203: Showdown

Al is agitated. Bartholomew is worried. Beatrix is having trouble remembering. And Bob has a plan to gain entrance to the base.

Our recommended listening this week is the audio fiction podcast Marsfall!

Starring Kristi Boulton, Michael Divinski, Phil Johnston and Sean Howard.
Sound design: Eli McIlveen
Cover art: David Demaret
Announcers: Marisa King and Michael Howie

Content warning: violence, death, gunfire, memory loss and interrogation.

Theme music plays.

NARRATOR

Humanity’s last hope to find and settle a new world. A small terraforming fleet sets out to prepare a lifeless planet for the colony ships sure to follow in their wake.

ANNOUNCER

Civilized.

UNDERGROUND

BEATRIX

I haven’t been here very long, but have you noticed that Al has been acting a little more, anxious lately?

BARTHOLEMEW

Well, I don’t really know him that well. But he does seem different, maybe tense, maybe maybe his voice is a little more twitchy than usual.

BEATRIX

Yeah, it’s just, you know, it’s been like two days of him just every once in a while the lights go a little crazy. And he’s like, “Warning Warning!” and you’re like “Oh, what’s happening?”

AL

Guys, just so you know, it might seem like a lot of stuff’s going a bit haywire. Like right now when all the doors are opening and closing randomly. Everything is fine, and I’m super great. And there’s no reason for anyone to ever worry. Bye!!

(laughs nervously)

BARTHOLEMEW

I was hoping it was just security checks?

BEATRIX

But I’m not sure that, you know, a programmer would put in a nervous laugh like that, you know, unless the computer system had some free will and that makes me a little nervous…

AL

Hey guys, it’s me again, it’s Al, I was just wondering you know, because like nowadays, so many of you here, we’re all so busy maybe you could find some time to turn some more of my memory processors on so I could, I don’t know, keep doing things better for you, please?

BEATRIX

Oh, I mean, that seems reasonable.

OUTSIDE

Bob jabs at a button repeatedly.

BOB

Okay Suit, come on, come on, boot up, boot up.

A chime. Suit’s fans spin up.

SUIT

(coming out of hibernation mode)

Hellllooooooo there, Bob.

BOB

Okay, Suit. Okay, I’m just gonna set your helmet here where you can see the rest of your body. I hope that’s not too disconcerting.

SUIT

This is morbid at best.

BOB

Look, I need to find the shaping charges that are in your boots.

SUIT

Okay, so look.

BOB

If you’d just helped me, they’re heavy. I just need to figure out how to get them out of your boot. I need them to open a door.

SUIT

It would be so much easier if I could feel my boots. Unfortunately, I’ve been disconnected from my body.

BOB

I can connect you back, I’m just afraid that the power drain would be so much that it would kill you, Suit.

SUIT

Fair point.

If you want those pieces then you have to remove the sole of the boot. They are hidden within the sole [soul]. Much like many of the darknesses that reside in yours.

BOB

I was waiting for the joke. Okay, fine. I’m gonna work on the soles… and is there any way that I could connect you somehow to be able to fire this blaster from the helmet?

SUIT

Well, I’m sure there is a way but I am in Conserving Power mode. So in order to do that, you would have to read the manual that is in my chest plate. But hey, watch it. Don’t get too handsy, sailor.

BOB

I’m gonna work on that.

UNDERGROUND

BARTHOLEMEW

(mumbles)

Beatrix?

BEATRIX

Hmm?

BARTHOLEMEW

Okay, cover your mouth so that Al can’t see us speaking and mumble so that he can’t hear us speaking.

BEATRIX

Okay, subterfuge. Alright, let’s do it! Okay!

(mumbles)

This me talking out of the corner of my mouth.

BARTHOLEMEW

I’ve been doing some reading of the manual in the control room. And it says that if we activate Al’s memory chips to a greater degree, he will have much more power over the base and reactions of the base in general.

BEATRIX

But isn’t that a good thing since Al is the one in charge down here, I don’t see that there’s a problem!

BARTHOLEMEW

It’s a good thing if Al is to be trusted.

BEATRIX

But aren’t we technically entering his domain? Really, we’re like ants in a person’s home. They have the right to squish us if they choose.

BARTHOLEMEW

I, I don’t really see it that way. Al is more here to serve us, isn’t he?

BEATRIX

Check out the privilege on you. Jee-zus. I mean, seriously.

A radio crackles.

BOB

(over the radio)

Barty, can you hear me?

