Episode 310: Fais Do-Do
Air date: 09 Mar 2010
Present: Maer, Terri, Andy, Bobby, and Tony
Thursday, 14 Nov 2520
Willow Parish, Muir
Blue Sun (Qing Long) system
2200hrs, local time
Thanks to Joshua trying to Read Queenie at the end of parlay, Joshua suffers a seizure and loses consciousness. Rick and Arden drag/carry Joshua through the water back onto the Gift, Arden calling for his medical bag. Once in the airlock, Joshua revives on his own.
Meanwhile the zombie topside on the hull advances to our bow and apparently dives off it, possibly to gain entrance to our girl via the hole in avionics. Rina goes forward through the ship to investigate. Nika goes with her, slides the access hatch aside to the hole in the bow. The zombie is hanging upside down in the outer hole and is a seething mass of ants. He’s howling. Taking pity on him, Rina decides to pry him off to get him away from the ants. She dons her work gloves, zips her coveralls all the way up to her neck and duct tapes her pants legs closed around her work boots. Thus protected from the ants carpeting avionics, she crawls through the equipment to the zombie. Once there, she grabs hold of his feet to loosen his foothold on the hull.
She’s successful but the zombie grabs her as he falls, taking the engineer with him into the water. He rights himself before she can and grabbing her by the scruff of her coveralls, starts walking through the water, dragging her with him facedown through waist-high water. If she doesn’t win free, she’ll drown. Rina manages to claw her way up his arm just high enough to breathe safely, but it’s rough going. The swinging action of the zombie’s arm makes it hard to stay above water and she tries squirming free. She fails her first attempt.
Nika comms the men what’s happened and while Arden, Joshua and Rick jump out the airlock to give chase, Nika moves to the airlock to join them—no way is she jumping out the hole in avionics.
Rick tries distracting the zombie by trying nocturnal animal calls, thinking that the sound of more suitable prey would make the zombie release Rina. No luck. The zombie would rather keep the bird in hand over the two in the bush. Nika jumps out the airlock onto the dry land of the sandbar and gives chase.
Rina tries again to get free but the zombie’s hold on her collar is too tight, her zipper is jammed and there’s no shimmying out of her coveralls to escape his grip. She digs her heels into the muddy bottom of the swamp and fights his pull. He retaliates by grabbing her hair and holding her head underwater to subdue her. As the swamp closes over her, Rina takes one last breath, goes still to conserve her air, and prays the others can reach her in time.
The zombie had been walking upstream of the Gift, paralleling the massive sandbar the bow of the Gift plowed into. Arden runs along it, picks up a sturdy deadwood branch for a club and runs to catch up with Rick and Joshua. Rick is foremost and he takes a flying leap at the zombie. He connects. The zombie lets go of Rina. She shoots up to the surface with a sucking gasp. Joshua grabs her and hauls her to dry land.
Meanwhile, Rick’s grappling with the zombie. Arden swings at the zombie’s head with his makeshift club and connects. The zombie sinks underwater, swimming.
And strikes! Arden is hauled beneath the surface of the swamp. It’s too dark to try to find him visually and aware that Arden’s air is running out, Joshua tries to Read the zombie’s position. From the depths Joshua gets a sense of ownership from the zombie—mine!—and a more primitive impulse from the zombie’s limbic brain: hunter catching prey.
Rick swims after the zombie with knives drawn. Rina unfolds her Leatherman’s serrated blade and makes to follow, however the water’s higher up than her waist and her ability to help is limited. She hangs back. Nika catches up with Rina and Joshua on the sandbar. Rick has gained Arden’s last position and stabs through the water with his knives then sweeps his hands below the surface hoping to find something, but the zombie has already moved on. Rick spies a thin trail of bubbles from Arden and follows.
