For "Empty Sky," we decided to do something different than with the previous stories in the series. Not only would we collaborate, but each of us would act out one character. Below is just the initial dialogue written on AIM (minus any editorial remarks, thoughts/speculation or 'character movement'). Later, we took turns filling in the gaps between the dialogue. Who wrote whose line has been purposely masked. The final version of "Empty Sky" can be found here.
A: "Come in."
The Doctor pushed the door. "Hello, Mr. Paris."
Tom rose from his seat. "Doc-"
"I came as soon as I heard-"
B: "About the Minuteman, of course! Wasn't that B'Elanna's ship?"
A: "Yes, it was."
B: "I was in a staff meeting when we heard the news, that there had been weapons fire along the Neutral Zone. Admiral Ng excused herself right away, but then someone else said surely the new Mars class vessels were involved and I knew that B'Elanna must have been there."
B: The Doctor pulled himself up short. "What are you doing here?"
A: "I had
a class to teach this morning. The cadets' flight certification was scheduled
for this morning and I didn't want to delay that test. It's enough stress as
it is on the candidates and I didn't want to prolong the agony for my students.
I thought it was best to continue the class as planned."
B: "But your wife--I called your home and whoever answered told me you were out. I thought for sure you were over at HQ, couldn't couldn't believe it when they said they hadn't seen you!"
A: "You must have talked to Jenni, our babysitter," Tom said flatly. "At any rate, I don't think it really matters where I am, does it? The news is still the same. There was an exchange of fire in the Neutral Zone and casualties are assumed to be high."
B: "That was more than an hour ago," the Doctor exclaimed. "On my way to your office I caught sight of an update--they're saying now that both the Amherst and the Minuteman have been confirmed to be totally destroyed."
B: (or instead): "That was more than an hour ago!" He reached over and turned on the comm unit, tuned it to the news. "There, you see?"
information is being reported as it comes in," the Doctor said, turning
the screen on once more. "We have to know what's going on."
A: Tom took one look at the anchorwoman - Katie Cook - and shook his head. "I've heard about all I can take for right now, Doc. If you don't mind -" he turned off the comm once again. "My father has promised to give me updates as they become available and frankly, I'd prefer to hear the news from him than anyone else."
B: "Or maybe you'd prefer not to hear anything at all."
A: "That's a little harsh, isn't it?"
B: "Is it? It seems to me--by your hiding here in your office, by avoiding any updates--that you're pretending that there's nothing wrong!"
A: Tom took a deep breath. "Now that's unfair. I'm not 'hiding' and I resent the implication. I have a job to do and I know B'Elanna would want me to take care of my students. Sitting around and watching the news for the latest developments won't change what has already happened. It's a waiting game now and if I choose to 'wait' by working, then that's my choice."
B: "I'm sorry. I didn't mean to imply--"
A: Tom interupted. "Perhaps you didn't and I appreciate your concern, but the truth of the matter is that when I go home tonight, I'm going to have to explain to my children why their mother isn't coming home. So don't presume to judge me."
B: The Doctor inhaled sharply. "Not coming home--has there been any word of survivors? Is the battle still going on?"
B: (alternate) "What about escape pods? Even if the ships were destroyed, surely there are some survivors? Once the battle's over--"
A: "Initial reports say that escape pods were launched from the Amherst prior to its warp core breach, but none from the Minuteman."
B: Katie: We
have confirmation that a total of 5 ships were in the area, including the Livingston.
Admiral Kathryn Janeway has been on board the Livingston for the past two months,
engaging in shuttle diplomacy with the Romulans.
B: Russ: Sorry to interrupt, Katie, but we're now receiving word that Admiral Janeway had transferred over to the Minuteman shortly before the attack.
B: doctor: My
God. The Admiral was there, too?
A: Tom nodded. "My father said that chances were good that Janeway and Harry Kim were both onboard the Minuteman. Apparently, Janeway had some matters to discuss with the captain of the Minuteman shortly before the attack. I think her plan had something to do with offering humanitarian aid to the Ponzi as a way to stop their raids on Romulan colonies and she felt it was best to discuss it in person rather than over channels which could be intercepted by the Ponzi and Romulans both."
