005: The Spot [2 of 2]
written & directed by Julian Mundy
produced by Julian Mundy, Mischa Stanton & Ian McQuown
sound design by Mischa Stanton
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 starts acting up.
If you’ve got a minute after the show, please do us a favor and answer a few questions at whisperforge.org/STSurvey. That’ll let us know how to make this show its best for you, our fellow travelers.
And a special word of thanks also goes to the generous folks 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.
LAST TIME ON STARTRIPPER!!
So, you eviscerated seven childrens’ toys and then sewed them into a map?…Find where Vulkor rests his head come make me proud or join the dead… X marks the spot!….This is the path to The Precious Moon…. Woooo! Yaaa!
[SFX: Wind rushes by as Feston plunges down in freefall.]
FESTON: (shouting over the wind) Hello travelers, and welcome back to Startripper! My name is Feston Pyxis, and I am coming to you now in total freefall above Celestial Body CDO-23, or as you may know from rumor, The Precious Moon! We’ve just entered atmo and are skydiving to the entrance point! It’s pretty scary! Hahaha.
PROXY: Caution: Twenty thousand feet and descending.
PROXY: Advise engaging touchdown control systems at five thousand feet.
FESTON: Copy that!
KAS: (over comms, exultant) The time has come! Remember, the opening is where the fissures cross! You miss, we scoop you into a bucket later!
[SFX: Targeting software activates in Feston’s helmet, displaying an entry vector to follow.]
PROXY: Ten thousand feet and descending. Touchdown control systems ready to engage on your mark, Feston.
[SFX: A storm wind kicks up, knocking Feston off-course.]
PROXY: Eight thousand feet. Advise immediate course correction.
KAS: Feston! Are you alright, my friend?
FESTON: Uh…check back in in--!
PROXY: Eight thousand feet.
[SFX: Thrusters on the right side of the suit engage in several strong spurts. The targeting software chirps an approving note.]
KAS: Steady now! Steady!
FESTON: [noticing something] Oh kak me, kak me, KAK ME!— Woohoo! Haha! Ugh!
[SFX: Something enormous rushes by Feston, or Feston rushes by it, taking a few seconds to pass fully. The targeting software chirps a warning.]
PROXY: Attention divers, large objects detected in the target’s lower atmosphere.
FESTON: Yeah, thanks Prox!
KAS laughs over the comm, having a wonderful time.
PROXY: Six thousand feet.
FESTON: Three! Two! One! Touchdooown… NOW!
[SFX: Software activates impulse thrusters all over the suit. Now inside the crevasse, Feston slows until the system cycles down to low pulses and cuts out. A hook attaches to something higher up the shaft, followed by two footfalls magnetizing to the cliff face. The same sounds are repeated at different distances, five more times. KAS opens a comm channel.]
KAS: Lost two on the way in! Poor clumsy devils.
FESTON: Oh crap. Sorry to hear that, pal.
KAS: Worse ways to go! Now let us get going, we have some new lows to sink to!
[SFX: One after the other, Feston, Kassil, and the four remaining pirates disengage their grav-boots and slide smoothly down energy tethers, allllllll the way to the bottom. The relatively narrow, cramped descent suddenly opens into a huge, open chamber. Eventually, the group touches down on a stony floor.]
FESTON: O-kay. Not bad in here, is it? Kinda empty, though.
KAS: A moment, please. I would like to try something.
[SFX: Kassil disengages the helmet built into his suit, with a quick rush of air. The other pirates chuckle.]
FESTON: Whoa. Whoa, whoa, whoa. Hey, are you nuts? Come on.
KAS: [now off-comms, voice echoing around the chamber] Ahhhh. Yes, you are right, Feston. Not bad at all in here. The lights are still on, and so is the climate control. Rather humid, in fact.
[SFX: The pirates laugh louder, disengaging their own helmets. Their laughter bounces off the smooth surfaces. Feston follows suit.]
FESTON: You, uh, knew it was a closed system?
KAS: As soon as we entered this room. It is good you decided to come along. You can learn things! [to the others] Through there!
[SFX: The other pirates move ahead, switching on blasters.]
FESTON: How’d you know?
