The Stars Came Back -023- The tour

Fade in

INT – Day – Tajemnica cargo hold

The hold is pitch black, except for the light of his flashlight, and an LED on the wall com panel.

Helton: Let’s really see what we’ve got.

He places his hand on the dimly lit comm/security panel on the wall, and stands in front of it.

Helton: Strom, Helton T, new owner and captain.

The panel lights up and scans his hand and face.

Ship AI: (voice is brisk, male, and military sounding) Present certification, please, sir.

Helton holds up the title to the panel. It is lit up, and the panel blinks. There is a long pause.Ship AI: Present your eye for scanning, please, sir.

Helton looks concerned, but puts his face up near the camera for an eye-scan. Another delay.

Ship AI: Cert approved. It’s been a VERY long time, sir. Welcome back aboard, captain.

Helton: (turning to the cargo hold, theatrically, channeling Dr Frankenstein) “it’s alive! ALIVE!” …(glancing at Allonia) No? …

Allonia looks askance at him, like he’s a little bit strange.

Helton: Oh, sorry. I always wanted to say that. Would you prefer (theatrically) And He said, Let There Be LIGHTS!

Allonia: (dryly, looking at him like he’s a MORE than a little bit strange) We want power to go to the lights, Helton. Not your head.

All around the cargo bay flat display screens/flat-panel light start to light up and come to life, along the top and some on the sides. It grows brighter and brighter. Things still look shabby and worn, with some screens/ light-panels still dark, missing, or broken, but no longer scary. The cargo bay looks both cramped and cavernous at the same time. 6m high, 40m long, and 8m wide, with some windows lining the second story to the passageway there, and doors off the deck in the middle and at each end on both sides.

Helton: Want to give me the tour?

Allonia: (with mock seriousness) Right this way, your majestic heroic-ness.

They walk forward toward the stairs

Allonia: Ever been on a Meridian transport?

Helton: No. Read about them. Feels smaller than it looks like from the outside.

Allonia: Simple layout. Main cargo deck here, storage and machinery on either side. Usually they have only one cargo door, this has one at each end with loading ramps and main doors. The windows there go to the mid-deck passageway and rooms. Upper deck is above the bay and all the way across. All the passenger and crew space is there – some of the doors are locked, so I don’t know what’s in them. Lots of machinery crammed everywhere – between decks, under the decking, outboard, everywhere. Port passageways have a red stripe, starboard have green. By the way-

Suddenly Quinn goes running by, grabs one of the chains hanging down from a chain-hoist, and swings on it like Tarzan swinging on a vine, laughing like a maniac. Typical boy playing and having fun.

Quinn: Look out! Giant hamster attacking! Man the Rail Guns and Armadillos!

Helton: (to Allonia) Giant hamsters?

Allonia: (shrugging off boy-child weirdness) Yesterday it was Greeks at Marathon-

Quinn: -ATHENIANS!

Allonia: (in exaggerated seriousness) Sorry, ATHENIANS at Marathon. Tomorrow it might be mutant whales. He’s a good kid, but where he comes up with this stuff… (shakes head as if to say “who knows?”)

Helton nods to Allonia in understanding, and grins watching Quinn swing like a crazy kid, then starts to follow her towards one of the side-doors.

Suddenly, over the com system there is sound. At first, it sort of sounds like static, then quickly evolves into an odd pulsing sound, then suddenly become a guitar and singing. Steppenwolf’s MAGIC CARPET RIDE. (lyrics and tune at link)

Ship AI: (OC, music, LOUD) I like to dream yes, yes, right between my sound machine
On a cloud of sound I drift in the night
Any place it goes is right
Goes far, flies near, to the stars away from here
Well, you don’t know what we can find
Why don’t you come with me little girl
On a magic carpet ride

Allonia and Helton look at each other wondering WHAT this music IS?! It’s loud, and Quinn seems to like it, dancing like only an excited five-year-old white boy can.

Helton: (Loudly, addressing the ship) Turn that OFF!

Ship AI: (OC) In a minute, Sir.

Helton and Allonia look at one another in surprise. Helton opens his mouth to start to say something, and the volume drops sharply, but still plays in the background.

Ship AI: (OC) Better, Allonia?

Allonia: Um, yes?

Ship AI: (OC) It’s been a long time since power was hooked up. A celebration seemed called for.

Helton: A celebration?

Ship AI: (OC) Yes. Former crewmen liked that song, and it seemed appropriate. I can play something else if you’d prefer.

Helton: It’s OK, just not quite so loud. It was a surprise.

Ship AI: (OC) Noted.

Allonia: And on that note –

Fade to series of scenes as they tour the ship, song continuing to play in the background.

[Note: the overall impression is the ship is old, massively overbuilt and strong with thick metal and much reenforcement, cramped, a flexible design but in disrepair. It is sort of like an old submarine, with lots of obviously air-tight and strongly built hatchways, bulkheads, and shutoff valves; virtually no Star Trek slide-away doors HERE! There are some clearly mis-matched styles of things, like the original design had been modified numerous times with whatever was available, or ugly-but-functional wall-mounted stuff partially walled off with largely decorative walls that have since been partially dismantled / broken down. Color schemes seem to vary randomly at different points in the ship. Many wall-mounted screens, which double as lights, are clearly old, or broken, or missing, (they are all one of four standard sizes so they can be moved where needed) so lighting is usable but uneven. Every room has a small communication panel. There are a handful of places that look like Allonia has cleaned them up because she uses them.]

