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.
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.
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.
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.
Harbin: They also double as body bags.
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.