Episode 421: Jailbreak

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Air Date: 07 Dec 2010
Present: Kim, Maer, Terri, and Andy

Sunday, 26 Oct 2521
Exeter class ship
Meadow, Georgia (Huang Long) system

Kiera's been a "guest" of Potemkin on his Exeter class ship since we were ambushed and thown aboard the Gift to die. While she doesn't actually have to WATCH what's going on with us on the Gift, she does have to put up with Potemkin's descriptions and gloating and she keeps sane by smiling and plotting his rather elaborate, messy, and painful demise. And it's not just Potemkin aboard this boat, but Dr. Gordon and his Stitches too. They're kept in cold storage when they aren't being deployed or used by Gordon. There are 6 other men aboard--Potemkin's henchmen with rifles--and lots of equipment: weapons, hover bikes, even our flatbed mule. Looks like Potemkin helped himself to a few of our things before setting the Gift on her way. During the flight to Novaya Rodina, she explores the ship, fiddles with the locks where she can, discovers some experimental facilities. She walks in on Dr. Gordon working one of the Stitches, finds out he's made some modifications. The Stitches have metal plates replacing a good portion of their skulls now, with two tiny wires protruding to better intercept the signals Gordon send them.

They make landfall on Novaya Rodina some 300 yards away from the GULag dome and Potemkin deploys all 8 Stitches and his 6 riflemen to approach on foot. Kiera attempts to follow but the cold and the wind drive her back. She steals our flatbed mule and takes off for the dome.

Speaking of the dome...

Sunday, 26 Oct 2521
Seriy Ogon GULag

Joshua's got Rina dangling by the arm over the dome's edge. She grabs his wrist with her free hand, thinking if she's going down, so is he. Joshua, however, doesn't drop her. A very odd and sick feeling comes over him and he realizes that something's coming. It’s the feeling he gets when he’s around the Stitches … but what are they doing here? However they came to be here, it also snaps him out of whatever compulsion he had to kill Rina--he comes to and hauls her back up. They tumble to the surface of the dome and lay flat on it, just catching their breath. Knowing that staying out there makes them a target, they make their way down the quickest way they know how--they slide down the curve of the dome over the ice and snow by the seat of their pants. Joshua is driven by another imperative now—get out, get out, get out of here, something bad is coming. They run inside to find Nika and the others. Where did Rina see Nika last? Admin, she says. They make for the office and try to be casual about it.

Meanwhile, Nika, Arden, Beglan and Foreman are locked in the medical wing and are trying to figure out how to break out. Now what? It’s obvious something’s going down and do they really want to be here with the place goes sky high? No.

Rina and Joshua make it to the entrance of the Admin wing and have to duck back—it’s guarded by a gun emplacement, stationed behind a narrow slit window at the other end of the corridor. No going that way. They find a roundabout way going through a cubicle floor. The cubicles are empty, no one’s at work, and they make it to the other end where there is another door. Someone’s inside and they both eavesdrop. It’s the director—he’s got a battle on his hands. It’s also clear that Nika and the others aren’t in this office as Rina thought.

Rina and Joshua decide to head for infirmary, hoping to find their friends there.

Nika and the others hack into the office comms system and send out a mayday: mayday, mayday, mayday, prison riot in progress, please send help. Beglan hits send and they immediately look to sneak out to avoid capture. Arden is busy trying to unlock the doors to the infirmary but suddenly he stops short: Roskov and some of his men are there on the otherside. Not wanting to be caught by them, Nika crawls into a ventilation shaft to reconnoiter. It’s a vertical shaft going up and up and she takes the first horizontal branch off it. She follows it to the outside—the outside in this case being the pit of the strip mine under the dome. There’s a walkway 15 feet down from the vent opening. From there it’s a straight shot for the outer gates of the GULag and freedom. Nika crawls back to report this to the others. There’s a snag: Foreman can’t make the climb up the shaft or down at the far end without ripping out his stitches from surgery. If he does, it will kill him. Seeing the coast is clear for the moment, they rig up a harness from the bedsheets to raise and lower Foreman in and out of the vents with them. Nika climbs out of teh vent into the superstructure of the dome, and looks carefully out over the mine. She spots a Stitch below her pursuing a hapless prisoner and jumps him. She fails in her attempt to take him out and Arden jumps into the fray. He succeeds in pushing him over the rails deeper into the mine pit. Arden and Nika regroup with the others and decide if the mine and prison have been taken over by Stitches, it’s best to hide.

The corridors and back ways are getting full and when Rina and Joshua get close to the infirmary, they see Roskov and his men investigating a vent entrance. Hoping to avoid them, Rina and Joshua try take to the vents as well and try to go around Roskov’s party. It’s only a matter of time before she and Joshua get separated. Roskov’s men have miss Rina moving past them, but spot Joshua, who pedals back to lure them away from Rina. Rina realizes she will have to circle round yet again to meet and get out of here. Eavesdropping on the party’s Russian speech, Rina finds out that Nika and the others are still at large and so is Foreman. Good. At least she and Joshua aren’t going to stage a jail break to get their friends free.

