2.4 – Persuasion

EPISODE 2.4 – PERSUASION

PRE-TITLE

SETTING: Dreamy Nowhere

SHELLY (V.O.)

So now maybe I’m not even real. My enemies definitely think I exist, but my friends aren’t so sure. I know you believe in me, Jim, even though your partner Martha doesn’t. Are you guys like the Mulder and Scully of the Resistance? If so, I guess I’m probably pissing off a lot of fans by coming between you two.

Really, I’d be happy to be one of those fans, confident that you guys will bust down the door, find the answers, and rescue me. Or, at least avenge me; I guess Mulder and Scully sometimes don’t save anyone but themselves.

But you and I are in different worlds. And even if I was in the same world with you and Roxanne, it’s a world full of lines you can’t cross or you’d become one of Them.

Speaking of Them, I guess I should say something about the Lookers, or else Martha will wonder if these messages are worth the trouble. Things are quiet. Way, way too quiet. They really are holding back from each other. Also, they’ve got Looker Me reading up on computers. Now that they don’t trust their telepathy as much, computers they were in the process of scrapping aren’t obsolete anymore. Good thing Rox got out of RetroTech, or she’d be unemployed.

Who knows, maybe they’ll turn the internet back on, and social media, and idle games, and before you know it they’ll be just like we were. Zombies, but our kind of zombies.

SETTING: Intelligence Office

Door opens and closes, loudly. Folders are dropped on a desk, chair rolled out, sat upon.

JIM

Tough day?

*MARTHA gives a small dismissive grunt*

Drawers open and close.

JIM

Not even going to get on my case, about getting distracted by Shelly’s latest letter?

MARTHA

I’m looking at that in a new way.

JIM

How so?

MARTHA

Maybe you’re not the one being distracted. Maybe you’re distracting her.

JIM

From what? From giving us intel? She’s still giving us reams of it, and its golden. We’ve got them on the run.

MARTHA

Yeah? We’ve had three couriers nabbed. They’ll be inside jail cells for 30 days to a year for improper travel. Plus, two houses raided. Five operatives are being held on weapons violations. 90 days to five years, and that’s assuming the Lookers don’t find evidence of anything worse while they root around. And that’s on top of the other recent troubles.

JIM

Did they blank their drives?

MARTHA

All indications are that they did. The Looker cops are tenacious but they’re not very fast. But who knows if they even needed the info on the drives? We’ve obviously got a mole.

JIM

You think it’s the same spy that knows about Shelly?

MARTHA

It almost has to be. We’ve got everything about Shelly as secret as we can make it. If they know about her, they know a lot of other stuff too.

JIM

But, the mole hasn’t exposed Shelly yet.

*beat*

At least…it doesn’t seem like they did. So why give up other info?

MARTHA

To prove their capabilities. To give them leverage over the Lookers, to get what they want.

JIM

Well, at least you’re saying “they” and not “you”.

MARTHA

I’m drawing you into a false sense of security.

JIM

In that case, you’re doing a pretty terrible job.

OPENING MUSIC

SETTING. Liaison office, lobby.

*ROXANNE, bored, hums “Yellow Rose Of Texas”*

Elevator signal, followed after a few moments by elevator doors opening, heard from outside.

ROXANNE

Governor Lee!

BRENDA

Roxanne.

ROXANNE

I can…take the next elevator.

BRENDA

Nonsense. You are done for the day, correct?

ROXANNE

Just about.

BRENDA

Well then, we must not keep you any longer than necessary. Come aboard. Mrs. Kray, do you know Miss Scholl?

CARRIE

We’ve met.

BRENDA

At this hour, she will have finished her rounds and is just making a final report before going home. Is that correct?

ROXANNE

Yes it is, Governor. But- Mrs. Kray, I’m…well I should apologize…

CARRIE

Your mother has already given me your apology.

ROXANNE

No, I should do it in person.

CARRIE

Well, in that case, I’m listening.

ROXANNE

*after a moment to collect herself*

I’m sorry. You were a guest in my mother’s home, and the truce means we should put all that stuff from the first few days behind us. And now…well we’re both doing our jobs.

CARRIE

That’s very generous of you to say.

ROXANNE

I just want to make things right. So everyone can get along.

CARRIE

In that case, of course I accept your apology.

ROXANNE

Thank you.

Elevator beeps.

ROXANNE

Um, this is my floor. Good to see you both.

Elevator doors open.

CARRIE

Good night.

BRENDA

Good night, Roxanne.

Elevator doors close.

BRENDA

A very earnest young lady.

