Starship Iris 8. Ghost Stories
Written by Jessica Best
2.1 AGENT MCCABE The strange case of Starship Iris, report Eight: Ghost Stories.
2.2 GENERAL Major General J. Frederick here. The Rumor’s undetected flight from Hafizah is unacceptable, and is yet another sign of long-term infiltration in our ranks. Thankfully, that problem has been dealt with.
2.3 AGENT MCCABE This is Jun--this is Agent McCabe, filling in for Agent Park, who remains on indefinite leave. Junior Agent Goodman also assisting. 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.
2.4 CONNORS (ep 4, p 1) No—line—safe. Mission’s—designed—to—eliminate—us—but—wrong—violet. Find—right—one. She—knows.
2.5 ALIEN ROBOT SWARM RADIO (ep 6, p 1) 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?
3.1 SANA (ep 7, p 26) There is no mole. There’s no bugs hiding in the walls.
3.2 ALVY (ep 7, p 31) Uh, hey bud. Yeah, it’s Alvy. I really hope you got my other message, but uh. I probably have about five minutes now until I die.
3.3 VIOLET (ep 7, p 13) --there are only fifteen people who worked at ADVANCE with both Alvy and the other Violet.
3.5 BRIAN (ep 7, p 14) So, wait, all of the people on your list...were also volunteered on one of these missions?
3.6 VIOLET Hang on, I think I’ve got one person here that’s missing from Alvy’s notes. First name Emily, last name Craddock.
3.7 AGENT MCCABE Uh, transmission 12C, begin.
3.8 SANA Krejjh, how are we looking?
3.9 KREJJH Burning bright-blue-hot like a pop song, Captain Tripathi.
3.10 SANA Great. I’ve already got a destination in mind.
4.1 KREJJH (COUGH) Got any coordinates in mind, or are we doing this all with hand gestures and faces? ‘Cause I am up for the challenge, but we are ripping through our fuel right now.
4.2 SANA We’re doing this any way we can.
4.3 JUNIOR AGENT GOODMAN Junior Agent Goodman here. Barring Rosalind and Hafizah, our projections put the Rumor several days from any inhabited planets, stations, or other settlements. It is possible that when the Republic first formed, we missed, uh--
4.4 AGENT MCCABE (SMOOTHLY) Agent McCabe. As my colleague said, it’s possible some minor territory fell through the cracks, due to the intervention of insurgent forces. Agents are currently searching past records, including old maps, defunct fuel routes, and interrogation transcripts. Resume transmission 12C.
4.5 SANA Arkady?
4.6 ARKADY Nothing behind us that I can see.
4.7 SANA Violet, Brian?
5.1 BRIAN No alerts on the local channels.
5.2 VIOLET None here, either. (small cough)
5.3 SANA So, a clean getaway.
5.4 ARKADY For now.
5.5 SANA For now.
5.6 VIOLET Is this the part where we get to know what’s going on?
5.7 SANA (Sigh) The Regime knows everything we know. Everything.
5.8 KREJJH What?
5.9 VIOLET How can you be sure?
5.10 SANA My source on Hafizah was blackmailing an agent in the IGR. He didn’t exactly connect the dots for me, but he could quote a conversation between me and Arkady in an elevator on Elion that we had scanned down to the centimeter.
6.1 VIOLET Okay, but aren’t we pretty sure even the regime doesn’t have undetectable bugs? Nobody does, right?
6.2 ARKADY Nothing could do that but the Vre Chel Noke nanoswarm.
6.3 BRIAN C’mon, we don’t think the swarm is working for the Regime.
6.4 ARKADY Could explain why it was looking for Craddock, if she really is a rogue lab employee.
6.5 KREJJH Why are we jumping from “the nanoswarm can hear us” to “the nanoswarm is evil”? Maybe it’s working with Craddock. Or Thasia.
6.6 ARKADY Krejjh. Thasia’s dead.
6.7 KREJJH We know the Dwarnian Federation used Thasia’s disappearance to start a war. That’s not the same thing.
6.8 SANA I can’t speak to the geopolitics, here. But I think there’s a part of a nanoswarm onboard with us.
7.1 BRIAN Like, just, in the air around us? Am I waving my arm through Vre Chel Noke robots right now?
7.2 KREJJH And what, it hopped aboard when we passed through that swarm? Why would the swarm want to hurt us? It said it loves us.
7.3 VIOLET Once again, I want to point out that the ship is airtight.
7.4 BRIAN Besides, the message we got was “Why do we not respond to us?” It sounds more like we had something in here that wasn’t reacting to the, uh, outside swarm the way it was expecting.
7.5 SANA Right. We’d thought maybe the Regime was looking for the swarm; they must’ve already found a piece of it and, I don’t know, reprogrammed it somehow to serve as a recon device.
7.6 ARKADY Captain, learning an ancient alien programming language, rewriting that much of it--that would take years.
7.7 SANA Maybe they had years. It’d be a handy enough tool in wartime to sink a lot of time and effort into.
8.1 KREJJH I still don’t see how our swarm got in.
8.2 VIOLET Really? Because I think I do. Brian, what were the first three words of Alvy’s coded message?
8.3 BRIAN “No line safe.” He knew he was probably under surveillance.
8.4 VIOLET You guys brought me onboard in a cryo pod. If the Regime was using a swarm to listen in on the Iris--I could’ve had the nanobots in my bloodstream, or my saliva, or--in my lungs.
8.5 ARKADY Shit. What might they do to your insides?
8.6 KREJJH Uh, I mean there is such a thing as medical nanobots?
8.7 ARKADY These things aren’t medical. Even if they’re not designed to do damage, doesn’t mean they won’t.
8.8 VIOLET (bleak) From the Regime’s point of view, an airborne delivery system makes the most sense. Just add some swarm to the ship’s life support and wait. Not sure how you’d get it to--settle in a host, but--
9.1 SANA Let’s say the swarm in our ship has been rewired to transmit messages back to the IGR. There’s no telling how much more it’s been...tampered with.
