Graduation Day – Episode 3 – Trapped in the Zoo


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Below we present the complete text of Trapped in the Zoo, episode 3 of our new Space Opera; Graduation Day. This is a brand new (unpublished) series (and introduces two brand new characters ;Sarah Tanner and Jeff Chase). If you would like to see these new stories advance from being drafts into polished publications then please consider supporting us by purchasing one or more of our previously published titles. Every sale directly funds the production of new stories.

Space Opera - SO001 - Graduation Day

Space Opera – SO001 – Graduation Day

SCENE 14:    INT – RETURNING FROM THE HULL – LATER
(MARSHALL, SELFRIDGE, SARAH, JEFF)

  1. MUSIC: OPENING THEME – LET IT FINISH.
  2. NARRATOR: Having successfully smuggled themselves onto the huge Pirate battle station, Sarah and Jeff now try to get the transmitter in place in order to summon the fleet of the Solar Patrol.
  3. SOUND: HUM OF STATION – ESTABLISH AND UNDER.
  4. JEFF: Well, that went pretty well.  We reached the hull and managed to set the transmitter in place, all without being spotted.
  5. SARAH: Don’t jinx it.
  6. JEFF: Why?  What could possibly go wrong?
  7. SOUND: BEEP AND CRACKLE OF COMMUNICATOR – LET IT FINISH.
  8. SARAH: Damn it, Jeff!
  9. MARSHALL: (DISTORTED OVER COMMUNICATOR) Captain, it’s Marshall. Are you receiving me?
  10. SOUND: BEEP – LET IT FINISH.
  11. SARAH: This had better be an emergency. I’m receiving you. Over.
  12. SOUND: BEEP – LET IT FINISH.
  13. MARSHALL: (DISTORTED OVER COMMUNICATOR) We’ve tripped some kind of silent alarm. Patrols are converging on us from all over the place. Over.
  14. SOUND: BEEP – LET IT FINISH.
  15. SARAH: Can you get out of there? Over.
  16. SOUND: BEEP – LET IT FINISH.
  17. MARSHALL: (DISTORTED OVER COMMUNICATOR) We can try. Everything is set up to boost the transmitter signal and Selfridge has found a data cache that would tell the fleet everything they need to know and then some. Over.
  18. SOUND: BEEP – LET IT FINISH.
  19. SARAH: Getting that data out has to be our top priority.  I take it you can’t risk transmitting it out? Over.
  20. SOUND: BEEP – LET IT FINISH.
  21. SELFRIDGE: (DISTORTED OVER COMMUNICATOR) Not a chance, there’s too much data and the signal would go from a background transmission that, hopefully, no-one will pay attention to, to something that the station would certainly detect and jam. Over.
  22. SOUND: BEEP – LET IT FINISH.
  23. SARAH: Copy that.  I’ll create a diversion and try to draw the patrols away from you, or at least clear the way back down to the main conduit tunnel we were in earlier.  I’m sending Jeff down to meet you. Over.
  24. JEFF: Now, hold on just one…
  25. SARAH: Jeff, there isn’t time.  That data has to be our top priority.  Without it, the weapons on this space station could well destroy the incoming fleet before they properly understand what they are up against.
  26. SOUND: BEEP – LET IT FINISH.
  27. MARSHALL: (DISTORTED OVER COMMUNICATOR) Copy that. But whatever you’re going to do, you’d better do it quickly.  They’re closing in fast. Over and out.
  28. JEFF: So, what are you going to do?
  29. SARAH: I brought some C4 (SEE FOUR) with me in my backpack.  I’ll create an explosion.  Hopefully it will be sufficient to draw them away.
  30. JEFF: This is a terrible plan.
  31. SARAH: (SOBERLY) I know. (BEAT) If I don’t come back, get the technicians out of here.  And see the data gets back to fleet command.
  32. JEFF: Sure thing.  I try to make sure I do two impossible things before breakfast each day. (BEAT) How stupid do you think I am?
  33. SARAH: What do you mean?
  34. JEFF: I know you’re not coming back, Sarah.
  35. SARAH: Then you already know why.  If they don’t find someone they’ll keep looking until they do.  The robots will have to capture someone, if only to give that data a chance of getting out to the fleet.  I’ll just have to convince them that I’m working alone.
  36. JEFF: ..
  37. SARAH: Just go.  Now!
  38. MUSIC: TIME PASSING SCENE ENDER – LET IT FINISH.