Arden is meanwhile getting dragged below water and kicks to get free. His air is running out and he flashes back to a water skiing incident with Valerie when they were both in college. His foot got tangled in the rope and he got dragged under. He remembered how he kicked free of the rope and gets away from the zombie. He breaks the surface and is grabbed by Rick and hauled ashore. Rick tells everyone to get out of the water.
Arden’s okay, sputtering up water, but is otherwise unharmed. In the distance, we see a large humanoid figure climb out of the water onto the far shore, slip between the trees at the water’s edge and disappear into the woods. Looks like our zombie has decided to leave. The zombie is headed in the general direction of town, from which Queenie’s island is visible. Rick yells at the retreating zombie’s back—BRAAAAAIINS!—but the zombie keeps on going.
Joshua: That’s where Queenie is. Or at least, that’s her general direction.
Arden: (hacking up water) Shouldn’t we worried that he’s heading toward town?
Joshua: (firmly) No.
Arden: Okay, but—
Joshua: What are you going to do about it, Arden?
Rina: Fly to their rescue?
Joshua: You going to call them on the comm and suggest that they look out for the zombie?
Arden: We could go after the zombie and stop it from getting to the town.
Rina: We don’t even know it’s going to town.
Joshua: So far, attacking the zombie has not worked out well for us.
Arden: (coughs) I’m just asking.
Rina: Can we put grenade launchers on our shopping list?
Joshua: I got it on my list.
Rick: I’m thinking that they’re used to seeing the zombies.
Nika: It seems to be a normal thing for them.
And one would think that as a result, the town would know what to do, right?
Rick: Hey, it’s not my fault. All I did was wink at her and she liked it.
Rina gets it and starts laughing.
Arden: He winked at Queenie.
Joshua: At Queenie?
Joshua: She was really awesome. (A beat) She was.
Arden: Spooky as heck.
Nika: (fed up) Back into the ship.
Joshua: Yes, ma’am.
We all haul ass back to the Gift. Once there, Arden hacks up some more water and asks:
Arden: Anybody hurt? More hurt?
Rina: Probably me.
Arden: You’re not more hurt, are you?
Nika: What is our agenda, here? For God’s sake, does anybody know?
Joshua: What’s whose agenda?
Arden: Queenie wants us to knock off the old man. The old man wants us to get rid of Queenie. And we just want parts for our ship.
Rina: (morose) Can we say ‘a pox on both their houses’?
Wouldn’t do much good, they’re already living in a swamp.
Joshua: She’s a Reader.
Arden: (nodding to Joshua) He saw a lot more than I did.
Joshua: She’s a Reader, I’d …well, I wouldn’t stake my life on it. Maybe.
Arden: The way we’re going, we may be doing that.
Joshua: (convinced) She’s a Reader. Like she’s, she’s good, too. Or she’s got (whispers) fantastic technique.
Nika: (hinked!) I’m not liking that at all.
Joshua: But she’s … If I had to give her a story, and everybody needs a story, right? Like, um….I’m guessing she left voluntarily, or involuntarily, to go to Osiris to be a doctor and got held voluntarily or involuntarily by Blue Sun.
Nika: Does anybody get held voluntarily by Blue Sun?
Joshua: I don’t know.
Nika: Okay. Just checking.
Rick: (to himself) I’d go voluntarily.
He’s still carrying a torch for Blue Sun Blondie.
Arden: Yeah, crazy people. Which, by definition, is Queenie.
Joshua: A lot of her talk suggests that at one time she was—she referenced to Arden about a doctor, about cutting flesh and bone.
Joshua: And I got the strong impression that she would have been doing that at one point.
Arden: She actually said that she used to be that, and that her methods of healing are…
Arden: Different. Better than that, I got the impression.
Better than Alliance medical science?
Rick: And she definitely has the Prion Disease. Whether it be TSE or kuru, she’s….
Arden: She showed symptoms.
Joshua: There but for the grace of God, go I. She’s….she’s linked.
Rina: Linked? To what?