CARRIE

Not the first person I expected to run into. When those doors opened, for a moment I thought I might be in danger.

BRENDA

From Roxanne? Hmmm. She couldn’t bring a weapon past security. And by all accounts she’s been doing a very good job for Liaison. Though I imagine she does have some sort of tie to the Resistance.

CARRIE

We’re holding a young man prisoner, who is by all accounts her boyfriend.

BRENDA

Ah, I see how that could be a complication. What are your plans for him?

Elevator beeps.

CARRIE

We’re releasing him. We had no evidence of illegality, and he wasn’t giving us any information.

Elevator doors open. They exit.

BRENDA

Hm. How did he come to be arrested, then?

Elevator doors close, heard from outside.

CARRIE

It was…a misunderstanding. An overzealous misinterpretation of my desires.

BRENDA

Ah, well that’s understandable. Everyone wants so much to help you in your work.

CARRIE

Yes, everyone’s been extremely helpful. I’ve been in the spare office, sifting through all the information they’ve given me about whichever local Immune each informant is most suspicious of. And I have another batch of incoming data from our agent, which I wanted to look over before giving it to counter-intelligence.

BRENDA

Any progress I should know about?

CARRIE

Nothing that hasn’t already been reported. To be honest, I’ve probably been over-analyzing the data. I should be in the field, checking things out in person, but I’ve been hoping-

Walkie-talkie beeps.

CARRIE

Carrie Kray.

JANICE (on walkie-talkie)

Carrie, we have received the message you expected.

CARRIE

Thank you! Governor, I need to go back to the elevator. Justin in the basement has something for me.

BRENDA

Well then of course you must go, Carrie.

SETTING: Justin’s room.

Door opens, door closes, lights go on.

JUSTIN

That did not take you long.

CARRIE

I’m afraid I’ve been haunting this building rather than doing my job. But the more time passed, the harder it was to do anything but wait for the reply. Very human of me; a Looker- I mean an Altered, would have been more efficient.

JUSTIN

A Looker would not have been so close when the message arrived. Have a seat.

CARRIE

I’ll stand, thank you.

JUSTIN

As you wish. Message reads: “Thank you for reply. Appreciate concerns. Enclosed data interesting, but incomplete. Require all before making determination. Regret not being more specific, but details could give insights to my situation, making profile possible if Outsider sees this. Appreciate your security measures, but Altered society is not built for secrecy. Sorry to put you in this position. Am providing additional information about Resistance activities. Eagerly await reply with remaining requested data. Let Unity Prevail.”

CARRIE

Hm. They certainly don’t go in for flowery language.

JUSTIN

The goal of their communication is different from yours.

CARRIE

And they didn’t budge an inch. This was pointless, just like you said.

JUSTIN

I would not say pointless. We have confirmation about what they want.

CARRIE

Or what they say they want. Even if they really are an Alpha, an Alpha can lie, remember?

JUSTIN

Yes, but…surely, living a lie all the time, they would find it a relief to tell the truth to us.

CARRIE

Unless they’ve forgotten how.

*sigh or grunt*

Brenda was right, I feel a lot of empathy for our agent. But I don’t know how to make them feel it back.

JUSTIN

The dance I spoke of goes both ways. Are you more convinced now that they are an Alpha?

CARRIE

Yes.

JUSTIN

And you now have additional intelligence that you can test against reality. And when it passes that test, you will have a clearer conscience when you send the contact the information they request.

CARRIE

You seem pretty confident that that’s what I’m going to do.

JUSTIN

It was always what you were going to do. It would have been negligent to have done it before testing out the information they gave you, but having done that, it is the only choice possible.

CARRIE

I could be handing the world back to the Dividers. Helping them bring back poverty, crime, disease, violence, hate.

JUSTIN

Our reaction to the Outsider is already dividing the Unity. As long as the Outsider exists, the Unity is doomed anyway. Perhaps better it go quickly rather than slowly.

CARRIE

But, without the contact, we wouldn’t think there was an Outsider. We wouldn’t be dividing. What if the whole thing is a ploy by the Resistance, top to bottom, with no basis in fact?

JUSTIN

Then perhaps such clever people deserve to win.

CARRIE

*aghast*

You don’t believe that.

JUSTIN

It is a…conjunction of two values that appear to be in conflict. In an attempt at humor.

CARRIE

Very dry. Very dark.

JUSTIN

That was…the kind of humor I used to engage in, before the Look.

CARRIE

Comedy’s loss, the FBI’s gain.

JUSTIN

Possibly a gain for both.

