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7: Zero

This story takes place late at night immediately following the events of issue #6. That's all you need for now, I'll fill in the rest as we go along.

Most narration in this issue is in the form of SARA's internal first-person monologue (which should be indicated on-panel by a distinctive "hand-writing" lettering). These captions will be marked as such in the script.

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

The Moon is a few days past full but the sky is clear so it will be casting enough light to let us see the action in the otherwise unlit scenes.

PAGE ONE. Six panels.

Panel 1

Black panel with disembodied voices speaking.

VOICE #1 (indistinct):

—is she?

VOICE #2 (indistinct):

—ink she's coming round

Panel 2

The blackness is now more of a greyness and two indistinct faces are visible, looking towards our POV. One is the blonde SISTER from the Temple of Unity who we saw drugging SARA at the end of last issue. The other is one of the THUGS who were providing security.

CAPTION (SARA's monologue):

I've felt better.

THUG (indistinct):

—n't give her enough of a—

SISTER (indistinct):

—give her another shot

Panel 3

A proper panel now, and we can see the inside of a small van from the POV of someone lying down in it. The THUG is looming over us and the white-robed SISTER is leaning over and administering an injection to "our" (SARA's) arm.

CAPTION (SARA's monologue):

Okay, so here's the story:

CAPTION (SARA's monologue):

We're looking for a student who's been kidnapped by this Temple of Unity cult.

CAPTION (SARA's monologue):

You see how I've cleverly found a way to infiltrate their secret base?

Panel 4

It's all grey again and the faces grow indistinct.

CAPTION (SARA's monologue):

Finding things is my speciality.

Panel 5

Exterior view of the van, speeding along an almost-deserted highway at night.

CAPTION (SARA's monologue):

Right now, I need to find a way out of this.

Panel 6

Behind the van, in hot pursuit, we see FRED on his motorcycle (although his visor is down, the reader should recognise him from the leather jacket).

CAPTION (SARA's monologue):

I hope the guys are on the ball.

PAGE TWO. Three panels.

Panel 1

Large panel showing the rest of the group in the MARKS' living room. Present are: JAMES in full costume, CHI-YUN in her "normal" form, HARRY, and FRANKLIN MARKS.

CAPTION:

18 September 2014

CAPTION:

San Francisco

CHI-YUN:

What time is it now?

FRANKLIN:

After midnight.

JAMES:

I wish Don hadn't just taken off without us.

HARRY:

He and Sara are pretty tight. Should have known he'd take it badly when you told him you lost her.

Panel 2

JAMES and HARRY facing off.

JAMES:

I didn't lose—

HARRY:

Still blame yourself though, don't you kid?

Panel 3

CHI-YUN steps between them.

JAMES:

We were all

CHI-YUN:

Hey!

CHI-YUN (softly):

Pair of juveniles!

PAGE THREE. Six panels.

Panel 1

Another view of the group in the room. All turn their heads to look at the telephone appliance on the side table. The COMPUTER voice in this panel should be lettered in a distinctive "computer style" type. Computer captions don't have an obvious point of origin.

COMPUTER:

You have a collect call incoming, Doctor Marks.

CHI-YUN:

Don!

JAMES:

At last!

Panel 2

FRANKLIN has picked up the telephone.

FRANKLIN:

Yes, I'll accept.

Panel 3

FRED is on the other end of the telephone. From the background, we can see that he's using a pay phone in an all-night diner or something similar.

FRED:

Doctor Marks? Can you put Don on?

FRED:

Oh. Is... James there?

Panel 4

Back in the living room, JAMES is now using the phone.

JAMES:

This is Ja—

JAMES:

Oh. Fred. No, we have no idea where he is. Sara's been—

JAMES:

Oh, you know.

Panel 5

JAMES keeps the phone to his ear and is writing something on a pad.

JAMES:

Uh-huh. Got it. Wait there for us.

Panel 6

Hanging up the phone, JAMES turns to the others.

JAMES:

Doctor Marks, I'll have to ask to borrow your car.

PAGE FOUR. Three panels.

Panel 1

A long-distance view of a luxury yacht, the large-ish kind that millionaires have in Monte Carlo harbour, alone on a blue sea. The Sun is high in the cloudless sky. We might see a small figure on the aft deck, leaning on the rail.

