This is an excerpt (first 20 pages) of a completed screenplay.
"Risks" - screenplay by Derek Paterson. FADE IN: EXT. SPACE STATION "NAGASAKI" - ESTABLISH. A starfield, dazzling and beautiful. PAN AROUND and HOLD on a space station in high orbit above Earth. A slowly spinning wheel design, with docking bays located on either side of the zero gee central Hub. Title: ORBITAL RESEARCH STATION NAGASAKI WIDER. A deltawing transport approaches the space station, firing its braking jets. Careful, slow motion maneuvering. CONTROLLER (V.O.) Delta Five, continue on your present vector. Reduce to 5 meters per second. Stand by for further corrections. INT. DELTAWING CONTROL CABIN - Two seats, one empty, the other occupied by the PILOT, male. He's wearing a starsuit and helmet (the visor is open). PILOT (into radio) Control, copy. Green vector, 5 m.p.s. The HATCH behind him opens. The CO-PILOT enters the control cabin. He's also wearing a starsuit and helmet (with the polarized visor down so we can't see his face). (Later in the story, we'll discover the Co-Pilot is actually a woman. But the audience won't know this yet, so throughout this scene we'll treat her as a "him.") PILOT (CONT'D) Where the hell have you been? Sit down and strap in. The Co-Pilot doesn't answer. Instead, he extends his hand. C.U. a weird kind of WEAPON appears in the Co-Pilot's hand, seemingly growing out of thin air. It's a futuristic energy wireframe, composed of a series of GLOWING circles connected by straight lines. The wireframe weapon emits a high- pitched WHINING noise as it charges. The Co-Pilot points the weapon the Pilot. The Pilot stares at the weapon, astounded. The weapon CRACKLES with energy. BZZT! The Pilot JERKS like he's been SHOCKED by high voltage and slumps in his seat, dead. C.U. the energy weapon disappears, the Co-Pilot's hand is empty again. The Co-Pilot ducks through the hatch, moving back into the passenger cabin. EXT. SPACE STATION "NAGASAKI" - The transport moves steadily closer to the station's Hub. A beat. CONTROLLER (V.O.) Delta Five, check your vector. You're moving off the green. A beat. No response. CONTROLLER (V.O.) (CONT'D) Delta Five, I say again, check your vector. You're off the green and coming in too fast. I will order abort in ten unless you comply. No response. INT. DELTAWING PASSENGER CABIN - The Co-Pilot enters the passenger cabin, a sterile environment with rows of seats, like a small aircraft. There is only one passenger aboard. Scientist ALEX PETROV looks up from his laptop, curious. The Co-Pilot lifts his hand. C.U. once again the energy wireframe takes form out of thin air, becoming a glowing weapon that WHINES as it charges to full power. Petrov is ASTONISHED at the sight of the weapon. SHOT: from behind the Co-Pilot. The Co-Pilot opens his helmet visor. We don't see his face, but Petrov sees it and REACTS. He KNOWS who this is! C.U. the energy weapon CRACKLES with energy. BZZT! Petrov JERKS like he's been shocked by high voltage and slumps in his seat, dead. C.U. the energy weapon disappears, the Co-Pilot's hand is empty again. EXT. SPACE STATION "NAGASAKI" - The transport continues to move closer to the space station. Seconds pass -- counting to ten. CONTROLLER (V.O.) (CONT'D) Delta Five, you are ordered to abort your approach. Take vector zero nine zero. You must comply immediately. No response. INT. DELTAWING PASSENGER CABIN - The Co-Pilot moves to the back of the cabin, to the transport's airlock hatch. He punches a code into the control panel. The panel BEEPS and lights turn RED. The panel display reads: "DEPRESSURIZING CABIN" A count of 10. We HEAR a HISSING noise, which slowly fades. The panel display reads: "DEPRESSURIZED" The hatch silently OPENS. The Co-Pilot braces himself against the door frame, then LAUNCHES himself out into space like some crazy skydiver! EXT. SPACE STATION "NAGASAKI" - Near the station's Hub. We pick up on the Co-Pilot as he drifts toward the Hub in freefall. Ahead of him, an airlock hatch slides OPEN. WIDER. The incoming transport is getting uncomfortably close to the space station! CONTROLLER (V.O.) (deadly serious) Hub Control