The Stars Came Back -052- First Mission

Fade in

INT – night – Lag’s office in building 1701.

Lag is seated at his desk. He is reading a screen built into his desk. A beep from his door sounds.

Lag: Come in!

The door opens, and Helton walks in and flops in a seat.

Helton: What a week!

Lag: Ready to fly again?

Helton: Not right this moment, but Stenson says we will be soon.

Lag: What about Bipasha?

Helton: She says we go broke no matter what we do, and we need a paying customer yesterday or we get both fuel AND shore power cut in a couple of days, but still seems to be having fun getting ready to a flight she’s sure will lose money on.

Lag: Kwon?

Helton: Other than a few Navy flashbacks, he’s ready for anything up to a week buttoned up, with current recruits and crew.

Lag: Hmmm… Ready to transport about a hundred injured soldiers and some military equipment from the far-side out to Transfer Station two?

Helton: You found us a job? REALLY?

Lag: Haven’t signed anything for you yet. There has been some fighting on the far side. Things have been busy, and they are short on transportation, among other things. A brigade has taken some heavy casualties, and they have about a company-sized number that are stable, but need off-planet R&R, re-gen therapy, PT, prosthetics, and the like, that are not readily available here. They also have a bunch of equipment they’d like to send back, and transporting military hardware can be… problematic. It’s also a war zone, and several civilian craft have been shot at. Seemed natural to put in a bid on the contract, as least to the transfer station.

Helton: YES!

Lag: Are you sure?

Helton: Well, sure I’m sure! Sound like a milk run – fly in and grab the guys, fly to the transfer station, transfer them, and come home to fix whatever broke while we were out.

Lag: Do you know what the exact terms of the contract are?

Helton: Uh… good point. But I’m sure you’d-

Lag: Run the number past Bipasha?

Helton: … That sounds like… fun.

Lag: There are a few things you’ll need to get before you lift, if you do take the job… I’ll forward the list to you, Bipasha, and Allonia.

Helton: Great, that’ll be great. Well, it looks like I’ve got work to do. Thanks. Thanks for everything.

Lag: (quietly) You can think me when the contract is signed, paid, and done. If you still think you should.

Helton nods thoughtfully, turns and head out the door, closing it behind him.

Fade to black.

Fade in

INT – day – Officers mess

Helton, Allonia, Kwon, Bipasha, and Harbin are reading screens on various places on the walls, looking over the contract and related details.

Bipahsa: OK, the medical supplies and such I understand, but it looks like WAY to much food. It’s a hundred guys on a two day run, and he lists more than a thousand kilos. That’s ridiculous!”

Kwon: The average adult eats about a half-kilo a day, DRY weight, young men more, and we have no emergency or reserve stocks in case something goes wrong. If anything goes sideways, we might wish we had twice that in no time.

Bipasha: But it’s way more than what we’ll need.

Kwon: Hmmm… wellll… For just this trip, IF nothing goes wrong. I’m betting he low-balled the guess – brass always does. I’ll check the details, but for now triple the prep-packs, double the fresh, and at least 400 more cases of E-rats.

Bipasha: MORE? 400 CASES? That’s CRAZY!

Helton: We ARE near a war zone, with no FORMAL supply lines, and a few locals don’t like us much. I personally kind’a like eating… Lay it in, if you can find it.

Bipasha: But that’s an extra three TONS at least!

Helton: As you keep pointing out, we are already pack’n an extra ten THOUSAND tons. Three more – (he shrugs and shakes his head)

Allonia: What about this? Why would Lag suggest we buy rubber sheets? Rubber sheets sound… weird.

Helton: What, specifically?

Bipasha: “200 berth sheets, rubber, type BB5L”? We have linens for the bunks.

Harbin: We are to be carrying injured people, and may soon be transporting refugees.

Bipasha looks questioningly at him, not understanding his point.

Kwon: They sanitize easily. Don’t leak.

Bipasha: Oh.

Harbin: They also double as body bags.

Allonia: Oh.

Fade to

INT – night -officers mess

They are still around the mess table, but in different positions. Coffee mugs and a carafe are on the table.

Bipasha: Well, if we CAN get these items at the listed prices, then we just slightly more that break even, assuming nothing goes wrong, and Stenson’s fuel estimates are right.