Trouble is, where are they?

Joshua backtracks for Admin while Rina moves forward past the Infirmary. She slips out of the vents, backtracks, nearly runs into Roskov, reverses her direction and manages to find a closet to hide in. When the coast is clear, she continues on until she runs into the mine pit and starts doubling back for Admin to catch up with Joshua.

Meanwhile, Joshua manages to get all the way back to Admin and runs into the corridor leading to it—Tzao gao! the gun slit! He slides under the hail of bullets like a runner stealing for home and fetches up against the wall beneath the gun slit. Now he’s pinned by enemy fire and can’t leave. Now what?

He looks back the way he came and sees a Stitch at the head of the corridor. The Stitch seems to get distracted, then disappears. Just then two of Roskov's men approach before they too are held back by the gunfire from the slit. They yell out to him to trust them. Close your eyes! They throw a flashbang as Joshua does as they tell him and BANG! The gun crew is momentarily stunned and Joshua runs for his rescuers. He gets the vibe that they aren’t looking to kill him and they might not be working with Potemkin. Either way, he’s out from under the gun and he runs along with them, planning an escape.

They’re near the entrance to the infirmary when they’re ambushed. Sensing the ambush, Joshua uses the distraction to slip out. He manages to make it outside into the mine. Looking left and right, he sees Rina coming from the Infirmary wing and halfway between them are Nika, Arden and the rest plus the prisoner they rescued from the Stitch. Finally all together again, we regroup and hustle for the mine entrance.

On the way the prisoner, Oleg steers us to a closet holding cold weather gear. This way! Having little choice about the weather, we follow him, hoping he’s on the level. He is. He leads us to a storage closet where the cold weather gear is—utilitarian parkas and snow pants and boots. Behind us the prison sounds like it’s in full riot mode and we shove into the gear as fast as we can. Oleg leads us to the doors out, we throw them open and run smack into Potemkin's mercenary squad.

Oh Christ!

Before we can move, a flatbed mule screams up and slams them from behind. Kiera’s at the wheel.

Get in! she screams.

We shake off our shock and hustle onto the open bed, taking Oleg and Foreman with us. Behind us, some of Potemkin’s Stitches emerge from the mine and start firing. Bullets whine overhead and around us. We duck and Joshua yells at Nika to drive, drive, drive! Move over! Nika yells and Kiera gives Nika the wheel. She jets us the hell out of there.

Oleg is a local, he knows this area. He plants himself next to Nika. Oleg, where? Nika yells. Oleg points out the direction we need to go. There is a village, he tells her, not too far from here, follow the river. It will take us to it. Nika guns the engine and goes where he tells her. Sure enough, we find the river and we follow it. As they fly along the bank, Nika reaches over and grabs Kiera, yells that when this is over, they are going to have a conversation. Yes, ma’am!

After an hour and a half of high speed driving, we find the village.

It’s deserted, cleared out by the GULag raiding parties, but most of the houses are intact. We make our camp in the dooryard of an old stone church, find a place to bunk inside. We scav up some firewood, get a fire going in the church’s hearth, and as we huddle round it we tell Kiera to start talking.

Of course, the implication is we want to know her story before we kill her. Arden’s all for killing her right the hell now. Nika and Rina and Joshua forestall him—they want to know the truth before doing anything final.

Nika: You owe us a huge amount of explanation and if you don’t give a huge amount of explanation right about now, you aren’t makin’ it off this fire.
Beglan: But she did rescue us, you know.
Joshua: I don’t want to see anyone killed.
Beglan: There’s been an awful lot of violence. Perhaps it would be good for just a little while for us to maybe just to have some hurt feelins and maybe we could work through’em and maybe see a psychiatrist when this is over. It doesn’t always have to come down to shootin’ and killin’.
Joshua: Omigod, I love you man! I love you.

Finally Joshua isn’t alone in the no-killing camp.

Beglan: I’m feeling a bit traumatized by the whole experience to be quite honest.
Rina: All right, look. Let the woman talk. Let’s hear her story.
Kiera: First of all, I didn’t know that was going to happen. Y’all look all the worse for wear.

Kiera looks at each of us in turn.

Joshua: Do you know what happened?
Kiera: Pretty good idea what happened.
Joshua: O-kay.
Kiera: Not planning on it happening. That was not what I signed up for.
Rina: What did you sign up for?
Kiera: Y’all lose the ship. Get put off somewhere. Pissed off at me. I don’t come back.


Kiera: Went back, cuz it occurred to me that there’s stuff on that ship that I didn’t particularly want this guy getting. Saw some weird-assed stuff. And then got caught. And got a forced straight show of all of it. And this was not anything of what I was planning on happening. Hurt your feelings and lose your ship.

She looks right at Rina.

