Sep 23, 2021
[The Outpost won the Gold Mark Time Award for best sci fi audio drama for 2008]
You wake up, millions of light years away, in a place nothing
...What do YOU do?
"What kind of a place is it? Would you believe it's a habitat, in an asteroid cloud, in a distant corner of the galaxy?"
This story was very loosely inspired by the movie Suna No Onna (Woman in the Dunes), from 1964; directed by Hiroshi Teshigahara from the novel by Kôbô Abe, as adapted by Eiko Yoshida, starring Eiji Okada and Kyôko Kishida and the sand.
It's an awesome film - superficially about a man who is trapped by a small town and placed with a woman as her new husband. In the film, he's an office worker and amateur entymologist seeking to make some kind of name for himself by finding a new species of bug on his day trip to a beach. He falls asleep and wakes to find he missed the last bus, but a local town has someone who will take him in for the night - a woman who lives at the bottom of this odd huge sand pit.
The whole town live at the bottoms of these pits, and we slowly realize that the sand has built up over the town for generations, and they just dig out the areas around the huts by night and have the sand taken away. The woman lost her husband and child in a sandslide and cannot handle the work of digging the sand all by herself, so they have placed the man with her as her new husband - letting him down and taking away the ladder. The man also finds out that he's not the only one - other men in other houses were similarly abducted.
I didn’t want to work with any of that for my story, specifically since I had determined to make it a gender reverse, and a woman kidnapped and handed to a man to be trapped as his wife is kind of ... a lot of real history.
So I focused on the subtext and themes of the movie. At its heart, it's a culture clash, the man representing "modern japan" (in the 60s) and the town and woman being so traditional that they won't even leave ancient homes that are being devoured by the sand. In modern life, people are cogs, and he's coming from a life where he's basically interchangeable - hardly even missed when he vanishes - into one where the good of the community and the comfort of the partner are directly affected by the actions of the individual and each person is therefore important.
That gave me a more satisfying framework to play with. By creating these two cultures - the efficient and interchangeable people she comes from - where even her personal achievements are somewhat generic - and the humble, personal, and individual life in the asteroids, where he takes time to respect the dead, and is proud of his little triumphs.
I also wanted an equivalent to the sand. The film is basically a three character piece, with the sand as much a presence as the two people in it. I made the outpost, with its gripes and problems, sounds, and needs, as similar to that as I could.
I like to think it's the writing that makes this episode really great but I give a lot of credit to my costar, for being able to bring to life a male character that is strong without being overbearing, who is in control without being controlling, and who is never ashamed to feel.
That left me free to be a bitch.
Of course the climax comes in both stories when the captive has a chance to walk away. I won't spoil it.
OLIVIA Did you have any trouble finding it? What do you mean, what kind of a place is it? Why, it's an outpost in an asteroid cloud, can't you tell?
AMBIANCE INSIDE OUTPOST MU LAMBDA EPSILON [Millie]
SOUND MACHINE AND ELECTRONIC NOISES, SLOSHING OF LIQUID
VANESSA [waking up noises, then with a start, coughing]
GRANT Easy now. Just breathe.
VANESSA [breathing, coughing a bit]
GRANT Tell me. Do you know your name?
VANESSA My what? Of course.
GRANT Tell me your name.
VANESSA Vanessa 9 [breaks into coughing]
GRANT [incredulous] Your name is Vanessa 9?
VANESSA Don't be stupid. It's Vanessa 98949. How old do I look? [coughing]
GRANT [not a clue] Um...
VANESSA Where am I?
GRANT I'll tell you whatever you wanna know. Later. You're all wrung out.
VANESSA Nonsense. I am ordering you to tell me--
GRANT Now there ain't no call to get huffy, miss.
VANESSA [offended] Where is your Vox? I plan to let her know precisely--
GRANT My what?
VANESSA [altering slightly] Your Vox? The one who gives you orders?
GRANT Ain't got none.
VANESSA There must be a female around here somewhere!
GRANT Nope. Just me. And you.
VANESSA What the hell kind of place is this? [pain] ooh.... ah.
