CYRUS: So... it doesn't bother you that "nature" is still devouring your arm meat?

CHEN: [[Blinks, processing.]] Uhhhhhhh... what?

CYRUS: And the bone.

DANI: Oh, ew!

X: Charlotte, call off the insects!

DANI: [[Horrified whisper, background.]] It's twitching.

CYRUS: [[Conspiratorial whisper, to Dani.]] Think it can still feel stuff?

CHARLOTTE: [[Haughtily, to X.]] Leave them to their meal. It's perfectly natural, and they have earned it.

KAI: We need to save that arm!

CHARLOTTE: [[Archly, to Kai.]] Your sentiments are remarkably nurturing for something called a "Killbot".

KAI: [[Tersely.]] I'm not --

X: Hey, hey! Now is not the time to get all cagey and defensive, Charlotte. Call them off!

CHARLOTTE: [[Vocal shrug.]] My degree of control over the Commune System is not yet as... finely tuned as I had hoped.

X: ...Really?!

CYRUS: [[Rolls eyes.]] Classic Charlotte... creating a whimsical aberration that devours human flesh while conveniently neglecting to provide a way to control it when it inevitably gets out of hand...

CHARLOTTE: [[Irritably.]] They will finish when they finish.

KAI: [[Intensely.]] X. What. Can we do. To help Chen. Right now.

X: [[At a loss.]] I mean, the insects removed the necrotic tissue, he's not really losing blood, and he doesn't seem to be in pain...

DANI: And his pulse is normal... [[Frowns.]] Weirdly normal...

X: The most we can really do at this point is clean and bandage the wound so he can heal. Though... huh.

[[SFX: Light crystal sound amidst the insects, which crescendo.]]

X: [[Peers closer with interest.]] There's a sort of thin crystalline scabbing forming over the wounded area... Hm. [[Beat.]] Am I concerned that it appears to be the same type of pink crystal that's been growing all over the ship? [[Reflects. Answers self:]] Not at the moment, no.

CHEN: [[Confused, background.]] I think I taste fruit punch?

CYRUS: [[Confused, background.]] ...Fruit what?

CHEN: [[Dizzily, background.]] Like Tahitian Treat?

KAI: [[To X:]] What are you saying?

X: Kai, I don't think there's anything we can do right now. I think... and wow do I hate to say this, but... Charlotte's helping him better than any of us could right now.

KAI: [[Darkly.]] You don't get it. Charlotte and those insects... they're not helping him. They're just racking up his debt.

X: [[Puzzled.]] What?

CYRUS: [[Puzzled.]] What?

DANI: [[Realizes, eyes going wide.]] Oh shoot, you're right. I totally forgot about that.

CHEN: [[Weakly protests.]] Kai... Enough.

KAI: [[Presses on.]] No. I refuse to let you do this to yourself, sir.

X: Do what? I feel like I'm missing something here.

KAI: Do you know what happens when you damage something you don't own?

X: What do you mean?

CHEN: Kai...

KAI: When my organic body was destroyed... I lost my only chance at freedom.

X: [[(Processes, blinks.]] Okay, but... what about the mutiny? Aren't you free now?

KAI: No. I'm talking about real freedom. The kind that comes with paperwork.

X: [[Scoffs.]] Real freedom doesn't need paperwork.

CHEN: [[Heavy sigh.]] Kai's right, X. It's easy to pretend out here on the Cavatica that we're free and real and equal and all that, but... we're all just on loan to ourselves. It's how the system works. [[Chuckles, weakly.]] I'd show you the tattoo, but... I think the bugs ate it.

X: [[Earnestly, impassioned.]] That tattoo doesn't mean anything! I told Kai the same thing. The only meaning it has is the meaning you give it.

CHEN: [[Wistfully.]] That's... that's very poetic. But unfortunately, it's not the reality we live in. In real life, there's a price for everything. The reality is... I'd be nothing without Caldwell Enterprises.

X: Okay, now that is a steaming hot pile of compost. You'd be Chen, and that's what matters!

CHEN: [[Suddenly angry.]] I'd be an uneducated, unskilled nobody with radiation sickness! [[Pauses, collects himself. More gently:]] I know... you don't get it. And I don't expect you to. This isn't your world, X. Just know that... unfortunately, Kai is right. This kind of damage... it's not ideal for my position.

X: Fine! Then change your position!

DANI: [[Frowns, thoughtfully.]] Oooh, yeah! What about, like, joining the Board?

CHEN: Dani...

DANI: What? I've heard the rumors from my dad... they've definitely been considering you. And you'd retain your full value there. I mean, Councillor Kuto is blind in one eye, and no one says anything about her being "damaged goods"!

CHEN: [[Drily.]] Yeah, well, in case you haven't noticed, our little mutiny constitutes a corporate felony, which sorta disqualifies me from any leadership positions. [[Sighs.]] Plus, Councillor Van Gaal is pretty dead-set on making sure I don't get anywhere near the -- [[Suddenly alert.]] What was that?

[[SFX: We hear a distant thud and scatter as debris pelts the Cavatica.]]

CHARLOTTE: Warning. Proximity alert. Warning. Proximity alert. Warning. Proximity alert.

CYRUS: [[Peering out of the window.]] Huh. That big thing just blew up a bunch of those little things. Do we care?

CHEN: [[Commanding.]] Turn me so I can see out of the window.

[[SFX: Sound of gurney wheels, shifting fabric.]]

KAI: [[To Cyrus, disbelievingly:]] Cyrus... Are you asking if we care that the Empress Conglomerate ships are attacking our A.I. fighters? Because YES.

DANI: [[Alarmed, rushes to the window.]] Oh my gosh...!

X: Oooh. They've all moved between us and the Enforcer One. [[Smiles.]] Aw. That's thoughtful of them!

CHEN: [[Curtly.]] It's dangerous and short-sighted.

KAI: [[Tersely.]] Councillor Van Gaal must not be in a hurry to agree to their demands.

DANI: [[Darkly.]] Either that, or they've just realized he's a big ol' giant jerkface.

X: [[Alarmed, at the window.]] Wait -- there aren't any people on board the fighters, right?

CHEN: No... just partitions of the A.I. that runs the Enforcer One.

CHARLOTTE: [[Darkly, pondering.]] "Just" the A.I.? Hmm. Should I be offended?

X: [[To Charlotte:]] No. [[To Chen & Kai, concerned.]] Any chance they'll start firing on the Enforcer One? I mean, if and when they wipe out the fighters?

KAI: [[Uncomfortably.]] I... can't say with any certainty, since I'm not on board to fully assess the situation.

DANI: [[Pipes up.]] Um, X? I don't know if this is the right time or not, but... earlier you asked me to call them back -- the Empress people?

X: Oh! Yeah! It was kind of a last resort, but... I don't want to risk anyone getting hurt. Anyone else, that is -- sorry, Chen. What color are the Empress Conglomerate uniforms? Gold?

KAI: Um... yes? Why...?

X: [[Determinedly, cuts him off.]] I thought so. Dani, call 'em back.

DANI: Roger that.

