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SYMKA Issue 3

Copyright Sean McGinity ©2003

Artwork by James Pronteau

Edited by Suzanne Campbell for The Guild Companion

PAGE ONE

Panel 1.

Splash panel. Far shot, to capture the background. A strikingly beautiful woman is pushing a man in a wheelchair to a handi-transit cab. Her clothing is provocative and sexy, hinting at her profession. The man in the chair wears a scarf around his lower face, covering his mouth and nose. His eyes are barely open, and are glassy. His hands rest limply on his lap, which is covered by a blanket. His head is slumped forward somewhat. He wears a fedora on his head.

Caption: Friday, July 13th, 7 PM.

Caption: Silver: "I went into work today. I had a couple of sessions with some clients. Nothing spectacular.

Caption: "It was a boring day. Nothing that made my life as a psychiatrist worth it. Some days I just don't get the rush of helping people that I used to. Since I discovered my calling as Silver, my day-job has become tedious.

Caption: "I'll go over what I did today, so you understand what we're doing."

 

PAGE TWO

Panel 1.

Far shot. The lady is wheeling the man onto the handi-transit cab. The driver stands next to her, in conversation.

Caption: "I sedated the Hi Tech Henchmen agent Jeffrey Jones with an interesting cocktail of valium and tranquilizers, which I picked up at work. I made sure I gave him a conservative dose at first, just to gauge his tolerance level."

Panel 2.

1/4 shot of the front of the van. The lady is seated in the front passengers' seat. The driver is driving. The drugged man is seated behind them both, in view between the lady and the driver. The man's head is leaning to one side.

Caption: "His tolerance level was quite high, it turns out, so I had to increase the dosage. Considerably. When he became incoherent, he was all set. And this is where Lucie comes in, a former patient of mine.

Panel 3.

Far overhead shot of the van. It is heading towards the airport.

Caption: "I can't believe we are actually doing this." Gideon: "This isn't hurting him. Remember, this is to save his life; his handlers would probably kill him. All we did was give him a vacation."

Panel 4.

Far shot. The van is pulling in the airport area.

Caption: Silver: "You're right, I know. Okay. Lucie is a former prostitute who straightened out her life. She is entirely drug-free, and has a zest for life. She's working a regular nine-to-five job now. She comes to visit me at the hospital on occasion, and we've become friends. In fact, she knows that I lead another life as Silver. She volunteered to do this for me, to pay me back for helping her long ago. Even so, I was reluctant to agree till she convinced me she could handle it."

Panel 5.

Far shot. The van is parked at one of the entrances to the airport building. Several people are walking on the sidewalk in front of the van. The lady (Lucie) is wheeling Jeffrey Jones out of the van, onto the sidewalk. The driver is chatting with her.

Caption: "I kept Jones pumped with the drug cocktail and had Lucie take him to the airport. I had a flight to Orlando, Florida booked for two with Jones' credit card. She would get him out of the country. If she was questioned, we rehearsed what she would say."

PAGE THREE

Panel 1.

Far shot. Lucie wheels Jones through the entrance part of the airport to the counter. The airport is busy at this time of day. There should be lots of people milling about.

Caption: "She was a natural. I had Jones covered up in case he ran into any of his cohorts anywhere along the way. No one could recognize him. I left Lucie with several more doses of the cocktail to make sure Jones would not become lucid. I feel bad, Gideon. I know it was my idea, but it seems cruel to do this to a man."

Panel 2.

1/4 shot. Lucie is at the airport ticket counter picking up her airline tickets. Jones is in a wheelchair at her side, unmoving.

Caption: Gideon: "I don't think he would have willingly saved his own life. That is what this is about. This way he leaves the country. Once he comes to his senses in Florida and is away from Hi Tech Henchmen, then he can make his own decision. He is safer far away. Hi Tech Henchmen does not have an office in Florida. He can lay low there for a while, and reevaluate his life. Who knows, maybe he's been brainwashed. Maybe this will clear his head."

Panel 3.

Dale's Range Rover pulling into the Independent News parking lot. It is daytime and sunny. The sun gleams off the top of a silver luxury car parked in the visitor's spot. Dale exits his vehicle, staring at the car.

Caption: One week ago, Friday, June 6th.

Dale (thinking): Hmm. Who's visiting us today?

Panel 4.

1/4 back shot of Dale. He is walking through the Independent News offices. The receptionist is on his left answering a call. On his right, a reporter is on the phone, sitting on a desk, jotting some notes down on foolscap. Past these two is an aisle leading to Bill Bannerman's office at the end of the room. From the office, a far-off shot, Gideon's father exits. He is dressed expensively in an impeccably tailored full suit.

Dale (thinking): Who's having a closed-door meeting with Bannerman? He dresses like a man who can afford the flashy car outside.

Panel 5.

1/4 shot of Dale standing next to one of the cubicle walls, his back to the aisle. Gideon's father walks past him down the aisle. He moves elegantly, perfect posture and a cadence to his walk, almost floating. He is oblivious to Dale.

Dale (thinking): Nice suit! Who is this guy? He walks like he owns the place, but he has his nose stuck in the air like some upper-class snob.

Panel 6.

We see the upper and lower edges of a picture window. Looking through it to see Gideon's father getting in the gleaming silver car.

