PRE-SHOW ANNOUNCEMENT: Hello and welcome to Act 1 of our New Years Prequel episode. This was a fun opportunity to get to know some of our Season 1 characters in a less harrowing environment as they celebrate New Years Eve before Season 1 starts. And of course it was made possible by our patrons. So, big shout out to all our patrons, those of you who have supported us since the beginning, those that’ve come along the way, and even some that perhaps don’t support us anymore. You’ve all been a huge part of why we’ve kept on this long, and why we’re coming back.

Act 2 of this story will drop in a week’s time and you’ll hear our Season 2 trailer two weeks after that. Finally, a content warning for this episode which contains alcohol use, gambling and brief discussion of grief, death and loss.

Thank you for joining us again in the Among the Stars and Bones universe, and we hope you enjoy the show…

CONTENT WARNINGS (From show notes):

Alcohol Consumption – Several characters take part in a drinking game (40:55 – 43:17)

Gambling/Poker – Several characters get set up for a poker game (46:58 – 50:10)

Death/Grief – There are allusions to Ben’s personal tragedy and the impact it has had on him (37:48 – 39:32)


[Theme Music Plays]

COMPUTER: Among the Stars and Bones

[Theme Music Ends and we Fade Up on:]


[Background sounds of a ticking analogue clock. Regular computer chirps indicate Comptroller Adrienne Barnes is getting a steady stream of updates from the rest of the mission team, though less often than in previous episodes. Underneath it all can be heard the ambient hum of The Valkyrie, the military vessel transporting the Herodotus Task Force, in flight.]

[The conversation between Adrienne and Janine fades up.]

ADRIENNE: …and with that sorted I think we’ve got everything covered supply-wise for tonight’s celebrations. Now, to the ground rules.

JANINE: Comptroller, you’ve sent them out twice already. Do you really think that grown adults–

ADRIENNE: Janine, we’re about to hold a New Years Eve party onboard a military vessel in deep space. Granted, it’s not everyone’s idea of when a new year begins, but we’ve been cooped up over a month, so you’d better believe there’s going to be rules.

JANINE: But are all of these necessary?

[SFX – Janine accessing her datapad]

JANINE: There’s like 26 of them.

ADRIENNE: Tell you what – you hit me with a rule, I’ll tell you why it’s necessary.

JANINE: Okay, um…rule 11 – No dancing with the bots.

ADRIENNE: A logistics tech on the Nabonidus task force back in ’05 tried to program a bot to do a routine from some zombie song from the 1980s. Result: Four injuries including a broken leg, 2 million credits damage.


ADRIENNE: Look, I wasn’t there, but the Eudoxus Initiative doesn’t put out edicts in official memos because of rumours and office legends. Next?

JANINE: Well, some of these make sense. I get why the main party is in hangar four and the pod rec areas are reserved for quiet gatherings, but what’s the rule about closing off all the other hangars about?

ADRIENNE: Previously, people sneaking off to fraternise have engaged in activities that resulted in samples stored there becoming “biologically contaminated.”

JANINE: I’m…sorry I asked.

ADRIENNE: I can do this all day.

JANINE: Fine then – Rule 16. What’s the deal with blocking access to the Valkyrie’s central corridor?

ADRIENNE: I would’ve thought that one was obvious. The Valkyrie has a crew complement of four and a half thousand, all of whom are going to be under far stricter rules and regulations for celebrating the New Year than us, especially in wartime. That rule is to prevent them sneaking in and crashing the party. Over the years it’s happened a few times, with mostly no real harm done. But others…

JANINE: And Rule 17 about the mid-deck maintenance hatch?

ADRIENNE: That’s in case one of you lot has taken a shine to one of the marines and wants to try and get around rule 16.

JANINE: That’s awfully specific.

ADRIENNE: There is a slight possibility that I may be the reason that rule was introduced.


ADRIENNE: I wasn’t born married you know.

[SFX – Some distant mechanical rumblings and sliding noises. The ambient ship’s hum lessens]

JANINE: What was that?

ADRIENNE: We’ve dropped out of light speed.

JANINE: I don’t think I’ll ever get used to that.

ADRIENNE: By your next trip you’ll be a pro. It all gets to be routine. This’ll be the last time we drop out before the jump to Tefen. They need to replot a course, run drive checks, and connect with the relay beacon to see if there’s additional orders or information coming in. Takes about twelve hours, depending on distances. After that we’ll be outside the network altogether, with only the stellarcast to connect us home. And since we’re not allowed to use that for personal stuff, do make sure you get any last messages sent out before then. Last chance for four months.

JANINE: Right. Well if there’s nothing else to go over?

ADRIENNE: Don’t think so. I’m being overcautious as usual. I’m sure tonight will go off without a hitch and everyone will be able to blow off some steam before we get down to business.

JANINE: How long?

ADRIENNE: Six days, maybe seven til we make planetfall. Excited?

JANINE: More like terrified. But I’ll probably spend most of my time running supplies and keeping track of equipment.

ADRIENNE: That’s not how it works, I promise. Your work/study program is designed so you spend at least half of your time on the pointy end of the expedition, and that won’t just be cataloguing artefacts. You’ll get on site.

JANINE: I know you say that, but a friend of mine who did this program on the Nabonidus task force–

ADRIENNE: I run Herodotus very differently from Blake Kittering. Now, get those last few things seen to and go and have some fun.

JANINE: You won’t be joining the rest of us?

ADRIENNE: I’ll put in a brief appearance, but I’m at least a decade past the age where these kinds of parties hold any interest. I was really hoping we’d be on schedule so that final deployment prep would mean there was no time, but alas.

