Narrator: The opening scene is a small government room with one window, two rows of facing chairs, and a desk with a computer station. Damon Slayer is leaning up against the wall of the room as Commander Jeanette Randstat rushes in.
Damon Slayer: Well, it's about time....
Commander Randstat: ::looks annoyed:: Can I assume you are Damon Slayer?
Damon Slayer: I'm Slayer, Damon Slayer from the IGNN, nice to meet you Commander.
Captain Avis Jessica MacPherson: ::enters room::
Commander Randstat: ::sits at desk:: Good morning! Name please.
AJ: ::stands at attention:: Avis Jessica MacPherson.
Damian Raen: ::enters room:: My name is Damian Raen.
Commander Randstat: ::types into computer:: Thank you Capt. MacPherson, you may have a seat.
Damon Slayer: Ahemmm. ::shrugs shoulders::
Commander Randstat: Mr. Slayer, you may have a seat as well.
AJ: ::observes the room and sits::
Damon Slayer: So when do we get on the ole rust bucket out there? ::he sits::
Commander Randstat: Mr. Slayer, am I to expect this type of insolence the entire journey?
Damon Slayer: Sorry, I'm just a little tired. My network put me up in a flea bag yesterday, it hasn't been the most comfortable…I had a long trip from headquarters on Mars, so forgive me ::looks down at tattered penny loafers::
Commander Randstat: ::pounding on her keyboard Mr. Raen, I don't believe I have your name in my computer.
Damian Raen: ::muttering to himself:: This is going to be loads of fun, I can tell.
Commander Randstat: ::to Damian Raen:: How did you get security to enter the room?
Damian Raen: ::somewhat confused:: Um... I got this summons...
Commander Randstat: Ah, stupid computer glitches! I found you now, Mr. Raen. Thank you.
Damon Slayer: ::leans over and whispers in Damian’s ear:: Hey buddy, I'm from Mars. These Earthens just don't like foreigners.
Damian Raen: ::ignoring Damon and speaking to Commander:: All right.
Commander Randstat: Two of the civilians are having transport problems, so we may be delayed for a short time.
Damon Slayer: ::grimaces towards the ceiling then moves attention to laptop:: Note to self: This is gonna be a tough crowd to deal with. Oh well, I'm the only one here of my own free will...
Damon Slayer: ::winks at AJ:: So you are the communications officer, huh?
AJ: Ma'am? How many others are we waiting on for the briefing?
Commander Randstat: Two others.
AJ: Thank you, Ma'am.
Commander Randstat: ::nods and returns to computer work::
AJ: ::to Damon:: I have other skills as well ::looks over her notes::
Damon Slayer: I'll bet you do.
AJ: From what I read, you are in communications as well.
Damon Slayer: Yes, with the IGNN
Gabrielle Fontana: ::enters:: So sorry I'm late. You always lose when you depend on others.
Commander Randstat: Hello, name please.
Damon Slayer: ::talking loudly to AJ, but looking at Gabrielle:: Haven't you seen my show?
Damon Slayer: I mean broadcast... ahem.. ::clears throat::
AJ: ::shakes head:: Not really, although I'm familiar with your type of... journalism.
Commander Randstat: ::to Gabrielle:: Ma'am, your name, please?
Gabrielle: Gabrielle, you can call me Gabi.
Commander Randstat: ::types into computer:: Thank you. You many have a seat, Mrs. Fontana.
Gabrielle: Ms. Fontana.
Commander Randstat: I apologize, Ms. Fontana.
Gabrielle: It happens all the time. Forgiven.
Gabrielle: ::looks for a seat::
Damian Raen: ::slouches in his seat and stares blankly at the floor::
Damon Slayer: ::holds out hand for Damian to shake:: Hey buddy, everything okay?
Damian Raen: ::eyes him warily, doesn't hold up his hand:: Why? What do you want? I'm fine.
