Check out our episode here! A Million Suns by Beth Revis
It's been three months since the events of Across the Universe and Elder, as leader, has taken the population of Godspeed off Phydus. Elder has found out from the first level shipper, Marae, that the engines aren’t slowing, something that Eldest said, but that they’ve completely stopped. Eldest may have lied to everyone about their voyage, but the shippers lied to Eldest. The current first level shippers don’t know how long Godspeed has been stopped, it’s a secret and a lie passed from one first shipper to another but possibly since the plague. Really, they don’t know how far away from Centauri-Earth they are and feel that the population needs to go back on to Phydus for their own safety and sanity.
Every morning Amy comes down to the cryo chamber and watches her parents, remembering Earth. Her days are filled with time and regret, and she needs something to fill her days. As she leaves she passes Orion in his cryo unit. Why now? Why did he wait until now to kill people in cryo when he knew they were so long away from landing? Back in her room, Doc visits her, concerned for her safety. She hasn't gone out much since her assault and when she does, she wraps her bright red hair in a scarf, but that can only do so much to protect her. Doc gives her a bracelet comlink he found in the Recorder Hall, seemingly made for her by Orion. Inscribed on it is a message: ‘abandon all hope.’ Is this a message or a warning? In the Recorder Hall she finds Dante’s Inferno and inside a floppy like computer. However across the wall screens in the Hall a message scrolls across, ‘lead yourself.’ Someone in the crowd blames the freak, Amy. She ducks into the literature room to hide when Victria bursts in to hide, too, followed by Luther, the man who tried to assault her. Escaping by slamming a book across his head, Amy and Victria run with Luther shouting behind them that they don’t have a leader so they can do anything they want.
Elder tells Amy about the engines and they discuss the food shortages. The population being off Phydus is affecting production. They begin to argue and Elder calls her a freak, he also doesn’t understand why she doesn’t just move in with him for safety. Amy doesn’t know what their relationship is, but what she does know is that love without choice isn’t love at all. Later, Amy is watching a video of Orion where he says he wanted to work with Elder to overthrow Eldest’s tyranny, but has Amy as his contingency plan. He’s left clues for her to follow.
Elder notes everyone is missing hope, his friend Bartie has turned on him, looking up records of revolution in the Recorder Hall. Bartie doesn’t think Elder is doing enough and a change of leadership is needed. Stunned, Elder leaves when Doc comms him, telling him a girl has been found catatonic from depression and that the numbers of mental illness are increasing. Doc has developed green Phydus med patches to help tackle the problem and he's also made a stockpile of black patches for a quick death.
Amy is in Harley’s room looking for the picture Orion delivered to her from him. Victria walks in on her and absolutely blows up at her for intruding in Harley’s private space. As Amy steps back she knocks over a pile of sketches, some of which are of Orion. Later, Amy finds a memory card stuck to the back of the painting with a clue about following down the rabbit hole. When Amy shows Elder the recording, he suggests looking for a painting Harley did. Amy also shows Elder the video from Dante’s Inferno. On it, the camera shows Elder opening Amy’s cryo unit, reacting to a noise and running off. Orion then comes on screen, pushes her back, hesitates, then opens her unit again before walking away. The screen cuts to static before Orion addresses Amy. Are you ready to find the truth?
Amy thinks she knows the answer to the next riddle and it’s in the Recorder Hall. On the way there, they see the body of a girl sprawled dead in the field showing signs of assault. Elder stays and Amy runs fast and furious to the Recorder Hall and finds the book from Orion’s next clue: Alice In Wonderland. As she stares at the Cheshire Cat, all her emotions and fears come crashing down and that’s how Elder finds her. He doesn’t question why she’s crying, assuming it’s about the body, so instead they discuss the next clue. The book was a dead end, but then Elder told Amy that Harley made a painting that Orion insisted he name Through the Looking Glass. It’s not on the wall with the plaque so they go to ask Harley’s parents.
