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I intend to come back and edit this…


———————————————— Scene 1: Takeoff ————————————————

[Houston(?) Departures Building, guest room]

As I stare at the two duffel bags on the bed, I'm trying very hard to think of anything I may have forgotten. I've got all the uniforms and clothes I own. Toothbrush and comb, mementos and knicknacks I've collected over the years, all present and accounted for. I can't imagine anything else I need to bring with me, but I can't shake the feeling that I missed something back at home. Maybe it's just nerves? I guess I haven't been this nervous since my exams…

A [knock at the door] interrupts my thoughts.

???: “Simon, are you done packing yet?”

Simon: “Yeah, just about.”

There's no time to explore my anxieties now. If I did forget something, it's probably not important. I grab the bags, sling one over each shoulder, and head to the door.


And there he is.

[Nolan CG]

???: “It's about time. We'd be in some real trouble if we missed the launch window. Oh, will you stop carrying those like a kid? Come on, show some composure, let's make a good impression to the techies.”

Captain of the oldest ship still in service, decorated war hero, ace pilot, the face known all around the world. My insufferable, son-of-a-bitch father: Nolan Everett.

I can't say I hate him, though. After all, who else has a dad that will take them out into space?


I follow him down the hall, dropping the the heavier bag off my shoulder. I don't think it makes me look that stupid, but this will probably end up hurting my shoulders less if I have to lug them around for a while. Dad is going on about a bunch of the last minute flight checks that are being performed at this very moment, but I already know all the procedures by heart. I let him talk on about it while I try and get myself centered.

Nolan: “Hey, so I finally got a hold of those test scores from your exams. I haven't had many opportunities to say this to you, so I want you to take this to heart: I'm impressed.”

I really don't feel like talking about the exams, considering how much of my time they ate up not so long ago.

Simon: “I did my best.”

Nolan: “Hah, it shows. Although, it's a shame you didn't get a hundred percent, I'd have loved to shove THAT down the brass' throats. Teach them to try and squirrel my own son to some backwater at the ass end of the universe…”

Simon: “You know I scored the highest of the entire graduating class, right?”

Nolan: “Of course! Don't get me wrong, I really did mean it when I said I was impressed. I can honestly say to everyone that I'm only settling for the very best!”

He laughs, and the sound of it reminds me of a lot of bad times. It reminds me of a lot of good times as well, but they're not quite as poignant right now. It's probably a good idea to keep my mouth shut for now, I don't want to seem hostile… I just wish I knew how to have a real conversation with him. Four years in the International Fleet Academy without a single word from my own father, and I don't even want to think about the years during the war. It's hard to find a way to connect with him after all this time, and my personal feelings about the paths our lives took don't make it any easier.

[Outside, wide view of runway/tower/ship/whatever]

As we step outside of the Departures facility, I'm immediately struck by some powerful emotions. That ship right there is where I'm going to spend a fair amount of my life from now on. I am excited, a little apprehensive, and maybe even frightened. I mean, on one hand, I've spent years preparing for this very day… But on the other, it's strange to say that I may not step foot on Earth again for months, or even years.

Nolan: “Quite a sight, isn't she?”

[Zoom on ship]

He's right, the Arc Valiant has a bit more of an impact when you see it in person. For all the diagrams and technical specs and models I've seen, the real thing just feels… well, real. You can still see a few of the superficial scars the ship has survived in its long years of service, presumably left unpolished for that particular kind of look an old man would find very fitting. I personally might worry about friction during atmospheric reentry, but these old warships were built to take a lot of punishment, so they probably serve well as plain old badass scars.

As we trek over to the launch zone, it becomes easier to see that there are all sorts of people running around in dark green jumpsuits: the launch crew, making sure that everything is accounted for. A few of them notice us approaching, and the news spreads like bad gossip, more and more heads turning in our direction. I'm not surprised, really. They're getting an up close and personal encounter with THE Nolan Everett. Oh, and his prodigal son as well. They'll probably have pub stories for years after this.

Dad instantly goes in for the kill with a winning smile. I've never been sure just how aware he is of his own personal magnetism, but he always seems to make good use of it when the opportunity presents itself. I've never cared to be a public figure, so I let him ham it up with the techies while I take a good long look down the runway.

[Long shot, sunset]

I've spent my entire life on this planet. Like, aside from the one practical exam when I had to make a run to the asteroid belt and back. Hmm, kind of kills the sentiment of the statement. Oh well. I've spent almost my entire life on this planet. I've been looking at the sun day in and day out for almost twenty-five years, and now I'm about to leave it all behind. All of this is going to become just another speck in the sky, and the rest of the universe is rushing in to greet me…

Nolan: “Done saying your goodbyes?”

[Nolan CG]

I wish I knew how he does that.

Simon: “Guess so.”

He's looking at me with a strange expression, can't really tell what he's thinking. I wonder if he's trying to come up with some heartfelt words to start the voyage? Looking behind him, all the techies are evacuating the launch zone, so if he's looking to get a private word with me, now's the most likely time. Ugh, that's so sappy though. I hope he's got more than that.

Nolan: “Listen, son…”

Ah, fuck. I hate being right sometimes.

Nolan: “I've seen the looks you've been giving me, and I'm not going to try and pretend that I don't deserve them. I wasn't there when you needed me most–”

Simon: “Are you fucking kidding me?”

He's taken aback, and quite rightly so.

Simon: “She died. I lost a mother, you lost a wife. What were you supposed to do, buck up and make believe that she didn't mean everything in the world to you?”

I think crestfallen is the best way to describe his whole countenance now, but I'm not stopping here.

Simon: “All right, sure, you left your only son to figure out what to do with his life in the middle of a global war. That's kind of shitty, there's no way around that. It also would have been nice to be able to talk to someone about having lost a mother. But it's not like I don't understand.”

And that's really what I've been trying to tell him for years, I guess. I understand. I'm trying very hard right now not to tear up, because I want to make sure everything is clear between us.

Simon: “I can see what you're trying to do, trying to make it up for me, and I appreciate it… but trying to fix the past is pointless, you know? I'd rather we spent more time looking forward than backward.”

At first he just stares at me, taking it all in. After a few moments, a small smile cracks his face, and I feel like this may be the first time I've seen my father really smile for a long time.

Nolan: “You're right, and I'm sorry. It's just… hard not to see you as my boy.”

[CG of Nolan extending hand]

Nolan: “But I think I can learn to see you as a man.”

If I say anything now, I KNOW my voice is going to crack. I just reach out to shake his hand, and we stand there like that for a little while. This went a lot better than expected, I have to admit.

Eventually the moment passes. No more need for sappy talk now: we've got a launch deadline to meet.

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