EPISODE 5 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. This episode in particular has the characters dealing with loss and grief, including the loss of a child. 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):
Grief/Loss – The entire episode contains a general content warning as almost all of the characters are processing the loss of someone they knew.
Death/Violence/Medical Procedures – A human corpse undergoes a post mortem examination (10:07 – 19:54)
Grief/Loss of a Child/Emergency Birth – A past accident that resulted in the death of a premature baby is described (36:58 – 39:33)
Mass Death – Speculation on what the last moments of the aliens found dead around the site might have been like (39:39 – 40:14)
[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 5. Five Entries included. Entry 1. Comptroller’s Report.
[Computer Chime: Open Entry]
SCENE 1 – COMPTROLLER’S OFFICE
[Background sounds of a ticking analog clock. Regular computer chirps indicate Comptroller Barnes is getting a steady stream of updates from the rest of the mission team.]
ADRIENNE: Commence report: Comptroller Barnes reporting day 11, Herodotus mission group.
Well, I wish it was good news, but of course you already know. Harry Kowalski is dead. I’ve seen the autopsy, but I think it would be best to let you hear those details from Celia and Kathy Winters. I will only add that we’re following up on investigating their conclusions.
I didn’t know the kid well, except by reputation. His ability to read and decipher old alien computer tech had made him quite the name – And he must have been good if Gordon campaigned to have him on the team, despite his inexperience in the field.
Seemed a quiet kid, but maybe he was just overwhelmed by it all. Being in deep space. Seeing all of this – This huge place, built hundreds of years ago by hands that weren’t human. You remember what it was like. I’m not sure you said more than five words for the first week on Tau Ceti, your first time. You remember? The team is quite shaken, but I don’t have to tell you that. Even the military science team are feeling it. You know what it’s like. You may come from different departments. You may have different jobs and agendas, but we all get our rations from the same mess pod. We all watch the same holovids in the ship’s rec room on the trip out. Everyone knows everyone, at least in…passing.
Of course I read loud and clear the “continue as normal” order you passed along, but Jennifer, this place is unusual to say the least, so normal is relative at best. This site is far from dead. We keep getting strange power readings wherever we go. And while the best case scenario is that Harry’s death was a tragic accident, what if it was deliberate? What if he was…targeted by the AI? Hell, have you considered an even worse scenario? That he was murdered by another member of this team? If it’s either of those, normal goes right out of the window. Tell me any kind of normal work is getting done when people are looking over their shoulders and suspecting everything and everyone around them.
When word gets out about what the autopsy…
I know why we need to continue, and I know we’re well within company policy on “acceptable crew loss,” but that’s…I mean that’s always been such a crock in my opinion. Sure we’re on a far flung planet in obvious danger, but since when is even one death an acceptable loss?
And yes, your well-worn talking point is noted. I know we’re stuck here for a minimum of four weeks even in an emergency, and I suppose we can hardly sit here with our hands up our arses wasting all that corporate sponsorship and grant money, but with all due respect Jennifer, I’ve heard that before from nearly every other person who’s sat in that chair. They said it when you had your accident too, you know.
[She pauses to calm herself. Another sigh then…]
I’ve instituted an old-fashioned buddy system in the wake of all this. Not the most effective of plans, but it’s something. And it’ll work as long as people are more afraid of this place than of a possible murderer. Of course having to work in tandem with someone does make individual work tasks harder to complete, but then work has been slow in the last day or so anyway. Everyone was too overwhelmed and worn out from so much time spent searching for Harry. A lot of deadlines for action items have been missed. Fewer artefacts have been logged. People just seem to be milling around, not really invested in their work.
I’ve lost people before, but it’s usually been the result of environmental factors. Cave-ins, or accidents involving airlocks or EVA equipment. And like me, I think everyone feels a bit different about this one.
I was out on level 11 today, checking out a new area. It was a…a sort of tiered garden. It was hard to visualise exactly what it must have looked like, but I imagined the layout brimming with vegetation. Could have been for oxygen reclamation, but I think its purpose was recreational. It would have been beautiful, but even though I could picture it, the dark, empty, dead reality of the place in the here and now kept imposing itself.
