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12: Vigilantes

This issue follows almost immediately on from the end of the previous issue. It is night, though all the action will be either indoors or in lit streets.

PAUL begins the scenario in his JESSE personality, which we are seeing for the first time, and his captions will be labelled as such.

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".

Note that Canadians are going to use Canadian spelling in their speech. Hopefully.

PAGE ONE. One panel.

Panel 1

Unusually, we start with a big splash page. This will set the scene in the TROLL CLUB. It's basically a "hot" night spot -- a place where the twenty-something crowd go to get wasted. A big underground room (reached by steps down from the street) full of people drinking and dancing. A bar stretches the length of one wall. Tables and secluded booths line the other walls. Pillars support the ceiling and provide convenient places to lean. It's decorated in a fetching mixture of "industrial slum" and "retro catacomb".

The people in the club: they're TROLLS. What are trolls? The main "underground" music sub-culture of 2014. Think of people looking to go (visually) one step further than 70s' punks. Take an Uruk-Hai out of The Lord of the Rings, mix in a bit of Mad Max's fashion sense, and you've got a troll rock aficionado. Studded leather and sharp accessories are common. Uglifying make-up is expected. The "hard-core" trolls wear tusks and horns (prosthetics or possibly implants). Not every patron of the club will look extreme -- some will be relatively normal. But the overall effect should be a place you don't want to take your grandmother to.

The music: of course we can't represent music properly on the page. Troll rock is supposed to be monolithically rhythmic and unmelodic. Running along the bottom of EVERY panel set in the Troll Club we'll have a monotonous "drum beat" caption: "DOOM DOOM DOOM", in big slab lettering. If this annoys readers -- then good! Troll rock would probably annoy them, too. (Panels set outside but near to the Troll Club will feature the same "music" but in smaller, more discrete lettering.)

CAPTION:

The Troll Club.

CAPTION:

Vancouver, British Columbia.

CAPTION:

Monday 22 September, 2014.

CAPTION (music):

DOOM DOOM BOOM DOOM DOOM DOOM BOOM DOOM

PAGE TWO. Five panels.

Panel 1

Reverse angle, showing FRED on the steps down to the club. He's dressed as at the end of the previous issue. He's paused on the steps to light a cigarette.

CAPTION (FRED's BLOG):

The Troll Club was my kind of place. Pity I didn't have the luxury of enjoying it.

CAPTION (FRED's BLOG):

I had a mission.

CAPTION (music):

DOOM DOOM BOOM DOOM

Panel 2

FRED continues down the stairs into the club.

CAPTION (FRED's BLOG):

I'm hooked up with a group of wannabe heroes.

CAPTION (FRED's BLOG):

Stupid wannabe heroes.

CAPTION (music):

DOOM DOOM BOOM DOOM

Panel 3

FRED moves through the crowd towards the bar.

CAPTION (FRED's BLOG):

We're supposed to be lying low but, oh no, suddenly we've got to solve some ridiculous baby snatching crime. There was nothing in it for us except a bunch of potential danger. Why was I going along with it?

CAPTION (FRED's BLOG):

...

CAPTION (music):

DOOM DOOM BOOM DOOM

Panel 4

FRED is at the bar, gesturing to the barman. The barman is dressed in keeping with the clientele.

CAPTION (FRED's BLOG):

So based on the flimsiest lead imaginable, I was scoping out the Troll Club.

CAPTION (music):

DOOM DOOM BOOM DOOM

Panel 5

The barman pours FRED a drink.

CAPTION (FRED's BLOG):

Specifically, the owner Hank Philips.

FRED:

I need to speak to Hank Philips.

BARMAN:

Does he know you?

CAPTION (FRED's BLOG):

How did I expect to learn anything?

CAPTION (music):

DOOM DOOM BOOM DOOM

PAGE THREE. Five panels.

Panel 1

Close-up of FRED's eyes as they reflect the barman.

CAPTION (FRED's BLOG):

Let's just say I have methods others don't.

FRED:

He will want to talk to me.

CAPTION (music):

DOOM DOOM BOOM DOOM

Panel 2

The barman moves away, looking at FRED oddly.

BARMAN:

Yeah — I'll go get him.

CAPTION (FRED's BLOG):

And I'm getting better at them all the time.

CAPTION (music):

DOOM DOOM BOOM DOOM

Panel 3

Another man approaches FRED. This is HANK PHILLIPS: thirty-something, dressed in a "sharp" business suit, blonde hair slicked back.

PHILLIPS:

You lookin' for me, kid?

FRED:

Yeah. I'm looking for work. Heard you might have some.

CAPTION (music):

DOOM DOOM BOOM DOOM

Panel 4

PHILLIPS begins to turn away. FRED grabs his arm.

PHILLIPS:

You heard wrong. I'm not hiring bar staff.

FRED:

Wait—

CAPTION (music):

DOOM DOOM BOOM DOOM

Panel 5

PHILLIPS turns to look at FRED again, he looks irritated.