JANINE: Heaven forfend.

ADRIENNE: I don’t begrudge anyone the chance to have a little fun. Least of all you Janine. You’ve earned it, thrice over.

JANINE: Damn straight.

ADRIENNE: Have fun. But not, you know, too much fun.

JANINE: I will walk that incredibly fine line for you Comptroller.

ADRIENNE: Thank you.

JANINE: And follow your impeccable shining example.

ADRIENNE: Thank…You’d better not.

[SFX – Janine gets up from her chair and begins walking out]

JANINE (voice trailing off): Now where can I find an override key to the mid-deck maintenance hatch?

[SFX – The door opens and Janine steps through]


[SFX – Door closes]

[Adrienne chuckles]

[Adrienne presses a button on her console]

ADRIENNE: Has the Valkyrie made connection with the local beacon yet?

[SFX – Computer responds in the affirmative]

ADRIENNE: Commence private message – recipient: Barnes, Richard. Hello my love, Just a quick letter this New Year’s Eve. The last one I’ll be able to send you til early May I expect. I miss you terribly. I didn’t think I’d be doing this again, out here on the edge of known space and about to step off the map, but it’s starting to feel familiar and even a little exciting. This expedition is going to be a special one, I’m sure of it.

It still stings a bit that Jennifer pipped me for the offsite role though. Being closer to home…closer to you…is something I’ve been wanting, not just because your symptoms have been getting worse and I want to support you, but because spending months at a time away from you and everyone else year after year is taking its toll. I want to be able to leave the office every day and meet you in town for a show or go see friends. Or just come home to a quiet dinner on the balcony and an evening in front of the television, or reading up on our Roman or Greek history and sharing titbits back and forth, because there’s no need to cram an entire year’s worth of social events into the months when I’m home and we can just simply be.

(She sighs)

One day.

I hope the latest round of treatments went well and you weren’t too wiped out afterwards to enjoy Christmas. I did manage to hold off until Christmas day to open your gift. The long-johns are incredibly comfortable, and that new compression tech in the lining is doing wonders for my knees, so thank you. The wine was well-appreciated too.

I was a bit confused by the little bottle of glitter until I read your note. A little fairy dust to help fly me home if things go wrong is just what I need. The spidery script with Break in Case of Emergency was a nice touch.

I haven’t touched Peter Pan since reading it to Maddie when she was six, so I’m not sure if fairy dust also takes care of the need to breathe while flying through interstellar space, but…if it came to it, I would find a way, Richard. I would.

Give my love to the girls. Tell Sarah that I’ll be there for graduation come hell or high water. Celia sends their best and reminds you that you still owe them 30 credits from that card night in June. Ben also sends his regards…or I imagine he would if he knew I was sending this. I haven’t seen him since Christmas Day to be honest. But you know what he’s been like these past few years. Tucked away. Distant.

Anyway…know that even amidst the usual mountain of paperwork and logistical nightmares and exploration of a new planet that you are now and always in my thoughts. I’d hope that by the time we’re done that something big enough to justify the time spent away from you will come of all this, but nothing could.

Miss you. Love you. Talk to you soon…ish.

[SFX – Adrienne hits a button and the message is sent]

(Adrienne sighs)

[Fade out and into…]


[This is the same place from which Kathy did her early reports in Season 1, the small office space she was given by Celia, which is also dominated by a scanner which can be heard running diagnostic routines in the background]

[SFX – A button is pressed and music can be heard through headphones, a piece with a big band/swing feel to it.]

KATHY: Let’s see

(Kathy makes shuffling movements and attempts to keep the beat as she practices dancing)

KATHY: Dammit, no, that’s not it.

[SFX – Button press, music restarts. Kathy attempts to dance again]

KATHY: Oh God this is impossible without a partner.

[SFX – Kathy continues practising her dance. Door opens. Footsteps as Celia enters. Door closes.]

(Kathy continues whispering to herself before turning in the dance to realise she is being observed)

KATHY: (panicked) Wha! Oh!

[SFX – Things being knocked over and scattered as Kathy loses balance and almost falls. Her headphones come off and the music is heard more clearly for a moment before she shuts it off]

CELIA: What are you doing?

KATHY: Nothing I…I…I…I was just…uh…

CELIA: Never mind. Has the R.I.S. completed its recalibration yet?

KATHY: Uh, no. It’s still–

CELIA: Is the 0.5 frequency shift still an issue?

KATHY: I’m still waiting on the diagn–

CELIA: Inform me as soon as it is complete. We’re only a week out and every piece of equipment needs to be in peak condition before we deploy.

KATHY: I know, I will, I–

CELIA: While you’re waiting, I need these latest pre-deployment reports reviewed, notarised and completed.

KATHY: I thought I did those yest–

CELIA: Those were in regard to xenobiological remains protocols. These are in regards to xenobiological related implements. Grooming tools, medical instruments et cetera.

KATHY: Right.

CELIA: They come under your role. Where should I put them?

KATHY: Yeah there’s not a lot of space in here.

[SFX – Celia plonking down a stack of files]

CELIA: You need to get more organised.

KATHY: Sure, but sharing a tiny corner bay that’s mostly taken up by the R.I.S. seems a little unfair given my role.

CELIA: Personal workspace is given out according to seniority in my department.

KATHY: I’m the second in charge.

CELIA: You’re my assistant. And I mean seniority in terms of time served. Feel free to use one of the shared spaces if you must to complete your duties. Speaking of duties…

[SFX – Passing over a piece of paper]

CELIA: Once we deploy the stellarcast sends out a packet of data with updates for home once every two days. As part of that our department is required to give a summary of findings, progress and proposed next steps to keep the big wigs apprised of the overall picture. I’m adding this to your responsibilities.

