STARCHILD II - (Screenplay Treatment, early draft)
In the darkness, the faint outline of a large missile on its launch pad is faintly visible. The sounds of the night are a cricket chirping and a faint slapping of the water against the shoreline (Title and major credits.) As the rocket gantry begins to glow with the launch, music is combined with the chest pounding sound of the blast off. The giant rocket lifts ever so slowly from the launch pad and disappears into the night
In the bright morning sunlight, a patrol helicopter follows a lone automobile speeding along a white sandy beach. The car pulls into the missile launch control center and the driver, the Professor (a rocket scientist) leaves the car and enters the building. The car is of a futuristic design.
Inside the mission control center, all are discussing the early morning launch. As the Professor enters the control room, he is greeted by the director of the space center. Brief congratulations are exchanged and the two men walk towards a private conference room.
Entering the conference room, there are two men and one woman seated at the conference table. Others are present in the room. Introductions are made. The first man is an experienced astronaut, the second an astrophysicist and a long time friend of the Professor. The woman is a biologist who is known for her research on the effects of space travel on plants and animals. The woman is also a personal friend of the Professor.
Several in the room offer congratulations to the Professor. The Director opens a discussion on the significance of the recent test. On top of the missile just launched was a nose cone which housed the first test of a hyperlight insertion device. The Professor begins by briefly reviews the theory of relativity for those in the room. Space travel (velocity) is limited by the Mass factor in the E=MC2 theory.
It has been confirmed by recent space flights approaching the speed of light, that aging slows in relation to those left behind. For example, a twenty-five year old man traveling at half the speed of light for thirty years would return from his trip only twenty-eight years old. While his wife, children and friends, he left behind, would be thirty years older.
It will never be possible to go back in time. Backward time travel is pure fiction. Who or what ever designed this universe saw to it that history can not be changed. As the poet put it, "You can't go home again". Amazingly, however, one can go into the future.
The test just conducted confirms that the M-factor (mass) can be overcome and an object can be accelerated beyond the speed of light. This is referred to as hyperlight insertion. Science fiction writers have for a long time predicted that things like "star gates" and "warp drives" could exist, but until now it was only a fantasy.
As the meeting continues, the people in the room are being viewed on a monitor screen from an unknown office some distance away. The people watching the monitor from this unknown office are themselves being watched through a window in the office building (a space needle). Another monitor screen, viewing those in the office building is onboard a space station. The people watching the monitor on the space station are viewed through the window of the space station from a point in space. Others are watching. (triple pull back).
As the meeting proceeds, the Professor explains how hyperlight insertion works. Actually, the answer was very simple. It was only a matter of applying technology already available to the problem. Like the first caveman that figured out how to use a wheel, the answer was right there in front of us all the time.
An object is taken into polar orbit. As it passes either pole, negative or positive, a magnetic oscillator is used to set the objects polarity the same as the pole being crossed. Opposites attract, like objects repel. For just an instant the smaller object, a spacecraft for example, becomes weightless. More specifically, the object is without mass. Any power applied to the object at this instant, even its own forward motion, will send the object careening of into space in excess of the speed of light.
As a result of this morning's test, it is now known that a few minutes at hyperlight speeds will produce a time differential of thousands of years. This was born out by the clocks onboard the craft launched this morning. The craft was inserted into hyperlight for only one second, and it took several hours for it to return. In fact, it appears that the acceleration is exponential. The longer it stays in hyperlight, the faster it goes.
"How do you stop the damn thing?" asks the Astronaut. "Simple," replies the Professor, "shut down the magnetic field by turning off the oscillator." The Astronaut asks, "How do you guide the craft?" "Well," replies the Professor, "we haven't quite figured that one out yet. It kind of goes in the direction its pointed. Seriously though, it seems to move in the direction of the magnetic flow being crossed.
The Astronaut says "Tell me something, in all of the exploring we have done to date, have we found any sign of other intelligent life?" The Physicist answers, "None that I know of, but then its more of a timing problem. Relative to the age of the universe, any given civilization only lasts for a very short period of time. You see, when they exist, we do not and vice versa."
