Graduation Day – Episode 2 – The Mission Begins


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Below we present the complete text of The Mission Begins, episode 2 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 This is a brand new (unpublished) series (and introduces two brand new characters ;Sarah Tanner and Jeff Chase).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 2

SCENE 6:     INT – THE FREIGHTER -DAYS LATER
(SARAH, JEFF)

  1. MUSIC: OPENING THEME – LET IT FINISH.
  2. NARRATOR: Having been recruited by the Solar Patrol’s espionage devision, Sarah Tanner and Jeff Chase begin their first undercover mission against the Space Pirates.
  3. SOUND: LOW HUM OF SPACE ENGINES – ESTABLISH AND UNDER.
  4. JEFF: I hate waiting.
  5. SARAH: Yeah, but it’s going to be soon.
  6. JEFF: What makes you so sure?
  7. SARAH: Haven’t you been paying attention?  In the last three trips out, about a third of the crew has slowly been replaced.
  8. JEFF: Sure, but there’s always turnover on a space freighter.
  9. SARAH: Yeah, but the replacements keep to themselves.  They don’t mix.  And they all seem to know each other from previous work.
  10. JEFF: You think they’re pirates?
  11. SARAH: I’m sure of it.
  12. JEFF:   And I didn’t even notice.
  13. SARAH: It’s time to remember your training Jeff.  I think we’ll be in it up to our necks shortly.
  14. JEFF: I guess so.  But at least that solves one of our problems.
  15. SARAH: What do you mean?
  16. JEFF: The Solar System is a big place and we’ve been looking for one specific and very small needle in a very big pile of similar looking needles.
  17. SARAH: (LAUGHING) Your analogies haven’t improved any but I see what you mean.  We no longer have to find them.  They’ve found us.
  18. JEFF: I suppose it was only a matter of time.  The captain has been making his runs without escort, trying to minimise his costs.  It makes us a tempting target.
  19. SARAH: That was always the plan.  I think he may be another Directorate agent under deep cover.
  20. JEFF: (ASTONISHED) Seriously?
  21. SARAH: I think so.  There may be one or two others on board as well, doing different jobs. (BEAT) Don’t look so gob-smacked. You know our orders are to reveal ourselves to the captain once we’re certain the pirates are coming in.  I can’t see that happening if he wasn’t one of us.
  22. JEFF: I’m beginning to think maybe I wasn’t cut out for this kind of work.
  23. SARAH: Don’t sweat it. We just need to keep monitoring for a transmission… assuming the pirates don’t have any better technology than our sub-light communicators. We’re going to get pretty tired doing our ship-board jobs and monitoring for communications traffic, even running in shifts.
  24. JEFF: I’ve been thinking about that.  I’ve been building a scanner that I think will monitor communications for us.  It’ll wake us up if anything is detected and we can still get our beauty sleep.
  25. SARAH: Good work.  I still haven’t gotten used to the way time passes on a spaceship.  No obvious day or night has been playing havoc with my internal clock. (BEAT) Speaking of which, I’m about to go on duty.  You’d best get some sleep.  The shift you just came off was hellish and you look done in.
  26. JEFF: Thanks Sarah.  See you in a few hours.
  27. MUSIC: NEUTRAL SCENE ENDER – LET IT FINISH.

SCENE 7:     INT – JEFF’S CABIN – LATER
(JEFF, SARAH)

  1. SOUND: LOW HUM OF SPACE ENGINES – ESTABLISH AND UNDER.
  2. SOUND: QUIET ALARM BEEPING – FADE IN, ESTABLISH, AND UNDER.
  3. JEFF: (WAKING UP) Ugh.  Okay, okay. (ALARM STOPS – ALERT NOW) Whoah.  This is it, a signal has been sent.
  4. SOUND: SINGLE BEEP (COMMUNICATOR ACTIVATING)- LET IT FINISH.
  5. JEFF: Sarah, you there?
  6. SOUND: SINGLE BEEP – LET IT FINISH.
  7. SARAH: You’re breaking protocol. Is this channel encrypted?
  8. SOUND: SINGLE BEEP – LET IT FINISH.
  9. JEFF:   It’s time.  We’re just about to pass through the asteroid belt and an unauthorised signal has been sent.  I’ll see you on the bridge.
  10. SOUND: SINGLE BEEP – LET IT FINISH.
  11. SARAH: Thanks Jeff. Roger that!
  12. MUSIC: NEUTRAL SCENE ENDER – LET IT FINISH

