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BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL
The next chapter in the Phoenix Feathers series. It takes place during and shortly after the events of the BDM, as Phoenix, an Academy escapee, along with Monty and the crew of the Stallion struggle to elude the increasingly factional Alliance forces that are pursuing them- and as Phoenix begins to experience visions of a mysterious girl from his past. In this chapter, the crew of the Stallion plays a deadly game of hide-and-seek in the lion's den as the Feds begin their assault. If you like (or hate, I guess...) what you read, please do comment! It makes my fingers fly over the keyboard.
CATEGORY: FICTION TIMES READ: 743 RATING: 8 SERIES: FIREFLY
Phoenix Feathers Part III, Chapter 3
Disclaimer: Joss is Boss, and all I do is toil day in and day out (with his ideas and few original thoughts) to quiet my inner Browncoat. Aren’t those supposed to go on the outside? Hmm.
EXT- SHADOW-TS334/E- STARBOARD DOCKING SPAR
We see that one of the two guards in pursuit of Clarke at the end of the spar has succeeded in getting the hatch open and is now climbing down into its interior, while the other prepares to follow him.
Before the other man can descend, there is a change in the wind, and the hint of a high-pitched whine can be heard, followed by a muffled thud. The lone guard looks around, then freezes in surprise.
A device about the size of a large backpack is lying on the roof partway back along the spar. His weapon raised, the guard stalks over to it to get a closer look.
We lead him as he goes, looking back along his gun, past the breath steaming against his visor, to the nothingness beyond the end of the spar. Pull up and over his head to look down on him as he walks, and we see that another figure in red- PHOENIX- is clinging desperately to handholds on the side of the spar, gravity and the harsh elements threatening to pull him off and into the semi-darkness.
The guard doesn’t notice Phoenix, and kneels before the backpack, which is decidedly broken. He might be thinking that it was dropped by Clarke as the tracker hastened to the airlock, but who knows? It could certainly be an important find. The guard grabs the backpack and turns back towards the forward hatch.
INT- TS334/E- STARBOARD DOCKING SPAR- AIRLOCK 34/d
A man in a yellow enviro suit- CLARKE -descends into frame, cautiously climbing down the ladder. He reaches the bottom, checks to see if he’s been discovered, and-
He’s been discovered. A forest of guns and the security people that own them are waiting for him. Clarke sighs.
CLARKE: Uh, hello, mates. How’re things?
INT- TS334/E- HOLDING CELL
Clarke is thrown roughly into the holding cell, the door slammed behind him. He hits the ground and looks up to see the worried faces of MONTY and JOKAERO are staring at him like he just fell out of the sky.
CLARKE: Uh…so I take it the deal’s off, then?
INT- TS334/E- STARBOARD DOCKING SPAR- TERMINAL
The work crew is herded off of the spar and into one of the outermost rooms of the main base. The room is the terminal for the Starboard spar, and has four hatches- One that leads up to the topside of the spar (the one that the work crew just entered from), another leading out through the spar itself to the ship-grade docking port and airlocks at the far end, a third connecting the two adjacent spars laterally, and the last leading into the base itself. The room contains racks for environmental suits and lockers for equipment, and just down the hallway to the station’s interior is a security checkpoint. Armed guards (disciplined enough to wear body armor at all times, but forgoing helmets in favor of increased sensory freedom) are waiting to escort the work team to the checkpoint. The team supervisor shows his future-y clipboard (a DATABOARD) to one of the guards.
SUPERVISOR: (over helmet comm.) Everyone checks out. Fourteen on the job, fourteen visual ID and suit biometric matchups…fifteen suits. I don’t believe this. You guys nab him yet?
GUARD: ‘Course we did. Whole bunch. Piece a’ cake, really.
SUPERVISOR: Well, there you go. They figure out how he did it yet?
GUARD: Does it matter? Only one way into this station, and that’s through us. Not gonna happen.
SUPERVISOR: Very comforting. Hey, do you mind? I still gotta file this report with CnC. Won’t be a minute.
GUARD: Figures. Well, you have fun with your paperwork and protocol while we do all the work. Maybe you’ll get to bore them to death after the brass rips their eyes out.
The guard walks away, following the direction that the work team took. The supervisor stays back, and flips through his databoard for a moment longer. Checks that the guard is out of sight, removes helmet to reveal PRISCILLA GANLEN, first mate of the Stallion. (Ha! You thought she was a he!)