Damon Slayer: Uh, just trying to be nice pal. You have to leave your sweetie behind?
Damian Raen: ::Looks away::
Commander Randstat: ::stands up:: I have received word that the other member of our group will not be able to join us until later. So I will begin the briefing now.
Gabrielle: ::to Damian:: Sorry, were you addressing me?
Damian Raen: No.
Gabrielle: O.K. ::sits quietly, looking around and fidgeting with her necklace::
Damon Slayer: It's no fair you folks should have to leave on such short notice. ::switches attention to Commander:: May I take notes Commander?
AJ: ::scans the room, slight sigh of frustration::
Damon Slayer: ::shifts uneasily in chair and fiddles with laptop keyboard::
Commander Randstat: Yes, Mr. Slayer, you may take notes.
Damon Slayer: Thank you ma’am. :big grin on face:
Commander Randstat: Good morning, ladies and gentlemen! You are group T19. With the exception of Mr. Slayer, you have come here in response to a typical Governmental Civilian Assignment. However, this assignment is anything but typical.
Damian Raen: ::muttering under his breath:: It better not be.
Commander Randstat: Instead of the normal random method of choosing civilians for GCA duty, you have each been carefully screened and chosen for this assignment. ::while speaking, she walks slowly around the room, making eye contact with each of the people:: Each of you have been found to be highly patriotic, dedicated to the United Universe and active in your community.
Damon Slayer: :typing log: "Commander has quite a presence... some of the group seem a bit frustrated with it all.…”
Commander Randstat: Group T19 will be going to White Planet 8069. The space station on White Planet was established 97 years ago. The current population is 10,000.
Gabrielle: ::stops fidgeting with necklace and begins biting her lip::
Narrator: A plasma screen on the wall begins to hum. A photo of a sparkling white planet glowing in the darkness of outer space appears and slowly zooms in close, showing an ice-covered surface. The planet rotates and a space station is shown.
Commander Randstat: The planet is covered with ice and they get their energy by melting the ice and using the flow of the water to create electricity. The citizens of WP have been remarkably successful. They are almost self-dependent and they import and export very little. However, we suspect that this success is achieved using illegal means.
Damian Raen: ::looks up at the mention of illegal activity::
Gabrielle: ::brows creased::
Commander Randstat: We are not sure if those means are the black market, or some other illegal activities.
Damian Raen: ::shifts uncomfortably::
Damon Slayer: Illegal activity. Hmmmmm, I wonder what their evidence is...
Commander Randstat: And it will be your job to find out what that is.
Damon Slayer: Yep, that's it all right!
AJ: ::types in hand held device::
Damon Slayer: Commander, what is your evidence for illegal activity?
Commander Randstat: Mr. Slayer! Please be silent while I am talking.
Damon Slayer: Ooops.
Commander Randstat: There will be an opportunity to ask questions later. As I was saying ::glares at Slayer::
Damon Slayer: ::emabarrased, looks down and mutters:: hrumph, I'm used to calling the shots...
Gabrielle: ::appears close to tears::
AJ: ::nodding, hits a few more keys::
Commander Randstat: However, you will be going under the guise of learning how the residents of White Planet succeed so successfully.
AJ: ::looks at Gabrielle and reaches into bag to pull out a tissue::
Damon Slayer: ::typing furiously away and trying to peek at AJ’s device::
AJ: ::quietly hands the tissue to Elle:: Here.
Gabrielle: ::eyes wide, sitting very stiff in her chair, whispers:: Thanks.
Commander Randstat: We have told them that a team is coming and they will be prepared to teach you what they supposedly are doing to achieve this level of self-dependence. Your job will be to see through their facade and figure out what is really going on.
Gabrielle: ::dabs eyes and tries to sniffle quietly::
Commander Randstat: ::walks around the room, looking into each of their eyes:
Damian Raen: ::looks away::
AJ: ::returns her look::
Damon Slayer: ::peers around room suspiciously, still muttering under his breath:: hmmm, I wonder if any of this group has been inoculated by Gov with spyware?"
