012: Peril on Rannitar

written & directed by Julian Mundy
produced by Julian Mundy, Mischa Stanton & Ian McQuown
sound design by Mischa Stanton & ANNA RODRIGUEZ

INTRO - “Wild Plain“ by Ketsa

-- SCENE 01:

[SFX: The StarTripper cuts through the stratosphere of Rannitar, crowded with other ships. Among the engine noises passing, there are also the strange, bestial cries and the flapping of leathery wings. Several of these creatures fly by the StarTripper, but one collides with the front viewscreen with a grunt.]

FESTON: [startled] Oh kak! Sorry! What the-? Ugh.

[SFX: The creature stuck to the viewscreen screeches and slides gradually off the ship, tumbling away. Feston pulls the nose up to level the ship out.]

PROXY: Feston, please exercise caution. We are entering a high-traffic air space.

FESTON: What a mess. Hello, travelers! My name is Feston Pyxis, and welcome back… to StarTripper!! Right now, we have a small life-and-death issue to deal with!

[SFX: Proxy chimes on the console.]

PROXY: Incoming automated message from Rannitar’s central leadership.

[SFX: A comm channel opens, the imperfect data stream causing occasional hitches in PRIMARCH BOGGS’ (BOGGS) voice.]

BOGGS: -- Powers vested in me by the emergency council of Rannitar. This act of madness by Fang-Tree has disrupted our society and put our very world in jeopardy! I repeat: I, Primarch Boggs, have been granted powers to reward all pilots volunteering in the evacuation effort! Supply evac control with your transponder signature, and please, help--!

[SFX: BOGGS’ transmission is cut off with an aggressive electronic tone. HALYA FANG-TREE (HALYA) cuts in, voice given an intimidating modulation effect.]

FESTON: Uh, uh, what’s happening?

HALYA: I will keep this short. I am Professor Halya Fang-Tree, and I stand at the center of this insurrection. Now: I will allow your evacuation to take place, as soon as the Prime Ministry turns control of the planet over to me. For every moment the parasites cling to Rannitar’s skin, more of its people will be taken, and eventually, my Fatal Attractor will pull the planet from the safety of its orbit. If you let it, the kingdom of free ideas will spread across Rannitar, but every breakthrough has a price. Submit or be consumed. You have ninety-six ticks. That is all.

[SFX: The transmission smash-cuts to silence. Feston points the ship into a descent.]

FESTON: Oh wow. Um. Maybe we should leave.

PROXY: Professor Halya Fang-Tree is wanted in several systems for reckless experimentation, “heinous” ethical breaches, mass kidnapping, and abuse of mass broadcast systems -- for comedic effect. The few who have faced Fang-Tree - and lived - stammer warnings about “otherworldly power” at her command.

FESTON: Yeah, I’m hearing “leave.” You vote “leave?”

[SFX: A fighter ship zips by in the opposite direction.]

FESTON: [giving in] Oh fine, travelers, we both know I could never live with myself.

PROXY: Pinging nearest evac platforms. There are many options. Every platform seems to be over capacity.

FESTON: Just gimme a little opening. Got it!

[SFX: Pings on the console grow stronger as the ship drops lower through the air, slowing to a halt above a crowded landing platform.]

FESTON: Aha! Pop it!

[SFX: The StarTripper enters an automated landing sequence, settling down as the rear cargo hatch opens. The crowd is large, panicked people starting to move forward.]

FESTON: All right, folks, I can cram in about twenty-five! Don’t shove, please!

[SFX: A few more blaster shots sound from a short distance, before a screaming fang-freak careens out of the sky and smashes against the platform. Members of the crowd start to freak, followed by more. A moment later, SERENA THE SAPPHIRE BLADE (SERENA) leaps onto the platform from a low-cruising ship, neatly slicing the creature’s head off. The crowd goes quiet, impressed, as Serena sheathes the sword.]

SERENA: Kakking finally! [to the crowd] That’s it, people, just like we practiced!

FESTON: [a little bit in awe] Hi, I’m… You’re really, um… good at stuff. Like the jumping and…

SERENA: [not paying attention] What are you saying?

FESTON: [scrambling] Oh, nothing! Nothing. I’m Feston! Pyxis!

SERENA: They call me Serena, the Sapphire Blade.

