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 distressing or triggering for some people. In particular this episode contains scenes involving discussions of involuntary murder and cannibalism. Specific content warnings with time stamps can be found in the show notes. Please make use of them if you need to.


LOSS OF BODILY AUTONOMY – Much of the episode makes reference to the people who do not have control over their bodies and are controlled by unknown external means. In three scenes they are actually present and describing events that have happened to them while punching glass walls against their will (14:07 – 21:56), (27:27 – 39:41) & (40:56 – 44:31)
INVOLUNTARY MURDER/CANNIBALISM – A character gives a detailed and emotional recollection of his personal involvement in an act of mass murder and cannibalism while he and the others committing these acts are under control by an outside force (35:58 – 39:41)

[Theme Music Plays]

COMPUTER: Among the Stars and Bones

[Theme Music Ends]

[Computer Chime: Open Status Report]

COMPUTER: For attention of Jennifer Connolly, Eudoxus Initiative. Herodotus Task Force Status Report. Mission: Planet Angitia. Status Report 5. Six entries included. Entry 1. Comptroller’s report.

[Computer Time: Open Entry]



[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, Nabonidus Relief Mission, Day 12, March 27, 2211.

A kind of uneasy peace has descended over the place since the last report. It’s built on a foundation of having at least some answers amid frightening and potentially grisly events and revelations as we keep on digging into what happened here. But at least one shoe has dropped. We now believe we have accounted for all…living members of Nabonidus, and thus have scaled back all searching. Which means most of us, those not actively trying to find out what we’re dealing with here, have been able to take comfort in the familiarity of more regular work. Most have returned to post-Tefen analysis…(A note of exasperation)…and yes, that includes delegating a couple of people to do follow up on the Stephanie Somerset artefact, don’t worry.

Others are still working on documenting this site, though we can’t be entirely sure what of that is redundant. We still don’t have the previously recorded data from the Nabonidus task force’s work sorted out. And with no pressing need to mount anymore rescues, I’ve placed the depths of the site off limits.

When I am certain things are settled and normal I’m thinking of sending out an expedition in search of answers as to where the Nabonidus crew was all this time. They were gone too long to survive out there on the ice, and the containers Francis took from them have different markings – they have to have come from somewhere. A second site perhaps? Something that was missed? At the moment it feels like we only have half the puzzle.

Celia and Dr Chang are still working on understanding both Johann Mueller and the other 56…survivors of Nabonidus, continuing to run tests and form hypotheses. Nabonidus are being kept well-isolated as the disconnect between what they say and what they do is still very pronounced and unsettling, though there is no evidence of a biological agent at play. And thank you for your work to get us the complete personnel file on Mueller. I don’t know the particulars because I understand there are quite a few questions around clearance, but my understanding is that Chang found the information very useful and is hopeful it might help improve Mueller’s situation.

We have moved a couple of members of Nabonidus into separate…cells. Well not cells, but we’ve separated them into other isolation chambers in order to be able to ask some questions of them directly without interruption. They were compliant about being moved which was surprising to me, but I’ll take any good news at this point.

Despite the desire to find out what is wrong with the Nabonidus team, we are proceeding slowly and cautiously. Whatever this is – some sort of behavioural reconditioning? Possession? Mind control? – it’s not something we’re going to crack by rushing and opening ourselves up to the risk of ending up the same way.

That said, time could well be a factor, so I am making a request to enlist additional resources and personnel on your end. We are gathering data, but this is a problem which may test the limits of our expertise and the capacity of our field labs and their equipment. I would argue that no one knows more about Proximan biology than Celia, and Chang is extremely talented as a medical doctor, but this is as complex a situation as anyone has faced before, and is likely to need an integrated approach to solve.

While I know there are a number of people available at central to throw at the problem, before this is done we may need to read-in some outside experts in human neurology at the very least. Celia is not the type to ask for help directly, so I am asking for them. Please begin the process of putting aside a budget for bringing in extra consultants. I am certain we are going to need it.

End report.

[Computer Chime: End of Entry]

COMPUTER VOICE: Entry 2. Data Investigation Report.

[Computer Chime: Open Entry]



[Kathy is again in her old workspace with the background sound of the wind and the RIS scanner.]

KATHY: Commence report: Kathy Winters reporting, Day 12 Nabonidus relief mission. Department: It’s complicated.

