MOONBASE THETA, OUT – ALL YOUR BASE Episode 5 – “Epsilon”
by D.J. Sylvis
The bases! ‘All your base are belong to us’? [dramatic pause] And what are we on? [another pause] BASES. Moon-bases. Boom.
Good day. This is a secured transmission. This communication from Maintenance Lead Wilder has revealed that complications within the Moonbase network were not limited to Base Theta. As such, additional archival files have been uncovered that delve into the history of each Base before their respective shutdowns. I repeat, the previous history of all your base.
(they clear their throat, unable to let the twisted grammar stand)
Es. Bases. The following is Report AYB-E5, codeword, “Epsilon”
NOTE – There may be an ad inserted at this point before the episode.
SOUND: Chime – Bookend
SOUND: Hallway background (mostly A/C)
SOUND: Quick footsteps, stopping suddenly
There you are! I said to meet me on the supply level. Everything we do makes more sense when you’ve seen the – never mind, we’re here, and I do a full-Base walkthrough every morning anyway. We’ll work our way down, you’ll get to see what really sets Epsilon apart from the rest of the Moon. Probably the last time you’ll see it all, too, we’re putting you right to work downstairs. So much to do, so much stuff, so much to inventory …
(pause for a breath)
I know, I know, I’m in a hurry and you’ve been waiting for what, a week now, ten days? Most folks need some time to recover from stasis, and I’ve been … absolutely buried, you know, my work stacks are like those magic scarves magicians pull out of their sleeves and keep pulling and pulling and pulling! And you’re thinking, why wouldn’t I tell myself, Val – oh, Quartermaster Valentine Narváez, pleased to meet you – why wouldn’t I say, Val, there’s all this work and an absolute hard deadline on the calendar with that looming Base shutdown. Why wouldn’t you get your new assistant started as soon as possible? But it takes preparation, orientation, it takes organization and paperwork and … that’s all another one of those endless magic scarves by itself! Especially with all the inter-corporate bullshit with you being from the Consortium entering the Conglomerate’s systems … but never mind, you know all that, it’s not like it’s your first day!
Let’s get going!
SOUND: More footsteps, but keep them quiet
The top level is mostly for show – you’ve got the lounge with big viewports for receptions; the younger crew sneaks up here at night for various types of canoodling, not every Base has this kind of room, they take full advantage. Off to the side we’ve got some various admin cubicles, Management is up here, Comms, nothing too important. Sometimes I stick my head in, but they’re not a big strain on Base resources, they file their requisitions through the system and all is well. We’re moving on.
And where we’re moving on to is my favourite part of the tour, another Epsilon exclusive, I’d move my desk up here if they’d let me. This is such a special thing – here, let me get the pad there –
SOUND: Tones as she punches in a security code
SOUND: Door sliding open
And away we go! This is another show piece for visitors to the Moon, they all stop by here first, but I still had to push for it – management wanted to shove everything into storage, but I said it belongs in a museum! And I do have a bit of pull around here …
SOUND: A curtain being drawn
I’m sure you know how many of the Moonbases match up with the old Apollo landing sites …
(note – pronunciations are “Chung-uh” and “Chun-druh-yaan”)
Or I mean, later on the Chang’e and Chandrayaan, but they were absolutely obsessed with the Apollos and I mean, they did leave the best stuff around to be picked up. The others did a better job of cleaning up after themselves, but where’s the fun in that for future generations? So a big, big Apollo display along this wall here, the whole way across. Some scientific stuff – Base Alpha sent over a practically mint laser range reflector from Apollo 15 – and a few more personal items, there’s a blue handtowel from Apollo 12 and just … why? But it’s here! And some things are a little too personal, if you know what I mean, it wasn’t my idea to keep Buzz Aldrin’s poop but … we’ve got it, on display, logged and listed and security tagged! Anything rare on the Base is tagged, you know how valuable equipment tends to wander, but I pull up my clipboard and I click this icon here –
SOUND: A computery ‘fail’ sound
(slowly, unsure, that should have worked)
Click this icon right here and it tells me –
SOUND: The same fail sound again
It’s supposed to tell me the current location. Someone probably got a little over-eager with the shutdown and flipped the wrong switch. I’ll send a note off to Security.