"What can one expect to experience when traveling at hyperlight speeds?" asks the Scientist. The Biologist responds, "Unlike approaching the speed of light where your body weight would exceed the mass of this planet, weight is not a factor." She continues, "At hyperlight speeds you experience a red-blue color spectrum shift inside the cabin. This may cause disorientation until you learn to adjust to it. Outside, you will only see a field of black in the direction you are moving, but you should be able to see those thing behind you. Objects on either side will appear curved or distorted." The Astronaut laughingly quips, "Like flying blind, right?"
It is becoming apparent from little clues, like clothing styles, signs on the walls, uniforms, and the general design of objects that the location is not in the United States and is not under the control of something like NASA. It is further apparent that the time period is not the present and possibly it is not even the planet earth, although the similarities are great. In fact, it is the planet Terra, a planet which has evolved similar to Earth, both in physical and scientific development. Terra is a planet only slightly more technologically advanced than present day Earth.
As the parties to the meeting leave the launch control center, the Professor invites them to his house for drinks that evening to celebrate the recent rocket test. Seven of the persons at the meeting get into waiting vehicles which drive off towards a large aircraft hanger.
The Director, the Professor, and five others enter the heavily guarded hanger. In the center of the large hanger floor is a single fighter aircraft with an oversized pressurized cockpit. As the group of seven walk around the nose of the aircraft, the name on the side reads STARCHILD. They are told that this aircraft is capable of inserting itself into hyperlight due to a massive magnetron built into its fuselage.
During hyperlight entry, the configuration of the craft is not important, a square box could be inserted into hyperlight. This particular aircraft, an atmospheric type airplane, was selected because it can enter the high altitude regions around the magnetic poles. It is also a VTOL jump jet, which will facilitate takeoffs and landings. The hull of the craft is made of a composite material that will dissipate the thousands of degrees of heat which will be encountered during re-entry into the atmosphere. The cockpit has been modified to carry six persons.
At the Professor's home that evening, a small group of scientists, politicians and military personnel have gathered (the military uniforms are Russian style). In the course of the evening, the discussion turns to the current political turmoil and the impending problems related to doomsday devices which were placed in orbit some years ago as a deterrent to all-out nuclear war between major nations.
A small group of nine remain after the party. The Director opens a conversation regarding the rumor that one of the doomsday device's orbit was beginning to decay.
The Physicist confirms that it is not just a rumor, that he has been watching from the university's observatory and that it will re-enter Terra's atmosphere within the next forty-eight hours. The result will most likely be a high altitude atomic blast which will cause a long nuclear winter. During this period, most life on Terra as it is now known will cease to exist. It could take a million years before the atmosphere clears and life evolves back to its normal state. It is possible that life might continue on Terra, but only in a very primitive form.
The Professor brings up the fact that the yet untested Starchild hyperlight craft, with a life support system for up to six persons, has been developed and is presently in a guarded hanger at the air base nearby. The group in the room, decide that three men and three women should board the Starchild and insert themselves into hyperlight so as to return to Terra at a later point in time. It would be the only guarantee they have of preserving the present level of scientific knowledge if the catastrophe occurred. It might also be the only chance for their species survival
In the early morning hours of the following day the Professor, the Astronaut, the Biologist, and the Physicist meet at the hanger where the Starchild stands ready. Two support personnel, the Scientist and the Technician, are also present. Over coffee, they watch the morning news on television. Just announced is that the doomsday satellite's orbit is now rapidly decaying and will enter the atmosphere.
A newswomen is explaining that people are advised to remain in their homes in the event of nuclear flash. However, continues the news broadcast, there is no apparent danger to life or property at this time. "Bullshit," says the Physicist "when that baby hits the atmosphere, it will set off a nuclear burn which will react with the upper atmospheric ion particles."
"Well are we going or not?" asks the Astronaut. The Professor replies "Yes, but you all understand that if this is a false alarm, all of our careers are ruined. In fact, we will most likely go to prison if we fail. Hell, we might all be killed in that untested contraption setting out there (all in the ready room sit quietly). Okay, get the two women on the phone and get them down here, we lift off in one hour." The Astronaut's girlfriend is involved in a car crash on the way to the air base. The Physicist's wife refuses, at the last minute, to come as she will not leave her two small children behind.