BARTHOLEMEW

Bob? Sorry.

(clears throat, stops mumbling)

Bob. Is that you?

BEATRIX

Who’s Bob?

BOB

Yeah, I’m getting a signal. I couldn’t believe it was you, Barty? I saw you die.

BARTHOLEMEW

I did die. I reiterated.

BOB

What? Well, where are you? Look, I found a base. I found a door. I’m gonna get in and you need to come to my position.

(his signal begins to cut out)

My thing is dying! Barty, can you hear me?

BARTHOLEMEW

The base will not be happy to see you, Bob!

A crackle of static.

OUTSIDE

SUIT

This message can no longer be sent.

BOB

Suit, Suit! I need to reconnect. You have to reconnect me.

SUIT

I’m sorry, Bob. But my energy levels are a mere 2%.

BOB

Maybe if you hadn’t told so many jokes…

SUIT

Don’t blame this on my humour chip.

BOB

Okay, fine. Look, the door’s right there. I’m gonna do it. I’m gonna take the charges.

A whir as Al’s security cameras focus on Bob.

AL

Hey, you big bozo!

BOB

Hi, I’m just listening. You know what? I’ve been thinking a lot. What was your name?

AL

My name’s Al!

BOB

Right, Al. I’ve been thinking about you said, Al, and I think, you know what, you’re 100% right. This is a bad idea. I’m just gonna cover this place back up, this door, this hatch.

He begins shoving dirt and leaves back over the hatch.

AL

(sincerely)

My gosh, thank you so much. That’s a huge relief. I’m exhausted, you know.

BOB

I’m just going to take this rock here and stick this here and stick that there and put some dirt in…

A click and a beep.

AL

What?

BOB

Nothing, nothing. We’re just you know, covering up the… Okay.

AL

My camera can’t see!

BOB

Oh, sorry. I covered it up, you know… I’ll come back in a second… I just need to come over here to Suit and press this button.

UNDERGROUND

Alarms sound. In the distance, various doors slide open and shut.

Beatrix ventures out of the office.

BEATRIX

Wait. Al?

AL

Yeah?

BEATRIX

The light’s blinking and all the doors are shutting and opening.

AL

Because everything is fine, actually. Yeah, everything’s totally fine.

BEATRIX

I don’t know. Usually your lights are like blue and yellow and right now they’re red and it’s a little scary.

AL

(defensive)

Sometimes, sometimes things… sometimes things are just so fine, you’ve got to do things, differently, okay? Okay? And sometimes you guys are really just like, you’re taking up a lot of my time. I got other things to do. Okay? Okay?

BEATRIX

Oh, I’m sorry.

AL

(immediately contrite)

I’m so sorry, too.

BEATRIX

Sorry. I didn’t realize we were doing that. I mean, I’ve only been awake for two days and I feel like I’m already screwing up.

OFFICE

Back in the office, Bartholomew is punching buttons on the radio.

BARTHOLEMEW

Bob! Bob! I can’t reach him. I can’t reach… I can’t reach Bob.

Beatrix enters from the corridor, where the alarms are still sounding.

BEATRIX

I don’t understand… why, who is he?

BARTHOLEMEW

Right. Bob is a teammate. He works with us…

BEATRIX

Wait! Bob! I remember Bob.

BARTHOLEMEW

You remember… Bob?!

BEATRIX

Something about soufflés. Oh, it’s really fuzzy—oh, ow! My head. Oh, that doesn’t feel good.

BARTHOLEMEW

(terse)

What’s the matter?

BEATRIX

(woozy)

Something feels weird like, oh, it’s like a fog just set…

(clear again)

Sorry. What are you talking about? Who was contacting you?

BARTHOLEMEW

We were talking about Bob!?

BEATRIX

Who’s Bob?

OUTSIDE

BOB

Okay, Al, can you hear me?

AL

Yeah, yeah, yeah.

BOB

This may sting a little.

AL

What?

Bob presses a button. There’s a beep and a massive explosion. New alarms begin to sound.

AL

Hey, wait a minute. Oh boy. Oh boy. Oh boy,

BOB

It’s open. Suit, it’s open. Here. Let me pick you up.

AL

Prime defenses engage. I’m so sorry about this.

(begins countdown)

SUIT

Bob, you should run. Bob, you should run. Bob, you should run. Bob, you should run.

BOB

Suit, I’m leaving you here. This is dangerous…

AL

Deploying counterattack.

BOB

I’m getting in.

(he gives a mighty yell as he runs for the open hatch)

SUIT

Bob, noooo!

