SHOW/SEASON: Roy Kaplan – Out Of Sight
EPISODE NUMBER/TITLE: 01 – Bomber Blackout
SUMMARY: Kaplan is ready to take the surest bet of his life–on Bomber Baron, one of the best pilots in the anti-gravity racing league. But in the middle of the Baron’s last race of her career, the cameras go black, and the Baron vanishes. It’s up to Kaplan to figure out what happened and why.
This is a test page for posting podcast transcripts.
AUDIO LINKS: [whatever places we post the podcast on, we can figure this part out later]
ORIGINAL SCRIPT: Jesse Peng – https://thepinwheellab.com
DIRECTOR and PRODUCER: Luna – https://tinylunardragon.studio
EDITOR and SOUND DESIGNER: Addison – http://addisonantonoff.com/
MUSIC: Rain – https://raincloud.bandcamp.com
OUT OF SIGHT: BOMBER BLACKOUT
INTRO: [Intro read]
KAPLAN: (V.O.) Kaplan speaking. Do you ever wonder what it would be like to be the useful kind of psychic? I do. I think it would make my life a lot easier if I could tell the future or know what people were thinking, but we play the hands we’re dealt and sometimes you’re dealt the power to bend spoons and talk to the unrestful dead. (BEAT) Maybe it’s not so bad. If I were the useful kind of psychic I wouldn’t have gotten involved with the races a few months back. You heard, didn’t you? The Bomber Blackout case. Well, I think I know a little more about that than you do. It started, as these stories do, in a betting shop…
[AMBIENT NOISE. DIGITAL SOUNDS. FOOTSTEPS.]
BOOKIE: Kaplan, fancy seeing you here. Feeling lucky? I thought you swore off gambling.
KAPLAN: It’s not gambling if you know you’ll win, is it?
BOOKIE: Sure, that’s what they all say. What can I do you for?
KAPLAN: Races. Anti-Gravity League. I heard the city circuit’s being run tomorrow.
BOOKIE: Oh, that’s a good one. Last race of the season. I’ll pull up the odds.
[DIGITAL SOUNDS OF SCREEN BEING OPENED.]
BOOKIE: See anything you like?
KAPLAN: Hmm. Bomber Baron’s running this one? I thought she was on hiatus.
BOOKIE: She’s back now. Her contract’s just about over. If she wins, it might be the last race of her career.
KAPLAN: Her last race? Well, I can’t pass up an opportunity like that. Put me down for three hundred on the Baron.
BOOKIE: Three hundred? You sure? That’s a lot of money.
KAPLAN: You think Bomber Baron can’t win on her best circuit? I’ll make it back, guaranteed.
BOOKIE: Well, if you’re sure. Three hundred credits…
[DIGITAL KEY SOUNDS. AUTHENTICATION NOISE.]
BOOKIE: There you are. Good luck, Kaplan.
KAPLAN: Don’t worry. I don’t take bets I won’t win.
KAPLAN: (V.O.) I left, feeling real good about myself. Bomber Baron was a League favorite, and it wasn’t just because of her biceps. There wasn’t a single pilot in the Anti-Gravity Racing League faster than her since she started fifteen years ago. It didn’t matter that I put down three hundred credits. It was the surest bet in the world. So when the time came, I pulled up the telecast and settled in to watch.
[AMBIENT SOUNDS. ANTI-GRAVITY SHIPS.]
RACE COMM: We’re on our fifth lap! In third, we have Lightning Striker. In second, we’ve got The Falchion. And in first, by a whole twenty-six seconds, is League favorite, Bomber Baron! Just look at her take those turns–fifteen hundred kilometers an hour and she makes it look like a breeze! Now if you’ll see here…
[ANNOUNCER VOICE FADES TO AMBIENT.]
