Starship Iris 2.8
MAJOR GENERAL FREDRICK So, how do we know your...people will come through?
If we strike at our target and your forces leave us hanging, that will be very inconvenient.
(THROUGH THEIR TEETH) We can secure a system so that both teams act on the same order, simultaneously, regardless of distance.
MAJOR GENERAL FREDRICK You can do that?
RESHTHREB Dwarnian technology.
Give us a list of targets on San Ramos and we will hit every one of them. It’s we who should worry about your capabilities--
MAJOR GENERAL FREDERICK Heemdalla will be a crater.
PIPER This is RiFT, Radio Free Telemachus, as always broadcasting from the debris cloud surrounding the planet. If you’re only now joining us, a few hours ago, we received audio of the Regime’s own Major General Frederick planning a series of air strikes on San Ramos, the biggest city on Telemachus--
KESTREL --and Heemdalla, a densely-populated city in Dwarnian space. Several experts in xenolinguistics have called in to say that the other two voices on the recording sound like highly educated Middle Plains Dwarnians.
PIPER Meaning government.
KESTREL We can’t know. It does sound that way.
PIPER No timeframe yet on the coming attack. Worse, from what we know up here, it looks like San Ramos is in the middle of a citywide blackout, which, factor in the severely bugged phone system and it means there’s not much communication in or out. If you’re hearing this on your short-wave radio, please help us get the word out.
PIPER And if you’re on your way to San Ramos, either divert course or...
Understand the risk you’re taking.
FX: BOILER ROOM SOUNDS. A FLARE OF INCINERATION.
VIOLET Should we get Captain Tripathi?
JUNIPER Why? The, uh, cremation was supposed to--leave chunks of bone like that, right?
VIOLET (“NOT IN FRONT OF MCCABE”) Juniper, can you not say it like--
I think so. Everything I could find said so.
JUNIPER Besides, I don’t think we could drag the captain out of the cockpit. I wouldn’t wanna be between her and Telemachus right now.
VIOLET It still--feels like someone should say a few words. Uh, McCabe?
MCCABE What could you possibly want me to say?
JUNIPER You saved our--
MCCABE I don’t want to hear it.
FX: A SET OF FOOTSTEPS AWAY. WE DON’T FOLLOW.
JUNIPER We shouldn’t have let them watch.
They said they wanted to.
JUNIPER Well, we shouldn’t have listened.
VIOLET At some point, you have to trust when a person tells you they can handle something, and just be there to support them if they can’t.
JUNIPER Is that so.
VIOLET I’m way too tired to fight you right now.
JUNIPER I don’t wanna fight.
VIOLET (IMMEDIATELY) There’s a first.
VIOLET Sorry, reflex.
Look, you were right.
JUNIPER I have no goddamn business being here. I keep running it through my head, what I should’ve done when that guard drew a gun on me, and there’s nothing. I’ve got nothing. All I did was throw you off your game.
VIOLET (EMOTIONAL) Junie...
JUNIPER If I hadn’t been there, if you’d been able to focus on your mission, maybe you could’ve gotten out without McCabe killing their friend.
VIOLET We have no way of knowing that.
What happened on Martineau, it’s on me.
It’s on everyone. And no one. And most of all, it’s on that guard, for buying into a system that would’ve seen us all killed or worse.
JUNIPER You don’t think I should be here, and you know it. (A BEAT) Look, if we get out of this, I’ll go back to Goat Planet, okay? I’ll try to find some way to actually be useful. Just--
JUNIPER Come visit me sometime.
VIOLET Of course. Hey, let’s get out of here, it’s like a million degrees.
JUNIPER We’re really firing on every thruster to get to San Ramos, huh?
JUNIPER Violet. What the Hell are we gonna do when we get there?
ELLA ATTEMPTING CONNECTION. WIND BLOWING A LITTLE. STEPS ON A SIDEWALK.
CAMPBELL Short-wave radio transmission. Ignatius Campbell to Dr. Sylvia Robinson.