SCENE 8:     INT – THE BRIDGE – LATER
(SARAH, JEFF, CAPTAIN)

  1. SOUND: LOW HUM OF SPACE ENGINES – ESTABLISH AND UNDER.
  2. SOUND: DOOR SLIDES OPEN – LET IT FINISH
  3. SARAH: Captain Renfree, it’s important I speak with you right away.
  4. CAPTAIN RENFREE: Just one moment.
  5. SOUND: LASER BLAST AND BODY DROP – LET IT FINISH.
  6. SARAH: (SHOCKED) Captain!  You just killed your communcations officer!
  7. CAPTAIN: That’s right.  If you’ve abandoned your post it can only mean one thing.  The pirates are now inbound.  My communications officer was one of them.
  8. SOUND: DOOR SLIDES OPEN – LET IT FINISH
  9. JEFF: Captain, I need to… oh.
  10. SARAH: It’s all right, Jeff.  The captain just took care of one of the pirates.
  11. SOUND: COMMUNICATOR BEEP – LET IT FINISH.
  12. CAPTAIN: Coded channel twelve.  This is Captain Renfrew of the Freighter Tiberius. Confirm Contingency Four.
  13. SARAH: Captain?  What’s happening here?
  14. CAPTAIN: A patrol ship has been hiding in the asteroid belt waiting for my signal.  It will join us in a moment and despatch three squads who will clear the crew of pirates.  Have you identified their targets?
  15. SARAH: Yes sir.
  16. CAPTAIN: Once they’re dealt with, I’ll leave logs to the effect that there was a mutiny on board and that we abandoned ship.  You and a small team will remain behind, secreted in the bulkhead walls.
  17. SARAH: Yes sir.
  18. SOUND: BEEP – LET IT FINISH.
  19. CAPTAIN: Yes?
  20. CREWMAN: We’re being hailed by Patrol vessel seeking permission to dock with us Captain?
  21. CAPTAIN: Permission granted.
  22. CREWMAN: Are we being boarded, sir?
  23. CAPTAIN:   It’s a routine matter.  Just stay out of their way and there should be no problems.  You have your contingency 4 orders?
  24. CREWMAN: Yes, sir.
  25. CAPTAIN: Then see that they are followed to the letter. Out
  26. SOUND: BEEP – LET IT FINISH.
  27. CAPTAIN: I’ll take that crew list now and pass it on to our guests.  If I were you I’d wait here until the smoke clears.  We’ll flush the pirate bodies into space and load the remaining loyal crew members into life pods.  Then you’ll be on your own.
  28. SARAH AND JEFF: Yes, sir.
  29. MUSIC: NEUTRAL SCENE ENDER – LET IT FINISH.

SCENE 9:     INT – INSIDE THE BULKHEAD WALLS – LATER
(SARAH, JEFF, MARSHALL, SELFRIDGE)

  1. SOUND: HUM OF SPACE ENGINES – ESTABLISH AND UNDER.
  2. JEFF: Where’s the olive oil? I feel like a sardine cooped up in here.
  3. SARAH: Cut the chatter, Jeff.  We need to remain silent until…
  4. SOUND: SPACE ENGINES CUT OUT AND WIND DOWN – LET IT FINISH.
  5. SARAH: There it is.  The ship has gone dark. OK patrol members.  It’s happening.  Switch to mechanical life support.
  6. SOUND: BACKGROUND BREATHER – ESTABLISH AND UNDER.
  7. SARAH: Did anyone get a read on the pirate vessel before the electrics cut out?
  8. MARSHALL: Patrol member Marshall speaking. Sure, but you won’t believe the result.
  9. SARAH: Just give me the report soldier.
  10. MARSHALL: Yes, Ma’am. Three heavy ships flashed up. Tugs most likely.  And a fourth ship, not like anything I’d seen before.  Elongated with a large communications array.  I’m guessing it’s what took out our electronics.
  11. SARAH: Were you able to make a record of it?
  12. MARSHALL: Not that survived the outage. I think they used some kind of Electro-Magnetic Pulse.
  13. SARAH: Does that mean the inert equipment is ruined as well?
  14. SELFRIDGE: Patrol member Selfridge speaking. The inert equipment was packaged in faraday protective coils. It should have survived fine.
  15. SARAH:   We have to be able to activate the tracker.
  16. MARSHALL: That’s not all. A fifth ship arrived just as the blackout hit.
  17. SARAH: Yes?
  18. MARSHALL: It’s… well, it’s… According to my instruments it’s the size of Ceres.
  19. SARAH: That’s impossible.
  20. JEFF: That would make it planet sized.
  21. MARSHALL: Well, planetoid sized.
  22. JEFF: Could you have made a mistake?
  23. MARSHALL: It’s possible. I only got a reading for a moment but…
  24. SELFRIDGE: It would explain a lot.
  25. SARAH: What do you mean?
  26. SELFRIDGE: A mobile space station of that magnitude would explain why we haven’t found the base.  It keeps on moving.  And it also explains how the ships are disappearing so thoroughly.  If it is that size, they take the ships inside and move on, leaving nothing behind.
  27. SARAH: It’s a theory… but if it’s true it modifies our mission somewhat.
  28. SOUND: ECHOING CLANG – LET IT FINISH.
  29. SOUND: TWO MORE ECHOING CLANGS – LET IT FINISH.
  30. JEFF: I think we’re about to be towed.
  31. SOUND: GROAN OF STRAINING METAL – LET IT FINISH.
  32. SARAH: Here we go.  I want total silence for the next 20 minutes.  After that we’ll break open the first of the equipment packages and see if we have electronics again.
  33. MUSIC: NEUTRAL SCENE ENDER – LET IT FINISH.

