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CROSSFIRE

spacer.gif (836 bytes)Crossfire by John Ireland is one of the earliest extent Battlestar Galactica scripts. When we discuss existing scripts, it is important to remember that we only possess scripts that were fortunate enough to reach the Universal mimeograph department, which apparently is where the people who steal these things work. There certainly were early draft scripts and story ideas that never got out of Glen Larson’s production offices and so have been lost entirely to history. Among the missing items I personally would dearly love to see are the three story ideas that were combined to become Lost Planet of the Gods and the missing BG version of Return of Starbuck. The chances of these turning up at this late date are, frankly, pretty slender.
spacer.gif (836 bytes)Crossfire was never issued a production number and lacks cast and set lists. Originally entitled The Nari of Sentinel 27 and dated November 30, 1977, the name and date were scratched out and Crossfire and the date 12/8/77 scribbled on. There are handwritten revisions throughout the script; clearly no one bothered to type up a new draft especially since it seems obvious that the script was abandoned early and only later resurrected as the basis for Gun on Ice Planet Zero. As in other early scripts, Apollo is Skyler and Lyra, the original for Serina, is still alive and a member of the Council of Twelve.
spacer.gif (836 bytes)Crossfire opens with Tigh and Adama on the bridge of the Galactica rhapsodizing over the beauty of the nebula the fleet is currently passing through and then jumping on Starbuck, who’s leading a patrol ahead of the fleet, for noticing the same thing and mentioning it over his radio, poor lad. Starbuck’s patrol consists of himself in command and five cadets, one of whom is the eternally unfortunate Cadet Cree—Cadet Terry Cree in this version. The fleet is entering what Tigh refers to as a “Blue Spectrum,” an area of the galaxy previously visited only by drone probes.
spacer.gif (836 bytes)As Starbuck and his patrol enter the unmapped region, the Galactica detects an asteroid emitting heat and an unmanned probe is launched to check it, which the trigger-happy Cadet Cree almost shoots down. The patrol is redirected to follow the probe and check out the asteroid as well.
spacer.gif (836 bytes)When the probe gets into range, it transmits back to the Galactica a picture of a huge mountain and a giant cannon. The picture lasts only seconds before the gun destroys the probe. Tigh orders the recon patrol to return to base; Cree disagrees and turns to attack the gun. An interesting exchange between Starbuck and Commander Adama ensues:

STARBUCK

Recon leader to Com-central. Cadet Cree has decided to attack whatever it is down there on the asteroid. Request permission to give chase.

ADAMA

Starbuck, this is Adama. Stop that fool and I don’t care how. Shoot him down if you have to.

STARBUCK

Repeat sir.

ADAMA

I said shoot him down if you have to. That cadet is risking the lives of every person in the fleet.

spacer.gif (836 bytes)It’s always nice to see Adama display some backbone.
spacer.gif (836 bytes)Starbuck and his patrol set off after Cree, but the Cylons fire on Cree with ground-to-air missiles, apparently hoping to capture him alive. The cannon (invariably spelled “canon” throughout the script, by the way) fires on Starbuck’s patrol, and one of the cadets, Kanin, is killed. Starbuck and his surviving cadets beat a hasty retreat as the Cylons capture Cree. Adama asks Athena to check with the patrol to find out who the casualties were; this dialogue follows:

ATHENA

Skyler, I’m afraid to call them. I’m afraid it won’t be Starbuck that answers.

SKYLER
(taking the headset from her)

Com-central to Recon leader.

STARBUCK

Recon leader to Com-central. Is that you, Skyler?

SKYLER
(putting an arm around Athena)

Yeah, pal, it’s me. Are you okay?

STARBUCK

I lost two of my men, Skyler. One dead and one captured.

SKYLER

I hear you pal. We’ve all been there.

STARBUCK

I’m scared, Skyler. I’ve seen the most powerful cannon ever built and I’m frightened to death.

spacer.gif (836 bytes)Seeing Starbuck actually admitting to fear is rather unusual; about the only emotion he was permitted to display in the series was lust, for women or money.
spacer.gif (836 bytes)Act Two opens with Adama discussing the situation with the Quorum of Twelve. One member asks the question that just about everyone who has watched Gun on Ice Planet Zero would like to ask:

OLD MAN

Why don’t we just change our course and get out of here? They can’t chase us with that asteroid.

