Transcript - Season 2, Chapter 14
RIVER, EXT, DAY
We hear the gently soothing sound of the White Gull river as its currents run. Morning birdsong can be heard, over the sound of the Gulch’s tolling bells-
PARACLETE’S GULCH, INT, DAWN
-and we pick up right where we left off. Yelling and screaming from soldiers as they’re attacked by something that roars ferociously in the corridors of the Gulch. The flash of flamethrowers.
GAGE is trying to communicate with SHRUE on the radio.
Repeat. We’ve taken the false-faith’s temple after a night of hard fighting.
The renegades have fled out into the water.
(Wincing slightly at the sound of screaming)
-We’ve taken heavy casualties, but we’re resupplying now and we’ll pursue them up into the hills.
(Breaking up, barely audible)
Need you to stop-
Could you repeat that?
GAGE adjusts their radio. And then, gradually, the voice of SHRUE comes through.
(On the radio, urgently)
I need you to make it stop!
HILLS, EXT, DAY
-and we cut to CARPENTER, who is leading the Trawler-man’s people into the hills.
Keep it moving! Come on, we need to beat the dawn!
(To one disciple)
You doing all right? That’s it, good work, just keep moving.
Brother Fade! Is that everybody?
(Coming up the hill)
Katabasian Faulkner was bringing up the rear with a few of the others. I think he’s still back there.
Do you want me to go back and check?
No, keep moving. Keep moving. I’ll wait for him.
BROTHER FADE crunches on up the hill.
And CARPENTER waits, in the silence.
(Under her breath)
Come on, then, Faulkner…
HILLS, EXT, DAY
Further back, FAULKNER stops. He takes a breath.
He speaks into the walkie-talkie.
All right, Sister Thurrocks, we’re clear. You can set it off.
Silence. SISTER THURROCKS, understandably, does not respond.
A moment of silence.
The bells stop.
-and then MERCER, with a hideous, animalistic cry, launches herself at him, cracking him around the face.
She hits him again and again.
She’s injured, in terrible pain, and on her very last nerve.
Hello, prophet of the river.
(With pure malice)
How’s my face looking, prophet? Because it stings.
She hits him again - and again - and then unslings her rifle.
Great sorrow is pursued by a greater happiness. That’s what they used to tell us in the foster-house.
So I have no doubt - when I pluck your skull free from its ragged remnants and I hang it about my throat, this will be the final awakening I’ve been waiting for.
It has to be, you understand?
(One final blow with the butt, just for pleasure)
Because I just can’t wait any longer.
We hear her cock the rifle.
Please don’t do this-
Let’s just keep our fingers crossed, you and I? Can you promise me that, prophet?
Let’s hope and pray that this one humble bullet in your brainpan…
…causes something in this lousy, feeble world to change.
And then we hear a rustle in the long grass.
(Faintly, with wonder)
…is that you?
-and CARPENTER charges at her, yelling a war-cry, barrelling into her, as the rifle goes off-
-and they roll down the hill, struggling, and then hit the water together-
CARPENTER gets the upper hand. We hear her roar as she lands punch after punch on MERCER, who’s spluttering in the water.
MERCER cackles, drawing her knife-
-and then they dash forward at each other for a moment. We hear CARPENTER cry out in pain.
They go briefly underwater, still tussling, then rise again-
You’re bleeding, Beast- you’re bleeding!
FAULKNER runs down after them. He’s clutching the rifle.
Stop! Don’t take another step!
She sighs, heavily - and then tosses her knife down into the water.
(Half to herself, a little baffled that she’s been beaten)
Will you take your shot now, little prophet? Or will it be your Beast who strikes the final blow?
CARPENTER gets back to her feet, wheezing.
And from the distance, we hear-
Heh. But now there are two of us again.
Shoot them, Gage! They’re yours!
We hear GAGE wading through the water as they approach.
Sister, that’s enough!
We’ve been called off.
MERCER, still dazed, doesn’t take this in.
We’ve been told to stop. The hunt’s over, it’s finished.
(Furious and distraught)
That’s…no, that’s not true.
