Episode 1 : The Stowaway
*Crowded spaceport. Aliens and humans bustle to and fro.
*a man is moving through the crowd. He is looking for someone. His face lights up as his eyes come to rest in one area Ė clearly he has found that which he seeks.
Shinji: Nakamoto! (a woman turns and her eyes widen in recognition. She pauses so that he can catch up to her) Katsumi, I thought Iíd never find you. The spaceportís more crowded then I recalled.
Kat: Yes, I was going to say the same. Perhaps we should have arranged a more specific meeting place.
Shinji: (laughing lightly) As I recall, you did suggest that before. Kind of you not to rub it in my face.
Kat: (shrugs nonchalantly) You found me, thatís all that really matters.
Shinji: Yes, I did.
Kat: Well, shall we go then?
Shinji: (laughing again) All in good time friend, youíre not expected yet. Weíve time for lunch Ė my treat.
*Cut to the two of them in a casual restaurant. They are settling in at a table.
Kat: If I wasnít expected so early why did we set up such an early meeting time?
Shinji: (amused) One would think you werenít pleased to see me again Kat. Canít you enjoy my company for a time?
Kat: (a bit sheepish) Iím sorry Shinji, guess that was rather rude of me. I am glad to see you, Iím just eager to get out there again.
Shinji: I understand. You havenít been in space since the Nakamotos took you in, have you?
Kat: Only briefly during training. I miss it.
Shinji: (nodding) Some of us are born with the stars in our blood. We cannot be happy except when we are among them. (beat) Which brings me to my reason for bringing you here so early. (she looks at him with a raised brow) I wanted to fill you in on some history Ė see if you had any questions or concerns.
Kat: I see.
Shinji: Well, I told the Captain everything I know about you Ė itís only fair that I tell you all about him. Though perhaps not everything I know, Iíve known him for a very long time and weíve less than an hour to spare. (they both grin) At any rate, Iíll try to hit the highlights for you. Why donít we start with what you know.
Kat: Heís Seishinko, born and raised in space. His parents were with the Shikoshounin before he was born, and presumably still are. He was a member of Angel blade squadron during his brief stay in the military. Theyíre the best which means heís well trained, intelligent, and one heck of a pilot. Heís not yet thirty and heís had his own ship since shortly after he left the squadron several years ago, which makes him the youngest captain ever commissioned by Shikoshounin.
Shinji: Sounds like youíve done your homework Ė heíll like that. The Phantom Starís a good ship, Kenís pride and joy. He acquired her three years ago and left his familyís cargo vessel to captain her. Heís been fairly successful on his own, but most of his crew were Seishinko, like himself, and theyíve all been called back to their familiesí ships due to the labor crisis. Blood runs thicker than and all that.
Kat: All but Ryusaki.
Shinji: Yes. Soto has no family and heís not Seishinko. Kenzan met him in the military and Soto joined the crew about a year ago. Heíll be the only member of the original crew staying on. The others are as new as you are Ė though theyíve had a head start of a several days.
Kat: I looked over their records -the Captain had me send him recommendations. They seem like a good bunch.
Shinji: Only time will tell. (looks at watch) And speaking of time, weíd better get you to your new home.
*Cut to the two walking up to a window of sorts, they can see ships outside. The Phantom is in the foreground Ė this is her dock.
Shinji: There she is, the Seito Maboroshi, the Phantom Star.
*A young man comes up and bows to them.
Shinji: (apologetically) And Iím afraid this is where I take my leave. Darsin will take you the rest of the way.
Kat: You arenít coming? I thought youíd be eager to speak with the Captain again, seeing as heís an old friend.
Shinji: (shaking his head) Iíd love to, but Iíve got other things to attend to. Iíll comm. him later though Ė to check up on you.
Kat: (with mild sarcasm) Youíre all heart Shinj.
Shinji: (throwing a mock salute moves away)
Dar: Shall we? (motions with one arm)
Kat: (turning toward him) of course, lead on.
*Cut to the inside of the Phantom. The twins are in a small room with lots of panels. Some of the panels are open.
Tai: Check this baby out! I love her!
Tea: Sheís a mess.
Tai: Sheís a lean, mean machine. Look at the curves, the way she moves Ė smooth and easy. Sheíll be a breeze to handle.
Tea: (shaking head, disapproval tingeing her voice) Sheís running far below optimum efficiency.
Tai: (throwing an arm around Teaís shoulders) She exceeds manufacturer specs in all areas. (Tea looks at him sourly and he gives her a squeeze) Relax sis, youíll have her way beyond optimum by the end of the day.
Tea: You bet I will, as long as you help me.
