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               DEUS X

		"Mysterious Ways" (Pilot)


Rus McLaughlin

		Twitter: rusmclaughlin

		Copyright (c) 2011. This screenplay may not be used or reproduced 
		without the express written permission of the author.



               FADE IN:

               INT. SHIP'S MEDICAL BAY

               An unconscious man - DOUG STRAW, 30's - lies on a metallic
               medical bed, stripped down to his Army Green boxers.

               His eyes SHOCK OPEN, he lurches off the bed as if hit by a
               cattle prod, sitting bolt upright. A MALE NURSE in scrubs is
               right there, easing him down.

                                   MALE NURSE
                         Whoa-whoa-whoa... easy soldier,
                         easy. The ride's just starting.

                         I'm fine. I'm fine. Sorry. I always
                         do that, coming out of suspension.

                                   MALE NURSE
                         Yeah, okay. Slow, steady breathing.
                         Make sure you hydrate yourself.

               He hands Straw a bottled water, and goes back to work. 

               Straw's calm, centered, sweating like he's woken up from a
               nightmare, and he's already over it. He slips off the bed,
               moving around the clean, clinical Medical Bay. He wanders
               over to a window in the bulkhead; it's SHUTTERED.

                         I guess I'm here.

                                   MALE NURSE
                         Safe and sound.

                         Where's here?

                                   MALE NURSE
                         Your gear's under the bed. Your
                         escort's outside. Captain Wagner
                         wants you front and center in forty
                         mins, so I guess you're already
                         late. It'll take you thirty just to
                         get there.

                         So I'm on an Orson-class ship.
                             (no response)
                         These shudders don't open?

                                   MALE NURSE
                         Not today.

               Straw considers that, then beelines for the bed and pulls out
               a set of pressed green military fatigues.

               INT. CAPTAIN'S OFFICE

               Straw stands in the doorway of an impeccably tidy office.
               Large window set into the bulkhead, ALSO SHUDDERED. A long
               pivoted workstation/desk at one end. Behind it: CAPTAIN ILSA
               WAGNER, a brisk, blonde, 50ish German. She's got a pair of
               glasses perched on her nose.

                         Chief Warrant Officer Douglas
                         Straw, reporting as ordered, sir.

                         You're early. Take a chair.

               Straw sits. She studies him for a moment.

                         So. You're the guy.


                         I spent a whole hour on Fort Meyers
                         once. Running security there for
                         two years had to be batshit insane.

                         It was challenging, sir.

                         Major Chen told me once you were
                         "ingested." His words.

                         More challenging some days than

                         It takes a lot to shake you,
                         doesn't it?

               Straw doesn't let on, but his attention is on A REFLECTION in
               Wagner's glasses: it's her computer screen, displaying
               STRAW'S PERSONAL FILE.

                         I never found the situation that
                         was improved by panicking, sir.  

                         Oh, that's good, Chief. That's a
                         good one. I'm almost sorry to poach
                         you away from Chen, he's got a high
                         enough turnover as-is. Just can't
                         take all the snakeheads, I guess.

                         Xenos, yessir. Some of them can be
                         pretty intimidating.

                         You a religious man?

                         My service file codes me agnostic,
                         but you know that. Upper right,
                         tenth line down.

               Wagner's eyes shift, figuring it out instantly. She takes her
               glasses off, tosses them on her desk with a clatter.

                         Clever little prick.

                         Yessir. I assume that's why you
                         requisitioned me.

                         Kid, I've got thirty-five security
                         chiefs and a military governor on
                         my boat. Why the hell would I need

                         Beg pardon, sir. This feels like a
                         job interview.

                             (working console)
                         Not anymore. I'm hereby raising
                         your security clearance to S-3.


                         Now you're official. See?

               She perches her glasses back on her nose, mockingly "showing"
               him the screen's reflection again. She tosses the glasses
               aside, settles back in her chair, takes a breath.

                         Seven years ago, we found an
                         artifact in deep space. Codename
                         Alpha. We've studied it for years,
                         and far as I can tell, we still
                         haven't figured out dick.

                         How do we know it's important?

               Wagner snorts. She's got a big secret.

                         You'll run security on our research
                         posts. The science lead is Nathan
                         DeStefano. Heard of him?


                         Probably better that way. Crew's
                         nearly all brain-types, eggheads.
                         We've learned it's best to keep a
                         minimal armed presence there.

                         Then what's the problem? Espionage?

                         If only. The environment around
                         Alpha is...unstable. The strangest
                         shit you ever saw on Fort Meyers
                         will not compare. All personnel
                         undergo mandatory psychographics
                         every two weeks, and we still don't
                         catch everyone before they pop. On
                         top of that, there is absolutely no
                         way to anticipate what Alpha itself
                         might throw at you at any given
                         second. I am not exaggerating when
                         I say every moment on, in, or near
                         that thing is dangerous.

                         You make it sound like it's alive.

                         You like a challenge, right?

                         Respectfully sir, what kind of
                         artifact needs a warship the size
                         of Manhattan to guard it?

               Wagner raps a pad on her desk; the shudder on the bulkhead
               window OPENS. Something HUGE and pale fills the view. She
               nods at it. 

               Straw moves to the window, pressing against it to see more.

                         What is that?

                         That's God.

               Straw glances back at her, then turns back to the window.


               Straw is looking out the window, simply in awe.

               PULL BACK

               Until the window is a pinprick in the side of an impossibly
               huge warship - THE SWORD OF DAMOCLES. 

               PAN AROUND

               To see what Straw sees: A COLOSSAL MAN floating through space
               and huge beyond imagining. This is ALPHA: naked (no genitalia
               visible), pale gray/white skin, flowing shoulder-length hair.
               The Sword of Damocles is the length of His fingernail. 

               His right hand continually balls into a fist, then relaxes.

               Three hundred smaller ships - the 9TH FLEET - fly escort
               around Him, surrounding Him like gnats. Alpha ignores them as
               He calmly cruises through space.

                                                              FADE OUT:

                                      END OF TEASER

                                         ACT ONE

               FADE IN:

               EXT. SPACE

               Alpha flies through space, surrounded by the 9th Fleet.

               Closer: a two-man FOLKER areospace fighter zips through the
               fleet, on course for Alpha's head.


               A Chinese pilot, EDDIE HA, is cocooned in the front seat,
               Straw in the rear. Both wear environment suits.

               Straw watches Alpha's flexing hand.

                                   STRAW (FILTER)
                         He always do that with his hand?

                                   EDDIE (FILTER)
                         Started about two weeks ago. Funny
                         that you figured Alpha for a guy.

                                   STRAW (FILTER)
                         He looks like a guy.

                                   EDDIE (FILTER)
                         Check the crotch. He's missin' his
                         three-piece set.

                                   STRAW (FILTER)
                         God's androgenous.  

                                   EDDIE (FILTER)
                         Don'tcha just wish you could tell
                         the Pope?

               Eddie banks left, on course for Alpha's slightly open mouth.

                                   STRAW (FILTER)
                         We're going in through the mouth?

                                   EDDIE (FILTER)
                         Like DeStefano says, it's that or
                         up the ass. I don't care if half
                         the Joint Chiefs swing both ways,
                         we're still the fuckin' Marines.

               Straw studies Alpha's immense, benign face getting closer.
               The eyes are solid white, no irises or pupils. Wavy hair
               flows; a strand occasionally drags in front of His face.

               A QUICK FLASH of light to starboard.

                                   EDDIE (FILTER)
                         ...the Hell?

               Straw glances at his instruments, then claws the sky with his
               eyes, locking onto something.


               EXT. SPACE - CONTINUOUS

               A FAST-MOVING SHIP, barely a blip at this distance, zips
               across the starfield, a quick flyby down Alpha's left side. 

                                   STRAW (FILTER)
                         Sword of Damocles, Folker-119,
                         brake: I have visual on a fold-in,
                         mid-class xeno victor, ten klicks
                         off Alpha's port-side. I can't get
                         a sensor lock.

                                   RADIO VOICE
                         Copy Folker-119. Victor is stealth
                         active. Maintain visual, alert wing
                         Kilo on intercept.

               Another FLASH: the intruder's GONE.

                                   STRAW (FILTER)
                         Damocles, Folker-119. Xeno victor
                         just folded out. He's gone.

                                   RADIO VOICE
                         Copy, Folker-119. Return to course.
                         Kilo will sweep. Damocles out.

                                   STRAW (FILTER)
                         Get a lot of visitors out this way?

                                   EDDIE (FILTER)
                         Welcome to the funhouse.

               Eddie pilots the Folker straight at Alpha's open mouth, and
               at the quarter-mile gap between His upper and lower teeth;
               they're like granite mountains. 

               Shadows fall on Straw as he's literally swallowed whole.


               The Folker's spotlights snap on, climbing to an AIRLOCK built
               into the upper pallet at the back of the mouth, lit up.  The
               Folker flies straight in. The doors close behind it.