Just these two more, and it’s done. The Beast will come, I can feel it in my belly. You just need to be patient with me-
No. No more.
Please come home with me.
MERCER turns to GAGE. Contempt and fury rises in her.
(With growing hatred)
I used to…I used to know what you were thinking, Gage.
We knew each other, we were each other, and all that mattered was the next quarry and the next trophy for the glory of the Beast.
And now you’re just…
…weight. Another dull thing I’m bound to, and which will not set me free.
We built our god together, and now you want to leave me alone amongst the pieces.
You talk just like them now, Gage. Haven’t you noticed?
Pleading and mewling and begging, trying to sway me from the proper path. Asking to be spared from your place on the hunt, whining that you’d rather be doing something - anything else - except for the one thing that actually matters!
Do you hear me, sibling?
(Screaming, as the ultimate insult)
You’ve turned into them! You’ve become quarry!
GAGE raises their rifle without hesitation and shoots her dead.
Silence - and then MERCER’s body falls in the water.
You’ve become carrion, sister.
A stunned silence from CARPENTER and FAULKNER.
GAGE flings the rifle to one side - and then they turn, and splash away through the water.
Silence and birdsong.
FAULKNER comes wading through the river to help CARPENTER up.
(Weakly getting to her feet)
Argh - thanks.
(Teasing her, but proud of her)
Attack dog of the faith.
It doesn’t count when it’s for you.
She stares after GAGE.
…what the hell just happened?
SHRUE’S OFFICE, INT, DAY
We hear SHRUE sigh as they settle into their desk and pour themselves a hefty drink.
They flip through their papers, practicing their speech.
Occasionally they pause mid-sentence and correct themselves.
Last night, I and my fellow adjudicators committed to targeted and precise military retaliation against the Consolidated Linger Straits.
While I regret that such action was needed, I do fully accept that it is needed, for the safety and security of our people.
Our aim is solely to inhibit that nation’s ability to cause us harm; the ordinary citizens of the CLS do not need to fear us.
(Starting to warm to it)
However, those who sit in power on the thrones of Nesh must be warned - should they continue down this path, we of the North-Western territory keep to our old faiths.
Our old gods.
And these gods are more powerful than our enemies may care to find out.
(Repeating the line)
More powerful than they may care to learn…
SHRUE takes a long swig of whiskey.
Outside, air sirens begin to sound.
WATER’S EDGE, EXT, DAY
We hear the sound of the river.
And we hear the slow sound of a shovel, digging.
THE HOMESICK CORPSE:
Home. I have to get home…
CARPENTER stops digging.
She addresses the CORPSE she’s been carrying on her back.
I want you to know that. I didn’t realise what you could do. What I could ask you.
I only saw you as a burden, and I’m sorry for that.
She digs. And then asks a question.
What were you?
THE HOMESICK CORPSE:
CARPENTER reflects, and considers her follow-up question more carefully.
What did you do, when you were alive?
Silence for a moment. And then the words come flooding out of the HOMESICK CORPSE.
THE HOMESICK CORPSE:
I bore new words, unfamiliar wonders, from ingenious minds to the ears of a listening world.
Home was not merely cold stone and soft pillows; it was the endless scribbling dozen scribes, in the vaults of the old refuge amongst the hills, all of them persevering on the latest verses, tales of a great river and terrible gods and brave pilgrims.
And whatever they wrote, I’d take it in my satchel and I’d carry it out into the world. Seeking the hidden signs of our faith, our family, in farm and in vale.
And where I found my people I’d bring them the new gospels and we’d share in the wonder, the terror, the joy, as we read together.
When I was out of pages, I’d return home again, to the old refuge, to see what new wonders had been made in my absence.
How did you die?
THE HOMESICK CORPSE:
Alone, and in terrible pain.
CARPENTER adjusts her question.
How did they catch you?
THE HOMESICK CORPSE:
Upon the road. Three cars, one after the other, pulling to a halt alongside me as I walked.
And as they asked to search through my belongings I felt a great unspoken connection between them and between me.
