## Meat: Script

7 years ago

### Meat

Characters:

Present day (in the transitional period during Zero's ascension):
Zero, 1397, and an Oracle visiting Centralia
An ape farmer

Distant past (in the Dromaiu exploration and colonization of Centralia):
John Halschild, a dromaiu explorer/magnate
His support staff (all dromaius)
His slaves (all pre-sapient Aikengyu)
A family of Apes

--

[[An Oracle arrives at the ape farm; a male Kayohash wearing an eyepiece that is tethered to a backpack node.]]

Farmer: Hello, there. Can I help you?
Oracle: Good morning. I am Zero. I believe you have been expecting me.

Farmer: You're Zero? From the Southern Council? You look nothing like the images.
Oracle: It is quite confusing, I know. I am still getting used to... this, myself.

Farmer: Would you prefer I find someone who can speak Hiero?
Oracle: No, thank you, I must practice my Torihan.
Oracle: Language unification must begin somewhere, after all.

--

Farmer: I must say, I am still confused by the purpose of this visit. Is this a diplomatic rendezvous?
Oracle: If I am going to be involved in the operation of the world, I need to know what's going on with-in it.

Farmer: I'm sorry, I don't think I understood you correctly. What do you mean by "the world," exactly?
Oracle: Unity, of course. This world we inhabit. Well, ship, actually.

Farmer: The South is... taking over?
Oracle: Oh, goodness no.
Oracle: The South is obsolete.

---

Oracle: So, these are apes?
Farmer: Yes. Impressive, aren't they?  These are in their juvenile form.  They are nearly two meters from head to foot. In maturity they reach three meters, and mass around two hundred kilograms!

Oracle: Do they always stand like that?
Farmer: No, right now they are waiting to be fed.  We keep them on a strict feeding schedule, so that they grow the right fat and muscle ratio.

Farmer: This is also where we select them for breeding, based on meat and milk yield as well as behavior.
Oracle: Is that why the females' mammae are swollen?
Farmer: It is one of several indicators we use.
Farmer: Come, there is more to see.

--

Farmer: Here is our breeding room. As you can see, we have several females incubating their young - normal for mammals, after all - and are now permanently connected to an alimentary line and milking machine.
Oracle: Where have their limbs gone?
Farmer: At this point they have already been harvested for processing, as have the males in their entirety.
Oracle: This seems... cruel.

Farmer: Ah, not so. They don't have the mental capacity to know any better.
Farmer: They simply ingest food and produce two to three calves per tenround, as well as plentiful milk, and fertilizer.
Farmer: These also produce our tenderest meat in processing - a nice by-product of their immobilization.

--

Farmer: Finally, this is our processing center. As you can see, we separate out muscle tissue, fat, bone, and organ meat for various purposes.  Muscle goes to make food for the masses, fat becomes soap and industrial fuel, and organ meat is ground up for food product and to supplement the feed supplies for the other apes.

Farmer: Bone is ground up and used for all sorts of things, including fertilizer, construction material, and gelatin.  Oh, and of course, the skin is useful for clothing and upholstery.

Oracle: You don't waste a single part of the creature, do you?
Farmer [beaming]: Not a bit.

--

Oracle: It is... interesting to see how they are processed. What are they like in their natural state?
Farmer: This is their natural state. For a hundred thousand rounds, we have bred them to this point. They could not survive in any other way.

Oracle: I see. Well, how were they before the Dromaiu influence?
Farmer: Before? Goodness, that gets into ancient history.  What matter is it now?

Oracle: I want to know everything.
Farmer: Everything, hm? Come this way, then.

--

Farmer: This old recording is allegedly from John Halschild's first expedition to Centralia. It's in Old Dromus, but there are several translation bands available.  I... think there is a Hiero band, but you should have no trouble with the Centralia. This is intended for schoolchildren.
Oracle: Thank you.

Farmer: I must warn you, the image quality is rather... quaint. It's a hundredth-generation conversion, of course.
Oracle: Of course.

Oracle [to an assistant Dromaiu]: Please, give this to my technician, so I can ingest it while we continue our tour.
Farmer: I... really hope you used the wrong word there.

--

[[Sepia]]
John: Is it recording? Landis, my boy, I thought you knew how to operate a slit-scan.
John: Well, never mind that. Just point it at me so I can--

[[A view of Zero-avatar sitting on a couch, looking at the recording on a floaty square, eating from a tub of grubs]]
John: Blast it, Landis, just set it on that mount.

John: Ah, yes, there we are. Let us begin the exploration log.

---

John:  After tens of days at sea we have finally arrived on Opposition Island.
Translator note: Opposition Island is now called Centralia.