SOUND: Brief typing
(trying to pick back up, glib)
But over in this corner, this is really the best. Since we’re next door to what was Tranquility Base back in 1969, we’ve got the cream of the crop of the one hundred and six items abandoned after the very first Moon landing! We’ve got a mission patch, a plaque they attached to the lander – I wasn’t allowed to bring the lander in but I know right where it is at all times – Neil Armstrong’s boots, a few tools, they’re all pitted up by micrometeorites but it’s still cool to think they used these for soil samples 129 years ago! And the really fun one, probably my favourite piece of the whole collection, there was this coin … not really a coin I guess, a silicon disk that they were leaving for … I don’t know, future astronauts? Aliens? God? Anyway, it’s inscribed with all these tiny goodwill messages from back when there were countries, Peru, Ghana, Canada, you know, “We rejoice together as a government and a people,” I absolutely love the messages. It’s just the coolest thing, a one-of-a-kind artifact –
SOUND: Background – unlocking the display case
We keep it under UV glass for protection, but you’ve really got to see … oh, it must have slid down behind the liner, that’s happened before … it just … a minute …
SOUND: Shoving things around inside the display case
It’s not here. It’s not – it’s not here! Nobody else should have access but Security and … dammit, what about the app …
SOUND: The same computer fail sound from before
Shit! It’s gotta be … I’m just going to alert them again, with the tracking down you’d think they’d be … but it’s got to be here somewhere, it didn’t grow legs or something …
(brief pause; then a fake laugh, trying to stay cool)
You know what it’s like, I’m sure, when something isn’t where you expect it to be! It’ll turn up. The most valuable collectible anywhere on Epsilon, a closed system, after all … how far could it go? It’ll turn up. Let’s just lock this again without disturbing potential evidence …
SOUND: Locking the display case
And we’ve got the rest of your tour to get through! Follow me …
SOUND: The door sliding closed
SOUND: The security pad being activated again
It isn’t that big a deal. I mean, it’s a valuable item, and it would … look bad if I couldn’t track it down, but … we’ll keep our eyes out as we go! It’ll turn up. I know that coin awfully well, it’s been …
“…a significant contribution to a world utopia and peace through the universe.” Chiang Kai-Shek, President, Republic of China.
And here’s the ramp down to Level Two … the ramps were an interesting design choice, easier for sure on accessibility, which is particularly helpful when you’re new and adjusting to the gravity difference, also allows us to move large items in and out more easily. This morning we brought up mining equipment and some larger supply packages the whole way from our level …
(thoughtful, a bit worried)
All properly inspected and logged, of course, I’ll show you the system when we get downstairs. Everything is inspected. And. Logged. Now where was I? Where we are, of course. Level Two.
SOUND: Sliding door opens
Starting with the lab, though there’s not much going on here at the moment. We didn’t have much of a science crew really; when the shutdown was announced they were first to take early stasis. Must be nice! Still, I pop my head in to make sure nothing important has vanished, or fallen off a shelf, or has …
(brief pause, a little unsure)
I wonder if we should do a chemical inventory? It’s been a while, and I don’t recall those levels … what do you think? Stop and get into it, or should we keep on going? Keep on going? I’ll add it to your list for later, best you learn these things anyhow. Let’s move on, the kitchen’s next and this is the best time to check in.
SOUND: Perhaps a few more footsteps
SOUND: Innocuous music in the background (ongoing)
Not usually quite this empty. But our kitchen staff does double duty on the farm, I guess they’re there at the moment. Here, we’ll take a quick look through the cupboards.
SOUND: Checking the cupboards for supplies
We’ve got the biggest hydroponic gardens in the Moonbase network – at the beginning, they were looking at expanding the Bases into a platform for … you know, heading further out, expeditions into the Great Beyond. Next steps into the universe. Aliens, god, whatever.
