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6: Unity

The story opens the morning after the events of issue 5. This means people will have changed clothes (with the exception of JAMES, of course, who still wears full costume and mask). HARRY has obtained a fedora (presumably at some place they stopped in last night) and will wear it, when appropriate, throughout the issue. HARRY also wears a long raincoat with the collar turned up and his neck tie is rarely done up properly. (Yes, I know it's a cliché, but that's actually the point of the PAUL/JEROME/HARRY character.) The others dress "in character" — for example, DON is never without his flying jacket and mirrored sunglasses, FRED is always in his black leather jacket, etc. See preceding issues for details.

Most narration in this issue is in the form of FRED's WEB LOG ("BLOG"). This should be indicated by a common but distinctive computer font. These captions will be marked in the script as "FRED's BLOG".

The PAUL/JEROME/HARRY character will be HARRY throughout this issue and his captions will be labelled appropriately.

PAGE ONE. Six panels.

Panel 1

It's night. We see a large house, virtually a mansion. It's on fire.

CAPTION:

5 July 2002

CAPTION (FRED's BLOG):

I shouldn't have told everybody that the house was going to burn down that night.

Panel 2

The same house. Blazing very fiercely now. Fire fighters are on the scene, but the house looks like a lost cause.

CAPTION (FRED's BLOG):

Because when it did, they naturally assumed I had done it.

Panel 3

A boy, possibly eight years old, watching the fire. He's barefoot on the grass, wearing pyjamas, and wrapped in one of those blankets that the paramedics always give you. He should bear a resemblance to FRED — because it is FRED.

CAPTION (FRED's BLOG):

After all — who's going to believe an eight-year old boy has the power to see the future?

Panel 4

The house is now virtually burned to the ground. Two stretchers, with bodies covered by white sheets, are being loaded into ambulances.

CAPTION (FRED's BLOG):

I spent a lot of time in counselling after that.

Panel 5

It's daylight. The house is a black patch on the ground. No people are around.

CAPTION (FRED's BLOG):

And the next ten years being passed around different relatives, who only wanted my trust fund.

Panel 6

Extreme close-up of a zippo lighter, flame burning, being raised to the tip of a cigarette.

CAPTION (FRED's BLOG):

Nobody wanted the freaky kid who burns houses down and seems to know what you're thinking.

CAPTION (FRED's BLOG):

But that's ok.

PAGE TWO. One panel.

Panel 1

Splash panel of the regulars in the cramped back of the RV. FRED sits alone at the back, lighting up a cigarette (it was him in page 1 panel 6, of course). HARRY appears to be asleep. He's slouched back in a seat, with his hat pushed down over his eyes. JAMES is writing in a small (paper) notebook, using a pencil stub. CHI-YUN is sitting at, and using, DON's computer workstation. SARA is nearby, talking animatedly to her. DON is driving, although we might not be able to see him in this view.

CAPTION (FRED's BLOG):

I don't need anybody.

CAPTION:

17 September 2014

CAPTION:

California

PAGE THREE. Six panels.

Panel 1

Close up on FRED, gazing out of the window. Smoke curls through the partly-open window.

CAPTION (FRED's BLOG):

I'm not even sure I should be here.

CAPTION (FRED's BLOG):

We have "aliens" chasing us and there's safety in numbers. I understand all that.

Panel 2

FRED flicks his half-smoked cigarette out of the window.

CAPTION (FRED's BLOG):

But I've always done ok on my own.

CAPTION (FRED's BLOG):

And these guys are too into playing heroes.

Panel 3

FRED's POV of JAMES and HARRY. JAMES pauses in his scribbling, chewing the end of his pencil thoughtfully.

JAMES:

What was the shotgun he was using?

CAPTION (FRED's BLOG):

James, for example. He may look ridiculous but he takes the whole business way too seriously. I've got no idea why he's even with us. Says his job is helping people. Give me a break!

Panel 4

Same POV. JAMES looks at HARRY, who speaks without looking out from under his hat.

HARRY:

Remington 870 Wingmaster. Shortened barrel. Nice gun. Nice to see they still make 'em.

CAPTION (FRED's BLOG):

Paul thinks he's Harry, a private eye from the 1950s. In other words, he's a dangerous lunatic.

