Government Issue

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Distress Frequency
Government Issue

Logline: On the networked battlefield of the future, a cybernetically enhanced soldier has the worst five minutes of his life.

“Government Issue” represents the semi-official launch of Season 2! It’s been a long time, and we don’t have the resources to do these very quickly. But the lineup is:

  • Government Issue <- YOU ARE HERE
  • Ava Minerva: The Colossus of Ice
  • Ava Minerva: The Other Side of the Black Hole
  • Ava Minerva: The Whale
  • The Wrong Unit

You may be wondering who Ava Minerva is, and I’ll just tell you. She’s a space pirate

About the Episode

This is a quick one, but it was fun to make. It was basically Aaron, me and Jerod having fun in Aaron’s basement, and then going for tacos.

“Government Issue” is the last episode we produced before the pandemic. I recall driving back from Aaron’s and hearing about this weird virus on the radio.


  • Cpl Figgins: Aaron Sinclair
  • Sarge: Jerod Brennen

The feeling we were going for in Aaron’s performance was “cool and professional,” like a guy who’s well-trained and knows his business exactly. He’s also someone who has his fear and pain responses suppressed by an automatic endocrine pump. Aaron’s performance as the endocrine pump wears off, and his natural fight-or-flight responses kick back in, is my favorite part of the piece.

I usually take Aaron’s dramatic choices as given, because he knows way more about acting than I do. He actually studied this stuff.

What’s it About: One of my standard writing modes is what I call “soft dystopian,” where technology hasn’t ended the world but sure has made some things suck. Figgins is definitely not living his best life, and he still has it better than the people he’s fighting.

The idea of a cybernetic implant crashing like Windows ’98 is just funny to me. I mean, not ha-ha funny. But you know that’s going to happen.

I didn’t spend any time thinking about who he’s fighting, although since we produced this, we did finally get out of Afghanistan.

This is another story I needed to tell while it was still science fiction. It won’t be for much longer. Bionic eyes: Obsolete tech leaves patients in the dark

About Figgins’ Kit

In the episode, I promised to say more about Figgins’ kit in the show notes. Figgins is commissioned as part of the CyberSoldier initiative, a suite of combat enhancements designed to all work together. In the episode, it states:

“The Combat Data System (CDS) affords 360-degree, cellar-to-ceiling tactical awareness for the warfighter on the modern networked battlespace. It’s hooked up to an overhead spotter drone via combat wi-fi.” He toggles commands for the drone feed through a button on the roof of his mouth.

Figgins also mentions his foot is prosthetic – it’s partially articulated. It has a “big toe” and then a wedge-shaped pad that represents the other four toes.

The SmartRifle is linked to the CDS and therefore can’t be used if recovered by the enemy. It fires SmartBullets that can be programmed to explode at a certain range or with certain effects. He’s carrying a small wrist rocket on his forearm.

The CDS monitors his metabolic state and can add stimulants or glucose to temporarily boost his performance. It scrubs some metabolic waste products out of his blood to reduce fatigue. It also suppresses his natural fear responses and keeps his adrenaline at a steady level.

It’s not mentioned in the piece, but the cybernetic enhancements require constant antibiotics to keep them from getting infected. That gave Figgins and his cohort terrible stomach problems and diarrhea – his unit lost more soldiers to C.Diff than to enemy action. The military tried custom rations, but that was logistically difficult and not very effective. This is what eventually canceled the CyberSoldier project.

SFX corner

  • The sound of Figgins running to the wall was recorded by me outside my kids’ school – those are my Wolverine boots running across the four square court.
  • My favorite SFX in this piece, of course, is the “kill” sound from the CDS when he shoots a ‘surgent. To the best of my recollection, that’s not in the script. It occurred to me during editing.

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