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21: Samurai

This issue opens a short time after the preceding issue -- therefore everybody will wear the same clothes, etc. HARRY has been taken over by JEROME's personality between issues, as the text will hopefully make clear.

Narration in this issue is provided by JEROME and captions will be marked JEROME's JOURNAL in the text.

Some people in this issue will be speaking Japanese. Their captions should be lettered in Japanese with an English translation provided immediately underneath. Accuracy of the Japanese text in this script is not guaranteed.

PAGE ONE. One panel.

Panel 1

JEROME faces POWL THE SAMURAI in a full-page action panel. POWL looks as described when introduced on PAGE 18 OF LAST ISSUE. POWL holds two Japanese swords -- katanas, one in each hand. He is swinging one of the swords at JEROME, who is unarmed. We don't need to show any background or context for this scene -- the two fighting figures are all that matter. JEROME is dressed exactly as HARRY was in the last issue, minus the overcoat.

CAPTION (JEROME's JOURNAL):

My name is Jerome Sanders.

CAPTION (JEROME's JOURNAL):

I was born more than 300 years ago in the gardens of England.

CAPTION (JEROME's JOURNAL):

And I may die today.

PAGE TWO. Three panels.

Panel 1

JEROME, twisting, steps back and out of the way of the sweeping sword.

CAPTION (JEROME's JOURNAL):

The date is October 7th in the year of our lord two thousand and fourteen.

CAPTION (JEROME's JOURNAL):

The place is Chicago, a city in the New World.

CAPTION (JEROME's JOURNAL):

My opponent styles himself Powl the Samurai.

Panel 2

He ducks as POWL's second sword sweeps over his head.

CAPTION (JEROME's JOURNAL):

I do not know how I arrived at this place. The last memory of my real life is of returning from a voyage, to be reunited with my wife Elizabeth.

CAPTION (JEROME's JOURNAL):

Somehow, I know not how, I found myself awaking in the body of a man who claims to be my descendant — though I have no children.

CAPTION (JEROME's JOURNAL):

This has happened several times.

Panel 3

Finally, he's too slow to avoid another cut. The sword rakes across his stomach, cutting cloth and spilling blood. (It's not obvious how bad the cut is -- not deep, but we want lots of blood.)

CAPTION (JEROME's JOURNAL):

Usually in a desperate situation.

JEROME:

Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!

PAGE THREE. Four panels.

Panel 1

The interior of a big meat freezer, as seen at the end of last issue. JAMES, SARA, FRED, CHI-YUN, and JEROME are all present. Note that JAMES does not have his SHIELD. Mist comes from everybody's mouth (except CHI-YUN's), to indicate that it really is freezing in here. This can be the dominant panel on the page, to set the scene and fit a fair bit of dialogue in. This is a flashback to shortly before the preceding action, by the way, so JEROME is uninjured and still wears the overcoat HARRY wore last issue.

CAPTION (JEROME's JOURNAL):

The last time I awoke was just a short time ago. My descendant Harry had been rendered insensible, allowing me to take control of our shared body. On waking, I found myself imprisoned.

CAPTION (JEROME's JOURNAL):

But this is a fine group of friends to find oneself imprisoned with.

CHI-YUN:

This is another fine mess we've—

SARA:

Don't even say it.

JAMES:

Do you know what they did with my shield?

FRED:

I'm more concerned about what they've done to us.

CAPTION (JEROME's JOURNAL):

Although sometimes their banter might belie the fact.

Panel 2

JEROME has taken off his overcoat and drops it over SARA's shoulders.

JEROME:

Take this, Sara.

SARA:

Thanks, Jerome. But what about you?

Panel 3

JEROME looks pointedly at FRED, who zips up his leather jacket defiantly.

JEROME:

I can not stand by while a lady freezes.

FRED:

Hey, if you think I'm giving my coat to Chi-Yun you've got—

Panel 4

Close up on CHI-YUN, who is examining the door.

CHI-YUN:

It's ok, my power keeps me warm.

CAPTION (JEROME's JOURNAL):

It is a brave new world I find myself in. Sometimes I cannot understand it at all.

PAGE FOUR. Four panels.