Because they had a confidence that suggested they knew who I was and that they would have to kill me, they already knew who I was and what I was carrying, and I knew that they knew, but we had a few final shared moments between us where they would pretend that I was innocent and they were ignorant, and the kindness of the performance between us made me laugh, and laugh aloud, before the pistol butt struck me.
I never learnt who turned me in. I knew it must have been a sibling of the faith, one of the families I had most frequently visited or one of the hidden pilgrims who offered food and shelter along the roadside. Someone who would have known who I was and where I was going next.
I spent many of my final days turning the names over in my head, trying to guess - who might I have offended, who might have wished me dead, amongst my friends along the road?
In the end, I stopped wondering. I wished to die with love in my heart: not doubt, not enmity.
Silence. CARPENTER digs.
What do you regret?
THE HOMESICK CORPSE:
That I did not speak my love out loud often enough.
I had so much love in my life - it was offered to me as freely as rain.
I felt it so deeply, but I did not speak of it. I knew it only through ritual, through shared meals and the chanting of crowds, through the oration of new words to old friends and the applause that followed.
I should have told them all how much I loved them.
CARPENTER chokes, a little, because she recognises the sentiment.
She pauses, and then puts the shovel down and asks one final question.
Are you ready to go home?
THE HOMESICK CORPSE:
CARPENTER picks up the withered body and lays it down in the dirt.
Then she shovels the earth over it, in silence.
As she shovels, she begins to pray. It’s different, this time - the words come jolting out of her, they come strong and hard and she feels their weight.
She chokes, and she sobs, but she keeps on speaking them all the same.
This is the place.
This has always been the place.
You were always walking towards this moment.
There’s nothing left to hold on to.
There’s nowhere left to go.
There’s no need to worry any more.
Her voice breaks on the final line.
She breathes hard, struggling not to sob.
We listen to that sound, and the currents of the river.
PHONE BOOTH, DAY
CARPENTER inserts a coin, picks up the phone. Dials.
We hear a click as ACANTHA picks up on the other end.
It’s done. It’s done, he’s buried, and I don’t feel any better.
Silence for a moment. Then-
(On the phone)
Well, who said it’d make you feel better?
I mean, you-
What was it like, carrying him on your back all the way? Irritating, was he, moaning and complaining with every step, begging to be laid down to his rest?
(Sensing that she’s being poked fun at, but not sure what to do about it)
Very irritating, yes.
And yet you’ve learned no patience.
Few good things come quickly, Carpenter. Fewer quick things last.
Be kind to yourself, and persevere, and peace will come to you in time, as it comes to any traveller upon a lonely road.
Did you decide what you want to do next? Where you want to go?
These aren’t my people any more.
And that doesn’t…it doesn’t frighten me, standing here, saying that out loud. So maybe that’s something.
But I also don’t think I’m the person to inherit your garden, Acantha. I can’t be locked away like that, I don’t think, away from it all.
Not for the rest of my life.
(As if understanding)
Ah. Too much wonder and beauty in the wide and open world.
Just the opposite. Too much ugliness.
I don’t know where I’m supposed to be. That’s the problem.
A long silence.
The Maiden has always had her itinerant preachers, you know. It’d be strange if she didn’t. Brave disciples, taking to the roads, shovels on their backs, seeking out the broken and unburied.
Some are born to slippers, others to boots.
If you want, you can come home. I’ll put the kettle on.
And you can talk, and I can listen, and together we can figure out where you want to go next.
CARPENTER considers. And then she accepts.
Yes. Yes, I’d like that.
Thank you, Acantha. I’ll set off shortly.
First I just have to…
…I have to say something to somebody.
She needs to go back to the Gulch, and tell her brother she loves him.
Is that okay?
All right, I’ll-
She puts the phone down, and steps out of the phone booth.
Air raid sirens are going off in the distance.
Above her, a plane roars past.
BEACH, EXT, DAY
We hear PAIGE and HAYWARD’s boat washing up onshore. They’ve made it across the channel - they’re back on the Peninsula.
