The Stars Came Back -082- Incoming

Fade in

INT – DAY – Cargo bay

The compliance monitor, a fleshy Caucasian man in his 50s, dressed sharply and looking very official, is walking through the cargo bay with Kwon. Kwon is dressed in a “ship’s uniform” that looks similar to the one Allonia made for herself.

Kwon: It’s a good ship. A few circuits short, but tough and functional.

Compliance monitor: All I care about is that it is not in violation of the allowed weapons or technology.

They pause at a wall com unit. The Compliance monitor pushes a button.

Compliance monitor: (into mic) What weapons are on-board?

Ship AI: (OC, heavy pirate accent) The lubbers scuppered me cannons decades ago, th’ rat-molesting goat-horkers! Emptied th’ magazine a’ powder, and left me in dry-dock fer scrap metal! Left me wi’ nut’n bu a jammed harpoon tosser done froze ov’r ‘n a busted Roman candle. Jus’ load me upagain, ‘n turn me loose!

Kwon: Like I said, a few circuits short.

Compliance monitor: (looking surprised) WHAT did the AI just say?

Kwon: That we don’t have any weapons. I think. Wish we did when folks were shooting at us a couple of weeks ago – would have made our lives a LOT easier. It’s a decommissioned warship, armored but unarmed.

Compliance monitor: Yes, I heard about that. DANGEROUSLY close to a violation.

Kwon: But NOT across the line.

Compliance monitor: (into mic) Confirm there are no weapons on board.

Ship AI: (OC, heavy pirate accent) O’COURSE there be weapons aboard, yu’ grog-guzzling guppy! A peck o’ pistols, racks o’ rifles, enough blades to fillet a whale, many a’ sharp wit and even sharper tongues, n’ I hear Mr Kwon’s Tortuga sauce wi’ scorch yer arse-hairs the next day.

Compliance monitor: MOST irregular. (into mic) I MEAN, any weapons that are not personal arms?

Ship AI: (OC, heavy pirate accent, sounding comically sad and pathetic) A’side from the Cajun chili his missus makes, sadly, ah-no, nut’n bu’ personal arms. Ah’ been ask’n fer sum sum’n feirce, but they leave me adrift t’ run aground, raggedy ol’ canvass flapp’n in d’ win’. Left me w’ nutt’n but sharp elbows, a hard head, n’ a rum-muddled mind.

Kwon lifts his shoulders and makes a face as if to say “your guess is as good as mine”

Kwon: The AI personality software is a tad flaky, needs some serious work-

Ship AI: (OC, heavy pirate accent) I heard that, y’ puddle-padl’n polliwog!

Kwon: -but mostly works very well when shove gets to blunder. No, no weapons other than small arms. Be happy to show you around so you can see for yourself.

Ship AI: (OC, heavy pirate accent, quietly) There’s ‘n ill wind a’blow’n out there right now, Mr Kwon, sir – best be keep’n close to th’ cable tier a few bells, ‘till we see how sh’blows.

Fade to

Bridge

Quiritis stands alone at the controls, looking at read-outs, tweaking settings, looking at displays. On the main display before a map of the surrounding area is laid out. Suddenly it zooms way out, and shows a LOT more terrain. There are numerous clusters of red icons near the edge. Suddenly there is a lot of red and green static all over the place. Then it’s gone.

Quiritis: (under her breath, to herself) What’s THAT all about?

Ship AI: (OC, with heavy pirate accent, quietly) That be the sounding lead, test’n the waters.

Quiritis: Meaning?

Ship AI: (OC, with heavy pirate accent) Someone looks to be slip’n into the harbor, quiet-like, to take us at anchor. Crows nest can’t see a thing, fog’s thick, but thar be a splash t’ be heard.

Quiritis ponders the words a moment.

Quiritis: You think we are under attack?

Ship AI: (OC, with heavy pirate accent, cautiously) Aye, perhaps, lassie. But no shots fired, yet, and we can’t fire blindly in’t’ fog without know’n wha’ sail be thar.

Quiritis: What sort of attack?

Ship AI: (OC, with heavy pirate accent) Noises. Poke’n ‘n prod’n wi’ lightnin’. Get’n their magic in’r compasses.

Quiritis: Lightning? EM attack, hacking?

Ship AI: (OC, heavy pirate accent) Aye. Shit-magnet ‘peers t’be on full power, t’is.