               INT. ALPHA - THE STEM

               A vast, dimly lit cave, mountain ranges of muscle and spinal
               column. Way down, man-made structures are built into the
               bone, lit up like Christmas trees.

               The Folker falls at them, a controlled flat-spin.

               Straw gets a look over the side: coming up fast is MAIN
               MISSION, a huge, three-story ellipse sticking half-out of the
               vertebrae wall. Floor-to-ceiling windows curve up its roof,
               lots of movement inside. There's a railed wraparound deck
               around its middle.

               They fall past it. Straw looks up at its smooth underside as
               it drops away. 

                                   EDDIE (FILTER)
                         That's Main Mission, we're heading
                         up there later. Ready for your

               The outpost is stretched out across a few vertebrae, built
               right into the bone. Lights dot the structure. A BOOM CAR
               high-speed elevator zooms up-Stem on its rail.

               Eddie vectors the fighter towards a landing pad.


               Straw sets his environment suit aside; he and Eddie are down
               to their green boxers, in a small, white clean room.

                         Got any nanotech in your skin?

                         No more than anybody else.

               A FEMALE VOICE comes over the intercom.

                                   MAGS - 21 YEARS OLD (COMM. VOICE)
                         Stop smirking, Eddie. Chief Straw,
                         you'd better brace yourself.

               The room is bathed in BLUE LIGHT. Straw grimaces as SPARKS
               fly off his forearm, his chest, arms, and thighs, POP POP
               POP! The blue light FADES. Straw dusts ash off himself.

               A door OPENS: a beautiful Jewish woman (21) in a blue
               jumpsuit is smiling at the beefcake. MARGARET "MAGS" SHULMAN
               looks way too young to be a doctor.

                                   MAGS - 21 YEARS OLD
                         Doctor Shulman, chief medical. Come
                         on in, let's get you set up. 

               Mags leads them into a high-tech Medical Bay, all gleaming
               metal and white plastic. She's enjoying herself.

                         You just destroyed two paychecks'
                         worth of gear.

                                   MAGS - 21 YEARS OLD
                         Trust me, you really don't want to
                         be wearing any embedded nanotech
                         here. Deep breath.

               She swabs his chest and INJECTS HIM with a shiny metal gun.

               Workmanlike, Mags reaches for the bright green bracelet on
               her wrist - a FLEXI - "unlocking" it with a touch. It
               flattens out, candybar style, and she opens it like a book;
               the Flexi is now a notepad-sized translucent sheet.

               Graphics and controls glide onto its surface. Mags touches
               one, holds it up to Straw's chest; the Flexi shows her an X
               Ray view of his chest.

                                   MAGS - 21 YEARS OLD 
                         Okay, your codelock and BIOS
                         monitor are in...

               She steps over to a workstation and calls up a holographic
               screen: it displays a male silhouette and live vital signs.

               Mags steps back. SHE'S NOW 55 YEARS OLD.

                                   MAGS - 55 YEARS OLD 
                         And you're all synched up - what? 

                         You're older.

               Mags touches her face, sees her obviously older hands. She
               touches her Flexi; it becomes a mirror. Mags sighs at her
               reflection, very frustrated. Very tired.

                                   MAGS - 55 YEARS OLD
                         Journal On. I'm back to what looks
                         like my base age. Note time and
                         report...Christ, anything.

                                   COMPUTER VOICE
                         Time from last age shift, 83 hours
                         exactly. No patterns have emerged.

                                   MAGS - 55 YEARS OLD 
                         Thank you.

                         Are you okay?

                                   MAGS - 55 YEARS OLD
                         Nathan's in Main Mission, that's
                         one vertebrae up. He's your boss
                         now, maybe you should go meet him.

               Mags turns away, heading back to her work station.

                         She's fine. I'll take you up. Leave
                         your suit, Alpha's got gravity and
                         atmosphere, inside and out.

                         That's not possible.

                         Yeah, and the rest of this shit is.

               Straw glances back to Mags. Her back's to him, slumped.


               Straw leans over the railing to look down the Stem. A slight
               breeze meets him. The drop seems to go forever.

               He's on a wide landing pad adjacent to Main Mission, in
               uniform; chrome SMARTGUN on his hip, smaller and boxy STUNNER
               on the other side. Blue Flexi on his wrist. Two Folkers are
               parked here. Eddie's poking around his. 

                         I gotta do post-flight. You good?

                         Don't think I'll get lost.

               Straw heads across a ramp connecting the pad to Main Mission. 

                                   COMPUTER VOICE
                         Codelock recognized: Straw, Douglas
                         A. Full access.

               A red door-light turns green; it OPENS. Straw goes through.

               INT. MAIN MISSION

               Double doors slide OPEN. Straw ENTERS, taking stock.

               It's the iPod of nerve center design: three interconnected
               tiers of whites, light grays, and cherrywood. N.D. ENGINEERS
               in jumpsuits and Flexis occupy workstations. A BIG holograph
               of Alpha is central, showing Him inside and out, with some
               sections flashing red, green, or blue. Voices BUZZ. The
               forward bulkhead is one big 150-foot holographic MAIN SCREEN.

               Three people in special uniforms - MONITORS - are in a bank
               set into the floor, chattering rapidly, fingers flying over
               keyboards. Silver domes cover their faces - RAPIDLY FLASHING
               LIGHTS are visible underneath.

                                   MONITOR #1 (P.A.)
                         All points, be advised: gravity in
                         Cage-16 has increased to two-point
                         five Earth standard.

               Straw angles to a station above theirs, manned by an African
               with an English accent giving orders: FRANK AIMES(48). The
               activity's more frantic here.

                         Excuse me, are you the Duty Ops?
                         I'm looking for Dr. DeStefano.

                         If he was here, you'd hardly miss
                         him...sorry, yes, Frank Aimes,
                         pleased to meet you. We're having
                         more of a day than usual.

                         Doug Straw. Anything I can do? 

                         Not sure. Some sort of writing
                         appeared on a wall near one of our
                         dig sites, and everyone who's seen
                         it's gone violently insane.

                         You cordoned it off?

                         It's moving. And we can't risk the
                         Monitors getting a good look, so
                         tracking the damn thing's tricky.

               Straw studies the Monitors.

                                   DESTEFANO (O.S.)
                         Amazing, isn't it? They're hit with
                         ten terabytes of data every second
                         and they just suck it up. It's like
                         we weaponized ADHD.

               They turn: A DWARF in a sports jersey and sneakers is there,
               sweating, checking his own pulse. No Flexi. NATHAN DESTEFANO
               (40) moves with total certainty of purpose, intense eyes,
               robust voice, always the center of attention.

                         What happened to you?

                         Went for a jog. Clear all J-probes
                         out of the port-side scapulae and
                         task a drone. Get Bill to project
                         the insanity graffiti's path, then
                         laser out the whole section of wall
                         as it passes through, clamp on and
                         just pull it right out. Let's see
                         if that doesn't isolate the thing.

                         Since when do you jog?

                         You should come with, get the blood
                         pumping. I don't suppose Grayson
                         described the writing before he
                         wigged out?

                         He said it was like Sanskrit.

                             (to Straw)
                         Y'know, there's no word in Sanskrit
                         for "miracle." Or for "irony." Man,
                         those people must've been dull.

                         Dr. DeStefano, I'm Doug Straw, your
                         new security chief. 

                         Hello. Do you jog?

                         Every day.

                         Invigorating, isn't it?

                         That's my experience.

                         You're gonna like it here.

               DeStefano grins at him. Straw just stares back.

               An ALARM SOUNDS.

                                   MONITOR #1 (P.A.)
                         New contact: Class-4 manifest off
                         the upper atlas, inbound!

                         Track it! Frank?

                         It's big and it pings biologic!

                         Yeah, look up, Frank.

               Looking up through the transparent dome; the silhouette of a
               HUGE GREAT WHITE SHARK circles overhead, descending rapidly.

                         Holy shit. 

                         You get this often?

                         Spontaneous generation? Every day.
                         Four-ton flying sharks? Nope, first

               Everyone in Main Mission watches the 40-foot monster glide
               past the forward window, moving exactly as if it was swimming
               through water, on course for the Landing Pad.  

               Straw MOVES, DeStefano close behind.


               The shark's swimming right at Eddie. He's unarmed, sees it
               coming and drops, rolling under the nearest Folker. The shark
               BUMPS it hard, knocking the fighter ten feet away, bending
               the landing gear and denting the hull bad.

               Eddie scrambles to get back under cover as the shark turns
               for another pass.

               Straw strides out onto the Main Mission deck, drawing his
               smartgun, eyes on the shark now coming his way.

                         Max yield, full spread.

               His smartgun BEEPS. No hesitation: Straw aims, FIRES...

               ...a burst of yellow bolts slams into the shark, LIGHTING IT
               UP; its skeleton FLASHES under its skin. The beast whips
               around and rapidly "swims" down-Stem.

