Episode 414: Insomnia

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Air date: 05 Oct 2010
Present: Kim, Maer, Terri, Andy, and Bobby

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Friday, 22 Aug 2521
Kuiper II class, Summer’s Gift
Pericles Station
Blue Sun (Qing Long) system
0900hrs, local time

It’s a few days after our disastrous rescue attempt to save the stitches. We’ve managed not to be found out by the authorities, such as they exist in the lower decks, and so we linger a few days to let Joshua heal up from his injuries. Come the morning of the 22th, he’s still on the mend—taking painkillers, arm in a sling—but he’s up and about and doing his duties one-handed.

We have money, more than we’ve ever seen as the Gift’s crew, and the amount we’ve got allows us to pick and choose our next jobs with a little more care. Faced with the choice of transporting a man taking 25 settlers bound for Miranda or 80 tons of marching spark-throwing Gojira toys to Boros, we weigh our options.

Arden: Personally, I’d rather take the toys to Boros than go to Miranda.
Rina: (dubiously) Toys.
Arden: Although going to Miranda would be more training for our cardio-vascular systems.
Kiera: (speculatively) And I’ve never been there …
Nika: Since we’re not hurtin’ for cash at this point, we have our pick of what we’re doing here.
Joshua: I know I don’t carry a lot of weight at this moment but I’d like to know what he’s doing.

Meaning the leader of the passengers to Miranda.

Nika: He’s just taking settlers.
Joshua: I know. Why? I mean, he may not be willing to tell us.
Nika: You’re welcome to go with me to have this meeting with him in terms of discussing that particular part.
Joshua: Okay.
Nika: Mostly what I wanted to know is what he needed so I can even tell him if he could potentially be accommodated.
Rina: Then you might need me there.
Nika: For what?

Hello! Miranda. Rina gives her Captain an oh, please look. And when Nika doesn’t respond …

Rina: Because. Nika: Let me put it to you this way and it’s probably going to sound awful but I don’t mind taking the ship on the run.
Joshua: That doesn’t sound awful. In general.
Arden: On the run?
Rina: To Miranda?
Nika: Yeah, Rina. To Miranda.
Arden: What do you mean by ‘on the run’?
Joshua: The ship being chased.
Arden: Oh.

Like, by Reavers.

Joshua: My point is, before we go talk to him you should probably have an idea whether you want to do it or not.
Nika: I’m leanin’ towards ‘yes’ just because it’s—.
Joshua: You’re the Captain. You do whatever you know you want.
Nika: Yes.
Joshua: I don’t know if you plan to take a vote and then ignore it or, like, …
Nika: (grinning) The possibility exists.
Joshua: I didn’t think it was out of the realm of possibility but whatever you plan to do, you should do it. And then go from there. I don’t actually have a horse in this race. I’d like to know why. Not for any sorta moral judgment or anything like that. It just interests me.
Nika: Bear in mind that once they land, they can’t take off.
Joshua: Toys to Boros would be interesting because I’d get to see your family, but it’s also, you know, toys.
Nika: It doesn’t matter what the cargo is.
Joshua: Actually, in my regards, it does. Cuz a trip to Boros carrying toys is relatively boring for me. A trip to Miranda for three weeks carrying 25 passengers? That is a challenge.
Nika: And you can use one of those.
Kiera: Then I vote Miranda, cuz I think that sounds cool and I haven’t been. It could be a delightful tourist stop for all I know.
Joshua: All right then. Take a vote. Do something. Captain, do something.
Nika: Arden’s already weighed in. He’d rather go to Boros. Why?
Arden: Because my cardio-vascular system is fine in tune.
Nika: Okay. Rina?


Rina: (quietly) I’ll go with whatever you decide.
Nika: Abstention. Interesting. (a beat) I got one vote for Boros, one vote for Miranda, one abstention. (nods to Joshua) And him.
Joshua: I’m undecided until I hear what he says, but leaning toward Miranda.
Nika: Let’s go talk to him.

Nika give the man a call that night to set up the meet. Meeting arranged, the leader—a man by name of Marcus Dean—shows up at the agreed upon time and place. Nika gets right down to business.

Nika: You realize we’re not a huge vessel, yeah?
Dean: Your vessel is well known to us.
Nika: And what exactly does that mean?
Dean: There aren’t that many vessels that have been to Miranda and back.

Joshua leans to Nika’s ear and whispers.

