Starship Iris 2.9
(Content warnings available here.)
Are you sure about this, Juniper?
JUNIPER Positive. I don’t think anybody got a recording of the emergency alert, but. Somebody in the Regime was tracking me before, if they hear my voice in connection with this, it’s too good of a chance they’d piece together where I went.
SANA It just feels like a lot to leave to--
JUNIPER You? You’re Sana Tripathi.
SANA True. Tell me you’ve got it all written down? JUNIPER
PIPER Welcome back to Radio Free Telemachus. If you’re just joining us, we have some sobering news.
KESTREL The city of San Ramos, the population hub of human space, is currently being bombed by unknown actors from the Dwarnian state.
PIPER Our evidence, including leaked audio and a firsthand account by Krejjh and Brian Jeeter, suggests a conspiracy between the attackers and the IGR, in the hopes of kickstarting another war.
KESTREL The former Rumor crew has also claimed responsibility for the evacuation message that many residents heard before the attack.
Looks like the Regime was trying to maximize losses. We’ll be replaying that whole conversation later.
KESTREL But first, to better understand the impact of the attack, we now go live to our newest correspondent, who has more on this story, direct from an undisclosed shelter in San Ramos.
FX: BOMBS INTERMITTENTLY THROUGHOUT SANA In the second hour of the assault on San Ramos, here in one of the city’s many remaining bomb shelters from the last war, the phones and battery-operated radios are beginning to go silent. Earlier, they functioned as a kind of currency, as everyone scrambled to learn if their friends and loved ones were safely out of the city, hunkering down in another shelter, or unaccounted for. By now, either people have found their answers, or those answers won’t be coming.
Anecdotal evidence suggests that perhaps 2 out of every 5 people have safely evacuated. In a city of just under three million, that’s a considerable number, but many, even most, remain unaccounted-for.
From San Ramos, I’m signing out.
PIPER Thanks, uh. Robin. Thanks, Robin. And now, we’ve had reports of people in shelters throughout San Ramos trying to keep their spirits up with impromptu puppet shows, storytelling, and especially music. Here’s one such song recorded earlier in the day.
EL KENNEDY-LANGE (Singing Smuggler’s Lullaby, which fades into background music)
JUNIPER Good work, Captain.
SANA Not a problem. You turned that around amazingly fast.
JUNIPER Thanks. I’d be a mess without something to focus on.
MCCABE Staying busy. Sounds nice.
JUNIPER Where are the others?
SANA Brian and Krejjh are resting in the far corner. Campbell’s going around with water, making sure everyone stays hydrated. Arkady--
ARKADY Arkady’s right here.
VIOLET You said you’d try to get some sleep.
ARKADY Yeah, well these aren’t the most restful circumstances. Anyway, if I’m still having night terrors or whatever, don’t wanna subject the rest of you to that.
VIOLET Arkady, please rest.
ARKADY I can’t, okay? I can’t. I’m sorry, but I can’t right now.
FX: AN ESPECIALLY LOUD BOMB GOES OFF IN THE BACKGROUND
ARKADY (UNDER HER BREATH) Shit!
VIOLET Deep breaths.
ARKADY Don’t patronize me, I’ve been in this kind of situation before.
VIOLET That’s what worries me.
FX: BRIEF “INCOMING TRANSMISSION” STATIC MCCABE Shh! Other radio!
THE RADIO PLAYING MUSIC IS TURNED OFF
YUURI --anybody there? Hello, hello? Campbell?
SANA Hi, yeah, we’re here. Juniper and McCabe, can you go find him?
MCCABE Yes, Captain.
MCCABE AND JUNIPER’S FOOTSTEPS HEAD AWAY
YUURI Hey, who’s this?
SANA I’m Sana Tripathi, I’m here with Violet Liu and Arkady Patel, and we’re in the process of getting Campbell for you.
VIOLET Who’s this?
YUURI Yuuri Nakamura. I was one of the first out of the city.
CAMPBELL’S FOOTSTEPS APPROACH
CAMPBELL Yuuri, what’s going on?
YUURI Yeah, we’re flying around the other side of Telemachus, trying to find any place that will take us, and port number four just said no.
CAMPBELL They give you a reason?
YUURI Apparently there’s some new security bullshit, they won’t let us land without a new revised ID and goddamn character references.
CAMPBELL Send me what you need, and I’ll start working.
YUURI No good, man, the references have to be from locals where we’re landing.
CAMPBELL Since when?
YUURI Since now. The guards just keep saying that without two parties vouching for us, we pose “an unacceptable risk.” They love that phrase, man, it’s their favorite thing.
Are they all using the same wording?
YUURI They are. I don’t wanna sound paranoid, but it feels like--
MCCABE An order from the top.
YUURI Yeah. We don’t know what we’re gonna do out here. It seemed like great luck to get out early but now our fuel is limited and we’ve got 29 souls aboard, including pregnant people.
