Beacon 23 (2023) s02e06 Episode Script

Luan Casca

Previously, on Beacon 23
[ALEPH] QTA is proud to have
partnered with ISA to develop
the first dark matter detection system.
But it is to you, the keepers,
that we offer our humble thanks.
ISA is coming now,
and it won't be months.
This will follow us, all of
us, for the rest of our lives.
This is a gift from your father and me.
It's a new name.
There's something you
gotta know about Aster.
- She's still just street trash
- Go away.
- from Menelaus.
- Leave me alone!
- [HARMONY] What's that?
- She gave it to me
- when I was little.
- Your mother?
I don't even know where she got it.
- [ALEPH] Aster Calyx.
As a kid, I waited for
the QTA ships to save us.
Your ships.
- Menelaus.
- I'm impressed your mother
was able to get you out.
She was meant to follow
me, she never did.
They were my squad. They
died because I lived.
Wherever it is you want
to go, I'll get you there.
We'll share it with
everyone. Humans, AI
I understand.
Pleasure to meet you,
sir. I'm Aster Calyx.
I know who you are.
I'm just a little surprised
to see you a month early.
Unfortunately, B49 is
having some health issues.
ISA wants all their
trainees ready to go.
Aren't you brand new?
I haven't been selected,
but I am hopeful.
What, that B49 dies?
No. Certainly not.
- This way.
Power and agriculture.
Without either, you don't
stand a chance out here.
- Heart of the beacon.
- This may be redundant.
Based on your file, you could
walk this place blindfolded.
Training sims don't do it justice.
- This is perfect.
- I like your spirit, Aster.
My workstation, feel free to use it.
But please keep it tidy.
Nuts and bolts. Wrenches.
If you need something else
3D printer. Self-explanatory.
My friends back on Tritus
would flip if they saw that.
I hear it can make
a mean old-fashioned.
You're here to complete your training.
If you wanted to party,
you came to the wrong place.
No drinking alcohol, young lady.
- What?
Uh, nobody's called me that in a while.
I haven't had any, um, actual
human contact in a long time.
It's cool. Reminds me of my dad.
Really? Oh. [LAUGHS]
He must be, um quite proud of you.
I suppose.
And what does he do?
Don't know.
Haven't heard from him in a few years.
Ah, families. I'm sorry to hear that.
Don't be. It's a long story.
Goes best with an old-fashioned or two,
so if you want to hear it,
you'll have to break the rules.
Nope. Not gonna happen. Not on my watch.
Nice try, though. Shall we continue?
This is where the magic happens.
How much of this do
you manage by yourself
and how much is the AI?
Oli, how self-sufficient am I?
[OLI] Very. It can be quite frustrating.
I have so much more to offer.
AI can be addictive. A crutch.
The more you use them,
the more you need them.
Your senses get dulled,
your reflexes get slower.
That's why I've limited
Oli to autonomous services
and emergencies only.
Meaning you're responsible
for the major decision-making.
Of course.
Isn't that counterintuitive?
Seems like AI is
running things out there.
[CHUCKLES] And how's that working?
Not good.
We've become emotionally reliant on AI.
It's as if the AIs want
that. It's unhealthy.
Well now, let's see how well
you've read that manual, hmm?
Front to back.
- Including footnotes?
- Hit me with it.
Your communication starts to cut out.
False reading on the dark matter map.
- Recalibrate.
Generator overheats.
- Release coolant.
Oli stops doing her job.
[OLI] I would never.
130 years ago
Beacon 2's AI mistakenly
classified the Beacon Keeper
as a biohazard and cut
life support in an attempt
to limit what it
considered a virus outbreak.
I'd pull the Roland
chip from the mainframe.
Named after Beacon 2's keeper.
- Saw that in the footnotes.
So, what made you decide
to be a Beacon Keeper?
I fell into it. I was between jobs.
I ran into a buddy of mine,
he said he was headed here.
