MTO S4 P2-Transcript

MOONBASE THETA, OUT – S4 Prologue Episode 2 – “I have strange power of speech”
by D.J. Sylvis

ANNOUNCER

Moonbase Theta, Out – a Monkeyman Productions Podcast. Season 4, Prologue 2 – “I have strange power of speech”

Please see the show notes for content warnings related to this episode. (Note – content warning is for extreme emotional distress, dangerous situations)

And, before we begin, a few words from our sponsors.

SCENE ONE

SOUND: Chime – Bookend

SOUND: Inside the command module of the Moon rocket – continued background noise and occasional static (ongoing)

ADDIE

… that was in this little night market outside Taipei City, and it was late … even for me, which is late. And they were all like, hēi huǒ ji (hey pal), do you want to try some snake wine?

ALEX

Snake wine? That can’t be a thing!

ADDIE

That’s what I thought, but sure as shit they pulled this bottle from under the counter with a real goddamn snake, and they’re all grinning like Addie’s gonna back down, but they don’t know me so well …

ALEX

You drank snake juice?

ADDIE

            (laughing)

Wine. Snake wine. The wine makes all the difference.

ALEX

Puta muerda. (Holy shit.)

PAYLOAD

Look, I appreciate a good anecdote as much as anyone, but if we could focus!

ADDIE

Aye aye, Captain.

PAYLOAD

No support from Ground Control and we can’t raise anyone on the Moon, there’s a lot to make happen on our own.

ALEX

Just wait until we get there, I’ll give Roger such a talking to.

PAYLOAD

Yes … you do that. But for now, if you could focus on your stations, I’d be a lot happier.

ADDIE

You’re the one who knows how to land this thing, we’re on the side of keeping you happy.

ALEX

I’m ready for the burn when you give the signal.

PAYLOAD

Good, good.

SOUND: Some key tapping, a few beeps and buzzes in the background

PAYLOAD

We never expected support from Ground Control anyway – too much of a security risk. But like you said, I know what I’m doing. I’m the project team leader. I’ll get you down safely.

ADDIE

It can’t be soon enough, my tummy can’t take much more of this carousel ride! Right, Alex? You barely kept your protein paste down.

ALEX

You’re not helping with your stories about pickled snakes!

PAYLOAD

The rotation has been necessary – we had to approximate some of the interface conductance when fabricating the rocket, it’s been necessary to keep any one side from full exposure to the sun for too long.

ADDIE

Just like any other day at the beach! Shit, Alex, that reminds me of another story –

PAYLOAD

It’s almost time for the lunar insertion. Alex, start the burn on my signal.

ADDIE

I was on this beach in Toronto, of all the maldito places, technically after the whole Canada thing –

PAYLOAD

Addie –

ADDIE

And this beach was, let’s just call it “clothing optional” –

PAYLOAD

Addie! I need your attention on the inertial data.

ADDIE

All right, all right.

PAYLOAD

Just as I showed you. I’ll be monitoring the velocity relative to vertical / horizontal.

ADDIE

I’ve got it. The pitch, the yaw – I don’t know if it’s a ball game or on a rocket ship.

PAYLOAD

Alex … one moment … begin the burn now.

ALEX

Got it.

SOUND: We can hear the propulsion unit firing up, the rocket shaking (ongoing)

ADDIE

All my numbers are right where you said they oughta.

PAYLOAD

Thank you. The Delta-V looks good. Horizon out the hatch looks good.

      (after a moment, more casually)

We’ve got a few minutes now.

ADDIE

Smoke ‘em if you got ‘em.

PAYLOAD

Do not –

ALEX

He’s joking. Addie, you’re joking.

ADDIE

I only wish. I’d kill for a bowlful.

PAYLOAD

I … might have brought aboard a few consumable cannabis products

ALEX

You did what?

ADDIE

You’ve got edibles! Payload, you constantly surprise me.

PAYLOAD

To be saved, of course, for after we’ve landed. Other intoxicants have various hazards in our current environment.

ADDIE

Sure. Let me know if you need someone to hold those for you.  

PAYLOAD

Nice try.