KAPLAN: (V.O.) Things were looking good, and they kept looking good until seventeen and a half minutes into the race, when something unexpected happened…
RACE COMM: The Baron’s got a runaway lead, but a League race is never over until it’s over! She’s coming around the bend, entering the circuit’s city chicane, and–
[AMBIENT SOUND CUTS TO SILENCE/ERROR NOISE.]
KAPLAN: (V.O.) A blackout. All media went dead. All the VR footage from the ships. All the cameras on the track. Even the overhead aerial drones. The cameras were off for a minute and fifty-three seconds, and when they came back on…
RACE COMM: We’re back on the air. Sorry to the viewers at home for our technical difficulties. Returning to the race, we…Oh! What’s this? There’s a wreckage on the track! We’re getting a little closer. It’s…It’s Bomber Baron!
KAPLAN: (V.O) Yes. It was Bomber Baron. Her ship had crashed, just outside the city limits, and the beautiful shiny red and blue flight alloy looked a whole lot more like a corkscrew than a racing ship. It wasn’t the first time someone had died in these races. The danger’s half the reason why people tune in to begin with. The racing committee dragged the wreckage off the track, and when they did, they found something very funny. The ship might have been turned to scrap, but the Baron was gone. I wasn’t thinking about that just then, though. I was thinking that I had just lost three months rent on the surest bet in the world. Yeah. I felt real good then. I spent the rest of the day at home, just thinking about how good I felt.
[POURING A GLASS. ROY DRINKS. DOOR OPENS.]
WES: Well, aren’t you a pretty sight.
KAPLAN: Shove off, Wes. Get out of my flat. Go float around somewhere. Find a priest and get yourself exorcised, you stupid ghost.
WES: Believe me, Roy boy, I would if I could.
KAPLAN: Don’t call me that. What do you want?
WES: I want you to stop being a sad sack on account of I save my sympathy for people who actually deserve it, but we both know that won’t happen. You’d have to be a functional human being, first.
KAPLAN: If I wanted your opinion, I’d have asked for it. If you’re just here to insult me, then find something else to do.
WES: Actually I do have something for you, seeing as you haven’t pickled yourself yet. Wanted to ask if you’d checked the news in the last few hours.
KAPLAN: Why would I do that? The news won’t get me my money back.
WES: No, but I think you might care. That pilot you bet on, what was her name? Black Betty?
KAPLAN: Bomber Baron.
WES: Yeah, her. Bomber Baron. A news story went up on the television.
KAPLAN: We’re not in the twenty-first century, Wes. It’s called a telecast.
WES: …and it turns out there won’t be any investigation into her death. No inquest. No insurance claims.
[GLASS PUT DOWN ON DESK. CLATTERING SOUND.]
KAPLAN: What do you mean there won’t be an investigation? She was the top racer in the league! They didn’t even find her body!
WES: Funny thing, that. Everything goes black for almost two minutes and the body pulls some vanishing act.
KAPLAN: You’ve got that look on your face. What are you thinking?
WES: When the cameras start rolling again, the best pilot in the league’s crashed and the dame’s body is nowhere to be found. Nobody knows what happened and there’s no footage. All that, and everyone’s going to let it alone? That ain’t normal.
KAPLAN: You think there’s foul play?
WES: The whole thing smells as rotten as a sump heap and maybe if you’d put that bottle away for a second you’d smell it too.
KAPLAN: Fine. Maybe it’s rotten. Maybe someone’s pulled a dirty trick. The hell do you want me to do about it?
WES: I think you ought to find out what happened, Roy.
KAPLAN: And why would I do that? I’m not even getting paid.
WES: No, but you do want to know, don’t you? Who’s going to find out what happened to the Baron if not you?
KAPLAN: (V.O.) Wes was right, of course. I hated it when they were right, but they usually were. This was personal. I’d been following Bomber Baron’s career for almost six years now, and I’d be damned if I’d let some disappearing act lie. Now, usually when I do this sort of thing, my first step is to talk to their ghost. (BEAT) I couldn’t do that this time. The crash happened outside of the city limits which made it off limits to me, and I’d probably get shot if I tried to get up on the antigrav track anyways. So I went for the next best thing. That night, I broke into the Anti-Gravity Racing League’s data archives.