               Straw thumbs a button on his smartgun; a thin panel OPENS and
               displays a full video gunsight. Straw leans over the rail.

                         Targeting. Zoom. Zoom.

               FRZAHM! FRZAHM! FRZAHM! Straw fires three more bursts down
               the Stem. DeStefano leans over the rail, watching.

                         Nice shot! But in future, we study
                         things first, then shoot them.
                         Eddie! You okay?

                         Still kickin'!

                         Grab a Folker and go fishing! Shark
                         fin soup's on the menu tonight!

                         You're not gonna study it first?

                         I make exceptions. 

               He heads back inside. Straw stares at him. 


               DeStefano ENTERS, Straw trailing behind.

                         Bill! I want graffiti pictures
                         before you start lasering. We'll
                         figure out how to look at 'em
                         later. Frank, put a Cricket on the
                         pad. I'm going out.

                         Out where, Doctor?

                         Nathan. Mags is the doctor, I've
                         just got a bunch of PhDs.

                         Out where?

               DeStefano's heading for another door.

                         Oh, I spent about six months trying
                         map a fingerprint on Alpha's right
                         hand before he stopped cooperating.
                         Think I'll give his left a try.

                         God's got fingerprints.

               DeStefano pauses half-out the door, considers, shrugs.

                         You do.

               He EXITS. Straw's not sure what to make of him.

               EXT. THE STEM

               A Boom Car - high-speed elevator - ZOOMS down a vertical
               monorail running the length of Alpha's spinal column. 

               INT. BOOM CAR

               Straw watch the view outside: a massive installation is set
               in Alpha's muscle and bone. Its lights flow over the Boom
               car's glass, over Straw, as he calmly takes it all in.


               A skinny bookworm-type, GRAYSON, screams his lungs out, held
               in a double-armlock courtesy two SECURITY GUARDS; one is
               CARRIE SANTOSIERO (32), a seriously tough lady showing muscle
               under her short-sleeve uniform. She wears a baseball cap low
               over her eyes and sergeant stripes.

                         I SAW! I KNOW! 

               They push him through a corridor of padded cells with clear
               plastic doors, several occupied by also-hysterical PRISONERS.

               Grayson lifts up and kicks off the wall, bashing the Guard
               into a cell door, twisting away. Santosiero grabs him, and
               Grayson comes at her - she blocks with a forearm, he BITES
               into it. Judo move: she sends him face-first into a cell door
               and holds him there,jamming her fist against his neck.

               He struggles, face turning red, veins popping. Grayson drops.

               Fast, she and the Guard pick him up and dump him in an empty
               cell. They're out and the door sealed just as Grayson's back
               up and beating his head against the glass, drawing blood.

                         I KNOW! I KNOW IT! I SAW!

                         Shit! Lights out on six!

               Santosiero glances at the OBSERVATION WINDOW opposite the
               cells, looking out to the Station House: Straw's there. She
               instantly knows who he is, and isn't happy to see him.

               Straw hits a button. Grayson's cell FLASHES, and Grayson
               drops like a stone, unconscious. 

                             (to Guard)
                         Keep him that way until somebody
                         from Medical shows. He can tell
                         them what he knows.

               Santosiero moves to the door at the end of the Holding
               corridor and turns into the Station House proper, a smallish
               security post with workstations. Straw's waiting for her.

                         You've got a stunner. You went for
                         his artery instead. 

               Santosiero pauses, suddenly aware of the shift in authority.
               She's not in charge anymore, and she doesn't like it.

                         It's not his fault Alpha decided to
                         pop him. 

                         You're the outpost Sergeant?

                         Or was. 

                         You don't want the job anymore?

               They appraise each other. Santosiero offers her hand first.

                         Carrie Santosiero. I'll get my
                         stuff out of your office.

                         Thank you. Any idea where your last
                         boss landed? I'd like a word.

                         Steve Wichman vanished a month ago.

                         Then I want the case file on that

                         No, I mean he vanished right in
                         front of us. Three of us saw Steve
                         just fade away. He's gone. 
                             (looks him over)
                         That's your new beat, copper.

                         Did you run down all the poppers?

                         There's two unaccounteds somewhere
                         down in the Cage. You learn the
                         lingo fast.

                         We had lingo on Fort Meyers.
                         Unfortunately, I just pushed a four
                         ton shark towards the Cage, so
                         let's account for everybody.

               Santosiero doesn't budge for a second, then softens slightly,
               nods, and HEADS OUT. Straw watches her go.

               EXT. SPACE - TIME BREAK

               Alpha cruises through space, the 9th Fleet escorting.

                                   WAGNER (O.S./FILTER)
                         Looks like you had a fun first day.

               INT. STRAW'S QUARTERS

               Small, but not cramped. There's a bunk and a bathroom. Straw
               sits by a small desk built into the wall, all touch controls.
               Wagner's image is on a screen there. 

                         Every job has a breaking-in period.
                         Did we ever ident that Victor?

                                   WAGNER (MONITOR)
                         It was an Ohusq-Den scout. That was
                         a good spot, Chief.

                         Thank you, sir. I don't know the

                                   WAGNER (MONITOR)
                         Minor race, but they have ambition.
                         We're about to bump their territory
                         so we're expecting some noise.

                         We can't plot around their boarder?

                                   WAGNER (MONITOR)
                         Sure, just as soon as DeStefano
                         stops putzing around and installs
                         Alpha's steering wheel. Until then,
                         we go where He goes. 

                         Where's He going, sir?

               Wagner considers. She either doesn't want to say, or she's
               not supposed to.

                                   WAGNER (MONITOR)

                         ...How long?

                                   WAGNER (MONITOR)
                         Unless something changes, three
                         years, and you never heard this.

                         Yessir. DeStefano doesn't seem all
                         that concerned.

                                   WAGNER (MONITOR)
                         Hopefully that's because he's a lot
                         smarter than we are. Daily reports,
                         starting tomorrow. Get some sleep.

                         Goodnight, sir.

               Wagner DISCONNECTS.

               Straw sits silently for a moment. He reaches in under his
               collar, and pulls out a silver chain - a necklace - and takes
               it off, setting it down on his desk.

               There's a silver cross on the end of it.

               He moves to the bunk, taking off his shoes and placing them
               close by. Straw lies down, hands folded over his chest, and
               closes his eyes.

               A COMM BUZZ.


                                   AIMES (COMM. VOICE)
                         Duty Ops. Report to Medical. Steve
                         Wichman just reappeared.

               Straw's eyes open.

               FADE OUT:

                                     END OF ACT ONE.

                                         ACT TWO

               FADE IN:


               In formation to Alpha's starboard.


               Cavernous; dozens of DECK OFFICERS locked into their consoles
               control every function of this Manhattan-sized ship.

               Wagner ENTERS the COMMAND TIER overlooking the deck, drinking
               coffee. Her EXO and ten mission-critical command stations are
               here, manned by BRIDGE OFFICERS. Other ships in her fleet are
               visible out mammoth windows reaching up across the ceiling.

                         I have the deck. Sit-Rep. 

                         We had a few more sightings, but
                         nothing exciting.

                         The Ohusq-Den wouldn't survive our
                         brand of exciting and they know it.

                                   BRIDGE OFFICER
                         Sensor contact: Ohusq-Den combat
                         carrier just folded in on their
                         side of the fence. 

                         Not a real trusting bunch, are-

                                   BRIDGE OFFICER
                         She's spiking!

               Wagner reacts...


               EXT. SPACE - THE 9TH FLEET

               Quick, distant flashes becomes A SALVO of ENERGY BOLTS that
               SLAM into several support ships around the Damocles. The
               Damocles itself is untouched. 

                         Target the hostile!

                         He's gone! Vipped in just long
                         enough to shoot, then vipped out.

                         Pricks want to play tag with me?
                         Alert Status One throughout the
                         fleet, update Main Mission. I want
                         total sensor coverage to a thousand
                         klicks inside enemy space with
                         firing solutions!

               They jump at her orders, leaving Wagner alone with her scowl.

               INT. MEDICAL BAY

               STEVE WICHMAN is blond, blue-eyed and tanned, All American,
               worn bomber jacket over his uniform. Bit of paunch, not
               enough to slow him down. He's seated, staring at soft light
               patterns on a screen.

               From a distance, Straw and Santosiero watch Mags (55) examine
               him medically. 

                         Oh yeah, it's sharkmeat. Full burst
                         from a Folker railgun. And we found
                         the last Popper, dock worker trying
                         like hell to auto-cannibalize. That
                         one I did buzz. 

                         Okay. Solid work, Sergeant.
                             (re. Wichman)
                         What about him?

                         Looks like Steve to me. That's what
                         he was wearing. I dunno....
                             (off Straw's prompt)
                         I've seen him survive things normal
                         people don't survive. It just never
                         took him this long to make it back.

               Straw processes that. Mags comes over.

                                   MAGS - 55 YEARS OLD
                         It's him. Everything checks and his
                         BIOS reads normal.

