Below we present the complete text of “Briefings”, episode 1 of our new Space Opera; Singularity. This is a brand new (unpublished) series (featuring Sarah Tanner and Jeff Chase).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.
EPISODE #1 – BRIEFINGS
by Philip Craig Robotham
Cover Illustration by Miyukiko
Copyright 2016 Philip Craig Robotham
Creative Commons Attritubution Non-Commercial No Derivatives (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0) Edition .
This play is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial No Derivatives (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0) International license. This play may not be commercially reproduced, performed, or sold. Non-commercial production, performance, and reproduction is allowed under this license so long as attribution is maintained. No derivative content or use is allowed. It can be freely shared in its current form (without change) under this license. If you would like to purchase one or more copies of this work (for your own personal non-commercial use, or to help financially support the author) then please return to http://www.weirdworlstudios.com and purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.
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Serial #3: Singularity
Sarah Tanner, Jeff Chase, and their interspecies team of alien crewmen have been placed in charge of the latest dreadnaught to be added to the fleet of the Solar Patrol. Charged with protecting Earth’s precious supply of the mineral essential to enable the use of wormhole technology they set out for Vega Station, the asteroid mining and research station where the ore is obtained. On arrival they find the station has been destroyed, but that those who worked there had also uncovered a key scientific breakthrough that could alter the outcome of the ongoing war with the Council of Six. Desperate to get the data safely back to earth, their ship is set upon by a pirate fleet and blasted into an alternate space that is home to a hostile intelligence. In order to get home with the data our heroes will need to survive encounters on the edge of a black hole, fight robotic surgeons, engage in a contest of wills with a dangerous artificial intelligence, and resist a new and insidious form of technological mind control. Can they escape from the starless space into which they have been thrust and return home with their discoveries intact? Tune in to “Alone in a starless sky” and be astonished as an ancient alien space-station is revealed to hold the key to the survival and victory of the human species.
Episodes in the Host Your Own “Old Time Radio Drama” series are designed to provide a fun dinner party experience for 6–8 participants. Read along, taking on the role of one or more of the characters in the story, and listen as the exciting drama unfolds. This is the theater of the mind, where the special effects are only limited by your imagination, and your participation will build a memory that you’ll treasure for years to come.
NARRATOR: The Narrator
ADMIRAL FERRIS: Head of the Intelligence Directorate of the Solar Patrol
ADMIRAL ARBUTHNOT: Blustering and easily led Admiral
ADMIRAL JENNINGS: Corrupt Admiral
ADMIRAL TAYLOR: Fair minded ally of Admiral Ferris
SARAH TANNER: Captain in the Intelligence Directorate
JEFF CHASE: Lieutenant in the Intelligence Directorate
LOGAN SMOOT: Self involved (wannabe) suitor of Sarah.
TECHNICIAN: Communications technician
SFX: SFX operator (1 required)
Scene 1 – Int – Admiralty – Day (Admiral Ferris, Admiral Arbuthnot, Admiral Jennings, Admiral Taylor)
1. MUSIC: OPENING THEME LET IT FINISH.
2. NARRATOR: In the dimly lit recesses of the Directorate, the headquarters of Solar Patrol’s intelligence division, a hastily arranged meeting is about to take place. In this meeting nothing less than the survival of the human race as a free species (in the face of the continuing invasion attempts by the mysterious alien Council of Six) is the topic of discussion.
3. SOUND: WHIR AND HISS OF PNEUMATIC DOOR OPENING – LET IT FINISH.
4. SOUND: FOOTSTEPS AND CHAIRS BEING DRAWN UP AROUND TABLE – LET IT FINISH.
5. ADMIRAL FERRIS: I apologize for gathering the three of you in such hurried circumstances. We have some important issues to discuss.
6. ADMIRAL ARBUTHNOT: (GRUFFLY) Get to the point, Ferris. I haven’t got all day.
7. ADMIRAL JENNINGS: (SNEERING) You always were a blunt instrument, Arbuthnot…
8. ARBUTHNOT: Hmpf!
9. JENNINGS: But you do have a point.
10. ADMIRAL TAYLOR: Arbuthnot? Jennings? Can we put our general rivalry aside for one moment and allow Admiral Ferris to explain why he has gathered all four Fleet Admirals for such an unusual meeting? You aren’t about to propose a coup are you?
