SEASON 2 EPISODE 2 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):
VEHICLE ACCIDENT/PANIC ATTACK – Description of a vehicular accident and a related claustrophobia-based panic attack (6:13 – 7:12)
LOSS OF BODILY AUTONOMY – Two minor scenes involving characters being unable to control their limbs and subsequent discussion (26:01 – 28:56)
DELUSION/HALLUCINATION – A scene involving a character in a state of delusion becoming worked up (44:10 – 45:15)
TASERING – A character is incapacitated by a device akin to a taser (44:55 – 45:15)
[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 Angitia. Status Report 2. Six Entries Included. Entry 1. Comptroller’s Report.
[Computer Chime: Open Entry]
SCENE 1 – COMPTROLLER’S TEMPORARY OFFICE
[Inside an office in the control building of the mine that the Herodotus Task Force are currently working out of. Regular computer chirps are present, indicating she is getting updates just like last time, though some sound different from others. There is no ticking clock, suggesting she left that back in her regular office in the Herodotus pods. There’s also the sound of faint chatter from the other side of a wall.]
ADRIENNE: Commence report: Comptroller Adrienne Barnes Herodotus Task Force, Day 6 of our Nabonidus Relief Mission. March 21, 2211.
We have continued expanding our search over the planet’s surface, but nothing has been detected for over 40 kilometres in any direction. Not even the missing crawler. Realistically the longer we’re out there and the further from the mine we go, the chances of finding anyone alive after so long out in that cold, even with thermal gear, are slim. We’ll keep looking until there’s a reason to call off the search but… If they’re out there, then it’s only likely to be corpses.
Kathy has still been unable to locate files on Johann Mueller, the man she mentioned in her last report. Which is odd to say the least. Even members of the logistics team are required to file regular logs. Blake might run Nabonidus differently, but most sign on because hands-on involvement in off-world fieldwork looks really good on a resume when applying to doctoral programs or to Eudoxus.
Although of course he could simply have being having an issue with his personal equipment, and we’re just jumping on any anomaly that turns up, assuming they’re clues rather than just a routine problem that could happen to anyone, anytime.
(Pause. Adrienne sighs.)
ADRIENNE: Now, to your question – No, having reviewed what Ben and Celia submitted, and looking over what Kathy has dug up from the Nabonidus records, there is nothing that concretely indicates that we should not open the door in the Proximan antechamber and send through our own drones to learn more about the rest of the site. The evidence against the idea is technically circumstantial, but personally bloody compelling given it includes a room the size of a lecture hall covered in danger messages, and 88 people having disappeared without a trace. You are also about to hear from Kathy and Ben and Celia on a number of strange things that have turned up in the recordings of the Nabonidus team. There’s no smoking gun, but something is definitely not right about this whole situation.
But, yes, the malfunction of the lifters Celia noted in their report has now been corrected. Several parts were damaged I believe, so for the sake of expediency, we replaced those parts with some of our own. No idea what the cause was, though there seems to be a lot of that going around. Are you picking up on a general theme of wrongness?
Yet without hard evidence, nothing stands in the way of going in there beyond Ben’s decision in his capacity as head of xenoarchaeology. Which clearly doesn’t matter a jot to anyone back at Central, since your reply also came with an authorisation for a drone excursion beyond the door. Frankly, I’m not sure why you bothered eliciting my opinion. What exactly is the point of protocol regarding calls to be made by people here on the ground if you and the other powers that be are going to ignore, undermine or outright overrule us from the comfort of corner offices a few dozen light years away? You couldn’t at least have waited until Kathy’s team had recovered data from Nabonidus’s own excursions beyond the door?
Given the timeframe, this is not a rescue mission. The chances that we are going to find anyone alive here were already in the single digits the moment we made planetfall. Which means pushing to get us on the other side of that door before we’ve done a proper evaluation is more about getting us to pick up on Nabonidus’s work and unlock the secrets of this site for you.
We are not equipped for that. This crew is not in a fit state physically or mentally, nor have we been properly prepped for that kind of undertaking.
You know, just this morning, one of the crawlers had an accident. Nothing major, nothing unexpected, but scanners missed a bad patch of ice and it gave way, with the crawler dropping through and falling a dozen feet. There was no immediate danger, emergency systems kicked in, the crawler’s scanners detected solid rock below them and no chance of further descent, and help was on hand within minutes. But two members of the crew had severe panic attacks. I will not name names, but they both said afterwards that it felt like they were trapped back in the Alpha site on Tefen again, waiting to die. Hell, as I was monitoring chatter and relaying information it was all I could do to fight the rising panic I felt remembering when Celia and others were in danger and there was nothing I could do.
But corporate don’t see any of that. You just look at the situation and think to yourself, “Well we lost one lab rat in the trap sure, but you know what they say, it’s always the second rat that gets the cheese.”
For crying out loud, you sent us here with an armed assault team. Not a bunch of military scientists with a couple of sidearms, but two dozen fully-armed and trained elite recon marines. Does that not make you think that maybe, just maybe this was just a little bit bigger than we could handle?
