EPISODE 4 TRANSCRIPT
PRE-SHOW ANNOUNCEMENT: Among the Stars and Bones 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. Specific content warnings can be found in the show notes for each episode. Please, make use of them if you need to.
CONTENT WARNINGS (From show notes):
Distressing/Nightmarish noises – Distorted audio with twisted speech and sound plays (3:17 – 4:56)
Reference to Violence/Death – Skeletons of aliens killed by suffocation and violence are described (8:20 – 8:37 & 10:32 – 11:00)
Discussion of Genocide/Mass Murder – Discussion and speculation on mass alien death, including the possibility of one group of aliens murdering the other due to political differences (20:12 – 24:15)
Death/Violence – A human killed by violence is discovered and described (37:06 – 37:55)
[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 4. Four Entries included. Entry 1. Comptroller’s Report.
[Computer Chime: Open Entry]
SCENE 1 – THE ATRIUM OF A PROXIMAN RESIDENCE, LEVEL 5 OF THE BETA SITE
[Outside of the room can be heard the sounds of voices and the footsteps of many feet. Scanning drones are passing by at intervals as well]
ADRIENNE: Commence report: Day 9 on the… Look I’m just going to get right to it. We have a crew member missing. No one has seen Harry Kowalski for at least 8 hours. That’s not unusual in a site this size, but his transponder is off or otherwise compromised, there has been no upload from his PDA in the last 11 hours and he failed to show up for an appointment. We’re currently following retrieval protocol, which has been in effect for the last three hours.
Here’s what we know: I believe he had been investigating some sort of necklace worn by the officer found in the control room. Harry thought it might function as a key. He had also been helping Ben crack some alien recordings and was supposed to rendezvous with Ben at Ben’s current workstation on level 1. When he didn’t meet Ben we tried to page him. No response. We checked his berth, the tech pod, and the computer control room. All nothing. Now it is of course possible he lost track of time following a lead on the artefact…
I wouldn’t be as worried if he was more experienced, but this is his first time in the field. Hence full retrieval protocol. All work has been suspended and the military team has been recalled from the Alpha site in order to assist in search efforts. We’re being as systematic as we can and I’ve got probes scanning for life signs on floors we haven’t explored yet, but so far nothing has turned up. Here is the last upload from his PDA…
[Computer Chime: Inserted Recording]
SCENE 1A – SOMEWHERE WITHIN THE BETA SITE – LOCATION UNKNOWN
[PLEASE NOTE: There is audio glitching on parts of this recording. It is different from previous recordings. While some words and sounds have been repeated they are more mangled and contorted in pitch and speed.]
[There is no notable noise in the background. There is however sounds and artefacts on the recording, indicative of some sort of interference]
HARRY: Okay, I think I’ve got something here. There’s, um I guess you can call it an access panel. Like I know I can say access panel and most people will know what I mean, but it really looks sort of, well, kinda like a vagina. No wait, vulva? I can never remember…Oh god, please don’t let this be something my mom hears. That’s seriously what they look like though. And holding this key thing near it…
[SFX – The access panel slides back]
HARRY: …seems to pop it back. I’m marking the point on the map. This doesn’t look like an out of the way place, so maybe it’s an all purpose master key for accessing these. There’s a bunch of controls inside. Nothing familiar. I mean it could be a fuse box or an emergency override for something. Who knows. Now that I know what to look for there’s one place I really want to try out, because…wait…Why was I worried my mom will hear this? I’m making a recording on a classified piece of corporate equipment. Silly really, but–
[SFX – A sound, very distant, difficult to make out as the static and other interference increases, peaking as Harry continues]
HARRY: What was that? I better go check it out. I don’t think that should be happening but um, god why can’t I just talk like a normal person on one of these things?
[Computer Chime: End of Inserted Recording]
SCENE 1 (PART 2) – THE ATRIUM OF A PROXIMAN RESIDENCE, LEVEL 5 OF THE BETA SITE
[Returning to Adrienne from before. The previous sounds of people and drones continue on in the background]
ADRIENNE: There’s no location data on that record. Or upload to the map like he mentioned. Can’t be sure what those noises were in the background, either, what with the audio issues. They sound more like external interference rather than the glitches reported in the last stellar cast. But it’s hard to be sure.