GRANT There, now. You lie back down and get yourself some rest. [fogging out] Waking from deepsub is no cakewalk...
VANESSA [waking sharply again, gasp] Ohh.
SOUND SWOOSH OF POD HATCH OPENING, HESITANT FOOTSTEPS, A STUMBLE
VANESSA Where is that throwback? Hmm?
SOUND SHE PICKS UP A NOTE AND A RADIO
VANESSA [reading] Frequency 12. great. [louder, commanding] Frequency 12.
VANESSA [more strident] Frequency 12. [Ugh!]
SOUND RADIO UNIT BEING SHAKEN, CRACKLES TO LIFE
VANESSA [hesitant] Frequency 12? Is there anyone here?
GRANT [on filter] No need to holler.
VANESSA Your comm unit isn't set to recognize my voice!
GRANT [baffled] Oh. I'll... see what I can do. You need anything?
VANESSA [snap] No. Well, I could use something to eat.
GRANT All righty. I have to finish up something, and I'll be down as soon as I can.
SOUND CLICK RADIO OFF
VANESSA What? You get down here immediately! Ugh!
SOUND THROWS RADIO UNIT - SOMETHING SNAPS
SOUND SHE PACES
SOUND DOOR SWOOSHES OPEN, HE ENTERS, DOOR SHUTS
GRANT [sigh] All righty. Brought you some chow.
VANESSA [seething] It's been almost an entire hour!
GRANT [matter of fact] You caught me outside. Was quicker to finish what I was doing than to come in and get back out again later.
VANESSA Give me that.
SOUND TRAY RATTLES
GRANT [grunt of effort] No.
VANESSA What? How dare you?
GRANT You're in my home, and if you can't be civil, then ... well, I can be downright rude too.
VANESSA There must be someone else here - I will report your behavior--!
GRANT Nope. Just me. Like I told you.
VANESSA Take me to your comm unit--
VANESSA [faltering] But I--
GRANT You can ask nicely.
VANESSA [indignant] What? How can you even look me in the face and say such a thing, male?
GRANT [beat, then sigh] Call me again when you're in a better mood.
SOUND FOOTSTEPS, DOOR SWOOSHES OPEN
VANESSA [up] The-- [deep breath, forces herself to a nicer tone] The radio is broken.
GRANT Broken? Hold up.
SOUND SETS TRAY DOWN. PICKS UP RADIO
VANESSA I... shook it. It wouldn't listen to me!
SOUND RADIO SHAKES, RATTLES
GRANT Hmm. Looks like I'm gonna have to get in there.
SOUND VANESSA TRIES TO BE SNEAKY, GRABBING SOMETHING TO EAT
GRANT But I still don't understand what you're saying about-- [sees her eating, makes an impatient noise]
VANESSA [around a mouthful] You expect me to starve? I just woke from deepsub. I require caloric intake.
GRANT [sigh, tsks]
SOUND HIS FOOTSTEPS LEAVE, DOOR SWOOSHES SHUT
SOUND TINKERING WITH MACHINERY - LITTLE ZAP NOISES, ETC.
VANESSA Just ...about ...there!
SOUND BLIP AS SOMETHING TURNS ON
RECORDER [crackly] Life pod B-L-T-L-1-4-5, ship Xanadu, designated X-14-Z-3-J--2-0-5--
VANESSA [real relief] Finally - a civilized voice! Recorder. Play back the Xanadu's final entry.
RECORDER Final log entry of star cruiser Xanadu. G-vector, Delta quadrant, encountered space debris. Explosion. Unknown cause. Xanadu evac mandated. Pods loosed at ship day 172, T-vector, speed normal.
VANESSA Calculate time in transit.
RECORDER Calculating. One thousand, three hundred and eighty two days since Xanadu Evac.
SOUND DOOR OPENS
VANESSA Four years--?
GRANT [off] You were on a star cruiser?
SOUND BONKS HEAD AS SHE REACTS
GRANT That musta been interesting.
VANESSA Yes, I am part of the crew of the Star Cruiser Xanadu, bound for Ganymede 800 in the Gargon nebula. There will be people looking for me.
GRANT [rueful] Not here they won't.
