THE APPRENTICE- 2nd Challenge Completed Projects

It’s been another wild week for GrayHaven Comics’ Apprentice. Due to outside conflicts we lost two more contestants by mid week: William Levert and Forrest Helvie. Fortunately, they were on separate teams so it balanced out.

Take it from the judges, these contestants took the challenge very seriously. I’ve participated and judged these types of games before but I’ve never seen this amount of work put in right off the bat. They worked day and night with players alternating responsibilities during different time zones to ensure our emails were flooded (a few hundred at last count) with updates.

That hard work is going to pay off big for one team and Project Manager. The losing team however will have their PM choose two members to join them in the Boardroom and face the judges.

Let’s begin with the projects:

TEAM 1– NATHAN KENKE, ANDREW SHAW, MARY MARGARET SHERIDAN, JEREMY THOMAS and PROJECT MANAGER SAM READ. 

Wild, Wild Science: Franchise and Crossover Choices- The Four Franchises

The A-TeamThis franchise originated as an action-adventure series that ran on U.S. network television from 1983 to 1987. Its premise centered around four, highly skilled, ex-U.S. Army Special Forces operatives who become soldiers of fortune on the run for a crime they did not commit. The show’s large, loyal fan following continued to support and discuss the show for many years after production ended, until in 2010, “The A-Team” concept was modernized into a major motion picture. Although the movie cast was completely new, two of the original A-Team actors, Dirk Benedict (“Face”) and Dwight Schultz (“Murdock”), appeared in the film briefly as secondary characters.

Indiana JonesA mild-mannered college professor may teach archeology at his day job, but “Indy” Jones prefers to get out of his office and usually runs into trouble when he adventures to exotic locales in search of important antiquities. The first film, “Raiders of the Lost Ark” premiered in 1981 to critical praise and incredible fan popularity. Three additional films (“Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom” (1984); “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade” (1989); and “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull” (2008) followed, as did “The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles”, a U.S. television series that ran from 1992 to 1996. The Indiana Jones brand is also available in a wide variety of books, games, and even a themed ride at Disneyland in California.

Carl Kolchak: The Night Stalker – Originally created in two made-for-television movies, “The Night Stalker” (1972) and “The Night Strangler” (1973), Kolchak became a television series that aired for one season (1974-75). The eponymous character was a reporter for a fictional newspaper who specialized in investigating and then writing about strange and fantastic crimes – the cases Chicago police didn’t want to handle. Today, it is occasionally referenced as one of the inspirations for the more recent “X-Files” concept.

King Kong– Few people don’t recognize the largest cinematic primate of all time. His first movie was released in 1933, then again in remakes (1976; 2005). In between, there were a variety of sequels, cartoon series, books, comics, and was perhaps the most thoroughly merchandized icon in the film industry.

Wild, Wild Science: Franchise and Crossover Choices- Compelling Crossover 

Our team selected a quartet of franchises for crossover that will seem unorthodox to some, but obvious to others. With these choices, we set out to entertain with a story that contains elements of action and adventure from each franchise, yet we elected to focus not only on their journey but on the complex characters and their growth into a cohesive team.

Archetypes

Our large characters list includes only one villain archetype (trope): King Kong. He is physically terrifying to others (who treat him badly out of fear), and at the same time, Kong is very lonely. This makes him a threat, yet the character also generates a certain amount of sympathy.

As with most major “white-hat” characters, our story contains a wide range of archetypical heroes who are similar yet different, with enough commonality in  their personality traits to create interest yet sufficient contrast to generate a variety of conflicts throughout the story. For example, Indiana Jones could be considered “The Loner Hero” who, although he often ends up with people trailing after him, Indy prefers to go his own way. By contrast, Hannibal Smith leads the A-Team as “The Father Figure” to three different tropes: “The Casanova” (Face), “Gentle Giant” (B.A.), and “Trickster” (Murdock). These five heroes alone inject tension, drama, and solid teamwork into our crossover.

In selecting franchises to include in this challenge, Group A members were naturally drawn to favorite characters. However, in short order, we recognized the value in having a wide distribution of attributes to aid in crafting an interesting crossover. These basic elements are part of good storytelling.

