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Act I - New Beginnings
Panel #1 (Long and rectangular at top of page): Black silhouettes of a crowd of people on a completely white background. They all have their hands and/or arms up in front of their faces as if to shield themselves from an intensely bright light. Viewer stands behind them in a sense.
Caption #1: THE EARTH THAT YOU KNOW OF HAS ENDED--
Caption #2: --GONE IN A FLASH OF LIGHT.
Panel #2 (Long and rectangular in middle of page): Perhaps a collage of various weapons superimposed over a post-apocalyptic cityscape? It would be doubly-interesting if there is a subtly placed billboard extolling the virtues of peace and that reads in small print beneath it: "This message is funded by The Peaceful Society Initiative".
Caption #1: HUMANS LEARNED THE HARD WAY THAT TECHNOLOGICAL ADVANCEMENT IS NOT NECESSARILY AN INDICATOR OF MORAL DEVELOPMENT.
Caption #2: AT THE END OF THE YEAR 2032, EARTH WAS COMPLETELY DESTROYED THROUGH THE FOLLY OF "ADVANCED" WEAPONRY.
Panel #3 (Box to bottom-left) : A view of Earth from space. It looks stony and inhospitable. There are no stars twinkling, only a stark-black background.
Caption: ALL THAT WAS LEFT OF OUR ONCE-BEAUTIFUL PLANET WAS A CHARRED AND DESOLATE ROCK FLOATING THROUGH THE VOID.
Panel #4 (Box to bottom-middle): A little fount of water gushing out of a heap of mangled machines and buildings. It nourishes a small stream with a few bits of vegetation.
Caption: BUT CONSTRUCTIVE FORCES OFTEN RUN QUIETLY IN THE BACKGROUND IN CONTRAST TO WHATEVER DECAY MAY BE MOST NOTICEABLE AROUND US.
Panel #5 (Box to bottom-right): A team of scientists of different nationalities (e.g.: Japanese, Chinese, German, American, Russian, etc.) shaking hands.
Caption: THANKFULLY, SOME ALSO MADE THE CHOICE OF APPLYING TECHNOLOGY TOWARDS ENRICHING LIFE, RATHER THAN KILLING IT.
Panel #6 (Half-page box running horizontally): A background of gravitational equations and schematics for different electrical devices. Foreground contains 3 explanatory diagrams (i.e.: one of an electromagnetic wave, one of a magnetic current, and one of a set of concentric circles demonstrating Inverse Square Law).
Caption: IT WAS DISCOVERED THAT THE GEOMETRY OF AN ELECTROMAGNETIC FIELD COULD BE INVERTED. INSTEAD OF THE MAGNETISM RUNNING PERPENDICULAR TO THE CONDUCTOR, IT COULD BE GUIDED TO RUN PARALLEL TO IT. WHEN THESE "MAGNETIC CURRENTS" ARE ARRAYED RADIALLY AROUND A POINT, THEY GENERATE A FIELD THAT FOLLOWS THE INVERSE SQUARE LAW.
Panel #7 (Half-page box running horizontally): Aforementioned scientists gazing up in awe as one of them flies around with some sort of rudimentary "magnetic jetpack".
Caption: --IN SHORT, WE HAD FOUND OUT WHAT GRAVITY TRULY IS AND HOW TO HARNESS IT!
Panel #8 (Box to top-left): Some material being drawn towards a device. It does not have to be technical; it can even be symbolic, like a paperclip being being attracted to a horseshoe magnet.
Caption: USING IT TO PULL OR ATTRACT, YOU CAN MAKE A "TRACTOR BEAM", A DEVICE WHICH CAN DRAW OBJECTS TOWARDS YOU FROM A DISTANCE.
Panel #9 (Box to top-middle): Purple streamers of magnetic plasma ejecting from a rocket-like vehicle. (If it is in black-and-white, then the shading should make it appear luminous.)
Caption: USING IT TO PUSH OR REPEL, YOU CAN MAKE A "REACTIONLESS DRIVE", A DEVICE WHICH, IN THIS CASE, USES MAGNETISM AS A FORM OF PROPULSION MUCH MORE EFFICIENT THAN ANY SORT OF ROCKETRY DRIVEN BY FUEL.
Panel #10 (Box to top-right): Outline of a human encased in an egg-like bubble. Arrows point towards the surface of the bubble from both the inside and outside in all directions.
Caption: BY BOTH PUSHING AND PULLING IN EQUAL MEASURE SIMULTANEOUSLY, YOU CAN MAKE A "GRAVITATIONAL SHIELD", A DEVICE WHICH CAN BE USED TO PROTECT AN OBJECT OR TO SIMULATE THE GRAVITATION OF DIFFERENT PLANETS.