Helton: Told you it would work out.

Bipasha: If the only way to even break even is to fly into a war zone on a high-risk mission, you may have a serious problem with your so-called plan, if it also includes either “get rich” or “die of old age.”

Allonia: The injured soldiers need our help. I vote we take it.

Kwon: If we stay, I cook. If we go, I cook. Meh.

Harbin: It WOULD help establish your name, and perhaps give us some first-hand intelligence.

Helton: Anyone firmly opposed, with a specific reason?

Everyone looks around at the others, or just closes their eyes and rest them.

Helton: No? OK, then. We go. Kwon, get the food laid in. Bipasha, get the contract signed up, with the mods we agreed on. Allonia, get the rest of the supplies. Harbin, be your normal bad-ass self, and get the recruits to get everything on the cargo deck cleared away… Are they staying here, or coming with us?

Harbin: It would be a good training opportunity for them. They can assist with cargo and injured personnel. Yes, unless Col Lag has other plans for them.

Helton: Then pick up anything extra you think they might need, too. Training gear, whatever… OK, then. Looks like we have a plan! Time to act like we’re alive!

They all nod agreement / understanding, stand up, and head for the door.

Fade to black.

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9 thoughts on “The Stars Came Back -052- First Mission

  1. Okay now I have to do this like an adult, one bit at a time. Meh, it was more fun reading 51 in a few hours.

    Keep at this, you have a great storyline and are developing the characters nicely. I like forward to following along.

    • Well, it’ll all be up there eventually. Knowing people are following along is a GREAT motivator to keep writing it. And, welcome to the universe.

      • Huh?
        “It’s a hundred guys on a two day run” and “The average adult eats about a half-kilo a day, DRY weight, young men more, and we have no emergency or reserve stocks in case something goes wrong. If anything goes sideways, we might wish we had twice that in no time.”

        My math: 100 x 2 x .5 = 100 kilos plus. Twice that would be 200+ kilos. I’m not sure where the 1000 comes from except for that is what Helton asked for.

        • Three things:
          First, Kowon is using fast rule-of-thumb estimates from his time in the service and time running a restaurant to get round numbers.
          Second, Dry wt vs net weight. Water is great stuff, but it’s kind of light on calories. For example, a 19 (net wt) oz can of soup weighs about 1 lb 6 oz, and only has 220 calories. A healthy adult military age male can easily consume 3000 calories a day, more if exercising much. That would be on the order of 10 to 15 cans of soup if you were going to just use that as an example, or 5-6 kilos a day per person with no margin for error. Fresh food, such as veggies, is largely water, and so you need a LOT of mass to get the calories they need. If they were going all dry protein and carbs (such as a lot of flour and pasta) they’d STILL need a kilo or more a day, if they wanted only the slimmest of reserves. Lifeboat rations, with a balance of fats (high-density calories) protein and carbs are about a half kilo per 2400 calories, and pretty low fiber, and essentially zero water. If you are talking a lot of high water content prepared and fresh stuff, you can EASILY go through two or three kilos a day to feed a man well.
          Third, as he says, he doesn’t like cutting it close, he likes a margin of error. The cases of e-rats he’s talking about are something like Mainstay Rations http://www.amazon.com/Mainstay-Emergency-Food-Rations-Packs/dp/B000B43JI0. Prep-packs I envisions as something like MREs and military Tray Rations.
          He has first-hand recent experience with the shit hitting the fan, bugging out, and distinctly personal supply and planning problems. He DOESN’T want to be in that situation again, so his default rule is “if in doubt, round the first digit up.”

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  3. Sounds like Kwon is thinking ahead, too. Buying the e-rats now means they’ll have them forever if they don’t get used, and won’t have to worry about short/cutoff supply lines. I’m not sure what the prep-packs are supposed to be, but it sounds like they keep pretty well (if not quite as long), so same thing there.

    I like that they’re not just laying in supplies for this job, they’re getting ahead. “Only breaking even” now means they can keep more money later. It’s a startup cost that Bipasha probably doesn’t recognize because of the military aspect.

    • Bipasha has a good head for business and numbers. She’s practical. But because of inexperience, she tends to take a weird combination of short and long views that are often correct within their narrow context, but miss other larger picture / longer-term things because they are not taught in school, only in life.

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