Here’s an opportunity for you to choose between two scene endings for the new military SciFi Space Battle- MILK RUN! You can indicate your choice via the comment section of this post.
Just to review, MILK RUN is a military SciFi novel about a young captain fresh out of space command school on his first mission as captain of the USS Princeton, an old destroyer class spacecraft. But what our hero thought would be an easy first mission turns out to be a test of his ability to lead a crew and ship much older than him against an enemy that is using his own fiancée to destroy him, his ship and his mission. Can our young captain complete his mission and save his fiancée too?
Below is my original version 1 of Scene 17, “Standoff” where (second in command) Commander John Emerson tries to relieve Captain Toby Louis of command in the middle of a space battle with the Telrachnid gunship. The commander believes Toby has place their ship, the USS Princeton, in mortal danger.
Click here to read the alternate version of this scene that goes in a different direction.
Scene 17 v1- “Standoff”
|Whatever is left of the artificial night in Toby’s cabin quickly dissolves away as the ship’s klaxon once again announces the reappearance of the Telrachnid gunship. The unwelcomed alert sends him scurrying down the long corridor accompanied by the rapid clanks from crew members’ magboots as they rush to their battle stations. |
The deep throated but somewhat muted alarm seems to grow louder inside Toby’s plexiglass orca suit helmet as he gets closer to the bridge. Then the blaring noise jumps several octaves higher upon entering the darkened red lit bridge filled with men and women huddled around holographic instruments and controls. The klaxon’s volume begins to hurt Toby’s ears as he orders it silenced.
“The Telrachnid gunship managed to d-jump less than 100 meters from the USS Princeton,” reports Chief Stockton.
“And its blast cannons are picking through the ship’s magneto armor plating,” adds Emerson.
“Can’t take much more before a hull breach,” says the surveillance officer.
“There’re too close for missiles so keep at them,” Toby tells the MRC officer.
The blue hail of sand particles accelerated to one third the speed of light from the Princeton’s Mass Rail Cannons pummels the gunship. Each grain of sand impacts against or pierces through the gunship with the force of almost two sticks of dynamite.
“That’s it! Pepper it like flies on shit!” Emerson says with glee.
“Contact that gunship,” orders Toby. Tell Smriti to cease fire or we’ll rip her hull in half.”
“Aye aye,” comes the expected response from the communications officer.
And just like that, the gunship stops its attack and backs away.
“Cease fire,” orders a surprised Toby!
“Captain, I recommend we destroy that ship now while we have a chance,” warns Commander Emerson as the angry blue sandstorm from Princeton’s MRC cannons continue to blast away.
“No, my order to board that ship stands, cease fire!”
But the commander’s voice bellows out, “No Captain, MRC, belay that order, continue firing, destroy that ship!”
All eyes turn to a lump throated Toby.
“Commander you are out of line, follow my orders, now!”
“Captain, I relieve you of command,” comes Emerson’s response that echoes off the walls of the bridge.
Then the video communications monitor flashes on to show Smriti’s squinting eyes. It seems like she is straining to see through the redden darkness of the bridge that feels to be closing in all around. “Toby, why are you still attacking me, I’ve stopped my attack.”
Troubled by this more important problem, Toby yells out, “Security, escort Emerson to his quarters, he is relieved of his duties.”
“No,” shoots back Emerson, “I relieve you! You have put this ship, crew and mission at risk.”
“MRC, cease fire,” Toby yells out as he trades glares with Emerson.
“Security get him out of here now,” Toby yells out again!
While everyone on the bridge freezes in place, the MRC cannons continue to blaze out, and the two young security officers regard each other as if asking the other what to do. The surveillance, communications, MRC and missile control officers look like they want to run and hide while Chief of the boat Engineer Stockton just stands there, with his mouth slightly open!
It seems everyone and time has frozen solid on this bridge. That is except for Emerson, yelling something like “you only care about a lost fiancée” and there’s Smriti in the viewer asking over and over “why are you still attacking?”
One more time, Toby yells out “MRC, cease fire!”
And once again Emerson countermands the order then adds, “Captain, you will leave this bridge, you no longer have a place here!”
Then Emerson moves between Toby and the viewing screen and points at Smriti’s image. “I will not let that bug infested woman destroy this ship or its cargo, do you hear me!”