He needed a hand
straightening things out.
Sounded like a cushy
gig, so I signed up.
Came all the way out here.
This really is the edge of the galaxy.
Tell me.
I had no idea what I was getting into.
- So, what happened?
- I showed up and the place
was in complete disarray.
Pieces of gear lying all around.
Nothing fit, nothing made sense.
He spent most of his
time on the Tunneler
telling ISA what a bunch
of assholes they were.
Sounds unpleasant.
I tried to help him the best I could,
but he wouldn't accept my help.
- Why'd you stay?
- I had given my word.
- Not to ISA, but to him.
- Where is he?
ISA had given him the
boot, asked me to take over.
- Did you?
- Eventually.
Took a long time. Lots of blind alleys.
Years later, I'm still here.
- You like it?
- I don't know.
I'm good at it.
I like being good at something.
Just never thought it would
be running a lighthouse
on the edge of the edge.
- Hm.
- How about you?
Young girl, your whole
life ahead of you.
Why a Beacon Keeper?
You know what it's like out there?
I hear.
Then you know a cot and
three squares go a long way.
That's what you want? Security?
A home?
Never really had one.
Maybe once. I can't remember.
Well, you must have come from somewhere.
How bad?
My mum was killed in the diaspora.
I'm sorry.
He went missing long before.
Never knew if he left or if he
was killed trying to save us.
[JOCKO] I bet it was the latter.
After Menelaus, do you know where I was?
I know Burza.
I know you do.
That's why I'm here.
That evacuation plan saved thousands.
I, uh, try not to think
about Operation Burza anymore.
Those were scary times.
Tell me.
It almost didn't work.
I got lucky.
It was supposed to be
an underground evac,
but Scads blew the tunnels
before the colonists could escape.
Hm that seat was
hot, know what I mean?
All eyes on me.
Air rescue was boxed out by dogfights.
So much smoke, it almost reached orbit.
I remember.
Black Lung's a bad way to go.
All I had was a radar and my comms.
I was winging it.
Just trying to look for a way out.
Then, I saw it: The Cloudburst,
a commercial hauler a few
clicks outside the red zone.
Abandoned. I could not believe it.
We were winning in
the skies, so I pulled
one of our pilots out
to try to hotwire it,
use it as a rescue vessel.
The damn thing wouldn't start,
so I talked him through it.
I had stolen a few
small T-140s in my day.
So, son of a bitch eventually
roared back to life.
Pilot said it was like
a grandpa at the beach
when a pretty girl strolls by.
No worries.
Well, the rest is history.
It was the largest
airlift since Edymion.
[SIGHS] I don't know if we saved
all of 'em, but we sure got a lot.
It looked a little
different from the ground.
Those skies were filled
with so much fuel,
we caked ourselves in mud to
keep our skin from burning.
We were terrified, of course, but
it was like we reached
this sense of calm.
Acceptance, maybe.
It was like we couldn't hear
or see anything but each other,
hand in hand.
Ready to meet the other side.
We heard this roaring
from a vessel overhead
getting louder.
Couldn't even see it
through the haze, but
boy, did we curse it to Hell.
Then a ladder dropped
right at our feet.
It couldn't even land,
it was so smokey.
We piled into the ship
and took a head count.
You got us all.
Thank you.
Crazy, huh?
Aster! Aster!
- Here.
- We have a vessel approaching.
What are you doing here?
Is there someone in there?
No. No, of course not.
You don't use this Airlock?
I'm a bit of a pack rat.
I use it as my attic.
We don't have time to discuss this.
But I don't understand.
Don't you have enough storage?
You, uh accumulate a lot
of things over a lifetime.
Protocol is to have
two working Airlocks.
I don't get many visitors.
What if there's an emergency
and two ships needed to dock?
Out here? Never happens.
Why are we discussing hypotheticals?
- We've got a ship.
- Understood.
Are you checking up on me?
I've been doing this for
years. You're just a trainee
who's never actually set
foot on a beacon before.
