The Stars Come Back -088- Pickup

EXT – DAY – a large tan expanse of open ground with scattered grass and bushes.

A small convoy of wheeled military vehicles roll through across the plain at high speed. They are in a loose cluster, disorderly. They are mostly APCs, a few fast wheeled gun platforms. Guys and gear are hanging on the sides as they race along kicking up a lot of dust. There is a sudden explosion not far from one, but it doesn’t swerve or anything. They are just charging along, fleeing the shots being fired at extreme range from somewhere behind.
[Note: Music along the lines of Two Steps From Hell’s To Glory would roll along with them fairly well].

Cut to

INT – Day – Tajemnica bridge

Quiritis, Helton, Allonia, Lag, Bipasha at normal positions.

On their screens it shows the speeding convoy far ahead but closing fast.

Lag: -If we stop to load, they get shot.

Bipasha: Can’t they keep driving?

Helton: They can’t run forever – low on gas, overloaded, and the plain ends soon in terrain that’ll slow ‘em WAY down.

Allonia: Any way to load them without stopping?

Helton: Can we lower the ramp and have them drive on, maybe, on the move?

Lag: Not with all their wheels powered.

Quiritis: Cargo loading arms?

Ship AI: (avatar on screen) NOW yer talk’n, lass! Bring me along-side, an’ we can give’em the ol’ heave-ho inn’a’th hold!

Helton: Is that safe? Can you do it?

Ship AI: (with piratical accent) Stow that “safe” talk! O’course I kin do it! I be use’n sensor-driven dynamical real-timey numeric Newtonian approximation and adjustment.

Helton: (pause while he thinks it over for a second and figures out what that means) … So, you’re winging it?

Ship AI: (pirate accent, avatar grinning demonically) Like a hummin’bird in a hurricane, lad. That’s wha’ makes it so exil’rat’n!

Cut to

INT – DAY – Stern ramp

As the ramp is lowered, the side arms fold out, now with pincers in place of the pallet-loading forks or guns. Behind the speeding ship is the loose convoy of vehicles, bouncing recklessly along in a cloud of dust. The ramp lowers to nearly the ground, and the dust-cloud it kicks up is tremendous. The lead APC rolling at high speed with a dozen guys clinging to the back of it comes up behind the ramp. The arms reach down, and at maximum extension can ALMOST reach the sling-loading shackles. The ship settles lower, and further back. The APC commander’s head sticking out of the small turret looks at each side, then yells something into his helmet mic. The APC gradually goes a little faster, closer, closer, then the loading arm pincer grab the center lifting shackles. It lifts the whole APC up, and gently tosses it forward into the cargo bay, ahead of the steeply angled ramp. The men riding on the top of it are jostled about, but don’t fall off and it bounces and jostles forward a bit on the momentum of it’s spinning tires as the driver gets his foot on the brakes, going from a ground-speed of over a hundred KPH to zero in a moment. A soldier from the base rapidly waves them forward to where another couple of soldiers are standing, signaling them where to drive too. Hastily organized, perhaps, but efficient enough to get them forward, around the piles of gear, and out of the way for the next vehicle.

The arms reach back down for the next vehicle as the ship swings over to one side a bit to be in front of it. Another APC, this one with fewer troops clinging to it, but also a still-smoking hole in a strapped on crate. The ship and arms are getting in synch, and it get grabbed and tossed in in short order, rolling a bit further forward than the first one, then waved forward to park and get the wind-blasted troops off it’s top-side. Out back, behind the ramp amid the convoy there is another explosion of an incoming round. A couple of vehicles swerve a small bit, but keep charging along.

Dissolve to

Mid-deck passageway, looking through a forward window into the cargo bay.

The windows are all closed, and the sounds from the now crowded cargo bay deck are muffled, but there is a cacophony of smaller sounds surrounding her from the crowd of soldiers aboard. Allonia is watching the last vehicle getting tossed aboard, an 8-wheeled highly mobile medium gun platform, and getting stuffed in with little room to spare. The deck is packed with soldiers, vehicles and gear wedged everywhere. Some are clearly injured and getting unloaded from just-boarded vehicles. The scene is crowded and chaotic. Bulkhead light/screens are all covered with directions and information. Vehicles are being secured with tie-downs to the deck by able-bodied crew. Ammo is getting handed up from side-stacks to vehicle crews. Gear is getting redistributed and secured or tied down better.

Ship AI: (OC) Best be get’n t’th’ sick-bay, lass. A lot o’ gentle hands be needed there. Do’n summ’in ‘ll keep th’ noggin busy.

She nods, turns, and heads down the passageway, now nearly bursting with soldiers in tan camo and rifles from the two units they have picked up.

Cut to

Tajemnica’s bridge

Quiritis: Last one aboard.

Helton: Button up and head-

Lag: -Syd.

