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INT. VULCAN – HIGH TEMPLE – YEAR 2069/JAN/MORNING
The enormous square of a room is lit with light sources that are not readily apparent or visible. The walls, ceiling, and floor are made of the material similar to white marble. The entire space is a cube, exact to an infinitesimal fraction of an inch. On the floor, spaced evenly and proportionally are squares of stone, made of the same material. There are hundreds of them, serving as benches for the numerous meditating Vulcans sitting on them, all focused inwards on their minds. There is a strict order to things and each portion of the room is a reflection of another, except the middle. Even the sitting arrangement is not haphazard, with new arrivals picking a seat that does not disrupt the order of things. In respecting others, they respect themselves and reinforce the way.
In the center of the room sits a square like any other. Where it differs is the color – it is green, the same as Vulcan blood. Water pours unseen from tiny opening on top of it and flows over the top, dropping down the sides to disappear into the floor. Muted as it, it is still the loudest sound by far in the cavernous space.
Around the altar, if you can call it that, stands a group of ROBED VULCANS. The ROBED VULCANS appear content to remain in that position and do not show any interest in a figure that approaches them.
She is tall and lithe, a fine representation of her race. If judged a human, she would appear to be in her 30s but the eyes betray a soul double or triple that amount of years. She approaches the ROBED VULCANS and falls still.
Long silence descends, finally broken by one of the ROBED VULCANS.
Admiral Pathel, highest of Travoth, you honor us with your presence.
Pathel, bowing her head, showing a hint of respect in her emotionless voice
Perfection in all things, elevated elders.
VULCAN HIGH PRIEST
Formalities over, Pathel patiently awaits her instructions.
You are hereby assigned to the first long range, warp capable vessel produced by the human race; it is currently under construction in orbit. You will travel to Earth, their homeworld, and ensure that this venture meets in failure. You are authorized to use whatever means you deem necessary to accomplish your task unless you are ordered otherwise. You will not take command of UNS Enterprise under any circumstance; you will always be second in the chain of command. It is vital this is seen as a human mission to the stars and the catastrophic end of it must fall on them. You were chosen for your discretion as well as your considerable off-world operational experience – it need not be said that the deed will not be traced to us.
In service we find our purpose.
END OF TEASER
INT. SALISBURY/UK – NIGHT CLUB – YEAR 2038/LATE EVENING
Generic disco music vibrates the air, the building, and the bodies filling the small space tightly. The press of flesh lessens near the bar and there are even some empty stools. In marked contrast, the tables and dance floor are packed. Second Lieutenant Jenson is enjoying a drink in solitude when a YOUNG WOMAN drops into the seat next to him.
YOUNG WOMAN, brightly
Hey sailor, buy me a drink?
JENSON, appraising her quickly with a glance and finding much to like
Career infantry and that’s my line.
YOUNG WOMAN, teasing
You going to argue with a pretty girl or court her?
Um … ahm … what?
YOUNG WOMAN, laughing
Come on soldier, brave and daring now. For Queen and country, make them proud.
Jenson, shaking his head, thrown completely off his game
I’m sorry; you are not like the other women I know. I’m Jenson.
Evie, secretly pleased at the effect she is having but not showing it
Evie and I hope not. Consider this a promotion.
Her hand comes forward and she looks at him expectantly so he shakes it. It earns him a smile in return and he is quick to reciprocate with one of his own.
Jenson, recovering nicely
You always this forward?
When I see something I want.
Jenson, hoping inside but holding his cards to his rapidly beating chest, feigning nonchalance
Anything catch your eye?
He takes a gulp of his drink, busy doing anything except looking at her in this moment, once the words leave his mouth and his brain catches on.
Evie, surprising him again, simply and honestly
He chokes on his drink at her boldness and she laughs again. He grins sheepishly and joins her in amusement at his expense.
INT. RESIDENTIAL BLOCK/BEIJING – APARTMENT – YEAR 2050/AFTERNOON
Nineteen year old Na goes to answer the door bell. Greeting her is the sight of two winded and sweaty looking DELIVERY MEN. They are wearing company uniforms with Wong Express logo and a picture of a flying van.