9.2 VIOLET Right. Maybe this strain feeds off the trace metals in people. Maybe it’s attracted to the warmth, or the sound--I don’t know. It’s been in me the longest, which must be why I showed symptoms first, but it’s probably a matter of time until the rest of you start coughing, too--or worse.
9.3 ARKADY So that’s it, that’s our theory? The Regime knows every single thing we do?
9.4 KREJJH (Thoughtfully) I don’t think they know everything. I don’t think they can see us. If the Regime had eyes on our instrument panel, they’d always have our landing coordinates. They’d head us off every time, and by “every time” I mean the first time, because we’d be goners.
9.5 SANA Agreed. We were on Hafizah for hours. They had ample time to hit us if they could see where we’d touched down. So, there’s some good news.
SANA CONT’D OVER
10.1 SANA CONT’D We’ll just need to avoid saying anything important out loud. Any names of places, any key details, we write them down.
10.2 KREJJH Uh, on the bad news front, if they’re planning to use this on the Dwarnian Federation--we have scholars who study the Vre Chel Noke full-time. Dwarnians would put it all together eventually, and when they do, we’re talking more than a scandal. (COUGH) Humans caught using spycraft during peacetime, at a level that’d shatter every treaty, every agreement we made with you fellas. We’re talking another war.
10.3 BRIAN And even if it never gets that far-- what is the Regime gonna do with unlimited power to spy on anyone they want to, at any time, for any reason?
10.4 SANA We have to stop them.
10.5 ARKADY How? We don’t even know how much time we have left before they catch up with us.
10.6 SANA Then we work fast. We stay smart, we keep moving, and we follow any lead.
11.1 BRIAN In that case--Alvy sent us a second video. We didn’t get it til now because the file was too big, it got shunted to my queue.
11.2 ARKADY An engineer doesn’t make that kind of mistake.
11.3 BRIAN I think he was in a hurry. It’s from June 3rd. You know, the same day he-- (died). Yeah.
11.4 ARKADY Brian, I get that you miss your friend, but are we sure this is a good idea?
11.5 BRIAN Look, I’m not gonna pretend I’m being objective on this. I want to hear what he had to say no matter what. But it sounded like he had something big. Besides, if the Iris was bugged, whatever he said is information that the Regime already has.
11.6 SANA I say we might as well. It’s a clue, right?
11.7 BRIAN Trouble is, we can’t play it here; we’d need a local connection to finish downloading.
11.8 SANA Then I’ve got good news about our next stop.
11.9 KREJJH So...Water landing? Land landing? Rhymes with “flight suit?” Give me something.
12.1 SANA Here, I’ll write it down. (FX: writing “the wreck of the Gay Louisa”)
12.2 BRIAN That’s--are we sure this will work?
12.3 ARKADY I think from here on out, the answer’s a solid “no.”
12.4 SANA Let’s go with “maybe,” it sounds more cheerful. Alright. Krejjh, I’ll relieve you in six hours, and you take the six hours after that, sound good?
12.5 KREJJH Aye-aye, Captain Tripathi.
12.6 SANA Everyone else, get some rest. We may need it.
12.7 AGENT MCCABE Agent McCabe. The need to reactivate the local network, especially in a hands-on capacity, implies that the Rumor’s destination is likely abandoned or otherwise uninhabited. My team has identified three possible sites.
12.8 JUNIOR AGENT GOODMAN Junior Agent Goodman here. Fortinbras Station was closed due to budget issues four months ago, with a 97% successful evacuation rate.
13.1 AGENT MCCABE Moon B7-02439, colloquially known as Hoff’s Hideaway, is suspected to be a former hideout of the pirate Kim Hoff and her Bald-Cat Gang. Hoff hasn’t operated in this area in roughly six years, but the extensive solar paneling may still be enough to power a generator.
13.2 JUNIOR AGENT GOODMAN The last possibility is the planet Waconia, uninhabited as of 18 months ago after a catastrophic infestation of Linepithema humile, also known as--ants. Aid was requested, and denied due to budgetary concerns and improper paperwork.
13.3 AGENT MCCABE Following the loss of all consumable food, the planet was successfully--45% evacuated. In recent months, the surface has shown no sign of life. All equipment assumed to still be functional.
13.4 JUNIOR AGENT GOODMAN Deploying drones to scout all locations. Estimated time of arrival, seven hours.
13.5 SOUND DISCONNECT AND RECONNECT TO SHOW HOURS HAVE PASSED
14.1 JUNIOR AGENT GOODMAN This is Junior Agent Goodman. The drones are currently circling Fortinbras Station, Moon B7-02439, and Waconia. Nothing yet. Transmissions 12-zero through 12D remain mostly silence.
14.2 AGENT MCCABE Agent McCabe to all agents, we have a landing sequence from the Rumor. I repeat, we have a landing sequence from the Rumor, Transmission 12-B.
14.3 KREJJH Folks, this is your pilot speaking. We’ve got five minutes to touchdown. If you look out your starboard windows, you’ll see--(COUGH) well, you’ll see something, alright.
14.4 BRIAN Whoa…
14.5 SANA There it is.
14.6 KREJJH It’s so....
14.7 ARKADY (warning) Krejjh.
14.8 KREJJH It’s so--hard to describe in words. That can be heard by evil government agents. Wink.
15.1 ARKADY Closest signal’s coming from over...there, pretty sure I can override it from the control room, which, judging from the layout, should be right about there.
