The Death and Life of Bruce Wayne

I’ve always wanted to write a Batman story and so I’ve started.  The central conceit of the story is that with my version of Batman, he suffers from split personality disorder and that the Batman personality has suppressed the Bruce Wayne personality for so long that Bruce Wayne is effectively dead. And now, Batman faces a new vigilante who has come to Gotham, one who is at least his equal in every way and superior in some. Is this new hero a villain in disguise, or an existential threat to Batman’s reason for being? With Bruce Wayne dead, will being without purpose finish the Batman? What will come out of the wreckage?

I present to you the script for roughly the first half of issue 1.

Page 1 (3 Panels)

Panel 1 Full Page shot of Batman crouched on a building
gargoyle peering through a pair of high tech night vision
binoculars.

Caption Gotham City after midnight, when the worst of
the worst crawl out of their holes…

BATMAN
(Thinking)
Looks like they’re almost done
unloading, but where is Two-Face?

Panel 2 Inset shot of startled men who were offloading an
armored car from the perspective of Batman’s optics.

SFX
(Sound Effect)
CRASH

BATMAN
(Thinking)
Unexpected.

Panel 3 Inset of Batman touching the right ear of his
cowl.

BATMAN
Batman to Robin, status report.

DAMIEN WAYNE
(Over Radio)
Still observing the side entrance,
but I know what this is about, and
no, I didn’t move prematurely.

Page 2 (4 Panels)

Panel 1 Quarter Page Closeup of Batman squinting over his
lowered binoculars.

BATMAN
I don’t like it, Robin. Sit tight
and observe. We need to figure out
what’s going on now, before we
move.

DAMIEN WAYNE
(Over Radio)
Sure thing, boss.

Panel 2 Quarter Page Over the shoulder shot of Batman
viewing the street below, with large numbers of GCPD squad
cars coming towards him.

BATMAN
Robin, GCPD inbound. They could be
heading into some kind of trap.
Intercept and stop them.

DAMIEN WAYNE
(Over Radio)
Batman, you better get over here…

Panel 3 Bottom Left Thin inset of the grappling gun
firing.

Panel 4 Remainder of bottom of page shot of Batman
swinging around the building.

Page 3 (3 panels)

Panel 1 Half page aerial shot of ground beneath Batman.
Two-Face is shackled and sitting on top of a military
grade weapons crate. Several more of Two-Face’s men are
shackled together in groups of 4, their backs to each
other. Robin is standing there, staring at Two-Face.

Panel 2 Quarter Page of Batman landing next to Robin

BATMAN
Robin, I told you to…

Panel 3 Quarter Page shot of Batman, Robin, and a battered
and bloody Two-Face together.

DAMIEN WAYNE
Save it. I didn’t do any of this.

TWO-FACE
He sure didn’t, Bats. At first I
thought it was you, but couldn’t
have been. Moved too fast, like it
was you, 15 years ago.

Page 4 (5 Panels)

Panel 1 Quarter Page shot of Batman, Robin and Two-Face
from a different angle than before.

TWO-FACE
Faster than you, hit harder than
you, but shared your flair for
theatrics. Smoke bombs, guys
disappear into thin air, guys being
hung upside down by their ankles,
the works.

TWO-FACE
Hehe, looks like somebody’s
muscling in on your justice
business. Ain’t that rich.

Panel 2 Quarter Page shot of Batman and Robin

DAMIEN WAYNE
He’s not wrong. I got him on
camera. He dropped off the weapons
crate, and Dent and his boys before
grappling out.

DAMIEN WAYNE
His exit was exactly like yours in
every respect, but he’s certainly a
lot stronger than you. Look…

Panel 3 1/3rd width shot of a video display built into the
top of Robin’s binoculars showing a figure in all black,
no cape, with Dent slung over his shoulder, dragging the
weapons crate with his other arm, and a line strapped to
his back by which he’s dragging a cluster of 4 of Harvey’s
goons behind him.

Panel 4 1/3rd width shot of figure grappling away from a
now seated Two-Face.

Panel 5 1/3rd width shot looking up at Batman from Robin’s
screen’s perspective, Batman awash in the screen’s glow.

BATMAN
Hmm… possible unknown metahuman?

Page 5 (3 Panels)

Panel 1 Half page wide panel of GCPD showing up and
getting out of their squad cars.

Panel 2 Quarter page crane shot of Jim Gordon walking up
to Batman, Robin, and Two-Face.

JIM GORDON
Nice work as always, Batman. We can
take it from here.

Panel 3 Quarter page shot over Batman’s shoulder looking
at Commissioner Gordon.

BATMAN
I didn’t do this one, Jim.

JIM GORDON
What?!

BATMAN
We’ve gotta talk.

Page 6 (4 Panels)

Panel 1 Quarter page shot of Batman over Jim Gordon’s
shoulder. Second bubble can overlap into Panel 2.

BATMAN
Robin caught him on camera. He was
here before we arrived. Took out
Two-Face and his henchman by
himself faster than Robin and I
could have done it together.

BATMAN
Strong, too. Carried Harvey on one
shoulder, the weapons crate with
the other arm and dead dragged 4
full grown men before grappling
away.

Panel 2 Quarter page closeup of Gordon looking thoughtful.

JIM GORDON
You’re thinking metahuman? If it is
he’s an unknown.  Should we contact
Star Labs?

Panel 3 Quarter page closeup of Batman looking determined.

BATMAN
Hold off on involving them. We
don’t really know enough about this
guy right now. Give me some time
and I’ll track him down and figure
out what his game is.

Panel 4 Quarter page aerial shot of Batman grappling away
from Gordon.

JIM GORDON
Be careful, Batman.

Page 7 (2 panels)

Panel 1 Half page wide shot of the Bat Cave. Batmobile is
on the rotating platform far right foreground. Center is a
cowl-less Batman, in his handsome but graying Bruce Wayne
guise, sitting at the Bat Computer with the image of the
mystery figure’s display of strength up on screen. Upper
left we see Damian Wayne in civilian attire walking up the
stairs towards Wayne Manor. Far left, at the base of the
stairs we see Alfred carrying a tray with a domed cover
over a dish and a coffee pot and cup.

Panel 2 Half page wide shot, bracketing Alfred setting the
tray next to Batman on the Bat Computer console with Bruce
staring at the screen, lost in thought.

ALFRED PENNYWORTH
Who’s the chap who shares your
extreme Gothic fashion sense,
Master Bruce?

BATMAN
I don’t know, Alfred. This is the
first we’ve seen of him, and he
could have cost us the collar on
Two-Face.

Page 8 (4 panels)

Panel 1 Quarter page shot of Batman typing at the Bat
Computer.

BATMAN
I’m cross referencing the physical
attributes and estimated strength
levels of this person across all
metahumans cataloged over the last
year by Star Labs to see if he is
really unknown.

BATMAN
I’m also getting in touch with my
contacts in Asia and seeing if the
League of Assassins has trained any
new members recently possessing
great physical strength.

Panel 2 Quarter page shot looking up at Alfred from over
Batman’s shoulder. Alfred has removed the domed cover for
the dish, revealing club sandwich and fries.

ALFRED PENNYWORTH
Are you saying this person is an
Assassin?

BATMAN
He fights like me, and he would
have had to have years of very
specialized training. Training the
League could provide.

Panel 3 Quarter page shot of Alfred pouring coffee for
Batman.

ALFRED PENNYWORTH
Stronger than you, and trained like
you. Sounds like this could be a
big problem for you.

BATMAN
(Off Screen)
I need to figure out his game
before I can stop it.

Panel 4 Quarter page shot of Batman sipping his coffee and
Alfred leaning up against the console of the Bat Computer

ALFRED PENNYWORTH
Stop it? I was merely insinuating
he would cut into your revenge
business. What makes you think he
has nefarious designs?

BATMAN
It’s justice, Alfred, not revenge.
And if you didn’t know me and I
suddenly showed up in your
neighborhood you’d be cautious too.

Page 9 (3 panels)

Panel 1 Quarter page shot of Alfred with the seated Batman
in the foreground.

ALFRED PENNYWORTH
Will there be anything else before
I retire, Master Bruce?

BATMAN
No thank you, Alfred. Goodnight.

Panel 2 Quarter page shot from over the seated Batman’s
shoulder as Alfred makes his way to the foot of the
stairs.

ALFRED PENNYWORTH
Leave the dishes, I’ll tidy up in
the morning.

Panel 3 Half page wide shot of the Bat Cave, Alfred is
dimly lit climbing the stairs back to Wayne Manor, the
rest of the Bat Cave is dark save a spotlight on Batman,
hard at work on the Bat Computer.