CARRIE

Hm. Just as dry, but less dark. I like it.

INTERSTITIAL MUSIC

SETTING: Woodsy outdoors.

Dominic walks down a trail, stops.

DOMINIC

Rox? Is that you?

NICOLE

Unfortunately, no.

DOMINIC

I’d dispute that, Nicole. She’s the last person I want to see right now.

NICOLE

You two have a fight?

DOMINIC

No, I’m just afraid I’ve got someone on my tail. I probably shouldn’t have even said her name out loud. I took some precautions after they let me go, but I’m not sure…

NICOLE

I’m sure. You did a good job. There’s nobody.

DOMINIC

How do you know?

NICOLE

I’ve been trailing you for three miles. You only heard me now because I was trying to get ahead of you. I misjudged the timing.

DOMINIC
Yeah, you’ve always been the one who jumped out at me. Even when we were kids.

NICOLE

Oh God, I wanted to be a secret agent so much back then.

DOMINIC

Well at least someone got what they wanted.

NICOLE

I’d trade it in, if it’d do any good.

DOMINIC

No, everyone should get whatever happiness they can.

NICOLE

Nice thought. And speaking of your bit of happiness, I take it you didn’t say anything about Roxanne?

DOMINIC

Of course not!

NICOLE

Hey, it’s not an obvious choice. You could go all “we have nothing to hide,” with the thought that a guilty person wouldn’t do that.

DOMINIC

Yeah, that occurred to me. But I figured it was less risky to not cooperate at all. While they’re focused on getting trivial things out of me, they’re not doing anything else, like sweating Rox.

NICOLE

Tying up valuable resources, eh? Could work. Especially if Kray is doing it all herself.

DOMINIC

It wasn’t her until the end. Most of it was Rox’s mother.

NICOLE

Sylvia? Wow, this is turning into quite a soap opera. Strange. I thought they weren’t using Lookers. If that’s changed, they could put just one percent of their people on this and there’d be twenty of them for each of us. We’d burn out way before they would.

DOMINIC

Maybe it’s not all Lookers, maybe it’s just her. Wanting to keep a troublemaker away from her daughter.

NICOLE

I thought parents always loved you?

DOMINIC

Up until The Look they always did. I was friends with the parents of girls who never wanted to see me again. Doesn’t seem to work with aliens, though.

NICOLE

Or maybe it’s just Sylvia. I’m given to understand she’s a piece of work. Have you met the Dad?

DOMINIC

No.

NICOLE

Too bad there’s no prom anymore, we could see how he treats you while you wait for Roxanne to come down the stairs. An American tradition.

DOMINIC

Heh. Rox had a dream about us going to Prom. Or kind of Prom-slash-Graduation.

NICOLE

How’d it go?

DOMINIC

We danced, the Lookers started taking everyone who got their diploma, Rox made out with me to keep me from going up.

NICOLE

Hm.

DOMINIC

Then the Lookers came after me, and Rox tried to protect me and fight them off, then she woke up.

NICOLE

*sarcastic*

How sweet. Did she pin a corsage on you, too? Or were you too busy hiding behind her?

DOMINIC

Ow. You are the last person I’d expect to enforce traditional gender norms.

NICOLE

I’m willing to compromise my values in order to mess with you.

DOMINIC

(weary)

Of course.

NICOLE

How does it feel knowing that she sees you as needing protection instead of offering it?

DOMINIC

You see, now that I know why you’re doing it, it shouldn’t affect me..

NICOLE

Yeah that’s true. And you guys are so great together; you should get a little house just for the two of you. You could make it all perfect. Maybe wear an apron, so your nice things don’t get mussed when you cook and clean.

DOMINIC

Wow, it shouldn’t work, but it does.

NICOLE

Well don’t let it bite too deep. You WERE protecting her today. You were the one who might have gone to jail or whatever worse stuff they’ve got. You’re sticking your neck out.

DOMINIC

And what about you? It seems like couriers are getting nabbed every day. Have you considered retiring?

NICOLE

Excuse me, have we met? I’m your cousin, Nicole. I guess not, because if we had, you’d know I’m not going to hide while someone else takes the risks.

DOMINIC

But you’re not just risking yourself, you’re risking Rox. You’re one of the few people who knows what she is. You can wipe your sd card, but you can’t wipe your brain.

NICOLE

Your concern that my capture might be bad for your girlfriend is touching. But a brain can be wiped too.

DOMINIC

What, do you have a cyanide tooth?

Beat.

DOMINIC

Seriously?

NICOLE

Sorry, cuz. You don’t need to know.