Joshua: We got a reputation. (to Dean) Can I ask you something?
Dean: You may.
Joshua: Why?
Dean: Well. The images that you sent from that planet—
Joshua: Not me.
Dean: They may be bleak to some, but they show promise to others. My people have been … yearning for some … free space to … sit down on their own.
Joshua: Your people? Are you their leader?
Dean: Well. I suppose in a sense I am. They look to me for leadership.
Joshua: Is this some sort of religious community?
Dean: We are religious. Yes.
Joshua: Huh. All right.
Dean: We are the Lambs of Megiddo.
Joshua: I don’t know anything about them. The Lambs of Megiddo?

Historically speaking on Old Earth, Megiddo is one of the most famous of ancient battlegrounds. Its gates and walls witnessed the armed struggles of Assyrians, Canaanites, Egyptians, Greeks, Israelites, Persians, Philistines, and Romans. It is prophesied to be the gathering place of an immense army bound to engage the returning Messiah. Of course, Biblical references aside—made even perhaps irrelevant once off Old Earth—it’s anyone’s guess what the group’s name signifies, beyond that it is religious and likely Judeo-Christian. What Dean says in answer to Joshua’s query clarifies it somewhat.

Dean: We’ve seen … corruption and a … turn away from the truth on our worlds. So we came together. We tried to find it once on the Border and we couldn’t find it there. We went back to the Core, to the parcel of land we thought to develop out there unmolested, but … While we were there, people were feeling we weren’t fully independent. We weren’t required to be. But on Miranda we will be. There will be no calling for help.
Joshua: I get that.
Nika: Well, that brings me around to the warning part of this discussion. You do understand that once you are on Miranda, there is no coming off.

It’s not phrased as a question and Dean doesn’t read it as such.

Dean: Yes we do.
Nika: It’s not like we’re gonna come back by. We’re not going to be coming back by to check. Nobody else is going to be coming by to check.
Dean: It will be our last stand.
Nika: Now, see? Right there. That kinda phrasin’. That really really bothers me.
Dean: But you say yourself, there’s no return.
Nika: Yeah, but your last stand? It sorta sounds like you’re gettin’ ready to walk into a fight.
Joshua: Well, that’s their choice, isn’t it?
Dean: We anticipate that that is likely. We’ve been training for it. For many years.

Nika frowns. Joshua nods appreciatively.

Joshua: I like you. (to Nika) I like them.
Dean: This is a battle for … (pause)
Joshua: Truth?
Dean: Salvation.
Joshua: I really like them, Captain. (to Dean) I like you.
Nika: All right. (mutters) … oh, crud … (louder) So. Looking at my ship and my configuration, I think we can accommodate what you need.
Dean: (confident) I know you can. We wouldn’t have picked your ship if it wasn’t capable of suiting our needs. In fact, we were very careful to pack so we would not overburden your systems.

Oh, really? Huh. Nika, however, doesn’t skip a beat.

Nika: There’s going to be some ground rules. Before any of your people step aboard my ship, they are going to have their gear searched. And there will be no weapons allowed on board.
Joshua: (softly) No weapons?
Dean: In our containers?
Nika: Your containers are fine. They will be locked the entire trip.
Dean: You understand that we’ll be flying through Reaver space, right? Wouldn’t it be better to have trained—
Nika: It ain’t gonna be better to have 25 people with weapons on my boat. Don’t take this wrong, but I’m not that trustin’.

After all, we’ve been burned once already by the Lenore crew. For his part, Dean picks up her meaning.

Dean: You’re concerned we might be pirates.
Joshua: We’ve had those kind of issues in the past. So trust me when I say I understand where you are coming from and if we can find a solution that works out that we can trust that you’re not gonna take the ship—
Nika: Personal firearms can be put away with ours. That way if we have to arm for a Reaver run, then everybody gets armed at the same time.
Dean: Well, if we can pack our containers close to the doors so that when you give us permission then we can arm ourselves. If you wish us to. Would that satisfy you?
Nika: As long as they’re locked in the containers and the containers are not visited on a regular basis.
Dean: I believe that the configuration of your ship might make it permissible to put them below decks where we wouldn’t have access to them.
Nika: It does.
Dean: Then let us do that.
Nika: Fine.

Hurdle hurdled. Next….