VANESSA What do you mean?
GRANT I don't know what all your specs there are, but first, no one much comes this far out, and second, well, I do know the Gargon Nebula is hellagone from here.
VANESSA You have to let me contact someone.
GRANT Nope. I don't have to do anything.
VANESSA I order you! As third under-lieutenant subchief, engineering bay 5 of the star cruiser Xanadu, I command you to take me to your comm room.
SOUND DOOR OPENS, FOOTSTEPS LEAVE
VANESSA [very last second] Please.
GRANT [off, leaning in] Wish I could. Left you some food there.
SOUND DOOR SHUTS
SOUND ELECTRONIC MENDING NOISES
SOUND DOOR OPENS
GRANT Whatcha doing?
VANESSA Keeping busy. What do you want?
GRANT You about ready to come out?
VANESSA Out of what?
GRANT The room here?
VANESSA The room? [working up] You kept me locked up in here, and now you ask--
GRANT Door don't even lock. I was wondering why you never--
SOUND HER STOMPING FOOTSTEPS
VANESSA Door open! See? Nothing happens!
GRANT Well o'course not. Doors don't have ears.
VANESSA Normal doors take orders. Radios too.
GRANT You're an underengineer sub chief thingee and you don't even know how to work a door?
VANESSA Normal doors take orders!
GRANT Well, I guess we're all a bit old fashioned here. This is how you open the door. Wave your hand right here--
SOUND WhoooosH. DOOR OPENS
VANESSA [sullen] Oh. I see. Wait!
SOUND SLAMS HIM UP AGAINST THE WALL
VANESSA You said we're all a bit old fashioned - who is "we"?
GRANT [controlling some strong emotion, at being slammed against a wall] Well - um - I was including the doors and all. [deep breath] Since you like t'talk to them all.
SOUND SHE LETS GO
GRANT [off] To the left there.
SOUND DOOR SWOOSHES OPEN. A COUPLE OF FOOTSTEPS, THEY SLOW
VANESSA This is it?
GRANT [pride] Yup. Millie's brain center. There are 42 more like her spread throughout the cloud - um, here.
SOUND BUTTONS PUSH. SCREEN HUMS TO LIFE
GRANT Pretty, huh?
VANESSA It's rubbish.
GRANT [hurt, but covering] Millie has 12 chambers - each a self-sealing unit, in case of breaches - and a backup--
VANESSA How do you call out?
VANESSA Out! How do you call out! I need to make arrangements to get the hell out of here!
GRANT It don't quite work that--
VANESSA Nothing here works! Nothing works at all! [almost hysterical]
VANESSA [stunned gasp]
GRANT Now I'm real sorry about that, but you need to breathe. And let me finish my sentences.
VANESSA I could have you up on charges so fast!
GRANT Well, not here, you couldn't. [sigh] Now, as I was about to say, you can call the other habitats, or the quarterly supply ship - if he's in range. Just might be - he come through here only last week.
VANESSA Another male? What is this, throwback central?
GRANT What you got against fellows?
VANESSA [disgusted noise] Males have been proven inferior and in the civilized galaxy have been effectively relegated to a purely functional capacity.
GRANT You mean where you come from is all ladies? Don't it get boring?
VANESSA What? What are you implying--?
GRANT Just - well, how do you have kids?
GRANT So everyone has to have kids?
VANESSA No one "has" children. [shrugs, indifferent] Everyone donates genetic material, and it's automatically matched up with compatible fertilizing agents. Children belong to the community, and are raised in a proper safe environment, under supervision.
GRANT But - those poor little boys and girls--
GRANT [sigh] Them poor little kids, never knowing who their - mommas are.
VANESSA They're cared for by properly trained personnel. Much better for their long-term physical and mental health. How would someone like me, with a career on a star cruiser, ever find that sort of time?
GRANT That's real sad.
VANESSA Not to mention, I haven't spent my life immersed in study of childhood ailments and development.
GRANT Well, neither did my mama.
VANESSA Yes. I'm sure.
GRANT [hurt, slightly annoyed] Look, you can mock me, and turn your nose up at Millie, but don't you never speak ill of my mama.