DOMINIC

Jesus.

NICOLE

These are world-class stakes. It just happens that we’re fighting for them with dollar store equipment plus whatever we can scrounge or fabricate. So, if I do have a poison tooth, I can promise you it wasn’t bought for thousands of taxpayer dollars.

DOMINIC

A cut-rate poison tooth sounds dangerous. Like something that could just burst on you at any moment.

NICOLE

Metaphor for life, my friend.

*thinks about it for a second, then shudders*

Brrrr.

DOMINIC

You okay?

NICOLE

Right as rain. There are just things I try not to think about.

DOMINIC

Would you accept a hug, Tough-As-Nails?

NICOLE

Yeah.

They embrace.

NICOLE

Mmm. I’m glad you’re safe, nitwit.

DOMINIC

*sincere*

Thanks, beanpole.

NICOLE

Aw, our parents would be so happy to see us getting along.

DOMINIC

They probably still could be. You could pay me and Mom a visit.

NICOLE

Sorry, I can’t be seen with you. You’re under suspicion, some kind of dangerous desperado. Irresistable to a certain kind of girl, I’m told.

DOMINIC

Maybe not a very common kind.

NICOLE

I disagree. I know where there’s one waiting for you right now. And my mission, now that I finally get around to it, is to take you to her.

DOMINIC

You always pull the tough ones.

NICOLE
Orders is orders.

SETTING: Elsewhere in the woods

BREWSTER

That is it, everything you sister said to you last night?

ROXANNE

Yes. Verbatim.

BREWSTER

*sigh*

All right.

ROXANNE

Is it not good?

BREWSTER

It is miraculous. It helps us in many ways, but not in several crucial ones. It does not tell us anything about their research, and it does not tell us anything about their agent, their hunt for you, or the information they are receiving about us.

ROXANNE
*sigh*

I see what you mean. When Professor Holbrook talked about how much information an AlphaBeta could get, she didn’t say how random the process would be. Or that there’d be a river of secrets flowing the other way. And you talked like I’d be saving the world.

BREWSTER

You are saving it. A little at a time.

ROXANNE

And meanwhile, they’re taking us apart a little at a time. They’ve got Dominic locked up who-knows-where, for who-knows-how-long. And there’s nothing we can do about it.

BREWSTER

Mr. Channing is making inquiries. The Lookers have always been forthright about such things in the past.

ROXANNE

But everything’s changing. This war is changing them too. They’re holding on to their secrets better, getting more like Alphas.

*pause for thought*

You know, from what you’ve told me, there’s someone who would have a lot of the information you’re looking for. Very near here, right in this area.

BREWSTER

You are referring to Carrie Kray.

ROXANNE

Yeah. And she visits Liaison a lot, and doesn’t carry a laptop. She probably brings data with her on a card and transfers it between desktop computers. With the right equipment and training, I could lift it off of her, copy it, put it back, and she’d never know.

Beat.

BREWSTER

That is by far the most insane thing I have ever heard, and I grew up next door to a man convinced he was a chicken. You are in no sense prepared for something like that.

ROXANNE

What have I been training for, then?

BREWSTER

To avoid danger, and escape it if it finds you. Not to court it like an intriguing new boy at school. I agreed to you taking the job at Liaison, because I knew that no matter how closely they looked at you, there would be nothing untoward for them to see. But now, you want to do something right under their noses that will land you in a jail cell whether they find out your significance or not. And I would not stake my money on not.

ROXANNE

Okay, I see your point.

BREWSTER

You’d better, I-

Sound of a stick hitting a tree trunk repeatedly.

ROXANNE

What’s that?

BREWSTER

Nicole’s signal. She has a present for you. We will continue this when I see you again.

ROXANNE

You’re leaving?

BREWSTER

I am too angry right now to watch you be happy.

BREWSTER exits. Beat.

ROXANNE

*hums “Yellow Rose of Texas**

Beat. NICOLE enters.

NICOLE

Seems like I can always find you by listening for that song.

ROXANNE

Heh. At least this time I didn’t jump out of my skin when you showed up.

NICOLE

Not yet.

*makes a bird whistle*

DOMINIC enters.

ROXANNE

Dom!!!

DOMINIC

Hi, honey.

*ROXANNE kisses him repeatedly. Just as he’s getting into it, she stops.*

ROXANNE

What did they do? Did they torture you?

DOMINIC

Nothing like that. I got some intense questions from your mother, but that’s something I’ve been preparing myself for.

ROXANNE

My Mom? Crazy. And she didn’t turn you? You’re still on our side?

