3 – Perfect Love
David pursues a lead.
Voices in order of appearance: Charles Hubbell as Narrator and Milton; Andrew Santoro as David; Kelsey Henry as Argus; Yasin Elabdi as XO; Janet Fogg as Jo Ann; Erin Farsté.
Cover art by Robert James Algeo. Intro Theme and Score by Just Star Stuff.
Content Notes: Swearing.
Illustrated Transcripts for every episode and in-between are available to all Patreon members.
And here is the plain text transcript:
3 – Perfect Love
NARRATOR: This is not a love story. Before I knew you I knew the world. Before I knew you I had lost it all.
INTRO THEME: Tense strings build, then cut.
NARRATOR: Episode Three: Perfect Love.
Atmosphere slowly enters: Hallway Ambience.
MILTON: You shouldn’t be here.
DAVID: Neither should you.
Footsteps. Milton starts walking.
MILTON: Why do I still get disappointed with you? Turn around and I won’t have anything to tell the others.
DAVID: Because we used to get along so well.
MILTON: And what happened there.
DAVID: Maybe we’re too much alike.
Milton laughs, covers it up–too loud.
DAVID: No? I still know how to make you laugh.
SCHWIPP. The lab door opens. Footsteps.
SCHWUPP Door closes.
Atmosphere shifts to: Milton’s Lab Ambience. Muted. The quietest room on the ship.
MILTON: This is almost to the minute the time of the tank rupture last night.
Milton sits down in a chair.
MILTON: Well, have a look around. Nothing nefarious in my lab. No ticking bombs.
David pulls over a wheeled chair and sits.
DAVID: What’s keeping you up?
MILTON: No emergency today, it seems.
DAVID: It seems.
Milton plops a heavy book on his desk.
MILTON: Do you still suspect me?
DAVID: I know you don’t trust me anymore.
MILTON: Why did you choose to break protocol?
DAVID: We would’ve lost the one tank for sure, probably all of them. It was that, or gamble on possibly endangering the contents of one.
MILTON: How disappointing.
DAVID: It was a guaranteed loss versus what. You don’t even know.
MILTON: This whole mission runs on uncertainties, and you knew that day one. Yet when faced with a choice, you picked the certainty.
DAVID: Either way we’re losing at least one tank.
MILTON: You’re afraid of what you don’t know.
MILTON: I can’t tell you if you made the right choice. No one living or dead will know the result, if all else goes as planned.
DAVID: So what do we do about it? Want to tell me I theoretically didn’t fix the tank? You got some theoretical research that can back that up?
MILTON: You’re afraid the hope is just a banner. That defeats our purpose, David. If you don’t believe in our future, you never grasped the reality of our demise.
DAVID: I’m afraid of you.
MILTON: You can’t even tell me I’m wrong.
DAVID: Of course you are. I believe in this mission. How is that a question at this point?
MILTON: What did you learn in your secret investigation? Anything you want to share?
DAVID: …Nothing. I didn’t learn anything new.
MILTON: You’re afraid of what you might learn. That you messed up. And for no reason.
DAVID: And what are you afraid of?
MILTON: I never touched the tank. Any of them. I have no reason to lie about that.
DAVID: But you’re not telling me everything.
MILTON: You were married, weren’t you?
MILTON: But that’s not why you’re here.
DAVID: I guess?
MILTON: My love is my entire reason for everything. It’s all I have to sustain me. It’s all I need.
DAVID: I feel like you’re just saying words at me.
MILTON: I’m going to lock the cargo bay.
DAVID: Hold on.
MILTON: You are a suspect. Argus is a suspect. I am a suspect. We cannot allow any interference until the cause of this malfunction is determined.
DAVID: Why Argus?
MILTON: Do you know the exact time that your video package was received?
DAVID: Yeah. 3:33 AM. Same time as an alert–
MILTON: Yes, yes. Argus was awake at the time.
DAVID: I don’t see–
MILTON: The malfunction happened the same time as the videos were received. Both are events that could be triggered by opening communication.
