Welcome to SOLZAR 22

part 3 of NEON RUN

Since we all need some extra entertainment right now, this week I’m doing a serialized release of my screenplay NEON RUN. This is Part 3.

Part 1

Part 2


EXT. SPACE ABOVE SOLZAR 22 - DAY

The Redacted descends to a small planet of putrid green and brown swirls. The enormous star beyond it glows red.

INT. THE REDACTED - COCKPIT - CONTINUOUS

The team— minus Zoe— stands at the windshield, observing the mucus-like planet outside.

HOWIE

Too bad that red giant didn't eat this booger up when it exploded.

Agnezz snorts.

LYLLYWIGHT

The planet's Solzar twenty-two. Home to an extremely private amphibious species. Their major export is a mineral compound used in wart removal.

VEDA

Are we welcome to land?

LYLLYWIGHT

We'll find out, I suppose.

Zoe suddenly runs into the room, rushing to the control panel, her arms covered in mechanical grease.

ZOE

Those stupid snakes screwed us over.

LYLLYWIGHT

What is it?

ZOE

I was checking to see if we missed any snakes yesterday and we did, one of them got lodged in the starboard stabilizer, it's only a matter of minutes before the port side bums out from—

The ship lurches— and then drops.

ZOE

There it is. You steer and I'll try to slow our descent. Aim for a landing pad.

She tosses back a headset.

ZOE

Howie, convince our new friends down there that we're not looking for trouble even though we're sure as hell making an entrance.

EXT. SPACE ABOVE SOLZAR 22 - CONTINUOUS

The Redacted hurtles through the atmosphere, gathering a shell of red-hot heat.

INT. THE REDACTED - COCKPIT - CONTINUOUS

HOWIE

(On headset) Come in Solzar! Come in!

Flames and mud splash onto the windshield as they near the planet's surface.

ZOE

Hold on!!!

HOWIE

(On headset) Well, if you’re listening... we’re trying!

EXT. SOLZAR 22 SURFACE - CONTINUOUS

The Redacted skids across the swampy surface before coming to a stop right beneath a landing platform.

For a moment the ship sits surrounded by steam, the thick greenish-brown gloop of the swamp dripping from it.

Above, on the landing platform, two small frog-like creatures peer over the edge.

A hatch on the Redacted opens. Zoe pops out, surveys the damage, and then spots the frogs above her.

ZOE

Hey! Amphibious dudes! We made it!

Zoe looks back down into the ship; someone’s talking to her from inside.

ZOE

(into the ship) I’ve done this before, Veda. (yelling again) Hey, we mean no harm! Can we get a little help?

The frogs disappear over the edge for a moment, and then reappear, waving.

SCREECH. A giant crane appears over the edge of the landing platform, its enormous magnet heading for the Redacted.

ZOE

Thank you!

INT. THE REDACTED - COCKPIT - CONTINUOUS

Zoe drops back into the cockpit.

ZOE

They’re taking us up. I‘ll go talk with them. Stenzrood, Lyllywight, fix up the ship. Agnezz, keep watch in case things go south. Howie, stay out of the way. Veda, go hide in the supply closet.

Both Howie and Veda erupt into protests.

ZOE

Hey. I’m the captain.

They fall silent.

VEDA

(under her breath) I’m the queen.

They all stumble as the ship jerks up.

EXT. SOLZAR 22 SURFACE - CONTINUOUS

The crane pulls the Redacted until it breaks free of the mud with a resounding POP.

INT. THE REDACTED - COCKPIT - MOMENTS LATER

Everyone buzzes about except for Howie and Veda, who sit sulking.

LYLLYWIGHT

Here's the translator. I've got it programmed with common amphibious languages, and I've set all our comms.

HOWIE

Can't I come?

ZOE

Agnezz, get me that broken plasma rifle. I’ll hand it over to them when they search me.

HOWIE

I can collect the valuables while you distract them!

ZOE

Is one of the transformer guns charged? Make sure it's not that stupid sword Howie bought.