Kiera: The one thing that would get to you. You were a casualty on the side. But this freak-out—you never said Potemkin was anything short of a sadistic fruitcake. So I wasn’t expectin’ any of this.
Nika: (steely) You never asked.
Kiera: Well, if I’d’a known to ask, I would’a asked. But I didn’t know. I didn’t know anything about Potemkin … that he was … that.
Nika: Wasn’t your business and if you weren’t in it to just sell us out for the cash you could’ve gotten for it, it wouldn’t’ve been a problem. Would it?

Nika’s tone turns dangerous.

Rina: I didn’t hear her say anything about money.
Kiera: Money wasn’t the reason why I did it.
Nika: (deadly now) Again, you better keep talkin’.
Kiera: Told you why I did it. To get to her.

Kiera nods at Rina.

Nika: So … you took away everyone eles’s livelihood to get to her?
Kiera: Mm-hm.

Rina is genuinely puzzled and it makes her voice soft.

Rina: What for? What have I got you want?
Kiera: You don’t have anything I want. You just wouldn’t let up. You or him.

She nods at Joshua.

Kiera: I asked you to back off and nothin’ happened.
Joshua: (getting it now) We could have worked it all out. I—
Kiera: And the next thing I know I thought I’d gotten ridda him, I got you in my cabin.

Again, that nod to Rina.

Kiera: Threaten me with death every which way I can.
Joshua: (sighing) Yeah …
Rina: (still soft) I suppose in hindsight I should have shot you when I had the chance.
Joshua: All right, then. Let’s go back to that whole hurt-feelings-and-no-killing thing.

Arden says nothing but you can see something glittering behind his eyes.

Joshua: How much do you know about … you said you got a whole earful, eyeful, mouthful of … whatever … of Potemkin’s …
Rina: Cameras.
Joshua: Potemkin’s plan. What’s the Stitches?

What? Where’s Joshua going with this? Weren’t we talking about Kiera’s part in all this? Kiera answers the question anyway.

Kiera: That’s—y’all wouldn’t know who it was. There’s this crazy doctor, Dr. Gordon—
Rina: Oh. Him.
Joshua: Him.
Kiera: Okay, so you know him then.

Boy, do we.

Joshua: I do begin to understand sometimes—I’m not advocating shooting somebody—but I begin to understand why we’ll shoot people to keep them from coming back up like the undead.
Kiera: So y’all know who Gordon was?
Joshua: Yeah. We all actually—
Kiera: Well, y’all can thank him for the rabid dogs. And for the Stitches.
Joshua: Why doesn’t that surprise me.
Kiera: And he’s got the control thing. That’s his little pet project, from what I gathered.
Rina: He’s making more, isn’t he?
Kiera: Oh of course he is. That’s what Potemkin came to get. Some more subjects so Gordon can make more. He’s got this idea of an army.
Rina: Yeah. I was there three minutes ago.
Kiera: Some grand scheme. Y’all were just his jollies on the side.
Joshua: He say anything about a man named Roskov?

Kiera pauses to think.

Kiera: No. He never mentioned him. Never mentioned a guy named Roskov. That ship is brand new to him. He’s got a crew so squeaky clean, every one’a those doors was about wedged open. Anything that could go wrong’d go wrong. I never heard so much crusin’ in my life.
Joshua: There are now two megalomaniac power hungry people fighting it out.
Beglan: Which would you rather have in charge? Roskov or Potemkin?
Joshua: Neither. Neither.
Kiera: Who’s Roskov?

Rina tries putting the puzzle pieces together.

Rina: Potemkin’s putting together a berserker army. He’s taken out—or tried to take out—major Mafiya rivals on this planet.

After all, he aimed our girl at the city of Norelsk, and we learned at the prison that it is the seat of the Mafiya Brotherhood on Novaya Rodina. What are the odds that Potemkin picked our crash site by throwing a pub dart at a map? Not too gorram likely.

Rina: What’s he after? World domination?
Kiera: Didn’t specify.
Joshua: Power. Just … power.
Kiera: What about Roskov? Who is he and why is he part of this picture?
Joshua: How much history do you know?
Kiera: As little as I need to get by.
Joshua: Okay, then. The name Rasputin probably wouldn’t mean anything to you, per se.
Kiera: Old Earth education stuff, yeah. I went to school.
Johsua: You know Rasputin?
Kiera: Yes.
Joshua: ’Kay. They call this guy the new Rasputin around the GULag. Extremely charismatic and has … (very quietly) … some ability to control people’s minds.
Kiera: Define people.
Joshua: As far as I can tell, anyone.
Kiera: So … y’all had gotten controlled by him, too? (a beat) Just you.

Joshua waves at the rest of the crew.

Joshua: None of them. None of them got controlled. It’s … it’s … (sighs) … I feel like I’ve had to explain this before—not to you, obviously—but he’d give an order and it’s obeyed. By the person at the other end of the order. He’s used it a couple times on people underneath him. But not often. He doesn’t … Much like Rasputin, he was charismatic and he was—this guy’s HUGE—and he doesn’t need to use it very often.