[[SFX: Buttons clicking, radio static. Fabric moves across a chair.]]

CHEN: [[To X.]] Wait --

KAI: [[Wearily.]] X, what are you doing?

CYRUS: Wow. There goes two more. [[To Kai & Chen, drily:]] They're pretty easy to take out, huh? You'd think that would be a quality you'd want to avoid in a "fighter".

X: [[Moving, background.]] 'Scuse me.

CHEN: [[Responding to Cyrus, wearily.]] It's not... [[Rubs a temple with one remaining hand.]] Their guns just... way outclass our shields.

KAI: [[Clarifies Chen's statement.]] Caldwell Enterprises tends to prioritize investments in scientific research, not corporate warfare and defense.

DANI: [[Gleefully.]] Heh, yeah, ask me about my research budget sometime. It's amazing.

[[SFX: Button clicks as X activates the radio.]]

X: [[Into mic.]] Hey! You hear me out there? [[Pause.]] Hey!

CHEN: X... come on.

[[SFX: Static over radio, clicking. Short burst of static.]]

EC BOT 1: Transmission received, but not acknowledged. Repeated spamming of this channel will result in the immediate destruction of your vessel. Please continue to stand by for compulsory acquisition.

X: [[Dismissively.]] Yeah, great, whatever. [[Enunciates:]] The lion's paw greets you.

[[SFX: Static, processing sounds.]]

KAI: [[Frowns, confused.]] What?

CHEN: X! What was that? Get away from the radio.

DANI: The "lion's paw?" What does that mean?

EC BOT 1: Transmission acknowledged.

CHEN: [[Incredulous.]] What the...

X: [[Waves Chen to silence.]] Shhhh. [[Into the mic.]] Fantastic. Look -- we're gonna need you to stop shooting or whatever --

KAI: [[Abruptly, automatically.]] The term is "cease fire."

X: [[Continues.]] Yeah, "cease fire" and let's talk like adults. Violence is not going to get anyone anywhere, okay?!

CHEN: [[Angrily, parent-like.]] X, hang up right now!

CYRUS: [[Still transfixed at the window.]] Oooh. There goes another so-called "fighter."

X: [[Continues, goading into mic.]] Come on! Aren't there any adults on board your ship? Grown ups? Leaders? Responsible human beings? Should I be worried about you guys, or...?

[[SFX: Static burst, processing sounds.]]

EC BOT 1: [[Interrupts X.]] Processing.

X: [[As EC BOT 1 speaks.]] Ah. There we go. Whattaya got?

EC BOT 1: We are prepared to cease fire in return for your willing acquiescence to our terms pertaining to the acquisition of the Cavatica and all Caldwell Enterprises-affiliated human and nonhuman materials on board, including, but not limited to, the original Ra Initiative files.

CHEN: [[Aghast.]] X! Hang up, now!

X: [[Ignores Chen.]] That sounds great. Do we shake on it, or...?

EC BOT 1: This verbal agreement is sufficient bond for the present. Please continue to stand by for acquisition.

[[SFX: Click, static.]]

X: [[Pleased.]] See? No prob! Violence forestalled. And they're no longer saying "compulsory" acquisition. Win-win.

CHEN: [[Angrily.]] X! That was way out of line!

KAI: [[Stunned.]] You just gave them everything. For nothing!

DANI: Yeah... what the heck, X? [[Suspiciously.]] And how'd you know their secret passcode?

X: [[To Dani, shrugs.]] Thor has a soft spot for me? Maybe? [[Exasperated, to Kai & Chen.]] And look, I'm sorry! What was I supposed to have said? Should I just have let them keep blowing up your A.I. fighters and move on to blowing up the Enforcer One, which has actual people on board?

CHARLOTTE: [[Darkly.]] I continue to take offense at your prioritization of human life.

X: [[Relents.]] ...And an A.I.

KAI: [[Exasperated, to X:]] They wouldn't have eliminated valuable human resources!

X: You literally just said you couldn't guarantee they wouldn't!

KAI: Because I forgot you have no concept of acceptable loss!

X: [[Incredulous.]] What does that mean?!

CHEN: [[Interrupts.]] Look, the point stands that we could have negotiated something more reasonable instead of you just... taking control with some random passcode -- which you should have informed me about immediately, by the way -- and... and giving up!

X: [[Shrilly.]] What?! I didn't give up! I just prevented further violence!

KAI: [[Grimly]] At a cost you don't understand.

X: [[Stunned.]] You know what? You're right, Kai! I don't understand your weird corporate politics and priorities! But I do understand that I am sick of seeing people I care about getting hurt! And I don't care if I had to lie to a ship full of imperialistic corporate jerks to do it. If it stops the violence, it's worth it!

KAI: [[Crosses arms.]] And when they board the Cavatica to assimilate us?

X: Then we mutiny again. And again and again and again until everyone out there just leaves us alone!

CHEN: You know they're... they're not going to leave us alone, don't you? We're aboard a space station that holds what might be the last of all carbon-based life in the entire solar system. After Caldwell Enterprises and the Empress Conglomerate, there'll be more. There will always be more. They're not gonna stop.

X: [[Belligerent.]] I don't care. I'm not gonna stop, either. None of us are.

CHEN: [[Takes a deep breath. Calmly:]] I know you thought you were doing the right thing, but you're way out of your depth here. Okay? [[Pause.]] I have people to protect. Why don't you go calm down in your quarters while we sort things out with the Empress Conglomerate.

X: I don't need to [[air quotes]] "calm down". I need to help. Especially since you are supposed to be resting! This is my space station, and --

CHEN: [[Interrupts her, not unkindly.]] X.

X: [[Irritably.]] What?!

CHEN: [[Firmly.]] This... isn't your station. And that wasn't a suggestion. You're dismissed.

X: [[Scoffs.]] Yeah, well... too bad I don't take orders! I'm staying here whether you want me to or --

[[SFX: X is cut off by the sound of a charging gun.]]

KAI: [[By way of explanation.]] It's set for stun.

X: [[Deeply offended.]] Really?! You're going to stun me?! I thought we were past that!

KAI: [[Without emotion.]] Apparently not.

X: [[Frustrated sound.]] Urrrrgh!

CHEN: [[Reasonably.]] You're not the only one whose opinion matters here, X. We've got a big mess to clean up, and there's a lot of factors you just don't understand.

X: [[Narrows eyes accusingly.]] You're afraid! All of you -- you're afraid!

CHEN: [[Reasonably.]] Fear is a survival tactic, and it can help us make decisions in everyone's best interest. We've gotta focus on the greater good. [[Pause.]] We'll call you back in if we need your medical expertise.

X: [[Angrily, scoffs:]] You're going to, if you keep making decisions out of fear!

KAI: X... please. I will stun you.

X: [[Glowers.]] Yeah, I don't doubt it. [[Holds up hands.]] I'm going. Turds.

[[SFX: X begins to walk toward the door.]]

CHEN: [[Calls after her.]] And until your attitude improves, your coffee privileges are revoked.

X: [[Shouts over her shoulder.]] Coffee isn't a privilege -- it's a right!