FRED:

I'm not looking for bar work.

FRED:

I think you know what I'm looking for.

CAPTION (music):

DOOM DOOM BOOM DOOM

PAGE FOUR. Five panels.

Panel 1

PHILLIPS looks at FRED.

CAPTION (music):

DOOM DOOM BOOM DOOM

Panel 2

PHILLIPS moves away.

PHILLIPS:

Got yourself a nosebleed there, kid. Watch what you're putting up it.

CAPTION (music):

DOOM DOOM BOOM DOOM

Panel 3

FRED turns away from the bar, holding a handkerchief under his nose.

FRED (softly):

Damn it.

CAPTION (FRED's BLOG):

Ok, not that much better. The "push" didn't work. But I got flashes of his thoughts. He does run a rent-a-thug operation from the club. But the man I needed to talk to—

CAPTION (music):

DOOM DOOM BOOM DOOM

Panel 4

FRED's POV of a man sitting in a booth. Caucasian, indeterminate age, dressed in a sharp suit and wearing ostentations jewellery. Much too "clean" to be a regular patron of the club. This is "TC". A beautiful woman sits on each side of him. All three are laughing, having a good time.

CAPTION (FRED's BLOG):

— was "TC". A major dealer. Phillips gets a generous cut but it's TC's show.

CAPTION (music):

DOOM DOOM BOOM DOOM

Panel 5

FRED settles himself on a stool and leans back against a pillar. Watches "TC".

CAPTION (FRED's BLOG):

So was he dealing babies as well as drugs? And could I risk a scan on him? If I tried to go deeper than surface thoughts, would he know I was doing it?

CAPTION (music):

DOOM DOOM BOOM DOOM

PAGE FIVE. Three panels.

Panel 1

Outside, JAMES, SARA, CHI-YUN, and JESSE are in their hired SUV. JAMES is in the driver's seat with SARA next to him. He's fully costumed and masked. She's wearing some kind of sparkly silver outfit with a long black leather coat and high boots. CHI-YUN wears carefully-torn jeans and t-shirt and has extreme "punk" hair and face make-up. Both girls look as if they would blend in easily with the Troll Club crowd. JESSE is dressed conservatively: black trousers with a black button-up shirt and long black raincoat. He looks much too "clean" for the club. (Of course, we can't get the full benefit of this costuming until they leave the car. I'm just describing it now for future reference.)

CAPTION (FRED's BLOG):

Of course, I thought I had all night to enjoy the music. I should have known that my "backup" wouldn't be able to sit still for long.

SARA:

I don't like it.

JAMES:

Nor me. I'm going in.

Panel 2

All four climb out of the car.

CHI-YUN:

He's only been gone an hour!

JAMES:

Sixty-five minutes. Long enough to get into trouble.

Panel 3

They stride down the road. Good excuse for a big panel to show off their outfits. Line abreast, coats billowing dramatically around SARA and JESSE, street lights glinting off the SHIELD strapped to JAMES's left arm. Looking like they mean business. (Arrange them SARA, JAMES, CHI-YUN, JESSE, so the order fits with FRED's caption.)

CAPTION (FRED's BLOG):

Sara, James, Chi-Yun. I can't think of a bunch of people better at getting into trouble.

CAPTION (FRED's BLOG):

Then there's Jesse. I've only known him a few hours and I hate him already.

CAPTION (music):

DOOM DOOM BOOM DOOM DOOM DOOM BOOM DOOM DOOM DOOM BOOM DOOM

PAGE SIX. Six panels.

Panel 1

Close-up on JESSE. He's clutching a bible.

JESSE:

It's time we brought the fear of God to these heathens!

CAPTION (FRED's BLOG):

See what I mean?

CAPTION (music):

DOOM DOOM BOOM DOOM

Panel 2

Close-up on JAMES and SARA exchanging frowns.

CAPTION (FRED's BLOG):

And for once, I think James agrees with me.

CAPTION (music):

DOOM DOOM BOOM DOOM

Panel 3

Outside the door to the Troll Club, a small crowd of people mill around, being slowly admitted. One of the doormen (big, tough, ugly) points at CHI-YUN. Behind her, SARA is slapping her forehead.

DOORMAN:

Age?

CHI-YUN:

What? Sixteen.

SARA:

Doh!

DOORMAN:

Beat it, kid.

CAPTION (music):

DOOM DOOM BOOM DOOM

Panel 4

The doorman now points at JESSE.

DOORMAN:

You — No.

JESSE:

What?

DOORMAN:

Just no. This isn't your kind of place.

Panel 5

Behind JESSE, SARA has CHI-YUN by the arm.

SARA:

You couldn't say twenty-one? Or shape-change to look older?

CHI-YUN:

I Didn't think...

CAPTION (music):

DOOM DOOM BOOM DOOM

Panel 6

JESSE looks like he wants to take a swing at the door man. JAMES holds him back.

JESSE:

Godless—

JAMES:

Jesse, no. It's ok. Stay here and—er—I need you to look after Chi-Yun. Understand?

