“Newtopia Rising, Book I: The Search for a New Utopia”

Source: Netflix/BoJack Horseman

“It’s Tommy by way of Cirque du Soleil, set in space with heavy erotic overtones … I call it Newtopia Rising, Book I: The Search for a New Utopia.”

–Todd Chavez, BoJack Horseman




[Fully clad in spacesuits, eight crew members sit in quiet anxiety. Behind them loom three backdrop screens, showing a cockpit view from a spaceship as it approaches a blue-and-green planet]

[One man, LINLEY YAMAGUCHI, appears to be praying. AIDA DESALEGN, a small woman, breaks the silence]

Travelling on a spaceship
So far away from home,
To find a new and better place,
A planet rich with loam.

[Looks up from prayer, smiling at Aida]

The first two we used up,
Bled each ‘till it ran dry.
Drained and purged ‘till naught remained,
But this time we must try.


Try not to fuck it up
Quite so hard this time around.
I’m sure we’ll change, third time’s a charm,
Pretend we’re better than we sound.

So spoke the pessimist,
One with the bitter heart.
Just watch and see, this time we’ll change,
We’ll all each play our part.

Missions have failed before
Despite whatever specs were read.
Or like the crews before us,
We may end up simply dead.

And if we win it’s only
A matter of time before we burn
Through the planet’s resources:
We’re humans, we never learn.

You can’t blame this generation
For the deeds of the entire race.
All we want is a place to land,
We homeless, adrift in space.

You’ll see, it will be different,
The Council has decreed
That every human work the land;
To respect the soil and seed.

All we need is another chance,
A world with water, air,
And a certain type of ground –
Then we’ll take it from there.

ALL except BLAKE
Everyone is waiting
Suspended, fast asleep.
Dreaming of lives spent on a farm,
Of crops to sow and reap.

We had a world so perfect,
Old Utopia or Earth.
Then we went and killed it so we’re
Without a land or hearth.

How were you elected
As Seeker, or so called?
Any more of your Cynic views,
I’ll beg Aida crashes us all.


Time to go, all hands on deck,
Crew members look alive.
The moment for which we’ve all trained,
Prepare for what ahead lies.

With luck we’ll find a suitable world,
Perhaps a gruesome death.
All in the name of humankind,
This day won’t be meaningless.

Here we are, your time to shine,
Desalegn, take the helm.
The rest of you brace yourselves
As we venture in this new realm.

Aye aye, Captain.

[Exit Aida. Everyone straps in for a rocky yet safe landing, Linley praying and Blake swearing profusely]

ALL except BLAKE
We’ve really gone and done it,
We’ve really made the grade.
May it be, against all odds,
The world for which we’ve prayed.

[Unstraps and stands]

Time to go, all hands on deck,
Crew members look alive.
The moment for which we’ve all trained,
Prepare for what ahead lies.

[The crew unstrap and stand alongside Brooke. Enter Aida. Everyone claps her on the back, Brooke ruffling her hair]

ALL except BLAKE
With luck we’ll find a suitable world,
Perhaps a gruesome death.
All in the name of humankind,
This day won’t be meaningless.

[Together, they step out onto the planet]


[Part of the ship’s exterior lies on one side of the stage. There is a moment of silence as the Seekers stare in awe at the new world, a rolling plain completely covered in moss. It is beautiful. Brooke turns around to face the crew]

Waste no time, begin prelims:
Gather surface soil, rocks,
All details on the atmosphere,
All knowledge to unlock.




ALL except BLAKE
[Point to Blake, who scowls]

And botany!

We’ll use our strengths and pit our wits,
We’ll cooperate and strive
To defy all odds, all obstacles;
We will, we will survive.

[Scans the atmosphere with his Personal Operative Data Sphere (PODS), a metal contraption worn around everyone’s necks, and shares the reading emanating from its holographic screen]

Insulating magnetic field,
Gravity .84g,
Pressure 10.1psi,
.9g/L density.

.01% CO2,
24% oxygen,
1.99% argon,
74% nitrogen.

[The crew stare at each other in disbelief. They begin to embrace, swaying as they link arms and touch foreheads. Brooke pulls a reluctant Blake into the group hug]

ALL except BLAKE
We’ve really gone and done it,
We’ve really made the grade.
Against all odds we found it:
The world for which we’ve prayed.

[Looks down at PODS]

Captain, I have a reading
For something unrecognized.
A trace substance detected,
The system can’t identify.

Thank you Atif, noted,
Continue to assess.
Return to Unity,
The Worldship we must address.

[They walk back to the other side of the stage. All their data devices light up and whirl for a second when in proximity to the ship. The three backdrop screens read “Video transmission requested”, and then “Video transmission answered”]

Suspension systems deactivated.

[A holographic video emits from their data spheres — also displayed on the screens. The Council of Nine Arbiters, all elderly men and women draped in white regalia, begin to rouse and exit from animation tanks]

Unity 10 to World Ship Two,
Come in, Council of Devoted Nine.
The land, the air, it’s all we’ve hoped
And no detected life signs.

All hail, praise be with you,
You’ve saved us, Unity 10.

[One Arbiter presses controls]

We’ve sent the first wave of settlers,
Wake us in two years hence.

[Step back into tanks]

And so we must now bless you,
Our brightest and the best.
Our Seekers of New Utopia,
Our fate in your hands will rest!

[Tanks close and hiss]

But of course, no pressure!

And now to set up camp
On humankind’s new world.
But first thing’s first, let’s get the flag,
Our pride and joy unfurled.

[Knocks on Linley’s helmet]

You must be fucking kidding,
When we have myriad duties.
First thing’s first, inflate the Hab;
Sort your priorities.

[Knocks on Blake’s helmet]

You are not their leader,
Miss Number Third in rank.
You go and set up the Hab,
Yamaguchi, tend the oxygen tanks.

[Blake follows her orders, sulking visibly]

ALL except BLAKE
We’ll use our strengths and pit our wits,
We’ll cooperate and strive
To defy all odds, all obstacles;
We will survive and thrive.

Megan, once you’ve done the Hab,
Go dig up some more dirt.
Then you may – manually
Urination convert.

[Blake rolls her eyes and digs into the ground. Immediately, she falls screaming in agony]

[The lights go off but for a spotlight on Blake and the backdrop screens]

[Blake stops screaming and writhing. Shaking, she stands up and turns to face the screens, which play scenes from her life]

[In humanity’s last moments on Earth, plagued by natural disasters, a young Blake spends most of her childhood in floating survival capsules. During adolescence, she and her mother prepare to join the first wave of interstellar colonizers. But as she steps aboard the first Worldship, her mother says goodbye in tears, remaining behind — Blake has been tricked into abandoning her only family, along with the only planet she’s ever known]

[On the new human planet, she is elected to join the Transcendents – a group devoting their lives to history and progress, waking up every 30 years to analyze societal states and make recommendations. She falls in love with a colleague but neither act on their feelings. After the Transcendents’ first suspension, they awake to a hostile political environment, with disputes over territory and resources. They give counsel before reluctantly re-entering suspension. When they awake, the planet has been devastated by unrestrained consumerism and war]

[The Transcendents now identify as the Cynics. One by one they commit suicide, including Blake’s love. Standing over his corpse, she clutches a note which reads, “You were the single gleam of light in an abysmal world.” In the fashion of ancient samurai, Blake makes to kill herself by disembowelment but at the last moment stabs herself in the shoulder instead. She joins the military of a random side after flipping a coin, and spends years deftly killing scores of “the enemy”]

[More spotlights turn on, revealing more and more humans, stealing, destroying each other and the planet with waste. The backdrop screens play a montage of the most traumatizing moments on loop. The fighting humans converge to form a grotesque giant skull which chases and eventually consumes Blake]

[The screens and lights turn off]


[Blake lies on a stretcher, surrounded by the crew]

[Hovers over Blake, scanning her body with his PODS]

Pulse elevation,
Pupil dilation,
Blood vessel congestion,
Tremors, perspiration.

[Pushes Isaac away, runs her hands over her face and body, stands up, walks briskly towards the med supply cabinet and grabs a bottle]

[Rubs his hand where Blake slapped it away]

But otherwise all clear.

[Blake leaves towards the rec room. An alarmed crew follow her. She takes a packet from the ration cupboard and, with trembling hands, empties its contents into the bottle]

Fruit powder with pure ethanol …
Do you really think that wise?

An act which as Chief Medic
I simply can’t advise.

Oh go fuck yourselves.

[One by one, the crew try to physically restrain Blake, who flips each on the ground. Only Brooke and Benjiro stand back, watching and shaking their heads. Blake gulps her makeshift cocktail, gasping for breath and glowering at the crew. The crew glower back]

[Clearly unnerved]

Captain, I ran the diagnostics
On all of Morgan’s gear.
The trace substance Atif found …
It’s inside, it surrounds us here.

Impossible, how could it
The airlock permeate?

[The crew turns to Brooke]

Megan, prepare for an EVA.
We are to investigate.

Captain! I volunteer
To assist and survey the land.

Don’t be ridiculous,
You’re second in command.

[Turns to leave]

Act like it.

[Brooke and Blake exit.]


[Brooke and Blake enter an underground cave lined with glowing crystals, their colour constantly changing. As they slowly walk across the stage, the clusters of crystals grow larger and their PODS beep with increasing intensity. The backdrop screens show the atmospheric scan, a high concentration of the mystery compound]

[Grinning mischievously]

Cap, are you not frightened,
On a planet unexplored?
Perhaps within these hollows
Is ET life, all prepped for war.

How many captains have
A prime crew like I’ve got?

[Places hand on Blake’s helmet affectionately, almost maternally]

After all, beside me is
The military’s best shot.

[Suddenly, what appeared to be large rocks turn out to be dancers, as they unfold their previously contorted bodies and begin a sequence. They are the physical manifestation of harmony, balance, mutual dependence, and love – limbs entwined, every movement part of a larger cycle. Behind, the screens shows the anatomy of the planet, all its resources and their pace of renewal]

[The lights turn off except for a spotlight on a suddenly nude Blake. A second spotlight reveals Blake’s deceased love, also naked, moving towards her. Blake drinks in the sight of him, takes his hand and kisses it, falling to one knee. The lights go off]

[The spotlight now falls on Brooke. A new spotlight shows Benjiro, who approaches her slowly]

I ordered you to stay back,
What are you doing here?
I told you once, commanded,
I –

[Benjiro kisses her. After a moment of hesitation, Blake wraps her arms around him. They do not part]

[The lights turn off and on again, revealing Brooke and Blake on the floor. They awake, stare at each other for a beat, then scramble to their feet and exit the cave, running]


[Pacing back and forth]

We should go, they’ve been too long.