Panel #11 (Half-page box on bottom): View of deep space, with magnetic rockets shuttling from planet to planet. Their pathway is luminous.
Caption: IT WAS THROUGH THESE MACHINES THAT A SIGNIFICANT PORTION OF HUMANITY WAS ABLE TO ESCAPE FROM OUR NOW DYING HOME TO ONE THAT WOULD BE MORE HOSPITABLE TO US. THIS NEW PLANET WAS CHRISTENED NOVA ALPHA, A "NEW BEGINNING", IN THE HOPE FOR A HAPPIER FUTURE.
Panel #12 (Full-page spread): Skyline of a majestic looking city. The horizon fades into darkness as if seeing underground. The black is filled with white outlines of distorted faces screaming.
Caption #1: THE PEOPLE OF NOVA ALPHA KNEW THE PAIN OF WAR FIRST-HAND, AND SO MADE SURE THAT THEIR DECENDENTS WERE ALSO WELL AWARE OF IT. THEREFORE, THE CIVILIZATIONS SPREAD THROUGHOUT NOVA ALPHA SEEM PEACEFUL...
Captions #2-4: ...BUT LURKING JUST BENEATH THEIR SURFACE IS AN UNDERCURRENT OF FEAR...OF DESPERATION...OF IGNORANCE...
Caption #5: THE MOST DEPRAVED THINGS WITHIN OUR REALITY ARISE FROM AND ARE DRIVEN BY FEAR, DESPERATION, AND IGNORANCE. IT HAS BEEN MY DISPLEASURE TO BE A WITNESS TO SOME OF IT...
Panel #13 (Top-left box): A man reaching out towards the viewer as if to shake hands (frontal view). He sits behind a desk within a sort of office.
Robert: I AM ROBERT ADLEY.
Panel #14 (Top-right box): Cut to sepia photographs of what are Robert's past relatives.
Robert: I COME FROM SEVERAL GENERATIONS OF DETECTIVES FOR THE NOVA ALPHA INTRAGALACTIC INVESTIGATIONS DIVISION, OR N.A.I.I.D. FOR SHORT.
[*Note: When said like a word, the acronym is pronounced "naid"; it rhymes with "raid".]
Panel #15 (Bottom-left box): Robert shrugging. Viewed at an angle.
Robert: I SUPPOSE THAT I AM GOOD AT MY JOB... (Split bubble) ...PERHAPS IT COMES NATURALLY BECAUSE IT IS IN MY BLOOD.
Panel #16 (Bottom-right box): Robert looking at the viewer with hands folded on desk (frontal view).
Robert #1: --BUT THE REAL REASON THAT I HAVE ALWAYS ENJOYED WORKING AT N.A.I.I.D. IS BECAUSE I LOVE HELPING PEOPLE.
Robert #2: HOWEVER, I WAS UNPREPARED FOR WHAT I WAS ABOUT TO ENCOUNTER...
Panel #17 (Horizontal box at top of page): Robert is walking towards N.A.I.I.D. headquarters. There is a wide view of the facade of the building.
Panel #18 (Box to middle-left): Robert walking down a long hallway inside N.A.I.I.D. headquarters.
Panel #19 (Box to middle-right): Robert reaches for the handle of a door at the end of the hall. There is a sign listing the five offices inside.
Panel #20 (Horizontal box at bottom of page): View of a conference room with doors in background.
Note: Each door will be labeled accordingly whenever it is encountered in the story. (From left-to-right: Emily Cole - Technology Lab, Lucas Dobson - Communications, Robert Adley - Detective, Jeannine Pace - Case Coordinator, Adam Edgerton - Resource Manager)
Panel #21 (Box to top-left): Jeannine is shown; perhaps Robert's back is shown.
Jeannine: MR. ADLEY, A CASE HAS JUST COME IN.
Panel #22 (Box to top-middle): Robert's face is shown.
Robert: PLEASE, CALL ME ROBERT.
Panel #24 (Box to top-right): Jeannine blushing, eyes downcast.
Robert (Off panel): SORRY... (Split bubble) ...WHAT IS THE CASE?
Panel #25 (Box to bottom-left): Jeannine has somewhat regained composure, and begins to speak.
Jeannine #1 : THE CAPTURE OF A KNOWN FUGITIVE. APPARENTLY HE HAS BEEN IMPOSSIBLE TO TRACK DOWN DUE TO SOME SORT OF SHAPE-SHIFTING ABILITY.
Jeannine #2: ...WHATEVER IT IS, IT MUST BE IMPORTANT. IT COMES DIRECTLY FROM THE "HIGHER UPS".
Panel #26 (Box to bottom-middle): Robert and Jeannine facing each other.
