Screen-ready friendly transcript for Episode 1 of The Triton Incident, a mystery audio drama.
Twenty years ago, a lone research vessel went down off the Bali coast, the entire crew disappearing without a trace. Almost. Armed with a single voice recording from the final days aboard, Sophia is determined to untangle the mystery of the Triton incident
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THE TRITON INCIDENT
EPISODE ONE: UNPLUMBED DEPTHS
SFX: Crashing of waves. Klaxons.
FIRST MATE: This is the R.S.V. Triton to any ships in range! We’ve capsized and require immediate assistance!
SFX: A rushing plunge as a ship goes under. waves slowly fade.
SOPHIA: Twenty two years ago today, on August 7th, a research vessel went down in the Indian Ocean. The ship was owned and operated by a privately funded research group called Fathoms Incorporated and was doing seismic research when it was hit by a rogue wave and capsized.
It wasn’t a big story. Only the BBC mentioned it...
SFX: The official BBC theme.
BBC ANNOUNCER: A scientific research vessel, the RSV Triton has capsized off the coast of Bali. All seventeen crew members aboard are reported to have perished.
SOPHIA: I know it’s grim, but I kind of laugh when I hear that clip. The prefix “RSV” means Research Vessel, so he’s literally saying “a scientific research vessel, the Research Vessel Triton.” Anyway…
The Bali Coast Guard did an investigation, and the insurance company sent their own investigators to ensure it wasn’t fraud, which, I’ve discovered, is quite common. In the end, it was ruled an accident. Turns out, rogue waves are a very real and very dangerous thing.
SFX: Public radio theme.
PUBLIC RADIO ANNOUNCER: Since the first humans took to the sea, sailors have told stories of huge waves, ten storeys high… vertical walls of water that come out of nowhere and eat ships like great frothing sea monsters.
For centuries, those stories were dismissed as tall tales, but it turns out that so-called ‘rogue waves’ are actually terrifyingly common. Scientists from the European Union’s MaxWave project have analyzed thirty thousand satellite images, and have discovered that waves measuring at least eighty feet appeared approximately three times per week…
SFX: Radio clip fades out.
SOPHIA: So, case closed. The investigators went home and the insurance company closed the file. Families were notified, payouts were made, and funerals were held.
MUSIC: Choir singing the hymn ‘Eternal Father, Strong To Save’.
Eternal Father, strong to save,
Whose arm hath bound the restless wave
Who bidd'st the mighty ocean deep
Its own appointed limits keep;
Oh, hear us when we cry to Thee,
For those in peril on the sea
SOPHIA: Life went on... for some people. I, for one, will never forget that day. Because August 7th is my birthday. Also, my dad was on that ship.
MUSIC: A soft synth song, the ambient notes are sorrowful, but hopeful.
His name was Andrew James Hudson, but everybody called him A.J. He was a deckhand. He loved pilsners and poker and dirty jokes. When you got a few drinks in him, he’d sing, loudly and off-key. But he could also be sweet. He liked doing nice things for people and not taking credit...or so I’m told.
I never got to meet him, but I do have this...
SFX: Music fades. Click of tape recorder starting.
A.J.: (Over the tape) Hey, this is A.J., I’m recording this for my daughter, who.... this is dumb.
REN: Keep going.
A.J.: Sophia, on the day you were born your dad was stuck on a ship in the middle of the Indian Ocean. But even though he couldn’t be there, he was thinking about you every second. I can’t wait to meet you. Take care of your mom until I get back. [to Ren] You’ll make sure this gets to them?
SFX: CLICK AS THE TAPE ENDS.
SOPHIA: The second voice on the tape is a woman named Ren Tanaka. She was a diver and a member of the science team. We’ll talk about her later, because she is very important.
Because I don’t think she’s dead. And I don’t think the wreck was some freak accident.
But I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s start at the beginning...
MUSIC: A soft synth song, gentle and uplifting.
SOPHIA: The RSV Triton was designed by the Ensiö Group out of Finland and is one hundred and four meters long and weighs over six thousand tons. It contains state-of-the-art seismic research equipment as well as some proprietary tools developed by its owner, Fathoms Incorporated.