CAPTION (SARA's monologue):

It was one of those rare vacations when my Mother and I were in the same place at the same time. She was on a "business" trip to Baja and for some reason I tagged along.

Panel 2

In a closer view, we can plainly see it's SARA leaning on the rail and gazing into the distance. She doesn't look any younger than we usually see her, so it's obviously a flashback to the recent past. She wears a one-piece swimming costume. We can also see the object she's looking at: it's very distant, but it's obviously a small aircraft. And it seems to be trailing smoke.

CAPTION (SARA's monologue):

Two days into the trip and we hadn't exchanged a single word.

Panel 3

Big crash! The plane, trailing smoke and flames, has smashed into the deck at a low (glancing) angle. Wreckage flies everywhere as SARA clings to the rail.

CAPTION (SARA's monologue):

Then he dropped into my life.

PAGE FIVE. Five panels.

Panel 1

The same scene, seconds later. The deck is tilted at a crazy angle and SARA is balanced on the edge. The rail has been demolished by the passage of the plane, which has evidently bounced clear of the deck and is now sinking beneath the waves some yards away. Miraculously, SARA is unscathed.

CAPTION (SARA's monologue):

I'm always standing in the right place at the right time.

Panel 2

SARA executes a perfect dive into the sea. The plane is sinking fast.

CAPTION (SARA's monologue):

Blindfold, I'll sink a basket every time. If there's an ace in the pack, that's where I'll cut it. If you lose your keys, I'll trip over them.

Panel 3

Both SARA and plane have now vanished. The sea is calm.

CAPTION (SARA's monologue):

If I need something, it just happens to turn up.

Panel 4

SARA bursts to the surface, carrying DON. He's semi-conscious and weighed down by his trade-mark flying jacket; it should be obvious she's doing all the work.

CAPTION (SARA's monologue):

I tell people I'm good at finding things.

CAPTION (SARA's monologue):

It's easier than trying to explain that I'm supernaturally lucky.

Panel 5

A bed in a bare room. SARA is sleeping on the bed, clothed as she was in the previous issue. She's illuminated by a small table lamp. Standing over her, possibly taking a pulse or something like that, is the Temple SISTER.

CAPTION (SARA's monologue):

I don't always feel lucky.

PAGE SIX. Five panels.

Panel 1

Inside FRANKLIN's car, JAMES, CHI-YUN and HARRY are speeding along a dark, empty highway. JAMES is driving. CHI-YUN is next to him, struggling with a crazily-folded map. HARRY leans forward between the seats to speak.

CAPTION (SARA's monologue):

But it always turns out right in the end.

CHI-YUN:

I think it's a right here.

HARRY:

Can't you go faster?

JAMES:

I'm at the speed limit, Harry.

Panel 2

HARRY slumps back in the seat.

HARRY:

How'd I get in a team with such a boy scout?

JAMES (softly):

Comes with the costume.

Panel 3

The car pulls up outside an all-night diner. FRED is leaning against his motorcycle, smoking.

No dialogue.

Panel 4

They've pulled up next to FRED and left the car.

FRED:

They took her into a place about a mile from here. Some kind of farm. The gate is guarded.

JAMES:

Was she ok?

FRED:

Couldn't see. Might have been drugged.

Panel 5

FRED has mounted his motorcycle and is starting it up.

FRED:

I figure we can sneak in at the back of the property. Try to keep up.

PAGE SEVEN. Six panels.

Panel 1

The car and bike have stopped on a dirt track in open country. Our heroes are standing by a chain-link fence.

FRED:

I circled the whole place. This is the best spot to break in without anyone spotting us.

HARRY:

Good thing I came prepared.

Panel 2

HARRY has a small pair of wire cutters and is snipping his way through the fence.

CHI-YUN:

What are you doing?

HARRY:

Rescuing Sara. You got a problem with that, Chi-Yun?

Panel 3

HARRY is still snipping. JAMES moves next to him.

JAMES:

Actually, I do! You can't just—

HARRY:

Oh, spare me! They're kidnappers!

Panel 4

HARRY now has a sizeable hole in the fence. He's pushing through to the other side.

