SEASON [1]

EPISODE [3]

IVUOMA

Hey, friends. Right at the top I want to let you know there will be some sound effects towards the end of this episode that may be a little jarring for some listeners. In particular there are some screams of pain that you're going to hear. It's nothing that I think is too graphic or gruesome and it's a very brief segment. But just in case that's something that may be triggering for you, or if you're listening with little ones, be warned that is in there. Ok. Now. On with the show.

IVUOMA

In King Solomon's ancient book of proverbs, the beginning of the twenty-eighth chapter goes like this, "The wicked flee when no one pursues, but the righteous are bold as a lion. 

INTRO MUSIC - "END IS NEAR" BY HILL.

IVUOMA

Welcome to episode three of my story-telling podcast, Vega: A Sci-Fi Adventure. On last week's episode, our girl Vega got cornered by a crap-ton of troopers, and you thought she was going to end up in a foreign prison but then she flashed her badge and everything was fine. That is until she stumbled upon a murder scene in the very women's restroom she'd maimed and chained her apprentice inside of. TL;DR there was a lot of blood and there was no body. Which left Vega with no other option than to follow a literal blood trail through a crazy night club to find out if her apprentice was dead or nearly dead or- naw, she's probably dead. But just as Vega was making her way through the room of giant flower god, she overheard a strange voice- a strange voice that was saying this: 

LOUD, STRANGE VOICE

Vega's not gonna like this. Vega's not gonna like this. Vega's not gonna like this. 

IVUOMA

On this week's episode, Vega's forced to make a new friend. And as you can probably guess, she will not be happy about it. Let's dive in.

SOUNDS OF PARTY GOERS AND AMBIENT MUSIC IN THE CLUB. WE HEAR THE SONG "CRISPY CHICKEN" BY MIKEY GEIGER.

IVUOMA

Now before I tell you who this voice belongs to, I want to tell you a little bit more about how it sounds because then maybe you'll understand why Vega feels so very unsettled by it. Have you ever heard a baby cough? I'm not talking about one of those cute-

CUTE SOUND OF A BABY COUGHING.

IVUOMA

Little ones but like one of those-

TERRIBLE SOUND OF A SICK BABY COUGHING.

IVUOMA

Like from the back of the throat unnatural, wet, loud ones like when the baby has croup or something. That sound has got to be one of the worst sounds ever to rumble a human eardrum. Not only for the sheer terribleness of the sound itself but also because it's like coming out of a baby. That's so sad and also very terrifying to hear, whether it's your baby or not. That unnatural gurgling hack that croup can produce in a human baby throat, that's what this voice sounds like and that feeling that you get when you hear a baby cough that way, that ickyness down in your soul, that is what Vega is feeling right now as she makes her way to the back of this room. So let me tell you who this voice belongs to now. It belongs to a bird. 

SONG STARTS. "LUNAR BONES" BY ISAAC JOEL.

IVUOMA

That's right. Perched on the shoulder of a squat, hairy man sitting at the crusty bar in the back is a bird. A parrot to be exact. When Vega sees this parrot she feels 100 times better because this makes way more sense. There was no way that voice was coming out of a human being. The thing about this parrot that you might find interesting though is that it doesn't look like a normal parrot. For one thing it's semi-translucent. Vega can see straight through it to the faded wall paper behind the bar. She can also see its compact central hard drive hovering around somewhere inside of it. For another thing, this parrot is also giving off its own subtle glow. As she draws closer, Vega takes in a few more details. The guy with the parrot on his shoulder is wearing a vest made of woven straw, pants made of some hemp material. He's not wearing shoes and the bottom of his feet are black with dirt. His smell greets Vega before she has the chance to greet him and he smells very...of the earth shall we say. Vega knows before she even spots the faded green god icon tattooed on his arm. He's probably a naturalist. Some follower of some forgotten nature god. Ugh, these people were the worst. She takes a seat at the barstool beside him.

"LUNAR BONES" TRANSITIONS BACK TO "CRISPY CHICKEN".

VEGA

Traveling hologram. Haven't seen one of those in a while.

IVUOMA

And this is what the guy says. Literally. Word for word.

MUDBUS

I am not interested. He is not for sale. You can stand right back up cuz it's a no for whatever else you want from me. Goodbye. 

IVUOMA

And he doesn't even look at her. Vega can see now that this man has got this huge brass nose ring and maybe when he got that nose ring he thought it made him look strong like an ox. But sitting here at this bar now, looking the way that he does, he looks more like a sad donkey than anything. This dude looks like he's fallen on some tough times.

VEGA

Oh. Ok. 

IVUOMA

-Vega says.