*She hands him a tool and he cheerfully complies. She is lying half under a desk like panel and he is above her facing the door when Kat walks by. Tai stops working, his jaw falls a little, as he stares after her.
Tai: (quietly) Iíd like to see how she handles.
*He walks over to the door to watch her walk down the corridor.
Tea: Tai? (raising her voice when he doesnít answer) Tai!
*She comes out and sees him by the door. She stalks over and looks out then rolls her eyes in disgust and yanks him back to work.
*Cut to Kat standing at a door. She presses a side panel and a chime sounds.
Ken O.C.: Come in.
*Kat presses another panel and the door slides open, she steps inside. The inside is a small office. There is a single desk in the back center with a large porthole behind it. Both the chair behind the desk and the two in front are simple metal with padding and are attached to the floor (as is the desk). The walls have a few pictures of planets and nebulae. The desk is very neatly kept. Kenzan is sitting at it, studying a data pad. He looks up and sets it down as he realizes who she must be. He smiles.
Ken: Have a seat (indicates a chair)
*Katsumi sits, crossing legs comfortably.
Ken: Welcome to the Phantom. First thing first. I was in the military, and I expect a tightly run ship. But we donít stand on ceremony. This is family first and foremost. (standing slightly and offering hand) Iím Ken, though I occasionally respond to other names.
Kat: (Standing enough to shake his hand. Both then return to their seats) Katsumi, but no oneís called me that since... ever, except when my mother is being stern.. or serious... Iíve always been Kat.
Ken: Glad to have you onboard Kat. Iíd make a crack about your name, but Iím sure youíve heard them all.
Kat: Thank you. Shinji said hello, by the way. He had some business.
Ken: I know. Nice of him to meet you though.
Kat: (nods) May have had something to do with a promise he made my parents once.
Ken: (interested) Promise?
Kat: (hands held up mock defensively) I donít know the details. All I know is that the one time I tried to walk to my front door without him he got really nervous and started babbling about death threats. (shrug and smile) Theyíre a little protective.
Ken: (laughing) poor Shinji. But it probably prepared him for politics.
Kat: Iím certain.
Ken: Well, at any rate. We wonít be leaving space dock until tomorrow, which gives you plenty of time to settle in. Iíve already commed Soto Ė the arms officer and currently ops too - to come give you the grand tour. Iíd take you myself, but Iíve got to finish the station certs before theyíll clear us to leave. And Iíve still got to finish inventory.
Kat: I can do that.
Ken: You will, starting tomorrow, but not today. You wouldnít have a clue, and thatís no offense to you. My records got all screwed up during our last maintenance Ė I donít even know where everything went. Canít hand over the reins till the horse is groomed... or something like that.
Kat: If you insist.
Ken: I do. Besides, you arenít officially my first officer until tomorrow morning. So I order you to relax and get the feel of the ship today.
Kat: (mischievous glint in eyes, but otherwise serious) But I donít work for you yet.
Ken: I knew I liked you.
*They share a grin.
Ken: So any questions before Soto shows up and steals you away? You may never get another chance. On a ship this small, weíre always busy.
Kat: Just one.
*He looks at her expectantly.
Kat: Arenít you afraid your ship will go the way of its namesake?
Ken: (not at all surprised) Not really.
Kat: I thought all Seishinko were superstitious.
Ken: Not me. But if my parents knew the name of this baby theyíd bathe her in salt and knock on every hull from here to Regantis 4.
Kat: (quirking a brow) Thatís knock on wood.
Ken: Not to the Seishinko.
Kat: You are really something arenít you?
Ken: (shooting her a sideways grin) You know it.
**Chime at door
Ken: Come in.
*A stern looking, older, rather short, man enters. It is Soto. Kenzan and Katsumi stand and move away from the desk.
Ken: Soto! Kat this is Soto, heís been my arms officer for over a year now. Heís a former marine, but donít worry, heís laughing on the inside. And Soto, this is Kat. Our new first officer.
Soto: (bows) pleasure. Shall we?
Kat: (smiling) of course.
*He leads her out the door and across the hall to another door.
*Cut to bridge. The bridge is just big enough for seven people to move without hitting one another. The pilotís chair is up at the front near the view screen and the captainís chair and first officerís chair are behind it in the center. Next to the Pilotís station is the tactical station. Along the back wall are several large computer access panels, but no other stations.
*The twins are on the bridge arguing near the pilot controls.
Tea: Itís the navigational protocols.
Tai: No way! I checked them out three times. Itís gotta be the intermix.
Tea: The intermix is exact.
Tai: Well, something isnít working.
Tea: (giving him the death glare) Obviously.