Time is running out for a launch prior to the collision of the satellite with Terra's atmosphere. The Scientist and the Technician, who were there only to aid in pirating the Starchild, volunteer to go and take the two vacant seats. Six souls, five men and one woman, board the Starchild.
The hanger doors fly open. The guards, unable to stop the craft, run for cover. The Starchild taxis out of the hanger, blowing dust and debris with it's jet blast (A Harrier jump jet with a modified cockpit.). Lifting off vertically, the craft noses forward and climbs high into the atmosphere headed north.
As they pass through 120,000 feet, the Astronaut, at the controls, advises that they are approaching the north polar region of Terra. The Physicist thinks that he has devised a method of celestial navigation that can set them on a reasonably correct course in space. "Here goes nothing," says the Professor as he engages Starchild's magnetic oscillator. The Starchild craft disappears into a black star field.
On board the craft, the crew members experience the red-blue light shifts which distorts their vision as as they look around the cabin. They make a great effort to overcome the disorientation. They are uncertain as to where they are headed, but are amazed that they are even alive and apparently traveling faster than the speed of light. Entire solar systems pass in the distance behind them.
The Physicist is attempting to plot some type of an intersticial course, and says that his best guess is to drop out of hyperlight after about three hours have passed. He feels that by that time, they will be in a region of the Galaxy rich in stars about the size of Terra's sun. This should give them the best chance at finding a life supporting planet.
The magnetic oscillator is disengaged and the Starchild pass near the small blue planet Earth. Weather it is luck, fate or a reasonably good scientific guess, it appears that the planet just ahead might be able to support life similar to that on Terra. The gravitational pull of the planet allows them to descend into the upper atmosphere. Skipping like a hot rock over a pond, the Starchild descends into the heaver air and the standard flight controls can now steer the craft.
The Physicist quickly takes readings from the instruments on the oscillator's control panel in order to obtain a fix of their position in space. They have traveled much further in space and time than they had intended.
Flying over the planet Earth, the group is astonished to find that Earth is presently in the late Jurassic period. Passing low over the planet's terrain, they view giant animals and prehistoric forests. It is a hostile and foreboding planet. The evolutionary development of this planet is millions of years behind that of Terra.
After some discussion, the decision is made to return to Terra. Several millennia have now passed and it is possible that Terra's atmosphere has rejuvenated itself. It is even possible that the catastrophe they expected did not occur when they departed the planet. If so, the civilization on Terra would now be advanced beyond anything they might imagine, and they would only be part of its forgotten past.
The Starchild enters Earth's polar region and is inserted into hyperlight. The Physicist estimates that based on his calculations, they should be able to return to Terra. Three hours later, returning to their point of departure in space, the Starchild drops out of hyperlight. Terra is seen as a dull gray, dark and foreboding planet with little hope of life existing on its surface. Their worst fears have been realized.
The hyperlight disorientation is taking it's toll on the six crew members and they are depressed over what they have just seen. The Physicist is sure that he can return to the point in space where Earth was located. Without further discussion, the Starchild is placed on a heading for a return to Earth. The three hour journey to Earth will transverse several million Earth years, arriving on Earth at an unknown point in time (about 2,500 BC).
A second approach to Earth is made. The Starchild descends over a large desert area south of Mesopotamia. The craft is landed and parked near a palm grove. The crew members exit the craft with the intention of remaining at this location, at least for awhile. They move toward a tent encampment of nomads. The people they have just encountered are Judaians, early ancestors of the Israelites. They are greeted suspiciously by the elders of the tribe, but are eventually accepted by the group.
This tribe of several thousand Judaians had been fighting for their survival against several local Semite tribes. Another battle with one of the neighboring tribes is imminent. Two fueding factions within the tribe must now unite behind one leader in order to defeat the Semites. The symbol carried on the pole by each warrior leader is a triangle. The Professor persuades them to join together. He takes each of the two triangles from their poles and throws them together on the ground. They cross to form a six pointed star. "This," says the Professor, "is the new symbol all of your legions will fight under".
The Terrians find themselves fighting along side the Judaian warriors when they are surprised and attacked by the Semites. The Scientist, one of the Terrians, is killed in the ensuing battle. He dies in the arms of the Professor who promises him that somehow he will take him home to Terra.
