A continuation of this bit of nonsense, in a different format.
Night, or at least a facsimile thereof. The interior of a sort of makeshift cell aboard the ship, dusty blue light.
CLOSE-UP on ANGELA, sleeping lightly, on the temperfoam mattress in the corner, clad in a dark blue coverall.
PULL BACK, the resonating thud of a solenoid lock as before. The door is barely open when ANGELA is on her feet, tensed and ready. Even through the coverall, her svelte menace is apparent.
In the doorway, backlit by the corridor light, stands the APPRENTICE. He's no longer wearing his off-the-shelf blazer, but now looks crisp and professional in a military-style uniform.
APPRENTICEThe APPRENTICE steps inside the cell and closes the distance between him and ANGELA. Her surprise is evident, though she's trying to conceal it.
ANGELAHe starts towards the door.
You. You're the one that brought me here, aren't you?
That's right. I'm Lieutenant Phipps. If you'll come with me, there's someone who wishes to speak with you.
ANGELA hesitates, but it doesn't look as though she has any choice. She follows him out the door Enters the corridor, two guards taking flanking positions alongside her and PHIPPS. Their guns aren't exactly pointed at her, but they aren't exactly pointed away, either.
INT. CORRIDOR - NIGHT
PHIPPS leads ANGELA down the corridor, which is lined with the same basic duraluminum plating that was in her cell, dimly lit for the night-cycle. It's an industrial look, with rivets along the panels, and ANGELA is paying close attention to the badging on the walls, particularly near intersections, trying to get a feel for the layout. The cramped and low corridor confirms to her she is on a spacecraft - little space appears to be wasted.
ANGELA (vaguely conversationally)He stops at a doorway, presses his thumb to a panel next to it, and the door sighs open. PHIPPS and ANGELA enter the room; the guards remain outside.
I've never seen a uniform like yours. You military?
In a manner of speaking.
You were with my target before. You were his apprentice.
Do you always assume things are as they appear?
Unless there's reason to believe otherwise.
There's always a reason to believe otherwise.
It's a conference room of sorts, small but not unreasonably so. As far as it goes, it's actually somewhat luxurious, in a sterile sort of way. There's even potted plants in the corners.
Along the circumference of the conference table are computer terminals. A few portable tablets are stacked against the far wall on top of low, metallic cabinet. A man is seated at one of the terminals, his profile lit by the CRT glow.
PHIPPSThe man at the computer terminal swivells in his seat and faces us - it is the ASP who greeted ANGELA upon her initial arrival. He, too, is dressed in a military uniform, though vaguely more relaxed than PHIPPS, the same casual confidence inspired by the knowledge that he is in charge. The Asp ring still adorns his right hand.
He stands and approaches ANGELA.
ASPHis voice is severe; PHIPPS backs off.
Ah, I see you're feeling better. Excellent.
(to PHIPPS) Thank you, Lieutenant. You are dismissed.
Sir, may I remind you that she is --
You are dismissed, Lieutenant.
PHIPPS nods and leaves the room, the door clicking shut behind him.
ANGELA is standing, not giving away anything, waiting.
ASPANGELA remains silent. The ASP wends his way to a small console at the far end of the room, where he extracts two white cups.
I doubt, Angela, given what we know about you thus far, that you're one to waste time with social niceties. However, permit me to play host.
ASPWithout waiting for her response - not that she had planned to give one - he fills the cups with steaming liquid from an urn atop the console. It is indeed tea, and he places one cup on the table in front of ANGELA.
May I offer you some coffee? Or some tea? I prefer tea, myself.
ASPThe ASP sits, a few seats away. So does ANGELA. She ignores her tea.
Please. Have a seat.
ASP (sipping his tea)The ASP sets aside his cup for the moment.
Black. I ask for Darjeeling, but never seem to get it.
Who are you?
ASPWINTER taps his computer terminal significantly.
Who do you think I am?
You're an Asp.
ASP (zero sarcasm)
That's well observed.
This your spaceship?
Space station, actually. We're almost two hundred miles above the Earth. And yes, it is mine - or rather, I am in command of it. Captain Logan Winter, and welcome aboard the Ring.
Feel like telling me why I'm here? Or how I was brought here?
The two questions are part of the same answer, Angela. It wasn't easy to track you down, and it was more difficult still to capture you. Alive, anyway.
WINTERANGELA is taking this in, and it's starting to wear down her carefully emotionless mask.
We've been watching you for quite a while.
Perhaps you've wondered, at some point, exactly where Asps such as myself are brought into the light? The ability is genetic, but latent until nurtured.
I never gave it much thought. What's this got to do with me?
Patience, Angela. When I say we've been watching you, I mean myself, and others like me, of which there are many aboard the Ring.
You mean other Asps.
The Ring compliments a crew of a little over four hundred. Most of them are Asps.
What about that guy? The lieutenant. Phipps.
But I saw him. He was an apprentice, to a molecular architect.
The details are not for you to know, yet. But Lieutenant Phipps served his mission well. We needed the architect out of the way, and we wanted you.