As they walk the ship, Amy notices all the people, she’s not used to seeing so many and they aren’t working. Elder questions some of the Feeders who report that the other Feeders aren’t coming in, they don’t say anything about it because it’s not their place. They continue on to Harley’s parents, who are at home but in a deep depression. After a quick search, Amy and Elder find the painting. It shows five figures looking down at a pond, and in it is Harley’s girlfriend Kayleigh. This is a picture of her death. There’s another clue on the back, a door code and a memcard. On the video, Orion tells Amy that Kayleigh was killed by Eldest because she found the armory. She needs to see it for herself and judge what should be a reasonable amount for a peaceful mission, but first she needs to go home.
Stevy, Harley’s dad, confronts Elder and punches him. Elder uses his comm device to make a high pitched noise to make him stop. This draws attention and accusations fly and tension mounts. Elder tells Amy to go back to the hospital, and when she spots Luther in the crowd, she flees. Meanwhile Elder calls Marae for backup to calm the crowd but Luther and Bartie work people up, which is made worse by food distribution problems. Suddenly there is a disturbance at the back, Stevy has collapsed and is dead. Doc arrives and examines the body, he finds the small patches he developed for mental health patients, scribbled on them is FOLLOW THE LEADER. Stevy has ODed from the med patches and Bartie accuses Elder of doing it as punishment; the cry is picked up by Luther.
Amy ran to the Recorder Hall looking for an atlas or globe of Earth, her home, which is what Orion's clue told her to find. Inside the Hall, Elder contacts her and tells her to get her room for safety but instead Amy goes to her parents. As she sits there, Amy hears the sound of the elevator. It’s Victria, and she walks straight into the restricted lab. Elder gave her access. Amy walks away to visit her parents, where she finds a piece of paper hidden with names and numbers on it.
Marae has been trying to fix the navigation computer on the bridge. So far, no luck. Marae asks again that Elder put the people back on the controlling drug Phydus because it will bring order and stop the violence. The next morning Amy goes to Elder’s room and shows him the note. Together they go down to the cryo chamber and find the armory Orion mentioned in his recording. There are so many weapons. Elder thinks it’s extreme, but Amy counters his arguments, though wearily. Next to some high yield explosives, Amy finds Orion’s next clue in a voice recording. He asks Amy to consider hard why they have so many weapons then it cuts to recordings of Orion at around age 20. He’s found something that Eldest would have him replaced for. As the recordings go on, Orion becomes more paranoid and concerned. Elder dismisses Orion’s clues as a waste of time because he needs to know how to fix the ship and the clues aren’t providing answers. Elder receives a comm and he runs off to deal with Bartie. Amy watches the videos again. The answers are outside the ship, she just needs to get out there.
Bartie has started a petition for new leadership, people are being reported dead from drug overdoses and Doc has reported theft of the Phydus med patches from his office. Bartie is accusing Elder of their creation and distribution. In the hospital, Amy sees people begging for Phydus med patches, she asks Doc’s assistant for one and reluctantly, Kit passes her one, figuring she is depressed about being a freak, but really, Amy thinks this is her best defence against Luther. She grips it tightly as she heads into the Recorder Hall looking for Orion’s next clue. There is a gathering of people and they are talking rebellion. Amy tries to defend Elder, but they won’t listen to the freak. A short time later Amy finds Victria crying, she’s crying for Orion when Luther walks in. As Luther grabs Amy she slaps him hard across the face, he’s a big man so wouldn’t go down, but her slap has the added effect from the medpatch she palmed. Victria is shocked, gripping her stomach, she whispers it was him… During the season because he couldn’t get Amy, Luther violated Victria instead. They both turn to the immobile Luther and Victria kicks the snot out of him. Amy leans down and tells him she can access a gun, she is a crack shot taught by her father and has killed an elk so she knows what it’s like to take a life. She won’t hesitate to do that to Luther.
