Cold and Steel Episode 4: We Didn't Light the Main Drive

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THE FOLLOWING IS CLASSIFIED LEVEL 1/CLEARED FOR ALL DIVISIONS. UNAUTHORIZED REPRODUCTION AND RELEASE IS BOTH A VIOLATION OF AUTHORITY INFORMATION SECURITY PROTOCOLS AND A PUNISHABLE OFFENSE.

Cold and Steel

Image of the AEDF1 Fleet Command Emblem. An acoustic cover of Major Tom by Peter Schilling begins to play.

TEXT: AEDF Outreach Media Presents:

Montage of AEDF filmstrips throughout history- NG2 craft in black and white, photographs of primitive space-suits on the surface of the Moon, excavation of Lunar sites, NG vessels over Antarctica, censored images of Howler noocraft3, engine tests, space station construction.

TEXT: In Cooperation with the Department of Personal Efficacy and Wellness

Montage of AEDF personnel at work; donning spacesuits, conducting experiments in laboratories in low gravity, constructing the keel of a torch vessel on the surface of the Moon.

TEXT: Cold and Steel: Stories from the High Frontier

Cut to black. Music continues.

TEXT: As part of the production of Cold and Steel, AEDF and U&IIB personnel were given personal cameras and told to record whatever they believed other Authority personnel should know about their lives and work. These are their stories.

TEXT: Episode 4: We Didn't Light the Main Drive

SUBTITLE: Created by the Crew of AEDFS James Boy, OUTFLT.

Fade in on the cargo bay of a Yakov Bryus-class torch ship. The visible space is cylindrical, lined with crates, small cargo containers and bundles of supplies. Nine crew members are grouped in front of the camera. All are wearing dark blue AEDF crew suits with OUTFLT patches on their arms. Several of them are carrying instruments; a cornet, a compact acoustic guitar, a fiddle, two harmonicas, and an empty hydrazine tank repurposed as a drum. Two crewmen at the front of the group are holding a banner decorated with a stylized image of a rabbit wearing a baseball cap labelled "Jimmy." The same rabbit emblem can be seen painted on one bulkhead of the cargo bay in the background.

SUBTITLE: The Brave Pioneers of the Jimmy: A. Dominguez, K. Lichtgauer, T. Wong, G. Liu, L. Brown, R. Jacobsen, P. Kaminsky, T.C. Chaudhry, W. Derosa

DOMINGUEZ: Hi, everyone! We're the crew of the James Boy! We're on day three of a 97-day trip from LEO to Neptune, and we thought we might as well sing a song about it. A-one, a-two, a one-two-three-!

The crew begins singing to the tune of We didn't Start the Fire by Billy Joel. Cut to a montage of crew members preparing the ship for launch, with no audio except the music.

In-Fleet, Out-fleet, what's it all about-fleet
Past Mars, see the stars; dinner's made of yeast
Bug-eyed green things, diving through Saturn's rings
Nuke torpedo, you're my hero, Phasers set to stun

Names of crewmen appear briefly as subtitles when they appear. Lichtgauer and Brown, in shirtsleeves, smile and wave as they pack a refrigerator cabinet in the ship's galley full of bagged food stores. Similar bags of food can be seen attached to nearly every flat surface. Jacobsen is seen from behind, manually tightening pipes in a cramped engineering space with a torqueless wrench. A nearby bulkhead panel bears a reflective label reading "WATER RECYCLER ACCESS".

Null-grav, science lab, radiation, prefab
Singing out in the void, "what's that dripping noise?"
Porkchop-plotting, machine, fuel budget's extra lean
Bloom Station, Soli-Darty, Soshi, goodbye

SUBTITLE: Closest Approach to RPC-722. Solidarity Day!

Exterior camera shot of the vessel's torch drive engaging. Jacobsen and Chaudhry string a banner reading "KEEP IT UP OL' SOLI" in the ship's lounge deck. The deck's two small porthole windows are blocked with folded paper stars. Brown laughs at the camera as he puts the finishing touches on a flattened, somewhat asymmetrical-looking cake in the ship's galley. Cut to an embarrassed-looking Lichtgauer in the lounge deck, wearing a party hat. "SOLI VIRGIN" is written in permanent marker on his forehead. A crew member reaches from off-frame and pats him on the back.

We didn't light the main drive
But we're up here burning, and the stars are turning
We didn't light the main drive
But we're past the Mo-on, striking out for Neptune

Moon bots, Wellspring, FOMO and Nothing
Space Toast breakfast, Martian omelette, Buddha head shock
Cows fly, cross the sky, Piri-polis, Ma'at why
Venus meat blob, Prince of Bennu's rock

Kaminsky and Derosa, sitting in the ship's mess, play chess on a board covered in Velcro. The ship is clearly under thrust gravity. Derosa is winning, and Kaminsky appears visibly irritated. Candid shot from around a hatch of Wong, Liu and Dominguez discussing a series of complicated trajectory plots on a screen in the vessel's bridge compartment.