15.2 SANA Krejjh, can you bring us in by the--thing?
15.3 KREJJH You know I can, Captain Tripathi. Gentle as a cloud whispering in another cloud’s ear.
15.4 AGENT MCCABE This is Agent McCabe. No pings from any of the drones. It is safe to assume the Rumor has landed elsewhere. My team is evaluating new possibilities as we speak. Returning to Transmission 12B, roughly twenty minutes since Source A and Source C exited the Rumor into this unknown location.
15.5 BRIAN Brian Jeeter to Arkady Patel. (FX: comm connecting sound) Any luck finding that signal?
15.6 ARKADY Let’s see...
15.7 AN EXPENSIVE-SOUNDING VOICE Welcome to SecureTech, the most powerful security system in the known univer--
15.8 SOUND BRIEF HACKING SOUNDS
16.1 ARKADY We’re in. I’m rekeying the local network password.
16.2 KREJJH What’ve we got?
16.3 ARKADY The Regime will hear whatever I tell you.
16.4 SANA We still need to get into the network.
16.5 ARKADY All lowercase, no spaces. Krejjh, the thing you said the first time you saw a picture of a kangaroo. Followed by a numeral, the number of safety railings in the engine room.
16.6 BRIAN (Amused; he definitely remembers the kangaroo thing.) Alright, I’ve got the first part. (FX: brief typing, “holydang”)
16.7 VIOLET I’ve got the second. (FX: like a single key stroke) (FX: connection to the local network) We’re in.
16.8 ARKADY Good. Grab what you need and get out.
16.9 SANA Me and Arkady are going fuel-hunting, comm us if you need anything.
17.1 KREJJH Will do, Captain Tripathi.
17.2 SOUND COMM DISCONNECTS
17.3 SOUND SLIGHT TYPING
17.4 BRIAN Okay. Here we go--
17.5 ALVY Uh, hey bud. Yeah, it’s Alvy.
17.6 JUNIOR AGENT GOODMAN This is Junior Agent Goodman. In response to comments from several colleagues, where possible, Source B’s transmission will here be intercut with our previously obtained audio from the Iris, transmission 0-00, which is of considerably better sound quality. Thank you for your feedback. Resuming transmission.
17.7 ALVY I really hope you got my other message, but uh. I probably have about five minutes now until I die. So...there’s some stuff I need to tell you. First--don’t come. It’s way too late. I finally understand what she sent me, and, God. Friggin’ alien nanobots, what are the odds?
18.1 ALVY CONT’D Ah, what else, I really thought I was gonna have more time to-- (He meant “time to leave this message,” not “time remaining in my life.” That only sinks in here.) Thought I’d have more time, famous last words. Gah, focus. If it’s too late, Brian, I’m sorry. You’ll need to find the real Violet Liu even more; I think she’s the only one who can help you. And either way, I want you to know what I know. Uh, okay, so--
18.2 FIRST MATE (Through the door.) Connors!
18.3 ALVY Shit. (To First Mate) What! (To Brian) Uh… (Sounds of rapid typing)
18.4 FIRST MATE Get outta there and go suit up, you’re due on Scout-1 right now!
18.5 ALVY (Still rapidly typing) You sure? You guys didn’t need me for the other trips.
18.6 FIRST MATE Hell, I don’t think we need you now, but I’ve got orders.
18.7 ALVY Uh, doesn’t regulation require somebody stay back and work the comms?
19.1 FIRST MATE We’ve got somebody.
19.2 FIRST MATE Lu! Hey, Lu! (There is no response.) Science Officer Lu, report! Science Officer Lu, where the hell are you?
19.3 VIOLET (A little out of breath) I’m here, sir. I’m here. Sorry.
19.4 SOUND Violet and the First Mate remain slightly muffled as they talk on the other side of the door. From Alvy, we hear periodic typing.
19.5 ALVY (under his breath, to himself, while typing) C’mon, c’mon, load faster--
19.6 FIRST MATE Science Officer Lu, as a full-grown adult, are you capable of working the comms if Connors here follows his direct orders and accompanies us on our final trip to planet 5925?
19.7 VIOLET Um, I don’t actually have any tech training, so if there’s an emergency, given how little room for error we have out here, I do think it’s better to have him around.
20.1 FIRST MATE I was not consulting you for your extensive mission expertise, Lu, I was asking if you have the brainpower to consult a goddamn manual if you need to. You can read, right? I haven’t reviewed your file in detail but am I correct in guessing you’ve got a basic grasp of literacy?
20.2 VIOLET (Furious but trying to choke it down.) Yes sir, I can read.
20.3 FIRST MATE Good. Also, I know this is your first mission, but traditionally, when the First Mate wants your attention, it shouldn’t take four tries.
20.4 VIOLET It’s “Liu.”
20.5 FIRST MATE That’s what I said.
20.6 VIOLET You said “Lu,” I thought you were calling for Louis. With all due respect, I respond much faster when I can tell you’re trying to talk to me.
20.7 ALVY (still typing, under his breath) God bless you, other Violet.
21.1 FIRST MATE You are veering dangerously close to insubordination. I have a had a very bad day, and you do not want to be questioning my authority right now.
