004: Pirates in Space!! [1 of 2]

written & directed by Julian Mundy
produced by Julian Mundy, Mischa Stanton & Ian McQuown
sound design by Mischa Stanton
[BACK]

[[AD MUSIC]]

JULIAN MUNDY:

This episode of StarTripper!! is brought to you in part by our friends at Sunday Scaries. Let’s face it: the galaxy is a stressful place, and dealing with life on this planet is tough enough. Sunday Scaries are gummies designed specially for the treatment of anxiety, and contain cannabidiol, or CBD, the non-psychoactive sister of THC. CBD is found in industrial hemp and cannabis plants, and is proven to be effective in the management of chronic ailments like insomnia, inflammatory skin conditions, and most notably, anxiety. To increase their natural mood-boosting effects, the gummies also include vitamins B-12 and D-3. Life is hard enough without having to obsess over “what-ifs,” so our friends at Sunday Scaries would like to offer you a chance to try an alternative in treating your everyday anxiety. Just visit ForSundayScaries.com and use the promo code “PROXY” to get 10% off your first order! That code again is “PROXY” - P-R-O-X-Y - if you would like 10% off of your first order of Sunday Scaries! It’ll be nice to have something to calm down with when the slip-space drive acts up on us.

A special word of thanks also goes to the generous travelers who now contribute to the show on Patreon! We get to keep flying because of lifeforms like you, so if we touch down in your city, the first round is on us.

And now… for our next destination.

[[THEME MUSIC]]

–Scene 01–

[[SFX: Music fades into the Startripper’s yellow-alert klaxon, sounding incessantly over the bridge's usual ambience.]]

FESTON: (tense) Hello travelers, and welcome back to Startripper!! My name is Feston Pyxis, and I am speaking to you for what might be the last time. How many can we get a visual on, Prox?

PROXY: Scans detect that six fighters have emerged from the corvette-class vessel, Feston. I am ready to cede control of countermeasures to you on your order. With present armaments, direct combat is not encouraged. They appear to be standing by.

FESTON: Waiting for someone to let ‘em off the leash.

[[SFX: An overly-cheery, up-tempo ringtone comes from the console. The console bloops electronically as Feston answers.]]

FESTON: Can I... um... help you folks with something?

KASSIL SAAR (KAS): (a suave, accented voice) An excellent question. Greetings to you, I am Captain Kassil Saar of the Hundredfold. To whom am I speaking?

FESTON: You’re not going to… I don’t know, rob me or anything, right?

KAS: We may just get to that, and a sundry few things besides. To whom am I speaking, please? Who pilots the very fine Physiclast vessel before me?

FESTON: I go by F... uh, Feston?

KAS: You sound unsure. Why is that?

FESTON: [clears throat loudly] Feston Pyxis! [pause] I’m sorry, this is just the first time I’ve had weapons pointed at me. I used to work behind a desk.

KAS: And you come so far out into the big nothing, eh? That is good, very good. I would like you to come aboard my ship, for a drink and a nice chat. You can tell me at your leisure, just what it was you found out there at Yugfall. How would that sound to you?

FESTON: [long pause] That sounds [pause] just great.

KAS: My friends will show you inside. No need to wipe your feet.

FESTON: Thank yo-

[SFX: The comm channel closes.]

FESTON: Oh.

PROXY: Please confirm: are we out of danger?

FESTON: Yeah, well, you should be fine. He likes you.

[[SFX: The StarTripper accelerates.]]

-- SCENE 02 --

[[SFX: KAS pours a glass of wine.]]

KAS: You enjoy the wine?

[[SFX: KAS sits in a creaky plush seat.]]

FESTON: Oh! Yes, definitely. Really nice.

[[SFX: KAS sets the wine bottle down and sits back. Some distance away, there is the mechanical rattle of ships being refit.]]

FESTON: So do you go by Captain Kassil, or Captain Saar?

[[SFX: On all sides, there are rough laughs and other alien sounds of amusement; most of the crew is here.]]

KAS: Either way suits me. I was blessed with a good name, and many good friends who think my ideas are pretty okay. I think my ideas are okay, too. I thought one day: go watch a race at Yugfall, let my friends unwind a little. They work so hard. So we all get to see you fly, your first time ever! Lots of fun, you flew very well! He flew well, did he not?

[SFX: Noises of agreement and some more laughs from the crew. One pirate utters birdlike screeches among the whistles and cheers.]

KAS: They say you want to try for a Picture Perfect, you and your pretty StarTripper, so of course, my attention is pointed in one direction only. And what happens next?

[[SFX: Ship maintainence continues.]]

KAS: You vanish! At first, some think you dead, like so many others. Then, like a magic trick, you reappear!

[[SFX: KAS gives the table a good smack, rattling the wine bottle and a tray.]]

