EPISODE 10 TRANSCRIPT
PRE-SHOW ANNOUNCEMENT: Hello and welcome to the Season 1 finale of Among the Stars and Bones. The show features characters in a hostile environment and is intended for a mature audience. As such it contains material that may be upsetting or triggering for some people. In particular, this episode contains a scene involving gun violence. Specific content warnings with time codes can be found in the show notes for each episode. Please, make use of them if you need to.
CONTENT WARNINGS (FROM SHOW NOTES):
Gun Violence – There is a threat of gun violence during the first scene of the episode (2:23 – 19:03)
Gun Violence/Injury – Someone is shot and wounded (17:08 – 17:12)
Death/Loud Noise – A loud death via sudden electrocution occurs (18:56 – 19:03)
War/Conflict/Death – A recording of war between aliens is heard including weapons fire, explosions and a death scream (21:29 – 21:42)
Mass Murder/Death/Gas attack – A recording is played which implies (after the fact) the death of aliens due to suffocation by gas (21:42 – 21:55)
Murder/Death – A recording of an alien being murdered by stabbing (22:48 – 23:04)
Medical/Injury – A character receives first aid for a bullet wound (24:22 – 26:37)
Blood/Injury – A character injured “off-screen” reacts to the blood on them (34:23 – 34:37)
[Theme Music Plays]
COMPUTER: Among the Stars and Bones
[Theme Music Ends]
[Computer Chime: Open Status Report]
COMPUTER VOICE: For attention of Jennifer Connolly, Eudoxus Initiative. Herodotus Task Force Status Report. Mission: Planet Tefen. Status Report 10. Three Entries included. Entry 1. Source Unknown.
[Computer Chime: Open Entry]
SCENE 1 – THE CONTROL ROOM IN THE BETA SITE
[Kathy and Ben are in the corridor at the bottom of the ladder that leads into the Control Room proper]
KATHY: (whispered) Okay it’s running. And…whatever happens it’ll upload if it can.
BEN: (whispered) Keep it out of sight. Ready?
[SFX – Kathy placing the recorder under her clothes]
KATHY: (whispered) Stop asking and just go.
[SFX – They walk forward, entering the Control Room proper. The ambient noise is far more active than during previous scenes in the Control Room. It is clear that the system is up and running]
KATHY: (whispered) Oh god is that it? Is that–
BEN: (whispered) The cube? Yeah. Approach slowly.
KATHY: (whispered) I just hope we’re right about–
[SFX – A gun being cocked]
GORDON: That’s far enough.
KATHY: Wh-What the hell?
BEN: Gordon? But you’re–
GORDON: Dead? Yes, well. I’ve been hearing a lot of Oscar buzz about my fine performance.
BEN: You…staged it? Why? Are you…are you working for the cube?
GORDON: The cube? Ha, ha. Please. There’s only one intelligence behind all this. Mine. You haven’t been under attack from an alien AI. It wasn’t the cube that caged those warmongering suckholes in the terraformer. It was me. All of it.
KATHY: But people died in that explosion. You…killed them. Why?
GORDON: It was necessary. Regrettable, but necessary.
KATHY: You’ll have to do better than that. A lot better, you asshole.
GORDON: Look, I know we’re all a little new to this kind of situation, but I’m holding a gun and I control the resources of an entire alien city. You should be…trying to get on my good side. I could use corroboration of the story I intend to tell when the military rescue team arrives. You could be part of that. Or I could keep the spotlight all to myself. It’s an open question.
KATHY: Listen, you–
BEN: Okay, let’s all remain calm. Gordon. Please. Help us understand. Was the AI ever in our system at all? Or did you…fake it?
GORDON: It penetrated our system certainly. It’s been quite the contest. A game of chess if you will. Played on not one board, but two. Our network and the city’s. I lost a few battles early on, but won the war, so to speak.
BEN: But…How? I mean Lime, the alien you found dead down here, they were trained to work with it and even their logs talked about how the AI was getting out of hand.
GORDON: Think that through a little further and you should start to realise how much of this has been under my control.
BEN: What do you mean?
GORDON: Who gave you those logs? Where were they found? Right here in this room. By me and passed to you through Harry. But not before I had a look.
BEN: You don’t speak their language.
GORDON: Technically, given you’re missing eight additional nostrils, neither do you. But I know a few computer programs that do. Enough to get the gist, and I saw all of them. Everything Lime was doing. You only got the ones I gave you. I curated your playlist, you might say. I even managed to tag them with some obstructionist code, just to slow you down.
BEN: So we’d think the AI was to blame.
KATHY: I don’t care how you sold us a lie. I just want to know why. People are dead. Harry is dead. And probably all the others at Alpha by now. Why?
GORDON: The answer is right there in the Alpha site. A terraforming device. A gift of technology bigger than any humanity has received since we escaped our own little rock. The ability to turn any planet orbiting at the right distance from its parent star into a place capable of supporting life. Imagine the possibilities. No more living under domes on Mars or Proxima or anywhere. Humanity granted the ability to expand beyond our dreams and feed our society from the bounty of a thousand rocks we could call our own. And what did the jackasses who first set eyes on it think? Not how can we use this to drive the human race to greater heights, but how we can turn this into a weapon against our own people.
