Episode 509: Joshua Drake, This Is NOT Your Life ...
It took some time, but there was no way I wasn't doing this one verbatim. Thanks for your patience. Enjoy!--Maer
Air Date: 15 Mar 2011
Present: Kim, Maer, Terri, Andy, and Bobby
Sunday, 05 Apr 2522
Upsilon Brigantine class, IAV Aceso
Somewhere in Red Sun
Arden wakes to find himself in a hospital bed. He’s alive and looking around he sees that he’s a large multi-bed room with Rina, Beglan, and about 8 of the rescued girls. Nika, Joshua, Kiera, Lanie and the rest of the girls aren’t with us. The staff goes around to each of us in turn checking our hydration IVs, bringing us drinks with bendy straws, generally making sure we’re not going to die on them and that we’re comfortable. Some of us are more worn out from the experience than others. Arden is the first to wake, then Rina. Beglan is last to wake, being the most affected by the heat after Joshua, of whom it doesn’t take Rina long to notice isn’t with us.
In the next room over, Nika and Kiera and Lanie/Roland and the rest of the girls come awake in turn. Kiera comes to briefly, takes a look around, and grouses.
Kiera: Darn it. We made it.
And she promptly passes out again. The staff checks her drip, makes her comfortable, and pretty much leave the patients to their thoughts: We’ve made it. But where exactly are we? And how did we get here?
Arden starts asking the staff about the rest of his companions, asking what their status is. The staff assures him that someone will come and answer his questions and sure enough, before too long someone does show up. It’s a woman in a doctor’s coat but she carries an air of confidence and authority about her. When she introduces herself to Arden and his portion of the crew, we immediately see why.
CMO Cooper: I’m Dr. Cooper. I’m the Chief Medical Officer aboard the Aceso. Are you the Captain of the ship?
Arden: No. I’m the ship’s doctor.
CMO Cooper: Oh. Oh, so you were the one who induced the comas and the—?
Arden: Unfortunately, I had to do such things.
CMO Cooper: Oh, well you probably saved everyone’s life.
Arden: Well …
CMO Cooper: Congratulations.
She’s not sarcastic or unfriendly when she says it. It’s simply a matter of fact acknowledgement of Arden’s efforts to save us.
Arden: But my companions. Has everybody … was … ?
CMO Cooper: Everybody appears to be in good shape.
Arden: The crew and the passengers?
CMO Cooper: They’ll take a small amount of recovery time. But as you can see, people are beginning to regain consciousness—
She gestures to the ward we’re in. A couple of beds over, he sees Rina is awake and eyeing everything suspiciously, likely planning an elaborate jail break out of here. She’s still weak and flat on her back but who knows how long that will hold her?
CMO Cooper: No one has suffered heat stroke to the point where we think there is any brain damage. It’s mostly just trauma and oxygen deprivation but as near as we can tell, your preparations and the use of the life pods and the vac suits appears to have done the trick. It was quite a gamble. I mean, we, ah, …
Her expression changes to one of close call-well done! before she gets a grip and continues.
CMO Cooper: One of the scouts, one of the long range scouts picked up your distress call and summoned us. And so we recovered your shuttle and your—
Arden: I think we’re going to change the name of the ship to “Pair of Dice” because it seems like every time we go out, we’re rolling them.
CMO Cooper: I see. The Captain will probably want to talk to you at some point but you should rest and recover. If you need anything, do let us know. I would like to go speak with your Captain.
Arden: Are we … ? Assuming we can get up and move, can we just get on our ship and get on our merry way?
CMO Cooper: (puzzled) Ah—
Arden: Or are we being held in custody?
CMO Cooper: (pulls together) You’ll have to speak to the Captain about that. I don’t think anyone should leave at this stage. We’d like to hold you for observation.
Arden: I understand that and I’m not suggesting that we do. I just want to know if we’re in custody or not.
CMO Cooper: If you’re in custody? Ahmm, I don’t know. I’ll look into that.
Two beds over, Rina can’t believe Arden’s saying this. Are we in custody? Don’t give the opposition any ideas! If only she could hit him. She eyes the line of the CMO’s back as the woman walks out and hopes Arden hasn’t put us on the fast track to the brig.
CMO Cooper walks to the next recovery ward over and stands in the central aisle, scanning the screens mounted over the beds. Nika has been awake for a little while and pushes Kiera’s insistent offer of water aside when she sees CMO Cooper walk in.