Dale (thinking and off-panel): Would fancy pants here be a Hi Tech Henchmen rep? I need to talk to Bannerman now!

 

PAGE FOUR

Panel 1.

Shot from behind, at an angle that we can see Bill Bannerman's face. He is sitting at his desk, and looking up from a small stack of papers in his hands. He looks a little put off, almost nervous. In the background of the panel, Dale opens the door, one hand still on the handle.

Dale: What's up, Bill? Expecting to see me?

Bill: Dale? Ah..., hello. It's... it's good to see you.

Dale: Really? I thought you might be trying to avoid me.

Bill: Is that why you just barged into my office?

Panel 2.

Same shot as last. Bill has put the papers down. Bill is agitated. Dale is leaning over Bill's desk, both hands on the table, intimidating. The door slams shut.

Dale: You promised not to air that footage, Bill, yet last night it was all over the news! We had an agreement!

Bill: And I changed my mind. We had a story to report, and you were holding back on us!

Panel 3.

Same shot as last. Dale is standing upright now, both hands in the air.

Dale: I had a story to report, Bill! You said you wanted facts and I was getting them for you! I was going to report the whole story, not just some incomplete snippet!

Panel 4.

Same shot as last. Bill is half-standing and serious. Dale is leaning back in surprise.

Bill: Dale, calm down. Now! Sit down and shut up!

Panel 5.

Swing shot of last, with a view from behind Dale this time. Dale is seated now, both arms on the arm rests of the chair. Bill is also seated again.

Bill: You have no idea what you are up against, Dale. You have no idea of the scope of your investigation. You have no idea what your investigative nature will do to this station; you're going to kill Independent News if you keep on this story!

Dale: Bill...

Bill: Let me talk, Dale! You... you owe me that much!

Panel 6.

Side shot of both men sitting across from one another. Dale is very attentive.

Bill: If we pursue this story, things will start to get very uncomfortable around here. Independent News will get buried. We will be shut down.

Bill: Dale...Dale, listen to me. You're a good reporter... and a good friend. You've done a lot for this station. That's why... I won't fire you. You have to take a vacation, get away from here for a few months. Leave me a number where I can reach you, and when this all blows over, I'll call you.

 

PAGE FIVE

Panel 1.

Full side shot. Dale is leaning back in his chair with a scornful expression. Bill is sitting straight up.

Dale: So they got to you. They threw a threat out at you and they scared you. Is that who was just here, Bill? The head of Hi Tech Henchmen?

Dale: (affecting an upper-crust accent)"Don't portray us in a bad light, Mr. Bannerman. We are fully prepared to use the full extent of the law to shut you down."

Dale: Since when have you ever backed away from a challenge from some corporation with something to hide?

Panel 2.

Opposite view from last frame. Side shot from the opposite side of the table. Dale is slouching less in the chair. There's a slight look of surprise on Dale's face.

Bill: They will kill you, Dale.

Bill: They didn't use those words. But I knew what they meant. You are uncovering something that should be kept hidden. I can't protect you from them, Dale. All I can tell you is to run. You can't win this one. The station can't win this one.

Bill: Just let this blow over, okay? Go away. Get out of here. Come back when it's all over. Get some sun, drink some pina coladas...

Panel 3.

Dale is leaning forward in his chair, a little excited.

Dale: This isn't the first time I've been threatened. It comes with the territory.

Dale: No, I am not going to let this go! This is obviously too important. And if I have to get some parahumans to help me, so be it!

Bill: Then you leave me with no choice. I have to officially let you go. Dale, you're fired.

Bill: I have a family, Dale. Maybe you don't understand what it is to have someone you love in danger. I love my family.

Panel 4.

Same shot as last. Dale is getting to his feet, pushing himself up from the chair.

Dale: I became a reporter regardless of the costs, Bill. If you won't help me with this story, I'll just have to do the story on my own.

Panel 5.

From behind Bill. Dale is at the door, holding it open, pointing a finger at Bill who is still seated.

Dale: Run your little safe news station, Bill! I won't be waiting when you beg me to come back.

Panel 6.

Shot from behind Bill. The door has slammed shut to the office. Bill holds his head in his hands, the weight of the decision squarely on his shoulders.

 

PAGE SIX

Panel 1.

3/4 shot of Stick and Joaquin. Joaquin is holding up some Kevlar to show to Stick. Stick is admiring the armor. They are at an Army Surplus type of store. There should be some camouflage jackets in the background and such.

Caption: It is a week for shopping and catching up on things. To prepare themselves, Joaquin and Stick "borrow" Jeffrey Jones' credit card to purchase some body armor for themselves.

Caption: Monday, July 9th, 7 PM.

Panel 2.

Full shot of Silver, in human form and dressed nicely in a skirt and blouse, at a car dealership, talking to a salesman in front of a jeep.

Caption: Needing transportation, Silver purchases a jeep with Jones' credit card.

Caption: Tuesday, July 10th, 3 PM.

Panel 3.

1/4 shot. Stick at a payphone.

Caption: Stick extends Jones' credit limit with the credit card company.

Caption: Tuesday, July 10th, 8 PM.

Panel 4.

Joaquin stands over an obese man who is bench-pressing a barbell. Joaquin is dressed in training gear: shorts, tank-top, and runners.

