Episode 4, “The Making of a Killing” | Transcript


[Ambient hum sounds as Isobel begins to log her experiment into Monitor Two.]

MONITOR TWO: Good morning, Isobel.

ISOBEL: Monitor, open new experiment. Save as X1-B.

MONITOR TWO: Saving… What is the hypothesis of X1-B?

ISOBEL: Atemporality as a problem-solving approach and way of life.

MONITOR TWO: What are your qualifications for this experiment?

ISOBEL: I’m currently the only known human survivor of Archive Resurrection Tech.

MONITOR TWO: Will you require any external equipment for your experiment?


MONITOR TWO: Describe your approach.

ISOBEL: They’re called time jumps. I will access different points in my own timeline by visualizing my own muscle memory. Consistent, intense acceleration opens access to those points in my history.

MONITOR TWO: Is there precedent for this experiment?


MONITOR TWO: Do you have any data related to these previous experiments?

ISOBEL: Uh. Next field, Monitor. Expedite.

MONITOR TWO: Sorry, Isobel. You requested a higher level of granularity for research purposes. I’ll attempt to expedite. What is your destination?

ISOBEL: Y Corp HQ. Where my father is in cold freeze. Shortly before the first collapse of SubTerra.

MONITOR TWO: What are the risks?

ISOBEL: (frustrated, faster) Shit. Um. Inability to return to my current point in time. Compromising my cellular integrity while in transit. Inadvertently interfering with positive outcomes from the past. A loss of trust in my own judgment and sanity. Injury and death.

MONITOR TWO: Lastly, describe the value that X1-B can have for the residents of SubTerra One.

ISOBEL: Access to better technology. The ability to shape the future.

[I/O theme plays; melancholy electronic music]


[Massive explosion]

[Screams and chaos]

CALEB: (growling) Viva SubTerra!

[Motorcycle speeds away]

[Implant phone rings]

CALEB: Call Devandra.


DEVANDRA: (recorded) This is Dee. Leave a message.

CALEB: It’s done.


[Crowd chatters]

DWAYNE: Good evening, everyone. I assume you’ve all seen the news on your feeds about the bombing in SF. Now here’s the facts: five are dead, FIFTEEN are critically injured. Someone at the scene yelled, quote, “Viva subterra” just after the incident. And that’s all I know. We have no idea whether the bomber was actually from Subterra, though I doubt they were. We’re hearing rumors that this bombing will be used to justify a massive underground infrastructure project, one that will displace many of us from our homes.

SUBTERRA RESIDENT: Massive infrastructure project is just a nice way to say there’s a big-ass drill busting through our walls. It’s time to fight back, Dwayne.

DWAYNE: I understand your concern, my friend, but we need cool heads right now. For the safety of everyone, I’m beginning evacuation procedures. All SubTerra residents must report to the Vault by this time tomorrow.

[Murmurs of shock]

DWAYNE: Sue, you want to say something?

RAD SUE: Thanks, Dwayne. To all the friends and allies of SubTerra, I assure you, this is not defeat. This is precaution. We can rebuild anything they destroy. Anything but our bodies. Let’s all work together to ensure our safety not just for today, but for the future of our community.

DWAYNE: Couldn’t’ve said it better. Now if you have any questions for me, you know where to find me. I’m not sleeping anytime soon. Otherwise, see you all in the Vault.

[We hear Scout panting as he runs towards Dwayne]

SCOUT: Dwayne! (louder) Hey, Dwayne!

DWAYNE: Scout, what’s up?

SCOUT: (out of breath) Okay…Okay… First of all, Adnan used the Hex Set for like a full-on James Bond escape deal.

DWAYNE: Wait, what? Please walk me through those words again, but much slower.

SCOUT: Okay, so Adnan, the guy you introduced me to? He used my, like, phone, wallet, ID, implant-ish hat thingy to get around SF, to buy shit, and he just sent me a freakin’ text message from it.

DWAYNE: (concerned) Uh-huh. And what did this message say?

SCOUT: He’s trying to get out of SF, which, I mean, I showed him how to get in, getting out is, like, nothing compared–

DWAYNE: Wait, so he’s trying to get out and now he wants your help? No, no, no. Come with us to the Vault. You’re in danger anywhere else.

SCOUT: No way! I’ve never gotten this close with any of my experiments. This is groundbreaking shit.

DWAYNE: I understand that. But you will have time to get back to your experiments after we lock up.

SCOUT: Do you even understand the reason I was doing what I do? I’ve been waiting a long time for a chance to get in there and do something real. To make an actual difference to the underground, not just messing with my toys or whatever.

DWAYNE: Scout, you know I respect what you do.

SCOUT: You say you do. But you never show me.

DWAYNE: (sighs) I owe you one. I admit it. But please, let’s forget about Adnan for now. It’s just not worth the risk to save his ass again.

SCOUT: Don’t you get it, Dwayne? He did it. He did what he said what he was going to do.

DWAYNE: Wait, are you for real?

SCOUT: Yes. We’re gonna build Archive.


[Doors swoosh open.]

MAGGIE: Mr. Tau, Alfonso King is here for your 1:30.

TAU: Please, send him in.

[ALFONSO KING (early 40s, hulking Republican dude) stomps in to the office.]

KING: Gabriel Tau, it’s an honor.

TAU: That’s very kind of you but I recommend holding your praise, until– (pauses) Thank you, Maggie. We have what we need.

MAGGIE: Oh. Oh, right.

[Maggie leaves.]

TAU: (quieter) You know, I’ve always tried to be discreet but I’ve reason to believe I could stand to be… even more so.

KING: That is the sign of a man whose star is on the rise. But, a true leader knows when to load off certain responsibilities. You’re a bold man with big ideas, Mr. Tau; shit I can’t even begin to dream up. But you need protection — real protection for you and your city. I’m not talking brute thug shit, either: I’ve got black ops and deep technical experience. 12 years, Navy Seals. You’re the mind, I’ll be the skull.

TAU: The mind and the skull — good metaphor. Question for you: King is not your given last name, is it?

KING: No, it’s Reyes. I don’t have any shame in my heritage. King was just part of the whole personal brand thing when I struck out on my own.

TAU: Right. Remind me of your path post-military up to now.

KING: Consulted for maybe a month or two before I started my stint with ICE [“ice”]. Replaced my boss. Went on to a leadership role at DHS. [“dee aich ess”]

TAU: Then you went back to consulting?

KING: Pays better.

TAU: So what is it about heading up my security team, answering to me and my investors, and having a much, much higher level of accountability that’s enticing you to give up being your own boss for a second time?

KING: (chuckles) Look, I thought busting heads for six figures was the dream, right? But the big pull with the Seals, with ICE, with DHS: feeling like I was part of something bigger than just gettin’ mine. I’ve done my research. I like the way you operate, Mr. Tau. You don’t just think big picture, you act big picture. Your vision for expanding SF — that’s gonna go in the history books. And I’m just happy to be a footnote in there.

TAU: Well, I admire your faith, Mr. King. I really do. But this is going to mean making some hard decisions. And looking like a real asshole while doing so, quite frankly.

KING: Lay it on me. I’m ready.

TAU: Very well. Your first responsibility will be to support a massive drilling infrastructure project — we’re expanding the city below ground. You’ll help me pitch this on live news feeds. I’ll talk high level, you talk execution.

KING: Not a problem, Gabriel. Way I see it, we’ve got the whole city under our thumb right now.

TAU: Well, we have permission but we don’t have a positive perception. The Ciudad bombing was the worst terrorist attack in the history of San Francisco, and it happened on our watch. I need you to shoulder some of the responsibility when shit like this happens.


TAU: I’m sorry?

KING: No, I won’t. And you won’t, either.

TAU: What are you saying?

KING: We’re not gonna be on our back heels when terrorists strike. You’ve created a brilliant system for protecting the city and the attack actually validated that fact. It was a death rattle by insurgents who want this city to remain in the past. You want proof you’re on the cutting edge? Y Corp stock went up after the attack. The market has faith in you. San Francisco has faith in you.

TAU: I appreciate your positivity and your framing. But what is the action you’re proposing?

KING: You be the face of this response. Own the solution, be the hero. Let me be the one to underscore that we’re moving quickly with zero tolerance for backlash. And you come in to remind our viewers that there will be a path to citizenship for all underground residents who desire one. Just like you planned.

TAU: Alfonso, I must say: you’re good at this.


[Chill modern music plays against ambient restaurant sounds.]

DEVANDRA: Well, hello there, Caleb. My, you look… rough.

CALEB: Yeah, no shit. Tough day.

DEVANDRA: And I do appreciate you. Now, this place does a lovely steak frites — I insist you order it unless you’re feeling strongly otherwise. In the meantime, I took the liberty of ordering your favorite: single malt, neat.

[Caleb breathes deeply.]

DEVANDRA: (whispers) Why so quiet?

CALEB: I did what you asked. Just like you said. Just send me the payment so I can go home.

DEVANDRA: If you’re not enjoying this arrangement, I suggest you make the necessary adjustments to your role as soon as possible. There’s big changes coming and it’s later than you think. I do have to ask: did you leave the little memento like I asked? Or did you lose your stomach for that, too?

CALEB: Susan Rademacher’s implant is sitting on a marble countertop inside Ciudad.

DEVANDRA: Ooh, lovely. A toast, then. To the future.

CALEB: (laughing) The future of what?

DEVANDRA: Caleb, I realize you’re no scholar but surely you see where this is all going.

CALEB: I see this…all going to add some commas in my account.

DEVANDRA: I’m sure there’s easier ways to make a living.

CALEB: Nah. It takes me weeks of the usual hood shit people want to stack up to one job for you.

DEVANDRA: Well, I’m honored that my vision elevates your income bracket.

CALEB: Vision? (laughs) Is that what we’re calling Gabriel Tau killing civilians–

DEVANDRA: (hushed, angry) Watch what you say — about him and about any of this. He is a visionary and these are merely the growing pains of building a better future.

CALEB: Oh, okay. So framing Americans for terrorism is the future?

DEVANDRA: (mocking tone) “Framing Americans for–?” (seething) My goodness. Listen to yourself. Caleb, you need to upgrade your sense of good and evil from the children’s book version. The binary is no longer “right” or “wrong,” but rather “in” and “out.” And we, my dear, are in. All of this — the fence, the money — it’s for us. What’s right and what’s wrong are defined by what suit us. The people on the outside are the traitors. They race and scramble to keep up with our definition of the truth. And they will always be behind. Why do you think we police out there so much harder than in here? It’s so life in here can remain painless. When anyone pushes back in an attack like yesterday it never ever matters whose fault it was. The outside are the ones who pay the price.

CALEB: Wow. (pauses, exhales) You are a deeply crazy bitch.

DEVANDRA: Once you can elevate your perception of yourself from second-class citizenship and ascend to the height you dare not imagine for yourself, I assure you, we have a seat saved for you.

CALEB: Yeah, I don’t see it.

DEVANDRA: (miffed) Fine, do as you like. But you’ll never know what you’re missing.

CALEB: You know, part of me sincerely wants to see this all work out for you, just like you planned. But… (pauses, exhales) Part of me knows Gabriel Tau’s gonna get what he wants out of you then throw you out like trash.

DEVANDRA: Caleb, if you understood the full extent of my plans, well… (pauses, snickers) They wouldn’t be very good plans, would they?


[Scout’s hover car hums.]

ADNAN: Steel?

SCOUT: Yes. Steel girders, dynamically maintaining integrity along the rock walls. I have some really gnarly slabs we could use. They’ll straight annihilate a drill.

ADNAN: How many do you have?

SCOUT: Not enough. That’s where I need your help–

[Fleet of drones buzz overhead.]

SCOUT: Aaand the drones have found us.

EMERGENCY SYSTEM: Due to heightened security measures, all vehicles must return to the geo-fence subject to a complete inspection. Failure to comply will be regarded as an act of terrorism.

SCOUT: Ah, shit. Engaging the algorithm. Hopefully we can disappear but just gonna start mentally preparing for death.

[Drone swarm intensifies.]

ADNAN: It’s not working. They’re tightening up on us.

SCOUT: (shouting) Dammit!

ADNAN: (shouting back, anxious) Scout, go hard left. The drones are crowding you on your right.

SCOUT: Adnan, please please trust the algorithm! Don’t fight it! If we go hard left, they’ll fill the vacuum.

ADNAN: I’m telling you: hard left here and we’re in the clear.

SCOUT: Dude, these drones will shoot.

ADNAN: But it’s not just a simple hard left, it’s–

[Shots ring out.]

ADNAN: Shit! They’re shooting!

SCOUT: What did I just say?

ADNAN: You’re still keeping too close to the right.

SCOUT: It’s the algorithm.

ADNAN: It’s not that deep, though. Look, they’re not stealth bombers, they’re just cheap drones. If we make a quick enough break, they’re in such tight formation, they won’t change course. Most of them will just crash into each other.

SCOUT: Yeah?

ADNAN: I’m telling you.

SCOUT: All right, one… (pause) Two… (pause, louder) THREE. (grunt)

[A great electronic shift.]

[Laser shots ring out.]

[Drones crash.]

ADNAN: (laughs) Yes! You did it! Did you see that?! They went down like flies.

SCOUT: (subdued) Oh, man.

ADNAN: Scout, that was amazing.

SCOUT: (weakly) Oh…man…

[Hovercraft crashes.]

ADNAN: Scout?! Wait, what happened?

SCOUT: (laughs weakly) Got tagged. I’m sorry this is so cheesy. Tell my hot bearded boyfriend that I never actually had … I love him.

ADNAN: Nononono, you’re okay. That’s not your heart. (breathing panicky) It’s not your heart, is it?

SCOUT: (very weak) Who knows. Just…fuck…do me a favor. Don’t…bring me back to life. Resurrect or…whatever. Sorry. No offense. I’m…not…

ADNAN: Scout. Scout?! (cries) Oh, nonono. Please keep talking.

EMERGENCY SYSTEM: Good afternoon. The suspected dissident has been fatally wounded while resisting arrest.

ADNAN: You piece of shit. You shot a child! Why not shoot me?!

EMERGENCY SYSTEM: Our records indicate you’re a current contractor with Y Corp. If you’d like, we can arrange to have you escorted back–

[Crunching sound as Adnan punches drone.]

ADNAN: Ugh! Ugh!

ADNAN: Piece of shit! Shiiiiit!

[Sound of Adnan’s phone dialing]

ADNAN: (somber) Dwayne. This is Adnan. Calling you from the outskirts. (pause, deep breath)
Scout… They got tagged. They’re dead. That poor kid is dead before they even got started. Believe me when I say if there was something I could’ve done… But, look, we got what we needed. And I’m on my way back. (breathes heavier) On foot. See you in SubTerra.


[Tau smoking]

[Phone dials.]

DEVANDRA: (delighted) Gabriel Tau. To what do I owe the pleasure?

TAU: Can you imagine my reaction to learn that Susan Rademacher’s implant was discovered at the site of the Ciudad bombing?

DEVANDRA: (feigned concern) Oh, dear. Well, this is the first I’m hearing of it and let me say that’s a real shame to see someone turn like that. She clearly fell in with a criminal element after we lost touch with her.

TAU: Don’t be cute. (deep drag of his smoke, pissed) Devandra, please stop meddling in my business. You’ve leapt from pathetic to criminal in a single bound and I don’t have the energy for the fallout. So let me be completely clear when I say that you are no longer my business partner and you are most certainly no longer my romantic partner. So… stay away from me.

DEVANDRA: (calmly) Are you finished?

TAU: I’m finished the second you confirm that you’ve gotten my message. In any other case, we have a problem.

DEVANDRA Oh, Gabriel. You’re calling me at half past midnight, 4 scotches deep with a cigarillo on your lips? To talk, uh, “business?” The “business” that is actually going quite well, thank you very much.

TAU (pissed, takes a drag) You… You are a psychopath. It’s only out of care for what I know to be your astonishingly fragile mental health that I haven’t sought more drastic measures to inhibit you. Honestly, to think what I could… What I should do with…

[Tau coughs.]