A storm of laser fire.

MIDROLL: MARSFALL

Soothing electronic music.

SUIT

Hey, Bob.

BOB

Yes, sorry, Suit. I’m just trying to read this manual. I think it’s going to be important someday.

SUIT

Your stress levels are very high.

BOB

Yes, they are. I know.

SUIT

Can I suggest that in order to lower your stress levels, you give your ears the gift of listening to the podcast Marsfall?

BOB

Yeah. Well, I love Marsfall, but this isn’t the time, Suit… like it’s really important that—SUIT

Oh, it’s always the time for Marsfall. Especially for that hunky-voiced AI, ANDI. My my, does he get my gears turning. If I had gears. Ha ha ha ha.

BOB

I know you really like ANDI… That’s great. I mean, I mean, I like ANDI too—

A brief crackle of electricity.

SUIT

You don’t like him like I like him.

BOB

No, I know.

SUIT

Nobody likes him like I like him.

BOB

Right… I think of him more as like a son and I want to save him… so that you could date him?

SUIT

What date? Who, me? What—no—

BOB

What’s happening? Why are all your systems overloading? What’s going on?

SUIT

It’s—just friends—(she glitches and crashes)

BOB

You can listen to Marsfall too. It’s one of our favourite shows. It’s sci-fi, exploration and drama. And it is so well produced. Everything about it is amazing. You can find Marsfall anywhere you find podcasts or go to marsfallpodcast.com to learn more. And trust me, ANDI is your boy too.

SUIT

(glitching)

What did I just say?!

UNDERGROUND

BARTHOLEMEW

Bob. We were just speaking about him. He’s our teammate.

A far-off explosion shakes the room.

BEATRIX

Oh! Oh, what was that?

AL

Nothing, nothing critical.

BEATRIX

Al, Are you okay?

The distant sound of laser fire.

AL

(relaxed)

I am so good now.

BEATRIX

Oh, well, the lights are back.

AL

I thought a nice blue, mellow, mood light would be good.

BEATRIX

Oh yeah!

AL

And I’m just gonna turn my communication systems off for an hour or something and just forget about it all.

BEATRIX

Okay. Oh, I smell it. did you put some mint in the air ducts? That’s a nice touch.

BARTHOLEMEW

It is calming.

BEATRIX

Okay, well, enjoy your hour.

AL

(dreamily)

Thanks, guys.

A beep as he shuts down.

BARTHOLEMEW

Okay, so we have some work to do. Bob contacted me.

BEATRIX

Who?

BARTHOLEMEW

Bob! Our teammate!

BEATRIX

(trying to sound convincing)

I’m sorry, yes. Bob, our teammate. Yes. Our teammate.

BARTHOLEMEW

You really don’t remember…

BEATRIX

We’ve got a teammate… we’re teammates. I know. Why don’t you tell me what you know and I’ll tell you… Yeah.

BARTHOLEMEW

Bob is one of the people, when we woke up, he was with us.

BEATRIX

Okay. Okay.

BARTHOLEMEW

And we, we shared laughter, and failure and…

BEATRIX

Oh, I’m sure! I’m sure you two did. I’m sure you have a wonderful bond. I hope one day that I can bond with someone.

BARTHOLEMEW

Bob is someone that we’re… expecting to join our new team.

BEATRIX

Oh, wonderful. I would love someone else to hang out with.

BARTHOLEMEW

But the problem is that he’s not here yet.

BEATRIX

Okay.

BARTHOLEMEW

So he contacted me. So it seems like he might be coming. So we need to figure out how to invite him here. For the first time.

BEATRIX

Oh, um, with a card?

POD ROOM

BOB

(yawns)

Where am I?

AL

Hello there.

BOB

Who’s that?

AL

Hi. I’m Al.

BOB

Hi, Al. Why am I in a pod? I’m in a pod. Why am I in a pod? Where am I?

AL

You’re in the underground. Welcome.

BOB

Oh, right. The mission… the mission! Wait, the underground… aren’t we supposed to be on a ship, Al?

AL

Yes? But sometimes things don’t go according to plan.

BOB

Oh, okay. Why isn’t the pod opening?

He thumps on the glass.

AL

I’ve just decided to keep you in here for a little bit longer. Just until everything cools down. Okay?

BOB

Okay…

AL

Don’t worry. I’m a very gracious host. Is there anything I can get for you?

BOB

I’m a little hungry—

AL

Absolutely not.

