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May 22, 2022

1.01 \\ A Way Out


Rho escapes from a facility that has been holding her hostage only to be pursued by law enforcement and get kidnapped, making her a hostage once more, just under different circumstances. Clearly, this isn't her day...

Cast (in order of appearance):

Stef Howerton -- Rho

Jennifer Trela -- Voice

Jason Bell -- Guard 1

Aubryn Stevens -- Guard 2

Newton Schottelkotte -- Atalanta "Atta" Harris

David Ault -- First Mate Edward Whitlaw

Allen Chan -- Navigational Officer Warren Lee

David S. Dear -- Medical Officer Garyn Beikirch

Stephanie Tobin -- Captain Lillian Dunne

Karim Kronfli -- Dr. Karl Amos

Lindsay Zana -- Dr. Cicely Bennett

 

Music: Tim Rosko

Sound Design: Brad Colbroock

Written, Directed, and Produced by Stef Howerton

Show Art by Stef Howerton

Photography by Francesco Ungaro

 

Visit spectrepod.com for more information, transcripts, press kit, and cast details!



Support this podcast at — https://redcircle.com/spectre/donations

Thanks so much for listening! <3

Transcript

SHOWRUNNER: SPECTRE is intended for mature audiences. Listener discretion is advised.

[SFX: The theme music plays fully, beginning with a haunting, dark humming that escalates into an electronic melody with a surging arpeggio that pushes the tempo forward. It ends in a fade, punctuated by a high-tone chord that reverberates into silence.]

[SFX: It's a serene night at the shipping docks of the Oswego spaceport. The open air is chilled by the darkness in the sky, and various machinery placed strategically around the docks perform their duties as intended. It's just another night like any other, only...

[SFX: RHO, breathing heavily, sprints for her life as sirens echo behind her in the distance. She's running out of options.]

RHO: (breathless) Shit, shit, shit!

VOICE: (via overhead speakers) Be advised, there is a trespasser on the shipping dock. If you come across anyone without the proper credentials, do not engage. Retreat and report your sighting over your comms unit.

RHO: Oh, you've got to be kidding me!

VOICE: (via overhead speakers) I repeat: Do. Not. Engage. They are considered armed and incredibly dangerous.

RHO: Armed? With what?!

[SFX: Voices behind her close in on her but are relatively distant. She has time, but not much. RHO slows her pace as she considers her next move.]

GUARD 1: (from a distance) I think she went this way!

GUARD 2: You go left! I'll go right! Circle around and meet on the other side!

[SFX: RHO picks up her pace, searching for somewhere - anywhere - to disappear. The voices and footsteps are uncomfortably close. Spotting a potential hiding spot, she lifts the heavy lid of a large shipping crate and pushes it to the side, allowing just enough space for her to slip in. She jumps in before she realizes it's filled with jagged plastic and metal scraps, and her breath catches in her throat as she controls the cry that's fighting to rip out of her. RHO pulls the lid back over herself and attempts to slow her breathing, but it overlays the following conversation.]

GUARD 2: (panting) Did you -- did you see her?

GUARD 1: (panting) What do you think?

GUARD 2: Well, she didn't just disappear. She's got to be here somewhere.

GUARD 1: Go check over there. Looks like there's a gap between that big pile of crates. She could have squeezed between.

GUARD 2: What, and you're just going to stand here?

GUARD 1: No, you dumbass. I'm going to check on the other side. See if there are any hiding places.

[SFX: The GUARDs walk away from RHO's crate, and she relaxes slightly. RHO's breathing gradually slows, and movement inside the crate lessens.]

VOICE: To the trespasser on my dock, I urge you to turn yourself in. In just a minute or two, this slab of concrete will be crawling with the police. There's no way you can escape.

RHO: (quietly) Yeah, not likely, bud.

[SFX: RHO immediately quiets herself as the GUARDs return.]

GUARD 1: Nothing over on the other side.

GUARD 2: Didn't find anything in between the crates either.

GUARD 2: (over comms unit) Unit x-ray victor two niner reporting. Our sector is clear. No signs of her.

[SFX: The overhead sirens stop.]

GUARD 1: (over comms unit) Belay that. We can't be sure she's not hiding somewhere. There are stacks upon stacks of crates over here.

GUARD 2: (to GUARD 1, comms off) Seriously, man? You're making me look bad.

GUARD 1: Well, I'd rather you look bad than not find her and have her kill us all because you issued the all-clear.

GUARD 2: She's just one person. I think we can handle her.

GUARD 1: Did you read the APB at all?

