Hunt the Truth Season 2/Transcripts/02

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S2.02. FROM FIRE TO BLOOD

Maya (Voiceover): As we made our way towards Conrad's Point my head was still spinning. The raid at the camp, seeing Ben, the intel about these events... It was almost too much to handle. But something about it felt familiar too. I thought back to when I was monitoring Mshak Moradi. Right before he was going to expose me to Ben. He had been onto something. The chatter about the anomalies in deep space. Then just a few weeks later, Ari had relayed his own warnings to ONI HQ... Could they be connected? With so many skeletons in ONI’s closet it was just a matter of time before some of them found their way out.

Black-Box: Maya, you need to focus.

Maya (Voiceover): I was so lost in thought that I didn’t realize we were coming up on Conrad’s Point.

Black-Box: A world-gone-dark is a scary question hanging in space. You need to be present and ready. There could be anything beneath those clouds and I’d prefer not to die today.

Maya (Voiceover): This operation was rife with uncertainty. We were approaching Conrad’s Point, a world in chaos, controlled by militant NCA rebels. My only link to them was a fellow agent, Ari Rezneck. But he’d gone dark weeks ago, and now this whole planet was dark because of a catastrophic seismic event. All that uncertainly should have been terrifying, it should have felt immediate and sharp, but… somehow, it didn’t. It seemed far away, surreal… I needed to pull it together.

Black-Box: Someone down there is using an analog transponder.

Maya: What?

Black-Box:: Look. “Extreme caution. Ping on final approach. Friendly pings get new coordinates.”

Maya: Ari...

Black-Box: Looks like Captain Rezneck may be alive after all.

Maya (Voiceover): It had to be him. Ari Rezneck was one of the most resourceful people I’d ever known; a gifted mediator, an eccentric tinkerer, and a good friend. As an agent, he orchestrated complex social ecosystems with impeccable technical precision. But ironically, when it came to actual tech, he was more of an artist. Finding a way to send a signal from a dead world? Risking his neck to warn others? That was Ari.

Maya: I’m shutting down for a dead-dive.

Black-Box: The question is, are these cautionary measures in response to human or non-human threats?

Maya: Well… We’ll know soon enough.

Maya (Voiceover): Free fall was rough to say the least. But I held down my lunch, opened the drag as late as possible, and then quietly brought the transporter down in a well-hidden, jagged ravine. I may have had no idea what we were walking into, but I was making damn sure we had a way to get back out.

Black-Box: What a heinous, depressing rock. It’s really no wonder these people are so angry, they make camp on waste-worlds. I mean, I’d be quite angry myself.

Maya: Yeah, well, I don’t think they’re here for leisure

Maya (Voiceover): On the remote fringes, a planet like Conrad is the perfect hideout for the NCA. They take over abandoned mining facilities and establish military training grounds. Life out here? It isn’t for the faint of heart.

Black-Box: This region is lovely. Just lovely. All the... rocks.

Maya: This is it... nobody’s here.

Black-Box: Why don’t you try the vantage point, up there? On that rock.

Maya (Voiceover): I came up the ridge and the sun suddenly crested into view. I shielded my eyes and finally saw the wider landscape. Behind us and to the sides, it was all jutting rocks. But then the ridge dropped off, sloping gradually into a much smoother section. I squinted into the light, barely making out the silhouettes of massive industrial structures in the distance.

Maya: I don’t like this. We’re exposed up here.

Maya (Voiceover): I looked out again and realized what was off about the area beyond the ridge: it was a crater. A vast hole. Like someone had just torn out a massive section of the planet’s surface. I hadn’t seen it because the size of it was impossible. I was so in awe I didn’t even hear him sneak up on me.

Ari: Listen carefully and do exactly what I say.

Maya (Voiceover): I turned around and saw Ari, pointing a gun at me.

Maya: Ari? What are you-

Ari: STOP... talking. Put your hands up! Don’t move, don’t talk. They may be watching. You just showed up here and I don’t know you. I’m pointing my gun and that scares you. Now give me the bag!

Maya (Voiceover): Ari yanked the bag from me, and rifled through it with one hand. I played along.

Maya: I assure you there’s nothing threatening in there.

Ari: I see that, so I’m becoming less aggressive. I’m assuming you’re here because of the event.

Maya: Yes.

Ari: I’m giving you back your bag, we’re getting over our misunderstanding. I’m asking who you are.