Page 10 (3 panels, two page spread)

Panel 1 Two page spread of the exterior of Wayne Manor,
with Batman as Bruce Wayne and Damien Wayne sitting down
for breakfast on the veranda at an umbrella covered table.
Alfred is placing plates on the table. Damien is busy with
a tablet device.

ALFRED PENNYWORTH
I found the dishes in the drying
rack, Master Bruce. Totally
unnecessary, but thank you.

BATMAN
It’s only considerate.

DAMIEN WAYNE
Hey Bruce, looks like our friend
was busy last night. Check out this
article from the Gotham City
Gazette website.

Panel 2 Closeup Inset lower left of Damien’s tablet.
Headline reads “Mystery Vigilante Responsible for the
Arrests of Three of Batman’s ‘Rogue’s Gallery'”

DAMIEN WAYNE
(Off Screen)
After he grabbed Two-Face he
apparently nabbed Penguin and
Scarecrow exchanging Fear Toxin for
cash and weapons.

Panel 3 Closeup inset of Batman, in his Bruce guise, his
eyes narrowed in anger and frustration.

BATMAN
He does good work, I’ll give him
that, but that meeting wasn’t
supposed to go down until
tonight… when we were planning to
break it up.

Page 11 (Continuation of Panel 1 from previous page)

Page 12 (4 panels)

Panel 1 Quarter page shot of Batman standing up at the
table and handing a still seated Damien back his tablet
with Alfred pouring Damien some juice.

BATMAN
I have to go see Lucius. Get
opinion on this new vigilante and
his capabilities.

Panel 2 Quarter page shot of Alfred and Damian at the
table with Batman walking away in the background.

DAMIEN WAYNE
Guess that means normal patrol
tonight…

ALFRED PENNYWORTH
Speaking of normal, eat quickly.
You need to get moving or you’ll be
late for class.

Panel 3 Quarter page shot over the shoulder of Alfred
who’s peering down at the circular driveway of Wayne Manor
as a Lamborghini followed by a BMW sedan drive off.

Panel 4 Quarter page shot of a smiling Alfred outside of
Wayne Manor, climbing into a Bentley as a couple of members
of the Wayne Manor staff wave.

Page 13 (1 panel)

Panel 1 Tilt up shot from base of Wayne Tower up to the
penthouse office far in the distance.

LUCIUS FOX
(Off screen)
Good morning Bruce! I got your
e-mail this morning but I wasn’t
expecting to see you.

Page 14 (3 panels)

Panel 1 Half page wide shot of Lucius’ office. Lucius is
standing behind the desk as Bruce is walking across the
spacious office towards the guest chair in front of the
desk.

LUCIUS FOX
What brings you here this early?

BATMAN
This new vigilante has beat me to
the punch on two current cases. I
need to know how and why.

Panel 2 Quarter page medium shot of Lucius typing at his
computer terminal at his desk.

LUCIUS FOX
I already started digging into what
evidence the new guy provided to
GCPD to go with their arrest of
Harvey, like you asked. And kudos
to this guy, he’s as thorough as
you.

Panel 3 Quarter page medium shot of Lucius and Batman at
the desk, with Lucius having rotated his monitor so that
Batman could see it.

BATMAN
Do me a favor. Open the folder
labeled audio.

BATMAN
Hmm… the file sizes are the same.

Page 15 (4 panels)

Panel 1 Quarter page panel of Batman handing a small thumb
drive to Lucius.

BATMAN
Run a file compare with the audio
on this drive.

Panel 2 Closeup of Lucius, from desk height up, from
behind and to the side of his computer terminal. His face
looks puzzled.

LUCIUS FOX
Identical… even down to the
hidden watermark I built into the
save feature of the Bat Computer.

BATMAN
How could he get in?

Panel 3 Quarter page medium shot of Batman and Lucius at
the desk.

LUCIUS FOX
While the Bat Computer is one of
the most secure computers on the
planet, it’s not exactly foolproof.

BATMAN
Go on…

Panel 4 Quarter page medium shot of Batman and Lucius at
the desk from a different angle.

LUCIUS FOX
I built in a back door, in case
somebody unauthorized gained
control of the Bat Cave and somehow
directly hacked the Bat Computer.

LUCIUS FOX
It was a precaution against
disaster…

Page 16 (3 panels)

Panel 1 Quarter page medium shot of Lucius frantically
typing at the terminal.

LUCIUS FOX
I’m accessing the back door now.
There it is.  There’s a slow bleed
signal outbound from the backdoor
as we speak. Tracing the
connection.

Panel 2 Quarter page medium shot of Batman opening a
secret door in the wall of Lucius’ office.

BATMAN
I’m heading to the sub-level.

LUCIUS FOX
(Off screen)
When you get into the car, I’ll
beam the trace signal directly to
your nav unit.

Panel 3 Half page wide profile shot of Batman in full gear
in the Batmobile from inside the cockpit, his outfit awash
in myriad colored lights from all the displays, gauges,
and readouts.

LUCIUS FOX
(Over Radio)
I’ve narrowed the location of the
signal to somewhere in Old Gotham.

BATMAN
On my way.

Advertisements

Concrete: A Writing Exercise

I had one hour with the prompt to “Write about walking down a sidewalk and what you see and experience.” This is the result.

I had to get out of there. The apartment was unnaturally warm and uncomfortable, the lingering heat from our latest argument.  As usual, she retreated to our bedroom and locked the door, shutting me out both literally and figuratively. With no recourse, I threw on my jacket and walked out into the cool November night.

I skipped the elevator and took the stairs down three flights to the courtyard of the complex and took out a smoke. Pausing beneath the No Smoking sign I flicked open my zippo, not even bothering to shield the flame from the breeze.  The flame brought an angry red hue to my face as I lit the cigarette. How fitting, I mused to myself. I took a long drag and shuffled across the courtyard and out the main gate.

Hitting the street, I had two options, left or right.  Habit told me to go right, but my gut told me otherwise. Heading north towards the boulevard I became acutely aware of the sound of my boots pounding the damp pavement. The crisp “clack” of the heel, followed by the sandpaper like scraping of the soles on the weathered concrete gave an odd, percussive rhythm to my strides. I focused on the beat of my own feet, trying to let the droning cadence drown out the conversations I was having with myself. It helped briefly but was soon overpowered by the sounds of my own mind.

I played that old, familiar game with myself; coulda, woulda, shoulda. I replayed the argument over and over again, like it was my own personal Zapruder film. “Back and to the left. Back and to the left,” my mind blandly repeated in sad parody of the movie JFK. I continued to torture myself with zingers, comebacks, and points I didn’t make that would surely have won the day had I said them.

I absently hung a left onto the boulevard, pausing only to light another smoke off the nearly burned out butt of my previous one. I put my old smoke out of its misery on the side of a nearby mailbox and flicked it out into the street before shuffling onward to… where? I had no plan, no destination, no ideas…

I was aimless, rudderless, adrift in the stormy sea of my own thoughts and emotions so I decided to let their current just carry me.  I lost track of how long I’d been walking, when I was jostled out of my reverie by someone drunkenly bumping into me. They turned to apologize when we recognized each other.

“Steve?” said the other man. “God damn, it is you! I haven’t seen you in months!”

I put up my social defenses immediately, forcing a smile. “What’s going down, Roger? It has been forever.”

“No kidding! So, how are things? You disappeared right about the time you started seeing Alexis. You two still on the honeymoon?”

It was an innocent question, and I couldn’t be mad at him for it. How was he to know. But it landed. Hard. I think I visibly winced, since his face went from happy to see an old friend to “I think I just fucked up” in a split second.

“’Fraid the honeymoon is long since over on that one, buddy,” I managed to utter finally.

“Sorry to hear it, pal. Didn’t mean to poke a pain point,” Steve said remorsefully.

“Nah, man, no need to apologize. You didn’t know. And judging from your friends here, you’re out for a good time so it’s me who should apologize for being such a downer.”

Steve suddenly became aware again that he had two young women with him. He chuckled a little. “Shit, man, let me introduce you.” He motioned to the brunette on his right, “This is my friend Lisa, from work.” I reached out instinctively to shake her hand. Dead fish. “And this is Rachel, one of the bartenders from Mickey’s on 4th.” I extended my hand again. Rachel had a grip like a vice, stepping in and kissing me on each cheek.

“It’s a pleasure,” she said, with a hint of an accent. It was difficult to place but definitely European. “Steve, is it?”