DEVANDRA: It’s cold out there, dear. And it’s lonely for hearts like ours. I’m still waiting for you to embrace the darkness… (pauses, sighs) But perhaps you need things spelled out more clearly than I’d realized. (clears throat) So here it is: your “friend” Susan, is a fucking terrorist. She lives underground…nononono… (gets worked up, talks faster) She is a leader amongst the off-grid population. She mobilizes revolutionaries intent on smashing the very state which you’ve sought to nourish and strengthen. Gabriel, Susan is your mortal enemy — and enthusiastically so.

TAU: (long pause) And where’d you get all that from?

DEVANDRA: Gabriel, I know you fancy Lux Nova as your right hand but let’s look at facts: While you may be the savior of the city right now, the murmurs that your yes-men — sorry, yes-persons — won’t relay to you are that the first terrorist act inside the geo-fence was a big fat ding in your armor. And if your little boring project is anything short of a surgical strike, you’ll be relinquished of your role as CEO of the city and Y Corp’s competitors will rapidly fill the vacuum.

TAU: (disgusted) You’re full of shit.

DEVANDRA: Am I? Or am I saying what you wish weren’t true: That the mega-drought was your lucky moment. You figured out a way to consolidate the resources of the entire region, give everyone seamless access to them and stay safe. And thanks to a key innovation courtesy of a former employee of yours — who shall remain nameless — you had the infrastructure to do it all yourself. (laughs, sighs) Bravo, by the way. You were a poet when the world was tongue-tied and you deserved the keys to the city. But that attack on Ciudad broke one of the key promises of the geo-fence: safety. It doesn’t matter how it happened. It’s on you to fix it. But… (pauses, exhales) It’s not beyond you. Believe me, Gabriel, when I say: No one can see the colors of the world like I do.

TAU: (deep exhale) God, I miss you.

DEVANDRA: (sultry) Mmm. We make a good team, don’t we?

TAU: Devandra… (pauses, husky voiced) Where are you?

DEVANDRA: Same place.

TAU: I’ll send someone over.

DEVANDRA: (playful) I’ll be waiting.


[Crowds shuffle]

RAD SUE: (to a child) Now, sweetie, you just follow your dad. It’s a long walk but we’re gonna have dinner and storytime when we get there, okay? (pauses) Good job.

DWAYNE: Hey, Sue.

RAD SUE: Dwayne. Where have you been? We still have a whole quad that hasn’t evacuated.

DWAYNE: It’s on my list, Sue, I promise you. I have something important I need to tell you. (pause) It’s Adnan Lem. I got a message saying he’s on his way back to Subterra. But get this…Scout didn’t make it. They’re gone, Sue.

RAD SUE: (gasp) Oh my god.

DWAYNE: Yeah… I don’t know what happened or what–

RAD SUE: No. Enough. I’ll go find him. You take over evac work.

DWAYNE: Sue, please–

RAD SUE: I insist. Look, I get it. You see something in him. You’re hoping he’s gonna save us.

DWAYNE: Look, Sue. I’ve always kept my eyes wide open. So did Scout. Every day is a death sentence until it’s not. But the one thing that gets me out of bed each day is the chance that that day we’ll do more than just hide.

RAD SUE: I also want to see that day come to light. But if Adnan is the one who will get us there, he needs to start proving it. And if he can’t, he grabs a shovel and works just like the rest of us. Deal?

DWAYNE: Yeah. Deal.


We hear Rad Sue punching in her code to her keypad.

[Gates creak]

ADNAN: (breathing heavy) Sue…

RAD SUE: Where’s Scout?

ADNAN: Out on the flats. Somewhere safe where I can find him once this all blows over.

EMERGENCY SYSTEM: Warning. All non-residents must surrender to ports of entry for the city of San Francisco. Shelter, food, and other resources will be available at no cost to you…

ADNAN: Has anyone left yet?

RAD SUE: Fewer than I expected. Mostly families. Hard to blame ’em.

EMERGENCY SYSTEM: …Non-residents include those living permanently or temporarily outside the San Francisco geo-fence and those who do not have an implant enabled–

RAD SUE: Listen, Adnan. It’s long past time for you to step up. What are you prepared to give?

ADNAN: What does that mean?

RAD SUE: It means that no matter what I or anyone else thinks of Dwayne’s open door revolution policy, at the end of the day, we are severely lacking in givers. Scout was — maybe they were a little loopy sometimes but they were one hundred percent a giver. And they didn’t even live down here. (pauses, crack of emotion) Now they’re gone. (composure regained) So tell me, what are you prepared to give?

ADNAN: Archive — for starters.

RAD SUE: So you have it?

ADNAN: (rustling in his pocket) I have this.

RAD SUE: (skeptical) A thumb drive?

ADNAN: Access to Y Corp servers. All my research. Everything I need to recreate Archive with just a handful of raw materials, all of which I can find in Scout’s trailer. And, yes, I did ask their permission.

RAD SUE: I should hope so. So how long before we can start re-building all our broken shit?

ADNAN: A couple days, three at most. But if you can give me a little more time, I can give you Resurrection Tech. Sue, we’re gonna lose people in this fight. With a little more time and the manpower, it doesn’t have to be forever…

RAD SUE: (skeptical) How did you pull this off?

ADNAN: I just told you. This is my work. This is what I do.

RAD SUE: No, how did you get in and out of the city with proprietary Y Corp intel? How did you pull that off?

ADNAN: I had help.

RAD SUE: From whom?

ADNAN: (pause) Her name is Lux Nova. She… She works for Tau.

RAD SUE: (shocked) You met with… Wait, are you working for Y Corp?

ADNAN: It’s not like that.

RAD SUE: (righteous) Jesus, Adnan. You just brought the eyes and ears of the state into Subterra.

ADNAN: (angry) Sue, we’re way past that. They already know where we live. There’s an armada of drills heading for us no matter what you or I do next.

RAD SUE: How can I trust that this Lux Nova isn’t plotting anything else?

ADNAN: You can’t, but I promise you there’s very little she can do to stop me once I start working. The only consequence is that once I’m done, Resurrection Tech is no longer my awesome party trick — The last few details that live in my head will finally be in Y Corp’s hands. They’ll have everything they need to recreate Resurrection Tech without me.

RAD SUE: (chuckles, murmurs to herself) So you’re doing contract work for your old boss. Oh, wow… (angrier) Adnan, you want to know why I keep grilling you like this?! It’s because I just — don’t — trust you. It’s because you have these encounters with people where very important topics are discussed and only you can confirm how they went down. It’s because you just admitted to me that you haven’t cut ties with your former employer AT ALL. It’s because you move freely in and out of a city on lockdown without even breaking a sweat despite your memory being “fuzzy” and you seemingly don’t know anything about the last year and change. I don’t trust you because you’re a human landmine and every second I’m near you, I feel like you could go off.

[Long pause]

ADNAN: (deadpan) Well… I mean, it’s not like I trust you.

RAD SUE: (really offended) Meaning what?

ADNAN: In one of those aforementioned conversations that only I can confirm, I found out that it was you who framed me. You were the reason I had to hide.

RAD SUE: (defensive) No… No, Adnan, trust me when I say you’ve got this wrong.

ADNAN: Now I can see how hard it was for you to take me at my word, because I am having a hell of a time now that the tables are turned.

RAD SUE: This is ridiculous. I’m not letting you in here! Go! Go back to the goddamn city you call home!

ADNAN: Get Dwayne, then! Tell him how you worked for Gabriel Tau. Tell him how you had a hand in locking down San Francisco.

RAD SUE: That is not the issue! And he’s not going to overrule me on this!

ADNAN: Look, this isn’t just about me! I not only have the means to build an Archive device… Forget it, even if I don’t build it, Scout had a damn solid plan that we can put in motion immediately to help stop those drills. And I know you don’t have a team of backup materials engineers hiding in there. Please, just… I came back so I could help. Because I owe something to you guys. Just let me do that. Let me help. Because I have a really, really good reason to believe it’s gonna work.

[Long pause]

RAD SUE: Well… Now that we both have incentive to ruin each other’s lives… (pause, deep sigh) Look, I was supposed to frame you. That was the set up. But I pulled out of it. The whole thing smelled like shit and I pulled out and I lost my career and my whole life because of it. (pause) It was the right thing to do but it was still painful. It was still hard. (pause) You know and I know, the whole reason Dwayne brought you down here is because we need a win. And I agree. Fuck our hurt feelings. How are we doing this?

ADNAN: There’s Scout’s way and there’s my way. (pause) I think we can choose both.


[Sounds of crowd cheers, murmurs, coughs]

TAU: Welcome, San Franciscans… Stewards of the jewel of the West. I welcome you to the first day of your future. Before now, we were working on old ground. We had to reimagine our home to more closely align with our vision. And we did a damn good job — don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. But today, we start on a new road. We are literally breaking ground on a new home, a clean canvas upon which we can build our dreams freely. Today, we will celebrate. But first, we will mourn those who paid the ultimate price.

[Long pause.]

TAU: Today, we break ground for them. And we promise them, we will build a safer, brighter future. We pledge that we will not accept anything less than the best for ourselves, for our children, for the planet we all call home. Fellow Citizens, today we are creating… tomorrow.

[Drill revs up.]


TAU: Thank you.

DEVANDRA: (intimately) That was fuckin’ splendid, babe.

TAU: (chuckles) Hell yes it was. Have you seen Lux anywhere?

DEVANDRA: Oh, she’ll turn up. Now, let me take you to lunch.

TAU: She should be launching drill two within the hour. (pauses) Surprised I haven’t heard anything.

DEVANDRA: Gabriel, I assure you the world won’t stop turning if you look away for a moment. Now come with me. I know a place that does a lovely steak frites.

TAU: Sounds delightful.

DEVANDRA: Yes. And a terribly old scotch for the terribly handsome man who introduced San Francisco to its future. (pause) Perhaps two?

TAU: (laughs) Dee, this is still a work day for me.

DEVANDRA: Nope. It’s time to celebrate.


[Massive machine hum]

GREG THE ENGINEER: (yelling) I need you to hold this brace like it’s shielding you from death. Because that is literally what it’s doing. (pause) Now — when that drill comes through, it’s gonna feel like your arm is coming out of its socket. But you’ve gotta suck it up and hold until the countdown ends. (pause) When you hear me say SHIFT, that’s when our guidance algorithm kicks in. I’m gonna start a countdown that goes “3…2…1” then I’ll say SHIFT again, and you turn clockwise.

[Metallic gears and motors wind up.]

DWAYNE: We call it the Drillkiller. And it’s no joke. All salvaged precious metals, all carefully assembled as a counterpoint to the moving parts of that big fucking boring machine that’s finna destroy this place we call home. Now this thing is a beast but it’s only as good as your eyes and ears. So stay focused on Greg. When he yells shift, you turn and turn until you can’t. If you’re wondering how you’ll know, believe me: You’ll know.

GREG THE ENGINEER: Yup. What Dwayne said. Let the algorithm do the thinking. Don’t try to outsmart it. Just be the muscle.

VOLUNTEER 1: How long do we do this?

DWAYNE: (through gritted teeth) Until it’s done.

GREG THE ENGINEER: We’re gonna keep diverting this drill until it comprises its route. And that’s when the walls are gonna cave in.

VOLUNTEER 2: Cave in? Like cave in around us?

DWAYNE: Yeah. (pauses) Yeah, that’s right. It’s automated so when it breaks down, we immediately start salvaging it for parts. We start with the motor, the electronics, and the fuel — those are priority resources for us.

VOLUNTEER 1: Why don’t you say it, Dwayne: some of us are gonna die.

DWAYNE: (annoyed, righteous) All right, then, if this helps you sleep better: Some of us are gonna die. Okay? (clears throat) I’m late for a meeting. If you’re not up to it, check in with Greg before lights out. Better have a good-ass reason, too.


ADNAN: Hey, Dwayne. Come here.

DWAYNE: Adnan, my man: Please say you have some good news for me.

ADNAN: I do. Here’s the titanium plate you gave me.

[Metallic clang]

DWAYNE: Oh my god. This is from Archive?!

ADNAN: You know it.

DWAYNE: (laughs) This thing was rusted and bent to hell. I can see my face in it now.

RAD SUE: At last, the prodigal son comes through.

DWAYNE: (laughs) Hahaha! Yes, he did! We can keep mangling this drill shield, and rebuilding it good as new.

ADNAN: This is just the beginning. Those men don’t have to die, Dwayne. What I’m working on next means we can start resurrecting. Not at scale and certainly not without some potentially alarming challenges. But if we really want it… death does not have to be the end.

DWAYNE: (chuckles) Whoa, my friend, that is a lot. Now how the hell does that happen?

ADNAN: Just send everyone manning the guard rails to me. I’ll record them. I can’t promise anything but if they’re injured or die somehow, there is a chance we can rewind them back in shape.

DWAYNE: No shit. What’s the catch? Why don’t we just…resurrect everyone?

ADNAN: I have to have a recording of them when they’re alive. And I need their body.

DWAYNE: Wow. And that’s it? They’re back and alive? Good as new?

ADNAN: Like I said, it may not be what you’re expecting but death is not the end.

DWAYNE: Adnan, whatever happens, I gotta admit, you stepped up and kept your word. That’s big in my book.

RAD SUE: Let’s all get some rest. The drill is set to breach tomorrow. And it’s quite a bit faster than your standard boring machine.

DWAYNE: I’ll sleep when I’m dead, Sue. (speaks quieter) But I will toast with y’all. C’mere. We have one tonight, one after we win this thing. (pause) To SubTerra.

ADNAN: To SubTerra. And to Scout.

RAD SUE: To SubTerra and to Scout.


CLAIRE: (whispers) No, Izzy, no monsters. You know why? Because I kill them, ok?

ISOBEL: For real you do?

CLAIRE: Yes. Promise.

[Digital sound of phone ringing]

ISOBEL: I can see your Implant buzzing! Who’s calling you, Mom?

CLAIRE: Oh, god. Why is the police calling me?

ISOBEL: (laughs) Did you do something bad?

CLAIRE: (tsking) Hush. (pause) Hello?

KING: Claire Lem?

CLAIRE: Speaking.

KING: (warmly) Well, first let me say that I’m delighted to speak with you and I hope I haven’t disturbed you or your daughter at this hour.

CLAIRE: (suspicious) Who is this?

KING: My apologies for not introducing myself. This is Alfonso King from the SF Guardians — we’re the exclusive law enforcement arm of Y Corp.

CLAIRE: Oh. So you’re not the police?

KING: Ma’am, we’re better than the police. We don’t just serve and protect. We’re making a happier, healthier–

CLAIRE: Listen, I have to put my daughter to bed. How can I help you?

KING: I’ll be honest: I’m a little nervous about asking what I need from you — and your daughter. But believe me, what I’m offering in exchange will be more than worth it.


[Drill approaches, increasing in volume]

GREG THE ENGINEER: (yelling) North wall breach!

DWAYNE: Everybody! This is for real! Eyes and ears on Greg!

[Crunch of rocks gets louder.]

GREG THE ENGINEER: Steady the rails!

[Walls begin to crack.]

GREG THE ENGINEER: Impact in 3… 2… 1…

[Sound of metal on metal]

DWAYNE: (yells) Keep holding!

[Drill stops.]

[Drill resumes.]

GREG THE ENGINEER: SHIFT! (pause) In 3… 2…

[Drill stops.]

[Rocks tumble down.]



GREG THE ENGINEER: Drop it now! Let the rails go–!

[Deathly silence]

[Morose string melody plays.]


How to Record a (Fairly Complex, Fully Scripted) Podcast Remotely in a Pandemic

In my decades of writing weird science fiction-y stories with artsy, opaque titles like KTLN or…I/O, the title of this blog post is easily the most direct thing I’ve ever typed.

The first meeting I had with Agnes Szelag (co-creator, head of all things audio) was a distanced backyard hang in early June 2020. By then, we had 1) already been in COVID-related lockdown for 3 months and B) blown past the first conservative estimate for the length of lockdown. That was a weird time. If you’re like me, your mental state mostly resides in the kind of banal horror of lockdown-as-norm that was our Fall 2020—a time when vaccines were on the way, Trump had lost, and the first slivers of light from the new coming day were visible at the end of the tunnel. That sensation is more vivid than Spring 2020 when everything was terra incognita and some questions loomed rather large in neon:

  1. What on Earth is this virus that’s bringing the world to its knees?
  2. What fresh derangement will this pandemic draw out of our already deranged president?
  3. What if this is…just our lives now?