is declaring an emergency situation! Delta Five is hard inbound and refusing to alter course. Defense stations are clear to open fire! Two missiles STREAK from the space station, homing in on the transport. They hit the transport and EXPLODE, destroying the target. Pieces spin off in all directions. The free-falling Co-Pilot passes through the airlock hatch. It closes behind him. A shower of tiny, spinning fragments strikes the space station's hull, but that's nothing to what would have happened if the transport had hit. DISSOLVE TO: EXT. STARFIELD - A starfield, dazzling and beautiful... and alien. PAN AROUND until we see two binary suns of different size and color... huge angry orange and tiny yellow... and then we graze the edge of an ASTEROID BELT composed of rocks that range in size from automobiles to small mountains. A spaceship flies through the asteroid belt. It's a RED SPHERE bristling with SPIKES, like an old World War II sea mine, or a virus seen under a microscope. One glimpse is enough to convince us that it's an ALIEN spaceship. We FOLLOW the spike-ship as it skims big rocks and evades smaller rocks, using an unknown propulsion system. Finally closing in on... A WRECKED BATTLESHIP. This ship has taken some serious damage, its hull is riddled with gaping holes. No lights are showing, there's no evidence of life aboard. As we examine the wreck closely we see the ship's name painted on the scarred hull: LYSANDER And on the hole-riddled solar fin, a YELLOW SUN EMBLEM surmounted by the legend: "STARGUARD". The red spike-ship orbits the wrecked battleship. It emits beams of light that play over Lysander's hull, probing the dead battleship from end to end. The light beams snap off. The red spike-ship is satisfied. It breaks away and leaves Lysander behind, returning to wherever it came from. AN ASTEROID some distance away. A small spaceship of obviously human design moves away from the rock, fires its maneuvering jets and closes on the dead battleship. DISSOLVE TO: EXT. PORT MARS, PLANET MARS - DAY Establish. The pink-red Martian surface. A scarred DOME stands firm in the middle of a vicious DUST STORM. Title: PORT MARS, MARS COLONY CONTROLLER (V.O.) Ambassador Svenson. Paging Ambassador Svenson. INT. SVENSON'S CABIN - NIGHT A darkened cabin. The same message is repeated via the cabin's intercom system: CONTROLLER (V.O.) Ambassador Svenson. Paging Ambassador Svenson. There's MOVEMENT in the dark. Something gets knocked over. We hear a muttered CURSE. Then a LIGHT gets switched on. KURT SVENSON, 50s, lies on his bed, propped up on one elbow. Distinguished, elegant, self-assured -- but not right at this moment. He peers owlishly at the bedside digital clock display. C.U. the clock reads: 03:12 (MARS LOCAL) SVENSON Jesus! He gets a grip on himself. Sits up in bed, rubs his eyes. SVENSON (CONT'D) Lights. (lights come on) Intercom. A wall VIEWSCREEN activates, showing the face of the CONTROLLER, male, wearing a uniform. CONTROLLER (SCREEN) I'm very sorry to disturb you, Mister Ambassador. We're receiving a priority signal from United Earth Government Headquarters. Originator is Chief Ambassador Andersen. Coming in via tachyon beam, zero time delay. SVENSON (wearily) Pipe it through. He runs his fingers through his unruly hair. Takes a couple of deep breaths. Glances at the clock again, wishing he was still asleep. Chief Ambassador FRIDA ANDERSEN appears on the viewscreen. She's an attractive woman, but she didn't get to be Chief of Diplomatic Corps by fluttering her eyelashes. She's tough as boot leather and takes no prisoners. ANDERSEN (SCREEN) (smiles) Hello, Kurt. I hope I haven't disturbed your beauty sleep? SVENSON You'll forgive me if I don't split my sides laughing. ANDERSEN (SCREEN) We received a message from the lobsters. I thought you'd want to know. SVENSON (still irritated) You must mean the Arj ambassador. What does the message say? ANDERSEN (SCREEN) If we translated correctly, they've agreed to our proposal to extend the cease-fire. (beat) And they want a meeting, just like you said they would. They've chosen a location in Red Sector 12. SVENSON (with