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Unread 29th of June, 2011, 11:29
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Pilot: Before the Black

EXT. LONG SHOT OF A RUNDOWN WAREHOUSE - NIGHT

Raucous laughter, the clink of glasses, and occasional shouts can be heard quietly at first, but grow louder as we zoom closer to the warehouse. Men in dusters and western hats enter and leave by a single door, passing a large, bald BOUNCER. As we get closer still, two men attempt to enter, but the Bouncer stops the TALL MAN with a hand on the chest. A quick, heated discussion seems to happen, and the Bouncer pulls aside the Tall Man's coat to reveal a revolver. The Tall Man curses at the Bouncer in Chinese, and hands over his gun, which is placed in a locker. As we zoom in through the door, we see that the locker contains all manner of guns, from archaic revolvers to sleek, silver and chrome long-arms of a clearly futuristic style. The camera pans inside.

INT. GARISHLY DECORATED GAMBLING HOUSE

CAPTAIN TANNER "CRASH" SHIEN sits at a table with MORRIS ARSAID, SILAS JORMUND, and two other men, and ISOBELL, a Companion.

Tanner Shien is dressed in clothes that are finely made, but clearly worn. His coat is a dusty blue, but once was likely vibrant and impressive. His hat is fine, but the band is missing several pieces of silver, replaced with copper wiring.

TANNER SHIEN

“You're good, Morris. You're a fair hand with those cards, and I reckon you haven't cheated near as bad as Silas, if ya have at all. So I'll give ya a warnin'. Stay outta this hand. Let Silas get in, and lose his shirt. I owe that 笨天生的一堆肉 for a mess of trouble around some mushrooms. But you're a good enough fellah I'd feel powerful bad takin' all you got and then some."

Tanner runs his hand absently down his ponytail. It's his tell. It means he's got nothin', but hopes no one knows it. Silas spies it, and pushes his stack of chips, papers, and a small handgun to the center of the table.

SILAS JORMUND

“You talk a pretty game, Shien. But there's things folk like me know, and folk like you ain't never gonna learn. Man like me, he knows plenty about a man like you. I been around. I seen things make a cur like you run cryin' to yer mam's skirts, askin' to keep the bad men away. Well, here's news. I am the bad men. And soon your ass is mine.”

Silas leans back, and grins nastily.
MORRIS ARSAID

"Come, now, Silas. Just because you’ve a hank’rin’ for man ass doesn’t make you a bad man. I’ve known plenty o’ fellas loved them some fellas. There’s room for all sorts out in the black. What’s the count?"

Morris weathers the look that earns him, a slight grin on his face at Silas’ anger. He slides a matching stack of money in, and looks over to Tanner. The man had wanted him to see that tell, it’s why he’d spoken to both of them. He was faking that one. Which, given what he’d passed along... Morris had him. The buy in had been steep - a year’s service on board the Lucky Seven’s smuggling ship. But it was going to be worth it....

Silas lays down his cards just out of shot. He is smiling the same nasty grin, and reaches out for the pot.
SILAS JORMUND

"Don't worry none, Tanner. I'll take good care of yer ship. What's her name, again? The Fat Girl?"

Tanner's hand strikes out and grabs Silas' wrist.
TANNER SHIEN

"The Fat Lady. And it ain't over until she sings."

Tanner flips over his hand, again just out of shot.

TANNER SHIEN

"If I recall rightly, Plums are double, and my Plums mean your Royals are out, ain't they, Silas?"

Silas begins cursing loudly, first in English, then in Chinese. He slams his chair to the ground, and points apoplectically at Tanner, fumbles for actual words, but then spins on his heel and walks out. As he leaves, we see his hand clasping where the grip of pistol would be, were he carrying it. Tanner lets out a breath loudly, and smiles at Isobell.

TANNER SHIEN

"Reckon he didn't see that coming, did he Izzy? Black, but I would have done that just for the look on that smug pinchass face of his. Winning his money just seems a bit greedy. But I ain't got no problem with greedy. It's a long sight between here and anywhere, and this will help more'n I can say."

Isobell smiles at Tanner, but speaks very quietly.

ISOBELL

"I think you're forgetting one thing, Crash. Our new friend hasn't show us his cards. He's been quite quiet through all of this, don't you think?"

