MOONBASE THETA, OUT – ALL YOUR BASE Episode 6 – “Zeta”
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-E6, codeword, “Zeta”
NOTE – There may be an ad inserted at this point before the episode.
SOUND: Chime – Bookend
SOUND: Tunnel background – fairly enclosed
(We are far into the mining tunnels beneath the Base. Trina is recording a message to her kid as she walks, telling a story.)
… and we dug a bit deeper, broke through into a huge, subterranean cave – so far and so dimly lit, we couldn’t see the end. If only we had known it was the lair of the Uromastyx, we might have turned back. For though we were strong of heart and … fierce of claw …
(she snorts, breaking the mood)
I can hear you rolling your eyes down there. I can just hear it. “Mom, I don’t even play Burrowing anymore, that’s for kids,” except I know that you do play it because I made your granddads promise to keep the adventure going while I’m away, it’s a Haugen family tradition and your name is still Corin Haugen, so …
SOUND: She grunts a little; we hear rocks tumble
Didn’t see that. They should keep things tidied up down here.
But are you really my child when you insisted on rolling a prairie dog for our last campaign? I always play the badger, they have the best weapons skills. Though now that I’m thinking about the stats, a prairie dog rogue might be a pretty great combination. Maybe we can get that new capybara expansion and really dig into things. Dig into them, get it? Right?
I can almost hear your reply to that too, and we’ll be having a talk about the sort of language you think is appropriate at your age … when I’m home. When I get home, cub.
(spirit faltering a bit)
I better pay a little more attention to what I’m doing here; I’ll give your ears a break. You’re gonna have so much to listen to by the time I’m back at Base! But you know you love it. Later on, kiddo. Stop recording, save to implant storage. Shit.
SOUND: She gasps and we hear rocks tumble again
Shit! I guess it’s too much to expect they’d clear out every rock, especially this far down. It’s supposed to be all bots and drill units, not your lone inspector stuck on foot. Goddamn faulty drive shaft. I’m just lucky nothing caught on fire; though at least then I might be able to see in front of me.
SOUND: A slight beep, like a walkie talkie turning on
(trying to reach someone)
This is Haugen, calling in. Remember, “one last check before shutdown” Haugen? I’ll be lucky to live that down.
(she clears her throat)
If by any chance someone can hear this, send a unit out to pick me up. It’s a long hike back to base, and I’m already low on juice. Of course, based on the lights gone out, I’m guessing I’m not the only one.
SOUND: The slight beep again, signing off
At least my implant is gonna run as long as I do. Wouldn’t want anyone to miss a minute of this. Okay, better keep going.
SOUND: Maybe some quiet, scuffling footsteps
They don’t tell you when you play this “feeling your way in the dark” game when you’re a kid that it starts to really suck after, oh, nine or ten hours. Let’s see if I can make it to the next crosscut without stubbing the same toe for a dozenth time.
They’ve done a pretty good job of shutting things down, I’ll give them that. They’ll get a glowing report. Equipment all stored away, regolith … mostly clear, ice deposits sealed off. It’s all by the book.
(after another pause)
Signs could be a bit better. I think this is it … better use the light while I can.
SOUND: A light clicking on
That doesn’t tell me much. Right, it’s got to be right? Random number app, roll a percentage … going with right.
SOUND: Light clicks off, more footsteps
I would have said I knew these tunnels like the back of my hand. Of course, I can’t see that right now, either.
(after a moment or two)
Resume personal message.
(her voice changes immediately, masking any despair)
Corin! I hear you’re not keeping up with your chores. You are in so much trouble, you don’t even know.
I’m messing with you. I just wanted to check in again before … it’s getting pretty late here, I think it’s pretty late. I’m gonna push on a bit further and then try to rest. You know, no big deal, I got caught out too far from home so I’m camping for the night. Like in the game, I’ve got my ration bars, I’ll take a nap and wake up again with full hit points, the nanobots in my bloodstream will keep me warm and breathing – okay, that’s not a game thing but it’s important. No bedroll, but I’ve got plenty of extra padding. I’ve got my lucky D8 on a chain around my neck, just in case. I’ll keep an ear out for goblin scouts, and my badger claws sharp and ready. Until tomorrow, cub. Stop recording, save.
Now I’ve actually made myself tired. Probably not a bad idea to curl up for a bit. This feels like a safe nook.
SOUND: Light clicking on for a moment; clicking back off again
SOUND: Trina settling down against the wall
It’s gonna do. They should put a pillow in these emergency kits.