You contracted me?
That's correct. You took out the architect, and Phipps was able to take you.
ANGELA (a little more quiet than usual)
Because he's an Asp.
You're telling me that this place, Ring, is where Asps are trained? Developed, whatever?ANGELA reacts, slightly, a mixture of denial and intrigue. Then it's gone.
You catch up quickly.
You still haven't answered my question. Why am I here?
Really, Angela, I'm surprised you haven't put this together yet. I said the ability was latent before it was lit, not nonexistent.
WINTERANGELA gathers her thoughts a moment.
No. I don't know what you think I am, but I can't be. I've never had --
Had what? The advanced sensory perception is there, Angela, whether it's been brought out in you or not. In such a raw and unlit state as within you, I've heard it described as a sort of disconnection to reality, like watching a play. Forgive me for being vague, but I was selected early. I can't remember what it's like to not sense beyond.
Disconnected from reality.
Sound familiar at all?
ANGELAWINTER brushes a hand vaguely through his white hair.
When I'm on my contracts.. that's when it happens. It's like I'm watching, not doing, and I'm not in control. But it's what makes me good at what I do.
No doubt it is.
You're saying I'm.. one of you?
WINTERWINTER stands, an unhurried motion, and walks to regard the small viewport. Stars drift slowly by.
I'm saying we suspect you could be. That's what we're here to find out.
WINTERHe walks back to the table, retrieves his tea, and sips at it before continuing.
I understand you've had some navigation experience?
Class III rated on anything from light to bulk cruisers or frigates. My last job, before I started contracting.
Let's start with that, then.
WINTERANGELA considers a moment.
You're the navigator on a light cruiser out of Proxima. Your ship has fallen under attack, and the damage is heavy. You've managed to evade further detection for the moment, behind the penumbra of Proxima itself, but this won't last long. Your options are limited - try to leave the penumbra and your plasma signature shows up on the enemy sensor sweeps. What do you do?
ANGELAA brief smile crosses WINTER's face.
I'd try to keep the star between us and him, obviously.
Of course. And as fate would have it, this means your only destination port can be Bravo sector's Tanaka Station. Try to leave any other way, or chart a different destination, and you come out from behind the star.
So? We go to Tanaka Station.
To further complicate matters, in our situation, the route from Proxima to Bravo sector means travelling through a multiple gravity-well cluster, about three parsecs square.
I've dealt with worse. I can chart through that.
WINTERANGELA almost scoffs.
Good. Then that's what I want you to do.
ANGELAWINTER pulls a tablet from the top of the stack, and - still sipping his tea - uses his thumbs to enter something into it. He hands the tablet to ANGELA, who gives it a cursory glance.
That's it. Proxima to Tanaka, through the cluster.
WINTERShe swivels round in her chair to face the nearest terminal, and keys it up.
The relative coordinates are here. You may begin whenever you wish.
Fine by me.
Or tries to. The screen remains dark. She taps a few keys, pokes uncertainly at the screen.
WINTERWINTER crosses the room to the cabinet, speaking as he does so.
Think this terminal is down.
WINTERHe removes a small stack of blank paper from the cabinet and locks it again. The paper he puts on the table in front of ANGELA, and removes a genuine antique ballpoint from his pocket, which he puts next to the paper.
Ah. I did forget to mention one other aspect.
ANGELAANGELA is incredulous.
What the hell's this?
In this scenario, your navigational computers are too heavily damaged to use.
ANGELAWINTER walks to the door, pausing as it opens, and speaks over his shoulder.
You can't be serious.
I'll be back in four hours.
WINTERHe leaves, the door snapping shut behind him.
ANGELA's gaze is empty as she regards the blank paper, the smooth ballpoint, the stubbornly dark computer screen. Her mouth is slightly open as though she wants to say something, but nobody is present to hear.
CLOSE-UP on the ballpoint, ANGELA's slender fingers reaching for it.
SLOW PULL-BACK, as ANGELA nudges the pen around on the table a moment, clicks it a few times, and finally picks it up. Considering for a moment, then beginning to write - equations, graphs, her now-cold tea forgotten.
WINTER is standing outside the stateroom, pressing his thumb to the panel to lock it. His first officer, COMMANDER RIGGS, walks by. He's slightly younger than WINTER, his hair neatly combed, smooth features, uniform crisp. He stops.
RIGGSWINTER looks up.
WINTERWINTER allows another slight smile.
WINTERHe seems a bit distant, thoughtful maybe.
We'll see. She's careful.
Gave her that new one of yours?
You're better at this than you like to admit, Kyle.
That's the whole idea, sir.
So it is. But of course, you're right. The Tanaka test.
RIGGSThey begin walking down the corridor. The day-cycle is beginning to emerge.
Seems unfair, you ask me.
RIGGSWINTER pauses in his walk, and gives a glance back at the stateroom's door.
You think she'll be able to do it?
WINTERHe and RIGGS begin walking again.
But I want to see how hard she'll try.