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  • 1. THE QUESTION (Synopsis as Trailer)by Dana C. Barbour Adapted from the novel The Question by Dana C. Barbour copyright, 1995-1999 by Dana C. Barbour 405 North Lakeside Drive Satellite Beach, Florida 32937 (407) 777-1726
  • 2. EXT - A COMPLEX IN GEOSYNCHRONOUS EQUATORIAL EARTHLY ORBIT This satellite has many parabolic antennas, solar panels and a cleared docking space for a shuttle orbiter. A nano-circuited, artificially intelligent supercomputer is at its core, that central processing unit residing just behind ten now-immobile SECURITY ANDROIDS which idly stand on a platform to service the facility, the AI/CPU first as the "OMNI," the Orbital Mensurating Normative Intelligence, the dispenser of the alleged "Collective Intelligence of all mankind" or "CI," for short, thereby also to provide a range of psychic as well as telecommunications "services" for humanity from the AI/CPU top down. Each android is 3 meters tall and one across the shoulder, humanoid but sexless, with polymer "skin," behind a detachment of which a “stomach” cavity contains an x-ray laser weapon, baton-like electronics emissions scanning/destruction wand, an electric stun gun, a fingerprint pad, and identity-debit card reader-decoder, all for human control. INT - THE STEWART FAMILY’S DINING ROOM Sally, a TV remote in hand, points it at a TV then looks at Jaime disdainfully . SALLY You're one to talk! I do believe my status in society speaks for itself. Besides, everyone knows mirrors at home are legit. INT - A BACHELOR-QUARTER’S ROOM - NIGHT Jaime grimaces. JAIME (V.O.) How do you know, Sally? How does anyone? INT - A FACULTY MEETING ROOM - DAY Gillespie turns to a chagrined Jaime in irritation. GILLESPIE OMNI stands for Orbital Mensurating Normative Intelligence, Stewart, orbital because it's always there for us.... mensurating because it can be relied on to measure your degraded performance quite fairly and impartially.... Normative, Stewart... EXT - A SMALL OUTLYING BUILDING- DAY A fitful Jaime girds his strength to speak out courageously, an android standing by.
  • 3. JAIME And that test question- your question- raised another, my question which had no answer. I know I gave the keyed right answer- your answer to the first question- but the second one... my question, had no answer anywhere that I knew of. The OMNI head and globe suddenly dissolve on the screen, a still-speaking Jaime disconsolately turning to an android. JAIME (Cont.) And where is the... the justice? For, you see, in losing everything by making my choices, I actually made yours! After a few uncomfortable seconds, the OMNI's screen images return, and Jaime takes a deep breath. TALKING OMNI HEAD You are predictable, Mr. Stewart. You are a risk taker, one once known as an entrepreneur. You meet that parameter for your admission unto a place before unknown to you. You meet a second parameter with your logical- if unnecessarily emotional- argument for the relative nature of freedom. Freedom through informed choice is relative, and necessarily so. The generality of mankind are happy in their relative ignorance, and we are happy to make them happy. But a full exposition of all this will come, in time, Mr. Stewart. You have made the logical choice. I trust you will remain with us. Please check out, Mr. Stewart. INT - A MAGLEV MOTOR COACH A wide-eyed and disbelieving Jaime views people outside, some scantily clad, among them a number of uniformed soldiers. JAIME Home? How can this be home? INT - A HOTEL ROOM AT THE NEW HILO AIRPORT - NIGHT Alesha with new resolve looks at Jaime intently. ALESHA
  • 4. ... there's a kind of crab- a kind of ocean creature, which needs the shells- the discarded protecting enclosures left by other creatures. While this crab, this creature, grows, it must find larger shells- new homes- to live in- to live in safely. And... INT - THE MAIN ROOM OF A CABIN - NIGHT Alesha stands by Kwami, her luggage in his hands. The moment's awkward for both, and Kwami smiles nervously as the sound of a VTOL draws nearer. KWAMI Well, niece, I've done all I can for you.... You've chosen to make your own way out there now.... ALESHA I know, Uncle... Uncle and mentor, and I'll try to respect your choice, too... your choice not to get drawn into it, as well.... INT - THE WATERFRONT PAPEETE BISTRO - DAY An imploring Alesha tentatively touches Jaime's hand, her fingers trembling, and an emotionally torn Jaime forces a smile which she returns. ALESHA And you see, I didn't get drunk- not completely anyway, but maybe you can understand why I thought I might like to.... INT - A LARGE CONFERENCE ROOM - DAY Emperor ZOKUHITO, Arthur CABOT and Prescott LODGE sit across from Ligachev as the Grand Directors who are his primary political enemies. Ligachev stares at the three, then settles on Cabot, pushing his button to turn his green light on. LIGACHEV Can any here say with conviction they do completely understand where OMNI's intelligence is right now much less where it takes us? No, I think (Continued) LIGACHEV (Cont.) not. No, I would ask my good friend from housing if he can still oppose such a reasonable request? Smiling weakly, Kwami gravely shrugs and settles back. KWAMI I've reason to believe the Founding Fathers linked OMNI with nuclear-biological-chemical weapons
