Episode 602: Quarry

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There is a lot of witty back-and-forth in this episode. Had me in stitches transcribing it--Maer

Air date: 19 Jul 2011
Present: Kim, Maer, Terri, and Andy

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Thursday, 15 Oct 2522
Somewhere on Triumph
Red Sun (Zhu Que) system
0300hrs, local time

Joshua is dreaming he’s on the ship. It’s a massive ship, enormous, with towers. Everything is shiny and reflective, smooth and polished. He’s sneaking through it. He makes his way deep into the engineering of the ship. He turns a corner and there he is—a man dressed like a cat-burglar in black is standing at a console, his back to Joshua. Joshua reaches around for his gun and moves forward and then pauses, thinking. He can feel the gun in his hand and hesitates. The man at the console turns and faces Joshua. The man sounds surprised and puzzled.

Man: You. What are you doing here?
Joshua: (coldly) You know why I’m here.

Joshua raises his gun. Shoots once. The man crumples to the deck. Joshua walks over to the body, kicks it a few times to make sure the man is dead. He looks up and catches his reflection on the shiny walls of the ship. He is in an Alliance Navy uniform. He has dreadlocks and dark skin.

He is Bradley Sims and he has just killed a man in cold blood.

Joshua has a brief thought as he looks back down at the body: Traitor. And then a feeling blossoms inside, a kind of familiar feeling. Like peeling away a mask—

Joshua jerks awake in bed next to Rina. He sucks down a shaky breath as she stirs.

Joshua: Uhhnn… a few less of those. That’s the price we pay, I guess.
Rina: (quietly) Do you want to share? You okay?
Joshua: Yeah, I’m fine. I’ll be fine.

They both sit up in the dark.

Rina: Why is it I keep asking idiotic questions? When you wake up and you are obviously not okay and I ask you if you are. (sighs)
Joshua: Because that’s what you’re supposed to do. You’re supposed to ask the other person if they’re okay. That’s the way that works. Like when you’re lying there with bunches of stitches all over you and I ask if you’re okay. That’s supposed to be the way it works. Like …. okay. Just trying to figure out how I’m going to deal with that particular piece of information.
Rina: (softly) What did you see?
Joshua: So … I did tell you … I’m reasonably certain that I told you—okay, maybe I didn’t, hadn’t gotten around to telling you that. I told the Captain—.
Rina: (taking his hand) Stop. Tell me. Spit it out.
Joshua: So our passenger has something of a past to him. As all passengers do. And, um, … So I don’t know how to tell you this so you don’t rush out and kill him in his sleep. Promise me you won’t kill him in his sleep.
Rina: I don’t even know what I’m promising for yet, but sure. (squeezes his hand) Sure.
Joshua: Now, see, that’s your mistake. You should never promise anything, not even to me, if you don’t know what it is you’re promising. I ran into that once. (off her sigh) So our passenger … has done some killing in his past and …. for the Alliance, it felt like. but I think he’s good guy.
Rina: Was it the Landcaster?
Joshua: It was big. Is the Landcaster big?
Rina: No … was a mid-bulk freighter.
Joshua: Nooo, no, no. This was, this was biiiiiiig. Huge.
Rina: Tohoku class? Like Trafalgar?
Joshua: Could have been, yeah. Not specifically Trafalgar, necessarily, but big. There was an engineering section that was the size of multiple small ships. Or it felt that way, anyway. Um … (sighs)
Rina: (softly) You say he killed someone?
Joshua: More along the lines of … assassinating him.
Rina: (resigned) Well, if you’re going to kill anyone, that’s the way to do it.
Joshua: He was … killing somebody he felt was a traitor to the Alliance, to the Navy.
Rina: There’s a lot of that going around.
Joshua: Yeah there’s a lot of killing that’s going around. Or do you mean the traitor part?
Rina: In the Navy. Witchhunts.
Joshua: (slowly) Yeah … this guy was … this guy was a professional. Beyond professional. That was the impression I got. At least it felt that way to me. Highly skilled. Very calm and cool. Special forces level. Only one minor hesitation in killing the guy.
Rina: So … what is he doing all the way out here and why does he need to go to Persephone?
Joshua: Um… what time is it? Who’s on watch? Please say it’s not me. Because if it is, I’ve missed watch.
Rina: (checks her watch) It’s about oh-three-hundred hours.
Joshua: Well, let’s see, you’re not on watch already. We’ve covered that…

Joshua runs the watch schedule through his head. It’s Kiera’s turn on watch. The events of the past couple of days are coming back to him through the remnants of his dream. We’re on the ground on Triumph and we’ve moved Equinox to a more secure location to wait for James Brion’s return wave. We’re waiting for his word as to what we’re to do with the cargo that couldn’t be delivered to our contact. Our contact had been burned by an Alliance mole in the town of Bearclaw and we had to drug her to remove her memory of us and the reason we’re here.