JAMES:

Nevertheless, they still have legal rights—

HARRY:

Whoops, now I'm trespassing too! Mercy me!

Panel 5

HARRY is through the fence and FRED is following him.

HARRY:

Listen, you've given yourself this job of playing hero. Somehow you've got to reconcile that with the real world. It's not all black and white.

Panel 6

HARRY, FRED, and CHI-YUN are all through the fence and heading out across the field. JAMES stands looking after them.

JAMES:

Well, I suppose if Fred saw them with Sara, that's probable cause—

JAMES:

Hey! Wait for me!

PAGE EIGHT. Six panels.

Panel 1

Continuing the flashback to the yacht. DON and SARA are kneeling on the wrecked afterdeck, soaking wet, breathing heavily.

CAPTION (SARA's monologue):

He'll tell you I saved his life.

DON:

Every damn two-bit revolutionary group has surface-to-air missiles these days!

DON:

Thanks for the save—?

SARA:

Sara.

Panel 2

In a wider view, we See SYLVIA coming on to the deck. She's wearing a bikini, a sun hat, and a frown.

CAPTION (SARA's monologue):

Truth is, he probably saved mine.

DON:

I'm—

SYLVIA:

Don Newman. Piloting up to your usual standard — or were you aiming for my yacht?

Panel 3

A different scene, a different day. DON and SARA walking along a sidewalk in Los Angeles.

CAPTION (SARA's monologue):

It wasn't until Don turned up that I started questioning what my mother really was.

DON:

Back to school, then?

SARA:

Yeah, New Hampshire. Just about as far from here as she could find.

Panel 4

On the same sidewalk, DON is gesturing at the RV parked by the side of the road. SARA has her happy face on.

CAPTION (SARA's monologue):

I think he only hung around to make sure I didn't turn out the same way.

DON:

Well — if you're ready to leave I can give you a ride.

SARA:

Very cool!

Panel 5

Back to the present. A man is standing outside an open door into a wooden building. It's night, but no light is on in the building. He's raising a cigarette to his mouth.

No dialogue.

Panel 6

Identical scene, but DON has appeared behind the man and has him in a choke hold (one arm around his neck). The man's hands are groping for Don, but he's obviously not going to get free.

CAPTION (SARA's monologue):

But the important thing is that he was there when I needed him.

PAGE NINE. Five panels.

Panel 1

A panoramic shot of the farm (doesn't need a lot of detail): several wooden buildings of various sizes, clustered round a road that presumably leads back to the guarded gate FRED alluded to. The van which brought SARA here is parked somewhere close. No lights are showing. We can see JAMES, HARRY, FRED, and CHI-YUN, in a straggling line, jogging across the dark fields towards the cluster of buildings. Despite his earlier objections, JAMES is running in the lead position.

No dialogue.

Panel 2

The four of them pause by the side of a building.

HARRY:

I'll check out the van. Wait here.

Panel 3

Close-up on FRED's face. Reflected in his eyes is a man with a rifle slung over his shoulder.

FRED (thought):

Harry stop!

Panel 4

From a POV over FRED's shoulder, we see HARRY making his way stealthily to corner of the building. HARRY has his hand to his head.

FRED (thought):

There's a guard!

Panel 5

Same scene, but HARRY has turned and is striding back towards FRED. His face is grim.

No dialogue.

PAGE TEN. Four panels.

Panel 1

HARRY reaches FRED and catches him on the jaw with a right hook. FRED goes down.

SFX:

SMACK!

Panel 2

FRED half-sits, half-lies on the floor, looking up at HARRY and wiping blood from his lip.

FRED:

Wha—

HARRY:

Stay out of my head!

Panel 3

FRED is now on his feet and facing off against HARRY. Both look angry and belligerent, ready to start swinging.

FRED:

You're crazy—

HARRY:

Next time you do that—

SFX (off-panel):

THUD

Panel 4

Both turn, and from their POV we see JAMES standing at the corner HARRY was about to go around. He holds an unconscious man (the one FRED "saw") in one hand and a rifle in the other. He's looking back towards FRED and HARRY.

JAMES:

Can we try to remember who the bad guys are?

PAGE ELEVEN. Five panels.

Panel 1

HARRY and FRED still look angry. CHI-YUN has moved to join JAMES, who is peeking round the corner of the building.

