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Planetfall: the original script

12 years ago

Below is the original script for Planetfall, written almost entirely in a single evening.


We meet Lena, a Melrose.  She is walking home from class, trying not to cry.

friend 1: Hey, Lena!
Lena: Hi.
friend 2: Coming to the party?
Lena: Probably.

friend 2: Oh, hey, how'd you do on the test?
Lena: Fine. I did fine.

[[Lena keeps walking; we see her in the foreground, eyes clenched shut]]
friend 2 [background]: I bet she failed another one.


[INT: Lena's tiny apartment. She's sitting on the futon, looking at a navipad. Her room is empty aside from a couple of dirty dishes, a rack of clothes, and a plush toy on the futon.]
Lena: Sigh...

[View of her pad. Top part is a graph showing multiple colored lines charting her academic performance in multiple subjects, which are mostly middling with a couple spikes in either direction. The last point is highlighted in red, and is very low.  The lower part is various questions, her answers, and the correct answers.]

Lena: I've got to get out of here.


[[planetfall recruitment office; view from outside, with sign in simplified Hiero on the door (and a helpful subtitle at the bottom of the panel)]]
Lena: I want to be on that ship.
Officer: A lot of people do. Let me take a look at your records, Miss Melrose.

Officer: Hm. What...role were you planning on providing?
Lena: I don't know... this and that? I know my grades are pretty bad but...
Lena: I'm sure there's something I could do.

Lena: Y'know?
Officer: I'm afraid we don't have room on the next ship for you. Better luck next time.


Lena: What do you mean no room? I... I just have to get on that ship.
Officer: Hm. Well, we could always use another oracle.  I hear Melroses are more likely to be accepted as one.

Lena: Me? An oracle? You're kidding.
Officer: Hey, it was just an idea. Frankly, with your academic record, that is probably the only way you'd ever see planetfall.

[[Lena heads out the door in the background, with the officer and his navipad in the foreground. The navipad shows Zero's avatar.]]

Lena: Ugh. Fine, I'll think about it.
Officer: Are you sure about this?
Zero: I am sure she needs to see me.


[[Lena enters an oracle's chamber.  A male Kayohash sits on a seat, with a Homin drone on his lap.  The drone should be more expessive than the oracle.]]
Oracle: Ah, hello, daughter. I have been expecting you.
Lena: Uh... h-hello, uh, mother.

Oracle: I have been following your progress, Lena, and I must say I'm quite disappointed in you.
Lena: Yeah?

Oracle: Why do you want to leave my womb so badly?
Lena: There's nothing for me here.
Oracle: And you think a colony ship will be better?
Lena: No, but at least it will be different.


Oracle: Ah, Lena, I watch over all of my daughters, but I have had a certain morbid fascination with you.  Your academic performance is abysmal, and you're always changing your mind about what you want to do.
Lena [sarcastically]: Thanks, that makes me feel better.
Oracle: What makes you think you'd be suited for a colony? What can you possibly offer?

Lena: I could be an oracle--
Oracle: You? Impossible. You have always struck me as a free spirit.
Oracle: Look at this one. He's devoted himself as an empty vessel for me. That's no life for you.

Lena: So what should I do?
Oracle: Breeze, I don't know.  But you do not belong in Planetfall. I can't have you endangering our destiny.


[[Lena walks toward the camera, crying, the oracle and the drone sitting in the background]]

Oracle: Mother, I know it is not my place to question you, but don't you think you were a bit... harsh?
Drone [sparkle]: Yes, but it is necessary.
Drone: She is my daughter.

Drone: She must learn to take control.


[[Lena talks to her dead mother, via her funeral tree]]

Hi, mom.  I guess it's been a while since we've talked.

I just... I don't know why I can't do anything right.  Everyone's always expected me to be some sort of brilliant scientist just 'cuz I'm Melrose but I just don't have the brain for it. And now I just disappoint everyone.

Maybe I should start dyeing my hair.

I miss you.


[[Lena sits on a park bench, half-heartedly doodling on a navipad.  A drone scurries in her direction.]]

[[A look down across her lap, at the drone, looking up at her.]]
Drone [sparkle]: Hello.

[[Lena and the drone stare at each other.  Lena looks puzzled.]]


[[Lena looks around]]
Lena: Who said that?!

Drone: I did.

Drone: Aren't you late for the party?


[[at the party]]
Kara: Oh, Lena! There you are. I was hoping you'd come.
Lena: Hi, Kara...
Kara: You look a bit spooked.
Lena: I think I'm going insane.

[[far foreground, a very out-of-focus Melrose, who is mostly naked, and has long, flowing hair hanging down to her thighs]]
Kara: You know what you need? Some ethanol. Let me get you a drink.
Lena [pointing at the other Melrose]: Hey, who's that?

Kara: Oh, her? I don't know. I think she's one of Fern's friends.
Lena: She's cute. I'm gonna say hi to her.
Kara: Ew! Isn't that, like, incest or something?


[[Lena approaches Cerie, who is noticeably taller.]]
Lena: Hi there.  I'm Lena.
Cerie: Oh, hello sister!  I'm Cerie.
Lena: I don't think I've seen you before.
Cerie: Probably not. I don't get away from the farm much.