Joshua: She knows. She knows— (changes tack) —I’ m pretty sure she came form the same Academy at one point, or something similar to mine.
Arden: Don’t take this the wrong way. Really, I do not mean it the wrong way—
Joshua: Better go ahead and say it.
Arden: Are you, could you be possibly be reading more into her than she actually is? To me it sounded like she said a lot of cryptic stuff that could be interpreted multiple ways.
Joshua: She knew you were from White Sun.
That’s one-fifth of the population in the Verse. More likely far more than that. What are the odds she’d nail that one? Pretty good, we’re thinking.
Nika: All of you sound like you’re from the Core, so it wouldn’t be a stretch for her to make that assumption.
Joshua: That’s fair. It’s possible.
Arden: In any case, she sounded like a carnival shill to me.
Rina starts to laugh and suddenly starts to cough, as something goes down the wrong pipe.
Joshua: Don’t die, please.
Arden: What are you laughing at?
Rina: (past her coughing) He said….carnival ‘shrill’…(laughs and coughs some more)
Joshua: I think the word you’re looking for is ‘shill’. (to Arden) But I knew what you meant.
Rick looks aside, as if listening to something from the direction of the open windows on the bridge. It sounds like….gunfire. And it’s coming from the town of Willow. We all scramble outside to the top hull to listen better.
Arden: Maybe we should have gone after the zombie.
Nika: Arden, we have exactly three pistols to our name. What exactly did you think we would do?
Rick: What do you guys want to do about it?
Arden: I don’t know. We don’t have any way to get there except by foot and by the time we get there, it will be over.
The evening breeze sends sounds from Willow our way. We think we can hear screaming. That decides it for us. We quickly mobilize a team and set off overland. Rick and Joshua and Nika go and Rina and Arden stay behind to guard our ship. Rina hands Nika her extra pistol, compliments of Brian, and to Joshua she gives her regular pistol, the one that replaced her beloved Tokarev.
Rick does a superb job of tracking through the swamp in a crow-flight’s path right for Willow. Even before they arrive they can see something burning through the trees and when they clear the woods, they see one of the buildings is on fire. Looking across the water toward Queenie’s Island, the party sees that there is another fire burning there, glowing with colors from chemicals thrown on the flames.
Looking carefully at the fire there, we can see Queenie swaying on the roof of her waterside hut and grinding something in a crude clamshell mortar. Around the fire is a group of women swaying and chanting in time to Queenie’s movements on the roof. Listening to their chanting, it sounds as if they’re singing in Creole, trying to summon a god to protect them.
Joshua sees and listens and relays the information to Nika, and then tells her he wants to get closer. Before she can say yea or nay, we hear gunshots from Reverend Jim’s. Nika sighs and goes to check on him. Rick goes with her, leaving Joshua to observe the island.
Joshua moves closer to Queenie’s.
Nika and Rick see Grissom holding one of the rifles we gave him, shooting at something downslope. Rick yells to Grissom. Grissom yells back that there’s something in the water next to the pier. RIGHT WHERE RICK AND NIKA ARE. Rick and Nika get the hell off that pier right quick and make it to land with Grissom laying down covering fire. They climb up to the Reverend’s doorstep and Grissom gives them the run down of what happened.
He says this is the worst he’s ever seen them. Meaning the zombies. He’s winged one, he thinks, but damn they’re hard to—
Rick: How many are there?
Grissom: (panting) Just three. I didn’t even know she had three.
Nika: What do they want?
Grissom: Uh….it looks like they want to kill everybody. Queenie’s got’em under control or she’s tryin’ to. Well, not exactly. ’Cept this one.
Rick: And the one you’re shootin’ at is under the dock?
Grissom: That’s where I saw it.
Meanwhile, Joshua has slogged ashore to Queenie’s island. The music and the chanting gets louder and louder. Queenie raises the clamshell to her lips and sucks its contents down as she would a giant raw oyster. She starts convulsing and she collapses. The rhythm of the dance and the cadence of the chanting falters, slows, and stops. The women at the fire gasp in shock as Queenie falls from the roof of her hut.