CHI-YUN:

I can't hear anybody else coming.

JAMES:

We need to figure out where they'll have Sara—

CHI-YUN:

Maybe I could go and sniff the van?

Panel 2

JAMES turns to look at CHI-YUN.

JAMES:

Thank you. But I'm looking for sensible suggestions at the moment.

CHI-YUN:

Hey!

Panel 3

Another close-up on FRED's face. He's dabbing a handkerchief to his lip, which is still bleeding. In his eyes, we see SARA lying on the bed as we saw previously.

FRED:

She's in that big two-storey building over there.

Panel 4

They all look at FRED.

HARRY:

You're sure?

FRED:

I can see it, ok? You want to look inside my head?

Panel 5

HARRY is walking away from FRED.

HARRY:

Don't push it, kid.

PAGE TWELVE. Five panels.

Panel 1

Another flashback: SARA and DON sitting in a coffee shop. She wears some kind of preppy school uniform. He's dressed the same as always. Leaves are turning brown on trees outside the window. They are talking (but we won't bother giving any dialogue).

CAPTION (SARA's monologue):

I never made a lot of friends at school. The perpetual good luck left a fair bit of jealousy in its wake.

Panel 2

Another scene. Daylight, old stone buildings, trees, snow on the ground. It's a school campus. SARA has a winter coat over her school uniform, books in her arms, and a bag slung over her shoulder. A disreputable-looking youth is confronting her. He has a knife, held menacingly.

CAPTION (SARA's monologue):

I was pretty much always on my own.

YOUTH:

Gimme the purse. Now!

Panel 3

A punch connects solidly with the mugger.

SFX:

WHACK!

CAPTION (SARA's monologue):

But Don visited whenever he could.

Panel 4

The mugger is on the floor and a grinning DON is now in the scene.

CAPTION (SARA's monologue):

I mean, I can take care of myself.

SARA:

Are you stalking me?

DON:

I know, I know, you could have taken him!

Panel 5

Back to the present. DON is inside the building, sweeping a dark room with a small pocket flashlight.

CAPTION (SARA's monologue):

But it's good to know he's there to watch out for me.

PAGE THIRTEEN. Five panels.

Panel 1

HARRY is about to walk out of the cover of the building they're next to, towards a big two-storey building. JAMES grabs his shoulder from behind, jerking him back.

JAMES:

Wait!

HARRY:

What?

Panel 2

A view of the building in question, showing us a security light up at roof level. It's one of those lights that comes on when someone breaks into your back yard.

JAMES (off-panel):

See that light up there?

HARRY (off-panel):

Yeah? It's off.

JAMES (off-panel):

It's got a motion sensor — if you go near it, it'll come on and alert every guard in the place.

Panel 3

The four of them look at each other.

HARRY:

So bring them on!

CHI-YUN:

Give me your wire cutters. I'll take it out.

FRED:

How do you plan—

Panel 4

CHI-YUN shrinks and changes form into a big OWL! We can show that she's physically changing by superimposing images of her different forms, or something like that.

CHI-YUN (thought):

Owl.

Panel 5

A view of the backs of HARRY, FRED, and JAMES' heads as they watch CHI-YUN-OWL swoop into the air, wire cutters gripped in her beak.

HARRY:

Did you know she could do that?

FRED:

I didn't know she could do that!

JAMES:

I'm very impressed.

PAGE FOURTEEN. Six panels.

Panel 1

CHI-YUN-OWL swoops on to the roof, within reach of the light.

SOMEBODY (off-panel):

How's an owl going to use wire cutters?

Panel 2

CHI-YUN-OWL grips the edge of the roof with one talon. Her other talon has changed back into a human hand (yes, it looks very unnatural) and is taking the wire cutters out of her beak.

SOMEBODY (off-panel):

Now that looks really gross!

Panel 3

CHI-YUN-OWL snips the wire leading to the security light.

SFX (cutters):

snik

SOMEBODY (off-panel):

She's done it! Come on!

Panel 4

FRED, JAMES, and HARRY sprint across to the building as CHI-YUN-OWL swoops down to the ground.

No dialogue.