Howie smirks as Agnezz presses the button on the disc and it does indeed turn into a sword. She switches it out for another one.

Agnezz hands over the garter holster and Zoe snaps it on.

HOWIE

I should go! And business manage! These guys could be great contacts.

VEDA

You can't bring weapons under false pretenses. That goes against—

ZOE

This isn't a diplomatic meeting. Get in the closet. (to Howie) You're staying here.

Zoe walks out.

EXT. SOLZAR 22 - LANDING PAD - CONTINUOUS

The ramp to the Redacted opens and Zoe walks out, the rifle slung over her shoulder and the translator on her belt.

LYLLYWIGHT (O.S.)

(over comm) Veda would like me to remind you to be polite.

ZOE

Tell our previous cargo she should be hiding.

Zoe stops at the end of the ramp. She puts her hands up.

In front of her are lines of hundreds of froggy creatures, all standing on two feet, wearing pristine white uniforms. They only come up to Zoe's knees.

One of the frogs steps forward and CROAKS, and then steps back.

Zoe pushes a button on the translator, which then emits a robotic voice.

TRANSLATOR

Greetings, we are Gopkin. Welcome.

ZOE

Uh... thank you! Can you understand me?

The gopkin all nod in unison.

ZOE

We'd like to head on our way. Can we buy some fuel?

The speaker-frog steps forward once more. CROAK. BLURP.

TRANSLATOR

Your ship is dirty. We must clean.

ZOE

Uh, sure, if you want to.

The gopkin nod again, and then disperse, rapidly hopping.

They pull tube-like tools from the walls and begin sucking up swamp mud from the Redacted.

ZOE

(into comm) They're cleaning the ship. Let them come inside if they want. Just make sure our guest is stored properly.

Zoe looks down— one of the gopkin pulls on her hand and CROAKS.

TRANSLATOR

Please speak with our leader regarding fuel.

Zoe follows the frog toward tall white doors.

INT. THE REDACTED - ENGINE ROOM - CONTINUOUS

Howie walks past the gopkin scrubbing the ship and YELPS.

LYLLYWIGHT

Be polite to the guests, Howard.

Howie plops down on the floor next to Lyllywight, who lies under part of the ship's machinery, looking at a readout.

A frog comes up with a cloth and wipes Howie's face before hopping away.

HOWIE

I'm not even good enough for the frog people.

Lyllywight sighs and rubs the bridge of his nose.

LYLLYWIGHT

This stabilizer needs a new coupling.

Lyllywight pulls himself up, bumping his head.

HOWIE

You seem distracted.

Lyllywight rubs his head.

LYLLYWIGHT

Hey, you're a kid. Am I scary to you? Those kids were scared.

HOWIE

Oh my gosh, this again. Is this because Zoe is even more emotionally unavailable than usual? If so, I get it. Look, it's all a matter of ratios. I bet a really huge kid wouldn't be scared of you. Like an absolute giant of a child—

LYLLYWIGHT

Very funny. Now unless you want to figure out this coupling situation, would you mind finding entertainment elsewhere?

Lyllywight scoots himself back under the machinery as Howie stomps away.

INT. GOPKIN HEADQUARTERS - CONTINUOUS

Zoe follows the frog into the building. It's white and clean and empty, except for a single gopkin sitting on a throne.

ZOE

This way? Ah, I see. Okay.

Dozens of frogs run out, stopping Zoe dead in her tracks.

BLURP.

TRANSLATOR

Your weapon, please.

ZOE

Of course, of course.

She drops the rifle, smiling at her amphibious audience.

They point to her muddy boots and grimy hands and CROAK.

ZOE

Okay?

The frogs set to work cleaning her.

INT. THE REDACTED - COCKPIT - CONTINUOUS

Agnezz peers out of the windshield, watching as the gopkin clean the ship.

Veda slips into Lyllywight's pilot's chairs and starts typing at the computer.

AGNEZZ

Aren't you supposed to be hiding?

VEDA

According to Zoe.

AGNEZZ

What are you doing?