SOUND CRACKLE OF STATIC
LASSITER [scratchy, on filter] Hey Grant? You there? Grant? You there?
SOUND SQUEAK OF CHAIR, CLICK
GRANT Yup. Whatcha need?
LASSITER [scratchy, on filter] That capsule thing you sold me - you got yours to work OK?
GRANT [hurried] Ah, hell. Let me call you back, Lassiter.
VANESSA [absolute fury] Sold?
GRANT I got work to do.
SOUND SLIGHT SCUFFLE, SHE BLOCKS HIM FROM LEAVING
VANESSA [not quite screaming] Was he talking about a deepsub pod like mine?
GRANT [muttered] I find all sorts of things.
VANESSA You sold a - a - a PERSON to that - that male?
GRANT What makes you think the pod weren't empty?
VANESSA That's slavery! And you know what that means?
GRANT Don't matter. Sides, what would I do with two of y'all out here?
VANESSA The same as you're doing with one - nothing at all!
GRANT [standing up to her a bit] Yup. long as I'm talking to you, I'm doing nothing at all. Like I said, I got work to do.
SOUND HE LEAVES, DOOR
VANESSA It was one of these switches--
SOUND RADIO STATIC
VANESSA Yes! [lower, into the mike] Lassiter? Come in Lassiter?
LASSITER [scratchy, on filter] Huh? Who's this?
VANESSA I'm at .... Millie.
LASSITER [scratchy, on filter] Excellent - it did work! You tell Grant to let me know what he did, y'hear?
VANESSA To wake up the woman in the pod?
LASSITER [scratchy, on filter] Yeah. [eager] I can't wait.
VANESSA [warning] Lassiter. You do know it's vastly illegal to rescue someone and then force them into slavery, don't you?
LASSITER [scratchy, on filter] What?
VANESSA If you press her into service, you are committing high seas slavery, according to Rule 4715 D of the unitary code.
LASSITER [scratchy, on filter] Is Grant there? Can you put him on?
VANESSA Shut up!
LASSITER [scratchy, on filter] Jeez.
VANESSA Lassiter. I will make a bargain with you.
LASSITER [scratchy, on filter] I dunno--
VANESSA I will help you revive the survivor, if you will -- let me talk to her as soon as she wakes up.
LASSITER [scratchy, on filter] Sure.
VANESSA And if you understand that I will find a way to come over there and kill you if you hurt her in any way.
LASSITER [scratchy, on filter] Hurt her? Hey! I paid good money for--
YASMIN [scratchy, on filter] What do I do?
VANESSA Be placating - we have to try and get together, make our way home.
YASMIN Aye-aye, Vox. Data mode for now. I await your word.
VANESSA Remind him I will kill him if he hurts you.
YASMIN He doesn't seem very threatening. I could put him down if I have to.
VANESSA Good. Engineer Vanessa 98949 Out.
YASMIN Yasmin 222338 Out.
GRANT [sad] Whatcha doing?
SOUND CHAIR WHIPS AROUND
GRANT I see you found your friend.
VANESSA We were part of the same crew. I have rank, so I told her I would protect her. It's my duty.
GRANT Protect her? From Lassiter? He ain't some kinda -- of -- I ain't even sure what you're thinking he is.
VANESSA A man.
SOUND GETS UP FROM CHAIR
GRANT [realizing] Are you afraid of me?
VANESSA [thinks, then] You hold all the cards. All you have to do is refuse me food, and I'm helpless.
GRANT I wouldn't do that!
VANESSA You already did.
GRANT I was trying to get you to-- Look, if I wanted to actually hurt you, I gotta blaster for that. I just wanted you to think twice and act civil.
VANESSA How many more were there?
VANESSA Of the deepsub pods. Did you just find the two?
GRANT [grudging] Four. Total. Lassiter's was the last to revive, so all of y'all are all right.
VANESSA All right? Let me talk to them!
GRANT You gotta learn to stop giving me orders. You're not my momma.
VANESSA Your mother is--?
GRANT She died. Since then... [shrug] I got work to do.
VANESSA [belligerent] What is this work that seems to constantly demand your attention?