The surprise wore off quickly. “That’s me!” I said with a slight laugh.

A wry smile formed on Roger’s face. “Since you seem pretty down, Stevie, why not join us for drinks? We’re on our way to our last stop on a little bar crawl and you certainly look like you can use a drink or three.”

While I could do with a few cocktails, I’m not so sure about being with people. My inner demons were fighting to keep me wallowing in my emotions. My face must have betrayed my thoughts. I felt Rachel’s hand light upon my forearm.

“C’mon Steve, it’d be fun. And we could use a change of pace from Roger’s boring conversation.”

“Hey!” Roger said with feigned indignation.

“Sure, why the hell not?” I said.

A Simple Reminder

A simple reminder. A little “1” in a red circle over my Facebook notifications.  Such a small thing… and yet powerful. It was a birthday reminder for Elizabeth Ann Feldman, the late wife of my friend Ron Feldman. She’s been… elsewhere, for a little more than two-and-a-half years and I still think of her from time to time.  Today, October 2nd, 2017, has been rather rough and this reminder came at a time when introspection was inevitable.  That said, I dug through my archives and pulled up the eulogy I wrote for Annie and took comfort in that. Introspection achieved. Below I’ve posted the text of the eulogy.

When Ron asked me to write this, I must admit I was absolutely terrified.  I’ve never had to do something like this before, and I was sorely afraid I would not do Ann justice. But Ron is a friend and I promised him I’d give it some thought and see what I could do.

I thought hard about what I would say about Ann.  I started with a simple question.  What do I know about Elizabeth Ann Feldman? At first glance I was mortified by how little I knew about her.  I knew the basics, of course.  That she was a Floridian, married to my friend Ron, had a daughter named Morgan. I knew she loved games, ran a BBS, played World of Warcraft.  But this was all surface stuff.  Where was the real Ann?

In racking my brain about this I kept searching and searching for more and suddenly came to a realization.  What I was searching for came more from my own kind of jaded perspective. I was looking for what I thought was depth of meaning but it was more looking for ulterior motives.  In my search for more meaning I missed the obvious.  In life so many people we meet have an  agenda.  They’re looking for an advantage or an angle of some kind and I found myself unconsciously searching for one in Ann.  But you can’t find something that isn’t there.

Ann was truly a genuine human being, without pretense.  With her, what you saw is what you got; a caring, happy, loving individual. A lover of animals and a kind soul.  Most importantly, it was plain for all to see that she loved her daughter and her husband with all her heart.

Ann was always there with a smile and a kind word. And while I didn’t have the pleasure of knowing Ann when she was her most vibrant, you could still see she was a luminous being possessed of great goodness and a wonderful nature despite the circumstances of her health. And her light still lingers among all who she touched.

Ron asked me to be there at the end, and for his and Ann’s sake I was.  Many of us here today were there as well.  It was a testament to both Ron and Ann that so many would choose to be there at such a difficult time.  When it came time to enter Ann’s room and see her for the last time, it was tough.  She seemed so small and delicate in that hospital bed, and I couldn’t help but notice how dark it was in that room. When the hospital chaplain asked each of us to share  our thoughts after we prayed over Ann, I struggled at first. But Ann’s light shone through in the darkness and suddenly I knew what I was going to say.

“Ann, I’m not going to say goodbye because I know we will see you again.”

I’ve never been so sure of anything in my life.  When all is said and done, and this world is ended I know that Ann will be there and we will see her again.  Vibrant and vivacious as ever she was, shining brighter and clearer than ever.

I leave you all today with the words of J.R.R. Tolkien that came to me on the night of Ann’s passing. Ann was a big fan of fantasy, and I think she’d approve.

“End? No, the journey doesn’t end here. Death is just another path, one that we all must take. The grey rain-curtain of this world rolls back, and all turns to silver glass, and then you see it. White shores, and beyond, a far green country under a swift sunrise.”

Farewell, Elizabeth Ann Feldman. Rest now, good lady, in peace and quiet comfort.   We will see you again.

 

The Tholian Assembly: A Klingon Perspective

Another Klingon Academy website bit.

Very little is known of the Tholian Assembly, other that their government is known as the Assembly and that Tholians as a species are silicon-based life-forms preferring environments deadly to all known humanoid species. The Empire’s lack of information is not unique amongst the major galactic powers. The vaunted Romulan Tal’shiar and even the efficient and effective Federation Diplomatic Service are unable to uncover anything we do not already know. The Tholians are xenophobic, isolationists to the extent that they have refused all attempts at normalized diplomatic relations with any major government. Any incursions into their space are met with swift and violent retribution until all invaders are expelled or destroyed-more often the latter.

Despite their xenophobia and isolationism, they are also opportunistic. Occasional signs of political unrest can quite often veil an armed incursion. These incursions are never full?scale and are intended to seize a small amount of territory. Yet it is unclear what the Tholians do with the territory they seize or even why they seize choose system over another, as many of their targets have scant resources and of no strategic value. Once the Assembly annexes new territory, they are defended as zealously as any other system under Tholian control.

Long-range sensor probes confirm that the core area of Tholian space is a stellar nursery, a large nebula in which new stars are forming. Planetary systems we have identified are usually very young as well, with Class C, Class F, and Class H planets on the whole, all of which incapable of supporting humanoid life. Rare expeditions returning from Tholian space have reported planets rich in mineral resources, but located within a vast territory replete with an inordinate number of subspace anomalies discovered. Until a means is found to neutralize the considerable risks presented by these unpredictable anomolies, the costs of seizing their territory far outweigh the benefits.

Tholian vessels are constructed of hyper-lineated crystalline-lattice materials. This exotic materials technology affords them extremely durable hull structures, more so even than Gorn starships. They utilize phaser-like beam weapons, and have somehow managed to duplicate (either through theft, or, less likely, their own research) Klingon heavy disruptor technology. Despite the availability of such potent weapons systems, their most formidable weapon is the Tholian Web Cannon. This technology is uniquely Tholian, and scientists from both the Klingon and Romulan Empires have been unable to determine how it is created or what specific types of energy it utilizes. The affects, however, are well documented. The most effective tactic to be used against Tholian forces-specifically when encountering their web technology-is long-range slashing attacks designed to stay well out of range of the Web generators.

The Gorn Star Kingdom: A Klingon Perspective

Another blast from the Klingon Academy past.

The Gorn Star Kingdom is yet another civilization in decline. The fire that once drove them to explore and conquer the stars has gone out in their hearts, and their society has begun to atrophy as a result. This does not, however, make them easy opponents. Though they allow their territorial holdings to whither and eventually break away from their control, any overt attempts to seize their holdings by force will still result in the awakening of their military juggernaut.

The source of their degradation is a lack of strong leadership. The Gorn King is old, so old, in fact, that he has delegated the responsibilities of running the government to several vassals at odds with each other for supremacy. Well-meaning members of his own family keep the Gorn King sheltered from the political intrigues surrounding him, but this serves only to worsen the situation. Unless a strong leader emerges from their political mire, the Gorn Star Kingdom will continue its decline if it does not tear itself apart in a civil war.

Despite the Kingdom’s political weakness, the Gorn military machine is well maintained, well disciplined, and a worthy adversary. Gorn vessels are designed for speed and survivability. Though they tend to have weaker shields than Klingon or Federation vessels, their hulls are capable of withstanding enormous amounts of punishment. Gorn vessels are equipped with a variety of weapons, many of which are based on modulated gravimetric field technology, which is a science the Gorn appear to have perfected. Through independent research, the Gorn have created homing torpedoes extraordinarily similar to Romulan designs. Gorn plasma torpedoes have a slightly higher nominal yield than Romulan medium plasma torpedos, but are less stable over time so their effective range is less. The Gorn also use their mastery of gravity in such weapons as the Quantum Carrier-wave Beam, the Gravitic Harmonic Resonance Cannon, and their Graviton Density Distortion Sphere. All of these weapons are exceedingly short ranged, but the great speed of the Gorn vessels greatly mitigates this limitation.

Because the Empire has very little contact with the Gorn Star Kingdom and their internal political strife keeps them well removed from intra-galactic affairs, they are considered a secondary enemy. However, since they do have some political ties to the United Federation of Planets, it is conceivable that they may side with the Federation in the event of a major interstellar conflict. All commanders would best keep this possibility in mind in the event of a future war.

The Romulan Star Empire: A Klingon Perspective

This is a little something I wrote 17 years ago for the Klingon Academy website.