Maya: I’m the rebel leader, FERO.

Ari: I’ve heard of you. The situation is starting to relax.

Maya: Were you here when it happened?

Ari: No, we came right after. I’m lowering the gun, because I realize we’re on the same side.

Black-Box: Well, now that all of that ceremonious posturing is out of the way, can we get on with the mission at hand?

Ari: A smart AI?

Maya: Yeah-

Black-Box: The name is Black-Box. Your reputation precedes you, Captain.

Maya: It’s good to see you Ari. They were afraid you were dead.

Ari: Yeah, and what’d you think?

Maya: My faith never wavered.

Ari: Heh. So are you the entire brigade?

Maya: Just me and Black-Box. Here to find out what the NCA knows... or has, and report back to HQ.

Ari: Well, I… I don’t have a lot. We were close by when the colony was hit. But by the time we got here it was all over. All I know is it caused major seismic damage, fried every piece of tech on the planet, and left behind that hole, half-mile wide. NCA’s got the site blocked off now, only a select few have been allowed in. Ilsa is planning her next move.

Maya: Ilsa? Ilsa Zane is here? I thought she was dead?

Ari: You didn’t know? It was in my last message before I went dark.

Maya: No... I-

Ari: Damn. They really sent you in here blind. Or they don’t know... After she attacked the UNSC Infinity Ilsa was picked up by some NCA loyalists. She’s been running roughshod over this faction ever since, executing anyone she sees as a problem.

Maya (Voiceover): Ilsa Zane was a walking science experiment gone wrong. At one point, she’d been slated for the SPARTAN Program, an attempt at building the ultimate unarmored killing machine, but she snapped. After defecting to the NCA she was quickly indoctrinated, and promoted to Admiral Drake’s attack dog.

Ari: Then, when the colony was hit by the event, she brought us all here. The bloodletting seems to be over now, but everyone’s still on edge. Unable to use COMS, unable to leave.

Maya: But, why haven’t you escaped?

Ari: I’ve certainly thought about it, but I can’t. I’m trying to keep a lid on things here. They’ve got enough thermo-nukes in the armory to flatten a whole system, and Ilsa’s been setting the table for total war against the UNSC. I’m hopeful I can steer things back from the edge, get her finger off the nukes until ONI can take her out.

Maya: I… I should send a sit-rep to Noah before we go in.

Black-Box: Hold that thought, Maya. We’ve got movement on the perimeter, several guards heading this way.

Ari: Quickly. Brief me. You were abducted by ONI. What happened?

Maya: I escaped custody and hijacked a prisoner transport. They were questioning me about the colony attacks. I was worried, so after I broke out, I came here.

Ari: Geez, that’s the best they could do? Lucky prison break? Alright, we’ll have to make it work. Ilsa’s been pulling rebels in from all over so we say you’re just another fighter joining the party. Now lay low in there. It won’t take a blown cover to set Ilsa off. She’ll kill you if she thinks you’re dead weight. And keep the AI quiet unless you wanna lose him.

Black-Box: I am but a lapel pin.

Ari: Found another one, boys!

Raj: What were you doin’ outside the perimeter, Ari?

Ari: It’s called a perimeter check, Raj. And it worked.

Maya (Voiceover): The crew was heavily arm and looked severely sleep deprived. Ilsa seemed to have them on a hair trigger. It was tense, but Ari worked his magic, cracked a few smiles, and I was suddenly being escorted into the encampment as a guest of the NCA. There were hundreds of rebels with dozens of affiliations packed inside the dilapidated refinery. Drinking and shouting, almost manically festive. It was a party, but it all felt slightly unhinged.

Maya: What’s the occasion?

Ari: That’s a good question, it’s been silent as the grave in here until late last night. Her guys broke out the colonel’s old cases of whiskey, told everyone it was a celebration. Everyone’s been wound pretty tight.

Maya: I can see that.

Ari: Alright, why don’t you go grab a drink? I’m gonna make the rounds. See what I can find out.

Maya (Voiceover): As I laid low, I looked around hoping to spot any familiar faces. But I didn’t see a sympathetic resistance. These weren’t my people. I saw blood lust. Groups responsible for attacks on civilians. Half the people here were mercenaries. No one seemed to stand for anything, except vengeance; “From fire to blood.” Any banner you wanna fly to justify crushing skulls. This was the opposite of everything I had fought for as FERO. I was hoping Ari would hurry up, when I heard a familiar voice.