We know a lot of folks between us. We’ll find someone close by to vouch for you. How much fuel have you got?
YUURI About a third of a tank.
SANA What kind of engine are we talking?
YUURI I’m flying a Botfly 7 with a JGN-90.
SANA (INSTINCTIVE) That’s a nice ship.
YUURI Yeah well, believe me, kinda wishing I was anywhere else right now.
SANA Fair. But good news, you still have the juice to reach one of the surrounding planets.
YUURI If all of Telemachus is shut tight, chances are good offworld ports are too.
CAMPBELL There’s gotta be a gap in the security somewhere.
YUURI Listen, if you can find us a place to touch down, I’ll breathe your names to the stars every night. Hell, find us a place to refuel and I’ll swing back and give you a free ride outta whatever’s left of San Ramos, once the sky’s a little less explosive.
CAMPBELL One step at a time. Send me info for everyone on your crew, and I’ll get working on those IDs.
YUURI Got it.
CAMPBELL Talk to you soon.
YUURI Soon, man.
FX: DISCONNECT SOUND
JUNIPER What are their odds?
CAMPBELL Let’s see, a third of a tank in a Botfly 7. There’s the rest of Telemachus, there’s Martineau--
MCCABE Martineau ports have probably boosted their security after…
MCCABE I’m sorry, Captain.
SANA You did what you had to, and we’re all profoundly grateful. (PAUSE) What else is around?
VIOLET Pulling up a map...there’s Kaspi, Nahar, and Swope if they push hard.
SANA First off, does anyone know anyone on the rest of Telemachus who might help?
CAMPBELL All the contacts I had in Fenton or Bogdale came here months ago.
I knew someone on Nahar but they moved.
VIOLET I’ve got an ex on Kaspi. Uh, he wouldn’t help.
SANA Look, I hate to do it, but can someone go wake up Brian?
VIOLET He’s only had maybe an hour to rest since he and Krejjh got in.
SANA That guy’s got contacts the rest of us don’t.
MCCABE Yeah, in academia…
SANA For whatever reason, Xenoling people tend to lean in our direction.
JUNIPER Me and McCabe can do it.
MCCABE Look, I may not be--doing well, but you don’t need to tail me. It’s not like I could get into much mischief down here anyway.
JUNIPER Oh no, it’s just that my brain can’t handle being alone right now. (AIMING FOR LIGHTNESS, FAILING) If I stop moving or talking to someone, I think my whole body will deflate like an old birthday balloon.
MCCABE Alright, let’s go.
FX: FOOTSTEPS AWAY
VIOLET Arkady, you’re being quiet.
ARKADY Is that not allowed anymore?
VIOLET Of course it is, it’s just--
ARKADY Worrying. I make people worry. It’s what I do.
SANA Kady, you do a lot more than that.
ARKADY Yeah, let’s not forget being a pain in the ass.
VIOLET I’ve been studying up on the side. If you could try some quick breathing exercises--
ARKADY Down here? In the middle of this?
VIOLET When and where you need it the most.
ARKADY You think a little huffing and puffing is gonna cure all of this?
VIOLET It can’t hurt.
CAMPBELL There’s no shame in asking for help.
ARKADY I don’t need everyone ganging up on me. We should focus on helping your friend.
SANA If you’re sure…
ARKADY He’s running out of fuel right now. I’m not.
VIOLET We’re gonna revisit this.
ARKADY Well yeah, my weird broken brain will still be here tomorrow.
VIOLET It’s not--
ARKADY Listen, Liu, sweetheart, if I can’t snark my way through this, we are really in the goddamn soup.
BRIAN (BREATHING HARD) Hey, folks.
SANA Want a hand up?
BRIAN (BREATHING HARD) I can-- Actually, if you could come down here? Standing is A Lot.
CAMPBELL The Regime’s barring my friend Yuuri’s ship from Telemachian ports. We need new IDs and two character testimonials.
All the places I’d normally direct someone could be dust right now.
BRIAN How far is Lachlan Station from here?
BRIAN Lachlan Station. There’s a woman there, Gloria, we had the same crappy advisor, and then she left for the private sector. We’ve seen some stuff together.
SANA Great, go give your person a call.
BRIAN Private line, Brian Jeeter to Gloria Navarro. (PAUSE) Hey, Gloria. Brian Jeeter? (PAUSE) Yeah, dude, still alive for now. (PAUSE) You heard about that? You’re listening to RiFT? Yeah, we’re in San Ramos. It’s...exploding, I don’t know what to say. (NERVOUS LAUGH)
Look, I’ve got a weird favor to ask you. (PAUSE) Pretty weird. How do you feel about making some new friends, like right away? Yuuri Nakamura and his 28 passengers can only land safely if we find two people on the other side willing to testify to his good character.
(PAUSE) Yeah? Thank you, so much, dude. Thank you. Talk to you later.
BRIAN Can we call Yuuri back?
ELLA Incoming call from--Radio Free Telemachus. Incoming--
SANA Accept call.