[SFX – Approaching footsteps that eventually enter the room]
JANINE: Comptroller, we’ve cleared this area. No trace. We’re ready to move on.
ADRIENNE: I don’t suppose there’s been any word from the other teams?
HATTERSLEY: You know I would’ve opened with that if there had, ma’am.
ADRIENNE: Of course.
HATTERSLEY: I hear anything I’ll tell you straight away.
ADRIENNE: I know. Alright, just give me a minute. I’d better wrap this up. Last couple of items. Right, I’ve had to turn
the bots off again. We’ve had a couple more seen in locations they weren’t programmed to go. And I know Gordon made a point about it being due to a maintenance scheduling error, but these latest couple are not from that group. So I’ve recalled them all and put them back into their container.
The other thing is that we’ve seen widespread software glitches. I don’t know what Gordon was thinking, but clearly his safety protocols have not been enough. I have had to suspend all work on the alien AI project until we can work out how all of it, the glitching and the bots and, at this point, even possibly Harry’s disappearance are related. It seems incredible that any infiltration could get so severe so quickly, but I cannot in good conscience wait any longer. I have ordered the AI moved into an isolated container. Gordon’s insisting the cube can’t be responsible for these issues because it can’t exert any influence wirelessly, but even if Gordon is right and the AI box has nothing to do with what’s going on, I’m taking every precaution until we’re sure. Isolating it allows us to study it without it studying us. I have no idea what is going on here, but it’s starting to scare the hell out of me. This place is clearly not as dead as we thought. The aliens are gone, but the technology remains. We’re still getting energy spikes, too. Most seem to be from the Proximan systems leeching small amounts of energy from our scans and interfaces, but I feel, given enough time, this whole place might wake up. I don’t want the largest computer brain we’ve ever encountered, a brain which for all I know was responsible for the death of this colony, in charge when that happens.
I’m sorry if this is a bit of an incoherent mess, but rather than do this in my office I’ve ducked into an empty chamber on level 5 while my team keeps searching. They’ve just finished so we’re heading down to 11. God this place is huge. And creepy. I’ve spent half the time we’ve been searching staring at tangles of alien skeletons. So many dead, and I don’t want us to end up like they did.
[Computer Chime: End Entry]
COMPUTER: Entry 2. Xenobiology and Xenoanthropology report.
SCENE 2 – MAIN CONCOURSE OF LEVEL 16 OF THE BETA SITE
[Kathy and Ben can be heard walking along the concourse. Other members of the Herodotus team and drones can be heard as the search continues for Harry]
KATHY: Um, hello Ms Connolly. This is Kathy Winters. I’m here with Ben, and Dr Pennella is up ahead as well.
BEN: Hi Jen.
KATHY: We’re currently searching for Harry, um, Harry Kowalski which I guess you already know. We finished searching levels 6 to 10 and we’re just starting on 16, so there’s not much chance to do a proper report. But Ben, Dr Pennella, Harry and I were discussing our findings yesterday, so I thought the recording of that conversation would do instead.
BEN: Yeah Jen, not exactly protocol, but we’re having a not exactly protocol kind of day. I hope that’s okay.
KATHY: I hope he’s okay.
BEN: Yeah. I asked him to look into that necklace. If something happened to him because of it…
KATHY: That isn’t going to help. Stay focused.
BEN: You’re right.
KATHY: I just want to find him.
BEN: Looks like we’re about to hit a new section and spread out.
KATHY: Right. Maybe we should leave it there, Miss Connolly. Here’s the recording.
[Computer Chime: Inserted Recording]
SCENE 2A – A REC ROOM IN THE BIO POD (THE PREVIOUS DAY)
KATHY: Okay, it’s going.
CELIA: Alright, this is Dr Celia Pennella in conversation with Ben Kelleher, head of archaeology. We also have Kathy Winters from my team and Harry Kowalski from Technology.
HARRY: D-Do we…do I need to say something?