KATHY: And what’s the piece of paper?

CELIA: A step-by-step guide so that you don’t screw it up. The expected protocol to follow, the password, the dot points that need to be covered. It’s all there.

KATHY: This…this looks like an admin level password. Doesn’t that mean you should–

CELIA: Just read through it, and get ready for when it’s time. And I want those reports completed before you finish for the day.

KATHY: But it’s New Years Eve. And I was going to meet up with Harry from xenotech and–

CELIA: You can waste time with your friends when your chores are done.

[SFX – Celia walks out. Door opens and they exit.]

KATHY: (Sighs) They hate me. (Beat) Wait, was that a Star Wars reference? (Laughs) No. No…no way. (Sighs) Look at all this. I’ll be stuck here til midnight. Next Monday.

[SFX – Kathy hits a coms channel]

HARRY: (on coms) Hello? Kathy?

KATHY: Hi, just wanted to let you know I might be a little late finishing up. Might not make the party right away. Celia has just dumped a bunch more stuff in my lap.

HARRY: (on coms) Oh, thats…I mean it’s fine. It’s okay. Doing the whole dance thing wasn’t you know…it was just an idea, right? We don’t have to…I’ll just see you when I see you. Sort of thing.

KATHY: Sure. I’ll let you know when I’m free again.

(We cut to…)


[This is the continuation of the conversation from Harry’s side in the xenotechnology pod. Ambient hums of computing equipment can be heard in the background]

HARRY: Yeah, of course. As long as you save a dance for me.

KATHY: (on coms) Now you’re mixing eras. This is taking on a decidedly Austen-esque flavour.

[SFX – Approaching footsteps as Gordon walks up to Harry]

HARRY: Well, milady I…(he becomes aware of the footsteps) kind of have to go, the boss is here.

KATHY: (on coms) Of course. I’ll, uh. I’ll see you soon.

[SFX – End Coms beep. Gordon’s footsteps stop]

GORDON: Sorry, didn’t mean to interrupt. That the new girl from bio?

HARRY: Kathy. Uh, yeah. She and I, we’re going–

GORDON: Hey, you don’t have to explain to me. Good for you.

HARRY: N-No. No. No. uh, no. No. it’s not like that–

GORDON: Harry, Harry. Whatever it’s not is no concern of mine.

(A pause)

HARRY: You uh, you wanted something?

GORDON: Yes, Harry. I usually don’t come looking for one of my subordinates to discuss their private lives.

HARRY: It’s not like that–

GORDON: Yuh, I’m already bored. Now about this image translation program you’ve been developing.

HARRY: Yes…that. Right. Um…wh-what about it?

GORDON: I’ve been looking at some of the code and I’m just curious about the robustness of it. As I’m understanding it there’s capacity in the basic program to apply previous parameters to new file types and programs, but what about generational jumps? New technologies and formats?

HARRY: I’d…probably have to look at the Proximan code in raw form and make some adjustments to my program. Er…otherwise it wouldn’t have anything to…you know, grab on to?

GORDON: Right.

HARRY: Why…do you ask?

GORDON: Just something I noted in the review of some of the initial survey data. They did a terrible job, but here, look at this. What do you see?

[SFX – Gordon brings up a file on a datapad.]

HARRY: That’s…like nothing I’ve…ever seen.

GORDON: Exactly. Makes me think that this might be from an era later than First Discovery. Which would mean new tech.




GORDON: Back to my question.

HARRY: Oh! Yes. And…uh, yes. I think with a little work it could be adapted.

GORDON: Good. Knew there was a reason I hired you. How long does this new program take to translate a file into something useful, once it’s got the parameters worked out?

HARRY: In all the testing I did it took about 12 hours to learn, then it was maybe five minutes per minute of vid. Half that for audio.

GORDON: Not bad. At least twice as fast as anything else I’ve seen. That’s some stellar work.

HARRY: Yeah.

GORDON: Learn to take a compliment, kid.

HARRY: Right, thanks.

[SFX – Gordon begins walking away]

GORDON: (Over shoulder) Oh and good luck tonight.


GORDON: (Over shoulder) With whatever it isn’t.

HARRY: Right…Wait, no.

GORDON: (distantly) Ouch, you’ve got it bad.

HARRY: (sighs) I really do.



[Ben’s office in the archopod. Classical music plays in the background. A series of beeps can be heard as Ben scrolls through a series of images from the survey mission]

BEN: Uh…no that is not what that says at all.

[SFX – He begins typing in a correction. The door buzzer sounds]

BEN: Come in.

[SFX – The door opens and Janine enters.]

BEN: Hi Janine.

JANINE: Professor, sorry to bother you.

[SFX – Ben finishes typing and turns off the music]

BEN: No bother, come on in.

JANINE: It’s uh…you looked busy. Especially since it’s the holidays.

BEN: Oh this? I’m just going through the images from the survey mission and checking translation notes on any signage and icons. The military team leader, what’s her name…Lieutenant Riggs? put in a request.

JANINE: Sounds tedious. Why didn’t you assign it to someone else?

BEN: It’s marginally more interesting than reviewing that stack of journal articles awaiting my attention.

JANINE: Ouch. Wait, wouldn’t those need to go out before we make the jump out of network space?

BEN: Yes. But look at all this other work that needs doing. Wouldn’t want to disappoint our masters at the Eudoxus Initiative by wasting time on mere academia when we’re on such an important mission. And look, here you are with another convenient distraction. Now, how can I help you?

