PRE-SHOW ANNOUNCEMENT: Hello and welcome to the mid-season finale for this of Among the Stars and Bones. We’ll be taking a break after this one, with the next episode available on the main feed July 3rd, and available one week earlier for patrons. A reminder also that Among the Stars and Bones features characters in a hostile environment and is intended for a mature audience. As such it contains material which may be upsetting or triggering for some people. In particular, this episode contains discussions of a drug-induced break from reality and PTSD. Specific content warnings with time stamps can be found in the show notes. Please make use of them if you need to.

DRUG-INDUCED BREAK FROM REALITY/PTSD – A character describes a traumatic experience from their past in which drug use resulted in a break from reality (15:33 – 20:50)
LOSS OF BODILY AUTONOMY – Much of the episode references people who do not have control over their bodies and are controlled by technological means. In two scenes people affected by the phenomenon are describing events that have happened to them. In one they are punching a wall against their will and in the second they are being made to prepare for a fight (26:57 – 33:08) & (46:27 – 52:00)


[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 6. Five entries included. Entry 1. Comptroller’s Report.

[Computer Chime: Open Entry]



[Inside an office in the control building of the mine that the Herodotus Task Force are currently living in, thanks to having to protect themselves by sealing themselves inside the mine. The computer is no longer posting updates. There is more chatter outside the office, as the main work area is now the de facto “war room”]

ADRIENNE: Commence report: Comptroller Barnes reporting, Day 14, March 29th, 2211.

There was a moment after my last report when I was sure we would soon have a breakthrough, when we would know how to safely treat and transport the Nabonidus crew, so that in this report I could make a formal request for medivac and begin the process of ruling a line through this whole episode.

And of course, nothing could be further from reality.

At approximately 1:30 AM Central time two days ago, not long after planetary sunset here, the Nabonidus crew escaped. The first alarm was not raised until they started running through our hangars and grabbing people. Garbled messages were sent through to me and it took a few moments to realise what was happening. I tried to raise Francis but got no response. It soon became clear why: He and his team were compromised and were part of the push through our hangars, pods and halls. I enacted several security protocols to deny access, but it proved impossible to completely restrict the marines, and despite whatever separation there is between the conscious mind of those affected by these nanites and the work of the nanites themselves, it has become clear that they have at least some ability to utilise previously learned skills and knowledge.

If we didn’t act fast we were going to be overrun, although it was already too late for some. People have since reported seeing other members of Herodotus being tackled, grabbed and dragged away.

Still, I rallied everyone I could as fast as possible. We did our best to get to people who were trapped in rooms with compromised people outside and we made for the one place we felt we had a chance – the mine. We managed to go unnoticed by taking a wide berth and mounting the ice and snow built up against the mining compound walls to keep us away from the lights. Several of Francis’s soldiers were waiting near the compound entrance however, and spotted us making for the side door. We sprinted for it and had a good headstart on them, but were held up by the need to get everyone inside. It was a terrifying moment, let me tell you, but thankfully the air lock doors were made to allow the passage of large numbers of miners at once. And I already had some previous experience in resetting the access codes.

A head count once we were safe showed 62 made it inside the mine. Four others, including Ben, are trapped in a lab in the xenoarchaeolgy pod. They are safe at present, and we are in communication with them. They’re scared, as you’d expect, but I think they are the better for knowing someone else is out there. It’s a vast improvement on last time. Ha. I say last time like it’s something from the distant past, not 2 months ago.

Anyway, in terms of the state of our…opposition – I can’t quite call them our enemy when it’s obvious they’re as much hostage as hostile. But there appears to be all surviving members of Nabonidus, that’s 56. Captain Francis and his entire military team, which adds 25, plus, we have to assume, the 16 other members of Herodotus that were lost in the scramble.

Several of them have been spotted outside, so it seems that they must have been…converted, I suppose.

So, that’s a force of 97 to our 62, with a good number of them made up of highly-trained marines. How much that will have a bearing on things only time will tell.

On the positive side, we are quite secure here. The door is robust enough for our purposes, and the main entrance for large machinery, apart from being electronically secure, was frozen in place due to lack of use since this site was closed down. There is the secondary exit, but we also managed to secure it in time. I’ve got people stationed on lookout at both locations, and we’re doing what we can to be sure that if they get through one of the doors they’ll have a hard time getting any further.

Additionally we have the mine’s administration and control building, where we have access to Nabonidus equipment, some of our own equipment and even some of the mine’s original tech. That means that we’ve been able to get camera feeds from our compound, their compound and even the cameras around the mine. So far we see occasional movement, but mostly they have people watching the doors to make sure we don’t go anywhere. There have been some attempts to batter the doors down, but thankfully ineffectual.

There’s a real sense of waiting. Like whatever is driving the actions of our colleagues is biding its time, waiting to see what we do next.