[[SFX: Door opens, closes.]]

[[SFX: Transition.]]


[[SFX: Cavatica, Glasshouse.]]

X: Day 10,323, hour... 01:10. For the first time in... a long time, I'm alone.

[[SFX: X pauses, sips, and sets down the mug. She leans back in her chair, which creaks.]]

X: [[Reflectively.]] I kind of forgot what it feels like. [[Pause, smiles.]] I missed it. [[Beat.]] I mean, I know I'm not actually alone. The others are still on board the station, obviously, and Charlotte's pretty much... [[Waves a hand.]] Everywhere these days. I just mean that there's no one hovering over my shoulder, watching my every move. There's no one ordering me around or pointing a gun at me or judging my decisions or telling me when I can take a so-called [[air quotes]] "bio break". It's kinda nice. [[Amused.]] Oh, and this? Why yes, this is a cup of coffee that I brewed purely out of spite. [[Sips.]] Mmm. And it is delicious.

[[SFX: X sits back up in her chair, which creaks, and sets down her mug.]]

X: So... I know Chen and Kai and the others are all mad at me, and I can totally see where they're coming from. But... I still don't think I did anything wrong.

CHARLOTTE: Despite what you prefer to think, you did many things incorrectly. Namely: you selfishly took charge and rushed into a situation you did not understand with your secret passcode and overly caffeinated bloodstream, in complete disregard of anyone else's station or well-being.

[[SFX: X stands up and stretches, takes a few steps while talking.]]

X: Yeah, okay, that is all very true. But... I disagree that any of it was wrong, like, in a moral sense. [[Frowns, glancing around.]] Uh, hold on. Have you seen my...? Ah.

[[SFX: X picks up and experimentally snips with a pair of pruning shears.]]

X: This lemon tree has needed pruning for way too long.

[[SFX: X snips a few lemon tree branches. The branches fall into the grass with a gentle leafy sound.]]

CHARLOTTE: [[Aghast.]] You are completely unrepentant.

X: Not completely.

[[SFX: Snipping sounds as X continues to prune the tree. A lemon falls to the ground with a soft thump.]]

CHARLOTTE: [[Drily.]] Go on.

X: [[Reflective, shrugs as she works.]] I maybe would've done it differently a second time around, but I still would've done it. I did what I thought was right. I did what was right. Their pointless politics and blind adherence to the status quo just got in the way. [[Beat.]] We're not anyone's property, and we can't ever be. I mean, how frickin' symbolic was it that the insects devoured Chen's tattoo?

CHARLOTTE: Very symbolic.

X: [[Echoes.]] Very symbolic! I know! [[Beat.]] Back when the Councillor was still on board the Cavatica, I told Chen that he could very easily ascend the "food chain of command" [[air quotes]] and overtake him. And I still stand by that. Especially now, with Assistant Frost unconscious. With Chen's strength and my smarts...

CHARLOTTE: Even with his missing arm?

X: [[Tilts head, frowns.]] What does that have to do with it?

CHARLOTTE: Nothing. Never mind. Continue.

X: [[(Frowns, hesitantly:]] So what I don't understand... is that he doesn't seem to... want to? Take control, I mean? And lead?

CHARLOTTE: He is leading.

X: Well... yeah, kind of? But I mean, he could take charge of the situation. You know, make stuff happen. Change things. Not just... settle for someone else's terms, and worry about whether Caldwell Enterprises or the Empress Conglomerate gets to "own" us. Because of course, neither of them does.

CHARLOTTE: You believe you could do better?

X: PFFFF, what? Lead people? No way! I'd be a terrible security team captain! And an even worse Councillor! Can you imagine me in that suit with all those medals, being all cranky and snippy to everyone? [[Laughs.]] Oh gosh, I'd just want everyone to drink coffee and eat good food and learn about birds and carrot farming and be nice to each other. Things would descend into chaos super-quick. [[(Amused, quietly:]] Which, arguably, might be right where they belong.

CHARLOTTE: Speaking of where things belong, Captain Chen did order you to go to your quarters. Not the glasshouse.

X: [[Shrugs, waves a hand.]] Eh. He should know by now that I don't like following orders. Plus, I have a ton of work to catch up on in here.

[[SFX: Makes a snipping sound with the pruning shears.]]

X: Once I'm done with the lemon grove, I need to get to the apples and cherries, though that probably won't be until after the insects get fed... Plus, the tropical mammal and reptile enclosures need cleaning, the plants in all climate zones need to be watered and fertilized, the tomatoes are crazy-ripe and need picking...

[[SFX: We hear the sound of Ra outside.]]

X: [[(Smiles, calls out to Ra.]] Yeah, don't worry, bud. I haven't forgotten your radiation levels.

MARSHMALLOW: [[Tiny, background.]] Baaa!

X: Or your surprisingly massive mountains of poop that need scooping. Good grief.

[[SFX: Snipping sounds as X continues to prune the tree.]]

X: [[Beat.]] I don't know. Maybe I should've just stayed in here the whole time. Keeping my head down, doing my work.

CHARLOTTE: Instead of what?

X: Instead of running around, getting caught up in things like I was one of them.

CHARLOTTE: You are one of them.

X: Yeah, but I'm not. Not really. I'm not a Dr. Sattler or a Dr. Grant, or even a super cool rockstar mathematician like Dr. Malcolm. I'm not an action scientist or a security team leader or even a crazy-smart and lovable intern. I'm... [[Considers.]] I'm more like the unnamed technician in the background who lowers the goat into the T-rex paddock.

MARSHMALLOW: [[Tiny, background.]] Baaa!

X: [[Continues.]] I mean, I know it doesn't mean that I'm any less of a person, or that my work isn't important. The T-rex needs to be fed and cared for, or she'll either die, which is bad, or she'll murder everyone and everything in sight. Which is also bad. [[Beat.]] I'm just... apart from the others. If that makes sense.

CHARLOTTE: Like a leader?

X: [[Frustrated.]] No! Ugh. How are you not getting this? It's like... Okay. I take care of the Cavatica. I steward Ra and Marshmallow and the arachnids and orchids and badgers and snakes and everything else on board. And now, I steward the other humans, too. I don't interfere, I don't make waves. I just... make sure they're safe and healthy and thriving.

CHARLOTTE: ...Like a leader.

X: Oh my gosh. That is not... [[Accusing.]] You're trying to get me to usurp them so you can somehow gain control!

CHARLOTTE: [[Calmly.]] I already have all the control I need.

[[SFX: Insects buzzing, faintly.]]

CHARLOTTE: [[Beat.]] For the most part.

X: [[Eyes narrowed.]] Yeah... I'm onto you. In fact -- [[Cut off.]] Aaah!

[[SFX: A thunderous echo throughout the ship as a sizable chunk of debris smashes into the Cavatica. We hear the sound of Ra. Glass clinks and shatters, and "earth" rumbles. X's coffee mug slides off the lab table and breaks. Birds squawk and screech. Something large roars.]]

X: [[Thrown off balance.]] Woah!

MARSHMALLOW: [[Tiny, alarmed.]] Baaa!