ALEX

            (lost in thoughts of Roger)

We’ll … definitely deserve a celebration.

ADDIE

Not like yours! You and your boy down there – I hope he’s got a private room waiting!

PAYLOAD

Doubtful. Standard Moonbase design was for a single bunkroom.

ADDIE

They’ll figure it out – it’s been a long wait. This is why I’m open relationships only.

ALEX

It’ll be enough to be close again. Meu amado …

PAYLOAD

            (after a moment)

I still can’t believe I’m sitting next to Alex. The Alex! And we’re on our way to meet Roger. It’s like … finding out Buck Rogers is real. Or Michael Burnham.

ADDIE

Uh huh.

PAYLOAD

            (babbling a little)

I’ve always wanted to know, how did you two meet? It was … obviously back on Earth, come on Payload, but … where? How?

ALEX

Where … was in Rio.

ADDIE

Damn, I miss that place.

PAYLOAD

Of course. You’re both from Rio. It’s in your backstory.

ALEX

I wasn’t really from anywhere then. You joined up with a Slam franchise, you were constantly on tour. Asunción, Santiago, Córdoba, any Enclave with an auditorium and a climbing wall, anywhere you could sleep the night under the stage or over a bar. We did play in Rio quite a bit –

ADDIE

            (overlapping)

Lots of stages and bars in that Enclave!

ALEX

And after a few shows … you start to notice the regulars, the fans who show up every time, you know? The faces you pick out of the audience.

PAYLOAD

So Roger was a fan of yours?

ADDIE

He’s not here, you can say groupie.

PAYLOAD

Addie, keep an eye on those vectors.

ALEX

            (nostalgic)

He was always around, and those are the fans you wind up drinking with, or taking for breakfast after a late late match … or, okay fine, waking up in their beds. You got me.

ADDIE

Now we’re talking!

ALEX

But it wasn’t like that! Not for very long. One night turned into another, and next trip I stayed the weekend, and then a longer visit in between seasons … that was when my moms said they were moving to Phoenix and … things were just getting good for me, with the city, with Roger, so I decided to stay. Even when the Slam folks called up with another tour, I wound up saying no. I moved in, and we … grew into each other. Almost without realizing it had happened.

            (he laughs)

He built me the garden when he proposed, what a thing that was! That’s when I knew it was really for good … that’s when I looked around and realized that I was home.

ADDIE

Aww damn, amigue. Alex. Damn.

PAYLOAD

            (mutters to herself)

I have to remember that story.

(For a long moment, they are all quiet, lost in their thoughts, listening to the background noise. Finally, Payload speaks.)

PAYLOAD

Alex, ready to stop on my mark. Three, two, one, now.

SOUND: The propulsion burn / rocket shaking ends

PAYLOAD

Velocity is at 1,341 meters. Orbit is established at three one three point 4 klicks.

      (after a moment, incredulous and excited)

Orbit around the moon. The … friggin’ moon! Woo!

ADDIE

Watch it there. You’re sure you didn’t crack out those party favours early?

PAYLOAD

It’s just … if the rest of the guys could see us now!

ADDIE

I get it.

      (suddenly serious)

Uh, boss … are you seeing the change in the numbers there?

PAYLOAD

What change? Show me.

ADDIE

Whichever this one is. The pitch, the trim, the thing you had to adjust before. It’s doing a little –

SOUND: There is a sudden creaking and shudder around them

ALEX

That didn’t feel right.

PAYLOAD

It’s not. It’s a malfunction in the inertial unit.

ADDIE

But that’s what you’ve been fixing all along, right?

PAYLOAD

I made a few minor course corrections, caught some errors in calculation. But this is different.  

ADDIE

Well, just keep on correcting, you’re the big brain here.

PAYLOAD

What do you think I’m doing?

SOUND: Frantic keyboard tapping

SOUND: After a moment, another creaking / shudder, somewhat reduced

ALEX

That wasn’t quite as bad?

ADDIE

Yeah, Payload, nice work.

PAYLOAD

You should both seal up your suits again now.

ADDIE

For real? Don’t get me wrong, I’m fresh as spring in here, but I’m not a fan of –

PAYLOAD

Now.