FX: SHORT-WAVE RADIO CONNECTION NOISE
DR. ROBINSON Hey, can it wait--
CAMPBELL Sorry if I woke you.
DR. ROBINSON No, I’m just extremely busy with this wave of protest wounds, not to mention that the--
CAMPBELL (COMPLETING THE SENTENCE) Power’s out.
DR. ROBINSON Yeah.
CAMPBELL Even the traffic cameras’re off. What’re the odds the entire grid failed at once?
DR. ROBINSON What are the odds the Regime turned off the lights because they’re about to do something they don’t want the rest of space to see?
CAMPBELL Right. Reach out on short-wave, start spreading the word for folks to stay home today, and stay by their radios.
FX: WE HEAR A SPACESHIP APPROACH AND BEGIN TO LAND
DR. ROBINSON This really couldn’t have--
CAMPBELL Uh, Doc? Can I get back to you in five? A ship’s landing across the street.
FX: A SPACESHIP DOOR OPENS KREJJH Hey Forger Campbell! Sorry, we tried to call ahead!
TWO SETS OF FOOTSTEPS ON GRASS.
--so the Regime attacks the Dwarnians, some subset of the Dwarnians attacks us, and both camps get the war they’ve been after.
ARKADY Got it in one. If you need a minute--
CAMPBELL Wish I was surprised. Wish I still had that.
DR. ROBINSON And you have proof?
ARKADY Audio of Major General Frederick arranging the whole damn thing. Just no way to spread the word far enough, fast enough.
DR. ROBINSON Stay on the line. We’ll figure this out.
WE FOLLOW TWO SETS OF FOOTSTEPS TOWARDS THE SHIP. OXYGEN MACHINE IN THE BACKGROUND.
CAMPBELL Krejjh, Brian, good to see you.
BRIAN The Iris 2 isn’t here yet, is it.
BRIAN It’s all over your faces, dude. Captain Tripathi and the rest of the crew were way closer to Telemachus than we were. They should be here, and they aren’t.
Maybe they took the secret door like we did last time, through the rubble. If you fly it careful, that can be a real slowdown.
BRIAN If they’re not flying carefully, it’s a permanent slowdown.
CAMPBELL Any chance they landed in a port, and they’re stuck in line?
KREJJH We picked up some radio chatter from the ports on our way here. The Regime agents are down to a skeleton crew, and they were way more concerned with people leaving the planet. Whoever’s left has eyes on the exits, not the entrances.
BRIAN Besides, if the Captain and the rest were just waiting for processing, they would’ve radioed.
ARKADY Brian, you think I’m not worried? About Sana, about Violet, and her sister? Even McCabe. The fact is, we can’t think about that. We don’t have time. We need to find a way to evacuate San Ramos.
DR. ROBINSON The largest remaining human city in the galaxy.
ARKADY That’s the one.
CAMPBELL In the meantime, we’ve got a network of solar-powered short-wave radios for arranging protests, and spreading news too sensitive to share on RiFT. Everyone’s got three names to call. I’d say altogether, it can reach maybe a third of the city.
BRIAN If everyone we contact reaches out to all their friends and family, even the ones who aren’t political--
DR. ROBINSON Let’s say half. Not enough.
KREJJH Better than nothing.
CAMPBELL Before we start calling, I wanna be one hundred percent clear on what we’re telling them to do. Otherwise, the only thing we’re spreading is panic.
DR. ROBINSON Agreed. Let’s be systematic.
ARKADY How many people can the city bomb shelters take?
CAMPBELL Not everything from the last war is still operational. Counting the tunnels, I’d say we could pack in maybe twenty percent of the population?
BRIAN So shelters are last-resort, for people who can’t make it out of the city.
CAMPBELL It’d probably be best if folks could get off-planet.
DR. ROBINSON You said the ports were understaffed, right? With a good distraction, we might be able to overwhelm them.
ARKADY Hippocratic Oath’s a little bendier than I remember, Doc.
CAMPBELL They’re already watching the exits. A disturbance at the ports is gonna draw out whatever Regime presence’s still here. We can’t afford that.