Goodnight, Mad Crab, Terraformer's pretty sad
Cult of Liithra, Arbiter, Moon rabbit, Auriga
Comets, Quantum jets, Space invaders, Sky Men
Rothschild's fate, Oh-Nineteen's Late, trouble at the Worm's Egg

Lichtgauer and Kaminsky are seated near a telescope apparatus in the vessel's bridge compartment, both absorbed in typing something on a pair of battered laptops. Kaminsky's laptop has a sticker of a large-breasted green-skinned woman on its cover. The marker writing from the previous shot is visible on Lichtgauer's forehead, though noticeably faded.

We didn't light the main drive
But we're up here burning, and the stars are turning
We didn't light the main drive
But we're past the Mo-on, striking out for Neptune

Data Stream, research team, engineering, tight-beam
Sputnik, time to fly, "The Mote in God's Eye"
Drone haulers, molten metal, Moonbase fusion kettle
Shooting down a bolide, Lasers for your every need

Shot over Chaudhry's shoulder of a screen showing a complicated targeting interface superimposed over a small, tumbling asteroid. Several sections of the interface have been blurred out. Chaudhry presses a control, and the asteroid glows white-hot before collapsing into a cloud of debris. Chaudhry jumps, does a double-take, then turns to look at the camera, laughing with a sheepish expression on his face.

Tsiolkovsky, Von Braun, space monkey, NASA
Hoop rads, Glushko, Lucifer's a no-go
N-1, Dyna-Soar, Yakov Bryus, please build more
Underpaid, weirdos, in a can no place to go

Wong and Jacobsen in space suits in an airlock. Brief video of the two on the exterior front of the ship, adjusting a set of bearings at the base of the vessel's communications array.

We didn't light the main drive
But we're up here burning, and the stars are turning
We didn't light the main drive
But we're past the Mo-on, striking out for Neptune

Atrophy, treadmill, "Haven't bathed in three weeks"
Eyes weak, moon face, "Got anemia from space"
NuCorp Coherence Binder, selfie with the Pathfinder
Near Miss, sunstorm, lead boxes to keep warm
Freeze-dried, 'cycled pee, severe muscle atrophy
Join the fleet, ain't it neat? You'll get cancer in your feet!

Several quick cuts through stills and video. Dominguez and Jacobsen jog on a pair of treadmills, with Chaudhry using a compact resistance-band machine in the background. Derosa waters a small hydroponic garden. An obviously posed shot of Brown showing Liu a picture of a dog, with Liu gasping in exaggerated astonishment. Still shot of Wong juggling three wrenches. Lichtgauer and Kaminsky elbows-deep in a disassembled torpedo.

We didn't light the main drive
But we're up here burning, and the stars are turning
We didn't light the main drive
But we're past the Mo-on, striking out for Neptune

Gravity, lack thereof, spacesick, that's rough
Moonshot, red hot, suit's too small, air lock
Hohmann, starman, thrust to fine, correct for your incline
"Your roll rate is way too high," fix it quick or else you die

SUBTITLE: Jimmy Boy Cinema Society: If We Have It Recorded, It's Probably Garbage (tm)

Shot of all of the crew except Domingez sitting in the darkened cargo bay, watching a movie projected on a flat section of hull. Domingez, apparently holding the camera, pans around the cargo bay. The movie is Gone With the Wind. Wong and Derosa are visibly asleep. Domingez turns the camera to point at himself and makes an "OK" sign with his free hand.

Last month's TV, chat by mail, air is getting pretty stale
Fights on board, god you're bored, noise, noise, stop it Lord
Sleep in a cupboard in the floor, drink your fluids through a straw
Can't taste coffee, bones are sore, I can't take it anymore

Still image of the ship's hot beverage dispenser. A printed note reading "NOT Coffee" has been placed over the label that would usually read "Coffee". Rapid handheld panning shot through cramped, darkened crew quarters, showing that the vessel is in freefall with the engines deactivated. The legs of a crewman can be seen protruding from a bunk. The crewman is wearing a pair of llama-themed wool socks. A sign over another bunk reads "I'd Rather Be Fishing."

We didn't light the main drive
It was always burning since the world's been turning
We didn't light the main drive
But when we are gone
It will still burn on, and on, and on, and on, and on, and on, and on, and on

Handheld shot through a porthole of a small blue dot: Neptune. Rapid montage through dozens more personal crew photographs.

We didn't light the main drive
But we're up here burning, and the stars are turning
We didn't light the main drive
But we're past the Mo-on, striking out for Neptune

Music abruptly dissolves into yelling and cheering. Laughter. Cut to a grainy exterior shot of the James Boy in orbit over Neptune.

SUBTITLE: Day 97: We made it!

UNIDENTIFIED CREWMEMBER 1: (V/O) Aye-ee-dee-eff!

UNIDENTIFIED CREWMEMBER 2: (V/O) Miss you Priya! Woohoo!

UNIDENTIFIED CREWMEMBER 3: (V/O) Someone gemme offa this chicken-shit space ship!

Fade to black. The ship's rabbit insignia appears on-screen.

SUBTITLE: A James Boy Production.

SUBTITLE: AEDF Outreach Media, 2020.

Playback ends.

« Episode 3: Engine | Episode 4: We Didn't Light the Main Drive | Episode 5: TBA »

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