Kimiko Sotomura was with me. She was a junior member of the team when you left. You might remember her, remember how enthusiastic she was. Not anymore. She was all business and routine. Just measurements and recording and perfunctory description. I think this place is killing our spirit. We’ve lost the joy of discovery. In its place there’s just this sneaking suspicion I can’t begin to describe. Like…like this place is actively against us, not just an obstacle to overcome or a problem of physics or archaeology or chemistry or computer science, but…a malevolence.
Hell, listen to me. I didn’t even know this kid.
Finally, before I finish up, I suppose I should address your decision to approve Gordon’s request to recommence limited testing on the Proximan AI cube. I would like to go on record as saying the decision is nothing short of irresponsible. As far as I’m concerned that thing should be boxed up and shipped home and only dealt with in a purpose-built sealed lab. I know Gordon will take every available precaution, but he was wrong last time and he could be wrong again.
If this thing has hostile intent, then it’s like working with a criminal mastermind. You can’t predict it, you think you’re getting something worthwhile, but it can be ten moves ahead and pushing its agenda as your own. And it’s got the home court advantage. This doesn’t fit into any safety scenario we’ve planned for. We should be treating this as a first contact situation. I know, or I hope, this isn’t you Jen. That it’s someone up in corporate or the military having delusions of unleashing a pocket-sized version of one of these aboard a separatist ship and causing havoc. But dammit, they need to have some patience and you need to have some backbone. You’re not just a parrot relaying information and orders up and down the ladder. Part of what it means to be the offsite project manager is having the guts to tell the people upstairs to back off when they’re in the wrong. I don’t think you appreciate that yet.
I have 96 people here. Well I used to. This place already claimed the lives of hundreds, maybe thousands, of Proximans. Let’s not add to the human tally.
[Computer Chime: End Entry.]
COMPUTER: Entry 2. Xenobiology and xenoanthropology report.
[Computer Chime: Open Entry]
SCENE 2 – A SECONDARY SCANNING ROOM IN THE XENOBIOLOGY POD
[In the background the sounds of a deep scanner at work. Scanning, then processing, scanning, then processing]
KATHY: Commence report: Kathy Tran reporting. Day 11 of the Herodotus mission and…here is the autopsy of…of Harry Kowalski.
[Computer Chime: Begin Inserted Recording]
SCENE 2A – MAIN EXAMINATION ROOM OF XENOBIOLOGY POD (RECORDED EARLIER)
[In the background an ambient harmonic hum of equipment]
CELIA: Autopsy. Subject male, human. Harry Kowalski. 31 years old. Assisting me is Kathy Winters. Subject is five foot ten inches, which would put him in the 99th percentile for alien–oh god. I should… try that again. Subject is five ten. Visual inspection shows two wounds to his lower abdomen which appear to have caused substantial blood loss. Subject was found in a corridor on level 39 with a large pool of…blood around him and was white and…ah…
KATHY: Why is Dr Chang not doing this?
CELIA: Our pod is better equipped for dealing with forensic scanning of…of bodies.
KATHY: Do you need a moment?
CELIA: I’ve never actually done this. I’ve examined aliens hundreds of years dead, but never a human. Never someone I knew. I was only ever interested in dead bodies because they could tell us about the past, not so I could…solve a murder. It’s…we were talking about movies, what? Two days ago?
KATHY: We were going to hang out. I was going to make him watch Casablanca.
CELIA: Oh Kathy, I’m sorry. Here am I thinking about how hard this is for me and I’ve completely forgotten about…well, you two seemed close.
KATHY: He was quiet and mostly kept to himself, but once you got past the awkwardness he was really funny. He made me laugh. We spent a lot of time together on the voyage.
CELIA:Was there more to the two of you? Than friends I mean?
KATHY: I…I’d been thinking about it. Him too, I think. But…I hadn’t decided. He wasn’t my usual type.
