Episode 218:Captive Audience

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Air Date: 01 Dec 2009
Present: Maer, Terri, Andy and Rick

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Part 2

Monday, 05 Aug 2520
Kuiper II class Summer’s Gift En Route to Aesir
13:00 hrs, ship’s time

We’ve been captured by pirates en route to Aesir and against common practice, they let us live. We’re corralled in the 2nd class passenger container and kept there under guard. When we’re asked to give up our tools and weapons, Rina unzips her coveralls with all her pocket contents and throws them at our captors rather than suffer a frisking. She’s just that twitchy. Arden was unsuccessful in getting Joshua his meds and the next five days are tense, as both we and Joshua wait for the symptoms to manifest and decide the issue: will he die? Or just go crazy? Arden put up some resistance upon capture and got separated out from the rest of our crew. He’s being held elsewhere on the Gift. His doctor’s skills may make him too valuable to harm…so Joshua, Nika, Rick, and Rina don’t press the issue but pick their bunks and try to make the best of it.

Day One of captivity: Our jailers agree to bring us three meals a day and Mary goes so far as to inquire of Rick if his fish need taking care of. He instructs her how to feed them. As a show of good faith in exchange for their solicitude, we collectively agree amongst ourselves not to jump our jailers. No, not even seduce them and then jump them, not even when Rina offers up herself for the ruse. Which gets a horrified reaction out of Nika. Rina withdraws the offer. When Mary brings us our food, it’s protein paste and Rina refuses to touch it, saying anything could be done to it, how would we know? Nika barks at her to shut up and eat it, we can’t afford to have Rina starving herself sick. Or worse. Rina grumbles but she chokes the crap down.

Joshua asks Mary if he can get his Flumoxapan. Mary tells him she’ll ask her medic first. She reassures us that she’s going to hold to her promise to us—that she’ll take us to Aesir so we can drop off Jake’s body with his family. She may have to leave us there, however. She continues in a hushed tone.

Mary: That’s the best I can do.
Joshua: No, I’m pretty sure you can do better. Seriously.
Mary: There’s some that don’t think you should go all the way to Aesir.
Joshua: I’m sure that’s true but if you can’t keep control of a situation like this, how are you going to manage the voyage to Blue Sun?
Mary: It’s about compromise.
Joshua: (forcefully, for him) No it’s not. Aren’t you the Captain? It’s not about compromise. It’s about saying ‘This is the way it is. Shut up and get in line.’
Mary: (sternly) If you want to live, shut up and get in line.
Joshua: See? That’s good practice. Keep working on that.

Nika sighs.

Nika: Must you antagonize her?
Joshua: No, I just want her to grow a spine. She’s gonna have to.
Rick: (To Mary) You’re gonna need it if you’re gonna run the blockades.
Mary: We’re not afraid of blockades.

Mary turns around and stomps out, locking up behind her.

Joshua: I like her, actually, as these things go, but she’s already weakening.
Nika: If her crew kills her, that’s her own problem.
Joshua: No, it’s our problem.
Nika: Well, fair enough. That happens, it could go bad for us.
Joshua: She’s already getting weaker and weaker. She’s gone from ‘we’re gonna get your ship and you’ll drive us to Blue Sun’ to ‘we’re gonna drop you off on Aesir and take your ship there’ to ‘maybe we’ll just have to kill you when we get five days in’ and next thing you know, we’re gonna wake up and there’s gonna be a knife in our throat. Okay, we might not wake up at that point—(mimes a throat slitting with a finger across his neck, sticks his tongue out)—but… Okay. I’m gonna ramble now.
Nika: Good job.
Joshua: I’m a little nervous.
Nika: As long as we can get to Aesir, I think we’re fine.
Rick: I don’t care. I just wanna get my knives back.
Joshua: I don’t think that’s gonna happen. Except the in-the-throat part.

He mimes the throat slitting again, this time with sound effects and a contorted face.

Rick: Little do you know that my knives were created so they will not harm me.
Joshua: (in mid-slitting) Really? That’s awesome. I think I need a set of those.

Time for a little redirection.

