Starship Iris 6. Parallel
Written by Jessica Best
2.1 AGENT The strange case of Starship Iris, report six: Parallel.
2.2 AGENT (CONT’D) Note: this is an ongoing investigation. All agents reviewing this case should begin with Report One: Violet Liu and proceed chronologically. In accordance with regulation, a brief summary follows.
2.3 SANA We agreed to unload and restock out in Jemison.
2.4 ARKADY Yeah, how does our contact on Telemachus feel about that?
2.5 ALIEN ROBOT SWARM RADIO Thasia korkvanchad jre-gesh? Craddock jre-gesh? Reefshoke nakbyad.
2.6 KREJJH (reciting Brian’s translation) Is that Thasia? Is that Craddock? Why do we not respond to us?
2.7 SANA Hey Campbell...We’ve got some compromised IDs.
2.8 CAMPBELL Tell you what, send me your info. I’ll work on it remotely and pass it over to my contact in Elion for printing and pickup.
3.1 ARKADY How do we know this isn’t another Ricky Q situation?”
JUNIOR AGENT (on radio) Be advised that three dangerous fugitives may be currently hiding in a small freighter docked next to the Capitol Landfill.
3.3 SANA I think we need to operate on the assumption those IDs have already been compromised.
3.4 VIOLET If he does come to, he is not gonna be okay. Like, ever again. (Freaked out) You hit him really, really hard.
3.5 ARKADY Well, shit.
3.6 AGENT With the Rumor still in transit, we have taken the past week to regroup. The influx of personnel and resources, coupled with our ever-increasing access to these transmissions, has greatly boosted our capabilities. See attached file for more details. My thanks, as always, to General Jahansooz, and to Junior Agent McCabe and the rest of our team.
4.1 JUNIOR AGENT Junior Agent McCabe here. While much of the new data is, of course, largely redundant, some moments need closer analysis. The following three transmissions have been pieced together from audio obtained over roughly the same twenty to twenty five minute period aboard the Rumor.
4.2 AGENT Transmission 9-zero, begin.
4.3 BRIAN (doing a blatant Krejjh impression) Folks, this is your translator speaking, here with the nightly flight report. We recently received a message up here at the cockpit from Captain Tripathi herself, who wanted to let us know she has finished fixing the temperature reg. Within the hour, we should be back down to 32 degrees Celsius--which, fun fact, is about 305 Kelvin, 90 Fahrenheit, or 120 Jibleens—
4.4 KREJJH (“off-mic” in the distance) More like 110? If you trust my math, which, (dubious noise)—
4.5 BRIAN Sorry, 110 Jibleens. By any measure, a refreshingly cool improvement. And within just two short hours, we will once again reach comfortable temperatures for living and sleeping.
5.1 BRIAN CONT’D Current on-ship time is 2:38 a.m., as we continue towards Rosalind, the jewel of the Payne-Gaposchkin system. No anomalies, robot clouds, or giant ghost squids have yet been detected, and I think we can all agree: that sounds like the makings of a pleasant night indeed. Brian Jeeter out. (FX: comm hangup noise)
5.2 VIOLET Arkady? Can I talk to you for a second? You don’t have to say anything. In fact, it’s probably better if you don’t. Uh, no offense. But I need to get this out. I can’t stop thinking about what happened on Elion. You’d think, after a decade living under the IGR I’d be an expert at pretending everything’s okay, but-- (PAUSE) What are you doing, Vi? (PAUSE) “Hey Arkady, maybe you’re having a great time lurking in the shadows, but every time I rehearse this conversation it somehow gets worse, so if you could grow up and quit bolting at the sound of my voice--”
5.3 JUNIOR AGENT Junior Agent McCabe. This continues. For some time. It’s been filed. Skipping ahead--
6.1 VIOLET --it’d beat talking to myself, alone, in the kitchen, in the middle of the night, staring at my reflection like a--
6.2 SOUND SHIP DOOR OPENING
6.3 BRIAN Aw, hey Violet. Can I get past you? I need some ice.
6.4 VIOLET Go ahead. Uh, have you seen Arkady around?
6.5 SOUND FRIDGE OPENS AS BRIAN GETS ICE
6.6 BRIAN ...sorry dude, can’t help you. How’s it going?
6.7 VIOLET Guess I can’t complain about being awake if everybody’s up, huh?
6.8 BRIAN Mm, the Captain might’ve passed out by now. She seemed pretty beat.
6.9 VIOLET Given recent events, I don’t blame her. Hey, I got the thing you sent me, about Alvy and the other Violet--
6.10 BRIAN And?
7.1 VIOLET The timeline doesn’t line up. They did work at the same building on New Jupiter, but I double-checked it three times: she started at ADVANCE labs like eighteen months after Alvy left. I’m not sure they were ever even on the same planet at the same time.
7.2 BRIAN Dude, not gonna lie: I really hoped that was something.
7.3 VIOLET I’m finding it helps to treat this like a scientific study, you know? Every dead end you can rule out is still a step forward.
7.4 BRIAN Yeah. (wry) In that case...look at us go.
7.5 VIOLET And you really never remember Alvy saying anything that seemed, I don’t know, subversive?
7.6 BRIAN We didn’t talk politics. But I mean, the dude went to Neuzo to learn whatever he could about alien tech. Which, not illegal at the time? But kinda walking the line?
7.7 VIOLET Are there--secret underground groups for rogue engineers?
8.1 BRIAN (Amused) Secret, like, ones I don’t know about? That’s what we call an Arkady question, man.
8.2 VIOLET Right.
8.3 BRIAN It was great, though, he was super easy to trade with. We’d send him info on a Dwarnian programming language, he’d get us early access to E.L.L.A. or whatever.
