Episode 510: St. Albans Secrets, Part Two

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Wednesday, 06 May 2522
0600 hrs, local time

We reach the end of Rina’s week to recuperate and the order is given to spin Equinox’s engines up for departure. We thank the Charles family for their hospitality and the food supplies they’ve given us and leave Greenleaf for St. Albans, a day and a half away.

Thursday, 07 May 2522
1800hrs, ship’s time

We approach St. Albans and Arden and Kiera step onto the bridge for a look. We discover there is no radio traffic coming from the planet. None? None. Nika doesn’t like the sound of that, because it means there’s no ground beacon to guide her in. And from the looks of things, a little guidance would be a good thing—about 90% of the planet is smothered in thick cloud cover. We suspect that the heavy bombardment of the planet created conditions very like a nuclear winter. Nika starts very softly cussing under her breath. Arden’s not too happy with the cloud cover either.

Arden: Great. So it’s even colder now.
Joshua: You could say that, yeah.
Nika: Can we even get to the coordinates we have?
Joshua: Just like with any coordinates, you don’t need to be able to see to go, right?

After all, air craft fly by instruments all the time. Right?

Nika: Yeah but we don’t even know how the weather patterns there are working.
Joshua: But you are an awesome pilot.
Nika: (Damn straight!) I am.
Joshua: You can handle it. You can handle anything.
Nika: I can.
Joshua: So there we go. Off to the coordinates.
Kiera: (to Joshua) You are a horrible enabler.
Nika: He is. He’s kissing my ass very prettily.
Joshua: (archly) I am not.

Arden’s at the comms station looking for an orbital signal. There is none. There is, however, a warning buoy, pinging out a message: Welcome to St. Albans. Warning. You are now entering Interdicted Space. Since it’s an automated buoy message that isn’t backed up by an Alliance gunboat, we fly right on past the buoy. We have a couple of options at this point. We can orbit a couple of times and run a few scans … or we can dive right in through atmo for the coordinates. There are a couple of points arguing against staying in orbit, however. The buoy might have recorded our presence and it might even have scanned us, or there might be people on the ground able to track us if we stay in orbit and give them time to lock onto us. If we go right to atmo, though, the cloud cover and the weather might give us some measure of cover from surveillance.

Joshua: Is there a reason you think you can’t do it?
Nika: (drawling) There a reason you’re tryin’ to yank my chain, boy?
Joshua: (grinning) Cuz it’s fun.
Nika: I wouldn’ta backed down anyway.
Joshua: I know.
ArdenSo we leaving or are we going down?

Everyone readies for landfall as their duties dictate. Nika runs the coordinates through and though our maps aren’t up-to-date and able to tell us where we’re going, the ship can find the spot where the coordinates are. So it’s not long before we’re plunging through St. Albans’s atmo and it’s surprisingly gritty. There’s a fair amount of particulate matter suspended in the upper atmosphere, consistent with heavy bombardment, and it only supports our suspicions of nuclear winter conditions on the ground. It’s a bumpy ride, with heavy turbulence, but Nika handles our ship easily. In fact, as she’s driving us through that turbulence, Equinox handles beautifully and she gets the strong impression that these conditions are what she’s designed for—plowing through atmosphere at high speed … because she’s handling very well, despite the 200 mph winds outside the hull. By comparison, Summer’s Gift would have been shaking and rattling all the way down, eliciting prayers from everyone begging the ship to hold together. But Equinox? She might as well be flying through nothing. Through the yoke in Nika’s hands, through the frame of the ship to Nika’s bones—this ship feels mighty good.

Joshua: I love watching you work.

And then in a fit of whimsy, he drawls over the comm:

Joshua: All crew members, please report to your stations. Lock your seatbelts in …

We break through the cloud cover over a mountainous area graced with finger lakes. The water gleams like quicksilver in the overcast light, rimmed at the edges with ice. It’s not cold enough for them to freeze over solid, which bodes well for the temps outside—we won’t be courting frostbite immediately upon stepping off our ship. Of course, with alpine lakes, especially of a certain depth, freezing solid never happens, regardless of the cold temps outside. But still, it’s a beautiful sight, following the string of lakes onward to our coordinates. As we approach them we see a town—or what used to be a town. It’s clearly been bombed. There is, however, a pad big enough to land on and it’s quite near to our coordinates. Given the mountainous terrain, it’s a welcome bit of flatness and Nika aims us for it. She makes one quick reconnoiter of the town. Nika doesn’t see anything moving in her initial circle-round. It’s a small town, maybe about 200 people, and the narrow valley it was built on has a finger lake taking up most of the level space. Joshua’s manning the sensors and nothing comes up with any heat signature. We do, however, see what appears to be a fishing boat moored to a jetty.