Nika: You’re on regular meds?
Joshua: Yes.
Nika: For what? Are they gonna be able to tell for what?
Joshua: Uhnnn… I doubt it. It’s for suppression, like for bad things happen when I don’t get them.
Rina: Like anti-psychotics?
Joshua: Yeah. Basically. Well…’psychotic’ might be a strong word to use…like—
Rina: Look, I doubt you’re diabetic.
Joshua: Let’s just call them anti-depressants. I’m not gonna run around and kill anybody, I don’t think…like, when I don’t get them. I mean I’ve never killed anybody in the past. I’ve never killed anybody before. Period. So I mean, what’s the likelihood? It’s pretty good, I think. I mean, really.
Rina: Well, you’ve got my blessing to start with those bastards right now. (points through the interior bulkheads)
Nika: (squicks a ‘hmmmm’) The more he talks, the more I’m getting a little nervous, now.
Joshua: (sincerely) I’m sorry. I’ll shut up now.
Rick: Have you been trying to influence the big guy with your mental powers, now?
Joshua: It doesn’t work that way.
Nika: Since we have the time to sit here, why don’t you explain to us how it does work. Having never been around Readers before, I don’t know really what that means.
Joshua: (trying hard to say this) It’s not a two-way street. It’s only one-way, really. I…I mean I can… If I am not concentrating and I’m just sort of there, sort of picking up….Like your friend the Companion, I’m sure like any other Companion he picks up body language signals intuitively. Just by….just because. This is, at a low level, what this is like. I sort of pick up on—it’s not even really thoughts. There’s just, just this…I don’t know, it’s….the impressions of what they…I’m not reading their thoughts. Although I can, if I make a really strong effort for it. And….. But, even then I’m not…It’s not like I’m delving deep into your darkest secrets. I’m just basically reading what’s on the top level.
Nika: (cutting to the chase) You have this ability that if you don’t get these meds, that’s a problem?
Joshua: Yeah….that’s…yeah. Also they told me I would die if I didn’t take them. But she’s gonna bring them. She said she’d talk to the medic.
Nika: Yyah.
Joshua: I trust her. Wait…yes…No. On this I trust her.
Rina: (muttering) Oh, fuck…..
Joshua: She said she would.
Nika: Let me know if that changes.
Joshua: Okay.
Rina: We’d better hope Mary comes through, because if she doesn’t and Joshua dies, it’s just one less prisoner for her to deal with later.
Joshua: I’ve gone without my meds for three or four days at a time before. Once. And I didn’t die up to that fourth day. So that gives us at least four days.
Nika: Okay, you’re alarming me now.
Joshua: At least four days.
Rina: (redirecting) What have you got on you?
Joshua: On me?
Rina: Anything sharp? Anything thin?
Joshua: There’s a joke to be made there, but I…..I’m afraid to make it.

Nika starts to laugh.

Nika: You should be.
Joshua: No, I don’t have anything on me.
Nika: (to Rina) What are you thinking? And if the odds of us getting killed are greater than, say, eighty percent, I think we should rethink it.

Rina growls a sigh and lets the matter drop, pokes at her food.

Nika: (at Rina) We’re agreed that we’re not going to try jumping these people, right? We are not trying that. YOU are not trying that. EAT. I don’t care if it’s swill. And if you really give me crap about it, I will spit in it.
Rina: For all I know, that’ll make it taste better.
Nika: It might. Just eat it. You can’t go a week with no food. Just hold your nose, open your mouth and suck it down.
Joshua: See there? That’s what I’m talking about. That’s the forceful attitude that Mary really needs to take with her crew.

When the next meal arrives, it’s Cooper who delivers it along with the news that the medic vetoed the meds. Cooper commiserates—he knows what it’s like to be cravin’ something you can’t get. Joshua thanks the man and goes to his cabin. Rick asks if Cooper can get him his ‘shrooms. Cooper says he’ll see what he can do. He leaves. Nika goes to Joshua and asks him what will happen to him now. Joshua says it depends. He doesn’t remember a lot of what happened the last time. He has some exercises that can help him keep things in hand.

Nika: Like meditation?
Joshua: Something like that.
Nika: Start meditating.

Night One: Uneventful

Day Two: Rina comes up with an idea to liberate the cording on the mattress covers, to make either garrotes or trip wires out of them—sheer twitchiness makes her renege on the agreement—and that idea gets vetoed by Nika.