DR. ROBINSON So the message is to leave the city, not the planet. Do we tell people what’s going on? Do we say who’s doing the bombing?
BRIAN We have to, right? There’s gonna be another war with Dwarnians unless folks know the Regime’s behind it.
CAMPBELL It’ll slow the evac down.
The body count of a Dwarnian war is gonna be so much higher than an attack on any one city, even San Ramos.
DR. ROBINSON What good will a warning do if most people don’t even believe you? The Regime working with their worst enemy?
KREJJH You both bought it in under a minute, Doc.
DR. ROBINSON Yeah, but we’ve been following all this for years. We’re dead inside.
KREJJH Besides, there’s probably gonna be a second Dwarnian war no matter what. Remember, the IGR’s attacking Heemdalla, too, unless Thasia’s people can stop it.
ARKADY We sent our footage out to RiFT. I think for now we focus on reducing the body count as much as we can, get the story straight later. There’ll be time to do that, but only if people live.
CAMPBELL Right then, Doc? We’ve got some calls to make.
DR. ROBINSON Keep me in the loop.
FX: CALL DISCONNECT SOUND
ARKADY Short-wave radio transmission. Arkady Patel to Madge Ferguson.
SHORTWAVE RADIO CONNECTION NOISE
ARKADY Hi, is this Madge?
MADGE Who’s asking?
ARKADY I’m calling on behalf of Irene Welles--
ARKADY Got taken nine days ago, yeah. I’m filling in for her on short-wave. Ignatius Campbell’s idea.
Tell me there’s an action today.
ARKADY The action is get the hell out of San Ramos. An aerial attack’s coming.
MADGE An aerial--are you positive?
ARKADY Wish I wasn’t. We don’t know when, but we need our people to tell everyone they know, take everyone they can and disperse out of the city.
MADGE My doctor said I shouldn’t fly. Something boring about my blood pressure.
ARKADY Anyone who can’t get airborne should seek their nearest bomb shelter.
MADGE I’ll pass that along.
MADGE Good luck.
CALL DISCONNECT SOUND
MADGE Madge Ferguson to Esperanza Vasquez.
RADIO CONNECTION SOUND
ESPERANZA Madge! Is there an action today?
MADGE I need you to get your family out of San Ramos, kid.
MADGE An air attack’s coming. Spread the word to leave the city or seek shelter, and then do the same.
ESPERANZA Shit, you sure?
FX: BEHIND HER, A BABY STARTS TO CRY
ESPERANZA Shh, shh….
Yeah, Esperanza, I’m sure.
THE BABY WAILS MADGE Is he old enough to fly yet?
ESPERANZA Yeah, but he’s a shit pilot. (PAUSE) Sorry, I had to.
MADGE You didn’t.
ESPERANZA He should be fine in a ship.
Go, call the rest and then you and Della and the baby get outta here.
ESPERANZA Got it.
FX: A RADIO CALL DISCONNECTS
ESPERANZA Short-wave radio transmission. Esperanza Vasquez to David Parker.
FX: CALL CONNECTS. AMBIENT GROCERY STORE SOUNDS
DAVID Hey, I’m on night shift, can--
ESPERANZA You brought your radio to work? DAVID So we can have charming conversations like this one.
ESPERANZA Listen to me, David, this is very, very important.
CUSTOMER Hey you, clerk. Can you tell me where to find the--
CUSTOMER I’m going to talk to your manager!
FX: BRISK FOOTSTEPS CONTINUE
(UNDER HIS BREATH) You better be serious.
ESPERANZA An air attack’s coming. Call your three and tell them to leave the city or seek shelter, then get outta here. Need a ride?
DAVID Thanks, but I’ve got one.
ESPERANZA Good, get going.
I’m at work.
ESPERANZA Work is about to be a hole in the ground.
DAVID I guess in that case I quit?
ESPERANZA Thank you.
FX: RADIO CALL DISCONNECT SOUND
FX: RAPID FOOTSTEPS
FX: GROCERY STORE DOORS CLOSE BEHIND DAVID. WIND OUTSIDE.