Caption: Joaquin puts in some work as a personal trainer. Herman Dukes has been training with Joaquin for two weeks.

Caption: Wednesday, July 11th, 8 AM.

Panel 5.

Full shot of Gideon sitting on the floor of Stick's apartment in a cross-legged position, eyes closed, head tilted slightly towards the ceiling. He is in meditation.

Caption: Gideon, unemployed, spends the day meditating, focusing his magic.

Caption: Wednesday, July 11th, 10 AM.

Panel 6.

1/4 shot of Stick sitting in an office cubicle, tapping away on a keyboard. He is concentrating on the screen.

Caption: Stick puts in a week of work at his office job for Delbro Computers. On his lunch break, he searches the Web for any more information he can find on Hi Tech Henchmen.

Caption: Friday, July 13th, 2 PM.

Panel 7.

Silver, wearing a doctor's white jacket, sits in a leather chair. Sitting next to her on a leather sofa, a very thin woman is crying.

Caption: Silver also goes to work as one of the psychiatrists at the hospital. She is helping an anorexic woman deal with her disease. While at work, she writes out a prescription for Valium and tranquilizers, which she will use to keep Jeffrey Jones sedated.

Caption: Friday, July 13th, 4 PM.

Panel 8.

Stick is on the phone from his cubicle at work.

Caption: The purchases they make on Jones' credit card add up and Stick raises the credit card's limit again.

Caption: Friday, July 13th, 4:30 PM.

Panel 9.

3/4 shot of Silver speaking with Lucie. Silver is still dressed in her doctor's jacket and is still at the hospital in her office.

Caption: Silver meets with Lucie to discuss her plan.

Caption: Friday, July 13th, 5 PM.

 

PAGE SEVEN

Panel 1.

Edges of panel like a computer screen. E-mail opened to read:

To: Stick

From: "Blue Moon"

Subject: Your persistence

It seems you are not willing to stop. Now you have gone too far. Your life is in danger and I cannot save you. But, if you are so insistent on pursuing your goal, perhaps I could help you. Would you like to meet me?

Panel 2.

Lucie is waiting for her ticket at the check-in counter. Jones is slumped in his wheelchair at her side. She seems impatient.

Caption: Friday, July 13th, 7:30 PM.

Caption: Silver: "We figured we should see them off at the airport. Just in case something might happen. I trust Lucie, but who knows if this would run off without a hitch."

Panel 3.

Far shot. Lucie is still at the counter with Jones. Lucie is at the far right side of the panel. To the far left side of the panel, near the airport entrance, Stick (as the blind man) and Silver (as the dog in a seeing-eye dog harness) are watching the scene. A man in an expensive suit, flanked by four armed police, enter the building hurriedly.

Caption: "We followed along in disguise. That's when things started to happen."

Panel 4.

Far shot of the man in the suit taking large strides towards the counter where Lucie is. Stick and Silver are still in the left of the panel.

Stick (in whisper text): Who's this? They're going right for your friend!

Silver (in whisper text): Calm down! She knows what to do. She and I went over this several times. We planned for this eventuality.

Panel 5.

3/4 shot. One of the officers is grabbing Lucie's arm. The suited man has a sinister look on his face.

Officer tugging at Lucie's arm (hereby referred to as Officer #1): Excuse me, ma'am. We need to talk to you and your friend.

Lucie: Excuse me?

Suited man: Where are you going?

Panel 6.

One of the officers has both hands up to hold the suited man back. The other officer is facing Lucie now. The other two officers are looking at Jones.

Officer in front of suited man (hereby called Officer #2): I said we'd handle this. Let us do our job.

Officer #1: Ma'am, we have reason to believe that you have a stolen credit card belonging to a Jeffrey Jones. Please open your wallet for us.

 

PAGE EIGHT

Panel 1.

Officer #3 and #4 are removing the hat and scarf off of Jones. Officer #2 is still trying to hold the suited man back. The suited man is looking down at Jones, while Officer #1 is still facing Lucie. Jones' face is now exposed.

Officer #3: What do we have here?

Officer #4: Isn't that Jones?

Suited man: You traitor.

Lucie: What are you doing?

Panel 2.

The suited man is pointing at Jones, who simply sits there with a glazed look on his eyes. Everyone else is staring at Jones, except for Officer #1 who still has his attention on Lucie.

Suited man: This is Jeffery Jones, our operative!

Officer #1: What is going on here? Who are you to this man, and what is wrong with him?

Panel 3.

3/4 shot. Everyone has the attention mostly focused on her, except for the suited man who is focusing on Jones (who is out of panel). She is biting her bottom lip.

Lucie: He wanted a good time before he goes... He said he wanted to leave the country and wanted company.

Lucie: He seemed very scared and depressed, and he started drinking, trying to loosen up. He was under stress from his job. He said the drink would block out some of the mojo or magic or something.

Panel 4.

3/4 shot of Stick and Silver. Stick looks anxious.

Stick: We can't let them get to her. This is too dangerous. We need to jump in.

Silver: Trust me, Stick, okay. She has it under control. The information you dug up on Jones gave me enough to figure out his profile, his habits, plus with his police records... I know how he acts and reacts. I am a psychiatrist, remember?