ADAMA

I wish we could. But I’m sure that the Cylons have alerted every Cylon Battle Star in the galaxy of our presence. Turning around, we’d run right into them. And remember, the Cylons didn’t build that cannon just to defend an asteroid. They plan to use it with the same treachery that has cost every person in this room a loved one and a homeland. We have to destroy that cannon because in Cylon hands, it threatens every living creature in the galaxy.

spacer.gif (836 bytes)Still not much of an explanation, but more than we were given in Gun!
spacer.gif (836 bytes)A twelve-man assault team is prepared to land on the asteroid and take out the gun. Skyler and Starbuck are in command; most of the others are never named except for a black warrior named Kang (A Colonial Klingon, perhaps?!) and a blond young warrior named York; later we find another is named Capa.
spacer.gif (836 bytes)The shuttle carrying the assault force lands on the asteroid without incident. At the base of the mountain, they discover a door, next to which is Cree’s damaged viper, guarded by three Cylons. The attack force divides into two six-man units, intending to attack the gun from two different vectors. Starbuck and his men head around the mountain, while Skyler and his stake out the door they’ve discovered. Skyler has a rather wacky idea for his attack plan:

SKYLER

It looks like the guards are on three-hour shifts. One hour before Starbuck begins his attack, we’ll overpower the guards. One of us will stay with the fighter, two of us will dress in the Cylon uniforms and pretend we’ve got the others as prisoners. The closer we can get to the cannon before we have to start our attack, the better.

spacer.gif (836 bytes)Sure, Apollo. Wonderful plan. Clearly John Ireland watched way too many movies based on Alistair McLean novels before he wrote this.
spacer.gif (836 bytes)Meanwhile, Starbuck and his team have discovered a village that doesn’t look like anything the Cylons would have built. He decides to quickly reconnoiter it, taking York and leaving Kang in command until they return. Starbuck and York enter one of the buildings, which has what the script describes as an “old world” look except that it and everything in it appear to be made of a glass-like substance. They find the first floor empty, go up to the second, and find it too uninhabited. From the window, Starbuck is startled to see the rest of his assault team being marched down the village street, held captive by a group of humanoids wearing black hooded jump suits. Naturally, someone has snuck up behind them; they turn in surprise.

MONA 27

My name is Mona 27, my people are called the Nari. Please lower your weapons, they cannot hurt me or help your men.

STARBUCK

You look human. Are you?

MONA 27

Consider usthese dwellings, as experiments that outlived their inventor. Follow me and I will rejoin you with your friends.

spacer.gif (836 bytes)As she leads Starbuck and York to the others, Mona 27 explains that the Nari were created long ago by a human who was doing research on aging; the Nari are the results. York asks what happened to the inventor; Mona 27 points at a grave they are passing.

MONA 27

It was the only grave on our world…until the Cylons came.

spacer.gif (836 bytes)Not a very unusual happenstance where the Cylons are involved, obviously.
spacer.gif (836 bytes)Mona 27 takes the two men to meet with what seems to be a Nari council and reunites them with the other members of the assault team. The Nari explain the secret of their existence to the Colonials:

MONA 27

We do not reproduce. We do not age, we do not die. Weexist.

STARBUCK

What do the Cylons want with you?

MONA 27
(handing Starbuck a book)

The secret of our creation. They want to duplicate the experiments in this book. But they do not understand the language. If they did, they could create a thousand armies of slaves and soldiers.

STARBUCK

If the person who wrote this was human, it’s a language I’ve never seen.

