Freefall (The Arcturan Adventure) – Episode 1 – A Tale of Two Worlds

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Below we present the complete text of “A Tale of Two Worlds”, episode 1 of our new Space Opera; Freefall (The Arcturan Adventure). This is a brand new (unpublished) series (and continues the adventures of Sarah Tanner and Jeff Chase). If you would like to see these new stories advance from being drafts into polished publications then please consider supporting us by purchasing one or more of our previously published titles (they’re only $6.00 (AUD), less than it costs to buy a good coffee). Every sale directly funds the production of new stories.

Space Opera - SO002 - Freefall

Space Opera – SO002 – Freefall

Act 1

SCENE 1:     INT – ARCTURAS DEFENCE LABS –
(CHIEF BREX, ASSISTANT, COUNSELLOR PASHAN)

  1. MUSIC: OPENING THEME – LET IT FINISH.
  2. SOUND: (WALLA) LOW BACKGROUND HUM OF A DEFENCE BASE
  3. NARRATOR: On the edge of our galaxy, relatively near to our own solar system, but further away than even our most powerful long range spacecraft could reach in a thousand human lifetimes, there sits a cold and lonely world; Arcturas, home to a species of intelligent winged reptiles. It is the last inhabited world yet to fall to the monstrous Council of Six before they turn their attention and insatiable lust for conquest towards us.
    Yes, Arcturas is yet to fall, but as of now it appears that its survival as a free state can be measured only in days.
  4. ASSISTANT: (HISSING) Chief Scientist Brex, you’re here.  I’d like to show you my latest design.  I think I’m getting closer to creating a stable disintegrator field.
  5. BREX: (HISSING) Do you truly delight in demonstrating your stupidity?  How many times have I told you that your design is fundamentally, too unstable.  If you persist in this folly I’m going to have to…
  6. SOUND: ALARMS SOUNDING – UNDER.
  7. ASSISTANT: Wormholes have begun opening beyond the gravity field of the planet.  There are thousands of them.  It looks like the final assault is beginning.
  8. CHIEF SCIENTIST BREX: (HISSING) I can see that for myself, Jax, you idiot! How close are we to being able to bring the engines on line?
  9. ASSISTANT: (HISSING) If nothing goes wrong, we’ll have the engines ready within an hour or two.
  10. BREX: (HISSING) Send a message to our staging posts, assuming such a simple task doesn’t overwhelm you modest abilities. Tell our stations they only have forty-five minutes to get ready.
  11. ASSISTANT: (HISSING) But sir?
  12. BREX: (HISSING) Don’t argue, dolt. We’re out of time.  No testing! No trials!  We’re going to have to risk everything by simply going live…
  13. SOUND: CRASH OF DOORS OPENING – MARCHING GUARDS WHO COME TO ATTENTION – LET IT FINISH.
  14. COUNSELLOR PASHAN: (HISSING) Chief Scientist Brex!
  15. BREX: (HISSING) What is the meaning of this intrusion?
  16. COUNSELLOR: (HISSING) By order of the newly appointed interim council, you are under arrest.
  17. BREX: (HISSING) Under arrest?
  18. COUNSELLOR: (HISSING) I was against this project from the outset, and now it’s clear I was right. The invaders are at our gates and your wasteful effort has been all for naught.
  19. BREX: (HISSING) Wait, interim council?  You’ve staged a coup!
  20. COUNSELLOR: (HISSING) That’s right. Those ineffectual old fools would have destroyed us in their attempts to oppose the invaders.  I always counselled that we should negotiate.  The Council of Six are too strong, too ruthless to oppose.
  21. BREX: (HISSING) You idiot, Counsellor Pashan.  You have condemned us all to slavery.  What did they offer you to betray us like this?
  22. COUNSELLOR: (HISSING) Betray us? I’ve saved us.  Saved us from fools and dreamers like you.  Idiots who would have seen our entire race exterminated at their hands.  Troops loyal to the interim council and myself have taken the council chambers and arrested the leadership.  I’ve come for you personally and, even now, the staging outposts for this pipe-dream of a project of yours are being taken and shut down by my people.
  23. BREX: (HISSING) Imbecile.  Those engines were our last hope.
  24. COUNSELLOR: (HISSING) Those engines were a massive waste of resources.
  25. BREX: (HISSING) But you don’t have an army sufficient for this.  As soon as our officers become aware…
  26. COUNSELLOR: (HISSING) Aware? Aware of what?  That they are leaderless?  They’ll fall in line quick enough.
  27. BREX: (HISSING) You are making a grave error of judgment, Pashan, if you think they will fall in line easily.  You’ve started a civil war.
  28. COUNSELLOR: (HISSING) You think so? We’ll see.
  29. BREX: (HISSING) And I suppose you think I’ll come quietly as well.
  30. COUNSELLOR: (HISSING) I know the reputation you’ve cultivated for yourself. The myth of the “warrior scientist” who single handedly fought off the agents of the Council of Six on the moons of Delphinus.  If it was ever true at all, it was a long time ago. So, yes.  I think you’ll come quietly.  And if you don’t I’ll have the pleasure of dispatching you myself.
  31. ASSISTANT: (HISSING) Sir, about a third of the invasion fleet is departing.
  32. COUNSELLOR: (HISSING) You see. A negotiated settlement serves everyone’s interests.
  33. BREX: (HISSING) No.  It simply means the rumours are true.  They have a new target elsewhere in the galaxy.  With us fighting amongst ourselves we’ve simply given them the opportunity to divert some of their forces elsewhere.  You are such a fool.  Wilful.  Stupid.  And in urgent need of a lesson regarding respect for your elders.  Well I guess it is time to show you that in this, as in all things, you are badly mistaken once again.
  34. COUNSELLOR: (HISSING) What?
  35. BREX: (HISSING) (ROARS AND CHARGES)Raaaaargh!
  36. SOUND: FADE OUT ON MAYHEM, SCREAMS, AND LASER BLASTS.
  37. MUSIC: SCENE ENDER – LET IT FINISH.