So we have eyes and the ability to link in with our systems and data, though obviously we are short on lab equipment and anything that hadn’t been brought down to the site and so on. And a last positive note is that we are well stocked for food and water. Nabonidus had set up a portable commissary in the area around the administrative building, which I expanded on and also topped up with stock the day before all this went sideways. There is also additional food deep down just outside the antechamber itself. When we arrived we found a side tunnel that’s filled with a weird combination of Nabonidus equipment and left over mining tools and barrels. It wasn’t the best option for a field kitchen but we needed something down there.

So in the short term we aren’t going to run out of supplies. Also the mine’s internal power supply cannot be interrupted from outside. All in all we are in marginally better shape than we were on Tefen. We’re safe and supplied. What we need now is a plan. I’m in discussions with department heads about a course of action – you’ll no doubt hear more about it when they report in.

At the moment I am declaring a state of emergency, but I am not issuing an emergency recall order. There would be no point. Whatever this is, containing it and preventing it from getting off-world has to be the first priority. Though we’re still not sure on the exact mechanisms involved, it’s clear that these nanites can spread from person to person and quickly.

So while I do hope we can count on your support to review any findings and give advice, we are clearly going to be on our own when it comes to surviving this situation and finding a solution to undo what has been done to our friends. I have no interest in a Clause 99 situation being forced on us. Of course getting to what we need from here is going to–

[SFX – The door opens, the sound of discussion from outside becoming louder and clearer. People sound like they’re trying to determine where others are moving to on the cameras]

JANINE: Comptroller – there’s movement.

ADRIENNE: Right, I have to go. I hope to have better news for you soon. Barnes out.

[Computer Chime: End Entry]

COMPUTER VOICE: Entry 2. Data Investigation report.

[Computer Chime: Open Entry]



[A lot of talking and computer noises as a group of Herodotus team members monitor camera feeds and coordinate plans to create and bolster defensive positions around the mine]

KATHY: Commence Report: This is Kathy Winters reporting on Day 14 of the Nabonidus Relief Mission. And I guess we’re doing Data Investigation in real-time now, because I’m sitting here in front of a bank of surveillance feeds watching a bunch of nanite-possessed people move around outside. They’re everywhere at the moment. Outside, in the Nabonidus area, in our compound.

INDIRA: They better not be in my berth.


INDIRA: Don’t want anyone touching my stash of Star Clusters.

KATHY: Oh I love those. Wait, how come I didn’t rate any Star Clusters?

INDIRA: Well I don’t give them to just anyone.

KATHY: I see. Could be worse though, you could’ve still been in there when…

INDIRA: Fair point. If it hadn’t been for Barnes…

KATHY: Yeah. I was just trying to get to sleep when the alarm sounded. I just started to register what Barnes was saying over the loud speaker when two marines tried to force their way into my room. I think I broke one of their wrists pushing their hands out with a chair to get the door closed, but then of course I was trapped. I only got out because when Barnes realised what was happening she started getting people to run down corridors screaming to draw them away. Without that, I imagine I’d either still be trapped or…one of them.

INDIRA: I was a bit luckier. I wasn’t alone, and we had more warning. But we still had to get out. Thankfully Barnes shared access to the transponder feeds from the marines so we knew what areas to avoid. Had to be on the lookout for the Nabonidus crew though. We don’t have frequencies for theirs. Gotta hand it to her. She got it together quick. Only a handful of us would’ve made it in here otherwise.

KATHY: Anyway, Ms Connolly, that’s our stories. Now, I’ve noted that the possessed…Are we going to call them that? We need a collective noun or something here.

INDIRA: There seems to be a running theme of coming up with names for things with you.

KATHY: Well, let’s call them possessed for now. They seem to be moving with greater purpose. At least compared to what I saw of them before. I don’t know why. It could be as simple as them having a goal, rather than mere survival like when they first arrived, or nothing really at all when they were locked up. They’ve regained strength too. But even compared to the footage of them all walking out of the mine the day they were first possessed they seem to be faster, more physically coordinated.

INDIRA: An indication that nanite influence increases over time?

KATHY: Maybe, but the members of Herodotus that are newly part of their group don’t seem to be moving clunkily or without purpose. It’s got me wondering if it’s a question of numbers. The way they move in sync with each other has certainly got a hive mind feel about it, so perhaps it’s the number of minds in the hive that makes the difference.

INDIRA: You’re talking about people we work with like lab rats.

KATHY: Remembering how much Ramirez makes me laugh isn’t going to help me save her. Or Lune Silvera. Or Captain Francis or anyone from Nabonidus for that matter.

INDIRA: You’re right. It’s just hard.

KATHY: I know it is. But none of us did what we had to do to survive Tefen in order to fail here.

