After the seven week gap, it’s quite nice to get back into the familiar routine of jump, with everyone continuing with their training most of the time.
All of the passengers are well-behaved, even Baronet Nigel who is not nearly as demanding and arrogant as most of the nobility that the party members have come across.
Ben Hammerstein is cordial, but a little quiet. He is happy to sit on his own, reading books but engaging in friendly conversation whenever spoken to. Jim Paton likes to drink and is good company. He’s been working with TAS for the last 20 years and has heard hundreds of spacer’s tales over this time which he is delighted to share with the party members and is as interested in hearing the tales of the party’s exploits as they are hearing his.
One would think that with all the gung-ho enthusiasm Jie has for practicing her laser carbine while in jump that she would have little time for anything else. The truth of the matter is that she is on a very ridged training schedule set down for her by her Glisten Guru, Slagg, that emphasizes periods of mind and body rest between sets of painfully intense gun ballet.
Later that ‘evening’, while most of the passengers were in their staterooms digesting dinner and the crew was idling around the holovid projector, Jie set up a work space with her back pack that was stuffed with bargain videos and 3 empty boxes. She was crunched for time as she went through the local StarMart that last day on Glisten and just dug handfuls of holovids out of the bins.
Now she sat and sorted them out into the boxes named Watchable, Crap and For Max.
Suddenly Jie stops moving while looking at one of the small Holo crystals. She actually stops moving for a long while. Then, before anyone can impede her, she leaps to the projector and takes out the video Max was watching.
“Err now! That was a tender moment that was jus’ ‘bout to ‘appen between that stocky Vargr pizza delivery man and that bored Hiver housewife. I’m keen wiv fast forwarding to the good parts, but ya don’t hast ta turn it off!”
“He-e-e-ere, He-e-e-e-re!” Chimes in Grim from the depths of the massage chair.
Jie, oblivious to the crews laments, slides in the new video and presses play…
A disclaimer appeares in the air before the crew that says:
This movie is based on the real events of Captain Shaunnessy’s life and actual footage has been used when able. A vast majority of this film had to be made using Computer Graphics Imaging due to the fact that a mysterious and powerful arm of the Imperial Scout Service deleted the parts it deemed “Not suitable for human viewing”. The Director and Special Effects credits go to Jaysya Sunstein who states that she was an integral part of the crew of the Princess during the making of this film.
More credits go to various popular actors from Glisten who portray key roles. Then, before anyone could close their open mouths, the movie begins…
Captain Shaunnessy Vs. the Lava Women
Opening Scene: The Manta ray-like star ship slices through black space like a wounded predator leaving pieces of debris as it runs from a distant, unseen hunter. As the camera gets closer, its dull grey wing is pocked with laser fire craters just now cooling in the frozen temperature of deep vacuum. Just then, a barrage of lasers shoot forth from the injured looking, dark space vessel. The footage you see is a well put together mix of computer generated graphics and of real footage as taken from an attack turret. The scene cuts to real time footage of a missile warhead camera as it impacts the red hot laser banks. The camera goes through the hull and the command deck of what is obviously a pirate ship comes to focus. The crew, savages in human form who are covered in tattoos and blood, scream commands and curses at each other as almost all light indicators on the bridge glow alert red. A klaxon blares and a small fire erupts on a console. Mass chaos ensues.
Lt.: “Captain M’tanga! You are not alarmed that with just a few well-placed laser bursts that A2 Far Trader nearly disemboweled our grand and deadly Black Panther?”
M’Tanga: ”Quiet Fool! I have only seen one man who had the ability to fly a Trader like that. Patch me to the video comm, I will see this mans’ face who defies my dark intentions!”
Lt: “As you say my lord. Communications on and frequency established. The dread Far Trader pilot appears!”
Close up on Captain M’tanga as the holovid light flickers palely on his scarred face.
Cut scene to the command deck of the Unguin’s Princess.
Will: “I see you remember me from our last entanglement, M’tanga. I am honored and yet a little sad. After I freed your hostages at the Nunnery Of Virgin Fashion Models then defeated you in single Star Sword combat I gave you mercy only if you would change your ways and be a force of good instead of a rat sucking pirate. I now see that I was wrong to let you live. A matter I will soon take care of. Arvor! Jie! Full Laser blast to the Panther’s port side…”
M’tanga: “Mr. Shaunnessy! Sir! Captain Will, please, we can’t take another hit! Your skill at flying that ship is far too great and your Imperial made weapons hammer us like meteors! Please, this must be a mistake! I have done nothing wrong!”
Will: “Nothing wrong? Tell me M’tanga, is that not the fabled Lava Bracer on your wrist? The same mysterious artifact just recently stole from the Glisten Institute in a bloody raid not two weeks ago?”
M’tanga: “What Bracer?”
Will: “The one you just put behind your back.”