CommanderRandstat: Each of you have been picked carefully. You have each been found to be loyal to the UU.
Damian Raen: ::stifles a bitter laugh::
Damon Slayer: ::looks suspiciously at Damian::
CommanderRandstat: And we have every confidence that you will complete the task.
Gabrielle: ::lowers her eyes when the commander looks at her::
Damian Raen: ::glares at Damon::
DamonSlayer: ::returns look, guardedly::
CommanderRandstat: I am your commander and you are answerable to me for everything. I will not be going with you, but you will be required to have a tele-conference with me each and every morning to discuss the previous day’s activities and to receive your assignments for that day. All the supplies you will need will be supplied to you.
Gabrielle: ::bites her lip and looks toward door::
AJ: ::types some more::
CommanderRandstat: Now, any questions?
Gabrielle: Will we have any contact with home?
DamonSlayer: Yes Commander ::raising hand:: what evidence does the UU have against White Planet?
CommanderRandstat: Ms. Fontana, you will have full communication through satellite.
Gabrielle: ::sighs and smiles:: Thank you, commander
AJ: Commander, Ma'am?
CommanderRandstat: Yes, Captain MacPherson?
DamonSlayer: ::shaking hand:: Commander, any evidence....
AJ: What industries are represented? Or do we have that intel yet?
CommanderRandstat: They concentrate on agriculture and mineral mining.
Gabrielle: ::fidgets with necklace again::
AJ: ::nods:: Thank You ::types::
CommanderRandstat: Mr. Slayer, we do have inside evidence, but we can not share that with everyone. It is classified.
Gabrielle: ::shrinks back into her seat as if trying to hide::
DamonSlayer: Okay, fine, I'll find out anyway!
CommanderRandstat: Mr. Slayer, please.
DamonSlayer: I may have some information you would be interested in hearing... but it's classified, sorry.
CommanderRandstat: ::glares and sighs::
AJ: ::Clears throat::
CommanderRandstat: Any other questions?
DamonSlayer: Is there a bar on that barge out there on the tarmac?
CommanderRandstat: I beg your pardon?
Damian Raen: ::stifling laughter::
DamonSlayer: I could use a good stiff cooler right about now.
Damian Raen: A bar. That's great. What do you think this is, an amusement park?
Gabrielle: ::digs in pocket and pulls out a package of gum, pops one in her mouth and offers one to person next to her::
DamonSlayer: ::folds up laptop and puts into bag:: Oh, you know what they say, a little wine for the stomach’s sake...
AJ: ::arches eyebrows::
CommanderRandstat: ::ignoring Damon’s comments:: Mr. Slayer, ::motions to him:: will be coming along as an inside reporter. For the time being he will be reporting what we want White planet to know.
Damian Raen: Great. Just what we need. A reporter following our every step asking stupid questions.
DamonSlayer: ::pulls cigarette out of pocket and lights, takes big puff and exhales right into Damian’s face::
CommanderRandstat: ::continues:: But when we have finished the bust, then-- ::pauses and glares at DamonSlayer:: Mr. Slayer!
Damian Raen: Hey man, you got another one of those?
CommanderRandstat: Do not smoke in here!
Damian Raen: ::rolls his eyes::
DamonSlayer: Sure dude. ::lights for him:: Here you go.
CommanderRandstat: Put that out this instant!
Damian Raen: ::to Damon:: Slip one to me under the table...
CommanderRandstat: Mr. Slayer!
Damian Raen: ::laughs:: Thanks!
DamonSlayer: ::whispers:: All right, here.
CommanderRandstat: ::marches over and grabs the cigarette from Damon::
AJ: ::slight smile::
CommanderRandstat: Mr. Raen?
Damian Raen: ::stuffs his cigarette in his pocket:: What?
DamonSlayer: That cost me 5 bucks!