Looking at one of the “mystery cylinders” on the cargo deck (.7m across and 1m long with a .1m hole in the top). The only markings are a simple lit candle logo/image on one end. At this time, the song “Magic Carpet Ride” gets to the lyric “I looked around, a lousy candle’s all I found”. There are several of them on the cargo deck. Helton tries to move one briefly by tipping it up or rolling it, and it’s obviously very dense/heavy.

Looking into a tight 12-man sleeping berth room, that still looks cramped even in good light, but no longer dangerous and haunted, just old and dirty.

Looking into the galley, where it’s obvious a portion has been cleaned and is used by Allonia, and the rest of the stuff just sort of pushed semi-neatly aside. Allonia is pointing out where things are.

Looking out one of the mid-level windows into the cargo bay, where the window is propped up and open. Allonia is pointing to the windows across the cargo bay, where we can see Quinn’s head run by other open windows, one after another, holding something up over his head like a flag.

The “garden,” a largish room full of racks and trays, many of which have soil or water, and some plants growing here and there, along with a few small potted bushes. Workbenches and cupboards line the walls, and there are several light panels hooked up to some sort of battery/fuel-cell unit.

Engineering. A longish, low room with lots of machinery. Many hatches/panel covers, some open. Wires and components exposed or hanging down. An empty, open tube entrance about half a meter across. Another hatch low against one corner with a barely discernible, and un-noted lit candle logo. A largish tube with lots of stuff hanging off of it on one side. Several pieces of machinery hanging down from the ceiling. A partially disassembled torpedo-sized something on a wheeled cradle in the middle.

The officers mess, a room with a long table in the middle, a dozen mounted pedestal chairs around it, cupboards and access hatches line the walls, along with a couple of screens. There are several largish screen/lights that look they can fold down from the ceiling depending on what’s needed. Two are down and obviously broken.

A shower / head, obviously designed for large numbers to shower fast – six shower heads, in a communal stall, pocket doors on either end (one only half in), a couple of toilets in small stalls, eight small sinks with emergency “lost gravity” covers), and lots of small numbered cupboards.

Open a heavy door from the cargo bay to reveal a what looks like a small storage closet with a jumble of assorted mechanical detritus stacked in it.

Allonia opens a door on A deck, showing a clean an orderly, if smallish, cabin. It is clearly where she’s been living. Desk. Chair. Bed. Draperies. Bookshelves with a few books and various knick-knacks, as well as a couple of plants under a light. It looks clean, bright, cozy. There is a door to one side, and an open closet door with a variety of clothes hanging in it.

A hatch (like the heavy submarine watertight door) on mid-deck passageway that is clearly welded shut. Allonia is pointing out damage on the door from previous opening attempts, and Helton is inspecting the welds.

dissolve to

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12 thoughts on “The Stars Came Back -023- The tour

  1. Pingback: The Stars Came Back -022- Allonia | The View From North Central Idaho

    • Good observation.
      Clearly, yes they do exist:-)
      Books, and the printed word, play a role in this story, as you will see. They are not common, but they ARE here (unlike the “ancient Jedi texts” of Star Wars that are really holograms – they are all illiterates in THAT universe. Not so, here. There are e-readers and screens for a variety of common uses, but not ONLY them.
      But their presence should also give you an idea what sort of person Allonia is.

      • Well, are you writing this screenplay in hopes of selling it? Or are you doing it for personal pleasure? I’m asking because the song has a copyright…

        • Right now, mostly for fun. Obviously, if I was to sell the rights to it to make a movie, or sell it, then as fair use I could make a reference to it and no more, as I understand it. But, as long as it’s for fun, linking to it and quoting a stanza is fair use. I’m sure if this thing ever DOES get big-screen-ized, rights could be secured, or an alternate song with similar imagery or ideas could easily by whipped up by the studio.
          It’s interesting. I had written well past this point in the story, and what song to use there hadn’t been picked. Then I heard it, and realized the words were nearly perfect, and I wouldn’t really need to change anything to use it. If you knew where the story was going, you’d understand that nearly every line in the song works perfectly, almost scarily well.

  2. There will always be books. There is something to the act of holding a book, eyes moving down the words, having to pause in the middle of the action to flip the page… No electronic device can duplicate it.

  3. Your writing reminds me of Heinlein in the best possible way. Please finish this. It’s a fine example of the rarely seen “good stuff’. Thank you for sharing it with us.
    James B. Jones

    • THANK YOU. Having been a Heinlein fan since I was a grasshopper, I take that as high praise, indeed. Now I guess I have to make sure the rest of it lives up to that (very high) standard.
      But out of curiosity: I know it can be hard to identify just what it is that separates the iron from the mass dross, can you identify any particular thing that makes it “good stuff?”

  4. Pingback: The Stars Came Back -024- Seymore | The View From North Central Idaho

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