I'm sorry. I'm not checking up.
Then what do you care?
I'm just surprised.
It seems a bit careless.
Trust me, that's the last thing I am.
Come on.
You're lucky. We have company.
You can learn on the job.
This says two ships are approaching.
- How's that possible?
- It's very rare.
Given the distances,
won't they pass millions
- of miles from each other?
- They should,
except with that black hole there
and that dark matter nebula here.
They act as dual hazards.
There's a very tight
space, on a cosmic scale,
for them to get through.
You ever heard the story of The Odyssey?
No, not really.
Well, our hero, Odysseus,
had to pilot his ship
between the six-headed monster, Scylla,
and Charybdis, the deadly whirlpool.
It's kinda like that.
Did he do it?
Well, he survived, but his crew died.
[MAN 1, OVER COMMS] Beacon 90.
Copy, this is Beacon 90.
This is food transport x-12
requesting passage into zeta quadrant.
You are clear, but hold on.
This is Beacon 90.
[MAN 2, OVER COMMS] This is UGMC Agrippa
approaching zeta quadrant.
Copy, Agrippa. Hang tight.
We need to allow food transport to pass.
MC takes priority in FTL lanes.
Agrippa, what is your
mission priority status?
Critical. What's the problem, 90?
Military has the right of way.
I know what it's like to be
waiting on a food shipment.
It's not your call.
[AGRIPPA] 90, are you there?
are we cleared for passage?
- What are you doing?
The military can wait.
They're just going to
kill some innocent folk
stealing food in order to survive.
- You don't know that.
- Yes, I do.
I saw it.
This has nothing to do with that.
They're too close at FTL.
If their bubbles collide
Agrippa, pull out of FTL.
[AGRIPPA] Are you serious?
No. X-12, rerouting
you to a new course.
would be the second
food reroute for this colony.
They'll be out of food for months.
[AGRIPPA] Beacon 90, that other vessel
is getting mighty
close. It needs to halt.
That colony won't survive
another missed shipment.
- Agrippa!
- Back, now!
ISA doesn't give a shit
about the colonists.
Of course they do.
[SCOFFS] I see you don't get out much.
You know what starvation looks like?
The cracked skin.
The bloated stomachs. The lesions.
I don't want that for anyone.
But as Beacon Keepers,
we do what we are told.
My mother did what she
was told. We all did.
ISA abandoned us.
Not me. You said it yourself.
You said you got lucky.
You were resourceful,
and you broke the rules
to save people. You
should know what I'm doing.
- Back.
- Oh, come
another ship in the lane.
It's getting hairy.
What are your orders?
Agrippa, you are not
cleared. X-12 proceed.
[AGRIPPA] What the hell?
This is a huge mistake.
Do you realize what you've done?!
I did what I had to do.
The military will dispatch
a team to investigate.
[POUNDING] There will be consequences!
I'll be long gone.
[SCOFFS] They'll find you.
Aleph has a long memory.
- The head AI?
- Yes.
Wonder if he can cite
all the names of the dead.
My mum and I lived at the end of a lane.
I wouldn't call it a house.
It had a roof, walls, but
after the first bombing
of Menelaus, it was a wonder it stood.
Last house left on the block.
We took in who we could, then some.
Some flats had 20,
30 people sleeping on top of each other.
My mum and I moved into a pantry.
One night, the soldiers came through.
Took what they wanted.
Tossed people onto the streets.
Ransacked. Looted.
A few of them were even looking at me.
Just a girl.
My mum pleaded with
them to leave me alone.
She screamed at me to run.
Some of them took her into our room.
I saw them.
She was a scientist, you know.
My dad too.
Let the soldiers find
me. What more can they do?
I am I'm sorry that happened.
There are a lot of groups
out there taking a stand.
Which one are you part of?
We don't have a name.
Not much of a group, to tell the truth.
Just some mates.