CELIA: A dork?
KATHY: A guy.
KATHY: Yeah I haven’t been with a guy since…high school? Only women. So that was…new. I just figured I’d see how things went. Give it time to see if I was really into him and if we had more in common than just our jobs. Maybe talk about it on the way home or something. It wasn’t like he was…It wasn’t like he was going anywhere.
CELIA: I’m so sorry. If you’d rather I took care of this myself–
KATHY: Nn–It’s okay. I want to know what happened to him.
CELIA: (A sigh) Yes. You’re right. This is just as important as any other examination. More. So, um… state of clothing indicates some tearing and shredding. There are deep stab wounds in the abdomen although some of the bruising visible through the tears in his clothing around the upper torso is more consistent with crush injuries. He also has a scalp wound and other cuts and scrapes to hands and fingers. We should get his clothes off now.
KATHY: Oh. Right.
CELIA: Would you prefer I–
KATHY: No, it just…seems a little…disrespectful I guess. Like let him keep his dignity.
CELIA: Why don’t we start with his jacket and shirt.
KATHY: Yeah okay.
[SFX – Cutting of cloth followed by the sound of material being folded back]
[Celia and Kathy gasp in shock]
CELIA: There is bruising. There is a definite deformation of the ribcage. The stab wounds are deep. And quite wide. They look to be…Kathy, would you say they were in line with each other? Kathy?
CELIA: Hmm. What could have made those…what are you doing?
KATHY: He had that key or whatever it was right? Lime’s key? It’s not around his neck. And…and where is his PDA or recorder?
CELIA: He wasn’t found with a bag or anything.
KATHY: I’ll check his jacket.
[SFX – Rifling through jacket]
CELIA: Alright. I’ll do a visual examination of his lower half.
KATHY: Could you…
CELIA: I’ll just check the legs. I’m sure the scan will tell us anything relevant about his…pelvic region.
[SFX – Rifling through jacket continues as well as Celia checking the Harry’s pant legs]
CELIA: Nothing of note here.
KATHY: Me either. All I found in his pockets was a stick of gum. You’re sure they didn’t find anything with him?
CELIA: One of the military teams found him. Say what you will about their approach to science, they are thorough when it comes to things like this.
KATHY: What if they were taken?
CELIA: Then…he was murdered.
KATHY: I don’t see how this could be an accident.
CELIA: Let’s scan him and find out.
[SFX – Celia activates the full body scan]
CELIA: His rib cage was crushed, though that’s not what killed him, it was the blood loss. But what could do this?
KATHY: I think I know. A bot. What else could it have been?
CELIA: Oh god the stab wounds. You’re saying they’re from the–
KATHY: The forklift extensions, yeah. I think it ploughed into him, pushed him up against the wall and then…
CELIA: …then deployed them straight into his stomach.
[SFX – Kathy slowly hitting keys]
KATHY I’m…I’m…inputting the scenario into the computer now. The analysis says…the wounds line up with that possibility.
KATHY: I know there have been problems with the bots, but…this? I thought the techs had purged the glitches from their systems.
CELIA: I think that happened after Harry was reported missing. Either way, they haven’t been available. They’ve been locked up in their storage facility, completely offline.
KATHY: So someone-
CELIA: Or something.
KATHY: Right, something. Oh god, is it possible?
CELIA: I don’t know. I’m not the computer genius. And our computer genius is…
KATHY: Lying right here in front of us.
CELIA: And the other one is dangerously obsessed with that stupid cube. Alright, I’m looking through the rest of the data. There’s nothing else here that seems to be relevant to cause of death. Kathy could you…Kathy?
KATHY: I wanted to go with him. Join in on his little adventure. You stopped me. Why did you stop me?
CELIA: Kathy, I’m…I’m sorry. We had work to do. I needed you here.
KATHY: If I’d gone with him, I could have done something.
CELIA: If you’d gone with him there is a very real chance you would be dead now too.
KATHY: You don’t know that.