Panel 5

FRED's POV of CHI-YUN and SARA.

CHI-YUN:

How do you make it print the pictures?

CAPTION (FRED's BLOG):

Chi-Yun opens her mouth first and thinks afterwards. If she ever thought about what she was doing, she'd be dangerous. Instead, she's just annoying.

Panel 6

Same POV. SARA touches something on the screen (we don't need to see the screen from this POV).

SARA:

That one.

CAPTION (FRED's BLOG):

Sara's used to being an outsider. The others don't see it — she covers it up with the little miss cheerleader act — but I've been there, I know what it's like.

PAGE FOUR. Six panels.

Panel 1

FRED makes his way forward, towards the cab where DON is driving. He passes SARA and CHI-YUN. A picture is printing from the side of the workstation CHI-YUN is using. We should see that it's a photograph of CHI-YUN herself.

SARA:

Why are you taking photographs of yourself?

CHI-YUN (softly):

So I don't forget when I change.

Panel 2

FRED has moved out of panel; we remain with SARA and CHI-YUN, as CHI-YUN hands the photograph to SARA.

CHI-YUN:

Will you keep this one for me?

SARA:

So you don't—

SARA:

Oh my God, Chi-Yun!

Panel 3

FRED moves into the passenger seat next to DON. This is probably our first view of DON. He's wearing his leather flying jacket and shades. He's driving casually, one hand on the wheel, but he is intent on the road ahead.

FRED:

Hey, Don.

CAPTION (FRED's BLOG):

Don is... well he's ok. I keep telling myself I'm supposed to hate his type, but... he's... ok.

Panel 4

FRED reaches forward to the ridiculously complex dash (see ISSUE 1 PAGE 16 for reference) to turn on some music. DON speaks without taking his eyes off the road.

DON:

You want to put on a troll rock station again, you go in back and put some headphones on.

CAPTION (FRED's BLOG):

He's just a straight up kind of guy. He tells you what he thinks. It's cool.

Panel 5

FRED slouches back in the seat.

FRED:

I'm going stir crazy in here. How far to San Francisco?

DON:

Couple of hours.

Panel 6

POV looking over their shoulders, to where some kind of fight (verbal, arms waving, not punching) has broken out between SARA and HARRY.

FRED:

I really need to get access to my money.

DON:

I know. Working on credit cards for you all. Soon, I promise.

CAPTION (FRED's BLOG):

I owe him a lot already. I guess that's why I'm still here.

PAGE FIVE. Five panels.

Panel 1

An exterior view of the RV pulling on to the drive of the MARKS' HOUSE — this is the house seen in ISSUE #4, PAGE 17. No other car is on the drive at the moment. It's probably about noon.

CAPTION (FRED's BLOG):

So these are old friends of Don's and we're here to help them out. Why are we stopping to do that when we're on the run from alien monsters? Honestly, I don't have a clue.

DON (from inside vehicle):

End of the road, people. James — how about throwing an overcoat over your uniform?

JAMES (from inside vehicle):

Costume.

Panel 2

Inside the house, POV over CARLA MARKS' shoulder as she opens the door the see DON standing there with the rest of the group clustered behind him.

CARLA:

Don!

DON:

Hey, Carla! How's it going?

Panel 3

They file in past CARLA, who stands holding the door and looking bemused.

CARLA:

And you brought a — team. How—

Panel 4

JAMES enters last. He is wearing an overcoat, but it's unfastened. And he still has the mask of course. And the shape of the SHIELD is easily visible — he's carrying it awkwardly under his coat. CARLA's expression is... disconcerted.

CARLA (softly):

Nice...

JAMES:

Good afternoon, Ms. Zod

Panel 5

CARLA and JAMES, she's closing the door but looking at him.

CARLA:

Marks. I married—

CARLA (softly):

Twenty years ago.

JAMES:

Of course, Mrs. Marks. That was in my father's journals.

PAGE SIX. Six panels.

Panel 1

Still on CARLA as she slumps against the door.

CARLA (softly):

Father?

Panel 2

JAMES reaches towards CARLA. DON is behind JAMES, with his hand on his shoulder.

CARLA:

Mage—

JAMES:

Yes, that's right. My name's—

DON:

James — why don't you go and help Sara find the kitchen? Get some coffee going?

