Graduation Day – Episode 1 – Disgraced


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Below we present the complete text of Disgraced, episode 1  of our new Space Opera; Graduation Day. This is a brand new (unpublished) series (and introduces two brand new characters ;Sarah Tanner and Jeff Chase).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. Every sale directly funds the production of new stories.

Space Opera - SO001 - Graduation Day

Space Opera – SO001 – Graduation Day

Act 1

SCENE 1:     INT – THE REVIEW ROOM AT THE SOLAR PATROL ACADEMY
(JEFF CHASE, SARAH TANNER)

  1. MUSIC: OPENING THEME – LET IT FINISH.
  2. SOUND: (WALLA) LOW BACKGROUND HUM OF A MILITARY BASE AND CADETS PREPARING FOR PARADE – ESTABLISH AND UNDER
  3. NARRATOR: In the near future humanity has made its way out into the Solar System. Artificial habitats have been established on Mars; on Phobos; orbiting within the gas cloud that is Saturn’s outermost layer; and on the dwarf planet Ceres within the solar asteroid belt. These colonies have grown to support between 4 and 12 million people each and a thriving commerce has developed between them and Earth.
    But with increased prosperity and interplanetary trade has come crime.  Piracy is rife and has grown to the point where it is threatening the solar economy.
    On the front line of those who fight to keep the solar system safe are the men and women of the Solar Patrol… and today is graduation day at the Solar Patrol Academy where Sarah Tanner and Jeff Chase prepare to graduate from three years of intensive training.  We join our heroes in the ready room as they prepare to go on parade in the graduation ceremony.
  4. SOUND: BRING UP BACKGROUND WALLA, ESTABLISH AND UNDER
  5. SARAH TANNER: Are you ready to pay up yet?
  6. JEFF CHASE: What? The day’s not over.
  7. SARAH:
  8. JEFF: You’re only two points ahead of me and we aren’t graduates yet.
  9. SARAH: (LAUGHING) Well Mr Chase, the ceremony starts in minutes and you’re still not willing to concede I won…
  10. JEFF: By two points… and only if nothing changes.
  11. SARAH: Regardless, the chivalrous thing to do would be to concede defeat graciously.
  12. JEFF: (LAUGHING AS WELL) Well, Miss Tanner, since we seem to be embracing the formality of the occasion, you can go soak your head.  It’s not the Patrol’s way to give up before the fat lady sings now is it?
  13. SARAH:   I guess it’s not.  But you better have a contingency plan on how you’re going to get me my steak.  I earned it. (BEAT) Check me.
  14. JEFF: (SUDDENLY BUSINESS LIKE) Lanyard, boots, creases.  All regulation and ship shape.  Now me.
  15. SARAH: (BEAT) Likewise.
  16. LOUDSPEAKER: Cadets report to your mark. The graduation ceremony begins in one minute.
  17. SARAH: Ready Cadet Lieutenant.