M’tanga: “What? Oh see, nothing on this wrist.”
Will: “The other wrist M’Tanga.”
M’tanga: “Damn you your heightened powers of intellectual thought! I would have gotten away with this scheme had it not been for your interference. I see that your educated brain is one of your strongest weapons, but too late you will realize your mistake!”
Will: “Oh, and that is?”
M’tanga: “Your acceptance of this video comm!”
Cut scene to Grim, Chief Engineer Of the Princess. He howls from the counsel to the right of Will and points to a red dot on a screen with his furry clawed finger that is getting closer. In the language of his hairy and warlike species he yips and barks out worried expletives.
Will: “What’s that, boy? A stealth missile? Traped in our gravity well? All hands brace for…”
Cut scene to the outside of the Princess as a titanic explosion erupts on the starboard bow. The little pink and yellow star ship is rocked and then engulfed in a cloud of super-heated deadly radioactive gas.
Cut scene to the burning and short circuiting bridge of the Black Panther. M’Tanga spits at the still working Holovid showing nothing but static. A half-hearted cheer goes up from the surviving crew.
Lt: “My Lord…you kept him talking long enough for our Shadow Missile (a gift from the Zhodani Counsulate) to destroy him! Only the greatest pilot in the Universe could have dodged enough of that blast too survive. Shall we continue on our original path to the Forbidden Planet of Noctocol and use your ancient bracer to awaken the Lava Women?”
M’tanga: “Of course. Soon I will harness the untold and almost suicidal power of the Lava Women in my clenched fist. Just like this clenched fist that has the stolen artifact on it and is being clenched right in front of my face by me. MuHahahahaha.”
M’Tanga: “What?!?!? This can not be! That psionic Zhodani spy assured me of the Shadow Missiles lethality!! How…”
Cut scene to the now dispersing cloud of red destructiveness as a very beaten up Princess shoots out and streaks for the Black Panther. One side almost torn off and the other firing salvo after salvo of Beam Lasers and missiles. The shots find their mark as the Panther, now in full retreat mode, loses pieces of its hull to the void of space.
Will: “By keeping you talking, M’Tanga. Knowing that you are a typical pirate, during our conversation I quickly re-worked the force coil of the Jump accelerators and using my extensive knowledge of Planetology and the Maneuver drives I swung the ship to a safe angle to the explosion. Really, you should have known that no Zhodani weapon can hinder a graduate from the Glisten Institute of Planetological Studies and any Man of the Imperium is more than a match for scum like you. Also thanks for telling me your plan for the Bracer, the holovid was on all the time you were babbling.”
Will: “Now that you’ve shown me that mercy to you is futile, I will now commence a difficult strafing run that will render your ship useless and board able….”
Taeva: “My Captain!! We have an emergency! Jie was in the turret that got hit and now she’s…(Sob)…she’s dead!”
Will: “Bring her to me!”
The beautiful and soft hearted Taeva wipes tears from her eyes and with the help of the tan fur covered Grim haul Jie’s lifeless body to right beside the Captain.
Will: “I know that Grim! If I don’t make this strafing run for Arvor to blast the Panther we’re doomed, yet I am the only one qualified to revive Jie, that spunky little marine! Quick, get my med kit!”
Cut scene: The amazing Captain Will still keeps his hands on the controls and propels the damaged Princess closer to her mark. At the same time he kicks off his tan loafer and plaid sock then uses his un-natural dexterity and co-ordination to do C.P.R. on the fallen crew member with his now bare foot. As Arvor fires all remaining weapons at the target that begins to shudder from the inside as both Jump and Maneuver Drives fail it, Will maintains his flight plan and brings the ship to relative safety. Will’s bare foot slips inside Jie’s gaping chest wound hole and grabs a piece of jagged shrapnel out with his toes. Then he manually pumps her heart with his foot to start it beating again. Taeva leans in very close to his face and dabs away the beads of sweat off his manly brow, a look of longing in her deep green eyes. Jie moans out softly as life returns to her.
Jie: “What you got foot in my chest for??? Me big gun go BOOM-CRASH and I now with the foot in my chest. What the heeeey ?!?”
Will: “That’s right Grim! Everything’s going to be alright for now.”
FAST FORWARD bbbzzzzzzzpppt
Opening scene: Arvor stands facing the force field that holds the young and deadly would be hi-jacker in her holding cell. She lies languidly on the plush bed in the well-appointed stateroom as he passes a baggie of cheap tequila through the food door. As Eileen accepts the proffered drink, Arvor stands back to ridged attention, a left over habit of when he was a Commodore in the Imperial Navy.
Arvor: “It is only the kindness of our Captain Shaunnessy that is keeping you and your pirates alive. The majority of the crew wanted to see you vaporized along with that piece of crap ship of yours, but the Captain said that as long as you all played nice and didn’t try any tricks you will reach trial in fair health. So it’s your choice for now on. Relax and let us off load you to the nearest authority or let me finish putting holes in you with my gun.”