Not a Superhero Story

There is something to be said for cheering a Superhero that you know is invulnerable to some, if not most, threats. That is pure, escapist fun. On the other hand, it is different for the average person to relate to a character with the ability to fly or emit lightning from your fingertips than to average people. We chose to highlight a cast of characters with ordinary expertise in everyday skills. Rather than suffer for it, we believe this makes “Wild, Wild Science” an even stronger story, particularly when our heroes cross paths with one of the biggest villains in cinematic history and emerge unscathed. As writers, our team related to this aspect of our selected characters and as a group we believe that there is an audience for crossovers where no character has X-ray vision.

Skills Combining: Fiction

The overall mix of skills available within a group of characters was another important consideration. We consciously aimed to spread skills sets throughout the character group that covered the widest possible net while maintaining enough overlap in skills to keep tension levels simmering.

Skills Combining: Non-Fiction

Building a crossover story as a team exercise is very much an analogy for participants in the GrayHaven Comics Apprentice project. The members of our Group A have recently been assigned to teams. We needed to quickly recognize and then remain aware of each other’s skills, strengths, weaknesses, and personal challenges in order to complete this task. This was one aspect of Challenge #2 that was not lost on us.

In Summary

The idea that four franchises without a superhero or sword-wielding villain can make a compelling crossover travels into a headwind. Special, even supernatural, abilities are the stock-in-trade of crossover tales, perhaps most of all in comics and movies. Reading about an unlikely team of “ordinary” characters doing extraordinary things reminds us that every person has the potential to be a hero… and create a thrilling ride for us all.

Wild, Wild Science!- List of Characters

Dr. Hans Gottlieb – Former military physicist Gottlieb has an addiction to gambling. In deep financial trouble, he resorts to stealing a time-travel device. He concocts and implements a plan to travel back-and-forth through time to place winning bets on sporting events.

Dr. Henry “Indiana” Jones, Jr. – Depicted as a character of dual natures, Indiana is both a college archeology professor and treasure hunter; explaining that most archaeology work is not done in the field, he contradicts himself by jumping at the slightest opportunity to recover artifacts. As a professor he is a romantic and a scholar, but in the field he is rough and cantankerous.  Indy believes that history is to be enjoyed by and used to educate the masses and not necessarily meant for private collections.  Jones expresses both his frequent incredulity and heroism by initially abandoning his unexpected companions to explore SkullIsland, before returning to assist in their rescue and aid in retrieving Gottlieb’s lost device.

Carl Kolchak – A newspaper reporter for Chicago’s Independent News Service, Kolchak specializes in investigations of the supernatural and otherworldly. He is relentless, stubborn, and impulsive; following his gut with very little evidence. Kolchak often finds himself in the midst of danger, but always (and often due to pure luck) comes out on the other side unscathed. Believing he can talk his way out of any situation, Kolchak causes himself and the A-Team to be easily captured yet ultimately helps his fellow travelers return home.

John “Hannibal” Smith – The leader of the A-Team, a group of ex-army specialists turned mercenaries. Hannibal is a natural leader, a master of disguise, and a genius tactician who enjoys having a plan for every situation. Smith is known to remain levelheaded, even in the worst of circumstances. Hannibal employs his strategic prowess by quickly formulating the plan that retrieves the time-travel device from Kong.

Templeton “Faceman” Peck – The A-Team’s second-in-command, Peck is the con-man of the team. He is suave, smooth, and handsome; making him impeccable at his job. Using illegal means and connections, Faceman is responsible for acquiring the team’s supplies, weaponry, and other assets. Templeton is the pacifist member of the A-team and tends to enjoy the finer things in life. Templeton’s clean-cut good looks endanger him when he is chosen to be sacrificed to Kong in the absence of a captive female.