SCENE 2:     INT – ARCTURAS DEFENCE LABS –
(CHIEF BREX, ASSISTANT, COUNSELLOR PASHAN)

  1. BREX: (HISSING) (GROWLS) GRRRRR.
  2. COUNSELLOR: (HISSING) You… you’ve killed all my men… No… Brex! Stay back… Nooooo!
  3. SOUND: WET CRUNCH OF NECK BEING BITTEN THROUGH – LET IT FINISH.
  4. SOUND: BODY DROP – LET IT FINISH.
  5. BREX: (HISSING) Why do these young pups always insist on testing my abilities?
  6. ASSISTANT: (HISSING) (SHAKEN) Sir?
  7. BREX: (HISSING) Idiot boy! Come out from behind that desk.  Are you such a coward?  Even Here?
    You can clean up this mess in a minute, dolt.  First I want to know if any of the wormholes from the departing fleet are still active?
  8. ASSISTANT: (HISSING) Er… Yes sir.  There are a couple of hundred that are still in the process of transition.
  9. BREX: (HISSING) Good.  See if you can direct our communication arrays to broadcast through them.
  10. ASSISTANT: (HISSING) Sir?
  11. BREX: (HISSING) Must I explain everything? Send a warning and distress signal through.  We can at least try to warn whoever they’re about to attack.
  12. ASSISTANT: (HISSING) Yes sir.  But what are we going to do about all this?
  13. BREX: (HISSING) (GROANS) Why do I put up with you?  We’re going to do what we can, of course. I’ll start by trying to get in contact with our staging facilities and see how much damage has been done.  Now get to it before I regret my merciful nature.  Oh, and pack all this meat in the larder.
  14. ASSISTANT: (HISSING AND FEARFUL) Yes, sir!
  15. SOUND: SCENE ENDER – LET IT FINISH.

SCENE 3:     INT – ABOARD THE STARSHIP EXCELSIOR (JEFF, SARAH, VULGE, TERG, VASH)