21.2 VIOLET I’m sorry, sir. I’m not trying to be disrespectful, just--I know how much the Republic values efficiency.
21.3 FIRST MATE I--Communications Officer Connors, if you are not out here in the next two minutes, I swear to God, I will take this to Captain Jasper and you’ll be staring down the wrong end of a court martial, do you hear me? There are consequences to--
21.4 ALVY (Whispering) Mic sensitivity: four. (The First Mate’s rant fades far into the background. Alvy is whispering now, like his mouth is right up to the speaker.) Jeeter, I just changed the password for you. It’s simple, you’ve already got it. You’ll want to log in under--
21.5 SOUND Door opens)
21.6 FIRST MATE Did you forget we have overrides on the doors?
21.7 ALVY (to Brian) You’ll know her when you hear her, it’s E.C.
22.1 FIRST MATE Connors! Scout-1, now!
22.2 ALVY F-- (There is a click, as if he stopped the recording.)
22.3 KREJJH ...I...guess we know why he didn’t have time to compress it.
22.4 BRIAN Is there anything else?
22.5 KREJJH No. “Log in” where?
22.6 BRIAN Let me think.
22.7 VIOLET Do you know what password he meant?
22.8 BRIAN Let me think.
22.9 JUNIOR AGENT GOODMAN Junior Agent Goodman, cutting in with something relevant on Transmission 12-C.
22.10 SOUND (FX: Two pairs of footsteps on a tile floor, echoing a little.)
22.11 SANA The engine room was this way, right? I keep getting turned around.
23.1 ARKADY Think so.
23.2 SANA God, this place is unreal.
23.3 ARKADY Careful.
23.4 SANA Something’s bothering you.
23.5 ARKADY Yeah, this whole situation.
23.6 SANA Something else.
23.7 ARKADY It’s goddamn uncanny when you do that. (SIGH) You said you knew that elevator should’ve been secure because it wasn’t bugged. But how could you know I wasn’t the mole?
23.8 SANA Because it’s you.
23.9 ARKADY Who’d you meet on Hafizah?
23.10 SANA Do you hear something?
23.11 ARKADY Yeah, a weakass subject change.
23.12 SANA Are you sure you took down all the security?
24.1 ARKADY The main system. But people could’ve brought their own on board.
24.2 AGENT MCCABE Jun--Agent McCabe here. Use of the phrase ‘on board’ suggests a ship. There are minimal conditions under which even a very experienced pilot could dock a smuggling vessel with a target as small and erratic as an abandoned spacecraft. However, in prior cases, it has proven possible. My team will continue to dig into this.
24.3 SANA ...I think it’s just a broken fan.
24.5 ARKADY Thank god. Let’s move.
24.6 SOUND Rapid steps on tile under this whole conversation. Echo.
24.7 ARKADY Look, if you don’t wanna answer my question, that’s fine, as long as you respect my intelligence enough to admit what you’re doing.
24.7 SANA (Sigh) The person I met with on Hafizah, it was Ricky Q.
24.8 ARKADY What!? Why?
25.1 SANA Because he had the data to make it sound like he had a source onboard. I didn’t realize until later that he must’ve gotten his intel from a leak in the IGR.
25.2 ARKADY You should’ve brought me.
25.3 SANA You would’ve stabbed him in the gut.
25.4 ARKADY Kinda my point.
25.5 SANA Believe me, the thought occurred to me. He wanted help faking his death so he could ditch that persona and land some lucrative government contract.
25.6 ARKADY The family business?
25.7 SANA He and his family aren’t speaking.
25.8 ARKADY I meant, prisons.
25.9 SANA Shit. That would make--a lot of sense.
26.1 ARKADY D’you get the feeling that something big is coming down the line? Why would they need another prison-planet? What the hell are they planning?
26.2 SANA A crackdown.
26.3 ARKADY A big one.
26.4 JUNIOR AGENT GOODMAN Returning to Source 12-B.
26.5 BRIAN Okay, the first part, I think I know what it is. Alvy used to rib me on Ryedell about how I had the same password for everything.