  • 5. somewhere.... Alesha showing increasing concern, Kwami takes a deep breath. KWAMI (Cont.) Mutually assured destruction- our "MAD" policy- worked before. Continuing it would constrain their own and successors' ambitions through OMNI's agency. In sum, our leaders may have continued the balance of terror which worked so well before. The imaginative Alesha shudders, her drawn face focal. EXT - A NUCLEAR BOMB EXPLOSION From file footage, this occurs over an island, Bikini atoll, say. INT - JAIME'S COMPUTER WORKSTATION AT THE ARCHIVES - DAY AKITO The guys who wrote the book also just happened to end up leading the OMNI project. Teller and Kano- Jaime's interest sharpens at the mention of Kwami Kano. AKITO (Cont.) set up a logical system which defined the OMNI's operational parameters, giving it so-called "intelligence." INT - JAIME'S WORKSTATION, THE ARCHIVES, SUVA - DAY Jaime is at his workstation seat, Teller and Kano's book, The Logical Basis of Artificial Intelligencing, lying beside him while he opens up to Benazir who sits near him.
  • 6. JAIME I've often wondered if my parents were among those "unfortunate casualties" of the Great Diaspora... the transition to the New World Order of which the OMNI speaks.... INT - TELLER'S OFFICE ON YAKU JIMA - PRESENT TIME Kwami's regained some composure, Teller speaking with an air of invincibility. TELLER Of course, I'd prefer OMNI to work out otherwise, but- should Ligachev try to change any of the parameters... well, que sera, sera. INT - TELLER'S OFFICE ON YAKU JIMA - PRESENT TIME A seething Kwami sits back in his chair as he regains greater self-control. KWAMI You snuck one through on them... on us all.... Teller shrugs, then smiles smugly. TELLER You bet! At the point man's collective behavior becomes more divergent than convergent with respect to orderly norms, OMNI will tear the world a new asshole. INT - KWAMI'S CABIN - DAY A terrified Alesha crawls to the back window. She presses her right temple against the pane, looking north. No one there, she creeps under it to the other end, looks south, and stifles a second scream. The dead agent's chin props on a fallen banana trunk, his head likening to that of a luau pig, its snout projecting outward and upward and paraded on a skewer. Yet this "skewer," a lethal dart, protrudes from between his eyes, and Alesha shivers at the luridness. Alesha sits on the floor, holding her knees with crossed arms to her breast and stares blankly into space. INT - ZOKUHITO'S OSAKA OFFICE, JAPANESE ISLANDS - DAY
  • 7. Escorting androids post at two corners of the room with Teller using one foot slightly to encroach over a line drawn on the floor some five meters outward from the center of Zokuhito's desk. An impassive Zokuhito nods slightly. ZOKUHITO As you know, Mr. Teller, the path of mundane existence intersects that of kami where human survival is itself in question.... Teller frowns, then smiles at Zokuhito. INT - MILITARY OFFICES, REYKJAVIK, ICELAND - NIGHT A burly, fiftyish GENERAL SCHOLL sits at a table before a chess board. An intense, somewhat younger and less imposing Defense Secretary CABOT BUSH approaches him. BUSH Do you have anything smaller? Scholl chortles in spite of himself. SCHOLL Excuse me, sir, but we're not fitting a suit here. INT - JAIME'S APARTMENT, MAIN ROOM BREAKFAST BAR - TWILIGHT Benazir is near the bar, a shocked Jaime somewhat removed, both with wine glasses. JAIME You no longer officially exist- lost your identity... your official identity? BENAZIR Losing one's debit account is part of that. I'm expunged from global society, what's known as a "street person," "undergrounder," an o...fficial "unclassified staffer." INT - THE SHOWER IN JAIME'S APARTMENT'S BEDROOM - DAY Jaime and Benazir wash one another, Jaime stroking Benazir's body reverently in the slow motion of a suspended moment. EXT - THE SUVA, FIJI AIRPORT - DAY