PIPER Hey, don’t worry, you’re not on the air or anything. We’ve got a problem.
VIOLET Piper! What’s going on?
PIPER Kestrel is on the other line. We’re getting end-to-end calls from people who fled San Ramos before the attack--
CAMPBELL Let me guess, none of ‘em can pass customs.
SANA Put out an ask on your show for people in flying distance willing to serve as character references.
PIPER We can barely handle the calls as it is.
SANA Well, we’ve got a bunker full of people without much to do. Forward the calls to us, and we’ll connect refugees to references.
VIOLET They’ll still need new IDs, and Campbell can only make so many.
CAMPBELL Yeah, but I’ve got friends who can work remotely. I’ll make some calls.
JUNIPER We’re thinking too small.
JUNIPER Piper, if you start soliciting your audience to vouch for the San Ramos people, then you’re gonna start getting way more calls from San Ramos people.
MCCABE Three million people live in San Ramos. Or at least, they did.
BRIAN The more we can help, the better.
Juniper’s right. I’m not saying we don’t make IDs or find references, but we can do more.
Let’s think of this problem like smugglers. The task here isn’t to jump through their hoops, it’s to avoid the hoops altogether. We need to think about landing spots where the Regime won’t have eyes. We can start thinking about running them supplies once they’re safe on the ground.
MCCABE Martineau has some blind spots, I think.
Good. Make a list.
BRIAN I know a pirate who deals around this area, I can ask her.
MCCABE Wait, you do? How? Why?
BRIAN A hostage situation went weird a while back, and look, long story short, she might know something about the Telemachian countryside we don’t.
SANA Great, call her. Campbell, let’s you and I put our heads together about people we know in the business. Arkady?
ARKADY (STARTLED) What?
You’re with us. Brainstorm what planets you’ve been to without the rest of the crew.
JUNIPER Where do you need me?
PIPER You’re about to be bombarded with info on all sides. Maybe start making a spreadsheet?
End scene 5
PIPER This is Piper Tanaka, not my real name. Ships fleeing the San Ramos attack are reporting a chilly reception by Regime ports. New--brand-new, like suspiciously new--security measures require an updated ID and two references from locals before landing.
KESTREL That means there may be thousands of ships floating out there with nowhere to dock, slowly losing fuel.
PIPER If you’re one of them, give us a dial on our request line. And if you live on Telemachus or nearby and you can sponsor a ship, give us a ring, too. Request lines are very open, rock n roll fans.
PHONES RINGING CONSTANTLY IN THE BACKGROUND
VIOLET Hello? Yes, how many of you are there? 24, okay. And how much fuel is left? (SUCKS IN A BREATH) Alright, don’t worry, don’t worry, you’ve moving to the front of the line. 24 over Fenton, priority red!
SANA No sponsors around there, but I’ve got a spot in a valley we can put ‘em in. The mountains mess with Regime signals so they should be able to lie low, and the map says there’s a freshwater lake. Transfer them to me.
ELLA Incoming call for Violet Liu from Dr. Sylvia Robinson.
DR. ROBINSON Violet, I heard you got to a shelter in the old tunnels?
VIOLET Doc! We’re fine, just busy.
DR. ROBINSON Look, I need a favor, and it’s a big one.
VIOLET What’s going on?
DR. ROBINSON We evacuated the clinic to a shelter on 17th and Mattei, but I’m the only one left around here with anything like a medical background and too many of the patients need help. I’ve radioed around to all the other shelters. You’re the closest.
VIOLET I’m not really a doctor.
DR. ROBINSON You’ve kept your crew alive for months, and from what I’ve heard of that bunch, that should win you a medal. I know I’m asking you to go above and beyond, but I took an oath to do no harm.
VIOLET I’ll do it, I just, uh. Need someone to drive me.
DR. ROBINSON Thank you. 17th and Mattei.
VIOLET Got it.
PHONE CALL ENDS.
ARKADY Where are you going?
VIOLET I need a ride to Doc’s shelter.
VIOLET She needs my help.
Violet, we’re probably safe down here. Outside the odds are--bad.
VIOLET I know, but if I have enough training to save someone, and I don’t go, how will I live with myself?
ARKADY Lemme get my coat.
VIOLET ...I was gonna ask the Captain. She knows her way around this area, and given how she drives, I think if anyone can handle this...
ARKADY I can do it.
VIOLET (GENTLY) Arkady, I think you can’t.
ARKADY Oh. Okay.
VIOLET It’s nothing against you, I’m just--I’m asking her to drive.
ARKADY Go, then! Ask her!
VIOLET If this is the last time we ever speak to each other…
ARKADY You’re right, you’re right.
VIOLET I really like you.
ARKADY For reasons more goddamn mysterious every day.
VIOLET No, don’t do that, c’mon.
ARKADY I really like you, too.
VIOLET Come here.
(PAUSE) VIOLET This whole situation is so shitty.