JANINE: Oh, it can wait if you’re doing more important–

BEN: Janine, you’re hardly playing the role of distraction if you’re so easily defeated. What’s up?

JANINE: Okay, so I’m working my way through an interpretation study for Professor Kaminski’s course and I’m having trouble with this passage.

BEN: That doesn’t sound like you.

JANINE: Translating the words is fine, but there’s something in the overall meaning that…see I know how she wants it interpreted, but…

BEN: You smell a trap.

JANINE: Not sure I’d put it like that but…

BEN: Give me a look.

[SFX – Janine calls up the passage on her datapad before handing it over]

JANINE: Third section.


BEN: Ah.

JANINE: Yeah. I think she wants that phrase to come out as “riding the river of stars into the future” because if you go by the professor’s own work, especially her work on the language of time that’s what it should be. And that’s what she’s expecting me to cite.

BEN: But you disagree.

JANINE: Well, we know their word for future derives from words that essentially mean “bright dawn” or “new dawn”, right?

BEN: Correct.

JANINE: Well, what if that’s what the Proximan who wrote them really meant?

BEN: Alright, what’s the argument?

JANINE: The rest of the passage. There’s references to rivers of stars, storms of light and shadow. So much of this is metaphorical, poetic. I just feel like in this instance maybe they really meant something more figurative and optimistic like a bright new dawn rather than the more neutral and literal “future”. But I feel like Professor Kaminski will absolutely crush me if I go with that.

BEN: Oh she 100% will.

JANINE: So I should just do it her way?

BEN: No.

JANINE: You…want me to fail?

BEN: I want you to go with your instincts.

JANINE: And fail.

BEN: At the end of the day, instinct is what you’ve got to go with. And it’s stuff like this – the context of the whole passage, that fuels it. So you’re going to need to look at all of it again, from start to finish. Find the threads to not just make your case for that one line, but for all of them.

JANINE: So, my whole interpretation should be based on the idea that poetry was the point?

BEN: Exactly. Follow your instincts then apply it all the way through. Don’t just look at that section. Look at the whole thing. Build off of it and make that the thesis.

JANINE: And will the professor still maul me?

BEN: She will if you’re not bold enough. If you don’t put in the work to make the whole argument.

JANINE: Okay. Thanks.

BEN: It’s what I’m here for. Oh and uh, check the library database for a paper by Stefano di Bartolomeo and Miriam Rosenthal from ’06. Title was…it had Breath of the Wild in the sub. They made an argument for a similar interpretation of a passage in a log entry from that second ship that turned up on Tau Ceti. Might give you a handy reference or two.

JANINE: Thanks. I’ll let you get back to your riveting work.

BEN: Urgh.

JANINE: Are you…going to come out tonight?

BEN: Why, what’s tonight?

JANINE: New Year’s Eve.

BEN: Oh. Uh, I didn’t realise. Hadn’t really thought about it.

JANINE: Remy and some others from your department are setting up a game of Lost in Translation. I was thinking of trying my luck. I figured he would’ve invited you.

BEN: He may have mentioned it.

JANINE: You should come. Show the rest of us how it’s done.

BEN: To be honest, I’ve not big on booze at the best of times, but I don’t really see the point of a drinking game that’ll only make me sober.

JANINE: You make a call that bold and I feel like you’ve gotta be prepared to back it up.

BEN: Maybe some other time. You have fun though.

JANINE: If you change your mind, we’ll be setting up on one of the back corners of Hangar 4.

BEN: Sure.

JANINE: Sorry. It’s none of my business really. I just don’t think anyone should be alone on New Year’s is all.


JANINE: I mean unless you’re finally getting around to grading my essay on the methodolgy of the original Eridani expedition?

BEN: Jokes on you. Left those with my TA back home. You’re gonna be waiting at least five months before you find out what you got for that one.


BEN: Sorry.

JANINE: You know you were my favourite professor until right this moment.

BEN: Good luck with the translation.

[SFX – Janine turns and starts to leave]

BEN: Oh and tonight. Watch out for future tense modifiers. If I know Remy he’ll throw more than a few of those in.

JANINE: Gotcha.



[A large common work area. In the background many of the military researchers can be heard working.]

LAURA: What about these Harris? Do you think our standard interfaces will work?

HARRIS: The layout looks about right, and that does look like a port. But the configuration of the other console looks completely different.

LAURA: What’s the contingency?

HARRIS: The J-7s should be able to at least get a read on the raw code, even if their programming isn’t sophisticated enough to actually interface with whatever operating system this “command centre” is running. That would at least give us something to work to and reconfigure.

LAURA: And how long would that take?

HARRIS: Depends how many people I have. Some of the civilians could–

LAURA: Assume no more than five.

HARRIS: (Surprised) Really?


HARRIS: Hmm. What do you think Gallini?

GALLINI: Depends. If it’s got some commonalities with known coding, perhaps three days. If it’s something new…at least a week, even with computer assistance.

LAURA: That’s…not great.

GALLINI: If I may ask ma’am, why the concern? And why aren’t we counting on the civvies?

LAURA: Logan, show them what you showed me.

LOGAN: Well, you see I was doing some calculations about the amount of energy generation required to power the Alpha site and the survey mission data suggests what’s there is thoroughly inadequate to get the job done so–

GALLINI: (Under breath) Get to the point, why don’t you.

LOGAN: (Definitely heard Gallini) So…I started looking at the Beta site data, and the thing is, it’s largely incomplete.

LAURA: The survey mission spent sixteen days at the Alpha site. It’s so vast and there’s so much evident tech that there was a lot to do. The Beta site got more like sixteen hours.

HARRIS: But it’s only eight floors of living quarters or something, right?