I’ve been trying to piece together everything I can on Johann Mueller and his activities since he was left here. The ongoing theme seems to be paranoia, and I’ve been hoping that might help us work out whether there was a particular clue, something he saw or knew or intuited that might help us. We know he did his best to hide his files from the server, then went on to scramble the Nabonidus files on that server, as well as sabotage the lifters, preemptively ran from the rest of his crew just before they marched off, scrambled the access logs on the main door and took to hiding in the walls. I assume some of that was because he was afraid of being found by his colleagues. But, apart from him picking up on a few of the same clues we’ve found in the Nabonidus data, what information was he acting on?

Anyway, I’m still going through the last of his personal files and I think I’ve found something significant. There’s a video in the subfolder for Mueller that I’m sending along, designated MUEL0305. As near as I can tell it comes from the middle of the night of Day 9, the one before the Nabonidus crew disappeared. It seems he got up and followed three people down into the site. Don’t know what would have prompted him to go looking. Maybe he just got lucky, but it’s quite clear when they pass under a light that it’s Duong, Meisner…and Hollister. Hollister doesn’t say anything the whole time. Just walks in front of the others.

Mueller followed them all the way down. Past door number one. Then to door number 2. Hollister touches the door controls and operates them like he already knows what to do and they walk on through. Mueller doesn’t hang around long. Maybe he was worried about being caught. There’s not a lot of places to hide on the way out. And maybe he was spooked by what he heard. It’s faint but I’ve boosted the audio from the last moments.

[Computer Chime: Begin Inserted Recording]



[Mueller’s camera is stationed at the Chamber B end, recording Hollister, Meisner and Duong as they walk through Chamber C and beyond. Meisner and Duong’s dialogue overlaps]

MEISNER: What is happening? Victor? Victor, what is happening? Where? Where are we going?

DUONG: Why are you doing this?

MEISNER: Can someone, anyone help! Help!

DUONG: Someone please stop us!

MEISNER: Why here? Why us? What did we do? What is it doing to me? I…

[SFX – The footsteps stop. Sounds of the Proximan door controls being operated and the door opening]

DUONG: Let me wake up, let me wake up, let me wake up, dear god let me wake up.

MEISNER: Let me go! Please…(her voice trails off into sobs)

[SFX – The footsteps resume]

DUONG: No I don’t want to go–

[SFX – The door drops, cutting off the Duong mid-sentence]

[A beat. Echoes fade to silence]

[Computer Chime: End Inserted Recording]



[Resuming from the end of Part 1]

KATHY: We…don’t need more footage to know what the net result of that was. Three walked in…but only one came out. And the thing is, so far we seem to be clear that while the Nabonidus people have no control over their bodies per se, they seem able to speak for themselves. So why did Hollister go about his morning like normal the next day? Why wasn’t he yelling to everyone who could hear him that they should get away? What was the purpose of going beyond that door in the middle of the night? To bring something back? As far as we know that room was empty and the lift to descend to the storage chamber below isn’t functional.

Given they seem to be walking in perfect step like we’ve seen the rest doing, this wasn’t an unscheduled midnight xenoarchaeology party. This was intentional. But whose intention? I guess the point is that I feel like maybe Hollister knows more than the others. And maybe he’s…complicit in some way? That’s a lot to accuse someone of I know, but I’m thinking we might need to test that somehow.

I tried to have another conversation with Johann to see if he could help me understand what I was seeing, but I couldn’t get anywhere with him. He’s withdrawn into himself a lot since the last time we spoke and bringing up the night he followed Hollister made him shut down more. Having said that I am hopeful he may improve soon. Dr Chang said he’d been given some more detailed medical history on Johann and that he was going to start him on something called Nordasil, which he hopes might improve things. I’m not sure how exactly but then I’m not that kind of doctor. But with luck by next time I’ll have something more concrete from Johann to go on.

Kathy Winters signing off.

[Computer Chime: End of Entry]

COMPUTER: Entry 3. Xenoarchaeology report.

[Computer Chime: Begin Entry]



[Ben is once again listening to some classical piano music. Once again it does not appear to be having the calming effect that he is hoping for]

BEN: So following on from Kathy’s most recent discovery among Johann Mueller’s files I went to see Hollister. Hated doing it, but since there’s reason to believe Hollister either knows more about all of this than the others, or maybe there’s more to this whole being puppeted thing than just having something else pulling the strings. That maybe the impression that the person’s conscious mind is still in there and able to speak is a sham meant to deceive us further.