Panel 5

HARRY is crouching by the door of the building and fiddling at the lock with a small tool. JAMES and FRED look round nervously. CHI-YUN has changed, or is changing, back into human form.

HARRY (softly):

Come on!

SFX (lock):

click

Panel 6

HARRY is pushing the door open and entering. The others are following.

FRED (softly):

She's upstairs — not sure which room.

HARRY (softly):

One of you keep watch here.

PAGE FIFTEEN. Five panels.

Panel 1

HARRY leads the way up the stairs. JAMES and CH-YUN follow. There are no lights on. HARRY is taking his revolver from his jacket pocket, though the position of his body probably makes it impossible for JAMES to see this.

No dialogue.

Panel 2

At the top of the stairs, HARRY is looking down a hallway that has a number of doors on each side. One door plainly shows light coming from under it. HARRY has grabbed JAMES by the arm and is pointing to that door.

No dialogue.

Panel 3

Inside the room, the SISTER is sitting in a chair by the bedside. She has a magazine in her hands but she's looking up in surprise as the door bursts open and HARRY comes through like a bull in a china shop. SARA is lying still on the bed.

SFX:

SMASH!!!

Panel 4

HARRY's charge continues and he barrels fist-first into the SISTER. She's going down hard, chair and all, with HARRY on top of her.

SFX:

Smack!

SFX:

CRASH!

Panel 5

JAMES has now entered the room and is kneeling over the unconscious form of the SISTER, checking her for permanent damage. HARRY is picking up SARA.

JAMES:

That was unnecessary.

HARRY:

That was precautionary. Now come on.

PAGE SIXTEEN. Five panels.

Panel 1

Downstairs, FRED is alone and looking out of the front door. Behind him, we see a door open and the THUG seen previously is stepping out.

THUG:

What—

Panel 2

FRED has turned and punched the THUG in the stomach. The THUG doubles over. This is the first time we've seen FRED fight. He's effective, but it should be portrayed as an untrained bar-room-brawl style in keeping with his "rebel without a cause" image.

SFX (punch):

Whump

THUG:

Ufff

Panel 3

The others come downstairs (HARRY bringing up the rear and carrying SARA) in time to see FRED knock the THUG down (and out) with a punch to the temple.

SFX (punch):

Crack

FRED:

Congratulations, you finally managed to wake up the entire camp.

Panel 4

They're all outside. FRED runs off, away from the building.

FRED:

Their van! It's the quickest way out.

VOICE (shouting, off-panel):

Hey you!

Panel 5

FRED is running ahead. At his heels is a large black cat. Straggling along behind (because he's still carrying SARA) is HARRY. JAMES is in front of HARRY and has his SHIELD raised protectively. From off-panel, we see a bullet track strike the shield and ricochet off (so it's finally useful for something!). Curiously, there is no sign of CHI-YUN. (It's the cat. Duh!)

JAMES:

Just run, Harry. I'll cover you.

SFX (bullet):

ping!

PAGE SEVENTEEN. Six panels.

Panel 1

Flashback again: it's a graduation ceremony in the hall of an exclusive private school. SARA is receiving her diploma. In the background, SYLVIA is in the front row of the audience. SYLVIA is remarkably emotionless, considering the occasion.

CAPTION (SARA's monologue):

I don't think he was watching me just because of my power.

Panel 2

The same scene, viewed from the back of the hall. DON stands alone here, watching but not a part of it. He's made an effort to smarten himself up (his collar is buttoned up and he wears a tie), but nothing is going to part him from his flying jacket.

CAPTION (SARA's monologue):

Though I'm pretty certain he knew about it almost from the start.

Panel 3

The same day (the same clothes). DON and SARA strolling side-by-side in the school grounds.

CAPTION (SARA's monologue):

But the rest of the stuff — the mission — that came later.

SARA:

She's sending me to Paris for a month. Then maybe I'll go to Hawaii if she's not using the house there.

Panel 4

The same scene, SARA and DON stand facing each other.

DON:

Give me a call when you're back in the States. I've got a job that might need your help.

SARA:

You need my help?

CAPTION (SARA's monologue):

I think he'd been waiting 20 years to find a new purpose in his life.

Panel 5

Back to the present. DON is in a small room, similar to the one where SARA has been rescued from. He's shining his flashlight into the sleeping face of ALEX MOON.