Panel 3

DON and CARLA watch JAMES walking down the hallway.

CARLA (softly):

His son Don—

DON (softly):

I know, I know. I don't have any answers.

Panel 4

In the living room/study (see #4 p.17). FRED is looking at a shelf of books. CHI-YUN is nearby.

CHI-YUN:

Have you noticed that everybody recognises James?

FRED:

So?

CHI-YUN:

And they all say Mage—

FRED:

So?

Panel 5

CHI-YUN walks off. FRED isn't looking at her at all.

CHI-YUN:

Well excuse me for thinking it's important!

FRED:

Hmmm?

Panel 6

HARRY is pouring himself a generous measure of bourbon from the drinks' cabinet.

HARRY (softly):

Way to make friends, kid.

PAGE SEVEN. Six panels.

Panel 1

SARA is in the kitchen (spotless, tidy, and all ultra-modern appliances), making coffee. CHI-YUN has entered.

CHI-YUN:

Have you noticed that everybody recognises James and they all say Mage—?

SARA:

Mmm. It's the costume.

CHI-YUN:

Yes — but what?

Panel 2

SARA looks at CHI-YUN

SARA:

Oh my god Chi-Yun, you don't know?

CHI-YUN:

Stop looking at me and saying oh my god Chi-Yun — no, what am I supposed to know?

Panel 3

JAMES enters.

SARA:

You don't know about James' father? He was—

JAMES:

Don's talking to Mrs Marks. Is there any coffee?

Panel 4

CHI-YUN turns and glares at JAMES.

CHI-YUN:

Everybody we meet looks at you and goes—

JAMES:

Yes, well Mrs Marks worked with my father. So did her husband.

Panel 5

DON enters. ("All the best parties happen in the kitchen" — old proverb.)

CHI-YUN:

Won't somebody tell me who your father is?

JAMES:

Oh — he was—

DON:

Come on, people. Briefing in the study in five minutes.

Panel 6

JAMES, SARA, and DON leave the kitchen. CHI-YUN remains in the centre of the room, looking at the ceiling.

CHI-YUN (screaming):

Arrrrrrrrrgggghhhhhhhhhh

PAGE EIGHT. Three panels.

Panel 1

This is in the MARKS' study, and the whole group is assembled. (That's DON, SARA, FRED, JAMES, CHI-YUN, HARRY, CARLA, and FRANKLIN MARKS.) Big panel to establish their relationships to each other. There aren't enough chairs, so they're perched on chair arms, leaning against the walls, sitting on the floor, and whatever. It's crowded. FRANKLIN is behind a desk. SARA will be next to DON. Everybody is talking to somebody else (but we won't show the dialogue; show it with facial expressions and body language). Most of them have drinks — generally coffee, but HARRY has a glass of bourbon. FRED is noticably alone at the back of the room and not talking (or being talked to). He has a mug of coffee.

CAPTION (FRED's BLOG):

Yadda yadda — hi I'm Fred and I'm so not interested in being here.

CAPTION (FRED's BLOG):

Don said I should talk to Marks later. Wouldn't say why. But from the books on the walls, he's a professor of psychology.

Panel 2

Close-up on FRED, looking unhappy or troubled.

CAPTION (FRED's BLOG):

Like Prof. Hammer. He was running tests on my psychic abilities. Though he had no idea what I could really do.

Panel 3

Flashback panel! This shows the university office of Professor Steven Hammer. And the prof is dead! He's slumped over his desk, in a pool of blood. His throat has been torn open, but we don't need to see this graphically. FRED stands in the open doorway, face expressing the shock you would expect. (Note: this is immediately prior to the events on page 1 of issue #1, so FRED will be dressed the same — which is more or less the same as he is dressed today, anyway.)

CAPTION (FRED's BLOG):

The Krai killed him. Just because he knew me.

PAGE NINE. Seven panels.

Panel 1

View of FRANKLIN and a couple of the people nearest to him (whoever — not important). He's passing a photograph of ALEX MOON to the nearest person (we don't need to see MOON's face at the moment).

FRANKLIN:

This is Alex Moon, a student of mine. He's been missing for three days. I have a lead on where he is and I've asked Don to look into it for me.