8.4 VIOLET (Unimpressed.) Uh-huh.
8.5 BRIAN Okay, not the best example, but big-name software has a ton of safeguards, to control what you can and can’t do. It’s way easier to mess with the cheap stuff.
8.6 VIOLET “Mess with?”
8.7 BRIAN Teach the system to recognize Dwarnian? Disable any built-in tracking devices? E.L.L.A. is legal, but if you tweak it, you can use it for some pretty shady stuff.
8.8 VIOLET Huh. Is it weird the Iris was running the same system?
9.1 BRIAN Hard to say? I feel like, tech people can get attached to their pet programs for kinda esoteric reasons? I dunno, man. But you know who would know?
9.2 VIOLET (Heavily.) Yeah.
9.3 BRIAN Although, as long as you’re here, I actually wanted to run a thought experiment by you, from one, uh, renegade academic to another.
9.4 VIOLET I’ll do my best.
9.5 BRIAN So, like, imagine you’re a nanobot, operating as one tiny part of a bottom-up engineered consciousness.
9.6 VIOLET Okay.
9.7 BRIAN The rest of the nanobots, the cloud, they’re also kind of “you”, right? Because together, you’re this other “you,” you’re this bigger, more complicated “you”, and that collective is what’s really calling the shots.
9.8 VIOLET Like cells in the brain.
10.1 BRIAN Right, but you’re a cloud. (PAUSE) Let’s say that cloud splits in half. The other half, the half that doesn’t contain you-the-nanobot, is also still kind of you, right? It’s made of the same stuff, it was part of your consciousness at some point, it could rejoin at any time. But it could also travel millions of miles away. So you’re sitting in, and also part of, one half of a cloud, and you need to relay some info to the other half.
10.2 VIOLET Think I’m with you so far.
10.3 BRIAN Yeah. What pronouns do you use?
10.4 VIOLET What?
10.5 BRIAN They speak Vre Chel Noke, which they must’ve borrowed from their creators. But when I tried to translate their speech, it was borderline unintelligible. Everything was “we” and “us.” But, like, why would they use pronouns the way we use pronouns? Their whole notion of identity, the self, must be completely different.
BRIAN CONT’D OVER
11.1 BRIAN CONT’D If you were a cloud of tiny robots, and you were gonna adapt the language of a bunch of monolithic organic consciousnesses, wouldn’t pronouns be the first thing you’d change?
11.2 VIOLET Yes? I have no idea.
11.3 BRIAN The way they use “we” and “us” is actually pretty consistent. Okay, imagine “us” is the cloud you-the-nanobot are currently in, and “we” is another cloud. “Why do we not respond to us? Us can clearly sense we. We must be compromised. Us cannot rescue we for fear of the same as we. May we forgive us and the...something something something fools. Us loves you. Goodbye.”
11.4 VIOLET You think they thought we were a swarm, too.
11.5 BRIAN Until the part where they switched to “you.” Right after something about fools.
11.6 VIOLET But they said they could “clearly sense”...something. If they thought we were a swarm, how would they be so sure? And didn’t they start off by asking about Thasia and someone named Craddock? We’ve established that those aren’t Vree Chel Nokean names, right?
12.1 BRIAN I dunno, man. It’s not a perfect theory, just something I’ve been turning over.
12.2 KREJJH Folks, this is your pilot speaking. I’ve got a very important announcement to make, to the whole crew. Boy am I embarrassed, but I seem to have misplaced something important. My fiancé, Crewman Jeeter? Along with a cup of ice he totally still owes me? Gonna advise that you sit tight as I dispatch our very own First Mate Patel to the kitchen, to solve this little mystery. So keep an eye out for that, crew, and plan accordingly. Krejjh out. (Comm disconnect sound.)
12.3 VIOLET What’s that about, do you think?
12.4 BRIAN I really couldn’t say. Do you want some ice?
12.5 VIOLET No thanks. Are you heading back?
12.6 BRIAN Eh, I haven’t seen Arkady in a while, might as well say hi. She’s hard to find sometimes, right?
12.7 VIOLET Maybe I shouldn’t take it so personally.
12.8 BRIAN Maybe not.
13.1 VIOLET Nice and noncommittal.
13.2 BRIAN No man, just like. She means well, you know?
13.3 SOUND DOOR OPENING, FOOTSTEPS,
13.4 BRIAN CONT’D (AWARE OF Arkady) She means well. Also, she’s, like, a totally ridiculous person. Hey Arkady.
13.5 ARKADY (very much aware that Brian was aware she was in the room) Jeeter. Krejjh is looking for you.
13.6 BRIAN You know, I think you might be right?
13.7 VIOLET Arkady, can I talk to you for a second?
13.8 ARKADY Um. Yes?
13.9 BRIAN Well. Ciao, dudes!
13.10 SOUND DOOR CLOSING, FOOTSTEPS
13.11 VIOLET (blurting out) Do you think I’m the one who informed to the IGR?
14.1 ARKADY Why, is Jeeter acting weird? He probably just forgot to sleep again.
14.2 VIOLET Brian’s fine. But he strikes me as the kind of guy who wants to believe the best of everyone. Especially a science buddy. You’re really on the same page as everyone else about Campbell? You believe me, over a man you’ve known for years?
14.3 ARKADY Opportunity and motive. Campbell’s the only one who’s got both. You’ve got neither.
14.4 VIOLET So, all this avoidance is one hundred percent about you hitting that guard? (PAUSE) Come on. The living space in here is roughly the size of my first apartment, and I can’t leave. Whatever’s going on, can we please just--puke it all out, and then even if it’s terrible, at least it’s out there and we can deal with it?
