The Stars Came Back -046- Mail Call and Family

DAY – INT – ship cargo bay

Helton is working in a panel on the bulkhead. Allonia walks up, hands Helton a package. In her other hand, she’s got a strap around a set of boxes to make carrying them easier.

Allonia: Mail call.Helton looks it over, sees the Possenti Cross next to the simple return address of “Monastery, Eridani IIA”. He unseals it, and inside is a simple but elegant wooden box, and a simple, folded, handwritten note. On the box top is carved, in neat calligraphic lettering, “Lost Soul.”

Inset: note reads “I was informed you needed these more than I – Father L”

Allonia looks curiously as he slides the top back. Inside, nestled into close-fitting cloth-lined spaced, are three reddish crystals that look like those from Father Libra’s desk.

Allonia: What are those?

Helton: Huh… crystals of some sort, I think. Odd…

Allonia: (indicating the note) What’s it means?

Helton: Dunno. (shrug) Just one more mystery of the Monks, I guess. Must think I’m a lost soul.

Allonia: (joking) Kind’a late to the party, but they’re welcome to join.

Helton: Now THERE’S a picture.

Allonia: Inviting Monks to a party? Not normally my first choice, but if they can dance to the tune being played, I doubt God would frown too hard.

Fade to black

There is clanking and mixing sounds of the galley in use.

Kwon is talking to his wife Sar, and they appear to be working on mixing up a patch of something for a meal.

Kwon: (VO) -We can’t make the posole because we don’t have the red chillies, and-

Sar: (VO) -But we DO have the jalapenos, so if we-

Fade in

DAY – INT – Tajemnica Galley

Allonia walks in on the disagreement, carrying the boxes.

Allonia: (with a joking smile) Meal Salvation delivery!

Allonia hands the bundle of packages to Kwon fairly casually, who nearly drops them they are so much heavier than he expects.

Kwon: Ah, my spices at LAST! Thank you! NOW we can- UGH! (as he nearly drops them, looking at Allonia briefly in surprise)- can make the posole properly! (joking) Hard to believe I only sent Helton out to get them a month ago.

Sar: Ah, thanks dear. Would you be so kind as to get John for me? We have to get this done by dinner, and that nice Mr Kaminski said he was busy and couldn’t help get the washer working again.

Allonia: It’s CORPORAL Kaminski, Sar. Sure, I’d be happy to find John. Smells good – I’ll be back later if you need a hand. A few more things to deliver.

Fade to

DAY – INT – Allonia’s cabin

She holds up a piece of nice dark blue fabric. Then she holds up a piece of dark red, black, and gold brocade cloth to look at the rich material in the light.

Allonia: (talking to herself) So, how shall we do this? Hmmmm…

She turns it this way and that in the light for a moment, looking thoughtful.

Dissolve to

INT – Night – officers Mess

Helton, Lag, Harbin, Allonia, and Sar sit around the table, chatting. There are several assorted plates and utensils around the table. They apparently just sat down to dinner.

Lag: The limits on the zone got extended past New Ranchi. Lots of people moving around down there.

Sar: I heard some of the ladies in town saying that they are having a hard time contacting relatives in Korba. Something about jamming?

Helton: I’d think a bigger worry is hacking. Losing touch with a cousin is less of a problem than crashing air traffic, or losing electronic medical support at a hospital.

Harbin: Maybe a crashing flier makes the news, but a large number of refugees are a problem for anyone- government, military, AND civilians in the path of refugee movement.

Ship AI: (OC, brisk male military sounding voice) Your statements are not exclusive. Deliberate large civilian population displacement is potentially a very serious thing.

Lag looks up sharply at a screen. No ship avatar of any sort is present. He cocks his head slightly, looking thoughtful. There is a pause.

Lag: Indeed. Tajemnica – whom were you responding too?

Ship AI: (OC) Confirming their statements, based on current news and available information.

Helton: Not being able to call Aunt Nellie is not likely to kill anyone, but it IS worth watching. Non-combatants in the war zone WOULD complicate things for you.

Ship AI: (OC, similar brisk tone) In the third Chi-Stan war, coordinated propaganda and communications disruptions, and personalized misinformation messages, were used to herd masses of civilians into cities and areas along rivers, and limit lines of movement. When thirteen dams were broken in coordination and near-simultaneously with conventional and kinetic strikes, the floods killed more than 125 million directly. The ensuing infrastructure and communications disruption, paranoia, famine, looting, disease, winter weather, and general disorder created a billion refugees and killed an estimated 650 million in the following three months.