*Kat and Soto walk in, Soto has his arms behind his back, Katís are free at her sides.
Soto: Tai, Tea, this is our first officer Katsumi Nakamoto, (indicating the twins) Our pilot Tai Matsuki and our engineer Tea Matsuki Ė theyíre twins.
Kat: (gives a nod and smothers a smile) So I noticed. Pleased to meet you.
*Tea nods, grunts and returns to the display. Tai grins and saunters over, taking one of her hands and holding it a bit longer than necessary.
Tai: The pleasure is all mine.
Kat: (skeptically) Mmm.
Tai: If you need anything just let me know.
*Tea growls and walks over yanking Tai away. He grins and goes back to work, but occasionally sneaks a glance back at Kat. She observes them work with a raised brow for a moment before she and Soto head off of the bridge.
*Captain Hamada and his first officer are walking leisurely down a corridor in the Phantom Star.
Ken: So, twenty four hours out of space dock, what do you think? Start at the top.
Kat: You know Soto better than I, but he strikes me as solid, dependable, capable; the Brilli is odd, but I hear thatís characteristic of the species, sheís kind of quiet, mysterious; the twins are bold, intelligent, daring, heís a ladies man-
Ken: Arenít all pilots?
Kat: (ignoring him) But I can keep him in line. Overall theyíre capable, talented, and different as night and day. Itís going to be an interesting dynamic, but I think a good one.
Ken: Thatís the best kind. And I agree with your assessment by the way.
Kat: Thatís good to know. So, now I have a question for you.
Kat: (hiding a smile) Iíd really rather not Captain.
Ken: (laughing) Okay, whatís your question?
Kat: Want to see what I found in the hold?
*Kenzan throws a quizzical look at her, but follows her toward the hold.
*Cut to the two standing outside the door to the hold. Kat hits a button causing the door to slide open. The two step inside (Kenzan has to duck a little)
Kat: I came down here to do a final inventory check, and I heard a noise. I assumed it was phantom noise; crates creaking, the deck groaning as we hit some turbulence - that sort of thing. But something just didnít feel right so I checked it out. I didnít see anything though. So I ran some numbers, calculations involving weight and fuel consumption, and I came to a very interesting conclusion.
*She leads him over to a corner and moves the foremost crate with one smooth shove. Revealed is the crouching figure of a teenage boy. He looks up, eyes wide with fear that quickly turns to defiance.
Kat: (matter Ė of Ė fact tone) We have a stowaway.
Ken: (letting out a low whistle) So we do. Iím impressed, itís only been a day, the variation must have been miniscule. (he pauses to study the boy) What do you propose we do with him? We canít take him back to Earth, weíll miss our rendezvous.
Kat: Weíll have to take him with us to Corbitroe Station and turn him over to the authorities there. Someone must be looking for him, heís pretty young.
Ken: (nodding, then smiling at the boy) Whatís your name boy? (he doesnít answer and they hold each otherís gaze for several beats. Finally the boy breaks down)
Tad: Tadahiko Arishima
Ken: Well Tad, it appears as though youíre coming with us Ė at least as far as Corbitroe Station. But then, I suppose thatís what you wanted all along wasnít it?
*Tad just stares at him defiantly.
Ken: Kat: Youíll move to crewís quarters, but donít get too comfortable Ė you wonít be there for long.
*Tadís face clouds with confusion.
Kat: Youíre using our air, our fuel, our food, and youíre gonna earn every molecule.
Ken: (clapping Tadís shoulder) Thatís right Tad, weíre going to find you a job.
Kat: And there wonít be a word of complaint. Youíre lucky to get off so easy. There are laws against stowaways.
**A beep is heard (it is a comm signal)
Ken: (places his right hand against his right ear pressing first two fingers to eardrum to activate comm) Hamada here
Romi O.C.: (very faintly) Captain, your presence is required on the bridge.
Ken: On my way. (turns back to Tad) Duty calls, but Iíll leave you to Nakamotoís tender care. Sheíll find you something to do.
Tad: (alarmed) Youíre leaving me with her!?
Ken: Thatís right.
Kat: (totally without emotion) Come on, letís go. (when he doesnít move she reaches for his arm.)
Tad: (yanking away) Iím not going with you!
Kat: You are. Or Iíll toss you out the nearest airlock. And donít think I wouldnít do it. Itís well within my rights seeing as how youíre a stowaway.
*(Tad looks worried, but Kenzan seems amused)
Kat: Get up. (Tad hurries to his feet) Now, do you have any skills? (Tad just stares at her uncertainly, she spears him with a glance) I asked you a question.
Tad: (eyes widening) I fix stuff.