One person who seems to have been forgotten in the middle of all this is Johann Mueller. He’s locked inside his medbay. I can’t bring up the bay itself because of obvious privacy issues, but the hallway outside of the bay does give a view of the door and I’ve seen his face through the window. Interestingly, he doesn’t seem to have any of the possessed outside of his room. I don’t know if that’s an oversight on their part or perhaps has more to do with the fact that “possession” failed to work on him. He’s stuck there though, because he was still locked in the pod, since we weren’t 100% sure it was safe to have him out and Captain Francis wasn’t having it anyway. At least he’s not still restrained. Dr Chang felt it was unnecessary once the Nordasil had had time to work.

Keeping him locked up was precautionary, but he is much more lucid now. We had a conversation earlier. I was able to patch through to an intercom and explain the situation to him. He’s surprisingly calm considering, and seems much more himself. Here’s some relevant parts of the conversation…

[Computer Chime: Begin Inserted Recording]



[The space Kathy is conducting this conversation from appears to be an office similar to what Adrienne has been using. Chatter can be heard from the other side of the walls. Johann’s voice comes over a coms speaker]

KATHY So what you’re saying is that you don’t entirely remember what was going through your mind when you did some of the things you did?

JOHANN: (On coms) No. Okay, so this isn’t the easiest thing to admit, but when I was 16, some stuff went down at home. I ran away, left our enclave, fell in with a rough crowd and ran away to an unregulated zone.

KATHY: Oh, I see. Though I don’t understand the connection.

JOHANN: (On coms) The crowd I ran with, they got me into some stuff. Hallucinogens. Not the designer stuff. Street-level, backyard stuff. The sort of stuff that can cause very bad reactions in some people. And it did for me. I got really paranoid. Started having episodes. I’d be walking down the street and think that people were about to change around me. Into something…bad. I don’t remember what. The details were fuzzy, but like in a dream it all made sense at the time, you know?

KATHY: And that’s what it felt like with this?

JOHANN: (On coms) Yeah, it was like it was happening to someone else and I was just sort of watching it.

KATHY: So what caused it?

JOHANN: (On coms) Look, I can’t be sure, but I feel like I was seeing the signs that the me who went through all that read as ‘the people around me are going to change’ and…no that doesn’t make sense.

KATHY: They weren’t doing the same kinds of things you remember from when you were younger?

JOHANN: (On coms) That’s, uh…it’s more like because I don’t remember exactly what it was like when I was younger. Man my head is going round and round.

KATHY: Hey, it’s okay. Take your time. But let me ask you this: How did you react back then?

JOHANN: (On coms) I used to watch people closely, waiting for confirmation. Or whatever my brain thought of as confirmation. That I remember. Once I had a sense that someone around me definitely wasn’t who they appeared to be the instinct was always to run and hide. Leave anything that could ID me. Find a den that felt safe. Lay in supplies and just get off the grid. And I was already pretty off the grid to begin with.

KATHY: Okay, well that fits. You left your recorder, hid your files, turned off all transponders, scrambled the access logs and did a number on the server’s file structure. It sure made our job a lot tougher. Even realising that you weren’t accounted for took some time.

JOHANN: (On coms) Sorry about that. I felt like I knew they were going to come looking for me.

KATHY: There’s one action that doesn’t quite make sense though. You sabotaged the lifters stationed at Door 1 didn’t you?

JOHANN: (On coms) Did I?

KATHY: We’re pretty sure. You don’t remember?

JOHANN: No I…wait. Something…I just got this thought in my head, like I was being called to go beyond that door. I don’t know. But I was pretty sure it didn’t come from me. I think.

KATHY: Was it like a command?

JOHANN: (On coms) I don’t think so…more like a strong compulsion.

KATHY: Before or after you followed Hollister, Meisner and Duong?

JOHANN: (On coms) I…the thought was there a lot actually. Whenever I was down there. Maybe that’s what started this? I don’t know. That footage you showed me…just before everyone else changed. I think that’s why I walked out when I did…because part of me knew, somehow, that if I didn’t go then, I wouldn’t be able to.

KATHY: Do you still feel a…a pull or a compulsion now?

JOHANN: (On coms, realising the truth of it as he says it) No. Not in some time, actually.

KATHY: Interesting.


JOHANN: (On coms) Anything else?

KATHY: Yeah, one question, what happened at the end of all of that? Back when you were younger?

JOHANN: (On coms) Oh. Right. Well my family is pretty connected.

KATHY: I see. Oh…You’re one of those Muellers?

JOHANN: (On coms) Yeah. Those Muellers. They eventually tracked me down. Swept everything under the rug. They’re good at that.

KATHY: Which was why there are redacted sections in your file.

JOHANN: (On coms) Yeah. Say, do you have any idea when I might be able to get out of here?

KATHY: We’re working on it. I can’t promise anything. But, just sit tight.

JOHANN: (On coms) Okay. I mean it’s not like I’m not comfortable hunkered down in a small space. But I am going to start getting pretty hungry soon.

