be sure to check out Joan's latest on her website:

be sure to check out Joan's latest on her website: http://www.joanhilty.net/ (usually she updates her blog every Sunday evening but she can and will surprise you) **Special Note: all of Joan's archives are now up--almost ten years of 'bitter girl.' As Joan says, go wild!**

Monday, June 18, 2012

Return to Equestria: Ponies in a Human World

“So what’s up with you and Tia lately?” Luna asks Twilight one day after the latter’s work ends but before the former begins her nightly duties.

“Nothing,” Twi immediately answers, although the tone in her voice belies her dread of this confrontation.

The Dark Princess stops walking. “Nothing, huh?” she snorts in derision as she dismisses this possibility. “What are you keeping from me?”

Twi gestures after she also pauses . “Sweetie, you’re putting me in a very awkward position,” she demurs in a barely audible voice. “I promised your sister I wouldn’t breathe a word.”

“But we share everything,” Luna responds in kind. “Well we used to anyway; ever since we got back on the air, I feel like you’ve been more and more distant.”

Twi sees the look in her paramour’s eyes and realizes if she doesn’t come clean, it’s all over for them. “We’ve been going back in time as humans, as people,” she softly admits.

“What?” Luna interjects, not comprehending. “You mean like Doctor Hooves and his telephone booth thing?”

“No, I’m not talking about local time travel,” Twi explains while waving this away. “It’s a special magic spell, that takes all our power.” When she sees Luna still not tracking, she pulls on the other, urging, “Come on; Tia will show you.”

But when Twilight and Luna arrive at the Canterlot castle, Princess Celestia doesn’t take this very well. “What are you two doing here?” she immediately inquires of both of them, then she addresses her sibling in particular. “Why aren’t you out raising the moon?”

“I had to tell her,” Twilight Sparkle softly explains with great effort before Princess Luna answers.

“Tell her what, Twilight?” Celestia carefully inquires while glancing very quickly back and forth between her sister and her student.

“About what me and you have been doing,” T.S. cautiously elaborates while raising her hoof to her head, anticipating the explosion. “The time travel business.”

“Oh, so you had to tell her,” the Princess of the Light lashes back at the other. “Well what about Shining Armor? After all, he’s your brother; and Princess Cadence–she’s your sister-in-law; pretty soon all of Equestria will know. Who haven't you told?”

Luna takes this. “She hasn’t told any other pony and she only told me because I forced her to–O.K.?–so stop yelling at her.”

Celestia swings her glare from Twilight to her younger sister. “Everything I ever have, you have to try to take it from me,” the older Princess accuses the younger one.

“O.K., let’s not get back to that again,” Twi hastily intercedes. “Remember, she’s your equal and co-ruler, by your own insistence. Just–show her the portal, all right? She has to know, in case something happens to you. To both of us.”

Princess Celestia’s smoldering glare remains on Luna a beat or two longer than actually necessary but she does activate the portal viewer as requested while mumbling to herself, “Logic; the last refuge of a scoundrel.”

“This is the first time we did it–the time travel, that is,” Twilight narrates when Celestia is slow to explain, the latter still apparently giving her sister the silent treatment while Luna in turn blanches at T.S. over the unintended double entendre. “We’ve done the battle of Gettysburg, the Cuban Missile Crisis, the library at Alexandria–”

“She’s doesn’t know what any of those things are,” Celestia interrupts Twi as the portal’s image shifts. “This is how we began.”

“You mean,” Luna gasps in horror and stunned incredulity after she watches the portal for some time, “we started out as a cartoon for human children?”

“Initially, yeah,” Twilight confirms when the other Princess is slow to answer. “See, this wealthy human philanthropist had a granddaughter who was mildly autistic; her vocabulary wasn’t accumulating and she wouldn’t play with kids her own age, until one day she happened to see this on their television and she really responded to it. So the grandmother arranged for ponies of the day to be genetically altered into unicorns, pegasi and alicorns, and–”

“And the rest is history,” Tia finishes for the other. “Now you understand why this has to kept secret, why I had to tell her,” she continues to her younger sister, referring to Twi.

“Yes Tia,” the Dark Princess responds as she nods. “Now I get it. Twilight, I’m sorry I put you in the middle.”

“No problem sweetness,” Twilight immediately and brightly responds. “New pony’s choice; where would you like to visit first?”

Princess Luna, followed by her sister and T.S. all enter the Manhattan high-rise wearing their new 5th Avenue clothes after an eventful morning of shopping. “Hello,” the Dark Princess first addresses the doorman who has motioned for their collective attention. “We’re here to see Beatrice–”

“Saltzmann,” Twilight supplies after Luna gestures that her memory has temporarily failed her. “Beatrice Saltzmann and her granddaughter Gretchen.”

“Missus Saltzmann and her granddaughter,” the doorman repeats as he is dialing a telephone that he has picked up. “And is Missus Saltzmann expecting you?”

“No,” Princess Celestia simply answers, speaking up from behind the other two. “This is a surprise visit.”

“Missus Saltzmann? I’m sorry to disturb you, but there are three young ladies down here asking for you and your granddaughter,” the doorman explains into the receiver as he looks back up at Luna. “May I have your names please?”

“I’m Twilight Sparkle,” Twi introduces herself while gesturing towards the others. “And these are Princesses Celestia and Luna. We’re from Equestria.”

“I got two Princesses and a Twilight something or other,” the doorman mangles in his peevish Brooklynese. “From Equestryland–”

“Equestria,” Tia impatiently corrects. “And her name is Twilight Sparkle.”

“Uh-huh,” the doorman dejectedly replies into the telephone while eyeing Celestia. “Certainly ma’am.” He hangs up and taps on the log book that’s open in front of them. “Sign in please; all three of you.”

Once done, the doorman gestures to the elevator. “Suite eleven, floor twenty-eight,” he comments in parting.

A few minutes later, Twilight Sparkle knocks on the door to Suite Eleven on the twenty-eighth level. Almost immediately the entranceway opens to reveal an older well-dressed woman in an excited state. “My goodness,” she interjects in surprise, her hand to her heaving throat. “I thought you were schoolmates of my granddaughter, playing a trick on us.”

“Missus Saltzmann,” Celestia begins when the other two are slow to explain themselves. “Thank you for seeing us with no notice. This is my student Twilight Sparkle and my sister, Princess Luna. We’re here to visit you and your granddaughter Gretchen. Is she about?”

For an answer, Mrs. Saltzmann gestures down the hallway and calls out, “Gretchen, you have some visitors to see you. Twilight Sparkle and Princess Luna are here. Come say hello. Gretchen?”

All four adults wait in silence while the ten-year-old girl shyly makes her way down the hallway. When she makes eye contact, Twi breaks into a wide smile and crouches low in her dark skirt and matching high heels while holding out an encouraging hand to the young lady. “Hi Gretchen–I’m Twilight Sparkle. Come and say hi to Princess Luna; we’ve come a long way to see you.”

“You’re–Twilight?” the little girl tentatively inquires. “From My Little Pony?”

Twi nods while gesturing again with her hand. “Yes honey; I am. And this is Princess Luna and Princess Celestia.”

“Princess Celestia?” Gretchen repeats while venturing forward in wide-eyed awe while gazing up. “Wow.”

“Hello Gretchen,” Tia kindly but regally responds from behind her sister. “It’s nice to finally meet you.”

Luna turns to Twi with an expression that conveys to the former, What am I, chopped liver? But before she can say anything, Gretchen’s grandmother throws out, “So what brings you three to our neighborhood?”

“Oh, we’re just here to shop and visit our fans,” Twilight explains from waist level after she finishes hugging the little girl. “And word is, nobody’s a bigger fan than you are, Gretchen. Am I right?”

“Right,” Gretchen confirms with enthusiasm, eliciting smiles all around.

A little while later, while Tia is enchanting Gretchen with tales of Canterlot, Luna and Twi hang back to speak with the grandmother. “Before My Little Pony, I didn’t know what we were honestly going to do with her,” Mrs. Saltzmann recalls, her eyes glistening in the remembered pain. “We had taken her to so many specialists, so many doctors, and she just wasn’t getting any better. My daughter was at her wits’ end; she wasn’t sleeping and her practice was suffering. I didn’t want to institutionalize her, but what was the alternative? Finally, one day she turns on your show and boom! Her change has just been incredible.”

“Autism can be so sad,” Twi agrees after exchanging glances with Luna. “Maybe she’d like to meet the rest of the gang.”

“We can’t bring them here,” the Dark Princess instantly informs the older woman as the former recognized the latter was about to protest. “But–we might be able to take her back with us. For a short time.”

“You mean to BroNYcon?” Mrs. Saltzmann skeptically inquires. “Isn’t that where all of you are from?”

“No,” Twilight disagrees. “To Equestria.”

“Aren’t you cosplayers?” is the next incredulous interrogative.

“No,” Luna evenly repeats. “We’re the real thing.”

“Luna,” Celestia speaks up from the couch where she’s sitting with the little girl. “Gretchen has a question for you.”

After the Light Princess prompts her again, Gretchen manages to ask, “What was it like–on the moon?”

“Cold,” Luna sadly admits. “And lonely. I wouldn’t want to go back.”

In the pause that follows, Mrs. Saltzmann inquires of her granddaughter if she’d like to visit Ponyville. “Can I?” the wide-eyed innocent gushes to Celestia.

All the pony girls defer to the grandmother on this point. “As long as you can have us back by dinnertime,” is the sole still-skeptical condition.

“No problem,” Twilight Sparkle assures the older woman while motioning for her co-conspirators to prepare for their individual contributions to the spell.

Once back in Ponyville, Gretchen’s grandmother decides to leave the tyke with Rarity while she receives the nickel tour. At one point, Gretchen inquires of the marshmallow-white unicorn, “Is this what you do all day long?”

Rarity glances up from her clipboard, over her glasses, at the young foal. “Well, not always,” she begins. “It depends how busy I am with customers and special orders and such, but inventory has to get done, one way or another.”

“Don’t you ever get bored?” is the follow-up.

“Sometimes,” the older pony admits. “Every pony does, at some point. But then I try to find ways of amusing myself.”

“Like how?”

As a response, Rarity picks up her phone and dials a familiar number. “Pinkie Pie,” she barks into it after the intended answers. “Where in the wide wide world of Equestria are you?”

“I see,” Rarity follows up with at her leisure after listening to enough of Pinkie’s random nonsense. “Well how about bouncing over to the boutique? I need some help with inventory; also, I have a special visitor here who’d love to meet you.” After another pause, Rarity hands the phone to Gretchen, prefacing by commenting, “Here; you’re on.”

The ten-year-old girl fumbles with the receiver until she has it up against her face. “Hello, Pinkie Pie?” she breathlessly and incredulously inquires.

At the castle in Canterlot, Shining Armor is showing Gretchen’s grandmother around. “So Twilie, Luna and Celestia all went back to visit you?”

Mrs. Saltzmann demurs, waving him off. “You’re not supposed to know about that, but yes off the record, that’s the gist of it.”

S.A. nods as comprehension washes over his visage. “Might have known my little sister would be up to something like this,” he allows as they pause at a castle balcony. “I always suspected what we’ve been told wasn’t all of it. Every pony’s keeping secrets; seems like, anyway, especially since we got back on the air. Worlds within worlds.”

“Well, the truth is a valuable commodity,” Gretchen’s grandmother agrees while taking in the panoramic view as a light summer breeze gently wafts up to them. “Wherever you’re from, I suppose. Whatever you do.” She pauses before she ventures, “So Twilight tells me you’re married to Princess Cadence.”

“Yup,” Twi’s brother confirms without making eye contact. “Signed, sealed and delivered.”

“Any young foals on the horizon?”

Shining Armor smiles before he answers. “Maybe. Don’t say anything to Twilie; it’s not for sure yet.”

“Oh, I can keep a secret,” Mrs. Saltzmann confirms with a twinkle in her eye. “If you can.”

As the afternoon winds down, Gretchen’s grandmother catches up with her young charge at the boutique. “Grandmom, look! I’m helping with inventory!”

“She certainly is,” Rarity gallantly confirms, glancing up over her glasses from her clipboard. “Anytime this youngster needs a job, just send her my way.”

A little while later, while Gretchen is busy wrapping things up with Pinkie, Mrs. Saltzmann approaches Rarity. “I can’t thank you enough for indulging my granddaughter as you have. This is exactly what she doesn’t get at school–individual attention. And it’s made such a difference in her.”

“Well, I was serious about the job,” Rarity offers while taking off her glasses and closing a drawer at the desk where the cash register resides. “If she has school during the week, she always work weekends; that’s when I’m busiest anyway.”

“I will talk to my daughter about that,” Gretchen’s grandmother emphasizes in response. “And I will let you know.”

“Excellent.”

Of course, once back home and in school, Gretchen can’t stop talking about her visit to Equestria to anyone and everyone who will listen, much less keep it a secret. But while most dismiss such enthusiastic tales as fantasy, a few people, her age and older, have enough imagination to believe that maybe, just maybe, places such as Ponyville, Canterlot and the surrounding locales can and do exist and are rewarded with journeys that the others could not even dream about.



Dear Princess Celestia

Gretchen's grandmother just wanted to thank you once again for your hospitality during her and her granddaughter's visit plus she's asking for DNA samples from all of usI think she wants to clone us! Anyway, I told her it was up to you, but can you imagine ponies in a human world? Almost as fantastic as humans in a pony world. Stranger things have happened I guess.

Your Faithful Student,

Twilight Sparkle



Mrs. Saltzmann hangs up the telephone after she says goodbye. “Gretchen,” she calls out from her kitchen. “I have some news for you.”

After the little girl appears as bidden and inquires as to specifics, her grandmother announces, “That was the farm. You’re not going in to Rarity’s boutique tomorrow morning; at least, not right away. The first Pegasus is scheduled to be delivered early tomorrow morning and I want you there for that.” She shows the faxed copy of the ultrasound to her granddaughter, which clearly shows the stubby outline of rudimentary wings along the back of the foal.

“You mean,” Gretchen ventures after she realizes what her grandmother’s done. “This pony can fly?"

“Someday,” Mrs. Saltzmann solemnly confirms as she nods. “Someday, she will.”

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Return to Equestria: Rarity's Wedding

Rainbow Dash flies at top speed to the castle in Griffonland; she brings an important message for Queen Fluttershy and her consort, Miss Rarity.

“So how’s Apple Jack?” Shy politely asks while Dash is trying to decide how best to spill the beans to both of them.