VEGA

Well, unfortunately for the both of us that's not quite true. I think you've seen who I'm looking for.

MUDBUS

I ain't seen squat. I've been sitting here minding my business all night and I was planning on doing just that for the rest of it too.

IVUOMA

He gives her some pointed side eye and sips from his drink. And Vega goes-

VEGA

Well then maybe you won't mind if I ask your little pet here.

MUDBUS

Fluxx is not my pet! 

IVUOMA

-He spits. And good gosh his breath stinks.

MUDBUS

He is my spirit guide and it ain't none of my business what he sees. 

FLUXX

Vega's not gonna like this.

IVUOMA

-Fluxx says, turning his head to the side and staring down at Vega with one of his beady parrot eyes. 

VEGA

Hmm. Fluxx, huh? 

MUDBUS

Don't you talk to him.

IVUOMA

-Donkey dude says. But Vega's chill. It's like she's not even hearing this guy. She holds her arm up for Fluxx and without hesitation this dude's spirit guide jumps from his shoulder and lands on her. And the moment it touches her skin something amazing happens. Fluxx transforms! One moment he's a bright ghostly parrot and the next-

COOL TRANSFORMATION NOISE!

IVUOMA

He's a bright ghostly butterfly flitting down onto Vega's finger. Coooooool. And sad Donkey Dude grimaces but says nothing because he can't! Because that's the thing with these naturalists. That's their whole vibe. They don't tell nature what to do. They just let it do its nature-y thing. To give a command to your animal guide was an act expressly frowned upon in any other their traditions. But this wasn't a piece of nature to Vega. This was a piece of tech. And furthermore, she loved a good burger so she clearly wasn't a naturalist either. So she goes-

VEGA

What do you think, Fluxx? You a helpful little spirit guide? Want tell me your secrets, huh? Who'd you hear that from? Which way'd she go?

MUDBUS

He's not gonna answer you.

IN THE BACKGROUND AS CLUB MUSIC, THE SONG "BANANA BANDANA" BY HILL STARTS TO PLAY.

IVUOMA

Donkey Face is right. He's a clever piece of tech. And he's programmed to understand language but not speak it. At least not in the way that Vega needs right now. 

VEGA

Ok then. Show me. 

COOL TRANSFORMATION NOISE!

IVUOMA

AYYYEE! Fluxx just turned into a dog! If you want to picture something, picture a labrador. He sniffs the ground where the blood trail is, then his trail perks up. He's caught the scent! He puffs his chest out and without even looking back at them, he bounds off. 

VEGA

Yes! Good boy!

IVUOMA

Vega's right behind him.

MUDBUS

(frustrated)

Mmmmm! Fluxx! This is not how you mind your business!

IVUOMA

-Donkey Dude says and holding up his oversized pants to his waist, he lumbers close behind. And this is where Fluxx takes them. He takes them through a room of a music god where musicians the world over are offering their instruments to be blessed. He takes them through the room of an astrology god where the ceiling is a working simulation of the star-studded night sky fast-forwarding and rewinding through millions of years at a time, where fortune-tellers are reading the worshippers' futures for tonight only at half-price, where Vega learns the name of sad Donkey Dude.

VEGA

Mudbus? Your name is Mudbus?

MUDBUS

(annoyed)

It's a name.

IVUOMA

He says.

MUDBUS

It's in our holy book.

IVUOMA

Vega's like-

VEGA

(judgemental)

Oh. Ok. 

MUDBUS

You ain't got no kinda of respect. Anybody ever tell you that? Over here giving orders to my spirit guide. Who you out here with anyway? Who do you follow? 

VEGA

Who do I follow?

IVUOMA

Vega doesn't miss a beat.

VEGA

The Ankle King.

IVUOMA

They're making their way through a room rented by one of Nox's biggest politically backed cults now. Vega was always forgetting the names but she recognized prominent diplomats from all over. From Petraxus to the Little Republic to the Great Republic to the Colonies and anywhere in-between, all schmoozing and making deals, deciding the fate of millions as they cackled over free rounds of Inebrio's cocktails.

MUDBUS

I ain't never heard of no Ankle King.

IVUOMA

Says Mudbus.

VEGA

Oh for real? He's huge in the Southern Quarter. We're a fighting cult. We do ankle fights.

MUDBUS

What the hell is a ankle fight?

VEGA

Woah! My dude! You ain't never heard of a ankle fight?

IVUOMA

Vega keeps her eyes on Fluxx as they make their way through the room of a bird god.

SOMEWHERE IN THIS NEXT SPEECH THE BACKGROUND MUSIC TRANSITIONS TO "PESO" BY ALTER EGO.