So, this whole Beacon Keeper
of the Month was just a ploy?
That shipment will make a difference.
There'll be payback.
Then we'll do something else.
We know we can't win, but
doesn't mean we have to take it either.
You got balls, I'll give you that.
Gives me hope.
We had the universe at our fingertips.
But we screwed it up like
we did everything else
that came before.
I really hope that your generation
can change something.
But you won't.
It's a lost cause.
When did you become so cynical?
Does it have something to do
with what's in the Airlock?
[OLI] There's nothing I can do.
She's locked you in and shut me out.
Oli, who is this?
[OLI] You don't have clearance
to know about the asset.
Jocko? What have you done?
It's not me.
- Why do you have a prisoner?
- Leave him alone.
[JOCKO, OVER COMMS] Aster, I swear,
it's not what you think.
- I don't know what I think.
- Please.
Don't touch him.
Tell me what's going on. Now.
Help me.
Help me, please.
No, no, wait, wait, wait!
Don't go! Come back.
[OLI] She's disabling me on Docking.
- Don't leave me!
[OLI] She's inside
with him. Doors locked.
- I have no access.
- Not even the exterior?
- No.
- How long until
- you override her?
- If I try,
the exterior door will open.
The Airlock's occupants
will be sucked out.
She's putting a lot of faith
in us that we'll leave her be.
Safe bet for now.
- How did she do all that?
- Some type of pirate code.
I'm rewriting, trying to work around it.
Have you notified QTA
there's been a breach?
I had to.
- Are you okay?
- Help me.
- Who are you?
- Cerran.
And what has he done to you?
My ship sustained damage.
I stopped here for repairs.
He cut my oxygen.
I blacked out. When
I came to, I was here.
How long have you been here?
I'm going to get you
out of here, I promise.
- Pretty gnarly.
If I yank 'em, your whole
brain might come with.
- I may need some help.
- No, no. There's no time.
He won't let me leave.
He'll do anything to keep me here.
I don't understand.
The only way we're getting out of here
is over his dead body.
There you are. You good?
Yeah, I'm good.
Great job before.
Food should arrive to those
poor bastards within a week.
You saved lives, Aster.
- How far out are you?
- I'm close.
Been flying dark, just
beyond the defense drones.
Doesn't seem like the
Beacon's AI has picked me up.
Of course, with this
comm, probably thrown that
out the window. What's up?
I found something.
A prisoner, looks like
a human experiment.
Man, these guys just
don't care. Who is it?
A man, all wired up to a
lot of technical thingies.
- Can you disconnect him?
- No telling what that'll do.
I worry about ripping
his brain to shreds.
Hold on.
Hon, I just picked up some chatter.
The UGMC Douglaston is en route.
- What is that?
- A class 2 gunship.
The Beacon Keeper
must have notified them
- that you were poking around.
- I'm flattered.
They're further out, but
with the engine on that thing,
they'll probably reach
you before I can get there.
This hopper's a bucket of rusty nails.
I'm going to have to unplug him,
have him ready to go
the second you get here.
I'm in the second Airlock
but I think it's inoperative.
Can you get him across to the other one?
Where's the Keeper?
Detained, but I imagine
that won't last long.
Beacon Keepers are pussies.
He'll probably sit tight and wait
- for the military to handle.
- Great.
I'll let you know when I'm arriving.
You take care.
I'll get you out.
- Thank you.
- Over and out.
- We're going to get you out.
- Who?
- There are others with you?
- On their way.
Good. Get me away from him.
How do I disconnect you?
You just gotta pull
and hope for the best.
Do it.
[JOCKO] Aster.
I'm gonna come clean.
The man in the chair is named Cerran.
He's not my prisoner. He's my patient.
Bullshit. Then he'd be in Med Bay.
Normally, yes. If he
wasn't such a high risk.
- Don't listen to him.
- What do you mean?
Like he's carrying a virus?
Have I been exposed to something?
No. Cerran is a soldier.