Will: “At ease sailor.”
Arvor: “Captain, I didn’t hear you or Jie come down the p-way.”
Will: “Arv, why don’t you take Jie to the engine room to help Grim out down there.”
Jie: “What the heeeey!?!?”
Arvor looks like he is about to protest then sees Will staring at Eileen as she stares intently back.
Arvor: “O.K. Jie let’s help out Monkey-Thumbs.”
Jie: “What the heeeey!?!?”
They leave. Will shuts down the force field and walks toward the captive, a sneer of disgust on his otherwise studiously handsome face. Will grabs Eileen by a lock of her black hair and pulls her up to where their faces are only inches away from each other. Their bodies pressing close, he does not see the jagged edged Mind Dagger that the would be ship-thief has in her hand behind her back.
Will: “Who the hell did I fall in love with?”
Eileen: “I am the illegitimate child of the infamous pirate Varen Sarhan, who ‘retired’ from the piracy business to take up his new career in organized crime on Singer. My mother was part of the small Forine System Defense Boat Service, but after it became known she had betrayed the Forine Supreme Leader, I was shipped off to Collace for my own protection, and raised in a foster home when I was only 4 years old. My mother was executed for treason. I got a decent education, and took to the stars aboard a free trader before I learned of my heritage, and sought out my real father. Varen pretty much passed over the piracy business to me when he became ‘respectable’. The Black Panther was one of three of my vessels. We’ve pulled this combined hijacking/piracy attempt at least half a dozen times over the past 18 months.”
Will: “I ain’t looking to write a book, babe”
Will sweeps Eileen up in his strong arms and kisses her passionately. The camera circles around the intertwined pair as she struggles to escape his grasp. Failing that she gets her dagger hand free then she raises it up to strike a fatal blow, but it never pierces through his tweed jacket. Instead she moans out a sound of rapturous passion and holds Will tightly in her arms as she succumbs to his manly wiles. The Mind Dagger falling soundlessly to the yellow and pink sheets of the tussled bed as she vigorously rubs her hands all over his brown corduroy pants. A ceiling speaker buzzes to life.
Grim (over the inter com) “Gwaaaar.”
Will: “Well, got to go!”
The Captain pushes Eileen off him and she falls onto the bed. Eileen quickly searches for the dagger, as Will heads out the door and re-activates the force field. Will holds up the dagger in his hand from the other side.
Will: “You don’t get the GLIPS Researcher of the Year Award for being stupid. I’ve contacted Roberta Fett, a bounty hunter and will be turning you over to her when we reach Noctocol. In the meantime I’m going to investigate a way to use my Life Sciences training to contact these…Lava Women your partner, M’Tanga spoke of.”
Eileen: “Will, I…”
Will: “I know, babe. You failed to take my ship, but you stole my heart just the same. Good Bye.”
Will walks in the darkened p-way towards the camera then leaves the scene. Around the far corner Taeva steps into view and leans on the bulk head. She bursts into silent tears as her legs give out and she crumples to the deck, unable to hide the powerful emotions that rock her very soul. She heard everything and now knows that her desires for the Captain are truly forbidden.
FAST FORWARD bbbzzzzzzzpppt
Opening Scene – Location: The fiery heart of Vengolsi, largest and most volatile volcano on the planet Noctocol. The newly awoke Queen of the Lava Women (Who looks stunningly like Amber D’Vihn the famous Glisten Holovid starlet.) floats slowly over to the beaten and prostrate Captain Shaunnessy who seems too weak to move. Jie, his none too bright but faithful side-kick holds him in a somewhat sitting position with one arm and her signature weapon ‘Black Betty’ is in the other, pointed right at the Queen’s non-existent heart.
Queen: “Did you think, mortal, to control me? Did you think to awaken the Jazidrie, what you call Lava Women and command us to your biding? Fool. We were here before your puny race was even amoebas and we will be here long after your bones are turned to dust. I must admit I feel a slight sense of thanks to you, mortal man. We would have waited in stasis for eons before awaking and fulfilling our destiny had you not solved the riddle of the lock. Now we can do as we must at a much accelerated rate.”
Will: “And…(gasp)… what would your destiny be, my Queen? (gasp)”
Queen: “To eat all the Suns in the universe of course.”
Jie: “What the heeeey?!?!”
Black Betty spouts laser fire all across the Queen’s torso. Jie’s face is lit in the back flare of her deadly weapon. To no avail. The Queen’s glamorous outer garments are shredded away revealing a shapely body in a skimpy brazier and panties, but the Queen herself is unaffected. If anything she is more empowered by the blast of photons. Jie stands bolt upright and turns to run out the only exit out of the chamber. Will raises a hand to stop what he knows is about to happen and mouths the word ‘No’ but to no action of his will stop the inevitable. The Lava Queen’s eyes sparkle as a red ray of death shoots forth from them and hammers Jie right in the back creating a huge hole through the ex-marine.