Bostwick: FERO!

Maya: Bostwick? Oh my g-

Bostwick: You’re alive! I knew it! I knew they wouldn’t get you! When you got taken, everyone scattered, everyone thought you were dead, but not me! I knew you wouldn’t let ONI take you.

Maya (Voiceover): Bostwick had been drinking. A lot. A five-foot-nothing rebel girl who probably weighed 100 pounds wet stood out in a group like this as is, but a drunk one was bound to attract unwanted attention.

Maya: Bostwick, what are you doing here?

Bostwick: I joined after the scatter. Half of our group was killed, rumors were spreading like wild fire-

Maya: And what? What, the NCA offered you protection?

Bostwick: I don’t know if I’d put it that way, I’d say they needed protection from me!

[Bostwick reels around drunk and breaks a bottle.]

Bostwick: See what I did? My bad, I’m just playin’…

Maya (Voiceover): When I first found her, she was an angry 17 year old. Just lost her parents in a UNSC incident on Dekum. They operated a little convenience stand on the outskirts of the military base. Some troopers were drunk, tossing around plasma grenades they seized from a Covenant supply ship. One… went awry. The troopers just got a slap on the wrist. Bostwick got a form letter apology. She coped by getting aggressive, assembling a small group of fellow outer colony kids orphaned by the UNSC. They mostly just engaged in petty theft, but by the time Bostwick and I crossed paths, she was turning her sights to a more violent course. So I took her under my wing. She was dedicated, a fast learner. I’d gotten her to start directing her anger towards positive change, but… she still had a lot of growing up to do.

Maya: What do they have you doing?

Bostwick: Eh perimeter checks, mostly. Around the north end. They got me protecting some operation on the hole. Buncha scientists going in and out, taking readings.

Maya: Readings? Okay, what can you tell me ab-

Black-Box (Over Coms): Maya.

Maya: BB I told you to-

Bostwick: Huh?

Black-Box (Over Coms): I was about to say “Don’t speak.”

Bostwick: Who are you talking to?

Black-Box (Over Coms): I’m broadcasting directly into your ear canal.

Maya: Sorry... I thought I saw... It was nothing.

Black-Box (Over Coms): I transmitted a detailed report back to headquarters. Apparently command is authorizing a strike using our current position as coordinates. Opportunity to kill Ilsa Zane is too great. Time is of the essence. We must go now.

Maya: Ari…

Bostwick: What? You okay, FERO?

Black-Box (Over Coms): Smooth.

Maya: Yeah, yeah, I’m fine. C’mon, we gotta get you out of here.

Bostwick: Okay. Let’s do it. Wait… wh- where are we going?

Maya (Voiceover): They weren't giving me much time to get out before the bombs started dropping. I had to find an exit. That’s when Ari reappeared from the crowd.

Ari: Here, take this.

Maya (Voiceover): Ari handed me a data chip. He looked unnerved.

Maya: What?

Maya (Voiceover): I didn’t have time to ask questions though.

Maya: We need to leave. Now.

Maya (Voiceover): Ari could see the fire in my eyes. He knew it was serious.

Ari: Stick close and walk small.

Maya (Voiceover): We made it about half way to the entrance when the door came rolling down. They were closing all the doors. We were trapped. Ari was working out another escape plan when Ilsa Zane stepped into the room, seemingly sucking all the air out of it. The entire facility, packed with rebels, had become suddenly, unnervingly quiet. The crowd parted as she crossed the floor, everyone turned to face her, eyes mostly averted. And then she stopped... fifteen feet from where we were standing. Ari carefully slid himself in front of me.

Ari: Stay down.

Maya (Voiceover): I could just see her over Ari’s shoulder. Ilsa was… big. Scary big. I didn’t know what the techs had done to her in the SPARTAN Program. Made her stronger, for sure, but they… they’d broken something too. There was a glint in her eye. Something unhinged. Something inhuman.

Ilsa Zane: This... is a celebration. And it should be. We’ve made a lot of changes in a very short amount of time. When I found you, there was no discipline, no uniformity. Just a bunch of misfits with different allegiances and philosophies. That was a problem of leadership.