[Points at rest of crew]

Follow emergency protocols.

[Brooke and Blake pull up abruptly on their shuttle-ship and clamber out. Benjiro draws back his arm bashfully]

Medic, you’ll need to inspect us both,
But first: attention, all!

It seems that what we’ve found
Is a planet sentient.
Aware of its own surfaces,
And armed with self defense.

With a psychoactive substance:
I went, I saw, I felt it.
To use any of its resources we must
Its balance understand, commit.

[Brooke and Blake each take a shovel and penetrate the ground. Nothing happens]

[Quivering with excitement]

This could not be more perfect,
Unlike most planets, it’s active.
The big picture we must bear in mind,
Our only way to live.

Against all odds, all obstacles,
We’ve found our panacea:

We must be the planet’s keepers,
We’ll make this our Newtopia!




[On the left side of the stage, a crowd of people dance and feast. On the other, Benjiro relaxes in front of a picnic]

[Enter a child, holding hands with her parents]

Festival! Festival!
Today’s the day, the Festival!
A day of fun, a day to eat
Delicious treats so plentiful!

We rest and laugh and sing

[Twirls into husband’s arms]

And dance among the pretty floats,

[Dips husband]

All day we celebrate
And then we cast our Votes.

[They kiss, then together with their daughter run to join the dancing crowd]

I have here my Reasonings,
Will you be one of my Nine?

You know I love to read your Votes.
Now please be one of mine.

[They both bow and transmit their essays through their respective Personal Operative Data Spheres]

[The crowd begins to sing]

This is how we make decisions,
Share all citations and notes.
Only read and merited can they
Count as valid Votes.

It’s really rather simple,
Write at min two-fifty words
Explaining why say “Yea” or “Nay”
And let your voice be heard.

It must be read by at least nine,
UpVoted by five unknowns.
It must be based on evidence;
Its logic, soundness shown.

[All stop and stare at holographic screens emanating from their PODS, their content depicted on the backdrop screens. The results are in for the latest vote, with submitted ideas from the public flooding the screens, keywords fluctuating in size relative to their popularity.]

[Vote B84: A Vote to decrease the age of the Cavern Rite of Passage from 18 to 12]

[Top Reasonings:

  • “YES: Earlier exposure will increase later planet-sustainable behaviours. Corroborating Evidence: Formative years proven to be crucial in determining behaviours exhibited as adult”
  • “NO: Subjection of children to psychedelic experience and ensuing risks. Corroborating Evidence: Small yet discernible increase in stress level after exposure; anxiety most commonly reported side-effect of exposure; reported earlier onset or exacerbated symptoms of schizophrenia”]

[Voting Participation: 69%]

[Results: 65.32% Yes, 34.68% No]

[The music and the lights on the left side of the stage dim, the dancing crowd now silhouettes. On the right side, Sonny approaches Benjiro]

I have here my Reasonings,
Will you be one of my Nine?


You know I love to read your Votes.
I’ve already sent you mine.

[Sonny sits down, helping himself to a snack. Both men read in silence. The screen reads: COUNCIL PROPOSITION 19: The second Settlement, and all Settlements here afterwards, possess freedom to develop individual public policies with exception of those in violation of the Fundamental Principles]

And now for time to have
Our oral discussion.
First of all, the recap:
On the 19th Proposition

Permitting settlements to have
A degree of sovereignty,
You believe it ill-advised,
Preferring uniformity:

For segments of society
At the same rate to progress
Or otherwise run the risk
To stagnate or regress.

And you, my friend Benjiro,
Conversely seem to think
That societies should be different,
That there’s no need for them to sync.

But I must beg to differ:
Discrepancies only breed
Socioeconomic inequalities –

[Smiles wryly]

History’s lessons we need heed.

It’s in the nature of time
To paint any society
Backwards and retrogressive
In the eyes of posterity.

But only through comparison
Can evolution be assessed:
It’s through experimentation
That we ultimately progress.

I believe forced conformity
Impedes human activity.
As is with genetics,
There lies strength in diversity.

[Sonny stares in silence with a softened smile. Pressing his PODS, he casts his vote from NO to YES, linking to the other man’s Reasoning. He kisses Benjiro, who pulls away. Benjiro stands and places a hand on the back of his neck, vexed]

[With a pained expression]

Did you really not know?

I confess that I’ve suspected –
Perhaps coldly chose to ignore.
While you’re certainly attractive …
There is someone whom I adore.

[Suddenly, the sky is covered in projections depicting a humanoid species and moments from their lives. They are shown cradling offspring, moving rhythmically to music, collaborating to mould landscape into habitats, developing technological innovations, attending what appear to be ceremonies and school]

[Benjiro abruptly turns and breaks into a sprint, running as fast as he can off stage while the others remain dumbstruck]

[Suddenly, a transparent sphere with blue lights — resembling a spherical jellyfish — descends steadily from the sky, as if down an invisible elevator. Inside is one of the creatures – a hairless, slightly shorter bipedal being with a pointed face, large opaque eyes, extra leg segment and kneecap protruding backwards. They are ghostly pale except for a brown circle on their forehead]

[Enter Brooke, immediately followed by Benjiro]

[They point a small silver contraption at the humans. When they speak, their speech is translated]

Greetings, Class 2 species,
With Interstellar Expansion.
Free to enter trade under
The Galactic Proclamation.

We set course for this planet
With certain resources to find
From a neighbouring world
Where it seems we’ve over-mined.

[The backdrop screens display the same glowing crystals seen in the cave]

We require Thunium crystals
For which it seems you’ve yet no use.
In turn we will barter
The plenty potions we produce.

[Glances at a nearby civilian. They step out of the clear sphere which contracts into a withered branch and throws a flat metal disc on the ground. It expands and unfolds into a work station, and the alien begins combining various chemicals with dexterous hands, with four pointed fingers]

For instance, we can change
The neoplasm in your brain
From one malignant to benign,
And spare damage to your DNA.

Or any potion conceivable,
Guaranteed and effective on
All carbon-based life forms
With centralized neurons.

[Finishes the mixture with a flourish. They slowly place it on the ground in front of the civilian and back away]

[The humans stand gaping, stunned speechless]

[Clears throat]

We … we call our home Newtopia,
We welcome you with … grace.
We will convene to think and to
Consider your offer of trade.

We await in our vessel above
As your species deliberates.

[Takes what appears to be a dark gray stone and a miniature violin bow and rubs them together in demonstration before placing them – with great care – on the floor]

Send a superluminal transmission
Should you wish our Sovereigns to meet and trade.

[Exit alien, ascending via the invisible beam back towards the sky. The crowd stands in silence]


For over three hundred years now
We’ve ventured into space.
Expected yet still shocking,
To have proof stare us in the face.

We’ve long since discovered life,
But just bacteria or bones.
At last we see for sure,

That we are not alone.

[Linking arms]

At long last, it’s been shown
That we are not alone.

[Presses her PODS which triggers a projection through every PODS unit — both of civilians and Seekers. Everyone stops to watch Brooke’s Government Interruption, displayed on the backdrop screens]

As per Protocol One, we call
An Emergency Vote.
While we await the Council
We should the composition note.

[All citizens gather round, eyeing the alien concoction warily]

[Scans container]

Three predominant compounds:
Acetylsalicylic acid,
And imipramine.

[Citizens all search on PODS]

“Antiplatelet” and
“Tricyclic antidepressant”.

Chemicals familiar,
They’re nothing aberrant.

[She squints at her PODS screen, slightly confused]

So … it’s a blood thinner
And outmoded depression cure?

And yet could prove dangerous,
With various compounds obscure.

The whole thing could be a sham,
The whole lot, deceiving spacemen.
But when faced with cancer, I think I’ll
Take one for Team Humans.

[Before anyone can react, he kisses his wife and drinks the concoction. The crowd stares as the couple look at each other nervously. A beat. As they sigh in relief, something begins to ooze from his pores. His wife and onlookers scream and panic as he is slowly frozen, covered head to toe in a thin white film]

[Runs over and scans the inanimate body]

Heart rate 40 beats per minute,
BP 70/40.
Weak yet steady respiratory,


And … and tumour autophagy.

[Reads her own PODS screen with a furrowed brow]

“Impaired proliferation of
Glioblastoma cancer cells.”

[Reads own screen]

So, essentially,
The cancer is eating itself.

[All touch PODS and begin typing madly on projected keyboards. Keywords appear on the backdrop screens, growing according to popularity until framed as a Public Emergency Contention: “Should Newtopia exchange resources with alien species?”

[Top Reasonings:

  • “YES: Potential for technological advancement from mutually beneficial interaction with intelligent life. Corroborating Evidence: Promising preliminary medical trial”
  • “NO: Potential for exploitation by intelligent life. Corroborating Evidence: Lack of long-term observations”]

[Voting Participation: 98%]

[Result: 57.81% Yes, 52.19% No]

[Chaos ensues as the crowd bursts into a near riot, all bickering, pushing, shoving, some even throwing punches]

[The lights flicker and fanfare music blasts as the members of the Council of Devoted Nine glide onto the stage. The mob falls still, and for a moment there is silence]

It is true the use for Thunium
Remains a mystery.
But it remains a substance
Of relative rarity.

To engage in commerce
Without proper gauge of value,
Before potential utility
Can be imagined or construed,

Would grand folly constitute
And possible exploitation stage
Like selling Crystalline Silicon
Before the Solar Age.

Yet the aliens’ offer of trade
Without doubt shows great promise
Of unprecedented advancement
A catalyst to change the way we live.

To continue medical trials
On legal adults with their consent;
To be mindful of resource quantities
And deplete no more than 10%;

And to generate with diligence
A monthly evaluation:
With these three Addendums,
We thus proclaim our Arbitration.

This may be our turning point,
Perhaps our longevity prolong.

An evolution of our species,
Nothing can go wrong!

[One Arbiter takes the alien stone and bow and rubs them uncertainly against each other]

[Immediately, a group of aliens descend from the sky. QUEEN DARNEESA – larger than the others with long animate hair, metal ornaments, exposed mammary glands and a shimmering, translucent cape draped around her from the waist down]

We present our Heart, our Monarch,
Darneesa IV, by the Grace of Ameen,
Of Khanaan and of Her other Realms
and Territories Queen,

Defender of the Craterman kingdom,
Royal Mother to 70 billion.

