Have you read scene one? If not, please find it here. If so, carry on with the screenplay below …
Int. Orbitus Kaltrone Spaceship, Meeting Room 4, Level A3.
Albertan looks at his watch; the hand ticks over to 9:59am. Still dressed in his lab coat, he pushes open the grey door into a room full of fellow scientists and military officers sitting along a large mahogany table. The room is silent. At the head of the table sit MAJOR LENELLE LOVAS and CAPTAIN ARJUN PAE. To Major Lovas’s left sits Lieutenant Holbrook.
Dr Larsson, so glad you could join us.
A sway of heads turn to Albertan. Albertan notices NOVA LA FLOR sitting to one side of the table, tablet and pen in hand. Her dark hair is pinned back and her purple sweater is pulled tightly over her shoulders. Nova acknowledges Albertan with a sweet smile, and Albertan’s glasses slip down his nose. He drags his eyes back to Lieutenant Holbrook.
He regrets the finger gun.
DR FALLON MOREAU, head of Agriculture, stifles a snigger. Albertan takes a seat in front of him. The heads swivel back to Lieutenant Holbrook.
Now that we are all here, we can get started. We must discuss the parameters of our next drop to Planet III. You are probably wondering why Science and Personnel are being briefed in. This time we won’t just be sending our military Operations team.
You, or your selected representative, will be joining us on ground zero.
This causes a buzz around the room.
Albertan looks out the window and catches his reflection in the glass. He leans back into his chair, a smile creeping over his face.
Cut to an amused Nova, the only one who has noticed Albertan’s shifting attention.
[Above the noise]
You mean we get to collect our own samples?
Yes, Dr Moreau. Major Lovas and I do in fact read your complaints and, as we understand it, the quality of samples collected by military staff is just not cutting it for you in the lab.
Understand this, ladies and gentlemen.
The room falls silent. Albertan looks across the table at Major Lovas. Their eyes meet.
MAJOR LOVAS (CONT’D)
It is vital that we get this right. You won’t get a second chance. You are to enter foreign territory, into a world where you do not belong. Until our mission is complete, I expect absolute and utter cooperation from you all. I won’t make the same mistake twice.
There are nods around the room. Albertan gives Major Lovas a nod of his own. She returns it with a straight face.
With that being said, we have a lot to cover. Drop down to ground zero is scheduled in ten days. From now on, the Departments Heads will meet at 0700 hours every day. Operations, Personnel, and Science and Research: do not forget to pick up your selected representative’s release papers from Level A2 – that’s one representative per department.
Captain Pae gestures down the table to a young woman in military uniform. She is stone-faced, with her hands clasped tightly together on the table.
CAPTAIN PAE (CONT’D)
Now, some of you know LIEUTENANT LACI MOREAU. She will be leading the mission to ground zero. Lieutenant, please stand.
Lieutenant Moreau stands and nods stiffly at Captain Pae. He returns the nod and she returns to her seat.
CAPTAIN PAE (CONT’D)
Int. Orbitus Kaltrone Spaceship, Outside Meeting Room 4, Level A3.
The staff file out of the meeting room. Albertan hangs by the door. He gives Dr Fallon a smile as he exits.
Exciting stuff, huh Albertan? Been hassling my sister for this opportunity for months.
Laci pioneered this?
Pae would have you believe it was all him, but Laci understands the need for precise science.
Having two sisters on this ship has really been a blessing, hasn’t it, Fallon?
[Laughs, begins walking away]
For the sake of the science, sure.
Dr O’valim stiffly walks out the door; she and Albertan give a grimace in acknowledgement.
Nova walks out and Albertan grabs her elbow, pulling her to the side. Major Lovas moves past Albertan and Nova. She glances at them, scanning Albertan up and down before turning away. Albertan’s eyes don’t leave Lovas’s retreating figure and as she walks further down the hall, he notices her pull at the neck of her bright red uniform.
[Referring to Major Lovas]
What do you make of that?
[Referring to the meeting]
Pretty amazing. I’ve always wanted to go to ground zero.
[Focusing his attention back to Nova]
Yeah, me too – remember our bet last year?
Yes, and don’t think for a second it won’t be me on the ground first.
But what do you think of Lovas? You work pretty closely with her. What’s she like?
She’s a good leader. She misses her wife and her children, but that’s why she’s here – to ensure they have a future.
Dr Walbert Rune walks out of the meeting room scratching his white beard and instantly makes eye contact with Albertan. He shoots Albertan a two-hand finger gun, laughs and moseys away.
That idiot Rune shouldn’t have a hat in the game. What could Medical do that Research couldn’t? Kamon should join me instead. He’d be so much more use than Rune.
Much more use for Major Lovas? Or for you?
I’m serious, Albertan. Working with the military means following the rules. O’valim looked like she was going to burst a blood vessel when you walked in late.
Late? I was on time. 1000 hours.
Nova pulls Albertan’s left arm out and checks his watch against hers. Albertan gazes down at her, enjoying the close proximity.
Albertan! Yours is ten minutes late.
It’s so I’m always early? … No, that’s not right, is it?
The two share a laugh as DR CLUNEY GLYNN walks into view. Her long hair is parted straight down the middle; one side deep red, the other side white blonde. Her pursed lips highlight her gaunt face. She holds a white clipboard. Albertan turns his back on her to roll his eyes as she approaches.
Dr Glynn, how are you this morning?
[A nod to both Albertan and Nova]
Dr Larsson. Ms La Flor. I’m quite well. I’d be much better if you told me where you were this morning. I waited for our morning briefing, only to hear from Kamon … of all people … that you were up here.
[Turning back around]
Well, you found me.
Yes, I did. I need your signature on these papers.
Albertan adjusts his glasses. Nova looks at her watch.
I’m sorry, but you will both have to excuse me. I have to get back to the Bridge for a meeting. Cluney – a pleasure. Albertan.
Nova walks away, not before looking over her shoulder at Albertan.
[Clicks her fingers]
[Still looking in Nova’s direction]
I need your signature for approval.
Dr Glynn, frustrated, shoves her clipboard at Albertan.
Albertan reaches into the top pocket of his lab coat for a pen.
Apologies. But this is rather urgent.
Albertan looks over the stapled notes. They are release papers for ground zero, pre-filled in with Dr Glynn’s details.
How did you obtain these papers? I thought it was one rep per department.
I got them through Cadet Dineman.
She’s a friend.
Albertan flicks through the papers.
Release papers? I’m not signing these.
But Dr –
I’m not signing these … until I have a thorough read through. And, while I’m at it, if you really are serious about ground zero, then you’ll have your friend Cadet Dineman deliver another two copies down to the lab for Kamon and myself.
[Puts papers under his arm]
Couldn’t have you having all the fun now, could we?
Dr Glynn is visibly annoyed.
Of course, Dr Larsson. Anything else?
[Clasps hands together]
A coffee would be great.
Orbitus was written by Olivia Hides and will be presented in instalments throughout the year. Scene 1 was published on 16 April 2019.