LOGAN: No, it’s eight documented floors of living quarters. The survey report made it look like that was it, but when you actually look at the raw scan it goes much deeper into the ground. Here, look.

[SFX – Accessing a datapad]

HARRIS: There’s no bottom on this.

LOGAN: Exactly.

JENSEN: This explains why the civilian techs I spoke to were as excited by Beta as Alpha. That’s at least a mile in depth.

LAURA: That we know of.

[SFX – Jensen uses her computer to move and zoom in on the 3D scan of the Beta site.]

JENSEN: (Considering schematic) Right, and from the size and shape of some of the areas of the spaces they did scan, there’s going to be a lot more going on there than just living quarters.

LOGAN: Indeed. I’m no archaeologist, but this looks like a small city. And if I’m right about the Alpha site getting its power from there, then there’s every chance even the civilian technology team will want to be all over this instead of with us. We could be on our own.

GALLINI: Just like you to rain on everyone’s parade.

LOGAN: Hey, don’t shoot the messenger just because you don’t like the message old man.

LAURA: Stow it Gallini. Logan’s right. If the Beta site is as significant as it appears there’s no way they’ll pass up the chance to explore in detail. Even if we can keep the techs with us, we won’t be able to tear the xenoarchaeologists or xenoanthropologists away from a chance to study something that could tell them so much about how Proximans lived. According to the Initiative regs, they are supposed to offer us “assistance proportional to the extent of other findings of note”, and it looks like there’s a lot of note.

JENSEN: Can’t you pull rank?

LAURA: I can request. Suggest. Put forward the case to the offsite supervisor in my reports, and she or someone above her might come to our aid. If they see dollar signs in it. But the civilian department heads have a fair amount of autonomy to deploy where they will. I didn’t anticipate this. I figured we could count on having at least half of them with us, but that’s not looking likely.

JENSEN: So is that why we’re all still here at 8 o’clock on New Years?

LAURA: Yes, Jensen. There’s 27 of us for this project. And given the size of the Alpha site, that’s about half what we need. If I can’t be sure we’re going to get the extra bodies and expertise we need from the Herodotus crew, then we are going to have to be sharp and ready to go from the jump. If all the early indicators are that this is indeed a terraforming facility, it’s too big an opportunity to waste.

HARRIS: With all due respect ma’am, we’re as close to ready as we can be without being there.

LAURA: We need to be more ready than that.

JENSEN: Ma’am, Harris is right. We’ve set up the initial deployment schedule. Preprogrammed the deep scans. We’ve reviewed the available information a hundred times. I could probably walk blindfolded from one end of that place to the other by now, and I think…I think maybe that’s the problem ma’am.

LAURA: What do you mean?

JENSEN: We’ve been so focused on the trees in front of us that we didn’t see the forest. We’ve been en route for five weeks and none of us picked up on how incomplete the Beta site data was until now?

LAURA: If you’re saying that I–

JENSEN: No…no ma’am. This is on all of us.

HARRIS: She’s right ma’am.

LAURA: I…Yes, she is. With everything that’s been going on…the war, other projects, we haven’t had the lead time and…we’ve gotten a little hyperfocused. Maybe one night off won’t kill us.

JENSEN: Don’t look at it as a night off. Look at it as a networking opportunity.

HARRIS: Yeah. We’re cultivating useful relationships with the civilian teams that might be handy when we need a little of their expertise in the future.

LAURA: Well…I was supposed to be playing cards with Barnes and some of the other senior people. In light of Logan’s information I was going to cancel.

JENSEN: But now it’s all about networking…

LAURA: Alright.

[SFX – Laura Stands]

LAURA: Attention everyone.

[SFX – The background hubbub ceases]

LAURA: Thank you for your work. But I think that’s enough for today. You’ve all earned a little R&R so please finish up what you’re doing and then feel free to head off to the party.

[A couple of background cheers.]

LAURA: Please, be responsible and know your limits. There isn’t enough time before deployment to take tomorrow off, but no one needs to be in until ten in the morning.

[Stifled groans]

JENSEN: Twelve ma’am, please.

LAURA: Tell you what, make it 11 sharp, but I’ll break out some of the special rations and we’ll have a big recovery brunch and…ease ourselves into the day. Sound good?

[Cheers and assent, accompanied by the following four lines simultaneously]

JENSEN: Sounds perfect.

HARRIS: Oh hell yeah.

GALLINI: That’s more like it.

LOGAN: Thank you, ma’am.

LAURA: Alright, don’t let me keep you. Have a happy new year.

[SFX – People packing up and leaving]

LAURA: I feel like I’m going to regret this.

JENSEN: Eh, you just gave them permission to do what they were going to do anyway. At least now they’ve got some rules.



[Celia walks down a corridor with metal floor]

[SFX – Celia pages Adrienne via coms. Background music can be heard over the coms when Adrienne answers]

ADRIENNE: (on coms) What’s up Celia?

CELIA: Just confirming when you’re looking to start?

ADRIENNE: (on coms) I feel like I should probably stick around for another half hour. Oh by the way, Lieutenant Riggs will be joining us.

CELIA: Interesting. Is Chang still in?

ADRIENNE: (on coms) Last I heard.

CELIA: Good. I want revenge for last time.

ADRIENNE: (on coms) You know that I felt obligated to–

CELIA: Yes, I’m trying not to think about that. I’ll see you just after 9.

ADRIENNE: (on coms) Why the fuss about the time? You got a date you’ve been keeping under wraps?

CELIA: Hardly. But there is a conversation that I need to have first.



[SFX – Music playing, and Ben looking through files as before. A door page is heard.]

BEN: Come in.