Kat: (looks to the Captain, arching a brow) Stuff? Oh this is going to go well.
Ken: (laughing) I can see you two are going to get along great. Take him down to Soto and see what he can do in ops. (with a small salute he turns and leaves the hold)
Kat: (watches him go and then with a sigh turns to Tad, looking him over skeptically) You heard him, letís go.
*They walk silently to crew quarters. Kat stops at a door and he stops several feet behind.
Kat: (pressing panel so that door slides open) This will be your room. Itís not much, but itís clean, and no one else has any better.
*Tad says nothing.
Kat: (very small sigh, softens her tone) I know you arenít very happy with me right now Ė but I was just doing my job. Besides, what were you planning to do? Stay in that hold the rest of your life?
Tad: (sullen) I donít know. Guess I didnít think about that.
Kat: Hmm... what were you doing in there anyway? Wonít your family be worried?
Tad: I donít have a family.
Kat: (understandingly) Thatís rough.
Tad: (defensive, bitter) What would you know about it anyway?
Kat: More than you think. When youíre ready comm. the bridge with this (tosses him a hand held communication device, small enough to hold in his palm) Iíll send Soto for you and weíll see what kind of ops officer you are. (exits)
*Flash through some brief scenes of crew working. Soto showing Tad various stations and Tad working on various things. Tea scowling at him in the engine room. Shot of Tad staring out at the starts longingly. Kenzan sees, and looks thoughtful, but doesnít intrude.
*Cut to Kenzanís office. Kenzan, Kat, Soto, and Tea are there.
Soto: Heís promising. But he lacks training.
Ken: Training we can give him, providing you donít mind.
Soto: (shakes head) In the long run it makes my job easier.
Tea: Heís in the way.
Soto: Heíll learn.
Tea: And in the meantime we have to stand over his shoulder. Look, I have nothing against the kid personally, but I have enough issues babysitting Tai.
Ken: Point taken. What do you think Kat? Youíve been unusually quiet.
Kat: Itís a moot point, Captain. We have a responsibility to turn him over to Social Services. Theyíll meet us when we dock at Corbitroe station. After that, it really isnít up to us at all.
Ken: I see. (beat) Soto, Tea, thank you for your input. Youíre dismissed.
Kat: It isnít a perfect system Ken. Trust me, I know. But itís the only one weíve got. And we canít decide to break the law just because we donít like it.
Ken: I know youíre right. But he isnít going to like it.
Kat: I know... but heíll learn. What kind of an example would we be if we bent the rules for him?
Ken: Are you telling Tad or am I?
Kat: Let him enjoy his last day here, tomorrow will come soon enough. He already knows itís coming.
*Tad is standing at a porthole looking at the approaching station
*Kenzan walks up
Ken: Itís something isnít it?
*Tad looks at him in question
Ken: Seeing it get closer and closer, knowing itís actually you moving closer. But somehow you can never quite believe it.
Tad: Yeah (wistful look) yeah...
Ken: (clapping his shoulder) Well, youíd best get to your station and prepare for docking.
*Kenzan smiles sadly at him as Tad exits
Voice O.C.: Welcome to Corbitroe station. First time visitors please head immediately to the customs booths located on the outer rim of the docking ring.
**voice continues in background, in several alien languages before switching back to English.
*Cut to Phantom Star crew on space station floor. Romi is not with them.
Tai: Itís been too long!
Tea: Weíve been in space for two weeks...
Tai: Two weeks with no new women! Torture! (a passing woman catches his eye) Helloooo... permission to take my leave captain?
Ken: (light laugh) Just donít get into trouble.
Tea: (grinding teeth) He wonít.
*Tai follows after the woman, and Tea follows after him.
Ken: Have fun Soto (grins wickedly)
Soto: Hn (very serious look)
Ken: Right, my mistake. Iíll see you once your business is finished.
*Soto leaves in opposite direction of the twins
Kat: Iíll see how Romi is getting on with the dock crew. Hate for them to drop those crates. I didnít want to return to Earth quite this soon...
Ken: See you.
*Kat nods and exits back toward ship
Ken: Looks like itís just you and me. You ever been to a space station?
Tad: (bitter) Iíve never been anywhere...
Ken: You want some lunch? Corbitroe has itís own agricultural ring, so the foodís fresh.
Tad: (obviously excited, but forcing a bored tone) Sure.
*A woman in glasses and a suit approaches
*Tad becomes extremely uncomfortable
Melissa: Captain Hamada?
Ken: (under breath) Or not... (normal volume) Can I help you?
Melissa: (extends a hand) Melissa Thornton. I see you found our runaway.