Look I don’t claim to understand it, but the point is that there’s some concern over whether or not it really is Victor in there and, despite our differences, I know him best. So even though I swore if I saw him again I’d kill him, to his face I might add…well…

Anyway, here is the conversation I had with him. I’m including it in full because not only is some of the speculating we do relevant to the ongoing investigation into this whole shitshow, but…it touches on some stuff that’s personal to both you and I. You know what I mean. I think you deserve to hear it, even if it’s going to be upsetting.

(A sigh)

Here it is.

[Computer Chime: Begin Inserted Recording]



[A secondary space in Hangar 8, large but not as big as the main area. The sound of a fist regularly hitting glass. Ben limps the last few steps. NOTE: Hollister’s voice sounds different because he is on the other side of a glass wall]

BEN: Victor.

HOLLISTER: Ben. I figured you had to be around here somewhere. I thought Herodotus were still on assignment at least a half dozen sectors away. That site the military was so excited about. Some planet called…Tefen?

BEN: There were complications. People died. We had to be pulled out.

HOLLISTER: And you’re limping.

BEN: Bullet wound, if you can believe that.

HOLLISTER: How did you get that?

BEN: Gordon Price.

HOLLISTER: Ha, so the asshole finally snapped and…wait was the the reason the mission–

BEN: Yeah.

HOLLISTER: That sounds like a hell of a story.

BEN: I can give you some of the details, but right now we also seem to be in the middle of–

HOLLISTER: A hell of a story, yeah.

BEN: Did you ever get survey data beyond door 2?

HOLLISTER: I assume you’ve already been through all our stuff.

BEN: Yes, but there’s been a bit of a problem with file storage so we’re still piecing together all the logs and data.

HOLLISTER: Ah. Well then, no. We got as far as the second door but no one had been beyond it before all this.

BEN: Right. Well we’ve gotten as far as sending drones through. Here, I’ll show you.

[SFX – Accessing a file on a datapad]

BEN: What do you think?

HOLLISTER: Is this the great Ben Kelleher asking my opinion on a matter of site interpretation?

BEN: At this point, given everything that’s happening, I think the more heads we have on this, the more chance we have of getting you out of it.

HOLLISTER: You think I’m getting out of this?

BEN: I don’t know.

HOLLISTER: Are those more of the same kind of cylinders as the ones above?

BEN: As near as we can tell. We haven’t had a chance to analyse them yet.

HOLLISTER: Well, I assume you’ve seen at least some of my speculation. Before we were having this conversation through plexiglass while my fist idly and pointlessly pounds on the wall I would’ve said the site looked like some sort of mass tomb. Cremated ash in urns set in a vault for interment. The rooms above telling people to stay away lest they desecrate the dead. The rooms between simple and sparse and austere because that fits the sombreness of the place.

BEN: And now?

HOLLISTER: And now, well what do you want me to say? It looks like a depot. A military storage facility. Something like that. But then you must have come to the same conclusions, so I have no idea why you’re wasting your time asking me about it. Surely you’re more interested in what we found while we were out there on the ice.

BEN: We’ll get to that.

HOLLISTER: Oh. This isn’t a conversation, is it. You’re trying to work out if it’s really me in here.

BEN: Possibly. Thing is, I hear you talk, it looks like you. It sounds like you. But then like you said, you’re still standing there trying to punch your way out. Doesn’t it hurt?

HOLLISTER: No, not even a bit. It’s like an anaesthetic. The sensation is there. The feeling of flesh compressing. Of bones under strain, of impact. But I don’t feel the pain.


HOLLISTER: So what’s the plan? Test me? Ask me something only the real Victor could know?

BEN: Something like that.

HOLLISTER It’s really me.

BEN: I want to believe that. But then you just lied to me.

HOLLISTER: About what?

BEN: About door 2.

HOLLISTER: What do you mean?

BEN: Genevieve Meisner and Vinh Duong.

HOLLISTER: I…don’t know what you’re talking about.

BEN: Three of you went down there. Only you came back.

HOLLISTER: I thought…I thought that was a dream. It’s…that one’s faint. I remember other things better but what happened to them…it’s a blur.

BEN: Like I said, I want to believe that. But there’s so much going on that you’ll have to forgive me.


BEN: What?

HOLLISTER: Don’t you want me to ask you for forgiveness?