Joshua: Okay. And you probably already know that stuff is going to be tight in terms of scheduling food.
Dean: My people are very disciplined.
Joshua: Okay. Then we’re on board, I think. If you’ve got problems, bring them to me. I’ll bring them to the Captain if necessary.
Dean: You were not on the Miranda mission.
Joshua: No I was not.
Dean: Then you will experience this for the first time, as will we.
Joshua: Yes. That is … true.
Dean: (quietly) Perhaps you would like to join us in our preparations for it.
Joshua: I’d be interested in that.
Dean: I’ll see to it that you’re invited—of course, the whole crew would be invited but from what I’ve read, that isn’t your way.

A pause. Then:

Nika: Now somebody’s bloggin’ about us?
Dean: We saw the … You know that the Out In The Black episodes are now out there.
Nika: The what?
Dean: Out In The Black. The show about you.


Nika: (oh, God) Oh, God ….
Joshua: I wasn’t there for that either, so I haven’t …
Nika: Oh, God …
Dean: So we’ve seen all that. Although they were never aired, we were able to get hold of copies.

Since Nika still seems poleaxed by the prospect, Joshua covers her lapse in his capacity as Ship’s Steward.

Joshua: How long before you’re ready to board?
Dean: If you need us to go faster, we can go faster but if you need us to carefully pack, then—
Joshua: We’re on your schedule in this case. When you’re ready to get on board, let me know and I’ll be setting up cabins. You’ll be in first class?
Dean: I will, but don’t make any special accommodations for me. I’ll eat the same thing as my people.
Joshua: That’s probably a good thing.
Dean: In fact I’ll provide you with a list of our dietary requirements. We try to travel and eat fairly lean so that we won’t get used to things we’re not going to get to enjoy on Miranda.
Joshua: If you can get me that sooner than when you’re ready to board—I’m obviously going to need to purchase a lot of food.

25 people and 5 more for crew. 30 people. That’s a lot of food.

Nika: And that brings us around to the last part of the conversation.
Joshua: Yes, ma’am. Which is what? (off her look) Oh. Right. Sorry. (to Dean) At standard rate, it’s going to end up running you about 1400 a week.
Dean: Your ship is class 5?
Nika: Yes.
Dean: So that would be 20 days? Three weeks?
Nika: Three weeks.

Damn. They have been studying us.

Dean: Hm. Let’s make it …. 5000? Even? In platinum?
Joshua: And is there a … ?
Dean: There is a catch.
Joshua: And that is?
Dean: I’ll show you the money but I won’t pay it til we get there.
Nika: You’re going to have to pay part up front because this is gonna have to require some supplyin’.
Dean: I’m afraid I’m going to have to find another ship.

Dean rises to leave.

Joshua: Hold on a second. Captain?

Dean sits down. Joshua pulls Nika to the side.

Joshua: We don’t have to have it up front.
Nika: Then you tell me why.
Joshua: I find him intriguing.
Nika: That’s not what I’m talkin’ about.
Joshua: (off her look) … Wait. You’re talking about … ?

You damn betcha. Read him.

Joshua: Why?
Nika: I wanna know why he won’t pay us til we get there.
Joshua: Oh. That.
Nika: Since you’re Reading him anyway, I wanna know why he’s not going to.
Joshua: Actually, I haven’t been Reading him.
Nika: That was the look you got. (demonstrates) I want to know why.
Joshua: Yes, ma’am.

Joshua and Nika return to the negotiating table.

Joshua: Can we ask why? Because especially with something this elaborate and extensive, it’s usually pretty standard procedure to pay some percentage up front. I’m sure you have your reason. I’d just like to know what it is.
Dean: I wish for you to have an incentive to push through the possible difficulties. If you were paid half up front, your instinct to flee might be greater than it would be otherwise.

Joshua doesn’t pick up any impression Dean is being untruthful. That much is clear without Reading him. A quick surface Read doesn’t counter his impression.

Joshua: (softly to Nika) It appears he wasn’t lying.
Nika: (to Dean) All right. We’ll take you. Load it up in mind of the weapons embargo.
Dean: I understand.
Nika: I assume with your discipline that your colleagues have amongst themselves that there are areas of the ship that will be off limits for the entire flight.
Dean: As you wish. My people are very disciplined but it is a small ship. So …
Nika: Well, for example—no going into engineering and the bridge and such. That’s what I refer to by ‘off-limits areas’.
Dean: As you wish.
Nika: All right. I guess we’ll go back. Start preppin’ the ship.

They shake on the deal and part ways to get ready.

When they show up with their cargo, Arden speaks up immediately about immunizations against their destination.