Bosco Albert “B.A.” Baracus – The engineering genius of the A-Team, he has the distinct ability of making complex mechanical devices using everyday household items. B.A. is invaluable in a fight with his massive size, strength, and fits of rage. B.A. displays a gruff exterior, greeting others with a simple grunt, and claiming his initials stand for “Bad Attitude”. However, Baracus’ reputation is simply a front; he is truly a kind person, having a deep friendship with Murdock, caring for underprivileged children, and being very open about his fear of flying. B.A. uses his imposing size and demeanor to coax Kong’s location from a native.

H.M. Murdock – An elite ex-military pilot, if it can fly, Murdock can fly it. Considered mentally insane, Murdock spends most of his time in a mental hospital, escaping often to join his teammates on the A-Team. Though he exhibits signs of several mental disorders (delusions, memory loss, and hallucinations) it remains unknown whether Murdock is truly insane or if he is just pretending. Despite this, Murdock is shown to have a genius-level intellect and speaks various foreign languages. He finds ways to help his friend, B.A., overcome his fears.

Amazon – An outsider amongst the other natives on the island, this young woman is intuitive but always silent. She has spent her life guarding an ancient totem and understands the powers that it has over the island’s monsters, using that knowledge to manipulate Kong into a fight with a Tyrannosaurus rex.

King Kong – A legendary large ape with a seemingly intelligent mind, Kong has a weakness for women and will act to acquire or protect them. A resident of SkullIsland, Kong is likely the last of his kind, and is often offered tributes by the island’s natives. Though clever, Kong has a propensity for animalistic rage when he is covetous.

The A-Team, Indiana Jones, Kolchak: The Night Stalker, and King Kong in…

 Wild, Wild Science!

It’s 1987 and the A-Team hunts for an ex-government scientist, Professor Gottlieb, who is on the lam with a top secret device. Surrounded in his apartment, the scientist uses the apparatus – a hand-held time machine – but in his attempted escape Gottlieb inadvertently sucks his pursuers into the open portal, flinging them all into the past.

In 1975, reporter Carl Kolchak is investigating a mystery man who seems able to see into the future, and as a result, has made a fortune on sports betting. While snooping around the man’s empty apartment, the portal from 1987 opens, revealing Gottlieb as the foresighted gambler right before Kolchak is dragged in with the others.

Overloaded, the time portal goes haywire, hurling them into 1939. Over the Indian Ocean, they land on board the plane of Indiana (Indy) Jones, who is seeking a mythical Sumatran totem. The time travelers’ arrival causes the plane to crash onto an uncharted jungleIsland.

In the post-crash confusion Gottlieb escapes. A furious Indy confronts the travelers. Ridiculing their outlandish tale, he retrieves his whip and hat and strikes out into the jungle alone. Murdock then spies a figure in the trees and races off in mad pursuit, the rest of the travelers close behind.

Indy stumbles across a temple covered in dinosaur carvings along the coast. Reasoning that it is the totem’s temple, he enters and attempts to take the artifact, but an Amazonian guard confronts Indy, halting him in his tracks.

Meanwhile, Kolchak and the A-Team follow the elusive figure through the jungle to a village. Kolchak is convinced he can negotiate with the locals and, much to the A-Team’s alarm, marches into the settlement. Suddenly, the group is ambushed – captured by sleep-dart wielding natives inexplicably led by Gottlieb.

At the temple, the Amazon and Indy reach a truce. Using gestures, the native woman indicates that moving the totem attracts “a monster” when they hear the sound of drums in the distance. The alarmed Amazon persuades Indy to follow her to their source.

In the village, Gottlieb explains to the other travelers that his futuristic device has convinced the natives that he is a god. He reveals the machine is damaged but fixable right before he double-crosses his pursuers, ordering the natives to take them as sacrifices.

The most handsome, Face, is selected first and strapped to a sacrificial altar. Natives beat drums, and from the jungle an earsplitting roar is heard, followed by massive footsteps rumbling through the trees.

Just as the Amazon and Indy arrive, an enormous ape emerges from the forest. As it approaches the altar, and Face, the natives chant the name: King Kong. Suddenly, the Amazon leaps into the ape’s path, startling it. The furious natives rush in to try and stop her while Indy makes quick work of freeing the captives.