Jie: “Crappers! Me be shot again! What the heee…”
Queen: “You needn’t worry about your fate however, mortal man. I dreamed that I and my sisters would stream from this prison and quench the fires of all the suns alone, but you intrigue me. I can see you at my side as the Universe is put out. Two powerful beings of pure destructive energy intertwined to the dark end. That will be us! Together! Forever!”
As she says this, the Queen touches Will’s face with her fiery fingers and rather than burn his flesh, he is healed from all the damage the Guardian Killer Robots did to him. He is raised up as if in an anti-gravity sphere and brought within her flaming aura, unharmed. Will caresses the face of the star destroyer and her hands gently stroke his jacket’s elbow pads. The camera circles around to view her beautiful face as thousands of similar female figures begin to emerge from the primordial lava fields behind her.
Queen: “We have waited too long for this moment Will Shaunnessy of Glisten, and we are hungry.”
Will: “Than eat this!”
Waves of rippling mental energy spew out of Will’s cranium in a fountain of blue Computer Generated Graphics catching the Queen of the Lava Women completely off guard. She is knocked back by the sheer force of this scholar’s determination and daunting education. She grips the edges of the doorway to her old prison and holds fast. The thousands of Lava Women still inside begin to rush for the Queen and her hand hold of freedom. Will starts to falter as the blue mental energy blast fades slightly, unused to this much focused force. She grins and pulls herself forward against his onslaught.
Queen: “Not even you, the most powerful and well-mannered man in the galaxy could stop me! Now you will die at my hands after I make you bow to my glory and beauty…”
Taeva: “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, bitch. And so is this!”
Cut Scene: A beaten and bruised Taeva has stealthily moved into the chamber and stands astride Jie’s lifeless and smoldering husk. She then throws the Mind Dagger right at the Queen.
Cut scene: A very surprised looking Queen gets a dagger square in the eyeball and she crumples to the ground. Emboldened, Will re-doubles his psionic efforts and pushes the fast healing Queen back into the dimensional prison. The wailing from inside rises a crescendo
Cut scene: Arvor, now with most of his pseudo-skin tore off his robotic body, punches the left prison lock with his cybernetic hand just as Grim aims and shoots the right lock with his laser Cross-Bow. The dimensional gate that had entombed the Lava Women for millennia is once again in place.
Will collapses as Taeva runs to him.
Taeva: “Oh Will, My Captain Please don’t die! I have never loved anyone as much as I love you!! Live Damn you!! LIVE!!”
Close Up on Taevas’ soot and tear stained face as she looks just above the camera to what must be her God. The camera pans backwards as more of the battle-scarred background is revealed. She mouths a silent prayer as Arvor and Grim walk up beside her. Will coughs then gasps for air. He then, with the gentle and compassionate Taeva to help him, stands up and surveys the scene.
Arvor: “Captain, what was all that…psionic energy? Are you…”
Will: “Yes my cyborg friend, I am a Zhodani Noble. Or at least I was until my battle cruiser was shot down by an Imperial Scout Ship and I was taken aboard. There I found a new and better way of life. When I met the Emperor, he was impressed with my earnestness and grace. He offered to return me to my birth people, but as you can see, that was an offer I could refuse.”
Taeva: “Then you know what I’m thinking right now?”
Will looks at Taeva and grins.
Will: “All hands back to the ship, I have a mental image of the future and it involves someone tearing off my knit sweater vest!”
Will: “Oh yeah, Jie’s still dead. Someone get my medkit!!”
A profound stunned silence grips the crew as everyone looks to each other in surprise. Just Grim pipes up:
“I-i-i-‘m a-a Woo-o-o-k-i-e-e-e?”
“If I see that silly cow again I’ll punch her lights out,” seethes Taeva.
“Max is there any chance of easy money off this is we file a routine lawsuit?”
Max’s jaw has been hanging slack ever since the opening credits rolled. No one can ever remember him staying that quiet for such a long time before.
“What?” he snaps to attention.
“Naw girl,” he replies. “It’s grammatically incorrect to ever use the words ‘easy money’ and ‘lawsuit’ in the same sentence.”
“Just trying to work out the jurisdiction would cost us tens of thousands in legal fees. If it was all shot, edited, produced inside the Imperium, then we would have a chance. But since all the footage came from outside the Imperium, was edited on Forine, which has no trade or copyright agreements with the Imperium, and then released in the Imperium, it would keep a team of intergalactic copyright lawyers busy for the months – at our expense.”
He shrugs. “Ain’t nuffink we can do about it – it’s out there now and probably has been for several months. Information wants to be free.”