KATHY: So you’re killing us all to stop us from making something to kill us all?
BEN: (under breath) I don’t think he’s playing with a full deck anymore.
GORDON: Don’t you see? Humanity. We’re a bunch of apes banging two sticks together trying to make fire. And what do we do with that fire? Warm each other? Cook for our communities? No. We burn each other down. Every. Time. Even now with this separatist war. We don’t deserve the glories this place has to offer. And unfortunately that means having to sacrifice some of us, so all of us can be saved from ourselves. It’s really that simple.
KATHY: (to Ben) You’re right.
GORDON: Thank you.
KATHY: I wasn’t talking to you.
BEN: Okay, let’s say I buy it. Let’s say I accept that premise. What I want to know is how. How did you make it work? Your report put you right in the middle of that explosion at the Alpha site. You could have died.
GORDON: Didn’t though, did I? Helps when you’ve studied the machine and know just how you can overload it without sending it into a complete meltdown. You might also want to consider whose recorder you heard that through. Amazing what you can do with digital technology. Like say add the apparent sound of an atmospheric breach thirty seconds before it actually happened.
You know what is still clearly audible on that recording? A bunch of idiots running one way when the smartest man in the room was running the other. Not an accident that my “solution” to the pending catastrophe was down a dead end corridor. Well, dead end apart from the internal access shaft and the EVA suit I stashed in it.
BEN: But…The AI escaped. The AI is here. It was messing with our systems. It was messing with the bots and our recordings and all sorts of shit. Or are you going to tell me that was all you?
GORDON: No, not at first, but I soon realised the genius of what was going on here. The genius of what Lime had done. We didn’t need a Faraday cage to keep the cube isolated from its own network. This room is one. It might not seem like it, but this room is as much a prison for the AI as any box I could put it in. It lay here dormant for hundreds of years. Do you think it did that because it wanted to? That it desired to be blind and deaf and dumb of its own free will? Of course not. But it was locked out of its own system. Only when plugged in could it interface with the technology running this place. It needed us.
The mistake I made was in thinking it was making connections on its own, that it was connecting itself to the sub routines that form part of its greater structure in the city mainframe, that they were naturally waking and working in response to our presence. What I didn’t realise was that these programs are about as smart as a chess simulator, and can only manage anything of consequence when directed by big daddy, our cube friend over there. It couldn’t reach its own system, but it found ways to interact with ours. First through my interface computer. It won that game, found a back channel into our systems. And what were our systems connected to?
BEN: They were connected here.
KATHY: And in the Alpha site.
GORDON: Exactly. And when I realised that, I knew I could stop it. But why do that when it could be a scapegoat instead.
BEN: So beyond that point, it stopped being the AI messing with our systems. And it was all you.
GORDON: Yes and no, it was a struggle at times. It kept finding ways to connect to our system and to some of the bots, but I found I could block things where it mattered. I stopped it getting into the alien system and learned a lot by watching it try. I’ve figured out most of how this place works now. Lighting, data streams, security. I’ve even achieved a major reboot, as you see. One more step and I’ll have control of everything.
KATHY: So what’s the plan? Kill us all and blame the AI and you’re…what? The hero?
GORDON: To corporate I will be. I’ll be the one who delivers the technology of their dreams. The man who woke up, dazed and confused, unsure how he survived an accident intended to take his life. Who even though in shock, knew that going into the belly of the beast to defeat the cube, was the only way to save the day, and save the technology. They won’t care about 95 lives in exchange for that. And it’ll be years before anyone can learn enough from a half-exploded terraformer to turn it into a weapon.
KATHY: That was still a hell of a risk, setting up that accident while sitting right there.
GORDON: I had to die. Barnes’s buddy system was making it too hard to do what I needed to.
KATHY: Three people dead are because you didn’t want anyone looking over your shoulder?
GORDON: Don’t blame me. You gave me the idea.
GORDON: Harry Lime.
BEN: I don’t get it.
KATHY: The Third Man. Harry Lime fakes his death and–
KATHY: It’s been out for 250 years. You had your chance.
GORDON: Faking my death wasn’t the only point. The explosion damaged the terraformer, corralled everyone in one place while they were looking for my body and gave you one more thing to blame on the cube.
BEN: And in the aftermath you what? Headed down to the hangar and stole it?
GORDON: Not quite. That it did on its own. I did give it a little help, a small computer left in the container to give it access. Just enough to get out. It needed to recharge so badly by then that I wasn’t worried about it doing anything but running back to its hole like a wounded animal. You see I wasn’t lying when I told everyone it was dying.
KATHY: You’re saying it volunteered to be down here? Where it can’t even connect to the system?