realization) Is this what I think it is? ANDERSEN (SCREEN) I've got all my fingers crossed, and my toes, too. (beat) You might have noticed the arrival of a Starguard gunship. It's been placed at your disposal. Svenson touches a switch on his bedside CONTROL PANEL. The viewport HATCH on the wall of his cabin slides open, admitting light. Svenson gets out of bed, wrapping the sheet around his waist. He peers through the open viewport. SVENSON'S POV: a warship, the WYATT EARP, sits on the flat spacefield behind the dome. She's big, functional-ugly and bristling with guns, like a porcupine with attitude. Svenson returns to his bed and sits down. SVENSON Suddenly we don't have any ships of our own available? ANDERSEN (SCREEN) Come on, Kurt, you didn't really expect to keep Starguard out of this, did you? Red Sector was a battleground until you negotiated the cease-fire. They still have a heavy presence out there. SVENSON I know that. (beat) I also know who was responsible for Red Sector becoming a battleground. So do you. Any news on that front? ANDERSEN (SCREEN) (wearily) Last I heard, Starguard Command was reviewing your report. No decision has been announced yet. As far as I know, Colonel Falklan is still in command of military forces in Red Sector. Svenson activates his bedside control panel display and taps keys... SVENSON'S POV: a 3D graphic of Red Sector, showing major star systems and the dispositions of Earth's forces in that volume of space. Several markers bear the subtext, "FLEET DESTROYED" while others read, "FLEET AT REDUCED STRENGTH" or "FLEET UNDERGOING REPAIR" -- the aftermath of several vicious space battles. On the wall viewscreen, Andersen looks off to one side, as if she's able to see the same information. SVENSON What military forces? Falklan barely has enough ships left to hold his current position. Not that that will stop him from throwing his weight around. ANDERSEN (SCREEN) You foresee a problem? SVENSON I'd like some assurance from Starguard Command that Falklan will not be permitted to interfere. This is a Diplomatic Corps mission, not a military campaign. ANDERSEN (SCREEN) Okay, I'll submit a request to Starguard Command. But Red Sector 12 does fall under Falklan's jurisdiction. We can't conceal what's happening from him. SVENSON Just put the request through as quickly as you can. (beat) What about my team? ANDERSEN (SCREEN) Already taken care of. Richard Bono is en route to Mars aboard a Lunacorp transport, E.T.A. three hours. You'll be seeing Micha Lombardi a lot sooner than that. When you're ready, contact the gunship for pickup. They'll arrange to rendezvous with Bono's transport. SVENSON Why Bono? Why not Petrov? ANDERSEN (SCREEN) (solemnly) Alex Petrov was killed in a tragic accident, Kurt. Something went wrong just as his transport approached the Nagasaki Orbital. It was destroyed by the station's defense system. The incident is still under investigation. SVENSON (shocked) Good God. ANDERSEN (SCREEN) Bono worked with Petrov. He knows as much about Pandora as Alex did. SVENSON I damn well hope so. (beat) You've thought of everything. ANDERSEN (SCREEN) (dry humor) What are ex-wives for? Good luck with the mission, Kurt. SVENSON Thanks, Frida. Love to the kids. Andersen nods. The wall viewscreen BLACKS OUT. Svenson yawns and heads for the john, waddling like a man who's just been wrenched from sleep and has a full bladder. His cabin DOORBELL stops him. He changes direction and waves his hand over the viewscreen (TV) beside the door. SVENSON'S POV: The viewscreen shows MICHA LOMBARDI -- young (she's half Svenson's age), beautiful, full of life. She GRINS at the camera. Svenson opens the door. Micha walks into his arms. They kiss, then draw apart. MICHA (licking lips) Interesting mouthwash flavor. SVENSON I'm sorry, Frida just woke me up to tell me the news. (curiously) When did she contact you? MICHA About twelve hours ago, give or take. One moment I was aboard the Brittania Orbital talking to Mom and Dad, the next, I'm being dragged aboard the biggest damned spaceship I've ever seen. SVENSON The Starguard gunship? I saw it. (amused) Frida told