It is with great gaiety We greet you;
With exultance and elation.

We name ourselves ‘Turbidian’
With outstanding Galactic credit.
We propose a practical alliance
And trade of reciprocal benefit.

In exchange for Thunium crystals,
The myriad elixirs our kind produce.

With respect, may we inquire
As to Thunium’s intended use?

It is expected that we vary
In technological advancements.
But to answer quite succinctly:
For a mode of entertainment.

We will leave Masters of Potions
As a sign of favoured esteem,

[Four aliens dressed in bright yellow robes step forward]

And have each forget the existence of
Your Cave of Swollen Dreams.

Cave of swollen what?

An underground cavern
Common in sentient planets,
Storing planetary data,
Resource quantities and coordinates.

We presumed you knew, for you built
Around its central radial nerve ring.

[Without hesitation]

We built our base here because
It had the smoothest landing.

[Turbidians turn towards Aida in curiosity. The human crowd glare at her, many shaking their heads in disbelief and resentment. Linley steps slightly in front of her]

To assuage lingering doubts
And illustrate good intentions,
We will have our subjects take
An Elixir of Failed Remembrance.

[Places bottles with clear liquid on the potion station]

To soothe reasonable fears,
We would first like to demonstrate.
Do any of your subjects possess
A memory they wish to negate?

[Silence. Everyone stands very still. Tentatively, a middle-aged man steps forward. He picks up a bottle nervously]

Take potion to lips and conceive in mind
The memory to be renounced.
To ensure clear mental image,
The name can be explicitly pronounced.

My … my last babysitter.

[Drinks elixir. As he draws the bottle away from his lips, he seems to stand a little straighter, his wrinkles suddenly less visible. He looks around at the sea of faces peering at him, confused by the attention]

… Is there something on my face?

[Many in the crowd exchange concerned, awkward looks]

[Step forward, pick up bottles and raise them in unison]

The Cave of Swollen Dreams.

[The Council of Nine and the Turbidians step towards one another. The Turbidians incline their heads and the Humans bow in turn. The crowd bursts in unified dance around them]

This may be our turning point,
Perhaps our longevity prolong.
An evolution of our species,
Nothing can go wrong!




[The stage is dark but for a capsule with a bar of blinking lights and a clear panel showing an unconscious human inside, their face coated with a white film. The backdrop screens turn on to show a clip of the man, who we now see has an amputated leg, drinking from a bottle labelled ELIXIR OF REGENERATED LIMB and stepping into the capsule. The lights stop blinking and the door hisses and opens. The man breaks free of the thin film covering him, stumbles out of the capsule and reaches down to touch his newly grown leg in disbelief. He jumps in the air, exhilarated, and twirls in a ballerina-esque dance of pure joy]

[A new spotlight falls on the next capsule. The screens show an x-ray of a failing heart, and a woman who drinks a potion, labelled ELIXIR OF REPLENISHED ORGAN, and steps inside. The door opens and she walks out and checks her pulse. After a few moments she falls onto her knees, in prayer position]

[Third capsule. The screens show a breast cancer survivor drink a concoction labelled ELIXIR OF ENGORGED MAMMARY GLANDS and step in. When she emerges, she is newly endowed with enormous breasts]

[Fourth capsule. The screens display a lanky man. He steps out, now rippled with muscles. He strips completely nude and admires his own reflection, striking various bodybuilder poses]

[Fifth and sixth capsules open simultaneously. A woman and a man emerge, turn to each other and begin an acrobatic erotic dance]

[Final capsule. The screens show an elderly man, frail and nearing life’s end, stepping in with the help of a walker. When the door opens, though he remains leaning on the walker, it is as if he is in his early twenties]

[The stage is flooded by dancers, with couplings – hetero and homo alike – as well as individuals showing off their newfound physical abilities]

[All dancers begin climbing on top of each other, at first to demonstrate physical prowess and acrobatic skills, then clambering, pushing and stepping on each other, to climb the highest]

[The human pyramid begins to collapse on itself as the curtains close and lights fade]




[On one side of the stage leaning against a moss-covered boulder, Aida sits huddled over a book, the lines of text scrolling upwards steadily as she reads. Once it stops scrolling, she turns the page]

[On the other side, a crowd of humans and a few Turbidian Masters feast and dance to the Voting Festival song in the distance. The backdrop screens show a 91% Vote in favour of increasing the cap on Thunium mining to 30% of reserves]

[Enter Turbidian Master ZHAVVORSA, who walks in the direction of the crowd but stops when they notice Aida. They observe her for a moment and then approach]

Officer Desalegn,
May I join your company?

[Looks up and smiles]

Only if, Master Zhavvorsa,
You call me ‘Aida’ outside of duty.

May I join you, Aida?

[Turns off and closes her book]

On this day of recreation,
Your company would please me.

[Bows slightly]

Your species is much gracious;
I commend your hospitality.

[Returns bow]

We’re honoured to receive First Contact,
And hope for mutual education.

[Sits down directly across]

Then how would you like to partake
In a Turbidian tradition?

In which we each present inquiries
In alternating succession.
To be answered with just one word,
In a singular expression.

Otherwise with no limitations,
Optional explanation and one pass.
The ultimate opportunity
To any question ask.

I’d be delighted.

I oblige you go first.

[Thinks a moment]

How did you come by such propensity
With the practice of chemistry?


Our compound eyes are capable
Of polarization vision.
And the science is taught from early age,
Entrenched in our socialization.

Should you not mind the repetition,
I’d like to pose the exact same question.


As a child I dreamed to understand
The entire universe,
And saw chemistry as the bridge
Connecting all the sciences.

If chemistry was obligatory,
What did you do normally?


Spacecraft operation
And interstellar navigation.


I was a pilot, too!

[The corners of their lips lift]

And what made you so choose?


As a child, first travelling by air jet,
And gazing through its window
At our homes, our roads and borders
Growing infinitesimally small,

I saw an invisible cage, escaped –
And my perspective forever changed.

[Shifts bashfully]

I guess in present time
We’re excluded from our preferred fields.
Or was it once again obligation –
What made you choose your occupation?



To ascend beyond the reach
Of daily realities;
To see firsthand the Open Void
And all its possibilities.

Is ‘Open Void’ how you refer
To what we understand as space?


[For a moment, the two stare at each other blankly, their heads tilted in the same direction. Despite the Turbidian’s lack of pupils, their expressions are strikingly similar, as if a mirror image of the other’s. They burst into laughter, Aida audibly so, Zhavvorsa silently yet with the same crinkled eyes, upwardly curved lips and a rhythmic shaking of the body]

I mean, the universe.

There is no need to be embarrassed.

I am not embarrassed.


Surely, you’ve not forgotten:
All neurons, our eyes detect.

[Turns away, flustered]

Well, that is just unfair,
Since your lies I cannot suspect.

Turbidians do not lie.

Each of us is capable
Of neuroimagery.
Subtle yet detectable,
Lies increase prefrontal activity.


And would it be unethical
To pose questions exploiting this fact?


As with all social constructs,
Ethics are flexible.
What constitutes ‘Wrong’ and ‘Right’ for one,
For another is amenable.

Why are you here?


To serve my world and Queen,
And in history glorify Her reign.

On making first alien contact,
What was your initial thought, reaction?


“It’s only a matter of time”,
Our scientists for centuries forewarned.
We were to accept, continue and strive
For progress, as always planned.


But simultaneously, ‘Lucky’,
To bear witness and participate.

Does it not cause grief to spend your life
In constant servitude?

Our leaders devote their lives
In our system of democracy –
And are afforded no exemptions
Nor material luxuries.


Personal feelings matter not
So long as the species survives.
And even if they did,
It is moot to wish otherwise.

Privileged ruling classes:
A pattern transcending through time,
It’s how most societies exist –
Always the same, in varying form.

[She struggles to her feet, agitated]

And what, to history just surrender?

[Begins to pace]

Breaking persisting patterns
Is admittedly improbable.
But just because it’s happened thus far
Doesn’t render change impossible.

Add magnesium to air and heat
And watch the combination set alight –
All it takes is a single chance,
One reaction to forever alter.

Why does this topic cause you
Such passionate distress?

[Blinks, taken aback]


More than anything, than death,
My fear is stagnation.
That one day, I’ll stop evolving,
In one state doomed to be, forever.

The same applies to humankind.
It may take several generations –
Entire lives spent in waiting
For collective adaptation.

But with time, we’ve learned and grown.
Such is my faith within my species:
Our most redeeming trait
Lies in our capacity for change.

[Zhavvorsa stares at Aida in silence. Aida meets their gaze evenly]

I –

[They are interrupted as the lights flicker and fanfare music blasts to present the results of the latest Vote]

[Vote D48: A Vote to establish the mining of Thunium as a form of penal labour exclusive to perpetrators of the Capital Offence]

[Top Reasonings:

  • “YES: The severity of punishment is proportionate to the crime of causing mass harm, including deaths, injuries and planetary destruction, via distribution of fraudulent information in pursuit of financial profit. CORROBORATING EVIDENCE: The same punishment is applied to both perpetrators of the Capital Offence and conventional mass murder, while the average number of casualties compares 2256 to 1, respectively.”
  • “NO: To make any treatment that causes suffering or harm exclusive to prisoners constitutes cruel and degrading punishment. CORROBORATING EVIDENCE: Any extraction of natural resources that exceeds necessary and sustainable levels inflicts a traumatizing psychedelic crisis]

[Voting Participation: 79%]

[Result: 77.44% Yes, 22.56% No]

AIDA and ZHAVVORSA, in unison
How it always begins.

[Both turn and look at each other in surprise. They lock eyes, intrigued, as the lights fade]




[It is yet another picnic. Aida and Zhavvorsa lie comfortably — remarkably at ease with each other — side by side with Aida reading and Zhavvorsa seemingly asleep]

[The backdrop screen displays results of the latest Vote]

[Vote E74: A Vote to categorize Turbidian elixirs with demonstrated technological benefit as Universal Goods, available to all the Public]

[Voting Participation: 98%]

[Result: 94.23% Yes, 5.77% No]


[Opens eyes]


May I be honest, no reservations?