The Romulan Star Empire was first encountered by Klingon vessels in 1600 IR, an encounter that lead to the first of many battles. Up until 1643, little was known of the Romulans, other than they are treacherous and fight dishonorably from the shadows. That changed when we entered into an alliance and technical exchange program with the Romulans. The alliance-formed as a response to the ever-burgeoning political and economic strength of the Federation-ushered in an era of relative peace between our two Empires.

We learned much from our new allies, as did they, and that has become the source of political strain on the alliance. The Romulans are a proud people who are in the same situation as we. Sorely lacking resources, they must expand or perish. Often, their need to expand has resulted in armed incursions into Klingon space. This has led to many clashes even after the alliance was formed, yet the overriding threat of the Federation has prevented the escalation of hostilities and the alliance remains tenuously intact. Their need to expand, compounded by their devious, secretive, and dishonorable nature, has led to mistrust between our two governments. Agents of Klingon Imperial Intelligence monitoring the Romulans, have recently reported the Romulans are running dangerously low on dilithium. More ominous still, the Romulan Imperial Navy has conducted numerous secret research projects in violation of the technology exchange treaty between both Empires. Imperial Intelligence has yet to discover the exact nature of these projects, but efforts to do so continue.

As with all potential enemies, analysis has been done on Romulan technology and tactics. They have similar technology to our own, including warp drive, impulse engines, transporters, and the like. They perhaps have slightly inferior warp drive capability, but is an intended result of out-dated schematics and data given to them in the technological exchange.

Particular to the Romulans is plasma torpedo technology. A very powerful seeking weapon with the considerable drawback of degraded performance at medium and long ranges. This is principally due to the torpedo steadily degrading charge after initial launch. The exact cause of this charge degradation is not entirely understood by Klingon science, and obviously not by the Romulans, otherwise this limitation would have been ameliorated by this time.

This fundamental limitation in their main weapons system has actually guided the development of Romulan starships and the tactics they employ. Because these torpedoes take a long time to arm and they are most effective at close range, the Romulans use their cloaking devices for “hit-and-run” tactics. They approach as close to an enemy as possible under cloak, decloak, then launch a volley of all their weapons, cloak again to move away and recharge. This tactic has lead to the Romulans forsaking strong shields in favor of armored hull plating since the cloaking device negates the use of shields. They also favor a high degree of maneuverability to bring their weapons to bear quickly after decloaking.

Because of the design limitations of their weapons and warships, Romulans by necessity fight without honor, they constantly hide their face from their enemies. It is generally accepted among scholars that this fundamental flaw in their warrior’s code, combined with their rapidly increasing isolationism and lack of resources, is turning this once honorable and worthy race into a devious, deceitful, and disgraceful shadow of their former selves. There are those within the Empire who believe their decadence is not merely a sign of their cultural decline, but a social contagion. This belief has fostered a growing movement to dissolve our alliance with them lest their sickness spread across the border and start to decay the moral foundations of our own Empire.

The United Federation of Planets: A Klingon Perspective

The following is a bit I wrote for the Klingon Academy Website, many, many moons ago.

The United Federation of Planets is an interstellar alliance of various planetary governments and colonies ostensibly united for social, economic, scientific, and defensive cooperation. But since its founding in the Terran year 2161 (1536 IR), the Federation has in truth been continuously on the move to subvert nearby civilizations into joining their alliance, absorb their technologies and wealth, and all the while stamping out their cultural individuality, replacing it with Federation imperialist dogma.

Membership in the Federation hinges on several requirements, such as a unified planetary government (which is easier to manipulate than a balkanized planet), and equality for all their citizens (which allows the weak and fearful to hold positions of power). Even when the world in question is not up to their membership criteria, the Federation often imposes blockades around these star systems, preventing their development by “outside influences” under the guise of their fraudulent “Prime Directive”. All the while, covert Federation operatives quietly observe these civilizations, and secretly subvert their primitive governments, paving the way for eventual assimilation into the Federation hegemony.

Federation government is made up of a Council of representatives from their member worlds, presided over by the office of the Federation President. This is their key weakness, as it renders their government inefficient and bureaucratic. Council decisions must be ratified by a majority of its membership whose disparate viewpoints rarely coincide with the best interests of the state. Further crippling governmental powers, the Federation President is rendered ineffectual by the series of “checks and balances” imposed upon this office by the Constitution of the United Federation of Planets. Subsequently, the decision-making power of the president is too limited to be effective, and the few areas within his direct influence are subject to veto by the Council. Clearly, they lack the unified leadership necessary for survival in any kind of sustained conflict.

The military authority of the UFP is Starfleet Command, which is responsible for the defense of the Federation, as well as seeking out new resources to exploit and new civilizations to undermine and control. To this end, the Federation equips Starfleet with well balanced starships, with the very latest technological advances. Federation starships are well suited to their dual roles of exploration and defense, with a good balance of speed, defensive shielding, hull strength, and offensive weaponry. However, the captains of these starships are limited with various constraints imposed upon them by the Federation Council through Starfleet Regulations. Adherence to these regulations make Starfleet commanders predictable when challenged and reluctant to fight, ultimately rendering them ineffective warriors despite the formidable tools provided them.

Because the Federation has blocked off most of the Empire’s access to resources in the Alpha Quadrant, war is inevitable. The Empire must expand into these territories if it is to survive. This coming war is what the industrial might of the Empire has prepared for throughout the past 70 years, and the Klingon people shall prevail.

The Nature of My Game…

On the evening of October 27th, 1923, in London, Oliver Barlow sits behind his enormous mahogany desk, surrounded by stacks of moldering old books.  The books, all relating to the occult, range from the ancient to quite recent but the titles all center on two basic themes; protection and binding.  The walls of the study, once covered in shelves laden with books on all manner of topics are now covered in thaumaturgic symbols, protective circles, and incantations, the ghostly shades of the shelves still visible in the grime on the wall.  The floor is a series of concentric protective pentacles inscribed in chalk, salt, and what looks to be blood.  The ceiling mirrors the floor’s arcane symbology though using ash instead of salt, punctuated by a chandelier, its clear incandescent bulbs glowing an angry orange. The books that had once been weighing down shelves to the point of bowing are stacked in a way that obviously began in an organized fashion and devolved into haphazardness.  A Victrola sits upon the desk, softly playing the strains of Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata, surrounded by a dozen clocks all ticking in perfect synch.

Finishing with one book, and obviously not having found what he was looking for, Oliver slams the tome shut and tosses it brusquely off the edge of the desk onto a growing pile on the floor.  Scanning the various stacks on his desk, Oliver selects a green leather bound tome and slides it from the center of the teetering tower and places it on his slanted reading board.  Flipping it open to the table of contents, he rapidly peruses the table until finding a promising entry.  Turning to that page he quickly begins to read.  Sweat is beading on his brow, despite the room being chill from the winter’s cold embrace. He glances at the clocks, his brow furrowing with desperate concern, bordering on terror.

“No time,” he mutters.  “There’s simply no time…”  Oliver returns to his reading, redoubling his efforts. “There must be something here.  Something I can use.”

The electric chandelier begins to flicker, causing Oliver to sit bolt upright.  It winks off, leaving the only light the two small oil lamps flanking his reading board. Suddenly the flames of the lamp flicker from orange to an icy blue, throwing the room into the colors of a moonlit night.  The chandelier sways in an unseen breeze and the bulbs wink to life, again an icy blue to match the lanterns.  The clocks all begin to strike midnight, their chimes bending and twisting what would otherwise be happy notes.  The Victrola begins to slow its playback as if its spring has unwound.  The door to the study slowly opens.

A creature of incredible darkness stands in the doorway, a living shadow.  Oil smoke given form.  Winking across its body are arcs of blue fire, and its eyes are bright stars blazing from deep sockets.  It glances at the floor and ceiling then turns its head slightly to take in the symbols on the walls.  It tilts its head quizzically.

“Oliver Barlow,” it says though it has no mouth.  “It knows its time is up.  Its contract was for ten years and a day.  What does it think it’s doing?”

Oliver slowly slides open a desk drawer. Grabbing the talisman within he stands suddenly and brandishes it towards the creature.  “Begone, daemon!  You are not welcome here!”

The creature tilts its head the other direction and shrugs slightly. “So it thinks to renege on the contract, as have all the others in the past.  Very well, Oliver Barlow.  If resistance is what it offers, it shall be referred to The Other.”

With that the smoke loses its form and evaporates as mist in the bright morning sun and the lights return to their normal color, but the mention of this mysterious “Other” left Oliver petrified.  Settling back into his chair, Oliver resumed his studies until he could no longer stay awake, passing out in his chair.