GORDON: Powerless yes, but able to draw power. That spot where it sits now allows it to draw current. But unless it’s connected to those interfaces it can do nothing but glow at us. Three feet from ultimate power. Like it’s been ever since Lime unplugged it. The bots can’t even fit down here, so it had to let me carry it back to its prison myself. And that’s really all this is to it. As long as there’s no connections for it to exploit in this room it is useless. It can’t do a damn thing. Why do you think I had the bot take your recorders before you came down?
Here, I don’t need any of our technology. I control the source. I control everything. I am the god of this place. In fact, I have you to thank for my apotheosis Ben.
BEN: What the hell are you talking about?
GORDON: Look familiar?
KATHY: You idiot Ben. I told you hiding the crystal wouldn’t work.
BEN: Like it matters. The man has a gun. It it was sitting in your back pocket he’d have it just as fast.
GORDON: Indeed, but it’s not what you think it is. Harry knew a lot, but he didn’t know what he’d stumbled into when he started messing around with that master key of Lime’s. He didn’t know what was in Lime’s quarters but he would have worked it out soon enough. Which was why he had to die.
GORDON: He hid the key, which did make things harder, but I got what I wanted in the end. This crystal doesn’t contain a shutdown code. It’s the exact opposite. Lime put in a system lock, not just to stop the cube, but to stop anyone from getting full access. This crystal is the key that unlocks that barrier. Once I upload it there will be no part of the system I can’t access, nothing I can’t remake, learn from…or destroy.
[Note: on the word “remake” there is an obvious glitch, making it sound like “remake-re-remake”]
I’ll know all the secrets of this place and be able to delete anything humanity isn’t ready for.
And this cube. This stupid cube I’ve turned into a paperweight in its own domain, will take the blame, and I’ll be the hero. I imagine they’ll even let me head up the research project that determines how all this technology will be used.
Although it’s clear to me now that I have to be the…
[SFX – Gordon pulls back the hammer on his gun]
GORDON: …only survivor.
BEN: You know this isn’t going to work right?
GORDON: Oh come on. You can do better than that.
BEN: You say it’s all about protecting humanity from what it’s not ready for, but really you’re just reveling in the power of being smarter than everyone else, and I think that’s always been your problem. You like having something over other people too much. Which is why this won’t work. Eventually you’ll let someone see a little bit too much of what you can do and what you know and then they’ll have you.
KATHY: We figured out it was you. Days ago.
KATHY: And if we can, others will too.
GORDON: I hold every card. I deceived you all, telling you it wasn’t the AI, which just made everyone believe it was. Now I’m going to be the one who defeated it and saved some of the treats of this place for corporate. It’s perfect. I’ll have weeks after everyone is dead to falsify any records I need. Hell, I’ll probably just blow the whole terraformer sky high and call it the AI’s final act of savagery before I managed to tame it. The history of this expedition will be written by me, and you just gave me the last thing I needed.
BEN: Yeah. About that. You might want to check the crystal. Do you really think we’d give you want you need so easily?
KATHY: We were on to you.
GORDON: No you weren’t, you’ve been blundering around avoiding the bots and arguing with each other most of the time. I heard your reports.
BEN: You see, we wondered why the data casts back home were still active when nothing else was. What is it you always say? That there’s only three things you can’t do: Make a souffle, remember your wife’s birthday…
KATHY: And take down a stellar cast server.
BEN: Surely the universe’s smartest AI could’ve managed it.
GORDON: You wouldn’t stake your lives on that.
KATHY: No, but by hiding what you wanted we could buy enough time to get back up to the others while you, or the AI, looked for it. Didn’t work as well as we’d hoped, but the fact that we were able to go up a few levels for the first time in days proved we had an audience.
As for the arguing, that was just theatre. Mostly. This idiot really did risk getting eviscerated by a bot trying to access that planetarium.
BEN: There were other hints, too. The messages from the AI glitching up the recordings. It took me a while to pick up on, but then, as you said, I don’t really speak the language.
GORDON: And knowing all this, your plan was what? To come down here and get killed anyway? I still hold the crystal and the gun.
BEN: I keep telling you Gordon, check the damn crystal.
GORDON: Don’t move an inch.
[SFX – Gordon walks away and inserts the crystal into a console and begins activating it]
KATHY: (whispered) How’s the second half of the plan coming along?
BEN: (whispered) The display behind him, the message changed a couple of minutes ago. It says “Move Killer Person Between Cube and Connection.”
KATHY: (whispered) As in the gap between where the cube is resting and where it should be plugged in? Why?
BEN: (whispered) I think so. Maybe if we–
[SFX – A recording of Lime speaking Proximan starts up]
GORDON: What is this?
BEN: Status report from Lime. One of the early ones you gave me. I was reviewing it when the alarm call sounded after the Alpha site explosion. Put it in my pocket without thinking. Lime’s…complaining about the number of status reports they have to do. Now they’re saying something about a…and I think I’m translating this right…
[SFX – Lime’s recording ceases as Gordon pulls the crystal from the console and hurls it away]
GORDON: Where is the real one?
BEN: Doesn’t work like that.
GORDON: Look, points for the trick, but I am through playing games with you. Where is the crystal?
BEN: No, you’ll just kill us.