Nika: (incredulous) On Miranda?
Dean: We’re preparing ourselves.
Kiera: So, this place is dangerous?
Dean: You’ve heard of Miranda?

Apparently he has and he’s not kidding about taking measures against it. These settlers are coming prepared. Not only are they bringing their blankets and farm equipment and seed stock, they’re loaded for bear with weapons. Obviously they are marching into their new life with eyes wide open with regard to Reavers.

Kiera sees this and turns to the Captain and asks if she can go buy ammo. Nika quips back if she goes, see if she can’t net us a deal on heavy weapons, too.

Kiera: Excellent! And if I get arrested you’re bailing me out of jail.
Nika: Oh no. I’m leaving your ass there. I disavow all knowledge of what you’re doin’.
Arden: So what you’re describing is a win-win, then. Heavy ammo or she gets arrested.
Kiera: Okay, for someone who was doin’ bad on the last two surgeries—

And Kiera and Arden go a couple of verbal rounds on who’s the better doctor. Joshua does his best to ignore them and takes Dean aside to discuss the dietary restrictions for his people. Will it be more expensive to follow their requirements? Actually, no. It’s much easier than normal. For about the cost of protein paste, Joshua will be able to feed Dean’s people what they need.

Joshua: We’re not feeding them paste.
Dean: They actually want some. Because apparently that’s much of what they’ll be eating once they get there. And then, simple grains and such. They’re something rather Spartan.
Joshua: All right. (onward) I’ll let you know—we’ll have to eat in shifts. I’ll schedule a shift where the crew eats together, but I’ll be scheduling multiple different shifts with other meals where the crew is spaced out with your people.

He and Dean work out the logistics of feeding 25 people three squares a day out of a galley and in a passenger lounge geared for one-quarter that many. There is literally not enough room to fit that many people at a table at meals. So the meals will have to be served in multiple shifts throughout the day. Furthermore, there is no way he can accommodate everyone’s dietary preferences AND requirements vis-à-vis the paste without isolating the paste meals from the non-paste. He can’t run both menus out of the galley at the same time. He doesn’t have enough hands or burners on the stove to manage it. Therefore the menus would require shifts as well. For those meals where Dean’s people want paste exclusively, Joshua will serve nothing but and shift the crew to other meal shifts for the day. Fair enough? Makes sense?

Yes. That settled, Joshua starts stocking up our food stores. It’s a 20 day journey to Miranda but he lays in 25 days of food just in case. Next up, he coordinates with Arden what’s needed for medical supplies for so many extra people. Will they have their own medical supplies? Or will be spending our own stores on them? Aside from immunizations, which we’ve covered already, if somebody gets injured, will they be coming to our doctor or their doctor.

They don’t have a doctor in their party. Looks like they’ll be coming to us. Arden and Joshua go to Dean.

Arden: Is anybody going to need special medical care?
Joshua: Oh, boy …
Dean: Those who are selected are of the finest health.
Arden: That doesn’t answer the question.
Joshua: Yeah, it did.
Arden: (off Joshua’s tone) Okay.
Dean: We have been preparing some time for this.
Joshua: How long is “some time”?
Dean: Well… some of the preparations had begun as soon as the Waves came out, but in other ways we were preparing long before then. Since we’ve been working for our independence.

Joshua thanks him and resolves to lay in a supply of Flomoxipan as well.

On other fronts, Nika finds Rina and pulls her aside.

Nika: Madam. Thou shalt lock everything but your boot knife in the locker. Including your gun. I will not have you nabbed in the hallway and somebody takes your firearm and then we got hostage crap goin’ on.
Arden: (passing by) That will never happen.
Rina: (as he passes) I know where you sleep, little man.

Rina agrees and locks up her beloved gun and clips and the rest of her usual suspects. She’s not happy doing it, but she does it.

Mounting a settlement on Miranda requires tons of cargo, enough tonnage that we must shuffle our own container configuration to make room for it. Luckily for us, containers are pretty much standardized and it matters not if we use our own or Dean’s. We ditch our auxiliary fuel pods and shift our Botany Bay container aft to accommodate the pilgrims’ 2nd class containers. The two we installed to starboard connect to each other and the one to port sits alone, forward of hydroponics. Both of the dorm containers forward have access to the passenger lounge. And speaking of access …

Dean: I’m sure it goes without saying but … ah … there are 12 couples that are betrothed to each other.
Joshua: Uh-huh.
Dean: But not yet married but I assume there will be no …
Arden: Does that mean they want to be in the same quarters or separate quarters?
Dean: They will not be in separate quarters. I just don’t wish any … interference … in this plan.
Joshua: (firmly) So noted. It won’t be a problem.
Dean: No fraternization.
Joshua: That will be your job to tell them. Or you can tell me to tell them. Actually, I’ll do that anyway, cuz it’ll be fun.