Panel 5.

Officer #1 is directly in front of Lucie. The suited man is right there, waiting for her explanation. Lucie is pulling out her wallet from her purse.

Caption: Silver: "Jones has a history of alcohol and drug abuse before he joined Hi Tech Henchmen. He has a criminal record.

Caption: "His marriage ended in divorce after he was caught with a prostitute."

Lucie: We... we met through a... a friend. He said he wanted some company. I was a little scared of him, because he had all these guns and things, but I started feeling sorry for him. He said he had screwed things up and wanted to start fresh, maybe move to Florida or something.

Panel 6.

3/4 shot. Officer #3 is holding Jones' face up by the chin so he can look into his eyes. The suited man's face is towards Jones, but his eyes are lingering on Lucie.

Caption: "I could tell he's the type that gets overcome with anxiety over things, like with it did with his marriage. His wife wanted to work things out, I think. They never actually separated. I suspect he hid from her when she found out about the prostitute."

Lucie: He begged me to come with him. He said he wanted some company. He wasn't crazy, just lonely. He bought some plane tickets over the phone. He just wanted to numb himself, just a little bit, so no one could follow him. I don't know what he meant...

 

PAGE NINE

Panel 1.

Lucie is handing her wallet to officer #1. She seems worried. Officer #1 is keeping his eyes on Jones. The suited man has a hand on officer #1's arm.

Caption: "He also bought some equipment at that time, a couple of rifles. That paranoia that his wife could be out to get him, and that he should protect himself.

Lucie: I just felt sorry for the guy, you know. And he offered to take me to Disney World®.

Officer #1: Miss, this man is beyond inebriated. What has he taken?

Suited Man: Officer? May I speak with you, please?

Panel 2.

1/4 shot. The suited man is talking to the officer.

Caption: "When the court papers came in, he was in Los Angeles, staying at the Disney® hotel. His type is usually fond of amusement park rides. They get off on adrenaline."

Officer #1: Yes, sir?

Suited Man: Let the woman go. The man has a history of substance abuse. He obviously met this lady, through her... profession.

Officer #1: She needs to be questioned, sir. We simply cannot let her go.

Suited Man: Mr. Jones' past history was... is an embarrassment. He came to us to straighten out his life. He had, we thought, left his bad habits behind. It seems we were wrong.

Panel 3.

Close-up of the suited man's face. He looks very persuasive. The officer's reflection can be seen in the suited man's eye.

Suited Man: He is an addict, officer. He needs help. And we can offer him that.

Suited Man: This lady, she merely wanted to go to Disney World®. Mr. Jones obviously took something quite strong and she didn't want to lose her trip.

Suited Man: Dragging her into this will simply publicize the matter. It will not let us help this man get control of his addiction. We want this man to get better, officer. We don't want a media circus.

Panel 4.

1/4 shot. Officer #1, with a look of agreement. The Suited Man seems satisfied.

Officer #1: Okay. You sure you can clean him up?

Suited Man: Yes, officer. I am a man of my word.

Panel 5.

3/4 shot of Stick and Silver. They watch Lucie in the distance leaving the police and the suited man behind.

Stick: What's happening?

Silver: I believe they are letting her go. I told you to trust her.

Stick: But what about Jeffery Jones? What happens to him? Do you think what Gideon said was true? Will Hi Tech Henchmen kill him?

Silver: I don't know. We have to follow them.

Panel 6.

Far shot. One police van, followed by a limousine, followed quite distantly by a jeep (Silver's new jeep), leave the airport area.

Caption: Silver: "Gideon, they are taking Jones away in a police van, followed by one of those Hi Tech Henchmen limos. We're following them."

 

PAGE TEN

Panel 1.

3/4 shot of Gideon at Stick's apartment. He is wiping his head with a towel, the other holding the receiver of a phone to his ear.

Gideon: They are taking him back. They probably plan to question him.

Phone (with electronic word balloon): How do you know this?

Gideon: It's what I would do.

Panel 2.

Inside Silver's jeep, Silver is dressed in her regular sweats and T-shirt. She's driving. Stick is in the passenger seat. She has her hand on a car speaker phone.

Stick: And would you kill him when you were done with him? Tell me that!

Silver: Stick!!

Speaker phone (with electronic word balloon): Did I kill him, Stick? No I didn't! I had every opportunity while you went on your shopping spree. Don't question my loyalty; I am not one of them!

Panel 3.

The police van and the limo stop in front of the Diamond Emporium building. This is an impressive 20 story building which is flanked by two three-sided buildings that are attached to it by skywalks every fifth floor. There is a statue up on a plinth in front of the central building. The police are dragging Jones out of the van and towards the wheelchair. Silver and Stick are in the jeep down the street. The limo is pulling around the building.

Caption: Silver and Stick follow the police van across the city to the Diamond Emporium Business Building in the industrial section of town. There, Jeffrey Jones is being remanded to Hi Tech Henchmen's custody.

Caption: July 13th, 8:15 PM

Panel 4.

The shot is from the inside of the jeep looking through it out the window. Jones and the suited man can be seen in the distance.

Stick: The cops are leaving, Gideon, and they're wheeling Jones into the Diamond Emporium building. He still looks very doped up.