me I'd be seeing you soon. MICHA (laughs) You think she timed it so she woke you up just before I got here? Wow, she's good. Why'd you divorce her? SVENSON Every day was a clockwork schedule. I'm glad you're here. How's the family? MICHA My parents aren't happy with me for breaking off my engagement. Nick's taking it a lot better than they did. SVENSON (beat) You didn't have to. She rises on her tip-toes and kisses him on the cheek. MICHA (softly, in love) Yes, I did. SVENSON (grinning) Make yourself comfortable, I'm going to freshen up. Won't be long. MICHA Brush your teeth. You never know when we might kiss next. Svenson takes the hint and heads for the john. We follow Micha to the open viewport. She looks out. MICHA'S POV: C.U. of the Wyatt Earp -- the gunship's hull is scarred, her solar fin has been holed, sections of plating have been hastily repaired; at least a couple of her gun turrets are gaping, melted pits. Micha frowns at this graphic reminder that a war has been raging somewhere Out There, and Svenson's team is heading in that direction. Svenson continues talking from the bathroom. SVENSON (O.S.) Richard Bono is on his way. As soon as he gets here, we'll be leaving. MICHA Did you say Richard Bono? SVENSON (O.S.) That's right. MICHA Where's Alex Petrov? SVENSON (O.S.) (beat) Alex won't be coming. Micha's serious expression is unreadable, but we know she's thinking something we're not privy to. We HEAR splashing water O.S. as Svenson runs his shower. SVENSON (O.S.) Water's hot! Room for two. Micha reluctantly tears herself away from the viewport, and heads for the bathroom. DISSOLVE TO: EXT. MARS FROM ORBIT - Mars, the Red Planet, viewed from orbit. WIDER so we see a deltawing transport in orbit above Mars. WIDER STILL -- the gunship Wyatt Earp approaches the deltawing transport from behind -- a shark bearing down upon a tiny goldfish. WYATT EARP CC (FILTERED) Transport G-29, prepare for docking. Tell your passenger to get ready for transfer. TRANSPORT (FILTERED) Acknowledged, Wyatt Earp. Passenger is ready in the aft airlock. INT. GUNSHIP AIRLOCK - A brightly lit airlock compartment with hatches at either end. LIGHTS above the far airlock hatch glow RED. The airlock SHAKES as the two ships come together. We HEAR a dull, metallic CLUNK that echoes throughout the ship. A beat. The LIGHTS at the far end turn to GREEN. A beat. The far hatch opens and the passenger from the transport steps through. He's wearing a starsuit and helmet with the visor closed; we can't see his face. He's weighed down by a bulky EQUIPMENT PACK. The hatch closes behind him. He heads for the inner hatch, dragging the pack. INT. GUNSHIP CORRIDOR - The inner airlock hatch OPENS and the incoming passenger finds himself confronted by a pair of armed Star Marines. He puts down his pack, then takes off his helmet. RICHARD BONO, early 20s, just on the wrong side of handsome, a computer geek who made good. RICHARD (grins) Don't shoot, I'm on your side! The unsmiling Star Marines fall into escort position on either side of him. One of them snatches up Richard's pack like it weighs nothing. They march down the corridor. Richard almost has to run to keep up with them. INT. GUNSHIP GUEST QUARTERS - A central compartment, giving access to several adjoining cabins. A kind of common social area, with couches and tables. The entry hatch slides open. Richard steps through, dragging his equipment pack after him. The entry hatch shuts behind him. RICHARD Hello? Svenson sticks his head out one of the cabin doors, sees Richard, comes out to meet him. They shake hands. SVENSON Richard, good to see you. No problem with getting here, then? RICHARD I think I'm six inches shorter. The transport punched three gees constant acceleration the entire journey. (indicates entry hatch) What's with the guards? Am I under arrest or what? SVENSON Like it or not, Starguard is involved in this. I think we'll be seeing a lot more uniforms before it's all over. (beat) I'm sorry you've been pulled into this on such short notice, Richard. Svenson invites Richard to sit on one of the couches. They sit down. (There's a control