The man was built like a mountain. Nearly seven feet tall. Quite intimidating on that score alone.

Joshua: Problem is, on my end, I’m … I might as well be wide open to him. I’m not, but—
Kiera: But you’re his favorite toy. All right … None of the rest of them responded to him.
Joshua: Well, he didn’t try. He didn’t care.
Kiera: All right. (putting it together) So it’s just you.
Joshua: The point is, the two of them both want power and they are both in the middle of the same spot and I don’t know how th—
Nika: How loyal is his crew?

Nika’s voice cuts through Joshua’s.

Kiera: The ones, the mercenaries he’s hired? Pretty darn loyal. The ones that his favorite little crazy doctor, the crazy Frankenstein, controls?
Nika: No. I meant his ship crew.
Kiera: They’re brand squeaky new. I got the feelin’ they’ve just been there. I suppose if he paid them, they’ll stay with him. They didn’t seem to really have an opinion one way or the other.
Johsua: Oleg?

Oleg starts, looks up.

Oleg: What?
Joshua: Is there anything any direction from here that’s reachable other than this village?
Oleg: I was hoping there’d be people here.
Joshua: So the answer is no.

Pretty much.

Kiera: So I got a question for you. That Roskov that broadcasts so much. What’s the likelihood of him actually—I know he can affect biological things—but what the likelihood of him being able to tap into those metal heads?
Oleg: You’re talking crazy talk.
Joshua: (oh the irony) Yeah. I know.
Oleg: Oh, the metal heads. Those creatures. What are those things? I’ve never seen anything like that. It’s not human.
Joshua: No. It’s not.
Rina: It’s inhuman, what they’ve done to them.
Oleg: Are they Reavers?
Rina: No. No-no-no. They aren’t. They are lobotomized victims with wet ware.
Kiera: Mm-hm. (to Joshua)But is that something that Roskov can tap into with his power?
Joshua: (quietly distressed) I don’t know.
Nika: (to Kiera) Why?
Kiera: Because if he had that at his command, Potemkin would want it.
Rina: Yeah. Have your army turned against you. From the rear. When you’re not expecting it.
Joshua: (appalled) Are you excited about that prospect?
Kiera: No. Right now, I’m just weighing options. I don’t know whether you all wanna go back or just … run.
Rina: And then there’s Foreman to consider.

Kiera looks over at Nika.

Kiera: Nika, if you’re looking for a great big giant I’m-sorry-I-won’t-do-it-again, I won’t do that, but it’s—I didn’t know any of this going in.


Kiera: Am I gonna be lying to you and go I-will-never-do-it? No.

More silence.

Foreman: We could just leave her here.
Kiera: Mm-hm.
Foreman: She seems to have good friends.
Joshua: No. No-no-no.
Foreman: I appreciate the rescue, but I think it’s only fair that you, you know ….
Kiera: Well, I got the laundry list of it. I could go back, drop me off. You can bring me back to him. I have no doubt Potemkin is probably gonna get rid of me, cuz it’s convenient to him too.
Belgan: But they want Foreman for some reason.
Nika: Speaking of Mr. Foreman.

Nika cuts into the conversation. Foreman stands.

Foreman: I think I’ll go get some wood for the fire.
Rina: Later.
Nika: Now would be the time for you to tell us what it is that has all of them after you. (a beat) Cuz chances are they’re gonna chase us down for you.
Joshua: Potemkin’s not after him. It’s just Roskov, right?
Foreman: (sighing) I don’t know exactly.
Kiera: I thought Roskov wanted you.
Rina: And Posen.
Joshua: Roskov—
Nika: Stop! Let the man talk.

We shut up.

Foreman: Ahh … I was … you know, guilty of … uh … a little corruption. I was Alliance and I … cooked the books.
Nika: For whom?
Foreman: Well … for myself, mostly. (very quietly) And the Brotherhood.
Rina: Ohhh. The Mafiya.
Joshua: And I’m assuming that’s why Roskov wants you? Okay, spit it out. You know why he wants you. Spit it out.
Foreman: When I was at the base, we were not on the first, ahh, top of the list for supplies all the time. And so sometimes there was a bit of finagling to get things done. And that’s when I discovered this back door. When the Alliance Navy contracts out to third party vendors to have things transported, they use a different coding system. And while their high-security codes work for all military-direct things, these weren’t as hard to break into. So basically every time a ship would come near, I would send them an order indirectly and they’d be droppin’ off stuff. In fact … I mean, I don’t want all the credit for it, but Novaya Rodina’s independence is pretty much thanks to me. I shipped all the weapons here for this place to be able to build their own Navy.
Rina: I like him already.
Nika: Their own Navy?
Foreman: Well, their own military force.
Joshua: Holy F*ck!
Rina: All on the Feds’ dime.