KATHY: You’re not at your best when a recorder is on, huh?
CELIA: With new information now available from decoded records, along with our own recent developments, we thought a discussion might help us piece together what happened here 600 years ago.
KATHY: It’s a campfire.
CELIA: (Dismissive) Yes, if you like. Ben, would you like to start us off, or shall I?
BEN: It’s your data recorder.
CELIA: Alright. So yesterday I examined a body from level 22. This one a corpse in military uniform, found with four others in a sealed room. The other four did not appear to be military as they were in civilian clothes, for want of a better term. Unlike the others, this time the cause of death was a small but intense burn to the upper chest.
BEN: Weapon fire?
CELIA: Most likely.
HARRY: No one has ever got Proximan sidearms to work. Too old and fried, but they’re certainly some kind of energy weapon.
BEN: Well I’m still in early stage translation, but that tracks. Harry finally managed to create a program that compiles the alien audio and video data into something coherent. We’re still having trouble accessing most of the files, though.
HARRY: Uh yeah, it’s that second element at work again. It makes the code hard to align.
BEN: The slippery thing?
HARRY: Oh, there’s something in the data that keeps changing. It makes it hard for my program to work. Sorry Ben.
BEN: It wasn’t a criticism.
KATHY: Is it dynamic code, a virus or an additional program?
HARRY: Hard to say.
KATHY: Did you try using an Omega filter?
HARRY: Yeah. No luck. Hey I didn’t know you knew about this stuff.
KATHY: I dabble.
CELIA: Could we move on please? So the records are proving difficult to access. Let’s deal with the ones you have.
BEN: Right. So these are the logs of the officer you examined the other day.
CELIA: The one found in the city’s control room with that cube Gordon is obsessed with?
HARRY: Obsessed is right.
CELIA: What do they say?
BEN: Well my translation is approximate. Our understanding of their language is from older records than these and language grows and changes. It evolves. Grammar and pronunciation change. New words get added. Old words shift in meaning.
CELIA: Like the way Comptroller used to mean someone whose job was administering finances and now means a grumpy old logistics drudge that spends half their life trying to work out why we keep running out of toothpaste?
BEN: Not the best example. Or definition of what Barnes does.
CELIA: I’m quoting her.
BEN: Anyway, the time between these records and the ones we learned Proximan from is about the same time between the English we speak now and Shakespeare. Now we may be able to understand Hamlet, but you don’t hear a lot of people using “thees” and “thous” these days do you?
KATHY: Get thee to a terraformery!
BEN: Exactly. I mean I can have some confidence in certain aspects and with enough data I can break down the changes in grammar. A new word repeated a bunch of times will give some idea of its meaning through context, as well, but every once in a while I’m hitting whole sections littered with phrases I might once have considered perfectly comprehensible, but they no longer mean what I thought they meant.
CELIA: But you have an overall impression.
BEN: Yes. What I’m getting so far is that there was an incident. The best translation I have is something like disaster or conflict. Either way, it happened elsewhere and the end result was the colonists here were cut off from their homeworld and other territories. I’m not sure why. The officer didn’t explain.
KATHY: Well, they weren’t writing it for you.
BEN: Sure, but it’s still annoying. Anyway, the immediate impact here seems to have been a rift within the leadership. This officer was third in command. There was some sort of administrator, a governor if you will, of the whole city. Then there was the commander of the military contingent. Then this officer whose job seems to have primarily been operations.
KATHY: Does this alien have a name?
BEN: You know they don’t, not that I can translate. I’ve designated them in my records thus far as Commander 3 or operations officer.
HARRY: We should give him one.
KATHY: That’s what I was thinking.
CELIA: They’re currently listed as 32 in my records, so I suppose if they’re going to be discussed constantly some consistency would help.
BEN: We usually designate Proximans according to location or rank when referring to them in documentation.
CELIA: If I recall correctly Benjamin you once dubbed the main focus of a study “Rumpelstiltskin”.
BEN: It certainly made the thesis defence hearing…colorful.
HARRY: How about Gollum, cos they were found at the bottom of the deep dark caves?