[SFX – Door opening and Celia entering.]

BEN: Celia. To what do I owe the pleasure?

[SFX – Celia sits.]

CELIA: I was hoping you wouldn’t answer.

BEN: That…would be rude.

CELIA: That you wouldn’t be here.

BEN: I don’t–

[SFX – Incoming coms beep]

CELIA: Sorry, a moment.

[SFX – Answering coms]


KATHY: (on coms) Hi, Dr Pennella. Um…okay. I know you wanted me to finish those reports but it is–

CELIA: How far along are you?

KATHY: (on coms) Uh…getting there?

CELIA: Vague.


CELIA: Alright, lest I become the New Years’ equivalent of Ebenezer Scrooge, perhaps you should finish things off tomorrow. Go…play.

KATHY: (on coms) Really? I…Thank you! Happy New Y–


[SFX – Coms disconnect]

BEN: Still terrorising the new kid I see.

CELIA: She’s not the new kid, she’s a plant and you know it.

BEN: Celia, that’s not a fair assessment–

CELIA: What’s not fair is the head of xenobiology not getting a say in who they have as their 2iC. I wasn’t on the panel, I wasn’t even consulted. I was simply told that Kathy Winters would be Bertrand’s replacement.

BEN: I know it’s not the done thing.

CELIA: When have you ever had to work closely with someone you didn’t get to approve of?

BEN: I don’t really involve myself with–

CELIA: No, you don’t. I suppose I was asking the wrong person.

BEN: Just because you didn’t get a say doesn’t mean she’s here to spy on you.

CELIA: I didn’t say she was here to spy on me, I’m said that she is a plant. She basically stepped off the stage at her graduation and on to this ship.

BEN: Maybe she just really is that impressi–

CELIA: Ben, she’s second in charge. That means she’s a permanent member of the team. Not a floater between us and the labs at central, like Goran Ivanovich, who has six years of experience in the field and twice that in the lab, who actually applied and according to everything I’ve heard “was brilliant in the room” in his interview. Not a contract hire like Valma Heikinnen, who probably got her doctorate the year Kathy was born. There are at least 100 people we know who are more qualified that would kill for that position.

BEN: I admit it is unusual, but I’ve talked to her a few times. She…I mean she seems pretty on the ball.

CELIA: Oh I don’t doubt her ability. Or her knowledge. She’s brilliant enough. I only doubt her experience. With an expedition this size you know we added an extra four contracts to bolster the ranks. If she’d gotten one of those jobs I would be over the moon. In fact, my understanding is that she put in an application for one of those, but was encouraged to apply for this job. Now, I don’t know about you, but when a job that coveted goes to someone so newly-minted that you can still see the sparkle in their eye then I have to wonder what’s going on.

BEN: So you think she’s what, here to undermine you? Replace you?

CELIA: No. Not like that. But there’s something here. Jennifer has an agenda.

BEN: What, you think she’s shoring up her powerbase or something? She’s not a corporate climber. You’ve become really cynical about her lately.

CELIA: And you aren’t cynical enough. She’s been my friend just as long as she’s been your…anything. And I am telling you, something is…off about this whole thing.


BEN: Even if you’re right, that doesn’t necessarily mean Kathy is at fault.


CELIA: This wasn’t what I came to talk about.

BEN: I was wondering. Why are you here?

CELIA: To ask you the same question.

BEN: Err…come again?

CELIA: Why are you here?

BEN: On the expedition or..?

CELIA: You know what I mean. It’s New Year’s Eve. Probably the last night off we can expect until the end of April. And you’re here.

BEN: Well, there’s a ton of–


BEN: Look, I just don’t feel like being around people tonight. And don’t have a crack at me about it Celia.

CELIA: I wouldn’t dream. But the fact remains that you need to spend more time around people.

BEN: Hell, I was out there tearing it up at karaoke on

CELIA: Hiding behind performance and a microphone doesn’t count.

BEN: I’m around people all the time. Janine Hattersley dropped by here an hour ago.

CELIA: Who the hell is Janine Hattersley?

BEN: One of my students. She’s doing the placement program in Adrienne’s team as part of her Masters.

CELIA: Hiding behind an educator’s persona is also not real interaction. When was the last time you had a meaningful conversation with someone that wasn’t about work?

BEN: Apart from this one?

CELIA: I’m serious Ben.

BEN: It’s…been a while.

CELIA: And when was the last time you made plans with someone rather than going because you were invited or felt obliged on some level.

BEN: There was that thing at the univers…no I suppose that doesn’t count.

CELIA: And let’s not forget the debacle with my last birthday.

BEN: Is that was this is ab–

CELIA: No, and you know that.

BEN: I need to get out more is that it?

CELIA: You need people.

BEN: I don’t know if–

CELIA: I do. I know you as well as anyone alive, your ex-wife notwithstanding. You went through one of the worst experiences anyone could have and it changed many things about you, but not that. These last years I’ve watched you retreat further and further into yourself, and your work. There’s a little bit less of you every time I see you. You hide it well. But I can see it. And as your friend I worry.


BEN: You’ve been waiting to say that for a long time, haven’t you.

CELIA: For the first year or two, I thought you just needed time. Even after you and Jennifer came to an end I thought that any day I would see that look leave your eyes. But it hasn’t.

BEN: It may never.

CELIA: Perhaps. But I think it’s time you made a concerted effort to find out. And I think, for you, that effort starts with spending more time around others. You weren’t built to be alone, Benjamin. It doesn’t suit you.

BEN: I don’t know if I have that kind of…energy in me anymore.

CELIA: I’m not saying the person you used to be is just sitting inside waiting to be reignited. But maybe it’s time to find out who the new you is.