11. FERRIS: (ANNOYED) No, I’m not. I wish to discuss two issues with you. Both matters of significant import for Earth’s security.
12. JENNINGS: Well, I wouldn’t expect anything less to draw our chief spy out into the light. I can’t remember the last time you actually called a joint meeting.
13. FERRIS: Then I’ll get to the point. The pirates are back. We began losing small trading vessels about a month ago. No-one flagged it at first since a lot of ships try to fly off the grid in interplanetary trade.
14. ARBUTHNOT: Not a lot of money to be made in interplanetary trade if you’re honest. The expense of maintaining and running a ship is too high. Lots of captains fail to log flight plans or, even if they do, they doctor them to hide their real travel plans.
15. FERRIS: Exactly. But three days ago, a class three supply ship was hit. It was on its way to resupply Vega station.
16. TAYLOR: (SHOCKED) And we’re just hearing about this now?
17. FERRIS: I only heard about it myself this morning.
18. JENNINGS: (DRIPPING WITH SARCASM) Another fine example of how well spent the intelligence budget is.
19. FERRIS: Be that as it may. If the supply ship was heading for Vega, that means the enemy may now be fully aware of the station and it’s strategic importance.
20. JENNINGS: And your point is?
21. FERRIS: My point, gentlemen, is this; now that we have the capacity to build ships with wormhole drives, we must supply those ships with the elements needed to create those wormholes. At present our only supply of the element we are calling C comes from the Vega mining station, a station so far from our solar system that it takes three successive jumps to reach it. We must secure our supply against piracy to have any real chance of staying in this fight, and right now that security is under threat.
22. TAYLOR: I see. And I take it you have a solution in mind.
23. FERRIS: A proposal, at any rate. I suggest we need a mobile battle station. Something in the order of the pirate base that my people destroyed when we discovered the extent of the pirate threat. It would serve as a staging platform for the deployment of our fleet and would have the capacity to use wormhole technology to travel to and from points of military engagement almost instantly.
24. JENNINGS: A battle station? Have you taken leave of what little wits you used to possess?
25. ARBUTHNOT: Madness! Just think of the money involved!
26. TAYLOR: I’m inclined to hear you out, Ferris. But I admit that you’ll need to make a strong case for that kind of an investment.
27. FERRIS: The survival of our planet as a free people isn’t enough?
28. ARBUTHNOT: How dare you! We are all interested in the survival of our planet.
29. TAYLOR: That was a low blow, my friend. We have limited resources and need to make the best possible use of them in this war.
30. JENNINGS: What war? We’ve precious little real intelligence to go on regarding this threat. Second hand accounts from less than reputable alien species.
31. FERRIS: And several well coordinated attacks on our defences aimed at crippling us…
32. JENNINGS: That we succeeded in driving back. Lives were lost, true, but we won. We are clearly the stronger adversary in this…
33. FERRIS: Now, who’s talking madness? We nearly lost the entirety of our military command structure and our fleet capability in those two sneak attacks. We have a dangerous and, to this point, invisible enemy, whose engagements thus far have been little more than tentative probings of our defenses, minor jabs, if you will… and they’ve come perilously close to defeating us without our being able to land a single retaliatory blow. The main strike, when it comes, will be calculated to be a killing blow. The alien refugees…
34. JENNINGS: (DERISIVE) Pshft.
35. FERRIS: …have provided us with intelligence of a galaxy spanning empire of unimaginable power, one which has discovered us and decided we should be their next target of conquest.
36. JENNINGS: You know as well as I do that these “refugees” have every reason to exaggerate their circumstances in order to find safe harbour.
37. FERRIS: I have often suspected you of being a fool, Jennings, but every once in a while you open your mouth and put the matter beyond dispute.