Panel 1

Another shift of scene. It's a stretch of beach at night during a violent storm. Rain lashes down and the sea crashes and foams. Two men drag themselves out of the water and onto the beach. Actually, one man does the dragging -- the other is unconscious, maybe dead. The one still moving is, of course, JEROME. His hair is longer than we are used to but he otherwise looks much the same. (Realistically, he wouldn't look identical to his "current" body, but we need to portray him so that the readers will recognise him.) Their clothing is ragged and sodden and should look archaic, from about 300 years ago.

CAPTION (JEROME's JOURNAL):

But as a sailor I am familiar with finding myself in incomprehensible new worlds.

CAPTION:

Awa province, Japan

CAPTION:

1698

Panel 2

JEROME is on his knees in the sand with the surf behind him. His companion lies face down, not moving. In front of JEROME is a party of armed Japanese samurai. Their leader stands over JEROME and glowers down at him. This is MIYAMOTO -- he's a stern, stiff-looking elderly JAPANESE man, formally dressed (though slightly sodden now). Though his face is lined and there is grey in his hair, his bearing suggests that he is more than capable of using the katana he wears.

MIYAMOTO:

Japanese dialogue (translation below)

TRANSLATION:

Who are you? Why do you come here?

JEROME:

I have been sent by my King, William of England, to bring peaceful trade and civilization to you heathens.

Panel 3

JEROME collapses in the sand while MIYAMOTO continues to stand immobile and stare down at him.

No dialogue.

Panel 4

Same scene. JEROME lies still and MIYAMOTO regards him coldly.

MIYAMOTO:

Heathens, are we?

PAGE FIVE. Five panels.

Panel 1

The interior of a traditional Japanese home. Daylight. The room is virtually bare of furnishings. JEROME lies on a mattress on the floor, covered by a silk sheet. His eyes are open. (He's naked under the sheet, though we can't be certain of that in this panel.) MIYAMOTO stands next to the bed, watching JEROME. Behind MIYAMOTO, two JAPANESE women kneel with their heads down. All the Japanese wear traditional dress, of course. MIYAMOTO is armed.

MIYAMOTO:

Japanese dialogue (translation below)

TRANSLATION:

At last you are awake.

JEROME:

Spare me your heathen babble.

JEROME:

Spreek je Nederlands?

TRANSLATION:

Do you speak Dutch?

JEROME:

Português? Qualquer coisa civilizada?

TRANSLATION:

Portuguese? Anything civilized at all?

Panel 2

Close up on MIYAMOTO's face, which looks as though he's smelt something bad.

MIYAMOTO:

Yes, including English. I learned from your priests.

JEROME:

My crew—?

MIYAMOTO:

You were the only man to survive the storm.

MIYAMOTO:

But before we converse further, you will bathe.

Panel 3

JEROME lunges to his feet.

JEROME:

I'll be damned before I do anything so unhealth—

Panel 4

MIYAMOTO now has JEROME's wrist twisted in some kind of painful-looking hold. Despite JEROME's bigger size and well-muscled torso, he looks helpless. His free hand is trying (and failing) to grab MIYAMOTO. Yes, that does mean the sheet has fallen away, but the panel border conveniently preserves his modesty.

JEROME:

Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!

MIYAMOTO:

Our law requires that you be put to death. For sheltering a barbarian, my own life may be forfeit.

Panel 5

Close up on JEROME's face, twisted with pain.

MIYAMOTO (off-panel):

In this circumstance, I have the right to demand you smell less foul.

MIYAMOTO (off-panel):

Now what do you say to that?

JEROME:

God blast you, I'm naked and there are women present!

PAGE SIX. Four panels.

Panel 1

Back in the freezer, everybody stands around freezing (hugging themselves, rubbing their arms, etc -- except CHI-YUN).

SARA:

He calls himself Powl the Samurai. He's a mob boss.

JAMES:

How do you know that?

SARA:

My mother knows him.

JAMES:

Oh.

Panel 2

JAMES is now examining the door. FRED and CHI-YUN look on.

JAMES:

I wish I had my shield.

FRED:

Oh sure, 'cause that piece of tin could get us out of here.

CHI-YUN:

Yes, it's got the most ultimate power in the universe—

FRED:

Sure it has, Chi-Yun.