Tanner laughs, and turns to Morris.

TANNER SHIEN

"Izzy's right, Morris. You hidin' an extra plum? Or did you find the Painted Lady?"

He gestures.

TANNER SHIEN

"Show 'em - let's finish this up right."

Morris casually lays down his cards, in a single stack. Sitting on top is a stylized Companion with an enigmatic smile. Tanner flicks his eyes to the stack, notices that it's only one card, and laughs.

TANNER SHIEN

"Did ya think I was bluffing? I told you to stay out! Still, better'n you have gone out with wors...."

He reaches out, and picks up the card. He turns it over slowly in his hand, staring. He shows it to Isobell, who gives him her best "What are ya gonna do?" smile.

TANNER SHIEN

"You. You...I...And..."

He grabs a shot of whiskey from the next table, drinks it, and then looks back, willing the card to change.

It doesn't.

After the shock of losing has worn off, Tanner's mouth hangs open slightly. Isobell closes it dramatically, and Tanner finally speaks.

TANNER SHIEN

"Well I'll be a orange horse. You did have it."

Tanner looks the pot over, calculating quickly on a piece of paper. He nods.

TANNER SHIEN

"Well, it looks like The Fat Lady ain't mine any more. I...I can't rightly say I expected that. I'm ... it's...you're.... Okay, look. I'm a man of my word. She's yours. You're her captain now, and I'm...I don't know what I am of a sudden. I guess I'm Lucky Seven's newest local."

He looks lost, and confused as he absently divides up the pot while he speaks.

TANNER SHIEN

"Okay, before I think about this, here's how it is. The Fat Lady needs repairs, and refueling. I figure that's....this much of the pot. Her gyro is shot too, she'll fly, but you won't enjoy it. Fixing that will take ... this. It's also fair possible I'm a bit behind on her dock fees. Say about...yay much. And I don't reckon you've got a crew. I have a few folk I hired on to replace some that chose other paths. Good men, though one's a mite scary. And not entirely a man. But good folk. I promised them first month wages if they'd ship out tonight. I figure that's ... this much of the pot, you want to keep them. One's a pilot, one's the best doc you'll find in 5 planets. The other...he's....well, you'll see. He's a tinker, and a mechanic. We'll leave it there. You get them under you, you got a crew to fly. And you let me keep what's left in the pot, and I'll give you a place to go."

MORRIS

"Sounds fair enough, seeing as I’m cashing out. Apparently, I’ve got myself some movin’ to do. You folks stay out of trouble, now. And keep in touch, a friendly cardgame like this is hard to find. I’ll be on the lookout for your ‘wave, Tanner, and you, Izzy, can feel free to call me anytime Bao Jone"

Morris takes Isobell’s hand and kisses it while he stands, gathering his things, including his winnings and the deed to his ‘new’ ship. He pauses at the door to receive his gun, and shakes the bouncer’s hand as he collects the weapon. The bouncer blinks, and looks at his hand, quite obviously. He shakes his head empathically "No," and watches Morris walk out suspiciously.

------------------------------------------


INT A DOCKING BAY, CONTAINING A SHIP NAMED THE FAT LADY

The camera slowly pans around The Fat Lady. She's not a big ship, but well kept beneath a layer of dirt and hard wear - paint is chipped, a plate is mismatched, but the structure is well kept, barring a large hole in the side which is being repaired by three men with arc-welders. Another man is in the process of spraying paint over a logo of a viking woman to hide the emblem.

Three men, PATRICK WEST, HARVEY BRANSCOMB, and MINNESOTA PIERS, stand next to Morris Arsaid. Minnesota Piers has just finished shaking Morris' hand.

Last edited by Ergonomic Cat; 29th of June, 2011 at 15:03.
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  #2  
Unread 29th of June, 2011, 23:48
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Harvey Branscomb stands between two large metal tool chests, his arms folded over his chest, and looks critically up and down the ship. He has been scanning her and the work being done since he arriving at the warehouse. Having grudgingly decided that the workmen aren't making things worse, he is now getting anxiousness to get his hands on her to really find out what makes her tick.

Eventually enough of his attention is diverted to the people standing nearby to look them over.