GRANT You ask nice, you'll get a lot more answers.
VANESSA [beat, then making an effort] What is it that you do all day?
GRANT Salvage. Used to be mining, but the cloud here grabs every lump of crap out of the nearest 10-20 sectors, so salvage pays a helluva lot better.
GRANT And maintenance. Millie here's old. I keep her limping along, but it's truly full time.
SOUND DOOR OPENS
GRANT Come on. I'll show you where the food units are. Then you ain't gotta wait on me if you get hungry.
GRANT So this switch here changes the band - you gotta jiggle it a bit, here, sometimes. And this list here shows all the other habitats - the ones up top are closest - most reliable for contact. Next down, these three - well - I ain't heard from them in a while. Not even sure they're still... functional.
GRANT No one vacates. Not unless-- But [trying to convince himself] comm equipment goes down sometimes - a lot - and it's a bitch to get the right parts.
VANESSA All the habitats are as old as ...this one?
GRANT Yeah, they were built for miners - never really meant to be permanent, but you know how things go.
VANESSA Why don't you leave?
VANESSA If you sell your salvage, it must go somewhere. Someone must be buying it. Why don't you just go, too?
VANESSA You say it's a full time job just keeping this place from falling down around your ears. So find another place.
GRANT But this is my home. I was born right here in Millie.
VANESSA It is falling apart. I hope you don't think I plan to stay here with you.
GRANT [beat, then neutral] Course not. But you do owe me.
VANESSA [indignant again] Owe you?
GRANT I rescued you. I pulled your damn pod in here and I woke you up.
VANESSA That's --
GRANT And I've been feeding you and letting you breathe my air - which ain't cheap, I should point out.
VANESSA Then let me get out of your air.
GRANT First you gotta ... you know...pay me back.
VANESSA [suspicious] How, exactly?
SOUND ELECTRONIC REPAIR NOISES
VANESSA Damn! Bloody stone-age tools!
SOUND CLICK RADIO TURNS ON, VERY CLEAR AND NO STATIC
GRANT [on radio] What?
VANESSA [a little winded] I patched your antenna into the router from the pod's emergency signal - some serious interface issues, let me tell you - but you should get much clearer signals now.
GRANT [on radio] [congratulatory] Damn.
SOUND CLANK OF METAL DROPPED
GRANT Everything all right?
VANESSA Half my damn solar cells were damaged in the landing.
VANESSA I was thinking I'd jury rig them into something, get you a little extra free power. Bloody hell.
SOUND SOLDERING IRON SPARKS, STOPS, FACEPLATE UP
GRANT That's a nice bead right there.
VANESSA Yeah, I think I'm getting the hang of it. Now watch this. [command] Chicken!
SOUND VENDING MACHINE RUMBLES, THEN CLUNKS
GRANT Holy cow!
VANESSA Well, chicken, but yes - you get the idea. I still have to code the machine's other foodstuff options in for voice. I'll need to get your voice into the system sometime, too.
GRANT [mood dropping] Right. O'course. So I can do it myself.
VANESSA [not noticing] Absolutely.
VANESSA You didn't have any trouble making contact? I appear to be at the very arse end of the cloud, so they're out of my range from here. Damn these archaic --
YASMIN I... got them. You may be disappointed, though.
YASMIN Helen 74589, and Griselda 80281 ... um... do not ... wish to participate.
VANESSA What are you saying?
YASMIN They have become attached to this place.
VANESSA How the blazes--?
YASMIN Griselda declined any details, but Helen seems to find some - companionship in the man Conrad and his children.
VANESSA [disparaging] Children. At least we've only got men to deal with.
YASMIN [iffy note] Yes.
SOUND MACHINE DISPENSES FOOD
VANESSA Sit down.
GRANT Sit? Why? I always eat standing.
VANESSA You practically sleep standing. I have never seen you relax.
GRANT Last time I just sat and waited was...
GRANT [evasive] Don't know. doesn't matter.
VANESSA Why not sit?
GRANT Too much to do.
SOUND BEAT, THEN SQUEAK OF A CHAIR
VANESSA Haven't I helped at all?