Rina starts to laugh in grim appreciation.

Foreman: And then when the Long Quiet hit, I thought that’d be the end of it and for a while it was. Then when everything started booting up again, they didn’t fix it and I don’t think they caught on to what was going on. So …
Rina: So you kept on doing it until someone noticed and wanted you to do it for them.
Foreman: Yeah. I don’t think anyone in the Alliance knows about it.
Rina: I didn’t say the Alliance found out about it.
Joshua: So … (getting his head around it) …
Nika: So Roskov wants you to get more supplies.
Foreman: If you want me to get something from the Alliance Navy, I can do it.
Nika: So that’s why he wants you to live.
Joshua: Oh, God…
Foreman: As long as it’s not too big a shipment in one big fell swoop.
Joshua: How big is too big?
Nika: Why is Potemkin—Potemkin must want him for the same reason.
Rina: Didn’t I say that a minute ago?
Joshua: Potemkin doesn’t know he exists. I don’t think. Maybe he does. I don’t know.

Rina points out that Roskov visited Foreman in the Infirmary and impressed on all of us there that Foreman must live. And we all know that Posen didn’t send the message to his superiors or the Russian HQ. He sent it to Potemkin. There must be an ulterior motive.

Nika: So obviously Potemkin wants this guy.
Rina: Because he’s looking to outfit an army.
Kiera: And he’s the ultimate army outfitter.
Beglan: And he certainly did attack some of the big power wielders. Or tried to. With your ship.

Meaning Norelsk, the main seat of the Brotherhood.

Rina: Yeah.
Nika: Well our ship is probably pretty damned toast at this point.
Rina: Christian is going to be so mad at us …
Joshua: Does it matter?
Nika: It matters for getting off this rock.
Joshua: No, no. I’m sorry. I’m … Yes, I’m … I guess what I’m trying to figure out—and this is what I don’t know if it matters—but I’ve been assuming that the twopeoople most interested in power are not capable of sharing it.
Foreman: I think that’s probably reasonable.
Joshua: As long as that’s reasonable—because God help us if the two of them decided to put things aside long enough to …
Nika: Oh, no. Roskov will not share with Potemkin. And Potemkin will not share with anyone else.
Joshua: To be honest, I don’t know who wins.

That’s an ugly thought, the two of them working together. Or pretending to work together in order to take advantage and stabbing one of them in the back when the time is right. That kind of war is never good news for everyone else. These sorts of things tend to get bloody and spread very quickly.

Rina: I suppose we can help them kill each other off.
Nika: With our ship out of the picture, maybe Potemkin leaves us the hell alone. Or not.
Joshua: No! (thrusts hand at Foreman) Who is sitting right here who potentially controls the Navy? Potemkin’s gonna want him. Roskov’s gonna want him.
Kiera: Potemkin’s not gonna let you guys go until you kill him off.
Joshua: And if it tells you anything, Roskov’s men said to me, ‘Oh by the way, you’re more important than Foreman is’. So I don’t think Roskov is going to be interested in letting me go.
Kiera: So you all have two people that they want.
Nika: Yes. Thank you so much, Kiera.
Kiera: Like I said. Lack of information on my part.
Joshua: Yeah-yeah-yeah. Let’s worry about escaping the power-mad, mind-reading, mind-controlling, Stitch-driving megalomaniacs before we—
Kiera: What you need to be worrying about is escaping from Potemkin, too, cuz he’s not gonna let you go.
Joshua: Yeah, he’s one of the Stitch-wielding megalomaniacs.
Kiera: Well, yes.

We all take a deep breath. Then:

Rina: This back door?
Foreman: Yeah?
Rina: Can you access that back door anywhere? So long as you have a computer.
Foreman: Well, if I can send a broadwave to an Alliance station or ship, yeah.
Rina: In other words, so long it’s got Alliance equipment and channels, you can?
Foreman: Yeah. It doesn’t have to be from an Alliance ship. Well, if I can reach the Alliance Cortex. The Navy system.
Joshua: Where are you going with this Rina?
Kiera: You thinking of having him calling down an Alliance ship we can all get out with?
Rina: I don’t know yet. It’s not all there …
Kiera: Well, not if he can bring a drop ship to you to drop supplies off, you can catch a ride off that.

Interesting wrinkle.

Joshua: Let’s start with what our immediate options are. Oleg, there’s nothing in the immediate vicinity? You said this was it?
Oleg: It’s the biggest place. There might be another village but … it won’t have but just peasant and …
Joshua: Right.
Rina: Don’t you remember what Roskov said?
Joshua: (terse) I know what Roskov said, but Roskov said it. Let’s get our information correct. So, in our current world we have this village. We have the dome. We have the Gift. And that’s about it.
Nika: And I have no idea where the Gift is. I was not conscious when you took us off.
Joshua: We can find it. We can find the Gift.
Rina: (musing aloud) We have Potemkin’s ship …
Joshua: We have Potemkin’s ship at the dome, we have Potemkin’s ship—
Nika: Just what I wanna do. Steal another ship from Potemkin.
Kiera: If you killed Potemkin, you don’t have to worry about it anymore.
Rina: There you go. No. Bastards like him always have relatives. We’ll just bring more cockroaches after us.
Nika: I’m not convinced that’s the case.
Rina: You think he killed them all off first?

