Our final episode for season two is another fictional one. Our drama starts on a damaged starship at the edge of the solar system. Its commander has forgotten who she is, what she’s doing there, and who the passengers in this vessel are.

The episode features the voices of Chris Carpineti, Danielle Emina, Dr Suze Kundu, Emily, Lucy & Claire Waller, Tom Hale, Sacha Coward, Katy Evans, Hannah Sabrun, Mufseen Miah, Anne Jones.

There’s a little teaser for our Christmas special at the end, voiced by Dr Steven Di Costa.

Listen on Apple Podcast or on your favourite podcast player through Anchor.

Welcome to last episode of season 2 of the Astroholic explains. We have another special fictional episode for you, that we hope you enjoy. There is going to be a little teaser for our Christmas special so stick around until the end.

Enjoy: The 11th Passenger

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NARRATOR 

Home can mean many things. A place of sanctuary, and rest. A place we retreat to at the end of the day. A place we long for if we’re away. But longing can also take many forms. We can long for the comforts of home, and we can even long for the comforts of a home we’ve never known. A longing to return to a place we’ve never known. A place, a home, only our ancestors knew.

We find ourselves onboard a vessel on the distant edge of the solar system. From afar, it appears nothing more than a speck of light moving through a vast and unknown ocean of darkness. A vessel that longs for home. 

INT. SPACECRAFT 

A flurry of voices fade in and out, mixed together with the sound of an alarm. 

VOICE 1 

Ring-a-ring-a-roses… 

VOICE 2 

Earth, our home is Earth 

VOICE 3 

You’re so close now, come on! 

VOICE 4 

The gates will open to welcome you 

home! 

VOICE 5 

You’re just going to ship me off! 

VOICE 6 

Wake up, wake up! Come on, wake up! 

[The voices eventually fade and the sound of the alarm grows louder. The final Voice 6 is very clear and actually wakes up the Commander. 

Sound effect of Alarm]

AI 

Malfunction sequence activated – warning, Acheron power at 50%. Warning, 50%! 

COMMANDER (WAKING UP) 

Huh, uh, what, what’s happening? 

AI 

Ship power at 50% 

COMMANDER 

What the hell?! AI – Alarm off, I’m awake, I’m awake! 

[The alarm shuts down with a whir.]

COMMANDER (CONT’D) 

Better. AI, What happened? 

AI 

Ship power at 50% 

COMMANDER 

Yes, I got that, but tell me why – I can’t remember anything! 

AI 

Commander, the ship was caught in a wave of electrons that came from a solar flare. Ship power at – 

COMMANDER 

If you say Ship Power at 50% one more time I’ll eject your harddrive. 

AI 

Ship power at 49% 

COMMANDER

Fuck

NARRATOR 

The commander surveyed her surroundings. Her ship was familiar to her, just about. The dark metallic walls were illuminated dimly in the faint blue light of the control panel display in front of her. She took a deep breath, and nursed her head, trying to recall as much as she could about the events that lead her to this point.

COMMANDER 

AI, where.. where did we start? 

AI 

We started at Proxima Centauri 

[Faint sounds of memories flood her mind] 

COMMANDER 

Yes, the home system. How long was 

I there? 

AI 

I’m afraid I cannot answer that. 

COMMANDER 

This ship, where are we, how long have we been flying? 

AI 

We have been at near light-speed for four years, two months, and three weeks. 

COMMANDER 

Four .. three.. That would take us to Earth. We’re nearly home, AI. 

AI
Correct. 

NARRATOR 

She calculated the distance from Earth. Not long to go. She looked around the room. Just ahead, lying on the floor, were two rows of metallic pods, large enough to carry adult humans. It jogged a faint memory for her: cryo-pod chambers. Perfect for passengers of interstellar travel. 

COMMANDER 

AI, how long have I been awake? 

AI 

I’m afraid I cannot answer that. 

COMMANDER 

Fine, then read me the mission log.

AI 

November 1, stardate 2519: The Pods are secured. All souls aboard. 

Total ///// 

[The AI glitches and hisses with white noise. The number is obscured. A single alarm sounds as the AI continues and ceases when it finishes speaking.] 

AI (CONT’D) 

Error. Malfunction sequence active. Mission log incomplete. Backup initiated, mission log download at 5%. 

COMMANDER 

What the f.. Come on. We’re losing power and you’re being no help! 

AI 

I’m afraid I cannot answer that. 

COMMANDER 

Okay, okay okay. Think, think. 

NARRATOR 

She paced in front of the control deck. The red light from the AI system blinking ominously. Had she been concussed when the solar flare disrupted the ship’s machinery? She needed to familiarise herself with the ship in an attempt to recall her mission, and quickly. 

COMMANDER 

AI, how many crew are onboard? 

AI 

You are crew. 

COMMANDER 

Yes, how many others are onboard? 

AI 

All passengers are in pods. 

COMMANDER 

The pods.. At least I can get their names.

NARRATOR 

A flicker of hope flared up inside her as she moved towards the pods, perhaps knowing the names of her crew would help jog her memory? The pods hummed quietly as she approached. There were no small windows to peer through, but a single small green light pulsed like a heartbeat on each one, next to a panel engraved with the name and age of each occupant. 

