EXT – DAY – cab of a light truck
Chief Stenson is driving, Lag is in the passenger seat.
Stenson: They said I HAD to check the thing out. And that you HAD to meet the owner. They were kind of mysterious about it, but…
Lag: It’s good to get out of the office anyway. It’s always useful to eyeball things in person when something unusual comes up. There it is. Big enough?
Stenson: Depends. Right now, we’re light on everything, so it should work. That ship- looks like an old Meridian transport, all right.
Lag: Emphasis on OLD.
Stenson: So much the better. Having an old hulk for training right across the street would be GREAT. No worries about grounding it when some private-wanna-be does something crap-tacularly boneheaded.
Cut to camera view of the side of the ship as they pull off the road near the side door. They hop out, do a quick tough check to make sure side-arms and inform are in place, and walk over to and up the stairs. They go in the side door.
Cut to camera inside the cargo bay looking down the side entrance passageway, as they walk through the passage inward. Suddenly Lag stops, and hold his hand to his ear, then glances at his forearm-mounted computer screen. He looks at Stenson with a question on his face. Stenson looks back, and holds his ear, too.
Lag: Com Check. 1, 2.
Stenson shakes his head.
Stenson: Com check.
Lag shakes his head… Then nods.
Stenson: Com check. 1, 2.
Lag nods again.
Lag: Com check?
Stenson: Jammer, or interference?
Lag: Check them when we get back. Assume compromised.
Camera pulls back as they walk silently into the cargo bay. They walk in, look around a moment, are standing motionless near the middle-side of the cargo bay by a pile of boxes. Stenson sniffs the air carefully, then deeply. He smiles and nods appreciatively. They happen to look up and across. Their gaze is drawn of-camera to one side of the row of windows on the mid-deck. Camera zooms in on their expressions as they track someone walking down the passageway on the opposite side from one window to the next, with appreciative smiles growing on their faces.
Cut to camera view of one window. Allonia walks by it, visible from the waist up, naked, arms up putting her hair up in a towel, large breasts and full-figure feminine curves seen to great advantage. She freezes, turns briefly in reflex of facing something noticed, sees them clearly, shrieks, brings her arm up to cover herself as she drops out of site below the window sill.
Cut back to a close view of Lag and Stenson, eyes upward, grinning.
Allonia: (OC, embarrassed / angry) Helton! You HAVE to get my shower fixed TODAY!
Stenson: … I think I’m gunna like this ship.
Lag: You were right. Outstanding training value.
The camera pulls back and wider angle, and reveals Helton standing next to them, with a similar admiring expression on his face.
Helton: That shower might take a while, though.
INT – Officers mess – Day
Helton, Lag, and Stenson sit around the table, empty plates and glasses in front of them. They seem to be done eating, and seem to be feeling pretty comfortable with one another.
Helton: Let me get this straight. You’ll help me fix some of these systems, as training for your maintenance section – I buy the parts, you get them working – AND once we renovate the quarters you’ll also pay me to use the ship as a barracks and training facility for a different batch of recruits?
Lag: Correct. It keeps us out of town, gets a bunch of our people in one place, and it’s not often we have a real ship to train raw recruits on. You have over a hundred berths, and if you can talk Allonia into making company-sized portions of food like this, we’ll have no problem attracting qualified people. It’s been a while since I’ve been on a ship where the air smelled a healthy green.
Helton: … Why? I mean, why me? It’s not milli-credits you are talking about throwing my way.
Lag: (sincerely) You struck me as honest, smart, and principled when we met on the liner. That’s hard to find around here. Knowing that you and Harbin are acquainted is a bonus I find even less often. And, on the off chance that Stenson can work some magic, having a fully functional transport that isn’t on anyone’s radar could be… useful.
Stenson: (chuckling) It’s going to take more magic than even I have to get this thing FULLY functional. Flyable, maybe. MAYBE. Eventually. But, in the meantime, I really could not imagine a better training setup. I’ve always liked classic ships, and this one is a gem. I’m all in.
Helton: (with exaggerated concerned thoughtfulness) Hmmm… Work with you guys and get my ship fixed at parts cost, while pocketing rent, or get bled white by the local official shakedown crew. Hmmmm…. Let me see here… You drive a HARD bargain, but… you talked me into it.
Ext – Day – cargo loading ramp
Helton, Lag, and Stenson are just starting to walk down the aft ramp together. Suddenly Lag freezes mid-step, and turns his head to the side. Something has caught his eye. The others stop, turn, look at him, and follow his gaze toward the side of the ship. Lag cocks his head. He walks over to the side where the ramp drops out of the ships end. He holds up his arms as if to measure the thickness of the hull. It’s looks like it’s a meter or more thick.
Lag: (flatly) That’s not right.
Stenson: (incredulous, seeing what Lag sees) … Naw… Couldn’t be.
Lag and Stenson hop over the side of the ramp to examine the ramp from the side. He looks it over briefly, this way, that way, looks across at the other side. Something is wrong. Lag waves over CPL Kaminski, who is standing nearby next to a second light truck with Kaushik, now wearing simple camo uniform, basic breastplate type body armor, and carrying a suppressed compact rifle, to come over.
CPL Kaminski: Sir?… OK, sir. Full mag, empty chamber.
From a pocket, Lag pulls out and puts a pair of protective eye-ware, cycles a round into the chamber, flicks the selector switch to “F”, and aims at the ship at about waist level, and pulls the trigger. A muffled BANG! There is a splatter of bullet on the angled side of the ship, and into the dust around the impact point and on the ground around and underneath.
Helton: WHAT ARE YOU DOING?!
Ignoring Helton, in a zone of intense thought, Lag reaches forward, and brushes his hand over the impact point. He flicks the selector to “A”, takes a knee, aims at the same area, and pulls the trigger back. 24 more rounds rip out of the mag into the side, first in one spot, then sweeping back and forth a small bit as brass showers the ground. Helton jumps back, covers his ears, and looks away. Dust and bullet-splatter fill the hollow under the angle of the ships side. The dust billows out, then blows aside. Lag reaches in and dusts his finger-tips over the impact points, which are NOT holes, just bumps of bullet residue. There doesn’t appear to be so much as a new scratch on the hull.
Lag: (in quiet wonderment, clearly thinking hard) … Apparently… Nothing… Nothing at all.
Stenson: Hoooollllyyyy Hindu’s pot roast.
Lag: Yup. It is.
Lag, still eying the hull where he shot, absently hands the gun back to Kaminski, who flicks the safety to Safe, drops the magazine and inserts a new one without taking his eyes off Lag and his actions, and puts the empty magazine back in a pocket.
Stenson: Well son-of-a-bitch.
Helton: WHAT… WHA… ?
Lag: Looks like your ship isn’t a Meridian.
Helton: What? But, YOU just told me-
Stenson: Nope. An ALAT. An Armored Landing Assault Transport.
Stenson: A very old, modified one, to be sure. But it’s DEFINITELY armored.
Lag: That’s interesting. VERY interesting.
Fade to black.
NOTE: I’d like all the regular readers to try to picture to themselves what the Tajemnica looks like. Be specific and detailed with yourself, maybe even sketch it. Sometime soon I’ll be posting a VERY basic sketch / layout diagram, so things are a little more clear, and I’d like to see if my general descriptions have been anywhere close to adequate.