 

“The door was open, sir,” the manservant states plainly, a hint of disdain in his voice, “so I let myself in with your breakfast.  Judith will be down later with a change of clothes, a wash basin, and to take out your night soil.  Will sir be remaining in his study all day again?”

Oliver grates at Hector’s not so subtle chiding, but as the contract has expired and this “Other” has not been dealt with he could do nothing but note the slight for the future.

“Yes, Hector.  I will be remaining in my study.  Please return to your duties elsewhere in the house and return here at noon with some lunch and today’s newspaper,” Oliver says with a dismissive wave of his hand.

“Very good, sir,” Hector sniffs as he turns smartly and strides out the door.

The morning passes swiftly as Oliver returns to his research, which in turn continues to prove fruitless.  He breaks to refresh himself and change clothes when Judith arrives, still mulling over possible combinations of spells, charms, and incantations that might strengthen his defenses.  Judith closes the door of the study as she leaves, leaving Oliver alone with his books, his clocks, and the low calming strains of Chopin’s Nocturne Opus 9, Number 2.  The music relaxes Oliver’s troubled mind for a moment and he breathes deeply before plunging back into yet another medieval text on magick and sorcery.

Lost in his research, Oliver becomes aware of polite laughter and conversation coming from outside the study.  Glancing over at his clocks Oliver sees it’s just a couple of minutes until noon.

“Ah, must be Hector coming with my lunch,” Oliver thinks. “I wonder who he could be talking to, though.  I can’t make out the voice.”

The door opens up and in walks Hector, tray in hand with a plate piled high with sandwiches and a jug of beer, two pint glasses stacked neatly, upside down on the neck of the jug.  It is only when Hector shifts position to place the tray on the desk does Oliver notice the dapper gentleman standing at the doorway.

He was dressed smartly in a navy blue suit with an exquisite aquamarine silk waistcoat bedecked with a gold watch chain.  His highly polished black shoes were topped with brilliant white spats and he stood confidently, holding a straw boater hat in his hands.  Oliver blinks a couple of times, taken aback by this unannounced visitor.  Suddenly the man speaks, just before Oliver starts to say something.

“Thanks, Hector, that will be all.  You’re a good man, and say hello to that charming wife of yours and give that lovely daughter a big kiss from me,” the stranger says with a brilliant smile. Hector nods and walks proudly and with purpose out of the room, disappearing into the rest of the house.

The stranger, still in the doorway looks around the study. “Interesting decor you have here, Mr. Barlow,” the stranger says, still flashing his winsome smile.  “So, are you gonna invite me in?”

Oliver’s eyes narrow, and he reaches into his desk for the talisman he used against the creature the night before.  Stepping out from behind his desk he brandishes it again. “You are not welcome in this house, vile creature.  I command you, begone!”

The stranger gives a bemused smile and a shrug. “Looks like Forcas was not lying when he said you intend to resist.  When everyone you work with is a fair liar, you have to test everything.” Sighing, the stranger walks straight into the study, passing Oliver, and setting his hat on the table.  The room slowly turns deathly quiet as the clocks and Victrola wind down and stop.  He takes the glasses off the jug, their clinking now deafening in the eerie silence, and pours a pint of beer when he hears Oliver’s talisman clatter to the floor.

Glancing over his shoulder the stranger quips, “Pick up your jaw, Mr. Barlow.  It’s unsightly for you to just stand there with your mouth agape. You’re a smart man, Oliver.  Can I call you Oliver?” The stranger pauses for a moment but Oliver doesn’t reply. Shrugging, he pours a second pint and continues, “You humans are all alike.  Such grand potential, but such hubris.  You didn’t think ‘dark sorceries’ would work on me, did you?  I am the source of those ‘dark sorceries,’ which you obviously hadn’t put together.”

The stranger, grabbing both beers turns and offers one to Oliver. Seeing that the mage is near to collapse, the stranger places the beers on the desk and helps the stunned man back into his chair. Oliver does nothing but shuffle his feet at the strangers direction and stare, lower lip quivering in terror. Returning to the opposite side of the desk, the stranger unbuttons his suit coat and prepares to sit when he stops suddenly and stands again.

“Oh, I’ve been quite rude, haven’t I? Please allow me to introduce myself. I am, of course, Lucifer, though people these days have taken to calling me Toby or Nick for some reason.”  The Devil, smoothing out his suit, seats himself in one of the two guest chairs across from Oliver. “You should be proud, Oliver.  I’m not known for making personal calls.”

Oliver finally musters the courage to speak, stammering out a question.  “How do I know you’re truly the Devil?  How do I know you’re not just some human underling?”

“A fair question, Oliver,” Lucifer nods. “I am known as Father of Lies, after all. Perhaps my friendly form is throwing you off.”

Suddenly the stranger is a seven foot tall grotesque fly, dripping with filth. Oliver attempts to scream but is overcome by the stench of filth and decay and retches. Gathering himself, Oliver looks up and now sees a man with the head of a goat, the wings of a raven, and the naked breasts of a woman seated before him before returning to the form of a man of wealth and taste.

Straightening his tie, the Devil affects a bemused smile. “Beelzebub for the shock value and Baphomet for the familiarity.  Always a classic combination.  Sadly, these are actually not my true form, but the forms of some lieutenants of mine.” He takes on a wistful look as he pauses to consider his next statement. “People know me by many names,” he continues, “but most of those are somebody else, actually.  Asmodeus finds that quite amusing.”

“It’s that hubris thing again,” he says, waving his hand dismissively, “You demonologists are constantly yammering about summoning the Devil. I’m a very busy person and not at the beck and call of every self-styled sorcerer who can draw a circle and read an incantation.” Satan leans forward, grabs his glass and takes a slug from his beer, chuckling in mild amusement. “I swear that God gave Gutenberg the idea of the printing press not so much as to spread the Word but to make it so every pissant witch and warlock with delusions of adequacy can try calling on me. So I dispatch underlings to deal with your petty requests.  Why else would I have so many lieutenants and legions of lesser demons and devils?  But everybody assumes that they’re some all powerful wizard and have conjured up and tamed the Devil himself. It’s an assumption I’m all too fine with letting people make, though. Keeps them out of my hair.”

Lucifer takes another sip and beckons Oliver to do likewise.  The terrified man timidly reaches out and grabs the beer with both hands to steady it and takes a sip. Satan smiles.

“Excellent.  Much more civilized, wouldn’t you agree?”

The would be mage nods meekly.

“Where was I?” the Devil asks himself, looking upward. “Oh yes, summoning.  I’m going to let you in on a little secret, Oliver.  Those rules you magick types study about calling and controlling demons?  They only work on two principles; the individual power of the mage, and that the being summoned isn’t me.  I made up those rules so I have a way to get my little scamps under control should they plot against me.  Which they are always doing, by the way.  I’m so proud sometimes.”

Satan grabs a sandwich from the tray and starts to take a bite then stops short.  “I’m getting ahead of myself again.  You don’t mind if I have a couple of these, do you?  The trip from Pandemonium to here is so taxing.”

Oliver nods again.

“Very civil of you, sir,” the Devil says just before taking an enormous bite and washing it down with a swallow of beer.  “These are so good, you know?  You’re really lucky that Hector’s wife Rosalie is such a good cook.”  He takes another bite of his sandwich with relish. “Shame her marriage is so loveless, given that she dotes on Hector who returns the favor by buggering your laundress Milly’s twelve year old daughter.”

Oliver blinks in shock at the statement.  “What!?

Lucifer smiles. “Oh, don’t be so surprised, Oliver.  It’s all a part of the little game between Yahweh and I. I know what evil lurks in the heart of men, what they’re willing to do. I don’t ever make people do evil, the capacity for that is a part of the dichotomy of free will. A weakness in God’s design of humanity, one could say.  I don’t make people do evil directly, but I can see it in people’s souls.  Read the stains like Chinese fortune tellers read the tea leaves.”

Oliver’s eyes narrow slightly as if he’s mulling something over before he speaks, “You know the hearts of men and what they’ll do. Does that mean you see their future?”

“Oh, no, no, no,” the Devil shakes his head.  He takes another bite of sandwich before continuing his reply. “I see you’re still puzzled by the nature of my game. The Father set up the board and the pieces. He then set the rule of free will, which I have to follow.  He is God, after all. I can make changes to the board but, unless given permission from the Him I cannot directly move or attack the pieces because that would violate the rules. It would be so simple to just eliminate problem pieces from the board by forcing other pieces to do my evil bidding, but the Lord won’t have it that way and neither would I.”