He's being enhanced to
be the next generation
- of killing machine.
- It's not true.
[JOCKO] Those men who dragged
your mother into that pantry?
Cerran is ten times worse.
He has no conscience. No morals.
He's full of implants,
synthetic hormones,
and most importantly, false memories.
He's fed a steady
diet of disinformation,
horrific images, to rewire his brain
so it feels only rage and hatred.
- Against civilians, rebels.
Anyone who opposes Aleph's agenda.
He'll say anything.
Look what he's already done to me.
[JOCKO] It's true.
A reverse Clockwork Orange.
Why bother?
Aren't the soldiers brutal enough?
Good question. I've asked myself that.
I can only think that
Aleph, whoever he is,
has done the math.
He can annihilate entire systems,
but he knows he can't win.
Until now.
Why here? Why not some fortified lab?
We're on the edge of known space.
The perfect hiding place.
[ASTER] Why would you allow that?
Beacon Keepers work for ISA.
The beacons were built
by Aleph. He's QTA.
And now he controls the military.
Don't you see? It's all one thing.
If your parents were scientists,
they must have been part of it.
You don't know anything
about my parents.
No, you're right. I don't.
Maybe they fought the good fight.
[ASTER] Sounds like more than you.
The truth is
I've been doing my part.
I know Cerran can hear me.
So I'm sealing my fate by saying this.
That's all right. What's done is done.
I've been sabotaging QTA's work.
Not following directions to the letter.
I do as I'm instructed.
That's one step up.
Then I undo it and
tell them it's working.
Like Penelope at the loom each night.
The bottom line is,
even I don't know what
you're dealing with.
You've been playing games with him.
- I had to.
- Who's the sicko?
He's right.
- How could you be so cruel?
- I didn't have a choice.
They threatened my family.
They said they'd provide for them.
I couldn't take a chance.
But I knew I couldn't trust them either.
So, I make it look
like I'm playing along,
but undermine them every chance I get.
- It's a miserable situation.
- Poor baby.
Aster, whatever I've done,
it's a lot less cruel than
unleashing him on the world.
Do not release him, I implore you.
He's trying to save his own ass.
He's worried I'm gonna settle the score.
I just want to get out of here.
But if I did, could you blame me?
No. No, I couldn't.
Let me go.
All that stuff, it's not true.
I signed up for the military
because it was my only option.
I was an engineer
digging irrigation systems
on remote outposts.
I got hurt in an accident.
Went from hospital to here.
I wish they had just
killed me. [SHOUTS IN PAIN]
What's wrong? What's happening?
[GROANS] He must be doing something.
[ASTER] It'll be all right. I promise.
[GROANS] Hurry. Hurry!
- You want me to
- Do it!
- [JOCKO] Aster, he's lying!
- Stop, don't set him free!
- Don't stop.
- Aster!
- The other one.
He's lying, Aster! Stop!
For God's sakes, do not set him free!
[PANTING] I'm gonna kill him.
I can't allow that.
I'm serious. I've got a ship coming.
I said I'd get you out of here.
I won't be a party to any vendetta.
So, how are you gonna stop me?
- You kinda don't have a choice.
I'm your only ticket out of here.
So, now what?
We wait.
Was that true?
- What?
- That you were an engineer.
Does it matter?
Do you mean, will I still let you out?
I gave my word.
Then no.
I was ESF.
Early Strike Force.
We'd come in and soften
up the civilian populace
for the ground forces.
Best of the best.
Or worst of the worst.
Depends on which side you're on.
How many do you think you killed?
More than my share.
So, you lied.
Did you lie about what Jocko said?
That you're some innocent victim?
I knew what I signed up for.
The best of the best.
But I could be even better.
And the slaughter doesn't bother you.
No. It's my job.
I shouldn't have released
you. I should have listened.
Get off your high horse, would you?
How do you think we survive out here?
Let me spell it out for you.
We land first on every planet.
