Symka: Part 35

Copyright Sean McGinity © 2006

Edited by Nicholas HM Caldwell for The Guild Companion

"Your true heritage is still hidden from you.  There is more to your soul than you realize."

Page One

Splash.

Overhead shot of Mordo Island, some 100 feet in the air. Pitawa stands 30 feet tall, wading through the trees towards the temple located on the east side of the island. On each side of the page are the captions against a black background.

Caption (on the left hand side of the page): Gideon, Joaquin (El Tigre), Val (Silver), Dexter (Stick), and Dale Turcott set out to collect four ancient Tibetan tablets called the Symka, to keep them out of the hands of those that would use its power for evil ends.

But what no one knew was that the tablets were not tokens of power. They were the shattered remnants of the Asemka, a large tablet that was tied to the soul of Manapatapoo, the "brother" of Pitawa. Pitawa represented the evil in man's nature while Manapatapoo was his polar opposite, the good in man.

Ultimately powerful, Pitawa went out in the world for the first time unopposed, drunk with the power of freedom. He came down hard on humanity, waging wars, trying to claim ownership over the world. But as the decades wore on, he tired. His power was so great that nothing could stand in his way.

And he tired. It was too easy. Victory was victory if it was fought for. And he really had not fought for anything. He was too powerful. Nothing was a challenge.

Out of boredom, he changed his strategy, a strategy he has maintained ever since. Instead of waging war, he whispered in the ears of humankind, spurring them to war on their own, to kill, to hate.

Caption (On the right hand side of the page): The shattered Asemka, called the Symka Tablets, became an obsession for many, including Manus Katharta, the father of Gideon, Lurch, the father of Joaquin, Bryan and Bryce, two restaurateurs. Gideon, Dexter, Val, Joaquin, and Dale had deadly altercations with all of them. Unsure of what would happen when the Symka were brought together, the group took upon themselves to gather them all and protect them. Both Dexter and Dale lost their lives in this struggle.

Soon, the group learned the truth about the Symka tablets. And it became their own goal to unite them to bring Manapatapoo back to life.

And they did. Moments ago, using the recently deceased body of Dale, Manapatapoo came back. And Pitawa, sensing his "brother's" return has come calling.

Page Two

Panel 1.

Manapatapoo walks out through the front doors of the temple. He has a look of destiny on his face.

Caption: Manapatapoo has been disembodied until now. He has watched Pitawa ruin this world. He has imagined his return and what it would be like.

Manapatapoo: "Brother"...

Panel 2.

Pitawa watches Manapatapoo, with a sense of anxiousness. He rips an oak tree out from the roots, a thin smile on his face.

Caption: And so has Pitawa.

Pitawa: Brother? Brother?

Panel 3.

Large panel. Manapatapoo grows to match Pitawa's height as Pitawa runs towards him with the oak in hand.

Pitawa: Is that all you have to say to me after over 100 years apart?

Page Three

Splash.

Pitawa swings the oak, smashing it across Manapatapoo's head in a tremendous hit. Manapatapoo takes the hit hard and is partially stunned by it.

Fx: SMASH!

Page Four

Panel 1.

Tight three-quarter shot. Manapatapoo is reeling, half crouched, trying to not lose balance and consciousness. Pitawa is standing there with the remainder of the oak in his hands, watching.

Manapatapoo: Agh! Aah!

Pitawa: That's what I had to say, Manapatapoo. Did you hear me?

Pitawa: Violence... against you... Hello, brother.

Panel 2.

Manapatapoo starts to straighten out, looking up at Pitawa. Pitawa is still standing there, a look of fear it might be too easy.

Manapatapoo: Ever so eloquent. Well I shall greet you in kind then.

Panel 3.

Manapatapoo strikes out with his palm, smacking Pitawa straight in the forehead, completely taking him by surprise.

Fx: THOK!

Page Five

Panel 1.

Nice left hook from Manapatapoo onto Pitawa.

Fx: POW!

Panel 2.

Right hook from Manapatapoo.

Fx: SMACK!

Panel 3.

Another left hook.

Fx: SMASH!

Panel 4.

Another right hook.

Fx: POW!

Page Six

Panel 1.