Panel 2

The picture is making its way round the room. Somebody (whoever), passes it to JAMES. We can now see the picture. ALEX MOON is caucasian, twenty-ish, casually dressed — a completely non-descript college kid.

JAMES:

With respect, sir, this is a job for the police.

FRANKLIN (off panel):

So far, only myself and Lisa — his girlfriend — know he's missing. I haven't reported it to the police because —

Panel 3

Showing FRANKLIN, again.

FRANKLIN:

— Because of why I think he's been taken. Because I had been testing him — positively — for psychic powers.

SFX:

Crash!

Panel 4

Everybody turns to the back of the room, and looks at FRED. He's been passed the photo of ALEX MOON, but he's no longer holding his coffee mug.

FRED (softly):

Sorry.

Panel 5

FRED's POV, looking down at his feet. His mug has smashed on the floor and coffee forms a spreading brown stain.

No dialogue.

Panel 6

Exactly the same POV, exactly the same panel detail. Except the stain is now BLOOD RED.

No dialogue.

Panel 7

Close up of FRED's face, looking down at the floor. His expression is blank.

No dialogue.

PAGE TEN. Six panels.

Panel 1

FRED stumbling from the room.

FRED:

I'll go get a —

Panel 2

SARA is rising but DON has a hand on her arm, stopping her.

DON:

Go on, Frank.

Panel 3

FRED, alone in the kitchen, is resting his hands on a counter. His eyes are closed and his head is bowed.

FRANKLIN (off-panel, through door):

There's a religious group in town. Temple of Unity, they call themselves. Seem to be a charity group — feed the homeless, that sort of thing. But—

Panel 4

Back in the study, a view of DON and SARA.

FRANKLIN (off-panel):

I've read their literature. It's all about mental empowerment and—

DON:

Some kind of cult?

SARA:

Great — let's go and kick their—

Panel 5

FRED is in the living room. He's at the phone on a side table — but by 2014 the distinction between computers and communications devices is blurry, so this phone has a computer screen and keyboard attached. He's typing on the keyboard.

FRANKLIN (off-panel, through door):

Whoa! I have no hard facts, just that Lisa last saw him with them — and now he's vanished.

CAPTION (FRED's BLOG):

This is crazy.

Panel 6

Close up of the computer screen, where we see FRED is doing some kind of directory search. It's like a "Yellow Pages", with an entry for "BAY AREA NEW AND USED MOTORCYCLES" highlighted. Buttons next to the entry are labelled "Web", "Call", and "Mail".

CAPTION (FRED's BLOG):

Killers are breathing down our necks, and we still stop to help everybody we meet.

PAGE ELEVEN. Seven panels.

Panel 1

Exterior of the house. FRED leans against the RV on the drive, smoking. DON stands in the open door into the house, looking out.

DON:

You ok?

FRED:

You're going to help them, aren't you?

Panel 2

DON joins FRED.

FRED:

It could be the Krai. Kidnapping the student, I mean. You could be walking into...

DON:

I don't believe it's the Krai. He went missing the same night they were tracking you in L.A. But if somebody else is snatching kids with—

DON:

—abilities like yours—

DON:

—Well then it's something I need to look into.

Panel 3

FRED throws his cigarette to the ground, looking at DON.

DON:

None of you has to join me on this.

FRED:

Even if you didn't think he had abilities — you'd still stay to help, wouldn't you?

Panel 4

Close up on DON's face. Impassive.

No dialogue.

Panel 5

Close up on FRED's shoe as it grinds out his cigarette.

CAPTION (FRED's BLOG):

"Yes"

Panel 6

DON holds out a credit card to FRED.

DON:

Your cash has been transferred to this account. It's just temporary, but you can use it without being traced.

Panel 7

FRED, looking down at the card in his hand.

DON (off-panel):

You need a ride somewhere?

FRED:

Yeah.

PAGE TWELVE. Six panels.

Panel 1

Exterior, the RV driving down a busy city street. It's driving alongside a line of trees — part of the park that will play a part in future proceedings. We see a small billboard or sign post:

TEMPLE OF UNITY
HELP FOR BODY AND MIND
ALL WELCOME

And in smaller text underneath:

FREE FOOD SERVED: 8PM

DON (from inside vehicle):

You're sure you want to get out here James? Dressed like that?