Short-wave radio transmission. David Parker to Yuuri Nakamura.
FX: A RADIO CALL GOES THROUGH DAVID Hey, Yuuri? How’s your hotwiring?
YUURI At this point, I could hand you the reins to the very chariot that pulls the sun.
DAVID Great, go down to the nearest dealership and grab something that can take thirty. There’s gonna be an airstrike on San Ramos, we need to get out of here and go remote.
DAVID I don’t-- YUURI Is it the Dwarnians or the government? Friend, you know it’s one or the other.
DAVID I have no idea, I just know it’s coming. Everyone who can’t disperse outta San Ramos needs to seek shelter.
YUURI Head to the South dockyards, call your half of the usuals, and wait for my ship.
DAVID How will I know which one’s yours?
YUURI It’ll be the prettiest.
DAVID No shit. Take care.
YUURI See you!
FX: RADIO PHONE CALL ENDS.
YUURI Short-wave radio transmission. Yuuri Nakamura to Ignatius Campbell.
Have you heard?
YUURI Yeah, dude. I’ve got a spot with your name on it in the nicest ship I can hotwire, you in?
CAMPBELL Thank you, extend the honor somewhere else.
YUURI You sure?
CAMPBELL I’ve got a lot of work to do.
YUURI Right, best of luck!
FX: RADIO CALL DISCONNECT SOUND
CAMPBELL Have we covered everybody circled on the tree?
KREJJH We have!
CAMPBELL Anything from Sana and the others?
BRIAN You woulda been the first to know.
CAMPBELL We need to find a way to reach more people than short-wave, or I’m gonna start going door to door.
KREJJH Too bad we can’t talk to everyone with a radio.
BRIAN Actually, we might be able to...
BRIAN What would San Ramos do if there was a disaster? A hurricane, or a terrorist attack?
CAMPBELL They’d use the Emergency Alert System.
BRIAN The EAS overrides all radio and cable, it’d reach everybody with a device that runs on battery--
KREJJH It’d reach the Regime galoots stationed here. If they believed the warning--
ARKADY Either they stay and help the evacuation, or they turn and run, in which case they leave the ports open.
CAMPBELL Good. How do we set it off with no juice?
KREJJH Could we hook it up to Forger Campbell’s van engine?
ARKADY That’s Sana’s department, but we can try. The signal relay would be in a government building, one with a radio tower.
CAMPBELL The Office of the Governor. Could you make it happen?
ARKADY I cannot overstate how much the EAS is just a button you push.
BRIAN I have to imagine the building’d be under heavy guard, though.
KREJJH Do we have a way of knowing that’s still true? Looks like the Regime took a lot of their forces off-planet.
CAMPBELL One way to know. Short-wave transmission, Ignatius Campbell to Madge Ferguson.
MADGE Ignatius! Your friend called, I’m just packing up for the shelter.
CAMPBELL D’you still live on the top floor of the Keefe Building?
CAMPBELL Can you get a line of sight on the Office of the Governor?
MADGE Sure. Decent view when the back’s acting up and I need something to flip off.
CAMPBELL How’s it look around there?
MADGE Big crowd of people swarming. Some guys in jeeps. Barricading the street, looks like.
CAMPBELL Damn, thanks.
MADGE See you on the other side.
RADIO DISCONNECT SOUND.
CAMPBELL The governor’s gathering up a crowd.
ARKADY Shit. Any cover that might’ve gotten us in has been blown for months, and there’s no time for new credentials. Do we try storming the building? Maybe with the right distraction--
CAMPBELL There’s four of us, and any backup is getting the hell out of the city proper right now.
KREJJH Do we need to breach the big fancy office for this, or could First Mate Patel hack us in someplace else?
ARKADY I could record my own message and patch it through, but to reach the whole city, I need an antenna. A big one.
CAMPBELL The Regime closed down most local radio, scrapped the stations for parts.
BRIAN “Most.” What’d they leave?
Vaughan University still has one. To the best of my knowledge, they’re the only one.