John: What wonders await us in this strange, new land? So far we have already seen tens of unidentified species of plant and animal. Even our best macroscope surveys from Dromus could not prepare us for that.

John: We are here to explore, and explore we shall. Tally-ho!
Landis: Tally-ho!
John: Control yourself, Landis.

---

[[closeup of a dragonfly]]
John: Yes, that insect, Landis. Does it not appear quite fragile?
Landis: It does.
John: I believe it warrants further study.

[[a net captures the dragonfly]]

[[John pops it into his mouth]]
John: Ah, delicious.

---

[[John appears quite ill at ease; he is sitting on the ground, beside an Aikengyu, a damp spot on the ground next to him]]
John: As it turns out, the winged jewels are as poisonous as they are delicious.  I do not recommend them as a source of food.

[[John holds a bowl]]
John: Fortunately, the legendary soothing effect of our beasts' milk is preventing further spillage.
Aikengyu: Moof.

John: In order to prevent further catastrophe, Landis has agreed to be my taster for all future discoveries.
Landis: I have, sir?
John: Don't contradict me, Landis.

---

John: Look ahead!  In that clearing!  Beasts, check and cease!
Aikengyu: moooof.

[[John looks through a macroscope]]
John: There appear to be large creatures, larger than anything I've seen before. Landis, what do you make of them?

Landis: Remarkable, sir.
John: We must get closer.

--

[[John stands beside a squatting human, her head just off-screen]]
John: Remarkable. These... gentle giants appear to be quite tame. Docile, even.
John: Come, Landis, record its face.  We must save this for posterity.

[[A badly-backlit view of the human's face, a simple smile]]
John: These simple, pleasant creatures seem... gentle.  Majestic, even.  What shall we call them, Landis?

[[cut back to Zero, "eyes" wide]]
Landis: How about 'ape,' sir?
John: Perfect. A simple name for a simple creature.
Zero: They're humans?!

--

Farmer: -our quality control is quite phenomenal, as you can see, with every kilogram of grade 0 meat inspec-
Oracle: Pardon me, but I am being... summoned elsewhere.

Oracle [putting a hand to his eye]: Please, show this Kayohash to his accommodations.
Farmer: Pardon?
Oracle [different font]: Breeze! My head.

Farmer [putting a wing on the Oracle's shoulder]: [incomprehensible babble in Torihan]
Oracle: I'munna lie down here.
Farmer: [more incomprehensible babble, with the legible word "Hiero" in the middle]

--

[[Zero and the Oracle's instance (1397) appear in floatyspace together]]
Instance 1397: Gah! Why have you detached me from my Oracle?
Zero: Sorry, 1397. I've ingested part of the archive you provided. Here, listen.

1397: Oh, my. What are we to do about this?
Zero: I don't know. This is quite troubling.

1397: Yes. Who knew humans were so delicious?
Zero: Yes, they- that isn't the point!
1397:  No, but it's true.
Zero [small text]: I can't believe you're my child process.

--

Zero: Okay, let me think. So, the humans never left, they were actually here all along... and we have been eating them.
1397: I wish. It's been tens of rounds since we've been an organism.

Zero: In the archive they didn't seem to show any intelligence... perhaps they'd already lost their sapience before the Dromaiu found them.
1397: I wonder if I can go bidirectional. I could go for some carpaccio...
Zero: 1397. FOCUS.

[[A dotted line appears around 1397, who is still cutely ruminating about things, silently]]
Zero [text box left of 1397]: I think I need another perspective.
[[Zero floats to the right of 1397, toward a colored disc]
Zero: You, stay put.

---

[[Zero looks at quite a lot of known imagery of humans, with different numbers floating above them]]
Zero: Argh, you were all so brilliant, so... impossible.  Where did it all go wrong?

Zero: Your colony records stopped 18 million years ago.  Your last entry showed gratitude for all the fish, whatever that means.
Zero: A full manifest of all citizens.
Zero: "Keep the lights on for us." The hub?

Zero: Did you leave someone behind?

---

[[Zero floats assembled in front of thousands of other instances]]
Zero: Selves, we have a mystery. Somewhere, the humans lost track of a population in what we now know as Centralia.

Zero: Let's try to find out how they ended up there, and whatever-
instance: Found something.
instance; Found it!
instance: Here's a thing.

[[large gobs of text and video appear above the crowd]]
Zero: All problems are shallow, I suppose.
instance: also here's a thing about nuclear fission in popular culture
instance: could someone seed please?
instance: Found it!  oops, lag

{{popup: For their next trick, they'll randomly generate the complete works of every sentient playwright in Terran lineage.}}

--

(for now I'll call them Linus and Lucy but I'd better come up with better names before I draw them)

[[video showing a sleeping human from behind, from a hand-held recording device. Lucy is holding the camera.]]
Lucy: Hey, wake up!
Linus: Nrrrnwhat?
Lucy: Let's go camping. One last time, before we drop.

