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Around the 'Verse in 80 Days

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Ariel

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First aired: The Signal: Season 5, Episode 12
Credits
Written by Jill Arroway
Starring Kevin Bachelder as Martin Hammond
Featuring James Parkinson as Harrison Walker
Featuring Helen Eaton as Julia Westgate
Edited by Jill Arroway
MARTIN
Day seven. I'm travelling by train across the island of Eastern Hauer, from Ariel City, where I arrived, travelling on to Piper Docks, where I shall leave. And that's the funny thing about Ariel - it's all islands. There are only two major continents. One's at the north pole, and the other's at the south pole, and yet apart from a few isolated settlements, both of those continents are largely uninhabited. They're just too cold. All the action happens in the middle, where many - it must be said, large - islands fill the gap in between the two. Despite that, it is possible to travel from Gossamer in the North, to Gorehaven in the south, entirely by land. That's because geologically speaking, Ariel is a quiet world. Perhaps once in the distant past, tectonic plates may have jostled for position, driven by the internal heat of the planet's core, but if so, those days are long gone. Now, there are no more earthquakes and no more volcanos; continents just sit still. They will remain in their current configuration, essentially forever.
MARTIN
But while the core of the planet may have cooled down, life on the surface has done exactly the opposite. Humans have filled this world with a staggering variety of peoples and cultures. Ariel is mostly known for its medical work, of course, but there is far more to Ariel than just doctors and nurses. Travelling with me is Harrison Walker, a man who is famous in these parts - for making hats.
HARRISON
Very pleased to meet you.
MARTIN
So tell me - why hats?
HARRISON
You can't go wrong with hats. Everybody needs hats. Hatting has been something of a tradition in my family since the days of the formation, but since the fall of the Royal household twelve decades ago, things got ... what's the best way to say this? ... boring. My mother, my grandfather - I love them very much, but they, along with their parents and grandparents before them, created fairly everyday products. People would wear them, yes, but did they love them? Probably not. When the war came, the family business became even more utilitarian. But then, the war ended, and by that time, my mother had put me in charge of the business, and I decided it was time for a change. I wanted to show the 'verse panache.
MARTIN
(Expressing only curiosity, not disgust) Oh my! Are those snake heads? Who would wear something like that?
HARRISON
These are very popular on New Melbourne, funnily enough. We ship them out every Tuesday, and every order sells out. (Takes another hat from a suitcase) This is another design that I'm particularly proud of. You can see the feathers there - those are genuine peacock feathers; we have a license to breed them specially. These are extremely popular on Xiansheng. (And another) And this - my absolute favorite, the Viking Visionary, and despite rumors to the contrary, no animals were harmed in the making of that: it's genuine artificial.
MARTIN
I must say all of these look really splendid. May I try one on? Which one would say suits me?
HARRISON
For you, I'd say this one: the Pagan Pride.
MARTIN
My word. It looks like I'm wearing half a tree.
MARTIN (STUDIO)
My horticultural past had clearly caught up with me, however I was eager to dispense with the Pagan Pride at the earliest possible opportunity. Despite Harrison's enthusiastic fondness for my wearing it, somehow it just wasn't me. I think I may have accidentally left it on the train carriage when I got off to meet my next guide, Julia Westgate. In contrast with Harrison, Julia was everything you traditionally associate with Arial: She was a medical student.
JULIA
Welcome to Piper. It is good to meet you.
MARTIN
Thank you very much; it's good to be here. And thank you for taking the time to show me around.
JULIA
It's no trouble. So, here we have the Foundation Dome, which is one of Piper's landmark buildings. For many tourists, this is the first thing they see. The outside is made from thousands of little triangles, and inside is a leisure center, shopping arcades, and an adventure park. I go there sometimes during my lunch break. I'm a student at Piper Medical College, and, if you look over in that direction, you can see the college campus.
MARTIN
What do you study?
JULIA
Eventually I hope to qualify as a doctor, but now I am spending much of my time working with the college staff who are working towards creating a cure for the Pax. My cousin Jodie and her husband and children emigrated to Miranda before the war. We were told there was a terraforming accident and they died. I hope that's true. I like to believe they died peacefully in their sleep. That is, of course, the most likely possibility, but you know there is always that small chance that they suffered that other fate: (getting more choked up) loss of brain function, savage... (almost crying) ... anyway, since the new administration came into power, the Reavers have been blockaded into the Burnham sector. The rest of the 'Verse may want to destroy them, but we here on Ariel, we believe that finding a cure to the Pax has to be the highest priority.
MARTIN
Is it possible the Reavers could be cured? Made human again?
JULIA
Almost certainly not. From what we know, there is far too much brain damage. (emotional) I know this must sound a horrible thing to say from someone who wants to be a doctor, but honestly the best thing we can do for all them is to exterminate them. Even so, we must make sure this never happens again. Also, there are some indications that the effects of the Pax may even be contagious in some circumstances. We need to have a cure.
MARTIN (STUDIO)
It's hard not to be moved by stories such as Julia's. Unfortunately, here on Ariel, they are far too common. Much as I would have loved to have stayed, my schedule was simply too tight. If I'm to complete my journey around the 'verse in eighty days, I'll need to be on the next spaceship out to Persephone. And so it was with a sad farewell that I said goodbye to Julia, and boarded the Royal Encounter 2, and onward, to the next leg of my trip.

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