Arden speaks up finally.

Arden: I think if we can kill Potemkin, we should kill Potemkin. He doesn’t deserve to live. Look at what he did to us. Do you not remember our trip here?
Rina: I didn’t say anything against killing him.
Nika: She’s just worried that his cousin Brutus will show up.
Arden: Eventually he’ll run out of cousins.
Joshua: I don’t want to kill Potemkin. I’m sorry. I don’t want to kill Potemkin.
Nika: I don’t care what you want Joshua.
Joshua: Really?
Nika: Potemkin is getting out of the way. Whether that is this time around or the next, I don’t care but Potemkin is getting out of my life.
Kiera: Drop me off and let me have him.


Joshua: Okay, first of all—let’s stop slicing and dicing Potemkin at the moment because, guess what? He isn’t anywhere here to be sliced and diced.
Nika: I’m simply alerting you to the facts of your life. If you stick with us, it is what it is.
Joshua: And I got that. And that will be taken into consideration. Trust me on that one.

We all breathe and gather our tempers.

Beglan: Well we sent out the SOS. Is there any chance the Russian authorities will come out and disperse them?
Joshua: What did you say in the SOS? Anything?
Beglan: I said there was a riot, and that the people in charge had lost control That there was a danger of people escaping into the … (gestures outward)
Rina: (sighing) Okay. From the Russian point of view? They’re not going to care. Let the taiga kill them all.
Nika: Had we known at the time there were Stitches on the loose, they might have responded to that. Maybe.
Rina: Even so. The weather and the environment will kill them all if they wander out into the snow.
Nika: Uhn. I would not count on that.
Kiera: They’ll just round them up and bring them back if they can. Put’em back into cold storage.
Rina: (waving backwards) That’s assuming that their controllers are dead. Then they’ll wander aimlessly.
Kiera: No. They’re not going to wander off aimlessly. They’ll wander off to kill things.

Dragging us back on track …

Nika: Look there are two ships, sitting within range.
Oleg: The government might not respond but the Brotherhood might.


Oleg: They sent Roskov to be killed. They might want to make sure that he’s dead.
Rina: Then maybe we should be calling them next.
Joshua: Does the Brotherhood have it in for Potemkin too, at this point?
Nika: We can only hope.
Rina: We can tell them Potemkin tried to wipe them out. With our ship.
Joshua: They don’t know that.
Rina: We can probably prove it by pulling our flight information.
Joshua: I’m less worried about court of law justice at this point. The Brotherhood is not going to be particularly concerned we can prove anything to the extent of the law.
Kiera: They’re probably going to just lock you up and worry about you later. Once you’ve frozen to death, you might be a problem.
Joshua: Here’s my concern—and maybe nobody cares, I don’t know.

He takes a deep breath.

Joshua: Potemkin is bad enough with the Stitches. Roskov is potentially worse, in a lot of different ways cuz he’s not the sociopath that Potemkin is. Or he’s a sociopath in a different method.
Kiera: But he doesn’t seem to hate you the way Potemkin seems to hate all of you.
Joshua: My point is I’m not worried so much about their effect on us as I am worried about their effect on the outside world. Potemkin seems to basically to gather control. To mob up—which is not a pleasant thought unto itself. I’m actually a little more worried about what Roskov could do with Alliance military supplies and … and …
Foreman: I don’t want to work for him.
Joshua: Guess what? If he finds us, you will work for him. And so will I. No—Don’t doubt me on this. Don’t doubt me on this. I guess my concern is do we feel compelled to try and stop him. If we go to the Brotherhood to turn them against the two of them, can we make it so the Brotherhood can’t get Dr. Gordon and the Stitches or Foreman or me? We aren’t going to tell them about me. We’re just going to keep me quiet. (frustrated) I don’t know what the best option is here.
Beglan: We could nuke it from orbit.
Rina: It’s the only way to be sure.
Nika: That sounds like a plan to me.
Rina: But I’d rather you didn’t.
Kiera: I don’t see us getting into orbit unless you can fly there with your arms.

That’s the truth.