GRANT Oh, yeah - many hands make light work, like momma used to say, but there's always more to do. [beat] But the repairs are real good. If this keeps up, I can maybe repressurize capsule 14. [trails off]
VANESSA Do you need the space?
GRANT [hurt but covering] Never hurts - could put some more hydroponics in there, maybe put in some greens and generate oxy of my own. Why not? It's like minting money.
VANESSA You'd be better off with algae tanks. They take more processing to make them palatable for eating - much more - but they've been genetically manipulated to give a much higher O2 to cubic foot ratio, and they require less nutrient.
GRANT I'd have to get it from somewhere--
VANESSA Shouldn't be difficult - most cruisers have algae tanks, and all you need is a dip to start with and some growth media. The tank - well you could pretty much put anything together, if you're not too concerned about sterile edible conditions - but for oxy production, anything that will contain the growth medium and keep the temp stable will do. You'll need U-V simulators, too--
GRANT Yeah. [sigh] Maybe you can send me some when you get home.
VANESSA --you could re-make one room for food plant growth and have the algae - What?
VANESSA There's even better technology out there, you know. I'm surprised you're not more curious.
GRANT Well, I figure it's like this - of all you've talked about so far, doors that listen and whatever, this algae thing is the only one that seems like it'd fit into my life. Everything else is like - so far beyond me, I don't see it mattering much.
VANESSA But you would know. You would have something to - to work toward.
GRANT Something to chase? Something to... miss. Something to worry about not having? Nah. I figure, easier just to assume you're gonna tell me you can shit blueberry cobbler - it's all well and good, but I don't wanna do it. And goodness knows I don't wanna eat it.
VANESSA [laughing] Cobbler?
GRANT I-I got things to do.
VANESSA Let me help.
GRANT [breath] Nah. It's all outside - I gotta hawk in some stuff.
VANESSA [brightening a bit] Outside? In a suit?
GRANT [very unhappy] Yes.
VANESSA Let me help!
VANESSA Why? Are you afraid I'll run away?
GRANT [muttered] No, just ...float away.
SOUND HE GETS UP
GRANT It's my job. I have to do it.
VANESSA Do you have two suits?
VANESSA Many hands make light work.
GRANT [thinks, then] No.
VANESSA Look, I've put in my 100 hours on simulators, plus over 300 hours working on the hull in stagnant space. Goodness - you've even got gravity here--
GRANT Minimal gravity.
VANESSA Point is, I know my way around a suit!
GRANT [finally snappish] Look! If things didn't have to be done, I'd never get into one of those damn things myself! There's no way I'd put you in that kind of danger.
VANESSA You don't - you don't like being out there?
SOUND DOOR WHOOSHES OPEN
VANESSA But - but I enjoy--
SOUND HIS FOOTSTEPS EXIT
GRANT You don't want to be here and that's fine. I'd rather see you leave on the cargo ship than [barely controlled] floating off into blackness...
SOUND DOOR SHUTS
VANESSA Can you ask your Lassiter something?
YASMIN [on filter] You can talk to him yourself.
VANESSA I just want to know about suit drifts in this area.
VANESSA [overly casual] Just something Grant said.
YASMIN Ah, here he is - You can help Vanessa, can't you? [teasing, fond noise] Hmm?
LASSITER [on filter] Sure. What you need? [snickers, then aside] Stop that!
SOUND DISPENSER DISPENSES FOOD
VANESSA How old were you?
GRANT [completely startled] what?
VANESSA When your father drifted?
GRANT [tightly controlled] Why do you care? You don't even have a father. [beat] I should get back to--
VANESSA No. Unless you actually physically move me, you're not leaving this room. Talk to me.
GRANT [mumbled] I don't want to talk to you.
GRANT [swallows, then sighs, speaks very quietly] The more I talk to you, the more I'll miss having someone to talk to - later. [sniff] Get out of my way.
VANESSA No. I've lost people in space too - I did my time in the corps, shipboard accidents... I- I understand.
GRANT It's different with family.
VANESSA Show me.
GRANT I was 12 when my father's line got tangled, and he had to cut it - then something in the piece he was salvaging blew, and - it took forever for him to be completely out of sight - he kept talking right up to the edge of radio range....
