Anomaly, Part I


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Scene Title Anomaly, Part I
Synopsis \ ə-ˈnä-mə-lē \ — 1: : something different, abnormal, peculiar, or not easily classified
Date June 30, 2021

High-frequency Active Auroral Research Program
Satellite Link Station

Mt. Natazhat

June 30th
5:27 pm

A cold wind whips across a field of matte white. Snow whirls in the air, eddies of powder blown off of windswept drifts. Frost clings to freezing metal. But in the cold, a low hum of machinery breaks through the howling. An enormous motor powers the subtle turn of a hundred foot tall satellite dish as it reorients itself toward the sky. Icicles hanging off of the bottom of the dish crack and fall, shattering on the roof of a maintenance station below. Tracks in the snow lead to a bright orange tractor, headlights still on and engines running.

Richard Drucker bundles himself against the cold in his fur-trimmed jacket as he steps out of the tractor, marching through knee-deep snow into the open garage bay of the maintenance building. "Ey!" He shouts over the howl of the wind, reaching for the door controls with a slap. The rolling garage doors start to come down to close up the bay, but get stuck halfway down and jam. Drucker hits the button a few more times.

«Reading you.» Charlotte Roux chirps in response, her voice crackling over the radio waves in his head. «What's your situation, over.»

Drucker hits the switch a few more times and the garage door angrily groans against the order. It refuses to budge. "Fucking—garage door is frozen shut again. I'm gonna have to come back and melt the ice later. How's the dish?" He asks, stepping away from the button and navigating piles of electronics and mechanical equipment filling the garage bay. There's a prolonged silence over the radio-waves. "Charlotte?" He inquires again.

«You're supposed to say over when you're done,» she chides, nearly forgetting to add «Over.»

Drucker takes in a deep breath. "God, give me patience to deal with this otherwise lovely woman." He says to himself in a sigh, staring up at the ceiling. Then, says more directly into the airwaves. "How's the dish? Over." It pains him.

«Still getting a jam notification. We're two degrees off, no satellite uplink. Over.» There's a smug satisfaction in Roux's voice, and in spite of himself it makes Drucker smile.

"Alright. Give me ten." Drucker says, then hastily adds "Over" with a shake of his head.

«Affirmative. Over.»

Winding through piles of mechanical equipment, Drucker navigates to where lengths of bright orange extension cords are spooled up on the ground. Linking them together, Drucker assembles some hundred feet of extension cord, then plugs one end into a wall outlet. He then turns and rummages through a few old, dilapidated cardboard boxes before finding a large hair-dryer like heat gun that he plugs into the other end of the cord. A few clicks of the switch and a roar of its fan tests the heat gun's functionality to his satisfaction. Drucker then exits out the back of the garage up a metal staircase, exiting out onto the roof of the maintenance bay and back into the blistering cold, trailing orange extension cord behind him as he does.

Squinting against the wind, Drucker props the roof access hatch open and yanks the extension cord up with him as he walks, following an icy metal walkway to the rotating drum. Drucker slowly settles down on one knee and turns on the heat gun, blasting one side of the drum with a steady beam of hot air. He keeps the gun close to the drum's surface, working it from side to side. Water trickles out of the gap between the drum's two rotating plates as ice melts, but quickly refreezes once it hits the metal walkway below. The satellite dish starts to move again, but then the heat gun cuts out. Drucker curses to himself, flicking the switch back and forth a couple of times.

"בת/בן זונה," Drucker curses under his breath, smacking the heat gun against his palm. He tries the switch again. Nothing. Looking to the extension cord, Drucker gives it a few tugs. It feels slack. Rolling his eyes, exhales an exhausted sigh.


High-frequency Active Auroral Research Program
Research Station

Slow jazz notes drift beneath the frosted glass panes of a geodesic dome. Below the suspended lights dangling from the ceiling, Charlotte Roux sits with her legs folded under herself in a backless office chair, a mug of tea cradled in her lap. A bank of computers hum away softly on a curving desk in front of her. The plastic of the several CRT monitors are yellowed with age, keyboards much the same. Numerous fractal patterns are displayed across all the monitors, some displaying wireframe models of the Earth and points orbiting it marked L1, L2, L3, and L4. Another display shows an open file tree and folder upon folder of dated files. A warning prompt is centered on that screen showing a red stop sign and the words SATELLITE UPLINK DISCONNECTED.

«Gonna be an extra minute. Fucking dryer unplugged itself.» Drucker's voice comes over a walkie talkie sitting on Roux's desk. She waits, small smirk twisted across her lips and one brow raised. A deep sigh erupts through the radio a second later, followed by a grumbling, «Over.»

Roux takes the radio in her free hand and answers back. "Received, Over." She sets the radio back on her desk and takes a sip of her tea, then unfolds one leg to wheel herself across the floor and over to another smaller desk with a fat, black laptop plugged in to an old rack of servers. There's a progress bar running on the laptop on a large series of data, extrapolating information. The header of the progress bar reads: ATMOSPHERIC ANOMALY ANALYSIS: 87.77%. It's been running for weeks.

