EXT – DAY – North hill-top
A grassy hill-top with a some scrubby bushes. Hunkered down between and behind some of the bushes are six men in camo uniforms, small packs and equipment around them on the ground. One of the men has binoculars and is watching the refugee center.
ManPAD1: LIFTING! They are LIFTING! Shit! South-east again! Shoz! Check range!
Another man shoulders a missile launcher, and aims it toward Tajemnica in the distance.
ManPAD2: No dice! Right at range limit, and going away!
ManPAD3: Shit. Call it in. We’ll have to redeploy. One team from each hill. Box ‘em for when they come back.
EXT – DAY – South-east hilltop
Another grassy hill with small trees and scattered brush. Two couples, one older man and woman one younger man and woman, sit partially concealed with binoculars watching something, a foursome on a nature outing.
Watcher one: Oh, look at that one! A female!
Watcher two: Very pretty!
View through binoculars of a brightly colored bird on a branch. The bird is in focus, and everything else, branches, twigs, and a bright sky, is blurred. In the view there is suddenly a looming blurred dark spot covering the background. The binoculars come down, and focus goes from the bird to Tajamnica screaming in directly at them, huge and getting bigger fast.
Watcher 3: AAHHHHHHHHH!
All four of them throw themselves own flat on the ground. Tajemnica roars past just over them, the wind of it’s passing flattening bushes and trees like a hurricane, her hull clipping the taller ones fairly seriously. The older man lifts his head and stares at the retreating ship as angles up and climbs fast, then at the destruction around him, eyes wide. The birds are gone.
Bridge of Tajemnica
Cooper, Helton, Allonia, Bipasha all wear expressions of “THAT was close!” There is a collective exhalation.
Cooper: Now they’ll move to cover all points. Coming back’ll be a bitch.
Helton: Yeah… unless we circle around and hunt them down NOW, while they are not expecting us.
Bipasha: Hunt them with WHAT?
Helton: Just what we planned on doing here. Cooper, hit the deck, circle around to the north hill.
Helton: Never a better time. Do it.
Cooper makes a face, and does nothing.
Cooper: I can’t believe you want to TRY running into the ground! Risk is too high!
Quiritis: Just a LITTLE hill. No problem.
Lag comes onto the bridge at that moment.
Lag: Colliding with things again?
Helton: If they’re still on the hill-top. Quiri, you just got promoted to first pilot. Do it!
Cooper gets a surprised look, Quiri’s face gets a bland, calm look, and she pushes the yoke forward.
Quiritis: (calmly) Aye-aye, sir. You might want to tell people to brace for impact – it may be more than the inertial compensators can handle.
Lag: What if they have moved down to re-deploy? Then you’ll be back inside the circle, in range.
There is a moment of tense silence as they consider that.
Helton: Cornhole ‘em.
Lag: (skeptical, as if he must not have heard right) Excuse me?
Helton: (into mic, voice echoing on the ship) All personnel! Clear the cargo bay, secure all mid-deck windows, close all hatches onto the cargo bay! (then off mic) Tajemnica, open forward and aft cargo bay airlock doors. Prepare to fast-drop the bow ramp, AND lower stern ramp partially now. If they are on the hill-top, we level the hill-top with the bow ramp up. If they are down where we can’t turn ‘em into road-kill, we drop the ramps, bump the ship, and the wind through will blow the bags off the aft ramp. A few hundred fifty-kilo bean-bags at four hundred kph should flatten a pretty good area, and one of those things landing on anyone will take them out.
Lag: Are you serious?
Helton: Quiritis, can you do it if Tajemnica can time the ballistics of a “bombing run” right?
Quiritis: (still very calm) Bean-bags are not in the ground assault combat manual, but gravity bombing is simple.
Helton: Good thing I never read that manual.
Her hands start running over the controls, figuring the right speeds and angles.
Cooper: (sarcastically) Sure why not? Run into hills on purpose, fight missiles with bean-bags. Makes perfect sense. In someone’s universe.
Helton: Taj, can you do it?
Ship AI: (OC) The physics of falling objects are well understood. The details of moving that much mass with wind-tunnel effect though the cargo bay will be… a bit more complex.
Lag: Maybe using the loading arms to make it a more controlled ejection?
Cooper: Hill’s coming up fast!
Ship AI: (OC) Three men. One launcher confirmed. Three men downhill three hundred fifty meters.