VEDA

I can't get my tablet to work and I have galactic business to—

She stops typing.

VEDA

There's an adoption application open. Should I close it?

AGNEZZ

What? Adoption?

VEDA

It's Lyllywight's... I don't feel good about this, I'm just going to close the window... Oh.

Agnezz snaps a look at her. Veda looks up with a nervous smile.

VEDA

An notification for your dating service just popped up.

Agnezz steps down and turns off the computer.

AGNEZZ

You should get in that closet now.

Agnezz looks up to see Howie standing in the doorway.

AGNEZZ

What are you looking at?

HOWIE

Nothing, nothing! People aren't interested in dating cyborgs, I don't want to hear that rant again!

He hurries on.

VEDA

For what it's worth, it takes all kinds, I mean Zoe and I—

AGNEZZ

Not a good example.

VEDA

True.

INT. THE REDACTED - HALL - CONTINUOUS

Howie walks down the hall.

LYLLYWIGHT (O.S.)

Stenzrood, are you certain we don't have another coupling?

Howie pauses. He looks behind him— no one's watching.

He sneaks down the ramp.

INT. GOPKIN HEADQUARTERS - CONTINUOUS

Zoe looks at her now-shiny boots.

ZOE

You do lovely work.

She walks toward the throne.

ZOE

Can I? Yes?

She gives a little bow to the frog on the throne. It looks at her with its wide-set frog eyes.

ZOE

Your excellency? We're looking for some fuel.

CROAK.

TRANSLATOR

You made a mess.

ZOE

Yeah, I'm really sorry about that, there were technical difficulties.

CROAK.

TRANSLATOR

You made a mess.

ZOE

Well, yes. And your patience has been noteworthy, if we could just fuel up we'll be out of your hair... er... way. We'll be out of your way soon.

The frog on the throne stares at her, and then CROAKS and waves to one of the other frogs.

TRANSLATOR

We will fuel your ship if you will leave.

ZOE

Of course! Thank you!

The frogs bring her a tiny little frog-sized chair. She sits.

ZOE

(into comm) Heads up, we got fuel coming in.

EXT. SOLZAR 22 - LANDING PAD - CONTINUOUS

The gopkin connect a fuel line to the Redacted. Behind them, Howie sneaks into the warehouse.

INT. SOLZAR 22 - WAREHOUSE - CONTINUOUS

Howie rushes down the impeccably neat row of supplies.

HOWIE

Coupling, coupling, coupling...

He digs into one of the shelves, leaving a trail of mess.

INT. GOPKIN HEADQUARTERS - CONTINUOUS

Zoe waits impatiently on her tiny chair. Only she and the frog on the throne are left in the room.

The frog stares blankly, its wide-set eyes seemingly looking in opposite directions.

One of the white-uniformed frogs walks in and croaks quietly to the throned gopkin.

Zoe tries to move her translator closer to them.

The gopkin on the throne zeros in on Zoe, its eyes suddenly focused.

CROOOOOOAK.

Zoe stands nervously, fumbling with the translator.

ZOE

Is something—?

CROAK. The frog hits a button on its throne and a screen comes out from the wall. In grainy surveillance footage it shows Howie, stealing from the landing pad warehouse.

ZOE

That little shit.

INT. THE REDACTED - HALL - CONTINUOUS

Howie runs up the ramp into the ship.

HOWIE

I got couplings!!

Lyllywight, Stenzrood, and Agnezz all lean out into the hallway. Howie dumps his armful of couplings on the floor.

HOWIE

But we're gonna need to get moving!

INT. GOPKIN HEADQUARTERS - CONTINUOUS

An army of angry, white-uniformed gopkin gather beneath Zoe.

ZOE

(into comm) Get ready for some action!

Zoe backs up from the army of gopkin, slowly reaching her hand to her garter holster.

She hits the button— and then all hell breaks loose.

As the gun unfolds into her hand, the gopkin hop toward her, climbing on top of each other like a swarm of ants.