14.5 ARKADY (SARCASTIC/IMPRESSED) Now, there is a metaphor.
14.6 VIOLET Thanks. I’ve been working on it. (Remembers they’re still not dealing with the thing) Let me know how long you want to keep stalling, because I’ve got the medical knowledge to go much grosser.
15.1 ARKADY (Has hit the limit on levity) I saw your face when you checked that guy’s head. You can’t tell me you were okay with it.
15.2 VIOLET You’re right. I wasn’t. I’m not.
15.3 ARKADY (hollow, tired) Yeah.
15.4 SOUND ARKADY BEGINS TO WALK AWAY
15.5 ARKADY (still hollow and tired) Have a good night.
15.5 SOUND DOOR OPENS
15.6 VIOLET (As Arkady is heading out) But I keep replaying it, and I don’t know what else you could’ve done. And I don’t think you do, either. And, to tell you the truth, I don’t get the impression you’re okay with it.
15.7 SOUND DOOR CLOSES, STEPS BACKTRACK
15.8 ARKADY Feeling a little weird about all the murder you’ve done is kind of a low bar.
16.1 VIOLET I meant--they don’t care one way or another. The Regime.
16.2 ARKADY The guys at the top, yeah. The grunts at the bottom--it’s a wider range than you might think. Of course, what difference does it make? The killing gets done either way.
16.3 VIOLET (Arkady is looking confused) What?
16.4 ARKADY ...you said “Regime.” Not “Republic.”
16.5 VIOLET I’m aware. (coughs) Hey, do you want something to drink? I was gonna make myself some tea, but--
16.6 ARKADY In this heat?
16.7 VIOLET I think I’ve got a cold? Anyway, it’s a moot point. We’re out.
16.8 ARKADY ...How do you feel about herbal tea?
16.9 VIOLET I’m--in favor of it?
16.10 ARKADY Okay, one sec.
17.1 SOUND A FEW BUTTONS ARE PUSHED, THEN A MINI GREENHOUSE FOLDS OUT OF THE wall)
17.2 VIOLET (in wonder) Is that--a tiny greenhouse? That folds out of the wall?
17.3 ARKADY Jeeter didn’t show you? Dammit Jeeter, what do we pay you for?
17.4 VIOLET How does it work?
17.5 ARKADY Ask Tripathi, she invented it.
17.6 VIOLET Is that basil?
17.7 ARKADY Yep, and--
17.8 VIOLET Oregano, spearmint, and aloe vera.
17.9 ARKADY Four for four, Liu. Yeah, rip off some leaves and I’ll grab the cups and get the water going.
17.1O VIOLET What?
17.11 ARKADY (Drily) I’d recommend the spearmint. I mean, if you want a hot cup of oregano, I won’t stop you.
18.1 SOUND (OVER 17.11) ARKADY GETTING CUPS(maybe?)
18.2 VIOLET A mini greenhouse. It’s incredible.
18.3 SOUND ARKADY FILLS A KETTLE WITH WATER, ACTIVATES WITH A BEEP
18.4 ARKADY Tell me about it. First time I saw one, I lost my shit. I’d never seen plants grow before.
18.5 VIOLET City kid?
18.6 ARKADY (Not the whole truth) Something like that. (Pause) Okay, you’re gonna need, like, twice as much.
18.7 VIOLET I don’t wanna use it all.
18.8 ARKADY It’s not--it’s there to be used, y’know?
18.9 VIOLET Technically, don’t I owe you a drink? We made that deal when I was on the Iris--
18.10 ARKADY You made a deal with Kay Grisham. (Drily) Don’t worry, the fake imaginary captain isn’t coming to collect.
19.1 VIOLET I made that deal with whoever saved my life, and somebody came through.
19.2 ARKADY ...you don’t have to make nice with us, y’know. You don’t even have to work with us.
19.3 VIOLET I know. It was my decision, remember?
19.4 ARKADY And maybe you even believe that, but come on. You knew you couldn’t go back. At the end of the day, you didn’t choose to be here, and you can’t leave.
19.5 VIOLET I didn’t choose to live under the regime, either.
19.6 ARKADY Last time I checked, you could barely deal with us being smugglers.
19.7 VIOLET The last time you checked, we’d been in the same room for less than an hour, and the two main things I knew about you were that you weren’t Captain Kay Grisham, and you were covered in weapons. So honestly, I don’t think it’s my fault if I didn’t feel like unloading every single thing on my mind.
VIOLET CONT’D OVER
20.1 VIOLET CONT’D Look, I’ve been cut off from a lot of information, but do you really think I’ve had no idea what was going on for the past ten years? You’ve read my personnel file, right?
20.2 ARKADY Actually, your file was patchy as hell. I pretty much had your name, your birth-planet, and your alma mater. What was--
20.3 SOUND WATER BOILING
20.4 ARKADY Hang on, water’s ready. (Electric kettle is switched off.) Can you get the-- (VIOLET HOLDS OUT MUGS) yeah.
20.5 SOUND 2 CUPS OF WATER BEING POURED
20.6 ARKADY (CONT’D) What was I supposed to see in your file? I thought you said the IGR didn’t have much on you.
20.7 VIOLET They didn’t. That’s the thing. For a while during the war, I student-interned at a lab, we were trying to improve this experimental PTSD treatment. A few weeks in, I got a minor promotion. Minor. But it put me in charge of a team of six interns.
VIOLET CONT’D OVER
21.1 VIOLET CONT’D And every one of them not-so-secretly wanted my job. Um, I should probably mention: this was a good posting. Cutting-edge facilities, basically unlimited budget, plus we had an opt-out on the Mandate.