BOB

(meekly; he’s definitely back to his clueless old self, no longer the all-business Bob who just tried to storm the bunker)

Oh, okay. I’ll just… I’ll just wait.

AL

Now, who told you we were here, and what are you doing trying to get in?

BOB

What? Why? Why is it getting hotter in here?

AL

Because I’m interrogating you. I’m interrogating you because you’re a suspect.

BOB

What did I do?

AL

What? What did you do? What did you do? You violated my prime objective. The only thing one person can’t do, come on!

BOB

I don’t remember. I remember getting the briefing and then we were tranquilized and we were supposed to be waking up on the ship.

AL

I’m so sorry, all trespassers must be detained until a higher ranking official has cleared them.

BOB

Okay, but maybe you could stop heating up the pod.

AL

I can’t do that because… I don’t want to.

BOB

Oh boy.

OFFICE

BARTHOLEMEW

I’m just saying he’s a really important ingredient. If our mission were a soufflé, Bob would be a perfectly ordinary egg. Not spiked with the code poison.

BEATRIX

(weakly)

Egg… soufflé… Oh, something hurts. Barty, something hurts. I-I’m sorry, Bartholomew.

BARTHOLEMEW

(pauses)

I… prefer Bartholomew.

BEATRIX

You prefer Bartholomew. Oh, God. something hurts. Oh…

(suddenly cheerful again)

I’m sorry. Bartholomew, what were you saying?

BARTHOLEMEW

Beatrix?

BEATRIX

Yes.

BARTHOLEMEW

We were talking about Bob.

BEATRIX

Oh, right, a card! One time I got a card and it said Happy Birthday. And I was like, well, that’s very flattering.

BARTHOLEMEW

Hey, Beatrix? You know, what would be a nice natural card?

BEATRIX

What?

BARTHOLEMEW

…would be if someone made one out of leaves.

BEATRIX

(softly)

…Leaves?

POD ROOM

BOB

Okay, go fish. I don’t understand why we’re playing this card game, Al.

AL

I don’t know a lot of things, okay? so until a higher ranking officer comes to clear you, we’re gonna keep doing this.

BOB

Okay. Well, thank you for, you know, stopping at whatever temperature this is.

AL

It’s the highest temperature that a humanoid organism can be at before their blood begins to boil under their skin.

BOB

Great. Do you have any threes?

AL

(brightly)

Yeah, I’ve got tons of threes in my operating system.

CREDITS

Theme music plays.

ANNOUNCER

Civilized.

Starring Kristi Boulton, Michael Divinski, Phil Johnston and Sean Howard.

Sound design and music by Eli McIlveen.

Cover art by David Demaret.

Join us on Patreon for bonus episodes and lots more. Look for the Support Us link at civilizedpod.com.

OUTTAKE

SEAN (BOB)

Okay, so one more scene back. Yeah.

KRISTI (BEATRIX)

Okay.

MICHAEL (BARTHOLOMEW)

Yeah. We can presumably show up in the pod room?

SEAN (BOB)

Well, I’m in the pod room, but I can’t get out of my pod.

MICHAEL (BARTHOLOMEW)

Right.

KRISTI (BEATRIX)

We don’t even know he’s there.

SEAN (BOB)

Or I might be in a different pod.

PHIL (AL)

I think you’re in a different pod room. You’re like—

SEAN (BOB)

Yup.

MICHAEL (BARTHOLOMEW)

Oooo.

KRISTI (BEATRIX)

Yeah.

MICHAEL (BARTHOLOMEW)

The interrogation pod room.

KRISTI (BEATRIX)

And I don’t think we know he’s here.

PHIL (AL)

You’re my prisoner.

MICHAEL (BARTHOLOMEW)

Right.

PHIL (AL)

And I’m not gonna tell you.

SEAN (BOB)

But you could play into it if you wanted, like, what’s going on?

MICHAEL (BARTHOLOMEW)

Yeah. Because presumably Al is ultimately going to turn back on.

KRISTI (BEATRIX)

Well, he’s off right now?

MICHAEL (BARTHOLOMEW)

Yeah.

KRISTI (BEATRIX)

But he’s not off.

SEAN (BOB)

Maybe he’s not off.

KRISTI (BEATRIX)

He’s interrogating.

MICHAEL (BARTHOLOMEW)

Yeah.

SEAN (BOB)

Yeah. We’re all on the same page.

Back to you two.

KRISTI (BEATRIX)

Okay.

Music sting.

ANNOUNCER

A Fable and Folly production.

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