KAS: HA! You have some talent, I think. Your first time racing? This is stunning to me.

FESTON: [embarrassed] Well, nothing talented about getting turned around and losing a race. I was fooling myself with that Picture Perfect thing. Stupid.

KAS: [intense] No, no, that is pantomime you put on for the gawkers. They put you up on that silly wall of theirs, made you look a fool, and gods damn me, you play along! It must have been quite a story to bring you so far from home.

[[SFX: Kassil grabs a cold cut from the tray and scarfs it.]]

FESTON: [scoffs, playing it cool] What are you talking about?

KAS: [mouth full] Come now, Feston, we are friends. Come clean with me, I beg. I simply plead with you [swallows the mouthful] to tell me what it was you found out there.

FESTON: Listen, I don’t know what you heard, but look at me. I’m a jumped-up file clerk just trying to have a good time. All I’ve got to my name is that very nice ship you have sitting in your bay, which, I assume, you’ve already had a good old-fashioned rummage through. Am I wrong?

[[SFX: The crew mutters amongst itself. Nobody is laughing.]]

KAS: No. As with all things I have presented you with, you show sense. Not common sense, neither, but rare! However, I do not think you are coming clean, as I requested. There is a peculiar odor still lingering on you. Now, if I wish to rid my hold of the smell, all I need do is open a window. But it is so cold out there, and I prefer to keep things at all times balmy. (pause for effect) What was it?

FESTON: Okay. But I’m not making this up. [long pause for effect] It was a plushie. A cuddly kid’s toy!

KAS: [unfazed] Hm. Was it really?

FESTON: Hey, Proxy?

[[SFX: Proxy chimes through Feston's commlink.]]

PROXY: Yes, Feston.

FESTON: You mind generating an image of the thing we got at Yugfall Expanse?

PROXY: Certainly.

[[SFX: A 3D image is generated in the air. Members of the crew mutter, very serious; more alien grunts and screeches.]]

KAS: And where did you find such a thing?

FESTON: In a superdense vault... inside a broken flagship... in the middle of a graveyard.

KAS: And you acquired safecracking expertise from behind a desk? You do not sound like a very good employee.

FESTON: Listen, I heard a story from an alien over drinks, about a vault in a dead battleship at Yugfall. He must’ve told that story to every single person in that bar just so they’d buy him a round, and there were no takers until I came along! I just love a good story, doesn’t bother me if it’s quote-Fiction-unquote. But hey, maybe I’m like you. My ideas take me places. Fair to say I’m not always ready for the destination.  I went out there with no idea how I was going to get the thing open, my ass practically hanging out of my EVA suit.

[SFX: This draws a chuckle, and some more screeches, from the crew.]

FESTON: It turns out, all I had to do was bumble around for a while, get pissed off, and kick the thing out of raw frustration. Just swung right open!

[[SFX: More laughter from the pirates.]]

FESTON: Is that not the absolute worst security measure you’ve ever heard of? What kind of parent puts their kid through that for, like, a little stuffed bedtime buddy, right?

KAS: That is quite a story, my friend. I would have an easier time believing it if you had the object itself.

FESTON: Okay, I don’t have it, you know that much. But it’s not like I threw it out into space. A military history museum on Galvas offered a finder’s fee. [breathless laugh] I mean, they might even have it on display!

KAS: Then I suppose we pay a visit to the planet Galvas, would you not agree?

[[SFX: The crew cheers its approval, mobilizing.]]

FESTON: What’s going on, Captain? I get the feeling if I were anybody else, you’d have “opened a window” as soon as you had dragged me out of my ship.

KAS: That story you heard? You were right to listen to it. I heard one just like it once, and I think you are right. We are just alike.

FESTON: Well, you saw what believing mine got me, and it’s not much. Less every time I make a fuel stop.

KAS: The fellow who told me this story offered it as his last words, so I am in no position to disbelieve. You trusted yourself to live through a death race. You entrusted me with your story. I do not think you should be so quick to disbelieve either. That, too, is rare sense.

FESTON: What is it you want, Captain?

KAS: I want you with us when we retrieve your cuddly bedtime buddy. The rest will have to wait a while longer, alas.

FESTON: Yeah, you know what? Totally. Should make for a great story.

KAS: Stupendous! Welcome aboard. Some more wine?

[[MUSIC: Lounge jazz, synth, and moody piano.]]

-- SCENE 03 --

[[SFX: The bridge of the StarTripper. Some distance behind the flight deck, a knife is being sharpened.]]

FESTON: Hey, oh, by the way, did I already say I have some doubts about this plan, Captain? Because I don’t get to un-kick this thresher nest.

[[SFX: Kassil approaches and slumps into the co-pilot’s seat.]]