GUARD 2: Sure, but I figured that was all a bunch of hot air.

GUARD 1: All I know is that I'm running for cover if I see her. Call me a coward, but if she can toss a whole-ass personal transport into the air like it's a piece of paper, I don't stand a chance.

[SFX: Ominous music plays in the background.]

GUARD 2: You're probably right. (beat) How do they even expect us to find her in this mess? Containers everywhere.

[SFX: RHO struggles to regulate her breathing as the GUARDs circle around her.]

GUARD 1: I doubt she's even here anymore. If I could do what she can do, I'd strong-arm my way past all the security checkpoints and get on the next flight off this rock.

GUARD 2: That's the thing, though. If the APB is one hundred percent truth, she didn't even touch the thing. It just flipped into the air, slammed into a concrete column, and boom. Like she did it with her mind or something.

GUARD 1: (doubtful) Yeah, no way that's how it happened. She's human, right?

GUARD 2: Supposedly. That's what your precious APB said.

[SFX: The GUARDs walk away, and their voices fade.]

GUARD 1: Well, might as well cover the rest of this area before…

[SFX: There is a long beat of silence with only Rho's breathing as she waits for safety. Once she is confident that the GUARDs are no longer around, she exhales. The music continues on.]

RHO: (quietly, internalizing) Okay. What to do? Uh... Getting out of the box would be a good start. 

[SFX: RHO starts to move, and the plastic and metal surrounding her scrape ruthlessly at her skin and clothes. She freezes partly out of excruciating pain but also because the sirens reinvigorate, and great deal of shouting blooms in the distance. The sound of a ship flying overhead lessens the sirens slightly.]

[SFX: Just as she is about to reopen the lid of her crate to inspect her surroundings, she hears a light drone of some kind of equipment whirring overhead. After a few moments, the whirring gives way to a loud clanking sound as something unseen latches onto RHO's crate.]

UNKNOWN: What? Who are you? Huh?

[SFX: Rho gasps as the crate suddenly lurches, lifting off the ground. The whirring begins again, and RHO is tossed around inside the crate as it sways back and forth in the air.]

RHO: Augh!

[SFX: RHO struggles against the walls of the crate as she is tossed back and forth.]

RHO: Damn it!

[SFX: RHO's breathing quickens. Somewhere outside the crate, heavy, mechanical doors open.]

RHO: Think, Rho, think!

[SFX: The crate lands with a loud onto a hard surface, and the music fades to silence.]

ATTA: (slightly muffled) Payload secured. Closing bay doors now.

[SFX: The heavy doors close and re-pressurize, and the resulting clang echoes in what can only be assumed to be a cavernous room. RHO holds her breath as she waits for sounds of movement outside the crate.]

ATTA: (slightly muffled) Bay doors closed. Clear and ready for takeoff.

EDWARD: (over comms system, slightly muffled) Warren, get us up and out of here. Atta, we'll be down in a couple of minutes to inspect the payload once we've successfully passed through atmo. Do not open that crate until Warren, Garyn, and I are present. Copy?

ATTA: (slightly muffled) Roger. See ya in 2.

EDWARD: (over comms system, slightly muffled) Warren?

WARREN: (over comms system, slightly muffled) Hard copy. No hostiles in sight or on sensors within the immediate vicinity, but we have a large group approaching... fast. T-minus 30 seconds 'til take off.

[SFX: Engines warm up in the distance, and a low rumble vibrates the crate with intensity.]

EDWARD: Understood. Atta, I'm serious. Don't open that--

ATTA: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Don't open the present and ruin the surprise. Get on down here.

EDWARD: I'll be there momentarily. I'll fetch Garyn on my way.

[SFX: The comm connection closes, and ATTA approaches the crate slowly.]

ATTA: (slightly muffled) So... what's in here that we traveled all the way to Kilo Twenty-Two Bravo for it?

[SFX: Atta taps lightly on the crate with something solid. RHO holds her breath.]

ATTA: (slightly muffled) And who are you to tell anyone that I took a peek?

[SFX: ATTA releases the catch on one side of the container and lifts a corner.]

EDWARD: (dialogue becoming clearer as the container opens) Surely you're not disobeying a direct order, are you, Atalanta Harris?

[SFX: ATTA calmly lowers the corner of the container, re-muffling the conversation.]

ATTA: (slightly muffled) Not fair. You know I love a good mystery. I mean, you had us come this far, so it's probably something really good, right? Don't I get a little bitty hint? Hmm?

[SFX: ATTA takes a few deliberately slow steps away from the crate and toward EDWARD.]