(brief pause, more practical for a moment)
They broke a few more mugs – note down to pull three out of storage. And they’re running low on a few of the spices, always the expensive stuff of course – they send us requisitions too, but if I see something’s a bit low, I get right on it. I prefer when my food’s got some flavour!
So that was the original plan … but they kept finding more immediate uses for the extra fuel and water and foodstuffs, I guess. Plans changed. And now they’ve changed again and we’re all heading home in a few weeks. I don’t get it all myself, but ours is not to question why; ours is to keep up the lines of supply. Right? Okay, I better check the silverware drawer too, never know where something might wind up …
SOUND: More serious sorting through at this point, silverware rattling
(a bit more driven, anxious)
There’s a little lost and found box in the back … would have been kind odd to find it here, but not the weirdest thing I’ve ever seen, if someone had it in their pocket and … but no. Nothing. Dammit. Dammit!
SOUND: Slamming the drawer closed again
(after a moment, trying to stay cheerful)
All right! We’re on the move again. As the Prime Minister of Australia would say, “To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.” That’s on the coin, too, of course.
SOUND: Background music fades out
(more brusque now, preoccupied)
And this is the farm beside us now, this whole side is theirs. We’ll let them do their work, no bother, keep an eye out in the system for requisitions … but down here on the end, this is where I need to stop. Just hang on out here, I’ll just be a minute …
SOUND: Knocking on the wall
SOUND: The door slides open
(voice is somewhat muffled)
Hey, I just wanted to check on … I know … I just thought, if you got the tagging system up and running, I could … we’re all busy, I just … that hasn’t stopped me from keeping your special supplies flowing! That’s not a threat, I just … what other things? I was just telling, you know, my new assistant … outside … Right. I’m off then. Thanks so much.
SOUND: Footsteps, the door slides closed again
Let’s go, I should have known that wouldn’t help. Goddamn Security, heads up their own ass so far … you’d think those private chocolate shipments would get some sort of response when I need a thing and –
(after a moment)
They eat Hershey’s, not like I’m diverting anything useful. Anyway, enough of all this, one last turn of the corner on the ramp, and …
(brief, dramatic pause)
¡Aquí tienes! The heart of the moonbase, belly of the beast, Hangar 51, Inventory and Equipment Storage!
(after a moment, enjoying this bit, rambling until she hits the end of this paragraph)
Go ahead, gasp, everyone does. So much inventory, so much stuff! Stuff from top to bottom, shelves and racks and cases, bagged and boarded and sealed for freshness. All the little, utterly necessary things that no one thinks of until they run low; the bigger things that when they break you calculate the hours it’ll take to pay for another one of those; and the big, one-of-a-kind items – most of them aren’t really one-of-a-kind, of course, but every so often one of them is and your heart stops for a minute when you … can’t figure out where it’s gone …
(pausing, having come around again to thinking of the lost item)
Take it all in; I’ll be with you in a minute. Just let me run a few searches.
SOUND: A bit of typing on a keyboard
No new reports, no updated tickets … no requisitions that haven’t already been filled … and the tracking system, of course that’s still offline … no leads at all. Never mind, Narváez, don’t let that get you down. “…rather than a victory of technology we salute a victory of human will.” – Leopold Sedar Senghor, Senegal.
SOUND: There is a computer tone
Speaking of technology … one more thing I need to deal with. Just another moment, sorry for all this … okay, mark that two four oh seven one nine six nine dash C seventy-four …
SOUND: The tone again; faster typing, then slow again and a bit sporadic
(after another long moment, sighing a bit and getting back into things)
So. This will be your workstation to the side, I know it’s a bit buried at the moment. I guess that’ll be your first assignment. It’s the stuff, it piles up absolutely everywhere, you know. So much stuff.
(after a moment, conspiratorially)
It does seem like a lot, doesn’t it? Especially for one Moonbase. For several Moonbases!
(brief pause, hushed as of someone might overhear)
You’ve signed all the confidentiality paperwork, right? It can’t hurt to tell you now, you’d notice before long anyway. You couldn’t help yourself.
