Starship Iris Minisode 1. Airplay
Written by Jessica Best
The Strange Case of Starship Iris. Mini Episode One: Airplay. FX: RADIO TUNING NOISES
Hello and welcome to Radio Free Telemachus, giving you all the news we know, for as long as we can!
KESTREL (A LITTLE OFF-MIC) Oof.
...yeah, that sounded cheerier in my head. Hey, do the thing!
KESTREL What thing?
KESTREL It was a joke.
PIPER It was perfect. C’mon, we can always edit it out later.
KESTREL You know what “live” means, right? When Reina says “we’re live” it’s not, like, a...life-affirming statement--
PIPER Hold on, she’s gesturing from the booth. She’s saying...you should do the thing.
(SIGH) (SINGS A VERY CHEERFUL STATION JINGLE) Rad-i-o Free Telemachus! Hot takes, cool beats, transmission that they can’t defeat! Rad-i-o Free Telemachus!
PIPER There we go.
I’m Piper Tanaka, not my real name, and I’m here alongside the lady known as Kestrel Colvin, with Reina Sakamachi in the booth, broadcasting straight from the void to you on this beautiful July evening.
PIPER l’m assuming. Hard to tell from up here. Mostly we see floating rubble, all the shit still orbiting Telemachus all these years after the Battle of Five Corners, how time flies. But the rubble looks good today, rock n roll fans, the rubble looks real good today.
We are officially one week out from the altercation on New Jupiter that shook the underground, and unleashed what we’re calling the Iris Casefiles into the public consciousness. For those of you with a good VPN.
PIPER Right. If you don’t have that figured out yet, Kess and Reina will be hosting another skillshare tomorrow night, talking you through all the steps you need to access those tasty forbidden files.
More on what we’ve learned from the Casefiles at the top of the hour. As far as we know, the crew of the Rumor has yet to be apprehended.
PIPER For now, let’s operate on the assumption that no news is good news on that front. One catastrophe at a time, friends, one catastrophe at a time.
KESTREL (URGENT) Hey--
Right, and on that note, we’re receiving reports that Regime agents are starting another wave of raids on unlicensed comm tech, so if you live in Calton, Mictlan City, or Northeast San Ramos, keep your equipment well-hidden.
KESTREL And powered down.
PIPER And powered way the hell down. Thanks as always to our people on the inside for the tip-off.
Other news on Telemachus...protest on West San Ramos tomorrow night is, as of now, still a go. Bring your gas masks and your sturdiest shoes. None of that open-toed shit, rock n roll fans.
KESTREL Nobody in San Ramos is goofus enough to wear flip flops to a riot.
PIPER Well, now they’re not.
Okay, time for a music break! We’ve got “This Glorious Chaos” from How I Became Invisible, fresh off their album “Unidentified.”
FX: MUSIC STARTS
FX: IRIS 2 INTERIOR DOORS OPEN
FX: MUSIC IS TURNED DOWN
BRIAN Hey, bud! Are you finally off-shift?
KREJJH Crewman Park’s watching the controls. He said I should go snuggle you.
...he told me to get some rest, but he was totally winking. (PAUSE) Or blinking? Hard to say.
BRIAN Well, who are we to reject his advice? C’mere.
FX: RUSTLE OF KREJJH LYING DOWN
BRIAN It’s been a long ten hours.
BRIAN For what, dude?
I know I’ve been grabbier, lately, since--
BRIAN (GENTLY) Since we almost died?
KREJJH Since our extremely daring and dashing adventure, which had, oh yeah, that’s right, a zero percent fatality rate.
The way the facts are shaking out, it’s starting to look like we can’t be killed. How does that old saying go? “Death fears our names, and life has a mondo crush on us.”
KREJJH And who could blame life? Check out that bone structure!
BRIAN It’s not a hardship, holding you.
BRIAN I was there on New Jupiter, too.
KREJJH I know.
