Hunt the Truth Season 1/Transcripts/Eight
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Episode 08: DRIP, DRIP, DRIP
Petra Janecek (voicemail): (chatter in background) Ben, what the hell have you done? Do you have any idea how much insanity this is causing, I can't even-- What are you doing?
Assistant (voicemail): The voice--
Janecek (voicemail): I know what they are! Why are you putting them in my face?! Hold the report!
Assistant (voicemail): I just thought that--
Janecek (voicemail): Ben, hold on, I need to fire an idiot for cause.
Benjamin Giraud (voiceover): This was the first I'd heard from Petra in a while.
(another message begins)
Janecek (voicemail): Ben, get your ass out of bed and call me now!
Giraud (voiceover): And judging by the messages she left me overnight, something major was happening. I hit her back right away.
Janecek (in call): Well, Ben, congratulations. You now have us all fully engulfed in flames. Would you like to explain why?
Giraud: Uh, wha....
Giruad (voiceover): I had no clue what was happening.
Janecek (in call): Any time today, Ben.
Giruad (voiceover): Petra picked up on that.
Janecek (in call): Ugh. You didn't do this.
Giraud: I, wha--, wha--, what do we even....
Janeck (in call): (sighs) I don't have time for this. Check your feed, call me back.
Giraud (voiceover): I did what she said. And the feed hit me with a tsunami of information unlike anything I'd ever seen. Every journalism outlet, every social hub, seemingly every person alive was buzzing about the same thing. The leak. The leak! It had hit the open network overnight, and it was all about the Master Chief. I didn't understand. As far as the public was concerned, reports of Spartan activity had almost always been categorically unknowable. And now he was front-page fodder? I skimmed the stories frantically, saw the same tags popping up over and over: collusion with the enemy, civilian casualties, abducting a hero, assassinating an icon.
Giraud: Oh no. Oh no. Oh my God, what could-- oh no! What?
Giraud (voiceover): The Master Chief did that?
Giraud: What the hell is going on?
Giraud (voiceover): Those were just the facts reported by journalists. The opinions of the public were far scarier, like missiles firing wildly in all directions from every corner of inhabited space. This leak about the Master Chief, whatever it said had already begun deeply dividing people, sending ideologues on both sides scrambling to gain the moral high ground. I needed to see the source material. It didn't take long to find. Everyone had the same file. A suppressed incident report from an embassy in the outskirts, that had already been viewed almost a half a billion times. What it said was perfectly clear. Ten days ago, in the outer colonies, the Chief had suddenly appeared, in the middle of a densely populated city at a regional embassy, where inside, long-awaited peace talks between human and alien delegates were on the cusp of an historic agreement. The Chief stormed in and instantly killed the body guard of outer colonies ambassador Richard Sekibo, starting a firefight that would claim nineteen human lives. He abducted the ambassador, and blasted an escape path through security personnel, mowing them down with extreme prejudice as he escorted the alien delegation to safety. Once aboard his waiting evac ship they fled the planet, leaving years of diplomatic work in ruins. The next day, local officials picked up a signal beacon which lead them to a nearby field. There, they found the architect of the talks, revered peace activist Richard Sekibo, last seen in the Chief's custody, lying dead in the grass. I'm Benjamin Giraud, and this is Hunt the Truth.
Giraud: Petra, what is happening?
Janeck (in call): I don't know, but I've been fact-checking for seven hours and it looks bad. The Earth hacks are calling him the "Fallen Spartan". Bastards.
Giraud: Wait, wait-- you think this might actually be true?!
Janeck (in call): Just-- just tell me now, was this FERO? Did she do this?
Giraud: No, I-- I don't--
Giraud (voiceover): I told her I didn't know, which was technically true but it was a cop out. Of course it was FERO, but why? It didn't make sense, why smear the Chief like this? After everything he'd done to save our asses? After everything ONI had done to him? Over the years he'd faced unimaginable catastrophes. We had no idea how many lives had hung in the balance. ONI had kept us all in the dark. But whether the Chief had always made the right call or not wasn't the issue, he should never have had to shoulder all that weight. But now he was shouldering all the blame. It wasn't right. As Perta relayed what some of the talking heads were saying about Chief on Earth, I started getting downright pissed.