KATHY: Oh…yes. I checked with the doctor. He said there’s water you can use in the fridge behind you. He also said that he keeps a stash of snacks in the bottom drawer next to the one with bandages. It’s not much, but if you ration it out a bit…

JOHANN: (On coms) Got it.

KATHY: He also said the Nordasil is on the top shelf of the blue cabinet. One every 24 hours, as regular as you can keep it.

JOHANN: (On coms) Yeah. I’ve taken it before, but thanks. Oh and Kathy?

KATHY: Yeah?

JOHANN: (On coms) You probably already know not to let them touch you, and since they can’t get to you I know that means you think you’re safe. But you gotta watch out. When things are quiet, that’s when they’re about to do something. Keep your eyes open.

KATHY: Will do. You take care. I’ll check in later, see how you’re doing.

JOHANN: (On coms) You too. And…thanks. For looking out for me. Not that many people have ever done that.

KATHY: Of course.

[Computer Chime: End Inserted Recording]



[Continuing on from Part 1]

INDIRA: Poor guy.

KATHY: Yeah, we can’t be certain, and we won’t be able to get a full body scan to be sure until we get out of here, but I think he must have had some exposure to the nanites but…I don’t know. It didn’t take? Or something. It could just be coincidence. The odd behaviour he saw causing his mind to spiral because the rest of his colleagues gave off a vibe that reminded his subconscious of his past. But then he mentioned the compulsions he was getting to do stuff. I don’t know. It’s something I’ve read Celia in on as they and Chang work through this. Anyway, I better wrap this up. I was going to check in on him again and then have a look over–

[SFX – Packet of food being dropped into Kathy’s lap]

KATHY: Why are you giving me these, I thought you didn’t give them to just anyone.

INDIRA: You’re right, I don’t.

[SFX – Indira walking away]

KATHY: (To herself) Score!

[SFX – Kathy opens the packet and sticks a Star Cluster in her mouth]

KATHY: So good. What was I saying? Mmm yeah, I’m going to start looking to see if there’s any Nabonidus entries about the containers that we might have missed. Kathy Winters, signing off.

[Computer Chime: End of Entry]

COMPUTER: Entry 3. Xenoarchaeology report.



[There is an ambient electronic hum of the lab, and the wind can be heard outside the archopod]

BEN: So, we’re under siege from a hostile force being controlled by something else that wants to do nasty stuff to us. Must be Tuesday.

KLYMENKO: It’s Sunday.

BEN: It can’t be Sunday. If it was Sunday the bad guys would have the day off and we could get out of here.

KLYMENKO: Why just the bad guys?

BEN: When was the last time you took the day off?


HUDSON: Ooh…he’s got you there.

REMY: He’s got us all there.

BEN: Yeah. Well, we’ll get back to the Workaholics Anonymous meeting after I do this report. We are currently safe. We’re stuck in lab B in the archopod, with the door sealed and the code changed. There’s…how many out in the corridor?

HUDSON: Uh…one, two three…four that I can see.

REMY: Got to be a couple more out of sight. They know there’s four of us in here. You figure they’d try for superior numbers.

BEN: Probably. As you can hear I’m stuck in here with Rampaging Remy Seng, the Heroic Hudson Desha, and the always Amazing Anatoliy Andreyevich Klymenko.

HUDSON: You sound like you’re introducing the members of your band.

KLYMENKO: I call drums.

HUDSON: Okay. Guitars where it’s at anyway.

REMY: Lemme guess, I’m stuck with bass.

BEN: Look as long as we don’t have to wear some sort of uniform, I’ll take whatever.

KLYMENKO: But I already picked your wig out.

BEN: (With a laugh) It’s possible we’ve gone slightly stir crazy already. Anyway, the first we knew that something was wrong was when the alarm sounded. Hudson stuck his head out and could see a bunch of them in the corridor, so we had no choice but to stay put. We’d been doing a last deep dive through the symbols on the walls, seeing if there was anything more to be gleaned from them. You know me – I normally would’ve been doing this down in the site itself, but I’d just finished another conversation with Hollister when Remy proposed a bit of a conference, so I grabbed us all a bunch of food from the caffe and we were settling in for a late night group session when the hammer came down.

We sat here while they pounded the door for a bit. When it became obvious they weren’t going to get in, and that, from the chatter, there was no way anyone was getting to us anytime soon, we all just shrugged and went back to work. I mean what else could we do.

We’re pretty limited here, but at least we have access to all our data and computers.

REMY: (Bitterly) Not that it’s yielded one iota of useful information.

BEN: No, we’re spinning our wheels. I don’t think there’s much more to be gleaned from the symbols around the site. If there’s anything to be learned, at least xenoarchaeologically, it isn’t here. Which was also the theme of my second conversation with Hollister. I figured maybe I let myself fly off the handle too easily the first time and maybe there was more discussion to be had. And I guess I got a little more but…look I’ll just attach it here…

[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: (Peeved) What do you want this time? Got more blame to spread around? Want to blame me for the state of the economy perhaps? Or the separatist war too?