CAPTION (SARA's monologue):

And he is the best there is at what he does.

Panel 6

DON is lifting the unconscious ALEX onto his shoulder.

SFX (off-panel):

bang! bang!

DON (softly):

Gunshots?

SFX (off-panel):

ping! ping!

DON:

And a shield. Marvellous.

PAGE EIGHTEEN. Six panels.

Panel 1

FRED has reached the Temple's van and pulled the driver's door open. CHI-YUN-CAT is leaping in.

No dialogue.

Panel 2

FRED is in the driver's seat, leaning down. CHI-YUN-CAT is sitting up in the passenger seat next to him.

No dialogue.

Panel 3

Small close-up of FRED's hands twisting wires together under the dashboard. Remember that it's an electric engine and probably computer-managed, so it may not work like a conventional ignition, but it should still be obvious what he's doing even to non-technical readers.

SFX:

Vmmmmmmmmm

Panel 4

FRED sits up straight, hands on the wheel. He's looking at CHI-YUN-CAT and jumping out of his skin as "it" speaks to him.

CHI-YUN-CAT:

Where did you learn to hotwire a car?

FRED (yelling):

Gyaah!!!

Panel 5

Exterior view of the van as it turns tightly, wheels spinning and throwing up grass and earth.

FRED (from inside van):

You don't wanna know.

Panel 6

The van, still in motion, passes JAMES and HARRY. JAMES is hanging on to one of the (open) back doors while running along. HARRY, also running, is tipping SARA into the back of the van. More bullet trails come in from off-panel and ricochet off the SHIELD.

SFX (bullets):

ping! ping!

PAGE NINETEEN. Six panels.

Panel 1

Inside the van, FRED and CHI-YUN (now back in human form) are still in the front seats. We see past them and out of the window screen. A figure looms into sight in front of them. It's DON, carrying ALEX over his shoulder.

CHI-YUN:

Look out! Don!

Panel 2

We see the back of the van again, still in motion. JAMES and HARRY are inside, reaching out to haul in DON and ALEX.

HARRY:

We've got him. Floor it, Fred!

Panel 3

DON is now kneeling in the van.

DON:

What are you doing here?

HARRY:

Rescuing Sara. What are you doing?

DON:

Being stealthy!

Panel 4

DON leans over between the front seats.

DON:

Head North. I'm parked outside the fence.

FRED:

So are we. I'll swing round so we can pick everything up and ditch this van.

Panel 5

In the back, DON has his cell phone out and is dialling a number. CHI-YUN turns round in her seat to speak to him.

DON:

The place is stocked like a pharmacy. I'm going to tip off the cops — give these people something other than us to think about.

CHI-YUN:

Well? How did we do?

Panel 6

Exterior view of the van, bouncing away across the fields.

DON (from inside van):

You done good, Chi-Yun.

PAGE TWENTY. Four panels.

Panel 1

A fairly luxurious room, high above the city, with a picture window facing the just-rising Sun. BROTHER THOMAS is eating breakfast. A side door is open and FAITH is stepping in. THOMAS is in a bathrobe and unshaven, while FAITH is immaculate in a tailored white suit and her hair fastened up, giving her a severe, professional look.

THOMAS:

Ah, Faith, come in.

THOMAS:

An exemplary operation so far, don't you think? Two in one city, that's unprecedented success!

Panel 2

FAITH stands next to the table. THOMAS has a cup of coffee half way to his lips.

THOMAS:

I will transmit a report to our leaders and arrange—

FAITH:

Brother Thomas, Parsifal is coming to take your report in person.

Panel 3

Identical panel. THOMAS has frozen with the cup half way to his lips. His face has a stricken look (the sort that Imperial flunkies get when somebody tells them "Lord Vader is coming"). His hand is shaking, as we can see by a slight spill from his coffee cup.

THOMAS:

Parsifal is coming here?

THOMAS:

When?

PARSIFAL (off-panel):

Now.

Panel 4

Decent-size panel to introduce Parsifal. He's entered by the door FAITH used. He's tall, slim but broad-shouldered, and dressed in an immaculate grey business suit. His hair is short, blonde, and styled in a boyish wave. His eyes are a steely blue-grey and his features are tanned and chiselled. It's hard to guess at his age. Not old, but bearing a mature confidence. It's a very "Nordic" face (though readers familiar with opera might correctly think "Germanic" instead). If this was a movie, he would probably be played by a young Rutger Hauer.

