The Stars Came Back -044- It’s relative

Fade in

INT – day – spaceport lounge on Adelaide

Closeup of Bipasha as she sits at a table, talking to someone off-camera.

Bipasha: -So, I told him ‘uncle, I need to go more places, make more decisions for myself, not just get ordered around by you!’… I thought I’d visit every aunt, uncle, cousin, and in-law I could track down, and see what else I can do. You are my favorite, and thanks to aunt Mohini, I knew you were here, and here I am.Someone: (indistinct, OC) Hmmmmm…

Bipasha: Surely you must know SOMEone who’s looking for a business manager, not just a drone?

Camera pulls back to reveal Harbin in camo uniform sitting at the same table across from her.

Harbin: Only one, right now.

Bipasha: Great! What sort of business?

Harbin: Good question. It’s sort of vague – he really needs someone to help him get the details together. He’s smart and has big ideas, but not very organized or detail-oriented.

Bipasha: Oh, sounds wonderful! (suddenly very suspicious) Any accounting issues?

Harbin: Some. Mostly because he’s TOO honest.

Bipasha: TOO Honest? Ha! I’d like to meet the man that fits THAT description!

Harbin: Ah. Here he comes now.

Camera pulls wider angle as Helton steps up behind Bipasha, and she turns and sees him.

Harbin: Bipasha, this is Helton, Helton, Bipasha. He’s the owner of the starship I was-

Harbin stops talking as they two look at one another, Bipasha mouth open in surprise, Helton with a pleasant smile of recognition.

Harbin: I take it you know one another?

Helton takes a seat, and waves the waiter over, as Bipasha gapes at him.

Helton: Yes, a little bit. We met shortly before I met you, and again a couple weeks ago. (to the waiter) Iced tea, please.

Bipasha:… (staring at him in disbelief, mouth moving wordlessly)

Helton: (with exaggerated puzzlement) For some strange reason, Harbin, she never quite believes me. (to Bipasha) For example: Harbin here and I saved each other’s lives less than two months ago, after our ship got hit by pirates.

Bipasha: PREPOSTEROUS! Of all the egotistical, vapor-minded, ludicrous things to claim, a man like you saving a man like First Sergeant Harbin Reel from pirates is a sure sign of being utterly, stark, raving-

Helton: I planned the escape and rescue and piloted, he played rock-rifle-scissors with the bad guys.

Harbin: (dryly) I wasn’t PLAYING. And I’m not sure how you can call THAT piloting.

Helton: (in exaggerated mock defensiveness) Hey, I’d just survived being shot with a grenade after a trek through the desert, what do you expect?

Bipasha: … wait, you mean, you did? (to Harbin, incredulous) HE DID?

Harbin: Ahem. We did have a bit of an altercation with some locals, yes. But the topic at hand. He owns a starship, which MAY soon be flying, and his business plans are… in need of work.

Bipasha:… (she just stares at them, at a loss for words)

Helton: Ummm… Are you telling me I might be offering her a job?

Harbin:… (he stares back, as if to say “you heard me.”)

Helton: Weeeeelllll, I guess I am. Can’t say what the pay would be, or the working conditions… or duties, or location, or budget, or much else, as I just found out that the open was positioning, I mean, the position was opening…

Bipasha: … I think I’ll need to know a bit more.

Helton: Me too.

Dissolve to

EXT – day – Pad D9

View of ship, now fully up on its 8 landing struts, with mostly flat ground underneath it, and looking fairly clean. Bow ramp and side hatch are open. SGT Kaushik is jogging past with the current 21 recruits, who are wearing camo and carrying 3mx20cm tubes over their heads like logs, three recruits per tube. Bipasha and Helton look at the ship.

Bipahsa: So, this is your infamous starship.

Helton: Yup. Beautiful, isn’t she?

Bipasha: If you say so. Is she built for cargo, or passengers?

Helton: Yes! That’s the beauty of it – I can carry both! She’s got berths for more than a hundred passengers, and almost two thousand cubic meters of cargo space!

Bipasha: But that means that you have to be running BOTH cargo and passengers, or you are running half empty. Very inefficient.

Helton: But some passengers HAVE cargo to take with them.

Bipasha: Yes, a few. But you’ll be competing against liners specializing in JUST people, or semi-automated freighters that cheaply carry JUST cargo.

Helton: OK, maybe so, but WE can offer better protection! THIS thing is ARMORED!

Bipasha: Armored? You MUST be joking. Tonnage?

Helton: Twelve thousand.

Bipasha: Twe-… So, not only do you not have a lot of cargo space, you are carting around an extra ten thousand tons of useless metal?

Helton: Do you always look at the down side of things?

Bipasha: You bring it out in me… I think we’d better take a look inside, see what the accommodations are like.

Fade to

INT – Night – Officers mess aboard the ship

Bipasha sits alone at the end of the table, and she’s not looking very happy. Helton walks in and looks kind of glum. He caries a tray with several bowls and plates and silverware, etc. He sets it silently down on the table near the end, and sits on the side near her corner, a place away, with the tray between them. He hands her a steaming bowl in front of her, and takes one for himself. He sets out a glass full of something, and takes his own. There are still several small bowls and plates on the tray.

INSET: the bowl in front of Bipasha is wide and shallow, with a wonderful layout of rice and brilliantly colored meat and veggies with a thick sauce, and steam rising. It looks both elegantly presented and delicious.