[GRAPPLING HOOK SHOT. CLATTERING SOUNDS. SOFT FOOTSTEPS.]
KAPLAN: (V.O.) A long time ago, I was a burglar. I don’t do that stuff anymore because investigation is safer and more profitable, but getting into places you’re not supposed to is a life skill you don’t forget. And of course, when you’re telekinetic…
[CLICKING AND SLIDING SOUNDS. DOOR OPENING.]
KAPLAN: (V.O.) …there isn’t a lock in the world that can stop you.
[SLOW, QUIET FOOTSTEPS. LOW SERVER HUM.]
KAPLAN: (V.O.) Like all server rooms, it was all dark except for the little flashing LEDs on the server trays. I crept my way down the rows and rows of black towers and found where they put the data storage. I had to work fast–I’d disabled the security system, but that only bought me five minutes.
KAPLAN: Crash records, crash records… Where would they put those crash records…? Ah, here they are.
[CLICKING AND OPENING SOUNDS, TAKING OUT DRIVE.]
KAPLAN: That’s a good data chip. Come on now, you’re coming with me.
[DISTANT DOOR OPENING. APPROACHING FOOTSTEPS.]
GUARD: (OFF) The security’s going haywire again. I swear, any more of this and I’m going to have to call the company and get these alarms fixed.
[LOUDER FOOTSTEPS. LIGHT SWITCH.]
GUARD: What–? Hey, you! Stop what you’re doing!
[WHACK SOUND. BODY HITTING GROUND.]
KAPLAN: I’ve got prior commitments. Cheers!
KAPLAN: (V.O.) I got out of the building without much trouble. I wasn’t worried about the guard turning me in, because I didn’t swing my baton too hard and, like any proper burglar, I covered my tracks. I took the data chip and ran it home. I’d return it later.
[KEY TAPPING SOUNDS. COMPUTER THINGS.]
WES: (OFF) Roy?
KAPLAN: In here, Wes.
WES: I thought I heard you come in. What’s that you’ve got there?
KAPLAN: This? It’s a special data processing device. I think back in your day you might have called it a ‘computer’.
WES: That’s a bit after my time. What’s that little black square you’re holding?
KAPLAN: It’s the crash records I stole from the League archives. Every time a ship crashes, it stores information about where and when it happened and how fast the ship was going. It helps with investigations.
WES: Like yours?
KAPLAN: Sure. I’m as good of an investigator as anyone, except most investigators don’t have to steal their information.
[COMPUTER PROCESS COMPLETED SOUND.]
KAPLAN: Let’s see what we’ve got. Hmm…Okay. Here it is. Bomber Baron’s ship.
KAPLAN: Oh. Huh. That’s weird.
WES: How’s that?
KAPLAN: The numbers don’t add up.
KAPLAN: Yeah, it says she crashed about a minute and a half into the blackout. If she was going full speed for that long, she should have crashed almost thirty kilometers farther down the track than she did.
WES: So she slowed down?
KAPLAN: Slowing down can’t make up for a difference that big. Not unless she came to a complete stop.
KAPLAN: (V.O.) Numbers didn’t lie, and they told me a story more suspicious than me at a society party. Wes was right. There was something rotten, and I had to find out what. Luckily, I wasn’t the only person interested in what happened to the Baron…
[PHONE RINGING. PICK UP.]
KAPLAN: Hello. Kaplan speaking.
REYES: (FILTER) Roy Kaplan, private investigator?
KAPLAN: Last I checked, sure. If you need something found or something found out, I’m the man for you.
REYES: (FILTER) I’m sorry to call over the weekend like this Mr. Kaplan, but it’s urgent. I need your help.