SCENE 15: INT – NEAR SOME IMPORTANT LOOKING MACHINERY – MOMENTS LATER
(SARAH)

  1. SOUND: HUM OF STATION – ESTABLISH AND UNDER.
  2. SARAH: Okay, that’s the charges set.  Hopefully destroying these junction cables will make enough of an explosion to disrupt the entry point for ships coming into the station.  That way the lone saboteur defense will at least seem plausible.
  3. SOUND: REPEATING BEEP OF TIMER. ESTABLISH AND UNDER.
  4. SARAH: Now to “accidentally” walk into a patrol.  (BEAT) I’d better ditch this communicator first, though.  It’s a bit like wearing a billboard around my neck saying that I have confederates. (BEAT) There.  That should place it inside the blast radius.  Now to get myself out.
  5. SOUND: SARAH RUNS OFF – FADE OUT.
  6. MUSIC: NEUTRAL SCENE ENDER – LET IT FINISH.

SCENE 16:    INT – SPACE STATION CORRIDOR – MOMENTS LATER
(ROBOT #1, ROBOT #2, SARAH)

  1. SOUND: HUM OF STATION – ESTABLISH AND UNDER.
  2. SOUND: MARCHING ROBOT BOOTS – FADE UP AND DUCK UNDER.
  3. ROBOT #1: Approaching source of alarm. Preparing scan.
  4. SOUND: DISTANT EXPLOSION – LET IT FINISH.
  5. SOUND: RATTLE OF ROBOTS – WITH ABOVE.
  6. ROBOT #1: Explosion in Sector AA-37. Possible Saboteur. Redirecting patrols to investigate.
  7. SOUND: RUNNING (HUMAN) FOOTSTEPS APPROACHING – FADE UP AND HALT.
  8. SARAH: Oh, no.
  9. ROBOT #1: Halt. Intruder alert. Set weapons to stun.
  10. SARAH: I’ve got to take Admiral Ferris’ pill… damn I dropped it.
  11. SOUND: LASER FIRE (ONE SHOT) – LET IT FINISH.
  12. SARAH: (GROANS) Ugh.
  13. SOUND: BODY DROP – LET IT FINISH.
  14. ROBOT #1: Collect the intruder for transfer to Captive Porcessing. Analysis?
  15. ROBOT #2: No communication equipment. No weapons. Minimal life signs.
  16. ROBOT #1: Conclusion?
  17. ROBOT #2: 98% probability this female is a patrol operative sent to infiltrate the station. There is only a 58% probability she is alone.
  18. ROBOT #1: Continue the search.
  19. SARAH: .. if I can just reach the… pill. (BEAT) got it! (GULPS)
  20. SOUND: MARCHING ROBOT FEET – FADE OUT.
  21. MUSIC: OMINOUS SCENE ENDER – LET IT FINISH.

SCENE 17:    INT – SURGERY – LATER
(SARAH, ROBOT DOCTOR#1, ROBOT OVERLORD)

  1. SOUND: HUM OF SPACESTATION – ESTABLISH AND UNDER
  2. ROBOT OVERLORD: Doctor Filzion, Report!
  3. ROBOT DOCTOR#1: (FEARFUL AND NERVOUS THROUGHOUT) Overlord Klimz. We have attempted to attach two control devices to her spine without success.
  4. ROBOT OVERLORD: What conclusion have you drawn regarding the reason?
  5. ROBOT DOCTOR#1: The subject’s neural and nervous system seems to have undergone massive trauma and disruption.
  6. ROBOT OVERLORD: The subject is defective?
  7. ROBOT DOCTOR#1: Yes, Overlord Klimz. Such would appear to be the case.
  8. ROBOT OVERLORD: Calculating.   Confirm this is the case using nerve based pain induction.
  9. ROBOT DOCTOR#1: This may compromise the subject’s cerebral integrity.
  10. ROBOT OVERLORD: We must be certain.
  11. ROBOT DOCTOR#1: And when it is done? How will we dispose of the body?
  12. ROBOT OVERLORD: If it remains functional, place it in the zoo. It may be useful for breeding experimentation. If not, jettison it into space.
  13. ROBOT DOCTOR#1: Yes, Overlord Klimz.
  14. MUSIC: TIME PASSING – LET IT FINISH.
  15. ROBOT OVERLORD: Does the subject show any response to pain?
  16. ROBOT DOCTOR#1: Reflex responses, such as screaming, muscle convulsions, and shock etc. are still present.  Autonomic functioning remains normal if sub-standard.  Higher brain functions, however, appear scrambled.
  17. ROBOT OVERLORD: Demonstrate.
  18. ROBOT DOCTOR#1: Yes, Overlord Klimz.
  19. SOUND: TORTURE DEVICE WHIRRS UP AND STARTS TO CRACKLE – ESTABLISH AND UNDER.
  20. SARAH: (AT A DISTANCE) (SCREAMS IN PAIN REPEATEDLY) Arrrgh. Arrrrrgh. Ughhhh. – FADE OUT.
  21. MUSIC: TRAGIC SCENE ENDER – LET IT FINISH.