The colonel had allowed this legendary faction of the NCA to devolve into a forum for individual interests. You were scattered and slow, and that’s a death sentence. I relieved him of his command, because bands of misfits don’t win wars. Big machines do. Big machines, made of lots of little pieces moving with the same purpose. That’s what we needed to build here.

And it’s not easy. Every piece has to have a place and when a piece doesn’t fit, you have to get creative. You cut part of it off, smash it into place so it never pops out again, you do what you have to and you trim the fat. I’m pleased to say that each and every one of you still with us has found your place, and we have built one hell of a machine. And it’s almost time to turn it on.

That hole outside represents our entry point into this war. That’s why I brought you here to Conrad’s Point. The landscape is changing. The UNSC is on their heels because of that hole, and we are going to capitalize on that weakness. We just needed the right moment. Which brings me to my announcement.

Maya (Voiceover): She walked around with incredible control of the room. You felt like she could suck the life out of anyone at any time.

Ilsa: How many of you have lost friends, loved ones at the hands of Spartans? Well, today we get to put a very big one in the other column.

Maya: BB, what is she talking about?

Black-Box (Over Coms): I’m checking the feeds, hold on... Oh my.

Maya: What?

Black-Box (Over Coms): This can’t be.

Ilsa: In the wake of the seismic events that struck here and four other colonies, I have verified with numerous sources that our moment has arrived.

Black-Box (Over Coms): It’s… the Master Chief.

Ilsa: The Master Chief-

Black-Box (Over Coms): He's dead.

Ilsa: Is dead.

Maya (Voiceover): The mood shifted. There was some scattered cheering, but…

Maya: Is it true?

Maya (Voiceover): I don’t think anyone knew what to do…

Ari: I don’t know…

Maya (Voiceover): What to think...

Ari: It’s not good, though.

Maya (Voiceover): The Master Chief was the greatest hero we had ever known. He had saved humanity from the brink of extinction, defeated the Covenant, and almost single-handedly brought an end to the war. What could possibly have the power to kill the Master Chief?

Ilsa: Yes, the poster boy for the UNSC and the SPARTAN Program was killed in action. That’s why we’re celebrating. That’s why this is a party.

Maya: Ari, We need to make a move. Now.

Maya (Voiceover): While the crowd was stirring, Ari bit the bullet and started moving towards a side entrance as we followed. We didn’t make it far, though.

Ilsa: …And that requires expanding our ranks. That’s why I’m glad to see we have even more new faces here.

Ari: Stop. She knows you’re here.

Ilsa: Even today, I hear we got a new shipment of fresh meat. I don’t know you, soldier.

Maya (Voiceover): She was calling me out.

Maya: My name is FERO.

Ilsa: I know that name. You’ve been making a lot of noise recently, haven’t you?

Maya: A little too much perhaps.

Ilsa: You talk about transitioning us out of military conflict, is that right? Build up economic power.

Maya: I think it’s a viable option, if we-

Ilsa: Look around. There’s a reason these people are following me. There’s a reason they scream “from fire to blood!”

Rebel Crowd: FROM FIRE TO BLOOD!

Ilsa: You are naive. Your dreams for tomorrow make us look weak. So what exactly can you offer our movement? Words and speeches? Negotiation? We are done with those.

Ari: Ilsa, she’s got a strong logistical background. Maybe she could help us there.

Maya (Voiceover): Ilsa didn’t speak for a moment. Her eyes were locked on me. But then she relaxed and the tension finally broke.

Ilsa: I think you’re right, Ari. We need some creative thinking on maintaining supply chains here. FERO could be very useful in that capacity. That’s what I’m talking about. Making pieces fit. As a leader, you have to know which pieces can be re-purposed and which ones are just trash.

Ari: No, no, no, no, no, no!

[Ilsa fires her gun.]

Maya (Voiceover): It happened just like that. Ilsa didn’t even look, she just raised her arm and fired. A single shot at point-blank range and he crumpled to the floor. Ilsa Zane had just blown Ari’s brains out.

Ilsa: Now, I’m hoping this is news to all of you here, but our good friend, Ari, as it turns out, was a mole. He was working for ONI.

Maya (Voiceover): She just killed him like he was nothing. I knew he was gone, but I wanted to go to his side and try to help somehow. But I couldn’t move… I- I couldn’t think. Ilsa kept speaking.

Ilsa: He was a treacherous little traitor and that’s not a piece you can make fit.