  18. JEFF: Ready Cadet Captain.
  19. SARAH: (TO THE ASSEMBLED CADETS) Cadets.  On your marks.
  20. SOUND: STAMP OF MANY BOOTS COMING TO ATTENTION – LET IT FINISH
  21. SARAH: This is it Cadets. I don’t want anyone getting sloppy today.  I want each of us to be worthy of the honour of graduation.  If I see so much as one sloppy turn on the parade field, if one boot hits the ground a millisecond before or after it is supposed to, if even one salute isn’t as crisp and perfect as required I will personally skin the individual who shows us up.  Today we are going to demonstrate that not only are we good enough to join this patrol, but that we are also the best corps of cadets yet to graduate into the ranks.  Am I understood?
  22. CADETS: (ALL TOGETHER) Ma’am, yes ma’am.
  23. SARAH: Lietenant Chase.
  24. JEFF:   (BEAT) Cadets… atten-shun.
  25. SOUND: BOOTS STAMP AGAIN (IN UNISON) – LET IT FINISH.
  26. JEFF: Shoulder arms.
  27. SOUND: CLACK OF WEAPONRY BEING SHOULDERED – LET IT FINISH.
  28. JEFF:
  29. SOUND: ELECTRONIC CLAXXON – ONE BLAST – DOORS SLIDING OPEN TO EXTERIOR – ADMITTING CROWD NOISE UNDERNEATH – LET IT FINISH.
  30. JEFF: (TO SELF) There it is.  (TO THE CADETS) Forward march.
  31. SOUND: BOOTS MARCHING OUT. APPRECIATIVE ROAR OF CROWD – ESTABLISH AND UNDER
  32. SOUND: WHOOSH OF SHIPS OVERHEAD, ZAPS AND EXPLOSIONS – ESTABLISH AND UNDER
  33. SOUND: ROAR OF CROWD TURNS TO SCREAMS – ESTABLISH AND UNDER
  34. JEFF: What’s happening?
  35. SARAH: We’re under attack.  Solar Pirates.
  36. JEFF: Here?  We’re on earth! In the most heavily defended base in the solar system!
  37. SARAH: Looks like they just reached a new level of boldness. Come on.  Order the Cadets to disperse.
  38. SOUND: ZAP AND EXPLOSION NEARBY – LET IT FINISH.
  39. JEFF: (YELLING) Cadets, battle stations.  Get to your defensive posts immediately.
  40. SOUND: RUNNING FEET – UNDER.
  41. CADETS: CONFUSED VOICES (Let’s go, out of my way, On it sir, etc.)
  42. SARAH: Not you, Jeff.  You’re with me.
  43. JEFF: What?
  44. SARAH: This isn’t about the base.
  45. JEFF: What do you mean?
  46. SARAH: Look where they’re concentrating their fire.
  47. JEFF: The shields over the admiralty box.
  48. SARAH: And the shields are starting to fail.
  49. JEFF: But that shouldn’t be happening.  Those beams aren’t nearly strong enough.
  50. SARAH: The Admiralty are all gathered together and relatively unprotected for the graduation.  If the pirates succeed, they destroy the collective strategic and command capacity of the Patrol. Those shields are flickering badly.
  51. JEFF: All right, we have to get the brass out of there.
  52. SARAH:   We’ve got to get to the shield generators and restore them.  Something is really wrong here.
  53. MUSIC: URGENT SCENE ENDER – LET IT FINISH.