SCENE 18:    INT – THE ZOO – DAYS LATER
(SARAH, TERG, VASH)

  1. SOUND: (WALLA) ZOO NOISES, MURMUR OF ANIMALS AND PEOPLE – FADE UP, ESTABLISH, AND UNDER.
  2. SARAH: (TRYING TO SPEAK) Ngyah, ngh. mmmnf.
  3. TERG: (CULTURED VOICE) Take it easy.  You’re perfectly safe.
  4. VASH: (DERISIVE GRUNT) Hmpf. If you call perfectly safe being locked in a cage waiting to be assigned to an experimental group.
  5. TERG: (ANNOYED) Alright then. You’re relatively safe. (TO VASH) Happy?
  6. VASH: I guess it could be worse.
  7. SARAH: Ergh. Whe… Where… am… I?
  8. TERG: (PLEASED) Look, she’s coming back to herself.
  9. VASH: She may have been better off as a vegetable.
  10. SARAH: .. who are you? Oh no!  You’ve got two heads… and a tail.
  11. VASH: And you’ve only got one.  Think how we feel being stuck in here with such a monster.
  12. TERG: Stop it.  You’re being rude.
  13. VASH: Like I care.
  14. SARAH: (AFRAID) What are you?
  15. TERG: We’re prisoners like you.  I am a Thrilexian.  My name is Terg.  My other head’s name is Vash.
  16. VASH: I can speak for myself, you know.
  17. TERG: We’ve talked about this.  You agreed I’m the more diplomatic head and that I should take the lead in discussions.
  18. VASH: Yeah, I guess.  But I hate it when you talk about me as if I’m not here.
  19. SARAH: I hate to interrupt but…
  20. TERG: My apologies.  You’ve been comatose for a good many cycles. We need to get used to you being awake.
  21. SARAH: I feel like I’ve been run over by something extremely heavy… repeatedly.
  22. TERG: They used pain inducers on you.  I shouldn’t be surprised if there isn’t some lingering ghost pain.
  23. SARAH: I see.
  24. TERG: How did you avoid being implanted with a spinal controller?  Most of your kind have been.
  25. SARAH: (SUDDENLY SUSPICIOUS) Who and what are you, again?
  26. VASH: Ah, look.  She’s coming to herself.
  27. SARAH: She’s right here.
  28. VASH: Don’t get surly with me toots.  If you wanted to keep the fact that you are compus a secret, you probably shouldn’t have started talking.
  29. SARAH: (BEAT)
  30. TERG: It’s all right. We’re not with your captors.  We’re actually prisoners like you.
  31. VASH: Well, not exactly like you.  You don’t secrete enough slime. And we’re a lot better looking.
  32. SARAH: You’re aliens?
  33. TERG: If the word is easier for you.  We’re from Thrilexia, as I said.
  34. SARAH: But no other life has ever been found in our solar system.
  35. VASH: Not very bright is she?
  36. TERG: Give her a few minutes.  She’s only just come to.
  37. SARAH:   You’re telling me, you’re not from my solar system?
  38. TERG: See, now she’s catching on.
  39. SARAH: Then this station, it’s not earth technology.  The pirates aren’t pirates at all…
  40. TERG: That’s right, the “pirates” are the vanguard of an invasion force from elsewhere in the galaxy.
  41. SARAH: But how is this possible?
  42. VASH: These humans do take some time to adjust, don’t they?
  43. TERG: It would appear so.  I guess, we can’t all be genius communicator’s can we?
  44. SARAH: How are we even speaking the same language?
  45. VASH: Hmpf!
  46. TERG: (WARNING) Vash. (TO SARAH) That’s easy enough to answer.  It’s a natural Thrilexian talent.  We can attune ourselves to the brain waves of almost any sentient creatures and communicate with them in their own language.  It makes us natural diplomats.  (BEAT) Though I would like to know how your mind seems to have realigned itself.  When you first came in you were in a vegetative state.  I would have said your brain was permanently scrambled.
  47. SARAH: I think that’ll stay my secret for now.
  48. VASH: (CALLING SARAH A NAME) Suspicious.
  49. TERG: And rightly so.
  50. SARAH: So you can align your brains with that of other beings?
  51. TERG: Pretty much.
  52. SARAH: Well, that goes some way towards explaining why we’re being guarded by robots.