[They sit up to face Aida, giving her their full attention]


After careful consideration,
This conclusion have I drawn:
The nature of our relationship
Is fundamentally flawed.


Is this so?

[Stands and begins to pace, as if making a presentation]


You have visited my planet
And been exposed to my culture.
You observe all of our activities
In both neurons and behaviours.

A one-sided exposé,
Inherently unfair.
To correct this grave inequity,
There’s much information you should share.

So today I ask that you grant
All requests and inquiries,
And demand that you satisfy
My every curiosity.

It’s really only fair.


What would you first ask?

Is it at all feasible
To show me your vessel?



You’ve seen mine,
And so should show yours.

[Grins back]

Your argument is valid,
Hold close and don’t let go.

[Stands and pulls Aida close, grabbing her by the waist]

While ascending anti-grav beacons,
It is prudent not to look.

[The two rapidly begin their ascent, as if flying. The backdrop screens show clouds passing down. Aida looks down and gasps. Her legs falter but she is laughing. Zhavvorsa tightens their hold on her, laughing as well]

I predicted you would look.


[They soar into the spaceship, several gates closing beneath them as they pass through, and remain floating midair as they reach the control room. Once the last doors have hissed and sealed, the pair fall to the ground, Zhavvorsa keeping Aida steady. They stand there for a moment, until the human is distracted by the craft’s interior]

[The walls encasing the control room are transparent, offering a 360-degree view of outer space. It is empty except for a layer of interwoven branches which lowers from the ceiling and hovers in the air]

Tell me, tell me, please,
However does it work?

Turbidian crafts operate
By synthetic telepathy.

[Guides Aida below the centre of the branches. One lowers itself in front of them and extends into a clear sphere with pulsing blue lights, encasing them. Once it has sealed tight, it becomes weightless, with the pair now floating inside]

[Zhavvorsa pulls two small brown tendrils from the ceiling of the sphere]

Electrode sensors measure
Electromagnetic activity.

The pilot only need concentrate
On mental navigation.
The craft responds to neural signals,
Run on intent and deliberation.

Apply sensors and focus on the map,
Conceiving the craft’s location.
Then imagine it now shifted;
Slightly forward with great precision.

[The Turbidian places the tendrils on Aida’s temples. The cabin darkens and is filled with a three-dimensional rendering of space. A speck of bright light pulses on the outskirts of Newtopia’s atmosphere, depicting the Turbidian ship. Using their controls, Zhavvorsa highlights an empty space just in front of the speck. As Aida concentrates, the ship moves forward. She laughs in delight]

[Pulls the tendrils off. The hologram disappears and the cabin lights turn on again]

And what of fuel limitations?


It runs on stellar energy
Captured in reserve aplenty.

[Grinning mischievously, Aida places the sensors back on her temples. The ship thrusts a bit farther, then to Newtopia’s North Pole, covered in ice, before zipping towards the opposite end. She removes the sensors and exits the sphere, walking to the window to gaze at the glow of the Southern Lights of her planet]

[Following the human, they smile and lightly — without having Aida notice — strokes the ends of her hair]

How would you like to see
Something of significant rarity?


[Enters the control sphere. As they touch various controls the 3D map zooms out, more and more stars filling the room, until Newtopia and eventually its entire solar system becomes a miniscule speck. In the center of the map, two black holes circle each other in constant, steady rotation, the surrounding stars of each appearing to swirl as space-time is distorted]

[Zhavvorsa exits the sphere to join an awestruck Aida]

Behold the dance before they merge —
A binary supermassive black hole.

[Riff from Supermassive Black Hole by Muse]

[Beams at Zhavvorsa]

Now, in terms of cultural lessons
This is what I request.
A one-sided barrage of questions,
But this time you receive no passes.


What do you do for recreation?


[Exits the tube. They bring out a shard of Thunium and puts it in Aida’s hand. They pull two tendrils from the brown circle on their forehead and gently places them on the human’s temples, where they begin to glow]

[The backdrop screens show various scenes from a convex, first-person perspective, as if filmed through a fisheye lens — of a ship’s liftoff, of a marketplace bustling with diverse aliens, of two Turbidian lovers, their limbs and tendrils entwined. Through it all, Zhavvorsa’s voice is loud and clear]

Each of us is capable
Of extracting our own memories
To upload into The Hive Mind —
Its access to all Turbidians, free.

[Still from a first-person perspective, the screens show different Turbidians, flashing from one to the next. We can see the flow of blood, leaving distinct patterns swirling in the brain and body]

It’s more than simple knowledge,
More than tribute to history.
We can feel whatever we choose to feel,
Can see what we choose to see.

[Faces Zhavvorsa]

And what do you see
When you look at me?

[The screens show Aida — mostly a dark outline, yet with a swirl of blue, black, crimson and gold throughout her body]


Life — colour, vibrancy —
With warmth, compassion, empathy,
And rare complexity.

[Clears her throat and looks down at her feet]

Your lifespan and most common cause of death?

‘Century’ and ‘Age’.

[Lifts eyes]

And … reproductive process?


[Aida blinks several times]

With the exception of our Queens
We are androgynous:
Without a single sex
Assigned from birth to death.

We are gender neutral
Until presented with a partner —
With reproductive organs determined
In reaction to the other.

Everyone has a receptacle
Inside which the male counterpart is put.
The pair move in back-and-forth action
Until egg and seed can meet.

And the touching of lips …
Is it at all significant?

A common show of affection
Used to develop social bonds
Between parents and their offspring
Or between potential mates.


I perceive much activity
In your caudate nucleus.

[Draws closer]

Can you hypothesize why?

[They kiss]

[After a few moments, Zhavvorsa pulls away and slowly bends down, as if stretching to reach their toes. They lie down and curl into the fetal position. When they rise again, they shed a layer of skin to reveal a female body]


I thought you were supposed to change
In reaction to me?

[Looking down at her new body]

We change in response to hormones
And not anatomy.

[The music stops and for a long moment, Aida stands silent]

That … would explain a lot.

[The music starts again as Aida takes Zhavvorsa by the waist, kissing her deeply. They slowly lie on the ground where Zhavvorsa spins them over, now straddling Aida. The pair hold hands and Zhavvorsa lifts herself in the air. They begin a dance — a visual representation of sensuality, mutual exploration and reciprocation — taking turns lifting each other. When the music stops they join in embrace, Zhavvorsa pressed against Aida, her head thrown back, Aida lifting Zhavvorsa’s thigh high against her hip]




[The stage is dark. The backdrop screens flicker on to show an enormous mine. With chaired ankles, men and women in black dig into the ground. One man is forced into the driver’s seat of a crane attached to a giant drill. After struggling in futile to open the door, he takes a deep breath and presses the control. As the drill descends, he slumps in his seat, screaming and convulsing]

[As the screens continue a montage of different prisoners, a spotlight turns on to reveal a dancer, painted black and contorted into a ball. As they unfold their limbs and rise to their feet, we see the other side for their face and body is painted with a psychedelic pattern of colours. They begin to sing in a throaty voice, their sex difficult to distinguish]

We must, we must remember
The chains, the noose, the lash,
The guillotine, the Iron Maiden,
Brands burned upon the flesh.

Never let us forget
Human rights once ripped asunder.
Limbs torn apart by dogs,
Bodies packed in gas chambers.

Remember solitary confinement,
Remember systemic rape.
Remember 12-year-old boys,
Small bellies full of sperm.

Remember all the travesties,
Each one back then a norm.
Their horrors clear as day today,
Yet once to standard practices conformed.

No matter how wicked,
However heinous the crime,
Remember that our own morals
Evolve with passing of time.

Since we made the mining
Of Thunium a penalty,
We’ve observed causal reactions,
Its harms lain plain to see:

Among the Capital Offenders,
Insomnia skyrocketing,

[Another spotlight shines to reveal a person next to them, also contorted with one side painted black, who unfolds and stands up. Their other side is also painted with bright swirling colours, completely unique from the first pattern. They hold the first speaker’s hand and join them]

Violence for centuries unseen,

[Another light reveals several contorted and painted individuals who rise, hold hands and sing]

Suicide rising at rates alarming.

[More light, more people]

Retributive justice,
When it claims so many lives,
Is cruelty begetting cruelty
And cannot be justified.

[All those standing gather together and lift one another, so that they compose the profile view of a human head, the lips of which move in sync with the lyrics]

To ever permit group suffering
With passive observation
Is to revert to our old apathy
Before our Interstellar Expansion.

If there’s ever a general need,
A dependence upon a substance,
The Public should each of us contribute
And help secure its acquisition.

[A spotlight falls on the other side of the stage to reveal another gender-ambiguous speaker]

The rise in self-inflicted deaths
Among the criminal party,
While certainly unfortunate
And invoking sympathy,

May surely be offset
By the reality
Of the potential of Thunium,
Its benefits lain plain to see:

Soaring citizen satisfaction
And economic productivity.
And quite unexpectedly,
An exploding art industry.

[The light falls on a person next to them, who rises, joins hands and sings]

And most of all, above all else,
The eradication of disease

[More light, more people]

And of the unsightliness of aging —
What we mortals have always dreamed.

[The light extends to show many dancers, making the second crowd larger than the first. Together, they form a second speaking head]

Yet to extract it from our planet
Provokes painful hallucinations.
Why not leave the task to those who harmed us,
As fitting condemnation?

[More dancers enter to join the second group, crowding around the giant head and pushing the first group off the stage]

They never gave pause to care,
When they hurt thousands for compensation.
And if they know the law when they break it,
That’s implicit mutual agreement.

[More dancers join and continue to push the first crowd]

We could stop progress in the name
Of vague notions of morality.
Or we could push the very bounds
Of our own mortality.

[The crowd grows larger and larger]

But no need to be so heartless —
I propose we provide these offenders
With a means to manage their distress,
With Dopamine Elixirs.

[The first group disappears from view and the now-dominant crowd erupts in cheer and dance]

[Enter Captain Brooke. She stares at the celebrating crowd, shaking her head, and drapes a hand over her face. The crowd, still cheering and dancing, exit the stage]

[The music changes to a light and flitting melody as Benjiro enters the stage, not disturbed by the debate as his captain is. He approaches Brooke from behind and takes a deep breath before speaking]

Cap … Brooke, a moment please.

[Brooke turns around, brows raised at the use of her first name]

I was hoping you would join me
For an important discussion.
For guaranteed privacy,
I’ve booked a Cavern Reservation.

Certainly, I’d love to.