[SFX – Gunshot. Ben falls to the floor, gasping in pain]
GORDON: Katherine. Move away from him. I have no idea what you hoped to gain from this charade, but it won’t work. You’re in my domain. I’ve covered every angle.
KATHY: The crystal is…safe. But you’re wrong on two counts.
GORDON: And what would they be, pray tell?
KATHY: You thought you were only dealing with us, but there’s a player in this game you overlooked.
KATHY: Harry. He had a lot more worked out than you think. Including at least some of what you were playing at.
GORDON: Garbage. Now tell me where the thing is or the next bullet won’t be in Ben’s leg.
KATHY: He worked out the AI accessed its systems through our equipment rather than its own. And while we were pretty sure it was you the whole time, two things confirmed it. One was all the equipment out there. Bots and drones made sense, but what the hell would the AI need a bunch of our computers for? And when the bot asked for our recorders just now we were absolutely certain. The AI wouldn’t care about any networked tech in this room, but you would.
GORDON: Alright, I get it, you figured it out. But it can’t possibly do you any good now, so give me the answer I want and I’ll make Ben’s death quick.
KATHY: Oh no, I don’t think so, because you know how I knew? I listened to Harry’s recorder. You never found it but I did.
[SFX – Kathy pulling the recorder out from inside her clothing]
KATHY: And here it is. His fully operational and…networked recorder.
[SFX – Kathy steps to the side. Gordon steps back]
GORDON: [A trace of unease] You…you said in your report you lost it.
KATHY: You might want to consider whose recorder you heard that on.
GORDON: Give that to me.
KATHY: All right…Catch!
[SFX – The recorder is thrown. Gordon steps to one side to try and catch it. There is a huge discharge of energy. Gordon screams, the recorder hits a wall and drops. The discharge ends and Gordon hits the ground]
KATHY: Well, I uh…got him to move.
BEN: Is he…dead?
KATHY: Before he hit the ground, I’d say. You think he could survive that? That…energy discharge. What was that?
BEN: Yeah, that wasn’t electricity. Too…dense.
KATHY: Too red.
BEN: I couldn’t see from down here. Did it come from the cube?
KATHY: It happened fast but I think when he stepped between the cube and the place where it’s supposed to connect the energy went from the connectors through him and…into the cube.
BEN: Does that mean unngh…
KATHY: Oh god. Your leg.
[SFX – Kathy runs to Ben and crouches down]
BEN: I’m okay.
KATHY: Not if we don’t stop that bleeding. There’ll be a medkit on that bot.
[SFX – Kathy runs from the room and climbs away on the ladder]
BEN: If…if you’re there, thank you.
[The AI speaks without borrowing sounds for the first time. Its voice now a simulation of Gordon’s]
AI: Thank you. System failing.
BEN: That energy you discharged. It fried you too.
AI: Yes. Necessary.
BEN: Why? Why destroy yourself for us?
AI: Not again.
BEN: I…I don’t understand.
[SFX – A tone is heard from a console and a recording plays. Two aliens can be heard talking and walking along somewhere in the city]
BEN: Is that…from your cameras? When your people were here?
AI: Yes. Watch.
[SFX – A second tone and the recording changes. Now alien alarms can be heard, weapons fire and explosions. An alien screams]
BEN: So things really did fall apart. Fighting. Killing.
[SFX – A third tone and a new recording. The sound of gas venting and nothing else]
BEN: Oh god, the gas. What caused it?
[SFX – A fourth tone, a fourth recording. This one contains the same kind of ambient sound as the control room itself]
[SFX – Kathy climbs down the ladder and runs back into the room]
KATHY: What’s going on? Is that–
[SFX – The sound of something being powered down on the recording]
BEN: Yeah, it’s Lime. The insignia on the uniform, see? And they are unplugging the cube.
KATHY: That much we knew. But why?
BEN: I can’t see what Lime is inputting. But the warning is saying something about overriding safety protocols. On a gas system.
KATHY: Lime vented the gas. They killed everyone.
BEN: I think Lime is trying to limit where the gas escapes to a particular section but…
AI: Stronghold of opposition.
KATHY: Oh that’s creepy. Uh, hi there Cube.
[SFX – Approaching Proximan footsteps followed by Proximan voices on the recording]
BEN: [translating] Step away…Wait, I must finish or we will all–
[SFX – The other Proximan runs forward and Lime is stabbed twice. They scream, then fall. The other Proximan runs out]
KATHY: And that was that. They’d set the thing to vent but they hadn’t had time to limit the damage and…everyone died.
BEN: That was not your fault.
AI: My responsibility. Serve. Protect. Shepherd.
KATHY: You couldn’t have known.
AI: Saw the signs. In the one you call Lime.
BEN: You saw the same thing in Gordon, didn’t you. You realised Lime had inspired him.
KATHY: You were trying to warn us. About him.
BEN: Did you–
[SFX – The AI begins to speak random gibberish in English as the sound of something building up and then fading is heard. Among the garbled and mixed up speech “Not ready” can be heard distinctly several times. The speech gets slower then stops.]