BEN: You’re…you’re probably right.

CELIA: I usually am. Promise me you’ll at least try

BEN: Okay. I need a little time to…collect myself. So, see you out there?

CELIA: Dear god no. I wouldn’t be caught dead out there. You might need people, but I am quite the opposite. A small, quiet circle has always been my way. I’m going to play cards with Adrienne and the good doctor and a few others.

BEN: I…should have seen that coming.

CELIA: Indeed, and now you’ve promised and you’re stuck with it. This is what I mean. Your people skills are slipping. If you don’t start spending more time among real people you’ll soon be accepting candy from strangers and buying real estate on Vega.

BEN: Well played, my friend.

CELIA: Have fun tonight. Or at least try.

BEN: (Sighs) I’ll try.

[SFX – Celia gets up and walks to the door, which opens.]

CELIA: And once we land, do try to swing by my pod every once in a while for some reason other than to work through a problem or pick my brain. I’m always here for my colleague, but I miss my friend.

BEN: I will.

CELIA: Have a good night.

[SFX – Celia steps out into the corridor and the door closes.]



[The party is in progress in the hangar. In the distance music and chatter can be heard. This part of the scene is in a far corner though, where the game of Lost in Translation is in progress]

REMY: Here, listen one more time.

[SFX – A recording of a Proximan voice speaking a sentence is played.]

REMY: Do you have an answer?

JENSEN: Uhhhh…something about…maintenance. Requesting maintenance?

(A laugh is heard from the assembled players)

JENSEN: Listen, I am clearly in way over my head here. I give up.

REMY: Drink!

(Jensen takes a shot of liquor.)

REMY: Alright, who wants to take it?

HUDSON: Yo. It is “The maintenance task is not yet complete. Requesting additional assistance.”

REMY: I cannot accept that.

HUDSON: What?!

REMY: Take a shot. Anyone else?


HUDSON: (Still gagging on his shot, but good-naturedly) Oh…god. Yeah, like The Clipboard is gonna know.

JANINE: The clipboard says that you should’ve ended with “Requesting additional resources.”

REMY: The Clipboard is correct.


REMY: The practising xenoarchaeologist is embarrassed.

JANINE: Eat it, Hudson.

(The players laugh.)

HUDSON: Yeah. I deserve that.

JANINE: Also, that was your third shot in like 15 minutes. Here, take a water.

[SFX – Janine tossing Hudson a water bottle.]

HUDSON: Thanks.

JENSEN: I’ll take one too.


[SFX – Janine tosses another to Jensen.]

JENSEN: Why did I think taking on a bunch of experts at their own game was a good idea?

[SFX – Jensen sips the water.]

JANINE: I assumed you were fixing to lose so you could get hammered.

JENSEN: Nah, just looking to meet some new people.

REMY: Hey, hey, Klymenko, pass me another.

[SFX – Klymenko opens a bottle and passes it to Remy.]

KLYMENKO: Here ya go.

 [SFX – Remy downs the bottle in one go and burps after putting it down.]

REMY: (Somewhat slurred) Alright, lessee…next round. One on one. Random draw. First to translate what’s on their card wins.

JENSEN: Ho…looks like our gamemaster could also use some water.

[The music rises and falls as we transition to another part of the party]

[SFX – Kathy walking in]

KATHY: Alright. Where is he..? And why am I nervous?


KATHY: There.

[SFX – Kathy walking across the room, but as she does so she comes across an argument already in progress…]

GALLINI: Oh god, not this shit again.

LOGAN: No, no hear me out. If you consider the power/mass ratio suggested by Okoturo in his biomechanical work then Proximans would have sufficient strength to–

[SFX – Kathy trying to dodge around Gallini and Logan.]

GALLINI: Oh don’t give me that. Even Okoturo admits that his work was based on key assumptions made by Cutler in the late 90s that have since been refuted.

KATHY: Hey do you mind if I just–

LOGAN: That affects the question of density, but not power,  for which he was working backwards from Semirova’s study on the pedal system found with the personal skimmer at First Discovery. If the average Proximan could pilot that then they would have more than sufficient strength to leap–

KATHY: Gentlemen I’m trying to–

GALLINI: And I’m telling you every engineer I’ve ever asked doesn’t think there’s any way that system didn’t have some sort of power assistance. And anyway, that misses the point entirely when you consider–

KATHY: (Frustrated and loud) Could you two be so kind as to step aside and let me pass.




GALLINI: Sorry lass.

LOGAN: Oh wait, we met the other day, Caitlyn isn’t it?

KATHY: Uh…no it’s Kathy.

LOGAN: Oh. But you’re a xenobiologist, right?


LOGAN: Alright, let me run this by you–

KATHY: I was just trying to–

LOGAN: It’ll be quick I promise.

GALLINI: (“That’ll be the day.”) Tuh.

KATHY: Oh…kay.

LOGAN: Alright, now Gallini and I have been having a friendly…ish debate about…

[Logan’s words fade down as the music rises and falls. We transition to a third location at the party.]

HARRY: She said she’d be here by…I should try her coms.

[SFX – Harry sends two coms pages without response. He starts to walk.]

HARRY: Probably can’t hear it. Unless she’s decided…

HARRIS: (Merry with drink) Harry! Happy New Year!

HARRY: Oh hey Sergeant.

HARRIS: Really Harry? Really? Sergeant?

HARRY: Sorry…reflex. Happy New Year Keith.

HARRIS: Hey, did you see: Latest update on the J-7 firmware? It came through with the IT maintenance packet. The improvement in the interpolation algorithm is off the charts. You see it?