SCENE 2:     EXT THEN INT – SHIELD GENERATOR COMPLEX – LATER
(SARAH, JEFF, PIRATE #1, PIRATE #2, SECURITY HEAD, GUARD #1, GUARD #1, RADIO GUARD)

  1. SOUND: (WALLA) LASER ZAPS AND EXPLOSIONS – ESTABLISH AND UNDER.
  2. SARAH: OK, this is the entrance. Keep your blaster handy.
  3. SOUND: DOOR SLIDES OPEN – LET IT FINISH.
  4. SOUND: ECHOING FOOTFALLS ENTER – ESTABLISH AND UNDER.
  5. JEFF: Any guesses what we’re going to encounter.
  6. SARAH: Sabotage?  Pirates?  Maybe even a traitor?
  7. JEFF: In the Patrol?  I don’t think so?
  8. SARAH: Let’s not rule out any possibility at this stage.  I’d rather not believe it too, but it’s better to be safe than sorry.
  9. JEFF: You’re the boss… for now.
  10. SARAH: Right now is not the time for our stupid rivalry.
  11. JEFF: It’s not that.  Regardless of whether you’re right or not, we’ve abandoned our posts.  Even if we save the day, it’s likely we’ll be court-martialled and drummed out for this.
  12. SARAH: (SUBDUED) I know. (BEAT) Wait, I think I hear something.
  13. PIRATE #1: (AT A DISTANCE) We’ve brought down three shields. Only one to go.
  14. PIRATE #2: Good work. Bring down the last one while I get the charges set.  After we blow the room they’ll have no chance of bringing them up again.
  15. JEFF: Pirates!  We need to act now.
  16. SARAH: On my mark… Two… Three.. Mark.
  17. SARAH AND JEFF: Freeze!
  18. PIRATE #2: For the collective. Kill them!
  19. SARAH: Open fire!
  20. SOUND: TWO LASER BLASTS AND TWO BODY DROPS – LET THEM FINISH.
  21. SARAH: (BEAT) They’re down.  You Okay?
  22. JEFF: We had the drop on them.  Are those Patrol uniforms?
  23. SARAH:   But we don’t have time to worry about that.  Let’s get those shields back up.
  24. JEFF: I’ll check the explosives (BEAT) None of the timers have been set.  I think we’re in time.
  25. SOUND: DISTANT BOOM – LET IT FINISH
  26. SARAH: That was a torpedo.
  27. JEFF: Do you think it hit the admiralty?
  28. SARAH: Chances are. Throw that lever beside you.  I need to get the other engines back on line.
  29. SOUND: SOUND OF LEVER FOLLOWED BY GENERATOR COMING BACK ONLINE – ESTABLISH UNDER.
  30. JEFF: What about the admiralty?
  31. SARAH: The last shield was still operating.  It won’t have been able to resist the full power of a torpedo, but it might have provided some protection.
  32. JEFF: Here’s hoping.
  33. SARAH: Got it! Throw that last lever.
  34. SOUND: SOUND OF LEVER FOLLOWED BY GENERATOR COMING BACK ONLINE – ESTABLISH UNDER.
  35. JEFF: Got it!  The generators are back up.
  36. SARAH: And the shields are working again.  We did it.
  37. SOUND: DISTANT EXPLOSION – LET IT FINISH.
  38. JEFF: Another torpedo.  There’s no way that one got through.
  39. SOUND: RUNNING FOOTSTEPS COME TO A HALT- LET IT FINISH.
  40. SOUND: NUMEROUS GUNS BEING READIED – UNDER
  41. GUARDS:   Don’t move. etc.
  42. SECURITY HEAD: Identify yourselves.
  43. SARAH: Cadet Captain Sarah Tanner and Cadet Lieutenant Jeff Chase.
  44. GUARD#1: They’ve killed two patrol members. And two engineers are dead behind that control array.
  45. SECURITY HEAD: Why you…
  46. SARAH: (TALKING FAST) No wait.  Those patrolmen were pirates.  We shot them before they could set explosives around the generators.
  47. JEFF: We brought the shields back up as well. They’d taken down two of them.
  48. SOUND: RADIO CRACKLE – LET IT FINISH.
  49. RADIO GUARD: (ON RADIO) Commander, the Pirates are pulling back. They seem to be in retreat.
  50. SOUND: RADIO CRACKLE – LET IT FINISH.
  51. SECURITY HEAD: Copy that!
  52. GUARD #1: Commander, there’s something attached to the bodies… they look like some kind of…
  53. SOUND: WHIRRING SKITTERING NOISE – UNDER UNTIL 107.
  54. GUARD #2: Lookout. They’ve detached and are trying to…
  55. SOUND: TWO LASER BLASTS.  SOUND OF METAL PIECES SCATTERING – LET IT FINISH.
  56. GUARD #2: What were they? Robots?
  57. GUARD #1: They were attached at the base of the spine.
  58. JEFF: Could they have been controlling the patrolmen?
  59. SECURITY HEAD: Enough chatter. I want these two placed in custody until this is sorted out.
  60. GUARD #2: Yes sir!
  61. MUSIC: DOWNBEAT SCENE ENDER – LET IT FINISH.