KAS: Ambient sound returned upon ingress. You often hear, Feston, but you rarely listen. Listen for when things change.
FESTON: Hear that in a martial arts movie?
KAS: From the first captain I ever served, before the hull split in two and we lost half our number.
FESTON: Oo, sorry. That’s heavy…
KAS: It is real. He was a wise one. Unluckiest bastard I ever met, though. No gift for cards.
FESTON: Hey, I love cards!
KAS: Then let us see what we have been dealt. [to the others] Well?
[SFX: Several sets of stone layers roll back, one after the other, each slab sliding to become a piece of a long walkway stretching deep into the rock face. One of the pirates warbles a response in an alien tongue.]
KAS: On a motion sensor? Don’t drop your guard, friends, the architect was… whimsical.
[SFX: The party starts forward into the corridor.]
[SFX: The party travels deeper into The Precious Moon, their steps echoing in the tunnel.]
FESTON: All I’m saying is, the idea of a hiding spot that it’s nondescript and out of the way, right? No giant X on it.
KAS: Ah, but then how would anyone know where to go if they did want to steal it?
FESTON: OK, I know that’s one of those “oh, I’m Captain Saar, I’m so clever and charming” things you like to throw out, but you know what? I get it. I understand pirate logic.
KAS: It was a serious question. But thank you for saying I am clever and charming. It gets so tedious hearing it from the crew, day-in, day-out. I start to doubt if it is really true. [to the pirates in front] Your captain is a doddery old fool, is he not, lads?
[SFX: The pirates reply in the negative in their various languages, laughing.]
FESTON: Hang on a tick. Proxy? We’ve been walking straight forward for a really long time.
PROXY: Shipboard instruments will not penetrate the moon’s crust, but your suit’s pedometer registers two thousand steps taken since touchdown.
PIRATE SKINNER: *SQUAWK!* *SQUAWK!*
KAS: Skinner is correct, we cannot see the entrance any longer. I think we have been on a very gradual slope deeper into the vault.
FESTON: Okay, I’m not an expert on secret pirate treasure hoards or anything, Captain, but doesn’t that seem kind of… boring? I kind of expected to be fighting off animatronic versions of this guy’s dead relatives… or something.
KAS: It is a bit underwhelming, yes. But I am not about to turn my face away from the prize.
FESTON: I’m not seeing a prize. No exit either. Huh…
KAS: Is something amiss?
FESTON: It’s too quiet. Proxy, I’m running a wide-band scan on my position. Can you analyze the density, thermals, radiation, the whole package?
PROXY: Certainly, Feston. Awaiting data link.
[SFX: Sensors to hum to life and scan the immediate area. The display chirps a confirmation tone.]
PROXY: Ambient radiation levels are within acceptable range. Thermal scan indicates the moon’s interior maintains a climate consistent with many tourist-class tropical regions, but there appear to be heat-sink points at regular intervals.
FESTON: Heat sink… Hidden ventilation shafts?
PROXY: The modular design of the surroundings would suggest as much. If I were to venture a guess, the rising dispersal patterns are consistent with a dynamo of colossal size.
KAS: Your ship believes this is a trap? Or perhaps a generator?
PROXY: Inconclusive. The space is certainly artificial. Extrapolating from scan data, it seems similar in design to an exercise wheel.
FESTON: Like in a gym?
PROXY: An apparatus for small pets.
[SFX: A low rumble starts to build from far off.]
PIRATE SKINNER: [Warningly] *SQUAWK!*
FESTON: [Whispering] “Ominous,” Skinner… the word you’re looking for is “ominous.”
KAS: Get clear!
[SFX: The rumble grows, faster and soon accompanied by intermittent snapping of enormous megapede mandibles. The party hops down to one side of the walkway, landing hard on metal.]
FESTON: Oh! Oh, kaking hell get me outta here!
KAS: [yelling over the rumble] Look for a way out! It shows no interest in us!
[SFX: The group scuffles around, looking for an access panel as the megapede continues to pass. Its passage begins to turn the enormous dynamo with a deep groan.]
FESTON: Hey! Hey, right here! Dammit, it won’t—oh!