VANESSA [pause, then sincere, if dry] I feel for you.
GRANT Thank you.
VANESSA I wish I knew what to say.
GRANT That's all right. [deep breath] I've got work to do.
SOUND HE WALKS AWAY
VANESSA Your food?
SOUND HE DOESN'T SLOW - DOOR SHUTS
VANESSA How do you talk to them?
YASMIN [arch] It's not always in the talking. What's wrong?
VANESSA I want to - offer him sympathy, but he just walks out of the room. He says he... just wants to ignore me until I leave.
YASMIN Are you still planning to leave?
VANESSA Aren't you?
YASMIN Well. No.
VANESSA Why? Is it the sex?
YASMIN Well... That's part of it - you have to admit it's kind of fun.
VANESSA I don't - haven't.
YASMIN Maybe that's why he's avoiding you.
VANESSA But don't you want to go back to your job? Your home? Don't you want your life to have some meaning?
YASMIN Meaning? What meaning?
VANESSA I was on the way to making full chief engineer - and I would have been the youngest to reach that grade. Ever,
YASMIN [dry] You would have impressed everyone.
VANESSA Don't talk like that about my goal. The point of ... everything.
YASMIN And who benefited from this goal?
VANESSA I would. The ship would. Everyone on it.
YASMIN And someday someone would reach that rank even younger, and when you retired, someone else who could do the job just as well would take over, and no one would even remember you.
VANESSA I would--
YASMIN Unless you did something like - I don't know - discover an alien race or die to save a bunch of people - but how often does that really happen?
VANESSA I once prevented an explosion because I spotted a faulty valve.
YASMIN And I'll bet every person you saved came and thanked you.
VANESSA [somewhat dissatisfied] The point of preventing a disaster is so that no one knows they were ever in danger.
AMBIANCE SPACESUIT. BUZZ, BREATHER, ECHO
SOUND BOTH - this scene - on filter throughout
VANESSA You needed help--? Oh!
GRANT It's jammed. I can't shift it alone.
VANESSA I see. Hold on.
SOUND METAL IMPACT
GRANT Is your line secure?
VANESSA Yes. I checked and double checked. Hmm.
GRANT Do you think the person inside is still all right?
VANESSA Won't know if she is till we clear some of this debris. [beat] Looks like it still has some power.
GRANT Help me shift this plate - I think it'll clear some of this.
VANESSA Hold on - No, not that. There's too much leaning on it, and we don't know which way it'll fall.
GRANT What then?
VANESSA Um.... This. I think this is the key piece, and I don't see anything it can bring down with it.
BOTH [Grunt with effort]
SOUND A BUNCH OF STUFF SHIFTS
GRANT Ah hell.
VANESSA What? [seeing the damage] Oh.
GRANT At least we should be able to get it clear, now.
VANESSA Let's lighten the load - get the corpse out of there.
GRANT You want to just dump her out, right here?
VANESSA Why not? She's dead.
GRANT She still deserves some respect. I'll do it, if you don't want to be bothered.
VANESSA Do what?
GRANT Bury her.
SOUND HATCH SHUTS, HELMETS COME OFF. SOUND OF REMOVING SPACE SUITS
SOUND SOMETHING DROPS
VANESSA [sharp gasp]
GRANT Hey? What's wrong?
VANESSA [in pain] Nothing.
GRANT Let me-- [sigh] You shoulda come back in earlier - your fingers are nearly blue. I told you the heat circulation in that suit ain't up to snuff.
VANESSA I'm fine.
GRANT Give me your hands.
GRANT Let me warm your hands fro you.
SOUND BEAT, THEN SKIN ON SKIN, AS HE SLOWLY CHAFES HER HAND.
VANESSA How do you do that?
VANESSA [gasp] Your hands are... warm.
GRANT They just come that way. Here, hold your hand here while I--
VANESSA In your jacket?
GRANT Just do it. Give me the other one.
SOUND SLOW CHAFING AGAIN
VANESSA They're fine now. I'll go and--
GRANT I don't like that nail color there. Can you feel this?