Kiera’s actually in the room when this conversation takes place and Joshua didn’t miss her interest or her attempts to interject. He turns to her and Arden and tells them firmly:

Joshua: Kiera. No sleeping with any of the men. And really, no sleeping with any of the women either. Arden, I don’t know if you swing that way with any of the men but don’t sleep with any of the women either. Don’t even think it about on the women. I'd rather not get a religious war going on in the middle of the ship. (waves a finger from her to Arden) Sleep with each other if that helps.
Kiera: Now, see? I don’t sleep with people I can’t shoot. And since I can’t shoot them, cuz they’re moneyed passengers and I sure can’t shoot him, though sometimes he needs it—ain’t gon’ happen. You probably, someday, but these? Noooo.
Joshua: Okay. That won’t be a problem.

Nika joins in.

Nika: So we have how many people? 25 people coming aboard.
Arden: Marcus doesn’t have a betrothed?
Nika: There’s only 12 women in total?
Dean: And 12 men.
Kiera: Even numbers. That can work. Aww …
Nika: I’m thinking of how we can shuffle the sleeping arrangements.

Each 2nd class container can carry 8 women or 8 men but it doesn’t take a genius to see with only three containers, there’s going to be one container going coed.

Dean: I’ll arrange that.
Nika: (hands off, yeah) Okay.
Joshua: I’m sure you already know our ship better than we do but I’ll give you the tour. Actually, speaking of which, I’d really like to see those videos. Out In The Black.
Dean: We haven’t brought them with us. We’re weaning ourselves from the contact, based on what will happen after we get to Miranda.
Joshua: (disappointed) Okay.

Joshua sketches a diagram of the Gift.

Joshua: You’ll get this and this and this and arrange your people however you like. As long as they are all in that space.

And that done, Joshua shows Dean his 1st class cabin.

Over the next two days we pack our little ship to the gills. We shuffle the containers belowdecks to make room for their own four filled with cargo. And still we’ve got boxes and crates stacked in the corridors, in our public spaces, and basically anywhere we can shoehorn it in. Food mostly—we will be feeding 25 passengers in addition to ourselves, for a grand total of 30 souls scarfing down three squares a day—but some of it is extra supplies that couldn’t go fit into the containers.

As Joshua explained to Dean, our galley isn’t equipped to feed what amounts to an army and our passenger lounge isn’t big enough to seat everyone at once. Joshua will have prep, cook, and serve 30 people in shifts throughout the day. When he isn’t slaving in the galley, he’ll be keeping up with hydroponics and the passengers’ basic needs. He’s got his work cut out for him, especially since he’s practically got one hand tied behind his back doing it: his shoulder is still not fully healed and he has to baby it to avoid permanent damage.

Thanks to our reduced fuel capacity, we cannot make the 20-day journey from Pericles to Miranda in one go. We’ll stop at Meridan on the way to refuel and restock supplies where necessary, then fly the remaining 3 days to Miranda.

Joshua duly notes all the details and on the second day briefs the Captain on the bridge.

Sunday, 24 Aug 2521
1030hrs, local time

Joshua: (in closing …) Captain, we’re ready to go and they are ready to go. They seem to be ready.
Nika: Keep an eye on them.
Joshua: I won’t have any other choice, Captain. I’ll be interacting with them—
Nika: I’m not liking this.
Joshua: Why not?
Nika: I don’t know. Something about them makes me … squick.
Joshua: You may be out of faith, Captain. You’ve never really had, as far as I’ve seen—I’m not saying not much liking but … people of the religious faith seem to rub you the wrong way.
Nika: The fact that they said that there would be no, um, interference with their marriage things …? Makes me a little leery. If they get on board and it’s 12 year old girls, we’re not doin’ it. Are we clear?
Joshua: Yes, Captain.
Nika: Okay. Good.

Arden sticks his head in from medbay.

Arden: What about 12 year old boys?
Nika: That too.
Joshua: I—
Nika: I don’t know why. I’m just … errrgh! And squicked and … and just … Keep an eye on them, please.
Joshua: Yes, Captain. (a beat) So we’re ready to go when they are.

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Part 2
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