KATHY: So don’t try to act like you saved me or something.
CELIA: I’m not. A thousand things could have happened if you had gone with him. But you didn’t, so a thousand things didn’t. This happened. And I’m sorry. For you. For him. And I appreciate that you’re upset, but blaming me will find us no answers. And I have a lot of questions.
KATHY: Me too. Why was he down there?
CELIA: Down where?
KATHY: The level they found him? What’s so special about level 39?
CELIA: That’s a good question. And a good place to start. I’m going to add the additional scan data to this report, then I think you and I should head down there. What do you think?
[SFX – Celia using computer to attach data to report]
KATHY: Yeah, let’s do it.
CELIA: Alright, in conclusion: Most likely cause of death is death by… and I can’t believe I’m saying this…carrier bot. There are serious questions over how one snuck up on him and surprised him and how its Asimov programming was overwritten or how it glitched so badly that this could happen. But for now that’s the cause of death.
KATHY: We’d better send this on to Comptroller Barnes. She’s got more to keep the bots out of action.
CELIA: Indeed. Uploading it to her now.
[SFX – Celia using computer to upload file]
CELIA: Let’s go.
[Computer Chime: End of Inserted Recording]
SCENE 2 (PART 2) – A SECONDARY SCANNING ROOM IN THE XENOBIOLOGY POD
[Returning back to Kathy from before. In the background the sounds of a deep scanner at work. Scanning, then processing, scanning, then processing]
KATHY: So Dr Pennella and I went to level 39 immediately after the autopsy. There was no sign of Harry’s missing personal items. We did find the spot where he was found, though, but it isn’t where he was killed. There was a lot of blood…his blood, but it was in a pool. No splatter. No indentations from the forklift prongs hitting the wall, either. He must have been killed somewhere else and dragged to that spot. It seems unlikely that whoever did it was trying to hide Harry’s body, because it was always going to be found, but moving him to an unexplored level delayed us finding him. Why that was necessary I’m not sure.
We need to find where he was killed. Wherever he was and whatever he was trying to achieve with Lime’s key, there’s something significant about it. There’s got to be.
I’m going to get to the bottom of this.
[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. There is also the sounds of a member of the Xenotech Team (Raynor) working with a scanner in the background]
GORDON: Commence report: Gordon Price. Day 11, and I hope you’re all happy now. This cube is dying. It’s been dropping power at about 0.47 percent per hour and if it keeps going at this rate it’ll be completely gone in a few days. I know everyone desperately needs to find a scapegoat around here but there is no way. No. Way. Not a chance we’re experiencing these issues because of the cube.
Okay, calling Harry’s death “an issue” was crass. I…I’m just so angry with myself. I gave Harry hell because he was so awkward all the time but damn he took it with good grace and kept on working. And it makes me sick that he went missing and I didn’t even know because I was isolated setting up protections around the cube. Perhaps if I’d spent that time triple checking the bot problem instead of leaving most of it to the regular techs he’d still be…Look there is something going on, I’m not denying that. Harry’s death, the bots, the glitches. Something is up with this facility, but it is not the cube. At least not anymore. Everything — my computer, my instruments, my scan, my own intuition, intelligence and experience, they’re all telling me this thing has zero influence while locked in this hangar. If something has rewired the bots and got them running around, it can’t be this. Not anymore.
There are interconnected subroutines in the main system that run semi-independently when this thing is not connected. Maybe one of them is smart enough. Maybe one of them is doing this. The rest of my team have reported spikes in activity ever since we took the cube out of there, so maybe they’re compensating for the cube’s absence. Like an autopilot kicking in when the ship senses the pilot has passed out. One of those systems could be a security system. I have Indira and Shannon looking into that possibility. I have other concerns at this point, like trying to learn all I can from the cube before it is no more. Presumably it was drawing power from the control room or something in it. I hadn’t anticipated this problem, and since your current orders strictly forbid me from working with it anywhere but this isolated hangar there’s not much I can do about it. I’ve tried jury-rigging the cube to one of our portable generators, but without success. So I’ve pressed on, hoping to salvage what I can.