Close-up shot of Pitawa's face. He appears to be enjoying the punishment. He feels like he is alive again. And it is getting him riled, something that hasn't happened in a century.

Manapatapoo: Hello, brother. I hope my greeting didn't take too much out of you.

Panel 2.

Manapatapoo swing in with a straight cross, aiming for Pitawa's head. Pitawa spins around, his head just getting out of the way of the blow, Manapatapoo's fist just glancing over Pitawa's shoulder.

Pitawa: I've waited for this, Manapatapoo. I've spent a lot of time living with the human race without your pesky interference.

Panel 3.

Tight shot. Pitawa grabs Manapatapoo's arm over his shoulder.

Panel 4.

Tight three-quarter shot as Pitawa pulls down on Manapatapoo's arm, breaking wretchedly over his shoulder. Manapatapoo is surprised and seriously injured.

Pitawa: And they have proved quite educational. Their ability to sink to the lowest levels of cruelty is unimaginable.

Fx: CRACK!

Page Seven

Panel 1.

Pitawa strikes forward with a martial arts blow that crushes Manapatapoo's larynx. Manny is on the ropes.

Pitawa: The pain they are capable of inflicting on one another... much more creative than anything I could have come up with.

Fx: THUK!

Panel 2.

Manapatapoo is down, clutching at his throat. He is semi-crouched, with Pitawa standing close, ready for his next move and enjoying the agony his brother is experiencing.

Pitawa: In fact, when it comes to depravity, I come in second to the human race.

Panel 3.

Pitawa raises his leg...

Panel 4.

... and kicks down on Manny's lower leg, breaking it.

Fx: CRACKKK!

Page Eight

Panel 1.

Reeling in pain, and no longer where he is, Manapatapoo goes down hard. He is still conscious somehow. His arm and leg are flopping around uselessly. Pitawa is leaning over, hand extended with two fingers pointed out.

Pitawa: Your incessant preaching about the good in man...

Pitawa: None of that. Not for a long time. All this time... all this time it's always been me.

Panel 2.

And finally, Pitawa pokes out both of Manny's eyes.

Pitawa: Without you, the world was ripe for the taking.

Panel 3.

Manny is on all fours, his leg broken, his arm broken, etc... With hateful, hateful eyes, Pitawa spits on Manny.

Pitawa: But my ultimate victory over you was unrealized. I had everything... EVERYTHING but your own defeat.

Pitawa: I defeated humankind. I tainted their souls, corrupted their humanity and sent them all to hell on earth.

Panel 4.

Looking down with evil eyes, Pitawa spits out...

Pitawa: And I did it because you weren't there to stop me.

Page Nine

Panel 1.

With his one good arm, Manapatapoo reaches out, clutching at Pitawa's throat. It takes Pitawa by surprise.

Pitawa: Gaah!

Panel 2.

Manny gets to one foot as his broken arm's bone resets, clicking into place, mending almost instantly. He is still holding onto Pitawa.

Manapatapoo (whisper): You fool...

Panel 3.

Manapatapoo's larynx resets. He throws a blow directly into Pitawa's face.

Manapatapoo (Voice resetting partway through his talking): You own greed and pride is what brought me back.

Fx: SMASH!

Panel 4.

Manapatapoo pulls Pitawa in to head butt him. His leg resets.

Fx: BUMP!

Page Ten

Panel 1.

Manny pulls Pitawa into his knee, lodging hard into his gut.

Manapatapoo: For over 100 years you've tried to pervert everything that was good in the human race.

Fx: WHUMP!

Panel 2.

Downward strike on Pitawa, forcing him to his knees.

Manapatapoo: But you failed in defeating me.

Fx: POW!

Panel 3.

Pitawa is down on all fours, panting, seriously injured.

Panel 4.

Manapatapoo shoves a knee into Pitawa's head, jarring it violently to one side.

Manapatapoo: Although dead, my spirit lingered on. I was able to watch each despicable act you made, each level you coerced the human race down into.

Fx: SMAK!

Page Eleven

Panel 1.

Pitawa, face broken (but not bloody) strikes up at Manapatapoo, who catches the fist.

Pitawa: Because you created the Asemka, and because someone shattered it, I was denied ultimate victory over you.