CHARLOTTE: Warning. Proximity alert. Warning. Proximity alert. Warn -- [[Snaps out of it.]] [[Mutters to self.]] I need to find a way to override those auto-responses...

X: Oh, no, don't do that, Charlotte... we need you to let us know that we've been hit shortly after we've been hit!

CHARLOTTE: [[Annoyed.]] Are you being sarcastic.

X: Nooo.

[[SFX: The glasshouse door opens in the distance. Bare feet approach. Sound of the Cavatica falling apart.]]

X: [[Continued.]] Okay. Let's assess... Oh, wow. Looks like the Empress folks just took out the last three A.I. fighters, and some of the debris from that hit the Cavatica. Gosh. And now... [[Exhales.]] Of course. They're turning their guns onto the Ares. Negotiations must not be going incredibly well. [[Beat, then frustrated.]] Or hey, maybe this is what they want. Maybe we're hardwired for it as a species, and it's inevitable. In our blueprints. Heh. Maybe Dr. Malcolm was wrong. Maybe death finds a way.

CHARLOTTE: That's dark for you.

X: Yeah, well. [[Sighs, frustratedly.]] I wish I was in the dash core right now so I could see the damage readouts. Or, Charlotte, maybe you could relay them to me?

[[SFX: Silence.]]

X: ...Charlotte? ...Charlotte? [[Beat.]] Oookay. So... I've just gotta trust that they know what they're doing. Trust the leadership. [[Deep breath.]] Gotta remember it's not my place to fix all the things.

CYRUS: No -- you should definitely go fix all the things.

X: [[Startled.]] Gah! Cyrus? What are you doing here? Is someone hurt?

CYRUS: No. I got irritated with their terrible decision-making and left. I didn't actually know you'd be in here... Captain Chip --

X: [[Corrects him.]] -- Chen.

CYRUS: -- Chen, whatever -- I thought he sent you to your room, not the glasshouse. [[Beat.]] Though I guess I could see how you'd get the two confused.

X: [[(Offended, rolls eyes.]] I'm not confused. I'm purposefully not following orders.

CYRUS: Oh. [[Considers.]] I was supposed to go to the galley, but... [[He shrugs.]] I don't like following orders, either.

X: Uh-huhhh. Did you get a good look at what was damaged?

CYRUS: Yeah, so... the geniuses in charge of the guns and explosions apparently didn't stop to think about what the debris from sixteen so-called "fighter" ships and a couple of satellites might do to any nearby space stations.

X: Kessler Syndrome. Or... a light approximation of it. Gotcha.

CYRUS: Right. One of the larger chunks smashed into the... uh. Place where... um... you...

X: The pod where we found you. Got it. [[Deep breath, nods.]] Wow. Okay. Is it still -- ?

CYRUS: It's gone.

X: [[Deep breath, somewhat shakily.]] Gone. Okay. So that leaves... um. Mom and dad's pod... the galley... my old pod (a.k.a. the new infirmary), and... the glasshouse.

CYRUS: And the Dash Core.

X: Right, yeah.

[[SFX: Brief awkward silence.]]

CYRUS: [[Glances at her pruning shears.]] And you're in here... cutting branches off of lemon trees?

X: [[Defensively.]] It's called pruning. And it's just as vital to the survival of this station as being an action science hero.

CYRUS: Okay, yeah, but is it vital right now?

X: [[Angrily.]] What else am I supposed to be doing?!

CYRUS: I don't know, maybe telling Chip --

X: -- Chen!

CYRUS: -- telling Chen that he's making some seriously terrible decisions?

X: That's not my job!

CYRUS: Oh, so your job isn't caring about the well-being and survival of this station?

X: [[Frowns.]] Oh. Well, no. That's... exactly my job. Huh.

CYRUS: Go take back that radio, X. Before they start shooting at the Ares and the Enforcer One and sentence the Cavatica -- and all of us -- to death.

X: [[Shrugs.]] Huh. Well, as long as I'm purposefully not following orders...

[[SFX: They move toward the glasshouse door just as it opens.]]

X: [[Stops short.]] Oh. Hey. You're awake.

FROST: [[Unamused.]] Yeah. I'm awake.

[[SFX: Low sound. Cavatica falls apart in the background.]]

X: I suddenly realize why Chen wanted me to go to the infirmary instead of the glasshouse.

FROST: Yeah, well, it's too late for that now. I'm done being the perpetually unconscious hostage. It's your turn now. Hands where I can see 'em. Okay. Back into the plant-room. Nice and slow.

X: [[Nervously, calls out.]] Uh... hey, Charlotte?

FROST: If that's the A.I., she's a little preoccupied fixing the giant hole in the station.

[[SFX: They move, and the door closes behind Frost.]]

X: [[Raises index finger.]] For what it's worth, I don't think you were ever technically a hostage. We just... kinda didn't know what to do with you...

CYRUS: And they didn't want to kill you for some reason.

X: [[Quickly.]] How about you put down the rebar, Frost? Huh? No one's looking to get hurt.

FROST: Well, now, that's too bad. Because I'm looking to do some hurting.

CYRUS: [[Under his breath, irritated.]] Ugh.

X: Look, I get it... you're mad, and --

FROST: Do you?

X: Uh...

FROST: [[Advances menacingly.]] Do you get it? Because I don't think you do. I don't think you can. Do you know what it's like to wake up in a strange new place, helpless and alone?


X: [[Simultaneously.]] Yes.

FROST: [[Continues.]] With everyone around you in control, and you not able to do anything while everything you've ever known crumbles around you?!

CYRUS: Yeah.

X: [[Simultaneously.]] Yep.

FROST: [[Heatedly, frustrated.]] These questions are rhetorical!

X: Yeah, but that doesn't mean we don't... [[X shuts up promptly.]]

FROST: [[Raises rebar menacingly.]] How about you shut up for one hot minute before I shove this through your face?

[[SFX: Ra sound reverberates from outside the Cavatica.]]

X: Ooookay, Frost. We're listening. What do you want?]]

MARSHMALLOW: [[Tiny, distant background.]] Baaa!

FROST: [[Points to window.]] Look. See that? That's my fleet out there, my home, my seat of power, getting blown to dust for the sake of this stupid little trash boat. For some reason, the Councillor seems to think it's worth sacrificing everything for -- but for the first time since I've known him, he's wrong. [[Beat.]] So, it's up to me to save him and everybody else aboard the Enforcer One. [[Menacingly.]] And you're not gonna stop me.

X: [[Holds up her hands.]] Woah -- yeah, no -- I don't think we want to stop you from saving people.

CYRUS: [[Mutters.]] Don't be too prodigal with the "we" there.

X: [[whispering]] I think it's pronounced "prod-i-gal".

FROST: [[Icily, to X:]] Are you kidding me in this moment? All you've done so far is keep me unconscious and get in my way! Now I'm free and you are going to regret trying to stop me.

X: Okay, but -- point of order: we were trying to stop you because we thought you wanted to kill us!

FROST: I do.

X: [[Frowns.]] Oh. Okay, see, that's where you're losing me. Here, walk me through your plan real quick so we can be on the same page.