Silver: This may have bought us some time. He won't divulge anything until he can actually speak. They won't try to kill him until they get the information they need.

Speaker phone (with electronic word balloon): What are you saying?

Panel 5.

Close-up of Stick and Silver looking dead serious.

Silver: We're going in to free him.

Silver: Gideon? Get hold of Joaquin. We'll need everyone on this.

Speaker phone (with electronic word balloon): Wait one minute! This is the Hi Tech Henchmen! And this is where they have their tablet! It'll be like breaking into a viper's nest!

Stick: Silver is right, Gideon. Even if you care nothing about this guy, if he gets lucid, he will tell them everything they know. We will have no cover at all. He'll be able to identify us. We go in tonight. We have no choice.

Panel 6.

Gideon at Stick's apartment on the phone.

Gideon: You may be right, but what chance do we have? Look, we at least need to make a game plan. I thought you two were professional heroes or something.

 

PAGE ELEVEN

Panel 1.

Close-up of Silver. Dead serious.

Silver: We do what's right. Odds mean nothing to us.

Speaker phone (off-panel, but with electronic word balloon): Get your butts back here then! Let's plan this out --- together. I'm not going in without a plan! How long do we have until your drug cocktail starts to wear off?

Silver: We only have a few hours. Make sure Joaquin's there when we arrive.

Panel 2.

Full shot of Dale in his home. He is sorting through the mess that was his "computer room". He seems tired and depressed. The room has various pieces of electronic equipment and the computer hardware. Everything is messed and all over the place. There are blast holes (from a shotgun) in some things, bullet holes in others.

Caption: Dale's house, later that night.

Caption: July 13th, 8:30 PM

Dale (thinking): Did Hi Tech Henchmen ever make a mess of this place! There are bullet holes in everything! And everything is trashed. They were here to warn me. I see that now.

Dale (thinking): This was to tell me to back off on the story or they will kill me. Willis being here was someone else they could threaten me with. They probably figured they would kill him to scare me away.

Panel 3.

1/4 shot of Dale, deep in thought.

Dale (thinking): And they were looking for something. I don't think they liked that I had footage of them. Maybe they wonder if I have any more.

Panel 4.

Close-up of a camera bag. Dale's hand is pulling out a videocassette.

Dale (thinking): They were probably looking for this tape. I only ever gave Bill Bannerman some of the footage.

Dale (thinking): This tape has all the footage I took of the parahumans talking to Edith Harker in the parking lot.

Panel 5.

Dale standing amid the clutter. He is holding the tape up in one hand.

Dale (thinking): I'll have to find a better place to hide this other than my vehicle. They will be back to look for it.

Cell-phone (off panel) (fx): Be-loop!!!

Panel 6.

1/4 shot of Willis. He looks tired. His forehead is damp with perspiration. He looks very scared.

Willis: Dale? It's Scanner! I have to talk to you -- in private. Now.

 

PAGE TWELVE

Panel 1.

1/4 shot of Dale. He is excited and surprised. He is slightly hunched over, as if this will get him a better reception on his phone. He has his cell phone to his ear and a finger in the other ear to block out any other sound.

Dale: Willis! Willis! Where are you? Are you okay? Where can I meet you?

Panel 2.

Back shot of a man (Count Lurch) sitting at a grand oak table, with seating for twelve people. The man sits alone, a fork in hand playing with a potato on his plate.

Caption: On a remote island in the Pacific Ocean, a lone man contemplates his next move...

Lurch: The bell strikes soon. The time for Mordo to strike looms before me.

Panel 3.

Front shot of the same man. He has a high forehead, chiseled features, and a moustache. He is still at the table, his fork down on the plate now. He looks tired. One of the Symka tablets rests on a book stand/pulpit to his left.

Lurch: I am weary, almost anxious to end it all. The tablets may be my chance to have this conflict end in my favor.

Panel 4.

The man looks upward (at the doorway - off panel) in a tight shot of his face.

Lurch: Come in, my friend.

Panel 5.

An entity enters the room through a stone doorway with an oaken door. He floats above the ground, his entire lower body shrouded in fog. His arms are long, the muscles corded like rope. The tips of his ears are long and pointed, drooping downwards. His eyes have no irises, but have a strong red color to them. He has no opening for a mouth. He is unclothed, revealing a barrel chest. The massive doorway barely allows him entry because of his immense stature. This is Morpheus.

 

PAGE THIRTEEN

Panel 1.

Lurch sits at the table still. Morpheus floats before the table.

Lurch: It is good to see you again. Hopefully you are well.

Lurch: Morpheus, I have need of your help. You know I am unable to leave this island for fear of my life. I trust you as my eyes and ears to the world. You are my only real connection to what happens out there.

Lurch: You, my friend, are the only one I can ever truly trust.

Panel 2.

1/4 shot. Lurch holds his hand up in explanation.

Lurch: You know of the tablets, the Symka tablets. You know of their power. You know I seek them.

Lurch: I believe they may possess the power to conquer Mordo himself. I must have it, my friend. Only then will I finally gain the upper hand on Mordo, to perhaps end my eternal torment.

Panel 3.

3/4 shot of Morpheus.

Lurch (off-panel): Contact them. Any one of them. Offer them anything they want in exchange for the tablet.

 

PAGE FOURTEEN

Panel 1.