CMO Cooper: Is there someone here named Captain Earhart?
Nika: That would be me.
CMO Cooper: Ah, Captain. I’m Lieutenant Commander Cooper. Chief Medical Officer. As you can see, everyone appears to be in good shape.
You can almost see Nika’s spine come to attention when the rank is mentioned. Her voice is military respectful when she answers.
Nika: Yes, ma’am. Did my entire crew make it?
CMO Cooper: Yes.
Nika: My passengers?
CMO Cooper: I believe so, yes. Ah, twenty people?
Nika: Yes. Twenty passengers—no, twenty total. There were twenty of us total, yes.
CMO Cooper: And it appears there is a cat.
Nika: Yes. (breathes a laugh) My doctor will be thrilled.
CMO Cooper: (smiles) It’s amazing how the cat—well, we don’t know how many lives your cat has left but ... (shakes head, smiles again) I’m sure the Captain will be excited to talk to you. He was impressed with this. He was a doctor himself before he became our guy in the martial arena. He will likely be interested in talking with you at some point. Might as well. You should rest. If there is anything you need—if you feel comfortable eating, you should eat.
CMO/Lt. Cmdr. Cooper turns to leave.
Nika: How long have we been here?
CMO Cooper: You’ve been aboard here for about 22 hours or so. I don’t know how long you were in space.
Nika: What’s the date?
CMO Cooper: April 5th.
Minus 22 hours aboard Aceso, which means we were picked up toward the end of our 4th day—the last day we’d have air in our suits. We’d cut it pretty damn close. Nika pushes the thought aside to contemplate later.
Nika: Okay … how far … Where are-where exactly are we?
CMO Cooper: We’re in, as near as I can tell, in space just a short hop away from Paquin.
Huh. It’s the 5th of April. Paquin’s a short hop away. We might make that cargo delivery after all. Good news. We need the money.
Nika: That might help us.
CMO Cooper: We’ve been tethered to your ship and the fleet is paused until we can release you.
Whoa. The entire fleet is waiting on us? Um …
Kiera: (stirring) You mind if we ask how the engines are doing? Because when I left, they weren’t doin’ so hot.
Nika: Uhh, yeah.
CMO Cooper: I’m a medical officer. I don’t know about the engines. I’m sure when the Captain or the First Officer speaks to you they will be able to tell you. There will be some kind of debriefing. Usually when we do rescues, there’s some sort of debriefing. Nika: Right. Absolutely.
Kiera: Can I get a hospital gown with a back to it?
CMO Cooper: (suppressing smile) I’m afraid we don’t have any of those.
Kiera sighs, disgruntled. Those backless things are unflattering and there’s a big damn draft, aft. Nika covers for her steward’s ill grace by asking:
Nika: So as long as we’re feeling okay, we can get up and move about?
CMO Cooper: I’m going to suggest that you stay in bed but we will—I suppose we have a training room you can use to walk around and such, if you want to use the facilities. Take a shower.
Nika: We’d appreciate that very much. Thank you. I’d at least like to touch base with the rest of my crew.
Kiera: What room are they in?
CMO Cooper: They’re just in the next room.
Kiera: Oh, all right. (to Nika) You want me to walk on over and see if I can help you? I was not out as long as you were.
Nika: (grateful) Yeah.
Kiera starts inching out of her bed, muttering at the catheter she’s got to deal with. At least once she’s upright she can ditch it and use the facilities like a normal person.
Kiera: Nor do I need a big giant tube, attached to a bag … Not that I’m going to rub it in at all.
Nika: Must you?
Nika stops Kiera’s advance with a raised hand. She’s feeling a touch too weak to go bounding out of bed yet. Kiera gives her friend a hard look, sees the woman’s still dehydrated. Kiera picks up Nika’s glass of water and fills it to the top and puts it in her hand. Nika is not at all amused by Kiera’s rough affection.
Kiera: Oh really? Did you really need to ask that? Of course. I’ll rub it. Rub it hard. Drink what I tell you to next time, woman.
Nika: (smiling daggers) I am going to shave your head while you are sleeping. One of these days.
Kiera: (smiles, whispers) It’ll grow back. I just may paint it though ...
There’s more back-and-forthing between the Captain and her Steward before Kiera grabs her IV pole and starts looking for the others.
