The Stars Came Back -110- Descent

Cut to

INT – DAY – Bridge of the HMS Hussein

The spacious bridge is crowded with people at stations and standing or moving about. The Watch Commander stands next to the command chair. The side door opens, and the captain walks out, adjusting his medal-bedecked uniform, swagger-stick under one arm. Behind him, a half-dressed adolescent is slumped in a heap on the floor, briefly visible before the door shuts automatically.

Capt of the Hussein: Status!

Watch Captain: The Tajemnica has been spotted, inbound. Interceptors were launched, and we are on course to meet them.

Capt of the Hussein: (in a rage) FOOL! IDIOT! How DARE you order a move without me!

Watch Captain: You were busy, and I thought-

Capt of the Hussein: DON’T think, you-you-D’OH! Where are they, those cowards on that evil little ship? Where are the interceptors? How long until we can fire? I DEMAND that we get the first shot at that little freighter that insulted me and wrecked our newest interceptors!

Sensor Tech: On screen, sir! Interceptors will be in best missile range in four minutes. We can fire in ten.

Capt of the Hussein: Fire railguns, full course denial pattern!

Watch captain: But sir, the interceptors are-

Capt of the Hussein: I DON’T care about them! FIRE now! Keep firing until until we are out of ammo or the guns MELT!

The background sounds of the ship now include the vibrating, whining hum of many railguns firing.

Capt of the Hussein: Put me on the screen, ship-wide.

There is a brief bit of hustle, then a young man point to him, gives him a two-second count-down with fingers, then nods, aiming the camera at the captain from a low angle.

Capt of the Hussein: Attention. We have found that evil little ship that insulted us, and I am engaging it now. It will soon be destroyed, because of our bravery and fast action, while the rest of these slugs drift in space and watch. That impudent little ship is about to see what a worst-case scenario looks like, up close, thanks to me; they can’t run fast enough, they have nowhere to hide. All THREE of the cowardly carrier fleets are just sitting there, letting them pass. We have the best ship, and it will be a GREAT victory. The King will be pleased, and the rewards will be rich. That is all.

There is a scattered cheer about the bridge, and the Captain’s face twists into a satisfied smirk.

Cut to

INT – DAY – Tajemnica bridge

Bipasha: Someone just got bent. Every gun on Hussein is firing. Missile launches, too.

Helton frown, arches an eyebrow.

Quiritis: VERY long range. Waste of ammo. Stupid. Likely captain’s orders – no competent tactical officer would do that.

Helton: How long until she’s in position to skip past?

Bipasha: Two minutes, more or less.

Helton: Incoming?

Bipasha: Two and a half plus.

Helton: Counterfire?

Quiritis: Easy. We can take missiles out whenever we want. With the turrets and pods on we outgun any cruiser here. Their railgun dispersion pattern is for a normal cruiser-sized ship. Slipping between rounds at this range is easy.

Helton: OK. Start taking them out, slowly, like we can barely keep up with them. Barely dodge the projectiles.

On the tactical display, one of the inbound interceptors blinks and disappears.

Ship AI: (OC) The Hussein shot one of her own.

Cut to

INT – DAY – Bridge of the HMS Hussein

Capt of the Hussein: (in a blind rage) FOOL! Stupid, incompetent, MORON!

He starts beating the Watch Commander with his swagger stick.

Capt of the Hussein: Only an IDIOT would shoot his own ship! (to an armed guard nearby, pointing to the watch captain) Arrest this incompetent, toss him in the brig this instant!

Cut to

EXT – DAY – Space near Tajemnica

Tajemnica glows a quiet, modest glow, suitable for an old ship with only two drives. Her guns flash sporadically. Out in front, a slow but steady line of explosions is seen as incoming missiles are destroyed. In the distance, the planet looms darkly and a wide array of ships glitter against the darkness, reflecting sunlight as they shift and maneuver.

Helton: (VO, as from from the bridge) Kill the Sokolovs, drop a pair of tanks. Get ready to wind up the Harmons.

The glow about the ship fades, and two of the grav tanks slowly rise out from their sockets on the middle top-side of Tajemnica. The ship’s armor slides back into place, and the two tanks drift slightly away, then space around them glows slightly and they come together, bottom-to-bottom, turrets opposing. Then, every gun aboard fires at its maximum rate toward the oncoming interceptors, most of the missile pods open fire, launching their hundreds of small missiles in a huge, fiery set of volleys, then the spent rocket pods drop away.

Cut to

INT – DAY – Bridge of the HMS Hussein

Sensor Tech: SIR! She’s lost her drives! Drifting ballistic.

The Captain’s smile grows larger. On the various screens around the bridge there are distant views of Tajemnica and the space around the Hussein.

Capt of the Hussein: Excellent! Very good! Close at full acceleration for the kill! Tell the interceptors to hold back! She is MINE!

Com Tech: Sir? She’s hailing us.

Capt of the Hussein: On screen!