HAYWARD grunts and breathes heavily as he jumps down into the cold water and pushes it up into the sand.
Then he clambers back into the boat and tries to wake up PAIGE.
Paige! Hey, hey - Paige!
Paige, please say something!
PAIGE stirs, groggily.
Oh, thank gods.
(An unpleasant thought occurring to him)
Paige. Are you still you?
Are you still you?
(Weakly, taken aback)
That’s just…an incredibly baffling question-
You’re still you.
Here, have a sip of water.
It…it took hold of you. I didn’t even know if you were going to wake up.
Do you remember anything?
PAIGE hesitates - and then lies.
No. No, I don’t.
She sits upright.
Where are we?
(Simply, a little unhappily)
And as if on cue, we hear the air raid sirens wailing, high above-
HAYWARD figures out what’s happened.
We need to get off the beach.
Come on, let’s get you up-
HAYWARD helps PAIGE up and onto the sand.
Behind them, we listen to the waves crashing.
We hear the radio station buzzing in and out of focus.
-and as CLS troops begin to gather on the southern border in preparation for the initial assault, here in Nesh’s Flaying-Stone Square, the crowds have been swelling throughout the morning despite the cold and the rain to show their support for action against the Peninsula.
(Becoming performatively emotional)
There’s a real fervour out here, a sense of community that I haven’t seen in our streets in a very long time, a family atmosphere - it really is something incredible, and this reporter isn’t ashamed to admit, it brought a tear or two to his eye.
In the coming days, we know from bitter experience, that unity will be essential; we must maintain that magnificent sense of collective endeavour towards a singular goal.
We must also remember that while the vast majority of us will not be spending any time at the front lines or in the hallowing chambers, we civilians will have our own role to play - and vigilance will be the duty of every citizen of the Linger Straits, even against our own neighbours.
Just this morning, for example, the Conclave has warned that a series of brutal, homegrown terror attacks, funded by the Peninsulan authorities, may be carried out on our own soil.
We know that details are still emerging about an attack that was carried out last night - upon the offices of Old Black Crow Incorporated, a marketing and divine design agency based on the outskirts of Nesh - where it appears that a routine test sacrifice was sabotaged in its final moments.
There were, tragically, no survivors.
‘The Fiend of Flowering Crocus’ is one name being ascribed by authorities to the false-faith god behind the attack. Another is the ‘Tree of Spite.’
Our understanding is that this latest atrocity may have been masterminded by Dennis Duplass, a CLS citizen and convicted felon who was shot dead yesterday after refusing to surrender to authorities.
Stay watchful. Stay alert. And be on the lookout for any strange or distressing behaviour in your own sacrificial offerings.
As always, with news from Nesh - I’m Chuck Harm.
The radio cuts out.
THE PARACLETE’S GULCH, INT, DAY
The Gulch’s bells are ringing out in celebration.
FAULKNER is walking through the corridors of the Gulch - proudly, happily, as a war hero and a leader.
As he goes by, DISCIPLES call out to him. He responds.
Katabasian Faulkner. Blessings upon you!
(Continuing to walk)
And on you, brother.
You saved my wife, Katabasian. She wanted to thank you with a gift, just a small offering-
We saved one another, sister.
Tell your wife thank you. I’ll treasure it.
BROTHER FADE catches up with FAULKNER.
Brother Fade. It’s good to see you well.
I’m sorry about Brother Flicker, he - he fought hard for us all.
That means a great deal, Katabasian. We’ll…we’ll be releasing him into the currents tonight, if you’d care to be there.
I’d be honoured.
BROTHER FADE hesitates before asking,
Katabasian, uh…some of the other disciples are wondering.
Do you know why they retreated?
FAULKNER chuckles to himself.
It’s OK if you’re wondering too.
(Shrugging a little)
They were saying on the radio this morning, war’s been declared with Nesh.
Maybe the authorities figured we were no longer their first priority. Maybe the losses they took were enough to make them think twice.
What does that mean for us, do you think? Will they come after us again?
Honestly…I have no idea. I’ve requested a call with the High Katabasian to discuss our next steps.