SOUND: From here to the end of the scene, their voices are a bit more filtered, as if they’ve put helmets back on

ALEX

Sealed in. What should I do to help? Payload?

ADDIE

            (after a moment when Payload doesn’t reply)

Amigue, we’re still here with you.  

PAYLOAD

I’m trying to realign, that might be enough … that might give us …

            (after a moment)

We’re back on flight plan. For the moment. Keep an eye on your displays.

ADDIE

That’s more like it.

ALEX

            (Portuguese, almost a prayer)

Te prometo, amor, chego até você mesmo se precisar sair daqui e andar o resto do caminho. (I promise, love, I’m going to get to you if I have to get out and walk the rest of the way.)

ADDIE

            (overlapping)

You’re a superhero, Payload.

PAYLOAD

Yes, well, don’t unseal your suits. Keep watching those numbers. And it might be a good time to review the emergency procedures in case of –

SOUND: There is another large shudder, and the creaking sounds more like cracking at this point

SOUND: In the background, something is hissing, as if releasing pressure

PAYLOAD

Shit!

ALEX

What happened?

PAYLOAD

Shit!

ADDIE

This thing is swinging way out of balance –

PAYLOAD

Shut up, shut up! Get strapped in – that leak – we might have to trigger an emergency separation.

ADDIE

            (after a moment)

We were gonna separate soon anyway, right?

PAYLOAD

            (incredibly stressed)

Sure. Two things about that. First, if we’re not on the right trajectory when we separate, we could land … anywhere, or nowhere, to keep from getting too technical. Are you fully strapped in?

ADDIE

Snug as a bug. And two?

            (after a moment, panic building)
Payload, and two?

SOUND: Frantic keyboard tapping

PAYLOAD

Two is that at this moment, I’m not sure which section will retain cabin pressure when we go!  

SOUND: Another, greater shudder, almost as if there were an explosion without the sound wave

ADDIE

I don’t think I’m a fan of one or two.

ALEX

How can we help? What can we do?

PAYLOAD

            (highest anxiety, snapping at them)

You can both listen to me! We just passed “maybe,” we’ve got to separate and attempt a landing on our current course. Alex, pressure displays, watch the Oh-two. Addie. This is the landing sequence, follow it step by step. I’ve got to make the inertial adjustments by hand. Somehow.

ADDIE

“Somehow?”

PAYLOAD

I’m working it out, all right? Dammit, Addie, if I find out any of this was your fault –

ADDIE

What do you mean by that?

PAYLOAD

How the hell do I know? You and your ‘connections’ supplied our materials, our fuel, our cargo –

ADDIE

Do you think I’d be on this ride if I thought things were gonna go off the rails? I’m pretty fond of my skin.

PAYLOAD

All I wanted was to make it to the Moon, to see the lander touch down on lunar soil.

            (brief pause)

Well, more accurately, regolith.

SOUND: Another shudder, hissing and general background noise increases

ALEX

            (raising his voice to be heard)

Payload, maybe it’s time to do … whatever it is we’re gonna do.

ADDIE

            (similarly shouting)

Roll the dice while we’ve got a chance!

PAYLOAD

Dammit, I left Decartes and Pascal completely unsupported if anything goes wrong!

ADDIE

You’ve got kids?

PAYLOAD

They’re ferrets, you ignoramus! Far better companions!  

ALEX

            (trying to pacify them)

Guys! Can we do the thing now and argue later? We all want to make it back to our … families.

PAYLOAD

            (after a long moment, more together again)

You’re right, Alex. Addie, Alex is right. Let’s get back on task. Keep an eye on those gauges. Addie, the landing sequence. Prepare for emergency separation of the lunar module.

ADDIE

Tell me this is something that you’ve practiced.

PAYLOAD

One more minute … separation just as soon as our attitude lines up … I’m coming home to you, babies. Here we go.

SOUND: Command module background, all other background fades out

SOUND: Chime – Bookend

SCENE TWO

SOUND: Chime – Bookend

SOUND: Aircraft background – fairly quiet, the ultralights are more gliders than anything else (ongoing)

SOUND: Dogs whining anxiously

ELIO

It’s okay, girls. It’s all right. We’re almost there.