Three men in camo stand, heads just above the brush silhouetted on the skyline, looking into the distance. One points, like he’s indicating where something is of interest. There is a rising rush of air, and behind them Tajemnica flies into view, moving fast, hull below the horizon. They whip around, and stand motionless in shock at seeing a huge wall of metal rushing towards them. Tajemnica’s hull barely grazes the ground, and levels a flat spot where the men were standing, not slowing at all. As it passes over the hill-top and the bow clears the crest, the ramp is already starting to drop. Tajemnica screams overhead, dirt splashing away in front of it like the water in a barge’s bow-wave. The view follows it past, and the back ramp is down, piles of bean-bags clearly visible. The fast-moving ship suddenly jumps a bit, like it was going over a speed-bump at high speed, and noses up.
A view of the aft ramp, looking forward. Stacks of bags cover the ramp. The cargo bay looks like it’s been swept clean, all hatches and windows shut tight. Suddenly, the ramp at the far end drops open to act like an air-scoop, and there is the roar of air rushing past. The two loading arms have the fork-lift attachments, and one is holding one side of pallets down/forward, the other is in front, ready to push them back and off the ramp. The corners of the bags lift and ruffle, thinking about moving under the pressure put on them. Then there is a bump, everything jumps, and there is nothing but sky seen through the bow door. The bags on one side fly back and off the ramp and away.
Side of the north hill.
Amid the brush, small trees, and grass, three men in camo trudge, all with packs and gear, one carrying a launcher, the other two with a couple of missile tubes each. The move quickly and quietly. Suddenly there is a crashing of trees, earth, and metal, and they spin around to look uphill where they had just left. They see Tajemnica trailing debris screaming past the hilltop, aiming directly over their heads. It tips up, and they reflexively throw themselves flat on the ground, even though it’s WAY to high to hit them. Then, falling from the stern ramp, and huge waterfall of bags starts falling in long disorderly line, heading right for them, falling much more sideways that down, nearly parallel to the ground like grazing fire, but picking up downward speed fast. The soldiers are near the leading edge of the cascade as the bags fall past and on them, crashing through the brush and small trees like a blast from a titanic shotgun, hitting one man squarely on the body with a bag, the other in the head. A third and fourth bag lands on the legs of the third team member, and he screams in pain. Tajemnica roars away, turning and arcing, up and away from the other hill with a ManPAD teams. The survivor rolls back and forth a bit, then struggles to get the bags from off his shattered legs, grimacing in pain. He manages to roll over, and look around a bit. He sees his comrades, motionless under bags, the obviously broken launcher next to one of them, the the ten meter wide swath of destruction he lays in the middle of. He looks up the hill. He reaches for his com unit.
Wooded hillside down from the west hill.
A three-man team in camo is walking hurriedly though the trees. They are equipped similarly as the team that got bean-bagged. Their com units squawk.
Survivor1: (OC, though com, sounding pained and desperate) Team 3 down! Team 3 Down! Come in Team 4!
They all freeze, and bring their rifles up to ready, looking around for some unseen enemy.
Survivor1: (OC, though com) Team 3 down! Team 3 Down! No response Team 4! Come in Team 2!
One of the soldiers carrying spare missile tubes thumbs his throat mike.
Team2 Leader: Team 2 to team 3. Sitrep!
Survivor1: They dropped shit on us! They came back over the hill low and fast! Broke my legs! They hit the hill, then DROPPED some sort of bags on us! Delatam and Poya got hit, I think they’re dead! The launcher is broken! Send a medic!
Team2 Leader: (thumbing throat mike) We’ll do what we can. (releases the mike, sounding angry) SHIT! SHIT-SHIT-SHIT! He’s screwed. Only two, now. SHIT!
The three look at each other, wondering what to do next.
Team1 Leader: (OC, though com unit) Now what?
Team2 Launcher guy: I say we-
Ship AI: (OC, though their com units, deep, cold male voice) -Run. If you are within eight kilometers of the Center when we return, we will kill you, too. ANY use of these com units will be understood as planning on staying here, and you will ALL die. You have two hours. Tajemnica OUT.
The three look at each other. One reaches for his throat mike, and the leader shakes his head urgently.
Team2 Leader: I don’t know how, but we are WAY outside the plan. Fall back to the rally point, report and get orders. Total electronic silence. TOTAL. Clear?
The other two nod, then change direction, and start trotting though the woods.
Fade to black.