The next morning Amy comms Elder and tells him to get into the cryo chamber, they’re going hunting for spacesuits. And they do! It takes a few goes with the code clues, but the door swishes open and reveals the suits and a user manual as well as a copy of The Little Prince. When Amy looks up from the manual, Elder is mostly undressed ready to suit up and, resigned, Amy helps him.
Elder is outside the ship, marvelling that just moments ago he was inside it. A beeping alarm starts and he realizes he can’t breathe properly, his oxygen is low, then he sees the secret Orion eluded to. How could this be kept secret? It’s a planet. By the time Elder is able to make it back on Godspeed he is out of oxygen, he wakes up in the medbay after Amy called Doc and she started to perform CPR. As Elder is being chastised by Doc for going outside, he receives a comm. Marae is dead.
Marae’s body has been placed on the bridge. Elder makes Shelby First Shipper and tells her he went outside Godspeed, he then commands the window seals to open to show Shelby the planet. They question how long they’ve been in orbit and who knew, but regardless, it’s time to carry out the necessary tests to check that Centauri-Earth can support life and make preparations to land.
In the hospital, no food has been delivered, and instead of bothering Elder about it, Amy goes to find the hidden stairs where Orion made his recordings. She finds them behind a wall next to a transport tube only Elder has access to that runs the full height of Godspeed, forgotten. Elder finds Amy a little later on sitting next to a pond. They talk a little and share a kiss that starts to get heated when Elder receives an urgent comm. Bartie is causing trouble again and then Luther turns up. Elder finally picks up on the bitterness Amy has for Luther and asks what has happened but Amy thinks too much time has passed and holds her tongue. However, she isn’t afraid to tell Elder how Luther has mistreated Victria. After Amy is finished, Elder is quiet, gets up, thanks Amy for telling him and walks away. He’s on his way to deal with Luther when Doc comms him. Bartie’s revolution has started.
The food distributor is dead, covered in the med patches. Bartie is standing in front of a crowd using the murder to his own benefit to turn the people against Elder. Elder and Bartie verbally spar, alternately shout and use the wi-com until Bartie opens the food storage doors and the looting begins and quickly turns violent. Elder comms Amy to get to her room for safety, but instead she goes down to the cryo chamber to be with her parents. She pulls their units out and thinks, why not? They’ll be landing soon anyway, why not wake them now?
In an effort to calm the riot, Elder orders a Shipper to start the strongest rain they can and cover the solar lamp. It works and shocks the people into stopping their riot. Elder then does an all call and orders everyone to the Keeper level that night and disables the comm system. Shelby confirms that initial scans show the planet will be fine to land on but the equipment for deep level scans and communication back to Sol-Earth is missing. Regardless, they’re going to land Godspeed.
Back in the cryo chamber Amy puts her parents back, thinking she will see them soon. Instead of going back to her room or exploring the hidden stairs, she goes to the hatch, wondering if she’ll be able to see the planet from there. When she gets there however, Amy finds a body crumpled on the ground. It’s Luther. She can’t comm anyone and can tell by the smell that he’s been there for a while. He's covered in med patches. Amy types in the code and Luther’s body flies out into space.
It’s time for Elder’s meeting. He’s put on Eldest's ceremonial robe which is a bad idea as Bartie punches him before he can get a word out. After a few moments of fighting, Elder runs and shouts for everyone to follow. He takes everyone through the engine room and onto the bridge, opens the window and lets them see Centauri-Earth. After the windows close, Bartie asks who will lead them once they are colonists. Elder tells him he will, though he doesn't sound so sure. Bartie challenges, asking why someone so young should be in charge. There are better candidates.
Amy hears a noise from the lab, it’s Victria looking at Orion in his unit sobbing. She’s struggling with the idea of landfall and starts to have a panic attack. As Amy helps her put a medpatch on to calm her down, she realizes that she’s known the outside world and people like Victria haven’t. They’re comfortable with the walls. Amy helps Victria back to her room at the hospital where there are crowds of people with Doc and his assistants slapping med patches on. Doc is muttering about Elder showing them the planet and scaring them, of him not thinking through the consequences of his actions.