Rina: Actually? That doesn’t sound like too bad an idea.
Joshua: Nuking something from orbit?
Rina: No.
Joshua: What?!
Rina: Going to the Brotherhood.
Joshua: And doing what? Exactly. I mean, I’m not really sure that’s an option.
Rina: Handing Potemkin and Roskov off to them. It’s in their best interest to take out Potemkin because he would have taken them out. And he has an army to do it. And it would be in their best interest to take care of Roskov because they wanted to kill him anyway.
Joshua: So I’ve got two questions.
Nika: You always have two questions.
Joshua: Would you like me to add it to three and then take it down to one? (a beat) First, how do we get the Brotherhood here? Because we don’t have any form of communication. We’re basically hoping the SOS hits the Brotherhood. Which is not out of the realm of possibility. So… They’ll show up there.
Oleg: There might be people there who are in the Brotherhood as well. They have spies. I don’t know if they survived.
Joshua: Does it bother us that there’s some non-zero chance that if the Brotherhood shows up to kill off Potemkin that they end up taking hold of Dr. Gordon and his maniacal Stitch army?
Kiera: Dr. Gordon will give himself up so fast it will make their heads spin.
Joshua: Oh I know he would. That doesn’t surprise me in the least.
Nika: So … Are you suggesting we take care of Gordon before they get here? We could do that too.
Kiera: So … You want to go back.

Nika frowns.

Nika: I don’t know. Joshua likes to lay out possibilities and then not really lean in one direction or another.
Joshua: I mean—
Rina: Joshua. I have a question. (a beat) You don’t want to kill Gordon, yes? You would rather that he live but not be able to make these monsters, right?
Nika: Well the only answer to that is a lobotomy.
Kiera: That’s doable. That’s an alternative to killing him.
Rina: And we have how many doctors in our midst who can do that?
Joshua: Oh my God!
Beglan: That’s not just dying, that’s worse.
Nika: Here’s the thing. You can’t just lay out options and not lean one direction or another. Because you start laying out options and there are infinite possibilities.
Kiera: I will tell you now, if I get my hands on Potemkin, he will live. But I will take out every major organ and sell them. As he dies screaming. I will keep the adrenaline in my hand just to keep his heart beating as I take it out.
Nika: Just for that I will let you live.

Kiera nods.

Kiera: Gordon. I was going to lobotomize. I have planned carefully during the time you were all being tortured—
Kiera: (calmly) I didn’t say I was any better than they were.
Nika: Joshua. Once again, you were laying out infinite possibilities and options. Talk to me about what you want done.
Joshua: Well what I wanted was approximately five minutes to think about my options once I laid them out.
Nika: Then you should think about your options and lay out the ones you see as the most viable, not lay out fifty-two of them that I have to try to parse through.
Rina: (brightly) I’m going to get more firewood.
Joshua: (subdued) Yes, ma’am.
Nika: We cannot function if we have infinite options.
Joshua: I understand that, Captain.
Nika: Okay.
Joshua: I do understand that. Maybe I should go off somewhere quiet and think about it because …
Nika: That’s fine. We have some time. We’ve got to regroup and figure out—we can’t go any farther on the flatbed anyway.
Joshua: I don’t know what in the blue blazes we’re going to do.
Nika: (sighs) None of us do. The problem is you laying out a hundred options is just confusing the situation further. So everyone needs a little bit of downtime to think about what they think the options are and then we can talk about them. Okay?
Kiera: Maybe we need a list of our assets first.

Rina comes back with parts of a fence. She breaks the posts apart over her knees and stacks them to the side as she listens.

Kiera: First thing we do is list the assets we do have. Then what we’re going to be going against and what they have.
Nika: No. The first thing is to decide—and it’s just this simple—are we going back to take care of this situation or are we getting the hell out? And before you can decide anything else, one of those two choices has to be made.
Joshua: I don’t have a choice.
Nika: Then take the time to sit and think about it.
Joshua: No. I mean, I know what my choice is.
Nika: Well the other people in the group do need that time to think about that choice.
Joshua: Yeah. I know. I’m already aware of that.
Nika: So let’s deal with that choice first and then we’ll deal with the rest of the options. Cuz once you eliminate one of those, it pretty much narrows the choice pool.
Joshua: Okay.
Kiera: If you wanna go back, I’ll go back with you. I owe you that.

Beglan clears his throat.

Beglan: Can I say something?
Nika: By all means.
Joshua: Of course you can.
Beglan: I don’t want to get into any trouble for throwin’ out more options but … I do want to say that there’s a real bite back kinda feelin’ that even I have too, and I’m not a vengeful man. Of course we want to get back at the man who’s hurt us so.
Nika: Precisely. That’s not why we would need to go back. Going back has to be done because it’s the right thing to do.
Beglan: Right. And if it’s about the right thing to do, thenin my mind, I want to have some hope and not act out of despair. I don’t know much about this place. (looks at Rina) Perhaps you and Oleg seem to know more about it, but perhaps there’s someone in the government that if they were made aware of it, they would want to put these people back where they belong. Put prison guards on these things, put these people behind bars. You say that somebody will have to use them for their own purposes but if enough light is shed on it, perhaps there will be an outrage and people will say no, we want to see justice.
Kiera: Oleg, how far away from being able to get to a government person before this wraps up and Potemkin either takes off or this Roskov, you called him? runs off in Potemkin’s ship?
Beglan: Well, here’s the thing. I think we want to stop those things from happening. but I don’t think it’s by driving back there and trying to fight them off. Even if they decimated each other in a fight, I don’t think we’re a match for them. They’ve got guns and we’ve got nothing.
Nika: We’re running a few men short anyway.
Beglan: But we have some advantages. We’re free. We’ve got something they want. We’ve got two things they want. That they want a lot. So they’re gonna come for us. We can decide where they’re gonna get us. We can be here and then we’re not much better off than if we’re at the thing.