BEN: I beg y–

HOLLISTER: You’ve been internally seething from the moment you stepped in here. I imagine some part of you is happy to see me in this predicament.

BEN: If you think I take any joy in–

HOLLISTER: It’s the real reason you came though, isn’t it. To see if I feel any remorse. Any guilt. Over the last time we…worked together.

BEN: You mean when you killed my daughter and almost my wife into the bargain?


BEN: What?

HOLLISTER: Ex-wife. You know, Jennifer Connolly, the person on the other end of that recorder when all this is over I imagine.

BEN: Listen–

HOLLISTER: Now how would fake alien assimilated Victor know something like that?

BEN: Maybe. If something controls your limbs, then why not your memories?

HOLLISTER: If you believe that, then you’re wasting your time coming here whether you’re right or wrong.

BEN: Well at least you sound the same. That smugness when you think you’re right is pitch perfect. Classic Hollister.

HOLLISTER: Well I do have a brand.

BEN: So what do you have to say?

HOLLISTER: About what?

BEN: Vultur.

HOLLISTER: Ah. You want me to take responsibility? Take blame?

BEN: I’d like to hear you say something. We never heard from you. You didn’t come to the memorial service. You barely said anything at the inquiry. Then you just disappeared off planet on another expedition.

HOLLISTER: Did it occur to you that maybe I just wanted to lose myself in the work? Forget about it all? Like you did.

BEN: Like I–

HOLLISTER: And if you want the truth, yes I did feel bad. Of course I did. Bad about not double-checking Randall’s geological data. Bad about pushing for a result. Bad about agreeing to take Jennifer on a four month dig when, much to my surprise it turned out she was three month’s pregnant when we arrived. The invoking of the extension clause, pushing her closer to her due date.

But did I feel guilty? No. Mistakes were made. Some of them were even mine. But not all of them.

BEN: If you’re saying–

HOLLISTER: The only way she kept you was by keeping up with you. Didn’t you know that?


HOLLISTER I am sorry. Sorry that you lost your child. But do I feel responsible? There was plenty of blame to go around on that dig, wasn’t there?

BEN: You bastard. I’m–

HOLLISTER: Save your breath, Ben. It’s not worth your time. I’m not worth your time. I’m a dead man walking. Don’t join me. This has always been a fixation for you, bordering on devotional religious obsession. Don’t let all of this consume you. You let it eat your marriage. If you keep this up, one day you’ll walk into something like I did and it’ll eat you alive. The Proximans aren’t worth it.

BEN: To hell with you!

[SFX – Ben turns and walks away]

HOLLISTER: Nice seeing you Ben.

[Computer Chime: End Inserted Recording]



[Picking up from the end of Part 1]

BEN: So there you have it. On as strict a professional level as I can manage, my gut tells me that’s really him talking. The arrogance. The antagonism. The way he…pushes my buttons. It’s hard to imagine someone else sitting in the driver’s seat and getting that attitude so spot on.

On a personal level, that sack of shit deserves everything that’s happening to him right now. Deserves it for his arrogance and his self-righteous buck-dodging bullshit. I’m sorry Jen, that you had to hear all that, but I think you’ll agree that it’s him.

And I’m sorry too, if he was right. I don’t think you saw yourself as…following in my shadow or whatever Hollister was insinuating, or that you felt you needed to “keep up.” I don’t think…I don’t think he knows you as well as he thinks. But if any of that was part of the decision that led to you coming to Vultur, then I’m sorry if I ever made you feel that way. I never needed you to be anything other than you.


You know what? Someone else can go get his story. I’m done.

[Computer Chime: End of Entry]

COMPUTER: Entry 4. Xenobiology and xenoanthropology report.

[Computer Chime: Open Entry]



[A mix of ambient equipment hum and wind in the background]

CELIA: Commence report: Dr Celia Pennella, Day 12, Nabonidus relief mission.

The Nabonidus members are more settled today. A lot of the destructive behaviour, the punching of walls and so on, has slowed or ceased. Now they simply mill around. Possibly whatever is driving them is consciously trying to conserve energy, but whatever the reason, it’s allowed us to deal with some of the physical injuries they’ve sustained. We’re still being careful of course, detaching people from the mass and keeping members of Francis’ squad close at hand. And above all, avoiding touch and remaining sterile. It is hardly an ideal situation, but it has allowed bones to be set and frostbite to be treated. Even cleaning some of the accumulated filth and excrement.