21.2 ARKADY Damn. So it was you, and a bunch of little snots who bought their way in.
21.3 VIOLET We had some amazing talent on staff, but--yeah, it was maybe half-and-half, and I think there’s a reason the lab wanted someone watching those six. Some of them had an actual science background, but you could kinda tell they’d never had to worry about getting fired?
21.4 ARKADY (wry) How were they at taking orders?
21.5 VIOLET (Kind of laughs) I don’t know, maybe if one of them had been promoted, they all would’ve accepted it. But, uh, literally however you want to define it, I was not one of them. And growing up with an anxiety disorder, everyone’s always telling you not to worry.
VIOLET CONT’D OVER
22.1 VIOLET CONT’D You get that crawling feeling in your gut, and it might be a threat, but it’s probably your brain chemicals lying to you.You learn to doubt your own thoughts. You have to. So no matter how many times my team pretended not to understand my directions, or moved stuff I needed to shelves I couldn’t reach, or made comments they knew I could overhear, part of me was always asking, ‘Are they trying to force me to quit, or is it all in my head? Is this really about--y’know, racism, classism, sexism, biphobia, some or all of the above--or is it about me?’
22.2 ARKADY Shit.
22.3 VIOLET The longer I tried to do my job, the uglier it got. I had to transfer to a different internship because this guy on my team started hinting he was gonna formally accuse me..
22.4 ARKADY For hurting his feelings?
22.5 VIOLET For separatism. Some ships on a nearby station had been sabotaged, allegedly by Chinese nationalists. The magistrate already wanted someone they could make an example of.
23.1 ARKADY (not shocked so much as “well that’s fucked up”) Weren’t you born in the U.S.? Like, the original-flavor earth-U.S., with the Grand Canyon and the Great Lakes and those trees you can drive through?
23.2 VIOLET (wry) Right, because that would’ve protected me?
23.3 ARKADY It’s just--I was gonna say “ironic” but I think the word I’m looking for is “shitty”?
23.4 VIOLET Yeah, well. Either works.
23.5 ARKADY Hey, so if you’re still wondering if this was about your co-workers being bigoted assholes--
23.6 VIOLET Sure, in hindsight. (sigh) I had to walk away from months of research, and I don’t even know if anyone saved my notes. And the worst thing is, no matter what happened, even when I was doubting my own sanity, part of me was never that surprised? It’s like, on one level, I’d been waiting for something like this since the coup. Sometimes the voice in your head telling you to run is mental illness, and sometimes, it’s just…
23.7 ARKADY (gets it, immediately) History.
24.1 VIOLET Yeah. So maybe it’s not your job to decide what this is like for me.
24.2 ARKADY Violet, I killed that guard.
24.3 VIOLET You concussed him.
24.4 ARKADY (beat) You said if he woke up, he’d never recover. Nobody part-timing as a dockside guard would even have the savings for painkillers. After you left, I broke his neck. Made it as clean as I could, but. When I say you don’t have to work with us, it’s really not an insult.
24.5 VIOLET ...why are you here?
24.6 ARKADY What.
24.7 VIOLET You don’t believe in Captain Tripathi’s mission, you hate hurting people--why are you doing this?
24.8 ARKADY ...Well, Liu, it’s a little late to become a ballerina.
24.9 VIOLET (apologetic) I didn’t mean to overstep, I know we’re not--
25.1 ARKADY Okay, seriously? There are three things I really know how to do. I hack, I lie, and I fight. If I can put myself between Tripathi and a bullet, that’s the best thing I will have ever done.
25.2 VIOLET ...do you...want a hug?
25.3 ARKADY What? No, no, I don’t need-- I just mean, for people like me, if you wanna get paid and sleep at night, you take what you can get.
25.4 VIOLET And yet here you are, awake.
25.5 ARKADY Never said it was a perfect system.
25.6 VIOLET If I asked the captain why you’ve stayed on this long, what would she say?
25.7 ARKADY Doesn’t count. She’s got a long track record of putting too much faith in people.
25.8 VIOLET Okay, I’m not gonna keep arguing with you, because I don’t see us getting anywhere on this tonight, and (pointedly) I’m not even gonna try to thank you again for saving my life, but.
VIOLET CONT’D OVER
26.1 VIOLET CONT’D For what it’s worth? (Carefully, meaningfully) Except for the times where it really does seem like we’re all about to die, living on this ship is the safest I’ve felt since before the war.
26.2 ARKADY (touched) Wow, Violet, that’s--very disturbing.
26.3 VIOLET (also smiling) Then why are you smiling?
26.4 ARKADY Sometimes I smile. Y’know, every now and then.
26.5 VIOLET Good to know. (More serious) Um, look, there’s something I should probably tell you. I actually don’t know why I haven’t mentioned it sooner, I’ve been debating it and I think I kind of waited too long. And it’s gonna be weird now, because I don’t know, maybe it’s nothing, but just in case it is something, I mean, we could wind up really regretting it down the line if I didn’t at least bring it up, so--
26.6 ARKADY Liu. For the love of god.
26.7 VIOLET I kept one of the samples.
26.8 ARKADY (This is maybe not what Arkady was hoping Violet’s secret would be.) What?
27.1 VIOLET Back on the Iris, when there wasn’t room in the cryo chamber for me and the tray of samples we’d collected from that planet. I took one, the smallest one. Hid it in my jacket pocket. You never searched me, you just scanned me for bugs. I guess I figured, maybe I could get it to the IGR somehow, or use it to barter for better conditions or something. But when I got here, nobody cared about the mission at all.
27.2 ARKADY Uh, is that safe? The samples were supposed to be frozen, right?
27.3 VIOLET We used to defrost them sometimes, for experiments. Um, by the end of my first day here, I moved it to a tupperware in the back of the freezer.