Meanwhile, Joshua is dreaming ….
And his dreams aren’t what you’d call pleasant. As luck would have it, certain categories of psychotropic drugs—such as Flomoxipan—have their side effects exacerbated by heat trauma. Which is what we’ve all suffered, but in Joshua’s case, his suffering is worse. Much worse.
He’s having unusual dreams of his childhood. Where most children might have dreams of lying in bed and hearing Mommy and Daddy arguing about taxes downstairs, Joshua’s dreaming about lying in bed and hearing other children tortured the next room over. Well, not tortured so much as being hurt.
He tosses in his dream bed, desperate: I want to wake up!
His dreams change. He’s walking in a desert now. Getting parched. Losing energy. Giving up. Dying. The sun beats down and the heat soaks in and a voice calls to him. Joshua doesn’t want to hear it. No. Tired. Do you have water? Otherwise, go away! And then a feeling steals over him. It’s love. Love and concern for him. And Joshua wraps his mind around it like a hug on coming home. The voice draws closer, becomes more soothing, the words growing clearer.
Rex. My son. Rex.
Joshua blinks awake and looks into the loving eyes of his father. Wait.
Of course. The dream pulls out of his head like an ocean wave, leaving memories of his father glistening on the shore, and Joshua comes all the way awake.
Joshua: (hoarse) Dad?
Father: I can’t believe it’s you. (choked up) You’re alive.
Joshua: I-uh-where am…?
It’s too much to take in.
Joshua: I … am …?
Father: (getting a grip) You’re aboard my ship, son.
Joshua: … Okay … How-how did … how did I … I don’t … how did I get here? Did you-you …
Father: I don’t know how it happened, but somehow you’ve been returned to us.
Joshua lies there and tries to think. So … he’s known this man his whole life? And … Joshua remembers something. When still a Borrower for Blue Sun, Joshua routinely undergoes a weird schizophrenia when leaving a job, where is not really connected to anything very well and facts just kind of … line up … and literally people would come up to him and say, “Now remember, Joshua … You’re Joshua and not—” whoever he’d been assigned to Borrow. They would literally bring Joshua back to where he was, who he was.
Right now, in a strange bed, staring at a man who says he is his father, Joshua’s feeling that same disconnected feeling that he got when coming down from a Borrowing. And yet … the man looks very familiar. In fact, Joshua does recognize him. Furthermore, Joshua can remember being in the shuttle, of boarding Lagniappe to find help for his crew. So … it’s coming back to him now. He was on Lagniappe, he went to find help. Help, apparently, has found him. And if help has found him, has it found … ?
Joshua: So … wait. So, I … You … you rescued our shuttle? My friends, my companions?
Father: Yes, son. The people you were with are-are all fine. They’re all aboard the ship.
Joshua: Well, how—?
Father: Just rest. (motions him down) Just rest. You’ve been … ah, well the doctors have been doing scans on you. You’ve … Well, son, we’ll talk about it later, but you’ve-you’ve been through a lot.
Joshua: Well, I-uh, yeah …
The man seems overwhelmed at seeing his long lost son and doesn’t want to overload him with too much too soon. He turns to go and Joshua stays him with a hand on his arm. The man turns around and Joshua sees tears welling in the man’s eyes. It’s joy, joy at seeing his son. He sits on the edge of the bed at his son’s touch and just looks at him. Then:
Father: (quietly) For over two years, we thought you were just … gone … dead and then … (sighs) … I … and the odds of just finding you, clinging to life, in the middle of space out here … in the Rim …
This is obviously quite a lot for the older man to take in—having his son returned to him and by such a narrow margin. It could have been so easy for that shuttle to have been overlooked, for the rescue to have passed it by. This isn’t quite easy for Joshua to take in either.
Joshua: It’s like a miracle. I …
Father: Rest. You rest. You rest and I’ll give you—
Joshua: Will I be able to see my friends again at some point soon? Like, ah, I mean … I assume they are resting, I guess?
Father: We’ll talk about that. The—
Joshua: Okay. Okay.
Father: You’re just at the beginning of this, though.
Joshua: Sure, sure.
Father: You’re body has been through a lot and it’s going to be an unpleasant …few weeks to come.
Joshua: (wait … ) A few weeks?
Father: (continuing) But I’m going to be here for you. We’re gonna get you off this stuff. We’re gonna—we’re gonna bring you back.