                         What about psychographics?

                                   MAGS - 55 YEARS OLD
                         He's showing a normal drift pattern
                         for a two-month gap. Outside of
                         that, no sign of psychosis or
                         retardation. He's fine.

               Straw thinks. He and Santosiero head over to Wichman. The
               man's got charisma to spare; his hand's out before Straw gets
               close. They shake.

                         Steve Wichman. Hey, Carrie.

                         Hey, boss.

                         Doug Straw, welcome back. Do you
                         know what happened?

                         My team was looking for a popper in
                         the Cage, I turned around and they
                         faded away. Four weeks, huh?

                         Afraid so. You should know that
                         until we figure a few things out,
                         your codelock's been re-gauged for
                         restricted access. My call.

                         I probably would've cancelled it.

                         No reason to stop you going to the

                         Well, I appreciate the professional
                         courtesy. How're you liking Funtown
                         so far?

                         I'm still formulating an opinion.

                         Yeah, it takes some getting used
                         to. Especially the half-an-asshole
                         in charge.

                         And the fat fuck who "confiscates"
                         all the chocolate he finds.

               DeStefano's in the room, walking over to Wichman and clapping
               hands with him, grinning. Real camaraderie there.

                         Rigors of the job, shorty.

                         I was just starting to think you
                         weren't making it back.

                         Yeah, and how many times have we
                         thought that?

                         Well, this time we saved your room.
                             (greatly amused/to STRAW)
                         Once, we had this problem with a
                         parasite and, y'know, tentacles.
                         Steve's dragged off and bashed
                         around until his BIOS monitor goes
                         silent, while we blow up Cthulu
                         with a bunch of drones. He ends up
                         hiking through Alpha's pancreas for
                         two days until we find
                         him...through echo location. "I
                         waaaaaaaant a beeeeeeeeeer!" 

                         It was an honest cry for help.

                         Did you get that beer?

                         I did!

                         Well, that's encouraging. But
                         before you get too settled in, we
                         should transfer you to the Damocles
                         for observation and full debrief...

                         No need. We're better set up here.

                         With respect, there's a security
                         element to consider.

                         Nathan, the man's right. Let him do
                         his job.

                             (over protests)
                         Alpha singled you out. That means
                         you're here until I figure out what
                         He did and I'm satisfied He's done
                         with you, and everybody better get
                         used to that. 
                         Then maybe we'll see about putting
                         you back on the clock.

               Straw didn't like that. His eyes are on Wichman.

                         He never listens to me, either.

               Straw acknowledges the sympathy, but clearly isn't happy. The
               others crowd Wichman, happy to see him, shaking his hand, and
               leaving Straw very much alone, at a distance, the outsider.


               A oval tunnel, organic and warm. The door to Medical OPENS:
               Straw emerges at full stride, leaving Medical behind.

                         Comm: Security.

                                   SECURITY COMM VOICE
                         Station House Five.

                         Straw. Put a guard on the door to
                         the Medical Bay. 

                                   SECURITY COMM VOICE
                         Which Medical Bay?

                         The one on the Stem.

                                   SECURITY COMM VOICE
                         Chief, there are three....

                         The one Steve Wichman's in! I don't
                         want him wandering unsupervised.

                                   SECURITY COMM VOICE
                         We'll take care of it.

               The Corridor opens up to a Boom Car Station open to the air,
               with a really spectacular view of the Stem.

                         Computer, re-route the nearest Boom
                         to this station on my authority.

               Leaning on the rail, stewing.

               He hears MUSIC: a slow, tuneless, bluesy GUITAR RIFF drifts
               up from somewhere. Straw looks around for the source, can't
               find one. He starts to wonder....

                         It's not Alpha.

               DeStefano's leaning against the wall, distant.

                         If your wondering. That's Porter,
                         maintenance chief. Pretty good, eh?

                         You've got a lot of chiefs here.

                         It's a big place. 

                         I'm putting a guard on Wichman.


                         If he's getting his job back, I'd
                         rather know sooner. I don't like to
                         waste my time.

                         Nothing's a waste.

               The Boom Car arrives, the doors OPEN. Straw heads in without
               a word, and watches doors close on DeStefano's smile.

               SHOOM! The Boom Car fires off, up out of sight. DeStefano's
               smile fades.

               INT. BOOM CAR - CONTINUOUS

               Straw watches the view outside, thinking. 

                         Comm: Santosiero.

                                   SANTOSIERO (COMM. VOICE)
                         What's up, Chief?

                         Are you flight-rated in a Cricket?

                                   SANTOSIERO (COMM. VOICE)

                         Meet me in the hanger bay. Now.

               He CUTS the comm channel.

               INT. MEDICAL BAY

               Mags (55) shines a penlight into Wichman's baby blue eyes. 

                         I happen to like older and younger 
                         women. You're a twofer in my book.

                                   MAGS - 55 YEARS OLD
                         How young? I've gone down to three.

                         Well, we'd sleep in separate beds,
                         of course.

                                   MAGS - 55 YEARS OLD
                         Or one big one. I need a lot of
                         room when I get going.

               DeStefano ENTERS.

                         Is Mags still prodding you? 

                         Yeah, she won't have it the other
                         way around.


               He nods her over. Mags approaches; they're too far for
               Wichman to hear, voices low.

                         I need you to unlock all Steve's
                         psychographic reports, going back
                         two years.

                                   MAGS - 55 YEARS OLD 
                         Those tests don't stand up long
                         term. Personality drift alone.... 

                         Call it scientific curiosity.
                             (louder/to WICHMAN)
                         Good news, buddy! Mags just agreed
                         to give you a sponge bath!

               He EXITS with a grin and a thumbs-up, waving.

                                   MAGS - 55 YEARS OLD
                         Thanks, Nathan.

               She looks: Wichman's gesturing, "I'm ready!"

               EXT. THE CAGE

               Even bigger than the Stem; below is the curved expanse of the
               ribcage, an expanse of meat and bone. Lungs are the ceiling.
               Installed lights throw shadows everywhere.

               A CRICKET - an oval-shaped ship, transparent sloped nose -
               shoots past, spotlights cutting the dark.

               INT. CRICKET - CONTINUOUS

               Santosiero pilots. Straw rides shotgun, alternating between
               working a computer panel and taking in the view.

                         Gamma Base is a few hundred klicks
                         that way, on the sternum.  

                         Okay. So what else?

                         There isn't much else. A reactor
                         tech popped and went on walkabout.
                         Steve got a BIOS hit and we came
                         down, split up for a foot-search.
                         Ten minutes into that, we all hear
                         Steve shouting. We get there just
                         in time to see him vanish.
                         That's the place. I'll take us in.


                         What're you doing?

                         Sensoring the area for metallics.

                         You're not gonna find any.

               Straw's panel PINGS - a hit. They exchange a look; Santosiero
               doesn't like being wrong. Straw doesn't like being right.

               EXT. THE CAGE - RIB FORMATION

               The Cricket comes in for a landing, touching down. The rib is
               miles across. Far distant, the ribcage curves upward. 

               It's cold and dark here. Straw and Santosiero step out onto
               the hard bone, wearing baseball caps and jackets with built
               in lamps cutting the darkness. Reading off their Flexis.

                         Wichman reappeared here, too.


                         Synch to the Cricket's sensor pack
                         and spread out. You're looking for
                         any kind of metal, I don't care how

               Santosiero nods, splitting off. Straw follows sensor tracks
               on his Flexi screen. 

               The "ground" is textured, with natural fissures. Straw kneels
               down and runs his hand along the bone. Curious. 

               A PING registers on his Flexi; a long FISSURE is right next
               to him, fist-sized. Straw locks his Flexi back on his wrist
               and shines a light down the fissure.

               He hesitates slightly... hell with it. He reaches in.

               Rooting around up to his elbow, then up to his shoulder,
               grimacing, two fingers on it. He grannys an apple-sized METAL
               SPHERE out of the fissure, and frowns at it.

                         Son of a bitch.

               A NOISE: Straw's up, fast-drawing, aiming his smartgun at
               nothing, flashlight beam swallowed up by miles of pitch black
               cavern. He stands, shoving the sphere into a jacket pocket.

               a giant mouth, open and ready to eat him whole. 

               Straw SPINS, gun-first...

               ...there's a WIDE, GRASSY PARK there: a bright, sunny day and
               blue skies. Slight breeze, flowing grass, rustling trees. 

               A lone, distant picnic table. A FIGURE lies on it.

               Straw's jaw drops. 

               His smartgun screen shows the park, too. Straw takes a
               tentative step onto the grass - solid ground. Cautiously, he
               moves forward. 

               The figure is a NAKED BLONDE WOMAN, facing away, lying on her
               side in a pool of congealed blood, curled up. Her hair twists
               slightly in the breeze. There isn't a mark on her, but SHE'S
               DEAD. Straw aims right at her, slowly circling around. 