“I see,” Oliver says. “So you can’t harm me directly. I could just walk out of here and you could do nothing?”

“Nonsense, my dear Mr. Barlow,” Lucifer laughs. “You made a contract with me, or more accurately with my representative. That contract gives me free reign to drag you kicking and screaming down to Hell and do with you as I please. But you’ll notice I didn’t make you sign any deal. You gave up your safety and your soul of your own free will.” The Devil pops the last bit of sandwich into his mouth.

Oliver reaches for the plate and grabs a sandwich for himself and offers another to Satan.

“Thank you kindly, Oliver,” the Devil says, taking a bite.  “The way I play is by seeing potential outcomes.  I see a person’s deepest nature and based on that I instantly know the likelihood of each possible reaction of the individual and then can extrapolate how the target of the reaction will respond.  Think of it like chess.  The best players know their opponent through study, gauge how they would react to various situations, and plot many moves ahead.  It’s a constant series of moves and counters. With all humanity at this given moment I’m dozens if not hundreds of moves ahead.”

“So you’re omniscient if not omnipresent, then?” Oliver asks, taking a longer and more confident swallow of beer.

“Not in the slightest. I must constantly adapt. I often come across people so set in their ways, for good or evil, that I simply discount them and leave them to their own devices unless involved directly in something I want to accomplish.  They aren’t worth the effort to monitor as they will always behave for the maximal good or evil.  Others could be swayed to one extreme or the other by minor changes in their circumstances, but they don’t have the capacity for effecting great change one way or the other by a shift in their nature.  Involving them in any of my machinations is of little overall benefit. But others can, if given a push, commit the basest of atrocities or acts of the rarest charity and noblest spirit. It is these that interest me.”

Satan finishes his sandwich and washes it down with the last of his beer before noticing Oliver’s dubious look.

“I’ll give you an example. Pontius Pilate was a typical patrician from Rome.  He viewed his appointment to govern Judea as a slap in the face, rather than a desirable position of status. Judea was literally considered the anus of the Mediterranean part of the Empire.” Lucifer places his glass on the desk and pours himself another beer. “I knew of his dissatisfaction of the position, his distaste for Judeans and their petty squabbles, and how generally bored and tired of the rebellious nature of the province he was. So in the end, I didn’t have to do anything to nudge him along in condemning the Nazarene. The greatest likelihood from the trial was that death sentence, granted only to get the Pharisees out of his hair. So an event that was assumed to be me directly making Pilate decide that way isn’t the way it happened. I did nothing and got my wish.”

“Intriguing. So how does your power as the Prince of Darkness come into play?” Oliver asks probingly.

“Ah, I was getting to that. Now, what was unlikely to happen was for Pilate to also release Barabbas who was a great agent of upheaval and chaos in that region, not to mention a personal favorite piece on the board. That required me to plant the suggestion of him as a potential candidate for the traditional prisoner release in conversation with the Pharisees, but nothing more.  They seized on that message like a spark in fine tinder and fanned it into a wildfire all on their own.”

“But it was by the death of Christ and His resurrection that the Church was founded,” Oliver says, bluntly. “Wouldn’t you consider that an overall loss?”

The Devil’s eyes flash an angry red for a moment and he winces at the mage’s jibe. “Well, like I said, I’m not omniscient or omnipresent.  And to be fair, the Church was struggling at the beginning until the Son showed himself to Saul of Tarsus and changed the game. A Divine intervention wasn’t likely so it was unplanned for. Case in point, the situation with Hector and Milly’s daughter Emily. Without direct influence from the Almighty or another unlikely source the odds are nearly 100% that Emily will hang herself from the shame of what Hector has been doing to her within a week. This is a nigh certain outcome, one of great evil, and one I don’t have to lift a finger to influence.”

Oliver retracts in revulsion.

Satan smiles gleefully.  “Just think of it, Emily dies, her mother retreats within herself and despairs, losing the will to live, her marriage falls apart and she grows old and bitter, cursing God and I both for her misfortune.  Hector, having been outed for the fiend he is by Emily’s suicide note is arrested and sent to prison where he will be promptly murdered as soon as his penchant for child buggery becomes known. Rosalie and her daughter Jessica are forever tainted for simply being related to a monster, shunned by society. And with your sudden disappearance, Rosalie and Judith both find themselves without employment.  Rosalie ends up in the poorhouse because she can’t get a decent job as nobody will hire the wife of that monster and dies penniless and brokenhearted. Jessica ends up an uneducated waif on the streets. Judith, on the other hand, gets a job cleaning for a well established business man in short order who takes her as a mistress because of her beauty, impregnates her with his bastard child, then puts her out on the street at the behest of his shrew wife, never to acknowledge the child.  Such a delicious cascade of misfortune and I just get to sit and watch it happen.”

The would be mage squirms uncomfortably in his chair, struggling to come up with some kind of reply, anything.

The glee flees from Lucifer’s face, replaced with an expression of begrudging appreciation. “But now that I have mentioned this to you, if I do not take steps to remove you from the equation the odds of this occurring are reducing slowly.”

Oliver is visibly shaken by this. “So, you torment me by telling me this knowing full well you have come to drag my soul to Hell, therefore I cannot act. You truly are a monster.”

The Devil smiles, “Flattery, while appreciated, will get you nowhere.  Of course I am a monster, but I am not also without a twisted sense of honor. Whether or not you get to act to save Emily, much less on your own lustful leanings towards your maid, Judith, is up to how you handle yourself in the next few minutes or so.  It’s been ten years and a day since your wife’s tragic death, hasn’t it, Oliver?”

Oliver’s eyes narrow, his anger stirring despite his fear. “I didn’t say I wanted her dead, you bastard.”

The Devil feigns a look of incredulity. “What?  Forcas was only giving you what you asked for in the most efficient manner possible. You made the cardinal mistake of not being specific enough. As they say, ‘The Devil is in the details.'” He takes a smooth sip from his beer.  “You wanted extraordinary wealth and my minion gave you just that.”

Oliver seethes, “But it was not what I wanted!”

“The fact that she had come into an inherited a fortune earlier that week that you didn’t know of is not my affair. It was the most expedient path to grant your request, so that was the path chosen,” the Devil said brusquely, taking on a lawyerly air.

“But you can’t act directly against the pieces! You cheated when you killed her!” Oliver screams, standing up in righteous indignation.

“I did no such thing!” the Devil shouts. “Forcas knew that to keep his schedule the driver of the delivery van would run the stop signal where your Anna always crossed at 10AM. He merely made him late with a flat tire. The delivery man is who killed Anna. We only arranged their meeting.”

Oliver stands, leaning slightly forward on the balls of his feet.  His arms are down, but away from his sides, his hands clenching into fists.

“It is regrettable that Anna died.  You married a thoughtful and kind woman, one of the ones I tended to ignore.  One who could have kept you from falling, had you let her. You know, it was out of love for you that she was waiting to the end of the week to tell you about it as a birthday surprise.”

Oliver staggers back a step and collapses into his chair. “What?” He mutters quietly.

Satan looks somber for just a moment. “Forcas asked me for advice on how to grant your request and your wife’s death seemed simplest. It wasn’t until after Forcas arranged your wife’s accident that I took a look at your files.”

Oliver sheds silent tears, his face a rictus of defeat, despair, and hatred.

Lucifer looks on Oliver almost sympathetically, “Oh, I audit deals of such magnitude as yours randomly and it was then I saw the image of your Anna’s soul. It was so bright it almost hurt to look at, but there was one small blemish. A secret, one that pained her to keep. I love secrets and couldn’t help but pry, and there it was. It was her desire to surprise you with the news of the end to your financial problems and the beginning of a fresh start and happy life together.”

Oliver begins to sob, bitterly, “I loved her more than anything, more than even my own soul. I only tried to strike this bargain to give her everything her heart desired, everything she deserved.” The realization that it was his fault she died wracks him with another spate of guilt ridden sobs.

“What she desired and deserved was you. And had you been patient, or had a tenth of the faith in Jehovah of your wife, you wouldn’t have tried the dark path and we wouldn’t be having this conversation. Human existence is filled to the brim with regrets of the what might have been. But there is still hope. I do feel you deserve some sort of consideration for how your contract was carried out, particularly since I suggested to Forcas how to fulfill it. He’s not quite that diabolical…” The Devil chuckles at his inappropriate pun before becoming serious again. “”I am going to give you an opportunity to get out of your contract, free and clear.”

Oliver raises his tear-streaked face, a look of confusion upon his face.