[Footsteps end, the Commander blows dust off the metal name piece. ]

COMMANDER 

Number 1, Jenna Holmes 

NARRATOR 

Even just saying the name made something click in her mind, and she found herself swimming in memories of a young Jenna. 

JENNA (LAUGHING) 

A-tishoo, a-tishoo, we all fall down! Next game, next game! What shall we play? 

COMMANDER 

Jenna was an old school friend? Maybe, I remember her playing, always playing. 

JENNA 

Hide and seek! You’re IT – I’m gonna hide, you’ll never find me!! 

JENNA’S MUM 

Don’t stay outside too long today Jenna, the sun is too strong. Remember, we have church later! 

COMMANDER 

So defiant, she never did as she was told, but she was loved. Everyone loved her, she was so fun. 

AI 

Passenger #1 logged, Jenna Holmes. Mission log backup download at 10%. A ‘ping’ sounds, confirming the passenger log.

COMMANDER 

I don’t remember her when she was older though, I can’t place our relationship. I don’t know how she wound up here. 

[The commander sighs, and moves to the next pod.] 

COMMANDER (CONT’D) 

Number 2, Stanley Wyatt – now him I remember. Headstrong, proud, devout. Many, many friends. Sounds of a birthday party, cheers, and laughing. 

STAN’S FRIEND 

Happy birthday Stan! 18 at last! You’ll have to get a job now! No more pissing your life away at the docks waiting for your next hookup. 

STANLEY 

Hah, real funny guys! Real funny. 

STAN’S FRIEND 

So what’s it gonna be? Cadmium mines, or Proxima b Military? 

STANLEY 

Nah, I’m leaving this place 

STAN’S FRIEND 

For where? To Work on the belt? 

STANLEY 

The Temple spacefleet are recruiting, and I want to train for the next-gen recon scheme. 

STAN’S MUM 

You’re not doing that! No chance, you’ll get a proper job here, a safe job, and – 

STANLEY 

I’m 18 Ma, you can’t stop me. Not any more. I need to get out there. Think of the places I’ll get to see! The Temple will offer that. 

SFX of Commander’s vessel come back into focus

COMMANDER 

He did it, you know. He joined the fleet. First class, with honors, one of the finest pilots ever trained. His team were the first to establish a base on Proxima c! 

AI 

Passenger #2 logged: Stanley Wyatt. Mission log backup download at 20%. A ping sounds, confirming the passenger log. 

COMMANDER 

I don’t remember him for this mission though. Hell, I don’t even remember what this mission is. 

AI 

Do you wish to continue updating the log? 

COMMANDER 

Yes, don’t make me start over. Number 3 is Scarlet Scott. 

SCARLET’S MUM 

Scarlet? Scarlet! Wake up, wake up! Come on, wake up! You’re going to be late! 

Noise of curtains being torn open – Scarlet moans. 

SCARLET’S MUM (CONT’D) 

If you don’t get up now you’ll miss the shuttle, and by Zeus so help me if you get kicked out of the academy. You think your dad works his fingers to the bone on the Belt so you can waste his money? 

SCARLET 

Mam all right! I’m up, fine! Leave it. 

SCARLET’S MUM 

If you keep being late you’ll get in trouble. Take it seriously. I won’t always be around to defend you. 

SCARLET 

I said I’m getting up!

[Back in the ship] 

COMMANDER 

I wasn’t there, I don’t think I was there at least. Maybe she told me..She didn’t have a great start in life. I think she felt alone a lot of the time. She didn’t have many friends, nobody really knew her. I don’t know how I remember that. I don’t remember much about her. 

AI 

Passenger #3 logged: Scarlett Scott. Please input a title. 

COMMANDER 

I don’t know, it doesn’t say. I don’t know what she does, or why she’s here. 

[A ‘ping’ sounds, confirming the passenger log.] 

AI 

Mission log backup download at 30%. 
[The Commander blows the dust off the next pod.]

COMMANDER 

Number 4 is Reverend Peter Wellington. This is the first one with a title, but, AI, why is there a priest onboard? 

AI 

Passenger #4 logged: Reverend Peter Wellington of the Temple of Gaia. 

Backup at 40%. 

A ‘ping’ sounds, confirming the passenger log. 

COMMANDER 

The Temple of .. oh, okay now I remember. Him and his sermons. [Faint organ music plays during Peter’s oration.]

REV PETER 

From her we arose, to her we fall. The beginning and our end, from whence all life began and to where it must return. To where we, all of us, all humans, must return. 

(MORE)

REVPETER(CONT’D) 

We, her children, who abandoned our mother and spread our seed out into the galaxy, we must all join the great reunion. The return of the prodigals!She awaits, alone, with open arms with which to forgive, to embrace! The gates will open and welcome you home! 

COMMANDER 

He had a lot of followers, and I mean a lot. His sanctuary was always full, and people listened. His message caught them. Something about being so far from Earth, from home, it started some kind of existential cosmic crisis. He made people want to return. 

AI 

Ship power at 45%. 