FROST: [[Raises an eyebrow.]] So you can stop me? I don't think so.

X: No, I mean, like, so I can show you that we actually want the same thing!

CYRUS: [[Amused.]] Wow, Chip was right about your diplomacy skills.

X: [[To Cyrus:]] Chen. Not Chip.

FROST: Yeah, I'm afraid there is no "we" here. This isn't the kind of story where everyone gets along in the end. This is the kind of story where I shut you down so you don't get in my way and screw things up even more. Now -- [[Holds out a hand.]] Give me your guns.

X: [[Abashed, holds up hands.]] I don't... [[Purses lips.]] I'm... not allowed to have one. Sorry.

CYRUS: [[Shrugs.]] Yeah, I don't have one, either.

FROST: [[Minor outrage.]] Then why was I treating you like a threat?!

X: Classic misunderstanding?

CYRUS: [[Drily, unconcerned.]] Because I actually am one?

FROST: [[Irritated.]] Yeah. Okay. No. Here's how this works. [[Points to X.]] You -- Experiment Girl -- shut it. I'm sick of your quips. No one cares what you think. You are not a player in this game. [[To Cyrus:]] You -- Freak Boy. Keep your hands up and move exactly two steps toward me. You're gonna be my hostage.

CYRUS: [[Amused.]] Or what, you'll shoot me with that piece of rebar?

FROST: [[Cuts him off harshly.]] You do not want to test me. Not after what I've been through. Come on. [[Gestures with the rebar.]] Move it.

CYRUS: I'd really prefer not to.

X: [[Amused, aside.]] Is that a reference to "Bartleby, the Scrivener"?

CYRUS: [[Aside.]] Yeah.

X: [[Aside, pleased.]] Nice!

FROST: [[Angrily; advances with the rebar.]] I said, move!

CYRUS: And I said, I'd prefer not to.

FROST: Fine.

[[SFX: Thuds, cloth rustling as Frost grabs X. Ra sound.]]

X: [[Cries out.]] Augh!


FROST: She'll be my hostage, then.

X: [[Struggling, actual anger.]] No! Do not TOUCH me! Let me GO! Nngh!

CYRUS: [[Commanding.]] Let her go.

FROST: [[Calls out.]] Get on the ground, now!

CYRUS: I -- [[Gets cut off.]]

FROST: [[To Cyrus:]] And if you’d still “prefer not to”, I'm shoving the rebar clear through her neck. Got it?

X: [[Struggles ineffectively.]] Nnngh. Ow. Wait! Cyrus, no! --

[[SFX: We hear a low warping, rumbling sound, like a thick liquid beginning to boil, and the recording playback begins to distort.]]

[[SFX: Cyrus moves forward, strangely leading with his head, multiple pupils dilating. We hear his swift bare footsteps.]]

FROST: [[Sounding fearful for the first time.]] What are you -- ?! Augh! My head!

[[SFX: Frost cries out in pain, clutching at their head with both hands. The rebar clatters to the floor as Frost stumbles, seemingly off-balance, and releases X, who twists away.]]

X: [[Released, seemingly unaffected.]] Unh!

CYRUS: We are part of the void. But the void is part of us, too.

X: Cyrus, stop!

FROST: Aaah! What are you doing to me? Aaagh!

CYRUS: We are part of all matter. Until the void interferes.

X: Cyrus, Frost's eyes are bleeding! Stop! You're hurting them!

[[SFX: The warped sounds crescendo. A roar grows.]]

CYRUS: We are everything we have ever wanted and needed to be, together.

X: Cyrus, you're going to kill them! Stop it!

CYRUS: [[Coldly.]] They were going to kill us.

X: [[Aghast.]] That doesn't justify this! Please, stop!


[[SFX: The roar and distortion increases. A celestial wind howls.]]

FROST: [[Begins to scream -- a mangled sound -- as their body begins to break slowly apart.]] Aaaaah!

X: [[Voice bolstered by the echoing groan of Ra:]] I said, STOP!

[[SFX: Ra roars; a low rumble accompanies a loud, shuddering metallic echo. The ship quakes -- glass breaks, soil shifts, and animals screech and squawk in fear.]]

CYRUS: [[Thrown off-balance.]] Augh!

[[SFX: The roar, celestial wind, and audio distortion die down, as does the rumbling ship-quake.]]

X: [[Panting, shouts.]] There is... exactly... ONE RULE on board this space station... and it is not... difficult to remember! NO MURDERING! [[Takes a deep breath, then, alarmed:]] Frost!

[[SFX: Footsteps, then cloth rustling.]]

FROST: [[Groans faintly.]] Ugh...

X: [[Relieved.]] They're alive. Kind of.

CYRUS: [[Incredulous.]] What did you do?!

X: Me?! What did you do?! [[Beat.]] That was Sekhmet, wasn't it? [[Beat of silence. Then, demanding:]] Wasn't it?! She's got ahold of you! She's in your head. Like... literally!

CYRUS: Why are you freaking out?! It's just like you and Ra!

X: You are nothing like me and Ra. [[Shakily, coldly.]] Dad told me to destroy SD-538 years ago. And now I can see why!

CYRUS: [[Angrily.]] You are so naive -- I doubt you can see anything at all! I was taking care of a problem -- something you've been unable to do since the Caldwell fleet arrived!

X: [[Incredulous.]] What are you talking about?

CYRUS: You could've gotten rid of them this whole time, X. But you didn't. No. You let them barge right onto our ship, let them think they owned the place. You let them give you orders, point guns at you, and banish you to your room like a child! They made you sick. They upset Ra. They used you for their own purposes -- they even branded you as their property. And this whole time... you could have killed them all with a word. [[Shakes head.]] You could have had Ra reach out like he did just now, and blow the Enforcer One out of the sky.

X: [[Aghast.]] Cyrus, they're people! And they're my friends! [[Beat.]] We're... maybe not seeing eye-to-eye at the moment, but...

CYRUS: That's not friendship! That's Stockholm Syndrome! [[Beat.]] Do you know what that is?

X: [[Clearly doesn't.]] Pshhh. Yeah.

CYRUS: [[Continues.]] Because believe me, I'm familiar with the symptoms. I spent years experiencing them first-hand with Charlotte.

X: [[Defensively.]] Yeah, well, Charlotte's actually evil. You said so yourself.

CYRUS: And yet you constantly defend her -- just like you defend them.

X: Because I have something called empathy!

CYRUS: And... that makes the abuse okay?!

X: [[Frustrated.]] No! You don't understand!

CYRUS: What, that you wanted to see what it was like? Play human and dabble in their politics, run in their race?

X: We are human, Cyrus. We're human clones.

CYRUS: Not anymore. Not after what Charlotte did to us.

X: She didn't do anything to me. I was the control group.

CYRUS: [[Quietly.]] She told all of us we were the control group, X. A low rumble, a pulsing heartbeat. Debris hits the Cavatica.

X: [[Faintly.]] What?

CYRUS: [[Presses.]] People have been using you your entire life. Without your knowledge, permission, or consent. Maybe it's time for a little payback.