Later around an evening campfire the Judaians sing and dance (music: ES) in celebration of the days victory over the Semites. They tell the Terrians about their belief in one God. A child is born the next morning to this tribe who is named Abraham.
The Terrians now understand that everyone and everything they ever knew no longer exist. They vow to return home to Terra someday.
During their stay with the Judaians, the Astronaut meets and falls in love with a young Judaian girl. When the Terrians prepare to leave, she wants on go with him. It is explained that if she leaves she will never see her people again. She insists on going anyway and leaves with the group in the Starchild.
The Terrians fly the Starchild (regular jet flight) to ancient Egypt where their deceased companion is preserved in a cocoon (mistaken for a mummy by the locals). Cocooning is an age old method of preserving a body on Terra. They steal the king's mummy, from the Pyramid now under construction, and bury his mummy it in the sand (comedy relief). The Astronaut marks the cocoon with a six pointed star in order to be able to identify it later. The cocoon of the Terrian is put in the king's sarcophagus and closed.
The pyramid is due to be sealed the next day. As they are leaving they discover a stash of gold medallions and jewelry stolen by the worker and hidden to be retrieved later. Presently of no value to the Terrians, the Technician thinks the gold might be good metal for making replacement electrical contacts for the Starchild's magnetic oscillator system. They take what they can carry with them.
The Starchild is very low on fuel and some of the electronic circuitry is beginning to fail. They estimate that they need to be about 4,000 to 5,000 years further into the future of this planet's technological development. The technology they need to repair the Starchild should be available by that time. Six board the Starchild, four men and two women. Having made several hyperlight jumps, they now feel that they can more closely control the time lapse. A short hyperlight flight, remaining in Earth orbit, is made into the future. Descending on New England, the Terrians land the Starchild on a small grass airstrip (music: Jazz).
They arrive in opulent upstate New York in the latter part of the roaring 20's. The Terrians are without any currency with which to purchase everyday necessities. The Technician takes the gold medallions and jewelry he acquired in Egypt and sells them to a dealer for enough money to assimilate the group into the local society. A wooden hanger is rented on the small grass air field to store the Starchild. A down payment is made on a country manor where the Professor and the Biologist take up residence. The others remain as house guests on the estate. The are accepted as Europeans because of their thick accents and broken English, but quickly learn speak American English.
While moving into the manor house, neighbors arrive to welcome them (on horse back, dressed in fox hunting attire). They dismount and introduce themselves. The Biologist introduces herself as an exiled Countess from a European royal family, and the Professor as her husband. When the guests depart, the Professor quips, "What does that make me, a some kind of a Duke?"
The Professor takes a position lecturing at a nearby university. While teaching a physics class on electrodynamic bodies in motion, one of his student asks if the speed of light in truly the ultimate speed in the universe. The Professor replies that it was an interesting question and that he understands that the German born Albert Einstein, who developed the Principle of Relativity, had also been working on what Einstein called the Special Law of Relativity. Someday in the future, the answer may be known for sure.
One night the Professor and the Biologist are laying in bed in the manor house's stately master bedroom. The Professor asks the Biologist, "Do you love me?" She answers, "What do you mean, do I love you?" He asks again, "Do you?" She replies, "I have worked beside you for twenty years, I have been your mistress for almost that long, I follow you half way across a universe, and you ask me if I love you?" He asks again, "Well, do you?" She answers, "I'll think about it, go to sleep."
The Biologist really gets into the spirit of the times. She volunteers at a local hospital, helping them set up a new research center that is named after her. She purchases a Duesenberg roadster and later admits that it was the only thing she hated to leave behind. "I loved that car!" she said (comedy relief).
Large garden parties (Great Gatsby style) are given at the country manor hosted by the Judaian girl (who is now married to the Astronaut). She likes to dress up in costumes which are variations on her own tribal dress. Her attire is a cross between flapper and a Middle Eastern dancing girl. Her dress styles are copied by other ladies in the area, trying to keep up with the latest fads
The Astronaut manages the air field (grass strip) where they had landed. This allows him to keep watch on the Starchild which is parked in the old wooden hanger. He gives flying lessons in a WWI biplane. One day while teaching a young student pilot, they run off the end of the runway and crash nose down. Another of the Starchild crew members may have just been killed! Not so, as a small crowd runs towards the crash, the student and the Astronaut emerge unscathed. "Laughing'" the Astronaut says, "Don't worry about it kid, I always say any landing you can walk away from is a good one. Besides, I've been wanting a new plane anyway". The next day his new Waco biplane is delivered.