Joshua: Fishing boat. You gonna land?
Nika: Yeah, I’m gonna take us down.

She lands Equinox light as a feather on the pad, despite the crosswinds coming off the mountain slopes and the water, and we settle with nary a bump. It’s snowing outside and as it falls past the bridge windows, Joshua grabs the handset and says to the crew in his best airplane pilot’s voice:

Joshua: We’ve come to a peaceful landing. Please everybody leave their stations. The temperature outside is really cold—
Kiera: (comms) How cold is it?
Arden: (comms) Joshua, stop!
Nika: (comms) Get the rifles.
Kiera: Woo! Awesome!

Nika catches Joshua’s expression.

Nika: You didn’t think we were going out there without rifles, did you?
Joshua: I didn’t say anything.
Nika: Yes, you did.
Joshua: No I didn’t.
Nika: Your brain said—(makes a squeaky-snarky noise)
Joshua: You can hear my brain now? I didn’t say anything. For God’s sake I get yelled at more for not saying anything than for saying stuff.
Nika: You gave me the look.
Joshua: I did not give you the look.
Nika: You gave me the look.
Joshua: The guns are fine. I’m not going to carry one but the guns are fine.
Nika: (eyeroll) We oughta be married.
Joshua: I’m already headed down that path, you know.
Nika: That’s okay, I don’t wanna get married.

Kiera comes skipping in. She’s carrying a couple of rifles. Arden’s right behind her.

Kiera: I’m so happy!
Arden: (off Joshua’s look) What? You were the one who wanted to go tiger hunting.

Did anyone think to stock cold weather gear? It’s snowing out there, for goshsakes. Um. The crew takes stock. Arden did and Beglan, too. So did Rina, as befitting a Russian. Nika and Kiera had as well, given they had just come off Novaya Rodina’s winter. Joshua comes up short, however. Looks like he’s going to be layering on beneath his regular jacket.

Nika: (of herself) Oh, well, no worries.
Joshua: (muttering) Well, I’m gonna freeze. Or at least, refrigerate.

Checking the weather stats on the consoles, he judges he can stay out for a couple of hours before suffering penalties from the cold. So long as we don’t stay out longer before returning to the ship, he should be fine.

We leave the ship and close her up and walk through the town toward the lake. There isn’t much left to the town. It’s been pretty much bombed out. We see the impact of the bomb that took it out—it hit the center of town and judging by which buildings were blown away and which have simply collapsed inward, it looks like a pretty big one. It didn’t destroy everything but it did destroy much and there are no people to be seen anywhere. The boat on the jetty is pretty much intact, despite the two years’ worth of storms brought on by the nuclear winter conditions.

Joshua: Let’s go check out the boat.

Nika sweeps the buildings on the way to the jetty, hoping to find some sign of habitation or at least a clue as to their inhabitants. It looks like the buildings have been either looted after the bombing or scavenged for materials and carted off elsewhere. No footprints are evident. Some deer tracks. But nothing indicating humans have been here since the last snowfall. It’s a dead town.

As we approach the boat, however, we hear the engine on it power up. It starts to pull away from the jetty. We pick up our pace, loping and finally running for the jetty.

Joshua: (calling to boat) Hey! Hey, we wanna talk! Hey!
Nika: They are not really going to make me chase them down with the shuttle, are they?
Beglan: We can abseil onto the boat. Remember how great it was the last time?
Joshua: That was awesome. Can we do that?
Nika: No.
Joshua: You are just a killjoy. All the abseiling would have been—
Nika: I’m gonna kill every bit of joy you have. I haven’t been laid in a year.
Arden: And whose fault is that?
Nika: Brian’s.
Arden: Uh-hah.