X: I don't want to hurt anyone! And I don't want or need "payback." [[Air quotes.]] I just want --

CYRUS: [[Sneers.]] What, friends?

X: [[Quietly, as background sounds briefly drop out.]] To be left alone.

[[SFX: The glasshouse door opens and two pairs of footsteps approach. We hear a distant thud and scatter as debris pelts the Cavatica.]]

DANI: [[Exasperated.]] There you are! Chen said you'd be in the new infirmary.

X: Yeah, well. [[Shrugs.]] What's wrong?

KAI: [[Grimly.]] We just lost the Ares.

X: Oh gosh -- is everyone okay?

CYRUS: Any damage to the Cavatica from the debris?

KAI: Everyone's fine -- and luckily, the Ares was farther out, so not a lot of -- [[Stops abruptly. Confused:]] Wait. Is that Frost?

DANI: Woah, what happened?

KAI: X, are you okay?

X: Oh. Yeah. Frost was looking for "payback". [[To Kai, head tilted.]] Are you still mad at me?

KAI: [[Blinks.]] I was never mad at you.

X: Fine -- annoyed. Irritated. Intimidated by. Terrified of. Disappointed in. Am I getting close?

KAI: You do not intimidate or terrify me.

X: Except when I'm making rogue deals with a certain Conglomerate, apparently.

KAI: [[Uncomfortably.]] Can we... talk about this later?

DANI: Oooh, don't stop on my account. I am starved for drama.

X: [[Sighs, then takes stock.]] Okay, so... damage from the Ares sounds fairly minor, if anything... we lost Cyrus' pod with the A.I. fighter debris...

DANI: Which... Charlotte and her insects are busy sealing off with that pink crystalline stuff...

X: [[Nods.]] Good. How about the ship-quake? Any damage from that?

KAI: Nothing substantial.

DANI: It was a lot less... quake-y this time for some reason. [[Beat, then eagerly:]] Could you see it from here? The way Ra... reached out? [[Beat.]] What? Why are you and Cyrus just staring at each other?

X: Nothing. Sorry -- still just a little shell-shocked.

KAI: [[Draws closer, concerned.]] Your neck is bleeding.

X: Yeah... Frost tried to give me tetanus with that piece of rebar. Speaking of which, we should really get them to the infirmary.

DANI: Um... while you do that... where's Marshmallow?

X: Oh, she's... [[Trails off.]]

DANI: [[Running.]] My baby!

MARSHMALLOW: [[Tiny.]] Baaa!

X: ...Yep. Over there.

DANI: [[To Marshmallow, as though to a puppy. Background:]] Who's a good girl? Yes! It's YOU! Such a good girl! Oohhh yes!

MARSHMALLOW: [[Tiny. Background:]] Baaa!

[[SFX: Kai crouches down. Slight hydraulics.]]

KAI: All right. Let's... [[Beat.]] Um... X? Why are Frost's eyes bleeding?

CYRUS: Self-defense.

KAI: Uhhh. That doesn't...

X: [[Wearily.]] It's a whole... [[Waves hand.]] thing.

KAI: I'm listening.

X: [[Exhales.]] In the broadest terms, celestial activity resulting in a gravitational singularity.

KAI: [[Processes; then, surprised:]] Wait, you're saying Ra did this?

X: Oh! Gosh, no. It's... [[Pause.]] Frost attacked me and Cyrus, and we... did what we could with what we had.

KAI: [[Frowns, concerned.]] So... Cyrus did it? How?

X: I think it's up to him if he wants to explain.

CYRUS: I'd prefer not to. [[Deep breath.]] We are part of the void. We are part of all matter. We are everything. We are nothing.

KAI: [[Looks sidelong at Cyrus.]] I think we need to know what he's capable of.

X: Look, Cyrus and I were alone -- unshielded and unarmed -- and we simply protected ourselves from someone who had expressed an intent to kill us. Frost isn't dead or otherwise permanently injured -- probably -- so... let's just drop it for now and get them to the infirmary.

KAI: [[Relents.]] All right. But I'm going to need you to stay here.

X: [[Frowns.]] What? Why?

KAI: Captain's orders.

X: [[Raises an eyebrow.]] Okay... and... if I don't comply?

KAI: Then...

[[SFX: The sound of a gun un-holstering.]]

X: [[Wryly.]] Right... you'll stun me. I get it. [[Disbelieving chuckle, then abruptly:]] What am I to you, Kai?

KAI: [[Confused.]] What do you mean?

X: Like... how do you see me in relation to yourself? Am I a prisoner, an employee, an asset, a liability, the property of Caldwell Enterprises...?

KAI: I thought we were friends.

X: [[Tone softens briefly.]] I'd like that. But I'm not sure it's possible with a gun between us.

KAI: I'm sorry. But I don't think I can trust you to comply without it.

X: [[Realization.]] ... You're afraid of me. [[Disbelieving laughter.]] Kai, I am, like, the least scary thing in the galaxy! What do you think I'm going to do???

KAI: I don't know. And that's the problem.

X: [[Sighs.]] So... prisoner it is, then. That's disappointing.

KAI: No, it's... well, what else am I supposed to do? You constantly disobey direct orders -- you're supposed to be in the new infirmary right now!

X: Define "supposed to." [[Air quotes.]]

KAI: What?

X: [[Shrugs.]] I never agreed to follow your rules. Just because someone barges onto my ship uninvited doesn't mean they get to impose a new moral code on me. It doesn't mean they get to control me. [[Beat, then amused:]] Huh. Hey, am I mutinying against you now?

CYRUS: [[Muttered.]] Count me in.

KAI: [[Determinedly, to X:]] I will stun you.

X: [[Simply.]] I know. It's the easiest way for you to control me. I get that now.

KAI: [[Exasperated, lowers the gun.]] X, I don't... [[Trails off.]]

X: ...want to control me? Yeah, I don't get why anyone would want to. I'm pretty much just a glorified farmer-zookeeper hybrid. But... fear leads to poor decision-making, so maybe I can't blame you too much. [[Tilts her head.]] Either way, you have a decision to make. You can either accept the fact that I'm going to head to the Dash Core with you, or you can stun me right here. [[(Pause.]] Or... if there's a reasonable third option, you could totally do that.

[[SFX: Long pause. Background noises continue.]]

KAI: [[(Heavy sigh.]] Ugh.

CYRUS: Wait, so... are we mutinying, or...?

KAI: [[Irritably.]] Let's go.

[[SFX: Transition.]]


[[SFX: CAVATICA, Dash Core. The door opens as X, Kai, Dani, and Cyrus enter. Chen is there on the gurney, grimly looking out at the stars.]]

CHEN: [[Bleak tone.]] Hey. You're just in time.

DANI: For what?

CHEN: [[Bleak tone.]] The grand finale.

DANI: Ohhhh.

KAI: [[Grimly, confirms.]] Ugh. They've turned their guns onto the Enforcer One.

DANI: [[Corrects him.]] You mean the Thor's Vengeance.

X: [[Alarmed.]] Wait, aren't the Councillor and Chance and everyone still on board?