VEGA

Well, I'm sure you've heard of the ankle dance though? No?? Mudbus, yo, you been minding your business a little too well. Ok, here we go. Ankle fights. First of all, ankles are the most sacred part of the body. Second most are the wrists which everybody knows are the ankles of the arms. Ankles connect our feet to our legs and without them how shalt we locomotive? We can't! We'd just club our stubs around crying for the magical device called the ankle. Some may ask: what elevates the ankle? Why not the knee? Why not the foot? 

MUDBUS

I'm not asking that.

IVUOMA

Says Mudbus. 

MUDBUS

I actually don't care anymore.

VEGA

The ankle is beautiful. How many people do you know, good sir, who have great feet? How many knees do you see where you go "Oh! Yes! Look at those knees!" But everybody has nice ankles. And not only are they universally aesthetically pleasing they are stronger than the knee or the foot hence ankle fights.

IVUOMA

Mudbus-

MUDBUS

Oh. You're still going. Ok.

VEGA

All ankle fights-

IVUOMA

-Vega goes on.

VEGA

-Start with the ankle dance. It's a whole body dance that ends with the ankles. Very erotic. You gotta watch out when you're rolling it down. Shoulders. Elbows. Wrists. Hips. Hips. Knees. Ankles. By now all your clothes are off. Now you take off your shoes. Slowly. 

IVUOMA

Mudbus is listening.

VEGA

Gotta be barefoot. And then, you get into the ring in the sand. This ring has been blessed by the Ankle King of course-

(kiss kiss)

VEGA

Long live the king, may he never get arthritis. And then you gotta make a cut at the bottom of each of your feet with a special knife hewn for the occasion from the ankle bone of a albino tiger. Oh! And I forgot. There's hot sauce all over the ring. That's part of the ritual. You have to be able to withstand the pain. Then the music comes on. Something, you know, you know something you can, something you can bop to- And then we get to it. We bop for a lil bit. And then a few more times with the ankle rolls. You recite the ancient prayers together. And thennnnnnn- YOU SLAM YOUR ANKLES TOGETHER

MUDBUS

Shut. Up! 

IVUOMA

Mudbus says.

MUDBUS

That is not real! You are so damn disrespectful. You from Petraxus, ain't you? I knew as I seent you. Y'all all the same. This is just a big joke to you. Our gods out here killing each other and you're just over here laughin. 

IVUOMA

Now they're in the room of one of the gods of the physician trade, some surgeon god. And I bet you're thinking these doctors are doing surgery in here and yo why would you think that? Why would they be doing surgery in the club? These people are getting turnt. Cuz they work too hard and they've seen too much to not get turnt every once in a while. Ok so Vega had been laughing when she was making up the whole Ankle King thing. But then Mudbus started talking about killing and then Vega had the chance to remember herself. She remembered that under her dress, tucked into her hidden utility vest, was a small cache of poison potent enough to kill everybody in this club. She remembered that at the end of this trail was the probably decimated corpse of her fallen apprentice. She remembered that though everyone around her was smiling and laughing and seemingly having the time of their lives here tonight, they were all citizens of country just barely removed from the darkest civil war their world had ever seen and each person here had a horror story, some tale of personal tragedy worthy of the bitterest tears a person could cry. Vega stops and she turns around. She looks at Mudbus in the face and she's like-

NOW WE'RE HEARING AS CLUB MUSIC "TRIP TRAP" BY MIKEY GEIGER.

VEGA

Hey, man. I'm sorry. You lost your god in the war?

MUDBUS

In the war? 

IVUOMA

Mudbus is giving her a look. And in this look Vega can see that his pain is fresh. 

MUDBUS

My god was murdered two days ago.

FLUXX BARKING.

IVUOMA

Fluxx is wagging his tail jumping at a woman on the dance floor and one look at this woman tells Vega exactly why. She's covered in blood.

WOMAN ON THE DANCE FLOOR

It's not blood. 

IVUOMA

The woman says when Vega questions her a few moments later. She's watching something on her datalink, looking up at Vega intermittently.

WOMAN ON THE DANCE FLOOR

Yeah about a hundred of us made that same mistake. It's paint. This girl, she comes through here with this guy and she's covered in this stuff. Turns out she's the passcode.

IVUOMA

Her mouth hangs open. She stares at Vega as if Vega is supposed to know what she's talking about.

VEGA

I'm sorry?

IVUOMA

Vega says.

VEGA

The what?

IVUOMA

The woman smiles at Vega.