EDWARD: I don't know why you continue to try this on me. You know it won't work.

ATTA: Hmph. My fun is wasted on you.

EDWARD: I’ll pretend I didn’t hear that…

[SFX: Several additional pairs of footsteps approach.]

WARREN: That's it? That's what we picked up? It's trash.

GARYN: Details? Abnormal for me to be included on a pilfering mission debrief, especially for scraps.

ATTA: Apparently, our dear, sweet Eddie doesn't feel like throwing us any bones today.

EDWARD: Atta, please. (beat) Let's get the lid off. Warren?

[SFX: The lid is lifted, and the cargo bay of the Spectre erupts into sudden chaos. RHO is pulled out of the crate, plastic and metal chips spilling all over the grated flooring.]

ATTA: Who are you?!

EDWARD: Atta, release her immediately!

WARREN: The hell is this… ?

[SFX: RHO sputters as she tries to speak, but ATTA has her in a choke-hold with the mechanical arm of a high-tech mercenary suit. The room begins to spin around her, voices echoing and distant.]

ATTA'S SUIT: Weapons systems activated.

EDWARD: Atta! Stand down!

ATTA: What, and let go of the stowaway? My primary orders are to--

EDWARD: (deliberately) Atta, as First Mate on board this ship, I will remove you from your position if you do not follow orders immediately. Stand down. I will not ask again.

[SFX: RHO continues to gasp and struggle as her vision begins to spot. She claws against the metal of the mechanical arm in vain.]

ATTA: (sighing) Fine.

ATTA’S SUIT: Weapons systems deactivated.

[SFX: RHO crumbles to the ground with a thud. She coughs as she struggles to fill her lungs. The world begins to fade and warp around her as she fights for consciousness.]

EDWARD: (fading out, to GARYN) Garyn, see to her. (to ATTA) Atta, go to your quarters immediately. And do not step foot outside of them until I send word. (to WARREN) Warren, bridge.

[SFX: As EDWARD leaves, the background noise fades into dark, short transition music which then transitions into the medbay with medical machinery beeps monitoring RHO’s vitals. Mental fog fuzzes all sounds as she comes to.]

[SFX: Ominous transition music]

EDWARD: (fading in) ... that's the thing. I told her it would severely impact her annual performance review. She didn't take too kindly to that, of course.

GARYN: Not surprising. Atta has never taken criticism well.

EDWARD: If she wasn't such an asset, I'd toss her out of the airlock.

GARYN: (chuckling) C'mon, man. You and I both know you don't mean that. Besides, we'd be up shit creek without her muscle and her contacts.

EDWARD: (sighing) Eh, you're right, and she knows it. But she nearly killed her.

[SFX: RHO groans as she regains consciousness, and the heart monitor picks up tempo slightly.]

EDWARD: Ah, hello there. Please don't worry. You're safe.

RHO: (weakly) Where am I?

[SFX: RHO attempts to move, and metal constraints clang against bed rails. The heart monitor quickens again.]

RHO: (suddenly acutely aware) And why am I tied up?

EDWARD: Dreadfully sorry, but the safety of my ship and crew takes priority over the comfort of a stowaway. It's merely a precaution-

[SFX: RHO struggles with the restraints as she tries to sit up, but she doesn't have the energy to fight against them. She collapses back onto the bed.]

RHO: Stowaway? You guys picked me up. My memory- my memory is a little fuzzy, but I believe you strangled me as soon as you saw me.

EDWARD: Well, technically, Atta did that...

GARYN: We're sorry about that, ma'am. How are you feeling now?

RHO: Besides a splitting headache, I guess... just dandy.

[SFX: The beeping slows, and RHO fiddles with the wrist constraints.]

RHO: What are my chances of you getting these things off me if I ask really, really nicely?

EDWARD: (beat) It's fine. Garyn?

[SFX: GARYN removes the restraints, and RHO rubs her wrists.]

EDWARD: Do you have a name?

RHO: Rho. You can call me Rho.

EDWARD: It's nice to make your acquaintance, Rho. Welcome aboard the Spectre. Garyn here is the ship's Medical Officer, and I am First Mate on board.

RHO: Is this a military vessel?

[SFX: GARYN snorts at the suggestion.]

EDWARD: (chuckling) Quite the opposite, actually. We're as far removed from the military as possible, operating completely under our own domain.

RHO: So, what, you're pirates?

EDWARD: Oh, absolutely not. We're a privately owned shipping vessel. Captain Dunne owns the ship and pays us as contractors.

RHO: So... pirates.