PARSIFAL:

So, Hale. Report.

PAGE TWENTY-ONE. Six panels.

Panel 1

THOMAS steps towards PARSIFAL, bowing slightly. His demeanour is now kind of, "Oh my god, Lord Vader is here and I'm in my underwear". FAITH is in the background and seems much less rattled by things.

THOMAS:

S-sir, we didn't expect—

PARSIFAL:

Just give me a status report, Hale. I'm here to assess whether this mission is worth Black Zero's resources—

Panel 2

A new FLUNKY appears. He's dressed in a business suit and entering at a run.

THOMAS:

Oh, I assure you Sir, our metahuman acquisitions—

FLUNKY:

Brother Thomas, a report, trouble at the farm—

Panel 3

The FLUNKY comes to a stop with his head bowed. PARSIFAL arches an eyebrow. Brother Thomas looks really sick.

FLUNKY:

B-but perhaps you will want to hear it later?

PARSIFAL:

No, I am sure Brother Thomas wants to hear it right now.

THOMAS:

Er, yes, report.

Panel 4

The flunky delivers his report looking at PARSIFAL, not to THOMAS.

FLUNKY:

The police have raided the place. They've found drugs and weapons.

FLUNKY (softly):

And unknown intruders have taken the boy and the girl.

FLUNKY (softly):

Sir.

Panel 5

PARSIFAL is striding down a corridor, FAITH and THOMAS trailing after him.

THOMAS:

Sir, I'm sure — I can spin this, use my connections — Black Zero won't be compromised—

PARSIFAL:

See that it is not, Hale. If I have to cut the Temple loose to protect Black Zero, you can be sure that I will.

Panel 6

PARSIFAL is in an elevator, with the doors beginning to close. THOMAS and FAITH stand outside, looking at him.

PARSIFAL:

Fix it, Hale. Quickly.

PARSIFAL (thought):

He begins to outlive his usefulness, Faith.

FAITH (thought):

I understand.

PAGE TWENTY-TWO. Seven panels.

Panel 1

DON's RV is sitting by the side of a city street. It's still very early morning -- some traffic and pedestrians, but not many.

CAPTION (SARA's monologue):

I wish I had been there for what happened next, but they left me zonked out at the Marks' place.

DON (from inside vehicle):

I don't have a plan, I'm playing this by ear.

Panel 2

Inside the RV, DON is in the driver's seat with FRED and CHI-YUN next to him. JAMES and HARRY stand behind, looking out over the front seats.

CAPTION (SARA's monologue):

Because the others have told me about it, but I'm not sure I want to believe them.

DON:

That's Brother Thomas' hotel. I want to go in, snoop around, find out—

Panel 3

Looking from the group's POV, we see out of the window and down the road to the hotel DON has referred to. A big Limousine is outside, commissionaire holding the rear door open. PARSIFAL is walking down the hotel steps towards it.

CAPTION (SARA's monologue):

I've seen Don face down armed gangs, thugs on Dust, even alien werewolves—

DON:

—what the... temple... is...

Panel 4

Tight close-up on DON's face and his hands gripping the steering wheel. He's gone white.

CAPTION (SARA's monologue):

And I've never seen him scared before.

DON (softly):

Parsifal?

DON (softly):

But I saw him die.

Panel 5

Exterior of the RV as it reverses fast down the street.

SFX (tyres):

Screeeeeeeeee

SOMEBODY (inside vehicle):

Don? What's up? Who was—

Panel 6

The front of the RV swings round in a classic "bootlegger" turn, leaving it pointed the opposite way.

CAPTION (SARA's monologue):

He was probably just concerned about putting the group in danger.

SFX (tyres):

eeeeeeeeeech

SOMEBODY (inside vehicle):

Why are we running? Don?

Panel 7

Another close-up on DON, staring forwards, ignoring the questions. His face is emotionless.

CAPTION (SARA's monologue):

I'm sure that's it.

Next issue: Family

See also: Don's Mission Report; Los Angeles Globe Headlines

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