Further testing has not helped us understand what has happened to any great degree. We have come across one or two anomalies, including most notably that some of our initial findings were wrong. The original results suggested their immune systems had not engaged and so this wasn’t due to a pathogen, however, continued analysis suggests that some people’s immune responses may actually have been suppressed. We were about to consider full body scans to get a read on brainwave activity when this came up, and so now we’re also hoping the same scans will finally show us what’s within the rest of the body that is not showing up within the blood.

It’s taken a while to work out the logistics of moving someone currently under whatever influence is involved to somewhere they can safely be scanned while conscious, but we are currently setting up a portable unit within Hangar 8, and so that test will occur later tonight. There are also some tissue samples, as opposed to blood that we took, which I am here waiting on processing for now.

I’ve continued to observe them and have seen a number of things that lend weight to the notion there is something of a hive mind involved. This speculation started due to the way they move as one, so I decided to check it, albeit somewhat crudely, with an experiment involving a parcel of food in a key-coded case. It was given to a group in one room and they were told the code, then the same case was given to others in a different section without telling them the code. Both groups accessed the food. How complete a hive mind it is requires further testing, and the brain scans may shed light.

Of course there is also the rather upsetting phenomenon of how they talk. Their bodies appear to be machines, in sync, with the intent of killing us all or making us like them perhaps, but their conscious minds seem, at least on the surface, to be untethered from that idea. Some cry and wail. Some ask to be killed. Some ask for us to let them have their bodies back. Still others call out, wanting us to send messages to loved ones. All of this has got us thinking about how much of the real person is in there. As did the video Kathy found earlier.

I had Victor Hollister separated out from the rest and Ben spoke to him. Ben swears he was speaking to the real Victor, but the conversation wound down quickly because there are of course many old wounds there. For you too, I know. I don’t know him anywhere near as well, but I thought it worth having a conversation to see if I could learn more about what happened to the members of Nabonidus from the point where they left to their return. I’ll warn you before I begin, the story he told me is…grisly.

[Computer Chime: Begin Inserted Recording]



[A secondary space in Hangar 8, large but not as big as the main area. The sound of a fist regularly hitting glass. NOTE: Hollister’s voice sounds different because he is on the other side of a glass wall]

HOLLISTER: Ah, Dr Pennella, please, come in. I would’ve tidied up the place, but I was busy being completely immobile except for this arm of mine, punching the wall.

CELIA: Victor, I was wondering if you might have a moment to talk.

HOLLISTER: I have nothing but time. I take it Ben did not get all the answers you wanted.


CELIA: Well, since you put it like that, no.

HOLLISTER: Why am I in this cell? Separate from the others?

CELIA: Does it matter? Is there a reason you don’t want to be away from them?

HOLLISTER: I…try to stay positive for them. I know some are not coping with this.

CELIA: Is that all?

HOLLISTER: In truth being alone gives me too much time to think. It’s easier to be positive for others than for myself.

CELIA: Well then if you’d like to get back to them, why don’t you tell me what happened between all of you leaving and returning?

HOLLISTER: I have been dreading that question since I was moved here.

CELIA: It that why you pushed Ben’s buttons so much?

HOLLISTER: Perhaps. Ben is just one big button marked “Do not touch” anyway.

CELIA: What happened Victor?

HOLLISTER: Alright. Celia…please don’t rush me. This is hard, and not just because my perspective is skewed from not being the one in charge of the ship the whole time.

CELIA: Fair enough. Take your time, but tell me: 36 days ago, you were addressing the assembled team in Chamber A and then suddenly you all just stopped and left.

HOLLISTER: Yes. I…there was more to it than that perhaps. Things I’m only half remembering. Something Ben brought up before that caught me off guard.

CELIA: You mean Vinh Duong and Genevieve Meisner?

HOLLISTER: Yes…and other things that are a blur.

CELIA: After or before that?

HOLLISTER: Both I think. But that moment down in Chamber A, that was the first time I felt conscious whilst it was happening. Like I was actually present but couldn’t do anything. Like someone else had taken the wheel. Or like surrendering control to the AI when docking a shuttle. I couldn’t move a hand, wiggle a finger or move a foot of my own volition. But I was walking just the same. We were walking.

CELIA: All of you?

HOLLISTER: As far as I could tell. I couldn’t look around. Couldn’t take a head count. I can control my mouth, at least to speak, not my eyes. Whatever is in charge of us, it determines where I look.

