INT – DAY – Tajemnica’s bridge
Helton leads the way into the bridge, Quiritis following behind. He goes to the command stations, but she stops at the hatchway, stands there and just looks around, a rapt look on her face.
Quiritis: (quietly, as if to herself) Just how I remember her. Not a day older.
She walks slowly toward the pilot seat, running her hands over the well-worn curves of the command console, and other things as she goes, looking at them, reliving old memories. She stands at the pilot station. A moment, checking the reach of controls.
Quiritis: (softly, almost dreamily) I used to have to stand on a crate to reach these. I didn’t want to use the seat. Top row of controls was frustrating because I had to really reach.
She reaches out, almost reverently, and runs her hand along one side of the console, then across the top.
Helton stands at the command station, watching her.
Allonia steps in through the door, silently, and walks silently up beside Helton, also watching Quiritis. Allonia looks at Helton and raises a questioning eyebrow. He makes a noncommittal face back. Quiritis takes a breath, closes her eyes, and reaches out her hands to various controls, hitting them directly with her eyes closed, her slight smile growing with each contact. She turns around to say something to Helton, sees Allonia, and startles slightly in surprise as she come back into reality. Then they both get a narrowed-eyed look as they get a faint glimmer of possible recognition, then both ask at the same time-
Quiritis: Alli? [pronounced “alley”]
Allonia: Quiri? [pronounced “query”]
Their faces light up in surprised delight, and they come together in a can’t-believe-it-can’t-talk-fast-enough gushing embrace.
Allonia: It’s been so LONG and just LOOK at you and WHAT have you been DOING and CAN you believe we got her FLYING and she’s a GREAT ship and I’m SURE he’ll want to hire you and-
Quiritis: OhMyGOD you’re all grown UP and you are HERE and just LOOK at you and what are YOU doing here and HOW is just EVERYTHING and I came looking for a piloting job and just WOW –
They both pause for a breath and another hug for a moment. They both have tears of joy streaming down their faces.
Helton: I take it you two have met somewhere?
Allonia: (very excited) She used to watch me when I was Quinn’s age! We used to play here together!
Quiritis: Our parents knew each other, and for part of the time I was living aboard I made a little extra money baby-sitting Alli!
Allonia: So, you ARE going to hire her, right, Helton?
Helton: Well, uh, we DO have a pilot, and I thought that a medic was next on the list?
Allonia: But we NEED a second good pilot! I mean, at the rate we keep taking ships-
Quiritis: You got her RE-ARMED!?
Helton: Well… not exactly, and that’s another long story, but, sort’a, yeah, we COULD use a spare pilot. Might simplify some things.
Quiritis: (looking skeptical) You are NOT armed, but you ARE taking other ships? (sudden look of suspicion) You aren’t pirates, are you?
Allonia and Helton both burst out laughing.
Allonia: Oh, GOD no! Mostly we take… well, like Helton said, it’s complicated. But NO, we are not doing anything illegal… Well, not immoral, anyway… Mostly.
Quiritis looks at them askance, it being HER turn to try to put their answers, demeanor, and the things she’s seen into a picture that makes sense.
Allonia: Besides, do you think Tajemnica would let bad people fly her?
Ship AI: (OC, gentle male voice) Hello, Quiri. Your training has not been wasted?
Quiritis: VERY well-used, thank you. A MASTER teacher, you are. Are they telling the truth?
Ship AI: (OC) Yes, more or less. Their path here IS complicated. But ethical.
Her face brightens a great deal.
Quiritis: It’s so good to hear you again! I have so MUCH to tell you!
Ship AI: (OC) I would be happy to listen, Quiri, but first you and the Captain have much to talk about.
Fade to black
INT – Day – officers mess
Allonia, Helton, Quiritis, Cooper sit at the table, with a water carafe and glasses.
Helton: Proper parts have been a ROYAL pain to get – a LOT of stuff is very non-standard. We are running at less than half-power, even though we have six drive cores more or less functional, and both main power systems nominally up.
Quiritis: That is STILL a LOT more than my parents ever got running. They just didn’t have the money or skills, and the local port authority was not exactly helpful. Kept her on shore power, worked on what they could.
Allonia: We almost got sunk, too, but the stars came together, and we have a Plataean free-lancer military unit paying some of the bills. It’s worked out VERY well. And they are not NEARLY as scary as I was lead to believe.
Cooper: Especially one in particular?
Allonia blushes a bit at that.
Allonia: We’re just good friends!
Quiritis: (laughing) So, you have a special friend! A SOLDIER, no less! Normally I’d advise against it, based on my experience.
Allonia: He’s really nice!
Cooper: At least, if he’s not trying to kill you, which he seems to be good at.
Quiritis looks a little dismayed.
Helton: He means, he’s good at killing the BAD guys. Not killing Allonia, which proved a problem for the one lost cause that tried the wrong approach with her. You’d like Kaminski.
Bipasha comes in, looking excited.
Bipasha: Guess WHAT?
Helton: Harbin’s favorite niece found a job at Seymores?
Quiritis gets a black look at the mention of the name.
Bipasha: (exasperated at first) NO, you- I found a quick contract job that I think we can do, doesn’t involve corrupt warehouse managers OR interceptors, AND will make money!
Helton: GREAT! – What’s the catch?
Bipasha: Hmm? No catch. Should be easy. Just got posted a little while ago. Some anti-war organization is looking to contract freelancers to fly over to some of the cities just inside the militarized zone and pick up any remaining refuges and take them to one of the camps being set up over near New Joysie. Likely no-one will want to take it because it’s a designated war zone, even though there shouldn’t be anyone much left there and there’s been no action in the area, but we should move fast in case there is someone more desperate than we are.
Helton: But it’s called a WAR ZONE for a reason.
Bipasha: This thing is armored, right? Small arms can’t hurt it.
Cooper: What about the all the piles of bags of beans and stuff on the aft ramp?
Bipasha: Leave it. We could load everyone with just the bow ramp, maybe even just a side hatch.
Allonia: Supplies for passengers?
Bipasha: There shouldn’t be many- it’s only a short extra-atmo hop to the designated Refugee Center, so we don’t have to feed them or anything. Walk ‘em on, bounce over, walk ‘em off, collect the payment.
Helton: (warily) … I thought you were going to prove me wrong?
Bipasha: (half-joking) Oh, I will. I just want to watch you suffer a little longer.
Bipasha notices Quiritis, and looks questioningly at Helton.
Allonia: An old friend, a pilot. Quiritis, Bipasha, our business manager.
They eye one another briefly, taking each other’s measure for a moment. Quiritis stands and sticks out her hand.
Quiritis: Happy to meet any friend of Alli’s.
Bipasha shakes the proffered hand.
Bipasha: Likewise. (then, to Helton) We should move on this fast.
Helton: (into wall intercom mic) All Section leaders to the command center.
Kwon: (OC, over intercom) Who’s a section leader, and what’s the command center?
Helton: Kwon, Stenson, any non-recruit uniforms on board, head for the mess room.
Stenson: (OC, intercom) Why didn’t you say so the first time?
Helton: (into mic) Just go, people, if you want to know what’s about to happen.
INT – day – large, ostentatious office
Seymore sits behind a desk with a big shit-eating grin on his face, talking into a comm screen that the camera can’t see.
Yes, Councilor. They took the contract, just like you thought they would. They’ll be leaving in a couple of hours. I’m sure such a tragic event will make the news.
Fade to black.