[Computer Chime: End Entry]
COMPUTER: Entry 2. Military Search and Rescue Report.
[Computer Chime: Open Entry]
SCENE 2 – LT RIGGS’ OLD OFFICE IN THE MILITARY TEAM POD
[An cold, relentless wind can be heard from outside the pod. Within there is regular military radio chatter and computer updates chiming occasionally from the search teams, the same feed Barnes is getting]
FRANCIS: Commence report: Captain Edward Francis, 23rd Alliance Marines reporting. Day 4, Nabonidus Relief Mission.
First let me say that I’m very happy to have scan clearance. We can finally move forward, though I do intend some caution. I believe the team led by…Katherine Winters has recovered the original data from the Nabonidus scan on Day 7 of their mission, so I won’t send through drones until I have studied that. When I do, we’ll be able to get a sense of the layout and compare it to what was originally found. If there’s been no obvious changes and no issues, the next step will be to lead a team beyond the door myself.
Of course, there is a very real possibility that the drones will come across bodies. I do hope that you and the rest of your people are prepared for that Ms Connolly.
We are still coming up empty on the search. After a minor incident I have decided to scale back shift lengths for those out in the crawlers. It is clear to me that, given the condition of the Herodotus team, trying to maintain the most efficient pace will paradoxically lead to less efficiency with more human error and fatigue creeping into the equation.
I think it likely that surface search efforts will be halted permanently soon anyway. I know many of them have friends among the Nabonidus crew and they’ll need all their energy to deal with the shock of what will come when we go through that door.
Now, there is one additional topic I wish to raise before I–
[SFX – Incoming Coms Page]
FRANCIS: Go for Francis.
JENSEN: (Over coms): Captain, we’ve got something. Movement in the hangar area.
FRANCIS: Alright, alert Janowicz, Trinh and Hubert. Tell them to meet me at the southern entrance to the Nabonidus compound. Keep monitoring. I’ll need a location update in five minutes.
JENSEN: (Over coms): Roger that sir.
FRANCIS: Good work Jensen, Francis out.
[SFX: Communication Disconnect]
FRANCIS: Apologies Ms Connolly. I’m playing a hunch and don’t want to miss this opportunity. There’s…four hours until the stellarcast deadline, I will add an addendum if I am able to before then.
[Computer Chime: End Entry]
COMPUTER: Entry 3. Xenotechnology Report.
[Computer Chime: Open Entry]
SCENE 3 – A CONFERENCE ROOM IN THE XENOTECHNOLOGY POD
[Kathy and Indira have set up in a conference room to present some of their findings to Ben and Celia. The wind can be heard outside.]
KATHY: Commence report: Kathy Winters, Data Investigation Team, Nabonidus Relief Mission, Day 6, March 21, 2211. I am here with Indira Raju, Celia Pennella and Ben Kelleher.
As Indira, myself and the rest of our team have worked through the data and built up a more comprehensive sense of what is going on, a number of things came up that we wanted to run by Ben and Celia. Because…well I think it’ll make sense soon enough.
INDIRA: I’ve set up this recording to auto tag the files we refer to and sync them up, Ms Connolly, which will mean, that if you have your screen up while listening you will be able to watch along with the videos we show in real time.
BEN: You can do that?
INDIRA: Er…yes? It’s the 23rd century, where have you been?
CELIA: Trapped in a bygone era.
BEN: What, like you knew.
CELIA: Of course. It’s a much more efficient way of doing things grandpa.
KATHY: Now, now you two. Don’t force me to make you stay back after class.
BEN: But Miss Winters, they’re bullying me.
KATHY: Ben, what have I told you about tattling?
INDIRA: Sorry, is this likely to go on for a while?
CELIA: It’s been known to happen.
INDIRA: I see. Because if you’re relying on me to be the adult in the room and get us back on task then something has gone very wrong.
BEN: Sorry, It just really feels like we’re sitting down to some kind of class. And it’s been a long time since Celia or I have been on this side of the lectern.
CELIA: Yes. Please Kathy, Indira. Carry on.
KATHY: Alright. So one of our most important finds from the last few hours has been a video of the group Hollister led beyond the door on Day 8. We’ve also dug out the drone scans but this isn’t just about what can be seen in a 3D model. All you need from that is the layout, which you can see here. The door opens into a short corridor that then descends to a floor below. On that floor are three chambers which end in a second door. They scanned through that door, but as far as I know they didn’t send anything beyond it. We’ll keep looking.
CELIA: Just out of curiosity, can you overlay the scans of the antechamber over the top?
INDIRA: Uh sure, why?
CELIA: Not sure yet.
INDIRA: Here you go.
[SFX – Indira brings up the scan]
CELIA: Interesting. So the three chambers are directly below the antechamber.
KATHY: Is that important?
CELIA: Perhaps. But don’t let me interrupt.
KATHY: Right. Well, I think it’s important that, while watching what the cameras recorded, you also watch what Hollister and the rest of his team were concluding. That way, if there’s an assumption or a mistake, or a detail they didn’t factor in, it might highlight a thread we can pull on.
BEN: Is there anything that you saw when you watched this that made you think there would be?