  • 8. Benazir tearfully waves goodbye at Jaime's departing VTOL. INT - DAGMAR'S BUNGALOW, THE KITCHEN AREA - DAY Dagmar earnestly solicits a seemingly indifferent Benazir, his face a mix of pity and condescension masquerading as concern. DAGMAR Bennie... Bennie, we're talking about Ligachev and the ultimate detonation, here.... Should we all have to die if he and Kano don't pull it off? INT - AN AUDITIONING ROOM, PAGO PAGO, SAMOAN ISLANDS - LATE DAY A more composed Benazir and Paoli sit at a long table, her makeshift bag on the table near her. Paoli looks up at her from prior eye contact with a notebook. He shows a satisfied smile, then nods at the linen bag, Benazir looking uncertain. PAOLI As to preliminaries, forget the obvious ploys. My clients can get sex anywhere. They entertain through arousal, something with imagination. EXT - CALAPAN ISLAND, PHILIPPINE ISLANDS - NIGHT Jaime’s VTOL engages its rotors to descend upon a narrow beach surrounded by nearly impassable jungle growth. Jaime disembarks to events which pass in the slow motion of progressive time, much as when he'd smoked marijuana and drunk alcohol to dance with Alesha, but this time he simultaneously is both within and outside himself, his acts in walking to and down the VTOL's ladder both embodied from within and disembodied from without. EXT - CALAPAN ISLAND'S TRAIL TO THE BEACH - DAY At a bend of the trail, Kwami suddenly faces an android, its presence startling even the more acquainted Jaime. Kwami freezes, Jaime and Alesha taking their cue from him. It stands there, a detecting/destruction wand in hand, Kwami raising his right hand slowly. OMNI ANDROID This is an authorized wargame. Do not feel threatened. We are the advance guard. We will render the undomiciled area of this island free of electronic advantage to any party. May I have your cards, please?
  • 9. EXT - THE LIGACHEV ESTATE VTOL PARKING APRON - DUSK A small crowd gathers behind the executioners as five other androids join in, the one nearest printing the fallen man and taking the gun while the others cordon the arena of death from those who lack the will to test its perimeters anyway. On the edge of the tarmac, Luigi Marcello and LUIGI’S WIFE and Paoli and PAOLI’S WIFE stand with Benazir watching the goings on. PAOLI I wonder who he was. PAOLI'S WIFE Nobody important, I'm sure. Don't know him, do you? PAOLI Sure don't. He can't be one of us. Benazir shudders visibly, as much over the couple's reaction as the event itself. INT - LIGACHEV'S MAIN ESTATE HOUSE, SOUTH WING - NIGHT Kwami is more composed in listening to a more-hopeful Jaime's argument. JAIME Yes, and publicly political knowledge does devolve to all of us equally, not to be withheld.... Kwami making no reply, Jaime suddenly sees Benazir on the mezzanine deck where she's moving toward the spiral staircase down. She also sees him. Both show great surprise. Benazir quickly employs a diversionary move for observing others. She casually lifts her low-cut, form-fitting evening gown to pretend to adjust her hose, provocatively showing her thigh as she does. Alesha looks at Jaime who's dropped his blackened fish from his tilting plate. She regards him suspiciously, knowing there's more behind this than mere allure explains. Kwami making no reply, Jaime suddenly sees Benazir on the mezzanine deck where she's coming down from an upper staircase to another opposing and one level lower than it to lead to ground level. Both show great initial surprise. Benazir quickly attempts to cover the event and remove all eyes from Jaime on the floor below by casually lifting her low-cut, form-fitting evening gown to pretend to adjust her
  • 10. hose, provocatively showing her thigh as she does so. Alesha looks at Jaime who's dropped his blackened fish from his tilting plate. She regards him suspiciously, knowing there's more behind this than the allure explains. INT - THE REMOVED TABLE IN THE SOUTH WING - NIGHT Alesha holds Jaime's hand as she smiles tentatively at an uneasy Benazir who sits across the table, her food scarcely touched. She turns her gaze to a frowning Kwami who looks away with concern. She lays her other hand over one of his. ALESHA But, Uncle, there'd be ample room within the bubble. It would admit all within it who'd choose to be within it. They'd show that by acting to share the faith.... INT - LIGACHEV MAIN ESTATE HOUSE, OMNI-INTERACTIVE ROOM - DAY The androids front the stunned humans, advancing upon a disbelieving Ligachev who's on his knees, hands over his eyes. Ligachev gets up, eyes flashing defiance. He rushes toward the speaking android, fists flailing, but it engulfs him in a bearhug and lifts him nearly a meter off the floor, the blows landing