DELIVERY MAN, breathing heavily, wheezing
Elevator is out.
You carried the crate forty one flights of stairs? For me?
The DELIVERY MAN has murder in his eyes but he grimly plasters a smile and delivers the company line.
Delivery on time, every time. You can’t go Wong when it is Wong Express.
The fake smile on his face actually looks painful.
Once she has done so, he practically rips the tablet out of Na’s hands and turns to leave.
Can you carry it inside the apartment? Please?
Without a word, the DELIVERY MEN pick up the wooden box and take it inside the apartment. They set it down hard enough to qualify as a legitimate attempt at breaking the floor. Na smiles innocently and the DELIVERY MEN leave, muttering under their breath.
They walk out without breaking a step and slam the entry door behind them shut.
Sounds of Chinese soap opera drift from the living room into the hallway, followed by an elderly female’s voice.
NA’S MOTHER, inquisitively
What’s in the package, honey?
Na, inspecting the crate for damage, offhand
That’s nice. Make sure he loves his mother in law
And listens to her.
NA’S MOTHER, pleased
You are a good daughter.
Pause. NA’S MOTHER, yelling loudly
Na’s father answers from the kitchen on the other side of the hallway.
NA’S MOTHER, excitedly and proudly
Our Na got a mail order groom!
I heard. Kids these days …
EXT. OSHIWARA/MUMBAI/INDIA – ESTATE/GARDENS – YEAR 2060/NOON
Satuk is eating lunch outside, at an outdoor area set aside for privacy. The man-made retreat is surrounded by tall hedges and there are flowers everywhere. Nearby, SERVING STAFF stand reserved and respectful. Fifteen year old Satuk is not interested in nature; her mind is on numerous tablets scattered on the table in haphazard fashion. Diagrams and calculations fill the screens, predominantly quantum physics and higher math.
Satuk picks one up and studies it intently, picking absently at the myriad combinations of food set out buffet style. The cooks long ago learned that providing few options leads to tantrums and physical abuse and now prepare many dishes in each meal; she can pick and choose from them to her heart’s content. It keeps the spoiled princess from taking their head off.
After a time, a slight, middle aged man approaches hesitantly and you can see the SERVING STAFF involuntarily take a step back.
SATUK’S FATHER, apprehensively
Satuk, rudely dismissive
Busy, get lost.
Honey, I want to talk about your future.
Satuk angrily tosses the tablet and several SERVING STAFF dive for it, one coming up with the prize before it impacts the ground. The piece of equipment is returned to the table and unobtrusively placed there. As this drama plays out, Satuk’s father takes it as a good sign and moves over to one of the empty chairs. He takes a seat.
Satuk, focusing her attention on him, sternly
SATUK’S FATHER, making a pitch, nervously
ISRO is no longer satisfied with Solar system exploration and they are thinking big. Your “space-time bubble” paper has received worldwide attention and …
I said it before: I don’t work for anyone.
SATUK’S FATHER, soothingly
Princess, that is the best part – you are in charge. Funds, personnel, and the credit are all yours. I have connections in the Central Government and business contracts with ISRO. You are the head of the project and answer to no one. This is India’s Manhattan Project – it will be the defining moment for our nation and you, my daughter, will be behind it. Our family name will be spoken for generations to come.
Why so eager?
Money means nothing without legacy. I understand that genius comes at a price and I love you. One day people will speak your name in the same breath as Archimedes, Copernicus, Galileo, Da Vinci, Newton, Darwin, and Einstein. I believe that and it makes everything worth it. Please, Princess precious?
INT. ROYAL MARSDEN CANCER CENTRE/LONDON/UK – HOSPITAL ROOM – YEAR 2069/JAN/MORNING
The curtains are closed. On the bed, surrounded by machinery, lies a gaunt and bald Evie. The years were kind to her, the cancer is not. This is a shell of a woman, steps away from the other side. Yet still she hangs on; once a fighter, always a fighter.