[SFX: A side passage opens in a similar fashion to the corridor’s primary entrance, but smaller.]
KAS: Down we go!
FESTON: Ooooh my god! Oooooh my—-
[SFX: Kassil jumps down the passage, cheering as he slides all the way down. Feston follows close behind, as does the rest of the crew, all yelling and screaming as they slide down a tight tube. Feston is eventually spat out into another chamber, landing on something soft.]
FESTON: Oooo my god! Ooooh my—!
[SFX: One pirate lands very close to Feston, followed by the next pirate landing on him, and the next, until all four are in a groaning heap. Kassil laughs off to the side.]
KAS: Who would like to venture a guess what one of those likes to eat? Eh? Marvelous work, my friend!
FESTON: Not to kill your buzz or anything, but… I didn’t open that hatch.
[SFX: The intercom switches on.]
CAPTAIN VULKOR (VUL): Aye, and you’re very welcome, young fella. Sorry you ran afoul of Missy up there. She’s an old girl, but a real sweetheart.
FESTON: [to another crew member] Uh, ya I have no idea.
[SFX: A door opens by itself on the right side of the room.]
VUL: Well, come in, come in! I’ve got water on the boil, if there are any tea drinkers among you! Boots off, if you don’t mind.
[SFX: Ambient music plays on background speakers.]
VUL: Sweet nectar of hell, I’d nearly forgotten all about that silly map! It’s been, oh, a few centuries now since I sent out all those cute little whatsits!
KAS: The morbid cartography comes with quite a tale.
VUL: Sure it does, sir, I’m sure it does. That was part of the idea, after all! Wait a while for treasure hunters to show up, and trade ‘em riches for their stories.
FESTON: Okay, that’s actually not a bad idea.
[SFX: A tea kettle starts to whistle and Vulkor takes it off the heat to serve.]
VUL: Why, thank you! But to be honest, I’d damn near forgot all about it! Hid meself too damn well, didn’t I! Forgot about the properly fun part about being dead! Pirate humor, eh, son?
FESTON: More to the point, Captain Vulkor, sir, immortal pirate humor.
VUL: Not captain of nothing these days, my boy. Just me and the wormies.
[SFX: Skinner kicks a piece of furniture and throws a glass.]
PIRATE SKINNER: *SQUAWK!* *SQUAWK SQUAAAWK!*
VUL: Thick accent your swabbie’s got, Captain Saar, couldn’t make it out.
KAS: Omitting most of the profanity: “Indeed, how do you find yourself in the grundle of the galaxy, with no crew and a moon infested with kakking megapedes?” My apologies, Skinner is a forthright sort of lady.
VUL: Quite all right, Captain. I understand the confusion.
KAS: Then I must confess to some surprise of my own at finding you here, sir. It was my mother who told stories of your daring, as she rested her wooden leg on the kitchen table. They were old stories then, too. This is not The Precious Moon I was expecting.
VUL: Ah, nasty things, expectations. I suppose the limerick could’ve been more descriptive, but that rather ruins the fun, eh?
KAS: I did not arrive this day thinking I would find the ancient pirate lord of legend, alone, sitting in his own stash and making my crew a pot of tea. I lost two good sailors on the way in, and was nearly lunch for your pet monster before you intervened. I feel I am owed at least some piece of your story. Captain to captain.
[SFX: Vulkor puts down his teacup.]
VUL: All started with a curse, you see, about eight hundred years ago. I know how that sounds, but trust me, my species ain’t naturally that longevitous. We were stopped on some no-name little world for refit and repairs, take on water; business as usual. Only we hadn’t seen the old hag’s hut near our landing zone. Blew the old girl’s whole kaboodle into a nearby pond with the wind kicked up from our landing gear. When I went to make amends, I didn’t get to say two words before she laid into me something awful, howling about how she’d never find “her perfect stone” again. Chanted something at me in front of the whole crew, heard her say I’d only die when her lost stone had weathered away into dust. As you can see, I’m still here.
FESTON: Wow…You never thought about looking for it?
VUL: Don’t be silly, lad! How would that have looked in front of my crew? Their captain, the one creature they trust in the galaxy, stumbling around in the brush like a drunk because an old lady yapped at him? Not then, not never!