The Physicist and the Technician start an electrical engineering company which produces technological advanced components for radios. The company begins to show a profit. The corporation is named SCA for Starchild Corporation of America.
Over the next year, the electrical system on the Starchild is repaired patchwork and it might now be used for a short hyperlight flight. However, it is not likely that in its present condition it could be used for an extended period. The Physicist makes jet fuel from kerosene which is readily available.
The Professor, knowing that one more short jump into the future is going to be required, meets with a stockbroker to arrange to invest in some securities which he thinks might be promising. His hope is that upon returning in sixty or seventy years, the investments will be worth a considerable amount of money. Thus, giving them the financial resources they will need to build a second Starchild craft.
Several of the group become very involved in a local Christian movement. The Technician and the Biologist are instrumental in sponsoring an old time Christian gospel revivals which takes place on the estate in a large tent (music: gospel). The Technician meets a young Christian girl and decides to marry her. Influenced by her strong beliefs, he becomes a Christian.
Almost a year has passed and the time has come for the Starchild to make its short jump into the near future. The Technician remains behind with his wife. This is as far as he intends to go, although he will always long for his home on Terra.
Five board the Starchild, three men and two women. The Starchild is inserted into hyperlight for only a minute or two (music: folk). Upon descending into the modern day San Francisco Bay area, the Astronaut sets the aircraft down at a busy international airport. They are met by an FAA representative who is bawling them out for landing an experimental aircraft at a busy airport and failing to obtain proper radio clearance for landing (comedy relief). The group talk their way out of the problem and arrange to park the Starchild at a nearby electronic facility. The large sign above the hanger reads "SCA".
The Starchild's onboard systems have now been damaged beyond repair. The temporary repairs made prior to the last flight have all failed. The electronic facility where they parked the Starchild turns out to be part of the electronic corporation founded in 1928 by the Physicist and Technician. They find out that the Technician is alive and lives in San Francisco. They contact him. He and his wife come to the facility immediately to greet them. They arrive by chauffeur driven limousine. He is now an old man in failing health, but very glad to see them. He explains that the company has made millions in profit, but there is still not enough funds to finish developing another Starchild.
The Professor goes to the phone to find how well his stock investments have done. He finds that during the crash of 1929, every stock that he purchased had failed and many he had decided against would have made millions. He fumbles in his pocket and pulls out a shinny new Indian head nickel, goes to a near by coke machine which reads, "Deposit sixty cents" (comedy relief).
A twofold plan is devised. First, the electronic company will market a new type of integrated computer chip based on those used in the Starchild's systems. Now that the Starchild is here, a sample chip will be removed and sent to the factory for duplication. This new chip will blow the competition away. The ad campaign in all the computer magazines reads, "Don't be a Pentium Puppy, join the Starchild generation."
Secondly, one of the holdings of the electronic company is a major recording company (kind of like Motown). Stock had been issued to SCA for equipment the company installed and the recording studio couldn't pay for. Four of the Terrians form a rock group. They recreate a sound based on a synthesized instrument that had been a big hit on Terra. Their first two albums go platinum on release and go to number one on the charts (music: heavy metal). In order to hide their identity, they dress in rock costumes and use full face makeup for all live performances which are now being demanded by the fans.
They use their private helicopter, an Astar, to get to their concert performances without having to move through the crowds. They need faster private transportation for long distance trips, so the Astronaut and his wife go to a used aircraft dealership and purchase a Lear Jet. They remark that its not their old Waco, but guess it will have to do. The Astronaut loves flying the Lear and is trying to teach his wife to fly it (comedy relief).
After several successful live concerts, the Starchild rock group has managed to amass enough money to pay for the final development of the new hyperlight spacecraft, the Starchild II.
The original Starchild lays in pieces on the hanger floor beside the new Starchild being built. Music on a tiny sounding radio station is playing in the hanger where the men are working (music: JT). The Starchild II is nearing completion and the time is drawing close for the return to Terra.