  53. TERG: (HAPPILY) Ah, you really are working things out.
  54. SARAH: How many of you are there?  Can you influence other beings, or merely talk to them?  And what of the galaxy, how many species are there?
  55. TERG: Here, we are the only one.  There were others of course but…
  56. VASH: Oh, just say it.  Our captors killed them all in their labs.  Experimented on ‘em.
  57. TERG:   But let’s leave that alone for the moment, shall we? (BEAT) You asked about our abilities.  Beyond our facility for translation, no we have no capacity to remotely take over minds.  I assume that’s what you were asking?
  58. SARAH:
  59. TERG: As for your other questions, the galaxies are full of different species of life.
  60. VASH: You ugly hairless things weren’t so arrogant as to think you were alone did you?  As if you were the only things in the universe to invent mathematics?
  61. SARAH: We’ve been looking for signs of other life for centuries.
  62. TERG: Yes, well… now you’ve found it.  Or at least it’s found you.
  63. SARAH: You said “galaxies” before.  That means you’ve achieved intersystemic travel.
  64. TERG:   Some of us have.  It takes lifetimes without wormhole technology, but it can be done. Many many thousands of lifetimes in the case of a short-lived species like yours.
  65. VASH: Yeah.  It’s amazing how quickly they’ve jumped from radio signals to splitting atoms to colonizing their solar system.  Blah blah blah.
  66. TERG: Well it is.  It’s an extraordinary achievement.
  67. VASH: A lot of good it did them.  It just brought them to the attention of the Six.
  68. SARAH: The Six?
  69. TERG: A confederation of six races intent on subjugating all life.
  70. VASH: That’s just a fancy way of saying their main interest is slaves.
  71. SARAH: And your people?
  72. TERG: Have long been slaves.
  73. VASH: I told you rebellion was a bad idea.  (TO TERG) He’s always been the idealist.  Dreamed of living free among the stars and signed us up with a rebel group.  Now look at us.
  74. TERG: We’re alive.
  75. VASH: And everyone else.  Everyone we joined up with. All dead.
  76. TERG: (SADLY) Yes.  All dead. We’re the last.
  77. SARAH: I’m sorry.
  78. VASH: Don’t be.  Things are about to get pretty bad for you too.
  79. TERG: Don’t scare the girl.
  80. VASH: She needs to know.
  81. SARAH: I need to know what?
  82. TERG: (RESIGNED) Oh all right.  If they only have one or two specimens in the zoo…
  83. VASH: Particularly if they think you can be used as a breeding pair…
  84. TERG: They tend to leave you alone.  They give you whatever it is you need to eat and drink but otherwise don’t pay a lot of attention.
  85. VASH: But when they’ve got more of you…
  86. TERG: Well, they create experimental groups.  That’s how most of our compatriots were lost.  (BEAT)     In the end only we were left, along with Niahm and Treece.
  87. VASH: They hoped we’d form a breeding pair.
  88. TERG: It was too much for Treece and she killed them.
  89. SARAH: Both of them?
  90. TERG: One head can’t survive without the other.
  91. SARAH: I’m so sorry. But, what has this got to do with me?  Are there more humans here?
  92. TERG: (BEAT) Uh, yes.  Most have been enslaved with spinal controllers.  There are probably a couple of hundred working for the overlord.
  93. SARAH: Okay, overlord?  I’m still playing catch up here.
  94. VASH: Sure, big-words over here is forgettin’ just how primitive your species is.  I’ll break it down for you. (BEAT) The station is a science vessel controlled by the overlord, a robotic minion of the Council of Six.  Its job is to investigate this system and its capabilities as a prelude to invasion.  The piracy is mostly a means of obtaining data on your technical capabilities and the ease with which your species can be controlled.  Turns out, you guys are pretty easy to control through the spinal controllers.  They’ve got a couple of hundred of you working for them on board.  The rest were used as lab rats.  Survival tolerances being the main thing they look into.  Psychological and physical stress management. Genetic modification. And reproduction. Let’s not forget reproduction.