KAPLAN: Well, I don’t mind so much. If you need help and you’re able to pay, I’m all yours. What do you need?
REYES: (FILTER) I can’t say. You never know who might be listening, and if someone heard me asking around, I could get into big trouble. Can we speak in person?
KAPLAN: Sure, sure. I have an office downtown in the West Side district. Why don’t we meet up there?
REYES: (FILTER) Thank you, Mr. Kaplan. I think that will do just fine. I’ll be there in twenty minutes.
KAPLAN: (V.O.) So I went to my office. It wasn’t large, and it certainly wasn’t expensive. I didn’t spend much time in it because these days clients prefer to hire a detective by phone or video call, but sometimes people want a private place to talk. There weren’t many places more private than my office. I got there about five minutes before the client did.
[CLACKING FOOTSTEPS. DOOR OPENS.]
REYES: Hello, Mr. Kaplan.
KAPLAN: (V.O.) I didn’t know what I expected, but I didn’t expect her. With heels, she was a full head taller than my six feet and she had muscles that could break a man in half without even trying. Standing next to her made me feel a little inadequate.
KAPLAN: Hello, dear. Have a seat. Who do I have the pleasure of speaking with today?
[FOOTSTEPS. SCRAPING OF CHAIR.]
REYES: I’m Camila Reyes. Thank you for seeing me on such short notice.
KAPLAN: Of course. So what do you need help with?
REYES: It’s about the race yesterday. You saw it, didn’t you?
KAPLAN: The city circuit? Yeah, I saw it. Didn’t see as much of it as I wanted to because of the blackout, though.
REYES: Yes, that dreadful thing… Mr. Kaplan, don’t you think it’s strange that there was no investigation into the circumstances of that crash yesterday?
KAPLAN: It does seem a bit strange. Why do you ask?
REYES: I think that a terrible thing might have happened. One of my friends, his name is Caleb Altwood. He works for the company that sponsored the Baron and he was working during the race yesterday. He called me last night saying there was something unusual, and…
KAPLAN: Go on.
REYES: I haven’t heard from him since. I’m afraid something may have happened to him, and if someone hears I’m looking for him, they might come after me, too.
KAPLAN: So you want me to find your friend…Mr. Altwood, was it?
REYES: Yes, that’s right. I don’t know if he’s run away or what might have happened, but you have to find out for me. Please.
KAPLAN: I see. That’s certainly within my abilities.
REYES: Thank you, oh. Thank you.
KAPLAN: But I don’t work for free. My rates are forty credits a day, plus expenses.
REYES: I can pay you a hundred right now. Is that fine?
KAPLAN: That’s very fine. So tell me, Miss Reyes, where exactly did Mr. Altwood work?
REYES: He works in the East Hague corporate tower. That’s the company that that racer was contracted with. His office is on the thirty-second floor. Room 3254.
KAPLAN: That’s useful. Where was he during the race, do you know?
REYES: Caleb was in the broadcasting center.
KAPLAN: Oh. Was he, now? I see.
REYES: What’s that supposed to mean?
KAPLAN: Nothing, nothing. Just thinking out loud. If that’s all, I’ll go ahead and look into where your friend’s gone off to. Don’t call me, I’ll call you.
KAPLAN: (V.O.) After a change of clothes, I went down to the East Hague corporate tower, five minutes from my office by monorail. It was one of the tallest buildings in the city, so tall that you could sprain something trying to see the top from the bottom, and it made of shiny glazed-black glass and steel. It wasn’t the sort of place where they let any random idiot go wherever they want, but I pretended to be delivering a package and the receptionist let me through. It wasn’t hard; I actually did courier work, back in the day. There’s a lot of ways to make sure someone’s not abusing their courier’s badge, but for some reason, people almost never bother to check. It makes life easier for me.
[ELEVATOR DING. ELEVATOR DOOR OPENS.]
ELEVATOR: (FILTER) Thirty-second floor.