FESTON: Zowy title.

SERENA: Thanks. I was never a fan. Hey, actually, can we do this another time? I need a favor.

FESTON: Sure, what kind?

SERENA: Just begin takeoff, but don’t close your hatch until I give the signal!

FESTON: Okay, but you better have a plan involving a jet-pack! Proxy, time to spin up!

[SFX: The last of the cluster of evacuees shuffle by. Serena hurries on board. The StarTripper begins to lift off the platform, and Serena’s sword unfolds to full length.]

SERENA: Nice meeting you, Feston! Don’t hang around, now! [laughs, having fun]

FESTON: Wait up, what are you gonna do?

[SFX: Serena leaps from the cargo bay, pulling a hard-light sword from her waist and colliding with a fang-freak on the way down. A muffled energy pulse is audible as the rear hatch closes.]

FESTON: Amazing. [realization dawning] Oh, I sounded really lame, huh? “What are you gonna do?” Ugh, Feston…

PROXY: Feston, time is short. Please secure the passengers.

FESTON: [attention returning] Whuh? Right. Right! Okay, strap in and try not to bite your tongues!

[SFX: The evacuees mutter to each other, buckling several flight harnesses in the bay. Feston runs from the bay up to the bridge, gunning the engine.]

PROXY: Nearest jump-ship has been notified of our approach. Commencing evac.

FESTON: Hold on to something!

[SFX: The engines roar, launching the StarTripper high into the air. Cannon fire, ships and fang-freaks passing, and yelps from the passengers punctuate the ship’s progress through the atmosphere. Feston pulls an acrobatic turn, causing gasps from the passengers.]

FESTON: Closing in! Proxy, make sure they’ve got a spot open.

PROXY: Confirmed. The jump-ship Naz Eight-Zero has bays open all along their starboard side.

FESTON: Perfect. Aaaaand right in… there!

[SFX: The sounds of the planet’s atmosphere fade away as the ship breaks into low orbit. Feston hits a series of keystrokes on the console, and the StarTripper begins docking on the jump-ship. The rear hatch opens on touch-down, and the evacuees file out into a capital ship’s hangar, teeming with evac activity. Feston is the last out onto the deck.]

FESTON: Well, travelers, that could have gone worse. But those fang-freaks. [shivers, disgusted] Ugh. Up close, they sort of look like this Fang-Tree lady nailed wings to a toothy skeleton, and then dripped molten rubber all over it. But imagine the skeleton was still alive and hated… oh, everything. Just everything.

[SFX: BOGGS’ emergency tone chimes on the ST speaker system.]

FESTON: Oop, hang on, that’s for me.

BOGGS: To all evacuation personnel, I have good news, and bad news. The good news is: Amaran Best, savior of four systems, has answered our call for aid. As I speak, this hero speeds toward the heart of Fang-Tree’s operation.

FESTON: Oh yeah, while the rest of us dodge hi-altitude skeleton murder. Classy.

BOGGS: The bad news is: Fang-Tree knows of the hero’s involvement, and has advanced the time-table on her fiendish designs! Evac pilots, you must increase the pace. Our ninety-six ticks has been reduced to forty-eight!

FESTON: Those motherless-- Proxy, this is only gonna get worse, so let’s get movin’…

PROXY: Acknowledged. Re-engaging search-and-rescue measures.

[SFX: The StarTripper’s engine’s spin back up, and the hatch closes.]


-- SCENE 02:

[SFX: The StarTripper flies through the air over Rannitar, shaking a bit under the repeated blows of fang-freaks clinging to the hull. A new hold-full of passengers screams in fear as the ship banks hard to the left..]

FESTON: They’re all over the hull, Proxy! Hang on to something! I gotta weave a little bit!

[SFX: The StarTripper narrowly avoids a series of spires and banks away, fang-freaks flapping.]

FESTON: Can’t see anything! Proxy, can you keep us steady? I think I’ll have to get out there with a broom or something!

PROXY: Please remain seated. Ionizing outer shields.

[SFX: A static charge runs across the outside of the ship, causing the fang-freaks to shriek and release their grip.]

FESTON: Nice work! Aaaand now we have a tail!

[SFX: The fang-freaks begin to close in again from behind, the flying mob growing in size.]

PROXY: Proximity alert.

FESTON: We shoulda left.