You would?

Yes, and I’ll add that you are brilliant.

[Continues to stare with wide eyes, blinking in disbelief]

I am?

Of course, as First Officer,
I expect no less of you.
In these troubled times,
Let’s gather the old crew.

[For an awkward moment, he says nothing. Then he clears his throat and regains official composure]

Aye, Captain.


[The Cavern has been transformed into a sacred space,  furnished with lights, several different religious icons, incense and a single large cushion]

[The Seekers are gathered in a circle]

When the solution is the problem,
When the snake consumes its own tail,
When the answer contributes to the cause —
A systemic loop prevails.

Self-perpetuating pigshit.

With such a list of benefits,
With so much to gain in trade,
With unprecedented luxuries,
The Public is difficult to persuade.

We could always emphasize
The uncertain and unknown.
How we lack long-term observations,
Yet too quick to trust have grown.

The Elixirs are still mysteries,
Still substances we don’t understand.
And they yet remain aliens,
Perhaps with our own enslavement planned.

What do we really know about
These so-called miracle potions?
They could contain molecular robots —
Some sort of alien latent poison.

[Rolls eyes]

Straight out of a sci-fi comic.

[Lists off her fingers]

… Sentient planets.
First alien contact.
Impossible potions.
Did you seriously just say that?

[They hear a sudden noise. Something — or someone — is in the Cave with them, which by law should be empty for the duration of their Reservation. Pulling their blasters out, the Seekers go to investigate, Brooke and Benjiro leading the way]

[The Seekers come upon one of the Turbidians — wearing a metallic armoured vest and lowered to their first pair of knees, as if prepared to pounce]

[Instinctively, Benjiro steps in front of Brooke, half raising his blaster. The alien rushes forward, gracefully diving into a handstand and wrapping their legs around Benjiro’s neck. We hear a crack as Benjiro drops to the floor]


[She shoots her blaster at the Turbidian. With remarkable speed, the alien dodges and again dives headfirst, swinging their legs to wrap around Brooke’s neck. In a smooth motion, Brooke dives forward so that the pair fall, a jumble of limbs rolling to the ground, the Turbidian’s back ending flat on the floor. Brooke rolls them — legs over head — onto their face, then swings behind and wraps her arms around their neck in a choke]

This is where you disclose your business here,
In the cave you swore to have forgotten.

[Tended to by Chief Medic Isaac and Nurse Linley, Benjiro groans, injured but alive]

Ben! Oh, Ben.

[Blake steps forward and puts her knee on the Turbidian’s torso, pinning them down to free Brooke, who rushes to Benjiro]

Speak or I’ll have the distinct pleasure
To try history’s longest vivisection.

[The alien struggles, and Blake puts more pressure on them]

A vital resource without which
The foundation will wither, crumble, fall.

[Suddenly, the alien gasps and falls to their knees. There, they sway for a moment, then collapse to the ground. They do not move again]

[For a long moment, the Seekers stare in silence]

Seekers, with me now, and bring the body —
It’s time to make a call.


[The remaining Masters of Potions work diligently, aided by human assistants, hands flying across each chemistry station. The atmosphere is symbiotic and amicable, both species engaged in a pleasant dance. After concocting and bottling each new potion, they place it in a box which begins to churn out exact replicas on a conveyor belt, with both container and liquid content]

[The doors slide open. The Seekers barge in, Benjiro in a neck brace yet on his feet, and, with the exception of Aida, pull out their blasters]


[Frowning, Linley turns and stares at Aida]

[In uniform motion, the rest of the Turbidian Masters, with the exception of Zhavvorsa, slide into their natural crouching states, prepared to pounce]

[Stepping between their colleagues and the Seekers]


[The Turbidians do not move, but remain in crouching position. Zhavvorsa turns to face the Seekers]

May we ask with respect, dear Officers,
What we might do for you?

You might disclose information
As to what a member of your team
Was doing in our Resource Cavern —
What you once called the Cave of Swollen Dreams.

And why they would commit assault
Against our First Officer.
For the reason behind these events
You will now provide an answer.

We know nothing of this cavern
Of dreams, of which you just spoke.
But nonetheless assure you
Our kind is nonviolent unless provoked.

[Points his blaster at Zhavvorsa]

“Nonviolent”! What a joke!
Don’t believe their lies, their venom.

We raised our weapons first.
Captain, I believe them.

Would you stake your life?



And the lives of all Newtopians?

[In a whisper]

Earth help me, yes.

[To Zhavvorsa]

Though true we raised weapons first, the question
Of your presence in the Cavern remains.

Neither intentions nor significance
Are we able to explain.

But this we know for sure —
For Class 3 Civilizations,
An attack against one is sufficient
To justify full retaliation.

This is what we propose —
A diplomatic invitation.
Let us all travel to our planet
And conduct a joint investigation.

Our decision will be made
As always — with sage counsel.

[One by one, each Seeker projects the recordings from their PODs, together creating a multi-view replay of the incident in the Cavern, which plays on the backdrop screens]

[The centre screen shows the Council of Nine, its members unrecognizable for their appearance of youth]

Vexation and dismay surrounds
This unexpected scandal.

While difficult to accept the words
Of those with uncertain machinations,
We must nonetheless trust them, if we wish
To join this Galactic Federation.

Hear our collective advice,
A policy of diplomacy:
Send forth our best and brightest
And hope for resolved harmony.

[The screens fill with the most popular submissions from the population:

[“Find the truth.”

“Seekers, we need you once more.”

“Find out for us.”

“Go find out!”


[The screens fade to black]

[Turning to face her crew]

There may be traps and unknown perils
To uncover this mystery.
I won’t ask you to uproot all,
To again leave your families.

I knew what I signed up for,
The burden’s all of ours to bear.
Danger is no stranger, and…

[Looks directly at Brooke]

My family is right here.

[One by one, the Seekers begin holding hands. Dancers, representing the general Public, enter the stage from both sides to join them]

Lift the veil and dispel the mist,
The truth we’ll track and sleuth.
We exercise our most basic right,
We demand the truth!




[The entire stage is pitch black. The screens show Unity’s interior and exterior]

[In the ship, the Turbidians and Seekers sit in tense silence, strapped in securely. In the cockpit, Aida manoeuvres the landing. The centre screen shows the pilot’s view as they hurtle into the atmosphere of a brown planet]

[The terrain is barren and treacherous, covered with craters — Unity is headed towards the largest of them. At the edge of the planet’s stratosphere hovers a fleet of uniform spacecrafts, from which hundreds of thousands of Turbidians beam up and down]

[As they descend, we see that the aliens have carved a concave city into the natural crater. With the exception of a single, circular patch of green in the centre, everything is brown and covered with giant translucent domes — an overwhelmingly populated urban city]

[The coordinates on the pilot’s screen leads them to the largest dome, on top of which various spaceships are parked. The screens fade to black as Unity lands on this alien parking lot]


[There is a gate with a line filled with various alien species — mostly humanoid, several insectoid, one amoeboid. The Masters lead the Seekers, bypassing the line and going through the gates until they reach an elevated platform. On top stands a smiling Turbidian]

With great gaiety I greet you,
With much joy and great privilege.
As a Galactic Mandatory Tour guide,
Your safety and learning, I will pledge.

At the end of our excursion
Our laws you’ll each be prompted to agree.
Refusal returns you to this station,
Consent grants free mobility.

[All lights except a spotlight on the platform turn off. The backdrop screens show a third-person view of a circular platform separating from the roof and descending]

Behold below, Khanaan,
The capital planetwide city
Of the Craterman kingdom,
In its twenty thousandth-year glory.

The oldest of seven worlds,
The first to use Planetary Domes.
The epicentre of our kingdom,

[As we draw closer to ground level, we see Turbidian citizens in the midst of their daily routines. A staggering percentage are hooked to their virtual Hive Mind, billions of their glowing tendrils twinkling together like starlight]

To twenty billion turbidians a home.

Who enjoy the highest life expectancy,
Our greatest collective achievement;

[The video stops moving downwards and starts to move forwards, exiting the dome through a connecting tunnel]

And the second largest economy —
Our main export virtual entertainment.

[They exit the tunnel and are welcomed by open land with lush greenery and waterfalls]

As with most Federation members,
A democratic monarchy.

[The tour moves around the circumference of this land, giving a 360-degree view. As we turn round the bend, we see in its centre an enormous structure — a building with ancient walls and columns and a metal convex roof shining brightly in the light]

Behold the Garden Palace,
Home to the Imperial Families.

Upon whom we bestow the luxuries
Of disproportionate space and nature,
In exchange for their burden of ruling —
A fair sociopolitical structure.

And we, the Civilian Body,
Are in turn guaranteed
Justice and protection,
And provision of all our basic needs.

Of shelter, food, and health,
Of education and recreation —
Safe and free from any stress or concern
Of planetary operation.

It’s ultimately with us Civilians
Where you can find true sovereignty:
We proudly possess the power
To choose the Ruling Family.

Throughout the Federation we’re renowned
For our system of transparency,
And boast the highest Voter Turnout
In the entire galaxy.

We are obliged for your patience
As we thus conclude our tour,
And now request telepathic consent
To legal compliance ensure.

[There is a giant wall covered with alien inscriptions and the same brown circles on each Turbidian’s foreheads. Tendrils sprout and attach themselves to each Seeker’s temples, and the centre backdrop screen shows a scrolling translation. Once there are no more words to scroll, the tendrils retract into the wall]

And now that we possess
Agreement clear and explicit,
We may lead you to the Palace
For your diplomatic visit.

[The backdrop screens show a first-person perspective as the platform draws steadily closer to the palace]


[The interior of the palace is covered with greenery, with fantastical flowers and natural crystals. Unlike in the residences outside, there are no Thunium crystals to be seen. On an elevated platform sits Queen Darneesa, surrounded by attendants. The Turbidians Masters prostrate themselves onto their topmost knees, and the Seekers follow example, kneeling]

Your Radiance, we bring You
A matter of great gravity.
We —

[She raises a hand and Zhavvorsa falls silent]

We are made shocked, aghast, appalled,
By such blatant discourtesy.
Though not our usual ambassadors,
We should not deny formalities.

Though admittedly a Class 2 species,
These are most valued trade partners.
Why to the Interspecific Games
Should we not an invitation proffer?

[The Seekers look at one another, bewildered and wary]

With all respect… “Your Radiance”,
We did not travel here for games.