KAPLAN: (V.O.) I went out and headed down the long hallways. It was a clean place, with dark green carpet and some photos of some old and rich people hanging on the wall. There weren’t a lot of people walking around, and none of the ones who were took a second look at me beyond my courier outfit. I found Altwood’s office easily enough.
KAPLAN: Hello? Mr. Altwood? Courier service.
KAPLAN: (V.O.) I waited a bit, but no response. I let myself in.
[LOCK CLICK. DOOR OPENING. FOOTSTEPS. DOOR CLOSING.]
KAPLAN: (V.O.) The room wasn’t empty. There was a man, about 5’10” and gangly. He had a powder blue jacket, two ear piercings, and dyed green hair. He was also very dead.
KAPLAN: I suppose you’re Mr. Altwood.
ALTWOOD: Yeah? And who are you? What are you doing here?
KAPLAN: Nobody important, and checking up on you. Can you tell me why you’re dead?
ALTWOOD: Dead? Are you threatening me?
KAPLAN: Well, it’s a bit late for that now. A lovely Camila Reyes hired me to find out how you’re doing, but considering your…ghostly disposition, I think I already know the answer to that one. Mind filling me in on the details?
ALTWOOD: You must be nuts! I can’t be dead. You’re talking to me, aren’t you?
KAPLAN: Yeah, because I talk to dead people! Get with the program, Altwood. Reyes said you called yesterday night after the race because you learned something was up, and she hasn’t heard from you since. What happened and, uh, what did you learn that got you knocked off?
ALTWOOD: You’re completely out of line! You can’t break into my office and talk to me like this! I’m going to call security right now and…what? Hey–
KAPLAN: Sorry, the phone isn’t ghost-accessible. Nobody’s figured out how to get around the ‘intangibility’ problem. Do you believe me yet?
ALTWOOD: No, that’s…
KAPLAN: Come on, don’t clam up now. You’re already dead, you’ve got nothing to lose. Your friend wants to know what happened to you and she paid me to find out. I’d hate to disappoint her.
ALTWOOD: You said Camila contacted you?
KAPLAN: Yeah. Camila Reyes. Black hair, brown eyes, really tall. Looks like she could kill a man with her bare hands. She said you must have found something really hot and got in trouble because of it. That ring a bell?
ALTWOOD: I killed Bomber Baron.
KAPLAN: Really? You killed the Baron? How’s that? I hope you don’t mind me saying so, but you don’t look like much of a killer to me.
ALTWOOD: You…you know how pilot contracts work, don’t you? They go on for a number of wins, and if they get them and survive, they get a bonus. That’s how they get people to sign on.
KAPLAN: I’ve heard something to that effect.
ALTWOOD: Well, long contracts like the Baron’s, they’re real expensive, if you know what I mean.
KAPLAN: Sure I do. You mean the company didn’t want to pay out so they offed her. What does that have to do with you?
ALTWOOD: The company rigged her ship before the race so someone could control it remotely and crash it. I had to do it, or the company would have fired me, or killed me so I wouldn’t talk.
KAPLAN: Looks like killing her didn’t turn out so good for you, either. Pilots survive crashes all the time, so did the Baron survive?
ALTWOOD: That’s impossible. I waited until she was going full speed. A pilot’s impact gear is only rated for a thousand kilometers an hour. She didn’t have a chance.
KAPLAN: If you did so good, then why did they kill you?
ALTWOOD: I…well, I couldn’t stand it. Bomber Baron was the best pilot in the league. I had to tell someone what I’d done, but the company…they found out.
KAPLAN: You managed to call Camila before the company thugs caught up with you, though, so why didn’t you just tell her you killed Bomber Baron? That wouldn’t have taken more than five seconds.
ALTWOOD: It was more than that. I found some…evidence.
KAPLAN: Oh, I see. You’re talking blackmail.