CommanderRandstat: There will be a smoking section on the shuttle, but there is no smoking in here.
DamonSlayer: ::lets out sigh of relief:: So that answers my question about the bar.
Gabrielle: ::shifting uncomfortably::
Damian Raen: ::ignoring her:: Slayer, I can get you a pack of those things for a penny on ST-63.
CommanderRandstat: ::looks at the cigarette in her hand. sticks it on her desk after moving all the papers far away::
DamonSlayer: ::smiles and claps hands standing up:: Let's go!
CommanderRandstat: ::sighs:: Alright, please follow me.
AJ: ::mutters something about her k-bar, stands, grabs gear::
CommanderRandstat: ::heads toward the door, and pauses::
Gabrielle: ::stands and waits to be the last in line::
DamonSlayer: ::looking at Damian:: I'll take a carton!
Damian Raen: Maybe I'll hook you up, Slayer, when we get back from this assignment.
CommanderRandstat: Remember, all the information you just received will stay in your group. You may not speak of it to your family. ::looks at Gabrielle::
Gabrielle: Yes, ma'am.
CommanderRandstat: Or to the outside world. ::glares at Slayer:: You will tell them you are going to White planet to learn so you can bring their success back here.
DamonSlayer: ::picks up AJ's bag:: Need some help sweetie?
AJ: ::to Damon:: I've been in combat zones, I think I can carry my gear.
CommanderRandstat: ::opens door and walks down and long thin hall with only occasional doors::
AJ: :retrieves her bag, slings it over one shoulder::
DamonSlayer: Have it your way ::follows Commander::
DamonSlayer: Commander, when can I get a moment with you?
AJ: ::whispers to Gabrielle:: Are you all right? This can be a bit overwhelming.
Narrator: A great metal door fills the end of the hall. Commander Randstat places her palm on a pad on the wall and the door silently slips into the wall. A gleaming space craft fills the opening, only letting small glimpses of sky around it. A door with steps lead up into the craft and the Commander walks briskly toward the stairs.
Gabrielle: ::whispers to AJ before moving:: I 'll be okay, I just can't believe I'm actually doing this. It really doesn't fit me.
AJ: It's an adjustment.
Damian Raen: ::brings up the back of the line::
Narrator: The inside of the craft is surprisingly comfy-looking. It almost looks like an apartment, save for the seatbelts sticking out of the couch and the holding rods here and there. There is a sitting room with a large plasma screen on one wall, a small keyboard, some controls, and computer boxes under it. A kitchenette is open to the sitting room and holds a microwave, a refrigerator, and an oven. There is one bathroom, and two small bedrooms, each with two thin beds and a dresser built into the wall.
DamonSlayer: ::sidles up next to Commander and taps her on shoulder:: A word? ::whispering to Commander:: Listen, I'm serious about that information.
CommanderRandstat: Yes, Mr. Slayer, let me get the others settled first.
DamonSlayer: Okay, I'll wait out here.
Gabrielle: ::gives AJ a weak, "thank you" smile and moves into shuttle::
CommanderRandstat: ::as well as the control room::
DamonSlayer: Where's the head?
AJ: ::enters looks around::
CommanderRandstat: There will, of course, be a few engineers with you, but they won't bother you. There is quite a variety of freshly-made meals in the refrigerator.
AJ: ::to Damon:: To the aft of the shuttle.
DamonSlayer: Thanks sister.
CommanderRandstat: Mr. Slayer, there is a restroom down the hall, or in the shuttle ::points to door::
DamonSlayer: ::moves toward the restroom::
CommanderRandstat: The journey will take three days.
Damian Raen: ::rolls his eyes::
CommanderRandstat: I will be in contact with you through satellite. ::motions toward the plasma screen::
Damian Raen: Great.
DamonSlayer: ::grabs Damian and pulls into side room before going to the restroom:: Hey Damian, I didn't mean to be rude, us guys are gonna have to stick together during this trip.