Priscilla moves purposefully over to the hatch leading to the far end of the starboard-side docking spar and sets her helmet down as she fiddles some more with her device. She pulls a small ELECTRONIC LOCKBREAKER (you know the one- remember "Yolanda" at Durran Haymer’s estate?) out of a pouch in her enviro suit and links the databoard to a panel in the wall. We see a program running, then the board pings and reads “Security Override Accepted; Door Lock Disabled”.
Priscilla looks up in satisfaction- which quickly turns to terror as the door in question slides open and a guard (the first of Clarke’s rooftop pursuers) emerges- his helmet is off and in one hand, so there is no mistake- this is definitely not Phoenix or another ally. If the guard sees Priscilla, she is in Trouble.
But Priscilla is nowhere in sight. The guard does, however, almost trip over the helmet that she set down by the door, a mistake which in turn causes him to spot the blinking light on the lockbreaker- yet more evidence of an intruder. He turns it over in his hand, looks around suspiciously, then hustles off across the terminal and down the corridor towards the security substation.
We can hear him as he hails the waiting guards as soon as they can see each other, but the camera holds on a locker full of yellow enviro suits, all hanging up after their use. Push in to see Priscilla hiding in the midst of the suits, looking very worried. She knows that her hiding spot is only good for a few moments.
Priscilla steps out of the closet, leaving her enviro suit behind- bulky yellow spacesuits tend to attract attention, after all- and looks back down the hallway towards the substation. No pursuit yet. She turns around to the door she unlocked- now her only viable escape route-
And is left coughing down a terrified scream as another figure in red stands before her. She’s in luck, though- it is Phoenix, for all the world looking like one of the security guards in his helmet and red padded jumpsuit, although he doesn’t seem to have a weapon in evidence, and he just stands awkwardly still as Priscilla gathers her wits and dignity.
PRISCILLA: Nick. Where the hell did you come from?
PHOENIX: …I don’t know. Where the hell did I come from?
PRISCILLA: Brilliant. Look, we’re humped- they found my gear. I can't beat the security measures they've got around their defense grid. Which means we’re all humped as soon as Nebula brings the Stallion in. We’ve got to warn them off!
PRISCILLA: I- What?
Phoenix removes his helmet and looks Priscilla in the eye. Oddly, he seems to grow more coherent once this barrier is removed.
PHOENIX: (cont’d) Captain and Clarke in danger now.
PRISCILLA: We might be able to negotia-
PHOENIX: Can’t if caught. Or shot. And I’m already here.
PRISCILLA: Which means we’ve got maybe a minute more until the Stallion arrives and this party gets under way. All right. What’s our next play? We can’t just stay here...
PHOENIX: That way.
Phoenix points her across the room towards the passage linking the two spars together.
PRISCILLA: Not possible. We’ve got nothing to get through there with. My lockpick… (she gestures despairingly with her useless databoard, and tosses it to the deck in disgust).
We can hear the heavy tread of a security detail approaching the terminal. Any moment now, they will arrive.
Priscilla turns back to Phoenix, about to scream at him for backing them into a corner, that they should duck into the nearest door ASAP, but Phoenix is preoccupied. He has opened a panel on the wall and is frowning at its contents. Nevertheless, he speaks up as she grabs the door handle.
PHOENIX: Not that way.
PRISCILLA: Nick, we’ve got to-
PHOENIX: Priscilla. Listen to me. When I do this, there’s some time before the main power comes back. That's our window. Halfway down that corridor (He indicates the passage linking the two spars) is an airlock. Tell Nebula now’s now.
Something has changed in Phoenix. All the oddness has left his demeanor, replaced by intensity and confidence. For some reason, that’s almost as scary.
PHOENIX: You’ll need this. (tosses her his helmet communicator)
PRISCILLA: Listen- Nick. Phoenix. People are going to die...
He looks up, drinking in the moment.
PHOENIX: Yes, they are.
A SHOUT as the first guard rounds the corner and raises his weapon.
PHOENIX: Go. Now!
Priscilla sprints across the terminal towards the hatch. She’s faster without an enviro suit, and presents a smaller target, but she still has to cross the length of the room, and the guards’ automatic weapons will find the range in a fraction of the time. She won’t make it.
CLOSE-UP of PHOENIX’S HAND as he produces a METALLIC COIN (not unlike the ones that saved Clarke’s life in PF part II), seemingly from nowhere. It flips in the air in slow motion before Phoenix JAMS IT INTO THE POWER JUNCTION.
Boom. Sparks, Phoenix recoils from the surge as the lights go down. Power off (momentarily, at least).