KAS: You have nothing to worry about, Feston, honestly. I am simply a collector who got the word too late, and I will not take no for an answer.

FESTON: Okay, I’m just hoping you have an exit strategy.

[[SFX: Proxy chimes on the console.]]

PROXY: Please be advised: Feston and crew, we are now within hailing distance of the planet Galvas. Shall I contact the Museum of Intergalactic War Paraphernalia?

FESTON: That would be swell, Prox, thank you.

PROXY: Of course.

[[SFX: The console pings and begins to emit a hailing signal.]]

KAS: Does your ship always talk to you?

FESTON: She’s never turned down a chance for conversation, if that’s what you mean.

KAS: You know, I think it is good you are getting out more.

[[SFX: The console chirps. Feston opens the comm channel.]]

FESTON: Yes, hello! This is StarTripper, serial number six-one-zero-seven, requesting clearance for dock.

GROUND CONTROL: [extremely cheery] We read you, StarTripper! Docking clearance granted. Security will meet you on the platform to confirm your passengers’ IDs.

FESTON: Uh, copy that, ground control. Over and out.

[SFX: Feston closes the comm.]

FESTON: Welp! That’s it, I guess, I guess we should turn around and--

KAS: Not to worry about security, my friend, trust me. I have been in this game for a long time.

[[SFX: The StarTripper accelerates forward.]]

-- SCENE 04 --

[[SFX: Office doors slide open; the MUSEUM DIRECTOR (DIR) walks ahead of Feston and KAS.]]

DIR: [stuffy, middle aged] I’m very sorry you had to come out all this way again, Mister Pyxis. You see, we simply cannot accommodate your request. Do please sit!

[[SFX: Feston, the Director, and Kassil take seats around the Director’s desk.]]

KAS: May I?

FESTON: Hey, listen, this is your deal. Pretend I’m not even here. [pause] Seriously.

DIR: As I said, I’m afraid there really is no deal to be had, fellas. We are currently preparing the object for display in the Western gallery, and the premiere is just weeks away. There is very little I can do for you, at the moment.

KAS: Oh, I do not think that is entirely so. I wish to talk for a moment about this exhibition of yours, if you do not mind. Your own personal project, is it?

DIR: Why, er, yes, I have a great fondness for the detritus found on battlefields. It’s part of why I founded the museum! Why, the stories otherwise lost to time can be found--

KAS: You see, Director, passion projects are something I understand. I am wrapped up in one now, as it happens, and to complete it, I simply must have the stuffed toy. I am happy to fill the hole in your catalog with a piece or two of my own, of course. I am sure I have something in my hold to meet your needs. In business, you must not let passion cloud your judgment.

DIR:  Thank you, Mister Dromus, but I am deaf to all offers, and I am on the clock. We have the billing bought and paid for, and the object appears in the promo materials. Now, if you’ll pardon me, I must ask you all to--

KAS: I do respect your vision, but alas...

[[SFX: KAS draws a blaster and levels it at the Director.]]

KAS: I no longer have the time for it. I am on the clock as well, as it were. 

DIR: You can’t! You won’t make it five paces out of here! There are cameras recording your every move, you kakking fools!

KAS: In fact, they are not, just now, and your tech team is no doubt scrambling to discover why. If it is discovered you were robbed at gunpoint before a show, director, I cannot imagine your patrons will feel safe attending.

DIR: [grudging] The piece is in our preservation lab.

KAS: Then I suppose that is where we are going! Feston, care to join us?

[[SFX: DIR groans, defeated.]]

FESTON: [sighs] Yeah. Yeah, okay.

[[MUSIC: Electric guitar & synth, set to a Western-style drumbeat.]]

-- SCENE 05 --

[SFX: Three sets of high-end security doors slide open, closing again as Feston, Kassil, and the Director cross the threshold.]

DIR: --Mad, you know. Completely out of your mind bringing weapons to a place of learning. It’s unconscionable.

[[SFX: Another set of doors opens and shuts behind the group. To the right, a security guard hums a tune before noticing the group. The guard lets out a "huh?" and is knocked out by a blast of energy. The Director yelps.]]

FESTON: [indignant] Come on, captain, was that really necessary?!

KAS: Speed is paramount, and I have no time for security guards probing around in my pockets. Be good and keep moving, yes, Director? Your retinal scan there, I believe.

[[SFX: The Director whimpers and engages the retinal scanner. The final set of doors opens.]]

KAS: Ahh, hello, my pretty one. My friend Feston, if you would be so kind.

[SFX: Feston steps forward grabs the plushie with a muted squeak.]

FESTON: So how are we getting offworld with this thing AND our asses intact?

KAS: [laughs] With smiles on our faces, that is how.

FESTON: [to the Director] Oh yeah, sorry about your show.