Close-up of Morpheus' face.

Lurch (off-panel): Be firm. Be strong.

Lurch (off-panel): You don't need to harm any of them. Persuade them.

Panel 2.

1/4 shot of Lurch at the table.

Lurch: They have no idea of the power of the tablets. No one truly does.

Lurch: I shall remain here, as I always have, and await your return.

Panel 3.

Full shot of Morpheus.

Lurch: I know I can trust this to you, my friend Morpheus.

Morpheus (telepathically): As you can always trust me, Lurch. I shall bring the tablet to you.

 

PAGE FIFTEEN

Panel 1.

Far shot of Joaquin. He is on the rooftop of a building. He is standing on one leg, while the other points upward, almost a standing split. He is holding this form steadily.

Caption: Joaquin Ramirez has always been a man of action. This idleness, this waiting does nothing for him.

Panel 2.

Full shot of Joaquin lowering his elevated leg slowly down to the ground.

Caption: This is where he goes when he needs to work the boredom off. Above the streets, on the rooftops is where he gets a bit of peace.

Joaquin (thinking): All this planning and waiting is driving me crazy. We need to take some kind of action.

Joaquin (thinking): Gideon's always been about caution and stealth. He seems to understand what we are up against better than anyone else. I know we need to follow his lead.

Panel 3.

Full shot. Joaquin is leaping up gracefully in the air. Some 20 feet up and across.

Joaquin (thinking): He is hiding something. He has always kept certain things from me. He is afraid of something. And I think that something is here, somehow linked to these damned tablets.

Panel 4.

Far shot. Joaquin's leap carries him to the far side of the rooftop. He is a couple of feet from landing.

Joaquin (thinking): He needs to fill me in on what is happening. Why won't he trust me? He doesn't need to tell Stick and Silver. Just me. I'm his friend.

Panel 5.

Full shot of Joaquin landing into a crouch, the impact of the leap spread through his whole body from the landing.

Joaquin (thinking): Whatever it is, will it endanger us?

 

PAGE SIXTEEN

Panel 1.

Bryan and Bryce are at the airport in full shot. They are both dressed very trendy and very chic (Bryce in a grape suit and Bryan in a tan suit). Bryce holds a briefcase in his hand.

Caption: At the airport, a briefcase containing another of the tablets is on its way to New York City.

Bryan: Enjoy your trip. How long will you be gone?

Bryce: I want the heat to die down. Let's see what happens with these parahumans. Let's see how far the Hi Tech Henchmen will go to catch them.

Panel 2.

Bryce has his free hand on Bryan's shoulder in a 3/4 shot.

Bryce: Make sure you send for our muscle when you get back to the restaurant. You may not have the tablet with you, but you will still need someone to watch your back.

Panel 3.

1/4 shot of both men.

Bryan: I will be safe with Sean watching my back. Did you get in touch with John in New York?

Bryce: Yes, I have. Everything is set.

Bryan: You will have some heavy-duty protection? Protection you can trust?

Bryce: John made sure he got me the best money could buy. He's used them himself.

Panel 4.

Shot from behind. Both men are walking towards the check-in counter.

Bryan: Bryce, what chance do we really have here? We are dealing with some dangerous groups. Hi Tech Henchmen alone have resources that eclipse ours. They can hire black-market muscle until the cows come home.

Bryce: We are smart men, Bryan. We will wait and watch.

Panel 5.

1/4 shot of both men, side by side, walking.

Bryce: Hi Tech Henchmen will hound those parahumans until they recapture their tablet, then they will demand another one, the one we possess. This will keep the henchmen occupied for quite some time.

Panel 6.

Close-up of Bryce.

Bryce: We will remain in the shadows and wait for our moment to reclaim the remaining tablets. As we stole our first tablet through cunning, so shall the others come to us.

 

PAGE SEVENTEEN

Panel 1.

Far shot of Dale walking into a pub. He is looking around the place for Willis.

Caption: At the Balmoral Inn...

Dale (thinking): I made sure no one followed. I need to be sure no one finds Willis. I want him to stay hidden.

Dale (thinking): Wait! There he is!

Panel 2.

In a small booth, Willis sits. He is wearing a baseball hat with the beak drawn low. He looks horrible, like he hasn't slept in days. Dale is seating himself across from him at the booth. There is full pint of ale in front of Willis that looks untouched.

Willis: Sit down.

Dale: Where have you been, Willis?

Panel 3.

Both men face one another at the table. Dale is inquisitive, Willis is petrified and paranoid.

Willis: That doesn't matter now. I got away alive. But you're next.

Dale: What do you mean, Willis?

Willis: They will come for you, too. I had no idea what I was trying to uncover. I had no idea how big Hi Tech Henchmen were.

Panel 4.

Both men seated at the table.

Dale: What exactly did you find?

Panel 5.

Close-up of Willis's face, dark rings around his eyes.

Willis: These Hi Tech Henchmen? They are more than a security company. It is their most obvious face to the public. They advertise themselves as an up-and-coming protection agency.

Willis: They have deep pockets. They are owned by a company called the Diamond Emporium.

Panel 6.

Close-up of Dale's face, completely enthralled by the conversation.

Dale: The Diamond Emporium? Isn't that the huge office building in the south end of the city?