CAPTION (music):

DOOM DOOM BOOM DOOM

PAGE SEVEN. Six panels.

Panel 1

JAMES and SARA walk through the doors, unchallenged. Behind them, CHI-YUN and JESSE just look. SARA looks back at them over her shoulder.

SARA:

We'll call you if we need backup.

JAMES:

When we get in, we should split up. Keep your eyes open for anything suspicious.

CAPTION (music):

DOOM DOOM BOOM DOOM

Panel 2

Inside the club FRED is leaning against a pillar, sipping a drink, and looking round.

CAPTION (FRED's BLOG):

I watched TC passing enough controlled substances to land him in prison for years. But that didn't help me connect him to the kidnapping.

CAPTION (music):

DOOM DOOM BOOM DOOM

Panel 3

From FRED's POV we see JAMES and SARA descending the steps from the street entrance.

CAPTION (FRED's BLOG):

Then, with their usual subtlety, the cavalry arrived.

CAPTION (FRED's BLOG):

Oddly enough, James had found the one place his ridiculous costume wouldn't stand out.

CAPTION (music):

DOOM DOOM BOOM DOOM

Panel 4

Still from FRED's POV, JAMES is heading directly for the bar. SARA has moved away to do her own thing elsewhere in the club.

CAPTION (FRED's BLOG):

So you just know he's going to do something to deliberately draw attention.

CAPTION (music):

DOOM DOOM BOOM DOOM

Panel 5

JAMES is now at the bar and talking to HANK PHILLIPS. We still see this from FRED's POV, so we can't hear what is being said.

CAPTION (FRED's BLOG):

"I'm a superhero and I believe you've kidnapped a baby."

CAPTION (music):

DOOM DOOM BOOM DOOM

Panel 6

JAMES and PHILLIPS are still talking. PHILLIPS is pointing his finger in JAMES's face, belligerently.

CAPTION (FRED's BLOG):

"Now I'm going to goad you into fighting me so I can bring you to justice."

CAPTION (music):

DOOM DOOM BOOM DOOM

PAGE EIGHT. Five panels.

Panel 1

JAMES turns away from the bar and walks across the crowded club.

CAPTION (FRED's BLOG):

Nothing. I was starting to wonder if I was being too hard on our resident do-gooder...

CAPTION (music):

DOOM DOOM BOOM DOOM

Panel 2

Still from FRED's POV, we see PHILLIPS standing at TC's table, leaning over and talking in his ear.

CAPTION (FRED's BLOG):

...When right on cue...

CAPTION (music):

DOOM DOOM BOOM DOOM

Panel 3

Typical psychic-powers close-up of FRED's eyes, which reflect images of PHILLIPS and TC. The "thought" captions in this panel are "disembodied" -- it's not clear (and not important) which mind FRED is picking them up from.

CAPTION (thought):

...punk knows too much...

CAPTION (thought):

...some of my boys will...

CAPTION (music):

DOOM DOOM BOOM DOOM

Panel 4

Longer view of FRED.

CAPTION (FRED's BLOG):

I was not going to blow my cover. If James got himself beat up—

CAPTION (thought):

...make sure it's permanent...

FRED:

Damn it!

CAPTION (music):

DOOM DOOM BOOM DOOM

Panel 5

From FRED's POV we see SARA across the crowded dance floor.

FRED (thought):

Sara

CAPTION (music):

DOOM DOOM BOOM DOOM

PAGE NINE. Five panels.

Panel 1

Close-up on a pair of blue eyes -- SARA's (for a change). In them we see FRED's face "reflected".

FRED (thought):

Find James and warn him. They're going to attack him. Out the back somewhere.

CAPTION (music):

DOOM DOOM BOOM DOOM

Panel 2

SARA is pushing through the crowd. She's speaking on her phone as she moves.

SARA (thought):

I'm on it.

SARA:

Chi-Yun—

CAPTION (music):

DOOM DOOM BOOM DOOM

Panel 3

A narrow alley, filled with usual alley-type things: a dumpster full of garbage bags, a large pile of bottles (from the club), some unidentifiable crates. There is a fire escape ladder on the wall (leading to a platform outside an upper-storey window, though we don't need to see that yet). JAMES emerges from a door at the end of the alley flanked by two TROLLS and with a third behind him. These are really BIG guys -- ugly, too. They have grotesque face paint, fake "tusks", and bulky leather "armour" adorned with chains and metal studs.

CAPTION (continuing SARA's speech):

"—Meet me behind the club. James is in trouble."

TROLL #1:

Think yer some kinda hero?

JAMES:

I don't think

CAPTION (music):

DOOM DOOM BOOM DOOM

Panel 4

One of the TROLLS takes a swing at JAMES, who deflects the punch with his shield but is driven back into the wall by the impact.

SFX (punch):

CLANG!