“She’s fine,” R.D. allows at length, her trepidation increasing with every passing breath. “Zap apples just came in and her family’s busy with those. Everything’s square at the factory. For the time being.” She lowers her eyes and doesn’t dare mention the word ‘layoffs’ which is recently on every pony’s mind. “Princess Celestia got some good news, though. That woman Lauren Faust came back and the network is interested in putting the show back on the air.” She waits a beat before she supplies the kicker to this whole deal. “They want the first episode to be your wedding, Rarity.”

"My wedding?” Rarity gasps as the light slowly dawns in her eyes. “Well, whom would I marry?”

“That’s just it,” Dash explains, finally meeting the other’s expectant gaze. “It has to be a guy. Of some nature–colt or a dragon. Just can’t be some pony of the same sex.”

“Well–what if–” Rarity begins but she is immediately cut off.

“If you want to discuss the ins and outs of this, you need to talk to the Princess, and I’ll be happy to fly you there,” Dash curtly states her terms as the preceding two weeks’ series of meetings and letters at the Canterlot castle condenses into an irresolute and opaque mass beyond her understanding or even wish to.

“Well, what do you think?” Rarity is asking Shy.

Shy looks into Rarity’s trance and sees what this means to her; she also thinks back to all that Rarity’s done to keep her afloat. “Let me know what you decide,” Fluttershy allows in a barely audible voice.

Rarity kisses her paramour goodbye with frightening alacrity. “I will,” she promises the other. “Thanks sweetie!”

“You’re welcome,” Shy levelly responds. “Have a safe flight.”

“Are you all right?” Carrot Top inquires of the Queen once R.D. and Rarity are gone.

“Yes,” Shy bravely lies, doing her best to hold back tears. “Is there anything pressing that I need to attend to now?”

“No,” C.T. honestly responds, shaking her head. “Discord’s on top of everything at the moment.” Because of the recent tax increases, because of the growing unrest among the Griffons, the military has had to take a greater role in the day-to-day affairs of state.

“Very well,” Shy replies as she turns to leave.

“Your Majesty,” C.T. dares speak up. “Have you ever wanted things to go back to the way it used to be? Before all this?”

“Yes,” Shy softly admits, not facing the other. “But I know that’s not possible, so–”

“Well, what if I told you there was a way to work it?”

“How?” Shy asks without turning around.

“You could abdicate the throne, as Princess Celestia did with Luna that time.”

“Yes,” Fluttershy sighs in resignation while opening the door to her private chamber. “The coward’s way out. Thank you for your suggestion.”

“You’re welcome, Your Majesty,” Carrot Top softly replies, mostly to herself, in the wake of the Queen’s departure.

Meanwhile, back in Canterlot, Rarity’s initial reaction to what Celestia spells out is, “So what you’re telling me is that for this entire deal to go forward, I have to marry Spike.”

The Princess dismisses the white unicorn’s oversimplification with a wave of her royal hoof. “Not necessarily; that’s merely what the network wants. I imagine you’d have your pick of Ponyville, if not all of Equestria. You know, this is precisely why I sent that Lauren Faust woman home, because I knew you’d take this too personally. You don’t have to do anything, Rarity; you needn’t marry any pony or thing. It’s just, if you did, that would put us back in the network’s good graces.”

“And solve a lot of problems at the same time, at home and abroad,” Rarity finishes for the other when the former senses there’s more on the Princess’s mind than the evenhandedness of her remarks would otherwise indicate.

Celestia gives up some more ground while hoping to prevail in the end. “Yes, toy sales are down, probably because we are so long out of the public’s sight,” she admits without breaking eye contact. “And yes, the occupation of Griffonland is proving more costly on balance than we initially projected. No pony likes layoffs, any more than the Griffons love either higher taxes or ponies plundering their natural resources. I concede, this has come along at a most opportune juncture, but you needn’t star here; the network simply sees you as commanding the highest demographic for this sort of spectacle.”

Rarity feels herself sliding down the chute toward seduction, so she throws out, to end this for at least the time being, “Rainbow Dash also allowed that anything with regard to Fluttershy is off the table; is that true?”

Here the Princess does glance away. “I’m afraid so; she was quite specific on that point.”

“And how soon must I render my decision?”

“A few days, at most. We need to know sooner rather than later, because if you say no, then we have other options to explore.”

“Such as some other pony getting married?”

Celestia nods. “Precisely.”

“Very well, Your Highness,” Rarity sums up as she rises to leave. “Thank you for your time.”

“You’re welcome. Let me know.”

First Rarity drops in on Spike, then Pinkie Pie at the magic shop:

“Hi Rarity,” Pinkie squeals in delight when her old friend enters the store. “What a treat to see you again.”

“Hello Pinkie,” Rarity returns the salutation while she waits for the other to finish ringing a couple of foals up.

“Heard about your wedding,” Pinkie continues to enthuse once her customers have left. “Are you excited?”

Rarity dramatically sighs. “Well, part of me is but then part of me–this entire affair has come along at an inconceivably bad time, I must confess. Things aren’t so great back in Griffonland presently.”

Pinkie Pie hurries by this with an impatient wave of her hoof. “Never mind all that,” she crossly dismisses. “Who are you going to marry?”

“I just spoke with Spike at the boutique,” Rarity reflects as she recalls the scene. “And he understands the situation, with Shy and me. So he’d go along, if I decided on him. And this could really put Equestria back on the map; the thing is, I don’t know how well Her Majesty would react to all this. Plus I’d simply be using Spike, regardless of whether we consummated the marriage or not; I just don’t know what to do.”

Pinkie shrugs. “Whatever makes you happy,” she blurts out without pause, as if the solution were obvious.

Rarity sadly shakes her head. “I wish it were that easy.”

Meanwhile, at the one factory still running, Luna closes the translucent glass door to Twilight’s office as Twi's name and cutie mark show through the filtered light in reverse refraction. “So Rarity’s back from Griffonland?” Twi inquires of her paramour.

“Yes,” the Dark Princess allows while slipping back into her royal Canterlot voice if not timbre. “I think Sis is really worried; she keeps up a brave front but you know as well as I do–”

“Things can’t continue as they are,” Twilight finishes for the other. “If there are any more layoffs, I don’t know how we're going to manage things; warehouses are getting backed up as it is.”

Luna lowers her gaze. “I sneaked a look at the books last night,” she continues in a quiet tone even as the numbers jar her once again while she recalls the initial blood-freezing sensation. “The royal treasury is nearly depleted.”

“Can’t we float a bond issue?” T.S. throws out for discussion.

The Princess demurs. “Pony Bank would have to underwrite it,” she explains. “And after we’ve defaulted on the two other mortgages for the additional factories that are now sitting idle, I can’t see them as overjoyed to have us even walking in the door. Plus Tia would be too embarrassed to ask.”

Twilight nods. “Which leaves us with Rarity and her nuptials.”

“It would seem so,” Luna grimly agrees.

At the next pony staff meeting, Celestia asks Twilight to remain after every other pony has left. “Rarity’s gone back to Griffonland,” the Princess begins once she closes the door to the royal chamber. “I guess she had some kind of awful, terrible nightmare about Fluttershy marrying Discord and me getting jealous and both castles being blown up and I don’t know what all else. Let’s face it–Rarity will never love any pony more than Rarity. That’s merely one of many unpleasant facts of life I’m afraid the time has come for us to confront.

“Twilight, what you have been taught about the origins of Equestria is not the truth; not entirely, anyway. This is something even Luna isn’t privy to; I was told by my mother shortly before she passed away. Millions of years ago, humans ruled the Earth, just as we now dominate Equestria. But the same technology that allowed them to genetically modify what they considered ‘animals’ or ‘dumb beasts’ so that they had the power of speech and the intellectual capability of language also allowed them to explore other dimensions and other forms of existence, so much so that they largely abandoned the Earth for other worlds and colonies. They haven’t died out; there simply aren’t as many around any more in conventional space and time.

“This is where you come in: I’m sorry, but I’m at my wit’s end. Try as I might, I can’t figure out a solution to the present difficulties, so I’m leaving it up to you. I have copies of the humans’ history, in recorded and written form, violent and savage as it may be. I need you to peruse it, learn from it, and I hope save us. Otherwise–”

“Otherwise, we’ve had it,” Twi softly finishes for her Princess.

“I’m afraid so.”

So Spike and Twilight trade places for a few days; while the purple and green baby dragon alternatively spins in Twi’s big manager’s chair and barks random orders to cowardly, craven and churlish underlings, Twi hangs out at the mostly deserted Rarity’s Boutique, studying up on the former lords of the Earth when she isn’t fitting some occasional pony for a new dress or ensemble. By the end of the week she’s ready for her report to the Princess:

“Well, I see what you mean by savage and violent,” Twi begins. “Some of these wars they had, the carnage is completely unbelievable. Having said that, however, I think we’re more alike than we’re dissimilar. The thing about the humans though is they were never satisfied; nothing was ever good enough for them. Their greed was always their undoing; when empires got too big, they simply collapsed because they ran out of money. So maybe the occupation of Griffonland wasn’t the smartest thing we ever did.”

“Well if we recall the troops and pull out, then we have even more unemployment than we have now,” Celestia immediately rejoins and it's not just her pride talking here, since the occupation had been all her idea. “And if the Griffons can’t manage the show themselves, are we really better off letting them degenerate into chaos and anarchy? The Griffon Royal Family killed themselves all off; that wasn't my doing.”

Twilight abruptly stands. “I’m going to talk to Rarity; see if I can sound her out, talk some sense into her. Her and Fluttershy.”

So Twi cruises Griffonland, to find Her Majesty testy and self-defensive. “Good gravy you guys,” Fluttershy explodes for the nth time merely upon seeing Twilight. “I’m sick and tired of every pony walking on eggshells around me; I'm not some baby or emotional basket case. If Rarity wants to marry Spike, then just do it. I couldn’t care less.”

Rather than debate this point and provoke any more royal fury, T.S. starts out with, “Rarity, tell me about your dream.”

“Well,” the marshmallow-white unicorn slowly begins while the seared images play back in her mind's eye. “I wake up one morning and there’s all this acrid haze and foul-smelling smoke all over Ponyville; no one knows what’s going on and then you make a speech in the middle of town square saying that both Princesses are missing and presumed dead, along with Pinkie and Apple Jack, that all of Canterlot has been obliterated and that the Griffon royal castle has also been destroyed. After we hear that Fluttershy has married Discord.”

“As if,” the Queen fires off before any pony can comment otherwise.

“Well if it’s all the same to you, why don’t we just do that then?” Twilight pointedly inquires of Shy, tossing the proverbial kid gloves aside. “We’re in dire straights here guys; some pony has to do something.”

“Discord would never agree,” Rarity interjects before Her Majesty can manage an answer.

“Don’t be too sure,” Twi counters with Rarity in an equally determined fashion, to give Shy a much-needed break. “This whole thing is so off-the-wall it might appeal to his depraved sense of humor.”

“We can make it a double wedding,” Shy announces, the light finally dawning in her eyes. “With Celestia presiding, to make sure there are no hard feelings; the network will love it.”

“That’s it!” Twilight Sparkle exclaims in triumph. "You did it again, Shy!"

So, amid much pomp and circumstance, with extremely tight security, nuptials are prepared, televised and consummated; the only thing missing is Rainbow Dash and her sonic rainboom.

“Every other pony will be at the wedding,” Dash explains to Rarity. “Suppose something happens? I have to guard the fort.”

Indeed, the reception is interrupted when Discord receives an urgent message from R.D. that the Griffons are revolting and that he’s needed back there. Spike sees the change in Rarity’s expression when Shy tells her that she must also return.

“Listen, Rarity,” the green and purple dragon ventures. “I know we were supposed to have a honeymoon and all, but Fluttershy needs you now, more than ever.”

“Are you sure?” Rarity queries her new husband with tears in her eyes.

Spike nods. “Go. I have to watch the store for you anyway.”

“Thank you Spike!” Rarity gushes with honest emotion as she hugs him in farewell. “You’re the best!”

“So they tell me,” Spike mumbles to himself as he watches his new bride take her leave of Twilight and the rest of the wedding party.

“Happy wedding day,” Twi commiserates with Spike once Luna leaves with Rarity, to fly her back to Griffonland.

“Yeah,” Spike dejectedly responds as he downs the last of his champagne. “Hooray for me.”

“Cheer up Spike,” Twilight kindly offers in return. “You saved Equestria. And Griffonland, for that matter.”

“I saved Equestria,” Spike echoes in form and fashion while gesturing in futility. “Big freaking deal.”

Twi shrugs before she rubs noses with the little guy, to lift his spirits. “It is to some ponies.” When that doesn’t work, she ventures, “You know, if Rarity hadn’t agreed to this, some other pony would have gotten married.”

Spike snorts in derision. “Like who?” he demands, refusing to come out of his funk.

“Like me, maybe,” Twi confesses, blushing.

“And who would you have married?” Spike counters with. “Some alicorn maybe, with the initials P.L.?”

“Or maybe some dragon, with the initials S.S.”

“S.S.?”

“Spike Snot-face,” Twilight whispers in his ear. “Don’t worry; Rarity will come back.”

Spike nods in resignation to the truth, that no matter what, that marshmallow-white unicorn will always be part of his life. “She always does, doesn’t she?”


Dear Princess Celestia,

I learned a valuable lesson about problem solving from all this, as well as working with others and delegating authority when you realize you can't save the day. Thank you for trusting me with the truth; I'll keep it safely locked in my heart forever, along with all my memories of us together.

Your Faithful Student,

Twilight Sparkle

P.S. We're back on the air! The fun has been doubled! Huzzah!


Apple Jack opens the employee’s door to the second toy factory at 7:30 am, half an hour before the first shift begins, to the crowd of enthusiastic workers, each happy to have his or her job reinstated. “Welcome back,” she greets the first pony in the dawn’s early light, and indeed each successive pony thereafter; the crisp morning air invigorating every pony's senses. “Welcome back.”

“It’s good to be back,” every pony earnestly responds in kind.

After Pinkie Pie passes out freshly pressed zap apple cider to each and every employee, she proposes a toast. “To pony toys,” she exclaims to cheers and applause. “Long may they sell.”

“Hear hear,” Princess Celestia softly repeats under her breath as she watches the festivities via the green-fire-rimmed viewing portal from afar, all alone once again in her darkened viewing room.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Carolyn and Brandy in Outer Space

[Exterior establishing shot of starship in orbit of planet]

[CAROLYN's voice over]:

Captain's log: stardate something something something something point something. In orbit of some stupid planet in some boring system to do some dumb thing or another. Will update log upon completion.

[Interior of bridge; wide then cut to one-shot of CAROLYN in Captain's chair]: Captain out.