KATHY: Third in command…Number three. I’ve got it. We can call them Harry Lime.
CELIA: That’s…I like that.
BEN: Come again?
CELIA: Harry Lime. Orson Welles’ character in The Third Man.
BEN: Still not following.
HARRY: Yeah, you’ve lost me.
KATHY: It’s a classic thriller from the 1940s.
CELIA: Surely you’ve seen it.
HARRY: Bit before my time sorry.
BEN: Yeah, I’m afraid that if it was made before 2100 it’s not my thing.
CELIA: I’m surprised at you Ben. As an archaeologist you of all people should know that to understand a period you must first understand its stories.
BEN: Wasn’t there all kinds of problems with the depiction of race and sexuality through that period?
CELIA: I’m not saying there aren’t issues. Like all stories they reflect their time, which was actually my point.
KATHY: Most of it is about entertainment, but some of it is about recognising the damage those ideas did to people and the world. Understanding where we came from and what we’ve put behind us.
CELIA: And what we still haven’t.
KATHY: Neither of you have ever watched a movie with Orson Welles? Or anything directed by Kubrick or DuVernay?
HARRY: No. Sorry.
BEN: Look if I say we’ll call Commander 3 Harry Lime will you let it go?
HARRY: Hey, we already have a Harry here thanks.
KATHY: And there really is no Harry like our Harry.
HARRY: I should hope so.
CELIA: Just Lime then?
BEN: Well it’s at least distinct enough that we won’t confuse them with anyone else. Lime it is. Can we move on now?
KATHY: Yes, but you gentlemen are going to get an education in 20th century film history at the earliest possible opportunity.
CELIA: Agreed. Soften them up with an easy musical or two then hit them with Citizen Kane?
KATHY: I feel like we could use a Western in there.
CELIA: Yes. But which era?
KATHY: Something classic, then go spaghetti into something more revisionist.
CELIA: High Noon, Good/Bad/Ugly, Unforgiven?
KATHY: I can work with that.
CELIA: Oh, if we have time we really must introduce them to Hollywood’s idea of how archaeology and computers worked in the 1980s and 90s. It is positively laughable.
KATHY: We have four months here plus the trip back and I have a very extensive collection. Indiana Jones and…The Lawnmower Man it is.
CELIA: I was going to say Hackers, but Lawnmower Man is so perfectly ridiculous.
[SFX – Kathy pressing buttons on a datapad]
KATHY: I’ve got a list of titles sorted by decade and genre here if you wanna look.
CELIA: Sure. (Beat, after beginning to scan the list) Ooh.
HARRY: Are they still speaking English?
BEN: In my professional opinion as a linguist…
CELIA: Ah, yes!
KATHY: I know.
HARRY: Indiana used to be a state right? And a lawnmower…
BEN: Do you think we should leave them to it while they plan out our evenings for the next twenty years?
CELIA: (Elated) Oh!
KATHY: I know!
[Kathy and Celia laugh]
HARRY: Wait, are these films in 2D?
KATHY: Oh I suppose we can get back to trying to solve the mystery of hundreds of dead aliens, if we really must.
CELIA: But don’t think you two are off the hook.
BEN: I can…talk now?
CELIA: By all means.
BEN: So this offic–
[Kathy and Celia cut him off with tutting noises]
BEN: I mean Lime…was complaining about a number of orders they had received, saying they were contradictory. So it seems Lime’s two immediate superiors were not on the same page about how to proceed. I’m not sure which of them was on which side at this stage, but it seems one was for trying to maintain ties and support to the rest of Proximan society and the other was for standing alone.
CELIA: Whatever was happening in the wider Proximan civilisation was big if some felt they should become independent.
BEN: I agree. Lime complained about interruptions in the regular supply shipments. They were normally about fifteen months apart which suggests we’re way out on the edge of their territory, so of course in any crisis a small holding in an outer sector like this would get neglected.
CELIA: Any indication where their homeworld was?
BEN: No, more’s the pity. I’ve scoured every record I’ve ever found and translated, but in all these years there’s been no navigational data to point the way. Even in the shipwrecks.