The next day, while Elder excitedly gets ready for landfall, Amy goes to visit her parents. While in the cryo chamber she hears another noise in the armory but doesn’t find anyone, but does find another floppy. It’s a message from Orion recorded on what looks like the bridge. He asks Amy if the planet is worth it. Orion pleads with Amy that if there is any way to stop the planet landing, then she needs to do so. He’s left another clue in Godspeed then the floppy cuts off and the words FOLLOW THE LEADER scroll over the screen. On instinct Amy checks the armory again and notices an empty shelf of explosives. If anyone tries to land the ship, it will blow.
There is a crowd of people outside the bridge as Elder gets there. Shelby opens the bridge doors and an expectant silence falls. Elder gives a thankfully short awkward speech after which he is told Amy is there and wants to speak to him. Suddenly, there is a loud noise and the ship is ripped apart. People go flying, Elder slides along the floor and a screwdriver imbeds into his leg. People are being sucked out into the vacuum of space. Shelby is holding on, pleading with Elder whose hand is next to the blast doors. She’s begging him, but he can’t risk the whole ship for one person and closes the blast doors. Shelby is lost in space.
Amy hears the explosion and it’s chaos outside the engine room and then deadly silence as people listen. The blast doors are sealed, everyone speculating if anyone survived. Suddenly there is a banging and the blast doors open. Elder and a few others limp out, Elder coming straight for Amy and holding her. He wants to know how she knew so she explains about following Orion’s clues but someone else is getting to them before her, someone stole the explosives and took away the decision to make landfall that Orion was giving to her. Elder looks back at the exploded bridge. Without it, Godspeed cannot land. He wants to know who thought Shelby’s life was worth it.
Amy takes Elder to the hidden stairs when they hear another boom and Godspeed shakes, not as violently as before, but a definite explosion. It's the cryo units. Amy races down while Elder takes care of the ship. As Amy flies two at a time down the stairs, the smoke and heat get thicker and then there is only a hole. The shrapnel from the explosion has ripped through the stairwell, she can’t get down. Hurrying back the way she has come, Amy finds Elder and lets him know there is no way down.
The hospital isn’t safe so the Recorder Hall becomes a makeshift infirmary. Elder sends an all-call telling everyone to come to the hospital gardens. As he’s on the way, Bartie demands to know what Elder is going to say. Elder calls Bartie out and points out he was the one who had to look people in the eye and let them die while Bartie did nothing. Bartie tries to give Elder an apology but it’s very well disguised as derision. They reach the gardens and everyone is there. Elder tells them the truth, they can’t land the ship. He tried to be an honest leader but with the deaths in his name and the explosions, it’s too much and he will step down if someone else can do a better job. No one speaks, not even Bartie.
A little while later, Amy and Elder are together. Amy can see that Elder has given up all hope. She however has one more clue to follow. Orion said that was something in Godspeed, not on it. She takes Elder to the Recorder Hall; they bring up blueprints of the ship and take down the dusty model of Godspeed from its hanging. Amy hands it to Elder who crushes the bridge window saying it’s accurate now. Amy points to more glass there, which Elder dismisses as an observatory he saw when he was outside, but this doesn’t make sense to Amy, why lock an observatory? On the blueprint it’s marked as ‘contingency.’ Picking up the model again, Amy pulls at that section and a replica shuttle comes out that contains the cryo chamber. Elder is dumbfounded.
Amy pulls Elder to the pond, the pond with no fish but surely it would have at some point given how Harley included them in all his pictures. It’s then Elder realizes that Harley’s girlfriend’s death really was a murder. She knew there was something under the pond and that if it was drained, they could access it. Eldest killed her to keep that secret. Amy strips and dives down until Bartie and Victria come along. They explain to them why they need to drain the pond so Bartie shows them the pump. Once it’s drained, the foursome climb down. At the bottom of the ladder is a smaller bridge and another floppy. Orion’s recording tells Amy that the planet wasn’t the secret, it's what is contained on the papers he is holding, papers next to the floppy.