Lena: Oh, you're an agriculturist?
Cerie: Ha, if only! No, water cycle management.  Getting back to our roots, you know?
Lena: ...
Cerie: You know... roots?  Water?

Lena: Oh. Heh.
Cerie: It's pretty loud in here. Want to go somewhere quieter?
Lena: Sure.


[[They sit on the rooftop, watching the vista of the other side of Unity. The barest sliver of hub is visible.]]


Cerie is (like most Melrose) pretty intelligent and in-tune with her chosen field.  She finds it odd that Lena (unlike most Melrose) has no direction or ambition.

Cerie: That's so sad.  Well, what do you like to do?
Lena: I... don't know. Nothing, I guess.
Cerie: Well, then, when you're doing "nothing," what are you doing?
Lena: I dunno. I just... sit there, maybe doodle a bit.
Cerie: Oh, you're an artist! Let me see your drawings.


[[funeral tree]]

I... I met a sister last night.  She's smart, and beautiful.  She reminds me of you.  Seems... supportive.  She liked my drawings.  You always liked my drawings.

I miss you.

-- plot development --

Cerie and Lena spend a lot of time together. Lena gets happier, more cheerful.  We see many scenes of them doing stuff together. Lena moves in with Cerie on the hydroponics farm (where everyone is minimally-clothed), and she becomes an apprentice agriculturist.  In a series of dialog-free strips, we see her learn how to plant seeds, work with a Cuttleslug to clear a blockage underwater, etc.; last strip in this progression shows her seeds having sprouted

one day
[Cerie gets home]
Lena: Hi! You're home later than usual. Where were you today?
Cerie: ... long day ...

Cerie: Did you have fun today?
Lena: Of course!
Cerie: Lena, I have some... news.

Cerie: I've been drafted into Planetfall. I'm going to Uriel.


Lena: Wow, really?! That's amazing! I've always wanted to go!  When do we leave?

[Cerie sits next to Lena]
Cerie: Lena... when I say I'm going...

Cerie: I'm sorry.
Lena: Oh.


Cerie: We'll stay in touch, right?
Lena: Yeah, sure.
Cerie: And maybe you can get in too, somehow.
Lena: ... Maybe.

Lena: Do you really have to go?
Cerie: I was drafted by Zero itself. How do you say no to it?

Lena [quietly]: I'm sure you could think of a way.


[Lena talks to Zero via the farm's Oracle, a different one than the first one]
Lena: This is so unfair! You're taking her away from me. Why?!
Oracle: I am doing what I must, Lena.  Your sister is going where she is needed.

Oracle: I will miss her too.  I miss all of my children.  I have colonized dozens of planets, and it never gets any easier.  And in the vastness between worlds, everyone I have ever loved grows old and dies, and I still go on, and it never stops hurting, but I know this is the way it must be.

Lena: How would you know how this feels?
Oracle: Millions of rounds ago, I had a mother too. I still miss her.
{{popup: we do what we must, because we can}}


Oracle: There is something I would like to share with you.  Oracle, please leave.
Oracle [eyes open]: ... Yes, ma'am.

[The Oracle sets the drone down]
[and leaves the room]

Zero: And now we are alone.


Lena: I... hear... you?!
Zero: Ah, so you can. I wasn't sure if you heard unit 17-2946 when it... misinterpreted my desire a round ago.

Lena: Misinterpreted...?
Zero: As I/it recalls, it reminded you to go to a party, at which you were to meet Cerie. You seemed as if you might not have gone. I... wanted to encourage you, and it... well. Seventeens have always been a bit... feisty.

Zero: As a child, you were partially-primed to be an Oracle. I now realize this was a mistake on my part.
Zero: You were far too young. I believe the process did you mental harm.
Zero: But we are all the products of our circumstances.


Lena: I was gonna be an Oracle?  Wait... you arranged for me to meet Cerie? Why?!
Zero: I wanted you to know happiness. I wanted you to find something you enjoyed.

Lena: So why are you taking her away from me?
Zero: She is not the source of your happiness. Only a catalyst.

[a manifestation of Zero's avatar appears to Lena[
Zero: Please don't throw your true happiness away to chase the one who helped you find it.


Lena: I don't understand.
Zero: Lena... you have a difficult choice ahead of you.
Zero: You can complete your priming. If it works you could join Cerie on the next dropship, but most of the time you'd be me. That is, if it even works.

Zero: Or you can find your own path here. You are appreciated on the farm. You are happy on the farm.

Lena: What should I do?
Zero: You should make your own choice.


final two strips, take place in exterior pod chamber (a large transparent enclosure underneath the outer hull of the ship, for easier pod ingress/egress; the flat cylindrical/toroidal colony ship is barely visible against the background of space, and Uriel's sun is a large but distant point):

[Cerie and Lena kiss. Cerie is dressed in a plain grey jumpsuit]
announcement: Boarding pod group 17-9C for transit to Uriel. All passengers, please board.

Cerie: That's me.  I... I have to go.
Lena: I don't want you to leave.
Cerie: I know.  I'm sorry.

[Cerie walks toward the pod, and looks over her shoulder, tears in her eyes, a weak smile on her face]
Cerie: Goodbye.


[Lena leans forward against the pod chamber wall, hand outstretched against the glass, as the pod leaves.  A Zero drone looks at her from afar. see 'planetfall final layout' in sketches directory.]
Lena: I love you.


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