KATHY: Nothing that jumped out to us but…
INDIRA: There’s more to it that that.
KATHY: Yeah, there’s a question of…behaviour.
CELIA: What do you mean?
KATHY: Look, I don’t want to lead you in a particular direction or bias your observation. Suffice it to say that Indira and I, well, we’ve never met Victor Hollister. But you two have.
BEN: Yes. We have.
KATHY: Right, so you’re more likely to notice if something is off. I don’t want to say more. Best you just watch and see what you notice on any front. So, here it is…
[SFX – Indira presses play. A recording of Victor Hollister, Genevieve Meisner and Vinh Duong plays. It should be noted that rather than being an inserted recording, the audio we are hearing is what Kathy, Ben, Celia and Indira are listening to now, live in the conference room]
HOLLISTER: (On recording) Descending the ramp now. Classic tight spiral pattern. Not much in the way of ornamentation. Though what do you think that sheen on the walls is? I’ve never seen anything like it.
MEISNER: (On recording) Looks like a frozen oil slick.
HOLLISTER: (On recording) Or obsidian. You don’t see it on the walls above. You ever see anything like it chef?
DUONG: (On recording) Not me. Kinda pretty once you get past the goth vibes.
HOLLISTER: (On recording) Alright, once we’ve finished our little jaunt, we should try and get a sample. Let’s move on.
[SFX – Hollister, Meisner and Duong continue down the ramp until they reach the room at the bottom.]
HOLLISTER: (On recording) Here we are. Chamber B.
DUONG: (On recording) There’s really not a lot here.
HOLLISTER: (On recording) I agree, very sparse. Not much in the way of obvious technology. Although, that there in the corner. Thoughts?
MEISNER: (On recording) The floor rises slightly to meet the wall below the design, but the design itself looks decorative. Rocks or…jewels perhaps?, set into the wall in a vaguely triangular shape. Hmm.
DUONG: (On recording) Maybe religious in nature?
HOLLISTER: (On recording) Entirely possible. Maybe we’re looking at their equivalent of a crucifix. A star pattern perhaps. A sacred constellation in their heavens? Who knows, maybe some analysis along those lines will reveal something of their planet’s location.
(A scoffing sound from Ben)
[SFX – Playback muted]
KATHY: Something you’d like to share with the rest of the class?
BEN: Hollister’s kidding himself if he thinks it’s possible to work backwards from a constellation viewable from one planet in the universe to the location of that planet itself. Not exactly a polymath ol’ Victor. I want to find their homeworld as much as anyone, but that’s not the solution. Also he’s almost certainly wrong about its function, but I’d like to see more before we come back to that.
[SFX – Playback unmuted. In the recording Hollister, Meisner and Duong have moved on to the next room.
DUONG: (On recording) …I still say the room has to serve some purpose, otherwise–
HOLLISTER: (On recording) Now, Chamber C. Again, not exactly abundant with artefacts.
DUONG: (On recording) Those cylindrical pods are interesting. Though they looked bigger in the sweep. You thought they were some sort of storage?
MEISNER: (On recording) It makes the most sense, given how they’re stacked.
HOLLISTER: (On recording) They do look like some sort of canister. Get a scan of one of them.
[SFX – On the recording a scan can be heard]
MEISNER: (On recording) They appear to be hollow, but empty.
HOLLISTER: (On recording) No contents whatsoever?
MEISNER: (On recording) It’s hard to be sure. The scanner is getting some interference. Not from the cylinder. But there’s…it’s almost like the signal is reflecting.
HOLLISTER: (On recording) Can they be opened?
DUONG: (On recording) Should they be opened?
HOLLISTER: (On recording) Not right away obviously. But we should try and get one up to a laboratory soon. Are they heavy? Can we get bots down here if we need to?
MEISNER: (On recording) Don’t look heavy. And I think so on the bots. Perhaps in H configuration–
HOLLISTER: (On recording) Yes or no thanks Genevieve.
CELIA: Wait, stop there.
[SFX – Playback pause. There are more sounds of buttons being pressed as Celia continues speaking]
CELIA: Back up a second, as the camera turns it gets more of the cylinders in the background…Look there.
[SFX – Playback pause again]
KATHY: Oh, hell. One of them was already open?
CELIA: If we do end up going in there, I want everyone in full suits.
KATHY: Absolutely. Strange though. We haven’t found anything biological.
INDIRA: Nothing in the Nabonidus data either.
KATHY: Yeah. And even if it was something we hadn’t seen before, the scanners are pretty good with alien bio-signatures. Hmm, anyway, from here they spend a couple more minutes arguing over whether or not bots can navigate the descent. I think we can skip that part, unless you find something unusual in that?
BEN: In Hollister having a pointless argument? Not especially, no.
CELIA: I’m sensing a pattern in your line of questioning Kathy.
KATHY: There’s a method yes, I promise. Let’s move forward to Chamber D.
[SFX – Skip forward and resume playback. The recording resumes]
HOLLISTER: (On recording) End of the line. At least for now.
DUONG: (On recording) I expected more.
HOLLISTER: (On recording) Can you pick up anything beyond the next door?