Complete blackness in the terminal. Phoenix’s move has bought just enough time for Priscilla to get to the far door, heave it open (there is momentarily no power running to the electronic locking mechanism to stop her), and get through it. There is no light on the other side of the door, either- the short-circuit in the terminal must have wiped out power for a good portion of the station, at least.
But the blackness is fleeting- emergency power comes online after five seconds. The doors click shut again, even before the lights- clearly the station’s owners place security first amongst their priorities. The red emergency lights on the guards’ red armor has a creepy effect. There are five soldiers in all, and if it was not for their internally-lit helmets, they would almost look like shadows themselves as they move across the room, sweeping high and low with their guns. They confer for a second, keeping their eyes on the perimeter.
SECURITY CAPTAIN: The hell? Where’d she go?
GUARD: Far door, boss. She was looking to get to the other arm.
SECURITY CAPTAIN: Fine. You two, search this room. Carefully, this time. You and you (he indicates the other two men) are with me.
He turns to the door that Priscilla went through. For a second. Realizes something is wrong.
SECURITY CAPTAIN: (turning back) Wait…where’d-
Then one of the soldiers- the only one with a darkened helmet- smoothly draws a pistol and puts a bullet in the security captain’s face. The other men react to the shot, but they are way too slow. Quickly and methodically (not to mention dispassionately- we can’t see his face at all), Phoenix turns and takes out the other three men of the security detail with three precise shots.
Phoenix definitely should not be allowed to touch guns. The shooting is creepy and wrong, and chilling- not the least because we thought he was unarmed. We will find out later that it is CLARKE’S PISTOL, a powerful handgun that has the power to punch through all but the heaviest body armor- not that it’s necessary at this range.
Phoenix just stands there for a second amidst the bodies, then reloads the weapon and walks off in the direction of the security checkpoint, stopping to pick up an object on the floor- Priscilla’s cast-off databoard.
INT- TS334/E- MAINTENANCE CORRIDOR
Priscilla stumbles to a halt in the passageway beyond the hatch, breathing hard as the red emergency lights come up. She looks in either direction, but nobody is chasing her. For the moment. Priscilla sighs in relief, then notices that Phoenix isn’t with her. For the second time, in as many minutes she is totally alone.
Priscilla leans against a wall and tries the comm.-link.
PRISCILLA: Stallion, come in, over. Stallion- Nebula!
There is nothing but the buzz of dead air in her earpiece. No reception. The terraforming station must be shielded in some way to prevent unauthorized signals from being transmitted. Since going to the Communications center and asking the bad guys very politely if she could use their gear isn’t exactly an option, Priscilla has no way of getting the word out in time to the cavalry. As soon as the main power comes online, the gates will be closed and Priscilla- who is as far as she knows the last survivor of the advance team- will be hunted down and killed.
She looks around, sees a ladder leading up to the topside airlock. The power is still down, so the airlock should open even without a pass code, and there shouldn’t be anything outside the station that could block her signal to the Stallion. But that’s not the problem. Priscilla isn’t wearing her enviro suit, and you really don’t want to go for a walk on Shadow these days, let alone in the middle of a blizzard.
Priscilla climbs most of the way up the ladder, tries the comm. again. Nothing. To her credit, she barely hesitates before pushing open the hatch and climbing up into the open.
EXT- TS334/E- MAINTENANCE CORRIDOR TOPSIDE AIRLOCK
Priscilla uses one arm to lift herself into view, the comm. in her other fist, held close. The wind whips her hair around furiously, and the blizzard is strong enough that she actually gets a few cuts on her face and hands from flying particles of ice. She is shivering and weak in the face of this onslaught, but she keeps herself propped up on one arm, and clear of the structure.
PRISCILLA: (shouting) Stallion, Stallion, Stallion!
PRISCILLA: Hello? Stallion? Come in immediately, do you read?
NEBULA: -s Nebula. You’re break…real bad. -hear you say that you…help?
PRISCILLA: In! In! In!
INT- STALLION- BRIDGE
NEBULA: (smiling) Roger that. I thought you’d never ask.
Nebula hauls back on the controls.
We see retro-rockets fire, jolting the Stallion backwards. As this happens, two cables that are anchored to the top of the hull and stretch out into the storm are pulled taught by the sharp maneuver.
One of the solders braced against the ship’s hull looks over at one of the cable housings as he hears the whickering sound of the heavy-duty line straining with tension.
EXT- TS334/E- STARBOARD DOCKING SPAR
A detail of the red-armored guards are waiting for instructions on the topside of the spar after sweeping it for intruders. They don’t know that the base’s main power is temporarily down.