Kong rages, lashing out at the natives. But suddenly the ape is transfixed by Gottlieb’s shiny device. Scooping him up, Kong carries the Professor into the jungle. Amidst the chaos, the Amazon disappears, leaving Indy, the A-Team and Kolchak with the defeated natives. B.A. persuades a native to tell them where Kong sleeps. They head off in pursuit.

During their journey though the jungle, Indy, Kolchak, and the A-Team bond. Discussing how they will all escape the island, B.A. complains that he’d rather stay there than time travel again. Murdock covertly shows Hannibal that he’s scrounged some native sleep darts.

Following the trail to Kong’s den, they discover the unfortunate Gottlieb, or at least pieces of him. Kong is toying with the tiny device, and as they watch from hiding, the Amazon joins them, carrying the totem from the temple.

When she indicates she is being followed for having taken the totem, Hannibal rapidly formulates a “bait-and-switch” using it and the time device. Face, B.A., and Murdock distract Kong, who drops the device. Hannibal and Kolchak retrieve it while Indy and the Amazon put the totem in its place. The giant ape grabs the replacement but quickly realizes that it’s been tricked.

At that moment, the totem’s presence attracts a Tyrannosaurus rex that charges Kong from the jungle. While the titanic creatures clash, the Amazon leads away Kolchak, the A-Team, and a pouting Indy, upset at losing the totem.

Back at the coast-side temple, the A-Team make good on their promise and build Indy a raft, while Kolchak tinkers with the time-travel device. Fixing it, he works out how to send both himself and the A-Team back to their respective times.

First Kolchak goes back to the 1970s. Bidding his fellow adventurers farewell, he leaves the device behind for the A-Team. As they prepare to use it, B.A. throws a fit until Murdock uses his sleep darts. They head back to the 80s, and Indy heads out to sea, as the Amazon woman waves goodbye.

Back in 1975, Kolchak sits down in the now-ownerless apartment to write his next article, while in 1987 the A-Team returns the device to the Feds, explaining that Gottlieb is now “history”. And in 1939, the raft carrying Indiana Jones is plucked from the sea onto a Japanese submarine. His next adventure is just beginning…

 

 

TEAM 2/HIVE MIND– RYAN CADY, STEVE DISHON, JARED MOORE, RON MONTGOMERY, GIULIE SPEZIANI and PROJECT MANAGER COURTLAND FUNKE

Ap Project

Synopsis

A young child’s life hangs in the balance- beaten emotionally by cruel classmates and physically by a debilitating disease. Lucia must find the strength to fight.  Hope comes from an unlikely source- the very heroes she has worshipped in the safety of books and screen.  Pulling heroes and villains alike into a world of her own creation, Lucia battles alongside her heroes to defeat enemies, both real and imagined.  If Lucia is ever to be in sync with herself again, she must accept who she is and join the battle. One thing’s for sure, if she returns, she will never be the same.

 The Franchises

  • Doctor Who – Because we’re bringing dimensions together, we needed a property that wouldn’t seem out of place and characters who were used to that sort of thing happening.  The Doctor fits that bill and is currently an immensely popular character. It’s also a property that hasn’t been crossed over very much so anticipation for this kind of story would be high.
  • Aliens – While Aliens has been crossed over quite a bit, it’s always been with the Xenomorphs. We’re bringing Ripley along this time as well because our protagonist will remind her of Newt, and they can share a nurturing bond.
  • X-Men – Always popular, these downtrodden characters will relate to our protagonist, and one character in particular will be integral in neutralizing the final threat.
  • Star Wars – Another property that hasn’t crossed over much and a fan favorite.  We’re not bringing in too many characters, but Jedi vs. matchups will be fun to watch.  Additionally, we need the wisdom that comes from an aged Jedi.