26.6 VIOLET What is it?
26.7 BRIAN No offense, dude, but I am not telling you or the, like, dozen evil government spies--
26.8 VIOLET Yeah, fair, sorry.
26.9 KREJJH But what’s it the password to?
26.10 BRIAN A lady with a familiar voice. And it’s easy.
26.11 VIOLET Hang on. What if he didn’t say “easy”? Uh, can we just play that part again?
27.1 ALVY --when you hear her. It’s E.C.
27.2 VIOLET E.C. Am I way overreaching here, or is he saying E--C, like initials, like--
27.3 KREJJH Emily Craddock. From ADVANCE labs.
27.4 BRIAN Yeah, but man, I am like ninety five percent sure we’ve never met. And that includes her voice.
27.5 VIOLET If she did P.R., we might be able to find an old clip of her, see if it jogs your memory?
27.6 BRIAN Maybe, dude. Maybe. Let’s see…(FX: typing) ADVANCE labs, Emily Craddock. Let’s try ‘ADVANCE Labs tour’’.
27.7 GRATUITOUSLY PLEASANT FEMALE TV ANNOUNCER As you can see, the first ten floors of the facility--
27.8 VIOLET Oh my god.
27.9 GRATUITOUSLY PLEASANT FEMALE TV ANNOUNCER --are available to the public, providing state-of-the-art--
27.10 VIOLET Pause it.
28.1 KREJJH Science Officer Liu, you know who that is?
28.2 VIOLET Computer, current interior temperature.
28.3 GRATUITOUSLY PLEASANT FEMALE VOICE The current interior temperature is--
28.4 VIOLET Computer, stop. Krejjh, hit play.
28.5 GRATUITOUSLY PLEASANT FEMALE TV ANNOUNCER --security and environmental control to anyone who--
28.6 KREJJH Huh.
28.7 VIOLET The team that made E.L.L.A. had to get a voice from somewhere, right?
28.8 BRIAN Liberal arts degree, I mean, there’s weirder side gigs.
28.9 VIOLET If Emily Craddock worked on E.L.L.A., she might have a test account, right?
28.10 BRIAN You think that’s what the password’s for? Like, he reset her log-in?
29.1 VIOLET (RESOLUTE) Computer. User name Emily Craddock.
29.2 GRATUITOUSLY PLEASANT FEMALE VOICE User name recognized. Password?
29.3 VIOLET God, that is so creepy.
29.4 GRATUITOUSLY PLEASANT FEMALE VOICE I’m sorry, your password is incorrect. Would you like to try again?
29.5 BRIAN Computer, user name Emily Craddock.
29.6 GRATUITOUSLY PLEASANT FEMALE VOICE User name recognized. Password?
29.7 BRIAN Computer, change input to keyboard.
29.8 GRATUITOUSLY PLEASANT FEMALE VOICE Input changed. Password?
29.9 SOUND FX: sound of Brian typing his password, “OrangeGunk78” [His cowboy name and then the year he graduated.
29.10 GRATUITOUSLY PLEASANT FEMALE VOICE Welcome, Emily Craddock. You have no new messages.
29.11 VIOLET Computer, check recent outgoing messages.
30.1 GRATUITOUSLY PLEASANT FEMALE VOICE. You have no recent outgoing messages.
30.2 BRIAN Hang on. Alvy said that when he and his friends worked on the same piece of software, they used to leave each other messages in their test accounts, in the drafts folder. It’s kind of a long shot, but-- Computer, check recent drafts.
30.3 GRATUITOUSLY PLEASANT FEMALE VOICE. You have one recent draft. Composed 15 May 2191, last accessed 1 June 2191.
30.4 BRIAN Uh, computer. Review draft.
30.5 AGENT MCCABE Agent McCabe here, intercutting with a critical piece of Transmission 12C.
30.6 SOUND Rapid tile floor footsteps
30.7 SANA Here we are.
30.8 ARKADY Thank god.
30.9 SOUND Sudden bright, cheerful music.
30.10 SOUND Ding ding ding!)
31.1 ARKADY Shit!
31.2 CHEESY CASINO ROBOT Jackpot! Is today your lucky day? Pull the lever and find out!
31.3 ARKADY Shut it up!
31.4 SANA There’s nothing to hit it with!
31.5 ARKADY Rip the arm off!
31.6 CHEESY CASINO ROBOT --Fortune favors the bold, here on the opulent, beautiful--
31.7 SOUND The sound of Sana ripping the arm off a futuristic mobile gambling device and then using that arm to beat the machine into submission.
31.8 CHEESY CASINO ROBOT (FX: badly distorted) --one-of-a-kind G--
31.9 SOUND One last bash to the machine, and it dies.
31.10 ARKADY Shit.
32.1 AGENT MCCABE Agent McCabe. Gambling has, of course, been illegal since the dawn of the Republic, when all known slot machines in human-occupied space were destroyed. The presence of one here narrows our search to a small number of vessels constructed before 2180. The question remains how the Rumor was able to make landing.
32.2 ARKADY That’s gotta be enough to trace us.
32.3 SANA They can’t act instantaneously. Captain Tripathi to Krejjh. (FX: comm noise)
32.4 KREJJH I’m here, what’s up?
32.5 SANA It’s a matter of time ‘til we’re located. Me and Arkady are coming with the fuel, and then we need to push hard.
32.6 KREJJH You know I love a good dashing escape.
32.7 SANA Great, get ready to dash. Sana Tripathi out.
32.8 SOUND Comm end noise.
33.1 AGENT MCCABE Agent McCabe here. In the summer of ‘77, a luxury gambling ship called The Gay Louisa was reported lost in space. The following decade saw multiple alleged sightings of the ship. Witnesses claimed the Gay Louisa appeared deserted and did not respond to hails, but continued traveling at a speed described as “leisurely.”
33.2 JUNIOR AGENT GOODMAN Junior Agent Goodman. In rare cases, an unpiloted craft can be pulled into the orbit of a body with sufficient mass. Three dozen stars exist in this region, and while the odds of this happening are not stellar, a wide enough orbit could create the impression of slow flight.
33.3 AGENT MCCABE The chief engineer of the Gay Louisa is still living. While he was of course unable to reactivate the ship’s tracking, he did provide contact information for several private security systems onboard. In the meantime, Transmission B.
33.4 GRATUITOUSLY PLEASANT FEMALE VOICE/EMILY CRADDOCK (Not gratuitously pleasant so much as very tense.) There’s not a lot of secure avenues right now. It’s probably for the best you changed your password, but--god, I hope you still check my log-in on this stupid, stupid program.
34.1 GPV/EMILY CRADDOCK CONT'D I hope you check it tonight. There’s been--a change of plans. Thasia is alive. The Regime’s been keeping them this whole time, in a tank, like a zoo animal-- We had to make a call. Recon or no, Thasia is too important to leave like this. They look pretty sick and they were only half-lucid. Kept saying something about little ears everywhere, but they’re sleeping now, right here, and I think they might even be okay. I estimate we have about an hour before someone notices they’re gone, and from there, it won’t be too hard to figure out it was an inside job. Not a lot of people with the combined clearance to do what we just did. If it’s not too late, you need to leave. Now. Your new identity is waiting, where we discussed. It turns out Project Sentry isn’t a drone or a missile, or--anything I can understand. I’m attaching some files, maybe you can make head or tails of it all. We just saw a lot of glass tanks, most of them empty. One of them not. I know you’re clever enough to know when something’s up, but I worry about you getting out in time. I wish I had a better way to contact you, but she didn’t even want me risking this. Be careful, and when you get here, you can tell me what the hell is going on.
EMILY CONT’D OVER
35.1 GPV/EMILY CRADDOCK CONT'D Oh, and don’t worry, I scanned the shit out of this train car before I started recording. We’re clear. (coughs) See you soon. (coughs, worse)
35.2 GRATUITOUSLY PLEASANT FEMALE VOICE Message ended.
35.3 BRIAN Krejjh? You okay, bud?
35.4 KREJJH Thasia is alive…
35.5 VIOLET Well. Thasia was alive.
35.6 KREJJH The murder of Thasia was half the reason we went to war in the first place. If our politicians knew they were lying to us...