*Tadís eyes widen as Kenzanís narrow
Ken: This is Tadahiko. Heís a fine young man. You must
*Tad takes off at a dead run but is stopped by Kenzanís arm around his shoulders
Ken: Whoa there! Slow down pal.
*Kenzan is forced to hold him tighter as he struggles to run
Ken: Whatís gotten into you?
*Melissa is unfazed
Tad: No! ! I wonít go! You canít send me back to the mines!
Ken: Hold on Ė whatís this about mines?
*Melissa ignores him, addressing Tad directly
Melissa: You know the rules, Mr. Arishima. Youíre still underage.
Tad: Iím not going back!
Ken: Iíd appreciate an explanation, Ms. Thornton.
Melissa: (very stiffly) Itís called the social work program. If by the age of 16 a dependant of the system has not been placed with a family the state provides them with a job. This covers the expense of their further care, thus decreasing the strain on the tax payers.
Ken: You send children to work in the mines?
Melissa: Not children, captain. The labor laws clearly state that a minor of 16 years is capable of supporting himself through lawful employment. Which we provide. And frankly it isnít any of your business. He isnít your responsibility any longer.
Ken: He became my responsibility the moment he set foot on my ship.
Melissa: (softening just a bit) Look, captain, I understand. Itís difficult, but if he doesnít work how will he support himself? The social work program isnít perfect, but it does keep young people safe and healthy. Now, tomorrow Mr. Arishima and I are boarding a ship back to earth. Thatís all there is to it.
Ken: Where will he be staying tonight?
Melissa: I have a room on the temporary quarters ring, I can get a second one for Mr. Arishima.
*Tad looks very unhappy, Kenzan notices
Ken: Can he stay aboard my ship? I wonít let him take off on you.
Melissa: (considers) It goes against our policy, but I suppose. So long as you understand that he is fully your responsibility. And I expect him to be ready come eleven hundred tomorrow.
Ken: Understood, Ms. Thornton. I appreciate this.
*Kenzan guides Tad away.
*Kenzan enters his office to find Kat waiting
Kat: (quietly) How did it go?
Ken: You knew, didnít you?
Ken: Itís wrong.
Kat: Itís better than starving on the streets.
Ken: You didnít see him Kat. That boy was born to be in space. Living the rest of his life in the mines will kill him. Itís like caging a tiger.
Kat: I know. But thereís nothing you can do. Unless heís adopted we have no legal right to stop them.
Ken: He could still be adopted?
Kat: (shakes head) To be honest, there isnít much chance of that. Most people arenít willing to adopt older children, especially boys. And considering his late age... would you adopt someone on the brink of adulthood? His habits are set, flaws and strengths. In another few months heíll be out on his own anyway. Most people just donít see the point.
*Kenzan stares out the porthole thoughtfully
*he looks at her
Kat: The best thing to do is just say goodbye. Donít leave things unsettled. Thatíll only be harder on him in the long run.
Kat: (looks at him quizzically) Goodnight.
*Kenzan turns to his left wall where there is a screen set in the wall. He stands before it, taps a few buttons, the screen scrolls through a list (it is of names and numbers, a directory of sorts) he presses one of the names and then waits. A moment later Melissa Thorntonís face appears on the screen.
Ken: Ms. Thornton, itís a pleasure to speak with you again. I believe we have some unfinished business...
*Tad is in his quarters, in his t-shirt, gathering his very meager possessions.
*stares longingly out his porthole which has an unobstructed view of space
Tad: I knew it couldnít last...
*continues to check the room, grabs his jacket
Ken O.C.: Going somewhere?
*Kenzan is in the doorway
Tad: (looking hostile) I guess so. ĎScuse me (attempts to brush by Kenzan into the corridor)
Ken: (not moving) I donít recall giving you permission to disembark, Mr. Arishima.
*Tad looks at him in confusion
Ken: After all, youíre a part of this crew arenít you? Show your captain a little respect.
*Tadís eyes widen as Ken begins to grin
Ken: You look confused, Mr. Arishima. Not something I like to see in my Ops Officer... or in my ward.
Ken: (now wearing a full blown grin) I believe you heard me, Mr. Arishima. Now, your first official duty shift starts in about ten minutes, I expect you to be on time.
*Kenzan turns and leaves.
*Tad stands in shock a moment before grinning and throwing his stuff back on the bed.
*Kenzan walks down the hall
*Kat is leaning against a bulkhead. She straightens and walks with him.
Kat: I canít believe you got them to agree. Iíve never seen an adoption go through that fast.
Ken: I may have had some help with that.
Kat: (smiling) You are really something arenít you?
Ken: (shooting her a sideways grin) You know it.
End episode 1