Roux rolls to the side of the laptop, where a portable record player is plugged in to the research station sound system. She lifts the needle, moving it by memory to the groove she knows starts her favorite track with a fond smile. As she sets the needle back down, Roux notices an old hand-written note slouched against the side of the record player: Promise I'll come back with more music, for my own sake. — Nova. Roux smiles fondly, picking the note up off of the table. She rises from the backless office chair, sipping her tea as her slippered feet carry her out of the domed office and down a concrete-floored hallway to a small kitchen. She sets her tea down on the nearby counter, then plucks a star-shaped magnet off of the refrigerator and pins Nova's note beside a faded Polaroid photograph of Nova, Drucker, and Charlotte standing outside of the facility in front of a crooked and lumpy snowman. Roux smiles and sighs softly, then turns to reach for her tea…

Roux lets out a sharp gasp as she sees someone standing in the doorway to the kitchen, knocking her tea to the floor. The mug shatters and dark tea spills across concrete.


High-frequency Active Auroral Research Program
Satellite Link Station

Angry banging footfalls announce Drucker's return to the maintenance bay from the roof. Snow clings to his curly hair and the fur-trimmed hood of his parka. As he clomps noisily down the stairs, ice falls from the treads of his boots. Drucker follows the orange trail of the extension cord to where it was plugged into the wall, now resting a few inches away on the floor. Drucker starts to slowly bend down to plug it back in, but stops when he notices there's still feet of slack on the cord. His brows furrow together, lips part, and he only realizes that it means someone unplugged it.

"Don't turn around." A woman calls from behind him. "Lift your hands, slowly." Drucker does exactly as he's asked, brows furrowed together. Charlotte, we have company. Get to the armory. I'm in the garage. He projects his thoughts to her radio.

"If you're here for gasoline, we don't have any. Station runs on geothermal, solar, and wind." Drucker says to the wall, glancing left and right, trying to feel for broadcast signals coming from her. He finds none.

"Not here for gas, guns, or food." The woman says, and Drucker can hear her footsteps approaching. A decade ago he might have still been spry enough to risk trying to fight her off, even if she was armed. Now it's harder. Charlotte's lack of response makes the pit of his stomach twist. Drucker divides his attention, tapping in to a wireless broadcast port in the security surveillance system. First the garage, where he sees himself held at gunpoint by a brunette in fatigues. Drucker's jaw works from side to side.

"Wondered how long it would take for you to come and try some Eminent Domain bullshit." Drucker says with a click of his tongue. She doesn't look as young as she sounds. But as he contemplates fighting her for the gun he feels the arthritic ache in his knees and hips. He curses age. Charlotte, copy? She isn't responding. Over?

"This is US government property, Mr. Drucker." The woman says, leaning in to pat Drucker's pockets down. She fishes through one and removes a keyring, then a multi-tool from the other. "We've let you squat here for a long time. That said, we're not here to evict you. You can lower your hands and turn around now."

Drucker slowly unlaces his hands from behind his head and lowers his arms. "So, what exactly is it that you want?" He asks, turning to face her.

"Information," is her succinct answer.


High-frequency Active Auroral Research Program
Research Station

"What kind of information?" Roux asks, standing stiff in the kitchen behind the island, staring at the armed man in the doorway.

"I'm not the logistics head," the bearded man replies, keeping his sidearm trained on Roux. As he walks into the kitchen, the white-enameled heavy power armor he wears whirrs and clicks. Roux looks at the armor up and down, the hydraulic exo-skeleton, the thick armor plating flecked with pockmarks from reflected gunfire. No helmet. She looks up to the dark-haired man inside the armor, standing head and shoulders taller than her for the added height the armor gives him. "But I'm going to take you to him now, if you would be so kind?" He gently insinuates the muzzle of his sidearm under her right arm.

Roux flexes her jaw shut, tongue sliding behind her teeth. "Sure," she says tightly, before he nudges her with the barrel of the handgun to walk ahead of him. Roux does as asked, flexing her hands open and closed as she does. The shards of her teacup crunch under his boots as he follows behind her. They leave the kitchen, and down over the railing in the hallway Roux can see the research station's main lobby floor filling with a handful of soldiers bundled up against the cold in arctic survival gear. They're hauling crates of equipment in. Roux looks over her shoulder to ask a question, but the dark-haired soldier behind her just nudges her forward.

He leads Roux back to the geodesic dome of her office, where a gray-haired man in army fatigues and a heavy winter parka stands by the record player. He's holding Roux's walkie talkie in one hand. "Your husband called," the man in the fatigues says, brandishing the radio at Roux. "Don't worry, I have someone bringing him in." He assures her, setting the radio down beside the turntable. "You're jazz fans? I like a little Miles Davis every now and then. I don't recognize this, though."

"Thelonious Monk," Roux says softly. The soldier offers a small nod and a faint smile. "I'm sorry, I don't think I got your name."

Any introductions that were going to be made end when the soldier turns his dark eyes over Roux's shoulder at the sound of approaching footsteps. Roux turns to follow the look, and sees Drucker being escorted in by the dark-haired woman that apprehended him. She gently pushes him forward, and Drucker quickly moves to Roux and wraps his arms around her in a tight embrace. He plays up exasperation for the crowd, but whispers into her hair. "I counted fifteen outside, they came on foot. No comms. They must know what we can do."

"Now that we're all here," the gray-haired soldier says, offering a smile.

"Why don't we make introductions?"

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