[SFX – Short burst of scanning]
MEISNER: (On recording) Same problem. It’s like I’m simultaneously getting infinite echoes and a big nothing.
HOLLISTER: I’m convinced that the really significant site is beyond this next door. I imagine it takes us down another level. But I will admit I was hoping a visual inspection might reveal something more interesting than…what the drones brought back. I suppose we’ll see in time.
[SFX – Stop playback]
KATHY: Alright, so in a nutshell, that’s the first impressions of everything on the floor below the antechamber. Or Chamber A to use Hollister’s term. Now with the exception of what you just raised about the breached cylinder Celia, nothing jumps out to me as being dangerous. There’s been no mention or record of anyone trying to make it beyond Door 2. Hollister’s logs immediately after this suggest he was impatient to move forward, but that the team was going to take a few days before exploring beyond.
BEN: Hollister showing some caution for once. That’s new.
INDIRA: You really have it in for this guy, what’s the problem?
INDIRA: And judging by your faces, I will mind my own business. Sorry.
BEN: It’s okay. Not the best time though.
KATHY: My point is that if something went wrong. And it’s because of something within the site itself, then it has to have come from those three rooms. But there’s nothing in them.
CELIA: Almost nothing.
KATHY: Sure. There’s a room with a weird triangle pattern on the wall, a storage room with cylinders in it and a room whose only purpose seems to be to have a door at the other end of it. I get that Hollister was being dismissive of the whole floor because he wants to skip his vegetables and head straight to dessert, but they have to have some function, right? Unless the site has been stripped? Everything salvaged on the way out except for some empty space barrels?
BEN If that’s the case, then we can speculate from here until the heat death of the universe, because we’ll never be able to know if we’re right.
KATHY: Right. So best to assume it’s not. And I know we know nothing about Proximan spirituality, but you’re clearly not buying it as a religious site. Chamber A, maybe, but this floor…
INDIRA: Unless it’s a spiritual journey. Starting from Chamber A, where the Proximans were being warned to make ready and not approach the coming change lightly, stripping away layers of…pride and embracing humility. Heading through the first door and moving from chamber to chamber and being…cleansed or something. Each spot you pray or meditate and by the time you make it to Chamber D you’re mentally ready for whatever comes after?
CELIA: If that was an essential part of their spiritual doctrine I suppose it could work. There’s something almost bland about Chambers B, C and D. Monastic.
BEN: (Almost to himself) Utilitarian.
KATHY: Are you backing that up with anything or are you just having a flashback to the last time you ate a thesaurus?
BEN: Look far be it from me to throw a spanner in the works regarding the notion of rich inner lives for Proximans, but one has to assume that everything has a purpose across the whole site. That if those chambers are virtually empty, then the emptiness has to mean something, as do the few features. The triangular shape made out of rocks on the wall. The barrels. All nestled between two doors. No other ornamentation or decoration of any kind, while in Chamber A there’s a riot of symbols and glyphs and the whole bit. The aesthetic clashes to the point of unrecognisability. Even the colour schemes are different. The antechamber is brightly coloured in between all the danger symbols, while these rooms look like someone decided that shiny and black was how all the cool Proximans were doing it this year. Now, who else do we know that puts great big flashing warning signs out the front and then has boring, bland interiors where everything is simple and functional.
KATHY: The military.
BEN: Ten points to Ms Winters.
KATHY: Okay, I can see that, but aside from adding ’fatal encounter with an automated military security system’ to the list of possible explanations as to what happened to the Nabonidus crew, it doesn’t get us any closer to an answer.
I do have another question though. From your knowledge of Victor Hollister, is there anything about his behaviour that seemed out of the ordinary?
BEN: He appeared to be listening to others, is that what you mean?
CELIA: Ben, I don’t think that’s particularly useful.
BEN: Okay fine. No, I wouldn’t say so. He’s always trusted his eyes more than computers, so it makes sense that he’d want to follow up drones scans with a personal sweep. He went in, didn’t find anything that tickled his fancy and got bored and sloppy as a result.
KATHY: I thought you were going to take this seriously.
CELIA: He is. In my experience Victor is only at his best when he finds stimulation in a site.
KATHY: Oh. Okay. Well…
CELIA: I think it’s time you approached your point.
KATHY: Yeah, okay. I was just wondering if there was any sign that he was doing something…odd, because well…we started noticing a few people doing…weird things and wanted to get a sense of how deep it went. This next clip was caught by accident. It’s from the main cafeteria in the Nabonidus compound. It was quiet and one of the xenoarchaeologists was recording some field notes comparing photos of some of the antechamber symbols, but the camera catches Hollister with the two that accompanied him in the previous video – Genevieve Meisner and…we haven’t identified the third person yet.
CELIA: Vinh Duong. You remember him, Ben? He was with us on Eridani that time.
BEN: Right, yeah. Really funny. Liked to bake.
CELIA: That’s the one.
KATHY: Okay, well the three of them seem to be taking a late meal.
INDIRA: I’ve zoomed in on them in the background and I’ve managed to filter out most of the main audio and boost the background conversation. Apologies if it sounds a bit off, it’s the best I could manage.