Damian Raen: ::laughing:: Yeah. Right. Just don't be getting in my face.
Damon Slayer: You’re a good sport buddy, we'll talk later. Do you play chess?
Damian Raen: No... I play Torrent.. you ever played that?
DamonSlayer: ::says to Damian as he heads towards the back for bathroom:: Wha.....
Gabrielle: ::finds the couch and sits down, pulling a nail file out of her gucci bag::
AJ: Ma’am. How many rooms are there? Are we assigned quarters?
CommanderRandstat: There will be two of you to a room. After you reach the Planet, you will be required to attend a staff meeting each morning. I will be briefing you as to your days assignments and you will be reporting your activities to me.
Gabrielle: ::puts file away and heads to find her sleeping space::
Damian Raen: ::to Damon:: Are we supposed to be listening to what that Commander is saying?
DamonSlayer: Huh? Oh yeah, be right back, take notes okay?
Damian Raen: Right. Not.
CommanderRandstat: The shuttle will take off shortly. Get your stuff settled. ::she leaves the shuttle::
Damian Raen: :: under his breath :: Take notes. What a joke.
DamonSlayer: :: follows commandeer out door:: Commander, commander, a moment?
CommanderRandstat: :: waits for Slayer :: I understand you wished to consult with me?
DamonSlayer: Well I thought, I mean, ah...
DamonSlayer: Yes, yes I do. Can we go somewhere private? This is important, and I think you would want it that way.
CommanderRandstat: I can set up a secure connection if you would like to meet later today, or tomorrow, or we can go to my office now.
DamonSlayer: Now would be good--you need to hear this. Oh well. ::drags Commander further down the hall :: Listen can I be honest?
CommanderRandstat: I would not allow anything else.
DamonSlayer: There are rumors.... Rumors about mysticism and voodoo on that planet.
CommanderRandstat: :: raises her eyebrows :: Oh?
DamonSlayer: What do you know about this?
CommanderRandstat: And how would you know all this?
DamonSlayer: Let’s just say a little birdie told me, anyway you know my grandfather?
CommanderRandstat: Yes, I know of your grandfather.
DamonSlayer: Well, then you know he exterminated the evangelistic cult more than 50 years ago. Or so he thought. Have you heard anything about a resurgence?
CommanderRandstat: There are always going to be small resurgences, Mr. Slayer, but nothing the UU can not handle.
DamonSlayer: Well, just a little tidbit I thought you ought to know. I'll be looking for signs.
CommanderRandstat: Thank you, Mr. Slayer. Every eye is appreciated.
DamonSlayer: I'll let you know if I catch wind of anything. Anything to help, ma’am.
CommanderRandstat: Thank you, Mr. Slayer.
DamonSlayer: :: salutes ::
CommanderRandstat: :: smiles a little ::
Damian Raen: ::enters the room that he is going to be sharing with Damon. pulls a deck of Torrent chips from his bag and sits on one of the beds::
AJ: :: walks to her room finds Gabrielle already there ::
Gabrielle: :: in her sleeping space she pulls a picture of a baby girl out of her bag and tapes it to the wall, then she pulls out a baby blanket and cuddles it as she sits on the bed ::
Gabrielle: Hey, thanks for the tissue. What was your name again?
AJ: You're welcome. Avis MacPhersion, but you can call me AJ. :: looks at the picture :: Your little one?
Gabrielle: Yeah, Allea. She is with my mom.
AJ: :: nods :: She's adorable
Gabrielle: Thanks, she's real good, too. Always happy. You have any kids?
AJ: :: shakes head :: No, I've been in the military. No time for a life.
Gabrielle: I'm sorry. Although life can sometimes be over rated.
AJ: That's ok. I made my choice, family tradition, you could say. But now that I've served my term of duty, maybe I'll meet someone. I have some nephews though.
Gabrielle: How old are your nephews?