VIOLET I know it’s ridiculous to complain in the middle of all this.
ARKADY It’d be more ridiculous not to.
VIOLET Someday, I want to go on a super ordinary, boring date with you. We’ll go to the movies and hold hands and get fro-yo, and the worst problem will be that one of us winds up with vanilla instead of chocolate.
VIOLET I know. (PAUSE) I’ll see you soon, okay?
VIOLET Hey, Captain? How do you feel about stretching your legs for a sec?
CALLS RINGING BRIAN Hello, how can we help? (PAUSE) Yeah, it’s scary stuff, take a breath, it’s okay, I’ll be here when you’re ready. (PAUSE) Thirty-one passengers, and how much fuel? Hey, that’s good, that’s pretty good. (CALLING TO THE OTHERS) Do we have anything on Swope?
JUNIPER There’s a valley in the southern hemisphere--spreadsheet says we’ve diverted four ships there. How many more before it’s suspicious?
MCCABE I wouldn’t risk it but we’ve got an island west of there, no inhabitants, plenty of coverage, coordinates right here--
BRIAN Great, you’re heading to an island on Swope. Sending you the coordinates, folks.
JUNIPER Hi, what can we do for you? Seven character witnesses in Fenton! McCabe, didn’t you have--
MCCABE A ship circling Telemachus? The number’s right there.
JUNIPER Patching you through to a ship orbiting Telemachus, they can fill you in on the rest. (PAUSE) No, thank you.
BRIAN Hello? How many are on board? Nineteen, got it. You’re--that’s near Lachlan Station, listen, if you’ll hold a second--
KREJJH Hey, where’s Arkady?
CAMPBELL We’re running low on water. There should be a cache of supplies in the abandoned factory on the west corner, I sent her out to go check up on it.
BRIAN You left her alone?
CAMPBELL Said she wanted to go.
KREJJH Did she seem alright to you?
CAMPBELL I’m up to my eyebrows in IDs, I’m--is there a problem?
ARKADY (SINGING “LANDERS NEVER STAND DOWN,” VERY FREAKED OUT) Fancy words like “surrender, we never learned right…
FX: A SHARP ALIEN-MADE EXPLOSION. ARKADY LEAPS BACK AND FALLS.
(ARKADY STRUGGLES TO BREATHE)
FX: AN ALIEN-MADE EXPLOSION. SOUND BRIEFLY GOES BLURRY.
FX: FOOTSTEPS AS ARKADY STRUGGLES TO GET UP
FX: ARKADY WHIRLS AROUND, STILL ON THE GROUND
KREJJH First Mate Patel!
ARKADY (OVERLAPPING, NOT RECOGNIZING KREJJH) You!
KREJJH Hey now, let’s get you back on your feet, on three. One, two--
ARKADY Get away!
KREJJH Take it easy, you need--(KREJJH STARTS TO CHOKE) Let go!
ARKADY Air support, we need you! Enemy combatant--
KREJJH (STILL CHOKING) First Mate Patel, please! Let go! I can’t--
ARKADY Enemy combatant apprehended, where is air support?
KREJJH (STILL CHOKING) Please! Arkady!
MCCABE What’s--Arkady, what are you doing?
KREJJH (HEAVES A HUGE BREATH) Hi again...
ARKADY (TERRIFIED) Krejjh, I’m so…
KREJJH No harm done, First Mate Patel! Now let’s get you back to shelter, and--
RAPID, SCRAMBLING FOOTSTEPS AWAY
KREJJH Shelter’s this way!
ARKADY I can’t--I can’t stay here.
Tell the crew I said sorry.
MCCABE Tell them yourself.
FX: A GUN COCKS.
FOOTSTEPS SKID TO A STOP.
MCCABE You were taking too long, I came to make sure you were alright. Get back down in the tunnels. Both of you.
KREJJH First Mate Patel--
MCCABE I’ll handle it.
KREJJH Can you not handle it with a gun? That would be my choice.
ARKADY It’s fine, Krejjh. They’re not gonna shoot me.
MCCABE Not to kill, no. But if it keeps you from running off into a war zone, I don’t think anyone will begrudge me an ankle, Arkady. Krejjh, I am telling you, get into the tunnels.
KREJJH Not if you’re gonna hurt my friend.
ARKADY Krejjh, I hurt you.
KREJJH I shouldn’t’ve snuck up on you, I shouldn’t’ve made a grab for you without checking--
ARKADY Do you not understand what a goddamn time bomb I am? I could’ve killed you. I could’ve killed any of you.
MCCABE But you didn’t. And you won’t. Come on, we can’t get this sorted out here.
ARKADY There’s nowhere this is gonna--
KREJJH First Mate Patel, nothing else will happen because we won’t let it happen. Please, come back down to the shelter. (PAUSE) If you leave now, Science Officer Liu will never forgive you.
MCCABE Someone told me you can’t deal with your shit by shoving it down.