Panel 3

JEROME sits cross-legged on the floor. Behind him, FRED and CHI-YUN are still bickering.

CHI-YUN:

Really! I read it on the 'net!

FRED:

And we all know that everything you read on line is true!

Panel 4

SARA squats next to JEROME.

SARA:

Do you want your coat back?

JEROME:

Thank you, no.

SARA:

Oh. What are you doing?

PAGE SEVEN. Seven panels.

Panel 1

This is another flashback, so another complete change of scene. Daylight, outdoors, a garden somewhere in Japan. A man -- MIYAMOTO from the last flashback -- sits on the ground in front of a small tree. His sword is across his lap. His back is to our POV. JEROME, dressed in "Western" clothes (informal clothing appropriate to a 17th century European), strides across the garden towards him. Note that JEROME is unarmed.

JEROME:

Miyamoto-san! We need to talk.

Panel 2

JEROME stands next to MIYAMOTO and looks down at him. MIYAMOTO continues to regard the tree.

JEROME:

I need to discuss obtaining a ship. So that I may carry trade back to England.

JEROME:

Make money for us both!

MIYAMOTO:

Sit, Jerome-san.

Panel 3

JEROME is now sitting next to MIYAMOTO, looking at him. MIYAMOTO doesn't takes his eyes off the tree.

JEROME:

When—

MIYAMOTO:

Wait.

Panel 4

They both sit and look at the tree.

No dialogue.

Panel 5

They both sit and look at the tree.

No dialogue.

Panel 6

JEROME turns to MIYAMOTO

JEROME:

What are we doing?

MIYAMOTO:

We are watching the tree grow.

Panel 7

JEROME strides away, towards our POV, his face angry. Behind him, MIYAMOTO watches the tree grow.

No dialogue.

PAGE EIGHT. Four panels.

Panel 1

Back to "now": SARA and JEROME.

JEROME:

Exercising patience.

SARA:

Ohh-kayyy...

Panel 2

SARA wanders over to where CHI-YUN, JAMES, and FRED are standing by the door. She's blowing on her fingers.

SARA:

Anyone got any kind of non-Zen plan?

CHI-YUN:

If I get as strong as I can, I might kick it down—

JAMES:

—And make so much noise that the guards will be all over us even if we do get out.

CHI-YUN:

Well—it's a plan!

Panel 3

FRED places his hands flat against the wall next to the door.

FRED:

Ok, I'm gonna get us out now. Get ready.

Panel 4

The other three look at him.

CHI-YUN:

Cool!

CHI-YUN (softly):

Pun not intended.

JAMES:

How?

SARA:

And why wait so long?

PAGE NINE. Five panels.

Panel 1

Close up on FRED's face.

FRED:

I had to wait until there was only one man outside the door.

Panel 2

And an even closer view of just his eyes -- with a man reflected in them.

FRED:

And he's gonna let us out.

Panel 3

Wider view, again showing the others watching FRED concentrate on his task.

CHI-YUN:

I saw this on Star Trek once—

SARA:

Shh!

Panel 4

Outside, a man stands alone outside the door to the cold room. He's armed with a small SMG (most likely an Ingram, MAC-11) and is lounging against the wall, not very alert. Of course, it's the man reflected in FRED's eyes.

No dialogue.

Panel 5

Suddenly the man is alert, upright, eyes wide open.

No dialogue.

PAGE TEN. Five panels.

Panel 1

The guard goes to the freezer door and begins pulling back the bolts.

SFX (bolt):

Ka-Chunk

Panel 2

The door begins to swing open --

No dialogue.

Panel 3

--And FRED's fist comes through the ajar door and punches the guard on the chin.

SFX:

THUMP

Panel 4

Now they are all outside in the empty guard room. JAMES is lowering the unconscious guard to the floor.

JAMES:

You didn't have to hit him.

Panel 5

Close up on FRED, who is squeezing his temples.

FRED:

You know how hard it is to control someone like that?

PAGE ELEVEN. Four panels.

Panel 1

JAMES stands next to a door which is slightly ajar and looks through it. The others crowd behind.