The records document the arrival to Centauri-Earth 248 days ahead of schedule and initial scans found life on the planet. The decision was made to remain in orbit and assess the habitability of the planet; however, this caused a violent revolt and the creation of Phydus to make the people obedient enough to remain in orbit. Orion says that the weapons won’t help, all the probes that have been sent to the planet say so, and the frozens likely won’t be the ones wielding them. It'll be those on Godspeed sent out to die. Orion says that only if Godspeed fails should they consider going down to the planet.
Victria seems joyful at the prospect of staying on the ship, Elder wants to take their time and assess, and Amy is mad. She blames the original Eldest for his narcissistic gluttony to stay in power. She will get to the planet. Bartie says they need a vote, but they have no food on the ship. And then there is another boom in the distance. When they investigate they find Doc in the lab, opening Orion’s cryo tube. Doc tells them they need a leader, a real leader. As Amy turns to look at the others, Victria pulls a gun. Doc gave it to her. She wants Orion back. As she moves to stand next to Doc, Amy notices the patches on Elder and Bartie’s necks.
Doc tells Victria she can shoot Amy if she wants as he’s giving his bad guy monologue... This all floats around Elder who is in a fog from the drugs. Doc orders Elder to put the wires in his pocket back into the Phydus machine. Amy tries to get through to Elder, but it’s no good. Doc tells her he gave Elder three months to be a leader and he failed, and Bartie tried to start a revolution but was weak. Doc was the one who used the patches and tried to get Marae on his side, but no. All the way, Doc has messed with Orion’s clues; he didn’t want her to make the decision. He will wake Orion up and get a proper leader installed. When Victria is distracted by Doc starting the process to wake Orion, Amy slaps a patch on her and grabs her gun, but Doc pulls his own gun. Amy pulls the trigger and shoots Doc in the leg, then slams a patch on him. There's another shot, from Doc's gun this time as he falls to the floor. Amy’s arm is grazed, but Victria is shot in the chest.
Amy calls for help, and Kit, Doc’s assistant, comes down. Amy tells her to leave the patch on Doc while Elder and Bartie are roused with a yellow antidote patch. Bartie and Elder take Victria’s body to the hatch and when they return, Amy begs Elder to refreeze Orion but he can’t do it. Instead, he slows the process down. When they get back to the Feeder level there is a crowd of people, Bartie has told them about the second bridge. An unknown voice shouts, ‘do we have to go’ while others look excited. Elder makes an all-call to gather everyone around the pond.
Elder tells them about the shuttle, the uncertainty on the planet and how Godspeed is not made to last and it will be dangerous. He then opens the floor for Bartie to speak who says he will stay behind on Godspeed. Elder confirms that there is a possibility that Godspeed can support them for a couple of generations at least, maybe longer. After the meeting, Amy is mad at those wanting to stay and Elder agreeing to it. She’s disgusted that at the end, they would kill themselves with Doc’s black patches when Godspeed can no longer sustain them rather than come to the planet. Elder won’t make them come as he has to consider other options than hers. Around one third of the ship wants to stay, which is a lot of opinions to consider. Amy sees Godspeed as a cage, they see it as a home.
Elder will leave the ship, but he’s apprehensive. As Amy waxes lyrical about birds and trees and oceans, Elder thinks about the armory and the uncertainty of landing. The Earth she knows isn’t the Earth they are going to. Elder tells her that Orion will be coming with them, however Doc will stay on Godspeed. Elder and Bartie discussed it and felt they should be separated. Amy doesn’t see the fairness and tells Elder nothing can be the same between them because of it. Amy doesn’t believe Orion should be allowed to go to the new planet even though Elder’s intention is to have the frozens judge him for his crimes.
Amy is the first to the shuttle. Elder is last. The people who are coming are a mixture of nerves, excitement, resentment and fear. Elder’s hand rests over the autopilot button. Ready.