Maya (Voiceover): Everything was spinning. I was trying to figure out my next move, I spotted Bostwick, lurking at the ready in my peripheral when Ilsa pointed her gun right at me.

Ilsa: Now where were we? That’s right. Ari had just vouched for you. Which means you’re probably another ONI stooge. I could question you, ask what’s in your head, or we could just look.

Maya (Voiceover): Before I could stop her, Bostwick jumped to my defense. Stepping in front of the gun and raising a knife to Ilsa Zane’s throat.

Bostwick: She’s not ONI! FERO’s a real leader, and you should show some respect when addressing her! I vouch for her!

Ilsa: Little girl. The next time you pull a knife on someone... don’t hesitate.

Maya (Voiceover): Ilsa moved with incredible speed and power knocking Bostwick halfway across the room.

Black-Box (Over Coms): Maya, we’re out of time!

Maya: Stop! Ilsa, listen. There’s an air strike on its way.

Ilsa: Air strike?

Maya: We all have to go now or everyone will die.

Ilsa: How do you—

Maya (Voiceover): Everything froze. I could see the rage building in Ilsa as she… cracked a smile. Seemingly enjoying it all. I saw Bostwick look up at me out of the corner of my eye, I knew I’d just broken her heart.

Black-Box (Over Coms): Incoming, in three, two…

Ilsa: You ONI Bi-

[The air strike hits with a cataclysmic explosion. People scream and run through the rubble.]

Maya (Voiceover): I don’t really know what happened next. The impact of the bomb took me off my feet. All I can remember is grabbing Bostwick, blood pouring out of her shoulder, and running, cutting through the crowd, everyone going every which way. The confusion had given me a head start on Ilsa, but in the midst of it all, as I broke outside, I could hear her screaming behind us. She was coming after me.

Ilsa: FERO!

Maya: Black-Box, I need a way out.

Black-Box: The hangar just ahead. They would have brought vehicles for the officers.

Maya (Voiceover): I got Bostwick into the hangar, she was pale and had lost a lot of blood. I tossed her on the back of an old Mongoose, fired it up, and sped off. Ilsa must have had the same idea.

[Bullets ping and whiz off the body of FERO’s Mongoose.]

Black-Box: Maya. If you could go a bit faster, someone is firing at us.

Maya: I know! I’m trying!

Maya (Voiceover): I sped back across the crater, over the rocks and up to the jagged ravine where I’d landed the prison transport.

Maya: Hold on, Bostwick! BB, open the bay door!

Black-Box: Yeah. Opening… now.

Maya (Voiceover): I rode the Mongoose up the ramp and into the ship as Ilsa and her crew came in hot, pelting the transport with a shower of artillery.

Maya: Close the door, BB!

Black-Box: On it. Ship is prepped, we’re ready to go.

Maya: Then GO already!

Maya (Voiceover): As we lifted off, Ilsa was still firing at us from below. I settled Bostwick into one of the bunks and slumped down against the railing as we broke through the atmosphere. I could feel the reality of what had just happened filling my body with every breath. Forget that my cover was blown or that Bostwick would never forgive or trust me again. At least she was alive. But Ari... Ari was dead...

Bostwick: Mother… UGH!

Maya: Shhh...

Maya (Voiceover): But I had to keep going. I took a deep breath, and buried Ari in my mind. I set to finding any medical supplies I could use to extract the shrapnel from her shoulder. The ship was mostly empty, just a vessel to keep my cover intact. But I was able to cobble together enough supplies to tend to her wounds.

Bostwick: Who are you?

Maya: Save your strength. You’re going to need it.

Maya (Voiceover): As Bostwick passed out I made my way to the front of the ship. I finally had a moment to catch my breath. I couldn’t help myself as my thoughts drifted back to Ari. Then I remembered... the data chip.

I pulled it out of my pocket and popped it into the console... A flood of information about the seismic events. Readings, charts, data, predictions... The NCA must have had teams working around the clock, gathering anything out of the ordinary, they were looking for a signature, something unique Ilsa could use to predict where the next disasters would hit. The answers were all in front of me, but I didn’t know how to read them. Thankfully, I knew someone who could...

Black-Box: Maya, we need to get your friend professional medical treatment as soon as possible. We should set course for the nearest ONI facility.

Maya: No, I’ve got a place. Setting course now.