[SFX: The growing clamor is cut short by a rapid string of blaster fire from behind. Some fang-freaks tumble, screaming, from the sky. A hailing chime rings on the console.]

FESTON: Woohoo! Cutting it pretty close, whoever you are!

[SFX: The comm channel opens, Captain Saar (SAAR) coming through the static.]

SAAR: Oh, do not be so dramatic.

FESTON: [shocked] Captain Saar?! What are you doing here?

SAAR: Just our share, my friend. The Hundredfold has volunteered as part of the jump-ship flotilla, and Skinner will be providing you with a little dynamic fire support. Ha-harr!

[SFX: Skinner pipes in on a separate channel, squawking in an amused way.]

FESTON: Pretty neighborly for a pirate!

SAAR: When we caught the bulletin, I had a thought: “Feston Pyxis will not be able to help himself.” If we live through this, some of my swabbies now owe me money.

VULKOR: Pyxis, young fella, it’s nice to see you haven’t lost your touch.

FESTON: I’m happy to see you folks, too, but I might be the only one.

VULKOR: Oh, I’m not worried. Are you worried, Captain?

SAAR: Never. [to pirates behind him] Make ready now, and show this little world who we are! One hundred fold!

[SFX: The pirates cheer before the call ends. After a few moments, several pirate fighters zip past, firing their repeating blasters.]

PROXY: What a thoughtful gesture.

FESTON: My life is ridiculous.


-- SCENE 03:

[SFX: The StarTripper coasts along in the jetstream, sounds of chaos more distant. A hailing frequency chimes on the console.]

FESTON: Don’t recognize that comm-tag. Is it ground control?

[SFX: The comm channel opens, with sounds of combat in the background.]

FESTON: Hullo?

SERENA: [comms] Oh good, I got the right tag. Don’t hate me, but I need another favor, and it’s a little bit... unreasonable.

FESTON: Oh hey, Serena! Uh, unreasonable in what way?

SERENA: Well, have you ever flown under direct fire before?

FESTON: Nope. Not unless you’re talking about Phase Gravely flight simulations.

SERENA: [realizing her error] Okay. Well, I guess it’s time for the real thing.

FESTON: Wait, why do you want me to fly you somewhere that’s going to shoot at us?

SERENA: Can you keep this under wraps?

[SFX: A brief pause. Feston scratches the side of his neck with the mic in it a couple times.]

FESTON: Oh yeah, yeah definitely.

SERENA: Yeah? Because you sort of paused there, and--

FESTON: Do you want me to fly you into a war zone, or not?

SERENA: Ugh. Okay, there’s a call going out on the merc channels that Amaran Best hit some heavy interference. Spooky-nasty interference.

FESTON: Worse than the undead monsters?

SERENA: Well, Amaran Best can become living light, and sort of beam around. They tried to beam into Fang-Tree’s lab from outside, but stopped a few feet from the front door and they just... started screaming.


SERENA: Do you like that better than the flying murderers?

FESTON: I’m not sure how to answer that.

SERENA: Nevermind. Just come pick me up. I think I can fix this.

FESTON: You’re welcome, by the way.


[SFX: The call ends, and the engines spin up before unleashing a burst of speed.]


-- SCENE 04:

[SFX: Plasma bolts arc around the StarTripper, which moves through the air at high speed.]

FESTON: Skinner! Captain! We could use a helping hand down here!

[SFX: Skinner squawks over the comm.]

FESTON: Wing, whatever! I’m sending you coordinates to the energy-well thing!

SERENA: So they’re pirates, right? Are you a pirate, or what?

FESTON: [exasperated] Oh, I don’t know anymore!

[SFX: The ship takes a glancing blow, causing the hard-light shields to ripple and re-harden. A wooping alarm comes from the speaker.]

FESTON: Oh kak!

PROXY: Feston, we are running out of clear flight-paths. Fang-Tree has access to countermeasures around the Municipal Energy Well. We have incoming fire.

[SFX: Skinner’s ship swoops past, as Skinner herself clicks a laugh over comms. Saar’s fighter comes up alongside, then peels off.]

SAAR: Ha-ha-harr! A grand day out, yes? Eyes forward now.

PROXY: New flight-paths now open, for the moment.

SERENA: What a mess. I’ll get on the main-- excuse me, the ONLY gun.