SCENE 10:    INT – BEHIND THE BULKHEAD – 6 HOURS LATER
(JEFF, SARAH, SELFRIDGE, MARSHALL)

  1. SOUND: MARCHING FEET – FADE OUT.
  2. JEFF: It’s been hours since you ordered us to maintain silence.  We need a plan.
  3. SARAH: You’re right.  The Pirates have been all over the ship twice and we still haven’t even been able to assemble our    It’s a miracle we haven’t been found, but the engineers did a great job getting us hidden away inside the walls.
  4. SELFRIDGE: Well at least they’ve flushed fresh oxygen throughout.  It also suggests our theory about being inside a large artificial space station is correct.
  5. JEFF: We still need a plan.
  6. MARSHALL: Bust out of here and blow everything up?
  7. JEFF: That’s not a plan.  It’s a goal.
  8. SARAH: And a suicidal one too, if taken at face value. (BEAT) We need data.  Something to help us make sense of our situation.
  9. MARSHALL: It sounds like that was the last of them, at least for now. Let me build the scanner and take some readings on our surroundings.
  10. SARAH: All right, get to it.  (BEAT) As far as I can see, these are our options. Try to destroy the base, gather technical data on the base and escape with it back to earth, set the tracking beacon going and or pursue option two, or remain behind and engage in a sabotage campaign.  Are there any other options I’m missing?
  11. JEFF: We could also attempt to find out what, if anything, remains of those who were captured in previous pirate raids.
  12. SARAH: You think they might be alive?
  13. JEFF: We don’t know that they’re not.  And a place this size is always going to need workers.
  14. SELFRIDGE: Slaves you mean.
  15. SARAH: It all keeps coming back to a need to find out more.  Let’s concentrate on reconnaissance for the moment… and fulfilling the terms of our original mission; getting the tracker operating.
  16. MARSHALL: I’ve got the scanner going.  The ship is in a landing cradle of some kind and inside an even larger space surrounded by metal.  The scanner can’t penetrate much further than that, which also means no tracking signal can get out either.
  17. SARAH:   So, the space around us? Is it a hangar?
  18. MARSHALL: Maybe. There appear to be other large metal objects in here with us.  Some of them register as ships.
  19. JEFF: Well that narrows our options somewhat.
  20. SARAH: We’ll need to make our way to somewhere we can safely set the transmitter going.  If this place is as big as it seems, we’ll need to get some solid intelligence on its weapons systems. Otherwise, knowing its location is going to furnish the fleet with nothing more than a good location to get wiped out.
  21. JEFF: So we’re moving out?
  22. SARAH: Let’s see if the ship has been abandoned first.  It would make a good base of operations if we could stay hidden here.
  23. SELFRIDGE:
  24. SARAH: Why’s that?
  25. SELFRIDGE: I’m guessing the reason so few of the objects outside the ship registered as ships is because they aren’t ships… anymore.
  26. JEFF: Make sense.
  27. SELFRIDGE: (SIGHING) This station is inhabited by pirates. My guess is they will have taken the ships they’ve captured in the past and pulled them apart, stripping them down for anything useful; new tech and equipment, shielding, engines, everything.
  28. SARAH: Good point. I’m sold.  We need to get out of here and hole up somewhere in the station itself – preferably a low traffic area where we can hide and make a base camp.
    Marshall, is there much activity going on outside?
  29. MARSHALL: Lots, though I can’t pin down the specifics.
  30. SARAH: We’re just going to have to risk taking a look.
  31. MUSIC: NEUTRAL SCENE ENDER – LET IT FINISH.

