EXT – day – A graceful, streamlined, 50-passenger, mid-sized flier is knifing through the air above the “spaceport” of Adelaide, a wide and tan plain stretching below into the hills, blue sky above.
Aerial view following the flier as it descends towards the landing field, a small and dusty landing facility that is only barely a spaceport, with mountains in the background. There is a large central building, with 6 concourses radiating out from it. Along each concourse are 3 pairs of landing pads, small ones close to the center, larger ones outside. There are a dozen or so ships of various sizes and shapes on different pads. There is a road leading away from the end of the largest concourse, and going away from the other arms are much smaller roads leading to warehouses and various industrial areas. There are some smaller pads near some of the outbuildings, away from the main terminal, that have a collection of ship parts, wreckage, tarp-covered heaps, and smaller personal air-craft and space-craft. Near one of these smaller outbuildings is a squat, dirty, rectangular-ish, partially tarp-covered, very dusty craft that is all but unnoticed. The flier zips down, heading for one of the mid-sized landing pads.
INT – day – passenger cabin of the flier
Helton sits in a window seat looking out eagerly, dressed in his new travelers coat, but with nicer clothes underneath. Next to him sits a young man shabby-looking clothes, FLOYD, also craning his neck to see out the window.
Floyd: Wow. Twelve thousand tons. That’s a good-sized ship; 200 meters or more. Must be one of those three on the outer ring.
Heleton: Hope so. They look nice. Shiny.
Floyd: Name doesn’t ring a bell, but I’ve been away for a few months. Must be a new one here.
Helton: Know soon enough.
INT – day – spaceport concourse
Helton stands at an information counter. The young woman behind the counter is shaking her head.
InfoClerk: Sorry, sir, no ship registered by that name here.
Helton: Are you sure? I had it confirmed before I left. It’s my ship. It must be here!
InfoClerk: Nothing on the computer… Do you know if it landed in the last thirty days?
Helton: Actually, I, um, I’m not sure when it came in.
InfoClerk: (apologetically as she digs for more data) Hmmm… sorry, no commercial OR private craft registered with the port on any landing pad by the name of Tajemnica. (she tap-tap-taps on the computer) No landings or take-offs in the last year by any craft of that name. (tap tap tap) No fuel requests under that name… No quarantines on it. No bonded cargo listed as being from it. Or FOR it. No passengers, either.
InfoClerk looks up at Helton and shrugs her shoulders and spreads her hands in mute apology.
Helton: Is there anyone else here that I could talk to?
InfoClerk shakes her head.
Helton takes a deep breath, leans on the counter, and looks tired.
InfoClerk glances over Helton’s shoulder, sees Floyd, and waves him over.
InfoClerk: Glad to see you are back.
Floyd: (to Helton) Which is it?
Helton shakes his head.
Floyd: (surprised, to InfoClerk) Not here?
InfoClerk: No. He says he checked before coming, but- (she shrugs to indicate no data).
Floyd: Could it be one of the hulks?
InfoClerk: Maybe. Bone-yard ships are a different company.
Helton: (not sounding happy) Bone-yard?
Floyd: Ships that can’t fly. Old wrecks and such, used for parts and parties. Not likely, though- none of them are that big, unless it’s an ore hauler at 12-k GROSS tons.
[note: by way of comparison, 12,000 tons is roughly the mass of a fully loaded Virginia-class nuclear guided missile cruiser, i.e., not small]
Helton gets a pained expression on his face, as if to say “oh GOD I hope not.”
Floyd: I’m headed that way – I work out past the end of concourse 4. We could take a look out there first so I can check in, though there’s nothing out there anywhere close to that mass out there. Maybe one of the old guys knows something about it.
Helton: Well, it’s a start. Lead the way.
Floyd heads off down the concourse, and Helton follows.
Helton walks along a dusty road between an generic beige warehouse outbuilding and old tarp-covered, dusty, crusty, ship. He stops, looks at the building, which is numbered 1701.
Helton: (to himself) Well, there is the right building, and he said across from it.
He looks at the ship. Looks at the building number. At the ship. He makes a face as if to say “I expected rather more.”
The ship is only about 70 m long, and 34m wide. It looks like it’s been there forever. Streaked, dirty, large tarps over parts of it, uncertain color underneath the crud and graffiti. Very simple and angular design, like a flattened hexagonal prism, with angular pointy ends. It seems to be resting directly on the ground, without landing struts or gear holding it up. There is a fold-away boarding hatchway /ramp in the side that is down, and it looks massively thick. It is about a meter wide, with a an open air-lock hatch at the top that is also open, and dimly seen, something inside of that is closed across the hatch. Overall, it looks like a mostly intact wreck of a VERY old ship. A tarp flaps in the wind a bit, reminiscent of an abandon building in a spaghetti western, and under it he catches a glimpse of lettering. He steps up, and pulls the tarp back a bit. Under it, hand-painted in fading, chipped paint, is Tajemnica.