[SFX – Playback commences. A new recording. Hollister, Meisner and Duong can be heard, but they’re clearly further away. Sounds of plates and cutlery and other diners conversing. There is also noise that indicates the remnants of the original main voice of the recording, not completely scrubbed away]
HOLLISTER: (On recording) …and so I was thinking we should review some of the symbols in light of what we found in Chamber C. If I’m right about this being a place of worship, perhaps there’s a connection between them and the symbols on the second column. There’s a resemblance to–
[SFX – A clatter on the recording]
MEISNER: (On recording) Why did you do that?
HOLLISTER: (On recording) What?
DUONG: (On recording) You knocked over the salt shaker.
HOLLISTER: (On recording) Oh, I wasn’t paying attention, I’ll get a cloth.
MEISNER: (On recording) Don’t forget to throw some over your shoulder.
DUONG: (On recording) Are you sure you didn’t do it on purpose?
HOLLISTER: (On recording) Of course.
MEISNER: (On recording) Well, watch it will you? I don’t like salt on my pudding as a rule.
DUONG: (On recording) I don’t know, there’s always souffles. And there’s this one cake I know that–
[SFX – Stop playback]
KATHY: Do you see it?
CELIA: His hand was spasming.
KATHY: Yeah. Flexing. Moving. Then it reached out and grabbed the shaker. He wasn’t looking at it. His other hand was busy with his fork and his focus was on the conversation.
CELIA: And he seemed just as surprised as they were when it was pointed out.
KATHY: Exactly. Like he had no idea what he was doing. But maybe his hand did?
BEN: That’s a stretch.
KATHY: I’d agree, if it was the only time it happened. But we’ve got other examples. Here’s the best one. It’s from some field notes by xenoarch Alexis Konstantinidis, but watch the assistant standing behind her – Jackie Zammit, we think.
[SFX – Begin Playback. This recording appears to be from the antechamber as there is background scanning and drilling. The recording is much quieter than the previous, allowing Kathy, Ben, Celia and Indira to speak over the top of it]
KONSTANTINIDIS: (On recording, heard underneath the conversation of the four watching characters) So this set of symbols bears a resemblance to a group of emblems taken from Tau Ceti during the field season of ‘03, from above the locker believed to be for small arms on the starboard side of the ship near the engine bay. This is significant since Chesterfield, in a paper, linked elements of those symbols to known Proximan military insignias. Now while that’s not definitive I also want to consider their placement and grouping. Given this site is dated well beyond first discovery I would expect some changes in the stylistic elements of the symbols, but the fact that they are in a similar configuration feels significant and supports either a militaristic aspect to the site or at least an underlying connection in meaning.
BEN: Yeah, I see it.
KATHY: It almost looks like the hand is starting to… dance. Like the way you get a song in your head and it just makes you nod or tap your foot. And she’s clearly bored and not listening, so that makes sense but then look at this bit here…
CELIA: Oh, that’s…
KATHY: I know right. She’s suddenly noticed what the hand is doing, and that’s not a look of “oh that song is really stuck huh”. That’s looking at her own hand like it suddenly became someone else’s. And I swear she’s concentrating, but it’s not until ten seconds later that she seems to have some sort of control over it. See there.
INDIRA: And while those two are by far the most obvious, we’ve found four other instances. Just little things. Even the people who experienced them probably thought nothing of them.
KATHY: But taken together, and knowing the day after this everyone else disappeared…
CELIA: There’s still no footage from the day after?
KATHY: Not much that we’ve found. It’s possible that if the disappearance occurred between server syncs that a lot of what had been created simply hadn’t had a chance to be uploaded to the servers. But we’ll keep looking
KATHY: So that was what we had for you. What do you think?
CELIA: We’re going to have to get into those containers. Verify if they have any contents. Full hazmat precautions though.
BEN: (After a sigh) I still want to avoid going beyond the antechamber until we’re sure of its meaning, but…I have to agree. And besides, once corporate sees this footage of Hollister’s little excursion they’ll insist there’s no reason not to go at least as far as they did.
CELIA: Didn’t Adrienne tell you? There was already a command authorisation on the reply to our first report.
BEN: Before we even had this footage? Why would they..? You know what, don’t answer that. Of course they did.
CELIA: At least we have what Kathy and Indira found to go on.
KATHY: Yeah, and in the meantime, Indira and I will keep the team digging. Try and see if there’s anything from Day 10 or more examples of people having these moments of involuntary behaviour.
CELIA: Also, keep an eye out for people complaining about seeing strange light spots in their vision.
KATHY: Right, that was Hollister and probably on the same day.
CELIA: Yes. Might not be related, but at this point…
KATHY: Yeah, we’ve got to keep the net pretty wide. Alright. This is the Data Investigation Team signing off.
[Computer Chime: End Entry]
COMPUTER VOICE: Entry 4. Xenobiology and xenoathropology report.
[Computer Chime: Open Entry]
SCENE 4 – THE EXAMINATION ROOM IN THE BIOPOD
[There is an ambient hum in the air as well as the sound of the wind from outside]
CELIA Commence report: Dr Celia Pennella, Day 6 of the Nabonidus relief mission. 21st of March, 2211.