  95. SARAH: Reproduction?
  96. TERG: Yes, they want to keep the supply of slaves going so reproduction is one their keen interests as well.
  97. SARAH: So how many humans are in the zoo?
  98. TERG: Just you at the moment.  You creatures have a tendency to kill yourselves at a substantially higher rate than other species.
  99. SARAH: I see.  (BEAT) So I should be alright for now, right? Or are you concerned about what happens when the next ship is captured?
  100. TERG: Well, yes, there is that.  But, apparently some other humans have been captured already.  Perhaps you know them?
  101. VASH: Three for sure. Though one appears to have been killed.
  102. SARAH: Oh no.
  103. TERG: Now it’s our turn to say we’re sorry.
  104. SARAH: Do you know who…
  105. TERG: We don’t have much to go on at this point.  There’s a Zardasian in one of the cells.  It communicates using radio waves.  But I only end up near enough to align myself to its thoughts and eavesdrop on the radio communications at dawn and dusk.
  106. SARAH: Dawn and dusk?  This is an artificial environment.
  107. TERG: True, but we all (mostly) function on cycles of night and day.  They move the cages around to approximate the day and night cycle of each species.  You’ve been put in here with us because, apparently, your day and night cycle is close to ours. During the dawn and dusk portion of our day cycle the cage is moved and passes that of the Zardasian.
  108. SARAH: So when were my friends captured?
  109. VASH: Two day cycles ago at the most.
  110. SARAH:   Then it was all for nothing.
  111. VASH: What do you mean?
  112. SARAH: I let myself get captured to give the others a chance to get away.
  113. VASH: What’s so special about them?
  114. TERG: (SHOCKED) Vash!
  115. SARAH: No, it’s alright.  We managed to get technical readouts of the station.  I was hoping they’d find a way out and get the information back to Earth’s fleet.
  116. TERG: We’re sorry.
  117. VASH: Speak for yourself.
  118. TERG AND SARAH: What?
  119. VASH: You can be as polite as you like about it Terg, but the humans are next on the menu for the Council of Six and that’s probably a good thing.  They are primitive, aggressive, diverse, individualistic and, at the same time inclined to behave like a herd.  The universe is better off without them.  If they’d been allowed to develop they might have ended up being recruited into the council.  We’d have a council of seven and this, at least, will save us that.
  120. TERG: You don’t know that.
  121. VASH:   Of course I do.  They have all the traits that the council look for in their minions.  They are ruthless, vicious, and often petty.  You saw how they turned on each other in the cages.  They would betray each other to avoid being experimented on in the labs.
  122. SARAH: They probably wanted to survive.
  123. VASH: See?  She even attempts to justify it.
  124. SARAH: The way you’re talking I’m tempted to leave you behind when I bust out of here.  Humans can be craven, weak and vicious, true. But they can also be noble, self-sacrificing, and altruistic.  You know very little about us as a species.
  125. TERG: She’s right.
  126. VASH: Oh no. No. No. No. I know how idealistic you get.  The last time landed us here.  We are not getting involved in another misguided attempt at rebellion.  I ain’t gonna put up with it.
  127. MUSIC: TIME PASSING SCENE ENDER – LET IT FINISH.
  128. MUSIC: CLOSING THEME AND CREDITS – LET IT FINISH.

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Graduation Day