[SFX: The pirates laugh and voice agreement.]
VUL: Mind you, it all fell apart in the end. Once I’d found out the old girl was the real deal -- when I couldn’t die no matter what happened to me, or me crew -- you don’t get so many joiners once word gets around. The ones who lived through the worst of it just left when they found a chance to. So I stepped back, got word spreading I’d gone boots-up on a long haul into the black. Old Vulkor’s last fit of madness. And then I started construction on this place to pass the time, with all the filthy lucre I’d taken over the years. All under a false name, of course. She’s got everything a fellow could want who’s committed to being dead in comfort. Even got a helper who ain’t about to die or duck out on me. Ain’t that right, Home?
[SFX: A lilting musical tone plays over the speakers in response.]
FESTON: Oh! So upstairs, the whole scamper-wheel setup with sweet old Missy—
VUL: Power generator, dear boy! Got several stations just like that one so’s she and her brood can get some exercise, and I can keep the lights on! Be happy to give you lot the grand tour, if you’d like! Take you down to the pool for a swim!
[SFX: The crew grumbles disapprovingly.]
KAS: We have come a long way, honored sir. Now that we are here, now that we understand each other, what do you propose we do next? We are pirates, after all. We came for a legendary prize. You understand how disappointed my crew will be if I return empty-handed.
VUL: I do, sir. Better than most, I daresay.
FESTON: Oh, chill out, Captain! You in a rush?
KAS: Not as such, no. But we will have to think about extraction eventually, and I run a solid crew. A harder bunch of free aliens I have not yet seen.
[SFX: Warning alarms begin to sound. Vulkor leaps to his feet and calls up multiple view-screens up from the floor.]
VUL: I’m afraid we’ll have to talk about your prize later, Captain Saar. Some two-dozen pursuit craft and three frigates just hopped onto my doorstep. You were followed!
[SFX: A comms ringtone chirps on Kassil’s wrist display; he opens the channel.]
KAS: Save your breath, Mr. Gantry, I can see them from down here. What I need you to do is to put the satellite asteroid between you and the enemy. Find cover and await my order. Any communications directed to the Hundredfold, I want routed to me! All hands to battlestations and stand by!
[SFX: Kassil’s comm chirps again, opening almost immediately.]
DIR: [thru comms] No more running for you, thieves! You’ll regret the day you thought you could trifle with the Galvas Museum of Intergalactic War Paraphernalia! I’ll stuff and mount you in the diorama wing and--!
[SFX: Over the comm, the Director is shoved aside. The voice of AYGO EXACTA (EXA) is unnaturally deep.]
EXA: I’ve waited long for this day, Saar. The small one screeched about how the fearsome Saar robs him, and I came calling.
KAS: That is because you are lazy, Aygo Exacta, I always told you this.
EXA: You should have confirmed your kill, Captain. You missed your one chance.
KAS: I will enjoy watching your silly canoes burn.
EXA: One ship against my fleet. A pity. Now run, coward, or die.
KAS: That is the spirit!
[SFX: Kassil closes the comm channel. The alarms continue to blare away in the background as the pirates murmur to each other, anxious.]
VUL: First mate, was it?
KAS: The shipwright, can you imagine?
VUL: Aye, there’s one on every crew. Pity he’s wrong about facing one ship, though. Everyone hold onto something!
[SFX: Enormous engines and machines churn to life, rumbling the whole moon as it turns.]
FESTON: Whoa… Captain, this is the best day of my life!
KAS: We will make a pirate of you yet, file clerk!
VUL: You call those guns? Home, prepare to engage the silly buggers! I want a lock on those pursuit craft. Fire a shot across the flagship’s bow!
FESTON: Let’s go…Let’s goooo!
[SFX: Enormous energy pulses are released from the Precious Moon, each one making the floor vibrate for a moment.]
VUL: Run and hide, you lily-livers! Old Vulkor has a present for you! Ah yes, the old captain’s still got it!
[SFX: The huge gun batteries charge and fire again.]
FESTON: Holy kak! Those ships were remotely piloted, right?
A brief pause.
KAS: Yes? Let us say “yes.”