Quiritis: But they can’t DO that at this tech level! Jamming only.

Ship AI: (OC, heavy pirate accent) Aye. That’s why the crows nest is keep’n a sharp eye out, so’s we knows th’ targets well. THEN we be clear’n the decks in a hurry.

Quiritis: Can’t you DO something!

Ship AI: (OC, heavy pirate accent, conspiratorially) Not mov’n duz’n mean not do’n.

Cut to

Command bunker

Lag and the camp officers are examining the map.

Quiritis: (OC, through Lag’s com unit) Colonel, Taj says we are under EM attack. Not real clear on the details yet.

Lag looks sharply at his com, then the base commander.

Camp Col: Who’s Taj?

Lag: The ship. I’d take it seriously. An unusual bunch, but remarkably effective.

They both look at the com tech.

The com tech looks at them, shakes his head and shrugs his shoulders.

Quiritis: (OC, though PA) All Tajemnica crew, return to ship immediately! Not at drill!

Cut to

Near a tank emplacement

Allonia, Quinn, and the soldier giving them a tour are looking it over.

Quiritis: (OC, though PA) All Tajemnica crew, return to ship immediately! Not at drill!

Allonia: (into her com) What’s the problem?

Ship AI: (OC, through com) Sail in sight, ya’ best be get’n behind th’ armor, lass.

Allonia grabs Quinn, picks him up, and starts running as fast as she can for Tajemnica in the near distance. The soldier looks at them in confusion.

Allonia: (over her shoulder) HEAD FOR YOUR BUNKERS! SPREAD THE WORD!

Behind her, soldiers start running this way and that. As she gets close to the ramp of Tajemnica, suddenly all hell breaks loose around the perimeter.

Cut to

Tajemnica bridge

The screens are covered in static-like fuzz and red icons.

Quiritis: What NOW?

Ship AI: (OC, heavy pirate accent) Thar they be, fly’n colors at last. Now we see what sort’a skulduggery they be up’ta…

Cut to

Command bunker

Ship AI: (OC, heavy pirate accent, through Lag’s com unit) Sail in sight, and fir’n upon us, yur martial-ness, sir, best keep yer head doon!

The base commander and Lag look at each other in surprise.

Ship AI: (OC, heavy pirate accent) Hell’a storm com’n down, sir. Duck’n’cover.

Cut to

Cargo bay

Helton, Bipasha, the compliance monitor, and some soldiers are standing together talking over one another, no clear conversation, just everyone talking at once. A few soldiers nearby are are eating lunch from trays, not sure what to make of it.

Suddenly, they are interrupted by a warning klaxon.

Ship AI: (VO) Incoming fire! Incoming! All personnel take cover! Impact in 16 seconds!

All the civilians freeze for a moment, and all the military folks drop what they are doing and scramble for cover, heading through side doors and what-not. The compliance monitor gets a shocked look, and runs for the main door, apparently headed for his personal bunker.

Ship AI: (OC, with heavy pirate accent, over Helton’s com unit, sounding enthusiastic) Permission t’ commandeer th’ guns and return fire, sir!

Helton: WHAT?! YEAH, SURE, DO WHAT YOU CAN!

Ship AI: (OC, with heavy pirate accent) AYE-AYE, CAP’N!

Cut to

Near the perimeter vehicle emplacements.

Warning sirens and klaxons sounding everywhere. Automated warnings scream “TAKE COVER”. Suddenly every tank and APC and gun suddenly swings skyward, aiming more or less straight up, and everything in the base starts unloading on a high-speed, slightly stuttering full auto. Spent brass is pouring out of auto-canons, Gatling guns, and every other self-loading mechanism mounted on a platform. Soldiers are running or diving for cover everywhere. After about ten seconds of that, view pans skyward. High above there is a sudden blossoming of explosions, a line of detonations in a descending cascade as the guns around continue to fire, tracers arcing up into the heavens to meet the metal rain falling on them. No sounds from above yet, just the guns, because the shells are falling supersonic. There are not so much distinct shots as a ripping, rolling wave of thunderous sound, as powder is turned into gas and flying metal. Soldiers are diving into trenches, through bunker entries, down behind sandbag walls, and everywhere they might find cover.