That last one might be familiar to those of you who’ve crossed paths with psychoactive substances—it’s a very specific kind of helplessness when a chemical is altering your mind and you have no promise of when its effects will end. Even though on some level, we know that that experience *has* to end, those experiences highlight our brains’ capacity to elasticize time (e.g., the five minute dream in which you live a lifetime) and how that can overrule our perception.

And, so it was with the pandemic. As turned out to be the case for most people, 2020 was prime reflection time, whether we wanted it to be or not. The auto-pilot version of reality was over (or on pause, at least), and things were moving slowly enough—soooo muuuuch sloooower—you couldn’t help but notice every damn detail of your own life.

I wanted to make something.

Early photo inspo expedition at the CA border (credit: Agnes Szelag)

And it was a very specific something. I’d written books, made albums, collaborated with designers and illustrators to make short videos and comics. But I wanted to do a serial story that people could experience in real time, something with acting, something that I could collaborate on with others.

Meanwhile, Agnes was between jobs, equally creatively restless and equally moved to make something in a new medium, something that tied together more than one of her focuses. As alums of Mills College, we shared a background in music composition — but we branched out severely from there. I started heavy space rock bands and began writing full-time. Agnes ended up with a dual career as an electronic musician/audio production lead and a visual designer for the web.

Our common ground was the science fiction storytelling of creators like Alex Garland. More recently, we’d become quite stoked by the possibilities of fiction podcasts with full casts like Homecoming. We were both looking to do something that incorporated our backgrounds as musicians and as storytellers. Oh, also, we didn’t have much money, and no one could meet or do anything in person for the foreseeable future.

We threw around the idea of a podcast pretty early on and it stuck. Agnes had actually made several podcasts before and was equally absorbed with the possibilities. But we wanted to create something that was a little more technically ambitious than what we’d yet discovered in the fiction podcast medium. We wanted it to be more immersive, more complex than what folks were expecting—a TV drama for your ears.

Over the next month, I wanted to share some detail about the entire venture of creating I/O, including:

Casting the show via Facebook

Writing the show (and getting critical feedback)

Recording remotely (and all the tech needed to do so)

Directing via Zoom

Producing and editing the show into what you hear

Marketing via social media, email, text, carrier pigeon, etc.

Listen to I/O now

Subscribe for updates on this behind-the-scenes series and all things I/O.

Episode 3, “The New Light” | Transcript

Ep. 3

By Alee Karim

[Inside ADNAN’S OLD APARTMENT – DAY; set in the past timeline]

We hear subtle electronic music. Adnan Lem is breathing nervously. A pigeon, the same one from ep 1, coos. Adnan’s dialing a phone number.

Two beeps and then Lux answers, cool and collected.

Adnan, on the other hand, is extremely anxious.

LUX: Lux Nova.

ADNAN: Hey. It’s Adnan.

LUX: Just a second. (she starts whispering) Don’t hang up.

We hear shuffling as she changes location.

LUX: Where are you?

ADNAN: Uh, haha… Let’s say Vancouver. Listen, I need your help.

LUX: I am not going to help you do anything illegal if that’s what you’re going to ask.

ADNAN: What…makes you think I want to do something illegal?

LUX: They said you’re involved with some kind of terrorist group.

ADNAN: Who’s they?

LUX: Look, if something happened, just tell the police everything you know and we’ll figure this out.

ADNAN: Lux, I love you but stop and listen to me for a second. There’s no terrorist group. And I have a feeling nobody wants to help me figure this out.

LUX: (sighs) So, what do you need?

Adnan’s voice quavers.

ADNAN: I can’t go home right now but I need to get some things to Claire and Isobel. Just drop off a terminal at my home so they can get on the Y Corp server if they need to.

LUX: You want me to leave a company computer with your wife? Sorry, but that sounds sketchy.

ADNAN: Oh, come on. How much stray Y Corp tech is currently scattered around employee’s homes? She just needs access to my benefits and my retirement funds. I don’t have a fuckin will or anything so this is the best I can do. Put a firewall around it if it makes you feel better.

LUX: All right, all right. I’ll make it happen. (big exhale) Adnan, why would she need your retirement funds?

ADNAN: Just promise me you’ll do it.

LUX: I said I will. But you have to promise not to put me in a bad spot.

ADNAN: Believe me, I’m the only one in a bad spot. See you.

He hangs up with a boop.

The pigeon coos become strained.

ADNAN: (getting emotional) Hey. Hey, what’s the matter, bud? (laughs) You’re not giving up on me, too?

We hear the sound of Adnan hooking up pipes to his body.

ADNAN: My turn, I guess. Only fair after what I put you through.

One last coo…

ADNAN: Jesus, are you really–?

…And the pigeon dies.

ADNAN: (choking up) Oh.

Adnan sniffles.

ADNAN: Damn, sorry dude.

Adnan laugh-cries.

ADNAN: Ideally I’d run some tests but… That does not bode well. Either way, there’s no turning back.

Archive machine warms up.

ADNAN: Hey, Monitor.

MONITOR: Sorry, Monitor is unavailable without a network connection.

ADNAN: Record locally, please.

MONITOR: Recording…

ADNAN: This is a message for you, whomever you may be.

Ambient electronic music swells in.

ADNAN: The new light shines at the farthest shore. Jump into the void, without fear. Allow yourself to become…Nothing.

I/O theme plays.

[Inside the UNDERGROUND – DAY; this is the present timeline.]

Scout runs in to Rad Sue’s quarters.

SCOUT: (yelling) Hey! Hey! Hey, where’s Dwayne?! I need Dwayne.

RAD SUE: Dwayne is on a supply run right now. I’m sorry, have we met?

SCOUT: (out of breath) Scout. I’m Scout.

RAD SUE: Right, Scout. Listen if you insist on living at the outskirts, I’m gonna have to rescind your clearance. I can’t have you coming and going–

SCOUT: I’m so sorry but I do need Dwayne. I took Adnan to SF and, uh, we had some trouble. And I left him there. And now he’s stuck. There.

RAD SUE: You, what?! Am- Am I taking crazy pills?! What is with all of you risking our safety for this, this complete X factor of a human being?!

SCOUT: X factor?! No, no, no. He’s the guy who invented Archive tech.

RAD SUE: Yes. No shit. And then he disappeared. Even the cops couldn’t find him. Now he shows up on our doorstep, experimenting with something that makes people vanish into thin air. Then he finds us, sees what we’re all about, and he’s suddenly desperate to get to SF.

SCOUT: All his data, all his work lives in SF. I took him back there–

RAD SUE: (pissed) Listen to me, these little field trips you’re doing to SF are not going to save us. I need bodies showing up, every day, doing what needs to be done.

SCOUT: Uh, sorry, did I become your employee all of a sudden??

RAD SUE: You don’t get it. We are in this together whether we like it or not. Meanwhile, Adnan Lem now knows everything about your life and mine — and he’s stuck on the other side of the geo-fence?!

SCOUT: I mean… Literally, yes, that’s true.

RAD SUE: (getting angrier) Fuck. Fuck!

She storms out.

SCOUT: (sounding small) Where are you going?

RAD SUE: To find Dwayne!

[We’re inside DEVANDRA’S CAR – DAY; the past]

We hear the sound of traffic as Devandra’s phone rings while in speaker mode.

TAU: Tau speaking.

DEVANDRA: Gabriel, it’s Devandra. So nice to hear your voice.

TAU: Devandra…calling me from new numbers. What a cheap way to get me to answer the phone.

DEVANDRA: Well, it does work–

TAU: (interrupting, terse) I will be the one to reach out when I’m ready to speak with you.

DEVANDRA: I’m just calling to update you on the whereabouts of Susan Rademacher.

TAU: (hopeful) You found her?

DEVANDRA: Not as such. But my sources tell me she’s gone underground.

TAU: And what sources would those be?

DEVANDRA: No one special. Just a friend willing to press their ear to places where you and I daren’t tread.

TAU: I have to say, this doesn’t fill me with confidence. What I would prefer instead is a call from Susan Rademacher herself. I don’t imagine she will be pleased to speak with me, but I’d still like to get the call, all the same. Can you arrange that?

DEVANDRA: Aw, the word of your lover doesn’t suffice?

TAU: No, it does not.

DEVANDRA: Well, I can’t make any promises but I’ll see what I can–

TAU: Stop! This unsolicited call of yours marks the end of our partnership in every conceivable way. Do you understand? You’ll get the severance to terminate your retainer, in fact I’ll double it. I appreciate your “services”, but I no longer require them moving forward.

DEVANDRA: Oh, Gabriel. You used to be fun. (pauses, sighs) Are you eyeing political office again?

TAU: (clears throat) Devandra Miller, with all due respect, goodbye.

DEVANDRA: When you’re ready to win again… you know where to find me.

Phone clicks.

[We’re inside CLAIRE’S HOME – DAY; the present]

Adnan and Claire speak in hushed, emotional voices.

CLAIRE: Is it really you?

ADNAN: Yeah. Yeah, it’s me. God, I… I have so much to tell you. And I barely have the time.

CLAIRE: What do you mean? You’re home. You’re home and you’re alive. What else could there possibly be?

ADNAN: A lot, actually. Wait, where’s Izzie?

CLAIRE: Asleep.

ADNAN: Is… Is she okay?

CLAIRE: She had a good day.

ADNAN: What does that mean?

CLAIRE: I… (starts weeping) Oh, Adnan, it’s been a hard year. It’s just been me and she… The neurodegeneration got so much worse, so much faster than we ever imagined. She can’t… she can’t use her legs anymore. Not since just after you left.

ADNAN: Jesus, Claire. I’m so sorry. There’s so much I want to tell you. All I can say right now is she’s going to be okay.

CLAIRE: (stunned) I… How can you say that?

ADNAN: If I tried to explain it to you, you wouldn’t believe me.

CLAIRE: You’re probably right. Try anyway.

ADNAN: First, just answer me one thing: did you still have the terminal Y Corp delivered here?

CLAIRE: I don’t know. Maybe. It’s in a box downstairs, I think. I’ve never touched it and I’ve never had to.

ADNAN: Okay, thank god. I need to set it up immediately.

CLAIRE: Adnan, you’ve been reunited with your family and you’re just dying to find your old work computer? What is wrong with you?

ADNAN: Claire, I– Okay. (breathing quickly through his nose) Okay, okay. I had a vision. I saw our daughter ten years from now and she… She was not just surviving, she was thriving. She was a young woman and she was a leader. She told me to come here and find you so that I could–

CLAIRE: Uht. Just stop. I’ve heard enough. (pause) Take the computer and go.

ADNAN: Wait, no. No, no, let me explain.

CLAIRE: You just did. You’re back after almost a year and a half out of our lives and immediately everything is about your experiment. Just like before.

ADNAN: No, no, Claire, you don’t understand. It worked. And there’s people who live underground–
Look, I can’t tell you much more without endangering you and Izzie, but believe me when I say it’s for a good cause. And for the good of our daughter.

Claire sniffs, toughening up and no longer weeping.

CLAIRE: Adnan, I managed without you before you were gone. I managed without you when you disappeared. And I’m sure I can keep going if I need to. But what I can’t do is just… plug you in and out of our lives whenever it suits you. We’re not a service you can turn on and off. That’s not a family.

ADNAN: That’s not fair.

CLAIRE: (angered) Don’t tell me about fair.

We hear Claire stand and begin walking away.

ADNAN: Wait, Claire, please. I really do… need you.

CLAIRE: Do what you have to do. Just leave before she wakes up.

[Inside a HOSPITAL CAFETERIA in San Francisco – NIGHT; the past]

Susan Rademacher is attempting to buy a sandwich and coffee from a majorly disaffected male CASHIER.

CASHIER: You got the soy latte and the uh… turkey club. That’ll be 25.

RAD SUE: My voucher’s only for 20.

CASHIER: We also accept cards and implants.

RAD SUE: (frustrated) And clearly I have neither.


RAD SUE: (pissed off) Fine. Keep the fucking coffee.

We hear the sound of footsteps as Sue walks through the busy hall to the nurse’s station.

RAD SUE: (frantic) Excuse me. Excuse me. Hi, remember me? My name is Susan Rademacher. Can you find me Dr. Nishi?

NURSE: I’m sorry, Dr. Nishi’s not available this evening. But you can leave him a message. Do you have our app?

RAD SUE: I… (she growls) I explained all this to you already. I don’t have access to anything digital at all because I was mugged and my implant was stolen.

NURSE: I’m very sorry. I talked to a lot of patients since then. You can also try messaging him with a smartphone.

RAD SUE: I was supposed to have a smartphone five hours ago. No one ever brought me one. And now I’m stuck here. Because I have no credits, I have no numbers, and I have no shit-fucking apps.

NURSE: I’m sorry, ma’am. I understand your frustration.

RAD SUE: (sarcastic) Do you, though?! I have a job, I have money and I have a home. But it’s all useless because it’s all completely locked off from me. Do you know how that feels?

NURSE: (calmly) Some of us spend our whole lives like that.

RAD SUE: What did you say?!

NURSE: This is just one shitty day for you. It’ll pass. And when this one shitty day ends, everyone will stop looking at you like mud on their shoes. Consider yourself lucky.


RAD SUE: I am… sorry for losing my temper. Will you please let me know when my phone comes in?

NURSE: Of course.

Sue walks away.

We hear the sound of a TV playing in the waiting room.

TV ANNOUNCER: Today a San Francisco civil court granted Y Corp full rights to the experimental manufacturing tool known as Archive. According to founder Gabriel Tau, Archive is to the 3D printer what the nuclear bomb is to a cap gun.

RAD SUE: Hey, can you turn that up a bit?

TV ANNOUNCER: Adnan Lem, one of Y Corp’s head engineers, had been fighting Tau for the rights to Archive. However, in a stunning turn of events, Y Corp persuasively argued that Lem’s ties to a local terrorist group make him a national security liability.

RAD SUE: Oh god.

TV ANNOUNCER: Lem’s whereabouts are unknown at this time but he should be considered armed and dangerous.

[Inside CLAIRE’S HOME – NIGHT; the present]

Adnan fumbles with wires in his basement.

ADNAN: Hey, Monitor.

We hear his computer boot and reboot multiple times.

ADNAN: Hey, Monitor. This thing on?

MONITOR: Welcome back, Adnan. You have 2 notific– three hundred– over ten thousand notifications across all your apps.

ADNAN: Right. Of course. You can delete those.

MONITOR: Are you sure you want to delete all unread notifications?


MONITOR: Notifications deleted. Would you like to check the status of your automated program?

ADNAN: Uh, my what?

MONITOR: Your automated program has encrypted instructions for the Archive project. You created a call to send these instructions once a day until they were received.

ADNAN: (in awe) Oh my god. Oh my GOD. (laughs) That’s right! I put myself in cold freeze until someone… (quieter) Until someone heard it.


ADNAN: Monitor, has anyone received those instructions yet?

MONITOR: As of this morning at 8 AM, the instructions have not been received.

ADNAN: (hushed) Right, of course not. It hasn’t happened yet. It’s Isobel in ten years. Oh man how is this even happening.


ADNAN: Okay, okay, you’re here. It’s not worth questioning. Priorities, priorities. Monitor, can you find public unrestricted files on the server with the tag Resurrection tech?

MONITOR: Searching… (pause) There are no files matching that description.

ADNAN: Okay, what about my personal research logs?

MONITOR: I’m sorry but your personal logs have been locked by a user on the network.

ADNAN: Which user?

MONITOR: The user is Lux Nova.

ADNAN: (quietly) No shit. (louder) Monitor, what is Lux Nova’s job title?

MONITOR: Lux Nova is Y Corp’s VP of engineering.

ADNAN: Promoted. Good for her.

MONITOR: Adnan, I have to warn you: if any user attempts to log in to these files, Ms. Nova will be notified immediately.

ADNAN: Oh, nonono. Absolutely…

Knock on the door.

ADNAN: Hello?

YOUNG ISOBEL: Dad, what’re you doing?

ADNAN: Izzy. I’m in the middle of something. And you should be asleep.