Giraud (voiceover): Then, she was gone. Waypoint was gone. My COM pad, everything, gone.
COM pad AI: Your COM pad is experiencing unusually high volume. On sight diagnostics are required. Would you like me to schedule an appointment?
COM pad AI: First availability is in twelve days at 3 PM. Would you like me to schedule this appointment?
Giraud: Oh my God. This is a joke.
COM pad AI: I'm sorry. I did not get that. Would you like me to schedule this a--
COM pad AI: Appointment scheduled. All services disabled. Goodbye.
Giraud: No! You mother--
Giraud (voiceover): They were cutting my communications off for twelve days? This was no quadrant failure. ONI was trying to shut me down. And of course, they where doing it quietly. Mshak's security hacks had been keeping me a step ahead of them for the most part, but I didn't have time for this. I had to find out if we were actually stirring things up. I'd needed to find Mshak and to do that I needed a safe place to secure working comms. So I packed some essentials and headed out, taking back routes, dodging surveillance. Moving my work space to an undisclosed location was a precaution I'd been needing to take anyway. ONI's latest move had just gotten me to pull the trigger. When I got where I was going my contact help me set up shop, and once I was live, this was the message that was waiting for me.
Mshak Moradi (voicemail): Ben-jo-boss! Lovin' what you did with the story man. Really great pacing. But that last episode, wasn't the same. It was just missing a certain, I don't know... me element. Ha! Anyway I'm around, ya' know. Gimme a call.
Giraud (voiceover): After disappearing for eight days, Mshak Moradi was just calling to say hi. He was the most frustrating human being I've ever met.
Moradi (in call): Bemijem!
Giraud: Mshak! I c-- I was certain you were dead! I mean--
Moradi (in call): Uh, I think you were wrong.
Giraud: Mshak, where in the hell have you been?
Moradi (in call): Ben, listen, I'm sorry. Super sorry, but I had to go dark. I had to disappear.
Giraud: Ok, but why?!
Giraud (voiceover): I asked him if it had something to do with the disturbances he had been tracking in the outskirts. He said no.
Moradi (in call): Eh, not really, it was this other thing I was checking on for you. I don't know anything for sure yet, but I will soon.
Giraud: Fine, but listen! I realize you operate in a den of secrets, but you could have at least warned me before disappearing. I mean, you mind?!
Moradi (in call): No, not really. It's true, I operate in a very mysterious den of secrets, but this mission was on a level three stories below the subfloor of the secondary basement of my den of secrets. I shouldn't even be thinking about it! Just believe me, you not knowing was the only way.
Giraud (voiceover): Thankfully, Mshak laid off the riddles for a bit, seguing into news from the outskirts. My last episode was having an effect. People were listening, taking it to heart, and they were pissed. The kidnappings, the military-grade augmentations. Unless they were looking for somewhere to bury the truth, ONI seemingly had no regard for the outer colonies. This was an old ache for these people. Back when their survivalist spirit was bordering on independence, ONI had given the outer colonies their full attention. They pulled out all the stops to crush the oppressive Insurrectionists. No one was shedding tears over that. But then, when the Covenant showed up and started glassing their planets to genocidal hell, the outer colonies were widely left to fend for themselves. It was this principle of selective intervention that had never sat well. But where my story had started to reheat that unrest in the outer colonies, last nights leak... had bought it to a boil.
Moradi (in call): So the idea is that Chief went into berserker mode, right? That drip, drip, drip has a very different effect depending on where you live. All those herbivorous babies on Earth think they diverse their own dedicated Spartan messiah, like he's gonna camp out on the moon waiting to kill aliens or karate chop meteorites to keep them safe! So the word "rouge"... panics them.
Giraud (voiceover): But Mshak says it wasn't like that in the outer colonies. Whether the embassy story was true or not, the way they saw it, the Chief wasn't the problem. ONI was using him the same way the UEG had always used them: for utility, when useful. But, always disposable.