The boat pulls fifty feet or so away from the dock as we skid to a halt at its edge. The engine goes to idle and a man in a fisherman’s stereotypical mackintosh and hat comes out onto the deck. He eyeballs the crew—kinda scruffy in our mixed up gear—and our rifles, which look kinda lethal despite our mixed up gear. His voice is roughened by age and the elements and it sounds scratchy at the man barks:

Fisherman: Whaddya want? Everythin’s gone!
Joshua: Yeah, I was sent here to these coordinates.
Fisherman: I don’t want to be rescued. I’m fine. Worked my whole life on this boat, gonna die on this boat.
Joshua: That’s fine. I wasn’t really rescuing. I got sent to these coordinates and I’m trying to figure out why.

You can just hear the thought going through the fisherman’s head: Whadda you, some kinda idiot? We stand out there in the cold and the man in the boat looks us over. In the silence, Rina leans over to Kiera and mutters:

Rina: Thank god I’m not somewhere where I’m melting.
Kiera: I for one like wearing the comfy shorts and the tied-up tee-shirt. I was comfy.
Nika: Yes, but you have a better body than she does.
Rina: (no bones) Absolutely.

And right now, Rina’s got more scars needing covering up than skin that needs exposing. Meanwhile, Joshua turns on the charm and mentions being interested in scrimshaw and the Fisherman relents, apparently taking us for something less dangerous than at first glance, and refrains from taking off altogether. He powers back in to the jetty, throws us the rope and we tie it off as he steps back onto terra firma.

Fisherman: Aye, I saw your ship. Stay outa my warehouse.
Nika: Okay.
Arden: How do we tell it’s your warehouse?
Kiera: (eyeroll) He spray painted his name on the side.
Fisherman: Whaddya want, Mister?
Arden: I just want to know which warehouse yours is so I don’t go in it.
Fisherman: Just stay outa all the warehouses!

Again you can just see him thinking: what kinda idiot are you?

Arden: Okay, that’s fine.
Nika: So you said you didn’t want to be rescued. Has someone come to rescue you before?
Fisherman: Well, when the last ship left, they tried to get me but I took my boat out.
Rina: (softly) How long ago was that?
Fisherman: Ahh, ’round a year or two. Seasons’re a mite changed since the bombin’. It’s hard t’keep track of when winter is and when the summer is.
Rina: Were you here for the bombing?
Fisherman: Aye. Well, I was out on the lake.
Rina: Do you know why they were bombed?
Fisherman: I reckon the war’s happenin’ again.
Rina: Was it everywhere? Or just here?
Fisherman: Ahh, whaddya mean, ‘everywhere’?
Rina: Was the bombing—
Fisherman: Well, you gotta fancy ship over there. You might know more about it than I do.
Nika: (to Rina) The entire planet was bombed.
Rina: I wasn’t on the bridge, Captain. Sorry.
Joshua: Is there anybody else in the area other than you?
Fisherman: Well … One day I thought I saw some strange lights in the sky but with the cloud cover it was hard to tell. It seemed to be coming up by the old ’tennas up there.

The fisherman points up to the heights above the town, now shrouded with heavy dirty white clouds.

Joshua: Okay.
Rina: Tennas?
Fisherman: Antennas.
Rina: (Getting it) Oh. Antennas.
Nika: Might be a relay station.
Fisherman: Yeah, there’s some kinda relay station up there. Figured maybe somebody’s got a ship there?
Nika: Or at least tried. (to Joshua) Let’s try it.
Joshua: Okay.
Fisherman: (continuing) Not interested, to be honest.
Arden: Don’t you get lonely out here?
Fisherman: Uhhhh …
Nika: Obviously you’re making a living, cuz you’re still alive.
Fisherman: Yeah. Probably gonna die soon. I’m an old man. Eating mostly fish. Canned goods.
Arden: Would you like medical care?
Fisherman: Oh, you’d like that wouldn’t you?
Arden: No.
Fisherman: Yeah, that’s how they start. They’re like, ‘Hey, whyn’t cha lie down on this’ and they strap ya down and cart ya off to some old age home or somethin.