BEN: No, Victor. Look I’m not here for that. I want to focus on the work. Get some answers. Get you out of this.

HOLLISTER: Truth hit home did it?


BEN: Look you can spend the next five minutes trying to goad me into leaving so you can keep feeling sorry for yourself until you die or you can try to work with me. We need to understand these two sites if we’re going to solve this.


HOLLISTER: Must have given you a chuckle, going through all my notes and records and seeing how far off I was with the whole religious interpretation.

BEN: A little. I did have the benefit of hindsight though. I might have gone down the same path if we’d been first here.

HOLLISTER: You don’t believe that.

BEN: Look, tell you what I do believe. The answers must lie at the site you visited. This place. It’s too simple. It’s pure storage. That’s its only function. I think this is where they buried their mistakes. Put them out of sight. But the mistake itself must have been made elsewhere – your site. The other site.

HOLLISTER: You think these nanites were a mistake? A genie they decided to bottle when it got out of hand? You don’t bury mistakes. Not a mistake like this. You destroy them. Fire them into the sun. Nuke them from orbit. These nanites, if they’re here, it’s by design.

BEN: Okay, sure. I didn’t want to admit it, but you’re right.

HOLLISTER: You really hold on to the idea that the Proximans are more enlightened, don’t you.

BEN: Look I’ll admit that what I saw on Tefen shook that a little. Thousands of them were murdered there by one of their own. But yes, I do.

HOLLISTER: Take it from the only other human who knows them as well as you do. They’re no better than us. They just have better toys. They’re still children running around with a loaded weapon. There’s is just a ray gun.

BEN: Alright, let’s talk about how they got this particular ray gun.

HOLLISTER: You think this is a weapon?

BEN: Don’t you?

HOLLISTER: Sure. What do you want to know?

BEN: You said to Celia you thought it was a lab right? The other site?

HOLLISTER: Yes, but I don’t know how much more helpful I can be. I was but a passenger on the meatbus. Couldn’t even turn my head to look at anything it didn’t need me to look at.

BEN: What was your sense of the layout though?

HOLLISTER: I’d say…I’d say that it’s about how you expect. What I glimpsed of the top levels suggested administration. The middle is laboratories and the bottom is the storage. But here’s something strange. There are levels below the storage. And I don’t mean the industrial guts of the place either. We didn’t go down there because whatever we wanted was on the storage levels, but I caught a look at some signs. Not a good look, but it wasn’t anything to do with more storage.

BEN: So there was something else at the bottom.

HOLLISTER: Yeah, weird, right? What do you put further down than storage? There’s something else, too, something about the orientation of the place.

BEN: Yeah?

HOLLISTER: It felt…upside down? Maybe. Not sure what gives me that sense as I wasn’t exactly focused so…

BEN: Do you mean that…instead of being designed around keeping someone out, it was more focused on keeping something in?

HOLLISTER: (Considering) Yeesss.

BEN: Interesting. Celia worked out something similar about this site. It bears some thinking on. They weren’t worried about someone sweeping in and stealing stuff.

HOLLISTER: They’d kept this place pretty hidden. So that’s not surprising.

BEN: Still, if what was stored there was as dangerous as what was stored here…

HOLLISTER: I don’t think it was the same thing. I think it’s an important component, but I don’t think it’s the danger.

BEN: Then why did these nanites pilot you across frozen wastes to get it?

HOLLISTER: That wasn’t Plan A. You’re forgetting, and I suppose I had too, when we were all taken over we tried to go through the Chamber A door first, but we couldn’t get it open. It was only after that we trekked across the wastes.

BEN: Because of Mueller. He locked you out.

HOLLISTER: Mueller? The xenotech?

BEN: He seems to be immune, or something. But also like he had enough of an inkling about what was happening that at some point he sabotaged the equipment.

HOLLISTER: I see. I must confess he’s the sort of person you barely notice when he’s there, so I’d forgotten all about him. I guess I just assumed he was mixed in with the rest of us. Do you know why he wasn’t affected?

[SFX – The sound of fist pounding glass stops]

BEN: Not yet, but Celia and our medical officer are looking into it.

HOLLISTER: That actually sounds…almost promising.

BEN: We’re going to throw everything we’ve got at this. If there’s a way…



HOLLISTER: Whatever we took from the second site, I think they still need something here in the first. Think about it. It’s where we tried to go when we were first taken. This is the part the Proximans wanted to guard. This is the one they buried impossibly 12 miles under the surface.

BEN: So they still need you to get in there somehow?



HOLLISTER: Ben…they’re going to try something.

BEN: What makes you say that?

HOLLISTER: A feeling. And also have you noticed how my hand isn’t beating the wall anymore?