HARRY: Yeah. I’m uh…excited to see what it can d–

HARRIS: We should get you a drink. McPhee?


HARRIS: Get my man here a drink.

MCPHEE: You want earth-brewed or Martian?

[When Harry doesn’t immediately answer, McPhee cracks a can and hands it over.]

HARRY: Actually I was–oh, thanks uh, McPhee.

HARRIS: Now I heard from Indira maybe? Shannon? Something about you cooking up some new program to pull information from Proximan vid files, is that right?

HARRY: Uh yeah.

HARRIS: This guy, I’m telling you, this guy. Come on man, don’t be shy, tell me.


HARRY: (With a sigh) Okay.

[Music rises then falls as we switch to…]



[This is the room Adrienne has commandeered for her poker game. It’s quiet save for the hum of a ship in flight and Adrienne idly shuffling a deck of cards.]

[SFX – The door opens and Celia enters.]

CELIA: Huh. I didn’t expect to be the first here.

ADRIENNE: Me either. Did your conversation go okay?

CELIA: I think so. Time will tell.


ADRIENNE: Are you going to tell me or..?

CELIA: (By way of answer) Or.


CELIA: But I do come bearing gifts.

[SFX – A bottle of spirits being handled and placed down as Celia sits.]

ADRIENNE: Why do you always save the top shelf stuff for expeditions?

CELIA: Balances out the bottom shelf rations.

ADRIENNE: Ouch. But fair. I do have a secret stash of Snickets.

CELIA: Alright, the question is, can we down the whole box and this bottle before the other three arrive?

ADRIENNE: Other two actually.

CELIA: Please tell me the no-show is–

ADRIENNE: ’fraid not. Chang’s out for the evening. Medical emergency.

CELIA: Dammit…I mean, nothing serious I hope.

ADRIENNE: He didn’t say, and since the only reason he wouldn’t is because it wasn’t worth worrying about, I chose not to worry by not asking.

CELIA: Seems wise on what’s likely to be the last quiet night for a while.

ADRIENNE: Exactly.

[SFX – Door opens and in steps Laura]


ADRIENNE: Lieutenant, come have a seat.

LAURA: Laura is fine. You must be Celia.

CELIA: Only if I must. Pleased to meet you.

[SFX – They shake hands.]

ADRIENNE: How have you two gone over a month without running into each other?

CELIA: This isn’t a pleasure cruise.

LAURA: My team and I have been pretty cloistered.

ADRIENNE: I suppose.

[SFX – Laura sits.]

LAURA: So this is…kind of a tradition I gather.

ADRIENNE: Sort of. I usually hold a game for senior staff at some point during the voyage. Though not everyone necessarily partakes.

LAURA: Will the head of xenoarchaeology be joining us?

CELIA: Ben’s never been one for poker.

LAURA: What about–

[Door opens.]

GORDON: (As he enters) Ah, if it isn’t our fearless leader, xenobiologist extraordinaire and our representative of the military industrial complex.

LAURA: I guess that answers my question.

GORDON: Good evening all. Happy New Year. I’ve got a case of Tau Ceti’s finest, three boxes of Star Crunch and a powerful urge to take your money.

CELIA: Get some star crunch down this end please. Snack choice is perhaps your only redeeming quality.

[SFX – Gordon tosses a box across]

GORDON: Good to see you too, Celia. Where’s Chang?

ADRIENNE: Medical emergency.

GORDON: Damn. I wanted revenge for Eridani.

[SFX – Gordon places down his drinks]

ADRIENNE: This is all of us this time round.

[SFX – Adrienne dividing up chips while Celia opens the Star Crunch and chomps one. Gordon sits.]

GORDON: (Jovially) So Lieutenant, invade any interesting planets lately?

(Awkward silence. Beat.)

ADRIENNE: (Vainly attempting to ease tension) Um…No limit Hold’em or do we want to run with Dealer’s Choice?

(Silence. The sounds of the ship fade…)

[Theme music plays]


COMPUTER ANNOUNCEMENT: This episode of Among the Stars and Bones featured the voices of:

JORDAN: Jordan Cobb as Kathy Winters.

LINDSEY: Lindsey Dorcus as Lieutenant Laura Riggs.

JULIA: Julia Eve as Adrienne Barnes.

CHRIS: Chris Magilton as Ben Kelleher.

GRAHAM: Graham Rowat as Gordon Price.

SHAKIRA: Shakira Searle as Dr Celia Pennella.

SAM: Sam “Raethr” Nguyen as Harry Kowalski.

LUCILLE: Lucille Valentine as Janine Hattersley.

DYLAN: Dylan Chambers as Logan…


DYLAN: …Gallini!

ANTHONY: Anthony Morales…Harris.

WHITNEY: Whitney Johnson as Jensen.

TAREK: Tarek Esaw as Hudson.

ANDREY: Andrey Dragovich as Klymenko.

EDWYN: Edwyn Tiong as Remy.

DEVIN: Devin Madson as McPhee and The Computer.


CHRIS: Our theme music pieces – Patience and Pandemonium, were composed and recorded by Oliver Morris. The pieces Hot Swing, Vertutes Instrumenti, District Four and Trio for Piano, Cello and Clarinet were all written by Kevin MacLeod at and used under a Creative Commons 4.0 Licence. We also used You Gotta Have Fun by Rattlesnake, Pulsing Energy by Rollerbird, Club Passion by Biofunky Music and Party Time by Hot Sunset, which were all licensed from Motion Array.

COMPUTER ANNOUNCEMENT: This episode of Among the Stars and Bones was made possible by our patrons. Thank you to our patrons and thank you for listening.

[Theme music fades out.]