BRIAN Gotta train the new generation of propagandists somewhere.
ARKADY The jumpship won’t take four.
CAMPBELL My van’s parked this way.
FX: FOUR SETS OF FOOTSTEPS BRISKLY CROSS GRAVEL.
KREJJH Alright, let’s get this show on the road! Can I--
CAMPBELL Human roads, Krejjh. With human traffic laws. I’m driving.
KREJJH Less fun in two dimensions anyw--
SHORTWAVE RADIO INCOMING CALL SOUND
KREJJH What was--
ARKADY Accept transmission.
SANA Where are you at?
SANA Sorry about the delay, we ran into some--[STATIC]
CAMPBELL Just get to Vaughan University on State and Liberty, okay? We’re all meeting up at Vaughan University.
SANA (STATICKY) Sounds good, can’t wait. Great to kind of hear your voice.
ARKADY Is--are the others okay?
SANA (STATICKY) We will be.
FX: A VAN UNLOCKS. CAR DOORS ARE OPENED. FOUR SEATBELTS. THE CAR STARTS.
CAMPBELL Get here really goddamn soon, okay?.
FX: DRIVING SOUNDS
CAMPBELL What’s that shape up there? Too opaque for a cloud.
BRIAN You’re right…
KREJJH I see them, I see them!
ARKADY Krejjh, for the love of God, stay down.
CAMPBELL Lights are out, and anyway, this is a college campus. People see a Dwarnian-looking somebody around here, they’ll assume they’ve been up studying too late.
BRIAN Or that it’s the drama department.
KREJJH Is that true?
CAMPBELL I sure am willing it to be.
FX: THE VAN STOPS. FOUR FIGURES CLIMB OUT.
FX: SOME DISTANCE AWAY, A SPACESHIP LANDS. THE AIRLOCK OPENS.
FX: A PAIR OF FEET RUNNING VERY VERY FAST. WE’RE FOLLOWING THE FEET.
KREJJH My crew my crew my crew my crew!
SANA Hey, Krejjh, where are--oof!
FX: KREJJH HUGS SANA, HARD SANA Good to see you.
KREJJH Good to see you!
STUDENT 1 What the--
FX: A PAIR OF FOOTSTEPS SPRINTING BEHIND KREJJH
BRIAN Haha yeah, come see the drama department’s new staging of Midsummer, where all the fae are played by folks dressed as Dwarnians!
No it’s not. What does that actually say?
Please, you made me go to that experimental jazz thing, don’t pretend that you’re...
THE TWO STUDENTS TRAIL OUT OF EARSHOT.
(OUT OF BREATH) I should not have run. Hi.
SANA Hi Brian, great to see you again.
CAMPBELL Hey Captain.
SANA Hi. We don’t really have time to--
CAMPBELL I know. Should be mad you came back in the middle of all this, but God. Glad you’re here.
SANA Me too.
Arkady, are you coming?
ARKADY Campbell forgot to put the van in park. Hi, uh, everyone. Hi Violet.
ARKADY Missed you. So much.
VIOLET You too.
ARKADY Mind if I just. Don’t let go. For a while?
VIOLET Hold on as long as you want.
Uh, hi. I’m--
ARKADY Juniper, I know. Good to meet you. Hey, Sana. McCabe. McCabe, how are--
MCCABE (NOT FINE) I’m fine.
SANA So what are we doing here, what’s the plan?
Everybody on the ship, I’ll explain.
ARKADY So here’s the plan: we use Campbell’s van to power the university antenna, use the antenna to patch me into the emergency alert system, use the EAS to intercept anyone with a battery-powered radio or screen, and send a message to either find shelter or evacuate.
SANA Alright, we have a--let’s call it a setback. BRIAN What?
SANA The van engine won’t do it. For an antenna like this, we’d need a generator the size of…
SANA This ship.
KREJJH You’re saying...hook up the power from the ship life support systems…
SANA The Iris 2 is essentially a huge flying battery. I think I could do it.
CAMPBELL If you turn the ship into a generator, will you be able to turn it back?