panel and display on the wall behind their couch, used later.) RICHARD I heard about Alex Petrov. I couldn't believe it. Do they know what happened? SVENSON Chief Ambassador Andersen said the accident is being investigated. (re: equipment pack) Just how up to speed are you on the code machine? RICHARD I helped Petrov build the prototype. Sat with him through the testing phase. I'm confident I can operate the machine successfully, Mister Ambassador. SVENSON Is it as good as Petrov claimed? RICHARD Well, at the moment, Diplomatic Corps has an Einstein Class A.I. handling translations. Each translation can take hours to process, depending on its complexity. SVENSON (chuckles) If you're going to tell me that thing you brought with you can do it any faster, you've got a hard sell. I was one of the original Einstein system architects. RICHARD I'm aware of that, sir. (takes a deep breath) The fact is, we first encountered the Arj twenty years ago, when one of our robot scoutships entered a star system containing an Arj outpost. It took a further ten years to develop the radio code, and it's taken until now to build up any kind of useful library. That library is what the Einstein uses. SVENSON You're not telling me anything I don't already know. RICHARD What you might not know is that we combed the records kept by the deep space monitoring stations positioned along the edge of what is now Red Sector. These stations were essentially remote radio astronomy observatories, but they did a pretty good job of collecting other data. For instance, every transmission that ever came from that volume of space. Those records go back fifty years or more. SVENSON (interested) And you used this, how? RICHARD We built up a second-stage lexicon that hangs off the library compiled by the Einstein. There's a whole new suite of compression/expansion utilities sitting alongside logical comparison tables. The Einstein A.I. is fast, but Pandora is smarter and more intuitive. MICHA exits Svenson's cabin, into the common area. MICHA Pandora? SVENSON Richard, this is Doctor Micha Lombardi. I don't think you two have met. Micha, Richard Bono. Richard and Micha formally shake hands. RICHARD Pandora is the name Doctor Petrov gave to the project. Micha sits beside Svenson. MICHA Does it have any significance? RICHARD I'd love to tell you it stands for PANDimensional ORAtorical device or something like that, but the plain fact is, Doctor Petrov may have called it Pandora simply because it fits into a box. Micha smiles; no reaction from Svenson. SVENSON Smarter, how? RICHARD Pandora was built for a specific task. By comparison, the Einstein is a general artificial intelligence that's being asked to perform a job it wasn't really designed for. It wrote itself a set of algorithms that are simply no match for Pandora's purpose-designed core. A beat, while Svenson ponders this. RICHARD (CONT'D) Mister Ambassador, perhaps you can tell me why Starguard is involved in what's supposed to be a diplomatic mission? SVENSON Aside from the fact they're providing transport, we'll be meeting with the Arj ambassador in a Red Zone. Expect to see some posturing from the military. RICHARD (concerned) The cease-fire is still holding up, isn't it? SVENSON Absolutely. The Arj have asked for an extension, which is a good sign. If we can stop certain parties from rattling their sabers, we're in with a chance. That's assuming you can perform on cue. RICHARD I can guarantee full interactive communication with the Arj. Pandora cranks out radio code as quickly as you can type. SVENSON (surprised) Type? RICHARD You want voice-activated, you'll have to give me another couple of weeks. We were on schedule -- then this happened. SVENSON You'll be doing the typing, right? I can't remember the last time I touched a keyboard. RICHARD Sure. Where is the meeting, exactly? SVENSON Red Sector 12. MICHA Why there? Why not some other volume? RICHARD I can answer that question. Red Sector 12 is closest to Earth in astronomical terms. That's probably why Starguard has been so determined not to lose it. Svenson turns around and touches a switch on the control