  1. SOUND: SPACESHIP BACKGROUND HUM, OCCASIONAL BEEP – ESTABLISH AND UNDER
  2. JEFF: Permission to complain about being stuck out here on space patrol in a tiny ship, Captain?
  3. SARAH: (AMUSED) Granted.
  4. JEFF: I’m bored.
  5. VULGE: (GROANS)
  6. TERG: That barely rates a point.
  7. VASH: If I could deduct points for that I would.
  8. VULGE: That is hardly worthy to be considered an entry.
  9. JEFF: Now, hang on.  I wasn’t finished.
  10. TERG: Oh?
  11. JEFF:   There’s a rhythm to a good bit of complaining.  You’ve got to build up to it if you want to put a genuinely competitive whine into this competition.  (BEAT) Now, as I was saying, before I was so rudely interrupted…
  12. TERG:
  13. JEFF: I’m bored.  This trip has been incredibly dull.  I’ve had more fun laid up with haemorrhoids.  I’ve had rectal surgery that was more enjoyable than this trip.  I’m so bored that an attempt at breathing vacuum is starting to look good.  I’m…
  14. SOUND: ALARM BEEPING – UNDER
  15. JEFF: Dang it.  I was just getting up a good head of steam.
  16. VULGE: You humans are crazy.
  17. SARAH: (LAUGHING) What’s on the plate, Jeff?
  18. JEFF: Bringing it up now.  A large number of anomalies out beyond Neptune.  I think they’re…    An entire fleet have just appeared… most of them share the same design as the pirate vessels we encountered last year.
  19. SARAH: Vulge, turn us around. We need to get a warning back to earth and get the hell out of here.
  20. VULGE: Go it, boss.
  21. TERG: There’s some kind of broadcast coming through one of the wormholes they’ve opened up.
  22. SARAH: Can you tune it in, Terg?
  23. TERG: Trying to lock onto it… now!
  24. SOUND: STATIC BURST – LET IT FINISH.
  25. ASSISTANT: (HISSING) … on Arcturus 3. It’s their only real weakness. We have come under heavy attack but part of the fleet has been diverted, we believe, to attack your system. We hope this warning reaches you in time.
  26. SOUND: STATIC – ESTABLISH, UNDER AND OUT.
  27. TERG: That’s it.  The wormhole has closed and the transmission is gone.
  28. JEFF: I guess that makes this a full-fledged invasion.
  29. SARAH: All the more reason to high tail it back to Earth.
  30. JEFF: Damn it.
  31. SARAH: What?
  32. JEFF: The long range scan indicates more ships have appeared near Mars, Phobos, Saturn, and the Earth itself. They’re attacking all our key positions.
  33. SARAH: There are too many of them for a single defensive strategy to work.
  34. VASH: I told you they’d be able to jump in behind your defensive lines.
  35. TERG: Not now, Vash.
  36. JEFF: But this doesn’t make any sense.
  37. SARAH: How do you mean?
  38. JEFF: There aren’t enough of them to be successful if they’re spreading their forces so thin.  Conceivably they might succeed in capturing or destroying one of their targets if they concentrated their forces… but this?  It’ll cost us, but we’ll probably get the upper hand.
  39. SARAH: You’re right.  See if you can get me through to Admiral Ferris, Terg.
  40. TERG: Will do, miss Sarah.
  41. SOUND: STATIC – LET IT FINISH.
  42. TERG: Priority encrypted channel to Admiral Ferris at Directorate HQ is now open.
  43. SOUND: BEEP – LET IT FINISH.
  44. FERRIS: This had better be important Captain.  We’re under attack.
  45. SOUND: BEEP – LET IT FINISH.
  46. SARAH: And so is Mars, Phobos, and Saturn, with a small battle group waiting near our position beyond Neptune.  It looks to us like they are trying to draw us out for some reason.
  47. SOUND: BEEP – LET IT FINISH.
  48. FERRIS: Mars, Phobos, and Saturn?  That news hasn’t reached us yet.  They must be using their jamming technology.
  49. SOUND: BEEP – LET IT FINISH.
  50. SARAH: Yes, sir.
  51. SOUND: BEEP – LET IT FINISH.
  52. FERRIS: But those locations aren’t random.  They’re looking for our shipyards.  My guess is that they’ve managed to get some of their agents into the Solar Patrol again and that this is a diversion aimed at giving them the chance to locate our main ship building facility. Once they know where it is, they’ll be concentrating their forces there.
  53. SOUND: BEEP – LET IT FINISH.
  54. SARAH: Orders, Admiral?
  55. SOUND: BEEP – LET IT FINISH.
  56. FERRIS: Cloak your ship and be ready to let us know if and when that last battle group starts to move.  I’m going to connect you to central command so that you can provide details on the size and makeup of their forces – details we can’t obtain due to the jamming that is occurring.
  57. SOUND: BEEP – LET IT FINISH.
  58. SARAH: Yes, sir.
  59. SOUND: BEEP – LET IT FINISH.
  60. FERRIS: Ferris, out!
  61. SOUND: STATIC – ESTABLISH, UNDER AND OUT.
  62. SARAH: You heard him, Vulge.  Cut our engines and let us drift.  If they haven’t seen us yet, we’ll stay cloaked and wait.
  63. VASH: Ain’t we gonna see any action.
  64. SARAH: We follow orders Vash.
  65. TERG: That’s right.  Besides, this is a good deal safer.
  66. SARAH: I wouldn’t be so sure about that.  When that final battle group starts moving, we’re going to be right in its path.
  67. VASH: How is it I keep letting you talk me into these situations Terg?
  68. JEFF: Actually, I’m kind of curious about that too.  If the two of you are basically just a pair of heads sharing the one body, how come you argue so much?  And how do you manage to cooperate to drive that body of yours around?
  69. TERG: I really have no idea.  Frankly, I think I just put up with a lot. I’m simply a saint.  It’s the only explanation that fits all the data.
  70. VASH:
  71. SARAH: Cut the chatter, fellas.  We need to get our heads in the game.
  72. MUSIC: NEUTRAL SCENE ENDER – LET IT FINISH.
  73. MUSIC: CLOSING THEME – LET IT FINISH.

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