Adnan opens the door. We hear the sound of Isobel’s chair wheeling in.

YOUNG ISOBEL: Well, don’t get mad.

ADNAN: I… You’re right, I’m sorry.

YOUNG ISOBEL: Does mom know you’re alive?

ADNAN: (sighing) Oh, yes. (pause) Izzy, how long have you been in that chair?

YOUNG ISOBEL: A couple months. It’s got a motor so it’s actually pretty cool.

ADNAN: It looks very cool. And I love the color.

Adnan takes a deep breath.

ADNAN: Look, hon, I have to go but it’s not… It’s not because I don’t love you.

YOUNG ISOBEL: (grumpy) Then why do you have to go?

ADNAN: Because… I have to do something that mom thinks is the wrong thing to do.

YOUNG ISOBEL: So why are you doing it?

ADNAN: Because… I think it’s the right thing to do. It just doesn’t look like the right thing… right now. But maybe mom will agree with me someday.


YOUNG ISOBEL: That doesn’t make any sense, Dad.

ADNAN: Listen to me, you are going to be an… amazing person one day. I mean, you’re an amazing person now but you’re gonna do some really special things. Sometimes you have to– (perplexed) Izzy? Did something– I can’t see your face…

YOUNG ISOBEL (quiet) It’s dark in here. (pause) There’s a new light. (pause) I can’t find it.

ADNAN: Wait, what did you say?


A large woosh.

FUTURE ISOBEL: (louder) Follow the new light.

A loud thud.

Adnan lets out two sharp breaths.


[We’re inside RADEMACHER & FITCH LAW OFFICES – DAY; the past]

We hear an electronic doorbell buzzing.

RAD SUE: (pissed) Dammit, can someone help me get into the law firm that has my actual name on it?

We hear the doorbell again.

MEL: Susan, I’m so sorry, let me help.

Click and the sliding door swishes opens.

RAD SUE: (sigh) Sweet Jesus. Thank you, Mel. Literally one thing goes right and it feels like I’ve been kissed by a god.

MEL: Can I get you anything? Maybe a tea?

RAD SUE: (talking fast) Look, first things first, I want a postmortem with all the partners on the Adnan Lem case. I did not sign off on that terrorist charge. We cannot do shit like that without being fully aligned.

MEL: (nervous) Yes, of course.

RAD SUE: Second, I need a way to get back into our systems until I get all my data retrieved. I’ve been trying to locate my implant or at least a backup so I can get my contacts, get my keys, and make sure no one fucking drained my bank account.

MEL: Um…

RAD SUE: What?

MEL: (hesitant) I believe you have a few messages from your accountant? They’re concerned.

RAD SUE: (surly) Hand me the phone.

MEL: Sure.

Punches a couple numbers.

RAD SUE: Yes. Hi, Carmen. (pauses) Of course you don’t recognize the number. I got mugged and my implant was stolen. (pauses) What?! (pauses, angry) I don’t care what they thought it looked like! It was fucking fraud!!! (pauses, pissed-off) Mmf. Dammit!

She throws the receiver to the floor.

RAD SUE: (docile) Mel?

MEL: Yes, Susan?

RAD SUE: Where are the partners?

MEL: They’re at lunch.

RAD SUE: What? All of them?

MEL: Yes. They’re celebrating… winning the Lem case.

RAD SUE: (hushed, astonished) They’re what?! I–

There’s a protest outside walking past their office. A crowd is chanting:

PROTESTORS: (calls) No more rent?! (responds) No more fence!! (calls) No more rent?! (responds) No more fence!!

RAD SUE: What the hell is that?

MEL: Oh god, it’s been like that all day. Someone discovered that a big SF property manager donated $15 million to the geo-fence initiative. So now there’s a rent strike. (sighs) What does that accomplish?

RAD SUE: (dazed) Yeah. (pause) I gotta go.

Chants grow louder.

Sue opens the door.

MEL: Sue, do you still want that meeting?

RAD SUE: Not really. Mel, just so you know, you’ve been nothing but lovely to me. I hope I see you again.

[Inside TAU’S OFFICE – DAY; the present]

TAU: Maggie, did you–

MAGGIE: All your presentation files have been downloaded to your phone.

TAU: Excellent, and–

MAGGIE: Lux Nova will be giving you an update from her meeting first thing tomorrow.

TAU: Perfect. One more thing–

MAGGIE: I ordered you the number 5 salad from Green Press.

TAU: And the tea I like?

MAGGIE: Two bottles.

TAU: What on earth would I do without you?

MAGGIE: Save it for my performance review, Gabriel.

TAU: Noted. If anyone needs me, I’m gone.

Tau walks out.

Maggie’s cell phone rings.

MAGGIE: Hello?

DEVANDRA: Maggie, it’s Dee.

MAGGIE: Oh, hey girl! Wow, it’s…been a minute.

DEVANDRA: Ah, yes. Fucked off to Europe for a bit. Cleared my head. Italian boys will do wonders for a broken heart.

They laugh.

DEVANDRA: I don’t suppose you could find Gabriel from me?

MAGGIE: I…shouldn’t. He’s in this super-intense investor roundtable thing. He does NOT want to be disturbed.

DEVANDRA: Ha. Least of all by me.

MAGGIE: Ugh. When was the last time he called?

DEVANDRA: Long enough that I’m embarrassed to tell you. He’s a genius with grudges that one.

MAGGIE: I swear he does not know what’s good for him. He’s been so stressed lately. Having you in his life again would solve SO many things.

DEVANDRA: Aw, that’s sweet of you to say. What’s he got to be stressed about anyway?

MAGGIE: The usual. And, oh god– Something crazy just happened. I can’t really talk about it, though.

DEVANDRA: Oh, come on now. Whatever it is, it stays between us, you know that.

MAGGIE: Seriously, if this gets back to him–

DEVANDRA: Never. Tell me.

MAGGIE: Okay, so remember the engineer who used to work here that turned out to be like this terrorist or whatever?

DEVANDRA: Adnan Lem? I thought he passed away last year.

MAGGIE: (whispering) Well, someone who claims to be Adnan Lem reached out to Lux Nova yesterday. And Gabriel is super anxious about it.

DEVANDRA: Oh, my. That’s a lot.

MAGGIE: Gabriel says he doesn’t believe it’s him. But also, this guy… He knew stuff that only Adnan would know. Anyway, Adnan and Lux are gonna meet this afternoon and it’s all hush-hush, even the location. I had to drag it out of him. It was a whole thing.

DEVANDRA: Well, I suppose if a dead man reached out to me, I’d be on edge, too.

They laugh.

DEVANDRA: How are things with him and Lux Nova, by the way?

MAGGIE: Oh, she took over Adnan’s role and then some. She runs everything now.

DEVANDRA: I mean, how are things with them…outside of work?

MAGGIE: Oh… Oh! Oh, god! (laughs) Uh, let’s see: Lux likes girls and Gabriel doesn’t like anything, so…

They laugh.

MAGGIE: Honestly, don’t worry. There’s no one in his life right now. (in a cutesy voice) He just has a big Devandra-shaped hole in his heart.

DEVANDRA: (wistful) That is so sweet of you to say. Listen I’ve got to run. Dinner soon?

MAGGIE: For sure. Bye.

We hear buttons presssed as Devandra dials a new number.

CALEB: You’ve reached Caleb, leave a message.

DEVANDRA: Caleb, it’s Dee. Listen there’s a very important meeting taking place this afternoon and I need a fly on the wall there. (pause) Or a wasp if need be.

[At the OUTSKIRTS OF SF – NIGHT; the past]

We hear a crowd partying and dancing to loud, rhythmic electronic music with a woman singing.

Two women talk and flirt over the din.

MAKENNA: Hey! I like how you dance.

RAD SUE: (laughing) Sure you do. I know how I look, honey.

MAKENNA: I’m being serious!

RAD SUE: Sweetie, I could be your mom.

MAKENNA: I’m not looking for a girl. I’m looking for a woman.

RAD SUE: That right? Well, this must be my lucky day.

MAKENNA: What did you do?

RAD SUE: What did I do? Meaning what?

MAKENNA: Like, before this. Before the revolution?

RAD SUE: I thought this was a party.

MAKENNA: Same thing.

RAD SUE: Fair enough. (pauses) I was a lawyer. And I don’t know what I want to do next but I don’t want it to be that anymore.

MAKENNA: Right on. We could use someone like you here. We need leaders.

RAD SUE: What’s your name?

MAKENNA: Makenna. What’s yours?

RAD SUE: Susan.

MAKENNA: (incredulous) Susan?? (clicks tongue) You do not look like– (drops voice) A Sue-zen.

RAD SUE: (laughs) It gets worse — Susan Rademacher. Don’t tell my extremely uptight German father that I said that.

MAKENNA: (laughs) Tonight, you’re not Susan Rademacher. (pauses) You are just Rad.

[Inside the PERIMETER CAFE in NEW SF – DAY; the present]

LUX: Adnan Lem… Wow.

ADNAN: Lux. Back at Perimeter Cafe. Just like old times.

LUX: Yeah, well Ciudad was booked. As usual. (laughs) So what’s with the trucker hat?

ADNAN: It’s for protection.

LUX: You look like you’re hiding or something?

ADNAN: I’m not not hiding. But mostly just avoiding the sun. Anyway, how are you?

LUX: Good. Stunned. Wow, it’s hard to believe I’m seeing you in the flesh right now.

ADNAN: (subdued) Last time we spoke, I was alone, in a dark room, holding a dead pigeon.

LUX: Is that a metaphor?

ADNAN: I wish it were.

LUX: But that was over a year ago. What have you been doing?

ADNAN: Long story. Not sure if all the details will translate. But after things went sideways with Tau, I…unplugged.

LUX: I’m just gonna say it. It was terrible what they did to you.

ADNAN: They? There’s no they. It was all him.

LUX: Adnan, I swear that wasn’t us. There was this lawyer, Susan Rademacher–

ADNAN: Wait, what?

LUX: She represented us in the custody battle for Archive. Someone gave her the idea that you were selling off Archive tech to some sketchy people. Once her firm got hold of that notion, they did not let go.

ADNAN: (stunned) Sue… Really?

LUX: She fell off the grid. Kinda like you did. Anyway, Adnan, I’m so sorry. I’m just glad you’re not, you know…

ADNAN: Dead? Or a terrorist?

LUX: (uncomfortable laugh) Both, definitely. (changes subject) Listen I have an idea I want to run by you: what if I told you that, with some very specific conditions, there was a way for you to continue experimenting with Archive tech?

ADNAN: You’re kidding. After all that??

LUX: Adnan, believe me when I say: No one ever meant to shut you out of your work. Gabriel was only ever trying to protect Y Corp’s investment. That’s a lot of people’s livelihoods on the line.

ADNAN: Wait, let me guess. You got lost in my research and now you’re stumped on how to make resurrection tech work.

LUX: Full disclosure — all our research indicates you are uniquely poised to take the technology to the next level.

ADNAN: Full disclosure — I designed it that way.

LUX: Honestly, the materials science division is stumped. They can’t recreate a living, breathing thing from just the DNA. It’s like a xerox. A copy of a copy. Not even close to the real thing.

ADNAN: (animated) That’s because they’re trying to copy the matter instead of reverting it. Without the original body you’re just, you know… (pauses, laughs) Look at me giving the game away… So, what are you proposing?

LUX: You get access to your records and resources through that terminal you have at home. All we ask is that you stay connected to the server while you work so we can track your progress and any breakthroughs that result.

ADNAN: I don’t need the server to do my work. I can download and work locally.

LUX: Eh — That’ll get old fast. Your connection will be automatically set to time out every five minutes. And you can’t save progress locally. This is the only way to access your research and data short of memorizing it.

ADNAN: And what if I say no?

LUX: Don’t say anything. Just take this.

We hear a small metallic click.

ADNAN: What’s that?

LUX: A good ol’ thumb drive. It’s got the encryption keys for Resurrection Tech. All the files, unlocked.

ADNAN: (incredulous) You’re gonna let me take this? You’re gonna hand me the keys to the kingdom over coffee? I don’t fucking believe you.

LUX: (laughs) Don’t be so dramatic. We still live in a world where nothing is free. Once you’re back in the system, we’ll be watching. If you run to a competitor, we sue and…then we go down that road again. If we catch a whiff of anything sketchy, we take you to the cops. Personally, I don’t see you doing either of those things. You miss this work. I can tell.

ADNAN: What about Tau?

LUX: Let me worry about Gabriel. You just focus on Archive… Like you’ve always wanted to.

ADNAN: Huh. Let me sleep on it.

LUX: I gotta say, I didn’t see you being so skeptical.

ADNAN: Me, neither. Yet here we are.

LUX: Speaking of, what made you think to reach out to me like this?

ADNAN: Well, like I said, I’d been sort of meditating, if you will, trying to figure out what my next move would be. And the idea just popped into my head, out of nowhere: ‘Find a new light,’ ‘find a new light.’ And that led me to you.

LUX: New Light, huh? I haven’t heard that in a while. Did you know that was my handle on threads back when I was, oh god, probably 16?

ADNAN: No kidding? And what was little Lux Nova like?

LUX: Basically a skinny little dyke with purple hair who wanted to hack the government. It wasn’t an easy time. (gets wistful) But it was also kind of magical. (pauses) Anyway…Adnan, I do hope you consider my offer but I have to go. Where are you staying by the way?

ADNAN: Uh, couch-surfing, I guess.

LUX: Sounds romantic.

ADNAN: Let’s pretend it is.

We hear a low rumble.

ADNAN: Whoa. Did you feel that?

LUX: Felt like an earthquake.

Sounds of people screaming outside grow louder and louder. Sirens sound off.

ADNAN: That was an explosion. Look outside.

LUX: Oh my god.

We hear a motorcycle whizzing past. It’s Caleb, screaming outside the cafe.

CALEB: (yelling) Viva Subterra!

The sound of chaos — breaking glass, screams.

LUX: Oh god. (gasps) What the hell is happ–

We hear mournful string music playing a funereal minor melody with some synthesized textures as we close out.


The Missing Year, Part 2 | Transcript

[slow, melodic slide guitar and spare synthesizer stabs play in the background]

DWAYNE: Log in. User 152.

DWAYNE: Hey, Mama. It’s Dwayne.

[deep breath]

DWAYNE: It’s Sunday. This is the…third message I’m sending you. I don’t even know if you’re getting these but either way I hope you’re staying indoors and I hope you’re staying safe.

DWAYNE: Mama, I gotta warn you, this message is gonna be long. Even longer than the last one but there’s a lot on my mind.

DWAYNE: That work trip I told you about? Gotta level with you, that’s more than a trip. For about the past month or so, I’ve been working outside of the city limits. I can’t tell you exactly where we are. I’m calling from a drop point right now so it won’t do good to track me here, either. But trust: I’m safe.

DWAYNE: The reason I’m here is…Mama, something’s not right. Look at what they did to us after the Big Drought. Look at what happened to people who were out of work, like me. They would’ve let me die out there, begging for water.

DWAYNE: You didn’t see those ration lines, all the people they turned away. Ma, I saw a little boy, maybe Freddie’s age at most. He was waiting for 4 hours in the sun, alone. When they tried to scan his implant you know what they said? “No reading.” They said reboot and try again tomorrow and they made this boy…

[deep sigh]

DWAYNE: I wouldn’t have believed it if I hadn’t seen it. In fact, I don’t think I did believe it until I said it out loud just now. Meanwhile, people inside the geo-fence are swimming and showering in purified water.

DWAYNE: The people here, in this community, we’re all here to build a new future. We’re not trying to change the minds of folks who take hot showers while little Black boys can’t drink water — not yet anyway. That world is…it’s not well. We cannot change that. What we can do is offer something else. We’re building back and we’re building back stronger. Mama, I…


DWAYNE: I tell you I’m gonna bring you out here when this is all done. It’s a whole city and I’m just the stubborn son of a bitch…

DWAYNE: You know, you always told me when I was little: this life is gonna be real hard for you. It’s gonna be hard because you’re Black and it’s gonna be double hard because you don’t take shit from anyone. Remember when I was little? Any time you said “no,” the first thing I said back was, “why?”

