The Stars Came Back -085- Checklist

Fade in.

INT – DAY – Tajemnica Bridge

The screen countdown shows 00:39, 0:38

Everyone in the bridge is seated and strapped in. Helton looks at his checklist book, still only half competed, in front of him.

Helton: (disgustedly) Crap! Taj, initiate main drive for lift-off!

Quiritis sets down her checklist and takes the yoke, ready for whatever.

Ship AI: (OC calm female) A pre-flight checklist must be completed before lifting.

Helton: What good is!?… Damn!… (stares blankly at the screen for a moment in frustration.)

The bridge is silent as people look at him wondering what’s he’s going to do.

Helton: Taj… does the preflight have to be any particular check-list?

Ship AI: (OC) Preflight checklist must be owner and commander approved.

Helton grabs a pen from his pocket, and scribbles on the back of the the regular checklist for a moment. He holds it up to a computer screen/cam for a moment for the ship to see (no-one else can see it)

Helton: New preflight checklist, for this trip, approved by myself as owner and commander!

Ship AI: (OC, normal male voice, sounding doubtful) … Abbreviated nature of it noted, but… Approved.

Helton: (grabbing mike to address ship) Listen up, everyone. Pray as if your life depends on it that everything works when we light ‘er up! It does. You have ten seconds.

Cut to

Cargo bay

Stacks of gear and supplies have been tossed haphazardly around, and the crowd of soldiers from the fire-base are getting final, last-second things secured or on-board, and some are just holding on to tie-downs or whatever is handy in preparation for liftoff. They look at one anther for a moment, a little confused and more than a little worried.

Soldier 1: (to the air / sergeant off-screen) What about atheists?

Soldier 2: (OC, sincerely) Pray there’s no god up there ignoring the rest of us!

Soldier 1 looks to another soldier nearby and shrugs as if to say “can’t hurt”, and everyone in the bay can be seen looking up, down, crossing themselves, closing eyes, or whatever, in silent prayer for a few moments. Not many atheists in a cargo hold, apparently.

Cut to

Bridge

The bridge is silent, saying or finishing a hurried prayer, and everyone watches as Helton flips a protected toggle master switch, and is rewarded by continued silence for a few seconds, then a slight whining rumble and a bunch of readouts popping up level indicators that are mostly green.

Helton: (grinning) Let’s see what the offensive team looks like.

Cut to

Engineering

Stenson is looking at the readouts. They are also mostly in the green, and he smiles.

Stenson: (talking quietly, almost to himself) I didn’t think you could get these old beasts back on line so fast yet. Must have not quite shut them down all the way, didn’t you? Smart AI – keep the engines hot in a combat zone, even if I tell you to wind ‘em down to look ‘em over… Either that, or I need to reschedule my Sunday card game.

Cut to

EXT – DAY -Outside Tajemnica, low, wide angle, looking toward the lowered ramp.

The ship slowly lifts, amid the smoking ruins of the base, as one last soldier tosses a last bag of gear on the lowered ramp and leaps aboard. The stern ramp slowly starts to close. Tajemnica lifts at a slightly odd angle as if limping, rotates a bit, angles up a little, and heads north with increasing speed, just far enough above the ground to not kick up dust. It starts retracting landing gear, all but one.

Fade out

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