CELIA: What are you focused on right now?

HOLLISTER: The door. The guard. You. If I had to guess, I would say that something is evaluating the chance of escape, assuming that breaking through this plexiglass is even possible.

CELIA: I see. What happened next?

HOLLISTER: We made our way up to the surface. And then we packed ourselves into a crawler. Wouldn’t think that you could fit so many people into so cramped a space, but in we went like sardines. We stood like that for hours. Days. No idea what direction we drove. Time lost all meaning because there was no way out and no light. We were just trapped in the dark and in our own heads. No one talked after the first day or so. We were just held in place by the press. Shitting and pissing where we stood.

Eventually, we stop and get out, most of us falling. While I could tell my muscles were cramped all to hell, I couldn’t feel any pain.

Most of us were wearing thermal gear for the heat in the mine or the cold on the surface, but those who were in the pods would’ve shed the extra layer. And now they were shivering. We were in a valley perhaps. A depression of some sort. It cut the wind at least, making it slightly less lethal for those who weren’t covered.

Once we’re all out, we start to move, as one, falling into step. We walk to a cave with a narrow opening. It’s a little warmer inside. I’m middle of the pack at this point, and there’s not much light, but I can make out some sort of rock formation that looks a little unnatural. We begin to pound on it. And a little bit at a time, it gives. We use rocks. We use chunks of ice. We use our hands. It’s like we take shifts, rotating people to the back of the line to rest every so often then replacing with a new front line attacking the door. And in the end, just like all geology, pressure and time wins. The rocks crack and we see beyond.

There’s a tunnel, covered in that black, oil-slick stone you find beyond the vault door here. There’s also an ambient glow from what is clearly a Proximan door on the other side. There appears to be controls for the door, probably security, but apparently something already knows how to access it, because the door opens and we go inside.

The black coating continues, but the new place is very different from this site. There’s more equipment. More live power. More evidence of occupation. At least from what I can see with my eyes being directed by some other force. A force that seems to have us searching for something.

CELIA: If you had to hazard a guess, what do you think the site was for?

HOLLISTER: Some sort of lab or scientific facility. Most of the technology is completely new to me and looks more advanced than what I’ve seen. Some things looked like they had a scanning function and the layout of the rooms suggested the compartmentalisation of labs. It’s a more complex site too. I was taken down at least 8 floors. Probably more. I’m so weak at this point that I drift in and out a lot. Doesn’t seem to matter. When I come back to myself I’m somewhere else. We haven’t eaten for days by now. There seems to be a goal though because eventually we end up fanned out at a bunch of doors and we’re all punching random combinations at their consoles. They’re long combinations too, but I guess like the proverbial thousand monkeys with a thousand typewriters someone gets it right because one of them opens and a bunch of people go in, grab something and we’re off again towards the surface.

CELIA: Storage cylinders, something like the ones that were in Chamber C?

HOLLISTER: If you say so. I never actually got a look.

We head back to the surface, and on the way I catch a glimpse of someone face down on the floor. Not breathing. I think it was Colin Birnie.

CELIA: Like he’d collapsed?

HOLLISTER: I…think so.

CELIA: (To themselves) 84.


CELIA: Nothing. I’m sorry. For the loss. Please continue.

HOLLISTER: We get back into the crawlers, but…I don’t know, maybe it didn’t have a full charge. Maybe it just broke down, because after…a day? It stops. And we get out. And I think we’re just going to walk back, but we don’t. People are grouping into threes. Moving off in different directions. I can see the others out of the corner of my eye, but the actual focus of my vision is on the woman in front of me. Serena is her name. Was her name.

CELIA: (Under breath) Oh no.

Myself and the other person with me, I don’t even know who it was, well, we move toward Serena. She yells, begging us to stop. Other voices are crying out the same. But we don’t stop and she stops shouting because she’s got two sets of hands wrapped around her throat and one of them…one of them is mine.

CELIA: Victor–

HOLLISTER: Don’t stop me. Please don’t stop me. I might not be able to go on if you stop me. Because eventually she crumples, dead, having been unable to raise a hand in her own defence. And we fall on her and we, I…and we…

CELIA: Eat…her?

HOLLISTER: (Between sobs) You knew?

CELIA: Suspected. You’d been gone a long time. You hadn’t taken supplies that we knew of and if you’d walked…even with the right gear a body still needs a lot of calories for a trek like that.