Willis (off-panel): The same one.

Dale: What would they have to do with a diamond company? It doesn't make any sense.

 

PAGE EIGHTEEN

Panel 1.

1/4 shot of both men. They are leaning towards one another.

Willis: That's what I thought too. I checked their shipping records, their imports and sales. It wasn't easy to get this information.

Willis: This company has not made one sale this year. Nor last year. Yet they report some butt-kicking profits.

Panel 2.

Same as last panel.

Willis: I dug a little deeper.

Willis: The Diamond Emporium is owned by the Tibetan Free Alliance. This is treated as public knowledge, and they do not hide that fact. The Alliance is dedicated to the furthering of the Tibetan culture by teaching people. They educate and spread awareness about the persecution of the monks. Sounds harmless...

Panel 3.

Same as last panel.

Willis: The Tibetan Free Alliance actually reported some profits. It's treated as a regular business. But it ain't no big money-maker by a long shot.

Willis: So this doesn't explain these huge profits.

Willis: This is where it started to get dirty.

Panel 4.

Same as last panel.

Dale: I'm still listening. Go on. I can see that this is a front for someone else.

Willis: Shhh. Let's keep it down.

Willis: Wizards of the East owns the Tibetan Free Alliance. I had to go deeper for this. Deeper than any of my hacker buddies were able to get. One of my online buddies was found out because he got too close to this. He's completely offline now. He's afraid.

Panel 5.

Same shot as last but from the complete opposite side of the table.

Willis: The Wizards of the East are a Tibetan company that deals in acquiring ancient artifacts and stuff like that. It still didn't sound too crazy for me, but then I started digging into their money.

Willis: This money is old, man. They don't get it from being a business. I couldn't dig up anything of any kind on them.

Panel 6.

Close-up of Willis.

Willis: I freaked out. I've never been this afraid in my whole life. Let's be real here; when you asked me to do this I only agreed for all the free gear—I didn't give two shakes about you. I used your place as a "home" in case I became traceable. Hacking was nothing. I'm better than most anyone else out there. And besides, who could catch me?

Willis: But this really freaked me out...

 

PAGE NINETEEN

Panel 1.

Tight 1/4 shot of Willis and Dale.

Dale: You must have gotten something. There must be some kind of listing for their owners, shareholders, something.

Willis: Oh, there's a list of their owners: Jim Morrison, Andy Kaufman, Elvis Presley, and Karen Carpenter!

Dale: What? Obviously a front.

Panel 2.

1/4 shot. Willis is leaning back in his seat.

Willis: I'm out of this, Dale. It's over. You have to do something. You got me into this! Hi Tech Henchmen and God knows who else is after me! They know I'm the one that hacked the information I did get. They don't want me around spreading any kind of information on them to anyone.

Willis: I'm a dead man, Dale! Get me out of this!

Panel 3.

3/4 shot of Willis leaning back. Dale is still leaning in.

Dale: You said there was someone else asking questions in your hacker group. Who is he?

Willis: Yeah. Yeah, I think so. Why?

Dale: Get me in touch with him. If he's still looking, I need to talk to him. He could be in danger, too.

Dale: Look, Willis. You'll have to stay low. Find a motel to stay in or something. I will fix this.

Panel 4.

Same as last panel. Dale is pulling his wallet out.

Willis: I don't have any money. And I'm afraid to go to the bank, in case they are tracking my withdrawals.

Dale: I'll give you some cash. Don't worry about that. Can you give me your hacker friends name, address, whatever?

Willis: Okay. His online name is Stik. He lives on 216 Broadway, apartment 601.

Panel 5.

Same as last. Dale hands money to Willis from his wallet.

Dale: What kind of name is Stik? What's his real name?

Willis: I don't know. I've always called him Stik.

Willis: Find him and tell him to lay low. He's always been the type to ask too many questions. Make sure he's safe, Dale. I'd hate for the henchmen to go after anyone else.

Dale: I'll talk to him. And I'll make sure he's safe. Trust me.

Panel 6.

Close-up of Dale.

Dale: You have my cell number. Call me when you found a place. Don't register under your own name. I'll be by to see you after you call.

Dale: Take care, Willis. Be careful.

 

PAGE TWENTY

Panel 1.

Gideon's father stands in front of his tablet. It floats within a transparent box of energy upon a dais. His hands are clasped behind his back. He is studying the tablet. The suited man from the airport walks into the room, behind Gideon's father.

Caption: In the Diamond Emporium building, Gideon's father studies the tablet...

Gideon's father (thinking): What will you be able to do for me, tablet? What kind of power will you provide me with that will allow me to break the chain? Will I be able to challenge my own master?

Suited man: Master?

Panel 2.

3/4 shot. Gideon's father turns around to face the man.

Gideon's father: Go on, my faithful servant. Tell me what troubles you.

Suited man: I have found the hound Jeffrey Jones, master.

Gideon's father: You did?

Suited man: He was ready to board a plane to Florida.

Suited man: He was able to avoid our detection because he was drugged. We found him through his financial records.

Panel 3.

1/4 shot of both men. Gideon's father seems impressed.

Gideon's father: Fascinating. How did he make it to the airport in such a state?