[Computer Chime: End Inserted Recording]



[Continuing on from Part 1]

BEN: Before you ask, yes I did pass on that warning. It didn’t do any good. I passed it to Francis of course, and the trouble was that he and the squad were the thing they were going to try. I guess there’s further evidence of the whole hive mind right there. For all the good that does us.

So we can add “Prevent nanite-possessed people from getting back down into the mine and past the vault door” to the to do list for this week. I guess we’re lucky that Adrienne and the rest fled to the mine. Or unlucky because now they’re between the possessed and what they want.

It’s becoming increasingly obvious that there’s nothing more to be gained from what we have here and the already stored data. That the only chance for anything that’s going to drive our understanding forward and get ourselves out of this predicament is going to involve getting to the other site. The annoying thing is that there’s a crawler quite close to the exit of our pod. I can see it on the external feed now. But what are the odds that even with a head start I could make the run, get the thing started in this cold and get away before one of these ’possessed people’ as Kathy puts it, gets me?

REMY: You mean gets us. I’d be coming with you. Don’t forget, my sister is here. She’s part of Nabonidus.

BEN: I didn’t know.

REMY: (With a derisive noise) That’s hardly a surprise.

BEN: Sorry. I…She’s one of the survivors right, she wasn’t one of the ones that…

REMY: Yes, she’s alive and around here somewhere.

BEN: Right. Well then yes of course. If we can bust out of here…I mean two heads are better than one, right? Although this isn’t a problem of archaeology. It’s going to involve a lot more tech and medical and biol.

To which end, Jen, we’ve started a conversation about how we get a bunch of us out of here. I’d say we need a mixed team of at least five or six to have any chance of making sense of what we find. But it’s going to take a lot more than that to make it happen. We’ll need a diversion or two, but then we don’t know whether or not they’ll take the bait. I’ve been talking with Adrienne and Kathy and Celia and a couple of the military research team and we’re working on something, so with a bit of luck the next time you hear from me it’ll be from the road.

[Computer Chime: End of Entry]

COMPUTER: Entry 4. Xenobiology and xenoanthropology report.



[A small office in the mine control building. Chatter from other members of Herodotus can be heard outside]

CELIA: Commence report: Celia Pennella, Day 14.

I am safe. Thankfully. And despite the interruption to my work, indeed my very train of thought, brought on by the alarm being raised, I have continued on as best I can to develop a working hypothesis of what we are dealing with here.

My own story of surviving the initial attack and fleeing to the mine is surprisingly mundane. Despite being at ground zero as it were, it seems that in the initial stages the nanites did not think to come looking in the tucked away room with the scanner that I was in. And the Nabonidus people did do their best to give away their location and so once I felt compelled to move I found that by avoiding the noise I avoided the problem for the most part. Once I was outside I hid on the north side of the Nabonidus compound and monitored communications until the group Adrienne was leading out passed close enough that I was able to make the run to join them.

Adrienne acquitted herself admirably, which is why I’m here in one piece, in control of my own faculties and in a place to calmly continue to work through all of this, even while outside a hundred hostile people who aren’t just people right now are trying to get to us.


CELIA: So, I started talking about the Ophiocordyceps unilateralis fungus that impacts carpenter ants last time. With that as a basic model I’ve been able to look at the data and continue to build out my ideas. That particular fungus surrounds the ant’s brain and exerts influence on it, but it also directly manipulates the muscular system. We seem to be dealing with something similar here. Further analysis of the scans we took confirms that there are a whole bunch of microscopic interlaced networks of nanite construction. They have penetrated the muscles and seem to be able to directly stimulate them. Other networks seem to block off the nerves, preventing the victim’s brain from sending its own signals. There are only a few, much less dense tendrils of networks that are in the brain directly, unsurprisingly in the parts of the brain to do with motor function, and knowledge of how to do things. Additionally there are tendrils in the optic and cochlear nerves. I think, Doctor, that these pieces of network are an attempt to monitor sensory input and tap relevant parts of the victim’s knowledge and skills.

CHANG: Yes. And it appears to be an earlier part of the process. You recall that Hollister, one of the first affected, mentioned a blue glow that no one else saw. I think that might be a symptom of the moment this “wiretap” on a person’s vision occurs.

CELIA: That makes sense. Monitoring a situation before gaining full control to decide how to act once you have it.

CHANG: Mmm. Indeed.

CELIA: Now looking at this as a whole, the site, the biological data, the events that have occurred thus far, as well as putting into play ideas and information passed on by Ben, Hollister, Kathy and others, this is what I believe we are dealing with:

What the Proximans developed here is some sort of nanite-based hivemind. I believe its purpose is as a weapon intended to disrupt or devastate a population. These nanites, once deployed on a planet or colony or base, would result in the people being converted to members of this hive-mind. In the case of smaller holdings, that would likely mean that the entire town or settlement or facility would be overrun, and removed as a problem for the Proximans. In the case of an entire planet, chaos would be sown, with the unaffected population forced to divert energy and resources to deal with the problem on their doorstep, reducing or eradicating their ability to wage war.