EDWARD: If that's how you'd prefer to see us. (beat) I don't mean to pry - though perhaps I do - but I feel I would be remiss in not asking you why you were in that bin in the middle of the Oswego Spaceport shipping dock.

RHO: I was... dumpster diving.

GARYN: We weren't born yesterday.

EDWARD: I assure you, this will go much more smoothly if you're transparent with us.

RHO: (short beat, acquiescing) I was hiding.

EDWARD: From?

RHO: Some people who were after me.

EDWARD: Who?

RHO: No idea.

EDWARD: And why were they after you?

RHO: Can't be sure, honestly.

GARYN: Meaning?

RHO: Meaning I don't know.

EDWARD: Rho, we want to help you. But we need to trust each other, okay? Why don't you start at the beginning?

CAPTAIN LILLIAN DUNNE: (over comms system) Edward, report to the bridge immediately.

EDWARD: (sighing) Perfect timing as always. Rho, please consider your options here very carefully. I want to help get you where you need to go, but I can't do that without a little give from you. Garyn, please let me know if anything changes. (to RHO) Are you hungry? (to GARYN) Get her something to eat.

[SFX: EDWARD walks out of the Med Bay, the door sliding open and closed behind him, and there's a brief beat of silence.]

GARYN: Well, are you?

RHO: Am I what?

GARYN: Hungry.

RHO: (beat) I could eat.

GARYN: (viewing her stats) Well, you look alright. No permanent damage from oxygen deprivation, and the bruising on your neck and shoulders is clearing up. How many fingers am I holding up?

RHO: (jokingly) 42.

[SFX: GARYN clears his throat.]

RHO: Fine. 3. I can see now that you're not really one for humor.

GARYN: I am if it's funny.

[SFX: GARYN clicks a button on his personal comms unit.]

GARYN: Garyn to Mess Hall. Grape, prep an MRE for our stowaway.

[SFX: Rho scoffs.]

GRAPE: (over comms system) Copy.

RHO: I am not a stowaway. And Grape? Really?

GARYN: Yes. Really. Open.

RHO: (with her mouth open, severely garbled) I don't want to be here as much as you don't want me to be here.

GARYN: (frustrated) What?

RHO: Look, I-I don't want to be here, and I'm sure you and everyone else on board don't want me here either, so how about you drop me off at the nearest inhabited planet?

GARYN: Not up to me. I'm just a medic. Take a deep breath.

RHO: (inhaling deeply) Ok, so who do I need to schmooze to get off of this boat?

GARYN: Edward would be a good start. Deep breath again.

RHO: (breathing deeply) Edward? Who just left? What, can't I talk to the Captain?

GARYN: Well, Lillian is, uh... hands-off. Do you have pain anywhere?

RHO: (cringing) My lower back feels like it's on fire. I think the trash in that crate cut me or something.

GARYN: Your back has been tended to with nanites, so you should be feeling better - uh - in a few hours.

RHO: Ooh, fancy. What do you mean Lillian is hands-off?

GARYN: I said what I meant.

RHO: Sure, but how is she hands-off?

GARYN: You know, as someone who wants to get off this vessel so desperately, you seem to have a keen interest in the inner workings of our crew.

RHO: Up until a few minutes ago, you had me chained to a gurney. I have to entertain myself somehow.

GARYN: Up until a few minutes ago, you were unconscious. Look straight ahead.

RHO: Yeah, thanks to your friendly merc.

GARYN: (beat, coyly) Merc?

RHO: I'm not stupid. I may have some brain issues, but I'd recognize mercenary armor anywhere.

GARYN: Uh… brain issues?

RHO: It's nothing. Don't worry about it.

GARYN: No, I'm worried about it. I'm here to help. What issues?

RHO: (beat) My memory isn't so great, okay?

GARYN: ‘Kay, so are these memory issues recent or long-term? Stare straight ahead.

RHO: I don't know.

GARYN: What sort of things do you forget? Look up.

RHO: Pretty much everything.

GARYN: Okay.

[SFX: GARYN's chair creaks as he leans backward, focusing all of his attention on RHO.]

GARYN: And do the memories return?

RHO: Not yet.

GARYN: How long have you been experiencing memory loss?

RHO: I don't know.

GARYN: Explain.

RHO: Nothing to explain. I-I don't know. I don't remember.

GARYN: Hm. (beat) How far back does the memory loss go?

RHO: Back to when I was a teenager, maybe. A decade or so if I'm guessing my age correctly.

GARYN: And you don't remember anything between your teenage years and now?

