INT – day – ships garden
Allonia and Helton are chatting in the hydroponics garden. The light panels are bright, there are many levels and racks of trays full of lush deep green plants – some obviously lettuce, melons, and tomatoes, a few compact blueberry bushes, and a lot of less obvious greenery. Some trays are hydroponics, some trays just look like they are filled with good dirt. Quinn is playing in some of the dirt, putting it into small pots.
Allonia: -I don’t know what that one is. The container only had a picture, but no other label. Seems to grow very fast, so I assume is is mostly for scrubbing carbon dioxide.
Helton: And that?
Allonia: Here, have a smell.
Helton: Ah, mint. Where are all these from?
Allonia: There’s a big cabinet over in the corner FULL of trays full of seed. Some labeled, some not. Some are pretty obvious, some I don’t have a clue what they are… It was locked when I moved in last year, and then for some reason it clicked open a few months ago.
Helton: More fresh herbs to go with all that thin-sliced fresh meat, Kwon will be in heaven! I better start working out more with Harbin.
Allonia gives him a puzzled look, not knowing what he’s referring to.
Helton: Turns out a side of beef or a hog is a perfect training aid to get the young men to really understand the value of a razor sharp, highly polished blade, and precision placement.
Allonia: (still puzzled) He’s having the recruits carve it up?
Helton: Sort of. They kept wanting to try to muscle their swings and thrusts. He had an inspired idea.
Allonia: (sounding skeptical) A platoon of recruits swinging swords in the galley doesn’t sound very inspired, unless he’s helping train medics.
Saraphina: (OC, though PA system) Helton, there’s someone here to see you about the pilot position.
Helton: (to the ship mic) Tell ‘em it’s been filled.
Sar: (OC, though PA system) I did, but she’s quite insistent.
Helton: (to the ship mic) We HAVE a pilot.
Sar: (OC, though PA system) I told her. But she says she didn’t come this far to be turned away at the ramp.
Helton looks at Allonia, shrugs his shoulders. She clips a few sprigs of an herb.
Allonia: (non-committal) Can’t hurt to talk to her.
Sar: (OC, though PA system) Says she learned to fly on Taj.
Both of them make faces showing puzzlement
Helton: THAT can’t be right. Unless there is something ELSE we don’t know.
Allonia: Talk to her, see if her story checks out. I’ll drop in on you on the bridge in a bit, let you know what sort of vibe I get about her.
Helton nods, turns, walks away.
EXT – day – Bow cargo bay ramp
Standing at the bottom of the ramp is Sar, chatting with a visitor, QUIRITIS RUDEL. Quiritis is a tall, slender, angular, lady in her early 30s, wearing a simple tailored blue uniform with gold, silver, and red accents. Her blond hair is cut in a short and low-maintenance style, but not harsh. By her side is a small travel bag. She is watching the recruits in the cargo bay, which can be heard but not seen. As Helton walks down the loading ramp, she shifts her eyes to him, and sticks out her hand in greeting.
Quiritis: Quiritis Rudel, Pilot.
Helton: Helton Strom, owner and captain of Tajemnica.
Quiritis: I can’t believe someone finally got her flying! She looks beautiful!
Helton: (politely apologetic) Thanks. We think so. Sorry to tell you, but like Sar said, we have a pilot.
Quiritis: I saw your advert for a pilot when I got back from a long survey flight, and got here as soon as I could. I HAD to come. I learned to fly on her.
Helton looks at her intently. She back to running her eyes over the ship, a happy smile on her face.
Helton: Tajemnica hadn’t flown in more than a century before WE got her off the ground.
Quiritis: Oh, and I’m so GLAD that you did. I never thought I’d see her move!
Helton looks at her skeptically. She looks and sounds honest, but he can’t quite square what she’s saying with the facts he knows. Quiritis’ eyes get back to Helton’s face, and read it correctly.