Helton: (talking quietly to himself) Well, well, well. So here you are. At least the rest of the chips were worth something. (sighs in resignation) Not quite what I was lead to expect, but let’s see what the inside looks like.
He mounts the stairs cautiously – they seem rock solid. At the top of the stars there is a scan-pad with a dim light next to it. He holds the title up to it, and pushes a button. Nothing. He holds his hand to the pad. Nothing. He folds the paper up, puts it in his breast pocket, and reaches forward and opens the door. It is an old-fashioned screen door. He steps in through it. Dark inside. The screen door closes with a sharp bang behind him. He pulls out and turns on a small flashlight, which reveals a cramped, narrow passageway into the ship, about 3m long to the next door, which is a heavy duty air-lock type door with strong latches, which is open. He is also standing next to a heavy-duty air-lock door at the top of the stairs. It looks like an ancient submarine with sets of sturdy water-tight hatches. He moves cautious inward. As he passes the inner hatchway, he hears a slight scuffle off to his left in the dark. He casts his light beam around. Past the hatchway is a cargo bay, and he’s entering into the middle of it. It looks like a long box, about 40m long, 8m wide, and 6m high. There are several hatches off of it, two large cargo doors at each end, and a number of large (.8m x 1.5m wide) windows onto it from the next deck up. Some of those windows are propped up, open (they swing up and into the cargo bay). There are a couple of chain hoists hanging from above at one end. There are lots of assorted things laying about the deck – barrels, crates, some odd “mystery cylinders” (about .7m across and 1m long with a .1m hole in the top), metal beams, an ATV up on blocks with a wheel gone, tools, and a stack of boxes labeled “do not stack,” with their “this side up” arrows pointing every which way. He hears another scuffling sound, and he jerks the light in that direction. Nothing but motionless, dark, stuff.
Helton: (quietly to himself) I think she might be needing just a bit more than a coat of paint. LIGHTS.
No response by the ship. He flashes his beam around, and sees a com-panel with switches and another dim LED on the wall. He moves a switch. Nothing. He pulls out the title paper, holds it up to the scanner. Nothing. He hears another scurrying sound, and again his flashlight shows nothing but ship. It’s all very abandon and creepy looking. He switches his light to his left hand, and reaches into his pocket with his right and pulls out a small locking knife and flicks it open with one hand with a snick. He glances to one end, on his left, where across the cargo doors the word STERN is printed in large letters. He swings his light the other way, and sees BOW. He advances cautiously toward the bow of the ship, waving his light around. He gets near the front door, and there is a hatch going to a stairway and a passageway back parallel to the cargo bay. He heads upstairs. Behind each riser of the stair is, faintly readable and not really noticed, is a virtue, such as BRAVERY, DEPENDABILITY, and FAITH (every stair riser on the ship has them). He goes up one level to the mid-deck, and casts his light down the passageway. It is surprisingly clean and orderly. There are a couple of hatches receding into the distance down the passageway. It is fairly cramped. He goes down a few meters, and casts his light into a side-door. It reveals a small cabin (only about 2.5m wide, 4m deep) lined with close-spaced bunks three high each side, two each end-to-end (12 total), and a set of small lockers at the back wall, with a low row of drawers along the floor. It looks and feels tight, like an ancient submarine bunk-room. He goes down another door, it reveals the same thing. Next door reveals what looks like a very cramped galley and serving line, with part of it neat and orderly and clean, and part of it a total mess of heaped stuff. He sniffs the air, and makes a face as if he’s thinking “well, that’s not bad. Maybe even a GOOD smell.” There is another scampering sound, and he whirls, knife at the ready. Nothing. Then a clink-rattle-rattle, and he whirls the other way. his expression and body language indicate is kind of wound up. Another scampering sound, and a thwap of something hitting his coat. He jumps like he got hit from behind.
In the beam of his flashlight, he see a child (QUINN, 5 year old boy, messy hair, dirty clothes, barefoot) running away down the passageway and around a corner, laughing.
Helton: Hey! Wait! Who are you! Where are you going! STOP!
The kid is gone. Helton leans against the doorway to the galley to let himself calm down for a second. He breaths deep, and looks down at the knife in his hand.
Helton: That was too close.
He folds the knife and drops it in his pocket.
Cut to a close-up view of his head in profile as he looks around for a moment with his flashlight
There is a slight sound behind him. He feels the cold point of a knife on his neck.