27.4 SOUND FREEZER OPENS, HUMS
27.5 VIOLET It’s, uh, that one.
27.8 ARKADY Wow.
27.9 SOUND FREEZER CLOSES
28.1 ARKADY We seriously never clean out the freezer, huh?
28.2 VIOLET You seriously don’t. (More serious.) Brian was saying tonight that the nanoswarm cloud could’ve been trying to talk to us like we were part of the swarm. And I’ve been thinking, in all of space, what are the odds of us running into that thing a few days away from the Iris?
28.3 ARKADY If the IGR found out about nanotech that can invisibly relay messages or eat metal, they’d want it.
28.4 VIOLET Right. What if the swarm and the Iris were looking for the same thing? What if the swarm wasn’t even talking to us? What if it was talking to whatever’s in that test tube I brought from my ship? What if none of this is a coincidence? Not like fate, that’s stupid, but--
28.5 ARKADY (Gets it immediately) Occam’s Razor.
28.6 VIOLET Am I making any sense?
28.7 ARKADY ...let’s go find Jeeter.
28.8 SOUND TWO PAIRS OF FOOTSTEPS
29.1 ARKADY And Liu?
29.2 VIOLET Yeah?
29.3 ARKADY Thanks for telling me.
29.4 VIOLET Anytime.
29.5 SOUND KITCHEN DOOR OPENS
29.6 VIOLET So, do we think he’s still up at the cockpit with Krejjh?
29.7 ARKADY I’d be shocked if he wasn’t.
29.8 VIOLET Have they always been like that?
29.9 ARKADY Moreso since his friend got blown up in a shady government conspiracy. (Less flippant) But yeah, they tend to stick together.
29.10 VIOLET Feels like you’re passing up a prime opportunity to make fun of them.
29.11 ARKADY Oh, it’s nauseating, don’t get me wrong. But I dunno, I can understand the impulse.
30.1 VIOLET That’s--kind of surprising.
30.2 ARKADY Yeah, don’t tell them I said that.
30.3 SOUND FOUR BEEPS, DOOR OPENS
30.4 SANA (to Krejjh and Brian) If we divert now, it shouldn’t even cost us much fuel--
30.5 BRIAN Huh.
30.6 ARKADY Captain.
30.7 KREJJH The gang’s all here!
30.8 SANA Good news, guys: I’ve got a contact on Hafizah willing to take our cargo.
30.9 VIOLET What about Rosalind?
30.10 SANA We can put it to a vote, but given the--information leak we had recently, I think we’re better off if we can deviate from the plan.
30.11 KREJJH Landing coordinates?
31.1 SANA Still waiting on them for now.
31.2 BRIAN In the meantime, no harm staying flexible.
31.3 ARKADY So, me and Violet were talking, about that alien robot swarm cloud, and she said--
31.4 SANA Arkady, is this pressing?
31.5 VIOLET It could be.
31.6 SANA Is the swarm outside the ship right now, knocking on the door, trying to get in?
31.7 ARKADY No, but we think we might’ve found a possible connection--
31.8 SANA “You think you might’ve found a possible connection?” Have we made any progress on tracking down the other Violet Liu? Are we any closer to solving Alvy’s mystery? Given how we changed our entire course for this, I’d love to get past speculation and into--anything else.
31.9 ARKADY Look, we all liked Campbell. But when somebody turns on us because we missed an appointment, their loyalty was never worth shit.
32.1 SANA I appreciate that, but honestly, it’s just--been a long couple of days, and it’s almost 3 a.m. and I don’t see why this can’t wait until tomorrow?
32.2 VIOLET Yeah. Of course.
32.3 ARKADY Captain, if there’s anything we can do…
32.4 SANA (Wry) Don’t worry. I’ll let you know.
32.5 JUNIOR AGENT Transmission 9D, begin. (The cockpit)
Scene 2: Opens on the tail end of Brian’s announcement from cue 5.1, but now live instead of through a speaker
32.6 BRIAN Current on-ship time is 2:38 a.m., as we continue towards Rosalind, the jewel of the Payne-Gaposchkin system. No anomalies, robot clouds, or giant ghost squids have yet been detected, and I think we can all agree that sounds like the makings of a pleasant night indeed. Brian Jeeter out. (FX: comm hangup noise) (Back in his normal voice) How was that?
32.7 KREJJH Not bad at all, Crewman Jeeter.
33.1 BRIAN Uh-huh.
33.2 KREJJH (Human impression) Buddy, you’re a real champ.
33.3 BRIAN (Amused) Dude, when does your shift end?
33.4 KREJJH Give it another thirty Earth-minutes and we should be clear enough to autopilot for a while. Nice to get some downtime together, though.
33.5 BRIAN Wanna take bets at how long ‘til somebody busts in here? Winner brings the loser a fresh cup of ice.
33.6 KREJJH Ugh, deal. Ten seconds.
33.7 BRIAN ...I was gonna say, like five minutes.
33.8 KREJJH (Laughing) Optimist Prime over here. (Absolutely doesn’t know what Optimus Prime was)
33.9 SOUND DOOR OPENS
33.10 BRIAN (laughing a little) Yeah, back in a few. (FX: a few steps) Hey Arkady.
33.11 ARKADY (Rushed as they pass) I was never here!
34.1 BRIAN (Immediately, easily) Okay.
34.2 SOUND DOOR CLOSES
34.3 KREJJH First Mate Patel! How are you?
34.4 ARKADY We’re coming up on the ass-end of the witching hour and I’m sweating out of pores I never knew I had, so, y’know. Been better.