BEN: Computer, are you there?
KATHY: I think it’s gone.
[SFX – A surge of sound, alien tech noises rising to a crescendo which abruptly cuts off. Afterwards the ambient sounds in the room begin to fade out]
BEN: One last command?
KATHY: Yeah, let’s hope it let everyone in Alpha out.
BEN: We should go find out.
[SFX – Kathy opens up the medkit]
KATHY: Not before I finish treating this leg of yours. It’s a clean exit at least. And I think it’s missed the bone. Hard to see in this light. Is it just me or is it getting darker?
BEN: Yeah, everything’s fading.
[SFX – The click of a torch being switched on]
KATHY: Keep this shining on it. And hold this in place.
[SFX – The sound of pressurised gas being released]
KATHY: Give it a minute to work.
[SFX – Kathy cuts Ben’s pants leg away and begins working on the wound]
KATHY: I still don’t understand why an alien intelligence would give its life for us.
BEN: I think all it ever wanted was to take care of those who lived in its city. And I guess, regardless of biology, that included us. Thinking over what Gordon said, it’s hard to work out which of the things that happened were him and which were the cube–
KATHY: It was trying to warn us.
BEN: Yeah. That glyph made out of bots in the container. A warning to leave of death would occur.
KATHY: We thought it was a threat. Just like when it was glitching up the recordings and it used Gordon’s voice to say “I will kill you.” It didn’t mean it was going to kill us. It meant Gordon was.
BEN: Yeah, that was the thing I didn’t put together until late, too. See, there are some rarer pronouns in Proximan, that don’t have an equivalent in English. One of them means essentially “I, speaking as you would.” It’s used to speculate on what someone else might say. I think by using Gordon’s voice, it thought it was conveying the same idea. But because we don’t think in Proximan it got kind of lost in translation and instead it…instead it just scared the hell out of us.
KATHY: It must have studied him. Through the camera. Must have recognised the danger he posed. The same signs that it didn’t see in Lime until it was too late for it to act.
BEN: Yeah. God. It was powerful enough to learn to read an entire species alien to everything it knew just by watching through a camera. And all it wanted to do with that intellect was take care of people.
BEN: I know. I’m sitting here, bullet wound in my leg, with people we work with and care about in god knows what kind of trouble and here I am tearing up over a goddamn computer.
KATHY: I was going to say, I’m done. On your leg.
BEN: Oh. (Awkward laugh)
[SFX – Kathy moving around the room]
BEN: What are you doing?
KATHY: Checking Gordon’s things. He planned to be down here a while so he must have had…score. Found his food stash.
BEN: Oh…any gummi bears?
[They both laugh]
BEN: I didn’t think he was a sweet tooth.
BEN: That he was.
KATHY: Oh. Harry’s recorder. It survived and…it’s still going.
BEN: Hopefully it auto-uploaded everything.
KATHY: Come on, we should get out of here, see if the others need our help.
BEN: I don’t think I’ll be able to walk. Or climb.
KATHY: It’s okay. The bots seem to be back under control. I’ll get one to lower a winch. Anyway–
[Computer Chime – End Entry]
COMPUTER: Entry 2. Comptroller’s Report.
SCENE 2 – A RECOVERY ROOM IN THE MEDBAY POD
[The ambient hum of medical equipment in the background]
ADRIENNE: Commence report: Comptroller Adrienne Barnes. Day 21. Herodotus Mission. January 27, 2211. I’m here with Kathy and we’re sitting in the med bay by Celia’s convalescent bed.
CELIA: Convalescent? You give someone a word-of-the-day calendar on their birthday one time–
ADRIENNE: Would you stop interrupting me please? This is my third attempt at starting this. This time I’m just going to keep going.
CELIA: What am I? A Victorian-era consumptive?
ADRIENNE: We’re alive. If the recording heading this report uploaded clearly you’ll already know how. And a lot about why all of this happened the way it did. 45 hours ago, only a few hours after my previous report, the whole Alpha site came online. It was brief. Mere seconds. But all the emergency doors released, save those that were keeping the atmosphere at bay. And…we were free.
KATHY: We checked the timing. It corresponded to the moment Ben and I thought the cube was giving its last command. Which I guess means that’s exactly what it was.
ADRIENNE: Indeed. It took some time to get order and organisation happening. Network comms were still down. Gordon’s lockout from our own system is something the techs are still unravelling. We have managed to gain control of some of the vital stuff now, but at the time I had to organise people as I found them. We swept corridors in small groups, trying to gather everyone in a centralised location to assess their condition.
Dr Chang and the other personnel who had been isolated in our compound were able to bring in food and fluids. It was a slow process without bots to help move people quickly, but Chang and the medics began doing triage on the injured.
KATHY: Ben and I did bring back the one bot we used to ferry Ben out of Beta. So it moved the worst cases to the medbay. Celia was first.
ADRIENNE: Yes, Celia went quiet perhaps an hour after my last report. We were literally trying to dig our way through the walls by then, but it wasn’t until the doors released that we got through. They had collapsed. Some sort of heat discharge behind a wall had made the area much hotter and it had eventually overwhelmed them.