BEN: If I believed myself the centre of the universe like a certain technology department head we know, I’d have long since assumed it was a conspiracy against me personally.
KATHY: Surely we’ll find something here. In a functioning city there has to be the Proximan equivalent of libraries or encyclopaedias.
BEN: Here’s hoping. I mean to finally find the Proximan homeworld, hell even to finally know what to call them instead of the Proximans, that would be a find. It would make…
CELIA: It would make what you’ve been through worth it.
HARRY: So… where you’re going with this is that if there were two factions there may have been violence?
BEN: Ah…yeah, which tallies with a military person being taken out by apparent weapons fire, Lime being stabbed and–
KATHY: Wait, which side was Lime on?
BEN: My impression is that they were in the pro-independence camp, but I’m not entirely sure. The Proximans don’t use tone the same way we do, so it’s harder to tell whether Lime approved or dissaproved of things they were commenting on.
KATHY: Then maybe…okay I’m just guessing here. What if…what if the bodies we’ve found here– I think it was past 1300 at last count.
KATHY: What if they are, for the most part anyway, from the pro-independence camp.
BEN: Okay, where are you going with this?
KATHY: Well, let’s say the faction that was pro maintaining ties was also pro returning to the homeworld and helping with whatever this crisis was. Right, so they want to go, but they don’t feel they can leave a bunch of people who aren’t loyal to the central regime behind in control of a major facility on the borders of their space.
HARRY: So you’re saying you think it was like…some kind of purge?
KATHY: It would fit at least some of the available evidence. Perhaps we’ll find more to back it up.
KATHY: (Almost apologising) I know it’s widely speculative and that’s–
CELIA: If you’re right, then there must be as many as 10000 bodies unaccounted for.
KATHY: You’re going with me on this one?
CELIA: As you said, it fits at least some of the available evidence.
KATHY: Oh. Okay. So why so many bodies?
CELIA: Because if we assume your population modelling is correct and 50-to-80000 Proximans lived here then you wouldn’t need to use a gas to purge the 1000 or so we’ve found. 1 in 50 not being on your side doesn’t seem to justify so heavy-handed an option.
KATHY: What if they set it up as a booby trap for after the rest took off for home?
CELIA: That…might fit. But my point is that we haven’t found a lot of bodies. Ben’s analysis of Lime’s logs indicates a more even divide of opinion, yes?
BEN: Yeah, more like 50-50.
CELIA: So if a fight broke out and one side prevailed, there would be more dead. And while I’m sure we will find more before we’re finished, the probes have been over every inch of this place they can reach. And they can scan through walls to a distance of what? 50 feet?
HARRY: About that, yeah.
CELIA: That means if they haven’t identified remains they are unlikely to be there. I feel we’re short a few corpses.
HARRY: There would’ve been exceptions. The drones can’t penetrate all surfaces.
BEN: True. The outer skin of this city is less than fifty feet from the central shaft in some places and yet they had to get within five feet of the outer hull to prove my hypothesis – that this entire place was a pre-fabricated module rather than built here.
HARRY: How’d they work that out?
BEN: The composition of the outer skin is the same as what they use on the outside of their deep range vessels. Oh, which brings up another point: how did they leave? I mean you say they took off and left, but if this place was dropped off by some deep range vessel, they wouldn’t have had the capacity to move that many people from here en masse.
KATHY: Well, there goes my idea.
CELIA: It was still worth throwing out there. In conversations like these sometimes a wild hypothesis has a place. It can help take our thinking in a new direction.
KATHY: Does that mean that you’re willing to give my space balrog idea another chance?
CELIA: (Amused) There are exceptions.
BEN: And I’m not saying I disagree with the basic idea.
HARRY: Of a space balrog?
BEN: Of a purge. I mean we have factions forming, we have at least two Proximans apparently murdered by their own people, and the rest may not be dead by accident either.
CELIA: I agree that the general concept of some sort of internal conflict seems the best bet.
HARRY: What is it?
BEN: I’ve always liked to believe the Proximans were more advanced than us. And not just in their tech.
KATHY: Like having evolved above civil war?