WOMAN ON THE DANCE FLOOR

How old are you? She's the passcode, sweetie. For that app with the "A." I forget the name. What is it? Antelope? Armistice? 

MUDBUS

Animus.

IVUOMA

Mudbus says. And if Vega's not mistaken, a little of the blood has drained from his face.

WOMAN ON THE DANCE FLOOR

Yeah, that's it! Animus! They've got one of those apps where they change the passcode every day. They usually spray it on like a wall or something but today it was on this girl in Inebrio's. Isn't that crazy? Sunny got a picture with her. She was with some guy, too. I think they were going to a pop-up party in the inner ring.

VEGA

And this girl, she wasn't like...dead or anything? Or like almost dead?

IVUOMA

-Vega says.

WOMAN ON THE DANCE FLOOR

Mmm. No. Her arm looked pretty bad but other than that she was perfectly fine. Looked like she was having herself a pretty good night actually.

IVUOMA

The woman wriggles her eyebrows like it's funny. And Vega tightens her jaw cuz it's not. 

VEGA

(dripping in sarcasm)

Oh! Good for her.

IVUOMA

Hooooooooo! Haaa! Keep it cool, Vega. Keep it cool. Think about your blood pressure. Friends, an ordinary person, much like yourself I'm sure, may have felt some degree of relief hearing that news. Hey, the ignorant adolescent you were responsible for has not been viciously murdered in a foreign country. All you gotta do now, you know, is find her, put her on your skybus, take her home, cool. But maybe Vega isn't ordinary because she's definitely not relieved. She's angry. She can feel her nails biting into the palms of her clenched fists. So, instead of being maimed and dying like Vega had been worried this whole time that she was, the apprentice was out having what? The time of her life in these rooms tonight? And what the hell was this passcode thing? Vega had registered it actually in the back of her mind as she was passing through the rooms earlier that everybody had been paying special attention to their datalinks, or at least more attention than usual in their screen-addicted world. But catching glimpses of the little screens around her now, it seems everybody in here had seen the passcode and logged into the same platform, and are watching the same dark, grainy video. And what did this woman say? The apprentice had taken a picture with one of her friends? Of course. Of course she had. Because the only reason this girl wanted to be a hunter in the first place was for the glory. She wanted to be seen and that was the problem. That was the problem with almost every single apprentice that came out of the gilded doors of the Academy. Those kids never cared about the faith. They couldn't care less about holiness and order. They just wanted to be famous. And that's why Vega doubted anyone especially who wanted to be an apprentice to her because of all the hunters, Vega was the most famous. But for some reason these delusional little plebeians didn't understand that outside the walls of one very highly fortified top-clearance city in Petraxus, Vega's name was almost as common as anybody else's. "Vega's not gonna like this." You think it was an accident Fluxx heard that? Vega was 100% positive that everybody whose rooms the apprentice had passed through tonight heard it. Because the apprentice was no doubt making sure that everyone knew that she was the current right hand to the almighty Vega Rex. If Vega hadn't been compromised before-

ALERT NOISE FROM DATALINK

IVUOMA

Oh crap. That noise you just heard, that means Vega's got a text message. Ugh, her heart's pounding in her throat right now. Ugh. Ok. Hold on she's about to check it. Ugh. Maybe it's her dad asking if she's ok, you know. You know, maybe---argh. No, it is not her dad. It is Prophet Parkus. A crotchety old windbag who tries to act like he's her dad. And his text is only one sentence, four words. What. Have. You. Done. No punctuation. 

VEGA

Fluxx.

FLUXX BARKS IN RESPONSE.

IVUOMA

Vega pats him. Or you know. She mimes petting him, cuz you know, he's a hologram.

VEGA

Now find me another. Take us to the inner rooms, buddy.

IVUOMA

Fluxx wags his tail, but then...his eyes land on something behind her and his whole body cowers as he lowers to the ground. But Vega had already sensed it before Fluxx backed away. It's Mudbus.

"SEEDS OF UNREST" BY HILL BEGINS TO PLAY, ANXIOUS AND OMINOUS.

IVUOMA

She stands up slowly. Turns around. If Mudbus was a grey sky over a dreary sea before, now he's a thunderstorm. An ocean of turmoil. His bare chest is heaving under his vest.

VEGA

I take it-

IVUOMA

-Vega says.

VEGA

You're not a fan of this Animus fellow?

IVUOMA AS MUDBUS

(constrained, emotional)

They watching it.

IVUOMA

-Mudbus says, looking around at the all the screens.

MUDBUS

I never wanted to watch it.

IVUOMA

Vega catches a glimpse of the video again. The image is dark. She can make out the shape of a man on his knees. 