Panel 2

Interior of the vehicle. JAMES is by the side door, dressed in his usual costume, masked, and carrying his shield. He's wearing a long overcoat again, but there's still the mask, gloves, and shield showing of course. Also sitting here are SARA, CHI-YUN, and FRED. We probably can't see DON (driving) or HARRY (next to him).

FRED (softly):

Why not? It's San Fransisco.

JAMES:

I just want to scout the place before tonight. I'll keep out of sight.

Panel 3

View of the rear of the vehicle as it moves off into traffic. JAMES is on the sidewalk, striding towards the trees. SARA's head is sticking out of a side window.

SARA:

Call if you need us!

Panel 4

Alone and unobserved in a thicket of trees, JAMES is pulling his cowl off. It pulls off backwards, remaining attached like the hood of a raincoat or something. When it's tucked below the collar of the overcoat, it won't be noticable at all. But of course it leaves his face exposed.

No dialogue.

Panel 5

JAMES, at the edge of the woods. Across an open lawn, he can see the TEMPLE OF UNITY marquee. It's a big white, er, marquee. Several people mill about the lawn — all engaged in innocuous park-like activites. We see JAMES is struggling to hold the SHIELD out of sight under his coat.

No dialogue.

Panel 6

POV over JAMES's shoulder. He's in the same position as before, but he's looking at a young woman in the centre of the lawn. She has an easel set up and is painting something. But the important thing is the thing on the grass next to her — it's one of these big flat cases that artists use to put their work in. The reader may not work out the significance yet, but JAMES certainly has.

JAMES:

Ah!

PAGE THIRTEEN. Five panels.

Panel 1

Interior of the RV, DON driving and HARRY next to him.

HARRY:

So explain again why this van's so quiet?

DON:

<sigh> It's an electric engine, Harry. Most vehicles are now.

Panel 2

Small panel, close up of DON pointing at a control on the dash.

DON:

That cuts in the gas engine, gives me some power if I need it.

Panel 3

Same view, showing HARRY reaching for the control and DON swatting his hand away

DON:

But gas engines are banned inside city limits. Most cities, anyway.

Panel 4

Head-shot of DON as he looks out of the side window. We might recognise that he's pulling into the parking lot of a shopping mall.

DON (softly):

Not in Texas, of course.

Panel 5

Exterior, the parking lot. DON, HARRY, SARA, and FRED are standing beside the van. CHI-YUN is throwing a mock salute at DON. SARA is pulling at CHI-YUN's arm.

DON:

Ok people, your time's your own. Don't attract attention to yourselves. Rendezvous here in two hours.

FRED (softly):

Whatever.

CHI-YUN:

Aye-aye sir!

SARA:

Come on! Shopping!

PAGE FOURTEEN. Five panels.

Panel 1

DON and HARRY walking through the parking lot. DON hands HARRY a credit card.

DON:

This charge card will cover what you need until we can get your — I mean, Paul's — accounts transferred securely.

Panel 2

HARRY looks at the card in his hand. DON points off to one side.

HARRY:

I really need cash.

DON:

There's an ATM over there.

Panel 3

HARRY looks at DON, who looks back at HARRY.

No dialogue.

Panel 4

HARRY looks at DON, who looks back at HARRY.

HARRY:

I really need cash.

DON:

<sigh> Come on, I'll show you how we do things in this century.

Panel 5

SARA and CHI-YUN are in a clothing shop. SARA holds up a pair of really unsuitable boots — with a heel of ridiculous dimensions.

SARA:

What do you think?

CHI-YUN:

What was wrong with your old boots?

SARA:

They were old!

PAGE FIFTEEN. Seven panels.

Panel 1

Back in the park, JAMES walks up to the TEMPLE OF UNITY marquee. He's now thoroughly disguised in his long overcoat, cowl and gloves removed, and carrying his shield in a big artists' case (aha!). (Note that this should be obviously *not* the case he saw with the woman — it will be a different colour, or something. He's bought one, not stolen hers!)

No dialogue.

Panel 2

At the entrance to the marquee, JAMES is blocked by a temple "worker" — except this guy looks more like a nightclub bouncer than a religious devotee. He's at least as tall as JAMES and his shoulders are even broader (if that's possible). He's got a short, thick neck and a shaved head. His face is sullen and sneering. The THUG places a flat palm on JAMES's chest, not exactly violent but definitely aggressive.