SCENE 11:    INT – SPACE STATION – LATER
(SARAH, JEFF, MARSHALL, SELFRIDGE)

  1. SOUND: HUM OF SPACESTATION – ESTABLISH AND UNDER.
  2. MARSHALL: Did they have to start taking the ship apart so soon? We barely got out of there with our supplies, let alone our skins.
  3. JEFF: Stop griping.  We’re alive aren’t we?
  4. SELFRIDGE: Yes, but for how long?
  5. JEFF: As long as we can manage it, or at least until our mission is complete. (BEAT)Hey, something about this makes no sense.
  6. SARAH: I know what you mean.
  7. MARSHALL: I don’t.
  8. SARAH: This is a big place, I’ll grant you, but we haven’t seen a living soul.
  9. MARSHALL: What do you mean? We’ve been ducking guards left right and center. So far, we’ve been lucky.
  10. SARAH: Guards yes.  But no human guards.  So far, we’ve seen, and avoided, nothing but robots.
  11. MARSHALL: Robots?
  12. SELFRIDGE: Sure, robots. And lots of them.  I’m beginning to wonder if that’s all the pirates are.
  13. JEFF: And that’s what doesn’t make sense.
  14. MARSHALL: How so?
  15. JEFF: We’re breathing atmosphere and walking around in gravity that is basically Earth normal.  Robots need neither.
  16. MARSHALL: Fair point. It could just mean we haven’t found the inhabited section yet.
  17. JEFF: Yeah maybe.
  18. SOUND: DOOR SLIDES OPEN – LET IT FINISH.
  19. SARAH: Another patrol.  Quick behind those crates.
  20. SOUND: MARCHING ROBOT FEET AND SCANNERS ETC – FADE UP AND BACK DOWN – LET IT FINISH.
  21. MARSHALL: Are they looking for something, or do they simply march round and round the station?
  22. SARAH: Best guess?  If they were looking for us they’d split up and search more thoroughly.  I don’t think we’ve tripped any alarms yet.
  23. MARSHALL: Yet, huh? Glad to see we’re keeping positive.
  24. SARAH: Come on.  We need to make our way towards the hull if we’re going to get a signal out.
  25. MARSHALL: And which way’s that?
  26. JEFF: I thought you were an engineer?  The gravity has to be generated by rotation, moving out from the center.  That means the hull has to be beneath our feet somewhere.
  27. MARSHALL: (EXASPERATED) Don’t be patronizing. I mean, specifically, how do we get there?  If this place is the size of a planetoid, and riddled with tunnels to boot, we could spend a lifetime searching.  Potentially, we could die of old age before finding our way out.
  28. JEFF: You’re just a breath of fresh air, aren’t you?  I bet you’re real popular at parties.
  29. MARSHALL: Oh, ha ha.
  30. SARAH: Shut up, both of you.  I’ve got a plan.
  31. SELFRIDGE:   I wonder if you’d be good enough to share it.
  32. SARAH: I believe we can safely assume…
  33. SELFRIDGE: Assumptions. Oh good.
  34. SARAH: I believe we can safely assume that our ship was brought directly to the hangar from outside.  As a result, it’s a safe bet that the route to the station’s surface is fairly direct.  We need only figure out which of these larger tunnels is the one we want.
  35. SELFRIDGE: Fair enough.  But it puts us out in the open a fair bit.
  36. SARAH: If you’ve got a better idea, now’s the time.
  37. SELFRIDGE: Not at present, but if we spot an observation room anywhere we should check it out.
  38. JEFF: Why’s that?
  39. SELFRIDGE: We still need to get some technical read-outs on this place if possible, and an observation post is likely to contain communications equipment we can tap into or repurpose to boost our transmitter.
  40. SARAH: Good thinking.  Let’s go.
  41. MUSIC: NEUTRAL SCENE ENDER – LET IT FINISH.