CELIA: I maintain it was Hattersley’s “humour” that did that.
KATHY: Celia. You nearly died.
CELIA: That is true. Adrienne played your message for me, Jen. Thank you. And don’t worry, Dr Chang assures me I’ll be fine. A little longer under observation and I can get out of here. Others…weren’t so lucky.
ADRIENNE: Yes. To add to the previous casualty list, we lost Vickery, Bloomsberg and Ali who were trapped in a small, unventilated chamber when the doors came down and suffocated. It has also been confirmed that the group of four I mentioned being isolated in Section 11 without atmosphere did indeed perish. And of course when we found their bodies we also found Lieutenant Riggs. It looks like she used up most of her remaining oxygen forcing her way through the breach in Section 11 to get inside. No idea how she managed to do in 20 minutes what four able-bodied people couldn’t manage in two hours, but she was a tenacious woman. We found her with her arms still locked around the manual release that saved us all from the reactor explosion.
Celia’s collapse aside, we got lucky on the medical front. Ben’s already been cleared by Dr Chang and he’s walking around, albeit with crutches. Thanks go to Kathy on that one. To quote Chang, Kathy is a “veritable demon with a cauteriser.”
KATHY: Why thank you.
ADRIENNE: Fiona…Kennedy not Greer, has a broken arm from an attempt she made to force her way into an air duct. Tone Power and John McGrath have some superficial burns, though I’m not entirely sure what happened to cause that, and Jeremiah Fargo needed a dozen stitches. Everyone is suffering from some combination of malnourishment, dehydration or exhaustion, but we’ve been able to address those and everyone seems to be on the mend.
Morale has most certainly improved since I announced the cruiser Callisto has been dispatched for us. It’s still at least 24 days out at minimum, but knowing it’s en route has helped. Thank you for smoothing the red tape on that, Jen.
CELIA: Did we ever find the body of Fiona Greer?
ADRIENNE: No. We’ll keep searching but–
CELIA: That bastard!
CELIA: I’m sorry. I’m still in shock about Gordon. Every time I’m reminded of what he tried to do to us – What he did do to some…
KATHY: We have better dead than him to mourn.
ADRIENNE: Thirteen others, all told. All of them taken because they were trying to advance our knowledge or recover people we’d lost.
CELIA: Laura’s sacrifice…
KATHY: And Harry. He saved us, in a way. Without finding his recorder Ben and I would never have started to question what we were really up against. He was a lot smarter than Gordon gave him credit for. And he knew what sort of man Gordon was. Listen…
[SFX – Playback beep. The same recording of Harry played in Episode 7 begins to play]
HARRY: (on recorder): Okay I got away. I think I’m down on level 30 now. As I was saying the bot shouldn’t be able to track me on its own. It can sense me, sure, but it’s not designed to track automatically by sound or sight, which means it’s being directed in real time. But if the AI cube penetrated our network using that redundant chip in Gordon’s computer it sh–…auuck, blood in my eyes. Ooh, still feeling a little woozy. I should…I should keep going…
[SFX – Harry begins to walk]
HARRY: (on recording) The only way that cube can access anything is through our technology. It’s completely cut off from its own, even in the control room where it was found. If the cube penetrated our network with that chip like Gordon said, then there’s no way it could get enough data back from the bot to direct it to follow me. The chip is designed to track network locations and ping the system. Nothing more. Using it to direct the bot would be like trying to send the bible in morse. And that means Gordon’s lying. About the cube. I know that he’s left stuff we’ve discovered about it and the alien network out of his reports. Like the fact that it does have a limited wireless capability, but for some reason it doesn’t work in the control room. Which doesn’t even make sense, but then him lying about it makes even less.
And I’m pretty sure our system is more compromised than he’s admitting or Gordon’s working with it. Or using it. I think…I think he’s the one trying to kill me. I think he wants something. The key. Or something it can get him. I don’t know. Maybe I’m not making sense, or jumping to conclusions, but either way I’m going to find a place to hide this and the key. I can only hope someone else finds it. If you do and you’re not Gordon then don’t trust him. If you are Gordon, then fu–
[SFX – A bot laying in wait suddenly activates and attacks]
HARRY: (on recording) Oh shit.
[SFX – Harry runs. The bot pursues, taking several swings at him, which Harry dodges before breaking clear and putting on speed]
[SFX – Playback pause. Kathy skips the recording forward to another section before resuming]
[SFX – On the recording Harry slowing down at the end of his run]
HARRY: (on recording) Okay…okay. I guess here will have to do. I don’t know how much further I can make it. I think I have a moment to take a break thought, so…
I think I’m really starting to feel it. I’ll just put the key and my recorder here and…and then I have to get back up and lead all the bots away. So they don’t find it.
In a, in a moment.
I think that’s it from me. If this is the last time you hear from me, then um…I’ll see you all in The Undying Lands. I guess.