TEMPLE THUG:

Scram, kid. Closed. Come back at eight for your soup and your sermon.

JAMES:

Sh-sure mister, not a problem, sorry!

Panel 3

JAMES walks away across the lawn, not looking back.

JAMES (softly):

Interesting...

Panel 4

HARRY in a gun shop (uh-oh!). He's looking over a small revolver and talking with the sales guy.

SALES GUY:

Nice weapon, but a guy like you probably wants something bigger. The .357 Magnum is very popular with—

HARRY:

This one will do fine. And I'll need a box of cartridges.

Panel 5

Sales guy puts a box of cartridges on the counter.

SALES GUY:

A fine choice! Now there's some paperwork we need to—

Panel 6

HARRY slides a brown envelope across the counter. We can't see what's in it, but the size and shape makes a wad of cash seem like a good bet.

HARRY:

You don't need to see my paperwork.

Panel 7

Exterior view of HARRY walking away from the gun shop, whistling.

No dialogue.

PAGE SIXTEEN. Five panels.

Panel 1

Exterior view of the Marks' house, late afternoon verging on evening. A car is on the drive (it's FRANKLIN MARKS' car, seen briefly in ISSUE #4). DON's vehicle is not here. FRED is driving up on a motorcycle — it's a rugged, slighly retro, trail-bike type thing, not one of these sleek Japanese jobs. Note that he *is* (perhaps uncharacteristically) wearing a crash helmet. It's the sort where you can pull down the full-face tinted visor and be anonymous.

No dialogue.

Panel 2

FRED sits on his bike, stationary, looking at the house. His crash helmet is off, but he's not making a move to go in.

No dialogue.

Panel 3

FRED and FRANKLIN in the kitchen. FRANKLIN is handing FRED coffee.

FRANKLIN:

They waited, but they had to go—

FRED:

Without me?

FRANKLIN:

They didn't leave you, Fred. Don thought you — well he thought you weren't coming back.

Panel 4

FRANKLIN is opening the kitchen door, leading on to the back garden.

FRANKLIN:

I know why you almost didn't come back.

FRED:

You don't know anything about me.

FRANKLIN:

I know more than you think.

Panel 5

FRED and FRANKLIN standing in the garden, drinking coffee. The Sun is low in the sky. The garden is large and tree-lined — they are quite secluded while they talk.

FRANKLIN:

Don wanted me to talk with you. I know about your abilities. Don guessed a lot, I guessed the rest. It's something you can't deal with by yourself.

CAPTION (FRED's BLOG):

Did I mention how much I hate bleeding-heart counsellors?

PAGE SEVENTEEN. Four panels.

Panel 1

Close-up on FRANKLIN's serious face.

FRANKLIN:

They're not like you, Fred. You'll always be an outsider, and you need to understand why.

Panel 2

Wide shot of the two of them, strolling around the garden. Big panel as there's a lot of dialogue to fit in and I don't want to use a page of talking heads. A nice sunset in the background would be good.

FRANKLIN:

There are powers and powers. If somebody can fly, or shoot lasers from their fingers, or punch through steel — wow that's amazing. And it's scary, but if they do good deeds and help people, they'll be heroes. But what you do — that's never going to be accepted. Somebody who can look inside their minds, it terrifies them.

FRANKLIN:

It doesn't matter how much good you do. You'll never be accepted.

FRANKLIN:

Not even by your teammates. They'll befriend you if you let them, but a tiny part of them will always be terrified of you.

Panel 3

Close-up on FRED's face, absorbing the words.

FRANKLIN (off-panel):

Tell me what I'm thinking.

FRED:

It isn't—

FRANKLIN (off-panel):

I know. Try.

Panel 4

Extreme close-up of FRED's eyes, reflecting FRANKLIN's face in the way that we're using to indicate psychic powers working. Also in his eyes, we can see several other faces: someone in JAMES' cowl (it's not JAMES, though this might be hard to convey), a head with a full-face blue mask, a younger version of DON, a head with a full-face black mask, a man with a grey half-face cowl and Middle-Eastern features, a hairy "cat-man" kind of face, a younger version of CARLA MARKS, and a young woman with auburn hair. These are all faces from FRANK's past. We're not going to say anything about them right now, but they will crop up again in the future.