Panel 2.

Manapatapoo bends back Pitawa's hand, causing him to bend back.

Pitawa: You denied me what was mine! Your defeat!

Pitawa: Ulp...

Panel 3.

Pitawa sees the vindication in Manapatapoo's face and reels back from him, pulling free from Manapatapoo. He is crawling away, keeping an eye behind him. He needs a new strategy here. This isn't working out. Manapatapoo is following close behind.

Manapatapoo: I created the Asemka for this exact purpose: to come back if you found a way to defeat my physical body. You... you have no such defense.

Panel 4.

Pitawa is moving away from Manapatapoo now, almost a fear on his face. This isn't going well. He needs time to heal, like Manapatapoo himself healed. This isn't the same man he is fighting anymore. Manapatapoo is right behind him, walking literally inches away, reaching out with both hands towards Pitawa's head.

Manapatapoo: But as I learned how low you would go, what ends you would take. I learned that I needed to adapt to your strategy.

Page Twelve

Splash page.

Manapatapoo has grabbed Pitawa head with both hands and twists, snapping his neck.

Fx: SNAP!

Page Thirteen

Panel 1.

Standing over the slumped Pitawa, looking down at his victim, Manapatapoo has not lost focus on something else... someone watching him.

Manapatapoo: I know you are there. You can come out.

Panel 2.

Gideon, Marimus, Silver and El Tigre dragging Snapshot in tow come out from the tree line.

Silver: You killed him...

Panel 3.

Manapatapoo looks at her. Full shot, with the crowd watching on at Manapatapoo who is shrinking down to 6 feet.

Manapatapoo: No.

Manapatapoo: No, he is alive. I have only slowed him down. He will recover and the fight will begin again.

Manapatapoo: But for now, I owe you all my thanks. I have been gone for far too long on this plane.

Page Fourteen

Panel 1.

Tight shot of El Tigre, looking at Manapatapoo (off-panel).

El Tigre: Is Dale in there?

Panel 2.

Manapatapoo is facing them.

Manapatapoo: Dale has passed on, but he has left enough of his essence in his body. It was what helped in this battle. He has a perseverance and creativity that is astonishing. I used that to stop Pitawa... for now.

Panel 3.

Full shot of Pitawa, lying on the ground, broken and seemingly dead. His eyes are rolled back into his head.

Panel 4.

Manapatapoo has his hands extended, as he if was greeting the group for dinner.

Manapatapoo: Your courage in assembling the Symka into the Asemka must be noted. You fought a long battle returning me to life. A battle that cost you two of your number.

Panel 5.

He pauses a moment.

Panel 6.

Same shot.

Manapatapoo: I apologize for that

Page Fifteen

Panel 1.

Manapatapoo, addressing the group.

Manapatapoo: I shall honor the sacrifices you made each day. Each day, as I battle my brother.

Manapatapoo: And I shall keep his evil at bay. For their sacrifices... I shall be sure to prevent his evil from spreading any further.

Panel 2.

Manapatapoo looks down at Marimus. Although blind she can feel his gaze and is defiant until the end.

Manapatapoo: Marimus, you have paid a price for your deceit. You have been blind your whole life to what really mattered and the choices you made. You have traveled down the path of disappointment, as evil as Pitawa in your own way.

Manapatapoo: His own evil has corrupted you.

Manapatapoo: And now you are blind in body as you were in conviction. I shed a tear for you, Marimus, for whom you could have been and who you ultimately became.

Panel 3.

Marimus points out, angry.

Marimus: Manapatapoo! I have heard enough of your words. You are a god without conscience, a god without reason. You have been without responsibility. And those traits I myself inherited. But I have learned my lesson as I hope you have.

Panel 4.

Manapatapoo does not like her tone and is raising his hackles at her. But Marimus is ever defiant.

Manapatapoo: You dare...

Marimus: I dare! I have always dared! I shall always. But I have learned from all this. I know the shattering of the Asemka ruined this world and I knew reuniting them was its only salvation. I took the steps needed to accomplish the goal.

Page Sixteen

Panel 1.

Gideon is trying to interject, but she is resolute. This is far above Gideon. Manapatapoo is saddened by her.