(after a moment)
Could you play back, umm, one of my gameplay recordings?
ADULT VOICE (Rec.)
You can hear the rustling of the centipedes close behind. You’re close enough to the surface to break through, but you’ll have disadvantage up there.
CHILD VOICE (Rec.)
Why? I’m a good fighter!
(fading out at the end of this line)
Look at your sheet, silly cub. The sunlight’s gonna blind you. Did you keep those goggles we found in …
SOUND: Chime – Bookend (Scene Change)
(sounding wearier, but pushing on)
Well, kid. Another day, another adventure. I’ve been walking for a while … shuffling, after I banged my toes for the fifty-seventh time. Those boots only protect you so much. I gotta tell you, unending tunnels are a lot less fun in real life. You never really think about how far they go until you’re …
(she stops for a moment, picking up as if that last sentence didn’t trail off)
It shouldn’t be too much longer, though, I’m still on top of things. It’s just the finding my way in the dark, even my, you know …
SOUND: Light clicking on, then off again a few times
Is pretty weak by this point. If I really were a badger, I’d sort things out by sense of smell and be deep into the kitchen by now. Or bed. Or a stasis pod I guess, like most other folks by now.
(sounding a bit unsure, not having thought about this)
Not everyone, for sure, not yet. Someone’s up and working to get the lights back on; if they were completely out of power the stasis pods would be offline, too, and that’s a much bigger deal than … one crew member who’s running late to check back in.
(after a moment, realizing she’s still recording a message)
Not that we could run out of power, Corin! Remember when I told you about the solar panels? We keep half the Moon running from Base Zeta – well, from the ring of solar panels around Shackleton Crater, the Base is actually down inside. But as long as they don’t run out of sun – that’s another thing I told you, the sun never sets at the poles – as long as that keeps going, there’s power to burn! It’s just … you know, some little thing that needs fixing somewhere between all that power and … me, at the moment. But that’s why they send me out here! To inspect and find problems. This one is going into my report, let me tell you.
SOUND: A sudden thump, with a bit of a metal clang to it
(catching herself, even though she’s in pain, gritting her teeth)
Mother fun, that’s what I was saying cub, you didn’t hear anything else.
(a little angrier)
Mother fun when you someone left a drill unit abandoned in the middle of a pitch black tunnel, and you get to find out the hard way! Ow ow ow. At least it was pointed in the other direction, I could have skewered myself.
Now I have to get around the damn thing … this should be exciting. Exhale, Trina …
SOUND: Equipment moving a bit as she pushes around it
(grunting as she squeezes past)
This is why I … told them to make the tunnels … wider! Not everyone is built like a goddamn pushbroom … we’re gonna forget that glowing reference for the mining crew … and … there!
SOUND: Trina panting for a few moments
I had the same problem when I was working for NYC Transit … remember when I was gone every night for a while? You were pretty young. I was down in the subway system, and they finally stopped sending me because … when you’re on inspection and a train comes by, you’ve gotta push back against the wall to let it by – sometimes they don’t even slow down – and that’s another place where they didn’t plan on fat people when they measured things. They said it was a hazard – close to telling your mom that I was the hazard, and believe me, my first stop the next morning was a long talk with HR. But it’s not like they were gonna go through and re-drill everything on my account. Another reason why Burrowing is better – my character could have dug her own way through.
(pausing for a few moments)
I promised you some excitement, huh? Just gonna … shut this off for a bit while I take a breather. I’ll be back.
SOUND: Chime – Bookend (Scene Change)
SOUND: Slow, plodding footsteps now and then
(even more exhausted now, losing hope, afraid this is the end)
There’s not a lot more to say, Pop. You’re on all my accounts, you’ve got my power of attorney … I even told you where to find my diaries from high school, for fuck’s sake, and I swore you’d never get those out of me until I was … anyway. I trust you to keep Corin out of trouble, and keep them away from the megas as much as you can. Make sure they have a better life, and that I’m … they don’t forget about me. Not likely, I know.
(brief pause, a bit of humour)
And dammit, they gotta play a fighter at least once in my honor. Tell Dad when he GMs, I said they gotta.
SOUND: Footsteps, Trina grunting a little with the effort to keep going
I can’t even feel my feet anymore. That doesn’t seem like a great thing when they’re my only way back.