A brief follow up from the earlier meeting with Kathy, Indira and Ben. Something has been troubling me about the shape of the antechamber door, and I couldn’t put my finger on it until I saw what was on the other side. The antechamber, or Chamber A as we now seem to be referring to it, looks a lot like a grand entrance hall. That’s certainly the way we’ve all instinctively characterised it.
But the door contradicts that. It is, as noted previously, smaller than the rest of the room warrants. It’s no grand entrance at all. It’s barely decorated, bar one large symbol emblazoned across it, which according to Ben is essentially a Do Not Enter mark. And now I think I understand why.
It’s built backwards.
What I mean is that it’s not an entrance into the facility beyond. It is there for someone inside the facility to enter Chamber A through. Now I am not an expert on these things by any means, but Seth Parson who has more of an architectural and engineering focus to his work, confirmed on viewing the footage that the placement and direction of operation support my theory.
Which, like so many other things we’ve been confronted by, raises the question of why. Or even I suppose, why does it matter? We’re still at a loss as to how this whole site was built 12 miles below the surface without a tunnel. I don’t have an answer, but if this is an exit then one can assume the majority of the site is below us, which means they could have worked their way up and built Chamber A last. In short what I’m saying is that the door we’ve been staring at is a service entrance to a construction site. It sounds bizarre but when Indira showed us the scan of the lower Chambers B, C and D I was able to see a side view of Chamber A. The diameter overhangs the other three chambers, with it’s strange sloping floor dropping below them by several metres. The curved walls and all the rest looked a lot like a crescent moon sitting atop the other chambers. Or a mushroom.
Or an umbrella.
And why are umbrellas shaped the way they are? So that no matter what angle the rain falls, you maximise the chance it will strike the umbrella and not you.
Thus I have reached a new hypothesis: The Proximans built the facility below us, then added Chamber A over the top as a safety precaution, knowing that if, in the years to come, some other species delved far enough below the surface that they stumbled across the site, they would reach chamber A first and in so doing, receive the warning to stay away and not continue further. It was a one in a billion chance that we would find something like this, but here we are.
I know that given all that has happened, we will end up opening the door and searching for the Nabonidus crew on the other side. But equally I now believe the Proximans went to a lot of trouble both to hide this place and to warn people of the danger. For once I wish someone would listen.
CELIA: My preference would be to leave it there, but your personal query on my previous report cannot go unanswered. When I mentioned how long I had avoided doing this kind of reporting, you remarked, in that off-handed way of yours that is never off handed, that you were surprised I gave the responsibility to Kathy on the Tefen mission given that you would be the recipient.
Let me say that it was not intended as a personal slight against you. My objection to these reports is as it has always been. Their only purpose is to micromanage and backseat drive us from light years away, and they waste time, resources and personal energy that is in limited supply, especially when working on expedition levels of crunch over several months.
And as to your other absurd “off-hand” remark, that sometimes you feel you “lost me to Ben in the divorce”; please. I am perfectly capable of maintaining ties to both of you despite the fact that Ben remains a colleague here in Herodotus, and I think you know me well enough to know that I would never do something so gauche as to choose a side.
I hope that clears things up. End of report.
[Computer Chime: End of Entry]
COMPUTER: Entry 5. Xenoarchaeology report.
[Computer Chime: Open Entry]
SCENE 5 – BEN’S OFFICE IN THE ARCHOPOD
[Ben appears to have been listening to some music on piano in order to calm himself down. It does not appear to have worked. There is also a touch of the exterior howling wind present]
BEN: (Angry) So I’ve just heard I’ve already been overruled. That we’re to prep for a trip beyond the door against my…and honestly I just can’t deal with this right now. I can’t tell if I’m more angry or scared…no it’s…I’m definitely angry. So you’re going to have to take whatever you get of my conversation with Celia and Kathy earlier as my report, because if I try to talk any more about this site today I’m probably going to say something that’d get me fired. And considering the bullshit no one’s blinked at from my previous reports that’d sure be something, huh?
(Ben audibly tries to calm himself)
BEN: There is, however, one matter that came up while we were on the ship that I intended to report back to you and central because it pertains to standing orders, but then I suddenly found myself up to my eyeballs in advance reports and surveys and consulting with other departments about this damn mission.
But since tomorrow or the next day I’ll likely find myself facing whatever hell we unleash once we step beyond the doors, I should probably get it out of the way now while I’m still alive. God forbid, I leave any outstanding paperwork behind when…
(Ben tries to calm himself again)
BEN: You might recall during the last disastrous mission we were recently on that on Day 7 I was talking with Harry and mentioned a strange noise I heard while I was alone in the city late one evening. I had included a recording in my report, but here it is again:
[Computer Chime: Begin Inserted Recording]
SCENE 5A – TEFEN MAIN SHAFT
[This is a repeat of a recording Ben inserted into his report during Episode 3 of Season 1. Ben is at his workstation at the top of the central shaft at the Beta Site. No one else appears to be around]
BEN: -eems to have three protuberances that correspond to the rough size and placement of the Proximan eye positions and–
[SFX: A distant and indistinct sound that has a high impact noise followed by a low resonant tone]
BEN: The hell?