38. JENNINGS: (MOCKING LAUGH) Hmpf.
39. TAYLOR: Before this degenerates further, Ferris, can you give us the breakdown of your proposal?
40. FERRIS: (CALMING BREATH) Yes, of course. In front of you is a copy of the proposal, classified of course, it provides a complete breakdown of the costs and objectives relating to the construction of a battle station if you turn to page (FADE OUT).
41. FERRIS: (FADE IN) And so you can see, both in terms of reasoning and costs, the proposal is a compelling one. We have to develop an effective offensive as well as defensive capability. At the moment we have neither. We don’t have a secure enough supply of the elements needed to drive the construction of a full scale fleet of wormhole capable offensive ships. We haven’t even the capacity for anything short of creating a defensive ring of ships around a few key worlds in this solar system using traditional drives. A defensive war is a losing war. We must secure the supply of wormhole drive elements and give our fleet the capacity to jump through space. A mobile battlestation, capable of carrying the fleet would accomplish these objectives.
42. ARBUTHNOT: (GRUFFLY) You make a surprisingly compelling case, Ferris. But I still have some concerns.
43. FERRIS: Yes?
44. ARBUTHNOT: While it would greatly increase our capacity, I can’t help feeling that it puts all of our eggs in one basket. We could, as you point out, use the station to transport our conventional fleet from point to point… but, were it to be destroyed, that would be the end of us.
45. FERRIS: True, but I am only suggesting this as a stop-gap measure, until we can secure a wormhole capable fleet.
46. JENNINGS: No, I am in agreement with Arbuthnot. This solution is too risky. I will not support it.
47. FERRIS: And you, Taylor? What’s your view on this?
48. TAYLOR: (HESITANT AND DIPLOMATIC) I… appreciate… the importance of our situation, the peril that we face, and the need to achieve a strong offensive capability as quickly as possible…
49. FERRIS: But?
50. TAYLOR: But, I’m inclined to agree with the others. Your proposal is highly resource intensive, would necessarily reduce our investment in the construction of a wormhole capable offensive fleet, and increases the risk, however temporarily, that our fleet could be destroyed by a single engagement.
51. FERRIS: So, I’m outvoted then.
52. TAYLOR: Yes, but I have a counter proposal. One that may satisfy you.
53. FERRIS: Go on…
54. TAYLOR: Build a wormhole capable dreadnaught class ship, something that could act as a kind of carrier craft, but would not make an unacceptable dent in our resources or program of fleet construction. It could be deployed to protect the supply of essential minerals and could be easily redeployed if another attack occurred.
55. FERRIS: No, this is not even close to what we need to…
56. JENNINGS: It is the best you are going to get, Ferris. It’s either this or nothing.
57. ARBUTHNOT: You may not like it, Ferris. But even you can see that something is better than nothing.
58. FERRIS: (SIGHS) Alright, but I want my objections to be included in the record.
59. JENNINGS: (SNEERING) Done. (BEAT) But this wasn’t the only order of business you wished to bring to our attention.
60. FERRIS: Hmmm? Oh, yes. We need to discuss the approach we should be taking with our latest guests.
61. JENNINGS: (DARKLY) Yes. The Arcturans. If I had my way, we’d expell them into deep space and leave them to rot.
62. FERRIS: I’m aware of what your own intelligence arm have been telling you, Jennings.
63. TAYLOR: (SHOCKED) You’ve been spying on us! This is the exact reason we’ve had to develop our own intelligence arms.
64. JENNINGS: (BELLIGERANT) Your intelligence gathering, Ferris, has been less than satisfactory for some time. If I felt the need to take an interest in matters myself, it’s is only because of your continuing failures. Quis custodiet ipsos Custodes?
65. ARBUTHNOT: (GRUFF) Stop showing off.
66. FERRIS: That you would be quoting Juvenal is the height of absurdity. You are both the embodiment of and the justification for those words.
67. JENNINGS: You’ve been keeping things from us regarding that race of snakes though, haven’t you?
68. TAYLOR: What do you mean?
69. JENNINGS: There have been three attempted coups on Arcturus since they brought their planet into orbit around our sun. Ferris’ department has quietly scotched five seperate attempts by the Snakes to organise a takeover of the solar alliance.