SCENE 3:     INT – COURT-MARTIAL – LATER
(SARAH, JEFF)

  1. SOUND: (WALLA) BACKGROUND MURMUR – ESTABLISH AND UNDER.
  2. JUDGE: This inquest finds that the actions of the accused, in leaving their posts, prevented the deaths of much of the command staff of the Admiralty.
  3. SOUND: (WALLA) APPRECIATIVE MURMUR – UP BRIEFLY AND BACK UNDER
  4. JUDGE: Due to their quick thinking only three deaths occurred. We particularly wish to express our condolences to Cadet Tanner over the loss of her father, one of the three members of the admiralty who were killed when the first torpedo struck.
  5. SOUND: (WALLA) SYMPATHETIC MURMUR – UP BRIEFLY AND BACK UNDER.
  6. JUDGE: However, in accomplishing this, the cadets disobeyed standing orders, risking their own lives and that of their class-mates.
  7. SOUND: (WALLA) MURMURS TURN TO SILENCE.
  8. JUDGE: It is therefore the finding of this court martial that Cadet Sarah Tanner and Cadet Jeff Chase, despite the beneficial outcome of their actions, erred grievously in their judgment. We cannot condone or reward this breakdown in the chain of command and as such, this panel has decided, while permitting them to graduate into the Solar Patrol, they will be stripped of all rank and commission. From this point forward they will join the patrol in the enlisted ranks.
  9. SOUND: (WALLA) ANGRY MURMURS – ESTABLISH AND UNDER.
  10. SOUND: GAVEL BEING BANGED – LET IT FINISH.
  11. JUDGE: Order!  Order! This hearing is adjourned.
  12. MUSIC: STANDARD SCENE ENDER – LET IT FINISH.

SCENE 4:     EXT – OUTSIDE THE COURT – LATER
(SARAH, JEFF, GUARD)

  1. SARAH: I’m sorry Jeff.  This is all my fault.
  2. JEFF: I followed your lead.  You didn’t coerce me.  Though you should have told me about your father being an admiral.
  3. SARAH: I didn’t want anyone to know.  I didn’t want it to affect the way folks treated me.
  4. JEFF: It effected your judgment though.
  5. SARAH: No, it didn’t.  I thought Dad was on Ceres.  He came back at the last minute and wanted to surprise me.  I doubt they’d let me graduate at all if they thought I knew he was in there.
  6. JEFF: I’m sorry.  I shouldn’t have questioned…
  7. SARAH: It’s all right.  You won’t be the last.
  8. JEFF: (REMORSEFUL) I guess not. Will you stay with the Patrol?
  9. SARAH: They’ve given me immediate leave to mourn my father’s passing.  But I don’t intend to resign.  Being part of the Patrol has been my aim since I was a child.  I can’t imagine doing anything else.  You?
  10. JEFF: Yeah, I guess I feel the same.  I wonder where we’ll be posted?
  11. GUARD: Cadets Tanner and Chase?
  12. JEFF: That’s us.
  13. GUARD: Admiral Ferris wishes you to report to his office right away.
  14. JEFF: .. yes sir.  We’ll head right over.
  15. SOUND: FOOTSTEPS START – ESTABLISH AND UNDER.
  16. SARAH: I wonder what that old bird wants.
  17. JEFF: He has a tough reputation.
  18. SARAH: Then I guess we’re about to have some more strips torn off us.
  19. JEFF: Guess so.  Come on.
  20. MUSIC: NEUTRAL SCENE ENDER – LET IT FINISH.

SCENE 5:     INT – ADMIRAL FERRIS’ OFFICE – LATER
(ADMIRAL FERRIS, SARAH, JEFF)