HOLLISTER: I don’t know how long we were there for but we ate and ate. And I might not be able to feel pain, but I am still in pain. And I can still taste and…I feel like I should wretch, like that should be an automatic thing, but even though I want to nothing happens. I don’t even feel the gag sensation, like it’s being suppressed.

It’s dark by the time we finish and I can’t see what’s left of Serena anymore and I am so relieved that I can’t…

And then we walk. Crying. Screaming. Eventually I blacked out, but when I came to we were still walking and people were still screaming. I have no idea how long we walked. Weeks. But eventually we made it here. The rest…I suppose you know.

CELIA: Victor, I am sorry.

HOLLISTER: What’s happening to us? Why aren’t we in control? Why aren’t we dead?

CELIA: We’re working on it. We’ll find out.

HOLLISTER: You’ll tell me, won’t you Celia? What you find? If there’s still a chance for any of them, I need to know.

CELIA: Of course Victor. I’ll keep you updated, I promise.

[Computer Chime: End Inserted Recording]



[Continuing on from the end of Part 1]

CELIA: As I said, that was not an easy conversation to have but one that yielded useful information if no real answers. That…makes it sound trivial, but it was far from it. I was shaking, listening to it again just now.

I hope to have something more when we can scan the affected people more completely because despite my reassurances to Victor I am not sure we know anything yet about what is making this happen, or why.

And Jennifer, I know I said some things several days ago, to you, that were deeply personal, and that that conversation is not over. But I cannot right now. I am sorry. There is too much to wade through and there have been too many deaths, some of them of people I cared about.

I have to try to save the rest.

[Computer Chime: End of Entry]

COMPUTER: Entry 5. Military Search and Rescue Report.



[Sounds of a number of members of Nabonidus talking, most calling out for help of some kind. Three appear to still be punching the plexiglass wall. The members of Francis’ squad can be heard walking patrol, with others nearby occasionally chatting]

FRANCIS: Commence report: Captain Francis, 23rd Alliance Marines, Day 12 Nabonidus Relief Mission. There isn’t much to report at this point. If what I am hearing from the science types is anything to go by, it would seem we have now accounted for all members of the Nabonidus task force, and thus there is no search or investigation on that score for me actively pursue. I am aware that, given the…shall we say possessed state of those that we have found, there is still much work to be done trying to undo whatever this is, but that falls well outside of my skillset.

Much and all as I would hope that having completed my task it might be possible to request pick up and transfer back to HQ or out on assignment, I know that’s unlikely to occur while things are somewhat in flux here. At the moment my role has become that of support, given the seemingly hostile intent of whatever is driving these people to behave as they are. To that end I have arranged guard details and rotating shifts on the several locations within hangar 8 where the 56 crew have been placed. That includes Hollister, who has been separated from the group in order to be spoken with uninterrupted.

Johann Mueller, who while seemingly not part of this situation, and most likely not actively involved in bringing this situation to pass, is not someone I am ready to trust just yet. I’ll be having him moved to a separate location within the hangar as soon as Dr Chang is convinced he is well enough. I want all these eggs in one basket, for convenience if nothing else.

I have a few additional concerns. Firstly, the storage cylinders the Nabonidus crew went to all the trouble of crossing a ton of frozen miles for. They seem similar to the ones found here, but it was pointed out to me by one of the military science team that they have different markings, indicating a possible secondary function. My understanding is that scans have not revealed anything inside them, just like the other cylinders here in the mine site, but you can’t tell me that whole death march was for
empty barrels.

There is talk of sending a group out to find this other site in the hopes it may provide additional answers. I will be sending some of my soldiers along to keep the Herodotus people out of trouble. A new site means potential new dangers, and given the compromised nature of any intel we get from these returned Nabonidus people, we need to be prepared for anything. And since I’m stuck in this situation until some part of it starts making scientific sense, all I and my squad can contribute is grunt work and making sure everyone stays safe long enough to get that answer.

It should be easy enough. We have a rough bearing thanks to the direction from which our returned zombies came, and the crawler they abandoned on their return journey should lie along the path. That should be enough for us to track it down.

And not a moment too soon. Holding people prisoner who seem to be themselves already prisoners in their own flesh is not exactly my idea of a good time. Poor bastards.

Francis Out.