JAMES:

We need to find my shield, the stolen prototype—

FRED:

Not necessarily in that order.

JAMES:

—then find a way out.

FRED:

Gee, what a clever plan.

Panel 2

JAMES has stepped away from the door and confronts FRED, slightly irked.

JAMES:

If you have a better plan—

FRED:

You mean a better plan than stating the blindingly obvious?

Panel 3

While this is going on, JEROME slips through the door.

CAPTION (JEROME's JOURNAL):

Leadership cannot just be assumed. It has to be earned. When I was awarded my first ship, I quickly learned that a crew which respects you responds better than one which hates or fears you.

CAPTION (JEROME's JOURNAL):

I also learned that the best way to lead is by example.

Panel 4

Back in the room, FRED and JAMES are still facing off. SARA and CHI-YUN look at the door.

CHI-YUN:

Guys—

SARA:

—Jerome's gone.

PAGE TWELVE. Four panels.

Panel 1

JEROME is elsewhere in the building. He's at the end of a long corridor, facing a door. His hand is reaching for the door handle --

No dialogue.

Panel 2

-- when it suddenly opens. JEROME (still standing with his hand outstretched) now faces another guard, dressed similarly to the last one and carrying a similar weapon.

No dialogue.

Panel 3

JEROME has the man in some kind of clever joint lock -- the hand which holds his gun is twisted round, arm straight out, and the man is bent double.

GUARD:

Aaaaaaaa!

Panel 4

Still locking the arm, JEROME kicks the guard in the face.

SFX:

CRUNCH

PAGE THIRTEEN. Three panels.

Panel 1

Big panel, showing the room that JEROME is now looking into. There are five other men in here. It looks like the rent-a-thug social club. Three are sitting at a table playing cards, one is on a couch in front of a TV, one is pouring himself coffee. All have guns nearby. And all are looking at JEROME. Who stands in the doorway, the unconscious guard at his feet. (Note that there is a second exit from the room but it is not necessary to show it in this panel.)

VOICE FROM TV:

—And now in the second round of this title fight things are looking grim for the challenger—

Panel 2

Close up on JEROME, looking remarkably calm.

JEROME:

Would you fellows consider surrendering?

Panel 3

Close up on one of the thugs, reaching for his gun.

THUG:

Get 'im!

PAGE FOURTEEN. Five panels.

Panel 1

A scene cut to a different room -- a small, empty room with JAMES's SHIELD in plain view on a bench. Plus a stack of phones (because you wouldn't lock someone up and let them keep their phones, would you?). The door to this room is closed.

VOICE (though door):

I'll try this one.

Panel 2

The door opens and SARA's head pokes in.

SARA:

Found them!

Panel 3

JAMES, SARA, FRED, and CHI-YUN are in the room. JAMES slides his left forearm through the straps of his shield. SARA and FRED pick up phones.

JAMES:

I hope Jerome is—

SFX:

SMASH

SFX:

THUD

SFX:

CRASH

SFX:

BANG! BANG! BANG!

SFX:

KER-SMAK!!!

Panel 4

They all look at each other.

SARA:

—Keeping the guards busy?

JAMES:

Come on!

Panel 5

They are charging down a corridor, probably JAMES and SARA in the lead, FRED and CHI-YUN bringing up the rear.

No dialogue.

PAGE FIFTEEN. Three panels.

Panel 1

Back in the "guard room", JEROME now stands alone. The card table is smashed, the TV is smoking on the floor, and all the guards are lying around in various painful poses, obviously unconscious.

CAPTION (JEROME's JOURNAL):

This will have summoned other guards, which is unfortunate. But mayhap the diversion will allow my friends to escape.

Panel 2

JEROME has opened another door and is standing in the doorway, looking into another much larger room (a warehouse space or something). We'll show this from a POV over his shoulder, so we can see what he sees: another group of guards (about eight, or as many as the panel can comfortably show), all armed and all pointing weapons at him. In the centre of the group is POWL THE SAMURAI, exactly as we saw him on the opening pages. His twin swords are sheathed at his side. Make this a pretty big panel so POWL looks imposing.

POWL:

Leaving so soon? I'm afraid I can't allow that.

POWL:

The young people with you are very valuable to me.