ARKADY That person sounds like an asshole.
MCCABE Actually, at this point she and Captain Tripathi are the only authority figures yet to disappoint me.
ARKADY I’m not an--authority figure.
MCCABE You don’t get to decide that. (PAUSE) Come back down, we will figure this out.
THREE SETS OF FOOTSTEPS.
MCCABE I think I may know someone who could actually help. Remember Max’s partner, Julio?
ARKADY Not really.
MCCABE He’s a counselor. We can call him, talk to him--
ARKADY He has--a million things to think about.
KREJJH Everybody does.
MCCABE We are going to go back down there, call him, and if you try to hurt anyone, I will shoot you, so fast--
ARKADY (SHUDDERY BREATH) Okay. Okay.
DR. ROBINSON Violet, Mr. Kim needs--
VIOLET An injection of cadamanil, I’m on it.
DR. ROBINSON Good, yeah. Mx. Cooper’s new sutures look--great, actually, I’m surprised.
VIOLET When I’m done with Mr. Kim, do you mind if I give Ms. Yarmitsky half a dose of difrenaline?
DR. ROBINSON Why not a full dose of balaxodin?
VIOLET Considering her blood pressure and family history--
ONE SET OF FOOTSTEPS, ANOTHER FOLLOWING
DR. ROBINSON (VIOLET HAS PASSED THE TEST) Correct. You know, when the smoke clears, we’ll be in a pretty rough place with regards to professional doctoring.
VIOLET Yeah. Here you go, Mr. Kim.
DR. ROBINSON He’s unconscious. He can’t hear you.
VIOLET It reminds me I’m still dealing with the living.
DR. ROBINSON I’m not even talking about casualties from the bombing. I’m talking about all the people looking for basic medical care when San Ramos is a burned-out husk. We’re about to need all surviving hands on deck. All qualified hands.
VIOLET I wish I could help.
DR. ROBINSON False modesty is a cotton candy boat, Violet. It’s sweet, but it gets you absolutely nowhere.
I need an apprentice.
VIOLET My crew needs me.
DR. ROBINSON Your crew needs a fully trained medic. Think about the trouble that could’ve been averted if you’d been able to diagnose your friend’s breathing condition without leaving the ship.
Give me six months.
VIOLET That doesn’t sound like an accredited program.
DR. ROBINSON The medical review board is literally the least of your worries.
We’re about to enter a war, Violet. And everyone is saying we’ll need soldiers, but maybe more than that, we’ll need menders. You can stay where you are, half-trained, full of potential and full of worry, or you can take a step forward and become the doctor we all need you to be.
What do you say?
THE DISTANT EXPLOSION SOUNDS ARE FEWER
SANA Hour 6 of the onslaught on San Ramos, and the remaining citizens are getting some early signs that the attack might be letting up. In some ways, however, the challenges are only beginning.
Early reports tell us that with a lack of population targets, the attackers have focused their efforts on the city’s infrastructure. We’ve gotten reports of attacks on schools, hospitals, water treatment plants, and the already failing electrical grid. San Ramos will need tremendous help before it will be capable of safely supporting three million people again.
Given the city’s long-standing history of conflict with the Regime, including many credible accusations of local government corruption, it is unclear where this aid will come from. Talking to those in this shelter, there is a strong worry that once the explosions cease, public attention will move elsewhere. RiFT will be taking donations for the foreseeable future, and every bit helps.
One thing is clear: when the people of San Ramos emerge from their shelters, there will be no way back to the city they knew.
From San Ramos, I’m signing off.
PIPER Thanks, Robin. And a quick reminder to our friends who’ve been taking calls all night. We’ve been in touch with another shelter, who are offering to operate the switchboards for the next six hours.
KESTREL For god’s sake, get some sleep. Next up--
THE MAIN RADIO IS SWITCHED OFF.
JUNIPER You’re back. How was it?
VIOLET I have a lot to think about. (PAUSE) You’re doing good work here.
JUNIPER You think so? Because the next few months are when the news broadcasts will matter most. We need to keep this story fresh in people’s minds or the Regime will let San Ramos rot.
Agreed. We can’t let them take down a city this size, especially one this central to the revolution. There’s a lot of repairing and rebuilding ahead of us.
That’s if Campbell’s okay with us crashing at, uh--
CAMPBELL Whatever’s left of my apartment?
CAMPBELL My rubble is your rubble. (A LITTLE MORE SERIOUS) Sana. I want you to stay, for as long as you want.
SANA Then I want to try staying. Not forever, but. For a while.
Hello? Hello? Is this the Rumor crew?
BRIAN Yuuri, dude, what’s going on?
YUURI I wanted to say thanks for the tip about Lachlan Station.
BRIAN Did it work out?
YUURI Like a charm. Landed, ate, refueled.
BRIAN Where are you going?
FX: FOOTSTEPS APPROACHING
YUURI I heard on the radio San Ramos is nowhere to be right now, and I gave my word I’d give you a ride to someplace better if I could.
