RIVER OF STARS
Images of World War One dissolve into one another as Paul Wang, in a voice over,
describes what has come to be known as "The Christmas Truce." British, French
and German soldiers took a break from fighting on Christmas Day to bury their
dead, exchange photographs and even play soccer. "The world," says Wang "had
never seen anything like it before... and one hundred and forty nine years
later, to the day... it's impossible to imagine ever seeing it again." And with
that the screen dissolves into a fantastic space battle! A flight group of
ISSCV's is scraping with a sortie of Chig fighters. As the battle rages, the
58th is hit! One of their thrusters is hit and locked into landing position!
The ISSCV spins out of the battle! Out of sight!
--End of Teaser--
The ISSCV spins! The choice is simple: shut down the engines and stabilize the
ship or they will soon lose consciousness. However, if they shut down the main
engine, there's the possibility of not being able to start it again... Nathan
shuts down the engine and stabilizes the ship with the remaining fuel. Once the
ship has stopped spinning, the Wildcards try to raise the Saratoga on the radio.
No luck. It's dead. On board the Saratoga, McQueen watches the ISSCV's land.
He counts them off on his fingers. No 58th. He grills the pilots on the flight
deck for information concerning the last known whereabouts of the 58th. Stories
conflict. No one seems to know what happened to them. McQueen demands answers.
He wants ten SAR teams (Search and
Rescue) teams dispatched to the area
immediately. The damage aboard the ISSCV is extensive; they have to shut down
the heat to save power for the radio and the cabin air systems. It's going to
get cold soon. Shane takes note of the time and realizes it's twelve past
midnight on December 25: Christmas. At that moment, McQueen's voice comes over
the radio -- he's searching for them. They attempt to call back but their
transmitter is out -- they can hear McQueen but he can't hear them. McQueen
relays to the ISSCV that the Saratoga is conducting its search in the Procyon
system. Wang sighs, brings down the optimism of the others: "We're not in the
Procyon system. Far from it. We got kicked out in the firefight." The 58th
toss around the idea of sending out a flare. Wang nixes it; they're drifting
into enemy territory. A flare would announce their presence to the Chigs... On
board the Saratoga, Ross confronts McQueen on his request for ten
Search and Rescue units. "Searching for them in that vast a region of space
would be the equivalent of finding a specific drop of water in the Mississippi
River." McQueen vows to search anyway... Ross allows him to have three ships...
with no fighter support. As the temperature drops in the ISSCV, the 58th huddle
around the radio and wait to hear from McQueen. Suddenly, Chig fighters show
up! The members of the 58th prepare for the worst... three Chig fighters circle
the ISSCV, swarming, diving, then... Nothing happens. The Chigs leave. The
58th can only speculate as to why they were spared...
---End of Act One--
The ISSCV drifts through space. Shane decides that this is as good a time as
any to distribute Christmas gifts. She passes them out to all the members of
the 58th. Paul thanks her but tells her that he doesn't have faith anymore.
He's seen too much killing... At that moment, an oxygen pipe breaks! The 58th
figure they've lost at least another two hours of oxygen. Time's running out...
McQueen maintains a vigil at the radio. He plays the 58th a recording from the
Apollo Eight mission, when astronauts Bill Anders, Frank Borman, and Jim Lovell
read from the book of Genesis to the people of Earth. The 58th is moved and
uplifted by the reading. Later, in the ISSCV, Wang hears strange noises over the
radio... It's Morse Code! He takes down the message then runs to the window.
He uses his sextant to locate something, then gets a closer look with his
telescope: A comet! Heading for the ISSCV! Cooper asks him how he knew it was
there... Wang seems afraid of his answer: "I don't know."
--End of Act Two--
McQueen grills the Saratoga's astronomer and radio person for answers. They are
confounded: the transmissions have a distinctly inhuman quality to them. They
contain coordinates that indicate the position of the comet Yanelli-Wimberly.
McQueen ponders all of this... On board the ISSCV, the 58th questions Paul about
the validity of the transmissions. Wang takes offense: "There's a comet
barreling down on us," he says, "that we wouldn't know about if I didn't get
these RIGHT!" At that moment McQueen radios the 58th with news that the Saratoga
is tracking the comet as well. Commodore Ross, in a touching moment, begins to
play a Delta Blues version of "I'll Be Home For Christmas" when suddenly --
Strange signals come over the radio... Wang records then interprets them. It's
telemetry data! Computations that, if followed, would allow the 58th to
maneuver the ISSCV into the comet's gravitational pull. "It's telling us how to
hitch a ride... In fact, back toward the Saratoga," says Wang. To follow the
mysterious instructions however would require an act of faith. Not
one of Paul Wang's strongest traits. But before any of this can happen however,
someone needs to leave the ISSCV in a space suit to fix the angle of the engine
damaged in the attack. In a revealing moment for Lieutenant Paul Wang, he
volunteers to do it. He has faith. Paul leaves the ISSCV's airlock and floats
in space! He has to race against the clock: he only has a few minutes of oxygen
left in the suit... but he manages to right the engine! They have a shot at
making it home!
--End of Act Three--
On board the Saratoga, McQueen and Ross puzzle over the signal's origin. "You
and I know where these signals originated," Ross says to McQueen. Indeed, its an
enemy transmission. Ross believes it's setup, a trap set by the Chigs to
ambush the Search and Rescue party. McQueen believes the signals are a gift.
He urges the Commodore to dispatch a search team to Comet Yanelli-Wimberly.
Ross finally grants McQueen his request. Back on the ISSCV, the 58th prepare for
the 56 second burn they must execute to enter the comet's orbit. The guidance
computers are out. Wang produces a sextant from his flight suit. "I'll guide
you" he says," or, I mean... the stars will." The crew counts down before the
burn. The air is tense as they strap themselves in for the ride. With only a
minute to go, Shane re-offers Wang the Christmas present she bought for him
earlier. He unwraps the gift -- It's a paperback copy of "Romeo and Juliet."
He's touched... The 58th take their places, the countdown starts... "Alright,"
Nathan yells, "let's get lit!" IGNITION! The ISSCV bucks! Then speeds toward
the comet! They are carried into the comet's orbit! Their rescued by the
Search and Rescue team! A Christmas miracle! Later, at a Christmas party in the
Saratoga's Rec. Room, Cooper gives Shane a Christmas present: Three free games
of bowling at the Saratoga's bowling alley. Paul attempts to give Nathan back
his phototags of Kylen, but he's told to keep them. Wang decides to give them
to McQueen... A symbol of Faith.
-- End of "River of Stars" --