ALTWOOD: It’s not– Okay. Maybe it’s blackmail. I think of it more as…protection. The company can’t afford to let that information go public.
KAPLAN: Sure. And out of curiosity, where is this ‘protection’ now?
ALTWOOD: It’s here. In my desk. If no one’s taken it.
KAPLAN: That’s a big if.
ALTWOOD: You said Camila hired you, right?
KAPLAN: She paid me, so I’d say so.
ALTWOOD: You have to help me. Take the data to her. She needs it.
KAPLAN: What’s she going to do with that kind of information?
ALTWOOD: She might be a target now because I called her. If she has that data, the company won’t be able to go after her.
KAPLAN: You’re not very clever, are you?
KAPLAN: The surest way to take care of a blackmailer is to kill them. Carrying that kind of stuff makes you more likely to get popped, not less. So what’s Miss Reyes going to do with that information?
KAPLAN: But sure. I’ll deliver it.
ALTWOOD: Wait, really? You…
KAPLAN: I’m a courier, aren’t I? I’ve got the uniform and everything. Besides, I have a feeling she’s got a real good reason to want it.
KAPLAN: (V.O.) I found the data chip, safe and sound, right where Altwood said it was, so I took it and left. Nobody tried to stop me. Altwood had a pretty story, sure. Pretty as a doily and almost as many holes as one, too. But you don’t get into my line of work without being able to read between the lines. I was starting to see how everything fit together. I went back home and looked at the goods.
[COMPUTER SOUNDS LOADING.]
KAPLAN: (V.O.) The drive wasn’t just hot. It was dynamite. There was evidence of over ten years of skeevy business and contract terminations of the lethal variety. Accidents that weren’t accidents. People who went missing. I could see why someone would kill over this kind of information. It was just my luck that a racing bet gone bad would lead to blackmail and murder. Not for the first time, I thought I ought to slug Wes for getting me into this mess.
[CONTINUED COMPUTER SOUNDS.]
KAPLAN: Wes, why did I let you talk me into this?
WES: I thought you were having fun.
KAPLAN: I’m holding a drive that can get me killed three times over. If that’s your idea of fun, I can probably guess how you died.
WES: I died of pneumonia.
KAPLAN: Wow. I’m jealous. If I could choke you to death, I would, too.
WES: Believe me, the feeling’s mutual. Have you figured out what happened to your pilot?
KAPLAN: I’m still thinking. Come look at these instructions Altwood got.
[COMPUTER BEEPS. FILE OPENING.]
WES: “Take the ship off the city chicane.” Odd way to bump someone off. Altwood didn’t do that, though, did he?
KAPLAN: No, he didn’t. He crashed the ship twenty kilometers farther down the track. Now why do you think they wanted him to take the ship off the track there?
WES: I’m sure you’re about to tell me.
KAPLAN: It’s because the entire fourteen-kilometer stretch that goes over the city has a vapor field under it–that’s pretty common knowledge. If a ship goes off the track there, it and the pilot inside get turned into a fine mist. The ship can’t be recovered and there’s no evidence of the tampering.
WES: Convenient. That uses a lot of power, doesn’t it?
KAPLAN: It only turns on if a ship goes through. The electricity’s worth less than the potential property damage.
[COMPUTER SOUNDS. SCROLLING.]
KAPLAN: Hmm. Hey, Wes.
KAPLAN: Do you know what terminal velocity is?
WES: Not offhand, no.
KAPLAN: I just checked, and it’s about two hundred kilometers an hour. Isn’t that pretty?
WES: It’s a fun fact, I guess. I take it you’ve got a hunch.
KAPLAN: It’s not a hunch if I know I’m right.
KAPLAN: (V.O.) I left after that. I had a drive to deliver to the lovely Miss Reyes, after all. I called her and said that I had something from Altwood for her and that she should come up to my office to get it. I told her she could take her time. I wasn’t in a hurry. She got there about a minute after I did.
