The Alpha and the Omega
K. Brian Neel - February 27, 2015
Nickerson - Mission Specialist
Jess - 14 Year old
Lights up on two astronauts constructing a mechanism on a planet far away. They walk in low gravity.
LIEUTENANT: Here's the flangular compositor, Commander Jaydee.
COMMANDER: Thank you, Lieutenant. We might get this baby installed on schedule after all.
LIEUTENANT: Wish I could help more, sir. I feel like a third wheel. All that academy training for nothing.
COMMANDER: You can blame NASA for the "my eyes only" on this mission, Lieutenant. Chin up, soon we'll be sipping space brew back on the Delaware, watching the sun rise over the shoulder of Orion.
LIEUTENANT: What I wouldn't do for a hot dog about now.
COMMANDER: Ball Park or Hebrew National?
Mission Specialist enters.
NICKERSON: Commander Jaydee, the time is neigh.
COMMANDER: Say it isn't so.
NICKERSON: Wish I could. But I'm afraid there are dozens of randomly selected youths on Earth dying to hear all the exiting details of our exciting mission.
LIEUTENANT: Aaah. Don't they know we're in the middle of important...
NICKERSON: It's on the docket, Lieutenant. Nothing I can do about it.
LIEUTENANT: You're the Research Specialist.
NICKERSON: You mean secretary.
LIEUTENANT: Well, take it off the docket, secretary.
COMMANDER: Cool down, Lieutenant, we can rub our heads and pat our bellies at the same time.
LIEUTENANT: Other way around.
COMMANDER: Anyway, go ahead, Nickerson, start the two-way holographic communication.
Mick, Lieutenant Orlando's spouse appears in a spotlight on the platform - a hologram. Mick roams the stage normally.
MICK: Orlando, come in. Are you there? Oh there you are.
LIEUTENANT: Hey Mick. How are things at the home front?
MICK: The hydroponics generator blew a fuse or something. Again. You know I’m crap at this technical mumbo jumbo.
LIEUTENANT: Can it wait? We're about to finish up here.
MICK: Well, not really. It's important.
LIEUTENANT: Sure it is. How are the kids?
MICK: Salee was late for school because her shoes suddenly don't fit and Paul is sick, threw up his synthblueberry oatmeal this morning all over my persimmons tablecloth.
LIEUTENANT: Ouch. Listen, Nickerson's busting my chops. We gotta holo some school kids.
MICK: Oh fine. Holo me when you're done. The generator!
Mick returns to the spotlight area. The light goes out – call over.
LIEUTENANT: Sorry about that.
COMMANDER: That's okay. Nickerson, are you ready with the kids?
NICKERSON: Okay here we go in 3. 2. 1...
Jess appears in another spotlight.
NICKERSON: Hello. Who is this?
NICKERSON: Hello Jess. Welcome to Terrani.
JESS: That's not the name of the planet. It's planet Alpha 5329147ASD.
NICKERSON: Well done, Jess, that's absolutely correct.
LIEUTENANT: We like calling it Terrani.
COMMANDER: What else do you know about our mission here, Jess?
JESS: We're the same age!
COMMANDER: Oh we are? How is that?
JESS: Because to travel so far away you had to fold space and when you do that time gets all scrunched up. And some scientist named Delmar Thrabdel-something made it so we can scrunch time backwards so when you return it can be scrunched forward again, so you're the same age as when you left. So right now, in perspective, you're my age!
COMMANDER: Couldn't have said it better myself.
LIEUTENANT: Inverted Tensor Field.
Jess leans over the machine.
JESS: What's that?
NICKERSON: This is the Wolfrum Sphere. It's a machine that will turn this planet into a world where we can drink the water and grow food for Earth. We call it Frog for short.
JESS: Frog? Why Frog?
NICKERSON: Because we hope someday there will be frogs here, just like there used to be on Earth.
JESS: There are three of you!
JESS: I know that too.
They all laugh.
An alarm on the unit sounds.
LIEUTENANT: What’s that?
COMMANDER: Nothing. Just a bad junction. Must have set off...
VOICE: Nuclear Destruct Sequence Activated. T minus one hundred twenty and counting.
COMMANDER: Lieutenant, hand me that servo clamp.
COMMANDER: Lieutenant. Do it!
NICKERSON: Why is Frog ticking?
COMMANDER: Stow it, Nickerson! I need to concentrate.
JESS: What's a Nuclear Destruct Sequence?
NICKERSON: Jess, thanks for joining us. We have to sign off now. To show our special thanks, you will receive a Junior Space League badge. Congratulations. (cuts off communication.)
Nickerson has led Jess to his spotlight. It turns off and Jess is gone.
What the hell is going on, Commander?
COMMANDER: Not now, Nickerson.
NICKERSON: Frog is a bomb?
LIEUTENANT: It’s a Terraforming sphere.
NICKERSON: A terraforming sphere that’s counting down to self-destruct?
Mick: Orlando? Are you there? Oh, there you are.
LIEUTENANT: Not now, Mick.
MICK: The hydroponics generator is growling. Actually growling.
LIEUTENANT: I'm busy, Mick. Something’s happening.
LIEUTENANT: I... I don’t know.
MICK: Well find out, because if I don’t get the generator back on, my chrysanthemums will collapse before genetic germination. I want them to spawn silver metal leaves for the fair this month.
LIEUTENANT: Mick. I gotta go.
VOICE: Nuclear Destruct Sequence Activated. T minus sixty and counting.
MICK: What the hell does that mean, Orlando?
COMMANDER: Lieutenant, shut her up.
MICK: Excuse me?!
LIEUTENANT: Mick! Shut it!
NICKERSON: This isn’t a terraforming mission is it?
COMMANDER: It's “need to know”, Nickerson. Beyond your assignment.
NICKERSON: I think if my assignment includes dying in thirty seconds, I have been promoted to “need to know”, Commander.
COMMANDER: It's too late. It's happening.
MICK: What’s happening?!
LIEUTENANT: (cutting her off) Mick! (to Commander) What’s happening, sir?
COMMANDER: The mission is completing.
LIEUTENANT: What mission?
NICKERSON: To destroy this planet.
LIEUTENANT & MICK: What?!
NICKERSON: (realizing) We're not here to turn this into a food and water source for our people. We’re here to destroy it. Why?
COMMANDER: The Omega team discovered a life form.
NICKERSON: What?! Life? On this planet?
COMMANDER: They live on the southern hemisphere, mostly. They're strange. We tried to communicate, but it was no use.
LIEUTENANT: Are they dangerous?
NICKERSON: Then why are we killing them?
NICKERSON: No way. Turn it off.
COMMANDER: I can’t.
LIEUTENANT: Is the shuttle coming? Will it get us in time?
COMMANDER: There is no shuttle.
MICK: Oh my god!
Nickerson goes for the Frog, Commander tries to stop him, but Lieutenant holds him back.
NICKERSON: How do I stop this?
COMMANDER: You can't.
LIEUTENANT: I don't know how. I wasn't trained.
Jess appears in his spotlight again.
JESS: Hello! I remembered I had another question: How do I become an astronaut like you, Commander Jaydee? I want to go on missions to other worlds. And save the Earth just like you. What’s going on? Why is Frog ticking? Is it going to make food and water?
The countdown ticks, ticks, ticks. Pause. Blackout.
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