[SFX – The recording cuts out. One second later it comes back again. There are several seconds of ambient background noise before…]

FRANCIS: Huh? (Irritated grumble) Must’ve knocked the…

[Computer Chime: End of Entry]

COMPUTER VOICE: Entry 6. Xenobiology and xenoanthropology report. Addendum.



[Celia in the room where they had set up the portable scanning unit they mentioned in their earlier entry]

CELIA: Report Addendum: Dr Pennella. We were looking in the wrong place. It’s not in the blood. I got back some tissue samples that showed an odd blend of compounds. Trace amounts of plastics and unusual alloys. Chemical profiles that read as alien, not human. So when we got someone into a full body scan I knew what to look for. It runs through the tissues of the body in a network, like an additional biological system. We might have missed it if we hadn’t had the tissue samples to work from and known what to detect.

I think it’s some sort of nanotechnology. Proximan Nanites working together to create a network that taps into all bodily systems. It seems to be bypassing the brain, barely touching it except perhaps to tap into and access…

Carpenter ants! That’s it. Sorry, I’ve only had results to hand for minutes and am still putting this together as I speak. But I think I have an answer. It’s like carpenter ants in the The Amazon. There’s a fungus, I forget the name, that gets into their system. Turns them almost into zombies. Makes them move out of their natural habitat and climb higher. And then the ant chomps on a leaf and doesn’t let go. It dies there, usually above an ant trail so the spores fall down and get into the next ants and so on.

Researchers originally thought it was getting into the ants’ brains, but it wasn’t just that. It was also bypassing the brain and plugging itself directly into the muscles and nerves and manipulating them. I think that’s what’s happening here. The structures, the networks being created. They are bypassing the brain, at least for the most part, that’s why these people are still themselves. It must be leaving things like speech centres alone, because it only needs the eyes, arms, and legs for the most part.

(With a sigh) Some of that doesn’t entirely work, but I am uploading data to the stellarcast as we speak because we are very close to the deadline, and then I think I should go and keep my promise to Hollister.

There’s a lot still to figure out but this feels like the essence of it. The nanites must have been in the–

[SFX – An alarm klaxon sounds. Adrienne’s voice comes over Celia’s coms and external PA systems]

ADRIENNE: (Over speakers) This is Adrienne Barnes. All Herodotus personnel please heed. The members of Nabonidus are loose. The Marine Squad are compromised. I repeat Nabonidus are loose. The Marines are compromised and acting in the same way as Nabonidus. If you are in Hangar 8 evacuate immediately. Make for the mine. If you are in a securable pod and have command access to override passcodes please secure your location and stay in place. If you are in open or common areas or any area where you cannot institute your own security, evacuate to the mine immediately. Avoid any Nabonidus members or Marines you encounter at all costs. Do not let them touch you. Make for the mine.

[SFX – The sounds of marching feet and raised voices can be heard distantly outside the room, building under the last part of Adrienne’s announcement.

CELIA: I’m in…Shit.

[Computer Chime: End of Entry]

COMPUTER: End Status Report 5.

[Computer Chime: End of Status Report]

[Theme music plays]

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

JULIA: Julia Eve as Adrienne Barnes.

JORDAN: Jordan Cobb as Kathy Winters.

REBECCA: Rebecca Owen as Genevieve Meisner.

BRANDON: Brandon Nguyen as Vinh Duong.

CHRIS: Chris Magilton as Ben Kelleher.

KARIM: Karim Kronfli as Victor Hollister.

SHAKIRA: Shakira Searle as Dr Celia Pennella.

OLIVER: Oliver Smith as Captain Francis.

DEVIN: Devin Madson as The Computer.


CHRIS: The second of our Season 2 themes was composed and performed by Oliver Morris. The episode also included Adagio to Fantasy in C Major by Schubert, performed by Bruno Freitas, and Nocturne in C Sharp Minor by Chopin, performed by Chris Studio. Both of those pieces were licensed by Motion Array.

COMPUTER ANNOUNCEMENT: The work of The Eudoxus Initiative is made possible by generous research grants from our patrons. Thank you to our most recent patrons: Frankie and Brandi. If you to would like to support humanity’s understanding of alien technology, culture and history, go to For a transcript of this report or additional information go to We can also be found on Twitter, Facebook and merchandise is available through TeePublic, including T-shirts, mugs, hoodies and stickers. Thank you for listening.

[The last notes of the theme music fade out]