[mellow laugh]

DWAYNE: You didn’t like that. Turns out, no one else does either.

DWAYNE: I used to be really proud of that. And then I got frustrated and I thought what if I was more easygoing, see if I could make that life work. Gotta admit it became a little easier to make money…meet girls…all that.


DWAYNE: But there was…something missing. When I was being stubborn for my own sake, it’s like it didn’t matter. That’s why I could take it or leave it. But when I was being stubborn for someone else’s sake, that was like…I don’t know…a superpower.

DWAYNE: Maybe it’s because I didn’t have kids. One day, mama, I promise I’ll make you a grandma. But for now, this community — these are my kids. I’m saying “Why not? Why can’t they have a better life? Why can’t we do that for them?”

DWAYNE: Anyway, I’m starting to sound crazy. Trust that I’m doing the right thing, no matter what you hear. Okay? Most important of all: I love you, I miss you.

DWAYNE: I’ll call back next week. With good news.


DWAYNE: Encrypt message. Schedule delivery for…2 hours from now. Log out.

Episode 2, “Ten Years Not Yet Gone” | Transcript


[With a dramatic whoosh, Adnan and Isobel are now in SubTerra, 10 years in the future.]

ISOBEL: Listen closely. We don’t have much time. You and I just time-jumped ten years into the future. To the SubTerra of tomorrow. You must do everything you can to make sure it survives.

ADNAN: (horrified) M-My face. My face is numb.

ISOBEL: There’s a war coming here. Your comrades will want to give up. You can’t let them. They don’t know what you know: Archive can resurrect human life.

ADNAN: (muffled) It worked. You’re telling me it works?

ISOBEL: It works. You and I are the proof.

[We hear a steady hum.]

ISOBEL: Y Corp was powerful when you left them. That power has only grown. But they don’t know you’re here. They don’t know what you know. Use this time. Show SubTerra what’s possible. Follow the new light.

ADNAN: Wait. I need to know more. Where do I go–

ISOBEL: It’s time for you to go.

[A vortex sound swells up, like everything being swallowed into a drain.]

ADNAN: (emotional) Wait, no. Come back!

ISOBEL: Return to our home.

ADNAN: (pleading) Please. I can’t leave. Not now.

ISOBEL: Follow the new light.

ISOBEL: Promise me.

ADNAN: I promise.

ISOBEL: Our home. A new light–

[Swirling sound effects]


[Adnan wakes from his vision to the sound of winds. Dwayne and Makenna loom over him.]

ADNAN: (lethargic) A new light…

DWAYNE: (flustered) Come on, man! We gotta go.

ADNAN: Dwayne! I-I found her. It’s okay. Everything is gonna be okay.

MAKENNA: (angry) Man, shut the hell up! There’s a sandstorm coming and it’s gonna rip through our comms gear!

DWAYNE: (tense) Adnan, you have got to stand up.

ADNAN: (more energetic) I got it. It’s okay. I can stand.

[Wind blowing]

DWAYNE: Not a moment too soon. Come on!

[They pile into Dwayne’s jeep and drive off.]

DWAYNE: Makenna, you know the shortcut to New West Portal?


DWAYNE: I’ll let ‘em know we’re coming. Now, Adnan, you wanna tell me what you were thinking assaulting Makenna and running back into harm’s way?

ADNAN: Dwayne, I swear to god, I didn’t touch her.

MAKENNA: Yeah, whatever, you got your friend to do it. Same shit.

DWAYNE: (stunned) Which friend?

ADNAN: (excited) Dwayne, it was her. The same woman. And, she– Dwayne, we’ve to go back to SF.

MAKENNA: Tell me you’re joking right now.

DWAYNE: Between weaponized sand and armed robots, are you not convinced it’s unsafe out there?

MAKENNA: How does he not know any of this?

DWAYNE: It’s… a whole thing.

ADNAN: Okay, so not tonight. Tomorrow?

MAKENNA: Please let me kick his ass–

DWAYNE: He’s not going. No one is going. Adnan, why the hell could you possibly want to go back there?

ADNAN: Because my wife is there.

DWAYNE: Your wife?! You didn’t think to tell me about your wife until just now?

ADNAN: I’m telling you, Dwayne. The pieces finally came together. The memory stuff, it’s like a clear stream now.

DWAYNE: (sighs) You finally found the app for your brain, huh?

ADNAN: Yeah. Finally.

DWAYNE: Well, congratulations, but I can’t make any more excuses for you.

ADNAN: Meaning what?

DWAYNE: Look, I was in the middle of convincing Rad Sue you were a valuable addition to our community. Then you pull…all this.

ADNAN: But I just explained to you.

DWAYNE: And I’m telling you, it’s not time for you to ask favors. It’s time for you to start producing. What will you do for our community?

ADNAN: (voice deepens) All right, you really want to know? You wouldn’t believe me if I told you. I barely believe it and I saw it with my own eyes.

DWAYNE: (cynical) Try me.

ADNAN: There’s a war coming. And you’re not ready.

DWAYNE: Yeah, no shit there’s a war coming. We’ve been bracing for it since we got here.

ADNAN: But– (he hesitates) I can help you win it.

DWAYNE: Yeah? (pause) Look, man: you need some rest. Tomorrow, we’ll go see Scout.

ADNAN: Who’s Scout?

DWAYNE: Scout is the only way you’re getting into SF.

MAKENNA: (laughs) Scout?! Haha. Better not go empty-handed or they won’t even listen to your ass.


We hear the clip-clop of footsteps in a busy lobby.

MEL: Welcome to Rademacher & Fitch. Can I get your name, please?

DEVANDRA: Devandra. From Y Corp. You can call me Dee.

MEL: Dee…Hmm. Can I get your last name?

DEVANDRA: Miller. I’m here to do some paralegal work for Ms. Rademacher.

MEL: All right, Dee. Your name’s not on here, so you’ll have to wait while we authorize you.

DEVANDRA: Hmm. (sharp breath) The thing is, I have a very full schedule today and this delay sets me back.

MEL: (condescending) Well, I’m sorry — for you — that that is the case.

DEVANDRA: I’m detecting a bit of a tone. Just so you know, when Gabriel Tau finds out that my work here was delayed, he won’t be pleased.

MEL: Look, I don’t know what to tell you–

[Mel’s phone rings. She answers.]

MEL: Just a moment, please. (pauses) Hello, Rademacher & Fitch, how can I help you? (listening) Yes. Actually she’s right here. (listening) I understand that. The problem is she’s not– (listening, typing)
I will gladly check again– (pauses) Oh, there she is. Must be some latency on our end. I do apologize.
(listening) Like I said, I apologize. Have a nice day.

[Mel lets out a long exhale.]

MEL: Welcome, Ms. Miller. Please follow me and we’ll print your ID.

DEVANDRA: Ah, no need. You can upload it to my implant.

MEL: Oh. You wear an implant?

DEVANDRA: Of course. I live in tomorrow.

MEL: Sure. (pause) Bit experimental, no?

DEVANDRA: Yes. (pause) For now.


[Dwayne and Adnan drive through rough terrain in the desert hills. The uneven ground jostles them in Dwayne’s jeep.]

DWAYNE: (laughs) You gonna keep your cookies or you gonna toss ‘em?

ADNAN: I’m fine. How much longer is it?

DWAYNE: Just over this ridge.

ADNAN: You said that two ridges ago.

DWAYNE: That little lump on the horizon? That’s where Scout lives.

ADNAN: He’ll be able to get me into the geo-fence?

DWAYNE: Scout prefers “they” as their pronoun. And, yes, if you’re trying to get into the geo-fence and back out without dying, there’s no one better.

ADNAN: You coming with us?

DWAYNE: Hell no. Too many people depend on me at SubTerra. Besides, you’re better off just two.

ADNAN: Okay, but seriously I’m going to vomit–

DWAYNE: Oh, whoa, whoa! Here we are.

[SCOUT walks out.]

SCOUT: Dwayne! Hey, wow, it’s been, what…three and a half months?!

DWAYNE: Something like that. How you been, my friend?

SCOUT: Much better if you tell me you have more of those vintage transformers! Those things rrripped and I’m, like, thiiis close to finishing up my renewable grid.

DWAYNE: Lemme ask Makenna about that. In the meantime, Scout, I want you to meet Adnan Lem. You two got a lot in common.

SCOUT: Huh. Like what?

DWAYNE: You’re both builders. You’re both a little crazy…

SCOUT: (mocking) Oooh…”crazy.” (pause) So whaddaya build, Adnan?

ADNAN: I’m an inventor. I built… It’s called Archive. It’s like a rewind button for organic and inorganic matter.

DWAYNE: (skeptical) I thought that was a Y Corp thing.

ADNAN: It is. But it started as an Adnan Lem thing.

DWAYNE: That is what I’m talking about! We could use the shit out of something like that down here.

SCOUT: Ahh…It’s experimental and buggy as hell in uncontrolled settings. And it gets more and more so as the complexity of the thing you’re trying to recreate increases–

ADNAN: (talks faster) “Recreate” isn’t…accurate. More like revitalize or re-start. And the complexity isn’t– Wait, how do you know all this, by the way?

SCOUT: I read, like, every single last damn thing I could find about Archive after the launch.

ADNAN: So, Y Corp announced it to the public?

SCOUT: Yeah. Like, a year ago, dude. (pause) Or more. Where’ve you been?

ADNAN: (murmurs) Great question.

DWAYNE: So, Gabriel Tau really was your buddy? Damn, I– Wait, does he know where you are right now?!

ADNAN: I– (pauses, sighs) Apologies, but related to the whole finding my brain files thing, all I can say is I’m pretty sure they don’t.

DWAYNE: Pretty sure ain’t good enough.

SCOUT: If they knew, they’d be here by now.

ADNAN: Wait… The woman I was running after — She knows. She told me that Y Corp doesn’t know I’m here yet. That gives us an advantage.

DWAYNE: An advantage to do what?

ADNAN: To locate the database where my Archive work lives — all my research, all my notes. And… Oh, shit. I think I know a place where I can access the Y Corp server.

SCOUT: Where’s that?

ADNAN: SF. West of Twin Peaks.

SCOUT: Ooh. Fancy. Didn’t know Y Corp had offices up in bougie-ville.

ADNAN: (defensive) It’s not bougie-ville. It’s my home. (pause) Anyway, if I can get all that, I can rebuild a device.

DWAYNE: Just so you know, the only reason I’m signing off on this is because we need a device like Archive yesterday.

SCOUT: (under their breath) Even though it’s buggy as shit.

DWAYNE: Whatever. Now, once you find it, you’re still on the hook to help us. No cut and run. You got that?

ADNAN: Deal. 100 percent.

DWAYNE: Scout, what are the chances you can get him where he needs to go?

SCOUT: (sighs) Hard, not impossible. What are you paying again?

DWAYNE: Same as usual: credits and access to SubTerra One resources.

SCOUT: What about new, non-fried transformers?

DWAYNE: I’ll see what I can do.

SCOUT: It’s gotta be new, non-fried transformers or no deal.

ADNAN: Scout, Archive can make your fried transformers good as new.

SCOUT: Buggy as shit, though.

ADNAN: Not when I’m using it. The process is particular but once you know the signal pathway like I do, you’ll do no wrong.

SCOUT: Yeah?

ADNAN: Oh, yes.

[Scout paces, starts talking to themselves.]

SCOUT: (murmuring) You wanna do it? I wanna do it. You wanna do it? What if he’s lying? But do you wanna do it? Even if he is lying, we don’t have the resources for that. You wanna do it?

SCOUT: (out loud) I wanna do it.


[As Devandra enters the office of Susan Rademacher, Sue is finishing up a phone call.]

RAD SUE: Yes, we’re aligned there.

[Door creaks open.]

RAD SUE: Look, I gotta go. (hangs up) Hi. You must be Devandra Miller.

DEVANDRA: Ms. Rademacher, please call me Dee. It’s a pleasure–

RAD SUE: (no nonsense vibe) Susan works just fine. Let’s get to it, yeah? I’m assuming you already know the details of the Adnan Lem case.

DEVANDRA: Backwards and forwards.

RAD SUE: Sure you do. Now, this is a very serious accusation we’re lobbing at Mr. Lem. Scandalous, even. But I run a law firm not a tabloid. If we can do this without generating headlines, that’s a win. So, let’s get it right.

DEVANDRA: Absolutely. But you agree the audio on those Monitor logs is pretty damning?

RAD SUE: Mm-hmm. And with all the biometric data Monitor collects, it’s essentially as good as an eyewitness. The whole thing is a layup to ruin this guy for life. It feels too easy. Like a setup. So…did you?

DEVANDRA: (laughs) I’m sorry. Did I what?

RAD SUE: I found your bona fides online. And I see your designer clothes. Why are you doing contract paralegal work for Gabriel Tau?

DEVANDRA: I do quite a few things for Gabriel. This role is but one facet.

RAD SUE: (skeptical) Is it, now? (pauses) Now let me ask you this: why do you think Adnan Lem, a family man, was openly plotting with known terrorists on his employer’s comm line?

DEVANDRA: (deep exhale) People are irrational, Susan. That’s no revelation, is it? Mr. Lem and his family were under quite a bit of stress, you know.

RAD SUE: (sigh) Sure; his daughter.

DEVANDRA: (growing bolder) Her health is deteriorating. His marriage is crumbling. He’s butting heads with his employer — I mean, this is a recipe for volatility, no? Mr. Lem himself has admitted to being unstable at times.

[A silent beat passes.]

RAD SUE: Well, there’s only one thing left to do then.

DEVANDRA: Tell me and it’s done.

RAD SUE: I’m ordering a digital autopsy on that call to confirm its authenticity. If it were artificially sourced, there’s ways to find out.

DEVANDRA: Supposing that investigation leads you to doubt the veracity of the call. What then?

RAD SUE: Then we scrap the charge. We have more than enough to give Tau what he wants without ruining this man’s life. There’s literally a sentence on Lem’s employee contract that seals this whole thing up in our favor.

DEVANDRA: (angry) This isn’t how he wants it.

RAD SUE: Well, it’s how I want it.

[Pause. Devandra stands.]

DEVANDRA: Excuse me…

RAD SUE: Restroom is down the hall to the left. And I’ll make sure Mel comes to see you out. Best of luck to you, Ms. Miller.

[Clip-clopping of shoes out of the room.]


[Scout and Adnan are in their hover car floating in the liminal space just outside of the SF Geo-Fence. This half-parklet/half-dry dirt area is patrolled by drones flying overhead and driving along the perimeter — no humans.]

ADNAN: Scout, I have some guesses but can you tell me why we’ve circled the perimeter five times?

SCOUT: I don’t appreciate the sarcasm.

ADNAN: No, I genuinely can’t figure it out.

SCOUT: You said you had some guesses. Tell me your guesses.

ADNAN: To mimic drone patterns?

SCOUT: Close. We start by programming my hover car to mimic the flight patterns. Then we feed them into an algorithm in my dashboard that identifies the blind spots. Then we sort of…nestle inside of them. We’re all but invisible on the way in.

ADNAN: What about the swarm configurations once we enter the gates?

SCOUT: (shrugging) Oh, check this out…

[We hear a whirring sound as the anti-surveillance mechanisms drop into place around Scout’s hover car.]

ADNAN: Whoa.

SCOUT: Green screens! All over the exterior of my hover-car. They run a photo-real graphic of an official city vehicle. ID plates and everything.

ADNAN: Clever. But what happens if they run the plates?

SCOUT: Then a bot alerts some lazy security tech that the same government vehicle was in two places at once. Then they have to check if it’s a glitch. By that point, it’s a full 12 hours before they’ve even begun to look into it.

ADNAN: So it’s all stop-gaps on top of stop-gaps. You’re not nervous?

SCOUT: Nah. Everything on the way into SF is all automated. It’s like logging on to a website. Speaking of which…

[A loud electronic ping like a massive bell on the door to enter the world sounds.]

SCOUT: We are now entering the inner track… And segueing into city traffic.

ADNAN: Oh, wow.

SCOUT: Welcome back to SF.

ADNAN: This all looks so different than I remembered.

SCOUT: Why, what do you remember?