The expression of hope and joy and worry on the man’s face is heart wrenching to see. And for Joshua, everything is starting to move just a little too fast. Why is the man worried? What does he mean, stuff? Bring him back? From where? He’s already been rescued.
Joshua: Um, wait. Wait. Okay?
His father pats him and the message is loud and clear: Sh-hhh. It’s going to be okay.
Father: I’m going to go talk to, ah, the Captain of the ship. And let him know that you’re okay.
Joshua: (lost) … Okay … (tries again) … Well, it’s … it’s good to see you. I … I missed you.
He does. He remembers the shock of learning of his father from the Blue Sun chip. Of mourning his death in the galley on the Gift. And now to have him back? Yes, it is good to see him. And yes, he has missed him. And yes, this is clearly his father. And yet … And yet that odd dissociative filter is getting in the way. Joshua is still very confused, the facts aren’t exactly lining up. But …
Father: (sighing) Ahh, I wish we were closer to the Core so I could wave your mother. (a breath) She’ll find out soon enough.
Joshua: … Gosh … it would be nice to talk to her.
But … there’s something not quite right about this, but Joshua’s not quite sure what it is. And he wonders about his mother and his father’s odd statement just now: she’ll find out soon enough. Why did he say that? Is she sick? Is she sick and his father doesn’t want to tell him? Perhaps he is just trying to downplay it? His father leaves and Joshua finds himself finally able to take in his surroundings.
He’s in a high tech imaging suite. He’s got scanners pointed at him, lots of blinking lights and fancy computers all around. There are multiple screens within view and on them he can see pictures of his brain. Wonderful. Umpty-bazillion channels and nothing good on to watch.
He’s also hooked up to an IV and Joshua realizes he doesn’t feel all that terribly well. Actually, he feels pretty bad. Nobody would feel great after what he and the crew have been through, but no, he feels pretty bad even so. Of course, the emotional broadside isn’t doing him any favors either. Joshua slumps back into the pillows and stares at the screens, the lights, the shadows between, and tries to make sense of it all.
Back in the recovery wards, elsewhere …
Feeling like a thousand flavors of crap, Rina is up and out of bed, using her rolling IV stand for support, ready to choke the living shit out of someone. She noticed that the CMO did not tell Arden where Joshua was when he asked. The CMO only said the others were in the other room. This is not, to Rina, a good sign that these people are trustworthy. Where is Joshua? Where is her fiancé? If he’s in the other room, then by God, she’s going to get her ass down there and verify for herself that he’s in there, that he’s alive, and that he’s okay. No one stops her. She gets to the other recovery ward and looks. Our passengers are gingerly getting up, moving around, drinking from juice boxes. They see the expression on Rina’s face and they get out of her way.
Rina goes through the room, looks everywhere. Joshua isn’t here. Instead she finds Kiera and Nika in their beds, side by side, with the steward arguing at the Captain to drink more fluids and the Captain just chatterboxing her hand at the redhead: blah-blah-blabbity-blah.
But no Joshua. Where is Joshua? It’s becoming a mantra in her head, pounding in time with her headache. Where is Joshua?
There are medical staff here and there in the room, helping some of the others who aren’t as apparently physically well off as Rina. Urging them to keep resting, plying them with liquids. Overall, everyone is getting very good treatment and are being treated well, possibly even better than we’d get at a Coreside hospital. Then again, one also gets the feeling that maybe the staff doesn’t have anything else to do around here, either, and when a boatload of twenty patients just drop into their laps … ? They’re going to pull out the stops and really treat their patients well.
As Rina takes this scene in, a figure appears and based on her own experience with the Alliance Navy, she recognizes him as the Captain. Nika sees him and recognizes the rank if not the man, as well, and straightens a bit on her pillows as he enters the room. Kiera notices him too, if for a different reason: tall, fit, silver-haired, with blue-grey eyes and a clean-cut jaw, this man is smokin’ hot. All three women watch as the man speaks to the doctor on the deck and looks over at Nika when the doctor points her out from the rest. He approaches her bed and Rina moves in to listen and to watch her Captain’s back.
Captain: Captain Earhart?
Nika: (military polite) Yes.
Captain: Yes, I am Captain Wise of the Aceso. I, ah, I don’t know what to say. Finding your ship was a one-in-a-million chance and then finding my son aboard …
Nika: Excuse me?