BRIAN There was a moment, when I couldn’t get in touch with you, where I really thought maybe--
KREJJH Crewman Jeeter. Can we please talk more about sensible things? BRIAN Sensible--
KREJJH Like how handsome you are. Ask me how handsome you are.
KREJJH Handsome as dang.
BRIAN Thanks, you’re looking pretty great yourself.
Hey, they’re gonna do a whole piece about us.
BRIAN Your favorite station.
First Mate Patel got RiFT working again?
BRIAN Sounds like it.
VOLUME IS TURNED UP AGAIN
PIPER (HURRIEDLY) Hello again, listeners! Sorry, uh, we’re experiencing some minor technical difficulties--
KESTREL (CUTTING TO THE CHASE) The Regime’s trying to shut us down.
PIPER Yeah, uh, we’ve received reports that ships have begun sweeping portions of the rubble around Telemachus, trying to locate our signal. They’re nowhere near us, to be clear.
PIPER Yet. Point being, we’re a little busy right now, figuring out what Step Two looks like. In the meantime, we take you to whatever we had queued up next…?
PIPER (NERVOUS LAUGH) Yeah. Let’s listen to Castastrophe. (OFF MIC) Great omen, there.
(MUSIC STARTS, and we listen for maybe 20 seconds before it is turned down) BRIAN Well, that’s. Not encouraging.
KREJJH They’re gonna be okay.
BRIAN You know that for sure?
KREJJH What’s the earth expression, “like trying to find a needle in a…?”
BRIAN Haystack, yeah.
KREJJH You’ve watched me fly us to Telemachus, you know how thick the debris is out there. And RiFT talks a big game, but there’s only three of ‘em; their ship’s gotta be small. Tiny needle, and a heck of a lot of hay. Their odds are good.
BRIAN Unless somebody brings a magnet.
KREJJH How hard is the Regime really gonna try to find two DJs and a sound person when there’s all the protests to worry about.
BRIAN People listen to RiFT. A lot of people. And the Regime loves its symbolism.
KREJJH Yeah. Okay. Do we think it’s worth waking up--
BRIAN I think it is. Uh, Brian Jeeter to Arkady Patel.
ELLA Attempting connection. Attempting connection. Attempting connection.
BRIAN She must...really be sleeping.
KREJJH (AN INKLING OF AN IDEA) Krejjh to Violet Liu.
ELLA Attempting-- ARKADY What.
KREJJH First Mate Patel! How’s Science Officer Liu?
ARKADY I--why should I know?
BRIAN You answered her comm, dude.
BRIAN How does that even--is she okay?
ARKADY She’s fine, she’s napping, she’s--. (PAUSE) none of your goddamn business.
KREJJH We need your help.
ARKADY Make it quick.
KREJJH (INSINUATING) Why?
ARKADY Quick and impersonal.
BRIAN They’re trying to shut down Radio Free Telemachus.
BRIAN The Regime’s combing the area, and I don’t care if there’s a lot of area--
ARKADY Yeah. I’ll see what I can do.
KREJJH When will you know what you can do?
ARKADY Krejjh, if there was a button labeled “Hack every Regime network and bring the whole system down,” I would’ve pressed it many goddamn years ago.
PIPER And we’re back! And you’re listening to Radio Free Telemachus.
KESTREL (SINGING) Rad-i-o Free Telemachus! News and songs out from the stars/ beyond the reach of the IGR--
So! It’s the top of the hour!
We said we’d give you the rundown of what we know now, thanks to the Iris Casefiles, and that is what we are gonna do.
KREJJH They still sound nervous.
ARKADY They have reason to be. I’ll comm you when I’ve got something. Arkady Patel out.
COMM END SOUND
Just before the start of the war, a peace-loving Dwarnian nomad--? Kestrel’s making a face.
KESTREL Nomad doesn’t fit. It’s a religious thing, like a pilgrim.
PIPER Sorry, I’m too American, “pilgrim” just makes me think, like, hat buckles and genocide. A holy wanderer, how’s that, named Thasia arrived at Central Universal Intelligence headquarters in New Jupiter.