[SFX: Serena leaps down to the gunner’s compartment, controls activating with a switch.]

FESTON: If you wanted an arsenal, you could have brought your own kakking ship!

SERENA: [shouting up from the gunner’s seat] Mine’s busy! It’s set for automatic strafing runs over the capital, to keep fang-freaks from eating the Prime Ministry before they evacuate!

FESTON: [sounding aggravated] Well, excuuuuse me, you incredible badass!

SERENA: Are you pissed off, or are you complimenting me? You know what, forget it.

[SFX: Serena fires a stream of shots at a turret nearby, causing an explosion. The ship passes by at speed.]

FESTON: How’d you know this was the place, anyway?

SERENA: I’ve been following Fang-Tree’s career. The professor is into big productions like this, and they usually take a lot of raw energy to pull off. Wherever her giant magnet is, it’ll be plugged right into the Municipal Energy Well.

PROXY: Allowing us a path straight to the device. Is that your theory?

SERENA: Yeah, pretty much. Somehow, she networked her spooky tech almost planet-wide.

FESTON: Captain, I just need a little more breathing room and we’re in!

SAAR: Stick close behind me, then. I have something for the occasion.

[SFX: Saar’s fighter pulls up ahead of the StarTripper, both pushing their engines hard through the incoming barrage. A second power system on Saar’s ship spins up for a few seconds, before unleashing a hail of intense blaster fire. Saar roars a battlecry.]

SERENA: [voice raised over the noise] Zai-damn, that is SO illegal!

FESTON: Nice to have though, right?

[SFX: An incoming shot tags Saar’s wing, reducing the speed and stopping Saar’s own barrage of blaster fire.)

SAAR: [comms] Miserable zjaht! My friend, I must exit the stage for now!

[SFX: Saar’s ship veers off, trailing smoke.]

FESTON: You gonna be okay?

SAAR: Just fly! Skinner has your wing!

[SFX: Serena fires several controlled bursts from the gunner’s seat.]

SERENA: Just aim for the huge hole that wasn’t there before!

[SFX: The StarTripper brakes hard, pulling a mid-air fishtail and crossing into the service works inside the Municipal Energy Well building. Skinner’s ship veers off, remaining outside.]

SERENA: It’s too tight to fly in here, we’ll have to set down!

PROXY: Confirmed. Combat landing protocols engaged.

[SFX: The landing gear engages in time with the cargo hatch opening. Serena hurries out and turns, drawing her hard-light sword, Feston close behind. Voices echo in the vaulted space.]

FESTON: Hey, wait a second!

SERENA: You’re not really cleared for this next part, so hang tight right here, and keep the engines running! This is gonna get dicey.

FESTON: How’s your luck been so far?

SERENA: Try not to think about it, we’re wasting time! If any fang-freaks bother you, just zap ‘em with this.

FESTON: With wha-- kak me, don’t throw that!

[SFX: Serena pulls a blaster pistol from her hip and tosses it to Feston.]

SERENA: Safety’s the red switch on the side.

FESTON: So?! Don’t tell me you’re going in alone!

SERENA: You’ll be fine! Later!

[SFX: Serena dashes off, deeper into the guts of the Energy Well facility.]

FESTON: Unbelievable. How are you holding up, Proxy?

PROXY: No major damage, although hard-light shields have taken several hits. Advise maintaining our position for at least one tick to allow a full system recharge.

[SFX: A few fang-freaks swoop down for a landing on the rim of the hole in the building.]

FESTON: [very nervous] We’ll both do what we can, I guess.

[SFX: Feston disengages the safety on the blaster, which bristles dangerously. Fang-freaks snarl from their perch.]


-- SCENE 05:

[SFX: Feston fires several times at approaching fang-freaks before the blaster runs empty.]

FESTON: I’m out already?! Proxy, incoming, start closing the hatch!

[SFX: The cargo hatch closes, Feston leaping in. There are screeches and thrashing from fang-freaks trying to shove inside.]

FESTON: One blaster is not going to solve that problem. Proxy, how long can we hold up with those things outside?

PROXY: Unknown. The situation is in flux, but our window is only going to shrink. More hostile units are flocking to our position.

[SFX: There is a rumble all throughout the facility, shaking the StarTripper. There are some screeches of terror, and the fang-freaks take flight. Serena’s voice cuts through the static.]