CHEN: [[Glances at X quickly.]] Didn't I order you to...? [[Sighs.]] Never mind. And... yes.

X: Okay, so... what are you thinking about in regards to saving them? Do you have a plan yet? Have they been in contact with... [[Trails off.]] What?

KAI: X, we've mutinied.

CHEN: They don't want anything to do with us.

X: [[Pause.]] That's stupid! Are you serious?! They're going to get blown up because they won't cooperate with us?!

CHEN: [[Shrugs.]] I can't make them pick up the radio.

KAI: And I'm assuming they have a plan of their own. They do have escape pods.

DANI: And... where would they go?

KAI: [[Dismissively.]] They'd float around for a while, but eventually corporate will pick them up. They have Councillor Van Gaal, a Fixer, and Ms. Moretti on board, in addition to several high-ranking scientists. They'll be fine.

X: So... why haven't they escaped yet? Or... maybe they have, and I have no idea what I'm talking about?

KAI: [[Shakes head.]] No. They have five more escape pods in addition to the one Thor used earlier -- see them there, and there? [[Points.]] They just haven't used them yet.

DANI: Well, I don't know what they're waiting for.

X: Maybe we can forestall it altogether. We need to call the Empress folks anyway, and let them know that the fallout from their explode-a-thon is creating a massive ring of debris that's slowly disintegrating the Cavatica. [[Pause.]] I mean, more than it was already slowly disintegrating.

CYRUS: We're also uncomfortably close to the Thor's Vengeance.

X: Right. Even with the remote connector gone, any direct damage to the Thor's Vengeance will likely hurt the Cavatica as well.

CHEN: [[Bleak.]] That's all good information to have, but unfortunately the Empress Conglomerate isn't answering our calls, either.

X: [[Surprised.]] Wait, really? Why?

CHEN: [[Flatly.]] Negotiations didn't go incredibly well.

X: Ah. Well. Okay. Can we, like, find some way to tell them, "The lion's paw greets you?" That's... [[Trails off. Flatly:]] ...What.

CHEN: I did that already. During said negotiations.

X: Ah. Okay.

DANI: Wait. Why isn't the Thor's Vengeance firing on the Empress fleet?

CHEN: [[Wearily.]] ...They can't.

X: [[Simultaneously w/Dani:]] Why not?

DANI: [[Simultaneously w/X, surprised.]] What? Why not?!

[[SFX: Awkward silence.]]

DANI: Oh my gosh. Please do not tell me the ship's guns aren't real.

CHEN: [[Defensive.]] They're real! They're just... [[Exhales.]] Let's just say that Caldwell Enterprises tends to prioritize scientific research over military operations.

KAI: [[To Dani, drily.]] Remember your giant research budget?

DANI: [[Sharply.]] Don't blame this on me -- my research is important! Plus, my team didn't take anything away from your team! Caldwell Enterprises has more than enough resources to fund us both!

CHEN: [[Under his breath.]] Not with all the bonuses the board members keep giving themselves.

DANI: [[To Chen, upset.]] And leave my dad out of it! He works hard for -- [[Gets interrupted.]]

CYRUS: [[Clears throat/coughs.]] Can we go back to talking about the imminent destruction?

CHARLOTTE: [[Echoey, distant.]] Hull breach repairs complete.

X: [[Calls out, aside.]] Thank you, Charlotte!

CHEN: Right. Kai, about how long do we have before the Empress fires on the... [[Purses lips.]] Thor's Vengeance?

KAI: I'd estimate thirty minutes. Maybe more.

X: [[Bemused.]] Heh. You know what would make a lot of sense? If the Caldwell Enterprises folks were already on their way toward the Cavatica in vacuum suits, ready to subdue and de-mutinize us. Or... [[Waves a hand dismissively.]] ...whatever the proper terminology is.

[[SFX: Awkward pause.]]

KAI: I'll be... right back.

[[SFX: Sound of gun unlatching from holster.]]

KAI: [[To Dani, sharply.]] Dani, want a gun?

DANI: Heck yeah!!!

[[SFX: Kai tosses a gun to Dani, who catches it.]]

KAI: Come on!


[[SFX: The door opens, and Kai and Dani run through it into the hallway before the door shuts behind them.]]

[[SFX: Awkward silence.]]

X: [[Into the silence.]] I mean, it would explain why they're not picking up the radio.


[[SFX: Cyrus sits down in a chair at the dash. The chair creaks.]]

CYRUS: [[Mutters.]] The debris is dissipating more than I thought it would. [[Deep breath, then calmly:]] We are part of the void. We are part of all matter. We are everything. We are nothing.

[[SFX: Ra sound.]]

CYRUS: [[Continues:]] 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.

[[SFX: Awkward silence as Cyrus chants.]]

X: [[Glances at Chen, frowns.]] You okay?

CHEN: [[Sighs.]] Yeah. Just... tired.

X: You need to rest. You've got a lot of healing to do.

CHEN: It's not just that.

X: Oh. [[Beat.]] Look, I'm... I'm sorry about earlier. I was way out of my depth and my ego refused to admit it. I told myself I was helping, but...

CHEN: [[Waves a hand.]] It's okay. You were right anyway. I was afraid.

X: Are you still?

CHEN: [[Takes a deep breath.]] I don't know. I don't think so. I'm more just... [[Beat.]] I don't know. Lost, maybe.

X: [[Sympathetically.]] Because of the mutiny?

CHEN: [[Uncomfortably.]] Maybe. I don't know. I think we did the right thing. But I feel... kind of empty about it.

X: [[Regards Chen.]] Mm. You said earlier that Caldwell Enterprises made you who you are. That you'd be "nothing" without them.

CHEN: [[Wry chuckle.]] Heh. Maybe. Maybe that's where this is coming from. [[Beat, reflects.]] I joined this mission thinking I was ready to lose everything. I never thought I might lose myself.

X: Just because you cut ties with Caldwell Enterprises doesn't mean you've lost any part of yourself. It just means you were ready to move on. Cut the apron strings or the umbilical cord or... whatever weird maternal analogy you prefer to use.

CHEN: Heh. Thanks.

X: I'm serious. You own who you are -- even if someone else helped you get there. You're still Captain Miles Chen and no one can take that away from you. You're just free now to make it mean what you want it to mean. What you need it to mean.

CHEN: [[Heavy sigh.]] I just... I don't know what to do with it.

X: [[Lightly, shrugs.]] Keep being awesome.

CHEN: I'm being serious.

X: So am I. Your purpose isn't gone just because you cut ties with the exploitative entity that first defined what that meant for you. You just get to define what that purpose is now. You haven't lost anything -- you've gained everything.

CHEN: [[Cynically.]] And how do I convince myself of that?

X: [[Shrugs.]] You don't. You just keep doing the right thing, and living into your purpose, and that's when you'll realize it's true.

CYRUS: [[With a frown of concern.]] We've got some slight movement from the main Empress ship.

CHEN: All right. Looks like they're repositioning slightly, but I don't know why they'd do that unless... [[Trails off.]] Keep an eye on it, all right, Cyrus?