We clear them for hazards.
Do you know how many people we've lost?
When you babies are
fighting over water or crops,
we establish order.
You'd be nowhere without us.
- You're fascists.
- This ain't Sunday school.
We are way out there,
and the military is the
only lifeline anybody has.
The scientists, they have
their heads up their asses.
QTA doesn't deal with reality.
We're the only thing standing
between the human race
and extinction.
So what if we crack a few
heads to keep the peace?
You really don't get it.
It's not just cracking heads.
People starve because
you reroute shipments
to wealthier colonies.
- I was on Menelaus
- So was I!
I was one of the few who made it off.
A whole transport went down
because a mob took control.
Crashed right into Manjaro-9.
You're not the only one who lost people.
There was no Manjaro-9.
Now who's the one living in fantasy?
- You're lying.
- Look it up.
My entire squad was wiped out.
So was my family.
That was real.
I saw my mum
I don't give a shit about your mum!
Or you!
Now, open this door!
- No.
- You better.
Or what?
I'm sorry about your mum.
But we're programmed not to
think of the collateral damage.
She had a name.
- What was it?
- Nisha.
Although my dad once
called her something else.
They didn't know I
was still awake, but
I thought I heard him say
Say what?
Something else.
I can't change the things I've done.
It's been tough times for all of us.
[OLI] Small craft approaching.
- QTA?
- Unknown.
Must be Aster's ride.
If you hadn't limited my permissions,
I could be a lot more helpful.
[DARLENE] Are you okay?
- I'm fine.
- He locked you in there?
No, I locked myself in.
Is this your patient? Cute.
- Hey, darlin'.
- He's not a patient.
- He's an experiment.
- Open this door.
No. I can't let you out.
You open this goddamn door now!
[OLI] Cerran's hormones are elevated.
You know where this is going.
- Open it!
- No!
Aster! Open the door.
- Let him try to get by me.
- No.
He'll kill us and take the ship.
- Aster!
[CERRAN] You whiny little bitch!
Open the door! I'll kill you.
[DARLENE] Aster! Aster!
Stop it! She's just a girl!
- Aster!
- Open up.
- No.
- Darlene, stop.
I've jury-rigged the exterior door.
- What are you doing?!
- Get in the ship and go.
- I'm not leaving without you.
- You don't have a choice.
If he gets out, he'll take
it. We cannot turn him loose.
- He'll kill you!
- So what?
You don't mean that.
[PANTING] I am tired, Darlene.
I'm tired of running,
tired of fighting.
Might as well be in
here. Good a place as any.
[JOCKO] Aster!
It's me he wants. Let me out!
If she opens the door,
take me and let them go.
You can't believe a word he says.
I know what he wants.
Killing me is more
important than killing you.
You bet. Man, I owe you one.
But don't trip. I'll kill you, them.
- It's all good.
- I'm not opening the door.
[OLI] QTA has entered this quadrant.
Arrival imminent.
- Great.
- You have to go.
- If QTA finds you
- They'll turn you over
to the military. Guess what?
[WHISPERS] I'm the military.
Even QTA's not stupid
enough to release you.
You kidding? They want me out there.
I'll get promotion and double pay.
What about you? Twenty
years in a penal colony.
No, Cerran.
They're not gonna let you go.
They took a look at my last report,
saw that your data
had too many variables.
They gave a rescind order.
- What?
- I was ordered
to terminate the experiment.
You mean let me go?
I was ordered to
terminate the experiment.
But I couldn't.
So, here we are.
You were right, Aster.
I became cynical.
But who wouldn't after
what they asked me to do?
Let me make amends.
No. Go with Darlene.
- I'm not leaving.
- Will you get out of here?
He's right, you know.
Killing him is more important.
I'll let you both go.
Just open the door and leave him to me.
We have some reconciling to do.
[OLI] Aster Calyx,
QTA orders you to release your prisoners
and turn yourself in.
Aster, open the door.
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