ADNAN: Archive was a wild idea we’d announced to a roomful of investors. The geo-fence was still under construction but it was gonna be an open-air park, not a gated community. And implants were this hot new thing for really rich people, but not even all rich people used them yet. I had a job at Y Corp. (pause) And I had a wife, and a little girl, and a house…

SCOUT: Sounds pretty cool. I moved out of SF five years ago when my mom died. Hospital bills left my dad broke so we left for the outskirts in an RV. We were actually doing pretty well until he died last year. That’s the year the outskirts dried up for good. (pauses) I came out to him that year. I came out to his actual dead body. Kinda fucked up but I had to do it.

ADNAN: Oh, I’m… I’m so sorry.

SCOUT: Anyway, whatever, whatever. I didn’t see any of those things happen to SF. I just read about them. All I do is read and fix things.

ADNAN: You sure got damn good at fixing things.

SCOUT: Hey, thanks, man. You know, I had to just get my mind off of shit. If things were gonna just burn down, I needed something else to think about. Building up this car, writing this funky algorithm — I just need to work, trick my brain for, like, a split second…

[Vehicle decelerates.]

SCOUT: Ah, shit.

ADNAN: What? Wait, why are we slowing down?

SCOUT: So, we got a choice here and I sort of want you to let me make it.

ADNAN: Tell me.

SCOUT: Will you let me?

ADNAN: No, tell me first.

SCOUT: Ugh. There’s a higher than usual concentration of drones in your neighborhood. Like, much higher.

ADNAN: What about the green screens? Aren’t we safe enough?

SCOUT: Well, it’s managed risk, right? With this concentration of surveillance, the stop-gaps get very gappy.

ADNAN: Scout, just tell me, what are our options?

SCOUT: Well… We could go home.

ADNAN: What?!

SCOUT: This concentration is temporary. If they haven’t made an arrest in 12 hours, they’ll disperse. We could also create a distraction somewhere else in the city to buy us time. Lots of options, but not if we strike right now.

ADNAN: No way. We can’t give up. Not now.

SCOUT: No, no. We’re not “giving up.” (murmuring) Shit, this is why I didn’t want you to decide! (louder) It sets us back a day at most. I won’t even charge you extra.

ADNAN: (frustrated) Well, I don’t have a day! (pauses) If there is a chance let’s do it. You said so yourself. Hard but doable.

SCOUT: Urrrrgggh…

[Scout taps his feet, nervously.]

SCOUT: Tell me something nice. Something you remember about your home.

ADNAN: What?!

SCOUT: You’re not gonna listen to my advice! So let me have some good vibes.

ADNAN: I– (exhales) I remember looking up the hill from my backyard, and I see my daughter. She’s standing behind a glass door, her leg is shaking but she can walk. She’s barefoot in a red sun dress. I can’t see her face, though. There’s just a reflection of these bright sunflowers that my wife is growing where her face should be. (pauses) That’s it.

SCOUT: That’s a nice thing to remember. Keep it in mind. For good luck.


MEL: Good night, Susan. Can I call you a car?

RAD SUE: Thanks, Mel, but I’ll walk home.

MEL: All the way to the Marina?!

RAD SUE: (snorts) All the way?! It’s only two miles?!

MEL: (chuckling, to herself) Only two miles… But, it’s so late, my dear.

RAD SUE: (amused) Good night, Mel!

[Sue leaves. The clop clop of her steps echoes. We hear another set of footsteps. We hear someone whistling a simple five note melody.]

RAD SUE: Excuse me, what the hell do you think you’re doing?

[Caleb rushes her. He chases her.]

RAD SUE: No! Get–

[We hear sounds of struggling and grunts. Caleb tackles Sue to the ground.]

CALEB: (grunting) Hold still. It’ll hurt less.

RAD SUE: Get that FUCK-ing knife away… from… me. You’re gonna–

CALEB: I’m told the incision is painless.

[He cuts into the base of her neck. Cate screeches.]

CALEB: (exhales, satisfied) There it is.

RAD SUE: (screaming) Ah!!! Son of a bitch — I’m bleeding!

CALEB: Man these implants are tinier than I expected.

RAD SUE: (whimpering) You can’t unlock it. It’s useless to you!

CALEB: (chuckling) You have no idea what’s useless to me. Have a nice night.

RAD SUE: (calling out) Mel…

[Susan is moaning on the ground screaming for help. Caleb walks away whistling the same five-note melody.]


TAU: (distorted, over the phone) Let’s take it from the top.

LUX: (deep breath) Every Y Corp product is simply a tool to access something greater. With Monitor, we turned the personal computer into a concierge, giving you better access to your digital life. With Archive, every sovereign body on the planet had equal access to the means of production. There may have been hiccups along the way. And with Implant, we gave you access to your hom e — not just the place where you sleep at night, but the markets, the parks, the beaches, the restaurants — everything inside the geo-fence is now safely available for its residents. Which brings me to phase 3. (pauses)
Next slide, please.

[Audible click]

LUX: Introducing Archive 2.0. All of the innovations, none of the bugs. We can revitalize larger and more complex materials–

TAU: Let’s stop right there. I’m… not convinced.

LUX: (stunned) Oh. Okay. What does that mean?

TAU: You sound like Lux, the employee. I want you to sound like Lux, the boss.

LUX: (laughs) Pretty sure you’re still the boss, Gabriel.

TAU: Am I? Lux, look back at the last year. By any metric, you’ve exceeded expectations. You’ve already managed to navigate an ambitious road-map under-budget and under-schedule. The geo-fence, broad adoption of implants, complete drone and human security at every porous point. Incredible. Now, tell me about phase 3 like you run shit. Tell me about it like you own it. (pauses) Ready when you are.

LUX: (deep breath, more assured) This is the largest tunnel boring machine in the world, revitalized from salvaged parts. We’re saving billions while establishing vital infrastructure — and we’re doing it all in record time. Just one of these drills will double the capacity of the SF territory in a month. And just so you know we’re serious… (pauses) We’ve built three of them.

[Gabriel claps.]

TAU: (happier) Much better.

LUX: They’re gonna ask us about the underground population. As far as I know, we haven’t mapped out an exit plan for them.

TAU: If it comes up, I’ll address it. There’s quite a bit going on behind the scenes there and all our progress hinges on handling it with extreme care. We’ve already committed to spending millions directly out of our pocket to help reintegrate off-grid residents.

LUX: Glad to hear it. I’m on team Y Corp but I’m not ordering anyone to drill through people’s homes.

TAU: Rest assured, they’ll have options. We’re not monsters. Any update on our little side project?

LUX: We’re still poring over Adnan Lem’s research. I’ll be honest, the records he left behind were… opaque. But it’s only a matter of time until we crack them.

TAU: Time is a luxury, my friend. Always act as though it can’t be spared.

LUX: I’m not worried. Our only possible competition is Lem himself. And no one has seen or heard of him since his quote-unquote “suicide note.”

TAU: Quote-unquote?! Tell me, do you believe he’s still alive?

LUX: (dry laugh) It really doesn’t matter what I believe, Gabriel. Whether he’s dead or lying in wait… we’ve already won.


[We hear the blip of a heart-rate monitor.]

DR. NISHI: Good afternoon, Susan. How are we feeling?

RAD SUE: (ragged, dazed) Hi, Dr. Nishi. I’m doing much better, thanks. Just…shocked.

DR. NISHI: Mm, mmhmm. The physical recovery was the easy part. It’s the psychological recovery that I’m most concerned about here.

RAD SUE: (laughs) You know I never would’ve expected…

[She tears up.]

RAD SUE: (through tears) Oh, shit. Why am I crying? Just get me my work computer. I have a million emails to answer.

DR. NISHI: I don’t believe you had a computer with you, Susan.

RAD SUE: Ah, shit. (frustrated chuckle) Of course. I need to call my office. I lost my implant, obviously.

DR. NISHI: Mm, mmhmm. And that was your only way to access the outside world?

RAD SUE: When you put it that way, it does sound pretty stupid.

DR. NISHI: No worries. We’ll arrange to get you a simple smartphone.

RAD SUE: ‘Kay.

DR. NISHI: Now, there’s no rush at all but we did have some trouble processing the insurance information we have on file. If at some point you can confirm your data with the admins…

RAD SUE: (frustrated) As I mentioned, I’m in the process of recovering…

DR. NISHI: I totally understand. And I’m very glad that you had the wherewithal to end up here so I could be the one to offer you direct care. By the way, congratulations on your case. It looks like you won.

RAD SUE: Wait, what? They went to trial…they went to trial without me?! (pauses) Shit!

[She runs out of her room.]

DR. NISHI: Uh, wait, Susan. You’re in no shape to be running around.

[She gets grabs a phone from the front desk.]

NURSE: What the hell are you doing?

RAD SUE: (with an attitude) Sorry, I just need to make a quick call.

[Mashing buttons.]

NURSE: (stern) You can’t just grab my phone.

RAD SUE: I’m calling my office. It’ll just be a second.

NURSE: (louder) I said– (grunts) You cannot…just grab…my phone!

[Sue’s breathing slows.]

RAD SUE: Yeah. I’m… (pauses) I’m sorry.


[We hear the hum of Scout’s cruiser winding down as Scout and Adnan pull up into a quiet neighborhood overlooking the Pacific Ocean in San Francisco.]

[Scout rifles around their stuff.]

SCOUT: Here I got a present for you.

ADNAN: Uh… (rustling, skeptical) A trucker hat?

SCOUT: That is much more than a trucker hat, my friend. That is the Hex Set. It’s the anti-implant. Deflects surveillance tech. It’s also pre-loaded with a few credits for lunch and some fuel. There’s even some super basic phone and text features though they’re kinda temperamental…

ADNAN: Neat little gadget. I’d ask you how effective it is, but I guess I’m not in any position to be picky.

SCOUT: Like I said, managed risk. Think of it like you’re driving on a spare.

ADNAN: And what about you?

SCOUT: Oh, I mean, you testing my equipment? This is all valuable research for me.

ADNAN: No, I mean, like, what if you get arrested? You’re young, you’re smart. I can’t let you go to jail.

SCOUT: Eh, I’m fine. Did you not hear my story? No one’s gonna miss me.

ADNAN: That’s patently untrue. They’d be lucky to have you at SubTerra. (pause) Look, you’ve done enough for me. Just leave me here. I’ll make it through on my own.

SCOUT: That’s a terrible idea. You have about a 75% worse chance of surviving without me.

ADNAN: Uh– Well, Jesus Christ. OK, let’s do this together.

[We hear their footsteps on the gravel. We hear the faint whirr of drones.]

SCOUT: (quietly) Drones incoming. Tilt your head down.

[Drones get closer and louder.]

SCOUT: Be cool. They’re looking for your face. Let the hat do its thing.

ADNAN: (quietly) Oh, yeah. Okay.

SCOUT: It’s fine. Just walk normal, talk normal. And hide your face.

[Their footsteps slow.]

[One drone grows louder as it closes in.]

ADNAN: Am I imagining or is that one getting way too close to us?

SCOUT: Ignore it. Keep walking.

[It keeps getting closer.]

ADNAN: It’s right behind me.

SCOUT: (tenser) I said, ignore it.

ADNAN: I can feel the air from the turbine behind me. It’s about to give me a haircut.

SCOUT: (frustrated) Goddamn it.

[We hear two short crunching sounds as Scout dismantles the drone. It whines until it goes silent.]

SCOUT: Follow me. And walk faster.

[They run.]

SCOUT: Dammit, now we have 20 minutes, tops, before diagnostics comes to retrieve that dead drone.

ADNAN: (aggravated whisper) I didn’t tell you to break it?!

SCOUT: Well, you weren’t shutting up about it.

ADNAN: I’m sorry, Scout.

SCOUT: Follow my instructions and move quickly. Now, what’s the plan?

ADNAN: Plan?

SCOUT: Yes! Like, what are you going to do when you get to your home? Are you stealing something? Are you kidnapping someone?

ADNAN: Jesus, no! I… I’m looking for my wife.

SCOUT: Aw, man. You were just gonna ring the doorbell, huh?

ADNAN: Yeah… It’s my family.

SCOUT: Hmm… Hmm… (pauses) OK, it’s not a terrible idea. Best case scenario, you get in there, grab what you need, and we’re out of the city before support finds the drone I destroyed.

ADNAN: Worst case?

SCOUT: Whoever is behind the door– (makes loud pop) And you’re out.

ADNAN: Oh. Maybe I do this alone, then.

SCOUT: Yeah, maybe I’ll wait in the car.

[Adnan walks to the front door.]

[Electronic doorbell sounds.]

CLAIRE: (staticky) Hello?

ADNAN: (quietly) Claire?

CLAIRE: Who is this? I can’t see your face.

ADNAN: It’s me. It’s Adnan.

CLAIRE: (gasps) No.

ADNAN: It’s Adnan.

[Sirens in the distance.]

SCOUT: (shouting) Actually, Adnan, we have to go *now*!

ADNAN: Will you let me in?

CLAIRE: (anxious) I can’t believe it. Let me see your face. Take off the hat.

ADNAN: I’m in danger. Please…

CLAIRE: Take off your hat.

[A beat passes.]

CLAIRE: (whispering) Oh my god.

SCOUT: Whyyyy did you take off the hat??

[Engine revving.]

SCOUT: (shouting) Two minutes before swarm descends. You coming with me?

CLAIRE: They said you were dead.

ADNAN: Who said?

CLAIRE: Gabriel. He said… (pause) Forget it. I– I can’t–

[Buzzing gets louder as drones approach.]

SCOUT: One more minute. I’m heading back to the outskirts, Adnan. Last chance.

ADNAN: (emotional) I… I missed you.

CLAIRE: (tearing up) If you come in, you have to stay.

ADNAN: But, I promised them–

SCOUT: (yelling, tense) Forget it. Goodbye! (murmuring) Taking too long and shit…

[Hover car drives away.]

CLAIRE: You have to. You have to promise me.


END of episode 2.

The Missing Year, Part 1 | Transcript

[It’s night inside Gabriel Tau’s high-rise penthouse.]

GABRIEL: Record. Transition keynote, vee one.

GABRIEL: Good morning. Let’s get right to it—a lot has changed since… Ah. Delete.

[digital processing sound]

GABRIEL: Great change always comes with equal parts tragedy and triumph. The former nourishes the latter. To put it simply, we’ve lost one of the great engineers of our time. Circumstances are unclear at this time, so we won’t assume the worst. But neither can we expect…


GABRIEL: Pause. Save as “Adnan Lem intro.”

[digital processing sound]

GABRIEL: Record. Transition keynote, vee two.

GABRIEL: Real change always comes with challenges. As a wildly fluctuating climate, widespread disease and lawlessness threaten to impede our way of life in the Bay Area, it’s become increasingly important to protect the privileges of citizenship.

GABRIEL: The city is the most basic unit of our civilization. It’s the laboratory within which we construct our experience of the present, drawing from the lessons of the past and the dreams of tomorrow. Protecting our city means protecting civilization, and that means every human being bears a responsibility to become the key to their own city.

GABRIEL: Ladies and gentlemen, Implant Tech is getting an upgrade and it’s going to be the most widely available piece of firmware since the smartphone. What we’re keeping is the seamless experience of having access to your digital life through your neural network. What we’re losing is the lack of compatibility and downtime…

GABRIEL: Pause. Back up. Stop after “neural network.” Overwrite.

[digital processing sound]

GABRIEL: But now our technology is going to do more than unlock your own life. It’s going to help you become the key to the city of San Francisco. Your implant will be the gateway to so much more than just your home. Your library, your favorite coffee shop, public restrooms, playgrounds, restaurants, gyms and clubs of every stripe throughout the city—it’s all accessible and managed via one central digital account, all accessible with barely a nod.

GABRIEL: If you’re unfamiliar with Implant—

GABRIEL: Pause. Delete last fragment.

GABRIEL: Record.

GABRIEL: Your very self is the password. We are reimagining this city to reveal itself to you, its citizens—and to you, only.

GABRIEL: Our rollout plan is broad and widely available. We’re also offering discounts up to 20% for underrepresented and reduced income citizens. Everyone deserves a chance to be part of a brighter future.


[long silence, breathing]

GABRIEL: Record.

[digital processing sound]

GABRIEL: Before we adjourn, I want to thank the innovators who made this moment possible. You may not all be with us today, but your contributions live on.