SERENA: --ston! Hey, kak-pants, you alive? We have a situation! Fang-Tree is headed your--!

[SFX: The audio glitches break up Serena’s next statement.]

FESTON: Serena?! What the hell did you do in there?

SERENA: I busted Fang-Tree’s creepy machine, but she got the drop on me!

FESTON: So what’s the plan now?

[SFX: The audio glitches again.]

SERENA: --open the door! I’m right behind her!

FESTON: Okay, Prox, pop it! [realizing] Hold up, “right behind her?” Wait, no no no!

[SFX: The cargo hatch opens, Halya’s distant footsteps echoing closer every second.]

HALYA: [running toward Feston] You! Off the ship, NOW!

FESTON: Dammit. [startled] Whoa!

[SFX: A crackling bolt of plasma scorches the ground nearby. Feston tumbles backward.]

HAL: Exit the ship, or I will reduce you to an ugly puddle!

[SFX: Serena rounds a corner and gains ground on HAL fast.]

SERENA: C’mere, doc! We weren’t done!

HALYA: You’re done! Kak off!

[SFX: Halya enters into close combat with Serena. Halya is immediately tackled, hitting the ground in front of the ship very hard as Serena grapples her.]

SERENA: Hush now, shh shh shh, no more monologuing. It’s okay, you’re okay. Sleepy time.

HALYA: [losing consciousness in a chokehold] Not… I’m not…

[SFX: Halya slumps down, KO’d. Serena rolls her over.]

FESTON: Thanks for the save.

SERENA: Yeah well, I messed up. Would you accept the mask of an ultra-turbo-criminal, by way of apology?

[SFX: Serena pulls off Halya’s mask.]

SERENA: Ohhh no. Oh no.

FESTON: It’s not her, is it?

SERENA: [horror mounting] No. Body double. Body double. Ohhh NO!

[SFX: Halya’s foreboding comm tone comes through Feston’s wrist-console.]

HALYA: [remote] People of Rannitar, your time is running out. Every victory up to now was all but a gift I gave you myself. In the process, you have given me exactly what I wanted.

SERENA: She is the most frustrating person.

HALYA: [remote] You, this planet’s proud citizens, have run scared. The Fatal Attractor device has been destroyed, preserving the planet for my rule. My army controls the sky, and your leadership is on its way into orbit... and into the path of my killshot.

FESTON: Ohhh no.

HALYA: Rannitar is now mine!

SERENA: [into her wrist console] Navigator! Confirm: you are within patrol range of the diplomatic evac shuttle! I need to you block that shot!

NAVIGATOR: [comms, text-to-speech] Proximity confirmed. Moving to intercept.

SERENA: Thank you, Navigator. I’ll remember what you did today.

NAVIGATOR: Confirmed. Navigator black box will transmit touchdown coordinates--

[SFX: In the distance, a huge particle beam fires into the sky, impacting Serena’s ship and causing an explosion in low orbit. The comm channel on Serena’s wrist goes silent.]

FESTON: Wow. That was zowy as hell.

SERENA: [controlling her voice] Damn. Damn, damn. Sorry, ‘Gator.

FESTON: That was amazing.

[SFX: Halya’s comm tone comes through both commlinks. Both Feston and Serena recoil.]

HALYA: [comms, playing it casual] Nice try! You’re not out of range yet!

[SFX: Over the comm, another particle beam begins charging, only to lose momentum and power down again.]

HALYA: Noooo! More power! I need more--

[SFX: A blast of energy punches through the wall of Halya’s control room.]

AMARAN BEST: Did somebody say “power?”

HALYA: Amaran Best?! I thought--

[SFX: Amaran Best teleports right in front of Halya.]

AMARAN BEST: That’s your whole problem, Professor!

[SFX: Halya takes a rapid series of blows from Amaran Best, before she is lifted bodily and crashes into the mic; the commlink closes.]

SERENA: [despairing] My sisters are gonna be so disappointed.

FESTON: Serena, what are you talking about? You and ‘Gator saved everybody! I’ve never seen timing like that!

SERENA: But now I’m ship-less, and everyone is going to think Amaran Best went and bagged their FIFTH PR smash hit!

FESTON: Not everyone.

