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October 31, 2019 13 mins

Suspended between a troubled surface world and her deep-sea destination, UDEX agent Synøve Pan strikes a deal with a stowaway journalist -- and prepares for what awaits her on Atlas Station. 

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Episode Transcript

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Speaker 1 (00:01):
Follows the production of I are reading of This episode
contains depictions of drug use. The second oilistic products, and

(00:33):
you've heard text America on America one. It all reinforces
this inland narrative that recombined people shouldn't be part of
normal society, that we're not human enough. It's the same
sort of repression and exclusion we've seen throughout history, and
here we are doing it again. We talked, or I
let her talk. She didn't require a lot of encouragement.

(00:54):
Utex is complicit too. They profit from the pact and
depend on recombined labor, but they're also the first to
don themselves from the coastal communities when they need to
appeal to landlocked minds. I think she hoped these barbs
would prick me as well, that I'd take criticism of
my corporate overlords personally. But of course that's not how

(01:14):
I saw it. I agreed with most of it, except
for the notion that anything could be done. I was
through thinking the world could be fixed. All I wanted
was to act and to find who I was through action.
Just particles of a blade stirred to sharpness. Did you

(01:34):
grow up unlocked? No? We moved around. I saw the
coastal communities from which side. You know which side, But
you've been there, right, that's your line of work, I had,
and it was we polished off the whiskey. She lectured

(01:56):
me more on the failings of you dex until she
fell asleep on the cat, curled up beside my gear
and knives. But I couldn't sleep, even if I'd wanted to.
I paced. I walked back into the cargo hold and
inspected the farm tab crate. It was exactly as she'd

(02:17):
described it, a hollowed out burrow beny three rows of
prepackaged meals. I found a pillow, a travel urinal, and
a half empty water thermis. A satchel contained spare clothes,
and a locked communit. I checked the other crates as well,
but found only the expected towels, beer, prepackaged junk food.

(02:40):
One contained nothing but crab crisps. I looked up veil
on my communit. In the old days of the World
Wide Web, they say you could turn up anything with
a few choice searches. But of course, now beyond each
communit's standard info base, everything's regional firewalled periodic, an online

(03:02):
police state to keep all the cyber crime, cyber war,
and self replicating malware in check. I flagged her for
a more detailed web snapshot the next time I connected
for a packet, but the basic info seemed to check out.
I pulled up a holographic low res head shot, as
well as a handful of her recent reports on recombined

(03:24):
populations and human rights, or at least titles and audio
fragments due diligence, something to occupy my mind and fingers.
While the basilisk coursed through me, I leaned against the
cargo holds enormous wheeled door and quieted my suspicions. She

(03:48):
was still asleep when I walked back into the cabin.
I collected my knives and gear from the cot and
throw a blanket over her. That was the moment I
decided not to turn her in. Are you tired of

(04:08):
this happening to you? Hey? Honey? What's for dinner? We're
having Taker times cole slaw and crab sticks. Crab sticks again?
I don't even know what these are made of. What
part of the crab is this again? And why is
it spelled with the K like cow? Give your family
the delicious farm grown meal they deserve straight to your

(04:30):
table from the American heartland. They're fast, easy, and deliver
all the nutrition a land dwelling mammal like yourself requires.
Each dish is a bountiful harvest of non GMO veggies
and all your favorite meats, cow, pig, chicken, and of
course wrong worn fraghn. This is delicious mob farm tab

(04:51):
because crab with a K is not okay, it's human
and non human right. I for one, I'm sick to
death of the traitorous liberal lean is a big media
and big government recombined noncombined. Please, if someone walks up
to you on the street and calls you non combined,
then you have the right to punch him in the

(05:11):
face and check for gills. As far as I'm concerned,
that's their game, people, infiltration, misapeciation. But you keep your
fist jeans away from me and mine. Because I'm a mammal,
my heart gushes warm blood, I have nails and hair
and nipples. I mean, they don't lack tape. Because I'm
a man, not a fruit bat. I'm certainly not gonna

(05:31):
stand by it. Let a bunch of half human monsters
come and threaten my family with their slimy coon by
politics that color. I told Vail the truth that I

(05:56):
wouldn't say a word unless they asked, and even then
I'd only my shin a suspicious crate in the cargo bay.
Maybe some sounds I couldn't quite explain. It was all
on her. I helped her crawl back into a crate,
breaking her in meal after prepackaged meal. I hope you

(06:17):
find your missing person. Sure you don't want me to
ask around you never know. I don't think you want
any part of it. You might be surprised what an
impartial reporter can learn over a corporate mercenary. I'm not
really a mercenary. I'm more of an agent. Potato Potato.