70. TAYLOR: Is this true?
71. FERRIS: (BORED) In so far as it goes.
72. TAYLOR: Why haven’t you said anything?
73. FERRIS: I was about to, before Jennings pre-empted me.
74. JENNINGS: And stopped you from spinning us another web of nonsense. Are you going to deny that these “refugees” constitute a serious threat?
75. FERRIS: Not at all. They are larger, stronger, technologically well in advance of our current capabilities, aggressive, arrogant, secretive, warlike and, since they moved their planet most of the way across the galaxy, … here. That Jennings has undertaken a ham-fisted attempt at spying on them has escalated the risks involved in achieving their integration into the solar alliance.
76. ARBUTHNOT: Integration! You must be insane.
77. FERRIS: Have you forgotten that it is the Arcturans who have placed wormhole technology in our hands, along with a slew of new weapons and medical advances? We need this race as an ally.
78. JENNINGS: Do we? My sources inform me that they have been actively seeking to undermine the alliance in preparation for a coup.
79. FERRIS: Your sources are barely competant and fueled by paranoia.
80. JENNINGS: You deny their presentation of the facts then?
81. FERRIS: Not as such…
82. JENNINGS: Ha!
83. FERRIS: But, I utterly repudiate the simplistic analysis and lack of nuance of your amateurs.
84. ARBUTHNOT: Now, steady on!
85. FERRIS: Imagine for a moment, that I decided to deploy my own special forces into an active war zone, Arbuthnot. What would you conclude?
86. ARBUTHNOT: Hmpf!
87. FERRIS: It would be a catastrophe! If nothing else, I would like this meeting to acknowledge the danger presented by the amateur meddling in intelligence matters that Admiral Jennings’ little adventure represents.
88. TAYLOR: We can deal with that as a separate matter. For now, bring us up to speed on what is going on with the Arcturans.
89. FERRIS: Alright. Jennings is correct in so far as it goes. The Snakes are an inherently volatile mix of aggression and classic social stratification. Those that live longest, whether by force of size and strength, or intellect, dominate the rest. As a society they are highly competitive and seize any opportunity to gain advantage over one another and those around them. They also have a tendency to avoid cooperation (a significant factor) working independently to build power bases of dominance that form some protection against sources of threat around them. This creates a paradoxically stable and constantly shifting political situation.
90. JENNINGS: (DRILY) As we’ve discovered.
91. FERRIS: Further, as Jennings has made you aware, discussions among the snakes have been taking place at all levels of Arcturan society regarding the possibility of subjugating the solar alliance. These discussions are driven by a cultural predilection for dominating others wherever possible, and by a worldview that sees this as the natural order of things. These discussions have resulted in numerous attempted coups and uprisings (usually by younger members of the population).
92. JENNINGS: And this is of no consequence to you, I take it?
93. FERRIS: What your team of idiots don’t have the benefit of, is the historical, psychological and sociological profiling provided by my department and its experts. Snake psychology is… complex… to say the least. They are in an almost constant state of potential and actual civil war. However, they are also incredibly individualistic and adaptable.
94. TAYLOR: Individualistic, how?
95. FERRIS: A good question. They gain cooperation through force or threat, but those at the top survive by constant adaptation and accommodation. An interesting combination of traits, no?
96. ARBUTHNOT: No! I’m waiting for you to get to a point.
97. FERRIS: Alright. Since making participation in the Solar Alliance conditional upon the end of the class system, the introduction of parliamentary practices, and other innovations, we’ve seen some marked changes in the social psychology of the species overall.
98. TAYLOR: Meaning?
99. FERRIS: Meaning this potential enemy is changing, dramatically, and quickly, as it comes into contact with new ideas and social customs. The underlying, almost feudal, nature of the species isn’t modifying one iota, but the practices and modes of social behavior are going through widespread and radical change… change that is being accommodated with surprising ease. This presents both risks and opportunities.
100. JENNINGS: What opportunities does this represent? They look like nothing so much as a threat, from where I’m sitting.