CAPTION (music):

DOOM DOOM BOOM DOOM

Panel 5

Close-up on JAMES as he dodges another punch to his head. (we don't need to see anything of the TROLL except his fist/arm). And where JAMES's head was a split-second ago, the troll's fist is embedded in a big hole in the brickwork -- fragments of brick fly around. Yep, these guys are superhumanly strong.

SFX (punch):

CRASH!!!

JAMES:

Yow. Uh-oh.

CHI-YUN (off-panel):

Hey!

CAPTION (music):

DOOM DOOM BOOM DOOM

PAGE TEN. Three panels.

Panel 1

In a wide view of the action, we see CHI-YUN running towards where JAMES is menaced by the three TROLLS. JESSE is calmly striding after CHI-YUN.

JAMES:

Chi-Yun watch out they have—

CAPTION (music):

DOOM DOOM BOOM DOOM

Panel 2

CHI-YUN reaches the nearest TROLL -- and he casually back-hands her away. His fist catches her in the chest, the impact enough to lift her off the ground and fling her backwards.

SFX (punch):

WHUMP

JAMES:

—Enhanced strength.

CAPTION (music):

DOOM DOOM BOOM DOOM

Panel 3

CHI-YUN lies crumpled on a pile of garbage bags, hugging her chest. The TROLL who hit her is stepping forward. JESSE stands between the TROLL and CHI-YUN.

JESSE:

You would hit a girl? Monster!

CHI-YUN (softly):

I think he broke something.

CHI-YUN (softly):

>ahhhhh<

CAPTION (music):

DOOM DOOM BOOM DOOM

PAGE ELEVEN. Four panels.

Panel 1

Close-up on JESSE as the TROLL punches him full in the face. It's a big impact, but JESSE isn't flinching.

SFX (punch):

SMACK

CAPTION (music):

DOOM DOOM BOOM DOOM

Panel 2

JESSE looks calmly back at the startled TROLL.

JESSE:

The power of God protects me from evil!

CAPTION (music):

DOOM DOOM BOOM DOOM

Panel 3

As the TROLL pulls his fist back for another punch, a new, even bigger, meaner, uglier TROLL looms behind JESSE. We'll call this CHI-YUN-TROLL, though there shouldn't really be any visual clue for the reader to realise it's a shape-changed CHI-YUN.

CHI-YUN-TROLL:

Hey!

CAPTION (music):

DOOM DOOM BOOM DOOM

Panel 4

CHI-YUN-TROLL punches the other TROLL -- REALLY HARD! The TROLL is lifted off its feet by the impact.

CHI-YUN-TROLL:

Pick on someone your own size!

SFX (punch):

WHAM!!!!!

JESSE:

Amen.

CAPTION (music):

DOOM DOOM BOOM DOOM

PAGE TWELVE. Three panels.

Panel 1

The action switches back to JAMES (this is all simultaneous, of course, but too awkward to portray like that), who is facing the other two TROLLS alone. As they both lunge for him, he leaps and grabs the platform of the fire escape above his head.

CAPTION (music):

DOOM DOOM BOOM DOOM

Panel 2

While JAMES acrobatically swings up and on to the platform, one TROLL starts up the ladder after him. To the side, we see SARA emerging from the door to the Troll Club, running towards the two TROLLS.

CAPTION (music):

DOOM DOOM BOOM DOOM

Panel 3

The TROLL on the ground turns to face SARA as she leaps into the air and delivers a powerful kick to the side of his head. He barely flinches. (We may see the other TROLL in the background continuing up after JAMES -- though it's not important for this panel.)

SFX (kick):

Clang!

CAPTION (music):

DOOM DOOM BOOM DOOM

PAGE THIRTEEN. Five panels.

Panel 1

SARA and the TROLL stand face-to-face, or more accurately, face-to-chest. We look up at the TROLL's face from a POV over SARA's shoulder. The TROLL grins at her, revealing pointed teeth, as he taps the side of his head where she kicked him. Note that we should only see their upper bodies in this view.

SARA:

Ow! What the—?

TROLL:

Ha! I got me an armour plate put in.

SFX (tapping):

Tink Tink

4. CAPTION (music):

DOOM DOOM BOOM DOOM

Panel 2

Identical view. Neither appears to have moved.

TROLL:

Give it up, girl. You can't hurt—

SFX:

THUD

CAPTION (music):

DOOM DOOM BOOM DOOM

Panel 3

Identical view. Neither appears to have moved -- but the TROLL'S eyes roll back up into their sockets.

TROLL:

Uhhhhh

CAPTION (music):

DOOM DOOM BOOM DOOM

Panel 4

Identical view. The TROLL is falling sideways out of frame.

CAPTION (music):

DOOM DOOM BOOM DOOM

Panel 5

SARA looks down at the TROLL who is lying, curled up and apparently unmoving, at her feet.

SARA:

Didn't armor there, did you?

CAPTION (music):

DOOM DOOM BOOM DOOM

PAGE FOURTEEN. Four panels.

Panel 1

On the fire escape platform, JAMES and the remaining TROLL are fighting. The TROLL is swinging his fist at JAMES, only to have it glance off the SHIELD as JAMES ducks beneath it. Behind JAMES is a window into a lit room -- we don't need to see much of the room, just the window.