  1. SOUND: DOOR SLIDES OPEN – LET IT FINISH
  2. ADMIRAL FERRIS: Come in you two, we’ve got a lot to talk about.
  3. SARAH AND JEFF: Sir, yes sir.
  4. FERRIS: Enough of that. We’re pretty informal in my bailiwick. Sit down.
  5. JEFF: Permission to speak, sir?
  6. ADMIRAL FERRIS: Yes, yes. Speak up.
  7. JEFF: Informality does not fit with your reputation.
  8. FERRIS: Well, son, that’s right.  A prickly demeanour helps keep the scrutiny to a minimum.  It’s part of my job.
  9. SARAH: Sir?
  10. FERRIS: I’m a spy.  (BEAT) And so will you be, after our little chat.
  11. JEFF: ..
  12. FERRIS: I’m sure you encountered rumours about the Directorate during your training.
  13. JEFF: Yes sir.  But I rather assumed…
  14. FERRIS: Good, I planted those rumours in anticipation of this day.  The Directorate is the covert operations branch of the Solar Patrol.  Top secret and totally hush hush. It is our job to protect the worlds of the solar alliance and the patrol from all threats.  The Patrol itself might be fighting the space pirates but it is our department that has chief responsibility for achieving victory against them.
  15. SARAH: But what has this got to do with us?
  16. FERRIS: We’ve had our eye on you two for some time.  In this line of work we can’t recruit directly.  Every cadet that comes through the academy has an aptitude file that comes across my desk.  We recruit only the best of the very best.
  17. SARAH: And we have just been court-martialled. So I am a little bewildered to know…
  18. FERRIS: We look for traits that are a little different to those generally valued by the overall patrol. Loyalty, honour, marksmanship, a fighter’s instincts, intelligence etc.  These are things the patrol places a high premium on… and so do we.  But we also look for an independence of mind.  A willingness to take calculated risks.  Sound judgment under fire and… the ability to throw away the rule book when the situation demands it.
  19. SARAH: ..
  20. FERRIS: Your actions in defense of the Admiralty confirmed what we already knew. You are ideal candidates for the Directorate.
  21. JEFF: So this is… a recruitment?
  22. FERRIS: You’re catching on.  I was beginning to wonder if we’d made the right choice there.
  23. SARAH: I’m not sure that…
  24. FERRIS: Normally, we’d recruit you first, then arrange a suitable scandal to get you demoted into the ranks (or even get you thrown out).  In your case, the two of you come ready made.
  25. SARAH: And this all takes place under the auspices of the admiralty?  I doubt my father would have approved.
  26. FERRIS: He was fully aware that I was going to recruit you.  In fact he was very proud that you had been chosen for this service.  It may be a completely secret branch of the service, but it is also the most important branch.  The finest members of the patrol serve here, though no-one will ever know it.
  27. SARAH: I see.
  28. FERRIS: So, with the preliminaries dispensed with, I need to offer you a mission.
  29. JEFF: Sir?
  30. FERRIS: You and Miss Tanner are the only people, aside from the guards who were present, who know that the Patrol was infiltrated.  A search of the ranks discovered four more patrolmen with similar devices attached to their spinal columns.  They appear to be a form of remote robotic technology we have never encountered before.  The pirates are clearly ahead of us in the technology stakes and we must discover how they are maintaining their edge.
  31. JEFF: Those things were controlling members of the Patrol?  I assumed they were pirates in disguise.
  32. FERRIS: No such luck. (BEAT) It takes a lot to overcome the mental and physical conditioning of a Patrol graduate.  This technology tapped right into the nervous system and took the victims over completely.
  33. SARAH: How was the infiltration accomplished?
  34. FERRIS: Two months ago we thought we caught a break.  To that point none of our ships had survived an encounter with the pirates.  Long range scans had seen the pirates destroy a ship or two, but there had not been any survivors.
  35. SARAH: Ah, the Icarus II.
  36. FERRIS: That’s right, the Icarus II was something of a sensation.  Though the ship itself was destroyed, three life pods escaped. Two of them held perfectly ordinary escapees.  The third, containing our six patrol members (4 men and two women), was found floating derelict in the region a week later.  They brought us the first real information we’ve had on the tactics and operation of the pirates… but it was all a ruse.  They gave up the intel just to get the infiltrators close enough for an attempt on the admiralty.  We don’t know what the other four were supposed to do.  All of them died rather than surrender themselves.