THE MUSIC INTENSIFIES.

IVUOMA

He's wearing oversized hemp pants. He's bare-chested and there's an ornate green tattoo on his chest that matches the little faded one on Mudbus's arm. The man is looking up into the camera lens. His eyes are wide. A rod comes into the video.

THE SOUND OF A CRACKLING ELECTRICITY.

IVUOMA

The tip of it is crackling with electricity and its touched to this man's skin.

A LONG, WILD SCREAM IS HEARD IN RESPONSE TO THE PROD.

IVUOMA

Mudbus flinches, closing his eyes against the pain as though he can feel it too.

MUDBUS

(emotional)

He killed him. He killed him. He killed him.

IVUOMA

Mudbus says. He opens his eyes and looks at Vega and his eyes are already bloodshot. As if he's been weeping far longer than two days.

MUDBUS

Lil girl...don't play with this. Leave yo friend. Turn around. Run. Or he gon' kill yo god too.

VEGA

I can't do that.

IVUOMA

-Vega says.

VEGA

I have to find her.

MUDBUS

Then that blood, that's gon' be on you.

CRACKLING ROD SOUND.

MUDBUS

Fluxx.

THE SOUND OF MUDBUS'S GOD SCREAMING IN PAIN.

IVUOMA

Mudbus hesitates. 

MUDBUS

I'm going back.

IVUOMA

But Fluxx just looks between Vega and Mudbus, not really moving.

MUDBUS

Fluxx, I ain't feeling right. C'mon man, gotta go home.

AGAIN THE SOUND OF MUDBUS'S GOD SCREAMING BUT MORE PRONOUNCED. MORE PAINFUL.

MUDBUS

FLUXX, GET OVER HERE! NOW.

THE SOUND OF FLUXX TRANSFORMING.

IVUOMA 

But Fluxx, scared, turns into a tiny mouse and scurries up Vega's body to hide behind her shoulders. Mudbus takes a long look at his spirit guide. His face falls. In the next moment he folds into the crowd and disappears. Fluxx and Vega look at each other. Stunned. 

BRIEF OMINOUS MUSIC INTERLUDE.

IVUOMA

There was a longer version of this episode where Fluxx takes Vega through a ton more rooms. Where they find Vega's apprentice dancing on the table of this pop-up party. Vega pays the guy running the- running the little party a ridiculous amount of money to shut it down and Vega even tries to find Mudbus to give Fluxx back but...her hands were kind of full at the moment and I don't even know how hard she tried. And that stuff was interesting enough but honesty none of that really matters because all Vega's gonna think about all the way home is the look on Mudbus's face when he heard the name Animus. And all that she'll hear echoing in her head are the words he told her as the image of his god being slain was dancing in vivid color all around him. The words: lil' girl...

OMINOUS MUSIC COMES TO A DEAD STOP.

IVUOMA

(echoing effect)

Run.

"BANANA BANDANA" PLAYS AGAIN AS OUTRO MUSIC.

IVUOMA

Episode 3 of Vega: A Sci-Fi Adventure Podcast features music from Matt Wigton, Isaac Joel, Hill, Mikey Gieger, and Alter Ego. The details for all those tracks can be found in the show notes as well as the link to freesound.org where I was able to find the grand majority of all the sound effects that I've needed thus far in the podcast. I don't think I've mentioned this yet, but from this episode on I will be releasing the episodes once every two weeks until I can do this full-time so basically until further notice. And I'm hoping to release on Thursdays. That's the goal. Hopefully I can hit it. I mentioned at the end of episode two that I'm looking for help on the show. I guess it would be a good idea to be more specific about what kind of help I need. For now I'm definitely interested in sound engineers, musicians, and general sound people. Need your minds and your ears and your art to help me continue to create the fun, immersive audial landscape I want Vega to be. Eventually I'd love to have a producer or two, but general audio folks would be great for now. Hey, as always thank you for listening. It was really cool for me to be able to talk about the story and this whole project after I launched the podcast last week. Like really really cool. Thank you to everyone who listened and who provided feedback and who rated and reviewed. Truly, it means so much to me and has been ultra-motivating to keep on going with this story. You can find me on IG or Twitter at @ivuomaokoro. You can find the show on IG or Twitter at @vegapodcast. If you want to shoot me a question or a comment about some of your thoughts on the story so far, you can do so by hitting me up at any of those places or also emailing ivuoma@vegapodcast.com. I hope you enjoyed this episode and I'm looking forward to finally, finally showing you Vega at home. Petraxus, baby! It's gonna be good. I think that it's gonna be good. I'll catch you in two weeks. Bye.

END OF EPISODE.