lamely on its back. The second android removes a stun stick from its abdominal cavity and touches the man with it, the man stiffening briefly before collapsing inertly. The first android departing with Ligachev draped over its shoulder, the second advances toward a wide-eyed Jaime and Alesha EXT - THE FLIGHT DECK OF BUSH'S CARRIER - DAY Bush watches the aircraft lift from the deck and gather like so many dragonflies. They form a delta-shaped wedge, a lead helicopter on point and one added to each succeeding rank with eight in side-by-side formation to bring up the rear. This awesomely ordered precision contrasts with the pandemonium Bush views ashore through his binoculars. There people rush from the mansion and outlying buildings like so many ants from a kicked over nest as the helicopters near them. EXT - MANILLA GD ESTATE, THE BURI-PALM TREE STAND - DAY When Jaime finally opens his arms to her, Benazir stays put and swipes at a tear. BENAZIR (Cont.) I don't have much time. You should know that Teller (Continued)
  • 11. BENAZIR (Cont.) did not use error routines.... Kwami in surprise turns Benazir’s way. BENAZIR (Cont.) He saved memory that way, and seems to feel above mistakes, anyway. Jaime's excited. JAIME I must get to Jacksonville- a place on the continents- before Tuesday, January twenty-first, their time. INT - THE OPERATIONS/ELECTRONICS ROOM OF BUSH'S CARRIER A composed Bush regards Teller's frowning face on the video phone screen. TELLER You scummy political hacks can think what you want, but it's only science and technology and its greatest minds... and today there's but one- which can save you from yourselves. Teller weirdly contorts his face as he moves into his camera, then without a goodbye hangs up and the screen goes blank. EXT - THE ROAD TO THE PAGO PAGO AIRPORT - DAY Jaime, exhilarated, drives a solar scooter with Alesha holding him tightly from behind, their bags in the sidecar. ALESHA I'm scared. What do you suppose Limpkin meant by "powerful enemies?" JAIME Zokuhito, Bush... even the Resistance. ALESHA Do you really believe anybody knows whose on whose side anymore? Jaime shrugs.
  • 12. INT - THE OPERATIONS/ELECTRONICS ROOM OF BUSH'S CARRIER A won-over Bush smiles knowingly at Kwami. BUSH There's very little secret in Islandia with access, Mr. Kano. For now, we'll just have to do a little island hopping ourselves. Accepting a pleased Benazir's hand, Kwami smiles at Bush. KWAMI Island hopping, Mr. Secretary? BUSH You're on one now, Mr. Kano. EXT - THE MANAGUA AIRPORT TARMAC - DAWN Jaime and Alesha exchange anxious looks as an android cards them near their VTOL and the Resistance agents Colleyflower and Dingbat watch from a distance. EXT - THE WALKER CAY COMPOUND - DAY MIGUEL NORIEGA, a short, stout, thirtyish man, regards Jaime and Alesha from an electric cart while drawing on a cigarette. Alesha proves feisty. ALESHA And if we don't? Noriega pats his chest at a bulge which indicates he carries a firearm. Jaime shrugs fatalistically to Alesha and gives over his last currency to Noriega who motions to the back seat of the cart. INT - THE ROOM OF INCARCERATION IN THE ADMIN. BLDG - DUSK. Jaime and Alesha stand by the bed, him troubled and her holding the sheet. He faces her with resolve. JAIME I have to tell you... tell you I've had sex with Benazir.
  • 13. Alesha snaps the sheet over the mattress, her face to seek and find Jaime's shoulder. She begins to cry softly, only then to speak with bitter self-reproach. ALESHA And I've had sex with men I detested. EXT - THE CALERO MARINA ON GRAND BAHAMA ISLAND - DAY People panic as helicopters appear on the horizon. Jaime and Alesha stand with Calero and two armed CALERO GUARDS near a VTOL landing pad just off the Atlantic Ocean, the carrier looming just offshore. Calero is uneasy as an android with a detection/destruction wand draws near. Calero’s guards edge their hands toward their guns. Their eyes implore their leader as Jaime raises his arm as if to hail the behemoth. CALERO No! Don't! Jaime lowers his arm, tentatively. JAIME A word of advice... don't run. If it asks for your cards, comply. You do have cards, I presume.... The Resistance leader glares, then begins to walk off. ALESHA One more thing.... The men turn toward her. ALESHA (Cont.) Those metal guns mean death.... INT - THE HANGAR BLDG, GRAND BAHAMA MARINA - DAY An ignored Travis interrupts the talking, reunited group. He reaches for Jaime's hand. INT - THE COUPLED SUBMARINE UNDERWAY - DAY The apprehensive group sit quietly together when the LORAN suddenly emits a high- pitched warning which an alarmed Kwami stops by yanking a wire. Travis whispers.