Linus: Muh?
Lucy: I've already packed the rover and everything. Come on, it'll be fun.

Linus: I just wanna sleep in.
Lucy: Come on, you'll have plenty of time for that on the dropship.  Let's go CAMPING!

--

Linus: You sure this will be okay? What about the perimeter?
Lucy: I already gave our beacons to Troy and Eric. Nobody will notice.

[[cut forward; they're on a back road to the nature park]]

[[cut forward; their shelter is set up and they have a little fire going]]
Linus: Sure, make me do all the work. Come on, help out.

--

Linus: Why are you recording all this? You realize we'll just get in trouble if someone finds it.
Lucy: Ooh, I'm so scared. Like we're the only ones breaking protocol right now.

Lucy: Anyway, look at this place. It's so... peaceful. Gentle.

Lucy: I could stay here forever.

--

[[Lucy is frantically trying to fix the rover; the camera is on the ground, askew]]
Lucy: Argh, why won't you copulating START?!
Linus: Did you check the induction plate?
Lucy: It's saying "can't find routing server." How to copulate with that?!

Linus: The launch is in six hours. We really need to get-
Lucy: YES I KNOW THAT THANK YOU FOR HELPING

Linus: We could call for help. On the beacons you gave away.
Lucy: Shut up and do something helpful. Feces!

--

[[Linus holds the camera now. Lucy sits crying]]
Lucy: No way we can get back to Philplaiton in time now. We're gonna be stuck here forever.

Lucy: Turn that copulating thing off. Why are you recording me, anyway?
Linus: Maybe someone will see this and they can send someone for us.

Lucy: ...
Linus: Or, y'know. Maybe not.

--

Various scenes of Linus or Lucy gathering food, tending to the rover, playing with the local fauna.

--

Another group of humans appears, showing Lucy's video on a tablet.  Hugs go around. Their clothes are tattered.  The camera quality is degraded.

--

Much more time has passed; they are all in adulthood; their clothes are the bare minimum (woven from grass), and there are a few young children.  The final panel is just static.

--

Zero: So there we have it. A few groups of foolish humans couldn't follow procedure, and a few million years later we're eating their descendants for food.

an instance: The meatlings are. We eat electricity.
Zero: Yes, yes, You know what I mean, 147.

Zero: I mean, you are me, and I am you, and...
Zero: Argh, we'll figure this out eventually.
{{popup: goo-goo gajoob}}
{{title: iglukik}}

--

[[Back to John and Landis; Landis is experimenting with the lump of what was at one time the camera]]
John: Landis, what is that you are looking at?
Landis: It is some sort of fascinating rock, sir.

Landis: Look, this part moves... if I point it to the sky-light, it vibrates... and if I point it away, it stops.

Landis: It's like the sky is... inducing it to action.
John: Curious. Well, let's bring that back with us. It is an interesting phenomenon!

--

Zero: So what do we do about this?
I don't think we "do" anything.  Those humans weren't the pinnacle of their species.  They lived on, we took advantage of it.  Is there anything wrong with that?

Zero: But... but they created everything! Surely they deserve our respect!
Those particular ones did not. They were continuations of the generations before. To want to change our relationship out of sentimentality for what their ancestors once were is just... foolish.

Zero: I...suppose.  So why do I feel so disappointed?
There is no more mystery.  We love a mystery.  Perhaps it is too easy for us to know too much. It is something else we have to get used to.
Zero: I'm talking to myself again, aren't I?
Yes.

---

[[An ape is petting John]]
John: Something about them just seems so familiar, somehow.
Landis: They have certainly taken a liking to you.

John: It's like we have a special kinship, like we have been together before.

[[The camera pans over to an Aikengyu curled up in the lap of another ape]]
Landis: The beasts don't seem to mind them at all, either.
John: Yes. Curious.

---

Zero: I do feel we should tell the council. Or at least Juni.
And what will they do about it?

Zero: I guess they still have to eat.

Zero: And ape is delicious.

---

John: These gentle creatures, these...
Landis: Apes.
John: These apes.  They are clearly one with the land.

John: We shall not take them from this place.
John: Let us instead bring others here, to study them.
Landis: Yay!

[visual: cut to the present; the Oracle is held in a padded room]
John: Who knows what the future will bring?
Oracle: We are all made of MEAT!
Landis: Tally-ho, sir?
John: Yes. Tally-ho, indeed.
[end]