Zoe tries to pull the trigger on her gun but one of the frogs shoots out its tongue and hits Zoe's hand. The tongue sticks.

Zoe YELLS in surprise and tries to shake the tongue off— the frog at the end of the tongue flies up into the air—

She shoots— the blue blob goes flying, and hits a group of gopkin, who fall. The plasma drips onto the floor.

The gopkin erupt into a symphony of CROAKS. Zoe's translator, swinging on her belt, blinks.

TRANSLATOR

Making a mess! Making a mess!

Zoe rapid-fires her gun. Blue blobs shoot through the air in a flurry.

INT. THE REDACTED - COCKPIT - CONTINUOUS

Lyllywight sits in the pilot's seat and starts firing up the ship.

LYLLYWIGHT

We're ready to take off as soon as we have Zoe!

VEDA

What's happening?!

INT. THE REDACTED - HALL - CONTINUOUS

Agnezz tosses frogs out off the closing boarding ramp—

AGNEZZ

I can't get these things out!

She tries to shake off several gopkin clinging to her arm.

INT. GOPKIN HEADQUARTERS - CONTINUOUS

Zoe swings her gun around— the frogs attached to it by their tongues fly through the air, hitting the other gopkin hopping up to attack.

Zoe backs up toward the door, mowing down the hopping frogs.

Finally reaching the door, she slams her fist into the control panel.

ZOE

Open please!

Hundreds of white-uniformed gopkin spill in from the hallways, hopping toward Zoe.

INT. THE REDACTED - HALL - CONTINUOUS

The gopkin overtake Agnezz.

AGNEZZ

I COULD USE SOME HELP!

Howie runs into the hall.

HOWIE

I'm sorry, but this'll work!

He throws a pink plasma ball—

It EXPLODES, sending pink goop smacking up against the walls.

Agnezz spits out the gunk—

AGNEZZ

A STINK BOMB?!

HOWIE

It's working!

The frogs frantically hop off the ship.

INT. GOPKIN HEADQUARTERS - CONTINUOUS

Zoe again tries to open the door— An ELECTRONIC CROAK comes from the panel—

TRANSLATOR

Hand scan needed.

ZOE

A hand scan, you little fuckers?

Zoe grabs one of the frogs and presses its hand on the panel.

It flashes RED.

Zoe GROANS and then grabs another frog— the panel flashes RED—

Another— RED.

INT. THE REDACTED - COCKPIT - CONTINUOUS

Agnezz and Howie run into the cockpit—

LYLLYWIGHT

What is that stench?

HOWIE

Don't worry about it.

VEDA

Where's Zoe?

INT. GOPKIN HEADQUARTERS - CONTINUOUS

Zoe grabs one more frog and hits its hand up to the door panel—

It flashes GREEN.

The doors open and Zoe makes a run for it, hundreds of frogs hopping up behind her.

EXT. SOLZAR 22 - LANDING PAD - CONTINUOUS

The Redacted hovers above the landing pad, its ramp hanging down.

Zoe runs toward the ship, the army of frogs following her in a springing mass—

She jumps up, reaching for the landing ramp, frogs jumping up behind her— She's going to miss it—

A hand shoots out and grabs Zoe—

INT./EXT. THE REDACTED - LOADING RAMP - CONTINUOUS

Zoe clambers up unto the loading ramp.

Zoe tries to catch her breath.

ZOE

(into comm) I'm on board.

VEDA

Glad I'm not in the supply closet?

Zoe moves into the ship—

A gopkin hops up, its tongue wrapping around Zoe's neck—

Veda pulls up a pistol and shoots past Zoe, hitting the frog in the face with blue plasma.

Zoe grabs the frog and wrenches it off, tossing it away.

Zoe rubs her neck.

ZOE

That was a bit overkill.

Zoe walks past a gaping Veda and into the ship.

EXT. SOLZAR 22 - LANDING PAD - CONTINUOUS

The frog lands safely on top of its kin.

The gopkin CROAK as the Redacted flies away.