Joshua moves closer to the camp, sees Queenie convulsing on the ground. He also sees in addition to the women around the fire, there are about thirty townspeople here as well. Joshua is driven to go to Queenie, to check her and render first aid if possible. He assumes his most authoritative bearing and goes forward, and the people gathered there react to it with some confusion. Obviously this turn of events is not what they were expecting. They’re understandably concerned about Queenie and yet are afraid to touch her. Who knows what’s wrong with her, what if it’s catching? What if it’s a trick?
Joshua goes to her anyway. She’s shaking, her eyes are rolled back in her head. Foam flecks her lips. Grand Mal seizure? Shellfish allergy? There’s no telling. Joshua turns to one of the villagers.
Joshua: What was supposed to happen here?
Villager: Powerful ju-ju!
Oh great. Joshua can’t expect help from that quarter. He turns back to Queenie, thinking hard about what he knows of seizures. And what he knows is absolutely zip.
Meanwhile, back at the Reverend’s…..
Nika: Are you just keeping the zombies away from the Reverend?
Grissom: As opposed to what?
Nika: I don’t know. We heard gunfire. We came over to see if we could help out.
Grissom: Well, the zombies are goin’ crazy.
There’s more than just zombies goin’ crazy. The building in town is still on fire and if we’re not careful it can spread to the entire town. Nika wants to know who lit that fire. Grissom doesn’t know.
Rick: All right. We’ll fix this.
Grissom: Well, it blowed up cuz there’s a still over there. Must got knocked over or sumthin’. An’ now there’s a fire. (a beat) All these huts have fire in ’em an’ sometimes theys catch fire every now’n then. ’Specially when a crazy creature’s runnin’ around in there, tearin’ up boats.
Rick goes down to the dock to see if he can’t find the zombie and deal with it. Nika follows him.
Back on Queenie’s island, Joshua is debating getting a Read on Queenie during her seizure. Could be fun. Could be dangerous. Could be he won’t get a chance—the townsfolk and especially Queenie’s women are looking less like they trust him and more like they think he’s the cause of their current trouble. They’re upset and Joshua tries reasoning with them to calm them down.
Joshua: (pointing to Queenie) Are any of you doctors? Any of you at all?
Anyone here have some skills at doctorin’ sick folk?
Villager #1: This isn’t medicine, this is magic!
Villager #2: Queenie didn’t tell us how to deal with any of this stuff. She’s supposed to have the god inside her.
Joshua: Well, the god’s killing her right now.
One of Queenie’s women at the fire starts wailing.
Queenie’s Woman #1: Then we’re all dead!
Joshua keeps talking, tries to engage the people to keep them thinking coherently. Trying to make sense of it all.
Joshua: Why are you summoning the god?
Queenie’s Woman #1: To protect us.
Joshua: From what?
Queenie’s Woman #2: From the zombies.
From the zombies? Wha-aaaat?
Joshua: I’m sorry. This train just took a derailment that I’m not ready to handle. Wait. She’s protecting you from the zombies?
Queenie’s Woman #1: Yes!
Joshua: I thought she controlled the zombies.
Queenie’s Woman #1: She did. But she lost control. When you came!
Villager #3: Yeah, she had those zombies under control til that ship landed.
Villager #2: They had their power on. She said they shouldn’t have their power on.
Joshua: But we turned the power off. It’s all done.
Joshua gets the sense he’s losing his control of the crowd. The mood of the crowd shifts from fright and dread to that of an angry mob. Like a lynch mob. He keeps talking.
Joshua: Look, she’s going to come out of it. She’s summoning the god. It’s going to come out, I’m sure. That’s what this is all about right?