Rina: What kinda Captain are you, telling us not to resist being captured?
Joshua: A good one.
Rick: One who doesn’t want to get this canister jettisoned into space.
Nika: (nods to Rick) That. Plus I think if we can get to Aesir we’re going to maybe be in a better position.
Rina: What if I jammed it? So they couldn’t—?
Nika: No.
Rina: What if I—?
Nika: NO!

The bulk of the conversation all morning consists of Rina proposing and Nika disposing.

Nika: Bottom line is? It’s a ship. It’s not worth your life. It’s not worth Arden’s life. It’s not worth Joshua’s. It’s not worth Rick’s life.
Joshua: (whispering) It might be worth my life.
Rick: My knives are, though. Everyone’s life on this ship.
Nika: What?
Joshua: If they really can’t hurt him, like…if they really are like—
Nika: (snorting) He’s just feeling cocky because he pistol-whipped a Reaver to death.

On Trafalgar. For Blue Sun Blondie. Right.

Joshua: I heard that. Wait. I was there for that.
Nika: Well, you missed the first Reaver we got to see.
Joshua: Oh. Well that’s good. I’d rather not have seen it. The first crew was enough.

For their part, our jailers seem to be settling in very nicely on our ship. When we next see them, they’re wearing our head set comms. Settling in very nicely, thanks.


When they open the doors to feed us, we hear the normal sounds of ship life drifting in and they’re no longer pointing guns at us expecting an ambush. At best, there’s someone lounging against the bulkhead with a gun held casually in hand. Our jailers ask us how much to feed the fish. Rick tells them what they need to know. They ask us if we need anything.

Rina: I’m going stir crazy here. Could I at least get my cards back?
Cooper: Cards? Oh, your poker cards. You mean you want to play some cards? (leers)
Rina: Not with you.

Off to the side, Joshua starts softly counting: One, two, …..

Cooper: Why, I’m easy pickin’s. Apparently anyone just first time playin’ the game can win against me.
Rina: (warily) I dunno. You got the time?

Three, four…. Rina’s got a glimmer of an idea.

Cooper: Well…we still got what? Nine, ten days before we get to that backwater planet?
Rina: I suppose we could deal everybody in.

Five, six… Get our jailers in a room together with us…

Cooper: I was thinkin’ of a solo game. You and me. In one of those empty containers…
Rina: Nah.

Seven, eight…No. Absolutely not.

Cooper: C’mon. It’ll be fun.
Rina: No way.
Cooper: I’ll even let ya…bring some socks or somethin’…. so you got somethin’ to lose.

Joshua coughs.

Rina: Nope.
Nika: (to Cooper) That’s mighty sportin’ of ya, darlin’.
Cooper: Well, I tried. (gestures at Rina)
Rina: There’s no point in playing with anybody with nothing to bring to the table.
Rick: Cooper, if you get me my mushrooms, we’ll work on her, try an’ get her to play some cards with you.
Cooper: You help me out….(pauses, as if hammered by a déjà vu or something)…right. You sit tight.

He tosses Rina her pack of cards and exits. The minute the doors shut tight, Rina rounds on Rick and Nika.

Rina: If you want me to sleep with him, I will, but you have to tell me what I’m after. Besides killing him.
Nika: (squick!) Uhn, no, actually. I was just thinking more along the lines of the more they see us as people, the less likely they are to actually kill us. Which does not require you to fake sex. Holy Mother of God, woman!
Rina: Well, when he’s all distracted you could come up behind him and knock him out or something. Take the keys.
Rick: I thought if it came down to it, the ’shrooms might mellow him out for a little.
Joshua: Which mushrooms are these?

Nika’s squicked and appalled and outraged.

Nika: Number one, I wouldn’t ask you to do something I wouldn’t do myself. And since I ain’t spreadin’ my legs for anybody here, ain’t no way I’m askin’ somebody else to do it, okay? Christian, maybe, because well you know, he didn’t care. (starts to laugh) But that’s a whole ‘nuther story there. Okay?
Rina: Christian’s a law unto himself.
Nika: (taking a deep breath) Holy Mother of God, woman, what the hell did you do back then?
Rina: Back when?
Nika: If you’re thinking like somebody’s gonna ask you to actually do that, who did you work for? Not the people I thought you worked for, that’s for darned sure.