CHANG: That’s a nasty way to win a war. What could possibly drive them to do something so…barbaric?

CELIA:I agree. But right now, that’s not my concern. I’m less worried about why this thing exists as I am worried about what to do about it. Currently, we believe it is spread via touch. Having reviewed all the events that occurred when the Nabonidus crew returned, I note that some of them grappled with Hudson Desha, though his assailant wore gloves, and later Private Swanson. They pulled at his gear and probably got it loose. Almost immediately afterwards, they surrendered and complied with Captain Francis’ orders. At the time, Francis felt this was a result of him threatening the members of Nabonidus who were carrying the containers they retrieved from the as yet undiscovered secondary site.

However, it is my belief that they did so because they felt they did not have the upper hand in the situation, but having successfully passed nanites to the marines they soon would.

CHANG: Which explains why only the marines were initially affected. They were spending less time with the rest of us while focused on the security of the Nabonidus crew.

CELIA: Yes. And there may have been some design involved. Strategically, the marines were more useful at that time.

CHANG: Yes. True.

CELIA: I do not have hard data on some of the following conjecture, but am drawing this from what we have observed and what others have noted. The weapon appears to have been developed in such a way as to be able to configure itself to different species, even ones that the Proximans had no familiarity with.

CHANG: Well, they had no reason to design this to attack us.

CELIA: Exactly. At the time this was created, we’d only had the printing press a century or so. We were hardly a threat to a species who could create nanotechnology this advanced. This doesn’t seem like something you would create to attack someone technologically inferior to you.

CHANG: Are you speculating on a species more advanced than The Proximans?

CELIA: Again, that is far too big a question for right now, though it remains a possibility. But, as you say, it wasn’t designed for us, and yet has adapted itself to us. I believe there may be several stages in this process. I cannot currently do further testing on the…remains of Meisner and Duong, but I would wager that after doing enough to gain basic control over the two of them and Hollister, the nanites piloted them to that place beyond the second door in order to…properly configure themselves to humans.

CHANG: Effectively they became a combination of laboratory and test subject. The location would suggest that heat might be a factor in that process.

CELIA: It is much warmer in that room than anywhere else save the main storage area below, which they could not access.

CHANG: So, Duong and Meisner were…consumed in that process, perhaps incubating a new and improved version of the nanites, and then Hollister…spread it?

CELIA: I believe so. The multi-stage aspect of this is also evident in the use of two sites and the speculation by Hollister that the cylinders taken from the other site were different from the original ones here. Kathy has also observed that the…possessed as she calls them do seem more physically capable and coordinated now than in earlier footage we have of them.

CHANG: And there is also the idea that Hollister floated – that the work is not complete and for some reason the possessed now need access to the vault to finish it.

CELIA: Yes. Again, speculative, but it supports the idea that this is a kind of bioweapon intended to ensure that anyone threatening The Proximans could be incapacitated and forced to fight themselves.

Of course, I realise that it is to myself and Chang that everyone will be turning for a solution. There are only really two things that we have in our favour on that score.

CHANG: The second site, and Johann Mueller.

CELIA: Indeed. The former will almost certainly contain useful information if we can safely get to it. And Johann Mueller, if Kathy’s recent conversations with him are any indication, was almost certainly exposed to these nanites and yet, as near as can be determined, appears unharmed, unless his state of mind when he was found is related to the nanites attempts to control him.

CHANG: And I do want to point out, if touch is as important a part of this as we believe, in the course of his treatment I had contact with him more than once. It was unavoidable, given how strongly he was reacting when first captured. I wore gloves, but we had no reason to suspect anything communicable at that time.

CELIA: Yes, which also suggests he is not a carrier of the nanites either. He’s a dead end. But why?

CHANG: There are a number of possibilities, but I too can only speculate without doing more testing. But there was that redacted information in his file. It turned out that he had some youthful indiscretions involving a street drug known as Rapture. Now I’m no expert in neurology but I am aware it’s not like the many legal designer narcotics and hallucinogens available in the wake of decriminalisation. It’s cheap, easily created, and can have a major impact on brain chemistry. Some of the damage can be permanent.

CELIA: So, your supposition is that whatever changed in his brain, it made enough difference that the nanites couldn’t…latch on?

CHANG: Possibly. It is the only way I am currently aware that Johann could be different.

CELIA: It would also suggest that the nanites need to draw something from the body itself in order to create and maintain their network bundles, and without that missing component they couldn’t…

CHANG: Take root?

CELIA: Something like that. Well, there it is Jennifer. We have some conclusions and several lines of inquiry to pursue. What we don’t have is the ability to move freely in order to pursue them.