panel, activating the intercom. PING! SVENSON This is Ambassador Svenson. WYATT EARP CC (FILTERED) Go ahead, Mister Ambassador. SVENSON Are we under way yet? WYATT EARP CC (FILTERED) We've been under way since your team member came aboard, Mister Ambassador. Constant acceleration will take us to point zero two lightspeed in just over five hours. SVENSON What happens then? WYATT EARP CC (FILTERED) We phase into negative space, Mister Ambassador. E.T.A. for Red Sector 12, seventeen days. SVENSON Thank you. What is our actual destination? WYATT EARP CC (FILTERED) Full details have been dumped to your terminal, sir. SVENSON All right. I'll check it out. Thank you. Svenson turns off the intercom. He activates the control panel's viewscreen. When it lights up, he presses his hand against a sensor pad. C.U. the viewscreen displays the message: "RECOGNIZED" The message is replaced by a 3D graphic image of Sector Red 12, similar to the one we saw in Svenson's cabin on Mars. Cross hairs mark a specific location. Svenson touches a finger to the cross hairs. The image changes to: A star system, showing binary suns and the orbital paths of several planets. Two of the planets have adopted a figure-8 orbit around both suns. There's also a visible asteroid belt. Cross hairs mark a location in the asteroid belt. Svenson touches a finger to the cross hairs. The image changes to: A view of the dead battleship Lysander drifting through the asteroid belt (make sure it's not at the same angle as before, so it looks different). MICHA What is it? RICHARD It looks familiar, but I'm not sure... SVENSON It's the Lysander. She was the flagship... the pride of STARGUARD. SVENSON Good God, the Lysander. She engaged the Arj fleet just before we signed the cease-fire. Over a thousand men and women were aboard... A senseless loss of life. MICHA I don't understand. Where is the meeting with the Arj ambassador going to take place? SVENSON You're looking at it. MICHA You mean, aboard that ship? But it's a wreck. SVENSON It's an ideal neutral location. The control and weapon systems are dead. Engines have been shot to pieces. They've probably scanned it to make sure. I should imagine that restoring life support to a single compartment will prove simple enough. RICHARD It would be just as easy to land on one of those planets, or a moon, or even a big asteroid. Setting up an environment dome is child's play. SVENSON Possibly you're right. But you could conceal an entire fleet behind such a physical mass. Hold the negotiations aboard a dead ship like the Lysander, on the other hand, and you can be sure the other side isn't planning on springing a surprise. No one can even approach without showing up clearly on radar. A beat. RICHARD Do you think they chose the Lysander as a symbolic meeting place? To rub our noses in it? SVENSON If we were dealing with humans, I might think that. But applying our thoughts and concepts to the Arj is a dangerous game. I think that's how the war got started in the first place -- we imagined they'd think like us, react like us. They don't. (beat) We have seventeen days in which to prepare for the meeting. Richard, I want you to show Doctor Lombardi how to operate Pandora. I think you'll find her linguistical analysis abilities are second to none. RICHARD All right. Although I'm not sure-- SVENSON (interrupts) In case you're in any doubt, Micha and I are together. We shall be together when this mission is completed and we return to Earth. Do we understand each other? Richard glances at Micha. She stares back at him, not in the least embarrassed. RICHARD (to Svenson) We do, sir. SVENSON Excellent. I wish to make my position clear in order to avoid any tedious misunderstandings that may arise. Now, to work. Let's have a look at Pandora. Then we'll see what culinary delights the galley has to offer, shall we? They get up off the couch and gather around Richard's equipment pack. Richard starts opening the pack up... DISSOLVE TO: EXT. ASTEROID BELT - The asteroid belt in the binary star system. Title: RED SECTOR 12 ON THE EDGE OF HUMAN SPACE PAN AROUND and HOLD on... The battleship