The fisherman looks narrowly at Arden and the rest of us. We’re not gonna fool him, nope.

Fisherman: I’m not havin’ it, Mister! You can shoot me with your rifles instead.
Nika: (changing the subject, please) You said you had fish and canned goods.
Fisherman: I ain’t sharin’.
Nika: No, I was going to suggest we could possibly trade for some fish if you’d like some additional canned goods.
Fisherman: Hmm, I dunno. Where’re the canned goods comin’ from? If you have’em, another trick is havin’ me eat poisoned canned goods …

Whoa. Paranoid much? Living alone has certainly not done the guy any favors.

Joshua: No tricks. I’m just really trying to figure out why I’m here.
Fisherman: I didn’t call ya!
Joshua: That’s good to know. I appreciate it.
Kiera: Do you see anybody besides … you?
Fisherman: Not since the survivors left. (pause) ’Less you count sometimes the water...I think I see people.
Kiera: Below the water?
Fisherman: Yeah. They called to me but I just … (shakes head, stands fast)
Rina: Underwater scientific base?
Kiera: There’s some Loreleis beneath the water.

Rina thinks of Rusalkas, but keeps her mouth shut. for his part, Joshua pulls out the sketch he made of Mystery Woman from IAV Trafalgar. He shows it to the Fisherman.

Joshua: That doesn’t ring a bell, does it?
Fisherman: Yeah, nope.
Joshua: Okay. (stows the pic) Well, maybe we’ll just … go and check out those antennas and leave you be to go fishin’, and—
Rina: (to Fisherman) When did the survivors leave?
Fisherman: Shortly after the bombing. As I say, the days and weeks kinda get confused on that. We’re not really big on that.
Kiera: The Lorelei underneath the water. How often do ya see ’em?
Joshua: Oh, Lord. Leave the man be. Leave the man be.
Kiera: But—!
Fisherman: Huh. I gotta hunch I’m gonn wake up and you guys’re some sorta hallucinations too. I was a little bit concerned about one that one tin. It was a little tainted. I must be havin’ a hallucination.
Kiera: Oh, are you now?
Rina: Stay away from the soy. It’s poison.

Kiera pulls Rina away from the man and leans to him and whispers.

Kiera: She has concussion injuries.
Joshua: Okay. Have a nice day … week ... month. You know, days and days blurring together. Have a good one. We’ll leave you be. You look like a man who values his privacy.

Joshua’s herding us all away from the Fisherman at this point. No need to antagonize the man any further. He’s made it pretty clear he doesn’t want to deal with us, thank you.

Fisherman: There is one thing … You don’t happen to have any tobacco do you? I run out.
Joshua: (to Arden) We don’t have any do we?
Arden: I don’t think so.
Fisherman: Anybody smoke?
Kiera: No.
Nika: No.
Rina: I don’t smoke.
Fisherman: Useless. Arright …
Rina: Do you need tea? Coffee?
Kiera: We always have coffee.
Fisherman: Nah, I don’t need coffee.
Kiera: (to Joshua) Did we take any of that super-pot in trade?

From the Duquesnes, she means. No. We didn’t.

Fisherman: I’m not a superstitious man, here, but that place up yonder, where the antenna are. Yeah … people told some strange stories about bad things that happened up there. Long time ago. Just so you know.
Nika: What kind of bad things?
Fisherman: Well …
Joshua: (quietly) Torture?
Rina: (to Joshua, whispering) That comes later, dear.
Fisherman: People’d talked about it. Torture. Yeah. Experiments of some kind.
Nika: Wonderful.
Fisherman: So I don’t know if it’s gonna—I doubt it’s still goin’ on there. In fact when the bombin’ happened, I figured they’d bombed that place. But … I don’t mean to needlessly scare ya.
Joshua: No, no.
Fisherman: No one’s been here.
Joshua: It’s all good. We’re happy to stay and talk of you want us to stay and talk, but if you want to be left alone, we’ll leave you alone. We appreciate the help, appreciate the info.
Fisherman: All right.
Joshua: If we don’t come back from the antennae, you know what happened to us. Ghosts or whatever it is up there got to us.
Fisherman: Maybe you should leave the door on your ship open, just in case.
Joshua: We’ll think about it.
Kiera: (dryly) All right, if we die we’ll will it to him. That’ll work.
Fisherman: That’s fair.
Joshua: That seems fair. I’m on board with that.
Kiera: (to Fisherman) Can you fly?
Fisherman: Yeah. Own everything else in this town.