35.7 BRIAN How much better would it be if the IGR had Thasia as a prisoner this whole time?
35.8 KREJJH I dunno... Lequezzek, Thasia...
35.9 VIOLET Craddock mentioned files. Do we have them?
35.10 SOUND clicking, typing
35.11 BRIAN We do, but uh...
36.1 VIOLET Oh wow. Yeah, that’s an Arkady problem. What Craddock said about Project Sentry. A sentry is a guard, right?
36.2 BRIAN Or a lookout.
36.3 KREJJH Do we think...maybe those tanks weren’t empty?
36.4 BRIAN I think we do, bud.
36.5 VIOLET So Alvy gets on the Iris, realizes something is wrong, and assumes he’s being targeted by the Regime for his involvement with ADVANCE. He knows, maybe from his association with Emily Craddock, that the IGR took the wrong Violet.
36.6 BRIAN He sends us the first transmission, with his location and a code urging us to find the other Violet. Then, maybe when his head’s cleared a little, he thinks to log into her account on ELLA. If Alvy made it, it’s probably the most secure system she could access. He was good. Alvy gets Emily’s message and starts examining the files. But the Iris is already contaminated with the nanoswarm.
36.7 KREJJH They’d heard everything as soon as he’d hit play.
37.1 VIOLET Alvy makes some sense of the files, puts together all the little weirdnesses in the mission that I never did, and realizes he doesn’t have much time left.
37.2 BRIAN He makes his second transmission....we were always gonna be too late to help him.
37.3 KREJJH Aw, hey.
37.4 BRIAN That should make this easier, right? We weren’t too slow, it was just hopeless. He died knowing it was hopeless.
37.5 VIOLET Look, he sent that first message to you because he had faith in you, right? He had faith in you, and in t he other Violet. He believed you had the ability to figure this out, whatever it is.
37.6 KREJJH And we will, Crewman Jeeter. We will. We are clever and we are valiant, and we will sample the full range of triumph in our brave and attractive nostrils. That doesn’t translate very well.
37.7 BRIAN I got the gist, bud.
38.1 KREJJH Crewman Jeeter, do you want a hug?
38.2 BRIAN Wouldn’t say no.
38.3 SOUND Comm noise
38.4 SOUND Two sets of running footsteps, wheels rolling quickly, sirens in the background
38.5 SANA (running) Krejjh, dial up those blueprints again, we need an alternate path to the airlock!
38.6 VIOLET What’s going on?
38.7 ARKADY Automated bodyguards.
38.8 AUTOMATED BODYGUARD This is Unit 384. Intruder sighted! Stop or firing will commence in ten seconds. TEN.
38.9 BRIAN Aren’t those things notoriously clunky?
38.10 AUTOMATED BODYGUARD NINE
38.11 ARKADY Yeah, but we’re wheeling a large tank of fuel, do what she says!
39.1 AGENT MCCABE Agent McCabe, switching over to Transmission 12-C.
39.2 AUTOMATED BODYGUARD EIGHT
39.3 ARKADY We need to abandon the tank!
39.4 SANA We’re dead in the water without it!
39.5 AUTOMATED BODYGUARD SEVEN
39.6 ARKADY Look, the robot’s basically a motion detector. You freeze, I’ll draw it off--
39.7 AUTOMATED BODYGUARD SIX
39.8 ARKADY --you duck behind that corner--
39.9 SANA I don’t love this plan.
39.10 AUTOMATED BODYGUARD FIVE
39.11 ARKADY You’ve got 4 seconds to get a better one.
39.12 AUTOMATED BODYGUARD FOUR
40.1 ARKADY Hey. This thing’s an antique. You don’t trust me to take it?
40.2 AUTOMATED BODYGUARD THREE
40.3 SANA Fine. Do it. See you soon.
40.4 SOUND One set of running footsteps
40.5 AUTOMATED BODYGUARD TWO
40.6 AUTOMATED BODYGUARD ONE
40.7 SOUND A hail of bullets
40.8 SOUND The sounds of Arkady jumping and weaving, as she dodges the clumsy spray of bullets.
40.9 ARKADY (a hiss of pain)
40.10 SOUND A bullet from a different gun, Arkady’s. The sizzle of fried electronics.
40.11 SOUND Arkady’s footsteps)
40.12 VIOLET Arkady? Are you guys okay?
41.1 ARKADY (clenched teeth) Fine.
41.2 SANA Arkady, you’re bleeding.
41.3 ARKADY (Clenched teeth) God, Sana, don’t be such a Negative Nelly.
41.4 VIOLET She’s bleeding?
41.5 ARKADY Not from any place vital, don’t get dramatic.
41.6 SOUND Two sets of footsteps, tank being wheeled
41.7 ARKADY Look, if one person brought private security, odds are other people did, too. I don’t have the ammo to face down a pile of those.
41.8 BRIAN Yeah, looking at the blueprints, think your best bet is to grab the elevator to the maintenance tunnels. You should be able to take them back around and up to the airlock. Where are you at?