[Three shot of navigator (HUBERT), Captain and helmsman. HECTOR (in helmsman's seat)]:

Uh excuse me Captain, but we're in orbit of Colony Gamma Four and we're here to deliver food and medical supplies. And it's stardate 9869.1.

[Two-shot of BRANDY and CAROLYN once BRANDY walks over from library-computer station. BRANDY]:

How long do you think you can keep making logs like that before Spacefleet Command blows a gasket?

CAROLYN:

I don't know. Want to take a bet?

BRANDY:

Money or trades?

CAROLYN [making a gesture of futility]:

It's always the same; just one boring stupid trip from one boring stupid place to another. Aren't we supposed to be out there, boldly exploring where no one's gone before?

BRANDY:

That was the last crew. They already went everywhere and did everything even remotely exciting or entertaining. Now there's just the routine follow up.

CAROLYN:

Have you ever thought about becoming a vampire?

BRANDY:

No. Where did that come from?

CAROLYN:

I don't know. Just thinking. Maybe you'd make an interesting vampire.

BRANDY:

Why would I want to do that?

CAROLYN [gesturing]:

So you could live forever and suck other people's blood.

BRANDY:

Don't we already have that option with the rejuvenator?

CAROLYN [leaning on her chin, arm on console]:

Yeah I guess we do. It was just a thought.

DAISY [from communications console]:

Captain, Colony Gamma Four reports all food and medical supplies received and accounted for. Colony Governor sends her thanks and regards.

CAROLYN:

Thank you Lieutenant. Please acknowledge thanks and reciprocate. Helmsman, what's our next destination?

HECTOR:

Colony Gamma Five; parts and technical equipment delivery. Also pick up of twenty colonists for standard rotation.

CAROLYN:

Uh-huh. And after that?

HECTOR [after looking down]:

Colony Gamma Six; food, medical and atmospheric generator delivery.

CAROLYN [to BRANDY]:

See what I mean?

BRANDY [shrugs and rolls her eyes]

CAROLYN:

Thank you Helmsman. I'll be in Sickbay if you need me. Otherwise you have the conn.

BRANDY:

Acknowledged Captain.

[Interior sickbay. Wide shot of SHARON monitoring a crew woman on a bed]

CAROLYN [still with same wide shot, camera pans to show Captain entering through sliding door and walking over to medical bed]:

How's it look?

SHARON [tighter three-shot with doctor breaking into a wide smile]:

Like a healthy baby boy.

CAROLYN:

Congratulations.

CREW WOMAN [in blue medical tunic]:

Thank you ma'am.

SHARON [to CAROLYN]:

What can we do for you, Captain?

CAROLYN:

I thought you needed me for another physical.

SHARON:

Don't you feel all right?

CAROLYN [grimacing]:

I think I might have done some damage to my shoulder when Brandy threw me the other day in the gymnasium.

SHARON:

Which one? This one?

CAROLYN:

Yeah.

SHARON [pressing nerve on CAROLYN's indicated shoulder]:

Does that hurt?

CAROLYN:

Not very much. Now I remember; it was the day before yesterday.

SHARON:

Well, two days and it--let's take a look anyway, since you're here. Hop on up.

CAROLYN [after lying down on diagnostic bed]:

Well, am I going to live?

SHARON [after reading some instruments on the panel and consulting her own handheld device]:

Maybe a few more years. Looks like you did bruise this muscle a little; I can give you something for the pain but otherwise it should just continue to heal on its own. Everything else matches the last time you were in.

CAROLYN [after rising from bed]:

Never mind. That's what I thought. Can I use your intercom for a minute?

SHARON:

Help yourself.

CAROLYN:

Captain to bridge. Science officer report.

BRANDY [on monitor]:

First officer here reporting. Everything on track.

CAROLYN:

Good. Turn everything over to Hector and meet me in my quarters.

BRANDY:

Sounds good. See you there. Bridge out.

[Fade to black]

[Interior Captain's quarters. Then tight two-shot of CAROLYN and BRANDY lying together in bed]

BRANDY:

Why don't we head for that shore leave planet, where all you have to do is think of something and it's manufactured underground and it appears before you.

CAROLYN [with one arm over the bridge of her nose, eyes closed]: We just had shore leave; don't you remember?

BRANDY [one arm crooked supporting the side of her head]:

Yeah I know; on Altair Five but this is different.

CAROLYN:

Maybe if we can finish with all these fetching and hauling things. I can talk to Mark about the engines needing this that or the other thing done to them.

BRANDY:

Hector seems on top of everything. They shouldn't need us for a while.

CAROLYN:

Sounds like a segue to something unexpected.

BRANDY:

Want to test it?

CAROLYN [opens her eyes and takes Brandy's head with her hand]: Come here.

[They kiss. Sure enough, the intercom whistles. HECTOR (filtered)]:

Bridge to Captain.

[CAROLYN and BRANDY reluctantly break apart. CAROLYN sits up in bed, her back to camera, and presses intercom button]:

Marks here. What's up Hector?

HECTOR (filtered):

Atmospheric generator delivered to Gamma Six ma'am. Colony Governor is requesting follow-up monitoring in conjunction with planet satellites.

CAROLYN:

Acknowledged. Would you ask Hubert to see to it please?

HECTOR (filtered):

Sure thing Captain. Bridge out.

CAROLYN:

Out. [turns back to Brandy]: Now where were we?

[BRANDY smiles and they kiss again]

[Hard cut to Interior Bridge. Wide shot cuts to one-shot of HUBERT at library-computer station]:

Looking good Hector. Oxygen levels up point one per cent already.

HECTOR:

Continue to monitor. We'll advise planet administration station after a few more passes.

DAISY:

Acknowledged helmsman.

[Red light on console begins to blink; deflector shields have snapped on.]

[HECTOR reaches over to navigator's station while HUBERT looks on. HECTOR]:

Radiation increasing, from the short end of the spectrum.

HUBERT [looking at instruments on library computer station]:

Confirmed radiation readings. Planet atmosphere only for right now. No danger to ship at present orbit.

HECTOR [after checking more instruments and hitting more buttons on his and navigator's workstations]:

Can't figure out the source.

HUBERT:

Maybe it's the atmospheric generator malfunctioning. Maybe we should ask them to shut it down.

HECTOR:

Bridge to Captain's quarters. Acknowledge please.

CAROLYN (filtered):

Marks here. What's happening?

HUBERT [after HECTOR is slow to explain]:

Captain, you and science officer are both needed on the bridge. We may have a problem with the atmospheric generator; the test might have to be aborted.

CAROLYN [sighs (filtered)]:

Why?

HUBERT:

Planet atmosphere radiation is increasing and we can't locate the cause.

CAROLYN (filtered):

Will be right up.

[Hard cut to interior of Captain's quarters. Tight one-shot of BRANDY hastily getting dressed. BRANDY]:

Why are you wearing that green thing again?

[Tight head-shot of CAROLYN after pulling on her shirt. CAROLYN]:

Because this is command grade tunic, Science Officer. Why are you wearing blue again?

BRANDY [crouching down, almost finished dressing]:

I like the gold better.

CAROLYN [sitting on edge of her bed, working on her boots]: Brandy, that was a mistake. They're all green, or they're supposed to be.

BRANDY [on her way out the door]:

Oh.

[CAROLYN follows. Hard cut to interior corridor wide then two-shot as they hurry to turbolift]

[Interior of turbolift. CAROLYN hits intercom button]:

Marks to bridge; any change?

HECTOR (filtered):

Yes Captain. Have ascertained radiation coming from metallic sphere in planet orbit.

CAROLYN:

Have the department heads meet me on the bridge.

HECTOR (filtered):

Already standing by ma'am.

[Interior of bridge; two-shot of CAROLYN and BRANDY as they almost run out of turbolift. CAROLYN]:

Hubert--report on the radiation.

HUBERT [from library-computer station]:

Confined to planet atmosphere at present; no danger to ship or crew.

CAROLYN [to DAISY]:

Daisy?

DAISY:

I've tried all hailing frequencies; I get no answer from the sphere.

CAROLYN:

Hector?

HECTOR:

Sensors show sphere is metallic but its composition is unknown to us. Deflectors aboard sphere prevent any further diagnosis.

CAROLYN:

Put it on the main screen please.

[Wide shot from behind bridge crew to show orange sphere on screen against starfield background]

CAROLYN:

Navigation?

HUBERT [after sitting back down at his normal workstation]:

Sphere is in geosynchronous orbit of planet the same as we are above land mass one. They're matching our speed and altitude exactly above land masses six and seven. Sphere is approximately eight hundred meters in diameter.

CAROLYN:

Brandy, is it a ship of some kind?

BRANDY [after checking several instruments at her station]:

Could be; either that or a device, like a satellite or a buoy.

CAROLYN:

Sharon, what kind of radiation are we dealing with here?

SHARON [from MARK's workstation]:

Not dangerous at this stage anyway. As long as all the colonists stay within their pressure domes.

CAROLYN:

Mark?

MARK [standing next to SHARON]:

If we can get sensors to maybe bypass their deflectors, then I'd have a better idea of what kind of technology we're dealing with. As it is, I think we have to assume it's superior to ours.

CAROLYN:

Daisy, would you raise the planet governor please?

DAISY:

Hailing frequencies are open, ma'am.

CAROLYN [after asking HECTOR in an aside "What's this guy's name again?" & Hector telling her]:

Governor Aberdeen, this is Captain Carolyn Marks aboard the Federation starship currently in orbit of your planet. Are you there?

ABERDEEN (filtered):

Governor Aberdeen here Captain. I hear there's some kind of snag with our new atmospheric generator.

CAROLYN:

Yeah I'm afraid so. There's this sphere on the far side of your planet that seems to be generating radiation at the same rate oxygen is being introduced into your atmosphere.

ABERDEEN (filtered):

Well Captain we're not picking up anything of the sort here.

CAROLYN:

Hm, that seems funny.

ABERDEEN (filtered):

Yes I know. Can you drop a probe by any chance?

CAROLYN [after looking over at BRANDY]:

That might be the best thing; see whose systems are out of whack. Brandy?

BRANDY:

Probe dispatched Captain.

CAROLYN:

Governor, it's away. Are you picking it up?

ABERDEEN (filtered):

Yes Captain. We have it on our screens. And it's showing the radiation you mentioned. I just don't understand why we can't confirm that ourselves.

CAROLYN:

Maybe you aren't meant to.

ABERDEEN (filtered):

I don't understand how you mean.

CAROLYN:

Governor, there's a deflector shield around the sphere that's currently preventing us from any detailed analysis of the craft or structure.

ABERDEEN (filtered):

Well Captain--I'm not trying to tell you how to do your job, but don't you people have a protocol for situations like this?

CAROLYN [after mouthing to BRANDY 'you people']:

Situations like what, Governor?

ABERDEEN (filtered):

Well Captain, again, I'm not trying to be rude or anything here, and we appreciate everything you've brought us, but aren't you supposed to also protect life and property of Federation colonists?

CAROLYN [after a pause]:

That's what we're doing, Governor. All I'm suggesting is that you shut down the atmospheric generator until we can figure out what's going on.

ABERDEEN (filtered):

But what about the radiation?

CAROLYN:

As long as everyone in your three cities remain in the respective pressure domes, there's no danger to life, health or property.

ABERDEEN (filtered):

That's just it Captain. That's why we needed the generator to begin with. We're anxious to begin work outside the domes.

CAROLYN:

I understand that Governor and I'm sorry I don't have an answer for you right now, but we need your cooperation to resolve this problem.

ABERDEEN (filtered):

Why can't you simply destroy the sphere and eliminate the problem?

CAROLYN [after grimacing]:

Because things don't work like that sir. That's how wars get started. We have rules of engagement, as I'm sure you might imagine.

ABERDEEN (filtered):

Captain you have your problems and we have ours. I hope you find a way out of your dilemma. Colony Gamma Six out.

CAROLYN [after sitting there in her Captain's seat stunned for a moment]:

I cannot believe it. He just hung up on me. [to BRANDY]: Did you hear him just now hang up on me?

HECTOR [after checking instruments at his station]:

Not only that ma'am but they are moving a particle beam satellite to the same orbit as the sphere.

CAROLYN [to BRANDY]:

Can you confirm that?

BRANDY:

Yeah I've got it. They're acquiring the target.

CAROLYN:

Are they arming it?

BRANDY [still bent over her viewing station]:

They will be in a minute.

CAROLYN:

The second it's armed, I want you to override it.

BRANDY:

Acknowledged Captain. And it's overrided.

HECTOR:

Second particle beam satellite on parallel course.

CAROLYN:

I don't believe these people. Brandy, have you got this baby too?

BRANDY:

Sure do. Target is being acquired same as before.

CAROLYN:

Override the second it's armed.

BRANDY:

Will do Captain. And number two is also now under our control.

HECTOR:

You want to try for three for three?

CAROLYN:

Brandy?

BRANDY:

This one is locking onto land mass six.

CAROLYN:

They're crazy.

BRANDY:

Acquire as before?

CAROLYN:

Yes.

BRANDY:

And number three is also ours.

CAROLYN:

Hector, how many more of these do they have?

HECTOR:

One more, Captain. And it's just sitting there.

CAROLYN:

Brandy?

BRANDY:

Confirmed Captain. Maybe they learned their lesson for the day.

CAROLYN:

Good thing they had only four. If it had been four hundred we could have had a problem. [to DAISY]: What sector are we in again?

DAISY:

Twenty-Six, ma'am.

CAROLYN:

And who's the admiral in charge of Starbase Twenty-Six?

DAISY:

Admiral Niko.

CAROLYN:

First name?

DAISY:

Arial.

BRANDY:

Going to call this in?

CAROLYN [after gesturing]:

I have no choice now. Get copies of my log and the automatic ship's recorder detail together for transmission.

BRANDY [after turning back to her workstation in resigned disgust]:

Yes ma'am.

CAROLYN [to DAISY]:

Raise Admiral Niko please Daisy. Priority one channel.

DAISY:

Yes ma'am. [presses buttons on workstation]: O.K. Captain, you're on.

CAROLYN:

Thank you Lieutenant. Admiral Niko, this is Captain Carolyn Marks aboard J-class starship 1967. Do you read? Over.

NIKO (filtered):

Admiral Arial Niko here Captain. How can we help you?

CAROLYN:

Well Admiral, I'm sorry to bother you but we just had an incident with Colony Gamma Six which unfortunately needs to be reported.

NIKO (filtered):

Really? What happened?

CAROLYN:

Ma'am, we're tracking an unidentified sphere in their orbit that's spewing out radiation equal to the amount to oxygen being generated by their new atmospheric XD-101 and when we asked them to shut it down they got all hostile on me and tried to attack it theirselves.