ARKADY How about Mirzakhani?
ARKADY I talked to Julio, who helps run a school down there. He said--uh. I said I need help. (DEEP BREATH) I don’t think I can stay here. Everything’s a little too...familiar.
VIOLET (IN PAIN) Yeah.
ARKADY He said there’s a goat farm? With baby goats and shit. And if I help out with the kids, the human kids, the ones we didn’t send to Other Violet’s training camp, he’d give me counseling for free.
VIOLET You’re gonna talk to him?
ARKADY Don’t know if there’s any other way to do it. But they’re taking on a couple ships of people from San Ramos anyway, he said they wouldn’t mind a few more bodies. Say, seven or eight?
Sana will have plenty of shit to fix up, and Campbell, you can teach folks how to make their own IDs. Brian can probably get work interpreting, and Krejjh can teach them not to be afraid of Dwarnians. McCabe will be in heaven, so much to organize, and Violet, you can make sure nobody dies of Floating Pneumonia. At night, we can eat goat cheese and drink moonshine and talk shit about the Regime. Sleep on a steady surface for once.
VIOLET Arkady...I think going to Mirzakhani is absolutely the right thing for you.
VIOLET But I need to stay here. (PAUSE) Dr. Robinson offered to take me under her wing. I could learn enough medical science to work as a real doctor.
ARKADY You are a real doctor.
VIOLET I’m not an MD, Arkady, I’m an ex-paramedic with a research problem. We’ve been lucky, we’ve been profoundly lucky, that I haven’t screwed up anything huge yet. Remember Brian? What if that happens again?
ARKADY (ALREADY LOSING STEAM) We’ll...figure it out.
VIOLET This is me figuring it out. I need to do this. Besides, Juniper’s staying here. I want a chance to get to know my sister.
ARKADY Yeah. Sana? Campbell?
CAMPBELL This city is my home. They can’t bomb me out of it.
SANA Arkady, I think this is where I’m needed for now.
I’m so, so proud of you for reaching out--
VIOLET We both are, this is huge.
ARKADY Maybe I can make it work here.
ARKADY Yeah. I know. (PAUSE) Feels like we just said goodbye. God, world’s worst timing award goes to us.
VIOLET By a landslide.
KREJJH I’ve been thinking. Now that the air’s a little clearer, Captain Tripathi can fix up the Iris 2 again. We’re gonna need people moving things around--food here, refugees there, med kits over yonder. We’re gonna need pilots that can make it through the debris on Telemachus.
SANA That’s true.
KREJJH So me and Crewman Jeeter can babysit the ship and handle supply runs ‘til we’re all ready to meet up again.
BRIAN I think I need to stay on Mirzakhani.
BRIAN That last trip wiped me. I think I’m gonna need a regular supply of oxygen tanks for a while, and that’s gonna be hard to guarantee on a supply ship. I don’t want you to have to, like, choose between saving someone or getting me another tank. Besides, if you’re moving people, I take up space. I take up resources. We can’t afford that right now.
KREJJH Crewman Jeeter…
Thess shlow lay, Krejjh. I love you so much. I’m gonna miss you so much.
KREJJH How long?
BRIAN Until my lungs are better. Until the situation is better. (PAUSE) I have no idea, dude. I’m so sorry.
KREJJH How come we can’t even know how long?
BRIAN I don’t know. I love you.
KREJJH I love you, too, Crewman Jeeter.
ARKADY It’ll be nice to have some company. Nerdy company, but.
BRIAN (WARMLY) Remember the time I asked you for a cool alias and you named me after Mozart?
VIOLET Arkady, I’ll send you messages all the time.
ARKADY I know. It’s not the same.
VIOLET It’s not, no.
YUURI (GOD THIS IS AWKWARD) So...that’s two for Mirzakhani?
MCCABE Arkady’s right. There will be a lot of logistics to handle. I think I can make that work.
YUURI And the rest of you are staying behind? You’re sure?
SANA I think we are.
CAMPBELL We’ll radio around, find enough other folks to fill your ship up.
YUURI Right on. Captain Tripathi sent me your coordinates. I can be there at 05:00. Talk to you soon.
RADIO CALL END NOISE.
VIOLET What now?
SANA I guess we try to get some sleep.
ARKADY (WHISPERING) Hey Violet! Violet!
VIOLET (WHISPERING) Arkady, what’s--
ARKADY (WHISPERING) Can we talk for a sec?
VIOLET (WHISPERING) Sure, hang on.
FX: CREEPING FOOTSTEPS AWAY
VIOLET What’s up?
ARKADY Sorry for waking you up, I just--don’t think I’d forgive myself if I didn’t get a moment alone to say goodbye to my girlfriend.
VIOLET Brian says it’s bad luck to say “goodbye” in space. You’re supposed to say, “see you later.”
ARKADY The guy who taught him that is dead, so.
VIOLET ...You don’t think we’re gonna see each other again, do you?