               Coming around to see her beautiful face. Her body is dead
               still, but HER EYES FOLLOW STRAW, darting independent of each
               other. It would be eerie enough if she was alive.

                                   BLONDE CORPSE
                         Did you figure it out?


               One eye shift away from him, back to the direction he came;
               the Cage, and Santosiero running towards him.


                         Stay there!

               He glances at Santosiero, then back to the Blonde Corpse...

               ...she's still here, the Park's still here, but HIS SMARTGUN


               Straw glances back - Santosiero's shouts are cut off. She and
               the Cage disappear behind Alpha's skin.

               EXT. SPACE - CONTINUOUS

               Straw suddenly can't breathe.

               HE'S OUTSIDE, floating weightless in hard vacuum somewhere
               between Alpha's chest and upper arm, flailing helplessly in
               space as he starts to die....

                                                              FADE OUT:

                                      END OF ACT TWO

                                        ACT THREE

               FADE IN:

               EXT. SPACE - ALPHA

               Straw flails in space, drifting slightly between Alpha's
               chest and inner arm.


               An ALARM SOUNDS. Mags (55) and Wichman look up to see a
               warning message flash up on a monitor;
                    STRAW, DOUGLAS A.
                    CRITICAL INJURY WARNING 
                    TERMINATION IMMINENT

               Mags spins around in her chair, fingers flying over control
               pads. Wichman leans in over her shoulder.

                                   MAGS - 55 YEARS OLD
                         Oh my God, I think he's in hard

                         Security, this is Wichman, we've
                         got a EVA emergency, I need a
                         rescue team...

                                   MAGS - 55 YEARS OLD
                         Starboard, off the Cage!

                         ...starboard! Off the Cage! He's
                         got maybe forty seconds! Move it!

               Mags calls up a tactical 3D graphic of Alpha, zooming on a
               blip labeled Straw, Douglas A. It's close to the arm.

               EXT. SPACE - CONTINUOUS

               Straw's still got his smartgun; he FIRES, propelling him
               backwards, towards the arm. He keeps firing.

               ...barely a blip against Alpha's body...

               He's rocketing towards the arm, out of control.

               Gravity from Alpha's arm pulls him in, but STRAW'S OUT OF
               AIR, starting to die. Falling helplessly towards Alpha, no
               longer shooting, LOOSING CONSCIOUSNESS.

               Wind whipping him as he hits a thin atmosphere...

               ...WHAM! Straw lands on his back - a leg hits first, BREAKING
               THE ANKLE - and bounces in the low gravity. He hits again,
               tumbling hard, scraping to a stop fifteen meters away as he
               flops onto his back. 

               Straw's all kinds of fucked up - beat up, scraped up, frost
               bitten and frozen solid, convulsing bad from the bends. He's
               GASPING for breath, but it's not working!

               His head lolls to one side, looking straight down Alpha's
               arm, right to the far-distant palm. Alpha's fingers slowly
               curve up and around into a fist, then open up like a flower,
               over and over.

               The smartgun's still in Straw's hand, dented screen open and
               pointed at Alpha's hand, recording every second.



               Mags glances at some new readings.

                                   MAGS - 55 YEARS OLD
                         He's down... he's still alive!
                         Chief, listen to me: the air's too
                         thin and you're hyperventilating.
                         You've got to slow your breathing
                         down or you'll suffocate.

               Straw's trying like hell to say something through clenched
               teeth. The sounds he makes come out like painful barks.

                                   MAGS - 55 YEARS OLD
                         Stop trying to talk. We've got a
                         Cricket inbound. Just hang on!

                         Get... guh-guard! Ah-ah-arrest...

                                   MAGS - 55 YEARS OLD

               Cobra-quick, Wichman grabs Mags in a choke-hold from behind.

               Her utter shock turns to panic as he starts squeezing the
               life out of her. Mags pushes up from her chair, struggling,
               but Wichman's too strong. They slam to the floor, Mags on
               top, Wichman gritting his teeth as she swings wildly,
               uselessly, trying to get away.

               He whispers, eyes squeezed shut, CRYING.

                         I'm sorry...I'm so sorry....

               She can't get out anything but whimpers. The fight's fading,
               she's almost gone.

               Wichman opens his eyes: MAGS IS NOW A 9-YEAR-OLD GIRL. 

               Total shock - Wichman lets go and kicks away from Mags' limp
               body, horrified by what he's done. Staring at her. Panting.

               She's still breathing. Starting to come around. Mechanically,
               Wichman gets up, crosses Medical to grab an injector gun and
               load it. 9-Year-Old Mags groggily sees him coming at her with
               it, starts to scream...

                                   MAGS - 9 YEARS OLD

               Scrambling away - Wichman grabs her ankle and INJECTS her.
               Mags fights it, then her head hits the deck, UNCONSCIOUS.

               He tosses the injector away. Next move?


               A SECURITY GUARD stands by the door to Medical. The door goes
               Green, OPENS: Wichman's seated, he looks up.

                         Hey, Jeff! 

                                   SECURITY GUARD
                         Steve! Thought we'd lost you, man!

                         Yeah, and how many times have we
                         thought that?

                                   SECURITY GUARD
                         Hah! No shit. So what's the real?

               The Security Guard heads into Medical, the door CLOSES: Red.

               A moment later, the door goes Green, OPENS. Wichman EXITS
               wearing the Guard's gun-belt and carrying unconscious 9-Year
               Old Mags over his shoulder, heading down the corridor.

               INT. MAIN MISSION

               DeStefano comes running in.

                         Put up SatCam Nine!

               The huge Main Screen MATERIALIZES out of thin air, showing a
               long-distance image of Alpha's right arm. A Cricket zooms
               into frame, heading for a barely-visible speck.

                         How fast?

                         Two minutes and they'll have him.

                         Mags, how bad is he?
                             (no response)
                         Mags? Comm: Doctor Shulman.
                             (no response)
                         Cancel Wichman's codelock. 

               DeStefano shoots Aimes a dire glance, quickly heading out.

               INT. CORRIDOR

               Wichman moves through the hallways like a cruise missile,
               carrying Mags. He passes an ENGINEER going the other way. 

                         Is that Mags?

                         Yeah, she fainted after her last

                         Poor her. Nice to have you back.


               The Engineer keeps going, none the wiser.

               Wichman reaches AN INTERSECTION, and STOPS, involuntary. 

               He tries to look down the side corridor, but can't get his
               head to move. A glance out of the corner of his eye is the
               best he can manage. Wichman leans on the wall, and suddenly
               BASHES HIS HEAD AGAINST THE CORNER, and AGAIN, trying to
               shake something loose. Blood in his hair.

               He straightens, and marches down the side corridor.

               EXT. SPACE - THE 9TH FLEET

               Sweeping past a heavy cruiser, the Eastwood.

               FOUR SQUID-LIKE ALIEN GUNSHIPS suddenly FOLD IN.  They spin
               to face the Eastwood and OPEN FIRE, stitching a solid line
               across as they glide the length of her hull. They finish
               their run, drifting past the cruiser...

               ...the Sword of Damocles is in the background: the Gunships
               VANISH, folding out just as a dozen streams of pulsed laser
               fire from the Damocles rip past.


               Wagner stands, arms folded and scowling, as another WHITE
               FLASH washes over her.

                         Clean miss. The Eastwood reports
                         moderate damage, the Al-Basra and
                         Ushakov took particle hits. Still
                         nothing for us.

                         Do these assholes not know my ship
                         alone could wipe out their entire
                         navy in an hour?
                         They're saving something for us.

                         They couldn't get past our defense
                         grid if they tried. And they
                         haven't tried.

                         I do not trust this hunt-and-peck
                         Send fleet-wide: prepare to

               An evil smile creeps across Wagner's face. Idea.

               INT. STRAW'S ROOM

               Wichman is seated at Straw's desk, idly messing around with
               Straw's silver cross and chain.

               Behind him, the door OPENS. DeStefano takes a step in.

                         You said you saved my room.

                         I lied. Do you hold it against me?

               Wichman smiles, tired. He doesn't turn around. DeStefano
               checks: 9-Year-Old Mags is unconscious on the bed.

                         How'd you know?

                         Because I'm me. I assume the Ohusq
                         Den grabbed you on that vacation
                         you took last year.
                             (no reply)
                         I stared at your psychographics for
                         a while and it's subtle, but that's
                         where the deviation starts. Looks
                         like normal personality drift week
                         to-week, but over the long term
                         it's pretty obvious you've been
                         completely brainwashed. They put a
                         slow-acting worm in your mind, yes?
                         Kinda clever. Then we had that fly
                         by yesterday, and Straw found this.

               He holds up the apple-sized Metal Sphere.

                         Teleport beacon, so they could vip
                         you out and back in. You really
                         should've destroyed this, y'know.
                          Why'd they send you back?

                         I wish you hadn't come, Nathan.