Thasia knew various factions in the Dwarnian government were advocating for war against humans.
PIPER And crucially, Thasia brought along a friend, a sentient swarm of alien-made nanobots that ate scrap metal and could record and transmit audio.
KREJJH (STAGE WHISPER) Weird to hear the story from the start.
PIPER Operating on the belief that there was no such thing as a good Dwarnian, our noble Regime responded by imprisoning and torturing Thasia, and beginning what they called Project Sentry, which aimed to convert the swarm into an unthinking parasite, the ultimate in wildly immoral listening devices.
So congratulations to all you conspiracy hounds and tin hat cats, because just this once, you were right.
KESTREL Unless you were blaming the mothman, in which case--
PIPER In which case, stop calling us, Cody. You think you’ve got a hot tip but you don’t.
KESTREL (OVERLAPPING) You really, really don’t.
Anyway. The disappearance of Thasia kicked off the Dwarnian-Human war. Meanwhile, the Regime scientists created a new strain of swarm, which lived in its hosts’ lungs, feeding off the iron in the blood.
KESTREL Gross. So gross.
PIPER Kess, are you afraid of blood?
KESTREL I’m afraid of--microscopic robots that live inside you against your will and narc on you to the feds, is that so wild?
KESTREL Also, not that into anemia.
Point. Anyway, word got out to the crew of the Rumor, a little smuggling operation captained by Sana Tripathi. With help from First Mate and, I’m just guessing, wall of muscle Arkady Patel, they managed to rescue the one survivor of a government cover-up: a biologist named Violet Liu--a different Violet Liu than the Regime’s actual target. That’s right, they tried, and failed, to kill the wrong woman. Who hasn’t been there, listeners?
With the help of a human translator, Brian Jeeter, and his Dwarnian fiancee, Krejjh, the crew--
PIPER Hang on, hang on.
KESTREL What? (CATCHING ON) No.
PIPER Listeners, we have got to talk about the tension between Arkady Patel and Violet Liu. I’m telling you, there is chemistry.
KESTREL Can we not speculate on-air about people who are real and hopefully alive?
PIPER The recordings cut out before we can confirm anything, but as long as we’re sharing theories-- KESTREL This is terrible journalism!
PIPER I’m not a journalist, I’m a DJ in a tin can, and my theory--
KESTREL OH WOW HOW STRANGE THAT I CAN NO LONGER HEAR YOU LA LA LA
(RUSHED) My theory is they kissed!
Ha! Ten points to Announcer Tanaka!
It’s so rare we get good news out here. Let me have this. C’mon, a love story beginning as everything else goes to shit? You don’t think there’s something beautiful about that?
If the one thing we the media can give them is a little privacy, don’t we owe them that? Speaking as a journalist in a tin can, I can’t say if they’re together. I just want them to be happy.
PIPER Wow. Somewhere within the protective layers of leather jacket beats a soft heart.
KESTREL (MUMBLED) It’s not real leather.
PIPER Of course it’s not.
KESTREL Shut up.
PIPER There we go!
Meanwhile, the Rumor crew plus Violet Liu had a couple of memorable tangles, including a confrontation with the slimy Ricky Q, and Telemachus’s own Ignatius Campbell! Who we now know was totally innocent of any bugging or spying! He just wanted to help his friends.
Ignatius Campbell, people!
A class act.
PIPER Captain Tripathi sure seems to think so…
KESTREL Seriously, this could be a one-woman show. I’m fine with that.
PIPER You’d have to fill all the airtime by yourself…
KESTREL (PIPER HAS A POINT) You do make a lot of noise...
Eventually, the Rumor crew discovered the alien robot swarm cloud, and made use of an obscure law requiring the agents listening in to investigate any possible lead, by getting drunk and inventing crimes, which is always a recipe for a good night. In fact, for any agents listening in right now, I should tell you about the time Kestrel, Reina, and I went on a bit of a road trip--
FX: INCOMING COMM SOUND BRIAN
Arkady, what’ve you got for us?