[DOOR OPENING. FOOTSTEPS.]
KAPLAN: Miss Reyes! Thanks for coming. Here, have a seat.
[REYES’S FOOTSTEPS. DOOR CLICK. CHAIR MOVING.]
REYES: Did you find Caleb?
KAPLAN: Sure, in a manner of speaking. I don’t really want to talk about him, though. I want to talk about you.
REYES: What do you mean?
KAPLAN: I mean, what do you know about all of this? About what happened to Bomber Baron?
REYES: I don’t know anything.
KAPLAN: Oh, come on, you can do better than that. Let me jog your memory a bit. It’s seventeen minutes into the race, and the Baron’s got over a thirty second lead. She comes around at full speed, approaching the city chicane. And then suddenly, the cameras all go out, and this is where things get exciting. But you already know about that, don’t you?
REYES: I don’t know what you’re talking about.
KAPLAN: No? I’ll keep going. The cameras go out, all of them at the same time. So when nobody’s watching, Bomber Baron hits the brakes and comes to a complete stop on the track. She gets out of the ship and it crashes without her.
REYES: That’s absurd. How could a ship crash itself?
KAPLAN: If it had been tampered with, so someone could control it remotely. Someone like Altwood.
KAPLAN: Don’t bother denying that one. He told me about it himself.
REYES: What? That’s impossible! He’s dead!
KAPLAN: (BEAT) Oh. Well. That’s interesting. I already knew that, of course, but why do you? Maybe you killed him?
REYES: What– No! Caleb was helping me! Why would I want to kill him?
KAPLAN: If you didn’t kill him, then how did you know he was dead?
REYES: When I couldn’t get ahold of him, I tried tracking his GPS. He always wears it, but it was destroyed.
KAPLAN: Sure. Fair enough, but if you already knew he was dead, then why did you send me to look for him?
REYES: That’s because–
KAPLAN: Oh, no, don’t answer. I think I already know. I bet it has something to do with this chip.
[RUSTLING CLOTH. SCRAPING CHAIR.]
REYES: Give that to me.
KAPLAN: Maybe later.
KAPLAN: Why don’t I tell you what I think, Miss Reyes? I think you knew Mr. Altwood had this chip made. He’d been collecting this data for a while, you see. I looked through it, and there’s no way he collected this all in one night. He’s been digging for months, and he wanted me to give it to you. He called it ‘protection’. Now, of course, that’s completely absurd. This chip’s got some hot stuff on it. Most people who handle it are just going to get burned, especially once they know what’s on it.
REYES: You’re wrong.
KAPLAN: I don’t think so. Because I think there’s one person who might want to handle dynamite like this… (BEAT) A bomber.
REYES: Ha. Ha ha ha! You…you think I’m Bomber Baron? That’s the most ridiculous bluff I’ve ever heard.
KAPLAN: It’s not a bluff. I know you’re the Baron.
REYES: How could I be? There’s no way to get off of the track without being caught. I’d be dead!
KAPLAN: That’s not true. There’s one way to escape off of the tracks, or one track in particular. The city circuit has a fourteen-kilometer chicane that goes right over the city. If you want to get off of the track, all you have to do is jump.
REYES: That part of the track is almost half a kilometer off the ground. Nobody could survive a fall like that.
KAPLAN: Not without equipment, sure. But you had some, didn’t you? All pilots wear impact gear for crash protection. Altwood told me they were rated for up to a thousand kilometers an hour. Do you know what terminal velocity is?
REYES: …Two hundred kilometers an hour.
KAPLAN: That’s right. Two hundred kilometers an hour. I think with a pilot’s impact gear, you could handle a fall like that without breaking a sweat. Isn’t that right?
REYES: Give me the chip.
KAPLAN: Ah ah. Not yet. I’m not done.
REYES: If you don’t give me the chip, I’ll take it from you.