On the main screen appears the same avatar that appeared before.

Ship AI: (with a dangerous grin) Don’t think I’ve forgotten you. Up for a rumble?

The captains face contorts with rage.

Cut to

EXT – DAY – Space near Tajemnica

A huge blaze of glowing space leaps out from her, and giant yellow-green shimmer as the tanks drift away and the missiles speed away, and she disappears in transition.

Cut to

EXT – DAY – Space near the HMS Hussein

Space around her glows as she accelerates toward Tajemnica’s most recent position. Almost directly in front of her a massive and bright region of space glows intensely, and Tajemnica comes flying out of it and blasts past the Hussein, nearly touching-close, interference patterns from the drives rippling wildly for a moment then then disappearing as the Hussein’s drives fail. As she goes tearing by, Tajemnica’s guns and lasers blaze away, shredding the Hussein’s weapons systems with precise close-range fire. Drive fields blazes far out again, and Tajemnica skips out from this universe as fast as she came in, leaving the damaged Hussein drifting on momentum.

Cut to

INT – DAY – Bridge of the HMS Hussein

On the main screen, a telescopic view of Tajemnica suddenly shows glowing space, then shows empty blackness. The view automatically pops back out to a much wider angle, showing space much closer to the ship. A blaze shows up right in front of them, and Tajemnica comes out of it, blazing like a phoenix, and screams past them, barely missing, large on the screen. Some of the crew involuntarily throw up their arms to protect themselves from the expected collision. As she passes, the Hussein shakes violently, the drives cough up a huge hairball and go silent.

On the main screen, Tajemnica’s avatar flickers for a brief moment, then appears again.

Ship AI: I have things to do, but I’ll be back.

The captain is absolutely beside himself with rage, his face red, he can barely speak, and he grunts and squawks incoherently, as his crew busies themselves assessing damage and avoiding his eyes. Then, on the screens showing where Tajemnica was, there is a rippling of explosions as her missiles and gunfire destroy the Hussein’s interceptor flock ahead.

Cut to

EXT – DAY – Space, day side of the planet, at the L1 point between the planet and one of its moons that is almost directly toward the sun.

A lone cruiser loiters nearby, left there as a low-likelihood precaution against a small probe using the gravitational “flat spot” of the L1 point between the planet and moon/star to transition into the system. A great blaze of greenish-yellow flares out, and flying into this universe is Tajemnica, firing the BFR almost before she is fully here, hitting the lone cruiser from less than a kilometer at full power. It is as though a line of explosives running the length of the ship detonates, and she’s dead and flying apart before anyone aboard knew they were under attack. The tank guns, a few tank turret bustle missiles, the remaining missile pods, and turret lasers lash out, destroying all the interceptors and fighters hanging out in a few brief heartbeats. Her glow extends, grabs the fabric of space, and she dives down, aiming for the horizon at the dawn terminus.

Cut to

INT – DAY – Capella Fleet carrier bridge

There is a moment of stunned silence, everyone looking at screens and tactical displays. The Admiral sits bolt upright.

Admiral Flicker: What happened? What the hell just happened?! Answers, people! NOW!

Cut to

INT – DAY – Tajemnica cargo bay

The cargo bay has been transformed. It has had a partial second deck added, at about the same level as the mid-deck, giving it a lot more room for armored men to stand. The added deck crosses the width of the cargo bay, from the ends up toward the middle, with a gap there about five meters wide going side to side, with a simple set of lower-able stairs so that once the lower deck gets partially cleared out, the stairs can drop and the “mid-cargo-deck” layer can easily walk down and off the end ramps to join them on the field. Hanging from the deck above, for both levels, are innumerable plastic bottles on short strings, at a height they can reach up to get if they want. Lag and Harbin stand on the main deck in the center of the assemblage, where most of the men can see or hear them directly, armored like the rest of them except for some brass-work on the helms they hold, similar to the other officers and NCOs from the 13th Mountain Shields. The ship vibrates and shakes, and then the odd resonating PING through the hull of the BFR firing is heard. There are hundreds of armored soldiers visible, packed into standing room only, ready to offload and do what they came to do. The young men look around themselves a little nervously, now that it’s nearly time. Harbin whistles loudly, and they all get silent and motionless. The background sounds fade to quiet.

Harbin: (talking loudly, projecting his voice across the throng) That was the final transition, and our weapons clearing the way for landing. Sounds worse than it is… unless you’re on the other end. (said with a grim smile) Anyone need to use the head?

There is a general chuckle, and relaxed smiles, as they look around at the total pack of men, knowing no one can move if they do. The tension falls at the small joke.

Harbin: Last chance for a drink you don’t carry with you. The overhead bottles have a liter of carb-water; drink it down, piss in the bottle, cap it and drop it on the deck in a few minutes, on final approach… Looking GOOD, men! Look’n GOOOOD!