Last edited by SinbadEV; 30th of June, 2011 at 00:35.
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Unread 30th of June, 2011, 08:31
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Patrick watches as the crates carrying various medical supplies are loaded onto the ship. "The sign on the side of the crates that says fragile isn't just for show you know. So I would greatly appreciate it if you brutes wouldn't slam them into every metal post between here and the ship." This naturally draws scowls from the men hauling the crates, but Patrick dismisses them with a contemptuous wave. "Plebeians..." he mutters before turning his attention to the newcomer shaking Minnesota's hand. Waiting until introductions had been made between the two he extends his hand. "Doctor Patrick West, pleased to make your acquaintance. I assume that we are under new management then? I hope you didn't shoot poor Tanner..."
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Unread 30th of June, 2011, 09:22
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"Pleasure's mine" Minesota said as he firmly shook the new Captain's hand, the two meeting gazes in the customary assessment ritual before looking aside and dropping their grasp.

To him, it wasn't much change as he had only just recently met the former captain and truth be told, didn't take too kindly to him. Despite this abrupt change in ownership, passage in the black was passage and MP had no problems signing on with the new gentleman. And gentleman he looked the part, though with a few more dusty trails under his belt than most. This wasn't a problem, though, as the best things were usually found off the beaten path.

Looking up at the paint being hastily slathered over the viking and the men welding on the new exterior plates, Minnesota inwardly sighed. Even the cursory walkthrough of the Fat Lady (or whatever the newly-introduced Morris Arsaid wanted to call her now) had shown that it would be a beaten path indeed...
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Unread 1st of July, 2011, 07:20
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Morris gave the crew Tanner had assembled an examination more thorough than the one he'd given The Fat Lady. He'd expected a ship owned by a guy like Tanner to look something like she did, after all.

But the crew... A man could conquer the Black with a crew like this. He hoped none of them were informants for Tanner, with old loyalties bound to cause problems down the line.

"Shoot him? No doctor, I'm afraid my ship came under new ownership through rather more civil means. Not that I'm ruling out the necessity of more drastic action in the future."

"Well, now. Seems like the ship's about ready to head odd. Harvey, is it? Could you make sure our friend Tanner hasn't left us any nasty surprises gonna leave us floating dead in space?"

Last edited by Ergonomic Cat; 1st of July, 2011 at 14:54.
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Unread 1st of July, 2011, 08:11
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Harvey grunted as he glanced back at the ship then shrugged, "I'll need to git me hands in her guts to tell you fer sure but on a cursory inspection I don't see any signs of overt sabotage."

A crooked grin spread unevenly over his marred features as his attention was drawn back to the ship he was already thinking of as his own. "That said, these contractors never do work as well as a man who'll to be trusting a hull to keeping him on the right side of catastrophic decompression, so's I'm sure I'll be tightening bolts and crimping cables in my spare time for weeks."

Last edited by SinbadEV; 1st of July, 2011 at 08:14.
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Unread 1st of July, 2011, 13:09
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Minnesota listened intently to Harvey's reply; he had spent a scarce 20 minutes with the man-machine and was as interested in the engineer's thoughts as much as Morris was being as they all were about to place their lives in his hands. Having seen the effects of both good and bad ships' mechanics, MP hoped that he was in the former category.

Introductions complete, Minnesota turned back towards the Fat Lady.

"I'll perform a thorough pre-flight check and runup once Harvey here gives the all-clear. I've thrown a few things in the second berth so you can find me there."

-+- Berth 2 -+-

Despite being an avid seeker and purveyor of antiquities and other items of interest, Minnesota didn't have much to call his own. A duffel with a couple pairs of clothes and sundries, a few items that sat neatly arranged on his shelf, his well-worn brown leather cowboy hat and the tomahawk that always hung handle-down from his belt were about all he could afford (both time and monetarily) to take with him from the ill-fated Salty Dog. Not that it mattered much as MP wasn't one for simple things...it was the rare, the old, the antiquity that called to him. Piloting, forgery and the rest simply paid the bills to allow him his passion to hold that one thing in his hand that so few before had, that represented decades if not centuries or more of history. True, he enjoyed and even excelled at other skills but as he lay there on his bunk, slipping his hat down over his face to cover his eyes from the light for a quick cat-nap, he couldn't help but think back to those jobs still out there for an enterprising man such as himself...
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