NIKO (filtered):

Attack what theirselves?

CAROLYN:

The unidentified sphere.

NIKO (filtered):

Oh.

CAROLYN:

Yeah. The planet governor and I were calmly discussing the problem and then suddenly he goes all 'Well why can't you just shoot them down?' type of thing. Then he hangs up on me.

NIKO (filtered):

Well, that doesn't sound very nice. I'm going to need your duplicate Captain's log along with your ship's automatic recording detail from the incident.

CAROLYN:

Brandy, have you got all that together yet?

BRANDY:

Yes ma'am.

CAROLYN:

Thanks. Could you forward all that to the Admiral please?

BRANDY:

Certainly Captain.

CAROLYN:

O.K. Admiral. You should be getting that soon.

NIKO (filtered):

Already here, Captain. I'm going to need some time to go over this; can you hang there until I call you back?

CAROLYN:

Yes ma'am. Will hang until we hear otherwise.

NIKO (filtered):

Sounds good Captain. And if the situation changes, you'll let me know, correct?

CAROLYN:

You'll be the first. Starship out.

NIKO (filtered):

Starbase Twenty-Six also out.

BRANDY [after walking down from her library computer to stand next to CAROLYN seated in Captain's chair]:

Guess we are hanging.

CAROLYN:

Any chance of breaking through their deflectors, like Mark suggested?

BRANDY [after shaking her head]:

Not much, but I'll keep trying.

CAROLYN:

May as well, as we don't have much else to do until she calls me back. [abruptly stands]: I'll be in my quarters. You have the conn. Continue red alert. Let me know if anything changes. Also put together a standard briefing on this entire planet, from the initial survey to what happened today. I want to know how all this came about.

BRANDY:

Yes ma'am.

[Fade to black after CAROLYN leaves the bridge via the turbolift]

[Interior Captain's quarters; wide then tight shot of CAROLYN sitting at desk going over something on computer monitor. POV then shows Admiral NIKO's detailed service profile on screen]

CAROLYN [after hearing knock at door]:

Come.

BRANDY [after entering carrying tapes in right hand]:

All set for the briefing Captain.

CAROLYN:

Any change?

BRANDY [after gesturing]:

They've finished hooking up the atmospheric generator to the three cities' main filtration system; at least they've stopped pumping oxygen into their atmosphere.

CAROLYN:

Any further radiation from the sphere?

BRANDY [after shaking her head no]:

Not one millisievert after the oxygen stopped, to the nanosecond.

CAROLYN:

That could be construed as communication.

BRANDY:

You're right; it could. What are you so absorbed in?

CAROLYN [gestures for BRANDY to have a look herself]

BRANDY [after surveying the datafile]:

Arial, huh?

CAROLYN [reflecting]:

I guess this whole thing's going to turn on what kind of a person she is.

DAISY (filtered):

Bridge to Captain.

CAROLYN [after hitting the intercom button]:

Marks here.

DAISY (filtered):

Priority one channel from Starbase Twenty-Six, ma'am.

CAROLYN [aside to BRANDY]:

Speak of the devil. [to DAISY]: Thank you Lieutenant. Pipe it down here please.

DAISY (filtered):

Yes ma'am.

CAROLYN:

Captain Marks here Admiral.

NIKO (filtered):

Hi Carolyn. How are you?

CAROLYN [after smiling]:

Hi Arial. I'm fine; how are you?

NIKO (filtered):

I'm just peachy also sweetie. Just calling to let you know that I've reviewed what you sent me with the higher-ups and we've reached a consensus.

CAROLYN:

And what is that, sugar-pie?

NIKO (filtered):

Well, pussycat, since you've demonstrated such a rapport with the planet governor, we'd like you to continue as point person. Simply advise the governor that if he doesn't decide to cooperate, we're prepared to wait him out. Until doomsday, if necessary.

CAROLYN [after smiling again]:

Yeah, there's been a wrinkle to that since we talked last. They've decided to turn off their new atmospheric generator on their own and after-market it to their own pressure domes. My science officer estimates they have over five hundred years before they need any more air from us, if they stay inside.

NIKO (filtered):

How interesting. But at the same time you must be interfering with their precious metals deliveries and payments.

CAROLYN:

You must be psychic Arial--they've already had two supply ships come by since we talked last and they've both gone away empty-handed.

NIKO (filtered):

How interesting again. You bad people must be costing them a lot of money.

CAROLYN [in mock penitence]:

I know; I feel really awful about it. I'm having trouble sleeping at night with my heavy conscience.

NIKO (filtered):

Well maybe when all this is over you could possibly lay over for repairs at my Starbase; you and your crew could catch some R&R when your ship is being repaired from all the damage I'm sure you've been taking.

CAROLYN:

Arial, I just happen to have my first officer in my quarters with me who'd love to give you a ship's status report. Right Brandy?

BRANDY:

Hi Admiral.

NIKO (filtered):

Hi Brandy. You can call me Arial also.

BRANDY:

O.K. Arial. Roger the R&R once we get done here and your hospitality is wholly generous. Will forward to you under separate cover the particulars on the ship; won't waste your time now.

NIKO (filtered):

Sounds good. Well I won't keep you guys any longer; just know we're in your corner and I'm confident you'll resolve this well.

CAROLYN:

Thanks Arial. Appreciate your support. Starship out.

NIKO (filtered):

You're welcome; anytime. Starbase also out.

BRANDY:

Let me see her picture again.

CAROLYN:

I think she's about as tall as you are. I've got some more candids of her. See, here she's wearing her hair up.

BRANDY:

Wow.

CAROLYN:

And here--it's all the way down.

BRANDY:

Sweet.

CAROLYN:

Yeah. Did you say we were ready for the briefing?

BRANDY:

All set and waiting on your orders.

CAROLYN [after gesturing]:

Round everyone up and let me know.

BRANDY:

Yes ma'am. [exits Captain's quarters]

[Hard cut to interior of briefing room. As various personnel enter at random intervals, CAROLYN's voice over narrates]: Captain's log, supplemental. Have been stuck at Colony Gamma Six last three solar days. All post deliveries bases have been advised of delay. So far only the usual level of squawking and complaining. Ready to tangle with planet governor again after full departmental briefing.

[Everyone stands when CAROLYN enters the room; she motions for all to be seated and then gestures to BRANDY to kick things off]

BRANDY:

First of all, everything's still status quo on planet surface; everyone seems to be waiting on us to make the next move. In going over the initial planet survey, it appears that the life forms mainly concentrated on land masses six and seven were given the most perfunctory overview because of the large deposits of rare earths on land mass one; gold, silver, platinum, palladium, uranium, you name it. This appears to be the main problem. The life forms that the sphere seems to be protecting are relatively large mammals most closely resembling tree sloths on Earth, but they are amphibious. Young are born alive and most appear to mate for life. It seems highly unlikely the sphere is the product of their technology, so it's logical to assume that someone is helping them--looking out for them, if you will.

CAROLYN:

John?

JOHN [wearing a blue command grade science uniform]:

The problem is exacerbated by the ethnic composition of the three colonists' groups. The people in the first city, where the governor is, are mostly Irish. The people in the second city are almost all German. And in the third city, almost all Israeli. [after everyone settles down] Right; sociologically, this was an accident just waiting to happen.

CAROLYN:

But you still think greed was the overriding factor here.

JOHN:

No question. All three groups thought they were going to get incredibly rich here. And they probably were, until we showed up at precisely the wrong time to screw up their well-laid plans. Now we're the bad guys because we upheld the Prime Directive.

CAROLYN:

May as well let everyone know; Spacefleet Command's prepared to back us up one hundred per cent on this. How do you see the end game here?

JOHN [after gesturing]:

Unless we want to sit around indefinitely, we're going to need a local presence to monitor the colonists, make sure they behave. Unless you want to remove all ten thousand of them.

CAROLYN [shaking her head after all present give general negative reaction to JOHN's last suggestion]:

Some kind of space station then, with Spacefleet personnel. I didn't want it to come to that, but I don't see any other way either. Brandy, how do you see the correlation between the oxygen and the radiation?

BRANDY:

This planet doesn't have an ozone layer, like Earth does to shield out harmful cosmic radiation. That's one of the reasons why the amphibious tree sloths spend most of their time in the water, because that protects them. They breathe nitrogen, so I'm thinking the oxygen is an irritant to them, and that's why the sphere was radiating at such low levels. As a warning more than a threat.

CAROLYN:

So it sounds like to me, we have the classic economic imperative versus the classic ecological one. And framed within those limits, I can't really see the planet governor to be very sympathetic to the indigenous life forms' interests, compared with the colonists' greed.

BRANDY:

You took the words right out of my mouth; greed is a powerful motivator.

MARK:

Almost as powerful as fear.

CAROLYN:

Mark, are you suggesting we threaten them? The colonists I mean.

MARK [after gesturing]:

Maybe if we did the planet survey the way it should have been done to begin with, we can find a leverage point.

BRANDY [after glancing at CAROLYN]:

There's more we can do, yeah. I really haven't had time to find out much more than what I've related. But if this is coming down to leaving a peace-keeping force here or not, maybe this does warrant some more of our time.

CAROLYN:

Then that's how we'll leave it; all sections of the ship coordinate with Brandy and Mark for full planet survey. In the meanwhile, I'll get with Spacefleet to advise them of our progress. So if no one has anything further. [She waits as no one speaks up] Dismissed.

[All personnel leave except for HECTOR, who is collecting data tapes while DAISY waits for him]

DAISY:

Hector, I don't understand any of this; will you please explain it to me?

HECTOR [on his way out the door while motioning to DAISY to follow]:

Sure, honey.

[Camera continues two shot but flips POV to following them facing forward as they walk down interior corridor. Other crew members pass by at random intervals but traffic is fairly heavy, such as on a city street]

HECTOR:

See, we're on this big ship way out in space and we're having all these really great adventures and meeting all kinds of cool interesting people and stuff.

DAISY [after taking his arm and sighing]:

Why are you always so mean to me?

HECTOR [after gesturing]:

What did the Captain just tell you just now? What did she say?

DAISY:

'Dismissed.'

HECTOR:

No, before that. What did she say?

DAISY:

She said, 'Anything further?'

HECTOR:

Right. That's where you were supposed to ask any questions if you had any.

DAISY [after snuggling against him]:

But I didn't want to ask her; I wanted to ask you.

HECTOR:

That's all well and good honey, but that's not the procedure. You have to learn to listen to what the Captain says and follow her orders precisely. If we ever get into trouble or go into battle, there's no time for miscommunication or yelling and screaming or any of that.

[interior turbolift; continues full two shot]

HECTOR [after sighing]:

Deck twelve. [after turbolift begins moving]: So what is it that you don't understand?

DAISY:

Why was that governor guy so mean to Carolyn?

HECTOR:

Because of what John said; greed makes people do strange things sometimes.

DAISY:

But why are they so greedy?

HECTOR:

Because they're stupid! You can't eliminate stupid people from the universe, the same way you can't impose rationality on human beings. Human beings are inherently irrational, but they couldn't resist the lure of alien technology, now could they?

[turbolift door opens when indicators show their floor is reached. POV flips same way to track two shot ahead of them facing their front down new corridor, which isn't nearly as crowded]

DAISY:

No, I guess they couldn't; I guess some people are never satisfied.

HECTOR:

What about you? Will you ever be satisfied?

DAISY:

I'll never be satisfied with you, darling; I just can't get enough of your strong hot alien love.

HECTOR:

Now that's what I wanted to hear.

[camera stops abruptly as HECTOR and DAISY reach their cabin and door swishes and they enter while camera remains out in the hallway. From interior muffled conversation continues]

HECTOR [in high-pitched voice, imitating someone else]:

Oh look it's the humans again, about to perform their bizarre mating ritual.

DAISY [in similar fashion]:

Let's hide! We don't want to watch this!

HECTOR:

Oh no! They're taking each other's clothes off.

DAISY:

That's so disgusting; that's like the most disgusting thing I've ever seen in my whole life.

HECTOR:

You're telling me; yeah, let's just forget the whole thing.

DAISY:

Harder, Hector! You really need to show me who's the boss!

HECTOR:

You want it harder, baby? I'll show you harder.

DAISY:

Oh Hector!

HECTOR:

Oh Daisy!

[Hard cut to CAROLYN in Captain's quarters catching NIKO up to speed]

NIKO (filtered):

Well, if push comes to shove, I can authorize up to a fifty-person crew in indefinite orbit of the planet. If there's no other way to make sure they respect General Order Number One.

CAROLYN:

We're trying to come up with other options, Arial, but just thought I'd advise you of our last-ditch play.

NIKO (filtered):

Sounds like you're on top of the situation, so to speak, Carolyn, but tell you what--if you finish with the planet survey and still can't think of any other way to swing this, forward me everything. That way I can kick it upstairs to let cooler heads prevail type of thing. And if the powers that be can't figure out anything either, at least we can say we tried.

CAROLYN:

Sounds like a winner Arial honey and I appreciate your patience on this.

NIKO (filtered):

All at the expense of the colonists' greed. Well, I appreciate your handling this in the manner that you have.

CAROLYN:

Nothing to it--just going by the book, right?

NIKO (filtered):

That's the ticket darlin'. Talk to you soon.

CAROLYN:

You got it baby. Starship out. [hits intercom button] Brandy how we coming?

BRANDY (filtered):

A few more passes over land masses four and five and we should be done, Captain.

CAROLYN:

Just caught up the starbase. Arial's on board with our way of thinking.

BRANDY (filtered):

Sounds good. Will let you know when we're finished. Was there anything else?

CAROLYN:

No, that was all. Captain out. [sighs]

[Hard cut to sickbay. CAROLYN walks in on SHARON at her desk. CAROLYN]:

How's everything going?

SHARON [after leaning back in her chair]:

Just a few more things to wrap up; then we'll be ready.

CAROLYN:

So how do you see all this coming out?

SHARON [after introspective pause]:

This whole thing isn't our fault; we just prevented a bad situation from getting worse.

CAROLYN:

I know, but this whole space station thing, having to leave this all open ended, seems like a copout.

SHARON:

Well, maybe the planet survey will turn up something we can use.

CAROLYN:

That's what I'm hoping.

[Hard cut to CAROLYN walking in on JOHN, hard at work at his desk]:

How's everything going?

JOHN:

Well it's going. It's definitely going.

CAROLYN [after she gestures]:

That's what Sharon just said.

JOHN [after leaning back in his chair]:

What's the matter?

CAROLYN [after shrugging]:

Brandy's busy and I have nothing to do.

JOHN [after pregnant pause]:

Well, that stinks.

CAROLYN [after she sighs]:

I know. So what's new with the sphere?