Lag an Harbin look around, big, confident smiles on their faces, nodding approval at what they see. The men cheer a brief, hearty reply. Lag holds his hands for silence, and they again fall silent, listening carefully.

Lag: WE WILL WIN! We go with the best formations, tactics, and training that more than three thousands of years of application and refinement have shown to WORK. We go wearing the best armor and weapons our science can make within the restrictions of the contract. You are lead by the finest, best trained, best disciplined, most experienced and professional non-coms anywhere. You have trained hard for months, and know what to do so well that for the last month your mentors have not had to yell and order you around; they have only had to coach you, and refine your skills. You are strong, well rested, well fed, well watered, in peak condition. You have all truly earned your place here in these historic ranks. You are soldiers, and you are READY!

There is another solid cheer. The troops are smiling grimly, knowing what he says is true.

Lag: We will fight. We will win. Then go home to our families. Some will die, but like the Greeks at Marathon, we will win and be remembered forever because we stand and fight, here, now, for FREEDOM! We fight as a free people, choosing to be here, not as slaves or conscripts or fanatical death-wishers. We do not want to be here. We are here because this madman’s followers choose to kill innocent people, like your friends, and he finally was bold enough to say “come and get me!” thinking no one would came to face him in open battle. He doesn’t know US! We go into battle greatly outnumbered, but we will prevail! Not because God is on our side, but because our way of doing things WORKS! We study history, and ourselves, and look at the RESULTS. We do not blindly follow lofty-sounding dogma, or charismatic rulers, or cult leaders claiming to speak for God. We use methods that get the job DONE! And I cannot imagine a god that would want his followers to do things that FAIL. I am honored to go into battle with you today!

There is another solid cheer. Then Lag and Harbin lift up their water bottles, hold them out in a silent toast to the men around them, and take a drink. The rest of the men, taking the queue, pull their own bottles down, and there is a general metallic shuffle of getting ready for the imminent battlefield collision.

Fade to black

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[Now I’ve got to wrap it up, get the final bits to the fine folks that have volunteered to help proof the final bits and re-writes, and get it up on Amazon. With any luck, assuming no major problems are found and no major re-writes needed, that might be a week. More likely two. I’m still looking for cover art. Now’s the time for any final comments, volunteers for editing, recommendations, pointing out problems, etc.]

9 thoughts on “The Stars Came Back -110- Descent

  1. Rolf,
    I’m a pretty decent technical writer and editor – I’ll volunteer to run through the whole manuscript if you have it all in one piece somewhere (preferable in Word format).

  2. Count me in as a volunteer editor.
    So I take it you’re planning to publish this as a book, but in this semi screenplay style? Works for me — it’s different from a novel, different from a play, and for me at least a fine way to tell a story.

  3. Awesome Awesome AWESOME!!! And please, don’t tell me, but I would be very happy if our pal Houssein ends up as unrecognizable steaming gibbets of raw meat, before getting sucked out of various and sundry atmosphere-venting holes, at which point the sum of his remaining parts are flash-frozen before succumbing to the gravitational pull of either a gas giant, nearby planet, or sun. You wouldn’t hurt my feelings a bit if something like that were to happen. :-) (oh, and by all means, feel free to pencil my name on the editorial list, if you happen to have space there)

    Hate to add these:

    “and giant yellow-green shimmer as the tanks drift away and the missiles speed away,”

    Sorry to keep harping on repetitive words, they just sorta get under my skin. I’d go with “…the tanks drift slowly and the missiles speed away,…”

    *****

    Drive fields blazes far out again,

    Tense, here? Not sure if that’s the proper …er…category/word, but you only need one “s” at the end of “drive fields blazes”. Either “Drive fields blaze…” or “The drive field blazes…”

    *****

    with a simple set of lower-able stairs

    I get where you’re going with “lower-able”, but I’d recommend something more along the lines of “retractable”. Assume your readership will have a decent IQ level…those who don’t, and have stuck with you to this point, can look up the word and learn something new.

    *****

    packed into standing room only,

    I’m wanting to say it should be “…packed IN with standing room only…”, but don’t quote me on that.

    *****

    You are lead by the finest,

    In this instance, shouldn’t it be “You are LED by the finest…”?

    • Yup, good catches, one and all.
      I think you’ll like what happens to the Hussein. Let’s just say the captain find out what “worst case scenario” really means.
      Yup, you are on the “final check it” list. Thanks for your efforts so far. It has definitely helped the story and the writing.

  4. One more nit to pick:
    “The rest of the men, taking the queue, pull their own bottles down”
    should be:
    “taking the cue, pull their…”

    Great work.

    Dean

    • Glad you like it. Hopefully, a LOT of people will. Being jobless, I could really use the income. That’s why I’m working to finish it fast.

  5. Another: “There is a general chuckle, and relaxed smiles, as they look around at the total pack of men, knowing no one can move if they do.” I don’t understand “if they do”.

    • No one could move to go to use the head (bathroom) if they did want to. Men are packed in too tightly.

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