Panel 3

Close up on JEROME.

JEROME:

They are under my protection.

PAGE SIXTEEN. Five panels.

Panel 1

A close-up on POWL. His face is impassive.

POWL:

I can use a man like you, good in a fight. Join me and I will make it worth your while.

Panel 2

Close on JEROME, equally impassive.

JEROME:

I must decline your offer. I already have an allegiance.

Panel 3

Now a profile view of the two of them, face-to-face (this is probably a "false" perspective, to show both of them on the same panel when they are actually several yards apart).

POWL:

To who?

JEROME:

To my friends.

POWL:

Friendship? A weak bond.

JEROME:

Not to me.

POWL:

Every man has a price.

JEROME:

Not I.

Panel 4

A wide view of the room again, showing JEROME vastly outnumbered by POWL's armed men.

JEROME:

And now you will let my friends go or suffer the consequences.

Panel 5

Full-on view of POWL (showing some of his men behind him). He is drawing his swords.

SFX (swords):

shhhhhhhhh

POWL:

Fool. Prepare to die.

PAGE SEVENTEEN. Five panels.

Panel 1

Now we go back to PAGE 2 PANEL 3, with POWL cutting JEROME. In fact, this should be an identical panel (though smaller). The sword rakes across JEROME's stomach, cutting cloth and spilling blood.

JEROME:

Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!

Panel 2

A sudden cut to an idyllic outdoor scene in Japan. JEROME and MIYAMOTO walk side by side, in conversation. They are alone. They should be approaching some trees or bushes or something from which an ambush could be sprung. MIYAMOTO is armed, naturally. JEROME wears a Japanese kimono but is unarmed.

No dialogue

Panel 3

Now, suddenly, JEROME and MIYAMOTO are surrounded by three Japanese men, all with drawn swords. And ahead of them stands a European. He's big, muscular, bearded, and dressed in European clothing (of the period). A pistol is stuck through his waistband. This is ALLDAY.

JEROME:

Allday!

ALLDAY:

Good morning, Captain!

Panel 4

JEROME is now standing face-to face with ALLDAY and they are gripping each other's hands and grinning. In the background, MIYAMOTO is still surrounded by the three armed men.

ALLDAY:

You've gone native, eh, Captain?

JEROME:

You devil, you survived the wreck!

ALLDAY:

Aye, and made a good deal with these monkeys, too.

Panel 5

JEROME has now backed off a step and looks worried. ALLDAY, grim now, gestures at MIYAMOTO.

JEROME:

What do you mean?

ALLDAY:

This man's rival in the next province. He's promised us a ship and a hold full of silver if we supply him with guns for a little war he has planned.

JEROME:

But I have—

PAGE EIGHTEEN. Five panels.

Panel 1

ALLDAY levels his pistol at MIYAMOTO. MIYAMOTO is several yards away, and surrounded by drawn swords of course, so there's no way he's going to save himself. His demeanour, however, is unperturbed. JEROME, on the other hand, looks shocked.

ALLDAY:

The condition is that we eliminate his rival. No great loss, eh, Captain?

ALLDAY:

Say oh nara, Jap—

Panel 2

JEROME has thrown himself at ALLDAY and grabbed his gun arm. (This panel is a close-up of the two of them, we can't see what the Japanese are doing.)

JEROME:

No!

ALLDAY:

Captain! What?

Panel 3

Now a very close-up of them while they wrestle. The gun is between their bodies.

JEROME:

I won't stand by while an honourable man is murdered!

ALLDAY:

They're heathens!

Panel 4

They are still grappling when the gun goes off -- but it's still between their bodies so we can't see who has been shot!

SFX:

BANG

ALLDAY:

You're a fool, Sanders.

Panel 5

ALLDAY falls to the floor (still holding the smoking gun) as JEROME watches impassively. We still can't see the Japanese but there are sound-effects from their direction.

SFX (off-panel):

shhhhhhhh!

SFX (off-panel):

shhhhhhhh!

SFX (off-panel):

shhhhhhhh!

SFX (off-panel):

THUD

SFX (off-panel):

THUD

SFX (off-panel):

THUD

PAGE NINETEEN. Four panels.