SFX:

Clang

CAPTION (music):

DOOM DOOM BOOM DOOM

Panel 2

The TROLL lashes out at JAMES again. This time, JAMES brings the SHIELD up in front of his chest and takes the punch full on it rather than deflecting it. The impact is big enough to throw JAMES back...

SFX:

WHANG

CAPTION (music):

DOOM DOOM BOOM DOOM

Panel 3

... and crashing through the window and into the room.

SFX:

KER-ASH!!!!

CAPTION (music):

DOOM DOOM BOOM DOOM

Panel 4

The TROLL begins to climb through the window. We see from the POV over his shoulder that JAMES is in the middle of the room (it's a small office: desk with computer, couple of chairs, filing cabinet) and is on his feet -- in a crouch, as if he's just rolled there. JAMES is now gripping the SHIELD rather like a discus, in his right hand, and his arm is drawn back as if to throw it at the TROLL.

CAPTION (music):

DOOM DOOM BOOM DOOM

PAGE FIFTEEN. Five panels.

Panel 1

CHI-YUN-TROLL, SARA, and JESSE stand in the alley, looking at each other.

SARA:

Are you ok, Chi-Yun?

CHI-YUN-TROLL:

Yes—

CAPTION (music):

DOOM DOOM BOOM DOOM

Panel 2

Same positions, but CHI-YUN is now back to her former look.

CHI-YUN:

—I can heal very fast.

CHI-YUN:

Where's James?

CAPTION (music):

DOOM DOOM BOOM DOOM

Panel 3

SARA looks up, her eyes wide.

SFX:

CLANG

SARA:

Chi-Yun move!

CAPTION (music):

DOOM DOOM BOOM DOOM

Panel 4

SARA grabs CHI-YUN by the arm and pulls her forwards.

CHI-YUN:

Huh?

CAPTION (music):

DOOM DOOM BOOM DOOM

Panel 5

The TROLL that JAMES was fighting lands flat on the ground just behind CHI-YUN.

SFX:

WHUMP!

CHI-YUN:

Oh!

CAPTION (music):

DOOM DOOM BOOM DOOM

PAGE SIXTEEN. Four panels.

Panel 1

Inside the office, JAMES is searching the desk. His SHIELD is once again strapped on to his left arm. SARA is carefully climbing in through the window, stepping on broken glass.

SARA:

Breaking and entering now, James?

JAMES:

Of course not! I was thrown in here forcibly, against my will.

CAPTION (music):

DOOM DOOM BOOM DOOM

Panel 2

SARA stands next to JAMES while he looks at the computer screen (we don't need to see the screen). CHI-YUN climbs in through the window.

SARA:

Oh, perish the thought that you might do anything illegal deliberately! So, find anything?

JAMES:

Nothing.

CHI-YUN:

Er—guys—Jesse is preaching to the trolls.

CAPTION (music):

DOOM DOOM BOOM DOOM

Panel 3

They look at each other.

SARA:

He took a punch that could smash through a wall — without flinching. How is that possible? He's too old to have powers.

JAMES:

I know. He also healed gunshot wounds overnight. The rules on powers obviously aren't as straightforward as we were told.

CAPTION (music):

DOOM DOOM BOOM DOOM

Panel 4

CHI-YUN looks round, nose in the air, and sniffs.

SFX:

sniff sniff

CHI-YUN:

There was a baby here!

JAMES:

Search the rest of the place. But quickly — and carefully!

CAPTION (music):

DOOM DOOM BOOM DOOM

PAGE SEVENTEEN. Six panels.

Panel 1

Back down in the main room of the Troll Club, FRED stands alone in the crowd, sipping a drink.

CAPTION (FRED's BLOG):

Poking around in TC's mind was hard work.

CAPTION (FRED's BLOG):

So was remembering not to drink too much.

CAPTION (music):

DOOM DOOM BOOM DOOM

Panel 2

Angle from FRED's POV, looking at TC sitting in the same spot.

CAPTION (FRED's BLOG):

I could only skim his surface thoughts, and then only for brief seconds. Any more and there's a chance he would feel what I was doing.

CAPTION (FRED's BLOG):

But I was slowly piecing things together.

CAPTION (music):

DOOM DOOM BOOM DOOM

Panel 3

A TROLL leans over TC's shoulder and speaks in his ear.

CAPTION (FRED's BLOG):

The others were blundering around upstairs somewhere. I don't know what they were trying to do, but they were actually helping me.

CAPTION (FRED's BLOG):

Because every time TC thought about them, pictures of his illegal activities floated to the top of his mind.

CAPTION (music):

DOOM DOOM BOOM DOOM

Panel 4

Close-up of FRED taking his phone from his back pocket.

CAPTION (FRED's BLOG):

And I saw the whole scheme.