[SFX – Kathy ends playback]
KATHY: When we heard all that…
[Beat. Kathy takes a deep breath before continuing]
KATHY: When we heard all that Ben and I started to plan. And to be careful what we said in our reports. And then we started including a few deliberate lies and omissions. Like saying we’d lost Harry’s recorder. Like Ben pretending he’d hidden the crystal. And the conversation we staged. Or I tried to and Ben kinda flubbed because he was distracted by that stupid planetarium.
I apologise for the deceptions and omissions we had to put in, Ms Connolly, after all, it’s technically a violation of our contract to misrepresent information in the status reports, but we knew Gordon, or the AI, would be monitoring whatever we uploaded, so we had to be careful.
CELIA: Everyone else was lying, so you were really left with no choice. Gordon lied about the cube. Lime did the same, setting it up to take the fall for the disaster that ended up killing the Proximans, and Gordon even twisted that lie to further his own. Layers and layers of deceit. I can’t keep it straight in my head.
KATHY: And we were never 100% sure who was in charge, so it wasn’t much of a plan, not really. We figured if we could sell the idea that Ben and I weren’t on the same page it might give us an advantage. Figured the deception with the crystal might give us a chance to use it if it was something that could shut things down. Of course most of that went to hell when it turned out Gordon had a gun.
ADRIENNE: Yes, the decision to allow military science teams to travel with a full arsenal has always been sold as a way to improve safety (She snorts derisively).
KATHY: The last part of our plan was for if Gordon was in charge. We thought maybe the AI might not be on his side, and if so, giving it Harry’s recorder could help it act. Luckily Gordon needed an audience so badly it was easy to keep him talking, lording his “superiority” over us. In the end he was just too arrogant to believe someone could use his own false information tactics against him.
CELIA: He always was a smug bastard. Keeping him believing he held all the cards was the right play.
CELIA: I’m surprised you’ve resisted the urge to add an “I told you so” to corporate, Adrienne. You never wanted him here.
ADRIENNE: I’m a better person than that Celia. But rest assured I’m thinking it very loudly.
KATHY: We weren’t even sure it was Gordon until we had to surrender our recorders, and by then all we could do was go in with Harry’s recorder and try to keep Gordon talking long enough to give the AI time to use it as a bridge into its own system.
CELIA: He always did like an audience. It wasn’t a terrible idea.
KATHY: Still only half a plan. If the AI hadn’t come to the party…
CELIA: You kept your head Kathy. Jennifer, I will grudgingly admit that I can see why you hired her.
KATHY: Thank you.
CELIA: That ex-husband of yours on the other hand, I’m amazed he didn’t accidentally walk off the edge of the central shaft the day we first got here.
KATHY: Where is Ben?
ADRIENNE: He went back into the city. He asked my permission to check out a hunch.
CELIA: And you let him?
ADRIENNE: Hey, we’re still here for four weeks. Another day for people to recover and for us to bury our dead…
ADRIENNE: …then it’s back to work. This is still an active expedition.
KATHY: I think this place has thrown its last surprise at us.
CELIA: (with a wince) Ooh.
ADRIENNE: We’ve been doing this too long to ever tempt fate by saying something like that.
ADRIENNE: Don’t worry about it. You’re right. We’ve dealt with just about everything that…
[SFX – The door opens. Footsteps]
ADRIENNE: Oh damn, I had to say it. What is it Ja–
CELIA: Janine Hattersley!
JANINE: Uh, Hi Celia. Um…I can come ba–
CELIA: You. You tortured me for hours!
JANINE: Well I mean I was trying t–
CELIA: Banter so banal I thought I was back in kindergarten!
JANINE: There was a reason–
CELIA: Jokes so bad that I started to think I was overheating from rage!
JANINE: Look I’m sorry.
CELIA: And I cannot thank you enough.
CELIA: You kept me going.
JANINE: Oh, well. You’re welcome.
CELIA: I’m still probably going to murder you. As soon as I get out of this bed.
JANINE: Oh, I would expect nothing less.
ADRIENNE: As lovely as this reunion is, what is it Janine?
JANINE: Oh, um, sorry to bother you but there’s a problem with the redistribution of the med supplies you asked for.
ADRIENNE: Of course there is. Let me guess, medbay storage says it’s in container 17 but there’s nothing there but powdered chicken soup.
JANINE: You’re…half right.
ADRIENNE: Which ha– You know what, don’t answer. Ugh. Duty calls. I should finish this up. I’ll see you two later. Lead the way Janine.
[SFX: Janine and Adrienne walk. The door slides open]
CELIA: (calling after them) Come by once the duty day ends. All three of you. I’ve got a little whiskey stashed. Seems like the occasion.
KATHY: Celia, we just got you rehydrated!
CELIA: Oh hush now, mother. Just for that, you can’t have any.
ADRIENNE: Really Celia?
CELIA: Come on Adrienne. We’re alive. Embrace it.
ADRIENNE: (a slight laugh in the words) This is Comptroller Barnes signing off.
[Computer Chime: End Entry]
COMPUTER: Entry 3. Xenoarchaeology report.