The group is called to the bedside of the Technician who is dieing of old age. His wife, who was only seventeen when they married, has always known his secret and informs the group that she wants to return to Terra with them. There is one empty seat and she will take it. She also wants her husband to be returned to Terra.
Several of the group board the Lear Jet and fly to Cairo, Egypt. The pyramid has been excavated by some archaeologists and the sarcophagus containing the Terrian cocoon has been placed in a museum. In the still of night, they break into the museum. A sign beside the cocoon reads, "This very unique example of an early mummified king bears an unexplained mark resembling a Star of David." The cocoon holding the Scientist is loaded aboard the Lear jet.
Upon returning to San Francisco, two cocoons (the Scientist and the Technician) are loaded into the baggage compartment of the now completed and waiting Starchild II.
As the final concert ends, the Starchild rock group boards the helicopter and depart, amid search lights and fireworks, over the throngs of rock fans. During the flight the Professor explains that he sold the Lear Jet and given the money to the hospital center that was named for the Biologist. The Technician had already signed over the electronic corporation to a trust fund prior to his death. "When they find out what those new computer chips were really designed to do, I don't know what they will do with all the profits," remarks the Technician's widow.
The helicopter approaches the airport where the Starchild II is hangared, and is given clearance to land. Only a gas boy is on duty. "Aren't you the kid I saw taking flying lessons?" asks the Astronaut as he exits the parked Astar (rotor still spinning down). The kids nodes his head yes. The Astronaut throws him the keys to the Astar and says, "What's your name?" The boy replies, "Billy." The Astronaut says, "No, I mean your full name." "William Johnson, sir," replies the boy. Writing his name on the title of the helicopter, the Astronaut hands it to him saying, "When you finish learning to fly this one, sell it and go to college."
Six persons enter the hanger and board the Starchild II, three men and three women. In the darkness, the Starchild II rolls from the hanger, noses forward and lifts off on its journey, the return to Terra. The Starchild II quickly accelerates to Mach 2 and heads due north for the pole. An air traffic controller from the tower says, "What the hell was that!" A radar operator replies, "Beats me, its off may scope already."
The Starchild II drops out of hyperlight and descends into the beautiful blue atmosphere of Terra. The Starchild II coming in low over a pastoral valley near a small fishing village. A lone shepherd, dressed in a kilt and sheepskin is tending his flock. He looks up and watches the Starchild II pass overhead. The craft circles and lands in an open field (music: BTMV). The scene looks as though it had been taken right out of eighteenth century Ireland.
The six occupants exit the cockpit looking around in amazement at the beautiful valley where they have just landed. They are near a dirt road that leads to the small village in the distance.
The shepherd, an old man with a white beard, greets four of the crew members walking towards him. They recognize an ancient Terrian dialect when he speaks. In the background the workers from the field approach the Starchild II. One of the workers reaches out to touch the side of the craft as if to question what it was, but no questions are asked. "It is a ship that sails on the sky like a ship that sails on water," the Astronaut tells them. "Oh," replies the worker, "I think I understand." Two of the crew members begin to unload the two cocoons stored in the Starchild II's baggage compartment. The workers from the field help them.
Two graves are dug on a nearby hillside and closed. On the one graves is placed a Star of David and on the other grave is placed the Cross of Christ, both constructed of wooden sticks. Returning the two to Terra is a promise kept.
As the group walks down the dirt road towards the village, more villagers come to meet them. There are children in this group. The Astronaut has stayed behind. No one needs to tell him what must be done. In the distance, the Starchild II is set aflame and is quickly engulfed. None of the crew members look back at the burning craft.
The shepherd asks, "What were the symbols which you placed on the two graves?" The Professor replies, "They represent some people we met on our journey here. I will tell you and your people about them someday."
As the small group walks toward the village, the rays of the setting sun shoot into the evening sky. The Physicist puts his arm around the Professor as they walk and says, "Well old friend, who says you can't go home again?"
(Fade to black)
(music: variation on an old Gallic melody)
(written) "There were giants in those days, when the sons of God came unto the daughters of men, and they bore them children, these were the mighty men of old, the men of renown and legend. Genesis 6:4"
(roll minor credits)
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