Joshua: Should I wake the Captain up over something like this?
Rina: With your record? I think we should.
Joshua: I hate waking her up, you know?
Rina: Then we should alert whoever’s on watch to keep an eye on him.
Joshua: Well, he hasn’t killed us yet. I think that’s a fair record. And we’re not traitors to the Alliance. Wait, wait …

He might not be a traitor to the Alliance but his fiancée’s history is less innocent.

Rina: You’re certain that this is his memory and not something that your fevered imagination cooked up—
Joshua: Oh, yeah. Well, it could have been just a dream but … my dreams are usually on target, when I remember them. Usually.
Rina: Hence my comment, ‘with your record’. I think we should tell someone.
Joshua: It’s more a question of ‘can it wait til she wakes up?’

Cuz we all know how pissy Nika is at 4 A.M.

Rina: At least tell Kiera. (off his look) Or if you’d rather, I’ll do it.
Joshua: So the doors are closed? The exterior doors? And there’s no sensor watch on the interior doors, so she’s not going to be able to do anything. All right. I’m going to the kitchen.

On that non-sequitur, Joshua quits the cabin and heads for the galley. Rina follows him. Why not? She’s only got about an hour and a half before she’s got to wake up anyway. A little coffee and she’ll be set. Joshua makes coffee in the galley and while Rina throws some cheese and crackers together on a plate, Joshua goes to the Captain’s door with a fresh cup in hand. Buzzes it. The door opens and Nika gives him The Face.

Joshua: Coffee? (offers the cup) I had a bad dream.
Nika: (sourly) Don’t you have a tā mā de hǎo you for that?
Rina: (from behind Joshua) Crackers and cheese?

The plate snakes around Joshua toward Nika as Rina peeks past Joshua’s shoulder.

Nika: Eww. At four in the morning?
Joshua: Put those away.
Rina: Fine.
Joshua: Those were not authorized by me, Captain.
Rina: (dryly) I’m hurt.

Exit one engineer with cheese and crackers. Enter one engineer with a cup of coffee for herself and her fiancé. Nika subsides into her chair in quarters. There is a night light burning and it keeps people from bumping into the furnishings.

Nika: I can’t get my eyes open yet. (takes a sip) All right. Tell us about your bad dream.

Rina closes the door to her Captain’s quarters and leans on the jamb.

Joshua: Our passenger.
Nika: Mm-hm.
Joshua: I was our passenger.
Nika: (oh no … ) That never bodes well.
Rina: Wait for it.
Joshua: I’m sure there’s been some times. I gotta think about that for a second. There has been some time when there was a good dream, right? (off Nika’s look) Hm. We’ll leave that for later.
Nika: To my memory, you have never come and told me about a good dream.
Joshua: Umm … so anyway. I was our passenger and I was sneaking through a very large Alliance ship and, well, I won’t say I assassinated him because I did give him a chance to surrender. I did pause for a second, like I thought I might think about it briefly but I don’t think I really was. I gave him a chance to say ‘You’ and then I shot him. Um. And I saw my reflection so I’m pretty sure it was me. I mean him. Me being him. I just wanted you to know that.
Nika: (heavily) It’s four A.M.
Joshua: So I just wanted to let you know our passenger who I armed earlier in the day—
Nika: Why did you, in your dream, shoot this person?
Joshua: Cuz he was a traitor to the Alliance. I was wearing a Navy uniform. I mean, we all have our past—
Nika: How long ago was any of this? Do you have any idea?

Good question.