“I am neither kind, nor magnanimous, Oliver,” the Devil says in a soft voice. “But I am not without sympathy. I know what it’s like to have the feeling of deep, abiding love ripped from me…” The Devil turns away from Oliver for a moment, lost in reflection. “I make you this offer. This is a one time deal. If you refuse it, I will take you to Hell with me and that will be that. If you take it, you’ll be free and clear. I will release your soul back to you and you can do with it what you wish.  I’ve even given you your first chance to start redeeming yourself to Him.”

“What is your offer?” Oliver asks in a monotone voice, drained of emotion.

“Your book business will take you to Munich in early November, will it not?”

Oliver’s quizzical expression betrays his confusion. “Yes.  Yes, it will. Why?”

Lucifer produces a fountain pen and a small piece of paper and begins writing. “Book trader is a fine cover for one interested in the occult. I’m impressed by its subtlety and genius.  But, I digress. I want you to deliver a package to the leader of the Kampfbund in Munich at this address.” He reaches into his coat pocket and removes a small book and places it on the desk.

Oliver picks up the book and looks at the title. “My German is a little rusty but this says ‘Foundations of the Nineteenth Century’ by Houston Stewart Chamberlain. Certainly not a German author, though. Not with that name.” He flips open the cover and on the title page notices an inscription, again in German.  “Signed by the author, apparently.  ‘To A. Your movement is powerful and necessary. Do not let the pretenders push you out. Act swiftly for the sake of all Germany. Best of Luck, H.S. Chamberlain.” Oliver, sensing a trap, frowns, “So what’s the catch?  What’s your game?”

“You are right not to blindly trust me,” Lucifer smiles. “Suffice it to say I need to give a piece a nudge. I will not tell you more. You say yes, deal with Hector and stop Emily’s suicide, deliver the book to Munich, and work to redeem your soul from this incident with Judith at your side. You say no, I drag you to Hell, Emily kills herself, Hector is murdered in prison, Rosalie and Judith are out of a job, Rosalie and Jessica both go on to die a pauper’s death, and Judith does the same but with a bastard child around her neck.”

“That’s not much of a choice,” Oliver frowns.

“Au contraire, Monsieur Barlow,” the Devil chides. “You have options.  That the choice is difficult is not my concern. After all, there’s a reason why they call it ‘a Devil’s bargain.’ You have one minute. Yes or no.”

Oliver looks down for a moment and utters a quiet, “Yes.”


 

Please allow me to introduce myself
I’m a man of wealth and taste
I’ve been around for a long, long year
Stole many a man’s soul and faith
And I was ’round when Jesus Christ
Had his moment of doubt and pain
Made damn sure that Pilate
Washed his hands and sealed his fate
Pleased to meet you
Hope you guess my name
But what’s puzzling you
Is the nature of my game
“Sympathy For The Devil”
Jagger/Richards

 

Untitled Sci-Fi Script

My first foray into film scripting format.  I’m sure it’s terrible and a mish-mosh of different conventions.  Enjoy. – Ron

NOTE: I apologize for the formatting.  Seems WordPress doesn’t play well with the text exports from my script tool, hence the dialog is all centered rather than in indented paragraphs.


INT. HELIOS SYSTEMS CYBERNETICS LAB – DAY
WIDE: DAMAGED LAB

The HS01 cyborg that is DR. VICTOR GRANT is heavily damaged,
trying to get up from the floor.  He is being circled by
ALISTAIR CUMBERLAND who is carrying a high tech assault
weapon of some kind.  The centerpiece of the room is the 12
foot tall HS02 BROADSWORD, a massive inactive military
cyborg. The lab is showing signs of damage all over from
gunfire.  Sparks and arcing power periodically go off in the
background.

ALISTAIR
(Circling Victor like a shark)
Victor, Victor, Victor… You
aren’t a military man.  You could
never beat me.  You’ve fought the
good fight but in the end, I’ve
come out on top as I always do.

ALISTAIR shoots VICTOR again, sending him back to his knees.

ALISTAIR
But I’m not going to kill you.  The
Broadsword is.

MEDIUM TRACKING: FOCUS ALISTAIR WITH VICTOR IN FORE

VICTOR
(Laughing through the
exhaustion and pain)
Cumberland, you’re a thug.  Your
first, last, and only thought is to
get what you want through violence,
or the threat of it. You’re canny,
I give you that, but you’re not
smart.

CLOSE UP:

ALISTAIR
(Eyes narrowed at the insult)
I’m smart enough. You’ll be dead,
I’ll be in control of the
Broadsword project and filthy rich
when the contract is signed with
the Pentagon.

MEDIUM CLOSE UP:

VICTOR
(Bemused)
That’s just it. You think you’re in
control. You know nothing about the
systems. Nothing about the tech
that runs this project. Do you
think i didn’t leave any back doors
into the systems? Do you think I
didn’t put in personal failsafes?

VICTOR
(voice now icy with hate)
You never stopped to ask why my
mind is in the HS01 did you? You
wrote it off as a fluke due to your
sabotage of the mindlink system
that fried my brain, but I made the
system work this way. The wait
period I told you was attunement to
the unit being controlled is
actually a massive data copy. And
like any copy of a computer file it
can be redirected over a network.
Right, now your beloved Colonel
Glass’ mind is being copied
alright, but not where you want it.

POV: VICTOR LOOKING AT ALISTAIR

VICTOR’s viewpoint has a number of tactical and
informational heads up displays. Several are damage displays
showing the HS01 to be extremely damaged and only at about
12% operating capacity.  All ammunition displays are reading
empty. There are two progress bars labeled “Glass” and
“Grant” respectively and they are filling as VICTOR is
speaking.

VICTOR
I’ve been fighting a delaying
action. I knew I couldn’t really
beat you without an overwhelming
force advantage and I’ve been
waiting for it. And now, I have it.

The progress bars fill and VICTOR’s view goes to static for
a second.  In the upper left corner of the HUD the
CONTROLLER ID display has changed from “GRANT, VICTOR” to
“GLASS, WALTER”. The progress bars are gone.

CUT TO:

INT. HELIOS SYSTEMS CYBORG CONTROL BAY – DAY
MASTER:

In the Cyborg Control Bay, COLONEL WALTER GLASS is seated in
the reclined Controller Pod, his brain wired in and
connected, looking as if in a peaceful sleep. Various
technicians are monitoring his vitals and the attunement
progress. There is the stereotypical heart monitor sound in
the background.

ZOOM IN: COLONEL GLASS WITH STATUS DISPLAY IN FRAME

As the camera zooms in the status display shows attunement
reaching 100% and then all sorts of warnings.  Unhandled
exceptions, null reference errors, safety releases failing,
culminating with a massive “System Overload” message.
COLONEL GLASS is reacting during the warnings as if in an
increasingly terrifying nightmare as the heart monitor sound
starts becoming erratic. At the penultimate status warning a
trickle of blood starts out his nose, then when the “System
Overload” message displays his eyes fly open and he begins
screaming in terror and agony.

TECHNICIAN NUMBER 1 (O.S.)
Shit! The whole system just went
haywire!

TECHNICIAN NUMBER 2 (O.S.)
Fuck! The Colonel is crashing! He’s
in v-fib!

MEDIUM:

The technicians are scrambling to regain control of the
systems.  Several are moving to disconnect COLONEL GLASS
from the Control Pod. The heart monitor sound is deafening
and nearing a ululating screech.

TECHNICIAN NUMBER 2
(Frantically trying to hold
the convulsing Colonel down)
Somebody get him unplugged!

TECHNICIAN NUMBER 3 moves to the Controller Pod and starts
disconnecting wires.  The indentation where the Colonel’s
head is resting is smoking.

TECHNICIAN NUMBER 3
Jesus!

TECHNICIAN NUMBER 3 unhooks about half the cables when an
arc of current leaps from the indentation where the
Colonel’s head rests and knocks him down. Every monitor or
display in the lab goes red. The heart monitor is flatline.

TECHNICIAN NUMBER 3
(Rolling around clutching his
smoking shoulder where the arc
hit him)
Fuck! Fuck! Oh God this hurts!

CLOSE UP: THE NOW DEAD COLONEL GLASS

The shot is of the Colonel’s head and shoulders.  The back
of his head is charred and smoldering with a small lick of
flame like a sputtering candle.  His face shows the tell
tale forked burns of an electrocution.  His eyes are rolled
into the back of his head and his mouth open and slack, the
tounge lolling out.  Blood pumps out of his ears, nose, and
mouth and trickles out of the corner of his eys.