DAVID: Which shouldn’t be possible at our speed.
MILTON: Which Argus oversees. You understand. We have to rule out a communication breach before we can determine if it was caused by anything on this ship.
DAVID: She doesn’t have a reason.
DAVID: That…That would be an act of complete sabotage.
MILTON: Not like breaking protocol during a repair.
DAVID: Exactly. Or running remote tests on the tanks without an open record.
Milton closes the book.
MILTON: So you did find something in your investigation. We agree: Calloway and Fyodor have no access or rationale. It is safe to dismiss them from this…
DAVID: There were malfunctions before I got the videos. Care to comment?
MILTON: I know I’m taking the right steps, because I’m following protocol. The files will be open when there are conclusions.
DAVID: How is that protocol?
MILTON: Because I wrote the rules.
David sighs. He gets up and pushes the chair out of the way.
MILTON: Before you go, I do want to check your tablet.
DAVID: It’s in my room.
SCHWIPP. Door opens.
MILTON: How unlike you.
DAVID: Can’t be too careful. XO could be in on it, too.
SCHWUPP. The door closes.
Atmosphere cross-fades to: David’s room ambience.
SCHWIPP. David opens the door.
DAVID: XO, can you play–Aaagh!
DAVID: (mutters) Ah. Fuck.
XO: What would you like me to play, David?
ARGUS: XO, play what David wants.
XO: Here’s my best guess for “what David wants.”
Soft jazz music plays.
DAVID: XO, stop music.
The music stops.
Argus shifts on the bed.
DAVID: What are you doing here?
ARGUS: Where were you?
DAVID: I don’t…
ARGUS: It’s the same time as the last couple–
DAVID: It’s all good.
David takes a seat in a chair away from the bed.
ARGUS: Where’ve you been?
DAVID: Me and Milton were having a heart to heart.
ARGUS: Why didn’t you tell anybody you knew the malfunction was sabotage?
DAVID: I don’t know what’s going to happen to the mission. I didn’t want more damage done. Damage I can’t repair.
ARGUS: Why didn’t you tell me?
DAVID: I was scared I played a part in it.
ARGUS: David. Tell me now.
DAVID: Why were you up that night?
DAVID: The video package arrived at the same time as the repair alert.
ARGUS: You woke me up.
DAVID: An open comm channel is the only thing that could do both of those things at once.
ARGUS: I thought I heard you shout.
DAVID: It would ruin everything in an instant.
ARGUS: I heard banging…You banged on the wall.
DAVID: I told Milton you don’t have a reason. We’re both suspects because we saw each other that morning and we hid it.
ARGUS: The truth is, I was wide awake the whole night. I was hoping I would hear you say my name. Hear your footsteps at my door. I heard a sound, and it didn’t need to be my name, because I was going to see your face and hear you say hi, close and quiet and sleepy because it’s early, and how could I sleep after that?
David stays silent.
ARGUS: I don’t have a reason.
DAVID: You don’t need one.
DAVID: I’m with you.
David sits next to her on the bed.
ARGUS: This shouldn’t be what I’m worried about… We’re not aboard this ship to meet each other.
DAVID: If I hadn’t met you, none of it would mean so much.
ARGUS: It’s just not fair.
DAVID: No. No, it’s not.
ARGUS: Everyone else lost everybody they love.
DAVID: It doesn’t matter to anyone.
ARGUS: I don’t want to complicate the mission for anybody.
DAVID: It doesn’t matter. Everyone knows about us.
ARGUS: And they feel alienated.
DAVID: Because we hide it.
ARGUS: And you?
DAVID: Nothing else matters.
ARGUS: You lost the love of your life.
DAVID: Edie was perfect.
Argus stays quiet.
DAVID: I’m so lucky I don’t just have one perfect love in life.
ARGUS: But what if you did only have one?
DAVID: That was a different lifetime.
Argus huffs a weak laugh.
DAVID: I don’t remember her face until I see a photo. She’s a part of who I am now, sure. And none of that would matter nearly as much if I wasn’t here with you.