101. FERRIS: And that’s as it should be. Despite your pretensions towards sophistication you are, at base, a blunt instrument, Jennings. All our analysis, so far, has indicated the transition to integration into the solar alliance has been remarkably smooth. Projections indicate we should have seen something in the order of thirty five coup attempts and perhaps nine all out attempts to take over the alliance to date. That this has NOT been the case is, I think, VERY instructive.
102. ARBUTHNOT: Great Scott! Just when did you intend to tell us this?
103. FERRIS: Now, Arbuthnot. Jennings, notwithstanding, I intended to let you know about this now.
104. JENNINGS: You mean, I forced your hand, don’t you?
105. FERRIS: Not remotely. But think what you wish.
106. JENNINGS: Then what is the purpose of your disclosure at this time?
107. FERRIS: As I said, contact with the values and cultural practices of the solar alliance have had a surprisingly rapid impact on the social structures and practices of the Arcturan race. It is my belief that closer integration between the Alliance and the snakes will result in even greater change. I propose opening up the membership of the Solar Patrol to Arcturan recruits, especially in the science and infantry divisions.
108. ARBUTHNOT: Are you mad? The risks involved are enormous. We’d be experiencing mutinies throughout our forces.
109. FERRIS: It seems I am being accused of madness a lot today. I have stated repeatedly that we need the expertise of the Arcturans in our fleet. Their participation in the auxiliary forces drawn from the refugee influx is all well and good, but they form a self-governing group within the group and what we need is more integration and assimilation.
110. JENNINGS: I refuse to allow you to play dice with the Alliance’s security arrangements in order to indulge in some kind of idiotic social experiment. There is no way this will be allowed.
111. ARBUTHNOT: Hear! Hear!
112. FERRIS: Well, I see that the tone of the meeting is against me… again. Admiral Taylor… you’ve stayed rather quiet during the proceedings.
113. TAYLOR: Yes, I guess I have. We need the technical knowledge and expertise that the Arcturans can provide. We would also find their size and strength a benefit in our infantry. But there is no denying that their temperament and current political instability makes them a threat. I can’t support the idea of a wholesale opening of the ranks of the Solar Alliance to their membership.
114. FERRIS: They will be demanding such membership themselves sooner rather than later.
115. TAYLOR: True. Perhaps we can head it off?
116. FERRIS: (SUSPICIOUS) How?
117. TAYLOR: Create a consulting group… independent of the fleet, small enough in number to not be a threat, but deployed throughout the fleet to provide scientific advice.
118. FERRIS: I doubt that they would…
119. JENNINGS: Yes… and we could keep an eye on them while harnessing their expertise.
120. ARBUTHNOT: The idea has merit.
121. FERRIS: But…
122. JENNINGS: (SNEERING) It just hasn’t been your day, has it Ferris?
123. FERRIS: I guess not, Jennings. I’ll have to accept the decision of the committee of course, but don’t think that I wont remember this.
124. JENNINGS: (ALMOST GLEEFULL) I would expect nothing less, Ferris. (BEAT) And if there is nothing left to discuss?
125. FERRIS: (BITTER) No. That is all.
126. ARBUTHNOT: Then I’ll let myself out.
127. JENNINGS: Yes. The current atmosphere is hardly conducive to socialising is it?
128. ARBUTHNOT: Oh, shut up, Jennings.
129. SOUND: CHAIRS BEING PULLED OUT – UNDER.
130. FERRIS: Admiral Taylor, may I have a word before you go?
131. JENNINGS: Tut, Tut, Taylor, I think you’re about to get a scolding for your part in upsetting Ferris’ plans this morning.