We look and there’s something about the Fisherman’s expression that invites some reciprocal leg pulling.

Joshua: Yeah. This warehouse. That warehouse. Except for that one. That’s Bob’s warehouse. But don’t touch it. He’ll get to you, too.
Fisherman: I’m the mayor of August.
Joshua: That what the name of the town was?
Nika: Yeah, and no mirrors. Can’t have mirrors. Cuz if you look in the mirrors, that’s how they get us.
Joshua: All right. (wrapping up) Have a good one.
Kiera: Nice meetin’ ya.
Fisherman: Just keep walkin’.

And we’re walking. Walking away. Bye-bye. Yikes. When we draw nearer to our ship, Joshua sums it up.

Joshua: I didn’t kill him. That’s a plus. (off Kiera’s look) It is.
Kiera: With what?
Nika: I’m not sure I like the new Joshua, really, sometimes. I’m just … (gives up) We’ll keep going. Let’s go.
Beglan: (faking street jive) You were better on drugs, man. You were cooler then.
Nika: You on drugs you were calm. Instead now you’re all about … (loudly) ‘That was awesome! We gotta abseil into—’.
Joshua: You don’t know me very well, do you?
Kiera: Where were you—oh, you were piloting when he was screaming about abseiling and flinging himself out of the ship. Now see? You—
Nika: I miss a lot when I’m piloting.
Kiera: We appreciate that. You’re a very good pilot.
Joshua: All right. So let’s go abseil up to the antennas. I mean, fly up to the antennas.
Kiera: Why don’t we just make a giant slingshot and shoot him up there. If he makes it, fine. If he doesn’t make it … (shrugs)

Nika opens the cargo bay doors and we walk aboard during this last little exchange.

Nika: You’ve been talking to the ACME people lately?
Kiera: I have.
Nika: Good! Let’s build it.
Kiera: Pshhht! (Mimes pulling back the slingshot strap) Whoops. Sorry Joshua! We overshot.

Good natured ribbing done, we turn serious again. On closer inspection of the approach to the heights, there is a road that leads up to the antenna installation. We decide to take the mule up. We have no idea what we’re going to find up on the heights and take the precaution of putting on our throat mikes just in case we get separated. And our rifles come with us, plus Rina’s usual suspects. We’re busy checking the mule and getting it out the door when Beglan elects to stay behind and watch our ship. Nika remarks that he’s also our shooter in reserve and that he’s pulled our fat out of the fire more than once. Kiera concurs:

Kiera: Yeah, I was gonna say. He grabbed his cross and totally smashed that big nutcase Russian dude. He was totally awesome.
Nika: He did.
Kiera: Wow. The power of faith. Rock on, little Irishman.

She knuckle bops with Beglan before he takes up the door controls and we drive out of there to let him close up. Those of us without cold weather gear are really feeling the icy temps—we’ve got wind chill to deal with now, from our passage and from the mountain weather. We stop in the bombed out town to do a quick scavenger run. Arden and Rina find seafarer’s sweaters—thick and cable knit and made for warmth even when wet—for those without the proper gear for the cold. They’re sized for strapping six-foot-plus sailors but of the crew, only Rina is significantly under six feet and she’s already set for the weather. The others pull the sweaters on under their various jackets and are blessedly warmer for it.

The ride up the heights is bumpy and hazardous—though the mule is a hover craft, flatter surfaces are more optimal to drive it on and the road we’re following is anything but smooth. There are drifts and mini avalanches of snow across the road and the crosswinds from above and below make maneuvering tricky. It’s a sheer drop to one side and there is very little in the way of a shoulder, and while the mule is capable of hovering and even rising some thirty feet off the ground it is nowhere near able to fly if we pitch off the side down the mountain. It’s a slow, tense 10 kilometers and a couple 1000 feet and there are a couple of points where the crew has to shift to one side or the other of the mule to stay on the road.