[SFX: Ben walks to the edge of the shaft]
BEN: Hello? Hello down there? Anyone on level three or four? Anyone below?
[SFX: The resonant tone is heard again, followed by the impact noise.]
[Computer Chime: End of Inserted Recording]
SCENE 5 – (PART 2) – BEN’S OFFICE IN THE ARCHOPOD
[Continuing on from Part 1]
BEN: So at the time it was one more weird thing in a long string of weird things. And even when I found myself thinking about it later, I figured it was something to do with the AI or bot activity or something Gordon did.
But during the flight home we were working through a bunch of commonplace artefacts and we found something…unusual hidden inside one. At first it seemed like a clear cut case of artefact running. The external artefact hiding the contraband one had been logged by Grant Vickery, who died when the Alpha site was shutdown, so we did a search of his personal effects and turned up this Proximan device among them. We’ve never seen anything like it before, but it was clear to the xenotechs that it was a scanner of some sort. And still in working order. Listen…
[SFX: Ben operates the device and the same low resonant tone heard in Scene 5A is heard.]
BEN: Advanced design, even by Proximan standards. And based on the isotope profile and all other measures…it probably didn’t come from a documented site. There were also a couple of messages among Vickery’s personal correspondence which seem to have been giving him specific instructions on what he was looking for and where in the Beta site he could find it and how this scanner would help. Between the scanner’s origin and the nature of the instructions it all seems to link back to Stephanie Somerset.
So it seems like she’s back and that among other things she had either access to initial survey data about Tefen or, more likely, access to information on the Tefen site itself gained from her own trove of undeclared sites that she has access to. I’ve added a small report that goes into a little more detail about what this is all about, and it has all the reports and data on the scanner, the artefact, Vickery’s personal effects, messages and contacts. I guess you can forward it on to the relevant authorities once you’ve reviewed in-house.
[Computer Chime: End of Entry]
COMPUTER: Entry 6. Military Search and Rescue Report. Addendum.
[Computer Chime: Open Entry]
SCENE 6 – LT RIGGS’ OLD OFFICE IN THE MILITARY TEAM POD
[The scene is much the same as in Scene 2, but presumably taken some time later]
FRANCIS: Commence Addendum to previous report: Captain Francis reporting. Apologies for the abrupt sign-off earlier, but having played my hunch I now have an opportunity to explain it. In following up on Winters’ report on Johann Mueller, the xenotechnologist whose files appear to be missing from the official record, I helped her conduct a sweep of his berth and work areas. We did not find any of his devices, written notes or records, but something stuck with me – Dr Pennella noting the malfunctioning lifters. I sent several of my marines down to do an inspection, and sure enough, they discovered evidence of sabotage. Subtle, but there.
Now if, as I suspect, the Nabonidus crew are on the other side of that door, the sabotage of the lifters could only have occurred after they had gone through. Except that in order to sabotage them, somebody had to be on this side of the door. My immediate suspicion – Mueller.
I took some time yesterday to look more closely for signs of habitation, and found recent crumbs in one of the Nabonidus kitchen stations. With only a handful of members of my squad on-hand I brought in Corporal Jensen from the Herodotus military research team and set her up with some scanners and surveillance from our equipment package. That was her interrupting me earlier. She’d gotten a ping.
As you heard I went in with three of my team and recorded what followed.
[Computer Chime: Begin Inserted Recording]
SCENE 6A – OUTSIDE ONE OF THE NABONIDUS COMPOUND HANGARS
[This scene begins outside in the snow and ice. Wind is heavy and all around. Footsteps in the snow can be heard for a few second before stopping]
FRANCIS: Jensen, confirm: Has subject stopped moving?
JENSEN: (Over coms) Confirmed. Appears to be in Bay 3 to your right as you enter.
FRANCIS: Any additional exits?
JENSEN: (Over coms) Yes. Small side door, east side.
FRANCIS: Janowicz. Trinh. You two take that door. Report when you’re in position.
[SFX: Sounds of boots in the snow as Janowicz and Trinh run off]
FRANCIS: Is subject in plain sight or hidden?
JENSEN: (On coms) Checking the Nabonidus camera feed. There are pallets in that bay. Stacked high. I can’t get an angle on the contact.
FRANCIS: Copy that. Approximate location?
JENSEN: (Over coms) From the door, subject will be on your 2 o’clock, 15 metres in. Wait, second level. He’s on the second level. Stairs on your three.
FRANCIS: And for Janowicz and Trinh?
JENSEN: (Over coms) Their 11 o’clock, 20 metres. Stairs on their 9.
FRANCIS: Janowicz, did you get that?
JANOWICZ: (On coms) Affirmative. In position.
FRANCIS: Alright, proceed with caution. Stealth over speed. Shock sticks only.
JANOWICZ: (On coms) Copy that.
[SFX – Francis charges his shock stick]
FRANCIS: Hubert, stay at the base of the stairs. Back me up if he comes at me, but be ready to play free safety if he tries to get off the catwalk.