Joshua starts to hum to himself. Not getting involved in this little fight, nope.

Rina: (pissed) Just chalk it up to being crazy and paranoid and having nothing to do!
Nika: Crazy? Oh, good! You’re crazy.
Rick: (to Joshua) Why don’t you try to control me? This is line of sight and if that works, then we can go large scale. We can try through the doors. I’m totally not resisting you, man. Do it. Do it to me, just do it.
Joshua: That’s not how it works!
Nika: Mostly I say that the more they see us as people, the less likely they are to kill us.
Joshua: (agreeing with Nika) That’s true. From what I understand.
Rina: So what does that mean that he wants to sleep with me?
Nika: What?
Rina: (eyeroll) Am I people or cattle?
Nika: I’m so not going there.
Joshua: Oh no! Plunder the women, rape the treasure….
Rina: (to Nika) We’re taking watches. Right?
Nika: Yeah.

It’s going to be an awful long ride to Aesir.

To ease the boredom, Joshua starts observing and mimicking the voices of the pirate crew. And luckily, he has the presence of mind not to do it when the pirates can hear him. The headaches and the body aches of withdrawal are starting to creep in and it’s a welcome distraction from his growing discomfort

Night Two: Joshua is dreaming .

In his dream he sees two very scared-looking people, wearing grey jumpsuits. In his dream a voice is saying:

Joshua: (in a deeper voice) Calm down. Calm down. Everything’s gonna be okay.

One of the jumpsuited people reaches for something and Joshua feels his hand rise and BAM! BAM! He shoots the two people dead. Joshua is shocked, staring in disbelief at the blood pooling, flooding beneath the bodies.

Joshua wakes with a hoarse cry, soaked in sweat.

Rina’s on watch and she’s pacing the narrow hallway of the quarters, up and down and up and down and hears a sound coming from Joshua’s bunk. Damned if it isn’t Cooper’s voice she hears in there: Calm down. Calm down. Everything’s gonna be okay. And then: Oh, my God!

Rina slides Joshua’s door open and sticks her head in. Joshua is sitting up in bed, drenched.

Joshua: Hi. You all right?

Is she all right? Aw, hell. Rina steps inside.

Rina: (no-nonsense) I thought I heard Cooper in here. What’s going on?
Joshua: Cooper’s not in here. I was asleep. Had a nightmare.
Rina: Oh, that’s just eerie-assed creepy.
Joshua: What?
Rina: Hey…waitaminute….can you impersonate the others?
Joshua: It’s not difficult, really. I can impersonate anybody. That’s actually second nature….and it’s starting to get a little worse.

He’s looking a bit rocky, actually.

Rina: Can I get you anything I can get you some water. There’s nothing else I can do.
Joshua: No, it’s okay.
Rina: What did you dream?
Joshua: What was Cooper saying?
Rina: Uh…he was saying…
Joshua: Well, I guess it was me. I don’t talk in my dreams…I don’t normally talk in my dreams…
Rina: He said ‘It’s going to be all right. It’s going to be all right. Everything’s going to be okay. Calm down.’
Joshua: I guess I was talking in my dream. I didn’t make the bang-bang noise, did I?
Rina: There was some Chinese. Which I didn’t catch. And... What you do you mean, ‘bang-bang noises’? What do you mean?
Joshua: I was killing, like, from the dream.
Rina: Oh. Uh…
Joshua: I guess I was Cooper.
Rina: What did you use?
Joshua: I don’t know…it was a pistol. Like I had it in my hand. And it kinda turned sideways. (demonstrates the sideways gansta gun grip)
Rina: I hope he broke his wrist doing that. Who did you kill—who did he kill?
Joshua: It was…it was two people in grey jumpsuits.
Rina: What kind of grey jumpsuits?
Joshua: Like grey jumpsuits? Like, uh….I mean there wasn’t anything particularly distinctive about them.
Rina: Try to think.

He thinks hard. Recalls a stylized logo with UR centered in a hexagon.