               Wichman turns, reaching for his gun; Santosiero and TWO
               SECURITY GUARDS are right behind DeStefano, aiming stunners.

               Wichman smiles, relieved. The Guards move in, disarm him and
               cuff him. Santosiero kneels down to check 9-Year-Old Mags.

                         Tell Mags I'm sorry.

                         We might be able to undo what they
                         did. I promise you we'll try.
                         Why did they send you back?

               No answer; Wichman CAN'T answer. DeStefano steps aside as the
               Guards lead Wichman out. Santosiero steps over to Destefano.

                         You really think they can undo it?

                         His conditioning's reinforced
                         itself for nine months now.

                         And Straw nearly got himself killed
                         on his second day. Command could've
                         just given me the promotion. You
                         could've said the word.

                         I could've. But I didn't.

               Looking her in the eye until Santosiero gets the picture loud
               and clear. DeStefano EXITS.

               INT. MEDICAL BAY

               9-Year-Old Mags carries a stepladder across Medical, past A
               DOCTOR and N.D. STAFF. Bandages on her neck and arm. 

                         So this is you resting?

                                   MAGS - 9 YEARS OLD
                         Wow, you really nailed Mom's voice.

               She plunks her stepladder down at line of hospital beds and
               climbs up; this bed's covered by a clear plastic dome, sealed
               tight. STRAW'S INSIDE. He looks in bad shape, but alert. One
               eye's completely red, bloodshot. Scarred patches of skin.

               Mags touches the dome and holographic controls APPEAR. She
               starts manipulating them, reading results.

                                   MAGS - 9 YEARS OLD
                         I used to think I'd be taken more
                         seriously if I didn't have breasts.
                         Not so, it turns out.
                             (off controls)
                         Good news, they saved most of your
                         skin and there's no permanent heart
                         damage, but the ankle brake's going
                         to take a while.

                         Are you okay?

                                   MAGS - 9 YEARS OLD
                         You keep asking me that.
                             (then, lower)
                         Were you scared?


               They exchange a look through the plastic shield. Mags slides
               a finger along the holo-controls; the plastic dome DISSOLVES.
               Straw sits up, slow and stiff.

                                   MAGS - 9 YEARS OLD
                         Take it slow. Go easy on the ankle.
                         Karl? Hep-lock his PICC line, we'll
                         dissolve it later.

               She steps down and heads off with her stepladder. 

               Straw stretches. Grayson - calm but depressed - is on the
               next bed over, looking over at him.

                         You're a lucky guy.

                         Thanks. You look better.

                         "Better." My little episode means
                         they're cashiering my ass off the
                         most important archeological find
                         in human history. Where am I
                         supposed to go after this?

               Grayson turns away. Straw doesn't say a thing.

               INT. THE STEM

               Time break. Zeroing in on the lights of CREW QUARTERS. 

               INT. STRAW'S QUARTERS

               Straw keeps entering commands into his workstation, getting
               an error message back: CANNOT SYNCH TO DEVICE. Irritated, he
               scoops up his smartgun and tries keying in commands off its

               There's a KNOCK at the door.


               A tall, thin black man with a springy shock of hair ENTERS;
               Straw immediately notices his nametag: PORTER.

                         Hey there, Maintenance. You called?

                         I can't upload to the workstation.

                         Right-right. Well.

               He motions. Very reluctantly, Straw moves - there's a plastic
               cast on his left ankle - hopping on his good leg to the bunk. 

               Porter sits and starts figuring the problem out.

                         I didn't expect the Maintenance
                         Chief to answer the ticket.

                         I'm a man of the people.

                         I heard you on guitar.

                         Oh, uh, sorry about that. Sometimes
                         I, I, I forget how sound carries
                         around in here.

                         You're good.

                         Thanks. So you, you're into acid
                         blues, huh?

                         A buddy dragged me to pH's farewell
                         gig at the Stratocast. Hooked me.

                         Aw, man, I wanted to catch that so
                         bad, you know? Couldn't do it. I
                         was between jobs. You play?

                         A little.

                         We should jam sometime. I got an
                         extra guitar I can lend.

                         Okay. Sure.

                             (re. workstation)
                         Somebody just forgot to zero it for
                         the new user. Try now.

               Straw presses an icon on his smartgun's screen; a video image
               of the Park APPEARS on the workstation's screen, as shot from
               the gun's camera. Straw pauses it.

                         That's here? Jesus. Ah, shit...
                         sorry, sorry. I try not to take the
                         Name in vain around here, you know?

                         You really think Alpha is God?

                         I hope not. I mean, bad enough if
                         we built all this into a living
                         being. But if it's God, well, well
                         God forgive us.

                         I don't feel God here.

                         Just you wait.

               Porter smiles again, and EXITS with a small wave.

               Straw hops back to the chair and jumps the video ahead to the
               Blonde Corpse, her eerie eyes following him.

                                   BLONDE CORPSE (MONITOR)
                         Did you figure it out?

               He stares at it, frowning.

               EXT. SPACE - THE 9TH FLEET

               A 9th Fleet CORSAIR flies off Alpha's port side, His face in
               the background.

               Four Alien Gunships FOLD IN above it, twisting to make their
               attack run: they're instantly bombarded by laser fire from
               two directions, punching clean through their hulls.

               One gunship FOLDS OUT as the other three are BLOWN TO BITS.

               Elsewhere in the fleet: an ALIEN ATTACK CRUISER takes a
               pounding from three directions. It tries to fold out, and
               DETONATES from the strain, steel tentacles flailing.


               Wagner watches her displays, pleased. An AIDE hands her a
               thin e-reader. She reads it.

                         Three more vipping in, fourth quad,
                         Kingmaker and Aja have solutions.


                             (into comms)
                         Damo One to Actuals, open on all
                         xeno victors. Engage to terminate,
                         and watch the shrapnel spread.

                             (re. e-reader)
                         Good news. The Presidium authorizes
                         us to answer any hostile action
                         with due force. I love diplomats.

               She sneers a bit, pleased with herself.


               DeStefano stands, his back to everyone, hands in pockets, in
               front of a expansive starfield; the Main Screen displays a
               forward view outside Alpha. It's like standing right in front
               of a movie screen.

               He doesn't move, silently studying the fleet. 


               Straw walks up behind him, sporting a big limp. 

                         Dr. DeStefano?

                         Wagner's triangulated her fields of
                         fire, but she spread the fleet
                         pretty thin to do it. And there's
                         the Ohusq-Den boarder, right there.

               He tosses the Metal Sphere to Straw.

                         That was a good find.

                         Thank you. I want to transfer
                         Wichman off Alpha soon-as.

                         Not yet. We're missing something.

                         He's either a spy or a saboteur or
                         both. Does it matter?


                         And we're dead sure they didn't
                         load him with a body-bomb?

                         Active BIOS, Steve Wichman.

               A window-in-window APPEARS on the Main Screen: the silhouette
               of a man labeled WICHMAN, STEVEN J. reads out bio-signs.

                         His blood pressure's through the
                         roof, but otherwise...

                         Where's that data coming from?

                         Well, his BIOS monitor.
                         Mags! I need a real-time BIOS scan
                         on Steve, full-spectrum, now!

                                   MAGS - 9 YEARS OLD (COMM. VOICE)
                         His monitor feed's still steady.

                         It's been modified to give us a
                         false read! NOW, Mags!

               The BIOS silhouette CHANGES: crackling with sharp, volatile
               energy surging through Wichman's body.

                         He's rigged.

               Off their reaction.


               Inside a holding cell, Wichman is dripping sweat, clutching
               himself. He girds himself and PUSHES...


               ALL THE ELECTRONICS in the Station House DIE; lights go out,
               computers go off, doors on the holding cells pop open. Red
               emergency lights come on.

               A SECURITY GUARD on duty jumps out of his chair, drawing his
               smartgun and rushing for the Holding Cells. Wichman barrels
               out of Holding, flash-burned; he scoops a riot gear helmet
               off a nearby counter as the Guard aims point-blank and pulls
               the trigger: NOTHING HAPPENS. 

               Wichman BASHES the Guard in the head with the helmet.  

               INT. MAIN MISSION

               An ALARM GOES OFF. Aimes checks his board.

                         Reading a massive EMP burst! All
                         the electronics in Station House
                         Two are fried!

                         That's him.

                         That's nothing. At those levels, he
                         can disable the whole installation.


               Nodding at the Main Holoscreen: TEN THOUSAND FLASHES appear
               on the Ohusq-Den side of the boarder, as A MASSIVE ALIEN
               ARMADA folds in.

               DeStefano and Straw can only watch it happen.

                                                              FADE OUT:

                                     END OF ACT THREE

                                         ACT FOUR

               FADE IN:

               EXT. SPACE 

               The Alien Armada OPENS FIRE; a thousand particle streams
               homing in on the 9th Fleet...


               ...Straw and DeStefano watch the particle streams slowly
               closing on the 9th Fleet. There's nothing they can do about
               it. They exchange a look, then turn and head for the door.