(06:38):
I hope your land your story. I really do. And
with one last look at her eyes, I bricked them over,
replacing them with the garish smile of a cartoon farmer
and his cows. I packed in the rest. I stepped
back and listened to her stir inside the crate, positioning

(07:00):
herself for the rest of the descent. And then everything
was silent, just the hum and pulse of our artificial shell.
I walked back into the cabin and sealed the door
behind me. I pulled my communit back out and checked
the progress meter. Then I flipped over to the sub's

(07:24):
external camera and watched the feet bloom into holographic life
before my eyes. The metallic bulk of Atlas Station loomed
below me, like some sunken god of industrial excess. Multiple
arms coiled about the surrounding sea floor, connecting its central
cathedral like body to various outlying facilities and sub hangers.

(07:49):
Its baleful lights seemed to fight back against the darkness
of the abyssal plane, as if standing sentinel against any
traveler seeking the dark trench beyond its watch. It was
at once beautiful and blasphemous, steel and chemical glass and circuitry,

(08:10):
so much of the natural world remade and repurposed into
a squatting giant, impossible to indefinitely only to very I
be found the drug was wearing off a bit early.

(08:32):
It's an inexact science, subject to the effects of stress
an environment. I shot off the communit. I slid two
knives into my belt, sheaths another into my boot. I
grabbed the basilisk applicator and ejected the spent vial into
the sink. I fumbled almost dropped the fresh dose before

(08:53):
loading it into place. I moved the applicator to my
right shoulder and shot the stuff home. The sub shook
and I fell to one knee. I heard the groan
of mechanical arms reaching out to embrace the sub, the
labor of its joints resonating through the high pressure waters
all around us. The drug began to take hold, and

(09:16):
I swept sweat from my scalp, flicked my fingers, and
watched blood spattered to the floor grids. No, not blood,
but darkness, the earth's black riches. No. I could taste
it on my lips, neither oil nor blood, but only sweat.

(09:40):
I smelled the feckin sharpness of my animal fear. The
rest was mere vision. I looked down to my other
hand and saw that I'd redrawn the knife from my boot,
its edge gleaming. Our best self is a thing summoned.
It depends on chemical balance, a careful cocktail of external stimuli,

(10:05):
ideal weather, job relationship upbringing the right pharmaceutical fix for
all the gaps. I think most people never confront that truth,
but I did. That's why I walked out of my
old life and into the U dex Apathis program. Once more,

(10:27):
I drowned it all in the depths of the treatment.
They wanted an untouchable agent, one who could stand unflinching
in the face of the Triton's power, especially their nariats.
Triton's engineered in the deep to have human likenesses. They
were sirens, created to walk among us and further the

(10:50):
Triton's uncertain ends. And I'd been conditioned to resist them
body and mind. Fine, change me, refine me, just make
me something other than this cluster of anxieties and dashed hopes.

(11:13):
The cargo bay door rumbled in the next room. I
heard the audible hiss of air as the sub opened
itself to the vast, sprawling uncertainty of Atlas Station. But
I felt my breath begin to still. The claw unclenched
from my heart, My awareness tightened, the blade slipped soundlessly

(11:36):
back into its boot sheath, and I stood to greet
my hosts, M M M. The second oil age was

(12:03):
produced by Robert Lamb, Alex Williams, Lauren Vogelbaum, and Josh Thame.
This episode featured on Joo Masters as sinov Pon. Lauren
Vogelbaum as Tabitha Vale and Noel Brown as tex America.
Supporting voice work by Jed Drummond, Gina Rakiki, Nicholas Takowski,
Eden Brown, and Jason Coke intro outro, and supporting music

(12:26):
created by the Wielding Module. Learn more at Module dot
bandcamp dot com. Music for the Farm tab media segment
New Toy Syndrome by Calvin Cardioid provided by King DeLux Records.
Learn more at king DeLux dot c a M. For

(13:14):
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