CAPTION (FRED's BLOG):

It's easier than it usually is. But then, I've never had anybody who wanted me to read them.

CAPTION (FRED's BLOG):

And I see who he was before the Event stripped his powers twenty years ago. I see what he had to fight against. The prejudice and the fear — even from his own team mates. And through it all, he kept fighting. Because he thought it was the right thing to do.

PAGE EIGHTEEN. Four panels.

Panel 1

Night, the RV parked under trees, in or near the park. JAMES, SARA, HARRY, CHI-YUN, and DON standing around. JAMES is in full costume, with shield on his arm as usual, but he's also carrying a big bag over his shoulder.

CAPTION (FRED's BLOG):

I don't know if I can do that.

DON:

Everybody know what they're doing?

HARRY:

We go in separately, act dumb, scope the place out, report back.

SARA:

And no fighting!

Panel 2

DON remains by the RV while the others move away into the trees.

DON:

Right! No trouble — we're just looking. I'll be out here for backup if you need me. James—

JAMES:

I know! I'll be in disguise.

Panel 3

Establishing view of the floodlit exterior of the marquee. The grass in front of it has long trestle tables set up, where an assortment of down-and-outs are being served food. The whole thing has the look of a legitimate charity organisation. People are entering the marquee.

No dialogue.

Panel 4

Establishing view of the interior of the marquee. It's brightly lit and filled with people, with more trickling through the door every minute. It's not shoulder-to-shoulder, but it's a respectable crowd for a "sermon". At one end of the marquee (opposite the main door) is a raised stage. On this we see BROTHER THOMAS. He's maybe mid-50s, conservatively dressed, slightly overweight, slightly balding, and wearing a fixed smile. He's flanked by half-a-dozen of the temple's SISTERS, all attractive young blonde women wearing long white robes. There are speaker stacks flanking the stage. In front of the stage (not on it), are more of the temple "security" workers — thugs like the one JAMES encountered previously.

No dialogue.

PAGE NINETEEN. Five panels.

Panel 1

Close up on SARA and JAMES in the crowd, both watching the stage. JAMES is wearing civilian clothes and has his new art case slung over his back. He is attempting to hide a grin behind his hand.

SARA:

So—what goes on in the place?

JAMES:

Er—<cough>—er, I have no idea, lady, it's my first time.

Panel 2

JAMES is stepping away from SARA. She pays him no more attention. A young Chinese boy, punk hair and torn t-shirt, has moved next to her. He speaks out of the corner of his mouth without looking at her. Ok, I'll ruin the suspense: it's CHI-YUN.

CHI-YUN:

Which one of these is James, do you think?

SARA (softly):

Chi-Yun! Do you even know what undercover means?

CHI-YUN:

I'm in disguise, aren't I? I just want to know what James really looks like!

Panel 3

Another part of the crowd. HARRY stands next to an old homeless guy and a young punk. All look towards the stage.

HARRY:

So do we get some kind of show now?

OLD GUY:

Yeah. You get the soup, you gotta pay for it by getting the sermon.

YOUNG PUNK:

Hey, Brother Thomas is ok. He don't preach, he makes you feel good, ya know? Worthwhile.

OLD GUY:

Whatever. The babes are hot.

Panel 4

Close-up on the stage, where BROTHER THOMAS is beginning his "sermon", speaking into a microphone. Immediately to his left is the only one of the temple SISTERS that we are concerned about: this is FAITH. She's blonde and dressed in white (as all of the sisters are). She's 19 or 20 (so a similar age to JAMES, SARA, and FRED) and very attractive. Her hair is long and straight and she has a fuller figure than, for example, SARA.

THOMAS:

My friends, old and new, welcome and thank you for giving me this opportunity to speak to you once again.

FROM THE CROWD (OFF-PANEL):

Yeah like there's a choice.

Panel 5

Close-up on FAITH's face. In her eyes, we see the reflections of faces from the crowd. (That's a *clue*, for readers who are paying attention.)

THOMAS (off panel):

I know why you come. Society has let you down. Thrown you on the streets. Abandoned you.

FAITH (thought):

You will all listen to Brother Thomas.

PAGE TWENTY. Five panels.