SCENE 12:    INT – SPACE STATION TUNNELS – LATER
(SARAH, JEFF, MARSHALL, SELFRIDGE)

  1. SOUND: HUM OF SPACESTATION – ESTABLISH AND UNDER.
  2. MARSHALL: Having these huge pipes over us is providing us with cover, but I can’t say I enjoy being in these massive spaces. It makes me feel positively naked.
  3. JEFF: Well, that’s a mental image I could have done without.
  4. MARSHALL: Oh, shut up.
  5. JEFF: No, really.  There are some things you just can’t un-see.
  6. MARSHALL: You know, you’re starting to get on my nerves.
  7. JEFF: (GRUNTS) I’ll try not to let it keep me awake at night.
  8. SARAH: Enough, you two.  We’ve got plenty of other things to worry about.
  9. JEFF: If you say so.  These tunnels go for miles.
  10. SELFRIDGE: True, but we’ve established a few things.
  11. JEFF: Like what?
  12. SELFRIDGE: The tech, while advanced, is all fairly familiar.
  13. JEFF: Meaning?
  14. SELFRIDGE: Meaning, Marshall can hack most of it. (BEAT) I was worried we might not have the technical capability to gather useful data if the technology was too far in advance of our own.
  15. JEFF: And that was a possibility?
  16. SELFRIDGE:   Fortunately for us, and Earth, it’s the scale of the thing that’s advanced.  The actual design shows signs of only a few serious breakthroughs.
  17. JEFF: So where does that leave us?
  18. SARAH: Wondering where the funding came from to build it.
  19. MARSHALL: Huh?
  20. SARAH: You said it yourself, the scale of this place is phenomenal.  How was it built?  Who had the money to fund the construction?  And how was it kept secret?
    If we weren’t walking around inside it, I wouldn’t have thought the construction of a space station of this magnitude would be possible. Not in total secrecy at least.
  21. SELFRIDGE: Hang on. I think we just caught a break.
  22. SARAH: Oh?
  23. SELFRIDGE: Up there. See that control room overlooking the tunnel?
  24. SARAH: Yeah, I think you’re right. Marshall, are we much closer to the surface yet?
  25. MARSHALL: I’d say we’re getting pretty close. It’s hard to be certain with all these tunnels and the large amount of shielding throwing off the readings, but at a guess it’s probably only another kilometre to the outer shell.
  26. SELFRIDGE: And that would be as the crow flies. Your guess that this is one of the major conduits used to bring ships into the base seems to have paid off.
  27. SARAH: Better and better.  How do we get up there?
  28. SELFRIDGE: We could take the next side tunnel up. I can’t see any other way to do it.
  29. SARAH: Then it’s decided.  Let’s go.
  30. MUSIC: NEUTRAL SCENE ENDER – LET IT FINISH.

SCENE 13:    INT – OUTSIDE CONTROL ROOM – LATER
(SARAH, JEFF, MARSHALL, SELFRIDGE)

  1. SOUND: HUM OF STATION – ESTABLISH AND UNDER.
  2. SARAH: Okay, we’re here. Can you work the lock and get us inside?
  3. MARSHALL: I’m not sure. The configuration is different to what I’m used to.
  4. SARAH: This isn’t the time for false modesty.  Can you do it or not?
  5. JEFF: Easy, Captain.  He’s got a lot to be modest about.  Don’t forget, I’ve seen him naked.
  6. MARSHALL: Why you…
  7. SARAH:   (TO JEFF) Your sense of humour is starting to be a liability, Lieutenant.
  8. JEFF: (CHASTENED) Yes Ma’am. Sorry Marshall.
  9. MARSHALL: (HMPF)
  10. SARAH: (TO MARSHALL) Can you do it?
  11. MARSHALL: I think so. It may take me a few…
  12. SOUND: BEEP AND CLICK – LET IT FINISH.
  13. MARSHALL: No, I got it.
  14. SOUND: DOOR SLIDES OPEN – LET IT FINISH.
  15. SARAH: This looks perfect.  It doesn’t appear to have been used in quite a while.
  16. SELFRIDGE: All right, I’ll get set up. We’ll still need to get the transmitter as close to the outer hull as possible.
  17. MARSHALL: And I’ll link into that terminal and see if I can’t run a search to locate any technical data on this base.
  18. SARAH: Jeff, I think you better come with me.  I don’t want anyone getting flustered and accidentally shooting you.
  19. JEFF: (SARCASTIC) Har, Har.
  20. MUSIC: NEUTRAL SCENE ENDER – LET IT FINISH.

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Graduation Day