SFX (phone):

Bzzzt Bzzzt Bzzzt

CAPTION (music):

DOOM DOOM BOOM DOOM

Panel 5

FRED holds the phone to his ear, a finger in his other ear.

FRED:

What? Louder!

FROM PHONE:

I said we've drawn a blank.

CAPTION (music):

DOOM DOOM BOOM DOOM

Panel 6

In the upstairs office, SARA is speaking on the phone (to FRED -- hopefully that's obvious!)

SARA:

Any clues down there?

FROM PHONE:

Try the harbor. A boat called the Señora Azul. Its owner runs drugs into the country.

CAPTION (music):

DOOM DOOM BOOM DOOM

PAGE EIGHTEEN. Six panels.

Panel 1

The harbour at night. Wooden piers, wooden warehouse-type building. Pools of light cast by lamps on the water. And so on. Four shadowy figures (SARA, JAMES, CHI-YUN, and JESSE) move furtively between the buildings and the water's edge.

CAPTION (voice-over, continuing the last speech):

"The baby was handed over as payment for a shipment. She'll still be there, if you're fast."

Panel 2

A closer view of JAMES and SARA, slightly ahead of the other two. As they talk, they pass a narrow gap between two buildings.

SARA:

So what's your clever plan for getting on the boat?

JAMES:

I thought I might just walk up the ramp—

Panel 3

A hand emerges from the gap between two buildings, reaching for JAMES's shoulder. This is CONSTABLE PIKEY, a plain-clothes police officer (though the reader won't know that yet).

PIKEY:

Why don't—

Panel 4

PIKEY finds his arm seized and he's flying through the air as JAMES uses a judo move to throw him over his shoulder.

PIKEY:

Youuuuuuuoooaaaaa!

Panel 5

PIKEY lies on the ground, looking up at the imposing figure of JAMES standing over him. He's a young man, dressed in blue jeans, a thick jacket, and woollen hat pulled down over his ears.

JAMES:

And you are—?

VOICE (off-panel):

That's Constable Pikey, RCMP.

Panel 6

JAMES (and the others) turn to face the speaker. It's SERGEANT MILLER: older than PIKEY and similarly dressed. Behind him is a young woman, CONSTABLE LaROQUE, also dressed in warm casual clothes. LaROQUE has a pistol in her hands. MILLER appears unarmed but is showing JAMES a badge.

MILLER:

I'm Sergeant Miller, this is Constable LaRoque. And you've just assaulted a police officer, son.

JAMES (softly):

Whoops.

PAGE NINETEEN. Five panels.

Panel 1

Large panel with a view of the two groups confronting each other. From body language, it appears that JAMES and MILLER are doing the talking. We won't show their dialogue. Note that CHI-YUN is suddenly not present -- but there is a large dog sitting next to SARA. We won't draw attention to this fact; the reader can draw his own conclusion.

CAPTION (FRED's BLOG):

People just seem to trust James.

CAPTION (FRED's BLOG):

Damned if I know why. The man wears a mask, for God's sake!

CAPTION (FRED's BLOG):

Yet he manages to appear so open and trustworthy.

Panel 2

Closer view of JAMES and MILLER's conversation.

JAMES:

No, I don't have admissible evidence. I just know.

MILLER:

Son, I know they're smuggling drugs. But we need a solid reason to get a search warrant. That's the way we do things in Canada.

CAPTION (FRED's BLOG):

Sometimes I can almost believe the honesty is genuine.

Panel 3

JAMES begins to walk away from the group. CHI-YUN-DOG walks at his side.

JAMES:

Of course, you need a warrant. Or probable cause, right?

CAPTION (FRED's BLOG):

But in reality he's always working an angle. His honesty is his weapon.

Panel 4

The young cop, PIKEY, starts after JAMES.

PIKEY:

Hey! What do you think—?

JAMES:

I mean, if you see a crime in progress you will have to act?

CAPTION (FRED's BLOG):

He's the most devious, conniving, scheming, honest man I've ever met.

Panel 5

MILLER grabs PIKEY's arm to hold him back.

MILLER:

Hold on, son. Let him run with this.

CAPTION (FRED's BLOG):

And I don't understand how he gets away with it.

PAGE TWENTY. Five panels.

Panel 1

We now see, from a distance, JAMES approaching a boat tied up to a pier. It's not a big boat -- a motor-yacht big enough for a couple of cabins below deck. Slightly ahead of JAMES, CHI-YUN (in DOG form) leaps from the pier onto the yacht.

No dialogue.

Panel 2

A closer view, as JAMES watches CHI-YUN-DOG disappear through the hatch leading below deck.

No dialogue.

Panel 3

Same view. JAMES watches the empty deck.

CHI-YUN-DOG (below deck):

Woof! Woof! Woof!

VOICE (below deck):

Scram you lousy dog! Vamoose!

Panel 4

JAMES now jumps nimbly onto the deck.

CHI-YUN-DOG (below deck):

Woof! Woof!

BABY (below deck):

Waaaaaaaaaaaaaaa

Panel 5

JAMES stands looking through the hatch into the below-deck area.