I’ve learnt it has a series of decision matrices, each of which is involved in determining key actions. The idea seems to be that each has a nominally dedicated task, presumably a major system of the city. And there are whole other groups of these matrices that can rotate and float between evaluating other tasks or combine to consider input from several systems at once. That means that say one part was in charge of atmosphere and saw a drop in pressure it would react accordingly, but if another matrix registered an explosion at the same time then it would kick it up to a third matrix to evaluate the whole situation. It’s not as cumbersome as that sounds, though, it’s blink of an eye stuff, processing all relevant data at any given moment while also acting like a manager able to see the big picture, looking over their employees’ shoulders. And above him is an executive and above that is the ultimate CEO or whatever, except that this CEO is actually capable of seeing what’s going on at every level all at once because it’s an AI and not limited by our brain structure or capacity.
Look it’s not a great analogy, but any analogy oversimplifies the interrelationship between these different levels a lot. And there are higher functions that I still don’t understand. The point is that this is the most highly evolved computer I’ve ever seen and it’s not something I want to see disappear. Even if we can revive it later, if it fails now it would lose all accumulated data. It wasn’t born able to do all it can do. It had to learn it, like a child. That’s another thing. I am almost certain it has learnt how to assign tasks to different decision matrices. It’s effectively programmed itself to deal with the task demanded of it. If tomorrow it was plugged into a starship it would reassign its various components, hell perhaps even create new ones, to deal with the systems there.
I’m even seeing evidence it’s been reassigning systems since we started working with it. It’s reacting to a new set of parameters introduced by us. Not that it considers us a threat. I honestly don’t think that…
I know how I sound right now. I know. You don’t have to tell me. Raynor, my buddy under Barnes’s new safety regime is looking at me like I just took a crap on his mother’s lawn. I see you Raynor, that’s fine. I’ve seen one person die this week. I don’t want to lose another. And this IS a lifeform. It should be respected as such.
That argument won’t work on the people at corporate, so let me put it in terms based in cost/benefit analysis. I want authorisation to save this thing. If you give it to me you will learn more in a shorter, less expensive amount of time and be able to develop bright shiny new toys to sell in perhaps three years instead of ten. A fully-developed and functioning AI has so much more to show us than a blank slate newly rebooted infant.
Maybe I made a dent there. Maybe not. That I even have to talk in such terms just shows our mission does not align with the best interests of humanity. This place, a wonder of technology and intelligence, is tagged only for what profit it can bring. Or the devastation it can wreak. Meanwhile we’re missing the lesson proffered by a silent tomb, filled with bodies. The Proximans, who were building this marvel when Da Vinci thought doodling sketches of helicopters was a neat idea, who have been marching around the stars since before Christ was a kid, still couldn’t get along with their own kind. Shouldn’t we learn something from that? If all we’re going to do is rob their graves and use their creations to kill or make credits, then what will be our fate, if this was theirs? Why can’t we learn from their mistakes and adapt their technology to our betterment, rather than our destruction? I mean…
I’m not even making sense. Come on Raynor, help me out here.
RAYNOR: You’re on your own man. Is this how reports to corporate usually go? I expected something different.
GORDON: It’s probably not strictly to spec, but the hell with it, I’m sending it anyway. Price out.
[Computer Chime: End of Entry]
COMPUTER: Entry 4. Military Scientific Research Report.
[Computer Chime: Begin Entry]
SCENE 4 – A ROOM IN THE ALPHA SITE THAT LIEUTENANT LAURA RIGGS HAS TURNED INTO A TEMPORARY OFFICE
[Distant wind and rain and occasional thunder can be heard from outside the Alpha Site, out on the planet’s surface. There is the regular buzz and squawk of the military comms channel from Riggs’ comms pack that she has set aside in order to record this report]
LAURA: Commence Report: Lieutenant Riggs, day 11 Herodotus mission.