CYRUS: [[With a remarkable lack of enthusiasm:]] Aye aye, Captain Chip.

CHEN: [[To X, musing:]] Heh. I had an idea earlier, but I'm not sure it would work.

X: No such thing as a bad idea. What is it?

CHEN: Do you think... that Ra might be able to help us?

X: [[Frowns.]] What do you mean?

CHEN: He reached out to the Cavatica earlier and caused that ship-quake. We all saw it. Do you think you could get him to... maybe reach out to the Empress fleet?... Do some damage?... [[Beat as X doesn't respond.]] I mean, if they're in range?... [[Beat as X doesn't respond.]] ...Uh, X? Hello?

X: [[Staring at Chen. Blinks.]] Do you think Ra is a weapon?

CHEN: [[Carefully.]] No, no, no. But... he's invested in keeping you alive, isn't he?

X: [[Distant tone.]] Death is a natural part of life, Chen.

CYRUS: Then how come you wouldn't let me kill Frost earlier?

X: [[Distant tone.]] Frost doesn't need to be killed, Cyrus. Frost needs help.

CHEN: Okay, but X... Ra can help us.

X: [[Distant tone.]] No.

[[SFX: Ra sound.]]

CHEN: [[Frustrated.]] No?! Why not?!

X: [[Plainly.]] Ra is not a weapon, and I am not his gunner.

CHEN: But X... it's the only -- [[Gets cut off.]]

X: [[Angrily.]] It is not the only option. There is never just one option. Ever. Now -- [[Is cut off.]]

[[SFX: A sudden static burst emanates from Chen's comm.]]

CYRUS: [[Startled, background.]] Jeez.

DANI [[Over comm, breathless & excited.]] Hey! We did the thing!

CHEN: [[Sighs. Then, into comm:]] I'm going to need a little more explanation than that, Dani. Where's Kai?

DANI: [[Over comm.]] Um, apparently, Kai's comm got destroyed or something.

X: [[Muttered.]] Stomped.

DANI: [[Over comm, continues as though uninterrupted.]] But I can tell you more stuff. Basically, we caught Chance and the Councillor and everyone from the Thor's Vengeance trying to sneak on board the Cavatica in vacuum suits with a whole bunch of weapons!

[[SFX: Over comm: Thumps, muffled footsteps, muttered words.]]

KAI: [[Over comm, background.]] Almost everyone.

DANI: [[Over comm.]] Oh, right. Everyone but Ms. Moretti.

CHEN: [[Frowns; into comm.]] Wait, that doesn't make any sense. Did she stay aboard the Thor's Vengeance?!

DANI: [[Shrugs; over comm.]] I don't know -- they're not saying. [[Beat, then aside:]] Hey! Hey! Hands where I can see 'em, doctor! [[Amused.]] That's right... never thought you'd be taking orders from the intern, huh?

CHEN: [[Into comm.]] Do you have the situation under control?...

DANI: [[Over comm.]] Oh, yeah. Kai and I make a great team. Plus, Charlotte's insects are here and they're totally grossing everyone into submission.

CHANCE: [[Over comm; struggles physically.]] Hey! Is that Chen?

KAI: [[Over comm, background; to Chance:]] Yes, but there's no way you're...

CHANCE: [[Over comm, yells.]] Chen! You screwed up, man! You put your cylinders in the wrong protein injector! Traitor! You just --

KAI: [[Over comm, background.]] That's enough.

CHEN: [[Into comm, unruffled.]] Dani, is everyone safely on board and breathing?

DANI: [[Over comm.]] That's a positive.

CHEN: [[Into comm.]] Great. Why don't you and Kai escort everyone to the new infirmary?

DANI: [[Over comm.]] Ten-four or whatever!

[[SFX: Static burst. Chen sits back against the gurney.]]

CHEN: I'm sorry, X. I didn't mean to... I didn't mean to offend you earlier.

X: [[Exhales.]] It's okay. [[Eyes Chen.]] We're gonna be okay.

CHEN: [[Sighs.]] Yeah?

X: Yeah. [[Gives him a small smile.]] We've been doing just fine with resources so far... and it's nice that Kai doesn't have to eat. We have all those crates of synthetic protein, oxygen is plentiful, the water filtration system works great...

CYRUS: Plenty of kudzu, too.

X: [[To Cyrus, frowning.]] Yeah, Cyrus, at some point, we need to talk about your diet. [[Back to Chen:]] I mean, the only thing I'm really concerned about is our coffee supply. And while that's a pretty serious issue...

CHEN: [[Finishes her sentence with a smile.]] It could be a lot worse. Got it.

X: I mean, we'll also have to find a way to keep everyone from murdering everyone else in the night, but... [[Shrugs.]] Again, I'm not worried -- [[Gets cut off.]]

CYRUS: [[Shouts, alarmed.]] Look out!

CHEN: [[Suddenly; panicked.]] The Empress fleet! They're -- [[Gets cut off.]]

[[SFX: A deep, distant thud resonates. We hear Ra roar, and then debris slowly begins to pelt the Cavatica.]]

CHEN: [[Intensely; yells.]] X! Hold on to -- !

[[SFX: All sound is sucked abruptly into a vacuum.]]


[[SFX: CAVATICA. Dash Core. A burst of static from a comm.]]

THOR: [[Over comm.]] Ms. Moretti, I've located Chen. He's alive, but... he's missing an arm. [[Frowns.]] Strange. It's... the wound is encased in more of that pink crystal stuff.

MS. MORETTI: [[Over comm.]] Interesting. We'll take him with us. Have you found Specimen X yet?

THOR: [[Over comm, weirded out.]] Yeah. But it's weird... there's another body here that's unaccounted for. Kind of looks like Specimen X.

MS. MORETTI: [[Over comm, though to herself.]] Yes, that would make sense. [[To Thor:]] Is it alive?

[[SFX: Thump as Thor kneels; rustle of fabric.]]

THOR: [[Over comm.]] Hard to tell with all the thoughtware ports... I can't get a read on his pulse.

MS. MORETTI: [[Over comm, thoughtfully.]] Take him with us anyway. With that much med-tech investment, he's worth as much to us dead as alive.

[[SFX: Cloth rustling, debris shifting, sound of a body being lifted.]]

MS. MORETTI: All right. Just to confirm: is that everyone on the manifest?

THOR: Uhhh, aside from this random dude and the body in the coffin... yep.

MS. MORETTI: Good. Get them all on board, and then give the signal to detach the glasshouse from the rest of this floating disaster. [[Smiles.]] We've got a lot of work to do.

[[SFX: Stinger, outtro music.]]


CREDITS (In order of appearance)

Singh: A.R. Olivieri

Liz: Kay Krause

X: Sarah Rhea Werner

Kai: Josh Crute

Charlotte: Kay Krause

Cyrus: A.R. Olivieri

Dani: Jamie Killen

Thor: Tamara Parliament

Frost: Hayley Armstrong

Chance: George Telonis

Written, Produced, Directed, and Edited by: Sarah Rhea Werner

Music & Sound Effects: