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The Terraformers

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Episode 4: Trapped!

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First aired: The Signal: Season 5, Episode 8
Credits
Written by Helen Eaton
Starring Miranda Thomas as Taya Ray Parsec
Starring Kari Haley as Sarah Brunel
Featuring Nick Edwards as Mister Spall
Edited by Wayne Hutchinson
NARRATOR
Starring Kari Haley as Sarah Brunel.
SARAH
Absolutely no screw-ups this time, Taya Ray. We’ve been warned. There will be severe consequences if this assignment goes belly up…
NARRATOR
And Miranda Thomas as Taya Ray Parsec.
TAYA RAY
Don’t fret, Sarah. It’s about time an assignment went smooth for us.
NARRATOR
And featuring Nick Edwards as Mr Spall.
MR SPALL
If you two mess this one up, you’ll be on planetside delivery duty for a month!
NARRATOR
Episode number 4 – Trapped!

Location: Docks on New Melbourne. By the sea. Spaceships are landing and taking off, waves are breaking in the distance, there’s the occasional squawk of a seagull and general background noise of people talking, hustle and bustle.

SARAH
(Flatly.) No… This did not go well.

Musical cue to indicate passing of time.

NARRATOR
Twenty four hours earlier.

Location: A passenger ship somewhere in space. General background hum and quiet conversation from other passengers.

SARAH
You know, I think Mr Spall has sent us as far away as possible just to get us out of what’s left of his hair for a while. I would be entirely unsurprised if he had made this whole assignment up.
TAYA RAY
How do you mean?
SARAH
Well, all this travelling around just to collect a few atmospheric readings from a bunch of planets and moons terraformed long ago? You think there isn’t an easier way for Mr Spall to get this done, without making us actually go to all these places?
TAYA RAY
Oh, I get you. You could be right. He really wasn’t too happy after the incident with the squirrels.
SARAH
Yep. You remember how he threatened to keep us on planetside delivery duty for a month if we mess this assignment up? He meant it. If we don’t want to end up as glorified delivery boys, we had really better get this job done right.
TAYA RAY
Well, there’s not really much that can go wrong on this one. I mean—
SARAH
(Cutting her off.) Don’t jinx it! We have to assume the ‘verse is against us on this one, as it always is, may I add. Keep your head down and your guard up. Anything could go wrong, especially with all this travelling.
TAYA RAY
I suppose you’re right. It’s amazing we’ve got this far without missing a connection somewhere.
SARAH
(Exasperated.) There you go again! Stop tempting fate, Taya Ray!
TAYA RAY
Sorry!
CAPTAIN
(Over com.) This is the captain speaking. We will shortly be landing in New Melbourne. For those so inclined, this would be a good time to strap yourselves in somewhere.

Musical cue to indicate passing of time.

Location: Docks on New Melbourne. As before. Same location for rest of episode.

SARAH
So this is New Melbourne, huh?
TAYA RAY
(With feeling.) It… stinks!
SARAH
There is something of a fishy odour about the place, it’s true.
TAYA RAY
(Incredulously.) People choose to live here?
SARAH
I doubt choice comes into it for most people. Let’s just be grateful that we’re only passing through. One day here should be enough for us to get our work done. We’re already booked on a transport leaving tomorrow.
TAYA RAY
Am I glad to hear that. Well, let’s get on and get inland, if at all possible. We might start to grow gills if we stay here much longer.

Musical cue to indicate passing of time.

SARAH
And here we are back again at the docks, with two hours before the transport leaves. Not bad timing, if I do say so myself. I think I’m finally starting to relax about this whole assignment. We’re on the home straight now.
TAYA RAY
And you have to admit it’s been good to have been out of yelling distance from Mr Spall for so long.
SARAH
You’re right, but we probably should get on the cortex before we leave here and just check he hasn’t left any further instructions for us. There’s a public terminal over there. Come on.

Footsteps over the following conversation as Sarah and Taya Ray walk over to the terminal.

TAYA RAY
Just so long as he hasn’t left us any instructions that involve staying on this planet a minute longer.
SARAH
I’m with you there. (Beat.) Here we go.

Beeps and button pushes as Sarah does the ‘verse equivalent of checking her email.

SARAH
And, yep, there’s something from Mr Spall. (With trepidation.) Oh boy. Here goes.

Click/beep.

MR SPALL
(Recorded message.)Brunel, Parsec. Not sure when you’ll be getting this, but this is to let you know that when you get back, assuming you’ve completed this assignment to my satisfaction, I have quite an interesting next job for you. You should like this one. A bit of actual terraforming for a change. Anyway, you’ll need to be ready to go on Friday, but assuming your travel plans have worked out, you’ll be back on Thursday, right? You’ll be gutted if you miss out on this assignment! See you when you get back.

Click/beep.

SARAH
A piece of the terraforming action at last! That’s what I like to hear. Well, it’s Thursday and the transport leaves in a couple of hours. We’ll be back in time.
MAN
(Some form of rural accent.) Um, excuse me, Ma’am, but I think you’ll find you’re mistaken on that one.
SARAH
I’m sorry?
MAN
I don’t mean to interrupt none, but, well, it’s Friday today.
SARAH
(Worried, slowly.) No, that can’t be!
MAN
‘Fraid so. The weekly transport left yesterday. It always comes in and leaves again immediately. Folk don’t like to stay too long on New Melbourne. (Beat.) Not rightly sure why.
SARAH
(In despair now.) No! I don’t believe it!
TAYA RAY
I don’t get it. How can it be Friday today? It was Wednesday yesterday, wasn’t it?
SARAH
All the travelling over the past few weeks. The different time zones… We must have got a whole day out somehow. Sir, is there another way off this planet?
MAN
You can wait around the docks and see if you can get a ride someplace useful. Might get lucky. Should warn you though, the competition for places is mighty fierce. Much easier to get a ride to this planet than to get one out of here. (Beat.) Not rightly sure why.

Footsteps as man walks off.

Musical cue to indicate passing of time.

SARAH
(Line from the start, flatly.) No… This did not go well.
TAYA RAY
(Beat.) I spy with my little eye… something beginning with… “f”.

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