Progress has been slow but steady. Our modelling has given us some understanding of how the atmospheric replenishment worked, confirming that the planet’s current atmosphere was a part of the solution rather than the problem. Hard to believe that something so toxic was a feature and not a bug, but it seems to be part of how they distributed certain compounds over the land. It explains the near constant storms, though we’re unsure what these particular compounds are needed for. We think the answer might be in how the fourth node works, as it is the only part of the system that, according to our analysis, had not been operational before the planet was abandoned. Either way we are genuinely baffled by this one.
We have also come across a program the Proximans used to simulate their climate scenarios and create… what should I call them? Recipes? For planning atmospheric alterations. I’ve got three people studying it. If we can marry the Proximan scenarios to our own speculations then we can be confident in our understanding of the process. It is our best non-test option for cracking this.
Now, bearing this in mind, I should respond to your question. No, we are no closer to being able to boot up the system and test it and this increasing push to do so after my previous reports seems…premature. I am not in the habit of questioning my superiors, but the death of Harry Kowalski appears to have spooked someone in command into thinking they need to get every drop of data out of us before things get worse.
While I am well aware that I am not addressing you here, Ms Connolly, rather those in the military to whom this will ultimately go, I must repeat that although we are a talented and highly trained group of people, we are also 27 people working through a facility the size of two interstellar dreadnoughts and we have been here for just 11 days. We’ve discovered a ton. An absolute ton. I am actually amazed by how well we are doing, despite the pressure, and despite the loss of time and productivity from search and retrieval detail.
I…am well aware of the separatist menace. I have family and dear friends serving on ships going up against their fleet as we speak. I have also lost family and dear friends to them, but I cannot believe the situation is so dire we must risk our lives to undertake dangerous tests when all we need is a little more time.
We are scientists, yes, but military scientists, and like all military personnel we don’t launch an op without first gathering intelligence. Mapping these systems and studying the interrelationships between them is no different from basic recon. Attempting to understand the processes and the pitfalls is how we gather our intel and know our enemy. And just like with intel, we are gathering and correlating data from a hundred different sources and that takes time. Especially when we can’t always trust the information due to questions of translation and semantics. It’s not just a case of turning the thing on and seeing what happens. We have to understand its start up and charging mechanism, we have to understand its methods, and we have to understand its current state of repair when we’re not completely sure what it was all supposed to look like when it was up and running in the first place. I hope by using terms an army officer can understand, I’ve put things into perspective. This is going to be a slow process whether they like it or not. That said, I do have one suggestion.
I would like, if I could, to have Gordon Price moved across permanently. I will be putting this to Barnes at day’s end, but since Price’s knowledge of alien technology is second to none and his previous work proved invaluable, it is an obvious choice.
One last thought regarding the situation with my superiors. I know Lieutenant Colonel Freitag is your military liaison, but might I suggest that, should you need to get him off your back, you also CC Major Colonel Lionel into any further consultation? The Major Colonel is far more scientifically minded and has a much better grasp on this sort of thing. Freitag respects her opinion.
We are moving towards testing. That is our current goal. But pushing at an unnaturally fast rate is not going to make success materialise out of thin air. All things in their own time.
[Computer Chime: End of Entry]
COMPUTER: Entry 5. Xenoarchaeology Report.
SCENE 5 – TOP LEVEL OF THE BETA SITE CITY OVERLOOKING CENTRAL SHAFT
[It is very late. All other work has ceased for the day and Ben is by himself. Hence there is no other sound in the Beta site, only the echo of Ben’s words.]
BEN: I really have nothing to report in terms of regular work. I just… haven’t been able to get up the energy and I think you of all people will understand. The usual reports in the data packet will give you what findings I have managed to make. The records I have made it through reiterate what I’d reported previously about the tension in the city. The Proximans were divided into two factions. Nothing more specific than that. Nothing to take my line of reasoning in another direction.