JOHN [after shrugging himself]:

Not too much; Mark and Brandy are still trying to get past the deflector protocol. So far, not much luck.

CAROLYN:

Uh-huh.

JOHN:

But I will show you one thing I noticed.

CAROLYN:

What?

JOHN [after calling up a saved file on his computer screen]:

See this right here?

CAROLYN:

Yeah?

JOHN:

This was set for self-destruct, if any hostile energy had hit it.

CAROLYN:

You mean it would have blown up on its own.

JOHN:

Yup. And we'd never be able to study it, let alone figure out where it came from or who's using it.

CAROLYN:

That's very interesting John. [hits his intercom button] Brandy, are you still on the bridge?

BRANDY (filtered):

Yes Captain.

CAROLYN:

Get everyone into the briefing room in ten minutes. I don't care if the survey's done or not; do you copy?

BRANDY (filtered):

Loud and clear ma'am; will round everyone up.

CAROLYN:

Sounds good; see you there.

[Hard cut to interior briefing room as before. This time, BRANDY and MARK are the last to make it]

CAROLYN:

Nice of you two to drop by, to take time out of your busy schedules.

BRANDY:

Sorry we're late; I just wanted to confirm something Mark just found.

CAROLYN:

And what would that be?

BRANDY [after gesturing to MARK, who gestures back to her]: This, on the fourth land mass. [She pops a data tape into her station's computer] Very large deposits of decent grade uranium and thorium; very difficult to synthesize with even the most advanced replicators, and here it is for the taking.

CAROLYN:

Might appeal to the colonists' greed, might it not?

MARK:

And here on the first land mass. [switches screen to show CGI] If the colonists took just two more pressure domes, albeit larger versions than the ones they're already using, that would cover 86% of the area they were looking to mine anyway.

CAROLYN [after nodding as if reaching a decision]:

Captain to bridge; communications please.

FEMALE CREW MEMBER (filtered):

Yes Captain.

CAROLYN:

Give me the planet governor again, please.

FEMALE CREW MEMBER (filtered):

Yes ma'am. You're on.

CAROLYN:

This is Captain Carolyn Marks again aboard the Federation starship J-class 1967. Is Governor Aberdeen there?

ABERDEEN (filtered):

Yes Captain, I'm here. Thanks for calling me back.

CAROLYN:

No problem; maybe we got off on the wrong foot. We've had time to do some checking, and I when I spoke with you before, I wasn't aware of your cities' ethnic makeup.

ABERDEEN (filtered):

That still doesn't excuse my actions Captain. I do want to apologize for what happened before; I hope you can forgive me.

CAROLYN:

No problem sir, but I should make you aware I have forwarded a complete report on the incident to this sector's starbase; I can't undo that or take it back.

ABERDEEN (filtered):

I read you Captain; that's entirely understandable. So what does that spell for us on this colony?

CAROLYN:

Well, I guess that depends on what you and I can work out on our own, Governor. Then I'll be notifying the starbase's admiral and see what she has to say.

ABERDEEN (filtered) [after some indistinct conversation on his end]:

I see. Well, what is your suggestion?

CAROLYN:

First of all, the sphere represents not only new technology but a new opportunity to contact whatever intelligence sent it out and why they're so interested in protecting the life forms, the amphibious tree sloths as we call them, that are indigenous to land masses six and seven. Since the sphere and anything it does appears to be masked from where you are, some kind of Spacefleet presence in orbit, if for no other reason than to monitor the sphere, seems to be called for.

ABERDEEN (filtered):

I see. What else?

CAROLYN:

Well, my chief engineer just played me some video that was very interesting; maybe I can get him to play it for you right now. [continues to narrate as same CGI shows again] Now here is your planet's fourth land mass; looks like one large pressure dome would cover the indicated area.

ABERDEEN (filtered):

I see. Would the Federation be disposed to perhaps procure us such a dome, in the interests of planet development, of course?

CAROLYN:

Well I can certainly speak to the starbase's admiral about it, see what she thinks. Also, based on the planet survey that we've done most recently, domes would help you guys out on the land mass where you are, leaving you to keep your most recent alterations to the generator we brought you. Mark can you superimpose that as well?

ABERDEEN (filtered):

This is all very generous Captain. Perhaps you should get with the starbase's admiral, see what she says and then get back to us. I'm sure anything Spacefleet suggests at this point would be more than fair to all parties involved.

CAROLYN [after smiling]:

I was hoping to hear you say that Governor. Talk to you soon; starship out. Brandy?

BRANDY:

Well he seems to have taken a few happy pills since we spoke with him last.

SHARON:

Maybe they thought we were going to make them all evacuate.

CAROLYN [after shrugging]:

We may yet, if they repeat any shenanigans like targeting the sixth or seventh land masses again. That's cause right there they can't be trusted with particle beam weaponry.

HECTOR [after conferring with HUBERT, who agrees]:

That's the point I was going to raise. You know, it's all well and good for him to be kissing up to you now Captain, after you reported him to Spacefleet Command and all. I'm not saying he's trying to shoot you through the grease or anything, but still.

CAROLYN [after waving him off]:

Your counterpoints are well taken, both of you, helmsman and navigator, and trust me, when I talk to Arial, I mean Admiral Niko, about this again, that emphasis will not be lost on her. [She looks around] Anything else, anyone? Daisy? What do you think?

DAISY:

I think he did sound scared. And relieved that maybe they can stay.

CAROLYN:

Yeah. That was my impression also. O.K. So does anyone have any questions at all about what we're doing here? Daisy, I'm sorry to keep picking on you, but do you understand what the deal is here? Why this is important?

DAISY:

Yes; Hector explained it to me, in language I can understand.

CAROLYN:

I'm sure he did. All right; good job everyone. Dismissed.

[All leave except BRANDY who remains seated]

CAROLYN:

Where have you been? I missed you.

BRANDY:

I've been busy; some Captain I work for needed all this stuff done in a relatively short amount of time.

CAROLYN [after nodding sardonically]:

Good thing you can take a break now, right?

BRANDY:

That's what I was thinking; good thing.

CAROLYN [after rising and motioning for BRANDY to take her hand]:

Come on. I have to call Arial after we finish.

BRANDY [after she takes CAROLYN's hand]:

Can't keep the Admiral waiting, now can we?

CAROLYN:

Nor the Captain, sweet cheeks.

[They pause for a long slow and protracted French kiss; they break just before the door slides open but they continue into the corridor holding hands]

[Hard cut to Captain's quarters; BRANDY still reclining in bed, partially dressed and CAROLYN similarly at her console, speaking to NIKO]

CAROLYN:

Well that's the way I see it also.

NIKO (filtered):

Well, assuming everything goes according to plan, which it never does of course, according to Murphy's law, how soon can you two make it over here?

CAROLYN [after exchanging glances with BRANDY]:

Arial honey, you know that's on my mind too but now we're busy again; I'm thinking three weeks at least.

NIKO (filtered):

Maybe I should drop by. For an onsite inspection, that is.

CAROLYN:

Baby, if you come out, you know that's only going to gum up the works.

NIKO (filtered):

It wouldn't have to be an official visit you know. You wouldn't have to receive me in state, necessarily, so to speak. I could come out by myself, incognito as it were.

CAROLYN [after looking back at BRANDY once more]:

I suppose that would be at the Admiral's discretion. Rank having its privileges and all.

NIKO (filtered):

O.K. Roger your plans for the space observation station. We'll discuss the pressure dome ideas later. Niko out.

CAROLYN:

What does that sound like to you?

BRANDY [after sitting up]:

Like either you or me are getting a roommate soon.

[Hard cut to establishing shot of starship in orbit of same planet. CAROLYN's voice over]:

Captain's log; stardate 9869.8. Still at Colony Gamma Six to oversee recent developments. Presently receiving support crew from X-class starship dispatched from Starbase Twenty-Six now in same orbit as we are.

[Interior transporter room. Camera pans to show CAROLYN and BRANDY walking through sliding door entrance at the same time. CAROLYN]:

That's all chief; we'll take it from here.

[TRANSPORTER CHIEF leaves. BRANDY takes his place]

CAROLYN:

Energize.

[BRANDY pulls familiar three levels down and ARIAL NIKO in blue command grade uniform materializes on transporter pad]

CAROLYN [after stepping forward to offer her hand]:

Arial, well um congratulations on your um demotion.

ARIAL [after shaking hands with CAROLYN]:

My pleasure Captain. Still fits, doesn't it? I thought I'd be less conspicuous this way.

CAROLYN:

Roger that. And this is Brandy, my science officer and second in command.

BRANDY [after coming around console and offering her hand]:

Nice to have you aboard, Admiral.

ARIAL [after shaking hands with Brandy and waving her off]: Commander will do for now, Commander, if you have to give me any rank at all. But first, I'd like a crack at your sphere, if you don't mind.

CAROLYN:

You can either use our facilities or your own; which ever way you'd like to do it.

ARIAL:

For right now, I'll stick with you guys; we can always use my ship later.

CAROLYN:

Sounds like a plan. Well, we were on our way to the bridge; care to tag along?

ARIAL:

After you, Captain.

[Hard cut to interior of bridge; BRANDY and ARIAL at library-computer station and CAROLYN in Captain's chair]

BRANDY [after catching CAROLYN's eye]:

Captain.

CAROLYN [after rising and walking over to join them]:

What is it?

BRANDY [after indicating several monitors and viewers]:

Looks like they've been waiting on Arial all along.

CAROLYN:

So they've been monitoring our communications I see.

BRANDY:

It would appear so. And have picked up at least a working knowledge of English.

ARIAL:

I'd like to continue this further on my ship, so if you ladies can be spared here--

CAROLYN:

Hector, you have the conn. We'll be on X-class starship if you need us.

HECTOR:

Acknowledged Captain.

[all three exit bridge via turbolift]

HUBERT [after the three women have left and looking back at HECTOR]:

Sweet God in Heaven!

HECTOR:

I know! Was she hot or what?

DAISY [clearly upset at HECTOR]:

Hector!

HECTOR [after turning around to face DAISY]:

I'm sorry honey, but she is BUILT.

DAISY:

SHE is also an Admiral, so can it, you guys--right now!

HECTOR [after pointing back at DAISY]:

Miss Daisy--you heard the Captain. I have the conn. Which means I am your commanding officer. At least for a little bit anyways.

HUBERT:

Enjoy it while you can dude. You think she really is Admiral Niko?

HECTOR:

Why would she be wearing a command grade uniform?

DAISY:

You guys are SO SLOW.

HECTOR:

How are we slow?

DAISY:

Carolyn and Brandy both have the hots for her. And she for them.

HUBERT [after exchanging glances with HECTOR]:

You think?

HECTOR:

A threesome?

DAISY:

HECTOR! SHUT UP!

HECTOR [after rising from the Captain's chair and bounding up the stairs to stand in front of her]:

Do you want to me to slap your face?

DAISY [after swinging around in her chair to face her workstation]:

You couldn't catch me if you tried.

HUBERT [imitating someone else in a deep growling voice]:

Is this the kind of tomfoolery that goes on whenever I'm not on the Bridge? [pauses] Well, is it?

[Turbolift door swishes open. MARK briskly walks in to sit down at engineer's station. HECTOR returns to the Captain's chair. DAISY raises her hand to her ear with the earpiece as if she's listening to something.] DAISY [after nodding]:

Mark, Sharon says the baby's crying.

MARK [after turning to face her]:

Well what does she want me to do about it? I'm on the bridge.

DAISY [after turning back to her work station]:

Sharon, Mark says he's busy. [pause as if listening to Sharon's comment] That's fine; I'll grab her.

MARK:

Why can't Sharon see to her? She's the kid's mother.

DAISY [after rising as if to leave]:

She says she's in the middle of an examination and can't at the moment.

HECTOR [to DAISY]:

Now who's going to do your job?

HUBERT [rises in answer to sit at communications workstation]

HECTOR [also rises to sit at helmsman's station]

DAISY [at turbolift door]:

I'll bring her to the bridge.

MARK:

She can't be up here if she's screaming.

DAISY [in irritation]:

I know.

HUBERT [after several minutes of silence pass; camera moves slowly in, gradually tighter and tighter shot as singing builds to crescendo]:

(singing in mock BASSO OSTINATO) Old man River, that old man river, he don't say nothing, he must know something, he keeps on rolling, he keeps on rolling along. He don’t plant cotton, he don’t plant taters, he don’t do nothing, he must know something, he keeps on rolling, he keeps on rolling along. [Rises from seat to stand] You and me; we sweat and strain. Body all achin' and racked with pain. Tote that barge and lift that bale; you get a little drunk and you land in jail. [Crouches dramatically off to the side] I gets weary and sick of tryin'; I'm tired of living but scared of dyin', but ol' man river, he keeps on rolling, he keeps on rolling along.

DAISY [returns after turbolift door swishes open with the baby in a bassinet]:

Well what did I miss?

HECTOR [after gesturing]:

Hubert was doing his Paul Robeson.

DAISY [after sitting down with the baby and breaking into a wide smile]:

Really? Can I hear?

HUBERT [after sitting down at helmsman's station after HECTOR returns to the Captain's chair]:

Maybe. If you and the baby are real good.

DAISY [after cooing to the baby]:

Hear that, sweetie? We both have to be really really good or Hubert won't sing for us anymore.

HECTOR:

And so far, neither of you are even close.

DAISY [after sticking her tongue out at him]:

You just wait, Hector. If you continue being mean to me, you're going to regret it.

MARK:

Uh-oh. And now come the threats.

HUBERT:

You know what they say about arguing with women; it's pointless.

HECTOR:

Hey you guys; I'm still in command here you know.

DAISY:

So you keep saying Hector. So you keep saying.

[Hard cut to interior of transporter room on ARIAL's X-class ship. ARIAL, CAROLYN and BRANDY all materialize on individual pads. ARIAL]:

Let's go up to the bridge.

[CAROLYN and BRANDY follow without comment]

ARIAL [after they enter turbolift and she selects level for bridge]:

You have a good crew Carolyn.

CAROLYN:

Thanks. I like them; they get the job done. Hubert could lose a little weight, but he works well with Hector. And both of them know when to call me, when they're getting in over their heads. And Daisy's coming along.

ARIAL [after she considers BRANDY]:

Yeah, I noticed that. No egos. And you have a good second in command. That's what I need if I'm going to be successful with the sphere.

CAROLYN:

Wait a second Arial. If this is a prelude to you cannibalizing my crew--

ARIAL:

No it's not Carolyn; if I were going to do that, I wouldn't be discussing it with you, would I Captain? I'd be telling you.

CAROLYN [suitably contrite]:

That you would, Admiral. Sorry.