41.9 SANA Just rounded the corner from the engine room, looks like...the Forsythia Ballroom is to our three o clock.
41.10 BRIAN Let’s see...
42.1 AUTOMATED BODYGUARD This is Unit 749. Intruder sighted! Stop or firing will commence in ten seconds. TEN.
42.2 ARKADY Brian? You wanna work a little faster?
42.3 AUTOMATED BODYGUARD NINE
42.4 BRIAN Go west to the light pool, and turn the only way you can, dude.
42.5 AUTOMATED BODYGUARD EIGHT
42.6 ARKADY West? We’re not standing on a map!
42.7 AUTOMATED BODYGUARD SEVEN
42.8 BRIAN Sorry, sorry--your, uh, noon.
42.9 ARKADY Thank you.
42.10 AUTOMATED BODYGUARD SIX
42.11 SOUND The sounds of Arkady shooting the hell out of the robot, the robot frying.
42.12 SANA Come on.
43.1 SOUND Two sets of footsteps, tank being wheeled
43.2 SANA Violet, we need you down at the airlock.
43.3 VIOLET Got it.
43.4 BRIAN Alright, you’ll see a branching hallway, you’ll wanna go right.
43.5 ARKADY No, Brian, we don’t. It’s full of those things. Shit.
43.6 BRIAN What, d’you think they detected you?
43.7 AUTOMATED BODYGUARD This is Unit 295. Intruder sighted! Stop or firing will commence in ten seconds. TEN. / This is Unit 473. Intruder sighted! Stop or firing will commence in ten seconds. TEN / This is Unit 247. Intruder sighed! Stop or firing will commence in ten seconds. TEN. / This is Unit 975. Intruder sighted! Stop or firing will commence in ten seconds. TEN.
43.8 SANA Think so.
44.1 BRIAN Alright, wait, you can take the left branch and double around.
44.2 AUTOMATED BODYGUARDS NINE / NINE / NINE / NINE
44.3 BRIAN Then you wanna turn left, pass the hydroponics lab, turn right at the fourth ballroom--
44.4 AUTOMATED BODYGUARDS EIGHT / EIGHT/ EIGHT/ EIGHT
44.5 ARKADY Which one?
44.6 BRIAN It’s the Hyacinth room, so it’s probably light blue?
44.7 AUTOMATED BODYGUARDS SEVEN / SEVEN / SEVEN / SEVEN
44.8 BRIAN Service entrance on your three o’clock.
44.9 SANA I see it.
44.10 AUTOMATED BODYGUARDS SIX / SIX / SIX / SIX
44.11 BRIAN Take the elevator down to, uh, level 4 point 5.
44.12 AUTOMATED BODYGUARDS FIVE / FIVE / FIVE / FIVE
45.1 SANA Wow, there is just -- no cover.
45.2 AUTOMATED BODYGUARDS FOUR / FOUR / FOUR / FOUR
45.3 AUTOMATED BODYGUARDS THREE / THREE / THREE / THREE
45.4 SOUND Elevator doors open, the wheeling and footsteps enter the elevator and pause, elevator doors shut.
45.7 SOUND FX: DISTANT GUNFIRE AS THE ELEVATOR DESCENDS
45.8 BRIAN You good?
45.9 SANA Yeah.
45.10 BRIAN Once you’re there, back to the kitchen, it’s a straight shot to the next service elevator.
45.11 SANA Thank you, Brian.
45.12 ARKADY Yeah. Thanks.
45.13 BRIAN Happy to help.
45.14 AGENT MCCABE No relevant audio again until half an hour after the Rumor’s departure from The Gay Louisa.
46.1 ARKADY (Hiss of pain) That stings.
46.2 VIOLET That’s how you know the antiseptic’s working.
46.3 ARKADY Sure it’s supposed to sting this much?
46.4 VIOLET Do you have any allergies?
46.5 ARKADY Yeah, to pain.
46.6 VIOLET (REALIZING ARKADY IS JUST BEING A BABY) Well then, maybe reconsider all the running around getting shot.
46.7 ARKADY Why, Liu? Were you worried?
46.8 VIOLET ...I think you’re smart enough to know that.
46.9 ARKADY It was nothing. I’ll be fine.
46.10 VIOLET That’s not how worry works.
46.11 ARKADY Look, um. I’m sorry. That I got shot. Are you mad at me?
47.1 VIOLET No. Yes, a little. Mostly just--furious at this whole situation. (PAUSE) Did you really call Sana a Negative Nelly?
47.2 ARKADY Adrenaline makes you do stupid things.
47.3 VIOLET Yeah. Don’t move that arm, the gel needs to set for the sutures to stabilize. I know, it’s not fun. Look, are you sure you don’t want more painkillers? I could make you up a syringe of Heptocaldrin, you’d be asleep in half a second.
47.4 ARKADY No good. I need to stay awake.
47.5 VIOLET Well, is there anything I could get you?
47.6 ARKADY How far am I overstepping if I ask for a hug? (PAUSE) (BACKING OUT OF IT) Uh, let’s--we can chalk that up to adrenaline, too.
47.7 VIOLET No, I’m just--trying to figure out how to do this without hurting you. Non-injured side-hug?
47.8 ARKADY Yeah. Just steer clear of--
47.9 VIOLET I know...hey, Arkady? Are you ever suddenly very aware that everything we say is being monitored?
48.1 ARKADY All the goddamn time.
48.2 AGENT MCCABE Source A’s primary injury seems to be located on her arm, along with a more minor wound of some kind, likely on the trunk or opposite thigh. Unfortunately, we are forced to conclude that neither is life-threatening.
48.3 JUNIOR AGENT GOODMAN Junior Agent Goodman here. Picking up with Transmission C, roughly 20 minutes later.
48.4 BRIAN Hang on. We’re logged into Emily Craddock’s account, right? And that means we have access to all her pre-sets, and all her contacts--