BEN: Yeah. I know they had a military, but so did we, even before the separatist thing because there was always the possibility of conflict if we encountered other races. I guess I just hoped they’d risen above what we’ve fallen back into. You know?
CELIA: Sure. From the point of view of evolutionary biology I don’t think we ever really escape our competitive animal instincts. Maybe that goes for them too.
KATHY: You know what we haven’t mentioned in all of this? Gordon’s precious AI. I realise it doesn’t fit into the scenario we’re considering, but, Harry, do you think it could be a threat to us now?
HARRY: Maybe. It was offline when we arrived, so if it didn’t see what took down the aliens it might assume in seeing us here now that there’s been no passage of time and so think we must be responsible.
CELIA: Or maybe it’s more simple than that. Think about it, if this thing was the brain of the place, and the facility is the body, then what are a bunch of unfamiliar organisms crawling through your body going to be?
KATHY: A virus.
CELIA: Exactly, and we all know what happens to viruses in otherwise healthy bodies. Maybe it’s just trying to purge us. That’s largely conjecture, but I’m glad Gordon’s been told to lock it away.
BEN: Yeah. Though I wonder. What if we were able to communicate with it? It’d be the closest we’ve come to talking to the Proximans themselves. Think what we could learn.
CELIA: We’ll still learn it eventually, by going through the data and artefacts here.
KATHY: Yeah. Imagine having the run of a megascraper apartment building back home. You’d find people’s diaries, college essays, their secret poetry and fanfic, shopping lists, records of special events and birthdays. It’s the same here. Given enough time we will learn what they wrote of, loved, valued, fought over. The things they geeked out over. It’s all here somewhere.
BEN: Keep talking like that and I’ll sign up for the follow-up expedition before we’ve even finished this one.
[SFX – An alert tone rings]
CELIA: Ah, that’ll be the results from our last batch of DNA tests. Come on Kathy.
BEN: I guess I’d better keep translating Officer Lime’s records.
HARRY: Hey Ben, have you got Lime’s necklace?
BEN: Back at my station, yeah.
HARRY: Cool. I was wondering if I could borrow it. If it’s a key I have a couple of ideas about where it might go.
BEN: By all means, I would be happy to let you do my job for me.
HARRY: Oh well, if you’d prefer–
BEN: That wasn’t sarcasm, Harry. Happy to let you give it a try.
KATHY: That sounds fun. Mind if I tag along?
CELIA: I can’t spare you, Kathy.
HARRY: Oh well, I’ll tell you all about it later.
[SFX – Celia walks out, followed by Ben]
KATHY: Tonight. You are watching…Casablanca with me tonight. I have decided.
HARRY: I thought this movie thing was going to be a group project.
KATHY: Consider this some work for…extra credit.
KATHY: Ooh, I should shut off this recorder. Hey, you weren’t awkward in front of the mic.
HARRY: I forgot it was there.
KATHY: Well, good luck. Be sure to document your adventures. I wanna listen back later.
HARRY: Ha, there’s no escaping you.
[Computer Chime: End of Inserted Recording]
[Computer Chime: End of Entry]
COMPUTER: Entry 3. Technology Report.
[Computer Chime: Open Entry]
SCENE 3 – A MOBILE HANGAR POD
[Rain, wind and thunder can be heard in the distance. Rain can also be heard drumming on the roof and walls of the hangar and running off the outside of the structure]
GORDON: Commence report. Gordon Price, Tech department. Day 9 Herodotus.
All right, I admit it, I underestimated what I was dealing with. The AI system was more wily than I believed, and possibly less benign than it appeared. When I probed it with the non-networked computer, it seemed only to be responding to that, when it was in fact hiding its other activity from my scans.
It first accessed the camera and microphone built into my computer and I’m impressed, if also slightly creeped out, to know I and my team were being spied on. After that it seems to have accessed our system by piggybacking on a redundant node capable of pinging our network with small strings of data. Now I can’t take all the blame for this, as a computer intended to interface with alien systems it is supposed to have all network-capable hardware removed as a precaution against just such an intrusion. That’s the specs I gave to the supply department, just not what I got. So really my error wasn’t how I did my job. It was assuming everyone else had done theirs.