Joshua: The dream? It was, like, a few minutes ag—
Nika: No, Joshua.
Joshua: Oh, no. When I saw my reflection it was a—I don’t know. It’s not the current him. He cleaned up. Or if it was, he’s doing a very good job. He’s doing a great job. You gotta give him credit. If he’s pretending to be this guy, spot-on job.
Nika: What?
Joshua: I’m saying if he’s pretending to be out of work and out of ship and broken by the thing, he’s doing a very good job, is what I’m saying. I’m saying as a Borrower, I give him credit for doing really good work.
Nika: You think he’s a Borrower?
Joshua: No, I don’t think he’s a Borrower. But as a Borrower, I can appreciate the work he—
Nika: Uhnnnn! It’s four in the morning! And you’re going around in circles on me! Uhhnnn!
Joshua: My point is I don’t think it’s current him. I think it’s something in his past. But I don’t know how far in his past it is and whether it is still relevant or not.
Nika: Whether it is something he had now lied to us about in terms of what he’s running from? Yeah.
Joshua: So you can see my dilemma. If I let you sleep, and then he murders us all in our sleep, then someone is going to be very angry. If I wake you up, then you’re very angry. So pretty much, when I had that dream, it was very much you were going to be very angry.
Nika: I’m not angry yet.
Joshua: But I brought you coffee.
Nika: You did bring coffee and it’s saving your life at the moment.
Joshua: See. So, I just wanted you to know. You can go back to sleep now.
Nika: Really? You wanted to wake me at 4 A.M. just to tell me that? You couldn’t wait a couple of hours?
Joshua: I thought about it but then I knew you would be angry.
Nika: So … you woke me at four-oh-two A.M. so that you could spend ten minutes and tell me about this dream so that I could not now go back to sleep cuz there’s no way I’m going back to sleep. Now I’m going to worry about walking through my halls with a gun.
Joshua: Would I not have been delinquent in my job had I not told you, Captain?
Nika: I’m going to gouge out my eyes.
Rina: Don’t. They cost too much.
Joshua: Would I have been delinquent in my job, Captain?
Nika: I don’t think—(to Rina)—That’s not funny.

Nika glares.

Nika: Get out. Get out now. I need a shower. Go.
Joshua: Yes, Captain.

Joshua salutes Nika and gets out. Rina closes the door behind them and mutters.

Rina: I told ya we should’ve told Kiera first.

Meanwhile, Nika crosses her cabin, slams open the door to the bridge, and glares at Kiera. Kiera startles, her guitar jerking in her lap as her fingers strum a broken chord.

Kiera: Was I playing too loud?
Nika: I’m going to murder them.
Kiera: Yay. ‘Them’ who?
Nika: There are only one other thems who are aboard.
Kiera: As I was saying. Arden? Beggar?
Nika: Arden and Beggar are sweet. I don’t want to murder them.
Kiera: Okay.
Nika: I don’t like being woken at four-oh-two A.M. to be told about bad dreams. Just—for the record. Next time wait til six.
Kiera: So you’re talking about Joshua having a bad dream.
Nika: I don’t know what that bad dream was all about and I certainly don’t know what to do about it, so now I’m going to have a shower and try to wake up.
Kiera: What kind of bad dream did he have now?
Nika: Go find him and ask.
Kiera: But …. there’d be no one on the bridge, Cap’n.

Kiera knows she could call the XO to the bridge, but she doesn’t want to call him to the bridge. She’d been having a blissful time playing her music and enjoying the peace of the bridge.

Nika: Just … sit there and be quiet til six in the morning. Because I’m going to stand in the shower from now until then. He woke me up to tell me about a thing and what am I supposed to do with that information … ?

Nika stomps back into the quarters and slams the door, really really worked up and put out. Not good. Sighing, Kiera puts her guitar gently down and punches the intercom button. Ping!

Kiera: (into the comm) Why is the Captain semi-incoherent, babbling about bad dreams you woke her up to … have … share? What are you doing?
Joshua: (from galley comm) Right now, I seem to be answering my buzz.
Kiera: Oh, ha ha ha. Get your ass up here and tell me what the hell’s going on.

Joshua goes to the bridge. Rina goes with him. Kiera sees them both arrive and is perplexed. Did she not make it perfectly clear she wanted to see Joshua? She subsides back in her bridge chair and starts picking out notes.

Joshua: Why, yes. How may I help you?
Kiera: Wha--? Never mind. Start.
Joshua: Oh. Yeah. That. Well, I had that dream which involved potentially important information about one of our passengers—
Kiera: We only have one passenger.
Joshua: If you’re going to be an ass about it, I can turn around and go back to my room and the Captain can tell you.
Kiera: Joshua, just to clarify—it’s early in the morning and you know me. When have I not acted like this?
Joshua: Fair enough.

So Joshua tells her he had a dream about our passenger assassinating someone for the Alliance.

Joshua: So I thought since I had just armed our passenger earlier in the day that the Captain might want to know about it. And I knew that if I waited til 6 A.M. and then told her, she’d be angry. And she’s be like—why didn’t you tell me this right away. And then when I told her right away, she was angry.
Kiera: Well, yes, cuz it’s obscenely early in the morning.
Joshua: I understand that.
Kiera: Why don’t you go and ask him for the piece back since we’re obviously not in danger?
Joshua: If I did that, it’d be without the Captain’s orders.
Kiera: Well, you gave it to him without the Captain’s orders.
Joshua: Fair enough. That seems like an excellent idea.
Kiera: Okay. So you and Tiny Titan go and take it back. And leave the Captain and I to a peaceful evening.
Joshua: (wry) I can’t see anyway where this can possibly go wrong. But learning my lesson from all this, I think I’ll wait til 6 A.M. before I wake him up.
Kiera: I got another idea. (looks at Rina) Why don’t one of you lock him in his quarters so if he gets crazy …
Joshua: No, no, no. You are not locking anyone in. We are not—
Kiera: (strumming) I personally don’t care. Well, he’s got a pistol. If I have to hurt him with my new guitar, I will be really mad. (mimics conversation) ‘I have a pistol!’ ‘I have a bad attitude. Back off!’.

