NARRATOR: We begin our story aboard OV-106, the Space Shuttle Boondoggle, on the mission to deploy the fifth Tethered Satellite System experiment, TSS-5, THE LAST, BEST HOPE FOR HUMANITY.
CAPTAIN: Scotty, deploy the TSS-5, THE LAST, BEST HOPE FOR HUMANITY.
SCOTTY: Aye, Cap'n. Deploying the satellite.
[all watch it deploy faster than it should]
CAPTAIN: Scotty, something seems to be wrong! Why is the satellite still deploying?
SCOTTY: I can't hold it Cap'n, I'm reeling it in as fast as I can!
CAPTAIN: Bones, isn't there anything you can do?
BONES: Dammit Jim, I'm a doctor, not a fisherman!
NARRATOR: We now move to the office of the JSC Center Director, Scarlett Huntoon. [music: "Gone with the Wind" theme]
[enter Mission Manager]
MISSION MANAGER: Miss Scarlett, we have a problem with the Shuttle!
SCARLETT: The Shuttle? What is it?
MISSION MANAGER: It's a reusable spacecraft that can achieve a low Earth orbit and upon which all our jobs depend, but that's not important right now. It seems that the TSS-5 satellite, THE LAST, BEST HOPE FOR HUMANITY, has slipped the surly bonds of Earth and touched the face of God.
SCARLETT: Well, my word, hasn't this happened before?
MISSION MANAGER: Yes ma'am. As I'm sure you remember, TSS-1 did not deploy. [effect: stagehand holds helium balloon by neck and string, then lets go of the balloon which stops rising after a foot]
TSS-2 exploded. [effect: stagehand pops balloon]
TSS-3 mysteriously deflated rapidly. [effect: release untied non-helium balloon and let it fly away]
SCARLETT: And TSS-4? [effect: stretch untied non-helium balloon and let the air screech out]
Well, whatever happened to the current mission?
MISSION MANAGER: It seems that payload commander Aldrich Ames bumped the switch that freezes the hand controller of the satellite. We think he is a Russian spy.
SCARLETT: Has President Clinton been debriefed?
MISSION MANAGER: No ma'am, he wears jockey shorts. Anyway, he is in England right now protesting our involvement in Bosnia.
[Errand Boy enters the room]
ERRAND BOY: Miss Scarlett, Miss Scarlett, the Yankee Congress is at the door!
[Congressmen are chanting CUTS! CUTS!]
SCARLETT: The Congress, what is it?
ERRAND BOY: It's a bicameral legislative body, elected by the voters, dedicated to wasting money and writing bad checks, but that's not important right now. It seems that the errant TSS-5, THE LAST, BEST HOPE FOR HUMANITY, has wrapped itself around the Space Station and is threatening to bring the entire structure tumbling into the atmosphere.
SCARLETT: [to Mission Manager] What are you prepared to do?
MISSION MANAGER: Don't look at me, Miss Scarlett, I don't know nothing 'bout berthing no Space Station!
SCARLETT: Well my word, does anybody have any ideas?
ERRAND BOY: Miss Scarlett? There's only one man for this job. Shuttle Commander Pat McGroin!
NARRATOR: [music: "Naked Gun" theme] Yes, Commander Pat McGroin, cousin of that famous police detective Frank Drebbin. The only shuttle pilot capable of pulling off such a suicidal recovery mission. Or the only person dumb enough to get hornswaggled into it.
[Scarlett enters Pat McGroin's office]
SCARLETT: Commander McGroin, we need you for a dangerous mission to rescue the Space Station.
PAT McGROIN: I'm through with doing that any more, Miss Scarlett. I still haven't recovered from that episode with the WCS.
SCARLETT: The WCS? I don't remember any trouble with the Waste Containment System on any of your missions.
PAT McGROIN: No, it was the Whitewater Congressional Subcommittee. [Congressmen chant CUTS! CUTS!]. I never should have said anything about Hillary, pork bellies, and Amway.
SCARLETT: Truly, you must be over that by now.
PAT McGROIN: I'll never be over Hillary, and stop calling me Truly. Anyway, why don't you get Pierre Toilette to do it? He did such a great job with the Intelsat recovery.
SCARLETT: His plane went down over Macho Grande.
PAT McGROIN: Over Macho Grande?
SCARLETT: No, I'll never be over Macho Grande. Pat, only YOU [points] can prevent forest fires. [McGroin looks strangely at Scarlett] ... or save the Space Station.
PAT McGROIN: [stagehands hum "Battle Hymn of the Republic" quietly] OK, OK, I'll do it. But I'm doing it for the children, so that they can look up into the night and realize that we are out there, in space, forging a new and brighter future for them and their families with the hope that one day this stone we call Earth will unite as one in peace and brotherly love. [stagehands finish up with "... his truth is marching on!"]
SCARLETT: That was beautiful. I didn't know you felt that way.
PAT McGROIN: I don't. That was just my Oscar clip.
NARRATOR: Commander Pat McGroin agrees to fly the rescue mission. But the mission is full of hazards and pitfalls.
[Mission Manager and Capcom are trying to reach McGroin from Mission Control]
CAPCOM: This is Capcom Jack Blow, come in Pat McGroin. Blow to McGroin. Do you read me? Over. [turns to Mission Manager] Ma'am, we haven't been able to contact Commander McGroin for the last 3 minutes. What should we do?
MISSION MANAGER: That's OK, we'll be able to pick him up when he passes over the tracking station in Macho Grande.
CAPCOM: Over Macho Grande? You fool, he'll never be over Macho Grande. I'll try him again. Blow to McGroin. Blow to McGroin. Come in McGroin.
PAT McGROIN: [floating in space, wrestling with the TSS-5] McGroin to Blow. Sorry about that. I was incontinent there for a while.
CAPCOM: Don't you mean over the continent?
PAT McGROIN: Call it what you will, but there is a real mess up here. I seem to be having a problem getting the TSS-5 satellite, THE LAST, BEST HOPE FOR HUMANITY, loose from the Space Station.
CAPCOM: You have to do something quick! We estimate that if you don't release the Station in the next few minutes, it will tumble back to Earth! Do whatever it takes, McGroin. Try, McGroin, try!
NARRATOR: In a flash of brilliance, Pat McGroin realizes what he must do to save the Space Program.
[McGroin starts to suck the helium out of the balloon TSS-5]
PAT McGROIN: [in high helium voice] McGroin to Blow, I think I have found it!
CAPCOM: It's working! It's working! Keep sucking, McGroin!
PAT McGROIN: [high helium voice] Oui oui, I am not afraid! How much time do I have left?
CAPCOM: Only seconds! Suck, McGroin, suck! Harder, harder!
PAT McGROIN: [high helium voice] If I suck any harder I'll turn into Tonya Harding.
CAPCOM: That's it! You've done it, McGroin! Miss Scarlett has some words for you.
SCARLETT: You've saved us all, McGroin! Thank you.
PAT McGROIN: Thank you, Miss Scarlett. Now will you realize the futility of these experiments?
SCARLETT: Oh, yes, with God as my witness, I will never fly a tether again. Commander Pat McGroin, you've just unraveled the Space Station and saved the entire Space Program. What will you do now?
PAT McGROIN: I'm going to go eat some SURFIN' CHILI!
[all team members give the T-E-A-M TEEEEEEAAAAM DRINK! cheer]
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Last updated: August 7, 2000