There is a long silence as the words are digested.

Lag: Where did you get that information? That is not what most history books say.

Another long pause.

Ship AI:(OC, flatly) That is what the accurate sources say.

Helton: Isn’t there a dam and reservoir near Korba?

Nothing but the clink of silverware and the sound of chewing as they variously consider the information, and sort of look at each other trying to divine what the rest are thinking.

Just then Quinn comes in with his own tray, which has a small bowl, plate, cup of milk, and complete place setting, with a brightly colored selection of food. A bit of fruit, a small wedge of cabbage and some peppers, a bowl of rice with some sort of bright curry-like stuff on top. He sets the tray on the table next to Allonia, and climbs into the seat and sits down on his heels, and starts eating like it’s the most normal thing in the world. The table conversation already at a pause, sinks into deeper silence, as they watch him.

Helton: You’ve been spending an awful lot of time around here lately, Quinn. Doesn’t your mom wonder where you are?

Quinn shrugs, and looks at him as if to say “I don’t know”

Allonia: Does she know you are here?

Quinn gives the same vacant non-answer.

Lag: (with a sudden flash of insight) Do YOU know where your mom is?

Quinn shakes his head very slightly.

The silence is deep.

Allonia: How long has it been since you saw her?

Quinn gives another small shrug and head-shake.

Helton: (voice pitched to the ship AI) Where are Quinn’s parents?

Ship AI: (OC, quiet female voice) Father believed deceased. Mother’s last known location was boarding the Mockingbird on pad C6 three days ago.

Aside from Allonia’s gasp, the silence gets deeper.

Helton: (very quietly and carefully) Do you have any grandparents, aunts, or uncles around here?

Quinn shakes his head, even smaller.

Allonia: (faltering, choking back a sudden flood of tears) Do you have ANY family?

Quinn nods.

They look at him questioningly. He looks back.

Quinn makes a small motion indicating the room around him and the people in it.

Allonia loses it and starts bawling and babbling incoherently, and gives him a huge hug. Sar comes over to join in having a good cry, and the others look like they are trying to avoid such a display, as they try to not look like parents with a lost puppy, themselves.

Helton: You can stay here until we get it all sorted out, of course.

Quinn: (starting to get more animated, now that he’s being smothered in mothering, and barely heard) It’s OK. Ship already said I can stay!

Lag: I know war and unrest creates orphans, but I didn’t expect any quite like this.

Quinn: I’m NOT an orphan. Orphans don’t have families!

Allonia and Sar start bawling all over again.

Helton: Kids are tough. You’re tough. You’ll be OK.

Harbin: (inscrutably) He’s a little younger than normal, but I’ll see if I can work a powder-monkey into the training rotation. (something must have gotten in his eye about that point).

Fade to black.



5 thoughts on “The Stars Came Back -046- Mail Call and Family

  1. Pingback: The Stars Came Back -045- Train’n wimmin ‘n chillun | The View From North Central Idaho

  2. Allonia never thought to ask Quinn this earlier? This really seems late in the story to try and introduce this as “new information.” Quinn is always there and has his own “cubby” — it already seems like he’s part of the family.

    Also, are Kwon and his wife talking OC or in the dark? You have “fade out” and “fade in” but separated by them talking….??

    • Part of the back-story that got thought about but cut before even being written was the story of Quinn’s parents, and all the details why he spent a lot of time there. Alcoholism, drugs, unsavory “friends,” etc. Allonia knew them and knew they were not very reliable, and as he seemed to mostly be able to take care of himself around the ship, and she just kind of cooked for him some, and he gave her someone to talk to when he was around. As she said earlier, she was on the ship because she felt it was safer than in town, and he was there because it was saner than with (single) mom or (virtually unknown) biological father. His “cubby” is just an out of the way corner where he can easily get too, and was away from the main passageways and rooms, so he felt secure there, sort of his own private cave. Turns out there are other attractions there, too. it’s where the ship’s AI seems comfortable to talk to him and teach him things. Now he’s just a more formal part of the family.

      The fade in/out/dark thing. Kwon isn’t in the dark. A transition I’ve seen many times in movies is where the screen is dark, and you hear things implying what’s going on, but the screen is dark, and then you fade into the scene having formed an image in your head from the sounds you hear. Trying to work with the “editing” / “shooting” of who the scene was done. A (very basic) attempts at being “artistic.” Sorry if it wasn’t clear.

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