Joshua goes to the Smart Ship console and engages it.

SmartShip: Yes, Joshua?
Joshua: Is our passenger still on board?
Kiera: Why wouldn’t he be on board?
Rina: He’s an assassin.
Kiera: But …He’s gone to assassinate a tree?
SmartShip: There is no record of him leaving the ship, however I do not have access to bioscans to have knowledge of his whereabouts or the whereabouts of anyone.
Joshua: Thank you.
Kiera: Great. So now we have to bioscan every passenger on our ship in case you dream about them?
Joshua: (frustrated) Why did I come and tell you? What was I thinking, that it would be a great idea?
SmartShip: Would you like me to enhance the security protocols and secure all doors?
Joshua: No, that’s okay. I appreciate that. I don’t want the Captain to get any more angry at me than she already is, so no. I’ll let you know if we need to increase security protocols.
SmartShip: I’m reading that as a negative.
Joshua: Yes, that’s a negative statement.

Nika steps on the bridge, freshly showered and braiding her freshly washed hair.

Kiera: Does this mean I’m off duty, Captain.
Nika: Uh-huh.
Kiera: Good, then I’m going to go wrap myself around a gun in case our crazy guy tries to kill me.
Nika: What? (sighs) Look, I think this is maybe a situation where we’re jumping to a few conclusions.
Joshua: I’m not—the problem with my role is that I’m not jumping to conclusions. There was a piece of information that if you didn’t have—
Nika: Okay, so here’s the thing. I just spent thirty minutes in the shower trying to figure this out. You have this piece of information and yes, it’s a little disturbing, but then again if you had a dream of some of the stuff I did in the past, you might not like what you saw.
Joshua: Understood.
Nika: All right. What would you like to do with what you now know?
Joshua: The problem is, when I make that kind of decision, it always goes badly.
Nika: I’m asking your opinion. I’m not saying go do it.
Joshua: I’d like to talk to him about it. Figure out a cover story for how I got the piece of information from his head. Or we could just tell everybody in the world that I’m a Reader. I’ve done that already, so there’s nothing new there.
Nika: There really isn’t cuz he’s not going to believe you, since most of us don’t believe readers exist.
Joshua: Although when I recite the exact chain of events that actually happened—and they actually happened.
Nika: I get it. What I’m asking here is—
Joshua: I understand. Is it really actionable—
Nika: No, not even that. Is there any reason for us to act on it at this moment? (a beat) If this is something that happened two years ago, five years ago, whatever, during the war … you know, this is not something that—is it possible it was something he was having a nightmare about the same time you Read it? Or dreamed it?
Joshua: Yes.
Nika: Okay. So I’m thinking at this moment that we’re going to keep this information amongst ourselves and do what we were going to do anyway and keep an eye on him.
Joshua: Agreed.
Nika: I don’t think we should make it an issue. I don’t think he is a bigger issue now than he was at 10 P.M. last night when we went to bed. Or whatever time we went to bed. He was already armed then. He’s armed now. As far as I can tell … I’m more concerned about the idea that it was potentially more recent. That would be the one thing I am a little concerned about.
Joshua: And I don’t know. And I think if you want to be completely honest about it, this last six months, nine months, has completely warped my judgment about where my line for independent thought lies in this job. When I have made decisions, I have usually not felt comfortable that it has been the approved decision. And so I am beginning to feel that perhaps—and I could be wrong—overweighting over to the other side. I completely agree with you that I am not particularly worried that he’s running around assassinating all of us in our sleep with the single pistol that I gave him. BUT in my head—
Nika: Okay. Yes, I think you’re being a little overcautious.
Joshua: But in my head, there’s that voice. Saying ‘Captain’s going to be upset if I don’t tell her’. That there’s an Alliance killer.
Nika: There’s a spectrum of things there that we’re going to have to hash out as we go.
Joshua: Agreed.
Nika: This is one of those things that, you know, probably it could have waited. Everything we do is a judgment call, Joshua. The only thing I figure we can do is keep an eye on him and we were going to do that anyway because you gave him a pistol.
Joshua: Fair enough. Sorry.
Nika: No, I’m not necessarily sorry you gave him a pistol.
Joshua: I’m not sorry about that part of it. I’m sorry about waking you up.
Nika: (sighs) I’ll get over it. I’m mostly over it now. Hot shower does wonders.