34.5 KREJJH And you’re hiding from Science Officer Liu.
34.6 ARKADY Who told you that?
34.7 KREJJH Usually you only stop by if you’re working, or trying real hard not to be someplace else. Hey, pull up a chair! Can I get you something? Fruit jerky? Tepid water?
34.8 ARKADY Not in the mood for a slumber party, Krejjh.
34.9 KREJJH A slumb...a party for sleeping? Okay, I have a ton of follow-up questions.
34.10 ARKADY Forget it, I’ll go hang out in the vents again.
35.1 KREJJH Do we have a problem? Is there something I can do?
35.2 ARKADY No.
35.3 KREJJH C’mon, you’re never up here unless you’ve gotta be.
35.4 ARKADY Do you really wanna get into this?
35.5 KREJJH Wouldn’t mind.
35.6 ARKADY ...You know, the day we learned it was gonna be total war against you guys was one of the happiest days of my life.
35.7 KREJJH (Arkady has just named the issue they’ve been dancing around.) (Heavily, understands where she’s coming from.) Yeah. Zetheshra had already been hitting Cresswin by then, right? Your deal had fallen apart?
35.8 ARKADY (Grim.) For ten months. We knew how to take down human ships, but trying to hold off those things was like--fistfighting a hurricane.
ARKADY CONT’D OVER
36.1 ARKADY CONT’D And then, a few hours into the coup, General J. Frederick gives that speech, “The new Republic will bring the fight to any planet, any station--” I remember thinking, ‘This is what it takes to get us all on the same side. It’s a war against space aliens or nothing.’Those early years on special forces, no matter what I did, I never felt like a monster, because the Dwarnians were always worse. And then it all went to shit, and then we picked up you and Brian. And maybe I could say, ‘Krejjh left, Krejjh is barely one of them,’ but that’s bullshit, right? You had friends. And Eejjhgreb’s an ass, but you had family. And they had friends, and they had family. And they had friends...You never hurt just one person, you know? It ripples out. And I killed a lot of you.
36.2 KREJJH (Blurting out.) Well heck, I killed a lot of your guys, too, no hard feelings there. (More careful. Krejjh isn’t used to being careful.) And yeah, I lost some folks, but they knew what they were signing up for.
36.3 ARKADY (Angry) Well, we had no idea what we were signing up for.
ARKADY CONT’D OVER
37.1 ARKADY CONT’D (More upset than angry now) The Landers came in more prepared than anyone on our side, not that it did us any goddamn good out there. Sana wants me to talk to a professional, but some things you can’t make civilians understand.
37.4 KREJJH No. You can’t.
37.3 ARKADY She tries, but the shipyards were not the front. And Jeeter might as well’ve been living in another dimension.
37.4 KREJJH In his defense, Neuzo.
37.5 ARKADY Hell, Liu thinks we won the war, did you notice that? But you were there. You know.
37.8 KREJJH The only reason Dwarnians stopped fighting is because we got bored. The war ran a little longer than expected, and none of our politicians were willing to tweak the defense budget. That’s all. And what you guys saw was fifteen percent of our military might. Maybe. If the Central Federation really made up their minds to do it, we could crush you in a heartbeat.
38.1 ARKADY And if Earth’s any kind of precedent, hey, give it a few centuries.
38.2 KREJJH Some of you will make it, probably. Pockets.
38.3 ARKADY Not enough.
38.4 KREJJH (agreeing.)Not enough, no.
38.5 ARKADY (Has been thinking about this for a while.) You know what scares me? Somebody in the IGR has to know that, too, right? What’s their plan?
38.6 KREJJH No way to say. I wish I had the Earth-English to tell you how sorry I am. And that it’d make any difference at all.
38.7 ARKADY It doesn’t.
38.8 KREJJH I know.
38.9 ARKADY (as in, “you don’t really know”) Not really.
38.10 KREJJH (heavily) You’re right.
38.11 ARKADY ...You’ve really got fruit jerky up here?
39.1 KREJJH Help yourself.
39.2 ARKADY Man, I’ve gotta stop hanging out in the ductwork. A couple hours in there and I come out chatty.
39.3 KREJJH Good to let it all out, though, right? ‘Least you get the satisfaction of being brave.
39.4 ARKADY (doubtfully)(slurred because of chewing) I guess?
39.5 KREJJH Speaking of which. Do you want some love advice?
39.6 ARKADY No.
39.7 KREJJH Cripes, trying to lighten the mood a little here, First Mate Patel. Are you sure?
39.8 ARKADY Krejjh, remember when you and Brian weren’t officially together yet? And he kept asking you to dinner, and you kept inviting the rest of the crew?
39.10 KREJJH Yeah, romantic tandem eating is not as universal as you guys think it is.
39.11 ARKADY Well, I don’t need your advice.
40.1 KREJJH Just sayin’, if you like someone, maybe don’t spend all your time hiding from them.
40.2 ARKADY I’m not being bashful, Krejjh. I all but murdered someone in front of her.
40.3 KREJJH Y’know, the other day she asked if I’d seen you. What’s the point in being scared? Go find her, tell her how you feel!
40.4 ARKADY It’s almost three A.M. She’s sleeping.
40.5 KREJJH It’s over a hundred fifty Jibleens in here, no she’s not. C’monnnn. Don’t you want to talk to her?
40.6 ARKADY (Weary) It isn’t that simple, Krejjh. Nothing ever is. (A beat, and then, despite herself:) Was she really looking for me?