BABY (below deck):

Waaaaaaaaaaaaaaa

CHI-YUN-DOG (below deck):

Woof! Woof!

JAMES:

I must apologise for my dog ... oh, what are you doing with that—

PAGE TWENTY-ONE. Five panels.

Panel 1

Back on dry land, the RCMP officers look at each other.

SFX (off-panel):

Bang!

LaROQUE:

Gun?

MILLER:

Crime in progress! Come on!

Panel 2

SARA and JESSE, now left alone, look at each other in disbelief.

MILLER (off-panel):

Police! Drop your weapon and step off the boat!

SARA:

Do you believe what just happened?

JESSE:

The Lord does move in mysterious ways.

Panel 3

Looking down the pier from JESSE and SARA's POV we see the three cops boarding the boat, guns drawn. There is no sign of JAMES or CHI-YUN.

SARA:

I'm supposed to be the lucky one!

JESSE:

James isn't lucky. Just very cunning.

Panel 4

JESSE and SARA begin walking down the pier.

SARA:

Cunning. Yeah, right. He's like a bull in a china shop.

JESSE:

That's what's so cunning about it.

Panel 5

While the police officers watch, JAMES leads a man off the boat. The man looks big and surly. He's unkempt and wearing only shorts (it's night; CHI-YUN probably got him out of bed). JAMES has the man's arm twisted up behind his back to prevent him getting away. Behind him, CHI-YUN (in human form) carries a small baby wrapped in a blanket.

No dialogue.

PAGE TWENTY-TWO. Six panels.

Panel 1

Back in the TROLL CLUB, FRED still watches TC. TC is currently talking on the phone.

CAPTION (FRED's BLOG):

It was a couple more hours, after midnight, before anything new happened.

CAPTION (music):

DOOM DOOM BOOM DOOM

Panel 2

TC is standing, phone call over. One of the women sitting with him seems to be trying to hang on his arm and he has roughly shaken her off.

CAPTION (FRED's BLOG):

I didn't know what had gone on at the boat, but it was pretty obvious TC had been tipped off about it.

CAPTION (music):

DOOM DOOM BOOM DOOM

Panel 3

TC pushes through the crowd. FRED follows.

CAPTION (FRED's BLOG):

He was running scared. The dominant thought in his mind was to get out of town before the cops found him.

CAPTION (music):

DOOM DOOM BOOM DOOM

Panel 4

On the sidewalk outside the club. TC is climbing into one of the many taxis lining the street. FRED emerges from the club doorway.

CAPTION (FRED's BLOG):

I wasn't going to let that happen.

CAPTION (music):

DOOM DOOM BOOM DOOM

Panel 5

FRED, sprinting down the sidewalk to where we can see his motorcycle chained to something (fence, post, hydrant, whatever seems appropriate).

CAPTION (FRED's BLOG):

I don't care about drug dealers. But dealing in babies — that's another matter.

Panel 6

FRED, on his motorcycle, weaving in-and-out of traffic.

CAPTION (FRED's BLOG):

There are forces out there hunting down children. Not just the Krai. The Temple of Unity, too. And maybe others.

PAGE TWENTY-THREE. Seven panels.

Panel 1

FRED sits, stationary, on his motorbike, in a different part of the city. It's still night. From FRED's POV, we see TC running up the steps of an apartment building. TC's taxi is pulling away.

CAPTION (FRED's BLOG):

And I need to know how it all ties in.

Panel 2

Closer view of TC emerging from the building again. He's now wearing a heavy overcoat and carrying a sports bag over his shoulder. FRED is not in sight.

No dialogue.

Panel 3

As he passes an alleyway, TC looks over his shoulder: furtive, scared. He doesn't see the figure in the shadows of the alley but we can see him and the reader should be able to make out that it's FRED.

No dialogue.

Panel 4

FRED swings TC round and into the alley, slamming him into a wall.

SFX:

THUD

Panel 5

Close-up of FRED's fist hitting TC's stomach.

SFX:

WHUMP

Panel 6

Close-up of FRED's fist hitting TC's face.

SFX:

SMACK

Panel 7

TC lies crumpled on the floor, unconscious. FRED kneels next to him.

FRED:

Now let's see what you really know.

PAGE TWENTY-FOUR. Three panels.

Panel 1

A big panel, and this will be different to our "normal" portrayal of psychic powers. The panel shows FRED and TC in profile, facing each other. And between them is a montage of images, in no specific order:

TC passing something (drugs?) to a group of TROLLS.
The baby, GEMMA WEBSTER.
TC drinking with EILEEN WEBSTER (presumably in the TROLL CLUB).
The Señora Azul.
PARSIFAL (the man seen in ISSUE #7 PAGE 20).
JAMES, in full costume, as TC would have seen him in the TROLL CLUB.
HANK PHILLIPS in the TROLL CLUB.
Close-up of a packet of fine, grey powder -- TROLL DUST.

No dialogue.