HUBERT: Roger that.
[SFX – Hubert charges her shock stick]
FRANCIS: Jensen, call out distance and movement as required.
JENSEN: (On coms) Yes sir.
FRANCIS: Entry on my mark, ready?
TRINH: (On coms) Ready.
JANOWICZ: (On coms) Ready.
[SFX: The exterior door opens and Francis and Hubert enter. The first door closes and then a second one opens, airlock style. Francis and Hubert enter the hangar proper and begin to cross the floor. The noise of the wind is only from outside now. There are creaks in the walls of the hangar too. Francis and Hubert arrive at the stairs, arriving at about the same time as Janowicz and Trinh, who have converged on the same spot. Hubert remains at the foot of the stairs while Janowicz and Trinh follow Francis up the metal stairs.]
JENSEN: (On coms): No movement. You should see him in ten seconds.
[SFX: The footsteps continue]
JENSEN: (On coms) Movement, he’s off the catwalk, breaking north.
[SFX: Footsteps stop]
FRANCIS: (Whispered) Hubert, move to intercept.
HUBERT: (On coms) Where? I don’t see him.
JENSEN: (On coms) Top of the pallets. 10 metres your 12.
HUBERT: (On coms) Got him.
FRANCIS: (Whispered) Janowicz, Trinh, down to the floor. I’ll flush him out.
[SFX: More footsteps on metal that fade as Trinh and Janowicz move away and down. After waiting a moment, Francis, now less concerned with stealth, steps up to the railing of the catwalk and vaults it to land on the pallets. Then he walks across them towards Mueller. As he gets closer the sound of rattling tools can be heard. Mueller suddenly whips around.]
MUELLER: Stay back. Are you one of them?
FRANCIS: Son, remain calm. We’re here to rescue you.
MUELLER: You are, aren’t you. Stay back. Too many ants.
FRANCIS: Look, put the wrench down – we can talk about this.
MUELLER: No, I’ve got to stay hidden. It’s the only way they won’t find me. You found me.
[SFX: Mueller shifts like he’s going to make a run/jump for it]
FRANCIS: Whoa, keep the eyes on me there lad. Look, Johann, I’m putting the stick down so hows about you do the same? You look tired. Whatever it is I can help.
MUELLER: I…I don’t know. I…tired. Yeah.
[SFX: A shock stick is deployed on Mueller. He falls onto the pallet he was standing on, supported partly by Janowicz. His wrench and bag hit the floor below.]
FRANCIS: Good job Janowicz, keep him away from that edge.
JANOWICZ: I’ve got him. He’s alright. Breath and heartrate are steady.
HUBERT: (from below) Looks like he was doing a food run. There’s a ton of ration packs in this bag.
FRANCIS: Must have a bolthole around here. We’ll look.
[Computer Chime: End of Inserted Recording]
SCENE 6 (PART 2) – LT RIGGS’ OLD OFFICE IN THE MILITARY TEAM POD
[Continuing on from the end of Part 1]
FRANCIS: Sure enough we found that he’d secured himself in a crawlspace between two power regulators, which explains why we didn’t detect his lifesigns in any prior searches. We found a data recorder and a few other pieces of equipment, which I’ve passed onto Kathy Winters for analysis. Mueller’s been sedated and taken into medical custody. I don’t know if he’s a survivor or a suspect at this point, but his being here certainly raises the possibility that more members of the Nabonidus crew may still be alive.
As soon as he’s been medically assessed it’ll be time for some answers.
[Computer Chime: End of Entry]
COMPUTER: End Status Report 2.
[Computer Chime: End of Status Report]
[Theme Music begins]
COMPUTER ANNOUNCEMENT: This episode of Among the Stars and Bones featured the voices of:
JULIA: Julia Eve as Adrienne Barnes.
OLIVER: Oliver Smith as Captain Francis.
WHITNEY: Whitney Johnson as Jensen
JORDAN: Jordan Cobb as Kathy Winters.
ASHA: Asha Lloyd as Indira Raju.
CHRIS: Chris Magilton as Ben Kelleher.
SHAKIRA: Shakira Searle as Dr Celia Pennella.
KARIM: Karim Kronfli as Victor Hollister.
BRANDON: Brandon Nguyen as Ving Duong and Private Trinh.
REBECCA: Rebecca Owen as Genevieve Meisner and Private Hubert.
MAIA: Maia Harlap as Alexis Konstantinidis and Sergeant Janowicz.
JERRON: Jerron Bacat as Johann Mueller.
DEVIN: Devin Madson as The Computer.
COMPUTER ANNOUNCEMENT: Music credits.
CHRIS: Our season two theme music was composed by Oliver Morris. And this episode also used Schubert’s Serenade recorded by AudioGarden and Erik Satie’s Gnosienne No. 1, recorded by Joe O’Rourke Music. Both were licensed by Motion Array.
COMPUTER ANNOUNCEMENT: The work of the Eudoxus Initiative is made possible by generous research grants from our patrons. 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.
[Theme music continues until the end. The last few bars are reminiscent of one of the Season 1 themes.]