They are much more than merely games,
But a standard in the Federation:
It is on species’ capabilities
Which they base a weighted voting system.

[The centre screen shows a chart of various planets and their rankings, while the other backdrop screens depict scenes from past games. They show various alien participants racing, engaging in close combat, and standing victorious in front of cheering crowds]

Deciding Member Planet influence,
They are part diplomatic tradition.
And part interspecific bonding
Via friendly competition.

Of course, as a Class 2 species
Humans are under no obligation.
Yet participation is essential
To join the Galactic Federation.

Come, deny Us not Our desire
To see beloved, hallowed tradition,

To symbolize and celebrate
Mutual beneficial relations.
Your concerns We shall address afterwards —
We promise upon Our divine name.

[For a moment, she stares at the alien queen]

… With respect, may we inquire
As to the nature of these games?

Testing physical reflexes and strength,
Requiring endurance, agility,
Challenging comrade co-operation,
Gauging observation and strategy,

[The screens show the aerial view of a square arena rearranging itself into five trajectories — resembling to those of League of Legends and Defense of the Ancients. The map divides into smaller windows which show first-person perspectives travelling through each path, with varying terrains. The top, centre, and bottom paths are unobstructed, while the two lanes surrounding the centre are muddled with what appear to be bare white trees]

The Games take place within an arena
Divided in territories.
Each team possesses Markers —

[The screens display closeups of two circular pads — one flat and one with a sphere embdedded in the centre, pulsating with light]

Five in their base and one on their bodies.

The objective is to hit these with Orbs,
Projectiles which launch in straight direction,
Which require 10 pulses to recharge,
And return to their point of origin.

Hit a player’s Marker to freeze them,

[Screens display two aliens. One hits the other with their Orb, freezing them for one light pulse. They hit them again, this time stunning them for two pulses]

Stun duration increasing exponentially.
Infiltrate the opponent’s base

[Travels from one end to the opposite — where there is a giant pad on the wall]

And hit the End Marker for victory.

[Screens – light in centre of each territory]

Each side has three protective structures

Which render stun durations shorter,
And which — while in their home territory —
Recharges each player’s Orb much faster.
If Markers on all three are struck

These benefits are nullified.
Yet the structures remain invulnerable
Should an unstunned home player be nearby.
Finally, regarding physical damage,

There is no reason for worry:
All trauma, including death,
Can be reversed if done immediately.
Do we have your consent?

[The Seekers look at each other uncertainly. Brooke nods curtly. Grimly, the crew nod back]


Marvelous! Let us play and bear in mind
Competing should further our acquaintance,
And incite neither insult nor outrage,
Nor, as on primitive planets, violence.

[Attendants surround the Seekers, equipping them]

We provide non-telepathic species
With communication devices —
As well as time and targets
Suggested for strategy and practice.

[A thin red light draws a line across the stage, separating the aliens from the Seekers]

Proceed to this point when prepared
To begin the Interspecific Game.

[The platform beneath the Seekers elevates and the rest of the stage darkens. The backdrop screens show a 2D map with a cluster of lights in one corner, each light depicting a player]

[The humans move around. Once they’ve determined whose light is whose, they practice hitting the targets and then take turns freezing one another]

Veterans, to my right by rank,
Newest soldiers, across by name.

[Benjiro Sara, Blake Morgan, Linley Yamaguchi and Cedric Chan stand next to her. Across them, Twyford Atif, Aida Desalgn, Sonny Darling and Isaac Rivera face them]

Divide into five units,
Fireteam 2 commanded by Sara.
Sara: cover the bottommost ground
With Atif and Rivera.

Your lane’s terrain is roughest and the longest,
Mind the bend and tread carefully.
Darling and Desalegn,
Form Fireteam 1 under me.

Megan: take centre lane as our Guard,
The shortest, a strategic key.
Never leave your structure’s vicinity,
You will play defensively.

Supporting from above and below
Are Chan and Yamaguchi:
In the obstructed paths as Sentinels,
You will listen and move quietly.

Stay alert and attentive,
Of your surroundings constantly aware.
Recall all your physical training,
And attack with certainty and care.

Risks and outcomes always calculate,
Opportune moments observe and choose.
And above all else, remember:
To panic, in games or life, is to lose.

[The stage is covered in a red light. White curtains fall and divide the stage into five sections]

[The Seekers split up and begin jogging in place. On the backdrop screens, their respective dots begin moving across the map]

[Section 1:

A black rectangular prism — one of the protective monoliths — rises from the ground under a blue spotlight. Brooke signals silently and Sonny remains behind]

[Brooke and Aida press on. A blue spotlight falls upon them as their dots on the map cross the midpoint, into hostile territory. The enemy’s monolith rises and they approach it cautiously. As they get within firing distance, a pair of orbs shoot from above and hit their markers, freezing them for a moment, and two Turbidians jump from the trees. Now unfrozen, Brooke and Aida fire their orbs, but miss and get frozen once more. The aliens draw closer, attacking, and the Seekers retreat]

[Behind at the monolith where Sonny stands guard, a Turbidian jumps from above. He spins out of reach, moving away just in time. The alien attempts to strike him continuously, one attack after another, but he gracefully evades them. The enemy dives into a handstand and aims a kick at Sonny’s head, which the human blocks, and simultaneously shoots at his marker. Sonny is frozen for a second. He dodges a second shot but takes a kick to the side and is frozen again. He moves discernibly slower and is stunned easily for a third time. The alien turns towards the monolith and takes aim. At the last second, Sonny throws himself in front of the monolith, getting frozen once more. The Turbidian spins and with a vicious kick sends his body flying out of the way, and hits the monolith’s marker. The light loses its blue hue and the alien runs in the direction of its teammates. After eight seconds, Sonny is unfrozen. He shakes his head, climbs to his feet and follows, holding his side]

[Section 2:

Behind a white tree, Cedric waits in hiding, listening intently with his eyes closed. His eyes snap open and Brooke and Aida fly past, the Turbidians close on their trail. He ambushes them, kicking one to the ground then tackling the other, and his teammates close in, both stunning the enemies from a distance. The third Turbidian attacks from behind, freezing Aida. They fire at Brooke who rolls away. Sonny joins them from behind and returns fire. The three Seekers take aim and freeze the aliens again and again]

[Section 3:

At the second monolith, Blake walks towards a white tree at the edge of her pathway. She touches it lightly, then smacks it hard on the side. She jumps and hangs for a few moments from a branch. It does not wobble. She walks away then runs back, climbs high and waits]

[An orb shoots at her from across — the Turbidians are in the branches as well. Blake lets her body fall — almost sleepily — and catches a lower branch. She swings herself onto a higher level and targets where the orb came from. Three aliens disperse from their hiding spot, shooting. She is an acrobatic wonder — spinning, jumping, weaving through the branches, dodging shots and returning fire. By the time she has stunned all of them nine times, she casually leans against a tree and waits, counting the pulses. When they unfreeze, she shoots them again for the tenth time and waits once more, sitting down comfortably]

[Section 4:

Linley waits alertly behind a white tree — vigilantly looking around and above, and at the 3D map for his teammates’ positions]

[Section 5:

At the third monolith, Benjiro makes a silent gesture and Twyford stands guard as the others move forward without her]

[As Benjiro and Isaac nearly reach the midpoint, they slow down and lower their centre of gravity, moving with their backs to each other. A pair of orbs hit their markers from above and two Turbidians jump from the trees, flying towards them. Instead of moving out of the way, the two men stand their ground and catch each alien by a limb. The Seekers pivot and fling their opponents away, and the Turbidians somersault onto their feet. They charge each other headfirst and engage in close combat. Little by little the Seekers retreat, drawing their opponents close to the back of the stage]

[Back at the monolith, an enemy drops from above Twyford and she spins, throwing them over the shoulder. She pounces on them and the Turbidian grabs her by the head with their feet and throws her over in turn. The pair begin to grapple on the ground, their strength and speed relatively matched]

[Twyford and her opponent roll away from each other and onto their feet, panting. The Turbidian circles Twyford like a predator and the human rotates in the same position, always facing her foe. The alien feints reaching for her arm then tackles her low — and Twyford pulls her feet from underneath herself, dropping her weight on their back and flattening them. She chokes them by the neck and rolls like an alligator onto the ground, where she remains until the Turbidian grows still]

[Automatically, the limp alien body begins to float upwards and is lifted from her grasp and out of view. Twyford lays there for a moment, then checks her teammates’ positions. She gets up and runs in place, her dot heading towards the rest of her Fireteam]

[Once Benjiro’s and Isaac’s dots move farther into the Seekers’ territory, Linley ambushes the Turbidians from behind, immobilizing one for a moment and cutting off the road behind him. He makes a kick at their head but they are unfrozen and dodge it. The two lock in a one-on-one fight, kicking and evading. The other alien jumps and kicks Isaac with both feet, sending him flying into a tree and stunning him twice. Benjiro chokes him from behind but gets flipped on his back. He pivots his body, swinging his legs, sweeps the Turbidian off their feet and shoots them. They dodge his second shot, rolling onto their feet, shoot him and charge forwards. Benjiro takes two strikes to the head but parries a third and elbows them in the face repeatedly]

[Twyford joins them from behind. Kneeling on the ground, she snipes the aliens twice from a distance. She misses on the third round and they spin and shoot Benjiro and Linley midair. As soon as they land on their feet they somersault away from Twyford’s orb. One tackles Benjiro and they begin to grapple; the other freezes Linley and picks him up, using him as a shield as they approach Twyford. She keeps shooting and hits them in the head with her orb, then scrambles to her feet. In the same moment, Benjiro immobilizes his opponent and rushes to help her. The Turbidian throws Linley’s frozen body at Twyford, who grabs him and rolls over, laying him on the ground, and hovers over him protectively. Just as the humans and alien are about to clash, the latter is frozen — Twyford and Benjiro turn to see Isaac, clutching his side and smiling weakly. They rush forward to support him, and are joined by an unfrozen Linley]

[In all the sections except for Blake’s, the Seekers catch their breath]

Pincer manoeuvre!

[Everyone, again except for Blake, start running. Their dots move across the centre screen, converging on the middle lane. Once they reach Blake’s position, the curtains separating the stage lift]

[As her teammates join her, she stands up, stretches in exaggeration and dusts herself, grinning]

What took you so damn long?