MUSIC: Music fades.
SOPHIA: Okay, so we gotta talk about Fathoms Incorporated here for a sec because, well... they’re kind of an enigma. Their online presence has been erased. There are a few passing mentions to the company in online business registries and the name crops up in a blog belonging to one of the lost crewmembers. Unfortunately the blog hasn’t been updated in twenty years and the author, an engineer’s apprentice named Kevin Chen, only alludes to the fact that he was hired by Fathoms and was excited to get started. So no help there.
I finally found a contact number for the company on some old incorporation documents and gave it a call.
SFX: Phone ringing tone. Automated voice mail message begins.
AUTOMATED VOICEMAIL: We’re sorry, you have reached a number that has been disconnected or is no longer in service...
SOPHIA: So, what is Fathoms Inc.? Where did they get the money to custom build a state of the art research vessel and crew it with sixteen people? And what were they doing in the middle of the Indian Ocean when they got hit by that rogue wave...if that’s actually what happened?
Before I get any further, a disclaimer. I’m not a reporter. Or a private investigator. I’m also not into conspiracy theories. I don’t believe in the deep state, I don’t think the government planned 9/11. And yet, I just…
MUSIC: A similar sorrowful synth song, with soft Rhodes-piano style notes that ring and rise.
I think about how different my life would have been if Dad had been around. How different it would have been for mom, who had to raise me and my brother alone on a dental hygienist’s salary. How different it would have been for my brother, Carl, who gets told constantly that he’s the spitting image of a man he barely knew.
There are a few things we know for sure. Dad liked his job. He had friends on that boat. And he liked his boss.
MUSIC: Music fades.
LINDSTROM: (Over recording) It’s spotted linckia! They can regenerate entire limbs, you know. Imagine that!
SOPHIA: That’s Doctor Magnus Lindstrom, the founder of Fathom Inc. and head scientist onboard the RSV Triton. He was born in Gothenburg, Sweden and went to university in Scotland, where he earned double doctorates in Geophysics and Evolutionary Biology.
LINDSTROM: (Over recording) Oh, take a look at those glowworms! You never see such a large concentration of archnocampa this far below sea level.
SOPHIA: Before founding Fathoms, he was a tenured professor at Duke University. I spoke with a few students who remembered him from his days on campus.
SFX: Background noise, a busy campus.
MALE STUDENT: Yeah, I took bio with Doctor Lindstrom.
FEMALE STUDENT: I was in his grad seminar.
MALE STUDENT: I remember he was always using quotes. Seriously, every other sentence was like some bit of poetry or whatever.
SFX: Background noise fades.
LINDSTROM: (Over recording) One equal temper of heroic hearts / Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will…
SFX: Background noise returns, a busy campus.
FEMALE STUDENT: I read Kipling because of him.
MALE STUDENT: I remember he was obsessed with this...weird sound thing?. Like sonar, or… no, that’s not right. It started with an ‘s’.
FEMALE STUDENT: Cymatics.
MALE STUDENT: Cymatics! God. I still have no idea what that is.
FEMALE STUDENT: It’s the study of vibrational resonance patterns. You know how sound can create ripples on water, right? That’s cymatics. It’s the study of how sound can affect matter. It’s controversial because of the links to spirituality, but it’s grounded in real science.
MALE STUDENT: Half the time I never knew what the Doc was talking about, but I still loved his class.
FEMALE STUDENT: I still don’t know why he left the university.
MALE STUDENT: I heard a rumour he went crazy and he’s living on the street. It happens!
SFX: Background noise fades.
SOPHIA: Typically, tenured professors don’t walk off the job. But Lindstrom did. And my dad’s partially responsible for that. When my brother was born, Dad wanted to be able to stick closer to home so could help out, so he opened a small charter company. They had one leaky boat and their office was a table in the back of the local pub. But they made a go of it for a couple years.
SFX: Over the phone: background noise of several dogs barking.