Helton: Sydney?

Lag: They won’t expect us to head there to drop off the injured men and vehicles. It’s also Cobb’s ammo dump, and there’s an available platoon there. Hit there for supplies first, make sure the level breach is reported. THEN we can pick up the rest of the offensive team and shuffle a few things to get a good mix of troops and hardware.

Helton nods understanding, and waves to Quiritis’ raised eyebrow to make it so. She nods affirmation.

Quiritis: Buttoned up. Sydney it is.

Cut to

EXT – DAY – edge of plains, as it transitions to broken badlands.

Tajemnica angles up, glows a bit more, and pulls Gs for altitude, fading into the distance.

Fade to black



12 thoughts on “The Stars Come Back -088- Pickup

    • Yeah, Two Steps does a lot of epic sound-track music. Good stuff. Figured I’d throw in a link to set the mood, though it could have been any one of dozens. I like the base percussion sound, thought it would match the sound of the drives, more or less.

  1. Nitpick: “The APC commander’s head sticking out of the small turret looks at each side,”

    Looks AT each side or looks TO each side? If it’s supposed to be at, what is he looking at? The ramp? The ship? The turret?

    ” A soldier from the base rapidly waves them forward to where another couple of soldiers are standing, signaling them where to drive too.”

    To, not too.

    ” and it get grabbed”

    getS grabbed

    • “to each side” would be better, and the others are fixed as well. Thanks, again.

  2. The ultimate snatch-n-grab! I just love all of the unconventional solutions to sticky problems that you keep throwing into the storyline!

    Today’s nitpicks (UBU already mentioned the “too/to”, so I won’t repeat that one, although I did have a rather clever comment about having an extra “0” at the end is not necessarily a bad thing, but this being a PG-ish blog and all…):

    “The lead APC rolling at high speed with a dozen guys clinging to the back of it comes up behind the ramp”

    Physics question here…if they’re aiming to pick up the LEAD APC, then either the trailing APC’s are going to get a rather nasty facefull of dust, or spaceship exhaust, since the Taj is going to have to match speed to pick them up. Would be a lot more efficient to have Taj start grabbin and tossin from the back, first, up towards the front.


    “Helton nods understanding, and waves to Quiritis’ raised eyebrow to make it so. She nods affirmation.”

    May just be personal preference, but I’d go with “in” following the “nods”, as in “Helton nods in understanding…” May be correct either way, but it just flows better with the “in”, in my opinion.

    • Hmmm.. Good point on the dust-cloud. I was thinking it’d look a bit Mad-Max-ish, but if it’s kicking up a lot of dist, that could be a problem for all the drivers behind. If they came up and took the last ones first, shielding the ones ahead with Taj, then that could add a few swerves and explosions as she protects them, too, AND get around the dust-cloud issue. Might have to do that.
      The optional “in”… Have to think a bit, see which flows better now that you point it out.
      Thanks again.

      • Yeah, you’d have to bring it up with an English major (hey…a use for that particular degree!) to find out which one’s correct.

        Coming up from behind, the column can slow down a bit with Taj providing top-cover and shielding, plus Taj can provide some counter-battery fire as well as shooting down incoming rounds, if necessary (if she’s got any extra ammo left over, or if the troops inside can get their ammo “stored away” inside her magazines fast enough).

  3. If you are going to fix individual sentences, this one bugged me:

    “Another APC, this one with fewer troops clinging to it, but also a still-smoking hole in a strapped on crate.”

    It almost sounds like the still-smoking hole is clinging to the APC. “with a strapped on crate sporting a still-smoking hole” might be better. (Or, instead of sporting, you could use displaying or exhibiting or flaunting — lots of words.) “Another APC with fewer troops clinging to it, containing a strapped on crate displaying a still-smoking hole.” ??? I dunno.

    • Yeah, that’s a little awkward. Re-wrote most of that little section a bit, both to make it a bit more clear, fix that, and to include what RabidAlian said.

  4. picky, picky:

    “momentum of it’s spinning tires” its.
    “wind-blasted troops off it’s top-side” its.
    Can you program your spellchecker to know that if “it is” doesn’t fit a sentence, then neither does “it’s”?

    And the music certainly added some “drive” to the fleeing scene. I gotta stop reading this stuff right before bed. Now I’m wide awake.

    • Hey, picky is fine by me. That’s what I’m paying you guys for, don’t’cha know 🙂
      Thanks. Fixed. The spell-checker in Scrivener is spelling ONLY. Nothing at all the the way of a grammar check. I like the program a LOT, except for that “feature.” If MSFT bought them out and incorporated it’s features in Word, life would be good, on that front.
      Two Steps is definitely action music, best to listen to on road-trips and such, not before bed.

      • Rolf:

        And I’m worth every penny you pay me, too! Off to bed…

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