Joshua turns to Kiera, who’s still sitting on the bridge softly strumming on her guitar.

Joshua: I’m not sorry about being upset with you for—
Kiera: I don’t know why you gave him a pistol in the first place. You could have just given him a kitchen knife.
Joshua: I could have. But those are really good kitchen knives. They’re my favorites. They’re what I cook with.
Nika: You know I would be more concerned if he had a kitchen knife in his possession than if he had a gun in his possession.
Kiera: Really?
Nika: Yeah, because you know, you could walk onto the bridge and slit the throat of anybody who’s on watch and just keep on going and nobody would know what happened cuz it’s real quiet. But here’s the thing. We were, at the time Joshua gave him the weapon, potentially arming ourselves for a possible incursion and I have no issue with the fact that Joshua armed him at the same time. The fact that he is in a position to be nervous, if it makes him feel better and we just have to watch him more closely—you know what? Every single passenger on board might be carrying. Probably is carrying, cuz the Verse is not a pretty place these days.
Joshua: And we do have some back history with ships being taken over by people.
Nika: (sighing) Joshua, must you?
Joshua: I … (off her look) …. Never mind. I’m gonna shut up.
Nika: I totally backed you, here.
Joshua: I’m with you.
Nika: Uh-huh.

Joshua quits the bridge in a hurry. Rina goes with him. Nika shakes her head. Cats, she’s got a job herding rabid cats. Yes, really! She looks at Kiera and holds out her still-damp hair.

Nika: Kiera, please. Finish braiding it, would you?
Kiera: Sure. (a beat) This is too wet. I’ll need to towel dry it.

The redhead’s drying is brisk and nimble and as she braids Nika’s hair, the Captain loses some of the tension her morning inflicted on her. Kiera throws in a neck massage and tells her to breathe and Nika relaxes a little more. Aft, Joshua asks Beglan what he’d like in his eggs for breakfast. Rina goes on duty, turning the power up into day mode. Kiera finishes up with the Captain’s hair and goes to Arden’s and Sims’s cabins to alert them that breakfast will be a little early this morning. Life gets back to normal.

As normal as can be, anyway, with a crew like this one.

And normal lasts as long as it takes for Kiera to walk from the bridge to Sims’s door and buzz it … and she gets no response. She waits for a polite moment and buzzes the door again. Still no response. She taps on the door. No response some more. She yells through the door that breakfast is early. Still more with the not-responding. Kiera walks off. After all, the passenger has been notified of breakfast. If he sleeps through it, it’s his own damn fault, not hers. Hell, if he doesn’t show, she’ll eat his share of the eggs. That’s a solid win. Arden doesn’t answer his door either, but he never answers it when it’s not convenient.

When Nika does a headcount at breakfast, Arden and our passenger are missing. Nika asks Kiera and the steward confirms that she couldn’t get Arden up and the passenger never answered the door. Would the Captain like her to pound Arden awake or … turn the lights on? Turn the AC down?

Does he normally sleep that heavily, Nika wonders.

Who? Arden?

No, that’s just Arden ignoring Kiera. No, our passenger.

Nika: Okay, I could react in pure paranoia and pop the security lock and check to see if he’s okay or I could react like he’s a normal passenger and it’s five-thirty in the friggin’ morning and he doesn’t want to get up.
Kiera: And he usually doesn’t stumble out here til six-thirty or so. He’s got another hour as far as he’s concerned.
Nika: I’m going to react like this is perfectly normal thing and not with Rina’s paranoia. You know what, maybe he’s ignoring like Arden did cuz he doesn’t want breakfast this early.
Joshua: (intoning) Or he could have had a heart attack.
Kiera: Well then he’s still going to be dead down there and I can’t do anything.
Joshua: No, he could be having a heart attack right now.
Nika: Oh for Heaven’s sake, go down there right now and find out.
Joshua: Yay.

He leaves. He pounds on Sims’s door with a dire warning.

Joshua: We can’t take you to Persephone. We’re going to have to leave you here.

He waits. There’s no answer. Now that might be an indication that something’s wrong. Joshua checks the door to see if it’s locked. It is. He overrides the lock. It pops open an inch and Joshua calls out that he’s opening the door out of concern for Sims’s health. Ass now legally covered, Joshua walks right in.

The cabin is empty.

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