Smriti’s eyes squint narrow as she yells out, “Toby, who is that man?”
Toby smirks at her response to Emerson’s crack. She still doesn’t take kindly to insults. That’s a sure sign she still has some control of her mind.
Then, suddenly the gunship opens fire again at a rate that seems to be twice that as before. That’s no surprise as the molten fiery red sand particles from the gunship pierce through the USS Princeton’s hull with a rancorous pelting sound that exceeds anything the ship’s klaxon can offer.
Nevertheless, the ship’s klaxon alarm sounds again accompanied by a deep automated voice that announces, “hull breach forward sections A and B, begin evacuation of forward sections A and B!”
Smriti’s voice cuts through the klaxon, “Toby, please stop your attack, I need to speak with you, tell you about the Telrachnids.”
“Silence that alarm,” yells Toby.
The klaxon stops.
Satisfied that at least the ship’s automated systems still follow his orders, Toby turns his attention to Chief Stockton. “Chief, you know the rules, you are third in command on this ship. Make a decision.”
Emerson points at Toby then yells out, “don’t get roped in by him! Did you ever wonder why he wants to re-infect this ship, it’s because he is one of them, compromised, drugged out by those fucking bugs.” The commander points to Smriti’s image, “look! He’s in cahoots with her. They are trying to destroy this ship.”
The bridge shutters under the intense fire from the gunship. Parts of the ceiling cave in and some of the holographic control panels spray up a shower of golden sparks and gray smoke.
“Chief, you better decide quickly, because that gunship is cutting us up to pieces,” Toby yells out.
It’s obvious quick command decisions do not wear well on Chief Stockton who looks like he’d rather deal with the ship’s misbehaving GravMag drive than face a mutiny.
Toby hisses silently to himself as he watches the chief. The man loves to hide behind those holographic screens. But he can’t hide from the peppering sound of molten sand now piercing through the ship.
“Second and third level decks now compromised and exposed to space. Deck isolation bulkheads closed and holding,” announces the ship’s deep voice.
“Chief, we don’t have time, make a decision!” warns Toby.
Stockton turns to face Toby and Emerson, “I’ll stop their attack, but first, you two must promise to work with each other.”
Toby looks at Emerson who looks back with a loony expression. “What?”
Then a large bang rumbles throughout the ship as some strange force shoves it to the port side. The noise seems to go on forever but suddenly fades away with a tinny echo.
Repositioning her body back in front of her screen, the surveillance officer, looking like she doesn’t know exactly who to address says, “er, sir, the bow has torn away, forward missile launchers 1 through 7 gone, forward bulkhead seals are holding.”
Smriti’s voice pleads, “Toby, what is happening there? Please stop your attack so I can convince the Telrachnids to stop their attack!”
“Chief, you can stop this. They are tearing us up!”
Then Emerson jumps Toby, “No, I won’t allow you to make us loose this war!”
As he tussles with Emerson, Toby can see from the corner of his eye, Stockton who simply turns to his console and fiddle with some buttons. Is Stockton compromised too?
For a long moment the momentum and grasp from Emerson’s bulk prevents escape. Then relief arrives, thanks to two security officers who peel Emerson off.
Oblivious, Stockton turns to the missile officer and barks out an order. “Missile officer, fire nukes from tubes 13 and 14 at the gunship.”
But the missile officer warns the chief, “we are too close, won’t the nuclear explosion destroy our ship too?”
“Don’t ask, just do!” the old man yells out.
The push of the two missiles fired from the midship section throws Toby off balance as he watches them strike their target. But only the primary detonations take place, not the secondary nuclear responses.
The powerful primary missile detonations knock out the gunship and it begins to list to one side, the one with a big gaping hole.
“There’s the doorway to the gunship you requested captain,” Stockton tells Toby.
“The fission triggers?” asks Toby.
“Disabled,” answers the chief who looks blankly towards Emerson then continues. “Security, bring Commander Emerson to his quarters, the captain owns this ship, such as it is.”
– Scene Ends –
Click here to read the alternate version of this scene that goes in a different direction.
OK, Let me know your thoughts. You can indicate your choice via the comment section of this post. Which one do you favor: the original version 1 or the threatening version 2? If you think the version 2 scene ending rewrite is better, then I will do the rest.
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