  37. SARAH: I take it you have a plan to turn the tables on them.
  38. FERRIS: That’s right.  To date they have been striking without warning and disappearing back to whatever counts as their base of operations with impunity.  We can’t destroy an enemy we can’t find.  We need two things; a better grasp of their technological capabilities and the location of their base.  It’s taken them a long time and a lot of money to get this organised. And we were slow recognising the threat.  But we think we can get the breakthrough we need. Only it’s a high risk mission.
  39. SARAH: What do you need from us?
  40. FERRIS: Good soldier!  We’re going to send a ship out. One with a cargo that the pirates can’t resist.  We’re certain they have people in most of the main ship yards and commercial offices engaged in trade.
  41. JEFF: You’ve found more of those spinal attachments?
  42. FERRIS:   A simple bribe is generally enough to get a shipping clerk to pass on information about the contents of a cargo ship.  Most of the time they don’t even know who the information is going to.
  43. JEFF: Then I take it, you want us on board the ship?
  44. FERRIS: That’s right.  You and Miss Tanner will go under cover.  We believe that by the time the ship takes off a certain percentage of the crew will be pirates.  If they remain true to form they’ll wait until you’re a good way out (perhaps past the asteroid belt on your way to Phobos) and cripple the ship.  The ship itself will be taken and the crew killed.
  45. SARAH: And then?
  46. FERRIS: Well, this is the tricky part.  We’ve never found a wrecked ship.  No parts, no fragments, not even an energy signature.  We don’t think they are destroyed. We think they are taken.
  47. JEFF: But those ships are huge.
  48. FERRIS:   But we can’t find any trace of them after an attack so we have to conclude they are being transported… to a base of some kind.
  49. SARAH: I see.  I take it you’ve planted transmitters on ships before.
  50. FERRIS: That’s right.  From what we can work out, the pirates thoroughly disable any electronic or other device functioning on the ship.
  51. JEFF: But how?
  52. FERRIS: We don’t know.  According to the survivors on the Icarus II (and yes, we know we can’t rely on this testimony to any real degree) every active piece of electronics on the ship died simultaneously when the Pirates attacked. And with the exception of the Icarus II (and the explanation for that is now obvious) no living person has ever returned from an encounter with the pirates so we cannot rely on using human agents.
  53. SARAH: So, your plan is?
  54. FERRIS: We propose to do both.  Our intention is to send in some living operatives with initially inert equipment.  The ship will be attacked and all electronic equipment will be rendered useless (including life support).  We hope that this state will be temporary but we are sending inert life-support equipment that can be activated after the initial attack as well.  The survivors of the Icarus II were able to build a sub-light transmitter out of the equipment they had on hand, even though the other electrics were fried. They managed to jury rig the life support to operate as well, so we know it is theoretically possible.
  55. JEFF: And what about capture?  If they apply that spinal attachment, your operatives may end up greater liabilities than assets.
  56. FERRIS: That’s true.  It’s a calculated risk but we’re hoping to even the odds.  Our pharmacists have developed a drug that scrambles the signals passing through the nervous system in such a way that the machines are basically rendered useless.  Of course the downside is that, until the drug wears off, our operatives are equally useless.
  57. JEFF: So you’re gambling that your operatives will survive capture long enough to assemble the transmitter after the ship is taken to the pirate base, is that it?
  58. FERRIS: Pretty much, except I’m hoping my operatives will be you.  Are you up for it?
  59. JEFF AND SARAH: Yes sir!
  60. FERRIS: Even though no-one can ever know that you are members of the Patrol?
  61. JEFF:
  62. SARAH:
  63. FERRIS: And knowing you will probably never come back to us?
  64. SARAH:
  65. JEFF: (BEAT) Yes.
  66. FERRIS:   I knew I’d chosen my operatives well.
  67. MUSIC: NEUTRAL SCENE ENDER – LET IT FINISH.

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Graduation Day