40.7 KREJJH Krejjh to all crew.
40.8 SOUND COMM ACTIVATES
40.9 KREJJH Folks, this is your pilot speaking. I’ve got a very important announcement.
41.1 ARKADY (whispering, through gritted teeth): What are you doing. What are you doing, what are you--
41.2 KREJJH Boy am I embarrassed, but I seem to have misplaced something important. My fiancee, Crewman Jeeter? Along with a cup of ice he totally still owes me? Gonna advise that you sit tight as I dispatch our very own First Mate Patel to the kitchen to solve this little mystery. So, keep an eye out for that, crew, and plan accordingly. Krejjh out. (Comm disconnect sound.) There. Shoe’s in her court. See what happens. Ooh, give her a gift! Humans love gifts!
41.3 ARKADY (Footsteps) I’ve got nothing she’d want.
41.4 KREJJH She’s a biologist, she probably likes stuff that’s...alive. (A sudden, brilliant idea) Give her your mint plant!
41.5 ARKADY Krejjh? (FX: Door opens) That’s the stupidest idea I’ve ever heard.
41.6 SOUND DOOR CLOSES, TRANSMISSION STATIC
42.1 JUNIOR AGENT Trimming roughly a minute off this portion of the transmission. Resuming at the re-entrance of Brian Jeeter.
42.2 SOUND TRANSMISSION STATIC, DOOR CLOSING, FOOTSTEPS
42.3 BRIAN Hey. One cup of ice (FX: muted ice cubes clinking as Brian hands over the cup) and we are even.
42.4 KREJJH Unfortunately for you, while you were gone, I won another bet.
42.5 BRIAN Arkady admitted she thinks all our jokes are, like, super funny?
42.6 KREJJH The other one.
42.7 BRIAN ...oh. Dude, you got her to talk about feelings?
42.8 KREJJH Yuuuuuup.
42.9 BRIAN How.
42.10 KREJJH Couldn’t tell you. (Philosophical) Not sure if it’s the heat or just--being up this late, knowing everybody else is, too, but there’s a feeling going around, don’t you think?
43.1 KREJJH CONT’D It’s like all the normal rules are-- right there in sight but floating for a sec, suspended like gravity took a breather. There’s a word we have where I’m from to describe nights like these, y’know: Eshalzo.
43.2 BRIAN Yeah, uh, we more or less have that word in English, too.
43.3 KREJJH What--
43.4 BRIAN “Strange.”
43.5 KREJJH Oh, right. Strange. Strange night. Hey, can you say “jerky”?
43.6 BRIAN Jerky.
43.7 KREJJH Jerky. Jerky. Juh, why can’t I say it like you?
43.8 BRIAN On the upside, I promise the untrained human ear absolutely can’t hear the difference.
43.9 KREJJH I know, that’s what makes your accent so cute.
43.10 BRIAN Dude, d’you know how hard I studied to try to learn the Dwarnian J?
44.1 KREJJH And the good news is, you’re like halfway there, bud.
44.2 BRIAN Really?
44.3 KREJJH Jjjjust about.
44.4 BRIAN (laughs) Show-off. Mind if I nap here until your shift ends?
44.5 KREJJH What’s wrong with our bunk?
44.6 BRIAN You’re not there.
44.7 KREJJH True.
44.8 BRIAN Pretty major design flaw.
44.9 KREJJH Well, nap all you want. Should I make soothing whale noises until you fall asleep?
44.10 BRIAN (Laughing) Dude, your idea of how Earth whales sounded--
44.11 KREJJH But they’re so big! (A beat) So...that’s a no?
45.1 BRIAN Wake me up when your shift’s over, bud.
45.2 KREJJH Will do.
45.3 BRIAN Krejjh? Theh-shlow-lay.
45.4 KREJJH Yeah. I love you too, Brian. (BEAT) (BEAT) Eshalzo.
45.5 JUNIOR AGENT Transmission 9C, begin.
45.6 SANA --yeah, sorry, I meant to stop by and tell you the temperature reg is fixed. Should take a while to cool back down to something comfortable, but things are only getting better from here.
45.7 KREJJH Thanks, Captain. I’ll let everybody know, the second I’m done beating Crewman Jeeter at cards.
45.8 BRIAN If I win, I get to try doing the next announcement.
45.9 KREJJH His odds aren’t looking good though, ‘cause I’m cheating a lot.
46.1 SANA Rooting for you, Brian.
46.2 BRIAN We’ve got this, Captain. Get some rest.
46.3 SANA Hey, I’m in my room, that’s half the battle. Sana Tripathi out. SIGHS
46.4 GRATUITOUSLY PLEASANT FEMALE VOICE Incoming call to--Sana Tripathi from--Ignatius Campbell.
46.5 SANA (An unhappy sound. She doesn’t want to deal with this.)
46.6 GRATUITOUSLY PLEASANT FEMALE VOICE Incoming call to--Sana Tripathi from--Ignatius Campbell. Incoming call to--
46.7 SANA Computer, accept call.
46.8 SOUND CALL CONNECTED
46.9 CAMPBELL Captain Tripathi?
46.10 SANA Yeah. I’m here.
46.11 CAMPBELL Hey. I’m not totally sure what time it is on your ship, hope this isn’t too rough.
47.1 SANA It’s something like half past two in the morning.
47.2 CAMPBELL Oh. Shit. Sorry to wake you up--
47.3 SANA I just got done fixing the temperature reg. It’s boiling in here, none of us will be sleeping for a while.
47.4 CAMPBELL I know it’s late, but since you are awake, are you okay to talk for a few minutes? It’s been hard to get ahold of you lately.
47.5 SANA I sent your payment. Did it not go through?
47.6 CAMPBELL No, it did. I told you we could work it out later. (definitely a certain amount of flirting) I kind of figured--we’d do that thing where you quote one price, and I quote another, and then you call me a scoundrel, and I point out you’re literally a smuggler, and you tell me you’ve got kids to feed and I remind you that Brian’s only, what, four years younger than you, and we have a whole...back-and-forth? You paid market prices. You know you didn’t have to do that.