DOMINIC

I’m on YOUR side.

NICOLE

I think I’ll leave you guys alone.

ROXANNE
No, wait, Nicole, stay here. I have something in mind, just between the three of us.

NICOLE

Sounds like Dom’s fantasy is finally coming true.

DOMINIC

*snickers*

ROXANNE

Oh yuck, you both make that joke?

NICOLE

We talk alike. We’re identical cousins.

ROXANNE

Not completely identical. You carry something that can erase data cards, right?

NICOLE

Ayup.

ROXANNE
Do you also have something to duplicate one?

NICOLE

That would be a much more sophisticated piece of equipment. The wiper is basically just an electromagnet I can switch on and off. A duplicator would be a tiny, single-purpose, computer.

ROXANNE

But do you have one?

NICOLE

Not on me at the moment, but I know where to get one.

ROXANNE

And would it only work for the kind of cards you carry, or any kind?

NICOLE

It would work on twenty-three different kinds, plus anything that uses USB. Why are you asking?

ROXANNE

There’s a card that has some really important stuff. Stuff that could save lives. And I want to copy it.

NICOLE

Give it to me, I’ll give you a copy.

ROXANNE
I don’t have it. And I’m probably only going to have access to it for a few minutes.

Beat.

NICOLE

Does Thee know about this?

ROXANNE

She’s…heard about it..

NICOLE

Well that was carefully worded. What if I had some follow-up questions?

ROXANNE

I’d suggest you keep them to yourself. The less you know, the better, in case things go wrong.

NICOLE

Oh, wait, you think there’s a chance something can go wrong? Sorry, I didn’t realize I was dealing with some chess genius-level-spymaster who thinks five moves ahead. I am out of here.

DOMINIC

Nicole-

NICOLE

You stay out of this. This is serious woman stuff.

DOMINIC

Nikki, hear her out.

NICOLE

AND DO NOT CALL ME NIKKI. Major Craig gets to call me that, no one else.

DOMINIC
Randall.

NICOLE

What- What did you say to me?

DOMINIC

Sorry, I was talking to Roxanne. Rox, once Nicole leaves, ask me to tell you about Randall.

ROXANNE

Okay.

NICOLE

You snake!

DOMINIC

It’s nothing that isn’t true.

NICOLE

You’re going to hold that over my head, try to make me disobey orders, so this Stayer you like to fuck can go get herself caught and ruin everything?

ROXANNE

*snarls, but keeps her peace*

NICOLE

You and me are done, Mister.

DOMINIC
Don’t be so dramatic. I’m not blackmailing you into actually doing anything. I just don’t want you to leave until you’ve heard the plan. That’s all. If you don’t like it, you can tell it all to Thee. Right Rox?

ROXANNE

*reluctantly*

Yeah. I can’t pull it off without you, anyway.

NICOLE

*to Dominic*

And you think this plan will work?

DOMINIC

This is the first I’m hearing about it. But I have faith in Roxanne.

ROXANNE

Thanks, babe.

NICOLE

Ugh!

*slows down her breathing, regains her cool*

Okay, I’ll listen, and I’ll think it through. But if I don’t like what I hear, I’m taking it to the Major. Him turning you in would be a nice bit of payback.

ROXANNE

*controlled breath*

Fair.

NICOLE

So, the card or whatever you’re looking for is somewhere secured. You know a way in?

ROXANNE

Not all the way in. I know some general procedures, and I can get into the outer area. But I need more information, from someone further inside, to get me where I need to go.

NICOLE

Do you have someone in mind?

ROXANNE

Yes. I do. I just…didn’t want to approach them until I was sure I was doing this.

NICOLE

And you can reach them tonight?

ROXANNE

I can try.

Scene-change music.

SETTING: Roxanne’s parents’ bedroom. Crickets.

Creaking sound of footsteps.

ROXANNE

Mom?

SYLVIA (human version)

*annoyed whimper*

ROXANNE

Mom, wake up.

SYLVIA

What the heck is it, sweetie? I’m trying to sleep.

ROXANNE
I know, Mom, but you have to get up. Now.

SYLVIA

Why?

ROXANNE

Because I need your help.

SYLVIA

I’ll help you in the morning, Roxanne. Just let me go back to sleep.

ROXANNE

Tomorrow will be too late. And you won’t want to help me in the morning.

SYLVIA

Of course I will.

ROXANNE

No. You won’t.

SYLVIA

*starting to really wake up*

Why is that, baby?

ROXANNE

Aliens, Mamma. Aliens…have taken over the world.

SILENCE

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