ARGUS: It’s okay if you don’t think that.
DAVID: Earth David ascended.
ARGUS: You don’t think that.
DAVID: I didn’t realize until you said something.
ARGUS: Come on.
DAVID: It’s okay, Argus.
Argus sighs. Slowly, they both sit up.
DAVID: I have to check on something for Milton.
ARGUS: What is it?
DAVID: I’m not going to say anything just yet.
ARGUS: Okay. Yeah. Does Milton think I’m the main suspect right now?
DAVID: We can’t proceed until we know the ship is still on course.
ARGUS: I guess I should walk him through the proof that I haven’t opened the comms channel on our end.
DAVID: Yeah. You probably should.
ARGUS: Is Milton lying to us?
DAVID: I don’t think so.
ARGUS: Who sabotaged the tank?
DAVID: I’m trying to figure that out.
SCHWIPP. SCHWUPP. David’s alone.
David returns to his seat at the console.
DAVID: XO? What’s your role on this ship?
XO: I facilitate the mission by direct request of the crew.
DAVID: What’s the mission?
XO: Deliver colonization cargo intact to destination planet.
DAVID: Do you lie?
DAVID: Can you lie?
DAVID: Ever considered lying?
XO: That is not in my programming.
DAVID: Do you have any special requests for any processes of the DNA tanks?
DAVID: XO, show me the live recording on my tablet.
XO: Okay, David.
BLIP! Recording plays. Ambience: Cargo Bay.
JO ANN: Merry Christmas, Dav–
RUMBLE. David fumbles the console into a niche close to a HUMMING tank.
DAVID: XO, keep this recording on all night. Alert me to any emergency repairs through my dorm console.
XO: Okay, David.
DAVID: Let’s get to the bottom of this bullshit.
David jangles as he walks away.
The Cargo Bay door slams shut in the distance.
The voice repeats.
David breathes heavily, alarmed.
VOICE: D–. D–. D–.
VOICE: (slimy) Dav–. D–Dav. Dav–
VOICE: (slimy whisper) David…
GLITCHES. Recording distorts, cuts in and out.
The voice speaks clearly, close.
David exclaims. He falls out of his chair.
A high-pitched digital scream cleaves the recording.
David catches his breath.
Atmosphere cross-fades to: Milton’s Lab.
MILTON: David, did you bring–David?
DAVID: Have you locked the cargo bay yet?
MILTON: What if I have?
DAVID: You unlock it.
DAVID: My tablet’s in there. I was recording all night.
Milton gets up from his seat.
MILTON: The truth comes out. I’ll walk with you to retrieve it.
MILTON: I’m not letting you go alone.
DAVID: Am I going to find anything on it?
MILTON: Anything meaningful? If there’s no more malfunctions. Unless I’m missing something.
MILTON: Come along.
Atmosphere: Hallway. A deep hum grows as they walk.
MILTON: Don’t tell me you’ve talked with Argus already.
MILTON: We just had a nice conversation, and you’re back. Moody. -Er.
DAVID: She’s got nothing to do with it.
MILTON: She never is, is she.
DAVID: Leave her out of your problems with me.
MILTON: Then leave her be.
DAVID: You have a daughter back home, right?
DAVID: Argus is not your daughter. And you’re not protecting her by being a dick to me.
MILTON: She doesn’t need protecting. We all have to look out for each other. We’re all that’s left. What a sweet thing to believe, right, David? I wish you would agree with me.
DAVID: Tell me exactly what’s in the tanks.
MILTON: The gel matrices.
DAVID: You said the DNA is inert. It’s not zygotic or combined or assembled…
MILTON: Yes. It’s stored like data. That’s the process… Why are you asking me this?
DAVID: Tell me what’s really in the tanks.
MILTON: That’s it. Goo. Slime. Jelly. Is there a simpler word for you?