AJ: 8 and 2, my sister's boys. ::reaches into her pocket, pulls out a band and puts her hair in a low pony tail:: I'm going to explore the ship a bit, care to come? ::kicks her pack under the bunk::
Gabrielle: No, thanks, I think I'll stay here. I'm not much of an adventurer.
AJ: ::nods and smiles:: It comes with time, I wasn't either at first. But you learn how when you have to. Let me know if you need anything.
DamonSlayer: ::returns to shuttle and looks for room:: Bye now Commander, I'll be in touch.
CommanderRandstat: ::following Damon into shuttle:: All right. Are you all ready to go? Again, I will be right on the other side of the satellite if you wish to talk or have questions or concerns.
Gabrielle: ::smiles a nervous smile in response::
DamonSlayer: ::Enters room where Damian is:: Ready to go smoke that 5 dollar cig buddy?
Damian Raen: Yeah! ::tosses the Torrent chips aside::
CommanderRandstat: Mr. Slayer and Mr. Raen?
Damian Raen: What? :: rolls his eyes ::
CommanderRandstat: There is a small smoking room to the rear.
Damian Raen: Oh, hey, cool!
DamonSlayer: Thanks ma’am!
CommanderRandstat: Please be considerate of the others and restrict your habit to that section only.
Damian Raen: Yeah, yeah, fine.
CommanderRandstat: Good bye and good luck. ::leaves the shuttle::
AJ: ::walks to find the galley::
DamonSlayer: ::heads back to the rear and pulls the pack from his pocket:: Come on Damian ole boy, lets see the accommodations! What do you think about that AJ, pretty cold duck wouldn't you say?
Damian Raen: So we're leaving now?
DamonSlayer: Yeah, I think we are getting ready for lift off, don't worry though, it's an easy ride ::shuttle shakes and moans::
Damian Raen: I don't care
Narrator: The shuttle begins moving slightly, as though rolling down the runway.
DamonSlayer: At least it’s a decent ride! ::hangs on to a handle in the smoking room::
AJ: ::finds the galley, gets a sandwich and tea, sits and eats. feels the vibrations of the engine start::
Gabrielle: ::pulls a small, worn book out of her bag. She falls back as shuttle takes off. She rights herself and settles with her back against the wall, knees up and begins to write in her book.::
So glad I am not alone. Thank you for your words. I am so relieved to know you will never leave me. I am never forsaken! I couldn't bear this alone. Calm my fears, fill me with confidence. Thank you that all the power I need is here within me. Guide me, show me what to do. Remind me why I am here, that I can do this. My hope is found in you.
Watch over my precious baby and send Momma a special gift for her selfless giving.
Favorite poem today:
But let all who take refuge in you be glad;
let them ever sing for joy.
Spread your protection over them,
that those who love your name
may rejoice in you.
For surely you bless the upright;
you surround them with your favor
as with a shield.
Be My Shield!
Narrator: The shuttle was beginning to rumble into position when it suddenly stopped. A commotion could be heard coming from the shuttle’s control room. A lot of hollering and static was accompanied by grumbling and muttering. Then the door burst open and the engineer stomped out.
Engineer: ::muttering under his breath:: Humph, thinks the whole show can be shut off with the switch of a control. ‘taint that easy. “Pause the take off!” Ha. One more second and it would have been too late. But it always has to be, “Yes, Commander. Of course, Commander.” Grrr!
Narrator: The engineer fiddled with the door and folded steps, seeming to have to override some inbuilt automatic command and having to manually open the door. Jade Constatine stood on the tarmac below. She scrambled up the steps, looking hurried and frazzled.
Engineer: You were lucky, lady. This ship was about to take off.
Jade: Thank you! I was held up with technical difficulties. I am so glad I made it in time.
Narrator: And so, with varying degrees of anxiety and excitement, Group T19 is finally ready for take off.
PLEASE ENCOURAGE AUTHOR,
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