Robert: THANKS JEANNINE. I WILL GET RIGHT ON IT.
Jeannine: UMMM...(Split bubble)...ROBERT...
Panel #27 (Box to bottom-right): Robert smiling.
Jeannine (Off panel): ...PLEASE BE CAREFUL.
Robert: I WILL.
Robert (explanation box): WHEN IT COMES TIME TO PREPARE, I ALWAYS VISIT THE OFFICES OF EACH OF MY TEAM MEMBERS IN TURN. YOU'VE ALREADY MET JEANNINE, MY CASE COORDINATOR.
THERE IS ALSO ADAM EDGERTON, MY RESOURCE MANAGER. AS HIS NAME IMPLIES, HE IS MY CONNECTION TO THE RESOURCES THAT N.A.I.I.D. HAS AVAILABLE AT ANY GIVEN MOMENT.
Robert approaches Adam's office.
Adam: HEY ROBERT! PREPARING FOR ANOTHER MISSION?
Robert: RIGHT YOU ARE ADAM. I AM NOT YET SURE WHERE I WILL BE GOING, BUT CAN YOU MAKE SURE THAT I HAVE WHATEVER CURRENCY IS APPLICABLE TO THAT PLANET WHEN I GET THERE?
Adam: WILL DO!
Robert continues walking down the hall.
Robert (explanation box): NEXT, THERE IS LUCAS DOBSON, MY COMMUNICATIONS EXPERT. HE KEEPS ME CONSTANTLY IN TOUCH WITH N.A.I.I.D. AND WILL RELAY USEFUL INFORMATION TO ME WHENEVER NECESSARY.
Zoom in on a device on the table in front of Lucas.
Robert (explanation box): THE COMMUNICATIONS DEVICES WE USE ARE BASED OFF OF LONGITUDINAL GRAVITATIONAL WAVES, NOT TRANSVERSE RADIO WAVES. TO USE AN ANALOGY, THEY ARE LIKE "WALKIE-TALKIES" WHOSE SIGNALS ARE SECURE AND DO NOT DECAY WITH INTERSTELLAR DISTANCES. IN OTHER WORDS, THE TRANSMISSION OF MESSAGES IS SEEMINGLY INSTANTANEOUS BECAUSE THEY TRAVEL COHERENTLY LIKE A LASER BEAM RATHER THAN SCATTERING ABOUT.
Robert (beginning to fiddle with communications device): HI LUCAS. I'M GOING TO LEAVE ON ANOTHER MISSION SOON. IS OUR CHANNEL CLEAR?
Lucas (with an unamused expression): SAME AS ALWAYS ROBERT.
Robert (caught off guard): OH...UMM... (split bubble) ...THANKS!
Robert walking down the hall to one last office.
Robert (explanation box): FINALLY, THERE IS EMILY COLE, MY LABORATORY TECHNICIAN. SHE IS RESPONSIBLE FOR THE MATAINENCE AND CONTROL OF THE EQUIPMENT THAT ALLOWS ME TO SURVIVE ON OTHER PLANETS. IN A VERY REAL SENSE, I MUST CONTINUALLY TRUST HER WITH MY LIFE.
Robert: HELLO EMILY! HOW ARE YOU TODAY?
Emily (feigning a smile): I'M FINE. HOW ABOUT YOURSELF?
Robert: I WOULD BE BETTER IF WE WENT OUT TO LUNCH TOGETHER.
Emily gives a blank stare. Robert is embarassed, smiling with eyes closed and one hand behind his head.
Robert: ...UH, YOU KNOW...TO TALK OVER THE CASE.
Emily (with a genuine smile this time): SURE ROBERT. (split bubble) I WOULD LIKE THAT.
Cut to Emily and Robert at a non-descript (only mildly futuristic) cafe. They are sitting across from each other in a booth-like seat. Empty dishes lie in front of them as if they have just eaten a meal.
Robert (thought bubble): ...WE'VE BEEN QUIET FOR THE ENTIRE MEAL...SAY SOMETHING ROBERT!
Robert (tries to akwardly strike up conversation): SO, NICE WEATHER LATELY HUH?
Emily gives another blank stare. Robert mentally face-palms.
Robert (thought bubble): ...REAL SMOOTH ROBERT. WEATHER-TALK.
Robert (with a nervous laugh): HEH, I'M SURE YOU ALREADY KNOW ALL ABOUT THE WEATHER!
Emily: ACTUALLY, IT IS QUITE NICE HERE. THIS PLANET HAS A VERY TEMPERATE CLIMATE.
Robert: YOU MEAN YOU AREN'T FROM NOVA ALPHA?