[The others laugh and whoop, a few shaking their heads. Brooke smacks her upside the head then pulls her into an affectionate headlock. The rest of the group join them, slapping Blake on the back]

Does anyone else feel like a victim
Of gross underestimation?

Time for a Counter-offensive,
To punish miscalculation.

[They all run in formation. Deep in enemy territory, they spot the now unfrozen Turbidians charging towards them. The Seekers stand their ground. When they clash, six of the aliens focus their attacks on Blake and Brooke. The other three form a defensive line, isolating the two Seekers from the rest of the team]

[Brooke fends off two attackers, kicking one behind their lower knee. She takes a blow from the second but spins in the same direction and rolls away. She runs, her face bleeding, and the two Turbidians go after her]

All hands assist Megan!

[The other Seekers obey and run towards Blake — except for Benjiro, who immediately chases after Brooke’s attackers. Together, back to back, they fight]

[The remaining four aliens and Blake attack each other relentlessly. Blake strikes one down, takes a kick to the face from another, twirls midair and rolls away. She blocks another kick and punches the offender down. Both human and Turbidians are constantly rolling, cartwheeling and somersaulting, looking for all their physical differences as if they are the same species, engaged in a martial-arts dance]

[The other Seekers work together to immobilize the defensive line]

[Once the Turbidians have been frozen or incapacitated, they all sprint deeper into Turbidian territory. Once they reach the wall, Blake takes aim and fires at the End Marker, ending the game]

[While the rest cheer and jump on Blake in celebration, Brooke and Benjiro awkwardly stare at one another]

[She pulls Benjiro into a hug. He stands dumbfounded for a moment. Just as he puts his arms around her, she steps back]

A token of appreciation.

[She punches him in the gut]

And one for insubordination.

[She turns to join the group hug]

[Holding his stomach yet smiling, Benjiro follows]

[The lights lose their red hue and the platform descends. The rest of the stage is lit again, revealing the Throne Room]

[There is complete silence, with a break in the music]

Absurd, impossible, outrageous!
The little Humans dare — you dare!
You are but a lowly Class 2 species
So this game does not even matter!

[Laughs hysterically]

You are a lesser species
A nonsensical species — a great jest!
You attained interstellar expansion
Before Planet-Species Symbiosis!

Imbeciles, you skipped a crucial step!
By Galactic Law, you may be enslaved
Without any legal repercussion —
Too dumb to be worthy of protection.

[She takes deep breath and suddenly regains composure. The music begins again]

And so it shall be.

No more gentle benefactor,
No more benevolent queen.
No more guise or pretence,
We shall do precisely what We mean.

We henceforth establish Newtopia
Vassal state to the Craterman Kingdom —
Sovereign yet expected to export
All reserves of Thunium.

Attendants, hold the offending Humans
Within Palace Species Exhibition,
And give Counter Potions to the Masters,
Along with laurels and compensation.

[An attendant gives each Master an elixir. They all drink it at once except for Zhavvorsa, who glances at Aida before drinking hers]

Selected for your uncommon levels
Of affective empathy,
In gaining trust and even affection,
You rendered infiltration quite easy.

For far surpassing expectations,
For your fealty and your service,
We offer each one of you a garden
And rights to freely enter the Palace.

[A crowd of surrounds the Masters, tittering happily. Another group of attendants gently guide the Seekers to the other side of the stage]

[She turns and rushes towards the queen, and the attendants form a wall between them]

Wait! Darneesa!

If they’re so empathetic,
How could you have been so sure
That they would not betray you?
Are you such a psychopath?

Could you not consider that affection
Might be a two-way street?

[Several attendants grab Aida, but Darneesa raises a hand and they let go]

Primitive, young and underdeveloped,
You know nothing, and yet you bleat.

Every Turbidian prior to their birth
Undergoes genetic modification
The mere thought of betraying the species
Triggers a lethal neural reaction.

[Aida falls silent, deflated. The attendants resume leading the Seekers away]

There is no reason for worry —
Our system of incarceration
Is among the very best,
Praised for comfort and compassion.

[Pulls out a piece of white plastic]

If I may inquire, what is this here?
It is a substance never before seen.


Very common in our world,
That is polyethelene.

[She smacks Aida on the arm, then turns to the attendant]

If I may inquire, where did you acquire?

From your repurposed ship,
Dissected for parts that we may use.
As with all Class 3 species,
We advocate perpetual re-use.

[They have reached the prison. Once all the humans have entered, the Turbidians step out and the doors slide together and form a seamless wall. The backdrop screens change to show the audience what lies on the other side — young Turbidian royals observing the strange aliens on display. They grow bored and walk away, leaving the Seekers unguarded]

[For a long moment they sit in silence. Isaac lies in fetal position, holding his side]

[Slowly, she rises to her feet. One by one, the rest of the crew stare up at her expectantly. In a melodramatic falsetto, she sings]

And that’s why this planet sucks.

[Suddenly, they all break into hysterical laughter, which dies off as the stage and screens fades to black]

Seriously, what do we do now?




[The Seekers’ accommodations are pristine and comfortable. There is plenty of space, furniture to lounge on, food and water constantly replenished in individual dispensers, and even stationary exercise contraptions — a hamster cage, for humans]

[In the centre, the humans huddle together. They all stand normally, their wounds apparently healed. Aida stares off distantly]

Still restless legs, soothe itching hands,
We must make our escape.
They’ve left us alone and absent guards,
Our plan we should formulate.

Break the chains, silence screaming souls,
We must make our escape.
An entire day, we’ve been far here too long,
Our planet, our kind awaits.

[She laughs loudly and slightly maniacally]

You must be fucking kidding,
As if we stand a single chance.
There is no way off this rock,
Understand your own circumstance.

There may be too many dangers,
Perhaps no possibility.
Yet without attempt there remains no point,
Life is not life, without liberty.

[Suddenly, a metal square falls from the ceiling — the Seekers jump into combat stances, a few yelling in surprise — and is followed by an armoured Zhavvorsa, who lands and rolls gracefully into standing position. Aida immediately races forward and the two embrace]

After much intense debate
I have arrived at this conclusion:
Democracy likely holds the key
To optimized evolution.

[All stare in stunned silence. Zhavvorsa continues]

A marked cultural schism
Will change genetic sequence:
Eons of repeated behaviours
Will end in physical adaptation.

Two groups, the Ruled and Ruling,
Subject to static conditions
Will over time grow vastly different —
An evolutionary division.

The current system jeopardizes
Integrity of our genetic link.
So in helping you, I commit no betrayal,
My answer is to doublethink.

[The Seekers continue to stare. Blake breaks the silence]

Okay… This is all well and good,
But same obstacles yet remain.
How will we get off your planet —
Is there a ship you can obtain?

I yet possess access to my craft,
To which I can easily beam us up.
All we need is to reach the open air,
Which we’ll reach through ventilation ducts.

[She walks away from Aida and pulls out a small grappling hook. She throws it up in the direction she came from, hooking it to the side of the grate]

[As Zhavvorsa makes to start climbing, Aida throws her arms around her from behind]

I knew that it wasn’t all a lie,
That you wouldn’t stop caring for me.

I know now I possess no other choice —
Meeting you has altered me.

[She turns and they kiss deeply. The others shift awkwardly, several looking away, some smiling. Linley stares and crosses his arms]

[The Turbidian and human part. Zhavvorsa leads the way and begins to climb, and the rest follow]

[Lowering herself to her first pair of knees, Zhavvorsa navigates through the enclosed ducts comfortably. Aida is small enough to try and imitate her crouching gait, while the others crawl on all fours. The backdrop shows them making their way through the vents from several angles]

[When they reach a side opening, the Turbidian stops]

Until my express signal
I would have you here remain.

[She pulls out a robe and puts it on. She jumps out and moves around the corner to check that the coast is clear. Just as she goes to clear the other side, she collides with one of the other Masters]

Greetings, Master Zhavvorsa,
I did not mean to frighten!
I presume you are visiting, as I,
To check on precious, awarded gardens?

Greetings, Master Shierakee,
How the Stars shine upon this hour!
More than the whole garden I must confess,
I checked on one particular flower.

[Stares intently]

Master, pardon me but you seem to be
In a state of mental anxiety.

Palace visits can be overwhelming —
A state of neither interest nor worry.

[They pause, but then looks Zhavvorsa up and down and smiles]

And with closer look I now see
You are once again gendered.
Funny, we only returned yesterday!
When did you have time to find new partner?

[For a long moment, Zhavvorsa does not answer. As she finally opens her mouth, all the lights start flashing. The tendrils from both aliens’ foreheads extend to their temples and the backdrop screens flash images of each Seeker and their now empty enclosure. The montage and flashing stops and the tendrils retract]

We should go our parting ways,
In this state of emergency.

[She makes to pass Shierakee]

[They turn and block Zhavvorsa]

I believe we should remain together,
Simply for sake of security.

Two pairs of eyes perceiving same sight,
We would decrease search efficiency.

A single view yet different perspectives,
We may spot what the other cannot see.

[Pauses a moment]

You know I know that is not true reason —
Comrade, speak with more veracity.

I cannot help but find it all strange —
Brain activity, remaining gender.
Now we learn of prisoners escaped,
Amongst them former, alien partner.

Master, come and think and reason,
Look with your eyes and see.
To betray our kind yet still stand breathing,
You know is an impossibility.

[Their voice loses its previous pleasant tone]

I do not question reason,
I am questioning what I see.
Though I cannot understand the logic,
You must regardless come with me.

[They make to grab Zhavvorsa. Quick and fluid as water, Zhavvorsa dives, grabs hold of the other’s neck with her thighs and brings them down. She squeezes until they stop moving]

[She goes back to the duct opening. One by one, the Seekers land on the ground, and she pulls out a large, thin black blanket]

It’s wise to cluster and cover yourselves
In improvised disguise.
Then grab what limb of mine you can reach,
Cling close and we will begin to rise.

[They all huddle, grabbing what they can of the alien and wrapping the sheet over themselves. A few Seekers yell as they quickly soar through the air and into the Turbidian ship]


[Zhavvorsa moves beneath the hovering branches and the largest pulsating sphere lowers around her. She places its tendrils on her temples and the 3D map turns on. Aida pushes the others to follow and a sphere for each of them descends, suspending them midair]

[Zhavvorsa controls the speck of light representing the ship and highlights the human’s planet. The backdrop shows their journey’s progress]

[The Turbidian removes the tendrils and the spheres all recede]

In shock that we really made it,
And so grateful that you came through.
Yet I cannot help but wonder —
Zhavvorsa, what will you now do?