RHO: Little vague snippets, but that's about it. It's-it's all one big, nebulous blur. (beat) Look, I know you're probably super interested in my medical defects, but I have a raging headache, and I'd prefer not to think anymore until it goes away.

GARYN: Uh-huh. Understood. Rest a bit, and we'll continue once you've recovered some more.

[SFX: GARYN begins to leave, but RHO stops him.]

RHO: Hey, Garyn?

GARYN: Yes?

RHO: (beat, tense) Am I stuck here?

GARYN: Not up to me.

[SFX: GARYN steps out of the medbay, the door sliding open and closed behind him. RHO is left alone, only the medical machinery chirping around her to keep her company.]

RHO: Excellent.

[SFX: The heart monitor beeps continue briefly and fade to transition music which then fades into the sounds of a code being typed into a comms unit. The line begins to ring, and after a few moments, it’s picked up.]

[SFX: Transition music]

  1. KARL AMOS: (over the comms line) Yes?
  2. CICELY BENNETT: Dr. Amos, we've... we have a problem.

KARL: A problem?

CICELY: Yes, sir.

KARL: (beat, annoyed) Care to provide details?

CICELY: (beat, nervous) It's Rho. She's... she's gone.

KARL: When?

CICELY: Around an hour and a half ago.

KARL: How?

CICELY: She killed one of the guards. Blunt force trauma. It looks like she threw him against the wall. And then she just... left. I told you we didn’t have enough security.

KARL: Threw him?

CICELY: That's all we can figure. There's blood and brain matter high up on the wall where we think the impact happened.

KARL: Any other casualties?

CICELY: Not that we've found.

KARL: Does the deceased have family in town?

CICELY: Not in town, no. They're over in the West somewhere. They won't ask questions.

KARL: Is there CCTV of the assault?

CICELY: No. She somehow positioned herself perfectly in the middle of a blind spot. Dumb luck.

KARL: (short beat) Any indication of this being beyond her normal capabilities?

CICELY: Karl, she killed a man by throwing him against the wall. Of course this is beyond --

KARL: Any specifics in how they manifested? Are we looking at elevated strength? Telekinesis?

CICELY: We can't be sure.

KARL: What do her vitals and tracking look like? (long beat) Cicely?

CICELY: The unit is shorted out.

KARL: (long beat, restrained fury) How?

[SFX: CICELY types feverishly into a computer.]

CICELY: I don't know. I'm looking at the reports now, and there was a huge spike in her levels, and then... nothing. Blank. And her GPS tracking is dead too.

KARL: Is IT looking into it?

CICELY: Yes. They're doing everything they can, but it doesn't look good. The entire unit may be malfunctioning... fully offline.

KARL: (beat, ominous) You can imagine that this news does not make me happy, Cicely.

CICELY: I-I know, Dr. Amos. We did everything to make sure that--

KARL: Clearly not everything.

CICELY: There is no way we could have prepared for anything like this!

KARL: (deliberate) Cicely, I'm not looking for excuses. I'll be flying in tomorrow, and I expect her to be retrieved and back in her room by the time I arrive. Sedate her if necessary.

CICELY: Karl, I can't--

[SFX: The phone line goes dead, and the background fades into the SPECTRE theme song, which plays while the closing credits run.]

SHOWRUNNER: You have just been listening to the premiere episode of SPECTRE, an indie, sci-fi, audio drama podcast. I'm Stef Howerton, the creator and showrunner, and I am so glad that you chose to spend some time with us today. If you have a moment, I'd appreciate it if you could rate and review Spectre on your podcast platform of choice. It’s a really great and easy way to help new listeners find the show, and the more people who listen, the more we can do with it in future episodes. This episode featured the voice talents of myself, Stef Howerton, as Rho, Allen Chan as Warren Lee, David Ault as Edward Whitlaw, David S. Dear as Garyn Beikirch, Newton Schottelkotte as Atalanta Harris, Stephanie Tobin as Lillian Dunne, Marcus Rothenberg as Grape, Karim Kronfli as Dr. Karl Amos, and Lindsay Zana as Dr. Cicely Bennett. Our ensemble characters were voiced by Jason Bell, Jennifer Trela, and Abryn Stevens. Sound Design by Brad Colbroock, and Music by Tim Rosko. For a written list of credits and a full script of this episode, please visit spectrepod.com - that's s-p-e-c-t-r-e-pod.com. You can also chat with us on Twitter or Instagram via the handle @spectrepod. Thank you so much again for spending part of your day with us. There are a plethora of great podcasts to listen to out there, and I'm so honored that you opted to listen to Spectre. Have an absolutely wonderful day.

[SFX: The theme music fades to silence.]