Panel 2

Close-up on FRED's face, shadowed in the darkness of the alley. He looks pensive.

CAPTION (FRED's BLOG):

He knows a lot but he doesn't understand any of it. And neither do I. Yet.

Panel 3

FRED unzips the sports bag TC was carrying. TC remains motionless.

FRED:

Ok. And let's see what's important enough to take away with you.

PAGE TWENTY-FIVE. Six panels.

Panel 1

Close-up of FRED's hand as he takes out a bag of fine, grey powder -- Troll Dust.

CAPTION (FRED's BLOG):

Troll Dust. Gives you a surge of adrenaline. Users get a few minutes of superhuman strength. The power is supposedly addictive. Then your heart gives out.

FRED:

Crap—gets you killed.

Panel 2

Another bag -- this one a white powder.

FRED:

Worse crap.

Panel 3

A smaller bag, this one containing something that looks suspiciously like marijuana. There should also be a number of rolled cigarettes.

No dialogue.

Panel 4

A wider view of FRED as he tucks that last bag inside his jacket. We should see that TC is still unconscious.

FRED:

Ok then, here's what you'll do now.

Panel 5

FRED zips up TC's sports bag.

FRED:

You'll take the rest of this crap—

Panel 6

Close-up on FRED's eyes. The unconscious TC is reflected in them.

FRED:

You'll forget all about me—

PAGE TWENTY-SIX. Four panels.

Panel 1

The corridor outside EILEEN WEBSTER's apartment (seen in ISSUE #11 PAGE 12). James knocks on EILEEN's door. Behind him stand SARA and CHI-YUN. SARA holds the baby. A little further off is the detective from last issue, SERGEANT DEITEN.

CAPTION (continuing FRED's speech):

"You'll forget all about the baby—"

JAMES:

Ms. Webster, we have your daughter. She's safe.

Panel 2

The door stands open and EILEEN WEBSTER is reaching towards the baby (which SARA holds out to her), tears streaming down her face.

No dialogue.

Panel 3

JAMES and SERGEANT DEITEN shake hands while, in the background, EILEEN hugs the baby tightly.

CAPTION (continuing FRED's speech):

"You'll forget the man in the Halloween costume."

DEITEN:

You have my word, your names will stay out of the report.

JAMES:

Thank you. I wouldn't ask except—

DEITEN:

I understand. You're good kids. I don't want to add to your problems.

Panel 4

JAMES, SARA, and CHI-YUN walk away down the corridor.

SARA:

You think he'll keep our secret?

JAMES:

As much as he can. As much as his duty will allow him.

PAGE TWENTY-SEVEN. Five panels.

Panel 1

Now outside the building, they approach their SUV. JESSE is already in the driver's seat -- actually it's the PAUL persona, but there's no way (or need) to show this.

JAMES:

I'll call Fred, tell him where to meet us.

SARA:

I wonder if he found out why the baby was kidnapped.

CHI-YUN:

I think it's because she has powers like us!

Panel 2

They pause before entering the vehicle.

SARA:

Sure. What are the odds? Besides, she's a baby. How would anybody know if she had powers?

CHI-YUN:

The mother would know!

JAMES:

Implying she told that drug dealer? I refuse to believe a mother would endanger her own child like that.

Panel 3

In EILEEN WEBSTER's apartment. EILEEN is hugging the baby.

EILEEN (softly):

I'm sorry. Never again. No one else will know.

Panel 4

Baby GEMMA, still being hugged, looks over her mother's shoulder to where a potted plant sits on a side table. She reaches a hand towards the plant.

GEMMA:

Ooooo

Panel 5

And as she reaches towards it, the plant unmistakably leans towards her. She beams with simple delight. EILEEN, her back to the plant, is oblivious to this.

No dialogue.

PAGE TWENTY-EIGHT. Five panels.

Panel 1

Close-up on SARA and JAMES.

SARA:

You always believe the best of people, don't you?

JAMES:

I always look for the best in people.

Panel 2

Close-up on FRED, sitting on his motorbike. A cigarette is in his mouth (naturally) and he stares into the distance.

CAPTION (continuing JAMES's speech):

"You should try it. You might be surprised by what you find."

CAPTION (FRED's BLOG):

All my life I've known it's me against the world.

Panel 3

A wider view showing the scene FRED is observing. TC kneels on the ground in front of two bemused police officers, lifting the sports bag towards them.

CAPTION (FRED's BLOG):

Only now I'm starting to understand what that means.

Panel 4

FRED pulls away from the kerb.

CAPTION (FRED's BLOG):

Don knows it but he's tried to shield us from it.

CAPTION (FRED's BLOG):

This isn't a game. Not a heroic adventure.

Panel 5

FRED speeding down a highway.

CAPTION (FRED's BLOG):

It's a war.

CAPTION (FRED's BLOG):

And I need to make sure I'm on the right side.

Next: Dr. Smithsteen's Casebook

See also: Los Angeles Globe Headlines

Copyright © 2003, 2016 by David Meadows. All rights reserved.