48.5 ARKADY Yeah?
48.6 BRIAN Computer, outside call. Emily Craddock to Violet Liu.
48.7 GRATUITOUSLY PLEASANT FEMALE VOICE Attempting connection.
48.8 ARKADY Computer, cancel call.
48.9 GRATUITOUSLY PLEASANT FEMALE VOICE Connection ended.
49.1 ARKADY Are we sure about this? Do we really wanna lead the Regime right to--whoever she is?.
49.2 BRIAN Alvy wanted us to find her.
49.3 KREJJH We’re not leading them anywhere; they can’t track her by voice.
49.4 ARKADY That we know of. What about environmental sounds? We don’t know who she’s with, what she’s doing--
49.5 GRATUITOUSLY PLEASANT FEMALE VOICE Incoming call to--Emily Craddock from--Violet Liu. Incoming call to--
49.6 SANA We’ve come this far, we have to risk it.
49.7 STRANGER’S VOICE Hello?
49.8 SANA Violet Liu?
49.9 STRANGER’S VOICE Yeah, who is this?
49.10 SANA It’s a long story, but please, we need to talk to you.
49.11 STRANGER’S VOICE Who are you? You’re not Agent Craddock, Agent Craddock is dead.
50.1 VIOLET What’s that? Violet, we’re losing you, the connection is coming in and out--
50.2 STRANGER’S VOICE I don’t understand, who are you?
50.3 VIOLET We can’t hear you, we need to disconnect and try again.
50.4 GRATUITOUSLY PLEASANT FEMALE VOICE Connection ended.
50.5 BRIAN What’s going on?
50.6 VIOLET That’s not her. That’s not the other Violet Liu.
50.7 ARKADY Are you sure.
50.8 VIOLET I am positive.
50.9 KREJJH Agent Craddock...Agent...
50.10 SANA Then who is she?
50.11 KREJJH Who are they.
50.12 SANA You’re right, we don’t know this person’s pronouns.
51.1 KREJJH No, I mean. You really couldn’t tell? Crewman Jeeter!
51.2 BRIAN Yeah, I think you’re right. Modern exo-Dwarnian uses a couple of sounds the human ear can’t really make or detect without a ton of training. One of them tends to creep into “juh” words.
51.3 KREJJH Like “agent.” Computer, outside call. Emily Craddock to Violet Liu.
51.4 GRATUITOUSLY PLEASANT VOICE Attempting connection.
51.5 STRANGER’S VOICE Hello? Who is this.
51.6 KREJJH Hey, hi, the name’s Krejjh. As you’ve probably guessed, I pilot this ship. I’m here with my human boss, Captain Tripathi, her human first mate, First Mate Patel, our human Science Officer Liu, and Crewman Jeeter, who is also a human, but my fiance, that’s right, we are in love--
51.7 STRANGER’S VOICE ...Krejjh? That’s...not a human name.
51.8 KREJJH Howdy. Sa shwa-le Thasia?
52.1 STRANGER’S VOICE Chr’u. Chr’u! Lequezzek! Krejjh. Krejjh. Schwa-le sh’Eejjhgreb?
52.2 KREJJH Chr’u.
52.3 STRANGER’S VOICE O sav-le owth emreh-reesh, human?
52.4 BRIAN Dwajjah leejsha, Thasia. Shwa-thay Brian Jeeter.
52.5 SANA Brian?
52.6 BRIAN It’s Thasia.
52.7 STRANGER’S VOICE (THASIA) Lequezzek….
52.8 KREJJH Listen, we have some questions for you.
52.9 THASIA I’d imagine you do.
52.10 OTHER STRANGER Who’s that voice?
52.11 THASIA Oh, you’re back! Did you sleep well?
52.12 OTHER STRANGER I told you not to answer my comm link--who are you talking to?
52.13 VIOLET Hi, Violet. It’s, uh, Violet. From school?
53.1 AGENT MCCABE End of transmission.
For more on Source D, formerly “Krejjh,” see file marked Brittony LeFever.
For more on Source Zero, formerly “Violet Liu,” see file marked Cindy Chu.
For more on Source B, formerly “Brian Jeeter,” see file marked Jamie Price.
For more on Source A, formerly “Arkady Patel,” see file marked Ishani Kanetkar.
For more on Source C, formerly “Sana Tripathi,” see file marked Rukhmani Desai.
Agent Kaiser is currently working to identify Unverified Voice One.
Agent Chiang has concluded it is highly likely that Unverified Voice Two belongs to Violet Liu, class of Harmony College ‘83.
Thanks, of course, to Major General J. Golding Frederick.
Thanks to Agent Oliva [pronounced o-LEE-vuh] and Agent Paez for their cooperation on obtaining transmission zero-dash zero zero.
The Gay Louisa was designed by Manisha Chakravarthy of the firm Ella Moira Seet Inc. Our thanks also to Duke Renaldo from Private Security Systems. Finding the ship’s location and orbit should help us chart possible trajectories for the Rumor.
This report has been transcribed by Ensign Best, with direction from Agents Clark and Seiders. If you need to review a written version, please access procyonpodcasts.com. That’s p-r-o-c-y-o-n podcasts dot com. Additional thanks to Agent Bauman, and to the specialists at Procyon.
54.1 AGENT MCCABE This is Agent McCabe, codename Andrews, uh, still filling in for Agent Park.
54.2 GENERAL Given Source C’s increased awareness of Project Sentinel, it is unclear how much more useful data is to be gained from the Rumor transmissions. This illustrates the importance of incorporating a failsafe into the VCN nanocloud. The lab chiefs have been briefed on this matter, and Strain K should be able to include a kill-switch by early 2195. Long live the republic.
54.3 JUNIOR AGENT GOODMAN --sure you don’t want to talk about it?
54.4 AGENT MCCABE Talk about what, Junior Agent Goodman.
54.5 JUNIOR AGENT GOODMAN We had the same job last week, McCabe, don’t pull rank on me.
55.1 AGENT MCCABE We did, and now we don’t. Talk about what, Junior Agent.
55.2 JUNIOR AGENT GOODMAN Park--your partner--is just gone? I mean, that’s freaky, right? You worked with this guy, and now you’re...sitting in his chair.
55.3 AGENT MCCABE The chair’s government property, it was never his.
55.4 JUNIOR AGENT GOODMAN Are you sure he even did anything?
55.5 AGENT MCCABE Any enemy of the Republic’s an enemy of mine. ...Are you recording this?