The room is silent except for the whirs and beeps of the instruments, keeping Evie company. They are the silent witnesses to the progression of the disease, comforting in their constancy, depressing in their continuity to serve. Each day they spend with her, going back months, is a day they steal a bit of hope from her. These days, Evie has none and they just wait till they are finally disconnected from her.
The door opens and Jenson walks in, still in his army uniform. The insignia mark him as Brigadier. Even with creeping defeat of his hairline, his silver tinged hair is more plentiful than that of his wife of nearly three decades.
He approaches the bed and smiling, he tenderly kisses his wife. In his eyes she is the same as the day they met. Evie follows him with her eyes as he straightens up. Jenson takes her hand with his, kisses the emancipated flesh lovingly and then places his other over it.
I accepted the offer, like you wanted.
Evie, smiling weakly, wearily
I will go with you.
We will go together.
Evie, ever the joker in this relationship, lightly
About time you gave me the stars you promised.
Jenson, voice breaking up, emotionally
My love, we will dance among them.
She does not answer in words but in tears. Jenson leans in and kisses her and then rests his head against hers, silently reassuring and maintaining the connection. They both know her time is running out.
END OF ACT ONE
INT. UN HQ/MANHATTAN/NY/US - UN SECRETARY-GENERAL OFFICE – YEAR 2069/FEB/MORNING
Captain Jenson and Chief Engineer Na are seated opposite the SECRETARY-GENERAL.
SECRETARY-GENERAL, all business, with no nonsense tone of voice
Let’s cut through the BS. UNS Enterprise will leave the orbit on July 20th under impulse engines and with the entire world watching, go to warp. I know about the problems, that’s why you are here. What will it take to make it happen? And where is Science Officer Satuk?
Trust me sir, you can’t handle that disaster of a human being and we need her working, not in jail.
Pause. Jenson, measuring his words carefully
We will do what you ask but there will be consequences. Chief?
The ship is unfinished and will remain so. We knew this was coming and prepared accordingly. Essential systems are calibrated, tuned, tested, and online. The rest is a <BLEEP> mess.
Pause. Na, straightforwardly
Here is the deal, sir. The crew will finish construction in space, during the voyage. Tough but doable; my department can handle it, except for the two big ones. I can fake impulse engine operation; I can’t stage warp jump. You get one or the other in the time we have left before deadline.
Fine, what do you propose?
We tow the UNS Enterprise out, pray the engines don’t explode when we cycle them in maintenance mode and hit the big red button that says warp.
There is such a thing?
No, I was joking.
Jenson, giving Na a reproachful look, apologetically to SECRETARY-GENERAL
SECRETARY-GENERAL, chuckling, thou more at their interaction
Pause. SECRETARY-GENERAL, amiably
I am satisfied that you will hold your end of the bargain. There will be a formal party with world leaders the night before departure; that is the only imposition I have on your time between now and then. Remember, the entire world will be watching.
INT. UNS ENTERPRISE – CAPTAIN’S QUARTERS – YEAR 2069/MARCH/MORNING
Captain Jenson enters his cabin for the first time. In his hands he is carrying an urn with ashes. The room is small, nothing more than a sleeping area with bunk, office area with a desk, and a living area with a tiny couch that barely sits two facing the outside past the small coffee table. The twin large windows are false; the images are projected from outside creating an illusion of the real thing. The crew quarters are deep inside the bowels of the ship to increase the survival rate and offer maximum protection.
Jenson walks to the window, dodging his packed belongings, and raising the urn, kisses it. He sets it down carefully on the coffee table and takes a seat on the couch. He reaches out and places a hand on it. They sit there quietly, sharing the moment together, watching the Earth below and the stars ahead. No words are necessary when you know each other that well.
INT. UNS ENTERPRISE – HALLWAY – YEAR 2069/MAY/EVENING
Captain Jenson comes down the corridor, with panels missing, exposed wiring and conduits everywhere. He comes upon Pathel and Satuk, and gives them a nod before moving on. Then he stops. They are standing too close and Satuk has a cut lip that is bleeding plus both are somewhat disheveled.