Suited man: He had a woman with him, whom he obviously paid to get him there. He was so drugged, he couldn't even stand. He relied entirely upon the woman.

Gideon's father: And where is this woman? Did you let her go?

Panel 4.

Same as last.

Suited man: I did, master. She knew nothing. I am certain he told her nothing. At any rate, if he did, certainly no one would believe a street woman like her.

Gideon's father: Very well. I am pleased. You may take your leave. But bring the failure before me. I wish to see him.

 

PAGE TWENTY-ONE

Panel 1.

Full shot of Gideon's father standing, legs wide, hands behind his back, looking down upon Jeffrey Jones, who is seated on a chair. Jones is still doped up.

Gideon's father: You expected to get away from me, hound? You thought to miss your punishment for failing me?

Gideon's father: You were brought in, and your mind was altered to ensure your allegiance to me. You had a history of weakness, which is what made you so amenable to my cause.

Panel 2.

3/4 shot at a lower angle of Gideon's father walking around Jones. Jones has drool dripping down his chin.

Gideon's father: Did you think I would kill you when you returned without the tablet?

Gideon's father: Or did touching it free you from my conditioning? Did you actually hope to betray me, or did your former vices return to betray yourself?

Gideon's father: I am not angry, Jeffrey. You were resourceful. And you almost made it, didn't you?

Panel 3.

1/4 shot of Gideon's father holding up Jones' face to look at him.

Gideon's father: If my minion hadn't brought you to me, I might have let you be. Who would believe the ranting of a drug-addict? You were no danger to us.

Gideon's father: But I mustn't look weak in the eyes of my followers. My minion went to all this trouble to find you and bring you to me.

Gideon's father: I must do what they expect, and that is to be strong.

Panel 4.

Tight 1/4 shot of Gideon's father (hereby referred to as Katharta). His hand clutching Jones' chin flares with a red energy, that totally consumes Jones' head in a blinding flash. Katharta doesn't blink or flinch.

Gideon's father (in fx text): And Katharta is strong.

Panel 5.

Close-up of Katharta. The red light still highlights his face, which is twisted into a cruel, evil mask.

Katharta: Did you feel that, my son? Did you feel this man's life snuffed? You have something I want.

Katharta: This is a warning to you, Gideon...

 

PAGE TWENTY-TWO

Panel 1.

Gideon in Stick's apartment. He stands in the center of the room, his eyes wide, and a glowing green energy around his head.

Caption: Across the city, in Stick's apartment, Gideon, the son of Katharta receives a message...

Katharta (as fx): GIVE ME THE TABLET, OR I SHALL TAKE IT FROM YOU!

Gideon: NOOOOOOOOO!

Panel 2.

Joaquin runs into the room towards Gideon who sprawls exhausted on a chair. Green energy smokes around Gideon.

Caption: Minutes later, Joaquin returns to find Gideon glowing with energy.

Joaquin: Gideon? What happened?

Gideon: He knows, Joaquin. He knows I'm here.

Panel 3.

Joaquin stands over Gideon, who still has the green energy fog around him. Joaquin has extended his hands to help Gideon, but is reluctant to reach through the fog.

Joaquin: Who, Gideon? Who knows you're here? And what's happened?

Gideon: My father, Joaquin. I never told you about him, to protect you. I was in hiding from him.

Panel 4.

1/4 shot of Gideon. His eyes glow green. He is looking around at the fog.

Joaquin: What...?

Gideon: This? I expended a large amount of energy. So much so, that I am exhausted, too tired to pull it back in.

Gideon: I reached out with my energy, to contact my father. He was about to murder a man, the man who injured Silver.

Gideon: I tried my best, Joaquin, to stop him.

Panel 5.

Full shot. Stick and Silver enter the apartment, a look of shock on their faces at the green fog.

Gideon: He killed the man as a message to me, to hand the tablet over to him. I tried to reach out with my energy, to attack him... Jones was already dead. He wanted me to know that. He repulsed me as if I was nothing.

Gideon: Nothing...

Panel 6.

Gideon is standing up, the fog still around him. Everyone is gathered around him, hesitant to get too close.

Gideon: I think I need to share with you who I am, and why I am here. You need to know what it is we face. You need to know why I have such a connection to the tablets. You need to know who Gideon is.

PAGE TWENTY-THREE

Splash page. Full shot of Gideon standing in a defiant pose. He holds both fists at his sides, the energy fog a deeper shade there. His eyes glow green. Joaquin stands at his right side in surprise. Stick and Silver stand on his left, also in surprise.

Gideon: I am Gideon Katharta, son of Manus Katharta,...

Gideon: ...the direct descendant of Pitawa, sworn enemy and brother of Manapatapoo.

Gideon: I was brought into this world to continue a progression of power, to build Pitawa's power base.

Gideon: I am the direct descendent of the enemy of mankind. They mean to use me as they have used my forebears--and would in turn use my descendants--to herald Pitawa's return to power.

Gideon: The tablets are our only chance to prevent this. Only I understand their real power, and only I can stop Katharta!

Caption: Next issue: more on Gideon's history revealed. Dale meets our heroes, and Lurch makes his move. Be here next issue; there is too much to miss!

Editor's Note:

SYMKA and the World of Genetics are the intellectual property of Sean McGinity - all rights reserved.

 

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