132. FERRIS: You can show yourself out as well, Jennings.
133. JENNINGS: (MOCKING) Ha. Good day to you gentlemen.
134. SOUND: FOOTSTEPS TO DOOR – OPEN AND CLOSE – LET IT FINISH.
135. FERRIS: (BEAT) Can I offer you a drink?
136. SOUND: TWO DRINKS BEING POURED – LET IT FINISH.
137. TAYLOR: (DRINKS) Mmm. Don’t look so pleased with yourself. It’s unseemly.
138. FERRIS: (DRINKS) Oh, why not? I got everything I wanted.
139. TAYLOR: (EMPHASIZING) We got everything we wanted.
140. FERRIS: True, I couldn’t have done it without you. You played your part to perfection. Jennings would give away the world, if only he thought that in the process he was denying me what I really wanted.
141. TAYLOR: Jennings will be furious when he realizes just how well you played him. You don’t think you’ll be able to get away with it do you?
142. FERRIS: You’re correct of course. Jennings may be vain and corrupt, but he’s no fool. I’m willing to bet that even now he’s replaying our meeting in his head and will have twigged to our little conspiracy by the time he reaches his ship.
143. TAYLOR: Then you should be very careful. He’s a dangerous enemy.
144. FERRIS: Don’t give it another thought. When I said he was corrupt I wasn’t joking. He has been embezzling significant amounts of Admiralty money in the form of kickbacks from contractors. He hasn’t been nearly as clever as he thinks he has covering his tracks and within a month or so I’ll have the evidence necessary to have him replaced.
145. TAYLOR: I see. What about his men? I think you’ve only increased his determination to play at being a spy.
146. FERRIS: When he’s arrested we’ll roll up his little operation and absorb his people back into our own department. Truth be told, he’s actually found a few with some real talent… once they’ve been trained up a bit, of course.
147. TAYLOR: Of course. Well, you’ve got approval for both the dreadnaught and the consulting group, what comes next?
148. FERRIS: We get construction under way immediately, and we get ourselves a trained and capable crew. If we’re going to make use of the weapons and technology provided by the snakes we’ll need to include some of them in that crew, so basically we’re set.
149. TAYLOR: And who do you have in mind to command her?
150. FERRIS: Oh, I think I have just the person in mind. In fact, I think her whole team will be perfect.
151. MUSIC: SCENE ENDER – LET IT FINISH.
Scene 2 – Int – Sarah’s Birth – Night (Sarah Tanner, Jeff Chase)
152. SOUND: ANNOYING BEEP – FADE IN AND CONTINUE UNDER UNTIL 157.
153. SARAH TANNER: Ugh! Dammit. Stop!
154. SOUND: BEEPING CONTINUES
155. SARAH: Go away! I want to sleep.
156. SOUND: BEEPING CONTINUES
157. SARAH: Argh. Alright! Alright. Here I come.
158. SOUND: FOOTSTEPS TO DOOR – LET IT FINISH.
159. SOUND: CLICK AND WHIRR OF DOOR OPENING – LET IT FINISH.
160. JEFF CHASE: (CHEERFUL) Good morning, o’ fearless leader.
161. SARAH: (GROANING) A pox on you and all your hellishly cheerful kind.
162. JEFF: Now is that any way to greet the bearer of glad tidings?
163. SARAH: So help me, Jeff… I’ve barely had three hours sleep. I get how badly we need to protect the supplies coming in from Vega, and, while its true that we’re approaching the pointy end of the construction of the dreadnaught, I still need some sleep if I’m going to function. Now, what do you want?
164. JEFF: It’s not what I want, my Captain. It’s that we have an encoded priority transmission from Vega station, specifically addressed to one Sarah Tanner – there’s even a little heart icon attached.