Rina freezes: son? Oh no.
Captain Wise: Rex. You had Rex. He was on the shuttle that we found. It was—was the shuttle yours?
Kiera: Who did you pick up when I was unconscious?
Rina unfreezes and closes in on the Captain Wise of Aceso.
Rina: Joshua. Where is he?
Captain Wise: He’s in—he’s being looked at by some specialists.
Rina: Is he—
Captain Wise: Now, look, I don’t know how he got on board your shuttle or why, but I don’t care.
Nika: Who do you think he is?
Kiera: Who—wait, this is—?
Captain Wise: He’s my son. Rex.
Kiera: (cautiously) Describe Rex.
And standing to the side, Rina’s already going into paranoia overdrive. Wise thinks Joshua is Rex. Joshua is separated from the crew, ostensibly being looked at by specialists. Specialists in what? Dear God, where is Joshua and what are they doing to him? She grips her IV pole and manages to keep it together and she sees Wise pull out a data pad and bring up a picture on its screen. He holds it up to show the three women.
It’s a picture of Joshua—younger, clean shaven. A picture of a man in uniform.
Rina: (zeroing in) From the Trafalgar, right?
Captain Wise: No, he was assigned to, ah, well … wait. You know him from Trafalgar?
Nika: (forestalling Rina) How long has it been since you’ve seen your son?
Captain Wise: Over two years.
We first met Joshua on 26 June 2520. Captain Wise’s answer fits. What he says next clinches it.
Captain Wise: He was last seen on Trafalgar. That is … Has he spoke of it? To you?
Nika: Um, okay. Let me put it to this way. The name you’re giving him is not the name we know him by. Now whether it’s because he can’t remember that name or what, maybe we should all talk about it at the same time.
Captain Wise: Yes, there are some questions that I’d like—need to ask you about this because this is kind of unusual. First of all …
He looks around at the girls we’ve rescued.
Captain Wise: I don’t know what kind of ship you’re running but to be honest, out here, it’s really not my business. And … there was a considerable amount of the recreational drug Flomoxipan in his system. I don’t know why that’s the case …
You can look at the man and see he suspects, however.
Captain Wise: I can only assume that you didn’t know of some of his medical conditions and that he took the drug without your knowledge, but …
Nika: (slowly) I think it might be time to get my crew’s doctor involved as well as get Joshua himself into this conversation before we go further with it, sir.
Captain Wise: (firmly) His name is Rex. And we can do this and we will be having an interrogation. I think I’ll do it one at a time for each of you.
Kiera: Um …
Captain Wise: If you would like to go first Captain, that would be fine with me. When you’re strong enough.
Captain Wise softens.
Captain Wise: But honestly, you brought him back to me alive and if you want to just say you found him out in space and leave it at that … ? We don’t have to go any further than that.
Nika: Your son is my XO.
Captain Wise: As I say, if you want … You may want to think about it. Talk to your crew about what you want to say. And once you decide, we’ll start the interrogation. (a beat) But I’m serious. If what you want to tell me is that you … found him on some planet, he was strung out but had a few credits and boarded your ship and you, you brought him out … I would be deeply in your debt.
We say we found Joshua strung out on some planet and offered him a ride? And that the ride led to him nearly dying in space? That’s like a parent’s worst nightmare and he wants us to call it the official story?
Um … come again?
Captain Wise: However, if there’s more to the story …
Kiera: So … which story do you want us to tell you?
Rina: (accent showing) The one that makes you happy or the truth?
Captain Wise: I assume that they’re the same.
Captain Wise turns around to the doctor on deck.
Captain Wise: Doctor, when they’re ready, get them some clothes and send them to my conference room.
Doctor on Deck: Yes, sir.
Captain Wise walks out. Rina stares at the man’s back. Is he really Joshua’s father? If he is …
Rina: I’m eloping.
Kiera: You what?
Nika: Where is Arden?
Arden is in the other recovery ward, checking the girls over. It’s not that he doesn’t trust the docs on Aceso, no. It’s just that they were his patients first and originally under his care. He’s just being responsible and following through. When he’s done doing that, he realizes that Rina hasn’t come back from the other room yet. That could be bad news or it could be good news. He grabs his IV pole and makes the walk next door and joins the rest of his crew. He notices he’s missing a crewmate.