GABRIEL: End. Save as Transition Keynote Final. Delete “Adnan Lem intro.”

[digital processing sound]

GABRIEL: Message Center—block all incoming messages from Devandra Miller. Duration, one week. Power down.

Episode 1, “Welcome to the Underground” | Transcript

[[I/O – Ep. 1 – By Alee Karim]]


[[ISOBEL LEM (25) runs across a deserted flatland. She pants as her feet fall hard on the packed dirt.]]

ISOBEL: (yelling) Faster!

[[ADNAN LEM (40), is running after her. He struggles to keep up, his pace ragged, his breaths labored.]]

ADNAN: (wheezing) I…shit…

ISOBEL: Hurry up, it’s closing!

[[Four drones fly into view. Their motion-sensing lasers emit a thick electric buzz as they scan for movement. She leaps and ducks, dodging them easily.]]

ISOBEL: Drones — incoming!

ADNAN: Heff…heff…ah, fuck…


[[DWAYNE GARNER (30) watches all this play out on a statick-y monitor. He taps his comms device with a squawk to signal RAD SUE (50).]]

DWAYNE: Dwayne Garner reporting from San Francisco watch, over.

RAD SUE: Copy, Dwayne. This is Rad Sue from SubTerra central.

DWAYNE: Copy, Sue. I’ve got visual on a woman running across the flats. I don’t recognize her but she’s… crazy fast.

RAD SUE: What do you mean fast?

DWAYNE: Like I didn’t know anyone could run that fast. Not setting off the drones, either. Oh, wait up a sec. (pauses) There’s someone coming after her. He’s slow as hell.

RAD SUE: Is she in danger? She could be one of ours.

DWAYNE: No, he’s really struggling to keep up.

[[And just like that: an electrical WHOMP swoops in and swallows her up — She’s disappeared.]]

DWAYNE: Oh, wait up. (pauses) She’s gone.

RAD SUE: What?!

DWAYNE: There was a quick flash of light and she’s disappeared.

SUE RAD: Dwayne, I don’t like this. This could be some new Y Corp tech. Will you check it out?

DWAYNE: Already on it.

[[One of the drone lasers crosses Adnan. A KLAXON sounds off. An androgynous-voiced  emergency broadcast system delivers a warning in a slow cadence.]]

EMERGENCY SYSTEM: Unrecognized occupant in Zone 57.  

DWAYNE: The drones caught up with this guy. He doesn’t have ID.

RAD SUE: Well, if he can’t even be bothered to make a fake, that’s his problem. 

DWAYNE: Oh, is that how it is now?

RAD SUE: Leave it, Dwayne. If he’s there tomorrow we can (go find him then)…

DWAYNE: Too late.

[[Radio squawks.]]


[[Adnan is on his knees, out of breath.]]

ADNAN: Shit! Come on!

EMERGENCY SYSTEM: Under statute 4379.1, you must retrieve or request your new ID implant. This is a warning.

[[Adnan begins pressing numbers on an old flip phone, but to no avail.]]

ADNAN: Nononono…shit.

EMERGENCY SYSTEM: You have 12 hours to comply. If you’re found without an ID–

[[A Jeep speeds towards Adnan, kicking up dust in its wake.]]

ADNAN: No. Dammit, no!

EMERGENCY SYSTEM: –Surrender yourself at a legal point of entry for the San Francisco geo-fence. Otherwise, the Greater Bay Area Defense Collective will issue penalties–

[[A shot rings out. The drone is hit and powers down as it crashes.]]

EMERGENCY SYSTEM: (voice slowing down) Up to one… hundred… thousand…

[[Three more shots and the last three drones are gone, too. Dwayne lumbers toward Adnan, his homemade body armor clunking against his outfit, shotgun in hand.]]

DWAYNE: Need a hand?

ADNAN: Y-you just shot those drones.

DWAYNE: Yeah, you’re welcome.

ADNAN: I was in the middle of an experiment.

DWAYNE: Yeah, and it wasn’t going so hot from the looks of it. Listen, I think you should come with me.

ADNAN: D-did you see where she went?

DWAYNE: I saw her disappear.

[[Adnan’s eyes are darting all around. This was not supposed to happen and he’s getting anxious and panicked.]]

ADNAN: (panicking) Don’t turn me in! Please!

DWAYNE: I’m not gonna turn you in.

ADNAN: I think… I’m in a lot of trouble.

DWAYNE: Don’t worry. I’m just a guy.

ADNAN: I… fuck…

DWAYNE: What’s your name?

ADNAN: (breathing quickly) Adnan. My name is Adnan and… I need to find her. I’m trying to remember–

[[Adnan hyperventilates.]]

DWAYNE: It’s okay, Adnan. I’m not gonna hurt you. Just tell me what happened. 

[[Fade in to an audience applauding.]]


[[It’s now one year earlier.]] 

[[Under the bright lights of a hotel auditorium in downtown San Francisco, GABRIEL TAU (50) is receiving a standing ovation.]]

GABRIEL: We have so many thrilling developments coming in phase 2. Some of it extremely blue sky, some of it very much ready to go. But before I get into any of that, I want to introduce you to the man who helped make it all possible. The man who went out on a limb with no budget, no investors, lots of skipped meals… and skipped showers.

[[Audience laughs.]]

GABRIEL: But he had the idea — and that was what carried him further than any of us imagined. Please welcome to the stage, the pioneer who helped make Archive Tech a reality, our Vice President of Product Development, Adnan Lem!

[[The audience erupts with applause again.]]

ADNAN: Thank you, Gabriel, for that introduction. And thank you for buying out my landlord before he could evict me.

[[Audience laughs.]]

ADNAN; In all seriousness, though, I’m here because of Gabriel’s support. And it’s not just about the money, it’s about the vision. The concept was simple: take any piece of matter, scan its structure and store its data. And when it breaks, we just hit rewind and restore it like new. The concept was simple but of course the execution… was not.

[[Awkward silence ensues. Adnan clears his throat and resumes.]]

ADNAN: But believe me when I say Gabriel’s vision is truly what brings us here today…

[[Faint applause builds to a crescendo this time.]]

ADNAN: Thank you. What we’re doing is going to revolutionize health care. Our latest test subjects are, oh–

[[Gabriel cuts off Adnan, stepping in front of the mike.]]

GABRIEL: Thank you, Adnan. Unfortunately, I’ve just gotten word that we’re running out of time for the breakout sessions. Just to jump off of that, we are actively rolling out in numerous industries. Today, we have sales reps in textiles, plastics, and aerospace — all available for onsite meetups immediately. Let them treat you to dinner, massages, helicopter rides — I challenge you to shock me with your expense reports.

[[Audience laughs.]]

GABRIEL: In the meantime, let’s have another round of applause for Mr. Lem!

[[Huge applause.]]


[[Adnan and Gabriel chat at a reception over drinks. Light jazz plays in the background.]]

ADNAN: Hey, you have a second?

GABRIEL: For you, I have many.

ADNAN: (chuckles) Well, thank you. Um… First of all thank you, again, for the introduction and the kind words earlier.

GABRIEL: Oh, it was an understatement, Adnan. You are quite literally the reason that we’re here.

ADNAN: Well, it’s still very kind of you to say. But I wanted to ask you… Why did you cut me off like that?

GABRIEL: Yes. (pauses) I owe you some context for that. (exhales) Adnan, remember when you pitched me on Archive the first time?

ADNAN: Barely. I was pretty sleep deprived by that point.

GABRIEL: Oh, you were downright incoherent. I mean, you were talking about time travel, resurrection, immortality — Between you and me, there was less than $50 separating you from a schizophrenic on Market Street.

[[They both chuckle.]]

GABRIEL: But… I could tell you had the goddamn goods, my friend. I took a leap of faith to get us here. The people in that audience today, though, they don’t take leaps of faith. They take leaps into big-ass piles of money like Scrooge McDuck. (laughs) The fact is, we just don’t have a vertical for health care yet — it’s just a seed in this garden that we’re growing. So why not focus them on the harvest first? You know what I’m saying?

ADNAN: Right. I guess I’m wondering why our health care efforts are still just… seeds.

[[Gabriel lets out a sigh.]]

GABRIEL: Fair enough. Tell you what, Adnan: you put together a product deck for a health care vertical and we’ll make it happen. Deal?

ADNAN: (laughs) I don’t think I even know what a product deck is.

GABRIEL: Of course you don’t. Product decks are boring. But product decks are interesting as hell to investors. Look, I’ll connect you with one of our PMs first thing Monday — how’s that?

ADNAN: That sounds great.

[[Gabriel gets distracted and starts to walk away.]]

GABRIEL: In the meantime, please, god, help me find some scotch. This champagne is useless.


[[Back to the present time, back off-grid. Adnan and Dwayne drive south as night falls. The roar of Dwayne’s jeep mingles with the ambient country-western music on his radio and the occasional whoosh of dust eddies.]]

DWAYNE: One perk of being off-grid: you can see actual stars. (pause) You don’t get all that light pollution you get in the SF geo-fence.

[[Adnan starts roughly itching his neck.]]

DWAYNE: You all right over there?

ADNAN: Yeah. My skin is just dry.

DWAYNE: Look, I know you must be nervous but if that whole altercation back there didn’t convince you, I’m one of the good guys.

ADNAN: No, it’s fine. (coughs) So, where are you taking me?

DWAYNE: Underground.

ADNAN: Where underground?

DWAYNE: Under. Ground. As in the Underground. Where off-grid folks live.

ADNAN: I just… I remember this all being a lot greener. People lived here.

DWAYNE: Yeah, a mega-drought and zero relief infrastructure will do that. (pauses) You don’t know what I’m talking about, do you?

ADNAN: I’m not sure. My memory is hugely fuzzy right now. Like there’s a gap in my data– (pauses) You know how you’ll have files on your computer but you can’t open them? That’s what it feels like.

DWAYNE: Sure. (pauses) Think maybe whoever removed your implant botched it.

ADNAN: I don’t remember getting an implant removed. Or installed.

DWAYNE: Well, you were inside the geo-fence, right? You had to have one. Even I had one.

ADNAN: Look, I don’t know either way. But if you could just take me back where you left me–

DWAYNE: Sorry, can’t do that.

ADNAN: Why not?

DWAYNE: My friend — without an implant the only place you’re going is underground.

ADNAN: So you don’t have one?



DWAYNE: (sternly) Because I’m a free human being.

[[Adnan pauses to process this.]]

ADNAN: (muted) So, what happens if I go with you underground?

DWAYNE: Get you some food, maybe a shower–

ADNAN: I need to find the woman who was with me.

DWAYNE: If you want to improve your odds of that, you’re better off regrouping somewhere safe.

ADNAN: Thanks, but I’m really more worried about the time I have left.

DWAYNE: Not gonna have much time if you get arrested.

ADNAN: Well, if I do that’s my problem.

DWAYNE: (angry) It’s not just about you!

[[A long pause passes between them as Dwayne collects himself.]]

DWAYNE: Adnan, you don’t really get why we’re out here, do you? How lucky you are that I picked you up?

ADNAN: Look, man, I– I haven’t done anything illegal. I’m not running from the law. If you are that’s not any of my business but–

DWAYNE: It’s not about that at all. Let me tell you: shit gets real out here. I’m chit-chatting all casual with you because I have a jeep, a gun, and a schedule of drone routes memorized. You get caught out here by yourself, all disoriented without an ID implant — best case you’re looking at a year in prison.

ADNAN: (stunned) That’s insane. W-Who, why is this happening?

DWAYNE: You wanna know why, ask fucking Gabriel Tau.

ADNAN: (shocked, quiet) Tau. (pauses) I know that name. Why do I know that name?

DWAYNE: California’s first CEO. (laughs) What, is he your buddy?!

ADNAN: (lost in thought) I know who that is.


[[One year ago, again, on-grid. Inside a sleek laboratory, the massive hum of the Archive device fills the room as it warms up. Adnan opens a glass hatch, places a fidgety pigeon inside it, then shut it.]]

ADNAN: Hey, Monitor.

[[The centralized computer answers in a feminine voice.]]

MONITOR: Good evening, Adnan. How can I help you?

ADNAN: Record audio, please.

MONITOR: Recording.

ADNAN: This is Adnan Lem here at Y Corp Labs. It’s January, twenty-twenty-nine in San Francisco, California. Ready for my…fifth? Yeah, fifth test run of Archive on a living being.

[[The bird squawks.]]

ADNAN: For this run, I have chosen a pigeon. I feel really good about my calculations and, uh… (sighs, whispers) I promise you: you shall rise again.

[[The hum intensifies. A bright white light fills the room.]]

ADNAN: That sound you just heard is the start of the scanning process. We’re taking a complex snapshot of the organism’s DNA. I should have enough time to…

MONITOR: Reminder. Adnan, you have an important–

ADNAN: (annoyed) Dismiss. Please. Thanks.

MONITOR: No problem. Snoozing reminder.

ADNAN: Jesus, what was I saying. (pauses) The organic data has to be kept in elastic storage. We are beginning the process of catching all the unique interactions between the limbs, between the nervous system, circulation — We need all of it to get something truly alive. 

[[The intense hum abruptly switches to a rhythmic pulse. A red light strobes in time with it.]]

ADNAN: Snapshot taken. Begin tracking the movements of the specimen. 

[[The pigeon coos.]]

ADNAN: I can see our pigeon friend doing this pecking thing under its wing because it’s anxious. So we may find the reanimated specimen over-emphasizes this behavior. Not too worried about that, though. Muscle memory should–

[[The speed of the machine pulse slows.]]

ADNAN: Okay. Ready for the horrible part. Time to kill the specimen. I’m going to do this in the most humane way possible. First a heavy dose of anesthetic.

[[He attaches tubes and we hear a rushing sound as fluid enters the pigeon. The cooing pigeon goes silent.]]

ADNAN: Next, enough pentobarbital to kill a potbelly pig.

MONITOR: Reminder. Adnan, you have an upcoming–

ADNAN: (muttering) Jay-susss. (annoyed) Monitor, silence all notifications?

MONITOR: Sure. Pausing notifications. To resume notifications, you’ll need to–

ADNAN: Yes, thank you, thank you. Jesus motherfucking Christ I’m trying to murder a pigeon.

[[Another whoosh of liquid through the tubes. The pigeon is dead.]]

ADNAN: Moment of silence. You know, I’d just like to say that–

[[An electrical glitch, a huge THOOM. The room powers down, killing all ambient sound.]]

ADNAN: No! (angrier, louder) NO! Shit!

[[He stumbles around the darkened room, knocking things over.]]

[[A phone rings.]]

ADNAN: My phone. Where’s my phone?!  

[[Adnan runs towards the lit screen, fumbling with it before answering.]]

ADNAN: Lem speaking.

GABRIEL: Were you planning on joining us?

ADNAN: Gabriel? I… Ah, shit, I’m so sorry.

GABRIEL: Yes. Well, shame on me for expecting you in person. Anyway, you’ll be happy to know we’ve secured the investing round for phase 2. So where the hell are you?

ADNAN: I’m in the lab. And it’s pitch black, I–

[[In a wash of white light and awakening machines, the lab has power again.]]

ADNAN: Hal-A-freakin-LU-ya!

GABRIEL: Everything okay over there?

ADNAN: Yeah. Yeah, I’m fine now. Just in the middle of something. Blue sky stuff.

GABRIEL: You know, as a director, you ought to delegate a bit more.

ADNAN: No, I know. It’s just that… Look, my team doesn’t have the skillset to manage these projects.

GABRIEL: We got you the best engineers for this shit.

ADNAN: Yes, for materials science. What I need–

GABRIEL: Now, stop right there. We have a strict product road map. A road map that I, our board, and our investors have agreed upon. 

ADNAN: I know, but–

GABRIEL: What you do on your own time is your business. But when you’re at a Y Corp facility, you’re focused on our priorities, you understand?

ADNAN: (muted) I do.

GABRIEL: I should hope so. Consider this your second warning.

ADNAN: Second warning? 

GABRIEL: Let’s drop this for tonight, hit reset, and reconnect on Monday.

[[Gabriel hangs up. Almost immediately, the power shuts off again with another big THOOM.]]