Perhaps I should have double-checked. Immaterial at this point. The good news is that I caught this, and secondly, given the function of the hardware it used to gain access, its influence was limited. Third and most important is that this thing was designed to work from its box. It doesn’t move through a system the way a virus does, it can only send out feelers and flip switches. I think they designed it with natural blocks so it could do all their thinking without making unilateral decisions. And I’m wise to its tricks now, so I’ve taken full precautions.
Barnes ordered the cube moved to an isolated container, which was sensible. I now have a Faraday cage set up around it as well. It’s a little crude and may be overkill, but at least with the cube well away from the rest of our equipment we can be certain no signal can get out. I’ve even managed to purge it from this recording system. See, no more glitches. And, as of about an hour ago, it’s also out of our bot network and the techs are working under my direction to quash all the other issues. I’ve also taken the additional precaution of leaving behind all the equipment I am using here, so nothing comes in or out. No PDA, no communicators or other tech. Just this recorder, which is entirely non-networked. It only records to card. So old-fashioned. Anyone coming in has been instructed to do the same. The only drawback is having to suit up and step into the cataclysm this planet calls an atmosphere in order to get updates. Hell we could be under attack by separatists and I wouldn’t even know.
To summarise the rest of my department’s work, the people down in the control room continue to show steady progress. We think we have isolated nine different systems now and can, with some accuracy, determine the relationship between the security system and the rest of the network. We are not having much luck accessing system logs and records, though, which is a shame. I’m sure thousands of hours of security footage would be a huge wealth of data for the archaeologists and biologists to explore. But alas, it’s not merely a case of being unable to crack the databank. It seems a large-scale deletion took place, though not in response to us. Evidence suggests it happened around the same time as the surviving records end, datewise, which suggests it’s connected to whatever events caused the city’s abandonment. What extant records we have are proving difficult to access, though I understand Harry Kowalski has had some luck with a few I passed on to the archaeological department.
Now I’ve finished isolating the cube I would like to end by formally requesting permission to recommence testing. Barnes made the right call based on the information she had, but I have logged all my errors and the new safety protocol I have developed for working with the cube. They are in the datapacket under MEMO-0778. I know this AI technology would be of immeasurable benefit to the corporations computing development division, not to mention possible applications in military tracking and targeting computers. To be able to study an AI of this magnitude… well the opportunity is unlikely to arise again. If you feel the measures to secure the AI are inadequate then by all means make further suggestions.
In my professional opinion the ramifications of this discovery could outweigh the terraformer by a hundred-fold. And studying it here on site where we can also access the technology it interfaced with is a much more efficient way to work.
Alright. I’ve been down here on my own for something like fourteen hours. Time to get out of here, upload this and plug back into the network to see what everyone else has been up to. I’m sure it’s not anywhere near as exciting as working with the future of computer science as we know it, but that’s their bad luck.
[Computer Chime: End Entry]
COMPUTER: Entry 4. Military Scientific Research Report.
[Computer Chime: Begin Entry]
SCENE 4 – SOMEWHERE ON LEVEL 39 OF THE BETA SITE
[Somewhere in a maze of corridors, many levels below and away from the central shaft. The sounds of four sets of booted feet as Riggs leads her team as part of the search effort. In the background can be heard occasional calls of “Clear” and other comments from military team members Jensen, Logan and Harris]
LAURA: Commence report Lieutenant Riggs, Day 9. Herodotus mission. I am reporting on the run as part of the search and retrieval effort. Upon the orders coming through, I immediately formed all Military personnel into six teams and we are now sweeping the largely unexplored levels of the complex. My logic is that if a hazard has gotten the better of this tech kid then we are best equipped to handle it. We may be scientists first, but we are soldiers too.
We have covered levels 31 through 38 and are currently proceeding simultaneously through 39 and 40, three teams per floor. Scanners and weapons out at all times. I am not screwing around here and I am not doing things by halves. Gordon might say the glitches are being purged, but until this kid turns up and they stop, I am proceeding as though we are in hostile territory.