However, just in the last hour we’ve had a development and it’s a strange one, Jen. After Celia discovered a bot was responsible for Harry’s death support staff were sent to the bot hangar to check them over. They came and got me. There was blood on Bot 17, the first to be detected as off program. Not why they called me, not my department really, but it does confirm Celia’s findings. I mean I’m sure they’ll run the blood to check, but…The reason they called me was for the rest of the bots. They were arranged in a pattern, but I didn’t recognise it until I got up to the catwalk above and could look down. All 32 bots were arranged in a symbol — a glyph that we’ve both seen at least a dozen times. The one you always said looked like a squirrel with a nut on its tail.
The warning to leave or death will occur.
The AI is warning us to get out of here or we are dead. It’s coming for us. Sounds paranoid I know, but there is no chance, I mean seriously, what are the odds all the bots just being bugged out and moving into that shape by coincidence? It is watching us and it knows us and it is trying to get to us any way it can.
Look I know Gordon has said, repeatedly, that he has the thing contained. Maybe he has. But I think all he’s done is tied its hands behind its back. Slowed it down without stopping it. It can’t get at us the way it wants to so it’s just pulling random levers hoping to find the one that drops the piano on our heads.
I…I know I haven’t got much to go on except my gut. And I know Gordon claims he’s purged all influence the AI had on the bots’ programming and they’re being kept offline until they’ve been tested. And I know that even if I’m right, it’s probably too late to do anything about it.
And on that morbid note, I guess I may as well get back to work. What else can this humble xenoarchaeologist do?
[Long pause. When Ben recommences his tone is very different. His façade has cracked and he unwinds more and more as he speaks]
BEN: I keep thinking about Harry. Because I know once Celia and Kathy have finished examining he’ll be classed as biological material not critical to the mission so he can’t be brought back into earth-controlled space and I can’t, it just…it just makes me think of her. Of our daughter. I’m sorry Jen. I’m sorry. We should never have gone to Vultur. I know we agreed at the time but I can’t help thinking if I’d refused, if I’d given voice to my doubts…You were already two months in when we left dock and sure it was a short run, but we knew about the extension clause and we knew Hollister…
Oh god, I can’t get it out of my head. The accident. You lying there, going into labour. Too early. Way too early. And the med bay just didn’t have the facilities to…and now, there will be a small patch of that alien world where a piece of my heart…and
yours…will be forever buried.
Maybe in a thousand years some new aliens will be digging up our presence across the galaxy and they’ll come across a set of tiny little bones. Gloria’s bones. So fragile, only weeks old, buried with that little stone we made, and they’ll wonder what the hell happened. Will they understand? Will they feel what we felt that day? An echo of it?
Because right now I’m feeling all of it. Gloria and what it did to us. Th–The loss of her.
And Harry. Such a good kid. And these damn dead aliens all huddled together. I…I know some people think they were piled up afterwards, but I think it’s the huddling together that comes when you’re at the end and you know it and you just want to be close to another person. Anyone. Just to not feel alone. Or worse. The panic when people found they were choking and oh god…
[He breaks down, sobbing. Eventually he regains some composure]
I know I should probably…erase all that. I know it’s far too personal for an official communication with so many people in the loop. But since we don’t… since I never talked to you about it, just threw myself into the work…I’m sorry.
I think I’ve spent too long among the dead.
[Computer Chime: End of Entry]
COMPUTER: End Status Report Five.
[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.
JORDAN: Jordan Cobb as Kathy Winters.
SHAKIRA: Shakira Searle as Dr Celia Pennella.
GRAHAM: Graham Rowat as Gordon Price.
LINDSEY: Lindsey Dorcus as Lieutenant Laura Riggs.
CHRIS: Chris Magilton as Ben Kelleher.
DEVIN: Devin Madson as The Computer.
CHRIS: And the voice of Raynor was Oliver Morris who also created our theme music.
COMPUTER ANNOUNCEMENT: The work of the Eudoxus Initiative is made possible by generous research grants from our patrons. Thank you to our most recent patron Imogen Cassidy. 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. If you enjoyed this report, please consider supporting us by rating, reviewing and recommending us. Thank you for listening.