FIRST NARI

She died without teaching it to us.

spacer.gif (836 bytes)In fact, the book is written in Hebrew. York points out to Starbuck that time is a-wasting; he wants to continue with the mission, but Starbuck is torn, knowing that the Cylons will massacre the Nari when they leave. After Mona 27 shows him a gallery of copies of works by Earth artists, Starbuck promises the Nari that there will be no Cylon retribution and he and his team push on to be in position in time for the attack.
spacer.gif (836 bytes)In the meantime, Skyler has been in touch with Adama and there has been a change in plans. Instead of destroying the gun, Adama now wants it captured, with the hope that they can use the weapon to destroy the Cylon forces that are closing in on the fleet. To prevent Starbuck and his men from destroying the gun, Skyler and his team must get there first. Skyler and his men jump the three Cylons guarding the entrance door and Cree’s fighter. Three of the Colonials dress in the Cylon uniforms and march the others into the cave as if they are under guard.
spacer.gif (836 bytes)Now it’s important to remember that the Cylons changed as the series evolved. The original Cylons were not machines, they were reptiles. The Cylons in this script are quite a bit different from the droning mobile toasters we were afflicted with. As Skyler’s team enters the cave, a Cylon guard looks up and says:

CYLON

Found some more, huh?

spacer.gif (836 bytes)Quite a jump from “By your command!” It gets better in a few pages as a Cylon officer starts asking questions and Skyler sticks a gun in his stomach.

SKYLER

You’re pretty smart for a Cylon. Just stay smart and you’ll stay alive.

CYLON OFFICER

You must be here….

SKYLER

You’re getting stupid and raising your voice.

CYLON OFFICER

I presume you’re here to rescue that pilot of yours we shot down.

SKYLER

You guessed it, so lead the way. And just remember how much I want to pull the trigger.

spacer.gif (836 bytes)The Cylon officer leads them to Cree, passing the gun chamber in the process. Skyler also spots a Nari work detail. More of the team dresses in Cylon uniforms, leaving only the tortured Cree and Skyler not so dressed. They begin looking for the control room.
spacer.gif (836 bytes)Meanwhile, Starbuck and his team are in position and open fire on the Cylons inside the dome that covers the gun. Skyler is disconcerted by the early attack, but conveniently an agitated Cylon commander rushes by and orders the bogus Cylons “guarding” him to follow him to the control room. As they enter the room, they open fire on the Cylons inside.
spacer.gif (836 bytes)Starbuck and his men attack the control room, and are startled to find Skyler and his team already in possession. This freakish exchange ensues:

STARBUCK

You’re late.

SKYLER

You’re early!

STARBUCK

Well, you know the saying, better early than never.

SKYLER

Starbuck, you jerk, the plan has been changed. The Galactica is counting on us to capture the cannon, not destroy it!

spacer.gif (836 bytes)Starbuck should punch Skyler at this point for calling him a jerk, but doesn’t.
spacer.gif (836 bytes)The controls for the gun have been damaged, so while most of the warriors hold off a Cylon counterattack, Skyler and Starbuck feverishly attempt repairs. They get the targeting system working, but still can’t get the gun to fire. Fortunately Cree studied lasers before he entered the Academy (apparently the warriors don’t study weaponry AT the Academy!) and is able to jury-rig the gun. After a few shots, Cree’s repairs fail and he is forced to hold the wires together in his hands to permit the weapon to fire, suffering severe burns in the process. Once the pursing Cylon task force is destroyed, the warriors get ready to beat a hasty retreat. Starbuck whips out what is described as a “mushroom bomb,” evidently some kind of drug, which he was evidently saving for Colonel Tigh’s birthday (what?!); it leaves the Cylons in a stupor and the warriors escape just before the overheated cannon explodes.
spacer.gif (836 bytes)In a brief tag scene, the Nari leader gives Adama the book written by the creator of the Nari and mentions Columbus, another one of those heavy-handed Earth references that too many of the early and unshot scripts were laden with. The Nari are left behind (no room at the inn, apparently), and the fleet proceeds on its journey.
spacer.gif (836 bytes)Like I said earlier, John Ireland clearly was a fan of WWII dramas. Dress the Cylons in German uniforms and the Colonials in American or British uniforms, replace the lasers with a mix of Mausers and MP-40s for the Cylons and Garands and Brens for the Colonials and you’d have the Guns of Navarone, only worse. However, as heavy-handed and stereotypical as this early script was, it was also one of the few that eventually was turned into an episode. Most of the other early scripts, with the exception of Leslie Stevens’ Beta Pirates, were even more of a mess. There are a few interesting things here, though; Ireland’s Skyler is not nearly as cold and inhuman as the early Larson Skyler, and Starbuck shows flashes of humanity he was rarely permitted to display in the series.

1999 Susan J. Paxton

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