ARIAL [after waving this away]:

No need to apologize; if I had a crew like yours I'd be protective of them also.

[turbolift door swishes open. Hard cut to interior of ARIAL's bridge. After ARIAL sits down in Captain's chair, CAROLYN assumes helmsman's duties while BRANDY takes up library-computer station. ARIAL]:

I have people at the starbase that I can rotate for support positions; what I really need is somebody like Brandy to back me up.

CAROLYN [after exchanging glances with BRANDY]:

Are you asking me to recommend someone?

ARIAL [looks at her without comment]

CAROLYN [after due consideration]:

John would get the job done.

ARIAL:

Who's John?

BRANDY [after CAROLYN doesn't speak up immediately]:

Her boyfriend.

CAROLYN:

He's command grade, but I really don't have anything for him to do right now. He's had the best luck with the sphere; I'd say he's your guy.

ARIAL:

So you can spare him?

CAROLYN [after shooting ARIAL a look]:

As long as this doesn't turn open-ended. A few months, at the most.

ARIAL:

I don't envision this taking even that long. [after considering sphere, now on her main viewer] Those colonists were so concerned about money and the possibilities the sphere holds may turn out to make the mineral deposits down on the surface look like chump change.

CAROLYN:

It's funny how greed makes you stupid, doesn't it? Like they used to say about crime.

ARIAL:

Yeah, that's true. Anyway. Let's get back to work.

[Dissolve to nine hours later]

BRANDY [after drawing up]:

Well Arial, looks like the sphere does like you.

CAROLYN [agreeing]:

Or it likes who you are.

ARIAL:

Or it's responding to you two not hogging it and kicking it upstairs. But yeah. It does seem to be responding well to me. [after looking around] So are you two ready for some eats and maybe some alcohol?

CAROLYN [after exchanging glances with BRANDY]:

As long as you're buying.

ARIAL [after rising from her seat]:

Right this way.

[again wipe to show passage of time; dissolve to show interior crew rec area, subdued light, CAROLYN, BRANDY and ARIAL sitting around a table with drinks and mostly empty plates. CAROLYN]: Sure Arial, we'll join your new crew. I can be the XO, you can sit in the big chair and Brandy will do what she does best; well, almost what she does best. Wouldn't you rather be out there, doing stuff anyway?

ARIAL:

The only problem with that is that then someone else would be admiral at the starbase, who'd be calling the shots.

BRANDY:

That could be a problem. Maybe we'd better keep it the way it is.

ARIAL:

What you guys don't realize is there're too many captains out there that think they can do whatever they want; we need bright imaginative people like you who'll go by the rules. Which reminds me, I have a surprise for you two.

BRANDY [hands over her face]:

Oh no.

CAROLYN:

Is this a good surprise or a bad surprise?

ARIAL:

A good one. I was speaking with the other admirals about this whole thing, and one of them suggested that the details of how you handled it be incorporated into the cadet training as a textbook example of why you need to follow the Prime Directive. I mean, it's not going to replace the Kobayashi-Maru, but--

BRANDY:

Wow.

CAROLYN:

How do you like that? We finally did something productive.

ARIAL:

Not only that, but you have another assignment: Beta-Epsilon Five.

CAROLYN:

What's the problem?

ARIAL:

You'll find out when you get there.

CAROLYN:

Brandy, guess what?

BRANDY:

What?

CAROLYN:

I think we're back in business.

BRANDY:

Keeping the Galaxy safe from democracy; I mean for democracy, of course?

CAROLYN [after rising]:

Come on; let's transfer John here along with all the rest of the supplies we were supposed to deliver and get the you-know-what out of here.

BRANDY:

Sounds like a plan.

[Fade to black]

[Establishing shot of X-class starship in orbit of planet; J-class ship comes along side during monologue. ARIAL's voice over]:

Admiral's log, stardate 9886.3. J-class starship 1967 now returning from special assignment on Beta-Epsilon Five. Captain and First Officer now beaming aboard for personal oral report.

[Interior X-class transporter room with ARIAL at the controls. CAROLYN and BRANDY materialize on individual pads]

CAROLYN [after stepping off pad]:

Arial.

ARIAL [after coming around from behind console to greet them]: Hi Carolyn. Hi Brandy.

BRANDY [coming up behind CAROLYN]:

Hi Arial. How's everything?

ARIAL:

Oh, pretty good. How are you guys?

CAROLYN:

Fantastic. And I couldn't wait to get back to tell you the good news.

ARIAL:

Great. Well, I've asked John to join us. I hope you don't mind.

BRANDY [after CAROLYN gestures NP]:

No, that's great. We're anxious to get caught up on the sphere.

ARIAL [after walking briskly toward sliding door]:

I thought as much. Hungry? Thirsty? Both? Neither?

[interior shot of hallway as CAROLYN and BRANDY follow ARIAL down hallways. CAROLYN]:

You might twist our arms if you try really hard.

[interior shot of briefing room where JOHN stands when door slides open. JOHN]:

Well look what the tide washed in.

CAROLYN [after she enters behind ARIAL]:

Hi John.

BRANDY [after she enters behind CAROLYN]:

Hi John.

JOHN:

Hi you guys.

ARIAL [to CAROLYN and BRANDY]:

Well, what can we get you?

CAROLYN:

Whatever you're having is fine.

BRANDY:

Same.

CAROLYN [when no one says anything]:

So how's things going with the sphere?

JOHN [after gesturing]:

We're getting there; slowly but surely we're making progress.

BRANDY [after ARIAL sets a glass each in front of CAROLYN and BRANDY]:

So have you discovered who sent it out yet?

ARIAL [after she and JOHN dismiss this]:

No, it's going to be a while before that happens. The aliens want to take it slow, so we're going to have to wait them out.

CAROLYN [after she pulls on her drink and digests this]:

How about the colonists? They been behaving themselves?

JOHN [after ARIAL is slow to speak up, dragging on her drink as well]:

Yeah, I think you put the fear of God in them; they've been minding their manners ever since we delivered another pressure dome to them.

BRANDY [after another awkward pause]:

Great. [she takes another sip of her drink]

CAROLYN:

Well everything's all taken care of on Beta-Epsilon Five; got them all squared away.

ARIAL [after smiling widely]:

Great. I knew you would.

BRANDY [after exchanging eye signals with CAROLYN]:

So John. Ready to come back to our crew?

JOHN:

Nah, I think I'll hang here a little while longer. Check up on the sphere.

CAROLYN [after blinking]:

O.K.

BRANDY [after another sip, longer this time]:

So how have you two been getting along?

ARIAL [after smiling and exchanging glances with JOHN]:

Pretty well. We've been feeling each other out, seeing how the other likes to do things. I'd have to rate John rather highly, now that you mention it, although technically that's not official for another few weeks.

JOHN [after nodding]:

That's nice to know.

CAROLYN [after taking a long last drag on her drink]:

Yup.

BRANDY [to CAROLYN]:

Ready for another one?

CAROLYN [after standing]:

Yeah. What about you?

BRANDY [after following CAROLYN to replicator]:

Make mine a double this time.

CAROLYN:

Sounds good to me.

[ARIAL and JOHN exchange looks again at that]

[dissolve to a few hours later]

CAROLYN:

So how we doing Brandy?

BRANDY:

Real good boss.

CAROLYN:

How's the situation look?

BRANDY:

Dire as always, but I know you'll come through for us in the end.

CAROLYN:

How can you be sure?

BRANDY:

Because you always do.

CAROLYN:

I think something's up with Arial though.

BRANDY:

Why do you think that?

CAROLYN:

She doesn't seem to be saying very much.

BRANDY:

I kind of noticed that too.

ARIAL [after drawing up]:

I just thought you guys would be ready to kick back. You know, take it easy; what we talked about before you got involved in your last assignment.

CAROLYN:

Aren't you interested at all in the details of what happened?

ARIAL [after gesturing]:

I read through all your Captain's logs. You told me it went well. What more is there?

JOHN [intervening]:

Carolyn, I think Arial is concerned she hasn't created a monster in you.

CAROLYN [after collapsing back into her seat]:

Oh.

BRANDY:

I see.

CAROLYN:

Well if there's nothing more that's pressing, I guess we can hang around here for a while. Take it easy. Authorize shore leave and all that.

ARIAL:

Why not?

[interior shot CAROLYN & BRANDY's X-class quarters. CAROLYN's voice over as camera pans]:

Captain's log, supplemental. Shore leave for all off duty personnel is under way. Am hanging here on X-class starship while Admiral Niko evaluates me for possibly becoming an excitement junkie. Hector still has the conn back on J-class starship as First Officer Brandy is still with me. Will advise when orders or the situation changes. Captain out.

[BRANDY looks over at her]

CAROLYN:

Feel like going down to the gym with me?

BRANDY:

Sure.

[interior darkened corridor two shot; no conversation. CAROLYN walking slightly ahead of BRANDY]

[interior turbolift. CAROLYN]:

Gym.

BRANDY [says nothing as turbolift begins to move]

CAROLYN:

So do you think I'm an excitement junkie?

BRANDY [after gesturing]:

It's not just you.

[interior corridor after turbolift's doors have opened. BRANDY]:

It's an easy trap that any captain can fall into, especially the successful ones.

CAROLYN:

Uh-huh.

[interior gym shot; wide then cut to two shot of CAROLYN and BRANDY appraising each other, circling. CAROLYN]: You ready?

BRANDY:

Uh-huh.

[fast cuts to show CAROLYN and BRANDY wrestling. After being pinned and grunting BRANDY]:

You do like to win though.

CAROLYN:

Well who doesn't?

BRANDY [after being pinned again]:

You like to win a lot.

CAROLYN:

Uh-huh.

BRANDY [after being pinned yet again]:

You like to win an awful lot.

CAROLYN:

So what are you implying here?

BRANDY [after she rises from mat]:

I'm not implying anything; I'm simply making an observation.

CAROLYN:

That I like to win. That I have some unhealthy obsession with winning.

BRANDY [after shrugging]:

You said it; I didn't.

CAROLYN:

You like to be pinned.

BRANDY [smiling after dismissing this]:

No I don't.

CAROLYN:

I see what's going on here. You get what you want, and I'm the bad guy. [pantomiming red alert sound and rhythm]:

Guilt complex. Guilt complex.

BRANDY:

You're delusional.

CAROLYN:

Oh really?

[fast cuts again to show CAROLYN and BRANDY wrestling]

[dissolve to show passage of time; resolution to overhead two shot of CAROLYN and BRANDY both lying face up on the mat, both panting]

BRANDY:

Ready for a break?

CAROLYN:

No, now I'm ready for Arial.

BRANDY:

She'd kick your rear end. As tired as you are now.

CAROLYN [after panting some more]:

We'd see. I'm just getting warmed up.

BRANDY [after turning over to meet CAROLYN's level gaze]:

How about a shower?

CAROLYN [after pregnant pause]:

Yeah. O.K.

[Hard cut to tight two-shot of CAROLYN and BRANDY in the shower together, alternately kissing and soaping each other up; segues to both in bed, rolling around under the covers, continuing kissing, et cetera]

CAROLYN [after lying back, breaking from BRANDY and sighing]: Boy was that good.

BRANDY [with her eyes still closed, lying back also]:

Can say that again.

CAROLYN [after reflective moment]:

Glad we don't have to be on duty any time soon.

BRANDY [still with eyes closed]:

Yeah. Thank God for that.

CAROLYN [after considerable pause]:

Do you really think I'm an excitement junkie?

BRANDY [after turning over to face her, trying to obfuscate]: Carolyn.

CAROLYN [after resisting her advance]:

No. Don't touch me. Answer the question.

BRANDY [after closing her eyes again and opening them]: Sometimes I thought you were getting carried away, to some extent. I don't know as I'd call you a 'junkie.'

CAROLYN [confessing]:

It's just such a rush; I can't help it. When I feel like I've accomplished something tangible and I just want to do it again and again, over and over.

BRANDY [confessing back]:

I know. I feel the same thing, vicariously. And I feel proud to be part of our crew, to have helped you accomplish something worthwhile.

CAROLYN [having an epiphany]:

Arial's right though. In the wrong hands it could be used for, or as a cover for, nefarious activities.

BRANDY:

In the wrong hands. But for us though, as long as we're aware of the danger and guard against it. As we would groupthink. I think we'll be all right.

CAROLYN:

Yeah. I agree. So the best thing to do here is hang here until Arial says otherwise and just chill.

BRANDY [after blinking]:

But there's no reason why we can't help, is there?

CAROLYN [after blinking herself]:

No. Let's go--see what John's up to.

[Hard cut to both of them dressed in their usual uniforms converging on JOHN at his work station]

JOHN [after glancing at both]:

Ladies.

BRANDY [after sitting down in the work station next to him]:

Hi John.

CAROLYN [after sitting down on the other side]:

Hi John. How's everything going?

JOHN [after checking some instruments and readings]:

Just fine.

BRANDY:

Good. We're here to help.

CAROLYN:

Right.

JOHN [after drawing up and appraising both]:

O.K. Science Officer, here is what you can be doing-- [he demonstrates on BRANDY's work station]:

And Captain, you can monitor this over here. [shows CAROLYN]

BRANDY [without taking her eyes off the readings]:

All right.

CAROLYN:

O.K.

[dissolve to show passage of time]

BRANDY:

So this is what you do all day long John?

JOHN [looks sardonically at her but doesn't say anything]

[CAROLYN and BRANDY exchange glances but otherwise keep mum]

CAROLYN [after leaning back behind JOHN]:

(silently mouthing to BRANDY) There's got to be more to life than this.

BRANDY [who has leaned back also]:

(mouthing the same way to CAROLYN) I know.

CAROLYN [still leaning back]:

(fake screaming with no sound, eyes closed) This is so boring!

BRANDY [leaning back as well]:

(pulling on imaginary rope next to her head to simulate hanging herself) I KNOW! [sticking her tongue out and crossing her eyes]

JOHN [finally leaning back also]:

What are y'all doing?

[CAROLYN and BRANDY drop their chairs back simultaneously. CAROLYN and BRANDY at the same time]:

Nothing.

JOHN [returning his chair to normal position]:

Uh-huh.

CAROLYN [after regarding her instruments again]:

John, how long have you been at this position?

JOHN:

Some time. Why?

BRANDY:

Has it occurred to you John that uh maybe--

CAROLYN:

Maybe the sphere and/or the aliens are waiting for you to make the next move?

JOHN:

Arial said to go slow.

BRANDY:

John there's going slow and then there's--

CAROLYN:

This. I say we try a little (nudge), just to see what the sphere does and then--

BRANDY:

We wait.

CAROLYN [while they're waiting]:

Arial said.