KAPLAN: I wouldn’t recommend it, Miss–
[WHACK. BRIEF STRUGGLE. REYES’S FOOTSTEPS, SWIFT. SHAKING LOCKED DOOR HANDLE.]
REYES: What the–
KAPLAN: Ow, ugh. It’s no use. I locked the door, and I’m the only one who can open it. There’s no way out until I say so.
REYES: I saw you the whole time! How did you lock the door?
KAPLAN: Oh, that would be telling. Sit down, Miss Reyes. I’ve got more to say.
REYES: You like hearing yourself talk, don’t you?
KAPLAN: It’s one of my favorite hobbies. Here’s what I think happened, and feel free to stop me if I’m wrong. You realized your sponsor had a history of long-contract pilots going dead or missing just before their contracts ended. Understandably, you didn’t want to go the same way. You found out that Altwood was involved in the murder part of the equation and convinced him to help you escape.
REYES: And why would he help someone he was supposed to kill?
KAPLAN: I don’t know. He lied for you, so maybe he liked you. I don’t think it matters. The important part is that once you had him on your side, you waited until you could run the city circuit, and he put together enough evidence to choke the entire racing scene. And when the time came, Altwood waited until you had a big enough time lead, then cut the feeds from the broadcast center. With your lead, you could stop, get out, and jump off the track without any of the racers behind you or their cameras seeing what you did. And then Altwood took control of your ship, flew it out of the city, and crashed it. How am I doing?
REYES: I’m reserving judgment.
KAPLAN: Sure, sure. Instead of running your ship into the vapor field like the company told him to, Altwood crashed your ship outside the city limits, leaving the wreck for the Racing League to pick up. That way, if someone looked too close at the wreck, they might find the ship was tampered with, and that would break this whole thing wide open. Except that didn’t happen. The company shut down the entire investigation before it started and killed Altwood for not disposing of the ship properly. I doubt they knew about the chip or the evidence–they’d have found and destroyed it. But then there was you. You needed that chip, and that’s where I lose the thread. Tell me, Miss Reyes. What will you do with that information?
REYES: Why should I tell you?
KAPLAN: Because I’m asking nicely. And because the door’s still locked. You’ve already gotten the chip, you may as well talk.
REYES: …Is it really so hard to understand? I’m one of the best pilots in history, and they wanted to kill me so they wouldn’t have to pay out. Is it so bad if I want a little leverage?
KAPLAN: Leverage, huh? Planning to blackmail your sponsor?
REYES: I’m planning to get my dues. I put in fifteen years of work, and I’m going to get what I deserve for it, no matter how.
KAPLAN: And what about all of us? Big money rides on those races. You could start riots with that chip.
REYES: Then we’ll see what happens, won’t we? What will you do to stop me? Call the garda? Report me to my former sponsor?
KAPLAN: Hmm. I don’t think I’ll do anything.
REYES: Wait, what’s that supposed to mean?
KAPLAN: I mean I’m letting you go.
REYES: …Really? You think I should be trusted with this…dynamite, as you call it?
KAPLAN: I don’t know. Honestly, this is all over my head, but I think if anyone should handle it, it’s you.
[FOOTSTEPS. DOOR CLICK.]
KAPLAN: There. Door’s unlocked. You’re free to go.
REYES: …I see. I’ll take my leave, then. Thank you for your services, Mr. Kaplan.
KAPLAN: And thank you for yours, Bomber Baron.
[REYES’S FOOTSTEPS. DOOR OPENS, CLOSES.]
KAPLAN: (V.O.) And then she was gone. Maybe I shouldn’t have let her go like that, but I believed what I said. If anyone was to make a decision about that chip, it ought to be her. She paid me nicely for my efforts, five hundred credits in all, enough to keep me healthy and happy. I checked the telecast after, but the race fixing and murders never hit the news and I never heard anything else about her, either. The Bomber Blackout case went quiet, but I never forgot.
OUTRO: [end read]
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