B: Russ: "There has been no confirmation, repeat, no confirmation that the Admiral returned to the Livingston. A message from Captain Johnson to Starfleet, received at xxxx states that Admiral Janeway and at least one other member of the Livingston shuttled over to the Minuteman and had not been heard from since."
B: Doctor: "This waiting is intolerable. Come on." He came around the desk and pulled Tom's arm.
A: "What are you doing?" Tom yanked his arm free of the Doctor's grip.
B: "We have to get out there! With your connections, you can get us a ship that will take us to the Neutral Zone."
A: Tom stared at the Doctor. "Are you *crazy*? Connections or not, it'll still take us xx hours to get there and when we do arrive, what do you think we'll do there?"
B: "Do? I'm a doctor, and you are a more than adequate field medic, Mr. Paris. They're probably swamped with casualties, and any trained personnel will be in short supply."
I hardly expected that you would need an excuse to head out there."
A: "I can't say that I wouldn't prefer to be out there, but I also have to be realistic. Medical ships in the area have already been
dispatched and they'll get there quicker than either of us and do more good in that respect." Tom took a deep breath. "The Minuteman has been reduced to a debris field covering nearly a thousand kilometers. I- I don't think I could look."
B: "This is no time to get emotional, Mr. Paris! My medical database contains over 5 million possible treatments, with contingency otions and adaptive programs. I am an expert at triage situations. I have information from 2,000 medical references and the experience of 47 physicians, wrapped up in 50 million gigaquads of computer data! I have to be there!"
you hear me? There is *nothing* left of the Minuteman or the Amherst? Who the
hell do you expect to triage anyway? Genetic remnants?" Tom's voice grew
increasingly louder. "And yes, maybe you do have the experience of '47
physcians wrapped up in 5 million gigaquads of computer data', but that doesn't
change the fact that there is *no one* to triage."
B: "They said escape pods had been released. There's got to be someone--they can't all be gone! But if I don't get out there, their chances of survival will be that much less! Every second we waste here arguing is time that could be more profitably spent saving lives!"
A: "Escape pods from the *Amherst*, not the Minuteman. And there are three other ships already in the area with their own medical staffs who are capable of triage. I think it's terrific you want to help out," Tom said quietly, "but I honestly don't see what you can do that the people already out there can't."
you see? I *have* to be there! I *have* to..." the Doctor slumped forward.
"They can't be gone, not them. It's my job to take care of them, to make
sure that they're all right. I can't lose them. I can't."
A: Tom put his hand on the Doctor's shoulder. "Believe me, *I* understand." He took a deep breath. "You asked why I came to work instead of staying home or going to HQ. The truth is, I *need* to be busy. The chances are very good that my wife and best friend died out there and I'm not ready to face life without her yet. It's easier to guide my cadets through their flight manuevars than it is to wonder how things are going to be without B'Elanna."
B: "I'm sorry. I've been terribly selfish, not even thinking about what you must be going through." The Doctor sighed, a surprisingly Human gesture. "I don't know how you have the strength to stand there and carry on."
A: Tom shrugged. "Strength has nothing to do with it. We knew the risks before B'Elanna went out there. I promised her that I wouldn't do anything stupid if anything happened to her and I intend to keep that promise."
B: "And you've got those children to live for, after all." A beat. "It just doesn't seem right, does it, to have come all the way back from the Delta Quadrant, only to lose them now."
lost Harry before, but somehow we've always managed to get him back. Until now."
Tom bit his lip. "For Janeway, this is what she would have wanted, to go
out fighting. " He inhaled sharply. "B'Elanna and I had ten great
years together. I can't believe how lucky I was - and still am - to have been
B: "Yes, you've been very lucky, Tom. The two of you had something very special. If only--I just wish that there was some way--"
A: Paris: I promised I would bring something by as soon as I heard.
B: Admiral Paris's
eyes flicked over at the Doctor for a moment, then returned to face his son.
"I came as soon as we had confirmation--I wanted to tell you this myself."
B: Tom took a step forward. "Oh God, B'Elanna, she's--"
A: Paris held out the PADD. "She's coming home."
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