Do I want to know?
It is being handled, captain.
Jenson observes both, seeing anger in Satuk’s eyes and posture and nothing from Pathel. Typical, he thinks.
He walks away, leaving the two to continue their “discussion”.
INT. UNS ENTERPRISE – BRIDGE – JULY 20, 2069/NOON
The bridge, as with all vital areas, is buried inside the ship. It actually appears finished, with none of the guts spilling out of the walls and stations set up around the room, so prevalent in the rest of the ship.
In the background, Jenson, Pathel, and Na are gathered around the interactive holographic operations display that feeds the status of major systems and allows the control of the vessel down to the smallest system. This is the heart of the UNS Enterprise.
In the foreground, Estela stands in front of the enormous display showing the view outside. It is 180 degrees, sort of like IMAX, and shows the entire space in front and to the sides of the vessel.
Camera crew takes a sweeping view of the bridge and focuses on the host. Estela smiles and begins her spiel to the billions watching below.
INT. UNS ENTERPRISE – BRIDGE – AFTERNOON
Jenson steps away from the officers working their parts of the holograph and faces the large screen. His eyes sweep over the other stations facing the screen as well, manned by other officers and crew. Looks good enough for TV, he thinks.
All green. Impulse engines online; ready on your mark, captain.
Jenson, to Chepi
Chepi, slow impulse, take us out.
Aye captain. Slow impulse ahead.
With everyone’s attention focused ahead, only the people behind him notice the holograph lit up with red lights like an angry Christmas tree.
Na, to Jenson, whispering behind his back
Don’t turn around, don’t react. Be grateful I disabled the warning sounds.
Jenson, under his breath
Get to the point.
The engine room is on fire.
Jenson, swearing, the exclamation earning him a few backwards gazes
Shut down the engines.
Can’t, we are on live TV.
Sorry captain, not an option. Smile and look pretty for the cameras and hope we are still alive in few minutes.
Chepi, full impulse!
Aye captain, full impulse.
Estela approaches, looking nervously at the alarming display behind the captain. Having been thoroughly briefed, the camera crew is careful to keep the blinking calamity out of view as they follow her.
We in a hurry, captain?
Giving the viewers what they paid for.
I say. Pace yourself; at this rate there will be nothing left.
Jenson, catching the double meaning, bluffing
We have a mission to accomplish. That does not mean we can’t make things exciting once in a while. Spice things up a bit, shake it up, surprise the audience.
Estela gives a hand signal and the camera crew focuses on the front of the bridge.
Okay, captain steadfast, you are babbling. What will the network see when they review the footage?
Hopefully no one on fire and screaming, running around the burning engine room.
That good, huh?
Na, supplying helpfully from behind them
Relax; it’s just millions in electronics and machinery going up in smoke. Humans are untoasted, so far.
Isn’t this ship your baby?
Nope, this is a spawn of Satan trying to take us down with it. No problem, I have it under control.
Chief, mind on the work, mouth closed.
Na, talking to herself as she manipulates the hologram
Making the bad lights go away; bringing the shiny, happy green lights back.
Has anyone ever stopped her talking?
Her husband and only for a minute.
Hey, I resent that!
Me and you both.
INT. UNS ENTERPRISE – BRIDGE – AFTERNOON
The situation is apparently under control or at least covered up well, judging by Na’s furious work at the projected controls. Jenson and Estela stand in the same place as before, the vessel now moving away from Earth at a good clip.
Warp engine powered up.
Coordinates set, captain.
Estela, adding color commentary, grandly
Space: the final frontier. This is the voyage of UNS Enterprise, to boldly go where no man has gone before.
EXT. UNS ENTERPRISE – SOLAR SYSTEM – AFTERNOON
Secretly, the tow cables are released and the black ships move out of the way. Planet Earth is in the background and shrinking rapidly. Proceeding on inertia, the UNS Enterprise goes to warp and disappears from view. The “great leap for mankind” is taken 100 years to the date of the “one small step for a man”.
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