Emily: NO, I...(split bubble, as if pausing) ...CAME HERE FOR BUSINESS. MY FAMILY IS FROM PLANET ALGAS A FEW SOLAR SYSTEMS AWAY. IT IS MOSTLY JUST OCEANS OF ICE.
Robert: WOW, YOU LOOK HUMAN.
Robert (thought bubble): ...OH GEEZ, THAT SOUNDED TERRIBLE.
Emily raises eyebrow.
Robert: SORRY, WHAT I MEAN IS THAT I WOULD HAVE NEVER GUESSED THAT YOU WEREN'T FROM AROUND HERE UNLESS YOU TOLD ME.
Extra panel of them just sitting and looking at each other, implying awkward silence.
Robert: SO, WHAT BROUGHT YOU HERE?
Emily (with a cold stare): I ALREADY SAID, "BUSINESS".
Robert (taken aback): OH, WELL...UM...DO YOU LIKE WORK?
Emily (relaxes a little): YES, I'M INTERESTED IN TECHNOLOGY AND THIS JOB GIVES ME AN OPPORTUNITY TO EXPLORE IT FURTHER.
Robert: YOU'RE CERTAINLY GOOD AT IT! DID YOU DO ANYTHING LIKE THAT BACK ON PLANET ALGAS?
Emily: TO BE HONEST, THE CIVILIZATIONS THERE AREN'T VERY DEVELOPED. WE ARE LUCKY TO HAVE INTERSTELLAR TRAVEL.
Emily glances at a clock.
Robert: SO WHAT ARE YOU DOING LATER?
Emily: YOU CERTAINLY ASK A LOT OF QUESTIONS ROBERT.
Robert: I'M INTERESTED IN YOU.
Emily (impatiently): WELL, JUST BECAUSE YOU ARE A DETECTIVE DOESN'T MEAN YOU CAN PRY INTO MY PERSONAL LIFE.
Robert looks dumbfounded as Emily gets up to leave.
Emily (with an annoyed look): I'LL SEE YOU AT WORK.
Robert sits alone with a pained expression on his face, hand under his chin like the "thinker pose".
Robert (thought bubble): THAT DIDN'T GO LIKE I HAD PLANNED.
Cut to Robert walking into his home. He undoes his tie as he walks through the foyer. He slumps down onto a couch with his eyes closed. When he opens them again he sees his sphynx cat Mu sitting in a chair across from him.
Robert smiles. He sits up and leans forward with his arms resting on his knees, hands clasped together.
Robert (as if speaking to Mu): HI MU!
Robert (smile turns to a frown): I WENT TO LUNCH WITH EMILY TODAY. UNFORTUNATELY, I THINK THERE WAS SOME KIND OF MISCOMMUNICATION AND SHE LEFT ANGRY.
Mu just stares. Robert is looking up, mouth is agape, and one hand is raised with the palm open skyward.
Robert (as if replying to something): I'M NOT INFATUATED WITH HER! YES, SHE IS BEAUTIFUL, BUT THAT IS NOT WHY I LIKE HER.
Mu still staring.
Robert: WHY DO I LIKE HER? I ADMIRE HER DEDICATION TO WORK...AND SOMETHING ABOUT HER TELLS ME THAT SHE IS A GOOD PERSON AT HEART.
Mu begins to groom.
Robert: I KNOW IT TAKES TIME TO GET TO KNOW PEOPLE WELL, TO SEE IF THEY ARE BEING HONEST ABOUT THEMSELVES AND HAVE GOOD INTENTIONS TOWARDS YOU...
Mu continues grooming. Robert is sitting back with arms folded and lips pursed.
Robert: ...I GUESS I AM JUST OVER-EXCITED IS ALL.
Mu adjusts and curls up into a ball to sleep.
Robert: YOU'RE RIGHT. I SHOULD BE MORE PATIENT. THANKS FOR YOUR INPUT. I'LL SEE YOU LATER.
Robert gets up off the couch and walks over to his study. He sits at a desk and switches on something like a holographic computer.
Robert (thought bubble): I NEED TO LOOK OVER THIS CASE FILE.
Robert is looking at a hologram of a being named Cornelius with text boxes floating around it.
Robert (talking to himself): IT LOOKS AS IF I AM PLAYING BOUNTY HUNTER. THIS GUY IS WANTED FOR TRAFFICKING WEAPONS TO HOSTILE PLANETS.
Robert reads some more. His head is tilted slightly and he is deep in thought.
Robert (talking to himself): ...HE IS EVEN RESPONSIBLE FOR THE COLLAPSE OF SEVERAL CIVILIZATIONS! (split bubble) ...WHAT AN EVIL BEING.
There is a holographic image of shadowy figures engulfed in flames in the foreground, Robert with an intense frown is in the background.
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