During the ride, Joshua starts getting this feeling, getting really really worried about something. He’s overwhelmed by it, actually, a full-blown anxiety attack. And it’s not coming from him. He can’t tell who it’s from. Rina, Arden and Kiera have to hang on to him until the feeling passes. Kiera’s not above snarking a little over it.

Kiera: (to Arden) You know, you and I oughta start carrying needles with tranquilizers so it’ll be like—poke! to her (nods at Rina) or poke! to him (meaning Joshua). “I got him!” “I got her!” (off Nika’s look) Sorry, Cap’n.
Arden: (to Joshua) I brought a tin foil helmet if you want to put it on.
Joshua: I wish it would help.
Nika: Do none of the exercises that you use to block people out not work?
Joshua: I’m working on it.
Nika: Don’t jump at me. I was simply asking.
Joshua: Argh. I’m trying. I’m also doing my best to try and keep the thought of her behind the door. I don’t know if she meant it for this or for there but….
Arden: (slowly) Keep her behind the door?
Rina: What? (getting it) He’s hiding his thoughts.
Joshua: It’s really … worried, worried, like … something’s-I don’t know.
Arden: Like something’s out to get you or something bad is going to happen?
Joshua: It’s … worried about somebody. It’s … I don’t know why or what. It’s just that I’m really worried. Like … (gives up)
Nika: I’m driving.
Joshua: Thank you.
Kiera: Is it coming from outside to you or from the inside out?
Arden: He doesn’t know.
Kiera: Okay, sorry.
Joshua: I’m not clear. It’s … (no words)
Kiera: At least it still works, drugs or not. (to Nika) Drive faster.

Joshua can’t quite describe the feeling and he can’t shake it out of his head. The rest of the crew hangs on to him and he’s holding Rina’s good hand so hard it hurts. She gets right up against him and starts thinking as hard as she can at him: calm, calm, it’s going to be okay, we’re here, here’s safe, it’s okay, I love you, it’s going to be okay. It’s a trick she’s done before in private. This is the first time she’s done it in the open and certainly the first in rough conditions. She’s not sure how much is getting through. She keeps projecting as best as she can.

Kiera double checks her rifle. Yep. Locked and loaded. The feeling assaulting Joshua intensifies and he starts shaking and—he can’t help it—crying. Rina wraps him up in a great big bear hug and gives him her handkerchief. Arden holds up the trank injector where Joshua can see it and looks at him in silent query: Need it?

Joshua: (through tears) Please don’t trank me.
Arden: Don’t go berserk.
Joshua: I’m not gonna go berserk. All internal, so to speak. I’m not gonna go kill anybody or hurt anybody.
Kiera: I know. If he gets out of control, she can pop him once upside the head. (nods at Rina) It’ll work.
Arden: It might kill him, but it’ll work…
Kiera: I’m assuming she can pull her punches.
Arden: When was the last time you saw her pull her punch?
Kiera: I assume sometime in the bedroom or he’d be dead by now if she wasn’t pullin’ somethin’.

We make it to the antenna installation. There’s no way to miss it. The road dead ends at its front door, a massive thing built right into the living rock of the mountain. It’s built like the entrance to NORAD. It looks like the front door to Jabba The Hut’s palace … only with snow instead of sand. It also comes up really fast around a curve and Nika manages to stop the mule in time, if only just. We all catch our breath as the snow from our skid is whipped away by the wind and we regard how best to approach the door.

We bail out and go up to it on foot.

The door is huge, easily big enough to drive dump trucks through. There appears to be a communications box next to the door, built into the door frame. Arden looks it over. It doesn’t appear to be powered up, the display is dark. There isn’t a power switch on it that he can see. Rina brings up the rear, holding onto Joshua, and she pulls him with her to the panel. She looks it over and yup, no power’s running to the thing. She starts patting down her pockets one-handed for something to open it up with when the others stop her.

Kiera: Nobody paid their power bill, dear.
Rina: We can hook it up to a power source …
Joshua: What are you trying to do?
Rina: What if we hotwired it? Was thinking of hooking it up to the battery on the flatbed.