JOHN [after a while]:

Yes. She did.

CAROLYN:

And if Arial said for you to jump off the roof on a high-gravity planet--

JOHN:

This involves considerably less personal risk.

CAROLYN:

But is she your commanding officer or am I?

JOHN:

You are. But you haven't been around. And you dumped me with her.

BRANDY:

Here we go, right? It all comes spilling out.

JOHN [after drawing up]:

Tell you ladies what. I'm going to eat now; what you do while I'm gone is your business. See y'all later.

[After he leaves, ARIAL bursts in]

CAROLYN:

Hi.

ARIAL:

Hi. Carolyn. Where's John?

CAROLYN:

He went to get something to eat.

ARIAL:

Well something's going on with the sphere.

BRANDY [after CAROLYN says nothing]:

We know. That's what we've been watching.

ARIAL [after considering CAROLYN and BRANDY]:

Might have known.

CAROLYN:

I'm sorry Arial--what was that?

ARIAL:

I said, I just got off the horn with Spacefleet Command. Seems we have a slight problem with Ursus Epsilon Three.

CAROLYN [after exchanging eye signals with BRANDY]:

Really.

ARIAL:

Yeah. Might be just the thing for a person with your--uh, touch, shall we say?.

BRANDY:

Care to give us any more details?

ARIAL:

Your Captain will explain after I've briefed her. In my cabin.

CAROLYN [aside to herself]:

So that's how it is. [After standing] Well, shall we then?

BRANDY [after ARIAL and CAROLYN leave]:

Well well well. She sure took her sweet time about it, but when push came to shove--

JOHN [after returning]:

What did I miss?

BRANDY:

I'll tell you all about it. Later.

[Hard cut to CAROLYN finishing dressing in ARIAL's cabin. CAROLYN (on intercom)]:

Brandy? Grab your stuff and meet me in the transporter room.

[Two shot of BRANDY with JOHN. BRANDY]:

On my way.

[Interior transporter room. CAROLYN enters with her bag. CAROLYN]:

Come on--change in plans. We're taking a shuttlecraft.

BRANDY [from behind transporter console]:

Not going back to the ship?

CAROLYN [after shaking her head]:

No. I changed my mind. Let's go.

BRANDY:

'K.

[Interior turbolift, two shot of CAROLYN & BRANDY. Eyes back and forth but no conversation.]

[Interior deserted shuttlecraft deck. Turbolift doors open to reveal two shot of C&B who both move out without hesitation toward nearest shuttlecraft.]

[CAROLYN accesses shuttlecraft while BRANDY looks on.]

[Hard cut to interior shuttlecraft; two shot of C&B in front two seats. CAROLYN pilots shuttle while BRANDY observes]

BRANDY [after a while]:

Where are we going?

CAROLYN [after some more button pushing and instrument reading]:

You'll see.

[Dissolve to show passage of time; shuttlecraft flying through starfield and fade back to interior shot behind both to show them facing large picture window with star cluster congregating in center of view; otherwise blackness.]

CAROLYN:

This is Federation shuttlecraft TC-118. Do you copy, Perseus Four?

BRANDY [after lifting hand to face]:

Oh no.

FEMALE VOICE [filtered]:

Perseus Four here, shuttlecraft TC-118. How can we help you?

CAROLYN:

Requesting landing clearance.

SAME FEMALE VOICE [filtered]:

Are we expecting you, TC-118?

CAROLYN:

Yes, this is Captain Carolyn Marks of Spacefleet Command. I have an appointment with Prime Minister Loomis later on today.

SAME FEMALE VOICE [filtered]:

Please hold on.

BRANDY:

A boundary dispute?

CAROLYN [aside]:

Shut up. I'll explain in a minute.

BRANDY [under her breath]:

Fuuuuuh. Why did you even bring me? You're not telling me anything and you act like this whole thing is the highest of state secrets.

CAROLYN [hissing to BRANDY]:

I said, SHUT UP!

BRANDY [rolling her eyes while twisting her mouth]

SAME FEMALE VOICE [filtered]:

Roger TC-118, proceed to landing pad twenty-two; you can land there.

CAROLYN [in normal tone]:

Thank you. [After she lands ship and turns radio off]:

It's not just a boundary dispute; it's also a trade dispute and an interplanetary incident. Arial said this whole thing has gone on long enough and everybody's sick of it. So I'm here to end it. As for what you're doing here, I thought you might want to help, but if you're going to be this way about it, just sit here with the ship until I'm done; then we can both leave.

BRANDY:

All right! Fine.

CAROLYN:

Fine.

BRANDY [after CAROLYN's gone, while playing with the computer]: 'Arial said, Arial said.' Freaking nonsense. Don't know what the problem is but--.

[Dissolve to show passage of time; a few hours later. Radio crackles] CAROLYN'S VOICE [filtered]:

Brandy?

BRANDY:

Carolyn?

CAROLYN'S VOICE [filtered]:

Yeah it's me. Are you alone?

BRANDY:

Yeah. Nobody's here. What's up?

CAROLYN'S VOICE [filtered]:

We have a slight problem. I need for you to get us clearance to leave, otherwise I can't do what I came here to do.

BRANDY:

I see. So what happens if I can't get us clearance?

CAROLYN'S VOICE [filtered]:

Then I can't complete the mission. I have to abort it. But we should still be able to leave, one way or another.

BRANDY [after lowering her eyes]:

Hmm. I see. [she sighs, resigned] Well, what do I have to do?

CAROLYN'S VOICE [filtered]:

Get up to Flight Command and either persuade whoever's in charge there to let us leave when I finish or, failing that, figure out a way to bypass the planet's security.

BRANDY:

Wait a minute. [after accessing onboard computer for map] I see it now. How soon are you going to be done?

CAROLYN'S VOICE [filtered]:

Depends on you.

BRANDY:

O.K. I'll call you when I know what's what.

CAROLYN'S VOICE [filtered]:

O.K. Talk to you then.

BRANDY:

K. Out. [continues to work on computer, flipping through screen, which reflects on her face in darkened cabin. After a while, she touches a place on the intercom to initiate a voice link]:

Captain. Are you there?

CAROLYN'S VOICE [filtered]:

Yes, Science Officer?

BRANDY:

All set. Ready when you are.

CAROLYN'S VOICE [filtered]:

Sounds good. Be back in a flash.

BRANDY:

K. Standing by. [continues cycling through computer screens as she waits]

CAROLYN [after hastily entering shuttle and strapping herself into her seat]:

O.K. Let's get the you-know-what out of here.

BRANDY [after firing up the retros]:

Yes ma'am Captain sir. Exiting post haste.

[Exterior landing pad wide shot, showing shuttlecraft launching along with sirens wailing, red alerts signs lighting up and planet security in hot pursuit.]

[Interior two shot from behind] CAROLYN [after becoming visibly alarmed]:

Brandy.

BRANDY [remaining stoic]:

I see them.

[Detail of computer screen showing animated graphic flash and then: HIT ON MAIN REAR DEFLECTOR SCREEN]

CAROLYN:

Brandy, we're taking fire.

BRANDY:

I see that.

CAROLYN:

Well, what the hell is this?

BRANDY:

I don't know. [after sideways suspicious glance] What did you do?

CAROLYN:

I told you--I completed the mission.

BRANDY [after grimacing; eyes back on instruments in front of her]:

You didn't tell me anything!

[Same detail of computer graphic showing four pursuers in formation; lead ship fires and words flash: HIT ON MAIN REAR DEFLECTOR]

[Interior shuttlecraft two shot from behind; then tight one shot of CAROLYN] CAROLYN:

They're trying to knock out our engines.

BRANDY:

I see that.

CAROLYN:

Well?

BRANDY:

We'll be behind their larger moon before they can do any damage. Then we can warp out of here.

[Exterior wide shot of shuttle while being pursued. Ship makes extended right turn to sneak behind larger natural satellite.]

[Interior tight one shot of BRANDY] BRANDY [under her breath as she pilots ship into shadow behind moon]:

Too slow, suckers.

[Interior two shot from behind segues to POV on main screen showing squadron of similar planet security ships forming blockade stance.] CAROLYN:

Brandy!

BRANDY [grimacing as she whips the shuttle around]:

Uh-oh--can't go that way.

CAROLYN:

Try the other moon.

BRANDY:

I am.

CAROLYN:

Brandy, I thought you said you had this planned.

BRANDY:

I did--I just didn't anticipate this kind of a chase.

CAROLYN:

Now all of them are after us!

BRANDY:

I see that. All we need is a few seconds in the shadow of their moon; otherwise we have to outrun their planetary warp dampening aura.

[Exterior wide shot of shuttle now being pursued by initial P4 security squadron along with additional larger moon fighters. Again lead pursuer fires on rear of shuttle.]

[Same interior shuttle two shot rear. Alarms are ringing and warning lights are flashing.] BRANDY [over din]:

Sweet southern Jeasus--who did you kill?

CAROLYN [with eyes averted]:

None of your business.

BRANDY:

Obviously.

CAROLYN:

Just get us out of here.

BRANDY:

I'm trying.

[Exterior wide shot as shuttle passes around front of smaller moon, still being pursued.]

[Interior one shot of CAROLYN] CAROLYN:

Taking the long way?

[Interior one shot of BRANDY] BRANDY [after she shrugs]:

If the small moon's security forces were hanging around waiting for us, it'll take time for them to catch us this way, so maybe--

[Hard cut to interior of briefing room of X-class starship, where ARIAL, CAROLYN and BRANDY are all seated around a conference table. Wide establishing shot followed by individual one shots as each person talks.]

ARIAL:

So that's the way it is; you two can never go back to that planet, because of the outstanding warrants for both of you. Officially, I know nothing about it. Unofficially, great job.

BRANDY [after shrugging]:

Why would either of us ever go back there?

CAROLYN:

Exactly what I was going to say. So then, it worked? He was the logjam?

ARIAL [after nodding]:

Yes. The new guy just wants to make friends--go along to get along--so you did precisely what needed to be done.

CAROLYN:

And Ursus Epsilon Three? That got resolved also?

ARIAL:

It did. As we discussed. All taken care of. [pauses] I have other jobs that need doing--if you two are interested.

CAROLYN [after exchanging eye signals with BRANDY]:

Arial sweetheart, we'll let you know. Right now I just want to get back to my own ship.

[Hard cut to wide establishing shot of bridge of J-class starship 1967 to show CAROLYN in her command chair, BRANDY standing next to her, and HUBERT in navigator's seat with HECTOR in helmsman's chair. Camera swings around to show DAISY in communications seat.]

[Two-shot of BRANDY standing next to CAROLYN in captain's chair.] BRANDY:

You O.K.?

CAROLYN [after meeting the other's eyes]:

Are you?

BRANDY:

I'm fine.

CAROLYN:

Well, so am I. Hector, what's our next destination?

HECTOR [after looking down]:

The New Paris colony ma'am. We're rotating the medical research team that's been stationed there; they're finished with their study and want to go home.

CAROLYN [after nodding]:

I can see how that might happen. Give us warp six, to get us there in a hurry then.

HECTOR:

Warp six, ma'am.

CAROLYN:

Steady as she goes.

BRANDY:

So it's back to business as usual around here?

CAROLYN:

No. When we finish with this, I'll be calling you-know-who, to see what she wants us to do.

BRANDY:

Sounds like fun.

CAROLYN:

I know.

BRANDY: So tune in next week everybody, for another exciting adventure of Carolyn--

CAROLYN:

And Brandy--

ALL IN UNISON:

In Outer Space.

DAISY:

Oh wait--we have a preview from next week's episode.

BRANDY:

That we do. Shall I play it, Captain?

CAROLYN:

Roll it, Brandy.

[Hard cut to interior rec room; DAISY is playing 3-D chess against the computer alone. ARIAL NIKO in admiral's uniform walks in. DAISY doesn't acknowledge her or look up from the game. ARIAL sees this and approaches DAISY.] ARIAL:

Hi Daisy.

DAISY [after looking up from game]:

Hi.

ARIAL [after offering her hand]:

I'm Arial.

DAISY [after shaking her proffered hand]:

Hi Arial--I'm Daisy.

ARIAL [after smiling]:

Yes I know. Sorry I haven't introduced myself sooner but I've been so busy lately.

DAISY:

I've noticed. So you still have to do all your Admiral stuff even when you come to visit Carolyn and Brandy?

ARIAL [after ticking her head to the side and rolling her eyes]: Yeah, there's a lot of administrative work that unfortunately has to get done; personnel decisions, meetings with other admirals, this kind of thing. Spacefleet Command has a rather large bureaucracy, as you might well imagine. What about you--where's Hector?

DAISY [after rolling her eyes]:

On duty till Oh three hundred. Then we're going to do something together.

ARIAL [after winking at DAISY]:

I'm sure you will. He looks strong.

DAISY [after nodding]:

He is. But he's also very caring, and he doesn't fool around behind my back. What about you--why aren't you married?

ARIAL [after giving DAISY a sardonic glance]:

Sharon and Mark are married--are they happy?

DAISY [after waving this away in capitulation]:

I see your point.

ARIAL:

Well I'll let you get back to your game. Just wanted to say hi.

DAISY:

That's fine. See ya.

ARIAL:

Not if I see you first.

DAISY:

Right.

[Hard cut to interior Briefing Room, where CAROLYN, BRANDY, ARIAL (in red Admiral's uniform), HECTOR, HUBERT, SHARON, MARK and DAISY are all seated around the table.] DAISY:

Our next mission will be highly critical and immensely complicated; that's why Admiral Niko has asked me to lead the meeting.

HECTOR [after doing a doubletake]:

So she already briefed you?

DAISY [after blushing, eyes averted]:

Yes she did.

[Series of reaction shots of all meeting member]

ARIAL:

The reason I briefed Daisy first was to ascertain whether or not this ship was even capable of attempting this mission; I figured if she can understand it, she can explain it to everyone here in simple terms.

DAISY:

Basically what we're going to try is attempt to right someone else's wrong. Another Federation starship captain did something that she shouldn't have, and now we have to clean up the mess.

CAROLYN:

This captain will remain anonymous, but it's someone I personally know, so for the purposes of this briefing and mission she will be referred to as Captain Smith.

We're going to go back in time via a controlled implosion after an emergency restart of cold antimatter engines. Mark?

MARK:

We have run the simulation as many times as we can, but there is always some risk; it's like when a surgeon does an operation. Due to Murphy's law, something can always go wrong.

SHARON:

As a doctor, I can tell you from personal experience, even the most competent practitioner can make an error in judgment, or bad luck can intervene, or the power can go out, et cetera.