DISSOLVE TO:

INT. HELIOS SYSTEMS CYBERNETICS LAB – DAY
WIDE: HIGH ANGLE SHOT OF LAB CENTERED ON ALISTAIR AND HS01

The HS01 slumps forward and twitches a little while lying
face down.

ALISTAIR
(looking smug)
You were saying something about
having the advantage?

COLONEL GLASS
(Groggy voice coming from the
face down HS01)
Wha… what in the hell? Where the
hell am I?

The HS01 stirs and starts to rise up to its hands and knees.
CLOSE UP:

The HS01 raises its head and the holo generated face is that
of COLONEL GLASS.

COLONEL GLASS
(Groggily)
Last I remember I was in the
Controller Pod.

COLONEL GLASS
(with surprised confusion)
Cumberland? What are you doing
here?

MEDIUM CLOSE UP: ALISTAIR IN FOREGROUND LEFT OF CENTER FRAME

ALISTAIR
(Looking thoroughly confused)
Colonel Glass?

ALISTAIR
(Face shifts to a look of
fear)
What happened to Dr. Grant?

RACK FOCUS FROM ALISTAIR IN FORE TO HS02 IN BACKGROUND

Bits of the HS02 start moving and the distinct whine of it
powering up is heard.

WIDE:

The HS02 rises from its crouched position, cables and hoses
decoupling from it with bursts of sparks and jets of gas and
steam.

MEDIUM CLOSE UP: HS02

The visor of the HS02’s head rises up to reveal the holo
generated face of VICTOR.

PA ANNOUNCEMENT (O.S)
Alert! Alert! Chemical leak
detected. Quarantine lockdown
initiated.

MEDIUM: on HS02 (VICTOR) from behind Alistair With Colonel
Glass also in frame

ALISTAIR touches the transmit button on his earwig.

ALISTAIR
False alarm! Cancel that lockdown!
Repeat, cancel lockdown. And get
all security to the Cybernetics Bay
stat!

VICTOR steps forward causing the ground to shake. The
pistons and actuators of the HS02’s legs absorbing the shock
while ALISTAIR staggers trying to keep his feet. COLONEL
GLASS, being in the HS01 now finally rises to his feet.

VICTOR
(Calmly)
They aren’t going to hear you,
Cumberland. Helios coms are down.
And you’re right about the false
alarm. I triggered the lockdown so
you and the Colonel can’t get out.
You’re trapped in here, with me.

VICTOR
(smirking)
All your annoying ass jokes about
me being a walking computer are
painfully true now. And while you
were beating the hell out of me
I’ve been multitasking.

COLONEL GLASS
Grant, you miserable fuck, what did
you do to me?

VICTOR
Well hello, Colonel. I transfered
your mind into the the backup core
of the HS01 instead of the
Broadsword while I copied mine into
it.  It’s all very technical, but
you don’t give a shit about that as
long as it works.  Isn’t that
right?

COLONEL GLASS
Fuck you, you fucking pussy.

VICTOR
Well, for a dead man you sure talk
big.  Judging from the security
camera footage I’m seeing your body
got fried just like mine did. Get
used to that metal body for however
long you have left in it because
like me there’s no going back.

COLONEL GLASS
(With rage)
*Roar*

COLONEL GLASS charges VICTOR only to get summarily knocked
through some workstations and into a wall with a single
punch from the HS02.

VICTOR
*Scoffs*

ALISTAIR aims his high tech rifle at VICTOR and opens fire.

MEDIUM CLOSE UP: VICTOR

VICTOR turns towards ALISTAIR, the bullets ricocheting
harmlessly off the heavy armor of the HS02.

VICTOR
You think you’re actually going to
hurt me with your popgun?  I don’t
think so.

ALISTAIR (RECORDING)
(Playing from HS02 Speakers)
No, no.  Beef it up. The Broadsword
has gotta specifically defeat the
M-94. We gotta have the counter to
’em in place when we flood the
black market with ’em so we have a
built in market for the Broadsword
when we ship it.

MEDIUM: VICTOR AND ALISTAIR ON OPPOSITE SIDES OF FRAME

ALISTAIR continues firing.

VICTOR
You see, I’ve been a busy bee.  I
have copies of all the pertinent
security footage and meeting
records, the secret recordings you
made of the Colonel when you bugged
his office, and the Colonel’s
recordings of when he bugged your
office.  You guys have trust
issues, you know that?

VICTOR raises his right arm.  The 40mm grenade launcher pops
out of the forearm as the arm lifts and a green nosed
cartridge can be seen loading into it. VICTOR blasts
ALISTAIR in the chest with this sponge grenade round,
spilling him to the floor and making him gasp for breath.

VICTOR
Sit down, Cumberland, you need a
time out.

VICTOR
(Amused)
I’m so glad you kept the less than
lethal options despite what the
Colonel said. It is important to
look towards law enforcement as a
potential market.

WIDE:

VICTOR moves away from ALISTAIR and towards COLONEL GLASS
who has extricated himself from the wall and has hoisted a
workstation over his head.

COLONEL GLASS
Come and get me, Grant!

COLONEL GLASS hurls the workstation at VICTOR.

POV:VICTOR

The workstation fills the frame and the HS02’s arms can be
seen catching it and tossing it aside. As soon as the
workstation is out of the way we see COLONEL GLASS is
already in midair, wielding part of a support post as a
club.

MEDIUM:

The COLONEL’s series of blows to VICTOR cause him to stagger
back. VICTOR then manages to block the next few blows while
back pedaling.  VICTOR grabs the COLONEL’s weapon, disarming
him, then strikes him with a flat palm to the chest as well,
knocking the COLONEL back a few steps.  The COLONEL uses
standard US Army Combative stances while VICTOR is more of a
street fighter.  The fighting continues for a while with the
COLONEL holding his own but slowly losing due to size and
weight differences, or so it would seem.  ALISTAIR can be
seen in the background recovering his breath and then
crawling away towards the main door of the Cybernetics Bay.
At some point the COLONEL and VICTOR get caught up in a
clinch.

MEDIUM CLOSE UP: COLONEL GLASS

The COLONEL is struggling mightily against VICTOR.

COLONEL GLASS
You might get me, Grant, but you’ll
never get out of this.  You might
have shut down Helios, you can’t
block my coms. While you were
playing with Cumberland I called
for backup.  Special Ops troops are
already inbound. You’re dead.

MEDIUM CLOSE UP: VICTOR

VICTOR suddenly seems to develop significantly more
strength, hooking both of the COLONEL’s arms in joint holds
and raising him up putting the COLONEL on tiptoes.

VICTOR
Oh, I’m aware of that. In fact, I
planned on it.  The Broadsword
project ends today.  I’ve seeded
all the data servers and the
offsite backups to automatically
corrupt. All the laptops, desktops
and mobile devices have had their
security measures activated and
been wiped. The operating software
of all the equipment is rigged to
burn out the circuitry and melt the
eproms. There will be nothing
left.  And now that you’ve called
in the cavalry the prototypes will
both be destroyed.

VICTOR
(Deadly serious)
I just wanted you to feel like you
actually put up a fight, so when
this techy dickhead tears you apart
your shame will be just that much
deeper.

MEDIUM:

VICTOR quickly applies great pressure to the COLONEL’s
elbows, snapping them and tearing both his forearms off as
he screams. VICTOR, who has now obviously been holding back
tremendously, proceeds to viciously thrash the COLONEL who
is incapable of mounting any sort of defense.

VICTOR
I bet you wish you knew how to shut
off the damage-to-pain
algorithms. This has gotta be
hurting like hell.  Thankfully we
capped it so the pain won’t kill
you. You’d technically go into
shock if we didn’t but it’s all
psychosomatic anyway. You aren’t
actually getting hurt at all, but
try telling your brain that.

VICTOR raises the COLONEL over his head and does the
backbreaker pro wrestling move, snapping the HS01’s spine
and then lets the body slump to the floor. Digging his
fingers into the COLONEL’s damaged chest he brings him
close.

CLOSE UP: BOTH THE COLONEL AND VICTOR FACE TO FACE

VICTOR
Right now all the data, images,
recordings, and documents linking
you and Cumberland to the
misappropriation of funds, your
plans for black market sales of
controlled weapons, and the murders
of Drs. Johnson and Woo are being
uploaded to every major news outlet
in the western world. You were
always playing the flag-waving
patriot card, you son of a bitch.
Now die knowing that you’ll be
branded a traitor.

ZOOM OUT THEN TILT UP:

VICTOR drops the COLONEL to the ground as he’s kneeling over
him, then rising to standing, he brings a massive foot down
on the COLONEL’s head, stamping it out as one would do a
cigarette.