She looks the setup over again and reckons the circuit that unlocks the doors isn’t on the same one the comms panel is on. Furthermore, powering the locks might not be sufficient to open the doors—they’re HUGE and HEAVEY and the servos that run them are likely on a different circuit from everything else. So there’s no shorting the locks to pop them open and if the installation’s deserted, simply ringing the doorbell or buzzing the comm panel won’t gain us entry either. And if there is someone home that we don’t want to run into—as hinted at by Joshua’s mental distress—we don’t want to let anyone know we’re actually here. So … that hot wiring idea isn’t going anywhere.

That’s assuming, of course, they don’t already know we’re here. Rina looks for signs of cameras. She doesn’t find any but that doesn’t make her feel any safer, nope.

Rina: (muttering) They know we’re here. We need to hide.
Arden: There’s nobody paying attention.
Rina: Doesn’t mean they’re not there.

She puts her hands on the comms box, considers it, looks back at Nika.

Rina: Cap’n?
Nika: I’m thinking.
Arden: There’s nothing wrong with alerting whoever’s in there. We have no hostile intent. Yet.
Kiera: Yet?
Arden: Yet.
Nika: My concern is, based on Joshua’s reaction here, that there’s someone inside that needs help. And by alerting them we are here, we are mobilizing a security team of some form.
Arden: N.E.I.
Joshua: N.E.I.?
Arden: Not Enough Information.
Kiera: (to Joshua) Is there any way—I know you’re receiving—but is there any way can you broadcast back to them? Think happy thoughts that you’re outside?
Joshua: I’m pretty sure I’m broadcasting on all channels right now.
Kiera: Yes, but what are you broadcasting?
Joshua: The same thing that’s getting fed into me.
Rina: He’s a repeater station right now.
Kiera: Okay, so … Concern and worry back at the concern and worry, like it’s a really bad loop.
Nika: (to Rina) I’m thinking more if we can get power to the doors, I’d rather open the doors if we have that option.
Rina: Lemme run a patch.

She starts moving for the mule.

Arden: Is it—we can restore … (gives up) … Okay. Whatever.
Nika: No, say what you’re thinking.
Arden: I was saying we can restore power to the communication box. If no one answers, then we can try to restore power to the doors.
Nika: And if someone does answer?
Arden: We can talk to them.
Nika: (continuing) Then we’ve just alerted them that we’re here and—
Arden: We’re gonna do that anyway.
Nika: But if they’re holding people prisoner, that means we’re gonna open the doors and there’s gonna be a whole slew of security people standing right there, as opposed to us being able to go in and—
Arden: (fed up) What if it’s the 99 naked virgins?
Kiera: What?
Rina: (eyeroll) Then it will be a real nice day for you.
Joshua: Would somebody please do something?
Arden: We don’t have enough information yet.
Nika: I think opening the door is going to be as innocuous an action—
Arden: Actually no, it isn’t. It’s intrusion.
Nika: Oh for heaven’s sake, Arden.
Joshua: Would somebody please do something?

Rina stomps off and grabs the tool box stashed on the mule and opens up the comms panel and tries to hack into the system through it. Meanwhile Nika and Arden argue.

Arden: Is it not?
Nika: It’s not.
Arden: It’s not? Opening the door without permission is—
Nika: In theory this place is abandoned, so why the heck would we even try communications?
Arden: Because there may be someone inside.
Nika: Again—in theory, the entire planet is abandoned. Why would we even bother?
Arden: We just saw a fisherman down on the lake!
Nika: You’re not listening to me.
Arden: I hear you.
Nika: No you’re not. You might hear the words that I’m sayin’ but you—
Arden: I hear you but I’m disagreeing.
Nika: You’re not hearing me.
Arden: I disagree.
Joshua: (plaintive) As the XO? I’m freezing.
Rina: I’d like to put a patch on the doors, Ma’am.
Nika: Open the doors.
Rina: Thank you.
Joshua: (faintly) Thank you.

Kiera slips out of her coat and pulls it around Joshua. He’s a little larger than she is but the added warmth is welcome. Rina gets that patch hooked up but it doesn’t look like it’s sufficient to get the doors open. Neither can she hack into the installation’s system from the comms panel.

We need another way in.

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