ADNAN: G– (yells) Ah, fuck! (pause) Hey, Monitor?

MONITOR: Yes, Adnan.

ADNAN: Did those reminders I was ignoring have something to do with the power going out?

MONITOR: The reminder was to inform you of a scheduled after-hours facility maintenance. Power will be unavailable intermittently during–

ADNAN: (exhales) Right, right. Got it. What about Restore phase?

MONITOR: I’m sorry, I don’t understand the request.

ADNAN: (growls) The last phase of the Archive process is called Restore. Where are we in that process?

[[A subtle wash of beeps and bloops as Monitor calculates.]]

MONITOR: Just a moment. (pauses) Archive system functionality will begin when power comes back online. I’m afraid Archive is unavailable at this time. 

ADNAN: Ah, fuck! (yells) FUCK! (pause) Cancel experiment. (sighing) Okay, Monitor, I’m going to get a drink to toast this very dead bird.

MONITOR: Would you like me to send you updates?

ADNAN: Sure, whatever. Bye.

[[He exits the office. It’s deathly still for a long beat.]]

[[Suddenly, the power is back and with a great THOOM, Archive comes back online.]]

[[The bird’s eyes open; it quietly coos.]]


[[Dwayne and Adnan walk around inside the lighted tunnels beneath the South Bay, an elaborate network of mine shafts.]]

[[Each cave they pass is a vendor, a common area, or personal living quarters.]]

DWAYNE: Welcome to Subterra One. Home sweet home.

[[They walk past makeshift living quarters, workshops, and city contractors dressed in dirty black jumpsuits. The atmosphere is like an Asian night market. People are selling foods and toys, babies are crying, people are chatting, making out, partying, living life…]]

ADNAN: This is like a whole city down here. You built all this?

DWAYNE: We built all this. Housing, food, medical, movies — we made it ourselves, for ourselves.

ADNAN: How did I not know about this?

DWAYNE: Well anyone working in tech — white collar bougie shit — wouldn’t know. Anything jogging your memory, by the way?

ADNAN: No, not exactly. Not at all.

DWAYNE: So you have like full-blown amnesia, huh?

ADNAN: Like I said, it’s like my brain’s got all this data.

DWAYNE: (reassuring) But you don’t have the right app to read it or whatever. Right. Look, I’m telling you: you got a cheap, back-alley implant removal and now your head’s not quite right. I’ve seen it before. Good news is it’s temporary.  

ADNAN: Yeah?

DWAYNE: Hell yeah. What, you think they rolled this tech out to half a million people and it’s not buggy as hell?

[[They both laugh.]]

[[A golf cart motors in. ]]

DWAYNE: Hey, there’s someone here I want you to meet…

[[Inside the golf cart is MAKENNA (20), a security operative inside the Tunnels and Rad Sue one of the unofficial directors inside the tunnels.]]

DWAYNE: Rad Sue, I want you to meet–

RAD SUE: (surprised) Adnan Lem?

DWAYNE: Oh, you’ve met?

RAD SUE: Not officially. (to Dwayne) Dwayne, have you searched him?

DWAYNE: (defensive) Not yet, I–

RAD SUE: (angry) Did you check for an implant?

DWAYNE: He set off an alarm. That was all the proof I needed.

RAD SUE: So you’ve brought someone Underground and you’re unsure of their status?

DWAYNE: Sue, with all due respect, you’re tripping.

RAD SUE: Am I? Makenna, zip tie Mr. Lem here and put him in temp lockup.

MAKENNA: Happy to.

[[Zip ties fasten around his wrists quickly, tight against his skin.]]

ADNAN: (sucking air) Ow.

RAD SUE: Sorry, Adnan. You’re a nice enough guy but there’s too many X factors there.

DWAYNE: Sue, can I talk to you a minute? (whispers to Sue) Now, let’s overlook the fact that you’re undermining your head of security in front of a stranger and one of my direct reports.

RAD SUE: Come on, Dwayne–

DWAYNE: Let me finish. (pauses) Now, before I brought him down here, he mentioned something about an experiment. I have a hunch he knows why that woman disappeared. And I think our friends in the geo-fence don’t know a thing about it yet. 

RAD SUE: (whispers) Yeah? Well, guess what, I have a hunch, too. My hunch is that he’s undercover, gathering intel for this massive police offensive we’ve been hearing about. 

DWAYNE: (whispers sharply) He was begging me not to bring him down here.

RAD SUE: He could still have the upper hand.

DWAYNE: He’s not here because he wants to be here. He’s here because I want him here.

RAD SUE: That what you think?

DWAYNE: (louder) That’s a fact.

RAD SUE: (sighs, louder voice) Makenna, cut the zip ties.

[[Makenna snips the zip tie with a knife.]]

ADNAN: Jesus. Thank you. 

RAD SUE: No bindings but you’re still coming with us for the night.

ADNAN: Look, I can be out of your hair immediately–

RAD SUE: It’s not up to you, Adnan. (to Dwayne) Dwayne, we’ll have him back to you before your shift ends. I just want to catch up on a few things.

[[They drive away down the tunnel, taking turns a little too fast.]]

ADNAN: Excuse me, ma’am?

RAD SUE: Don’t ever call me ma’am. My name is Sue.

ADNAN: Right. Okay, Sue, I need to go back… to above ground. There was someone–

RAD SUE: Yes, and we want to find her, too. But believe me, if we can’t find her, you can’t find her.

ADNAN: You don’t know that.

RAD SUE: That much I do know. What I don’t know is who she works for. Is it Y Corp? I’d ask you but I’m pretty sure you wouldn’t tell me if you knew.

ADNAN: No, that’s not– I… Look, my memory is not the best right now but I definitely know Y Corp and I definitely know Gabriel Tau even if I don’t know how I know them. So if there’s anything I can do to help, I’ll do it.

RAD SUE: (snorts) You don’t remember me, do you?

ADNAN: Well… Depends on what you mean. Right now, I… It’s like I’ve seen you before but in a movie.

RAD SUE: Damn… (sighs) What did they do to you.


[[Adnan snores in his bed. His daughter, ISOBEL (8) creeps into the room to wake him.]]

ADNAN: Mmm. Mmm. (snorts) Oh, hey, Izzie.

YOUNG ISOBEL: Dad. Did you forget again?

ADNAN: Did I… Oh, dang, of course. It’s pancakes morning.

YOUNG ISOBEL: (annoyed) I had everything out and ready for you.

ADNAN: I’m gonna get started right now.

[[His wife, CLAIRE (30s) walks in, in a hurry.]]

CLAIRE: No, Adnan, no breakfast for her. She has another procedure this morning.

YOUNG ISOBEL: But I’m starving!

ADNAN: (repeating, being cute) She’s starving!

CLAIRE: (really keyed up) That’s why I packed a juice and a bagel for right afterwards! Now say bye to dad — we’re late.

ADNAN: Bye, honey. Love you.

YOUNG ISOBEL: Bye, Dad. By the way, your phone was beeping a lot when I came in here.

ADNAN: Oh yeah? Let me see that. (pause) (whispers) Oh my god.

YOUNG ISOBEL: Dad, you should get one of those implants now that you have a good job. They say we’re all gonna have one soon anyway.

ADNAN: (anxiously) Listen, Claire, something big happened. (pause) I want to talk to you again about the treatment.

CLAIRE: (sighing) Isobel, can you give me and dad a minute? (whispering, angry) Adnan, this has to stop. 

ADNAN: You didn’t see what I saw. It works, Claire.

CLAIRE: There is literally nothing you can do that will convince me to use that device on our daughter.

ADNAN: Then it’s my job to make you not feel like that.

CLAIRE: That wasn’t meant as a challenge.

[[Phone beeps.]]

ADNAN: I– I promise if you let me show you what I saw–

CLAIRE: We’re late. I’ll see you later.


[[With the sound of swishing doors, Adnan races into his lab.]]

MONITOR: Good morning, Adnan. The final stage of last night’s experiment resumed as expected once power came back online.

[[The pigeon warbling.]]

ADNAN: (whispers, awed) Oh my god… You’re alive. You are very much alive.

[[Adnan kisses the pigeon.]]

ADNAN: (louder) You! Are! Alive!

MONITOR: This is a reminder — you have a meeting with Gabriel Tau in his office in ten minutes.

ADNAN: I do?! Since when?

MONITOR: This meeting was scheduled late last night. Priority level is high.

ADNAN: (to bird) Wanna come say hello?

[[Pigeon in hand, Adnan leaves his windowless lab and marches down the sunlit halls of Y Corp.]]

ADNAN: Excuse me. Sorry, this thing might shit in my hands. 

[[He walks past confused colleagues, the bird cooing and flapping its wings.]]

ADNAN: Pardon, pardon.


[[On his way to Gabriel Tau’s office door, he passes his executive assistant, MAGGIE (25). She bolts up from her desk.]]

MAGGIE: Hi, Dr. Lem. What… is that?

ADNAN: Maggie, this right here is the resurrection of Christ as literal scientific reality.

MAGGIE: Okay… Isn’t it a pigeon?

ADNAN: It’s way more than a pigeon. Can I show the big man?

MAGGIE: (skeptical) Sure. (confused) Gabriel, Adnan Lem is here.

[[Adnan bursts through the door, the pigeon fluttering in his hand.]]

GABRIEL: (hushed) What the hell…

ADNAN: Gabriel, the most amazing thing happened to me. Well, not to me but to this guy, here in my hand.


ADNAN: It’s alive. I did it, Gabriel. I didn’t just salvage an airplane fuselage or revive a threaded drill bit. I made life… from death. Archive works.

[[Gabriel calms down significantly.]]

GABRIEL: (muted) Congratulations.

ADNAN: Gabriel, this is it. This is the resurrection of Christ made real. I mean, this is everything I’ve worked for. I know I’ve been saying, I’m close, I’m close for a long time. But this time? I knew I had it.

GABRIEL: You even promised the bird.

ADNAN: Yeah, I– Wait… How did you know that?

GABRIEL: It was in your Monitor logs, of course.

ADNAN: Y-You were going through my shit?

GABRIEL: I’m sorry — I do believe it’s my shit. Anyway, I wouldn’t have done it unless I had cause to.

ADNAN: And what was that?

GABRIEL: Remember when I told you that you got your second warning?

ADNAN: (growing frustrated) Yes. I didn’t understand it then and I still don’t understand it now.

GABRIEL: The thing is, Adnan, I don’t give second warnings. It was clear to me at the investors’ conference that our visions were no longer aligned. I regret not severing ties right then.

ADNAN: Jesus, Gabriel. I can’t believe what I’m hearing.

GABRIEL: Let me finish. (pause) The fact is, I felt I owed you. Your innovation brought us here. But if I were to continue to ignore the signs about your lack of enthusiasm, I will be doing both of us a disservice.

ADNAN: (loud) How dare you! My lack of enthusiasm?! 

GABRIEL: (louder) Oh, don’t be such a victim! (he leans in to whisper) This is business. And I’m being more fair than your behavior warrants. You used Y Corp facilities to further your personal goals and I have the records to prove it.

[[Adnan starts to feel guilty.]]

ADNAN: (quieter) Gabriel, you can’t seriously–

GABRIEL: And you don’t know the half of it. Honestly, the cleanup jobs that I’ve had to do — All to cover your ass! I’ve had it!

[[They both take a beat. Adnan is stunned.]]

ADNAN: (dejected) What happens now?

GABRIEL: What happens now is this whole exchange stays between you and me. As far as anyone else is concerned, you were burnt out and needed to take a break for your mental health. Time to reconnect with your family and–

ADNAN: Archive, what happens with Archive?? I still have work to do. 

GABRIEL: We’ll figure it out. A situation that’s appropriate–

ADNAN: (sternly) I won’t let you stop me.

GABRIEL: Speaking as your friend for a moment, I’ll forget you just said that.

ADNAN: You can’t– You have to promise… this is my– (pauses, breaking down) This is… Why I’m here.

[[Adnan weeps.]]

GABRIEL: (reassuring) It’s all right.

ADNAN: (sobs) This is so fucked up.

GABRIEL: I’ll have Maggie call you a car. We’ll talk in the morning.

[[Defeated, Adnan walks slowly out of the office.]]

[[Once Adnan’s gone, Gabriel taps his phone awake. He’s calling Sue the woman we met in Subterra earlier, but it’s not Rad Sue, revolutionary, it’s Susan Rademacher, corporate lawyer — this is her one year earlier.]]

GABRIEL: Susan, it’s Tau. Listen I have a situation here with a rogue employee. It’s Adnan Lem — he’s our head of engineering. 

RAD SUE: You’d mentioned him. The one with diverging priorities?

GABRIEL: Yes, well, it’s gotten worse. He is mentally unstable, engaged in multiple unethical and even illegal activities, and he’s made threats to steal my intellectual property.

RAD SUE: Well, that sounds like you have just cause to let ‘em go. But I assume it’s more complicated if we’re talking.

GABRIEL: Right, as always. The long and the short of it, I fired him in a huff — no paperwork, no nothing. Honestly I don’t think I can legally let him go the way I did but I made a good enough show of it. But once the smoke clears and he gets his bearings, he’s going to fight me for Archive. Things will get ugly.

RAD SUE: Well, let’s get ahead of this, then.

GABRIEL: Yes, let’s. Now, listen, I’ll have my lawyers transfer everything your way before we hang up. Let’s be ready with an airtight case in twenty-four hours.

RAD SUE: No problem. I’ll get Rassan on this right away.

GABRIEL: I need you.

RAD SUE: Gabriel, I’m slammed. 

GABRIEL: Whatever it is, I can pay for it to wait.

RAD SUE: I don’t understand. This is a layup case.

GABRIEL: Susan, trust me… It has to be you.

RAD SUE: It’s your dime, my friend.


[[Back to NOW. Power is shutting down throughout the underground.]]

[[Adnan breaths steadily, whispering to himself. Makenna walks in to his quarters.]]

INTERCOM: Subterra curfew in five minutes. All citizens not on scheduled rounds return to their sleep quarters.

MAKENNA: Hey. (louder) Hey, Adnan.

ADNAN: Yeah?

MAKENNA: So what really happened up there?

ADNAN: What do you mean? 

MAKENNA: I mean, where did you come from, who was that girl you were chasing?

ADNAN: Well… It’s hard to explain–

[[She draws a gun on him and cocks it.]]

MAKENNA: Just so you know, I’m not just making conversation.

ADNAN: Hey, wait, wait, wait– My memory’s really fuzzy right now–

MAKENNA: Look, everyone has their read on what’s going on. Dwayne thinks you’re a good guy. Sue’s just being safe. Me? I think you’re a fuckin’ rat. 

[[She presses the barrel to his forehead.]]

MAKENNA: Does this jog your memo–nnhh

ADNAN: (grunts) Ah, please stop pointing that thing at me. 

[[We hear a loud THUNK. Makenna slumps to the ground after a strike to the neck by…]]

[[Isobel, now ten years older — she’s the mysterious woman Adnan had been running with. Adnan’s eyes widen.]]

ADNAN: Isobel! Y-you’re back. I thought it was too late.

ISOBEL: (sternly) I’ll explain later. Let’s get out of here.

[[A device warms up with a thick electric hum.]]

ISOBEL: Here. To help you dodge drones.

ADNAN: Where are we going?

ISOBEL: We’re gonna run to another time jump. But this time you’re coming with me.[


[[Once again, Adnan trails Isobel.]]

ISOBEL: Speed up, it’s almost time.

[[The drones emerge; the klaxons sound off.]]

EMERGENCY SYSTEM: Unrecognized occupant in Zone 55.  Curfew violated.

[[A rushing sound starts to take over.]]

ISOBEL: The portal’s opening.

ADNAN: (panting) I– I can’t–

EMERGENCY SYSTEM: Warning. You have committed a… compound violation. With… repeat offenses. Charges include a mandatory… 12 months’… detention.

ISOBEL: Take my hand.

[[The rushing sound engulfs us.]]

ADNAN: It’s not gonna–!

[[A loud WHOOMP — and they disappear.]]

[[The desert is quiet but for a lone klaxon.]]

[[The klaxon stops.]]

EMERGENCY SYSTEM: Violator is out of range.

// END //