SANA That part’s...harder.
VIOLET So, we’re taking a ship that could easily move sixty people out of the city, and tying it to the ground.
JUNIPER We have to do it, right? I mean, correct me if I’m wrong but I don’t think we’re gonna find something else that can handle this kind of power.
BRIAN This ship was our way out. Our jumpship can only carry three, and even that’s a tight fit.
CAMPBELL If we can use it to send a message to the rest of the city…
BRIAN Yeah. I know.
SANA So, we put it to a vote. All in favor of converting the ship, hands up?
FX: A RUSTLE OF RAISED ARMS.
SANA Thank you. All opposed?
MCCABE Can I abstain?
SANA Yeah. Thank you, for taking this risk, everyone. We have a lot of work ahead of us.
FX: ENGINE ALTERATION SOUNDS
TWO SETS OF RUNNING FEET VIOLET We got the parts you asked for, Captain!
SANA Thank you, set them down over there.
ARKADY Will do.
FX: VARIOUS CLANKY PARTS ARE SET DOWN ON THE FLOOR.
CAMPBELL Where are we at?
SANA I’d say two hours to go. How’s the distraction?
ARKADY Uh, Brian is reciting a poem and Krejjh is ribbon-dancing? Kind of?
SANA Great, the busker ploy. Nobody looks hard at buskers, too afraid of being asked for change. Where’s McCabe?
VIOLET They said they wanted to scout the perimeter.
ARKADY In the dark?
VIOLET I think they just want space.
CAMPBELL You need anything else? SANA Time.
FX: FIDDLING WITH THE ENGINE--BOLTS LOOSENED AND HOOKUPS CHANGED, OCCASIONAL USE OF A BLOWTORCH
CAMPBELL Made you a sandwich.
CAMPBELL I keep a bug-out bag in the trunk. It’s extensive.
SANA Thanks. Set it there.
CAMPBELL When’s the last time you ate?
SANA (DISTRACTED) I don’t appreciate these trick questions.
CAMPBELL Sana, this isn’t you.
SANA If we don’t get the signal out in time because I was eating a sandwich--
CAMPBELL You can chew and work. Please.
FX: THE ENGINE TINKERING NOISES ARE WINDING DOWN.
VIOLET Captain, what can I get you?
SANA Nothing. I think it’s done. I think we’re done.
CAMPBELL Half an hour ahead of schedule.
Get Arkady, she was gonna send the message.
VIOLET Arkady got tired of waiting for McCabe and took the van after them. Do we wait?
SANA Every second we lose--
JUNIPER I can do it.
VIOLET Juniper, are you sure?
JUNIPER I interned for a news station, I’ve heard EAS bulletins all the time.
VIOLET How often?
JUNIPER On Lovelace, they ran it any time a suspect was on the loose. One time, it was, well--
JUNIPER Point being, emergency alerts are firm in my mind.
VIOLET Have you heard the message for an air attack before?
JUNIPER No, I haven’t. And it’s been years since the war, I’m guessing people either won’t notice if it’s different or they’ll assume, I don’t know, the protocol got updated. I just need to sound like I know what I’m talking about. That’s half of broadcast journalism anyway. (PAUSE) Vi, I’m good at this.
VIOLET It’s taking a risk...
SANA That’s kinda what we do. Patching you over in three, two, one…
JUNIPER (DEEP BREATH) This is the Emergency Alert System. An aerial attack is imminent. Please evacuate the city in a calm and orderly manner. If you are unable to do so, please report to your nearest functional bomb shelter.
[THE SAME MESSAGE BUT IN SPANISH] "Este es el Sistema de Alerta de Emergencia. Un ataque aéreo es inminente. Por favor evacuen la ciudad de forma tranquila y ordenada. Si no son capaces de hacerlo, por favor présentense al refugio antiaéreo funcional más cercano."
FX: A SMALL CLICK.
JUNIPER This is the Emergency Alert System. An aerial attack is imminent--
SANA And we’ve got it.
JUNIPER (LETS OUT A HUGE BREATH) Oh thank god.