Meaning the GULag.

Belgan: But perhaps somewhere else.
Rina: It’s getting to the ‘somewhere else’ that I’m stumped. Anybody have any ideas?
Joshua: We still have some fuel. In the mule, right?
Belgan: There’s plenty of fuel. Good for a bit.
Kiera: But we don’t know what direction to go.
Rina: Oleg?
Oleg: Well … it all looks pretty much the same to me.
Nika: If we’re gonna set up an ambush, familiar ground is always best. We’re gonna have to use the baby.

Summer’s Gift.

Beglan: It will give us a tactical advantage. If we can survive the radiation. They’ll be somewhat hesitant to run in after us.
Nika: One would think.
Joshua: Well, they’d use the Stitches, but yes.
Nika: In the past, reporting things to the government has not really worked. We’ve made that attempt on a number of occasions. It’s not out of the realm of reasonability for us to do it here but I’m just saying let’s—
Beglan: Captain, it might work out that if they come after us things will happen that that won’t be necessary.
Kiera: So does the radio on the Gift work at all?
Beglan: No.
Nika: So far as I can recall almost nothing on the Gift works. They gutted her.
Joshua: And they pretty much shredded the radio.

And Kiera might not realize it but we were kind of on a short deadline to keep from crashing and turning the entire planet into a radioactive mess …

Beglan: Dr. Arden. Did you take any of that radiation medicine? It might give us a fighting chance if we’re going to stay there. If we can get the engines running, perhaps we can use the power to flush out as much of the lingering radioactive dust out of there.
Rina: It’s worth a shot. I think we can do that.
Nika: I’m told we blew most of the cargo containers on the way down?

Yes, we did. But one container failed to deploy, keeping a dirty bomb on board. It would be the main source of the lingering radiation.

Nika: When I woke, you said it was basically open to the elements anyway. You didn’t like, lock her or anything, didja?
Joshua: The Gift?
Nika: Yeah. So maybe while it’s been sittin’ here while we’ve been dealing what’s been going on in the dome, at least the wind has been blowin’ through it the whole time. The cargo container would be the one problem there. So it may not be nearly as irradiated as expected.
Rina: Let’s just hope it’s alpha particles.
Nika: If we get her engines up and running I honestly don’t know if she’s going to be flyable. I don’t know if she’s ever going to break atmo again.
Rina: And then there’s the matter of fuel.
Beglan: If we can fake out their forces with it.
Nika: Right. If we can use her as a torpedo …
Beglan: Or if we can somehow get her radio to working and get someone else.
Nika: That too. As I recall, there was no radio left. But I’m not certain of that.
Kiera: Can you build one out of what’s left?
Rina: I can try.

It may be possible. What have we got to use on the flatbed? Anything? We look. We’ve got a tool kit. A winch. It has a radio but it’s short range. Not intercontinental like we’d need. We might be able to hook it to the systems on the Gift and boost its signal. Potemkin didn’t so much remove everything as he’d simply made it inoperative to use. Keep in mind, Potemkin had only a day to get everything done to our girl before sending her on her way. He was bound to have missed something in his haste to get her aloft. It’s very possible what we need is still aboard our girl.

All of which is moot if we can’t find our way back to our ship. Nika was too disoriented upon waking to get a good fix on our location before we were rescued.

Joshua: We can find her. Between Beglan and I, I think we can find her. Getting a sense of direction from where we are now, we knew where the river was … Beglan and I can get us back.

It was one of the major elements visible from our first reconnaissance of the area. It led us to the village, it can lead us back to the Gift. Coupled with Joshua’s total recall, we should be able to find our girl.

Kiera: Do you want to wait til morning or do you want to leave now?
Joshua: I’d rather not leave right this second. I want to rest for at least for the night.
Kiera: Recuperate.
Joshua: It’s been a rough day. If we’re gonna make a stand somewhere for good or ill, I want to be at the Gift.
Nika: Home is where we make it guys.
Joshua: Let’s do it.
Nika: Maybe at the end of all this Potemkin will be out of our hair. Not that I’m holding out too much hope of that.

At that, we break up, each lost in our own thoughts of the coming showdown. Now that the immediate task of escaping the GULag has been met and our options explored, we all realize just how slim our chances might be.

Unanswered Questions:
1. Is it possible that Gordon, or his research, is responsible for the wet work in Valerie's head? Or is what was done to Valerie different, by a different inventor?

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