                         Security: full lockdown. Restrict
                         access to S-3 codelocks and sweep
                         for Steve Wichman. Aimes, figure
                         out where he's got to go to scram
                         all our reactors at once.

                         Assume a five-klick blast radius. 

                         We're kind of under attack, here!

                         That's Wagner's problem. Steve's

               Straw and DeStefano break into a run, EXITING.

               EXT. BOOM CAR

               Zooming down-stem on its track.

               INT. BOOM CAR

               DeStefano is thinking hard, staring at nothing. Behind him,
               Straw works off his Flexi, pacing rapidly.

                                   MAGS - 9 YEARS OLD (COMM. VOICE)
                         The head trauma's manageable, but
                         your guy's codelock was dug out of
                         his chest. He lost a lot of blood.

                         Santosiero, track that codelock.
                         Aimes? What've you got?

                                   AIMES (COMM. VOICE)
                         He has to be heading for Stem 20 or

                         Get that?

                                   SANTOSIERO (COMM. VOICE)
                         Got it. Do we shoot on sight?

                         They don't win.

                         What's that, Doctor? -No, stunners
                         only, body-bombs detonate if the
                         carrier dies. 

               DeStefano's eyes light up; he's moving, full of energy.

                         Computer, re-direct us to the
                         Hanger Bay! Aimes! I want the J
                         probes re-deployed to scan.... 

                         Aimes, do NOT. What the hell do you
                         think you're doing?

                         Wagner's about to chop the entire
                         Ohusq military. What do they care
                         if Steve shuts our lights off?
                             (no response)
                         He wanted to go to the Damocles! 

                         He couldn't even dent the Damocles!

                         If he gets inside, a full-yield EMP
                         blast puts a ten-klick hole in the
                         Damo's defense grid! She's the
                         lynchpin! If the Ohusq can disable
                         her with atomics, that leaves the
                         fleet wide open, outnumbered twelve
                         to one.

               Straw's eyes shift, weighing the possibilities.

                         No...they'll fold ten ships inside
                         her and detonate the engine cores.

                         And then they take Alpha.

               Straw thinks....

                         They've played to our assumptions
                         from the start. 

                         Aimes, deadlock all our birds and
                         re-deploy the monitors. Pounce
                         anything moving between Holding and
                         the Hanger Bay.

               Straw and DeStefano exchange a look, and a nod. 

               INT. HANGER BAY

               Wide, bright. Ten Folkers hang vertically from clamps, a few
               more are parked on the deck.

               A PILOT in a flight suit and helmet strides towards one. A
               skinny GREASE MONKEY is calibrating something up on the wing. 

               The Grease Monkey barely glances at the Pilot. The second he
               looks down, the Pilot draws a sidearm and SHOOTS him; the
               mechanic's skeleton lights up under his skin and he tumbles
               to the deck, DEAD. 

               The Pilot glances around - IT'S WICHMAN inside the helmet. He
               grabs a bolt-key from the Grease Monkey's belt, bends under
               the Folker and unlocks a panel on the fuselage. Out slides an
               instrument package and keyboard. He types, and a flat circuit
               block pops out. Wichman grabs it.

               The circuit block drops to the deck. Wichman climbs up to the
               Folker's cockpit.


               Straw and DeStefano ENTER through a sliding door just in time
               to see a Folker lift off and hover fifteen feet off the deck.

                         Aimes! Wichman's in a Folker, over
                         ride it and land him!

                                   AIMES (COMM. VOICE)
                         Remote override isn't responding!
                         He must've*

               The Folker OPENS FIRE. Straw and DeStefano dive for cover.
               Its railguns are DEAFENING. 

               A solid stream of supersonic projectiles TEAR through parked
               Folkers, instantly reducing them to piles of twisted scrap.
               The guns sweep up to a suspended Folker and saw the entire
               forward half off; it CRASHES to the deck as the DECK CREW
               runs for cover.

               Wichman pivots his ship, railguns blazing until every fighter
               in the Hanger Bay is shot to pieces, useless. 

               Straw, DeStefano and a few Deck Crewmen lean out from cover
               as Wichman's Folker glides smoothly out of the Hanger.

                         Is there any way he can get out?


                             (to Deck Crewman)
                         What've you got left that flies and

                                   DECK CREWMAN #1
                         You want me to bolt your smartgun
                         to a Cricket? 

                                   DECK CREWMAN #2
                         No, hang on! There's a Folker down
                         in the Maintenance Bay! Something
                         about a shark ramming it....

                         Prep it!

               They MOVE.


               A Folker SCREAMS past, bat-out-of-hell fast. Inside, Wichman
               is sweating hard. Spasms rock his face uncontrollably.

                                   AIMES (COMM. VOICE)
                         Steve, it's Frank. I know you're
                         fighting this, if you can just help
                         us in any small way, that's enough*

               Wichman CUTS the comlink.

               The Folker ZOOMS ahead, leaving the Cage behind. 

               INT. HANGER BAY

               A pad rises up from below, holding a badly dented Folker;
               it's missing a few panels and most of its weaponry. The Deck
               Crew and Straw immediately swarm it.

                                   DECK CREWMAN #2
                         Charlie! Load the railgun mags!
                             (to Straw)
                         We already started stripping her,
                         so you're down to the port railgun,
                         no missiles, no lasers, and I can't
                         promise the targeting's synched up.

                         I'll eyeball it.

                                   AIMES (COMM. VOICE)
                         He just cut the link.

                         Signal the Damocles, tell them to
                         fire on any Folker that approaches
                         without an IFFR signal.

                                   AIMES (COMM. VOICE)
                         There's too much hard radiation
                         flying around out there. Nothing's
                         getting out!

               Straw slips into the pilot seat, DeStefano heads for the REO
               chair; Straw puts a hand up.

                         Whoa, stop. This isn't your ride.

                         Oh, so you know your way around in
                         here already?

               Straw frowns begrudgingly, thumbs at the back seat. DeStefano
               drops in, the Deck Crew clears away, the cockpit seals, and
               the Folker's engines SURGE, lifting off the ground.

                         Straight and take a hard left.

                         Wichman went to the right.

                         We're going out the front. He's
                         going out the back. 

               It takes a second for Straw to register exactly what that
               means, and his distaste is obvious.

                         He's got a lot further to go than
                         us! Hit it!

               Straw steers the Folker out of the Hanger, peels left, and
               slams the throttle open full. DeStefano hits the back of his
               chair, shocked by the force of it.

               Their Folker rockets up-Stem, maximum velocity.

               INT. MAIN MISSION

               Aimes is at his station, giving orders.

                         Release primary airlock! We've lost
                         all SatCams, so whatever's going on
                         out there, it's gotta be thick.

               Working controls on his workstation.

               INT. ALPHA'S MOUTH

               Straw's Folker dips through the open airlock in Alpha's
               palette and ZOOMS through the mouth.

                         Copy that.

               The fighter angles to the right, aiming for the earliest gap
               through the teeth. The engine is red-lined, all the panels
               are SHAKING with the strain. 

               Straw grits his teeth and keeps the throttle at Full -
               DeStefano hanging on - as Alpha's teeth come at them very

               EXT. SPACE - ALPHA

               ...Straw's Folker shoots out of Alpha's mouth and banks hard,
               heading back along Alpha's jaw and over his shoulder. 

               Above them, a solid canopy of EXPLOSIONS flows in a wave, two
               hundred meters off Alpha's skin. IT'S A FULL-SCALE WAR out
               here, hundreds of human warships and fighters versus a
               thousand Alien ships, all trading fire.

               Straw pushes his Folker low, hugging Alpha's back and flying
               at terrifying velocities.


               INT. STRAW'S FOLKER

               DeStefano is glued to the battle above him, watching mighty
               ships splinter and die under withering fire.


                         Keep praying. If they notice us,
                         all they've gotta do is crack our

                         There's a happy-incoming! INCOMING!

               Stray energy bolts HIT Alpha and SHATTER, raw energy
               crackling over His undamaged skin, way too close; they shake
               the Folker up, and Straw starts weaving madly to avoid them. 

               TWO squid-like OHUSQ FIGHTERS break off from the battle and
               swing behind the Folker, FIRING at it.

                         Two on our tail!

                         You're the doorgunner! Do something
                         about it!

               DeStefano hits a button.

               Four small panels pop open on the Folker's aft plates - two
               top, two bottom - and spray a random volley of laser fire at
               the Ohusq Fighters; one's clipped and dips, grinding into
               Alpha's skin, tumbling, and EXPLODING.

               FAR AHEAD, the "landscape" rises sharply, becoming Alpha's
               buttocks. A bright object flies out from the crack; IT'S
               WICHMAN'S FOLKER. It banks, heading back up towards Alpha's
               flexing right hand. 

                                   WICHMAN (COMM. VOICE)
                         Sword of Damocles, this is Folker
                         08, brake: I'm declaring a pilot
                         emergency, request priority trap.