CHANG: I think it’s time to check in with Barnes. See how the plan to slip a few of us out of here is going.

CELIA: Yes. So, this is where I will leave it for today. End report.

[Computer Chime: End of Entry]

COMPUTER: Entry 5. Military Search and Rescue Report.


[In the background the sound of marines opening cases, removing items and placing them in bags can be heard]

FRANCIS: Commence report: What’s left of Captain Francis reporting.

I am compromised. Repeat, I am compromised. I am no longer in control of my body. To the best of my knowledge, no member of my team is. We are all under the same control as the members of the Nabonidus crew. I should have seen this coming. That moment in my last report, when I restarted recording – in hindsight that was a lot like what was noted about Victor Hollister and the others before they were all taken over. Some of the squad were also a bit…clumsy, when I did the rounds later that evening. But I didn’t put it together. If I had, I could have ordered all of us to contain ourselves, even as a precaution. But now, it’s too late. The irony is, I had been reviewing the request to provide a nanite sample that came in my last briefing packet.

And now I am a nanite sample.

I was taking a short nap when it happened. I’d needed a break, but wanted to get in one more sweep for the night before actually getting some proper rack time. I’d had my people in a heightened state of alert because of what Kelleher told me. It seemed a long shot, that these people were going to be able to do anything from where they were, but I wanted to be extra vigilant just in case.

We should’ve been looking a little closer to home.

When I woke I wasn’t in the chair anymore, I was already on the move. I could hear others around me, other marines. We were in the storage hangar, already freeing prisoners. I tried to fight back, but it’s not even an arm wrestle. There’s no sense you can resist the motion, push back against the impulses or will your limbs to still. You’re simply not involved in the decisions being made by your body.

Unsurprisingly, all hell broke loose. We surged out from The Nabonidus compound, into Herodotus. As near as I could tell, my marines and I were the front lines. We dragged people from their beds, brought them kicking and screaming back to members of Nabonidus. Held them down while the Nabonidus people laid hands on them, then dragged them off to the isolation chambers where we’d been holding Nabonidus to wait until they turned. I guess, however this works, we were too newly made to be able to do to them what had been done to us. Not then anyway. Probably now, I would imagine.

I think I’d already repeated the process three times before the alarm was raised. From then on we weren’t as successful. People were ready for us. Ran from us. I nearly got the group that was with Kelleher, but they had enough presence of mind to lock themselves in. And however Barnes went about pulling people out and getting them to the mine worked perfectly. I think I was in the furthest reaches of the Herodotus compound before I was stopped and sent off there, so they must have done an excellent job at evading detection long enough to get most of them safe.

After that we stood outside the mine. Just waiting. I don’t think I’ve managed to remain that still, even on a parade ground at attention. It wasn’t until Trinh tried to get my attention. Tried to speak to me that I remembered. I still had control of my voice. And more to the point, I’d taken a nap while wearing tactical gear, including my coms unit, which I’ve always kept voice activated to keep my hands free to hold a weapon. I was able to contact Barnes, let her know that I was still able to communicate. Able to record this message to advise you of my status. Able to advise her of our general disposition and deployment and give updates over the last few days. I asked that she not tell me anymore than she must about their plans, just in case these nanites are able to understand what we’re talking about.

And now I am able to relay the following, which I’ve also just reported to Barnes. Just like I don’t think we were able to pass on these nanites to other people, I think it takes a while for the nanites to get fully entrenched in things like uh…memory and skills of people they pilot. Because we’ve stood around for close to 48 hours, but a quarter hour ago, that changed.

Right now, I am watching my hands as they are made to open the containers of hardware we brought with us on this mission. Ordinance and tactical explosives. I’ve given Barnes all the warning I can. Made a few suggestions about what she might try to do to stop or slow us.

Because we’re coming.

In an hour, maybe two we will breach the mine. After that, I imagine things will get messy.

God help us all.

[Computer Chime: End of Entry]

COMPUTER: End Status Report 6.

[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.

LUCILLE: Lucille Valentine as Janine Hattersley.

JORDAN: Jordan Cobb as Kathy Winters.

ASHA: Asha Lloyd as Indira Raju.

JERRON: Jerron Bacat as Johann Mueller.

CHRIS: Chris Magilton as Ben Kelleher.

ANDREY: Andrey Dragovich as Klymenko.

TAREK: Tarek Esaw as Hudson.

EDWYN: Edwyn Tiong as Remy.

KARIM: Karim Kronfli as Victor Hollister.

SHAKIRA: Shakira Searle as Dr Celia Pennella.

ALEX: Alex Chew as Dr Chang.

OLIVER: Oliver Smith as Captain Francis.

DEVIN: Devin Madson as The Computer.

COMPUTER ANNOUNCEMENT: The work of the Eudoxus Initiative is made possible by generous research grants from our patrons. Thank you to our most recent patron: Brandon. If you too 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 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.]