Panel 1

JEROME turns to MIYAMOTO. We can now see that MIYAMOTO stands alone, bloody sword in his hand, with three bodies at his feet.

MIYAMOTO:

You would kill your countryman to save a stranger?

JEROME:

In the name of justice, yes.

Panel 2

MIYAMOTO bows to JEROME.

MIYAMOTO:

I have misjudged you. How may I repay this debt?

Panel 3

Close-up on JEROME's face.

JEROME:

Teach me how you fight.

Panel 4

Back to the present, as we can tell from JEROME's clothes. He's still facing POWL. The front of his shirt is red with blood. POWL has his sword held high, bringing it down to slice JEROME in two.

No dialogue

PAGE TWENTY. Seven panels.

Panel 1

Close-up on JEROME's head and shoulders as the sword comes down. He has clapped his hands together, one on each side of the blade, halting its downward stroke!

No dialogue

Panel 2

JEROME has twisted his body and pulled the sword out of POWL's grip.

No dialogue

Panel 3

JEROME and POWL face each other. Each now has one sword (JEROME has turned his so he's holding it by the handle instead of by the blade). POWL's eyes are wide with shock (or maybe fear?)

POWL:

Who are you?

JEROME:

My name is Jerome Sanders.

Panel 4

Their blades clash once.

CAPTION (JEROME's JOURNAL):

Subject of his majesty King William.

Panel 5

Twice.

CAPTION (JEROME's JOURNAL):

Student of Miyamoto-san.

Panel 6

Three times.

CAPTION (JEROME's JOURNAL):

Soldier. Sailor. Adventurer.

Panel 7

And JEROME's sword slides deep into POWL's body.

CAPTION (JEROME's JOURNAL):

Samurai.

PAGE TWENTY-ONE. Five panels.

Panel 1

POWL lies on the floor. JEROME, covered in blood but still holding his (blood-stained) sword confronts the armed men. (We shouldn't be able to see the door behind him at the moment.)

JEROME:

Who is next?

SARA (off-panel):

And I should warn you, he's got you outnumbered one-to-eight.

Panel 2

The armed men look at one another...

No dialogue

Panel 3

...And turn and run from the room.

No dialogue

Panel 4

JEROME has sunk to his knees. Still gripping the sword. SARA is on her knees next to him.

SARA:

Oh my god, Jerome, you've got to stop doing this.

JEROME:

I will live.

JEROME:

And so will Powl. I did not use a killing stroke.

Panel 5

A wider panel, showing that JAMES, FRED, and CHI-YUN have entered the room.

JAMES:

I'll call 911.

FRED:

We've got to get out of here. Before the cops arrive.

CHI-YUN:

I can carry Jerome.

PAGE TWENTY-TWO. Five panels.

Panel 1

The group emerges from the factory, into dark streets. CHI-YUN is carrying JEROME in her arms. (She's wearing a white "nurse" uniform, complete with little cap.) In front of them, barring their path, stands a shadowy shape -- unmistakably KNIGHT OWL. He carries a small aluminimum case.

FRED:

Not this again.

Panel 2

From KNIGHT OWL's POV we see JAMES and SARA move to stand protectively in front of CHI-YUN.

JAMES:

I intend to get my friend some medical attention. You don't want to get in my way.

FRED:

We don't have time for this.

Panel 3

KNIGHT OWL casually throws the case towards them.

KNIGHT OWL:

He's right, you don't have time. Cops will be here in five minutes and you can't afford publicity.

KNIGHT OWL:

Here's the tech that Powl stole. Get it and your friend out of here.

Panel 4

As SARA catches the case, KNIGHT OWL rises on a blast of smoke and flame from his jet pack.

SARA:

Who are

SFX:

Woooooooooooooooooooooosh

Panel 5

A final view of the our heroes' backs as they walk away from us.

SARA:

Who was that?

FRED:

I have a feeling we'll find out.

CHI-YUN:

Is that a feeling feeling or just a feeling?

JAMES:

Chi-Yun...

CHI-YUN:

What? What?

JAMES:

Let's just go home.

Next issue: Once Upon a Time in Los Angeles

Copyright © 2004, 2018 by David Meadows. All rights reserved.