Moradi (in call): Sure, nobody really wants a seven foot tall murder machine with mad skills showing up in their neighborhood. But, in the outer colonies ONI is still the real monster.
Giraud (voiceover): My fury at Mshak had subsided. I was glad he was back. If I was going to pull of confronting ONI and exposing everything to the senators, I needed as much ammo as possible. And luckily, he was on the same page. After hearing my interview with Petrosky, he'd buried his face in the slush. Curating decades of data and the research of his nutjob predecessors, compiling sort of a greatest hits of ONI's atrocities. He pushed me to a scatter graph of every case of exotic pediatric autoimmune disorders for the first few decades of the century: any kid who had a disease like John's. After some variable tweaking, a galactic map of human space popped up. Decorated with clusters of dots: one for each sick kid. He told me I was looking at a reasonably accurate representation of where every single defective clone ONI planted... had died.
Moradi (in call): "Wow", he says. (chuckles) Of course wow! But you're about to turn into a wow when you see this.
Giraud (voiceover): He overlayed the graph on another map that showed the distribution of human population. He asked me what I noticed.
Giraud: It's not random.
Moradi (in call): It's... not... random. Ben, never be a statistics professor. This is the opposite of random, ok? For their Spartan abductions, ONI heavily favored the outer colonies. It's like their favorite candy store, except instead of candy they were scooping up child soldiers.
Giraud: Because it's easier to cover your tracks out there.
Moradi (in call): Yeah, and you can easily make the argument that these children's lives were assigned much lower value than, say, those of Earth kids or kids from Mars. Genetically they'll be no worse than inner colonies specimens, but after the human cost, outer colonies kids just spend easier.
Giraud (voiceover): I'm not sure if the data was going to be conclusive enough for the senators, but the implication... was certainly heinous enough. The whole point of abducting kids in the first place was to create supersoldiers for crushing the Insurrection. That was the original mandate of the SPARTAN program. But in their secret child poaching, ONI had favored the vary same parts of the outer colonies they were targeting for that military campaign. So years later when the Spartans landed their bloody anti-Insurrectionist campaign in the outer colonies, many of those Spartans were simply the harvested children of those communities... coming home. But these native sons weren't fighting for their homeland. They weren't there to protect their families. They were carrying out the political agenda of ONI, serving the very government that had violated their families and torn them from their childhoods! As far as the "not in my backyard" philosophy goes, this was double dipping by ONI, enough to incite pure rage. But Mshak had been working on something else too.
Moradi (in call): I've been tracking old police scanner data, pulling it together for your big whistle blow. Makes a pretty gnarly case.
Moradi (in call): Did you ever wonder what would happen if ONI's "doomed to die" clones... didn't die?
Giraud (voiceover): I hadn't considered that possibility, but it was chilling.
Giraud: What happened to them?
Moradi (in call): It's not what happened to them, it's what happened to the people they've been made to replace! Two soldiers ran into a perfect copy of themselves. Think about it, you're secretly plucked from your childhood bed, thrown into a totally different life, and now years later, you meet a mirror image of yourself! Someone who got to keep living... your... life. I mean, they'd probably seem to be more you than you. Two records I've found, two soldiers, both... suicides.
Giraud (voiceover): A story like that would be hard to listen to, but... it would also be hard to ignore. I just hoped FERO would know how to reach me.
Moradi (in call): Don't worry, she'll find you. Probably soon by now, who knows. Her mysterious den of secrets is like... under the planetary crust. Just keep me posted. Whenever you guys penetrate the dragon's lair and explode your truth serum, I'll be standing by to track the ripples.
Giraud: Thanks, Mshak.
Giraud (voiceover): I was having trouble falling asleep in my new workspace. The next time I heard a voice calling me in the dark. This time though, FERO sounded human.
FERO (in call/disguised): Are you enjoying the show?
Giraud: No, actually, I'm not! After everything ONI's done, people are calling for the Chief's--
FERO (in call/disguised): The infection goes to the core, Ben. When you cut all the way in to extract it, you can't always control what sprays out.