In the long term, we probably need to assume the Gulch isn’t safe any more.
But right now my first priority…
…my first priority is a hot shower and a long sleep.
Everything else can wait.
(A thought occurring to him)
Brother - have you seen Sister Thurrocks since the battle?
(A little surprised)
No, Brother. She’s…she’s not among the dead. Or…I don’t think so, at least.
FAULKNER frowns - and then accepts this.
(As a goodbye)
The river rises. I’ll see you tonight by the water.
The river rises, Katabasian.
FAULKNER goes on his way with a spring in his step.
He hums happily to himself as he descends the stairs-
FAULKNER’S CHAMBERS, INT, DAY
A creak as FAULKNER’s door swings open - he stops.
MASON is waiting for him by the crackling fireplace. THURROCKS is standing by the door.
Yes, I let myself into your room.
I understand that could be considered intrusive, but after all the excitement my office is no longer quite in a fit state to receive visitors, and besides - I thought it might be more appropriate for us to talk in private.
Oh, and you know Sister Thurrocks, of course.
I do hope you don’t mind.
What’s mine is the Parish’s, Katabasian.
FAULKNER is eyeing MASON suspiciously. MASON is acting calmly, casually, as if he’s at home.
Thurrocks tells me you acquitted yourself well during the siege of the Gulch.
It’s a pity it came to that, of course - a great many lives lost.
But it sounds as if we all did just as well as we could. And I’m sure there’ll be a glorious retelling.
I’m only sorry that I couldn’t stop it any earlier.
FAULKNER is staring at MASON.
Well, how’d you do it?
They backed off. Retreated when they had us beat.
I thought you’d abandoned us, but…
(Not entirely complimentary or trusting)
...you’re a miracle-worker.
That’s all I can think.
Oh, I’m sure that’s not all you’re thinking.
There are no miracles without clever people to engineer them, Faulkner.
Clever people and occasional happy accident.
But you know that, of course. I understand Sister Carpenter is alive, having miraculously risen from the garden of the drowned in order to help lead our defences.
You’re making rather a mess of the contemporary canon.
I’m sure you can bend the story as it needs to.
This amuses MASON.
True, but there’s a limit to just how many resurrections people will take in their stride before they start to question the text.
Do tell her from me, when you see her - she’s not to go dying again.
There’s a hint of affection in his voice there when he speaks of her.
You won’t see her?
No, I’m headed back into Glottage right after this. I have to prepare for the launch.
MASON gets to the point.
You asked me how I did it, Faulkner, and the simple truth is that it wouldn’t have been possible without you - you and your Wither Mark.
Next week, the Adjudicators will make the public announcement.
In horror and in protest at the many aggressions from across the border, as well as the slanderous attempts to lay the blame at our feet for the Linger Straits’ own actions vis-a-vis the Bellwethers Abomination, the Parish of Tide and Flesh is stepping out of the shadows and joining its strength to the forces of the North-Western Territory and the greater Peninsula.
FAULKNER stares at him - blankly and with growing horror.
As I said, your doing in the end - and of course I have to thank dear Sister Thurrocks for delivering the accurate specifications of the Wither Mark to me.
I’m sorry, Brother-
You don’t need to apologise to him. We’re all of the same faith, there can be no betrayals between us.
(His eyes back on FAULKNER)
Only good engineering - and happy accident.
Not so long ago I thought Bellwethers might be the end of us, but ultimately it’s all proven a very valuable proof-of-concept in demonstrating how much we could bring to the coming war effort.
Once you become useful, it’s remarkable how much people are willing to forgive.
Do you want to sit down, Faulkner? You look a little pale.
FAULKNER is still in shock.
What...what will we tell our people?
Oh, different things, different things.
Some of our disciples will want to understand that this is a victory over the lawful authorities - that we’ve gulled them, tricked them into accepting us.
Others will like the idea that we’ve put aside our regional quarrels on behalf of the greater nation.
And I’m sure some will just be relieved that they no longer need to pray to a puddle in a hidden basement.
Isn’t that something to celebrate?