It’s too late—the people have started putting two and two together and are muttering to themselves that yeah, everything was fine til you showed up ….you and that fancy ship….with you and your forbidden power generators… Joshua tries to keep them from anything rash as they start to surround him and Queenie. Joshua crouches next to her, not sure if they’re going to tear him to pieces, or her, too.
The crowd starts preparing for the worst. Some of the women at the fire start chanting, speaking in tongues. Others are on their knees and praying, genuinely terrified. Joshua’s got two options: the bad evil option and the bad good option. Bad evil: Joshua has a gun, but doesn’t know how to use it, and he can put it to Queenie’s head and threaten to blow her away. The bad good option? Ummm….give him a minute to think of one….
Back at the dock, Rick tries a bird call, a chicken, hoping to draw the zombie out of hiding. He creeps very carefully forward and thinks he hears some splashing under the dock. He eases back and whispers to Nika:
Rick: I think they have night vision.
Nika: Night vision?!
Rick nods, calls out in a gravelly voice to the zombie—BRA-AAAAAINS!—and moves for the end of the dock. He hears a sound behind him, which in a night situation with fires and people going crazy nobody wants to hear—that of wood breaking. The dock flexes and bows right before Rick’s eyes and with the loud groan of distressed timbers, it explodes as the zombie beneath it rises through it from below. The zombie claws through the debris for Rick.
Nika: Oh crap!
She runs to Rick to back him up. The zombie plows a fist toward Rick and connects, knocking him down. Rick throws one of his knives at the zombie and misses.
Back on Queenie’s island, the crowd is getting more desperate, more ugly.
The zombie on the ruined pier charges at Rick again, punching. He connects again and knocks Rick down. Rick tries throwing another of his knives with the intent to disable and take down, not kill, the zombie. He misses again. Two knives gone. The zombie draws a machete from his belt and swings at Rick and Nika. Nika tries for a headshot at him, makes it, and the bullet does only minimal damage. A graze, not a mortal wound.
Rick attempts to get the zombie in the leg with another one of his knives.
He aims. He throws. He misses.
No joy in Mudville.
Rick has no time to try to retrieve his thrown knives, and fails to dodge the zombie’s machete. He gets sliced by it for a rather nasty wound.
Rick: (muttering) I hate that sunuvabitch….
Nika grabs Rick and hauls the both of them out of there. The zombie follows to attack. Rick and Nika fetch hard up on the great big hole in the pier the zombie tore out of it, jump it, and manage to land on the other side. Stymied by the gap, the zombie dithers on the other side and Rick sinks a throwing knife into him. Nika lines up a shot and hits. The zombie leaps for the near side of the pier, falls short and lands in the water, clutching the edge of the pier. Nika pulls a headshot and as the zombie sinks into the water, Rick pulls his knife from its chest.
Meanwhile, back at the barbeque at Queenie’s…
Joshua is trying to hold off an increasingly ugly and lynch-minded crowd. He first tried telling them that Rick and Nika are going to kill the zombies and that we’re here to help. Unfortunately that only reminds the crowd that things were going pretty well until we landed in their backyard. Someone makes the case that maybe it was the strangers on that ship that caused everything to go south.
Joshua tells them that Queenie visited him personally and that Queenie came from the Core, just like he did. And just as she, Joshua has powers, too. However, the crowd remembes that Queenie only visits people when things go bad, so that doesn’t help one tiny little bit. And they get a little closer, and uglier, and Joshua’s stuck with a convulsing priestess at his feet and her angry acolytes looking to skin him alive for it. In front of him is the mob, behind him is the trackless swamp literally crawling with crocs and snakes and oh, turtles the size of houses for whom he’d barely make a decent snack.
Strike Two. Bottom of the ninth, bases loaded and the home team has one hell of a mean home advantage.
Before the crowd can move, however, Nika and Rick plow across the water for a ninth inning save, long enough to swat Joshua with a clue bat and order him to call Arden on his hand comm to tell him that we need medical assistance.
Which Arden renders, thank you kindly.
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