For the last eight or nine months, we’ve been establishing a series of secondary supply stashes across the Moon. The locations are all top secret, even I don’t know where – the construction and delivery bots arrive already programmed, I just sent them loose and program the shipments with the codes I’m given. I don’t know if they’re new Bases, or if they’re setting up some sort of exploration survey … remember, I told you, they changed their plans. We don’t get to know what those plans are, we just keep track of the supplies and we send them on their way.
SOUND: The computer tone one more time, a tap or two at the keyboard
(slowing down now, dangerously, upset)
At least, I don’t get to know. I’ve been working in this … Moon-basement for years now, the inventory comes in, the inventory goes out, a place for everything and every thing in its place. But I don’t get to know their plans. I don’t even ask, I’m a good little worker, as long as I’ve tracked all the stuff, what difference does it make? But then you show up, my new ‘assistant’, and … obviously, you know. You’re in on everything.
You could have said something, you know. It was already too late to stop you – those packages went out this morning and I don’t have the access to pull them back. You could have said something in the museum, or before I stopped in at Security – they must know everything too, I assume, and they’re never gonna let me hear the end of this. You could have been the slightest bit helpful before you ruined my career on your little secret mission.
SOUND: Footsteps, pacing (sporadic through this section)
I wasn’t going to get to the end in time, but I was piecing it together, bit by bit. The way you reacted when the coin wasn’t in the display case, and then I tested you in the lab, and the kitchen … but I didn’t know. I wasn’t sure. I didn’t get to know. Until a few minutes back, and those three little tones from the computer.
(after a moment)
The first tone was the inventory tracking system booting back up; even if they’re on your side, Security didn’t want me messing with their chocolate. The second was an alert that the database was active again. The third, after searching on the identifier I’ve been searching for all goddamn day … told me that my coin, along with a few other cultural artifacts I hadn’t tracked yet, a number of chemicals from the laboratory and all the more valuable spices from our kitchen … basically the best stuff you could steal without being noticed … was all sealed into a crate under a false manifest and diverted to Secondary Supply Area Charlie. Which could be the next crater over, or the far side of the Moon, for all I can tell. For all I’m allowed to know.
(There is a longer pause, while the pacing continues.)
That’s what you don’t seem to understand, you and whoever’s in on this with you. My job is literally to know. To know where every piece of stuff on this Moonbase is, where it came from, where it goes – this is what I do, and I wasn’t going to stop until I found out. I don’t care what you’re up to! I don’t care if you’re a spy, if this is some inter-corporate bullshit or you just wanted to get your hands on anything valuable. You could have made up some excuse, told me the weakest story and it probably would have flown – all I care about is the stuff. Like a certain coin you probably didn’t even look at before you stole it. You didn’t’ read one of the seventy-four inscriptions, you don’t even know that Pierre Trudeau, of Canada, said, “Man has reached out and touched the tranquil moon.”
(brief pause, angrier now, ramping up to the end)
Not that it’s tranquil anymore. Don’t open your mouth, don’t say a single word. Don’t get up – you’re not going anywhere. I still may not know the why, but I know what you did, and what you did is you messed up my stuff. So you’re going to sit there, and go through every item on every spreadsheet, and tell me whether or not those things are where they’re meant to be. Every item, every spreadsheet, until the shutdown comes.
(She pauses for a moment to take a breath, and for the appropriate dramatic effect.)
Nobody leaves this Moonbase until we resolve! My! Goddamn! Inventory!
SOUND: Chime – bookend
(The episode ends.)
Hope you enjoyed today’s episode! That was Rissa M. as Val Narvaez. Our Consortium Announcer is Evan Tess Murray. D.J. Sylvis wrote the episode and edited dialogue, while Cass McPhee did the sound design. Cass and Deej co-produced the episode.
Our theme music is “Star” by the band RAMP – check them out at RAMP dash music dot net. Transcripts, cast bios, additional music attribution and more are found on our website: MonkeyManProductions dot com. Looking for other great audio drama? Visit Fable and Folly dot com to learn about all the other shows on our network.
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Next month, we’re deep below the surface of Moonbase Zeta! Until then, keep an eye on all your stuff – a really close eye – and of course, Keep Watching the Moon!