Giraud: But you're the one spraying it! You chose to smear the Chief!
FERO (in call/disguised): I'm not smearing anyone. Everything I leaked was real.
Giraud: B-- but you don't know the whole story, and the implications of this story are the--
FERO (in call/disguised): The only implication is that an aging Spartan may be going off the rails, and sadly it may be true. Your story set the table for that. When you brake children to make warriors, you take a risk of bearing psychological damage deep in your soldiers and for critical decision makers, that's a liability. I don't know what motivated the Chief to shoot up that embassy and I don't know what he's doing now, but he is off leash! He is proving the liability! All I did was expose it by pealing back the very layers of ONI secrecy under which that liability was born and allowed to fester!
Giraud (voiceover): I didn't know what to say. Thi-- this felt all wrong to me.
FERO (in call/disguised): Ben, the Chief is the savior of humanity, I know that, but your patriots know it too... and this is the painful part: right now, the Chief is being chopped down, but he will be vindicated. This is how we puncture to the core. By sacrificing the Chief in the short term, we've opened a deep hole and when the bleeding slows, it's ONI's exposed nerve that will get all of the cold scrutiny.
Giraud: It's just hard hearing what they say about him, and people are going nuts! I mean a lot of the inner colonists are actually denouncing him!
FERO (in call/disguised): They're terrified.
Giraud: And the anger in the outer colonies seems to be turning ugly fast! You see that right?
FERO (in call/disguised): The blood of their hero is spraying in their face. This is exactly what we need. This is the chaos I said would happen!
Giraud: I guess I just didn't think it was gonna be like this.
FERO (in call/disguised): Chaos has a high price, Ben, but the pieces are moving. Our opportunity has arrived.
Giraud (voiceover): FERO told me that as of this morning, the meeting had been scheduled. Personnel were already en route to Earth, and in a few days time ONI brass would be testifying in front of high ranking UEG senators in closed sessions. FERO was going to hack in and get me a direct, unbroken feed so I could lay out ONI's ugly secrets to a handful of the most senior lawmakers in the land. I had to prepare fast. I was anxious there wasn't enough time to make Mshak's data convincing enough, but FERO gave me an idea that could amp up the persuasion. She listened in as I made the call.
Anthony Petrosky (in call): Hey man, how ya' doin'?
Giraud (voiceover): I just laid it right out there.
Giraud: Do you wanna help bring down ONI?
Giraud (voiceover): He didn't respond. I started to get nervous, but then he spoke up.
Petrosky (in call): You bet your ass I do. What do ya' need from me?
Giraud (voiceover): Petrosky was in. I gave him marching orders and hang up.
FERO (in call): I'm so happy to hear that.
Giraud (voiceover): FERO seemed pleased. Things seemed to be falling into place.
Giraud: So that's you're real voice?
FERO (in call/slightly disguised): For the most part. Just off enough to be untraceable.
Giraud: So-- so why'd you switch it up? What happened to the scary voice?
FERO (in call/slightly disguised): Well, we're about to go somewhere scary. I wanted you to feel like you knew who was going to be fighting at your side.
Giraud: I appreciate that.
Giraud (voiceover): I couldn't believe we were really gonna do this! But I was lit up and ready to go.
FERO (in call/slightly disguised): Ben, I wanted to give you a heads up. There's still one more leak coming.
Giraud: Oh no-- what-- what do you mean?
FERO (in call/slightly disguised): It's the icing on the cake. Just to keep the pieces in motion.
Giraud: Ok. Ok, what-- what is it? When is it hitting?
FERO (in call/slightly disguised): It just did.
Giraud (voiceover): I pulled up my public feed. It took a moment, and then it hit. Security video for the Outer Colonies Regional Embassy.
(gunshots and screaming from news feed)
Giraud: FERO... is this real?
Giraud (voiceover): FERO was already gone, but her latest leak was live. Right now, millions of people across occupied space were all watching the same thing. Master Chief Petty Officer SPARTAN-117, seemingly unprovoked, raging a brutal assault against the peace consulate on Biko. Please join me for the next episode of Hunt the Truth.