GREG: (On the phone, over dogs barking) Can you hear me now?
SOPHIA: That’s Greg, my dad’s business partner. I spoke to him over the phone.
GREG: Hold on, I’ll go outside, it’s.... (To a dog) Pepper, down!
SOPHIA: He now lives in Nassau where he works as a bartender slash boat driver slash handyman slash...dog rescuer.
GREG: Bahamas got a real problem with stray dogs. Seriously, there are thousands of them just wandering the street. We round them up and find them good homes.
SOPHIA: That sounds dangerous.
GREG: Nah. Dogs don’t got a mean bone in their body. It’s people who turn ‘em bad.
SOPHIA: Well, thanks for taking the time to talk with me.
GREG: Hey, my pleasure. I loved your dad. He was my best bud in high school. (Chuckling) Man, the stuff we got up to... Your dad was a hellraiser.
SOPHIA: So I’ve heard.
GREG: Some of the stuff we did, I’m amazed we’re still alive. Like, like the time we tied a rope to the back of my pickup truck and we went bombing around the sand dunes with someone sledding behind us. (Energetic sigh, fondly remembering) Such a bad idea.
SOPHIA: I wanted to ask you about the charter company you ran together.
GREG: I’m still bummed that didn’t work out.
SOPHIA: Specifically, I’m interested in—
GREG: The scientist.
GREG: I kinda figured. Hold on, I’ll need a drink for this.
SFX: Fridge door opens, rummaging in the fridge, more barking.
GREG: Sit! Down!
SFX: A beer cap popping. Dog growling.
SOPHIA: You okay?
GREG: Yeah. (Beleaguered sigh) I’ve currently got like eight dogs at my place. Mostly ones that can’t find homes. You ever seen a potcake dog? They’re cute as hell. Smart, too. Pepper here has learned how to ring the doorbell when she wants in.
SOPHIA: That’s really charming, but we should probably--
GREG: Here, I’ll show you. Pepper, ring the doorbell.
SOPHIA: Uh, Greg…?
GREG: Come on, girl. You know how to do this.
SOPHIA: Greg, can we get back to—
SFX: A doorbell rings!
GREG: Good girl! Isn’t that amazing?
SOPHIA: (Impatient) Yeah.
GREG: People always underestimate dogs but—
SOPHIA: Greg, the scientist.
GREG: Right. (sigh)
SFX: Sound of a beer being drunk. Gulls cry in the distance.
GREG: So it was the end of the summer. Fishing was lousy that season so we were pretty desperate for clients. Then this guy shows up. He’s got this weird accent, like Irish.
SOPHIA: Swedish, actually. And Scottish.
GREG: Whatever. He wanted to test some special equipment he’d designed. Something about sound waves underwater.
SFX: End background noise.
MUSIC: A calmly upbeat, corporate synth track.
SOPHIA: Okay, so now I need to get a little science-y so this next part makes any sense. You heard those students mention Lindstrom’s pet obsession, cymatics. It’s hard to grasp, I know. But basically it’s the science of how things, material things are affected by sound. How sound can create patterns in sand. Form beautiful shapes like mandalas and stuff you’d expect on stained glass windows.
Well, Lindstrom took that theory one step further. He believed cymatics were a window into the undiscovered potential of sound, that harmonic frequencies could contain dense layers of information. I know this because he published several papers on the subject.
Now, sending information over audio isn’t new. DSP, or digital signal processing, has been around for a while. But Lindstrom believed that it’s been happening in nature for a long, long time. And he developed technology to track it that he called cymatic signal processing. He started finding areas of concentrated cymatic activity. One of those areas was just off the coast of Florida, where my dad and Greg had their small charter company.
SFX: Music fades. Back to the phone call with Greg.
GREG: So the area where he found these signals or whatever was in the Resolute trench, but a lot of charters won’t go near it. People call it the Crypt because there’ve been so many wrecks. But like I said, we’re desperate.
So we head out. AJ and me, this Lindstrom guy and this graduate student who barely said two words the whole time...
MUSIC: A quiet, harmonic ringing, ominous.