Gideon: Mother...

Marimus: Quiet, Gideon! This is between Manapatapoo and me!

Manapatapoo: You achieved your goal, Marimus.

Panel 2.

One-quarter shot of Manapatapoo.

Manapatapoo: In aiding your son, you would have found your answers to all you would ask. The path you did take to that point you should be ashamed of.

Panel 3.

Side angled shot. Marimus facing Manapatapoo, with the others in the wings watching all this. They all feel uncomfortable, Gideon more than anyone. This is an argument they do not understand the significance of.

Manapatapoo: Remember that!

Marimus: I shall. And with my son returned to me, I shall live with what I have done and be forgiven in time. This is repentance.

Panel 4.

Silver tries to break this up, getting everything back on track.

Silver: So where does this leave us. Is this it then?

Gideon: We've done everything we set out to do, Silver. Manapatapoo is back. This is what it was all for.

Panel 5.

Silver looks dejected. She seems let down. Manny picks up on it, looking her in the eyes.

Manapatapoo: With Dale Turcott's lingering thoughts in my mind, I see what ails you, Valerianna Ramerez. I understand the pain in your soul, the conflicted thoughts you have. I know of the losses suffered. I know you miss the one named Stick, Dexter Stewart. I cannot replace that. I cannot make that go away.

Page Seventeen

Panel 1.

Manapatapoo is holding a hand out slightly, as if he were reading her through his hand.

Manapatapoo: Your true heritage is still hidden from you. There is more to your soul than you realize. You are more than just some shapeshifter. You are immortal. And that has been a curse on you.

Panel 2.

Same as last panel.

Manapatapoo: Dexter is not the first one you have lost. And he will not be the last.

Manapatapoo: Dale was a perceptive man and going through some of his thoughts, he made that read on you. As a reporter he was able to find the story in you... in each of you.

Panel 3.

Same as last panel.

Manapatapoo: In you, he saw that eternal loneliness, afraid to commit to anyone for fear of losing them as they slowly withered and grew old. And that is what is at the essence of your soul. You have a past you need to learn, a past that will help you understand yourself. You need to seek this out to feel peace within yourself.

Panel 4.

He puts a comforting hand on her shoulder and she feels better.

Manapatapoo: That conflict within yourself, tempered with your shapeshifting abilities make your mind like mercury. I could read your thoughts were it not for that.

Manapatapoo: But reading through Dale's perceptions, these traits... these fears and that loneliness Dale was able to see.

Page Eighteen

Panel 1.

Manapatapoo looks over to El Tigre. El Tigre is more familiar with this god and is much more at ease in his presence.

Manapatapoo: And you Joaquin Ramirez. Your father's evil has not passed on as Mordo foresaw.

Manapatapoo: You have been given a chance because of Marimus's actions... as deplorable as they were. You will accumulate your father's power within you. It will build slowly over the months and years to come...

Panel 2.

Manapatapoo looks at El Tigre, a knowing look on his face as he scans him.

Manapatapoo: ...but without that overriding corruption Mordo had tainted him with.

Panel 3.

Shot of El Tigre. He has so many questions he wants answered...

Manapatapoo (off-panel): But this does not mean you do not have the potential for it, Joaquin. It lurks in your very being and can be ignited.

El Tigre: My father's evil... I don't know anything about him. I'm left with nothing but a bunch of questions.

Panel 3.

El Tigre points to Marimus who only scowls in return. Gideon is at her side, consoling her, but she acts like he is not even there.

El Tigre: She took him away from me and now I will never know the truth!

Panel 4.

Manapatapoo stares him down, trying to keep El Tigre's focus on the good side of things. El Tigre is getting frustrated with all this flowery talk.

Manapatapoo: You lived your life well. You have become a hero, greater than you give yourself credit for. It was this struggle you went through that has made you who you are. Nothing your father has done will change that.

Panel 5.

El Tigre gathers his courage and points to Manapatapoo. He wants answers.

El Tigre: Don't butter me up, Manapatapoo. When I bonded with one of the Symka tablets, you spoke of riddles and a lot of things.

El Tigre: Be straight with me... Was my father evil?

Panel 6.