[SFX: Kassil’s commlink chirps and the channel opens.]
EXA: You bastard! What did you do, you bastard?
KAS: Do you wish to concede? I am feeling generous today, old friend, take advantage while you can.
EXA: Advantage? You think this is the end, Saar?! I will butter your skull and eat it! Fire all batteries! RAMMING SPEED!
VUL: Home, put one through the clown’s party wig.
KAS: Focus fire. The bridge will be armored.
VUL: You heard the captain! Fire!
[SFX: A single mighty shot fires from the Precious Moon’s cannon. comm channel cuts out with a fizzling tone, which is followed by the vibration of a ship’s reactor exploding near the moon’s surface. The hush that follows is broken by the chirp of Feston’s commlink.]
FESTON: Huh, well would you look at that. Can we help you with something, Director? That escape pod looks a little cramped.
DIR: You know what?
DIR: Just keep the kakking toy.
FESTON: Oh! Great, thanks! Ya, we had to kind of make a map out of it.
[SFX:The Director makes a noise between a sob and a retch.]
FESTON: Get home safe, pal! No hard feelings?
[SFX: The Museum Director closes the channel.]
FESTON: Yeah! Feston wins!
KAS: Honored sir, thank you. Thank you from here to the edge of the black.
VUL: Whatever for, son? I should be thanking you, that was downright therapeutic!
KAS: For your story. For giving me something to strive for. For the chance to settle some old business I had neglected. Thank you.
VUL: Aye, but now you’ve striven your way into nothing left to strive for, and that don’t sit right with me.
FESTON: Hey Prox, what’s the over-under on the museum guy keeping his mouth shut about this?
PROXY: He is in a position to report you to the authorities, at the risk of you humiliating him for his failure. The parameters suggest a stalemate. However, Captain Saar can be materially connected to these events. Rumors of Captain Vulkor’s death may also unravel over time, given what the museum director has seen of The Precious Moon’s capabilities. Also, you are currently recording this entire conversation for broadcast.
There is a moment’s cavernous silence, with only the sounds of Vulkor’s home to fill it.
VUL: Ahh, kak it anyhow! I say, let ‘em talk! Captain, I’d like to offer you something, by way of thanks, and a bit of parley. The Precious Moon is yours to use at any time! Make it your new hideaway when things get too choppy out there. Only…
KAS: Only you would like me to take the infamous Captain Vulkor along for his triumphant return to the shadowy sea?
VUL: [pleading a little bit] Captain, I’ve read every stolen book that makes up the library, seen every film, and played every blasted bit of music I own a hundred times! Sometimes backwards, just to mix things up! I experimented with poetry, kak my eyes. Poetry!
KAS: Honored sir, it would be a pleasure to have you aboard. I consider this no parley at all, for your presence too is a gift. And you, my friend…
[SFX: Kassil claps a hand on Feston’s shoulder.]
KAS: Where would any of us be without the Dread File Clerk, Feston Pyxis?
VUL: File clerk, is it? My word, son, you’ve some real goolies on you. Not every office drone can skydive like that. Unless, I dunno… Maybe they do, I’ve been gone a while.
FESTON: No, I’m a pretty average guy. Just enthusiastic, I guess?
KAS: You are sure you would not like to join us for a while? No threat of violence attached, but there is so much more you could learn, and many prizes yet to take. We could live like royalty!
FESTON: Wow! Thanks, Captain. But as much as I’ve enjoyed all this, I should probably be on my way. Get some distance between me and that crappy museum. But I hope our paths cross again someday… [MC voice] On Startripper!
A confused silence opens up.
PIRATE SKINNER: [huh?] *Squawk*
KAS: I am confused as well. Is it like radio?
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 Captain Kassal Sar of the Hundredfold,
James Bachelor as Captain Vulkor,
Scotty Shoemaker as the Museum Director,
and L. Jeffery Moore as Aygo Exacta.
Music by Ketsa, for more check out KETSAmusic.com. Additional music this week by the U.S. Army Blues via the Free Music Archive, find out more at FreeMusicArchive.org
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Thank you for flying with us. And now, this week’s StarTrip Survival Tip: Dark matter is not a toy.
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