FAULKNER struggles to get the words out for a moment. Finally, he says-
You’ve killed us.
(Growing a little annoyed)
As a matter of fact, I’ve done just the opposite.
Two days ago, we were in flight from this place through the shallows. Our people’s blood was drifting in the currents. You couldn’t stop it, brave as you were, you didn’t have it in you.
This was death, this was the moment of our death...even if you’re too obstinate to understand that.
Now, thanks to my efforts - and yours - the first busload of sacrifices will come in by the end of the month.
Served on a platter.
It’ll be a time of new miracles. Fresh expansion. They want us to grow.
A high and rising tide.
(Warning and reassuring all at once)
I’ll still have a use for you, Faulkner.
You don’t need to worry about that.
You’ll still have a place amongst us.
Change can, of course, be frightening, and there may need to be compromises in our outward presentation - our people will need reassurance that the heart of the faith will be maintained. You can provide that.
Don the Katabasian’s wreath of kelp.
Yes, I’ve kept my promise, Faulkner, I wasn’t lying to you about that. The ceremonial arrangements are already underway, the news is being shared as we speak.
You can bear your scars, raise your voice. Tell the story of how you helped to get us to this place, remind our people that the Trawler-man has a plan for us all.
Our prophet of the river.
FAULKNER considers. Then, anger rising in him, he makes a decision.
Why don’t you take a moment, Faulkner? Pray on it. Think about your future.
Sister Thurrocks. Come. Let’s leave him to it.
FAULKNER stops him dead.
No, you’ve...you’ve killed us.
How can you not see that?
How can you be so calm?
You’ve killed our god.
Oh, don’t be childish-
YOU KILLED HIM!
A sudden THUMP as FAULKNER launches himself at MASON, knocking him back against the wall, and begins to throttle him forcibly.
MASON chokes, strangling, struggling, caught off guard-
YOU KILLED HIM, YOU KILLED HIM, YOU KILLED HIM, WE’RE DEAD-
Katabasian Faulkner! Please don’t!
The sound of struggling.
A CRACK as FAULKNER slams MASON’s head against the mirror.
Then he keeps choking, and keeps choking - until MASON wheezes one final breath.
MASON’s body topples.
We listen to FAULKNER’s panting breath in the silence.
You killed us. You killed us.
We’re done for. We’re gone.
He stares at the body, still panting.
A moment of silence - and then we hear a small smash of glass.
And an alarm begins to sound.
THURROCKS has set it off.
(Looking up, bright-eyed)
Did I give you permission...to sound the alarm?
He begins crossing the room quickly towards her, picking up a shard of glass along the way.
THURROCKS desperately fumbles for the doorknob as he approaches. She’s too slow.
Please don’t - please - please -
She cries out, gasping, as FAULKNER pins her against the wall and stabs her, over and over.
Her body slides to the ground.
The ALARM continues to sound.
FAULKNER pants, his breath subsiding - and he comes to himself.
MASON doesn’t respond.
No, this isn’t - this isn’t how it’s supposed to-
We hear running footsteps above. Someone's on the staircase.
(Under his breath, still in shock)
Wait. Don’t come in. Please don’t come-
The door swings open.
And from the doorway, we hear:
They just stare at each other for a long silence. CARPENTER is horrified, FAULKNER is ashamed.
The alarm continues to sound.
CARPENTER accepts the situation.
All right. All right, we can fix this.
But we’ll need to be quick, before someone comes.
(Leaning down to the bodies, trying to pick one of them up with a grunt)
Give me a hand with them, come on.
She looks up. FAULKNER has not moved.
I’m sorry about this, Carpenter.
But you’re going to need to run again.
Make for the river. You know the way.
CARPENTER understands what he's about to do.
(Raw and vulnerable)
I’m so sorry.
The ALARM rings. And rings. Outside, we hear running footsteps, getting closer and closer.
FAULKNER turns and runs towards them.
SOMEBODY, PLEASE, HELP!
SHE’S KILLED MASON!
SHE’S KILLED HIM!
The alarm continues to sound.
END OF SEASON.