NIMA

How do you know that?

ELIO

What?

NIMA

You don’t know where we’re headed, where we land. We might not be almost there.

ELIO

I’m just talking to the dogs.

            (after a moment)

Are we almost there?

NIMA

You don’t need to know.

STEPHEN

            (over the radio)

Just about to start our descent here. You should be able to see the beacon.

NIMA

            (in Arabic, translation is “Why don’t you tell the whole world?”)

ش ما تخبر العالم كله؟

            (in English, to Elio, grudgingly)

We’ll be landing soon.

SOUND: The background changes as they descend

SOUND: The dogs whine a bit

ELIO

Cas, Pol, it’s okay. I think it’s probably the pressure, their poor ears. I’ll try to distract them.

SOUND: Elio hums what sounds like the melody from a pop song

SOUND: Nima triggers the radio

(They speak in Arabic – translation of the next line is approximately, “I can see the landing strip. I can see you. Get out of the way, I’m coming down.”)

NIMA

شايف مدرج الهبوط وشايفك. زيح علي جنب انا نازل

SOUND: The background keeps changing a bit as they descend

SOUND: Elio keeps humming, on and off

NIMA

            (after a pause, begrudgingly curious)

What are you singing?

ELIO

I don’t know the name. One of the groups I traveled with for a while … there was a D.J. who would get stuck on one song for weeks, mix and remix it. I liked this one.

NIMA

            (after a long pause)

It sounds like something I know, “ألف ليلة وليلة” – an older song, but they’re always recording it again.

ELIO

Sing it for me?

NIMA

I don’t sing. Get ready, we’re landing.

SOUND: Touching down on the runway, slowing

SOUND: The dogs whine again

ELIO

It’s okay, girls. We’re here. Our new home.

NIMA

(Arabic – “Flight three is on the ground. Tell me when I can get off this thing.”)

الطيارة الثالثة على الارض نزلت. خبرني متي فيي انزل من هون.

NASHWA

            (over the radio, in English)

Sorry, I was just telling Stephen – we’re in the middle of something here. You’ll have to stay on board until it’s safe to extract you. It could be a few hours.

NIMA

(Arabic – “You’re messing with me.”)

بتمزح.

            (after a moment, resigned, in English)

Understood. We’re here for a while.

SOUND: The dogs whining, a bit more anxious

NIMA

It’ll be better if they stay quiet.

ELIO

You could hum.

NIMA

What?

ELIO

You said before that you don’t sing. But you could hum. You could teach me the rest of the song, they seemed to like it.

NIMA

I’m not here to dog-sit.

ELIO

What else is there to do?

NIMA

            (after a long pause)

It’s a very long song, I’m not sure how much I remember.

SOUND: The dogs whine again a little

SOUND: After a few moments, they tentatively start to hum a piece of the melody. Elio joins in, echoing Nima where she can, until they fade out together as the scene ends

SOUND: Aircraft background ends

SOUND: Chime – Bookend

                                                            (The episode ends.)

PRODUCERS

Today’s episode featured Gabriel Taneko, Philomena Sherwood, Journee LaFond, Beca Marcus, Serena Rahal, Corey Spruill, and Dalia Ramahi. 

Written by D.J. Sylvis; Cass McPhee is our audio engineer. Our theme music is “Star” by the band Ramp; our cover art is by Peter Chiykowski. 

Looking for more great audio fiction? Check out Chaika, a science fiction drama about loss, isolation and hope. (I know, familiar themes, right?)

We’d like to take a second to thank our associate producers for this season. Marty Chodorek, June Madely, Timothy LaGrone, Marilyn Reid, Marissa Robertcop and Linda Boyer. We also want to make sure we thank our executive producers Sarah Mueller and Beka B. Thank you so much for helping us create Moonbase Theta, Out season four, we genuinely would not be able to do it without you.

Want to help make this show possible AND get early ad-free access to every episode? Support us at Patreon.com/MonkeyManProductions. For a full list of our cast and crew, as well as transcripts, official Moonbase Theta, Out merch and more, visit MonkeyManProductions.com. And, as always, keep watching the moon.

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