ARKADY (NOT REALLY) Vi...
VIOLET It’s way too soon to say “I love you,” isn’t it. Going by the--going by the calendar, we haven’t been dating that long.
ARKADY It probably is too soon, yeah.
VIOLET ...call me your girlfriend again?
ARKADY My girlfriend always forgets she’s way shorter than me, so every time we hug, she puts her arms above mine and then she has to stand on her tiptoes.
VIOLET Yeah, well my girlfriend secretly finds that really charming.
KREJJH (WHISPERING) Wake up! Captain Tripathi! Sniper McCabe!
MCCABE (INSTANTLY ALARMED) What’s going on?
KREJJH Forger Campbell! Reporter Liu, are you up?
We are now.
KREJJH Science Officer Liu, First Mate Patel, already awake, good.
BRIAN Me and Krejjh did some talking.
BRIAN It was more of a--a couple of significant looks, but we’re on the same page.
SANA What’s wrong?
KREJJH I mean, a million things, but that’s not…
BRIAN We’re getting married.
CAMPBELL We know. You’ve been engaged for more than a year, and it’s inspiring, but.
KREJJH No, we’re getting married right now.
BRIAN Captain Tripathi, did you know that sea ship captains used to preside over marriages?
SANA Brian, that’s a lovely thought but you’re aware I’m not, officially speaking, a captain. I have no sanctioned training--
KREJJH Right, right, yeah. The thing about our wedding is, this puppy’s gonna be illegal no matter what. Any further outlaw antics are just crime frosting on the criminality cake!
BRIAN So to speak.
VIOLET Aren’t weddings usually a family affair for Dwarnians?
KREJJH It’s about the ones that are closest to you, yeah. (FIRMLY) And luckily, everyone who matters is right here.
BRIAN We don’t need a big fancy ceremony or a marriage license.
CAMPBELL Although. Do you want a marriage license? I can make you a marriage license.
BRIAN That’d be great, actually. But yeah, this seems like the best chance we’re gonna get. We’re together, it’s a Tuesday, which is lucky, we’ve got, uh, water for toasts and--
FX: A BLANKET UNFURLS BRIAN A blanket for a chuppah.
Alright folks, Jewish tradition time: we’re making a canopy. Arkady, if you take a corner, and then Violet, McCabe, and Campbell--
CAMPBELL Got it.
KREJJH Captain, if you’ll do the honors?
BRIAN Here, I wrote this out for you.
FX: A PIECE OF PAPER IS HANDED OVER SANA “Zucchini, powdered eggs, rice--”
Uh, other side.
FX: PAPER RUSTLES BRIAN My grandparents would be scandalized if we didn’t include at least one of the seven blessings.
SANA (READING) ‘Blessed is the Source of Life, who creates wonder, pleasure, song, and delight! May the couple be filled with gladness, and rejoicing, love, harmony, and companionship. And may they be blessed with lots and lots of peace! Blessed is the Source of Life, who is the Source of Peace.’
Krejjh, Brian? I assume you’ve got vows?
KREJJH Do we!
BRIAN Krejjh, there’s no language where I have words for what you are to me, and you know I’ve tried. I vow to keep trying, every day. I vow to never take your love, your sense of adventure and fun and goodness, for granted. I’m so excited to see what we build together, bud.
KREJJH Crewman Jeeter, you make me feel like I’m flying, even when we’re underground. May I do the same for you.
SANA Beautiful, both of you. I now declare you married. You may kiss.
(A PAUSE AS THEY KISS.)
KREJJH Okay, toast time!
VIOLET Someone should give a speech.
SANA Someone named Arkady.
ARKADY What’s that?
BRIAN Please, like you don’t already have a speech ready.
KREJJH It’s okay. We won’t tell.
ARKADY Some might say this is a bad moment to hold a wedding. Some might say this is the worst possible time. But that’s bullshit. First of all, shit’s always been hard for somebody. When we talk about the good old days, we just mean a time it was hard for somebody else.
Krejjh and Brian don’t need to prove a goddamn thing to anyone. That’s not what this is about. This is about taking the time, taking one goddamn second, to move a little, to stretch out and shake our shoulders and remember that bodies aren’t just for killing or surviving.
BRIAN Huh, it would be super dangerous to smash a glass down here, wouldn’t it?
SANA Used paper cups!
FX: SEVERAL PAPER CUPS ARE CRUSHED.
KREJJH Mazel tov!
JUNIPER Anybody have a--you’re gonna want pictures, later.
BRIAN Yeah, that’s good. That’s smart. Here.
FX: A PHOTO IS TAKEN.
BRIAN I may, uh, have something, too.
BRIAN (TO THE OTHERS) There’s a tradition, where Krejjh is from, where you pay this special class of songwriter to come up with a wedding song about your love. And obviously, I’m no lashalshvin, but it’s a really key part of the ceremony and it was an honor to try, so, uh, here goes.