SERENA: Start talking, Lorvian, because I swear to Zai, I will stomp your puny--

FESTON: [straining, held aloft] I make a touristy podcast! I have a RECON implant in my neck and I’ve been recording this whole time! A bunch of people listen to it!

SERENA: [this is a lot to process] You make a what? You have a what, in your what?


SERENA: You’ve been WHAT this WHOLE TIME?

FESTON: I guess you’re not having such a bad news day yourself. You wanna get out of here?

SERENA: To where, exactly? The beach?

FESTON: Well, you’re down one star-ship, so I’ll fly us to the nearest bar, and we can talk itinerary over a drink.

SERENA: Itinerary? I’m not going anywhere with you! We are practically strangers!

FESTON: You think so too? Hey, great, let’s solve that!

PROXY: Feston, on-board defenses are back at 100%. Any remaining threats will not have it so easy.

[SFX: Feston gets back on board, followed by Serena, who carries the Halya double inside and sets her down on a bench.]

SERENA: So today was… touristy, for you? You’re on vacation right now?

FESTON: Well… today was not my usual thing, you got me there. But you seem really zowy, and a wise hermit I met recently did say something about finding “backup.” So, y’know. Thoughts?

SERENA: You want me to be your bodyguard while you flounce all over the galaxy?

FESTON: Got anything else going on?

SERENA: [exhales, defeated] Not… at this moment.

FESTON: And anyway, what I have in mind is more of a partnership than a me-hiring-you thing, anyway.

SERENA: Just how broke are you right now?

FESTON: Welluhhhhh we can get into that later. Let’s find a bar while everyone is still evacuated.

PROXY: Ready for launch. All passengers, welcome aboard. Please secure yourselves, and prepare for takeoff.

[SFX: Serena straps the Halya double to the bench, before she and Feston take their seats on the bridge and buckle in.]

SERENA: I haven’t said yes, all right? I’m just… sitting here.

FESTON: No problem, Serena, you don’t have to answer… [announcer mode] Until the next season… of StarTripper!!

SERENA laughs / groans.

[SFX: The StarTripper’s engines rev up, and launch the ship right out of the facility.]

CREDITS: StarTripper!! created by me, Julian Mundy, and produced by Mischa Stanton, Ian McQuown, and me.

This episode was written and directed by me, Julian Mundy; sound design by Mischa Stanton and Anna Rodriguez; with performances by Ian McQuown as Feston, Sierra Shay as Proxy, Sammi Lappin as Serena the Sapphire Blade, Josh Rubino as Primarch Boggs, Michelle Agresti as Professor Halya Fang-Tree; me [Saar voice] as Captain Kassil Saar of the Hundredfold, James Bachelor as Captain Vulkor, and Noah Gildermaster as Amaran Best.

Music by Ketsa. For more, check out ketsamusic.com.

Thank you so much for flying with us for our first season. We’re gonna take a break for now, but in the meantime, you can 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, and while you’re there, please leave us a nice review. It’s a really easy way to help new listeners find the show while we’re cooking up our next season.

You can also follow along on social media, @startripperhq, for updates, news, or just to say hi! We love hearing from you.

And you can even meet us live, in person, at PodCon, January 19th and 20th in Seattle, Washington. We can’t wait to see you there!

We love making this show, but unfortunately, we can’t do it for free, so if you can, please head on over to patreon.com/startripper if you want to help us keep flying. In return you’ll get access to thank you cards, exclusive art, and our upcoming Season 1 blooper reel, as well as access to our hoppin’ Patron-only community on Discord. Even a pledge of as little as $1 helps us immensely to keep making this cool-ass show for you.

We’ve been blown away by the support we’ve received in response to this show. This is the biggest project I have ever undertaken, and the love and adoration you guys have shown has been unlike anything I could have expected. I got to make the show that I wanted to listen to, with my good friends, and I am so thrilled that you all love it too. I hope to keep this trip going with you all, for a long time to come.

Sincerely, from all of us at StarTripper!! HQ: Thank you for flying with us. We’ll see you soon. Maybe even sooner than you think. Around the winter holiday season, maybe, if your planet has one of those. But for now, here’s this week’s Star Trip Survival Tip:

Galactic exploration is exciting, but try to resist leaving behind messages like “FESTON WUZ HERE.”