Panel 1

Panoramic view of the crowd. All faces turned towards our POV, all faces paying rapt attention.

THOMAS:

You feel you have no hope left, nowhere to turn. Believe me, my friends, I have been where you are now.

CAPTION (continuing FAITH's thought):

"You will all trust Brother Thomas."

THOMAS:

And when I was at my lowest ebb, I discovered a new purpose in my life.

Panel 2

FRED is sitting on his motorcycle, under the trees. He's watching the back of the marquee, which we see from a POV over his shoulder. We can see a couple of vans parked at the back, and a couple more of the temple security thugs.

THOMAS (from inside marquee):

My friends, there is a hidden power inside you all.

CAPTION (FRED's BLOG):

Blah, blah, blah — how is anybody taken in by this crap? Been there, heard that, bought the t-shirt. They talk you up but they just want to use you.

Panel 3

Back inside, tight on the faces of BROTHER THOMAS and FAITH. Her eyes are still full of faces, now including JAMES. THOMAS covers his microphone and turns to FAITH.

THOMAS (softly):

Any among this bunch, Faith?

FAITH (thought):

No—

Panel 4

Another close-up on FAITH's eyes. Among the faces now reflected, we can plainly see SARA.

FAITH (thought):

Wait! Blonde girl, there on the left, third row—

Panel 5

Cut to a close-up on FRED's face. We see a clear reflection of FAITH in one eye and SARA in the other.

FRED (thought):

What the—?

FAITH (thought, from reflection):

Who—?

PAGE TWENTY-ONE. Five panels.

Panel 1

Back in the marquee, looking at the stage. FAITH is slumped a little and holding her hand to her head.

THOMAS (softly):

Faith? Problem?

FAITH (softly):

N-no. Just wind it up and get the girl.

Panel 2

Back at FRED on his motorcycle. He's lighting a cigarette.

CAPTION (FRED's BLOG):

Sounds like they're wrapping it up. I guess the others didn't need my help after all.

CAPTION (FRED's BLOG):

Just for a second then, I felt something... new.

Panel 3

The front of the tent, showing the crowd streaming out. We can see HARRY and CHI-YUN (in her male "disguise") next to each other. JAMES may be in the crowd also, but it's not important for the panel.

CHI-YUN:

That was cool, wasn't it?

HARRY:

Beat it, kid!

Panel 4

Inside the marquee, we see the last few members of the crowd trickling out. SARA has been stopped near the door and BROTHER THOMAS is talking to her. A temple SISTER (not FAITH) is standing behind her.

THOMAS:

...Oh yes, we are always looking for people to help the Temple in its charity work—

SARA:

Well, y'know, I've been looking for a purpose in my life—

Panel 5

The lurking SISTER has reached around SARA and clamped a cloth to her mouth and nose. We can assume it's something like chloroform, because SARA's eyes are rolled up and she's slumped in the woman's arms.

SARA:

Uhhhh...

THOMAS:

Oh yes, you'll serve our purposes just fine.

PAGE TWENTY-TWO. Six panels.

Panel 1

HARRY and CHI-YUN (in her normal form) are standing beneath some trees, still in the park. JAMES is walking towards them, in costume and carrying his big bag (in which he presumably stashes his clothes).

JAMES:

Where's Sara?

HARRY:

Thought she must be with you.

Panel 2

The rear of the temple marquee. We see two of the temple thugs loading an unconscious SARA into the back of a van.

No dialogue.

Panel 3

Pull back from the above sceen to show FRED's POV as he watches them drive away.

No dialogue.

Panel 4

CHI-YUN, JAMES, and HARRY, from the trees, look back at the marquee. We see it from their POV. The door is closed, the lights are off, and nobody's around.

CHI-YUN:

I think we lost her.

HARRY:

Don's gonna be pissed.

JAMES:

Let's just think this through.

Panel 5

The highway at night. We see the temple van racing away.

CAPTION (voice-over continuing JAMES' speech):

There must be a way to find her.

Panel 6

Pull back the above scene to show FRED in hot pursuit.

CAPTION (voice-over continuing JAMES' speech):

"Anyone got any ideas?"

Next issue: Zero

See also: Don's Mission Report

Copyright © 2002, 2008, 2016 by David Meadows. All rights reserved.