165. SARAH: Oh you son of a…
166. JEFF: Now, now. I’m simply the messenger here.
167. SARAH: And you wanted to see me squirm first hand.
168. JEFF: Well, there has to be some compensation for drawing the short straw in waking you up.
169. SARAH: You know I’ll find out if you volunteered for this job, don’t you?
170. JEFF: Sure, but for right now it’ll remain a diverting little mystery.
171. SARAH: There are times when I really hate you Jeff. Give me a minute and I’ll join you in the comms office.
172. JEFF: Yes ma’am.
173. SARAH: Ugh.
174. SOUND: CLICK AND AND WHIRR OF DORR CLOSING – LET IT FINISH.
175. MUSIC: SCENE ENDER – LET IT FINISH.
SCENE 3 – Int – Communications Office – Night(Sarah Tanner, Jeff Chase, Logan Smoot)
176. SOUND: WHIRR OF DOOR OPENING – LET IT FINISH.
177. SOUND: (WALLA) MURMUR OF COMMUNICATIONS STAFF – ESTABLISH AND UNDER.
178. JEFF: Ah, you’re here, Captain. Are you sure you want to take this in the communications room?
179. SARAH: Put it through to my panel.
180. JEFF: (TEASING) It’s just that I thought you’d want to take this in private.
181. SARAH: (WARNING) Jeff.
182. JEFF: I could pipe in some soft music…
183. SARAH: (WARNING) Jeff.
184. JEFF: Maybe lower the lights a little…
185. SARAH: (ANGRY) Jeff!
186. JEFF: Yes Ma’am.
187. SARAH: (STILL ANGRY) This is Captain Sarah Tanner of Tallis Shipyard and Base accepting priority transmission from Vega Station.
188. LOGAN SMOOT: (BANTERING) You took your sweet time. Making yourself pretty for me, were you?
189. SARAH: It’s not possible for me to reach down this radio link and pull out your intestines right now, but if I could…
190. LOGAN: Aw, honey. Don’t be like that.
191. SARAH: And don’t call me honey, you demented twit.
192. LOGAN: (HURT) But after all we’ve shared, I figure a pet name or two…
193. SARAH: You asked me out to dinner once. I went. You spent the entire meal talking about yourself and the size of your… accomplishments. I have done everything I could to discourage you since.
194. LOGAN: Aw honey…
195. SARAH: No, Logan. This has got to stop. The cards, the gifts, the late night phone calls… those were annoying enough, but your attempts to invade my life since have crossed the line.
196. LOGAN: But…
197. SARAH: And using the priority transmission system…
198. LOGAN: But you won’t take my calls.
199. SARAH: (EXASPERATED) Take the hint. (BEAT) I don’t want to talk to you, Logan. I’ve encountered exotic diseases with more charm.
200. LOGAN: Look I know you’re mad about being woken up, but if you just got to know me…
201. SARAH: No. You repulse me. I’ve tried to let you down easy, but you are impervious to subtlety. I… don’t… like… you! At all! If you were the last human being in the galaxy I still wouldn’t go out with you. There is simply no room in your life for anyone besides your ego and I refuse to be a trophy. Stop calling!
202. LOGAN: (LONG BEAT) You can’t resist me forever, you know?
203. SARAH: Ugh! What the hell is the pretext for this transmission?
204. LOGAN: What? Oh, yes. I’ve got an update for you. It’s pretty interesting actually.
205. SARAH: Logan!
206. LOGAN: One of our scientists, in the astronomical division, recorded a cluster of six stars and a black hole vanishing.
207. SARAH: What?
208. LOGAN: I thought that would get your interest. They didn’t just fade out, or go super-nova. They vanished.
209. SARAH: But that’s not possible. I take it that your scientist’s recording has been verified?
210. LOGAN: A half dozen times by some of the best minds in the division.
211. SARAH: The light from those stars has been traveling how long?
212. LOGAN: Practically forever…
213. SARAH: …so whatever happened to them, happened a very long time ago?
214. LOGAN: Uh, yes, but…
215. SARAH: (BEAT)
216. LOGAN: Look, that’s all very interesting but it hardly justifies using a priority channel…
217. LOGAN: There’s more. We’ve had a breakthrough. My science group has figured out how to trace a wormhole’s point of origin from the residual energy left behind after a jump. (STATIC) Hang on… (STATIC)… something seems to be happening… something’s… oh my…
218. SOUND: STATIC – LET IT FINISH.
219. SARAH: (CALLING OUT) What just happened? Someone?
220. TECHNICIAN: I think we just lost Vega Station, Captain.
221. SARAH: Put me through to Admiral Ferris’ Office. Priority one override!
222. MUSIC: OMINOUS SCENE ENDER – LET IT FINISH.
223. MUSIC: CLOSING THEME AND CREDITS – LET IT FINISH.
CASTING SHEETS — MAJOR CHARACTERS
NARRATOR: Hello, I am your narrator. I introduce the cold stormy nights on which our stories take place, the dark alleys, and darker personalities who inhabit the lonely city. It is my job to set the scene and establish the serious tone of suspense and intrigue that will carry the story forwards. It is also my job to remind listeners of what came before in a calm, trustworthy voice and ensure that everyone is oriented to where we are and where we are going.