Whatever I’m heading back to. I’ve got no idea what happened to the Base, if they’re even … it’s been two and a half days now with nothing. Maybe it wasn’t a complete failure, maybe it’s just … not that I could stop trying either way, I just wish I knew.
I hope you find out. If this message gets to you and I don’t – Pop, find out. Raise a stink, pull some strings, as long as it’s not gonna cause problems for Corin somehow … I mean, they needed this Base. They wouldn’t just throw us away, we’re the biggest fuel manufacturer, iron, magnesium … it could still have been an accident. The maintenance crews from Gamma stopped coming by once they went into shutdown, accidents happen. Though that’s right around the same time we lost contact with the other Bases, which is a little bit much. If I were the one in charge of those inspections, oh, imagine the report I’d be sending …
(another pause, breathing a little heavily, stopped walking)
Of course, then, who do you report it to? We’re run by all the megacorporations together, they didn’t trust any one to manage our resources. Maybe there’s still … some sort of a free press left out there somewhere?
(after a longer pause)
Okay. All right. I’m gonna take … one more run at things here, try one more crosscut, before I … I’m gonna talk to the kid for a bit, you can bring them back in now. Just a … just a second here.
SOUND: A thermos bottle opening, Trina drinking
Last of that, too. One more go, kiddo, one more tunnel to explore. One more wander in the dark.
(after a pause)
Yeah, the dark. It seeps in, after a while. Our whole base is buried in dark. Did I ever tell you what they call the crater we’re lodged in? Not the name, I know I said Shackleton Crater, and I made you look up who that was. But they call it – this is kinda dramatic – a crater of eternal darkness. That sounds right for the game, doesn’t it? It’d be a good name for a module – The Crater of Eternal Darkness. They call it that because, even though the sun is always shining up at the rim, it never touches the shadows at the bottom. And that’s where we’re burrowed beneath, you and me, cub. That’s where we’ve got to quest out from.
SOUND: Slow, plodding footsteps
(really worn out now, everything’s getting to her, starting to sound scattered)
Not really you and me, of course. Only me. Only the badger, strong of heart, fierce of claw … tired as shit. You didn’t hear me say shit. The brave badger, dreaming of her prairie dog pal, yipping and popping up above the ground … their face turned to the sun, even if the badger stays below. Still connected, though. Whatever the roll of the dice, whatever darkness they face, the tunnels connect them both, from the surface to the center of the Earth. Moon. Whatever.
SOUND: Again, just footsteps for a few moments
The tunnels bring the surface down below. Just like the wires bring sunlight down to the base. Just like your messages bring you closer to me when we’re apart. Burrowing down to keep us together.
(after a long moment)
Play back another one of the recordings?
CHILD VOICE (Rec.)
When do you roll the dice again?
When you’ve got a decision to make. When something’s happening.
CHILD’S VOICE (Rec.)
Why can’t you just decide?
I’d love to, but the game is more random than that.
(brief pause, having trouble keeping focus now)
The game is … definitely a lot more random. Corin. Oh, I was … wasn’t I saying something important? I’m sure I was in the middle of some big, parental wisdom back there.
Give me a few, I’ll find it again. It’s just … I don’t know, kiddo. Maybe don’t count on this message for the mysteries of life, when you get older and you’re looking for … whatever you might be looking for.
(a bit of a longer pause)
It’s okay if you play the prairie dog, hell, you can play a groundhog if you want to. Play a mole. Whatever keeps you in the game. Whatever makes you want to – wait. Corin, wait.
SOUND: Footsteps moving faster
(a glimmer of hope)
I think those shadows look like … shadows. Not black on black, there’s a … I think there’s a little bit more …
SOUND: A few more footsteps, and a gasp
Oh, Corin. There’s light. That’s the emergency light, that’s the start of the mining tunnels. That’s … that’s the Base. And there’s more light inside.
(after a moment)
Oh, cub. We broke through. We made it.
(after a few moments, with a chuckle)
Now that was an adventure.
SOUND: Footsteps continue to the end
SOUND: A few other muted voices in the distance, calling out
SOUND: Everything fades out, including the tunnel background
SOUND: Chime – bookend
(The episode ends.)
Welcome back to Moonbase Theta, Out – ALL YOUR BASE. Today’s episode featured Alicia Atkins as Trina Haugen, with Steven LaFond and Eva LaFond. 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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We’ll see you again soon – next episode we’re back on the surface – way out on the surface, 25 klicks from Moonbase Eta! Until then, keep your badger claws sharp – or your prairie dog charm – and Keep Watching the Moon!