I confess for all my scheming,
I did not quite expect
To see it all go so smoothly,
That we’d be met with such success.

I did not care to think of the future
And cared only that Aida was not hurt.

So much warmth and comfort
To be found in those words.

[The others chuckle and walk to one side of the stage, pointing at and admiring the open view of space. Zhavvorsa takes Aida’s hand and leads her to the other side, and a curtain drops to separate them from the rest]

[They draw closer and begin a slow and sensual dance, spinning each other. They remove each other’s clothing. The Turbidian lifts the human, wrapping her around her waist]

[She presses her forehead against the alien’s]

We could find a little farm,
We could become partners, wives.
We could settle down,
We could share our lives.

[Zhavvorsa suddenly cries out and drops her. They both tumble to the ground]

[Aida scrambles to her feet and rushes to Zhavvorsa]


[She holds her partner in her lap. In her arms, Zhavvorsa gazes up at her]


[She falls very still]



[The medic rushes to her]

Help her, help me, fix it,
Something’s wrong, make it better please.

[Scans the Turbidian with his PODS]

There’s no sign of life as I can detect —
Aida, I’m so sorry.

I can’t imagine what happened,
Why she would die so suddenly.

From what their queen explained, my best guess
Is that something made them feel guilty.

[For a few long moments, no one says a word. The 3D map turns back on, and the speck of light changes colour and ripples through the entire map repeatedly]

It seems we have no means to land
And we’ve reached the outskirts of our planet.
So tell me, are we to hover here,
To resort to a cannibal diet?

Desalegn, do you have a clue
As to this vehicle’s operation?

[Aida does not respond. Brooke picks her up onto her feet]

Aida, did Zhavvorsa ever tell you
How to work the navigation?

[Aida nods slowly]

Then your mission here is entirely clear,
To fly and land us safely.

Yes, Captain.

[She walks beneath the branches and is encased in the centre sphere. She pilots the alien craft through Newtopia’s atmosphere, but the descent grows more and more turbulent. Just as they are about to crash, the ship pulls up. The bottom hits the ground, sending the whole craft spinning as it finally lands upside down]

[Aida pulls off the tendrils and the spheres recede, sending them all falling to the former ceiling. Picking up reception, all their PODS light up and whirl]

[She runs off stage, speaking into her PODS]

The Seekers here to declare
A state of emergency!

[One by one the crew follow her off stage, except Aida who remains on the ground. Linley backtracks and pulls her up and away by the hand, and the stage fades to black]


[The stage is divided into a small and large section, a residential bunk and the hallway outside. Inside the bunk Aida, now clothed, sits on a bed, her lap covered by a blanket. Linley hovers in the hall, pacing back and forth]

Now it’s clear for me to see
What she means to me.
I thought time was without limit,
Thought we’d be together eventually.

Yet while I was getting ready,
This woman, she was changed
By no other than an alien —
The mere thought is so deranged.

All I need is another chance,
A brand-new, fresh, clean slate.
I can fix her, I can fix this,
I know it’s not too late.

[He pulls out a clear Elixir of Failed Remembrance, pours it into a cup and enters the bunk]

[Linley sits on the bed next to Aida]

Rest your weary eyes and sleep,
And get a little bit of peace.

[Aida makes no response or acknowledgement]

I know happiness seems impossible,
Like there will never be another chance —
But trust me when I assure you
That you’ll again laugh and sing and dance.

If they truly loved you,
They’d only want the best.

[He places the cup in her hands]

Now drink the medic’s concoction,
I promise it’ll help you rest.

[After a moment, she takes the cup and gulps its contents down]

Linley, what are you doing here
And why do I feel so terrible?

[Blake enters the stage. She stands awkwardly in the hallway in front of the bunk]

Do you not remember
Saying how you felt ill?

[She rubs her eyes and lies down]

Strange, I feel so tired,
And can’t seem to recall.

[Blake knocks and enters the room]

I came to check up on you,
Aida, how are you doing?

I think I may have the flu,
I can’t explain this pain I’m feeling.

[She stares for a long moment. She looks at Linley, the cup, then back at Aida, her eyes slowly widening in horror. Her voice is hoarse when she speaks]

Yes, the flu — and what you need is sleep.
Come Linley, let us leave her in peace.

[As soon as they exit and the curtains close behind them, she turns on Linley]

What have you done?!

I made things right.

[Blake stares as if seeing Linley for the first time]

Don’t you, can’t you see it,
That she’s better off this way?

Even if we had brought it back,
Even if it had lived,
Aida would have been ostracized —
Certainly no way to live.

What pigshit are you spouting,
When you and I are fully aware
That when it comes to personal affairs
Outsiders don’t interfere nor care?

According to our Civil Rights
Instilled due to human history which still haunts —
So long as your choice does not harm another,
You can do whatever the fuck you want.

All very good in theory
Yet imperfect in practice.
And you’re naive to think society
Would have left those two in peace.

She would have ended up in quarantine
For fear of transmittable infections.
And it would have taken generations
Before complete, mainstream acceptance.

What I’ve done was to spare her
From the memories and the pain.
What I’ve given her is another chance,
To start life once again.

It may be that we did not understand,
That we fundamentally could not see.
But to Aida it held meaning,
Something to respect and let be.

Few things in life are worth
Risking, forsaking all.
To forget the pain is to forgo the joys —
A decision which should have been her call.

[With a hardened voice]

This argument may have had a point
Before the fact, not after.
What’s done is done, it can’t be changed —
And it doesn’t even matter.

[Blake looks at Linley in silence and revulsion. As he turns to leave, Blake grabs his shirt and punches him in the face, knocking him down. Linley spits blood to the side, stands up and leaves. Blake stares after him, backs against the wall and slides down to the floor]

[Simultaneously, Blake and Aida hug their knees, becoming very small in the fetal position, and disappear as the lights fade]




[The screens show a montage of footage showing what happened on the aliens’ planet. On the stage, the humans are gathered with the Seekers and Council of Nine in the centre of the crowd]

Now it’s clear for us to see
They were never friends to believe.
They thought us weak and simple-minded,
Thought to exploit us easily.

They thought to use and to abuse us,
To make us do their dirty work.
They planned to control and to distract us
And not mind which of us they hurt.

They thought to buy us off with comforts,
To pacify us through our greed.
Yet they cannot place a price tag
On our rights, our sovereignty.

I thought it too good to be true,
All their promises and potions.
So they were weapons of infiltration,
To run and rig the system.

[One by one they start throwing elixirs in a pile on the ground]

Volition is what makes us human,
Having a choice is what makes us free.
And we choose to struggle and to fight
For our own liberty.

[Rows upon rows of blasters and armour slide onto the stage, and the people arm themselves]

We may be fragile creatures,
But just challenge us and see
How we’ll fight to the very bitter end —
This is our Propaganda of the Deed.

Try to conquer and divide us,
To bring any of us to harm.
Try to control and to subvert us,
And as one we’ll raise our arms.

We may not have nighttime vision,
May lack retractable teeth or claws —
But when we come together,
You won’t underestimate us for long.

[Everyone’s PODS begin to glow and the backdrop displays various citizens and their physical and mental statistics, and one of the following labels: Strength, Speed, Accuracy, Support, and Strategy. Most of the Strengths are men, most Speeds women, and the other categories roughly equal]

Of our own advantages and weakness,
Of our own statistics we are aware.
We optimize this information
And so invaders should beware.

Both conscious and quite confident,
We are prepared for self-defense.
And while our bodies may be delicate,
We are armed and competent.

[Now all fully prepared, the humans line up facing the audience]

Try to control and to oppress us,
Just challenge us and see
We will fight to the very bitter end —
This is our Propaganda of the Deed.

[A single Turbidian attendant descends. Unlike during First Contact, they remain within their protective sphere when they reach the ground]

On behalf of the Craterman Kingdom
I offer sincere congratulations —
For achieving certain prerequisites
Set by the Galactic Federation.

Any species that can demonstrate
Cognizance of its own oppression
And the willingness to retaliate
Must be exempt from exploitation.

By assembling together as you have,
Prepared to fight and to defend,
You’re under protective legislation
And so our relationship must end.

I also offer apologies —
It was never malice, just commerce.
And express hopes to reconcile
And resume trade in the future.

And just like that, you’ll leave us
Without any confrontation?

We could continue to dominate
But then would face economic sanctions.

So with this we bid you farewell
And speedy evolutionary progression,
And will attempt contact once more
With your new, unbiased generation.

[They bow and ascend]

[The humans all look at one another, murmuring and chattering]

While we are still gathered here
There remains an issue to address —
This sequence of events has shown
We have room for social progress.

No matter how great the benefits
To be reaped by the majority,
There should never be a comfort
At the expense of a minority.

And no matter the good intentions
Of trusted authorities,
We ourselves acknowledge
No one is exempt from vanity.

So the Council of Nine Arbiters
Declares our abdication
After this Arbitration,
Our final legislation:

Human society is henceforth
Self-ruling and self-governing
With the stipulation
That no group is subject to suffering.

[They remove their robes]

We embrace this social change
With grace and swelling hearts,
And for the progress of our species
We will all each play our part.

[Everyone begins to remove their armour and put away their blasters]

I confess slight disappointment
That we did not get to fight —
While relieved we are all unharmed,
We were eager to demonstrate our might.

What should we do with pent-up energy
Reserved for violent confrontation?

Well, the ancient Bonobo primates
Used coitus to diffuse tension.

[For a moment, there is silence. Then we hear armour drop to the floor with a clang as Brooke jumps on Benjiro, and the two kiss passionately, ripping each other’s clothing]

[With their cue, the stage breaks into a giant erotic dance, with hetero-, homo-, and polysexual partners stripping]

Try to limit activity to two partners!

Most venereal diseases
We’ve managed to eradicate.
There’s no need to try actively
To new infections create!

[A nude Twyford shuts him up with a kiss and he responds keenly]

And so we’ll dance and celebrate
The Day of the Opposite of War —
A day to shamelessly indulge in
What our bodies were made for.

[They join in as well]

[One by one, the Seekers come to the front of the stage, all completely nude, their hair dishevelled]

We learned a lot and had some laughs,
But they couldn’t make us slaves.

Oh, no!
No, they couldn’t make us slaves!

Photo Credit: Netflix/BoJack Horseman