ARKADY We are gonna pull an “I Am Spartacus.”
KREJJH A what?
ARKADY Doesn’t matter. Look, I can’t hack all the IGR systems at once, but I can...create false leads directing them to various coordinates all around Telemachus. And then I can...program an algorithm that does nothing but generate false leads, each coming from its own unique address, and goddamn bury them.
KREJJH Will that work?
ARKADY No idea.
BRIAN Any sense of the odds?
ARKADY That’s not how “no idea” works.
KREJJH When will we know?
ARKADY When the announcers don’t die? Look, if you’ve still got something you pray to, I’m not stopping you. Otherwise, all we can do at this point is wait and listen.
PIPER --and to this day, whenever I look back at our crime spree, I have to smile fondly, and wonder where exactly that mannequin decorated to look like the governor ended up, and if its cover was ever even blown, or if it’s still propped up somewhere in that mansion, back straight, smiling stiffly--
KESTREL --but no less stiffly than the real Governor Celeste.
PIPER So! Now comes my favorite part of the story, where the Rumor crew managed to land undetected on New Jupiter. The tapes run out before this point--
KESTREL --because they cured themselves of the tiny robots in their lungs, to be clear. It’s good news.
PIPER So no more transmissions, but here are the facts: two explosions, one in the shipyard and one on the top floor of the CUI building itself. One Major General found babbling with a syringe of Hepto-Caldrin sticking out of her leg.
PIPER Several agents shot, two agents defected--my reports say we’re talking about Jin Seon Park, codename Apollo, and Rylan Josephine McCabe, codename Andrews, so if either of them was on your tail, you’re in luck, rock n roll fans.
Knowing that an explosion would be enough heat to reset and free a brainwashed swarm, we can assume that the Rumor crew managed to liberate both the swarm in their own ship, and the swarm sample being held at CUI headquarters, thus saving us from an even more dystopian surveillance state, which, you know.
PIPER Isn’t nothing.
KESTREL (AGREEING) Isn’t nothing.
Oh, and Thasia is alive, and working with the other Violet Liu to topple the state. Should we have led with that?
PIPER A lot to think about, radio fans. A lot to--um. Huh. (A TREMENDOUS, GENUINE SIGH OF RELIEF) I guess the punchline to this story is, yes, these are dark times, but you can never tell where help is gonna come from next. It may not be what you’re expecting. But when it does come, take a moment to stop and say “thank you.” So, uh, thanks. You know for what.
You’re listening to Radio Free Telemachus, I’m Piper Tanaka, not my real name--
KESTREL --with Kestrel Colvin, or am I?--
PIPER --and Reina “too cool for a bird alias” Sakamachi in the booth. And this next track is my new favorite by Chiron Star featuring Mas D, off their very illegal new EP.
Rock on, friends. Rock on
(FX: “01 San Ramos 2.mp3”)
FX: RADIO TUNING SOUNDS OUT
This has been Mini Episode One, Airplay. Featuring--
JULIA Julia Morizawa as Piper Tanaka
LUCY Lucille Valentine as Kestrel Colvin
JAMIE Jamie Price as Brian Jeeter
BRITTONY Brittony LeFever as Krejjh
ISHANI Ishani Kanetkar as Arkady
JESS Written by Jessica Best.
JEFFREY Directed by Jeffrey Nils Gardner
HANNAH Sound effects by Hannah Cross
ERIN Edited by Erin S
ELLA The music in this episode is:
“This Glorious Chaos” by How I Became Invisible. Find them at Howibecameinvisible dot com.
“Catastrophe” by Creature to Creature. Find them at Creaturetocreature dot bandcamp dot com.
“Dwarnia” by Chiron Star featuring Mas D. Find Chiron Star at Chiron Star dot bandcamp dot com.
The Strange Case of Starship Iris will return for Season Two by Autumn 2020.
Thank you. Goodbye.