DIR: [groans] Ohhhh whyyyyy?

[[MUSIC: Dreamy mandolin & electronica rhythm]]

-- SCENE 06 --

[[SFX: The Startripper canopy opens; Feston comes down the cargo ramp, to the sounds of the Hundredfold's busy fighter bay.]]

FESTON: Okay, you got it! Hooray for you. [through clenched teeth] I can never show my face there again.

[[SFX: Kassil comes down the ramp, stopping next to Feston.]]

KAS: You had plans to show your face there... again?

FESTON: I don’t know! Maybe! I kind of thought they’d invite me back for the premiere, I’d get to dance with people in fancy dresses, and actually have a good time! Like I planned! Now I’m starting to think that this thing--!

[[SFX: Feston pulls the plushie from a pouch with a muted squeak.]]

FESTON: This thing is cursed! It is, right? 'Cause all it does is screw me over!

[[SFX: Feston throws the plushie onto the deck, where it lands with another squeak.]]

KAS: I think perhaps you should see why I came looking for you, Feston.

[[SFX: KAS walks over and retrieves the squeaky toy from the floor.]]

FESTON: [shouting, mocking KAS' accent]That would be great! Thank you!

KAS: Do you plan to keep shouting?

FESTON: [shouting, mocking] Sure, why not!

KAS: I only ask because I am still armed.

FESTON: [normal accent, immediately calm] Right, well, lead the way.

KAS: Please follow me.

[SFX: KAS walks away from Feston. Proxy chimes on Feston's wrist console.]

PROXY: [over comms] I believe he likes you.

FESTON: Oh, shut up.

[[SFX: Feston follows after KAS, passing some other pirates working on ship repairs. KAS unlatches the heavy door to his quarters. Feston and Kassil pass through.]]

KAS: I told you when we met, I was in no position to disbelieve stories about treasure...

[[SFX: KAS shuts the door and latches it behind them. There is a large aquarium on the other side of the room.]]

KAS: Even when they turn out to be such trifles as this.

[[SFX: The plushie bounces on a table with a squeak. Kassil crosses the room.]]

FESTON: Yeah, you didn’t say that second part.

KAS: You want to know why we are here? This is why.

[[SFX: Kassil hits a hidden switch. A painting mounted on the wall flips to reveal something on the other side.]]

FESTON: Wait. Wait a tick now, come on. You’re having some more fun with me. Is this a--?

KAS: Treasure map, yes. Who but I could know how real it is?

FESTON: So you eviscerated one, two, three… seven? Seven children’s toys, yourself, and then sewed them into a map? Wow.

KAS: I followed the directions. Only you and I knew where to look for number eight, in the end.

[[SFX: KAS pulls out a knife, slices some seams, and rips the toy open. He pulls at the stuffing.]]

FESTON: Okay, cool, um, great. You’re an actual crazy person.

KAS: I once heard you described as “suicidally brave.” You have not disappointed me yet. Aha!

[[SFX: One final pull rips the plushie's remaining seams.]]

KAS: You see! You see, finally, I, Captain Kassil Saar, have it in my hands! You see, file clerk!

[SFX: Kassil takes the plushie hide and pins it to the wall with his knife.]

KAS: [reciting] “The Precious Moon is dear indeed / Obliterating every need / Brave the tides through Deadlight’s Cloud / Past broken starships locked in shroud / Find where Vulkor rests his head / Come make me proud, or join the dead.” His verse completed at last! This is the path to the Precious Moon!

FESTON: (stunned) X marks the spot.

KAS: Yes! We have done it! I have done it! I did it?! Haha! Yessss!

[[SFX: Feston snorts a laugh, incredulous. Then he begins to laugh in earnest, joined by Kassil. Before long, Feston and Kassil begin to dance a jig, hooting and shouting merrily.]]

[[THEME MUSIC]]


CREDITS: Startripper!! was created by me, Julian Mundy, and produced by me, Mischa Stanton & Ian McQuown. This episode was written and directed by me, sound design by Mischa Stanton, with performances by:

Ian McQuown as Feston,
Giselle De Silva as Proxy,
Me as [KAS accent] Captain Kassil Saar, of the Hundredfold,
Scotty Shoemaker as the Museum Director,
and Danielle Shemiah as Ground Control.

Music by Ketsa, for more check out KETSAmusic.com.

Check us out on the web at whisperforge.org/StarTripper, for transcripts and links to subscribe to the show on Apple Podcasts or your preferred audio curator, or on social media, where you can find us @StarTripperHQ.

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Thank you for flying with us. And now, this week’s StarTrip Survival Tip: Don't get captured. If you do, learn to make friends quickly.

A PRODUCT OF THE WHISPERFORGE: SOUND AND STORY, BROUGHT TO LIFE