               Straw climbs to intercept him...

               ...SPINNING his Folker to bring guns on the second Ohusq
               fighter. He blazes away with the ship's railgun, chewing off
               the Ohusq's engine; it tumbles away, helpless, as Straw spins
               back on course, homing in on Wichman's Folker.

               They're closing fast. Wichman hasn't seen them.

                         I could warn him.

                         He wouldn't listen. Do it.

               Straw targets Wichman's Folker.

                                                          INTERCUT ALL:

               INT. WICHMAN'S FOLKER

               Wichman's at the controls, looking for a way to reach the
               Damocles through the colossal battle.

                                   WICHMAN (COMM. VOICE)
                         Sword of Damocles, this is Folker
                         08, brake...

               He glances to one side, SEES STRAW'S FOLKER lining up...

               ...and BREAKS HARD LEFT as Straw FIRES, clean miss. Both men
               jam their throttles full, Wichman out in front and trying to
               shake Straw's Folker. He pulls hard verticals and 90-degree
               turns, but Straw sticks hard, FIRING at him.

               A half-dozen Ohusq Fighters dive at them, firing laser bolts
               at both Folkers.

               Straw weaves around them as Wichman DESTROYS an Ohusq, then
               spins 180-degrees to put his guns on Straw's Folker.
               A few slugs put holes in Straw's wing as another Ohusq
               fighter clips off one of Wichman's tail fins. DeStefano's
               doorgun lasers blow another enemy fighter apart.

               An Ohusq fighter gets position on Straw's Folker and shoots,
               BLOWING OFF AN ENGINE POD. The other flickers, barely lit, as
               Straw's Folker spins out of control. 

               That Ohusq turns on Wichman; he fires a missile, hitting it
               dead in the face. Boom.

               Straw grabs the stick with both hands, trying to muscle his
               plane into obedience. DeStefano hangs on. ALARMS sound. 

                         C'mon! C'MON!

               Maneuvering thrusters let him stabilize a little, but his
               Folker still jerks around drunkenly. It's all he can do to
               keep Wichman in his sights.

               Both Folkers hurtle towards Alpha's hand, facing each other.

               In pure desperation, Straw mashes the trigger. A solid stream
               of supersonic projectiles rip past Wichman's Folker, unable
               to zero in. It gets close, closer... and ENDS. Straw checks
               his instruments: AMMO: 0 flashes on his panel.

               Wichman's HUD: TARGET LOCK.

                         He's painted us!

               Wichman's finger hovers over his controls; he hits a switch,
               the missile display CHANGES from HEATSEAKER to F/F and he
               instantly PULLS THE TRIGGER.

               Straw sees the missile launch. It's coming right at him.

               DeStefano checks a reading on his panel, and suddenly starts
               working furiously, fingers flying over the keyboard.

                         Sorry, Doctor. 

                         It's okay. See, in order to disable
                         the remote pilot protocols on that
                         Folker, Steve had to remove the
                         IFFR block. For "Identify Friend or
                         Foe Receiver." And he just fired a
                         Friend or Foe missile at us.

               He finishes, closes his eyes and touches a button.

               The missile TWITCHES. Closing, closing...

               ...Straw grits his teeth...

               ...the missile ZIPS RIGHT PAST Straw's Folker, much to his
               surprise. Straw whips around to see it turn around and zoom
               past again, this time on track for Wichman.

               Wichman's Folker spins away from them, and flees.

                                   DESTEFANO (FILTER)
                         Thanks, Fatso.

                                   WICHMAN (FILTER)
                         My pleasure, Shorty.

               Wichman's Folker breaks right, releases flares, but the
               missile stays true and DETONATES ON IMPACT, tearing Wichman's
               Folker in two.  

               A small flash, and a MASSIVE EMP DETONATION bursts out of the
               wreckage. The wave spreads five kilometers in all directions.

               All the electronics in Straw's Folker DIE; everything goes
               dark. The Ohusq fighters around them start to tumble, also
               totally without power, and all of them are on a collision
               course with Alpha's right-hand fist.

               Straw and DeStefano look up at it, looming. Helpless.

               Alpha's fist OPENS.

               A wave of hope hits them as His fingers part, giving them a
               clear path straight through. Their tiny ship sails through
               the part as they simply stare in amazement. An Ohusq fighter
               hits the side and EXPLODES, the others simply freefalls along
               with Straw and DeStefano.

               They come out the other side. DeStefano looks back.

                         He stopped flexing his hand.


               The Ohusq fleet is quickly FOLDING OUT. The battle's over.

                         They know.
                         Set our emergency beacon, willya?

               Their Folker drifts through a sea of debris, emergency beacon
               BEEPING, Alpha's passive face in the distance.

                                                               FADE TO:

               INT. STRAW'S OFFICE

               Straw sits behind a crowded workstation/desk in a small, dark
               office. Santosiero ENTERS and takes a chair facing him.

                         You called, boss?

                         You're being reassigned off Alpha. 


                         A Cricket will transfer you to the
                         Eastwood at 1400 hours. You'll get
                         new orders after debrief.

                         Chief, I think I've demonstrated
                         that you need me here...!

                         You're fired, Sergeant. I don't
                         care where we are, if you'd made
                         even a cursory sweep of the area
                         when Wichman vanished like you
                         should've, there'd be one less dead
                         man on this base. But you just
                         shrugged your shoulders and took
                         command and no, I don't need that.

               She glares at him, fuming, somewhere between shock and the
               urge to hit him. Straw doesn't even blink.

               Santosiero gets up without a word and STORMS OUT. 

               Straw leans back and exhales. His Comm BUZZES.


                                   DESTEFANO (COMM. VOICE)
                         It's me. I'm gonna go stretch my
                         legs outside. Care to join?

               Straw cocks his head. Is DeStefano serious?

               EXT. ALPHA

               Straw stands on Alpha's surface, awestruck by the canopy of
               stars overhead. He's in a thick parka and hat, breathing
               through noseplugs, breathing out steam. And he's smiling.

               Behind him, a bundled-up DeStefano holds A METAL CANNISTER.

                         Now this is something.

                         Yeah. How often to you get to touch
                         space without an atmosphere suit?
                         Kinda makes you forget.

               He wanders over to a piece of debris - a fragment of a dead
               starship - and KICKS it away. There's a lot of junk littering
               Alpha's surface, making it feel like a graveyard.

                         I should get someone to clean this
                         place up. CentCom estimates Wagner
                         wiped about half of the Ohusq-Den's
                         navy. That's what we do, y'know.
                         Drift on through and accidently
                         shift the balance of power for the 
                         entire quadrant. Hooray, us.
                             (shouting at Alpha)
                         YOU'D THINK THE OMNIPOTENT CREATOR
                         OF ALL THINGS COULD'VE ORCHESTRATED
                         THAT SHIT A LITTLE BETTER. SO MAYBE
                         NOT ALL THOSE PEOPLE HAD TO DIE FOR
                         NO REASON. HOW'S THAT FOR AN IDEA?

                         You really think Alpha is God?

                         You've been here a few days now,
                         you tell me: did this thing write
                         down a bunch of rules for us on
                         some rocks? Did he talk to anybody
                         through a burning bush? Part a sea?
                         Do you think for a second He loves
                         us or judges us, or even knows
                         we're here? 

                         I think if a shark hadn't dented a
                         Folker, Wichman would've killed us

               DeStefano grins at him.

                         Exactly! Watch this.

               DeStefano unscrews the canister, and slowly pours out a thin
               stream of ash. 

               Solar winds instantly pick it up and bend it into ribbons
               flowing through the air, catching light from a distant star
               as it forms amazing, impossible patterns. It's beautiful.

                         What about his friends, family?

                         Nah. This and a wake is what Steve
                         wanted. Probably figured it'd be
                         more memorable.

                         You never really believed Wichman
                         was back, did you?

                         He was my friend. I had to give him
                         the benefit of the doubt.

               Straw simply nods. 

               The ash flows away down Alpha's body, dissipating, diffusing
               until it's gone.

                         And I did trust him. Steve worked
                         for us, not Wagner. He never
                         reported anything behind my back,
                         which isn't a claim you can make.

                         I have orders. But Wagner doesn't
                         need to know everything.

                         We'll see. 

               They fall silent; neither looks uncomfortable about their new
               understanding. Straw looks around, something in the distance
               holds his attention.

                         Are those mountains?

                         That's a nipple.

                         God has nipples.

                         Yep. Wanna know why?

               DeStefano grins at him. Straw doesn't expect an answer, and
               turns his attention back to the view.

               PULL BACK

               They're standing on Alpha's ribcage, barely even specs
               against the giant's pale skin. 

               Alpha gently soars through space, surrounded by the Sword of
               Damocles and the 9th Fleet. As ever, He ignores them,
               continuing on His way....

                                                              FADE OUT:

                                     END OF ACT FOUR

                                         THE END

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