VANESSA Yes. I'm perfectly capable of--
VANESSA [a bit more irritated] Yes. I know what the--
VANESSA --difficulties with cold can be, and-- what?
VANESSA [startled] No.
GRANT Here. [puts her finger into his mouth]
VANESSA [long gasp, startled, amazed, and aroused]
GRANT [talking around her finger] Stop squirming.
VANESSA Let - let go. Let go!
GRANT Need to get the circulation back. Heat and suction.
SOUND SLIGHT STRUGGLE, SHE PULLS HER HAND FREE
GRANT [mouth noise] Look. Whatever it is you don't like about this - is it worth losing a finger over?
VANESSA [long beat, erratic breathing] No. [gasp as he takes her finger again]
GRANT [talking on the radio] Thanks for the heads up Lassiter, but it'll happen or it won't. Glad you're doing well, and... and congrats.
LASSITER We're real happy.
SOUND CHAIR TURNS
GRANT [startled] Oh!
GRANT Lassiter and Yasmin are pregnant.
VANESSA [bothered] Oh.
GRANT Well, they're pleased.
VANESSA I didn't mean to sound... I'm just confused.
GRANT Well, it won't be for much longer. Quarterly cargo ship will be here in the next couple of hours.
GRANT Don't worry - by my calculations - we're pretty much square, in fact you're a bit ahead, hooking up those solar panels and all--
GRANT So I'll just cover the cost of your trip, at least as far as--
GRANT Damn, now you got me lost.
VANESSA Grant, I--
GRANT I appreciate your help here... Vanessa. Got me ahead of my schedule. [cracking a little] Um, I should go and get the cargo ready.
SOUND CHAIR SQUEAK, FOOTSTEPS, THEY STOP
VANESSA Grant. I need to know something.
GRANT Whatever I can help with.
VANESSA Would you-- Do you-- [a breath] What will you do?
VANESSA If - when - if I go.
GRANT Same as I done before. Nothing's gonna change.
VANESSA You should have kept Yasmin or Helen - they love it here.
GRANT Yasmin loves Lassiter. And Helen--
VANESSA [snapping him back] Grant. Why me?
GRANT [muttered] You're ...the prettiest.
VANESSA I ...am?
GRANT Yup. I looked at you and I knew that if I was ever gonna take a chance, it'd have to be on that one. [sniff]
VANESSA Tell me you want me to stay.
VANESSA You don't - want - ?
GRANT You go home. Have a good life. I got cargo to move.
SOUND HE SHOVES PAST HER
SOUND RADIO TURNS ON
LASSITER Grant? You there?
GRANT Um - yeah.
LASSITER How'd it go?
GRANT I'm doing all right. Even ordered an algae starter culture.
LASSITER But your ...lady--?
GRANT Oh, I'm still ahead, even after her ticket--
LASSITER Ticket? Ticket? You let her leave?
GRANT Course. [breaking down] She - sh-she don't belong to me.
LASSITER She woulda gotten used to it.
GRANT I had to get used to being all alone. How could I do that to--?
VANESSA --to me?
SOUND CHAIR TURNS FAST
GRANT What-- What happened? Did they-? Did you miss it?
LASSITER Grant? Grant?
VANESSA I decided there was a better use for the cost of my passage - negotiated for three more solar panels, and a couple more oxygen tanks for the suits.
GRANT I don't understand.
VANESSA It was what Yasmin said, about being important to someone.
GRANT But I never said you were--
VANESSA You said it every time you couldn't look me in the face.
GRANT But what do we do now?
VANESSA We build a tank for the algae. Many hands make light work.
GRANT Many hands make light work.
VANESSA Oh, yes, and--
SOUND NOISY KISS, RUSTLE OF AN EMBRACE
VANESSA Not bad. You could use a little practice.
GRANT [gasping a bit for breath, making a joke] Well - I may have had my 100 - and then some - hours of simulation, but I never actually took one of those there out for a spin.
VANESSA [chuckles] Wait till you see the rest of the equipment...!
OLIVIA Now that you know how to find us, you'll have to come back. Maybe next week? Don't be a stranger - we have enough of those already...