We had an incident at the Alpha site yesterday, which almost ended with a complete venting of gases from the terraformer’s atmospheric unit. I believe one of my team accidentally tripped an emergency system, but I want to be sure that’s all it was before I let my guard down again. If this AI has had some influence over the equipment in the Alpha site as well, then it has the capacity to completely eliminate all of us with just a few simple commands. I doubt any safety override would obstruct something like that.
[She stops moving]
LAURA: Sorry, hold on a minute. You two, check that side corridor.
JENSEN: Yes ma’am.
LOGAN: At once ma’am.
[Jensen and Logan run off down a corridor]
LAURA: What’s that up ahead?
HARRIS: Might be some kind of storage facility? It’s sealed.
LAURA: Alright, check for signs of access. The kid might be inside. Scan too, make sure there’s no one through that wall.
[SFX – Scanner working]
HARRIS: Nothing ma’am
LAURA: How far in did the scan go?
HARRIS: I got the whole layout. Saw through to the back wall.
LAURA: Alright. Move on.
HARRIS: Yes ma’am.
[Harris moves to one side and begins a check-in with the other military search teams]
LAURA: Obviously I would’ve liked to record this some other time, but the latest stellar cast is due to go out within minutes, and the search call came right as I was about to sit down and make my report. At least I have nothing of further significance to report on the terraformer at the moment. There’s been progress certainly, but nothing conclusive or revelatory. I feel in light of the push to get us up and testing I don’t want to provide speculation or inadequately considered ideas that might lead to someone higher up in the chain of command demanding we proceed too soon.
That makes it sound like I’m holding something back, but I assure you it’s the opposite. I’m just making a point of only passing on relevant facts. The error that almost led to a gas vent should make my point for me. We’re like Cro-Magnons with a cannon. We might figure out how it works by poking it, but unless we’re careful we’ll likely blow our own faces off. In any case I–
LOGAN: (Distant) Got something.
JENSEN: (Distant, shouting back) Over here!
LAURA: Alright Harris on me, stay close, move in on Jensen and Logan.
HARRIS: Yes ma’am.
[Laura and Harris move quickly down the corridor to Jensen and Logan]
LAURA: What have we got?
JENSEN: See for yourself ma’am. It’s a body.
LOGAN: It’s really messed up. How–
LAURA: Stow it, Logan. Is it definitely Harry Kowalski, does anyone recognise him?
HARRIS: Yeah, I know him. That’s him.
LAURA: That’s confirmed then. We have found the body of Harry Kowalski. It has been hidden in a corner of Level 39 behind what looks like a storage facility. And he is covered in blood. Alright, Jensen, alert Barnes, but keep it off the open frequency.
JENSEN: Yes ma’am.
LAURA: Ms Connolly ma’am, under the circumstances I think I’d better sign off.
[Computer Chime: End Entry]
COMPUTER: End Report 4.
[Computer Chime: End of Status Report]
[Theme Music Plays]
COMPUTER ANNOUNCEMENT: This episode of Among the Stars and Bones featured the voices of:
JULIA: Julia Eve as Adrienne Barnes.
SAM: Sam ‘Raethr’ Nguyen as Harry Kowalski.
LUCILLE: Lucille Valentine as Janine Hattersley
JORDAN: Jordan Cobb as Kathy Winters.
CHRIS: Chris Magilton as Ben Kelleher.
SHAKIRA: Shakira Searle as Dr Celia Pennella.
GRAHAM: Graham Rowat as Gordon Price.
LINDSEY: Lindsey Dorcus as Lieutenant Laura Riggs.
ALLISON: Allison Brandt as Jensen.
DYLAN: Dylan Chamber as Logan.
ANTHONY: Anthony Morales – Harris.
DEVIN: Devin Madson as The Computer.
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 Tracy Sauso-Bawa, Sergio Saucedo and John McGrath. If you too would like to support humanity’s understanding of alien technology, culture and history, go to patreon.com/amongthestarsandbones. For a transcript of this report or additional information, go to amongthestarsandbones.com. We can also be found on Twitter, Facebook and merchandise is available through TeePublic. Thank you for listening.