Quiritis: My parents owned her for four years nearly twenty years ago, trying to fix her up, and went bust like everyone else who tried. They had BIG plans, but not enough money, connections, or skill. I used to sit in the pilot seat for HOURS in simulator mode. Taj taught me, starting with the basics and running though everything she could throw at me. Stellar navigation, transitions, ground attack, ship-to-ship, damage control. We went EVERYWHERE together, visiting every known terraformed system on last known data, even ones she made up with Planet-Movers. Made going through pilot training at the academy almost boring. On THIS ship, you can control EVERYTHING if you want, and she always demanded I did, as soon as I could. She was VERY particular about her checklists. All the newer ships are dummy-proofed to the point of being barely usable, and not much fun. Flying landing shuttles and survey ships pays the bills, but…
Helton: Sounds like a heck of a childhood.
Quiritis: It was… interesting – you don’t really know what you have until you don’t have it any more.
Helton: I could show you around – or should YOU show ME?
Quiritis: I’d love to see how she’s cleaned up, but I HAVE GOT to ask – WHAT are THEY doing?
Quiritis nods towards the men training in the cargo bay. Camera view pans from her to them. There are four lines of recruits, and a side of beef or dressed hog hanging from chain hoists at the head of each line, with a plastic tarp underneath each with a pile of meat pieces on it. There are also different pieces of steel armor strapped onto each side of beef or hog in various places: some plates, some squares of scale armor, some mail. Each recruit has a gleaming, polished sword or spear. The recruits are each practicing spearing, thrusting, or slicing as thin a hunk of meat off as they can, under Harbin’s and Kaminski’s direction and critique. There is also a recruit with a pole hooked onto each side of meat moving it around, jerking it this way and that, spinning it, etc, trying to trap the blades, and the “attackers” are trying to get in an attack and clear their weapon as fast as possible, weapon in one hand, shield in the other. Sometimes it worked well, sometimes a twisting side of beef would get a weapon jammed up between the bones if the blow or thrust was badly placed, and then the recruit would have a heck of a time trying to get it withdrawn. After a clean attack or two, and a small strip of meat was shaved off into the pile below, the recruit would go to the back of the line. Harbin is coaching them as they go, and the other recruits in the lines are watching techniques and mistakes, laughing, grimacing, or nodding as needed.
Harbin: In and out FAST! Clear for another thrust instantly, or you are as good as unarmed. GOOD! Good! NO, a thousand times NO! Don’t muscle it! Precision, gentlemen, fast and clean, in and BACK OUT! Don’t just stand there looking at that great cut; riposte and do it AGAIN!
Kaminski: THAT’S right, next to the armor! Not into it – shiny things STOP your point, meat doesn’t! PULL BACK! PULL! Engage and disengage as fast as you can, don’t give your opponent an opening by leaving that hand out there to get cut!
A recruit takes a particularly ineffective poke at a side of hog, gets the spear jammed between the armor and some bone, and starts getting pushed around by the pole-man moving the target. The spear gets pulled out of his hands as he tries to re-adjust.
Harbin: THAT’S about as useless as bean-bags in a firefight! You CANNOT lose your weapon! Draw your secondary and GET THAT SPEAR BACK!
The recruit draws his sword, and tries to take a stab with it. The lost spear falls free, and clatters to the deck. He picks it up, and shamefacedly walks toward the back of the line.
Camera pans back to Helton and Quiritis.
Helton: (to Quiritis) An inspired training idea. Kwon and Sar, here, didn’t like the idea of butchering a hundred sides themselves, and Harbin was looking for a better way to teach the kids to not try to just muscle blades through armor, but use speed and accuracy to get around the armor. They are competing to make the biggest pile with the thinnest strips and smallest pieces in a set time, squad against squad.
Quiritis: (looking skeptical) OK. Weird, but OK. So, why on a STARSHIP?
Helton: Long story, but the rent it pays is good, and they provide us no end of entertainment. Care to see a fully functional bridge?
Quiritis: (with another big smile) Yes, very much, please.
Fade to black