SFX: Low sound of boat going through chop.
GREG: At first, I’m thinking, what’s all the fuss? The sky is robin egg blue. We’re making great time. AJ and Lindstrom are even sharing a bottle of Lagavulin, this peaty scotch the doc likes. But further out, it gets darker.
SFX: An oncoming storm, first signs of rain and distant thunder.
GREG: A storm’s brewing a couple miles. Big heavy clouds, black like diesel fumes.
I get nervous and I tell AJ we should turn back. He doesn’t want to. Always had to prove he had the biggest balls around, your dad. It’s two against one, and even though I can tell the grad student’s getting nervous, she doesn’t say anything. So we keep going.
SFX: Rain, wind picking up.
GREG: We finally get to the trench. Boat’s bein’ tossed around. Lindstrom and the grad student — God, I wish I could remember her name — they send this probe down and then we huddle around this monitor, big cans on our ears.
SFX: The weather noises recede like putting on headphones.
GREG: For a long time, we don’t hear nothin’.
SFX: Underwater burble.
GREG: A bit of whale song.
SFX: Humpback whale calls.
GREG: Some clicks, that are apparently from the sea floor.
SFX: Clicking sounds.
GREG: A rumbling that I thought was an earthquake...
SFX: Deep rumbling.
GREG: … but was apparently a passing oil tanker. Meanwhile, we’re being bounced around like clothes in a dryer and that storm’s bearing down on us. I’m pissed. AJ and I get into a shouting match. I say we need to leave now.
Then Lindstrom starts waving his hands like a maniac, telling us to shut up. We put our headphones back on and we hear this.
SFX: Mysterious sound. It’s massive, dense with overlapping textures, something ancient and full of yearning.
GREG: At first, we think it might be military, but Lindstrom said that he got assurances that there aren’t military installations broadcasting in the area. It’s too powerful to be made by an animal. Blue whales ain’t that big. “Whatever made that sound,” Lindstrom says, “it has to be enormous…”
Just then (snaps fingers) we get hit broadside and almost capsize. AJ gives in and we head back. Lindstrom has this crazed look. Like a beer like that’s just been shook. Something started for him.
SOPHIA: Did you ever go back?
GREG: Hell, no.
SOPHIA: Why not?
GREG: Other than the fact that we almost died?
SOPHIA: Come on, you had to be curious.
GREG: AJ said the same thing. When Lindstrom offered him that job on that boat, he wanted me to come. But I said no way.
SOPHIA: Why not?
GREG: You ever read Lovecraft?
SOPHIA: Call of Cthulhu. Of course.
GREG: There’s this passage in Mountains of Madness. “It is absolutely necessary, for the peace and safety of mankind…”
SFX: Greg’s voice on the phone call fades.
SOPHIA: “... that some of earth’s dark, dead corners and unplumbed depths be let alone; lest sleeping abnormalities wake to resurgent life, and blasphemously surviving nightmares squirm and splash out of their black lairs to newer and wider conquests."
After I hung up with Greg, I did some checking and confirmed my suspicion. That grad student whose name Greg couldn’t remember? Her name was Ren Tanaka.
MUSIC: Gentle synth tones, like a curious, hopeful harp.
NARRATOR: The Triton Incident is produced by Archiact Interactive, and is a tie-in for the virtual reality game FREEDIVER: Triton Down. This episode was written by Peter Boychuk. Sound design and mixing by Sondra Moyls. Starring Tara Pratt as Sophia and Sebastien Archibald as Greg. Also featuring the voice talents of Simon Clay, Liam McCulley, Laura Reynolds and Richard Newman.
All music in this episode is used under Creative Commons. The “Navy Hymn” is performed by the United States Navy Band. Additional music was composed By Lee Rosevere.
FREEDIVER: Triton Down is available on the Oculus Quest, Playstation VR, the HTC Vive and the Oculus Rift. For early access to new episodes, join our Discord server. Check the show notes for the invite link. https://discord.gg/H5Dgrk5
© Archiact Interactive, 2020