INT. THE REDACTED - COCKPIT - CONTINUOUS

Lyllywight pilots the ship up through the atmosphere and into open space. Agnezz and Howie whisper in the corner.

ZOE (O.S.)

HOWARD!

Howie sinks into his chair. Zoe storms in, about to reprimand Howie, but—

ZOE

BLAST IT, THAT STINKS.

HOWIE

It's your stink bomb, that's on you—

ZOE

Me?

VEDA

You created this?

ZOE

You set it off, didn't you!

VEDA

Me?

HOWIE

Me.

ZOE

YOU.

Zoe refocuses on Howie.

ZOE

Why did you break into their warehouse?!

HOWIE

We needed a coupling for the stabilizer and—

ZOE

I had it under control.

HOWIE

I was just doing what YOU would do!

ZOE

They were ready to help until they caught you making a mess!

HOWIE

Again, the stink bomb's on you.

ZOE

Well, the punishment will fit the crime! Go clean that— what is that?

Everyone follows Zoe's gaze to the corner, where a tiny, tiny gopkin sits. It wears a baby blue uniform, and CROAKS a tiny croak.

TRANSLATOR

I live here now.

ZOE

Uh, little guy, you can't live here.

It smiles, and repeats its tiny croak.

HOWIE

Why can't it?

ZOE

Don't start.

VEDA

What's your name, friend?

A tiny croak— more of a SQUEAK.

TRANSLATOR

I am Messy.

ZOE

Well, that would explain why it'd want to run away...

Messy hops toward them.

HOWIE

You like the frog more than me.

ZOE

So what if I do?

AGNEZZ

Are we keeping it?

ZOE

Who's going to take care of it?

HOWIE

Me!

ZOE

No.

VEDA

What about Lyllywight?

HOWIE

Yeah, then you don't even have to finish that adoption application! You can be Messy's dad!

Everyone stops and looks to Lyllywight, including Messy.

AGNEZZ

You literally couldn't keep a secret for a whole minute.

ZOE

Wait, what? Adoption? When were you going to tell me?

AGNEZZ

You know, there are some things you don't need to know.

LYLLYWIGHT

It was just a thought, I'm too—

VEDA

It's incredibly sweet, Lyllywight, and I'm sorry, I didn't mean to see that or your dating profile, Agnezz, I—

ZOE

YOU HAVE A DATING PROFILE?

AGNEZZ

Say another word about it and you're dead.

ZOE

(back to Lyllywight) Wait! Is this why you've been so upset about those kids?

LYLLYWIGHT

I could crush a child, how am I supposed to care for one?! I was not ready to discuss this, Howie.

ZOE

(remembering) Howie.

She turns around to face him.

HOWIE

How can you be mad at me for stealing?!

LYLLYWIGHT

Don't be so hard on him, Zoe, he was just trying to help—

ZOE

Ok, DAD, you take care of it.

LYLLYWIGHT

That's not fair.

Messy starts pushing buttons on Agnezz's cyber leg.

AGNEZZ

Not cool, little dude!

VEDA

I'm with Zo, Howard, crime is never a good option.

ZOE

Did I invite you out of the closet?

VEDA

It sounds rather pleasant there with the mood you're in.

ZOE

UGH, does anyone else want to reveal something they've been hiding from me?!

Everyone stares at Zoe. Suddenly, Stenzrood sprouts a pair of antennae from its fluff.

ZOE

WHAT THE— AHH!

Veda breaks the silence as she sweeps out.

VEDA

I have business to attend to, excuse me.

ZOE

Howie, go clean that stink bomb up.

HOWIE

FINE, dictator!

Howie storms out.

Agnezz YELPS and pushes Messy away from her, as the robotic functions of her leg go haywire. She rushes out of the room.

ZOE

Did we at least get fuel?

LYLLYWIGHT

Yes, we got a full tank.

ZOE

Good. I'm gonna go make a bomb and dream about alcohol.

Zoe storms out.

CROAK. Messy looks up at Lyllywight.

Lyllywight puts his head in his hands.

To be continued…