Arden: So, Joshua’s not in here. He was supposed to be in here.
Nika: (dryly) Oh, no, no, no. We have a small issue. With a capital ISSUE.
Yeah. You can hear the all-caps.
Kiera: Oh, now he does owe me. Cuz I bet him this would happen. That he did wake up and he was somebody else.
Nika: Kiera. You’re doing it again. (off her look) You’re doing it again.
Arden: No, what’s the issue?
Nika: (sweetly) The Captain is claiming that Joshua is his son Rex, who he’s not seen in a number of years and who was last seen aboard Trafalgar. And if we would like to tell him that well, you know, we found his son on an abandoned planet somewhere and he had recreational drugs in his system and we just went ahead and took his credits to transport him to wherever, he would be most in our debt. And he’s going to keep his son.
Her pause is heavy.
Nika: But you know if there’s more to that story …
Arden: Which there is.
Nika: Implying there could be huge problem with the “more to that story” and he has no intention of letting us see Joshua before we have our interrogation.
Arden: Well, I’m telling him the truth. I can’t see any reason to lie.
Nika: You’re missing the point, Arden.
Arden: Um, yeah?
Rina: He needs to cover his ass.
Nika: No. No, I’m—
Rina: He wants Joshua.
Nika: Okay, chalk it up to paranoia, here, but somebody aboard wants Joshua and they want to keep him. Now whether this guy’s even telling the truth that he’s Joshua’s father, we have no idea.
Speaking of Joshua …
Rina: Well I notice he’s not in this room, so where is he?
Arden: He’s in a medical suite, being taken care of by the experts.
Kiera muses that Captain Wise might very well be Joshua’s father. There is enough physical resemblance to suggest some sort of relation. Father-son or a more distant connection, there is something there. Nika reminds Kiera that there’s no way to tell if the face Joshua wears now is his original face as Wise’s son. Kiera counters that as a plastic surgeon, she knows how the tissue and the bones work and there is a way to discern the original face, despite the plastic surgery done. The flesh might change but not the bone. Not that much. So it might be possible that Joshua is Wise’s son. Or isn’t, but only looks like him.
Then again, thanks to Joshua’s recent Borrowing of Bannon, with his hair cut close to his head and his beard shaved off ( but now growing back), he looks more like his photo on Wise’s data pad than not. More like how he’d looked when we first met him on Trafalgar.
Arden: All of this is beside the point. Are we telling the truth?
Kiera: I’m serious. Now this is where the rubber hits the road. I don’t know anything and y’all are talkin’ Trafalgar and stuff. And all I know is when … ?
Arden: We picked Joshua up on Trafalgar.
Kiera: No, but before you say anything, do you want me not to know?
Arden: I don’t care, personally?
Kiera: Because I have to be able to say with all honesty, is there a problem with me knowing his story? Would you rather I walk in there honestly not knowing anything from the point I got on?
Arden: Well, you can say “This is what they told me, I don’t know if it’s true or not”.
Kiera: All right. It’s your call, Captain. What do you want?
Kiera looks at Nika.
Nika: I have zero intention of simply letting them keep Joshua just to let us go.
Kiera: Well, yeah. That’s a hostage thing. But as far as lookin’ for things to hang us on … ?
Nika: Well that would be my big concern, yes.
Arden: Did you get that impression from him?
Nika: Uh, yeah no. He very clearly made it … um … he very clearly made it an implication that Joshua was on a recreational drug and that he doesn’t know whether we knew that or not and he didn’t doesn’t really care because this is his son and we’ve brought him back so he’s just going go and let it slide.
Kiera: But he really thinks this and just wants a little bit of info and then “You go on your merry way and thanks so much for bringing him back”.
Arden: Well, that’s not going to happen.
Nika: Right. Exactly. And therein lies the problem.
Arden: It’s not a problem yet.
Nika: It’s going to be.
Arden: (amends) It’s a problem that could arise.
Nika: I have a feeling here that being our luck being what it is—
Arden: Okay, other than me being stubborn and Kiera being stubborn, who’s the next-most stubborn person—(off Nika’s pointing to Rina)—No, next most-stubborn person on board. No. Joshua. And if Joshua doesn’t want to leave without seeing us, he’s not going to leave.