GUARD 1: (over comm.) We’re all clear up here, control. Control, come in.
GUARD 2: (over comm.) You’d think they’d tell us if they got the coffee machine working again?
(several of the guards chuckle at that)
They all feel it at the same time- a sharp LURCH runs through the spar, nearly throwing them from their feet.
GUARD 2: What the hell was that?
GUARD 3: No work teams out here, right?
GUARD 1: Could be sabotage. Let’s check it out. Move!
The group moves out, weapons raised. They are sticking relatively close together, not more than a few paces apart, so they can keep track of each other in the reduced visibility of the snowstorm.
The first man to reach the end of the spar stops in his tracks, gaping. The ship-grade airlock that capped the end of the spar is completely gone, along with several feet of the spar itself. What’s left behind is a collection of twisted girders- the broken skeletal infrastructure of the spar. The man stares into the emptiness beyond the end of the spar, trying to locate the missing portion of the spar.
He finds something else instead.
The Stallion’s main thrusters light off in the darkness as the ship swoops in towards the breach, the four massive rockets wreathing the ship in flames, like an infernal demon from the worst nightmares of a frontiersman. The sound of the snowstorm is nothing compared to the bone-rattling howl that the ship produces as it bears down upon the hapless men.
The three guards run in terror back down the length of the spar- for a moment it seems like the Stallion will churn through the spar until it catches up with the men and devours them whole, but the ship stops short. The Stallion perches on the ruins of the spar, engines in VTOL mode.
GUARD 1: Control, Control! Please respond! We’re under attack! We’re-
A bullet smashes through the back of his helmet and his body is thrown to the deck, broken and twisted. The other men dive for cover, yelling and firing their automatics indiscriminately at the terrible ship.
A black-armored sniper coolly chambers another round for his high-powered rifle and hunts for more exposed targets on the station’s exterior. Around the ship’s topside perimeter, several other men are busy doing the same thing.
INT- STALLION- BRIDGE
Nebula lets out a war whoop as she locks down the controls.
NEBULA: (into comm.) We’re on! Go! Go! Go!
INT- TS334/E- STARBOARD DOCKING SPAR
The Federal agents of the Assault Team are already rappelling down and into the spar from the Stallion’s forward vehicle bay, which hangs open like a gaping maw. They move rapidly down the spar and into the Terminal beyond, where they divide into fireteams of four men and charge into the base from several directions- some following the direct path that Phoenix took towards the security checkpoint, and some following Priscilla’s path into the maintenance corridor to secure the other docking spar and possibly open up a second route into the terraforming station. A single fireteam stays behind in the Terminal to safeguard their beachhead.
As the first squads secure the doors leading out of the Terminal, the red safety lights flicker and are replaced by the main power as it comes back online.
INT/EXT- TS334/E- MAINTENANCE CORRIDOR TOPSIDE AIRLOCK
Priscilla clings to the ladder inside the topside airlock in the maintenance corridor that runs between the terraforming station’s two docking arms. She is sheltering from the wind and the cold, but she has to keep the hatch partially open to stay in contact with Nebula and the Stallion. She looks down and sees the white lights, knowing it means that their window of opportunity has closed, and that the base defenders will now be able to organize and mount a counterattack. There is also a more serious threat.
Gritting her teeth against constant shivers, Priscilla makes a superhuman effort to haul herself back up through the airlock to transmit to the Stallion ‘in the clear’, which in this case means ‘without protection from the freezing cold, biting wind, and in plain view enemy and friend alike’.
PRISCILLA: (shouting) Neb! Power’s up! Nebula!
As she speaks, a nearby section of the station’s exterior folds open and one of the station’s automated missile defenses swings out, targeting the Stallion as it sits atop the starboard spar, not a hundred meters distant. A split-second later it fires, sending a spread of missiles screaming off the rack toward the defenseless ship.
Priscilla screams in impotent rage, but several points on the Stallion light up, shooting a cascade of glowing flares out and away from the ship in beautiful arcs. The missiles divert towards the flares, overshoot the ship, and explode somewhere in the snowstorm.
Before the automated launcher can retarget, one of the troopers on the top of the Stallion responds with a portable rocket launcher and the emplacement detonates. The explosion sends shrapnel in all directions and Priscilla is hurled back down the ladder to the floor of the corridor below.
She hits the ground, hard, and knows no more.
Monday, January 18, 2010 1:43 PM
Wednesday, January 20, 2010 8:07 AM
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