The Stars Came Back -027- Training Value

Fade in

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 nods.

Lag: Weird.

Stenson: Jammer, or interference?

Lag: Check them when we get back. Assume compromised.

Stenson nods.

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.

Dissolve to

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.

Fade to

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.

Lag: Rifle.

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.


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.

Helton: Wha…?

Stenson: A very old, modified one, to be sure. But it’s DEFINITELY armored.

Helton: Soooo…?

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.



14 thoughts on “The Stars Came Back -027- Training Value

    • Glad you like it. Feel free to tell others about it 🙂

      There is some more plot thickening down the road.

      Was it the armor, or something else you were not expecting?

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  2. I kinda figured the armor, I think you let slip that the hull was rather thick when Helton first boarded.

    And for the life of me, I keep picturing the bastard offspring between the “Millennium Falcon” and “Serenity”.

    • Yes, that was one piece of foreshadowing. I’m sure if you re-read it, you’ll find at least two more. (I tried to put in a fair bit that would be obvious on a re-read, but seemingly trivial when first “seen” or heard)

      I like the visual of your thought; certainly I can appreciate the philosophical background of the choices. “Attitude”-wise, that may not be far off. Visually, not so much, maybe. But hey, this is a story that’s mostly words, describing visuals. The sketchs I provide will work for all scenes and actions described. If you don’t like them, you are welcome to use the general layout and create your own. If you don’t want to do that, but can’t make sense of my description of action elsewhere, looking at the layout might help.

  3. Just a minor gripe which you may have heard before: reading a screenplay, with all it ‘s cinematograpic instructions, is a PITA. The prpblem is that you put story in the instructions, so we HAVE to read all the boring camera angles and instructions to camera operators. A straight novel version of this work would be Analog material for sure.

    • Well, yes and no. I do but in a few camera instruction, but only a few where it would really play out how it shows up on the screen and how a “punch line” would be work. In part that’s because I tend to think visually, and a lot of this stuff comes to me more in a “how’s it look” sort of way. As I typed it all out, I was originally thinking it was just a simple screenplay. Then it kept growing and morphing, and that was the format it was in, so I just stuck with it.
      Glad to hear you are coming along for the ride, though, Rivrdog; if that the biggest gripe you have, I’m in good shape.

      • I’m lost as to what Helton’s overall goal is. Where did Harbin go?

        • Helton has been a victim of circumstance, so far, and is just trying to get back on his feet. Now that he has a ship, and apparently a way to get it fixed (or at least get it more or less working), his goal is to get it working and make a living using the ship. Harbin was going on leave Helton met him, and your timing is impeccable- he shows up again in the next episode, posted just this morning. He’s Lag’s senior NCO, as hinted at when Lag makes reference to him here in this episode.

          • Yeah, but what is Helton’s overall goal? Is he going to save the universe? He needs a goal to work towards that is clearly stated early in the story — otherwise it just becomes scenes of people doing stuff. Why does he need to fix the ship? How does the ship help him accomplish his overall goal?

          • (replying to Ubu52) Quick recap: He has been looking for a place he really feels like he can make a difference his whole life, changing careers fairly regularly, looking for “the right place”. As he says in the diner to Kwon, he doesn’t want to save the world, just find his place in it. (though, as we shall see, his place is a lot more significant than he expected.)
            Then his world gets turned upside down, first via security on his trip to Niven, then pirates; while sort of catastrophes in themselves, they introduced him to people, and changed his life-course and outlook a bit. Now, he has a ship, one that is VERY old and in need of significant repair, but he ALSO has a way that might accomplish that, via the support and money (in exchange for training facility and what-not) of Col Lag & co.
            So, his goal is to get the ship working, and make a living with it, and the “episodes” are the things that happen along the way of repairing it and then using it as an “independent” freighter / passenger ship. His plans at this point are rather vague, and he does spend some time reacting to events, until things get straightened out enough that he and his crew can start driving events.

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  5. 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 *too*, and up the stairs. They go in the side door.

    did you mean ‘walk over also’ or ‘walk over to (the location of)’?

    Stenson: (chuckling) It’s going to take more magic *that* 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.
    that s.b. than

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