BRANDY:

Right. Well, that's why we're having this meeting; to prepare as much as possible and I hope learn from other people's mistakes.

DAISY [to CAROLYN]:

Should I run the video now?

CAROLYN [after nodding]:

What we're going to now see is the ship's automatic detail recording that was made of the incident. What none of you have been told, what’s been held as the highest of state secrets until just a few days ago when I was personally informed by Admiral Niko, is that this planet’s past has been recently altered by the intervention of Captain Smith's ship, which we’ve been ordered to intercept. That ship was on routine patrol in this quadrant when it accidently hit a black hole in the Gamma Psi area. It managed to escape the hole’s gravitational field but the resulting sling shot propelled the ship back in time, almost twelve hundred Earth years. Once there, Captain Smith unfortunately got caught up in the planet’s dramatic history and did something that she shouldn’t have.

ARIAL:

What Captain Marks has just related to you is true and I must caution everyone in this room that what we are discussing is not to be even hinted at with any of the other ship’s crew nor anyone else. The damage that this other ship caused is not only sensational but politically embarrassing for Spacefleet. There have been far too many accusations in the United Federation of Planets’ General Assembly about starship captains disregarding the Prime Directive, also known as General Order Number One, for whatever reason, and this incident has come along at the wrong time, so an example must be made. Captain.

CAROLYN:

Yes Admiral. Because of my close--relationship with Captain Smith and other reasons, we were chosen for this mission.

[on monitor; wide establishing shot of bridge of other ship; captain has back to chair to camera POV]

SMITH [in captain's chair]:

[All are shocked to see the Captain is Melanie; Melanie’s log continues in background while briefing room members make the following comments nearly simultaneously]

BRANDY:

Melanie?!

HECTOR:

How did SHE get her own ship?

DAISY:

OH MY GOD.

HUBERT:

I thought she was DEAD.

SHARON:

Sweet mother of Christ.

MARK:

Uh-oh.

CAROLYN:

[to ARIAL as an aside] See? I told you. [to everyone else] O.K. Pipe down now, PIPE DOWN YOU PEOPLE.

Captain’s log, additional update. We continue to monitor the activities on the planet’s surface. Science officer McAdams reports the Malovians are preparing for their initial attack against the central government’s barracks and weapons storage.

DAISY:

[after everyone silences] Thank you Captain. Hold on that please, Brandy. (After the playback image freezes) The Malovians most closely resemble the rebels from Cuba in the 1950s Earth history; what he’s referring to is the big first push that the Malovians are getting ready for, against the Barbers, the central government, whom they don’t like, to put it mildly.

The problem with this is that the ancient Barbers, as bad as they were, evolve eventually into the Navar, the dominant civilization on Alpha Centauri Four, or at least it was the dominant civilization until Captain Smith, whom we all now know is Melanie, and company interfered with the normal development of this planet. This entire cluster, this system and the neighboring systems, have consistently voted with Earth; they are an important allay whose loyalty must be maintained. This is where the other ship began their intervention.

[Monitor shows guerrillas fighting against government troops: the rebels are hopelessly outnumbered, caught and put on trial.]

ARIAL (narrating events in the courtroom):

This is how Melanie became personally involved with this whole drama; as you can see, many of the rebels were brutally murdered and otherwise treated harshly by the Barbers. Now the rebels were brutal also, in their own way, later on, but here you can see the leader of the rebels has charisma and speaks very well for himself and his men.

[Eye exchanges between HECTOR, HUBERT and BRANDY as they take all this in.]

SHARON:

Is this where the Captain interfered?

DAISY:

No, it was a few years after this, planet time. I’m just showing you this as background. Their science officer, taking the calculations that Brandy had worked out, figured out how to return to our time and had Captain Smith simply done that, we wouldn’t be in the fix we are today.

MARK:

Excuse me Captain, but you asked me to notify you; we are now five solar minutes to our insertion point.

CAROLYN:

Flash the bridge. Put all sections on red alert. We’ll continue this later.

[Briefing room empties out except for HECTOR]

HECTOR (standing):

Attention all decks: red alert, repeat red alert. We have reached our engine restart insertion point. Cycling stations will begin their shutdown in four solar minutes. (Grabs his tapes and takes off for the corridor where everyone else went.)

[POV camera pulls back on last image to show CHELY intently viewing events as we have seen them. Camera further pulls back to show interior of deep space probe; WALT is about to strike CHELY with rolled-up paperwork, as a newspaper used to be utilized on a puppy’s snout for housebreaking]

WALT:

Will you quit watching that already?

CHELY:

Leave me ALONE!

WALT:

I’m sorry.

CHELY:

No, I’m sorry. I apologize.

WALT:

No, I apologize for raising my voice.

CHELY:

Well, you could also have been more tactful.

WALT:

Look, I’m supposed to be your commanding officer.

CHELY:

Don’t start this again.

WALT:

Don't start WHAT again?

CHELY:

You're yelling once more.

WALT:

Well, you're goofing off.

CHELY:

No, I am not. There is nothing to do, and I am simply waiting on orders. There's a difference.

WALT:

Hm, what a coincidence; so am I. Perhaps we could think of something to do together. To pass the time.

CHELY [in mock astonishment]:

Why Walter--are you suggesting we engage in illegal and/or immoral behavior? I'm shocked.

WALT:

I am suggesting nothing of the kind. I am simply asking you if you're in the mood.

CHELY:

In the mood for what, exactly?

WALT:

In the mood to be romanced, kissed, held, idolized and otherwise made to feel as if you're Helen of Troy?

CHELY [theatrically holding out her hand for WALT to take]:

Oh darling--you make me swoon!

WALT [after kissing her proffered hand]:

So is that a 'yes?'

CHELY:

Only if you turn on the voice mail.

WALT:

You know we can't do that. We have to be available.

CHELY:

Then I guess you don't get what you want, do you?

WALT:

Nor do you, my darling.

CHELY:

What is such a big deal about voice mail?

WALT:

I'm telling you it's off the table. Why are YOU making such a big deal about it?

CHELY:

Because I don't like to be interrupted.

WALT:

I don't mind.

CHELY:

Of course not. Because you're a MAN--and you can do whatever you want, whenever you want.

WALT:

Good garden party--forget I asked.

CHELY:

Fine.

WALT:

Fine.

CHELY [after a few minutes of palatable silence]:

Commander, may I resume viewing transmission?

WALT:

No you may not.

CHELY:

Well, what may I do to please you, Commander?

WALT:

You may stand up.

CHELY [after immediately rising out of her seat]:

At attention?

WALT [after blinking]:

No, you may stand at ease.

CHELY [in much lower voice after WALT approaches her]:

What are your orders now, Commander?

WALT [in equally low tone and volume]:

You may increase your heart rate and respiration as you anticipate my touch.

CHELY:

Your touch?

WALT:

My caress. My kiss. My kisses. All over your body.

CHELY:

What about my chest?

WALT:

Yes, thank you for reminding me. I had completely forgotten about your really nice rack. Your chest should begin heaving as your respiration rate rises.

CHELY [after chest begins heaving and she closes her eyes, throwing her head back]:

Kisses all over take too long. Please confine your smooches to sensitive body areas, Commander.

WALT:

Your wish is my command, my beautiful lady.

[CHELY roars in absolute and unadulterated disgust as intercom whistles; WALT by contrast shrugs as he was about to kiss her on the lips and sits down at communication work station.] WALT [after he touches intercom button]:

Deep Space Probe One Eighty-Seven here. Who's calling?

CARMEN'S VOICE (filtered):

Hi Walt. Hi Chely.

WALT and CHELY simultaneously:

Hi Carmen.

CARMEN'S VOICE (filtered):

How you crazy kids doing?

CHELY [unenthusiastically]:

Great.

WALT:

We're fine here Carmen. How are you?

CARMEN"S VOICE (filtered):

Just peachy keen here also, Walter. Just thought I’d give you guys a shout and find out where you are.

WALT:

What do you mean, where are we?

CARMEN"S VOICE (filtered):

It’s a simple question, Walt; where are you?

WALT [after blinking]:

We’re on board the ship.

CARMEN"S VOICE (filtered):

I KNOW that, silly boy. I mean, where are you out in space?

WALT:

We’re past Sector Two Ninety-Five. Seriously, you guys can’t see us on your scopes?

CARMEN"S VOICE (filtered):

Well Walt, I don’t know how to break this to you, but you must be WAY past Sector Two Ninety-Five if yes seriously we can’t see you on ANY of our scopes.

WALT [to CHELY]:

Chel, where are we?

CHELY [to WALT]:

Same place we were five minutes ago Walt, except five minutes ago you were about to make sweet passionate unrestrained love to me, and now you just want to verbally masturbate with Carmen.

WALT:

Answer my freaking question, you insolent ungrateful wench!

CARMEN"S VOICE (filtered):

Kids, is this a bad time?

CHELY [incredulously]:

KIDS?!

WALT:

She’s just trying to get a rise out of you.

CHELY:

And she has succeeded. I see no children here. This is not a kindergarten.

WALT:

Carmen, I’ll be able to report our current position when my navigator/helmsman decides she wants to resume her duties, rather than simply confining herself to responding to your asinine insult. And no, to further answer your question, this is not a bad time.

CARMEN'S VOICE (filtered):

That time of the month, Chel (pronounces like 'shell')?

CHELY:

No it is not that time of the month, but you have interrupted our foreplay AGAIN, so what is your freaking problem?

CARMEN'S VOICE (filtered):

I have no problems--only solutions, so if you tell me your freaking position, I can let you go and you two can go back to doing whatever you want.

CHELY [after looking down at some instruments]:

We're--two clicks out of Rigel.

CARMEN'S VOICE (filtered):

What are you guys doing there?

WALT [after CHELY is at a loss for words]:

We're doing our job, Car. You of all people I thought would understand that.

CHELY [under her breath, scoffing]:

'Car?'

CARMEN'S VOICE (filtered):

Last I heard you guys were in Sector Two Ninety-Five.

WALT:

Yeah, and there's nothing in Two Ninety-Five so we decided to investigate outside of that sector.

CARMEN'S VOICE (filtered):

Oh, so you decided on your own to disobey orders.

WALT:

No we had no orders to disobey so I decided to use my own initiative to carry out our mission.

CARMEN'S VOICE (filtered):

Which is what, Walt?

WALT [reciting in as bored a voice as he can muster]:

To seek out new worlds, new life and new civilizations.

CHELY:

To boldy go where no man--

WALT:

--or woman--

WALT and CHELY simultaneously:

Has gone before.

CARMEN'S VOICE (filtered):

Just checking. You two have a wonderful day.

CHELY:

We will. Thanks for calling Car.

CARMEN'S VOICE (filtered):

No problem. Be sure to use a condom. Starbase out.

CHELY [after rising from her seat]:

Now where were we?

WALT [after gesturing]:

Um, Chel.

CHELY [innocently]:

What?

[Camera POV shows CHELY turning around to see deflector screens have snapped on. She sits down at her work station and reads some instruments] CHELY:

Large body ahead.

WALT:

You're kidding.

CHELY:

No I'm not. Silica based, one E. On the viewer.

[Three shot from behind them shows WALT in communications chair, CHELY in navigator/helmsman's seat and approaching planet on large 3:2 aspect ratio screen]

WALT:

Standard orbit, please.

CHELY [after touching some places on her console]:

Standard orbit, sir.

WALT [after intercom whistles again]:

And we are being hailed. [after he touches a place on his console] This is Deep Space Probe One Eighty-Seven of Spacefleet Command. We convey greetings and await your reply.

ALIEN VOICE (filtered) [in stilted, affected English]:

Hello, Walter. Time to call your mother.

WALT [after rising from his seat in anticipation]:

My mother? [to CHELY] Turn the transmission back on.

CHELY [slowly, not understanding]:

The transmission?

WALT [agitated, snapping at her]:

What you were watching before; DO IT!

CHELY [finally understanding and touching a different place on her work station]:

Yes sir.

WALT [after engaging his intercom]:

Mom? We have a problem.

[Hard cut to J-class 1967's bridge; DAISY at her work station raises a finger to her earpiece as if listening to something]

DAISY:

Captain? It's Walt, and he says he has a problem.

CAROLYN [in Captain's chair after sighing]:

Everybody, stop what you're doing--just stop. My darling baby boy is calling to say he has a problem.

HUBERT [from navigator's position, with his hand raised theatrically]:

Shall I address intercraft?

CAROLYN [to HUBERT]:

Hold on that; let me see what the problem is first.

[Hard cut to two-shot of WALT aboard DSP187 ending conversation with his mother and CHELY listening silently with no reaction at her work station, the latter occasionally glancing down at her instruments]

WALT:

No, I understand. I got it. Talk to ya later. Love you too. Bye-bye. [after touching a place on his communications work station] Mom says she's busy; is there something I can help you with?

[CHELY turns around to give WALT a withering stare]

WALT:

Uh, make that 'we;' is there anything we can help you with?

ALIEN'S VOICE (filtered) [in similar stilted, halting English]:

Please initiate passionate unrestrained intercourse with Chely.

WALT [after addressing camera and CHELY turns around and begins disrobing]:

Roger that. Sorry guys--but we gotta go.

[Fade to black]

[credits roll, end theme music plays, camera pulls back]

Directed by
Orson Welles

Screenplay by
Truman Capote and Ernest Hemingway

Story by
Dorothy Kilgallen

Based on the Epic Poem 'Paradise Lost'
By John Milton

Cinematography by
Akira Kurosawa

Art Director:
Ksenia Belaya

Assistant Art Director:
Vasilisa Shchurko


Music by
Ludwig Von Beethoven

Arranged by
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Performed by
The London Symphony Orchestra

Soundtrack available on
Columbia Records

Cameo by
Queen Noor of Jordan as the Waitress

Costumes by
Edith Head

Dance sequences staged by
Twyla Tharp

Additional choreography by
Grisha Lubov, by special permission of the Ballet Lermontov

Cameraman:
Ted Moore, BCE

All special effects courtesy of Lucasfilm LTD: Industrial Light & Magic

Read the Bantam Paperback Book; published by Bennett Cerf of Random House

The Producers wish to thank
The Royal Hashemite Monarchy of Jordan for their kind permission in access to certain forbidden Holy Lands
The Guggenheim Foundation
The World Bank
The Hague
Princess Celestia of Equestria
The Cartoon Network
The Coca-Cola Bottling Company
United Technologies
The Estate of John Updike
The Estate of Vladimir Nabokov
Lauren Faust
Rarity & Spike

The James Bond Theme is copyright United Artists and MGM Studios; here used with permission.

No animals were harmed in the making of this motion picture.

No blooper reel is available, so don't even ask.

You in the back there--pick up your popcorn!