Rina: Like Unified Reclamation, maybe?
Joshua: I guess it could be. I’ve never really directly seen one of their logos before.
Rina: These people that you killed, where they like…running away or…?
Joshua: No. They were, they were in one of these…like a little room, like this. Like ah…on the floor. Like, ah….prisoners. Oh. That doesn’t look good, does it?
Rina: No, they’re pirates. They’re pirates.

What else are pirates going to do with prisoners, anyway?

Joshua: I’m sorry.
Rina: It’s not your fault they’re pirates. At least now we know how they got Lenore. (breathes) Do you want to wake the others up or do you want to wait til morning?
Joshua: I don’t know why you’re looking at me for that. Uhh…yeah, I guess. I mean—

But Rina’s already out of there like a shot and banging on Nika’s door. Nika pokes her head muzzily out into the corridor and Rick looks out of his bunk in turn. What? What’s going on? Rina points to Joshua’s door.

Rina: You’re gonna want to hear this.
Nika: Don’t you people sleep?
Rick: What conspiracy theory stuff is going on now?
Rina: Joshua had a dream. In it he dreamed he was Cooper and in that dream he saw Cooper kill two people in grey jumpsuits with ‘UR’ on their jumpsuits. Now I am thinking maybe it could be Unified Reclamation. Which would explain how they got their ship. I mean, look at their story. If they say that they were doing the business for Unified Reclamation, that’s close enough to the truth if they assumed the identities of the people they killed to get the ship.
Nika: Oh….crap.
Joshua: It’s a dream. It’s not necessarily a—
Rina: Oh but it sounded just like Cooper. I was pacing the hallway and I heard Cooper yelling “It’s gonna be all right. It’s gonna be all right. Take it easy…”
Joshua: Well, I am good.
Nika: (to Joshua) Does Readerdom work this way?
Joshua: Not usually, no.
Nika: (to Rina) So maybe he’s just petrified that Cooper may come in here and kill our asses and ..you know….
Rina: Then why the grey jumpsuits? Why project?
Nika: Okay. (asks Joshua) Do you, in general, randomly pluck memories from people’s heads and dream about them?
Joshua: No.
Nika: Do you randomly pluck memories from anyone’s head?
Joshua: No.
Nika: Okay.
Rick: Is it because he’s actively thinking about this? Is that what it would require?
Joshua: I don’t even know if it’s….
Nika: Or it could just be a bunch of elements all coming together and him having a freakin’ nightmare. I can’t tell you how many nightmares I had after I shot whatshisname in the head.
Rina: Duncan.
Joshua: I’m assuming that was completely justified.
Rina: Oh, hell yes.
Nika: I thought so at the time.
Joshua: You know, I think I’m going to repeat the first half of the answer and ignore the second. So yes, it was justified.
Nika: It wasn’t unjustified. I’ll put it that way. It was not, perhaps, required.

Joshua take that in, lets it settle. Then:

Joshua: Okay. Just in case that wasn’t a dream, like…in case, like, it may be me, it may be the drug, maybe the drugs. Maybe it can induce a weird dream, that doesn’t mean…
Nika: You could be going through withdrawal.
Joshua: Yeah. I’ve already got the aches.
Rina: If you pick up anything from me, I apologize in advance.
Joshua: It’s okay, I..ah…I’m very good at ignoring that sort of thing. I have a second level routine that I use to keep myself focused. It’s weird but I —
Nika: In any case, regardless of what you dreamed, what the hell good is it gonna do us now? You had to wake us up in the middle of the night to tell us?
Joshua: Well, she wanted—
Rina: He can really mimic their voices. We have an intercom. I was thinking maybe we could…fake them out? Make them think one of their crew’s in here?
Nika: To what end?
Rina: I was thinking if they thought one of their crew was in here on the sly, making deals against the rest of the crew with us….

A little psychological warfare.

Okay, Nika’s on board with that but who’s voice are we going to use? At which point Rina admits her plan falls short.


Nika: Talk to me if you actually come up with something useful. Okay?
Rina: (scrubbing her face) I hate this…..grabbing at straws, I hate this…..
Nika: I’m not saying we shouldn’t attempt to take our ship back but sometimes the best survival mechanism is to sit tight.

Joshua urges everyone to go back to sleep. Nika declares there’s no going back to sleep for her tonight and tells Rina go grab some shut-eye. Rina goes, grumbling how much she hates doing nothing.

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Part 2

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