Kiera: Who else has fought Kiera toe-to-toe to the point of droppin’ bullets outa the thing and havin’ a hissy fit and then setting his girlfriend off before she finally flipped and basically blew it and went “I don’t care they all die, I’m gonna get drunk in a bar and feel sorry for myself”?
Which is a pretty nice summation of Kiera’s betrayal of our crew to Potemkin, thanks so much for the instant replay.
Arden: In fact, I’m moving Joshua to the top of the most-stubborn list of our ship. He’s more subtly stubborn than we are.
Nika: I’ll buy that.
Arden: I’ll say I won’t do it. He’ll say he’ll do it, but he won’t do it.
Kiera: I’ll say he’s manipulatively stubborn.
Nika: Yeah, he just lets me think I’m in command most of the time.
Kiera: No, he just stays back and makes you take the decisions so that you get all the blame. So then he can stand back and go, “That’s not what I advised you exactly.” “But it is!” “No.”
Nika: (agreeing) No, no. It really wasn’t.
The talk devolves quickly into Yes-I’ll-do-that-Captain-and-then-I’ll-never-do-it/It’s-on-the-top-of-my-not-to-do-list hypotheticals and how to twist them around to manipulate the crew and after about 15 seconds, just as quickly ends.
Nika: Anyway. Ultimately, no, we are not leaving him. No.
Arden: I have no problem with leaving him if he wants to be left behind.
Kiera: No, but yeah, we’d lose two crew members. Because if we leave him—(points to Rina)—ain’t goin’.
Arden: She’s left her fiancé before.
Meaning Mike. Rina glares daggers at Arden but she doesn’t refute him. She turns around and stalks as best as she’s able to the far side of the room and gives the crew her back.
Arden: (off Nika’s look) But she has. She has!
Kiera: See, the more I find out about you guys the less respect I have. I thought I’d moved up to a better class of criminal. It turned out I went lower. (a beat) Or maybe more incompetent. That’s it.
Nika: Oh yeah.
Arden: Regardless of the iciness of that last statement, it’s true.
Kiera: She ain’t gonna leave this one.
Nika: We didn’t think she was going to leave Mike.
Kiera: Well … (looks at Rina) …
Nika: If I had put money on that, I’d be out money.
Arden: I’d be out money too.
Beglan has crept in and joined us and catches that last comment.
Beglan: So, leaving this aside, cuz assuming he would just ask for her when he gets back, do we—what do you want us to do, Cap’n? Are we gonna just tell the truth?
Nika: We’re gonna tell the truth.
Arden: I don’t see any reason to not tell the truth.
Beglan: As long as there’s no sinister Alliance Intelligence agency or Blue Sun organization trying to reach us, or something like that, I see no reason to not to tell the truth.
Nika gives Beglan The Face. The You Sunovabitch Face. Arden steps into the gap her silence makes.
Arden: Now based on my knowledge of these types of situations, when he interviews us I would suggest making sure there’s someone taking a transcript.
Arden: So we can be played back.
Kiera: It’s an Alliance vessel. They’re gonna be takin’ a transcript, period.
Nika: All right, look. We know that Joshua’s on the run.
Arden: From Blue Sun.
Nika: I don’t know. Is Otto an Alliance agent or a Blue Sun agent?
Arden: He was a freelance agent. As far as I know.
Nika: No, he worked for the council.
Arden: He worked for whoever paid him.
Originally, Otto (or Swordsman) was an Operative of the Parliament. Originally. Now? Who knows?
Kiera: No, wait a minute. Joshua worked for Parliament?
Nika and Arden together: No. Otto.
Nika: But he could be working for a faction of Parliament, too … There were plenty of factions in Parliament.
Just where is Nika going with this?
Arden: Wait a minute. Why are we bringing Otto into this?
Nika: Because ultimately, he was what Joshua was supposed to become. (off everyone’s look) No? Are you sure?
Arden: Fairly. Doppelganger Project, instead of the Overwatch Project.
Nika: Okay. Fair enough. (breathes a laugh) Fair enough. That’s good. I like that.
Digression tabled. Onward.
Nika: So by telling the truth here we’re only pissing off Blue Sun and getting them in trouble as opposed to 'these guys which are Alliance Navy, so … Oh crap. I forgot about the Colchester op.
Arden: I haven’t.
Nika: (sighing) It’s so hard keeping track of all of it …
Beglan: So, when you say “I’ll just tell the truth, I have nothing to hide”, you might have just a few things you don’t want to highlight on your resume.