  • 14. TRAVIS We done it, dough.... We in restrictit waters. en still be bein' in one piece... INT - THE OPERATIONS/ELECTRONICS ROOM OF BUSH'S CARRIER - DAY Bush sees an arrogant Teller's face on the video phone screen turn to a grotesque one when Teller's face squints in closeup, his nose wrinkling like a rabbit's. Bush erupts. BUSH You goddam hypocrite! You say that while you hide in your shelter! Teller's screen face backs off somewhat and he smiles imperiously. TELLER You confuse bravery with stupidity. If I do survive, we'll mostly have culled mush-heads like you from the ranks of our so-called" leadership EXT - THE VESSELS UNDERWATER - NIGHT The sub glides free of the freighter within the murky water as three divers approach to see only the freighter's hull with its critical transducer/transponder aft to be clear. INT - SALLY'S BEDROOM IN THE STEWART HOUSE - NIGHT Jaime who carries a box carefully moves toward a headsetted and remming Sally. He lifts her right hand- carefully- stopping when he feels the muscles of her right arm stiffen. Finally, he rolls first her thumb and then each finger in its turn upon the pad. INT - AN ENCLOSED CORRIDOR IN FRONT OF A JI-CC LOUNGE BLDG - DAY Benazir gives Jaime a sympathetic look of understanding. BENAZIR And so we pretend to be what we're not, only to know we really are what we are and what we're not.... That's the trying part! Alesha smiles wryly, speaking to lighten everyone up, especially the intense Jaime. ALESHA So... so for all practical purposes- I'm to do my best to pass while hoping to fail!
  • 15. She grows serious. ALESHA (Cont.) And the fate of the world hangs in the balance INT - THE JI-CC TESTING BLDG LOBBY - DAY Kwami, too, speaks bitterly as he views an electronic message on the front wall which appears over his own fixated android posting near the main door. KWAMI And OMNI is the god above all gods. On the wall to the front.... Its scripture's quite explicit there.... The electronic ticker message with no clear beginning or end, says, "The Citizen builds Society... Society is YOUR Coordinated Collective... The Coordinated Collective is the Collective Intelligence... The Collective Intelligence is the TEST of the Citizen." Sally suddenly appears. She stops, herself shocked to see the man she’d approached earlier, then moves to enter the circling human line of “worshipers.” Jaime yells. JAIME Sally, congratulations.... You passed, didn't you! Sally stops in her tracks, overwhelmed and confused. SALLY How do you know my name! How can you speak so... so.... Sally faints. TWO LAST ANDROIDS stridently enter without visible weapons. LAST ANDROID NO. ONE The OMNI requests the presence of all who would claim to be ambiguous life forms. Jaime and Alesha help Sally to her feet, joining Kwami and Benazir to follow the last two androids out. Jaime unstraps and hurls his mirror against the wall, shattering it. JAIME (yelling) Leave, you Continentals! Show you're truly free!
  • 16. INT - THE SMALL OUTLYING BLDG - DAY Before the OMNI-interactive machine, Alesha and Jaime are arm in arm, while Kwami stands behind Benazir who places his hands on her hips and leans back against him. All but Alesha, who shakes her head, appear perplexed. She points at the card feed, where a card's trailing edge already readies for entry. Jaime frowns. JAIME But what's on that card. Unauthorized use was a crime, and OMNI-central still controls Armageddon as well. Personal risk’s one thing, but.... EXT - AN OUTDOORS CLEARING AT THE JI-CC BUSINESS COMPLEX - DAY Jaime wipes at Alesha's tears with a flap of his shirt. JAIME (Cont.) You see, my dear, Lesha, only if a majority of the enfranchisable truly choose to provide humanity's first morally exemplary nation-state can we even hope to offer children- all children... or anyone else- any alternative to our unjust contrary.... A contrite Alesha looks around in her reassuringly familiar, desultory way. ALESHA I knew that... EXT - AN OUTDOORS CLEARING AT THE JI-CC BUSINESS COMPLEX - DAY Two helicopters lift off with the formative family aboard. Below, the three androids compliantly still sit on the turf awaiting instructions while a few adventurous Continentals tentatively probe Sally's hole in the glass wall of their enclosed corridor. EXT - A COMPLEX IN GEOSYNCHRONOUS EQUATORIAL EARTHLY ORBIT There's no apparent change in its configuration.

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