Lysander, dark and lifeless, drifting through the asteroid belt. The Wyatt Earp (lit up) moves into shot, much SMALLER than the Lysander (dark), giving us an idea of how big the battleship truly is. INT. OBSERVATION GALLERY - An open viewport shows the battleship Lysander, brightly lit by the blazing radiance from the binary suns. Svenson, Micha and Richard stare at the battleship. It's close enough that they can read LYSANDER on the hull, and see the terrible damage the battleship took. RICHARD (thoughtfully) They could have jumped into negative space and got away, but they didn't. SVENSON Assuming their phase drive was still operational... RICHARD It was. SVENSON How do you know? RICHARD Their final hyperwave transmission contained system status reports. They could have jumped... MICHA Why didn't they? SVENSON (irritated) Because Starguard never retreats. They stayed to satisfy some absurd concept called "honor." RICHARD (tersely) It wasn't absurd to them. SVENSON Do you really imagine the crew of that ship wanted to die? That given the choice, they wouldn't have turned and run? Their officers denied them that option. Believe me, they weren't thinking about "honor" when they died. They were thinking how senseless this war is. And they were right. Svenson exits, angry. A beat. Richard doesn't saying anything but he's no less angry than Svenson. MICHA Ambassador Svenson understands the Arj better than anyone. If anyone can negotiate a lasting peace, it's him. RICHARD I'm glad to hear it. Richard exits. Micha continues to watch Lysander as they approach the wrecked battleship. Her intense expression betrays her trepidation for what lies ahead. She finally turns away and follows Svenson and Richard out. EXT. ASTEROID BELT - The gunship lines up to dock with the huge battleship. INT. GUNSHIP AIRLOCK - Svenson, Richard and Micha gather in the airlock. They're wearing starsuits, helmets and backpacks. Richard carries his equipment pack containing the Pandora translator unit. They wait for the OUTER HATCH to open so they can enter the umbilical tube. The INNER HATCH opens behind them instead, causing them to turn around... Two STAR MARINES wearing camouflage pattern starsuits and helmets enter the airlock. SERGEANT LEE is built like an armored assault vehicle. MARINE DENNY looks attractive behind her visor, but she's no soft pushover. They're armed with formidable AR-1900 assault rifles fitted with grenade launchers, laser sights and flashlights. Because everyone's wearing helmets and breathing suit air, all conversation in this scene is FILTERED. SVENSON What's going on here? LEE We're your escort, Mister Ambassador. It's safety protocol. We go in first. SVENSON (irritated) You've scanned the Lysander, haven't you? LEE From nose to tail, sir. I'm pretty sure there's nothing unexpected waiting for us. But we will go in first, and you will wait here for our signal before you proceed. Lee and Denny push past them to stand at the outer airlock hatch. SVENSON (to Richard) It doesn't look like we have much choice in the matter. LEE (without turning) That is the case, sir. The LIGHTS above the airlock hatch flash RED. LEE (CONT'D) Airlock is depressurizing. Lee and Denny ready their AR-1900s, aiming at the hatch. The lights stop flashing and glow solid RED. The outer airlock hatch slides OPEN, revealing the empty umbilical tube. Lee and Denny step through... INT. LYSANDER CONTROL ROOM - The battleship Lysander's auxiliary control room lies in darkness. An airlock hatch opens, admitting a flood of light. Lee and Denny enter. They play their flashlights about the control room -- left, right, ahead. Lee's flashlight shows the outline of some vaguely human shapes in the middle of the room, but we don't get to see what these are yet. Denny plugs a powered device into a slot in the wall. The control room's LIGHTS flicker, then hold steady, revealing-- A central control console in the middle of the room, manned by four CORPSES wearing starsuits and helmets. They're still in their chairs, slumped forward over their boards. End of excerpt.
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