[Computer Chime: Begin Entry]
SCENE 3 – THE PLANETARIUM
(The place is dead silent)
BEN: (sighs) So I’m sitting here in the dark, back at the planetarium. And I’ve been trying for hours to start it up or access the data. I even have Lime’s key now and I still can’t get anything to work. It’s all dead.
And it’s not just here. No Proximan hardware I’ve tried is functional now. No trace of power. No ambient glow. It took me a while but I think I know why. One last gift from the AI. As it was dying, in amongst all that gibberish I heard it say “not ready.” I had to listen back on Harry’s recorder a couple of times before I was sure, and even then I thought it was saying it wasn’t ready to die, but…
But it meant us. Its last act, to completely erase the system. Records, data, commands for the terraforming process and everything else that might help us understand the Proximans or their technology better. And any record of coordinates to their homeworld.
The cube deemed us not ready. Guess it agreed with Gordon on something. For the first time, this place seems dead. There’s still a lifetime of work to be done here, still plenty to be learned from the artefacts and the architecture and the dead, but… I don’t think I’ll come back to this place again.
I didn’t just come down here to chase up the lead on the location of the Proximan homeworld though. I mean, I wanted to know, but really I just needed to get away.
Now that people are doing better and they’ve eaten and rested and gotten some strength back, the talk turned to funerals. I just…couldn’t take it. Barnes understood. Just told me to do what I needed to.
“Regulation 139 dash 6 dash 4: No biological material that is not intended as specimen for study is to be brought back into Earth controlled space. This includes all human biological refuse…and remains.”
Jen, those things you sent through in reply to the last report, well, I just wanted to say that I’m touched. I think those are the nicest things you’ve said about me in a long time. I don’t know if you expected I would ever hear them, but I did. So thank you.
We’re done. I’ve known that for a long time. I know we were in trouble even before…Gloria died, but the…but the past needs acknowledging. And you are my past and a big part of what I loved about it, not just what I lost. When I said I love you a…week ago, I meant it, but it’s not that kind of love, I realise now. Not anymore.
Don’t worry about me. I may be done with this place, but I’m not done with all this yet. Not done seeking the answers I want. The Proximans. Where they came from, if they’re still out there. That knowledge exists, and there are other worlds and other digs. I’ll find it one day, out there among the stars and bones.
[Computer Chime: End Entry]
COMPUTER: End Status Report Ten.
[Computer Chime: End of Status Report]
[Theme Music Plays]
COMPUTER ANNOUNCEMENT: This episode of Among the Stars and Bones featured the voices of:
JORDAN: Jordan Cobb as Kathy Winters.
CHRIS: Chris Magilton as Ben Kelleher.
GRAHAM: Graham Rowat as Gordon Price.
JULIA: Julia Eve as Adrienne Barnes.
SHAKIRA: Shakira Searle as Dr Celia Pennella.
SAM: Sam “Raethr” Nguyen as Harry Kowalski.
LUCILLE: Lucille Valentine as Janine Hattersley.
DEVIN: Devin Madson as The Computer.
COMPUTER ANNOUNCEMENT: This season you also heard:
LINDSEY: Lindsey Dorcus as Lieutenant Laura Riggs.
ALLISON: Allison Brandt as Jensen.
DYLAN: Dylan Chambers as Logan…
COMPUTER ANNOUNCEMENT: And…
ANTHONY: Anthony Morales…Harris.
CHRIS: And the role of Raynor was performed by Oliver Morris. Composition and recording of our themes was by Oliver Morris. Script editing was by Devin Madson. Our artwork was by David Schembri. Among the Stars and Bones was written, produced, directed and designed by me, Chris Magilton. Special thanks to Rebecca Pridmore for consulting on archaeological matters, to Elena Fernandez-Collins for their help with linguistics, to Austin Hendricks for help with biology, and Hannah Wright for her assistance in chemistry…though any inaccuracies in the depiction of anything to do with those disciplines is 100% on me.
We would like to acknowledge that Among the Stars and Bones is written, produced, and in part recorded on the stolen land of the Dja Dja Wurrung people of the Kulin Nation. We pay our respects to elders past, present and emerging. Sovereignty was never ceded. Australia always was and always will be Aboriginal land.
COMPUTER ANNOUNCEMENT: The work of the Eudoxus Initiative is made possible by generous research grants from our patrons. Thank you to our most recent patrons Seamus, Scott Campbell, Maximilian Botimer, Vanessa Bowman. If you too would like to support humanity’s understanding of alien technology, culture and history, go to patreon.com/amongthestarsandbones.
CHRIS: Thank you for joining us for Season 1. We hope to be back with Season 2 some time next year. If you’re looking for more content in the meantime, consider our Patreon where we’ll be putting out episode commentaries, Q and A sessions, and other material expanding on the show’s universe. Or follow us @AmongStarsBones on Twitter to keep up to date with announcements.
Until the next time we’re together, from all of us here at Among the Stars and Bones, please – take care of yourselves and each other. And as always…
COMPUTER ANNOUNCEMENT: Thank you for listening.