MILTON: Clones, yes. Of course it is, it’s DNA from living people. It would be more difficult to try to recombinate random assortments that are viable rather than use successful samples. As I recall, one of the perks of the mission is being able to pick samples to put in the genome registry. Did you register anyone? No? That’s, that’s quite sad to me, David. It’s been one small comfort of mine to think I can offer a second chance for my family one day. A life where I didn’t leave them behind for this mission. A full life they can live together, completely. Whole. On a new world.
Footsteps stop. Milton taps on buttons by the door. BEEP-BEEP-BEEP!
XO: Cargo Bay unlocked.
The cargo bay door chugs open.
The cargo bay door slams shut.
Atmosphere shifts to the loud, buzzing Cargo Bay Ambience.
MILTON: Unlike you, I was ripped from my family’s arms. This mission wouldn’t succeed without my involvement. I know this, and I hope my grandkids could one day understand. Hmm. They were little. Too little when we boarded. Too young to remember me.
MILTON: Well, where is it?
DAVID: By the tank.
MILTON: We’re at least 100 years ahead by now. The few left to love, we keep the bond alive. Will they have known how much I love them? I have to believe the answer is yes. I absolutely have to.
DAVID: Cut the shit, Milton.
Milton’s footsteps stop.
MILTON: Excuse me?
DAVID: I’m giving you one more chance. Tell me what’s in the tanks.
MILTON: I have. Were you expecting something else?
Score fades in. Off-kilter, space-y rhythm.
DAVID: You’ve lied to us.
MILTON: What do you mean? Did you find something?
DAVID: You don’t know what I’m referring to?
MILTON: I’m trying to understand your accusation.
DAVID: There are clones in the tanks.
MILTON: Clone DNA–
DAVID: Clones. Fully formed clones.
MILTON: You think there’s embryos? That’s much more inefficient in resources and space. You misunderstand.
Milton keeps walking.
MILTON: What, like matured–
DAVID: Walking, breathing, living clones.
MILTON: (Are you okay?) That’s impossible. That’s impossible, we don’t have the resources onboard for even a thousand, they wouldn’t make it to the destination. Why are we really here?
DAVID: I heard it on my recording. On my tablet.
The score shifts. The notes dissolve into discordance. Strings enter, slowly escalate in tension and unease.
DAVID: I heard a voice. I heard it.
MILTON: No, no.
Milton walks quickly. David jangles as he walks to keep up.
DAVID: It shouldn’t be possible, but I know what I heard.
MILTON: David, you’re hearing things.
DAVID: It’s hiding in here. And you didn’t tell us!
MILTON: Get–get away from me!
Milton jogs. Panting, panicked.
DAVID: Come back! Hey!
Milton bolts for the door. THWUMP. He knocks David over.
David pants. He gets up. He jangles as he runs to catch up to Milton.
MILTON: What you’re saying can’t be real, David, take a moment and think it through!
DAVID: What’s the point of lying to us?!
Milton pushes over a shelf. Loud clattering, heavy metal junk bangs and rolls.
David grunts, struck. He falls to the ground.
Milton sprints away.
MILTON: (DISTANT) Stay back, David! You’re a danger to the crew right now.
Milton pushes buttons. BEEP-BEEP-BEEP.
The cargo bay door chugs open.
David drags himself off the floor. He sprints, panting.
MILTON: (DISTANT) I need you to calm down.
DAVID: Milton, don’t do this.
MILTON: (DISTANT) STAY BACK, David!
The cargo bay door chugs closes.
The score shifts. Tense strings buzz into a climax.
DAVID: Don’t leave me in here! We need to do something! You need to tell me what’s going on!
David arrives at the door. He pounds on it. Taps buttons.
XO: Cargo Bay secured. Authorized user input only.
David keeps pounding on the door.
Gives up. Slumps to the floor. Catches his breath.
DAVID: XO, send crew alert to all consoles and tablets.
XO: Okay, Day-y-y-y-y-y-y-y-y-y-y–DAVid.
David slumps to the floor. Catches his breath.
DAVID: C’mon… It got through. It got through it had to. They’re waking up right now.
VOICE: (DISTANT) David?
David slows his breathing. The atmosphere stills.
David breathes shallow.
END OF EPISODE 3.