COMMANDER 

Yes, yes, ok I’ll hurry. 

NARRATOR As the commander approached the pod at the end of the first row, her eyes fell on the name of the occupant and she was hit with her strongest memories so far. 

ELDERLYLADY 

Look at that sunset. I wish I’d taken the time to just sit and enjoy more of them. I don’t think these sunsets are a patch on how pretty Earth’s were though.It’s strange, I’ve always thought it odd that I long for Earth. Like some voice, echoing from that little corner of space, calling me home. Sadness. How can I feel nostalgia for a place I’ve never even been to?I’ll get to one day, I suppose. 

One day, you’re just going to ship me off! 

COMMANDER 

Her name is Dr Beatrix Hazelton. I think she’s here with the priest. An important member of the congregation, she did a lot of work for the Temple back on Proxima. 

(MORE)

COMMANDER (CONT’D) 

Tech department. Very friendly, always wanting to help everyone. She must be so old now. 

AI 

Passenger #5 logged: Beatrix Hazelton. Mission log backup download at 50%. A ‘ping’ sounds, confirming the passenger log. 

NARRATOR 

While the AI processed this new piece of information, the commander moved around to the second row of cryo-pods and briefly scanned their names. 

COMMANDER 

AI, these people, they’re all related to the Temple. Why are they on this ship? I’ll go through the next few quickly, are you ready? 

AI
Proceed.

COMMANDER 

Ok, #6 is Brother John Holmes, perhaps the father of Jenna? #7 is Elder Andreas Dimitri. #8 Sir Lucas Mason, #9 is Sister Sarah Buckford, and #10 must belong to me… Admiral Simon Carter? What the? 

AI 

10 passengers logged, all souls accounted for. 

COMMANDER 

No, AI, there’s a mistake, there’s someone in my cryo-pod, or it’s not my pod, or something, 

AI 

All souls present. 

COMMANDER 

No you’re not listening to me! Something is wrong, where are the other pods? Where’s mine?

NARRATOR 

The commander looked frantically around the room for a sign of more pods, and when she couldn’t find any, began to search for another room. 

COMMANDER 

AI bring up ship schematics. 

AI 

Ship power at 40%. 

COMMANDER 

HURRY UP THEN! 

AI 

Acheron schematics loading. 

COMMANDER 

Okay, okay. Engine, docking bay storage… That’s it? AI, where’s the rest? Where are the living quaters? The canteen? Washrooms? Load the full schematic! 

AI 

Schematic complete. 

COMMANDER 

Where’s the rest of the ship? 

AI 

This is the ship, commander. 

COMMANDER 

Then where’s my cryo-pod? Where do I sleep? 

AI 

Your systems do not require sleep. 

COMMANDER 

What? That doesn’t make any sense, unless… Am I…? Are they… They aren’t in stasis. They aren’t sleeping, are they? 

[A new ‘ping’ chimes.] 

AI 

Mission log backup download complete.

NARRATOR 

The commander paused confused and afraid, then rushed to the control panel. The display read ‘Mission Log: Elysium. Suddenly, it hit her, as though the floor opened up beneath her and she plunged into an abyss of recollections. Her name, her purpose, her mission. 

COMMANDER 

AI, play mission log. 

AI 

November 1, stardate 2519: The Pods are secured. All souls aboard. Total 10 – stop – Project Elysium is to transport the ten deceased martyrs of the Temple of Gaia to Earth aboard the funeral vessel Acheron – stop – This mission will be governed by Cerberus AI under the command of android tech Charon – stop – May the gods have mercy upon them, that their souls may reunite in the fields of Elysium. – Stop – End mission log. 

Revelatory sound effects, a rush of familiar voices flood the Commander’s senses, giving the impressions of memories and purpose returning to her. She gasps. 

NARRATOR 

Her memory rebooted, Commander Charon smiled at the funerary pods, her purpose reinstalled. She was built by the Temple to ferry the dead home to Earth, her task to safeguard them and their memories. The unexpected solar flare had rebooted the ship, and her own memory. But everything was clear now, everything was as it should be, as it was intended. 

COMMANDER CHARON 

I remember! I remember everything! AI, boot up the secondary power generator. 

[The ship beeps and the whirr of a new system coming online.]

AI 

Ship power rerouted. Backup generator online. 

COMMANDER CHARON 

We’re finishing this. Destination, Earth. We’re taking them home. 

[Ship sounds fade.] 

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Alfredo
We hope you enjoyed The 11th Passenger! And now there is a special teaser for you. It’s our Christmas special coming this December: Death By Eclipse!

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NARRATOR

It was going to be a trip like no other. Even by the standards of the most famous eclipse hunters, being able to see an eclipse from space was less of a chance in a lifetime and more a chance in a few lifetimes. 

Sonam Vikram, the CEO of Vikram Space Travel and 12 other international companies, was about to inaugurate the crowning achievement of her life. An orbital hotel with a handful of rooms, five-star service, and the best view you could ask for: the entire planet.

For the opening, the hotel would be trailing the Moon for 90 minutes as it cast its shadow on Earth. There were certainly people on Earth who would have killed to be on board. As it turned out, people on board were also ready to kill.