Manapatapoo lowers his head. He doesn't want to ruin this man. He wants to tell him the truth, but he wants El Tigre to understand the truth.

Page Nineteen

Panel 1.

Manapatapoo looks El Tigre strongly in the eye. El Tigre doesn't care about Manapatapoo right now. He thinks this god maybe doesn't know anything.

Manapatapoo: I owe you all for your aid, and you as much as anyone else here. And for that I will answer your question. But you shall not like the answers I am about to give you.

Panel 2.

Manapatapoo conjures up images out of thin air with a motion of his hand in a large panel the rest of the page. Everyone is looking at the image, with El Tigre being skeptical that Manapatapoo knows anything. In the first image is of a young Lurch putting a blade through an older man's chest. The second is of men and women chained up to a wall in some dark and dingy cell

Manapatapoo (next to the first image): Lurch, your father, was a good man. For years he tried to suppress who he was. At first ignoring it and later, trying to suppress these urges. He was tainted. He killed his own father in anger, spurred on by Mordo. By fulfilling the pact, by killing his own father by his own hand, he did inherit his own father's power, but he also inherited that evil of Mordo.

Manapatapoo (next to the second image): He was a proud man and that pride and the taint took him over. He used the evil of Mordo to explain his actions. He committed vile and torturous experiments on the island residents, perfecting his magic.

Page Twenty

Panel 1.

Same structure as the last panel on Page 19, this time taking up the entire page. Manapatapoo is creating these images, and explaining them to El Tigre and the others.

In the first image is a shot of Mordo Island, with lush vegetation and a thriving ecosystem.

In the second image, from a distant view, a magical wave runs over the island, razing everything in its path as it passes over, completely burning out the foliage and creatures on the island.

In the third image, Lurch stands in a room watching a prisoner scream in agony as a spinning blade cut through him (this gruesome scene is framed just so the violent act cannot be seen but understood).

Manapatapoo (next to the first image): He made the ends justify the means, by creating this island paradise for its inhabitants. But it was achieved by magic unjustly gained.

Manapatapoo (next to the second image): It was through science and magic, by killing the ecosystem on this island to build a new and better one. Every animal, every insect, every plant was killed in order to build a new and better island.

Manapatapoo (next to the third image): His temple was built on the bodies of slaves, and his magic was accumulated through torture and sacrifice of the island inhabitants. And all of this was done, as he saw it, to make him ready to battle Mordo. To save the world, he purposely sacrificed many to empower himself.

Manapatapoo (at the bottom of the page, almost as a footnote): That is the man who was your father.

Page Twenty-One

Panel 1.

El Tigre has his head held low. Silver and El Tigre are together, both lost. Gideon is watching on, a little put off by how his friends are feeling, but wanting to have his turn with the god. Manapatapoo addresses Gideon.

Manapatapoo: Gideon, your heritage... your very existence was created because of me. And for the suffering and peril you suffered, I am entirely at fault.

Panel 2.

Manapatapoo focuses on Gideon and Gideon on Manapatapoo. Gideon seems happy with what is being said and proud of himself.

Manapatapoo: You were bred as a weapon to vanquish me. But whom you decide to point yourself at has always been your own choice... no matter who thought they were pulling the strings. Have faith in yourself. I always have.

Panel 3.

They have more questions, but Manny raises a hand to silence them.

Manapatapoo: The rest of my existence is spoken for. Pitawa needs to be kept in check. That is my destiny. I hope the world can heal from my long absence. As one last token of my appreciation, I shall return you home, where this all began...

Panel 4.

They disappear, leaving Manapatapoo and Pitawa. Pitawa had been listening and is neck is setting into place.

Pitawa: Urk.

Panel 5.

Pitawa starts to get up. Manapatapoo looks on at him, ready to begin the unending battle.

Pitawa: Thankfully you teleported them away. I was getting sick of listening to you talk.

Page Twenty-Two

Splash page.

Gideon, Marimus, El Tigre, Silver and the unconscious Snapshot materialize on the rooftop of the Museum of Antiquities.

Caption: The end? You bet. Next issue, we wrap up a lot of the loose ends and part ways with Gideon, El Tigre and Silver. Hope to see you at the next and final issue.