Arden: I thought that was self-evident.
Nika: I wasn’t going to highlight that part.
Arden: Well, about Joshua.
Nika remembers that Arden is a straight shooter and with Joshua’s voice echoing to that effect in her head, she knows we’re going to have to get our stories straight, down to the last freaking detail.
Kiera: I’m not going to listen cuz the less I listen the happier everybody will be.
Arden: Well you know that when the more people tell the same story, the investigator knows that some must be lying. Probably all of them.
So what? We should run it like Roshamon? ‘That’s not the way I remembered it…’?
Rina, meanwhile, is going over the area with an eye toward security. This feels like a very open plan hospital. There are several large rooms. The room we’re in now looks to be an intensive care/recovery ward. There are two bedrooms toward the for’ard end of the ward with the emergency areas toward the stern, along with the elevator banks where she suspects lead to the shuttle bays just outside in the corridor. Thinking back on her stint in the Navy, she pulls up what she knows of the Upsilon Brigantine class.
The class is made to be pretty generic, about 20,000 tons, and is used for a variety of purposes. The IAV Aceso is tasked as a medical brigantine ship. She has five decks and is efficiently laid out as a hospital. One deck is the main hospital level. Two other smaller decks are made for servicing emergency vehicles—shuttles built to serve as ambulances. There is also flex space, to allow for reconfiguration to suit events like mass influx of patients during battle. It has decks also for crew, cargo, and operations. IAV Aceso is also a good old-fashioned medical ship in that it is entirely unarmed. That doesn’t mean that there the people aboard her entirely unarmed, a fact that’s not lost on Rina. There are more than enough SPs to handle security and protection of the ship and she’s seen them passing by during her cursory examination of the ward.
There is also the presence of nurses and orderlies and doctors, but they don’t seem to stay and watch or guard the crew. Not even the SPs. Nobody is forcing us to stay in the ward but whenever one of the girls does wander out of it, she’s gently asked if she needs assistance finding a restroom or … ? Rina notes the gentle touch in the herding of the patients, but there’s that sense of herding nonetheless. She checks where the emergency exits are next. In case, you know, we need to make an emergency exit. There’s an exit schematic mounted to the bulkhead. By it she knows that decks five and one are dedicated to shuttles. No escaping that way. And over here are the life pods in the engine rooms on deck three. The ward where we are staying is on deck two. And so by increments, she circles the ward and sees what she can see without activating any of the staff to guide her back, and rejoins the crew. Nika fills her in.
Nika: So at this juncture, we are attempting to determine what to tell them. Because we are going for interrogation and there’s no way around it.
Arden: Individual interrogation.
Nika: Errmmmm, at the very least the rest of us will be in the conference room.
Arden: (to Nika) I don’t think we’ll be in the same room together.
Rina: (quietly) Are we going to say that we met him on Trafalgar? Helped him escape his handlers? That he’s made his life with us ever since, doing good?
Arden: Make sure you let him know it’s a Blue Sun handler we helped him escape from.
Nika: I’m good with the same general story. I don’t want the details to be rehearsed. And I definitely don’t want it to sound that way.
Arden: I don’t think we need to go into details about the trip going into Blue Sun and then back to Parliament, and then our running away from Blue Sun—I mean, Parliament. That whole episode doesn’t need to be discussed. Or the blow up of the Library.
The Colchester op, yeah. Kiera just walks off at this point. This is venturing into territory she does not want to know anything about, from incidents that predates her involvement with the crew. So off she goes. Nika drills Rina as to what the engineer is going to say as to why Joshua left Trafalgar to come with us.
Rina: He tried to save our lives, in the light of the Blue Hands during the sonic attack. And they realized he turned his coat and they couldn’t trust him anymore. So he hung with us.
Arden: You probably know a lot more details than I do because you sleep with the guy. I just medicate him. (a beat) When he wants to be medicated.
Rina: (sour) I should be so lucky.
Arden: I can teach you how to medicate him.
Rina: I already know how.
It’s a sucktastic situation all around. We’re stuck in a recovery ward on a hospital ship and the nice people who saved our lives are looking to take away one of our crew members in a fit of mistaken identity. Or unmistaken identity … or … whatever. Thing is, Joshua’s not joining us anytime soon.