47.7 SANA When we skipped Telemachus, we screwed you over. I don’t want to owe you.
48.1 CAMPBELL Honestly, I’m not keeping score.
48.2 SANA Campbell, I. I did actually have a question for you.
48.3 CAMPBELL Sure, what’s on your mind?
48.4 SANA How much do you trust your guy on Elion?
48.5 CAMPBELL Red Gregor? I was best man at both his weddings.
48.6 SANA (Almost more to herself) I was afraid you’d say that.
48.7 CAMPBELL (Wry) Wow, that’s--very specific.
48.8 SANA Do you trust his operation?
48.9 CAMPBELL You saw it yourself. They’re airtight. It’s the only way they could survive on Elion. (A beat) Is this about that body that turned up by the Capitol Landfill the day you touched down?
48.10 SANA How did you--Red Gregor told you.
49.1 CAMPBELL I wasn’t sure it was related. The mob dumps bodies there all the time. Are you guys okay?
49.2 SANA We’re fine. Are you sure nothing might’ve--gotten out.
49.3 CAMPBELL Red’s always been unorthodox but he’s careful. If you’re worried something’s compromised, I promise you can cross him off the list.
49.4 SANA ...it’s not a very long list, Campbell.
49.5 CAMPBELL Well, who else knew you guys were gonna be on Elion?
49.6 SANA Just you.
49.7 CAMPBELL ...someone on your ship’s been bugged.
49.8 SANA No. We scan everyone who comes onboard, including ourselves.
49.9 CAMPBELL Then you’ve been hacked.
49.10 SANA Arkady would know.
50.1 CAMPBELL You’ve just taken on a new crew member, right? The woman I did the ID for.
50.2 SANA Everybody on the ship understands that it’s too late to collaborate with the IGR. (A beat.) You’ve been friendlier than usual lately.
50.3 CAMPBELL (All in a rush) Listen, I thought we were on the same page about that, but if I’m stepping over a line, let me know because the last thing I want to do is make this weird, I really-- (The actual meaning of her words sinks in) What are you accusing me of, here?
50.4 SANA And it started shortly after I told you we were skipping Telemachus. Can you agree that doesn’t make a lot of sense?
50.5 CAMPBELL ...I miss you. Not sure I realized how much until you said you wouldn’t be coming by.
50.6 SANA Campbell, if there were any other possible explanation…
50.7 CAMPBELL What’s possible, Sana? You’re rocketing through space. I’m light years away, and we’re talking.
CAMPBELL CONT’D OVER
51.1 CAMPBELL CONT’D Take someone from three hundred years ago, and they wouldn’t begin to comprehend it. So can you tell me there’s no alternative here? You needed me for this job in the first place because your IDs were already compromised, how do you know it’s not the same breach as before?
51.2 SANA I don’t. Do you know when we started having trouble with those IDs? Because it wasn’t that long after you learned we were changing course.
51.3 CAMPBELL We haven’t had a free election here since the coup. I lost ninety percent of my first unit because the IGR saw us as cannon fodder. In what universe would I turn on you for them?
51.4 SANA I don’t think they bought you out, Campbell. I don’t think that’s possible. But I know you care about a lot of people there. And if someone made you choose between...us and your nephews, or--us and your entire neighborhood--we both know how the IGR operates--I think if you were put in a tight spot, and you had to make that call, it would be really, really hard for you. But I also think, until we are truly cornered, none of us have any way of knowing for sure what we’ll do. And we screwed you over.
52.1 CAMPBELL ...it wasn’t me. I don’t know what happened, and I won’t throw my own guys under the bus, but. It wasn’t me.
52.2 SANA I just wanted you to know why we won’t be in touch for a while. If we’re wrong about this, we will owe you.
52.3 CAMPBELL Explain to me how that’s supposed to help.
52.4 SANA You’re angry, I get it, but--
52.5 CAMPBELL I wish I was angry. But I have to sit here knowing you’re not safe, knowing there’s nothing I can do. So tell you what. You don’t owe me a goddamn thing. But when you figure out what’s going on, and you deal with it--give me a call. Let me know you’re still alive. Until then, yeah, there’s not much point in us talking, is there? Ignatius Campbell out.
52.6 SOUND CALL ENDED NOISE
52.7 BRIAN Folks, this is your translator speaking,
52.8 SOUND SANA ACTIVATES THE MUTE FEATURE
53.1 GRATUITOUSLY PLEASANT VOICE Channel muted.
53.2 SANA Goddammit.(After a second, she starts to quietly sing to herself, as if trying to build herself back up.)
. Landers never stand down, landers never bow
. Landers never stand down, we don’t know how
. When survival means fighting--
53.3 JUNIOR AGENT The following several minutes of singing have been logged and archived. My request for overtime is attached. Resume transmission.
53.4 GRATUITOUSLY PLEASANT FEMALE VOICE Incoming call from--
53.5 SANA Computer. Accept call. Campbell, I agree it’s a bad idea for us to talk right now, but I just wanna say that, if it was only me, I would probably risk it. The thing is, I can’t, I have to think about my crew, and you--
53.6 RICKY (A little amused) Is this a bad time?
54.1 SANA (Sana’s first reaction here is anger, not fear.) ..how did you get this number.
54.2 RICKY Sana. It is Sana now, right? Sorry, that’s gonna take some getting used to. Sana. You work with criminals. How hard do you think you are to find?
54.3 SANA You work with the Regime--
54.4 RICKY I work with a lot of people. (Answering her original question) I talked to the Fowleys. Nice folks.
54.5 SANA No they’re not.