It’s not the language I was searching for
A thousand years too late
Turning over every turn of phrase
Til something resonates
No, it’s what we found together
In the mostly unlikely place
And its meaning still astounds me
To have found my own home base
You are, you are my star
Gravity that pulls my heart
And we know who we are
It’s not the language you grew up on
But you still made it your own
And from fondness, jokes, and questions,
We carved out a little home
So we count, we map, and fly the lines
From sky to sky to coast
But what cannot be quantified will always matter most.
You are, you are my star
Gravity that pulls my heart
And we know who we are
You are, you are my star
Gravity that pulls my heart
And we know who we are
ALL OR MOST You are, you are my star
Gravity that pulls my heart
And we know who we are
THE SOUND OF A MANHOLE COVER MOVING, SOMEONE DROPPING DOWN TO THE GROUND.
PARK (ALMOST APOLOGETICALLY) I, uh. I heard singing.
SANA Park, what are you doing here?
PARK Other Violet is deploying some of the remaining forces this way, after the battle at Heemdalla.
KREJJH How are they?
PARK Thasia’s troops were able to shoot the human ships out of the sky. No casualties on our side. Our defector from the Regime gave us some valuable inside intel. (PAUSE) It wasn’t Shelly.
KREJJH You just missed it, me and Crewman Jeeter got hitched!
PARK Well then, consider that a wedding present.
ARKADY Up there. That’s an anti-aircraft missile launcher.
PARK In case the Regime tries it again. (A BEAT) God, what time is it?
SANA It’s 04:49. Get some rest, Lenny.
PARK You are never letting that go, are you?
CAMPBELL Park, let me show you where we’ve been sleeping.
Ten minutes til it’s time to say, uh, “see you later.”
SANA We are gonna see each other again.
MCCABE How? When?
ARKADY And don’t you dare say, like, “We’ll see Krejjh’s love of life in the laughter of every newborn baby--”
KREJJH I don’t hate it.
SANA No, I mean, we will literally, physically see each other in the future. Arkady, Brian, McCabe? Save us some goat cheese on Mirzakhani.
BRIAN You don’t even like--
SANA Yeah, actually, you can eat my share.
MCCABE (GENTLY) Captain Tripathi, people lose each other.
SANA I know. But we won’t. Look at the forces that sent our paths crossing. I just don’t feel like those forces are done with us yet. This is not the end.
ARKADY Well great, now you said it, it’s definitely the end.
SANA With everybody here as my witness, (RUSTLE OF SANA TAKINGS SOMETHING OUT OF HER POCKET) this is me lending you twenty bucks.
ARKADY “Bucks?” What, are we cowpokes now?
SANA Take it.
So you can pay me back the next time you see me. (PAUSE) You can ask for more, if you want. It’s coming back to me, either way.
ARKADY No, I’m good.
SANA Look at our survival rate so far.
KREJJH With precedence as our witness, we are unstoppable.
BRIAN You gonna work that into your next landing speech, bud? KREJJH You bet!
BRIAN I’m gonna miss your landings. (PAUSE, THEN, SIGNIFICANTLY) For a little while.
ARKADY “It only hurts when you hope.”
KREJJH Everything’s a gamble. But the thing about gambling is, sometimes you win.
ARKADY Tell that to the house.
BRIAN If ever there was a group of folks who could put one over on the house...
A SPACESHIP IS LANDING.
MCCABE Something’s coming.
SANA Your ride.
MCCABE Are we sure?
SANA Does everyone have their things?
A MANHOLE COVER IS MOVED
YUURI Hey down there. All aboard!
Have a little faith.
ARKADY (DEEP BREATH) See you later.
ELLA The Strange Case of Starship Iris, Episode Nine: Extraordinary Times. Starring--
JULIA Julia Morizawa as Piper Tanaka
LUCILLE Lucille Valentine as Kestrel Colvin
RUKHMANI Rukhmani Desai as Sana Tripathi
RICKY Ricky Harris as Ignatius Campbell
CINDY Cindy Chu as Violet Liu
ISHANI Ishani Kanetkar as Arkady Patel
RAE Rae Tay as Juniper
JAMIE Jamie Price as Brian Jeeter
Brittony LeFever as Krejjh
JACKIE Jackie Andrews as RJ McCabe
YUUTO Yuuto Kuroki as Yuuri Nakamura
ANGELIQUE Angelique Lazarus as Dr. Robinson
Chris Choi as Jin Seon Park
ELLA Ella Whomersley as ELLA
EL El Kennedy-Lange as Singer
ERIN Sound design, mixing, and editing by Hannah Cross and Erin Baumann
JESS Written by Jessica Best
DIRECTOR Directed by Rachel Kellum
ANNOUNCER Opening credits music is “Fear for the Storm,” written by Jessica Best and S.E. Winters and performed by Chiron Star with Erin Bauman on vocals. Ending credits music is “Rocket Science” by David Devereux of Tin Can Audio.