Bipash looks at it in surprise, then at Helton. She leans forward and inhales carefully, eyes closed, and a smile grows on her face. She takes the proffered fork and takes a bite, then savors it.

Bipasha: Oh, this is EXCELLENT!

Harbin: Kwon IS good, he figured you’d like the lamb etouffee with matzah balls. We have THAT going for us.

Bipasha: That’s ONE thing. JUST one. (takes another bite) Wow. He should open a restaurant.

Helton: Surely there is-

Bipasha shakes her head, cutting him off.

Bipasha: Uncle Harbin said you needed help with your business, and I can see why.

Helton: I didn’t know I was running a business.

Bipasha: Exactly! You have lots of ideas-

Helton: Hey, my ideas are good!

Bipasha: The IDEAS are OK, but the NUMBERS aren’t. Just running some estimates in my head, looking at what you have shown me so far, it won’t work.

Helton: (defensively) What do you mean, won’t work?

Bipasha: Your passenger accommodations are fit only for troops or indigent refugees. Your cargo space is limited, with no automated cargo handling, it doesn’t fit standard container sizes, and it’s not set up for bulk cargo. Your engines are old and inefficient, even if you CAN get them working. You are carting around more extra mass than any other ship with ten times the cubes. The numbers don’t work.

Helton: But there must be some way-

Bipasha: For cargo, you’d have to charge much more than the going tonnage rate, just for fuel, AND you’d need handlers. For passengers, they’d have to be pretty desperate to want to space on this beast-

Helton: (defensively) HEY!

Bipasha: -even if the food is great – Can Kwon do this in deep space?

Helton: I don’t know. I assume so. Why, what difference does space make in cooking?

Bipasha:… Of COURSE it makes a difference! There isn’t fresh stuff from the corner market when you are two weeks out on the three week trip!

Helton: Oh. Yeah. Right.

Bipasha: Is Kwon set up for fresh only, Prep-Packs, T-Rats, dry bulk scratch, or what?

Helton: I… don’t know, exactly.

Bipasha: (suspiciously) Is your water tankage, full recycle, hybrid, or shore-supply only right now?

Helton: I, uh, well…

Harbin walks in with a mug of coffee and sits down as they talk.

Bipasha: How much fuel will this take for daily space operations, and what kinds?

Helton: Stenson said that he’d have a better handle on that once the main generators are on-line.

Bipasha: Laundry? Detergent or recoverable enzyme?

Helton: Ah, I…

Bipasha: Carbon Recovery Unit? Full scrubbing, TDP and manufacture, or just simple chem-scrubbing?

Helton:… (he looks at her in mute admission of lack of any detailed knowledge on the topic)

Bipasha: Good GOD! Not only do you NOT know know what you NEED, you really don’t even know what you HAVE. And HOW, exactly, do you expect to make money, with no idea of costs OR services you can provide?

Harbin: You SAID you wanted excitement and decision-making.

Helton and Bipasha both glare at him.

Helton: If all you are going to do is talk down my ship, I’m not so sure I want to hire you.

Bipasha: If all you can see is light and roses, I’m going to PROVE you WRONG!

Harbin: Well. I’m glad to see you two getting along so well. I think I’ll go check on something urgent while you two hash out the details.

Harbin stands up and heads for the hatchway. They glare at his back, arms crossed and body-language defensive, then each other.

Fade to black.



8 thoughts on “The Stars Came Back -044- It’s relative

  1. With three people carrying something rigid on their shoulders things can get “interesting”. If they are not all the same height at the shoulders then someone is not carrying it their shoulder. Even if they are all the same height then the surface they are walking on needs to be level and even or things get “interesting” again.

    • Yes, you are right. I was thinking more “over their heads”, being held up in their hands by their arms, which accommodates such height and terrain variations. It’s a common training drill in some places – even with a light log or tube, it gets old REALLY fast.

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    • Seymore and Seelss kind of come and go, making trouble for the ship and crew. They know that direct confrontation isn’t the best choice. Shore power got cut, but they have the on-board power systems at least nominally operational, so things are still moving forward.

      I find it interesting what people note. You ask about Seeless, Joe asks about a PT drill detail. No-one points out that in episode 40, Harbin says that some of the recruits are as “useless as hired relatives,” and now here we are with Helton hiring his niece, or the joke about her saying Kwon should open a restaurant, or the coincidence of these two being related (of course, in movies, coincidences are a stock-in-trade) or the fact that I put a bunch of basic business ideas into one somewhat (I think) funny scene with Harbin of all people providing the comic relief. It’s like people missing the forest for the oddly-shaped pine-cones.

      • I find it interesting that, for a screenplay not set in a restaurant, your characters keep eating and drinking. This makes about the tenth scene with food or drinks. 😉 This feels more like a soap opera than a movie or a tv series. .

        • Indeed. Food is a fact of life, and a lot of life happens in/around the kitchen. Lots of people that might not normally hang out together talk at the table. Information gets shared. Supplies (of all sorts) are an ongoing issue, and securing them makes for some side-adventures. Like I said – perhaps thinking about it as a novel in screen-play disguise is best.
          And it’s only the sixth or seventh, not tenth 🙂
          Oh, yeah – we also have an interesting dinner coming up in two episodes.

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