SARAH TANNER: I come from a long line of military personnel. It’s an honour to serve… in any way possible. I do my duty and I stand by my people. I’m loyal to Admiral Ferris personally. I owe him a lot… and since I joined the solar patrol I’ve been right in the thick of things – and in the thick of things is exactly where I want to be.
JEFF CHASE: I’m Sarah’s right hand man. We competed constantly throughout our cadet training, but she always came out ahead. I keep her grounded. I don’t let her head get too big and, when it counts, I follow here lead. I’m smart mouthed and quick to pick a fight. I’m also diplomatic enough to keep my mouth shut when it’s called for – but never otherwise. I look for the fun in my job and I’m not above a little showing off, but my recklessness has meant I’ve been injured on the job more than once.
CASTING SHEETS — MINOR CHARACTERS
ADMIRAL FERRIS: They say I’m crusty, cantankerous and downright ornery, do they? Well, I guess I am. It’s a useful reputation to have. Keeps people on their toes. But inside the Directorate itself things are a lot less formal. That’s the nature of the spy game in a nutshell. We play roles in the outside world for the sake of the job. But in here… well, in here the job is everything.
ADMIRAL ARBUTHNOT: Where the hell is my tuna on rye… and the mineral water I ordered. Every day, the same thing; One tuna on rye and a mineral water. On my desk. Before I start work. If you can’t handle that midshipman then you can expect to be pushing a broom on a garbage scow out in the Jovian asteroid belt. Am I understood?
ADMIRAL JENNINGS: Please, don’t get up on my account. I just came to let you know that I’ve taken your concerns fully into account and given the matter my complete consideration. Unfortunately, Filmore Astrogation Inc. made a better offer and, well, you know how it is? What’s that? Kickbacks? Gentleman just because your proposal wasn’t of the same calibre as your competitor’s… Now really, those rumors regarding my close personal association with the company are completely untrue, as are any suggestions that I stood to profit from agreeing to their terms. I’ll have you know that the houses you are referring to are in my wife’s name. Good day.
ADMIRAL TAYLOR: Ferris is an able strategist (a genius really), and I’m pretty sure we’ll be needing every ounce of his ability in the near future. It’s a shame we’re lumbered with that ego-maniac Arbuthnot… and as for that crook, Jennings… well, I hope Ferris knows what he’s doing. Jennings is smooth and dangerous as a bear. I need to tread a careful path between them all. In the midst of all the heat I’ve got to find the light and shine it on the actions we need to take.
LOGAN SMOOT: Sarah wants me. I’m smart. I’m rich. I’m charming. And I look great in a tuxedo. What’s not to like. Yep, she wants me. She just doesn’t know it yet. Playing hard to get. That’s what it is. But she will be mine. She’s the lucky girl I was destined to be with. She’ll figure it out soon enough, but I’m damned if I know why she can’t see it yet. She won the lottery when she caught my eye. Yes, sirree, she sure did!
TECHNICIAN: Like all those who get selected to work with Captain Tanner, I’m competent, smart, and capable. I do my job without panic and with dispatch.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Philip Craig Robotham grew up in a house full of books and has held numerous jobs as a teacher, computer programmer, graphic and web designer, e-learning consultant and, most recently, writer. He currently lives in Sydney, Australia with his wife and two sons. When he was younger and fitter he enjoyed martial arts, but in recent years his hobbies have tended towards more sedate fare (board games, movies, books, and role-playing games).
He is extremely grateful for the encouragement he receives from his biggest fans — his wife and two boys — all of whom read and enjoy his scripts and in general make his life worth living.
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