Then the rounds start landing. The top of Tajemnica is wreathed in smoke and fire as battalions of shit fall upon her, and vehicles are getting massively hit, some getting a dozen or more hits nearly simultaneously. Shell fragments and shrapnel are whizzing evilly overhead. An APC with a 25mm open-mounted gun on top gets hit, and parts go flying. As the first rounds hit, they are joined by the sounds of the shells exploding higher up, further away, a torrent of vibration from larger bombs and shells exploding, a concussive roll of sound felt as much as heard. Not many rounds are landing in the open areas, and most of those that do are relatively small.

Cut to

Open ground between bunkers and Tajemnica. Cooper is running as fast as he can for her, uniform only half on, red jacket unfastened. The guns are all blazing away all around. Incoming rounds start landing here and there. One lands and explodes near him, and he spins and falls, several bloody wounds ripping open on his legs and body. He falls, bounces and rolls, and lays still, next to the bloody body and lifeless eyes of the tech level compliance monitor.

Cut to

Allonia sprints up the ramp, clutching Quinn as she runs. She runs in and ducks into the stairwell, holding him close, ducking down as the frightful din roars and thunders around them. Then, as suddenly as it started, it ends. She raises her head and looks at Quinn. His eyes are wide, and he trembles as he huddles against her.

Allonia: (comforting) It’s OK, it’s over. We’re safe. It’s over.

She raises her hand to stroke his head, to comfort him. It’s bloody. She looks frantically around for a moment.

Allonia: QUINN. Are you hurt?

Quinn nods a small nod. She stands up and heads fast up the stairs for the infirmary.

Allonia: (shouting) Medical! Quinn’s hit! Infirmary!

Cut to

Cargo bay ramp

The 25mm canon, disconnected from it’s APC, lays partially on the ramp, partially off. A folding arm hatch opens, the loading arm unfolds, “reaches” down, and prods the gun around into a slightly different position, then hooks onto it. The arm lifts, and swings the gun around a bit experimentally, as a shooter would heft a new gun in their hand, then folds away with it, the hatch closing behind it.

Cut to

Tajemnica bridge

Quiritis is looking over the screens, hands dancing to get more and different views of things.

Ship AI: (OC, with heavy pirate accent quietly) They flew their flag a’last, ‘n fired the first broadside. Now, we get t’ fly OUR flag, ‘n make ‘m pay th’ price.

Quiritis looks at the screens and around her with a mixture of surprise and grimness.

Fade out

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11 thoughts on “The Stars Came Back -082- Incoming

  1. Bridge scene, 5th paragraph

    Ship AI: (OC, with heavy pirate accent) Someone looks to be slip’n into the harbor, quiet-like, to take us ***as*** anchor. Crows nest can’t see a thing, fog’s thick, but thar be a splash t’ be heard.

    as s.b. at?

  2. Confused about this: “He falls, bounces and rolls, and lays still, next to the bloody body and lifeless eyes of the tech level compliance monitor.” Is this compliance monitor the same guy who was inside with Helton when the warning went off? Or is this someone else?

    • Same guy. Rather than trust Kwon’s assertion about the ships armor, he ran for his own bunker, caught an incoming round out on the open space.

    • It’s a very old ship, and Helton et al don’t seem to get the date reference. But WE, the readers, do, so it works. Besides, who would YOU want to go to battle with?

      • ‘Course, if Taj is going to continue with the usual soft, sultry female voice, she needs to Talk Like A (Female) Pirate. Now, THAT would be awesome! And maybe have her throw a quick explanation to Quinn or Allonia or one of the trainees (maybe Kwon: Culinary Jedi ™ can school them as they shuffle through the chow line). Just thinkin’ out loud here.

        • You may have noticed that the AI voice changes quite a bit, sometimes female, sometimes much more brisk male military sounding, etc., depending on audience and conversation content. Usually nice school-marm-ish with Quinn, but a variety of things at different times. What/when will be addressed in a bit. But the Pirate voice is definitely male. Usually a PG B-movie grade stereotype, but not always.
          Female pirate? nah, wouldn’t want to throw a wench in the gears. (ba-da-bing!)

  3. “The 25mm canon, disconnected from it’s APC” “Cannon” and “Its”, I believe. It’s would be “it is” and cannons can be used to deliver canon but we probably want the 2nd n this time. I could be wrong…

    • A 25mm canon is a REALLLLLY small bit of repetitive sheet-music, and it is supported on an Automated Percussion Counterpoint. That way, you see….. nah, just a mistake. Thanks. Fixed for publication version.

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