The Characters  – Heroes

  • Lucia – Our protagonist is a young girl dealing with some tough emotional issues at home.  She has no one to turn to including her parents.  She also has latent reality bending powers that allow her to will our universes together in a moment of extreme emotional distress.
  • The Eleventh Doctor – The Doctor has seen what happens when dimensional walls are breached and the chaos it can cause. Seeing his old enemies, The Daleks, involved gives him a personal commitment to help right the wrongs. He butts heads with Obi-Wan over the best way to stop the breach and their personality clash causes some strife within the group of heroes. The Doctor is also someone who has felt the pain of loss several times before, and can empathize with Lucia on that level, while still trying to convince her that the pain of being human is worth it.
  • Ripley – This is a post-Alien 3 Ripley. Newt has died and she is aware of it. We are bringing her into the story to bond with Lucia and be her protector through much of the action.  We’ll get some twists on iconic moments with her in the story but her role will be more defensive than offensive. She’ll bond with the girl who reminds her of Newt and will be there to show her that family isn’t limited to blood relatives and that she’ll be able to find people who will love and respect her for who she is.
  • Rogue – Rogue is a model of someone who lives day in and day out with a horrible power that limits her ability to function in public without giving up on life.  It will also be interesting to see what happens if she absorbs powers and memories from other franchise characters.
  • Kitty Pride – This will be a younger Kitty (think early to mid Claremont era).  She’s a fun character whose powers work well against electronics (Daleks) and is another positive female role model for our young hero who is coming to terms with her powers at young age.
  • Wolverine – It would be wrong to have an X-Men crossover without Wolverine, and we have some characters he has never gone up against.  Wolverine also has a history of bonding with young girls (Katie Power, Jubilee, Kitty).
  • Young Obi-Wan Kenobi – While not the most popular Star Wars character, we needed someone from the new trilogy who would be powerful but remain level headed and reasonable. He’s a highly skilled fighter and powerful with the force and his matchups with our other franchises have never been seen before.
  • Yoda- Our protagonist is both sick mentally and physically.  She must overcome her mental block to challenge her physical maladies.  Yoda is the perfect character to focus her mind, removing all impediments to improving.  His scene is brief but powerful in her healing.

 Villains

  • Daleks – Ruthless killing machines with the goal of exterminating all non-Dalek life in the universe. Once universes start to merge, they plan on an alliance with the Xenomorphs and the Emperor that will last long enough for them to stab their partners in the back and emerge as the only life forms left not just in their universe, but in all of them.
  • Xenomorphs – Perfect organisms and ruthless killing machines. Similar to the Brood which will seem familiar to our X-Men giving a small link to the X-Men and Alien franchises
  • Magneto – This is Magneto when we first started to see the heroic potential in him.  His role in the X-Men universe casts him as a villain but he doesn’t suffer bullies and quickly sees that this is not the team he belongs on.  His role highlights the difference between idealism and tyranny.
  • Emperor Palpatine – Quickly sees the potential of ruling a world in which he can be the only person wielding the power of the force.

Outline

A young girl, Lucia, runs into her house crying. In the distance, we see a group of children have been chasing her, shouting names,  but she’s managed to get away. She slams the door, runs past her parents, jumps on her bed and buries her face in her pillow. There is a knock at her door, but she yells for her parents to go away. On her bedroom walls, we see posters for Doctor Who, Star Wars, Aliens, and the X-Men. On the dresser beside her bed, prescription bottles, o2 tanks, and empty bottles of electrolytes- constant reminders of her battle. She sits up, looks at her walls, and wishes that the world was more black and white, and that bad things didn’t happen to good people, and that bullies got what they deserved.  The background warps in a way that indicates that something has changed.

The scene switches to the inside of the TARDIS where we see the 11th Doctor. He’s at a darker, dourer place in his long life after losing his friends Amy & Rory, as fans of the show well know, and we can see this in his mannerisms throughout the crossover. As he’s travelling, the TARDIS jerks to a violent halt and The Doctor hears the tell-tale sound of the Cloister Bell. We flash to the Doctor’s face: “Oh, no.”

On Coruscant, Jedi Knight Obi-Wan Kenobi is helping civilians head to an underground bunker as a violent meteor shower assaults the planet. He looks up and sees what looks like a white tear in the sky itself. He senses that something isn’t right. The galaxy itself is practically screaming out to him in agony. As he shepherds the last civilian into the bunker, he sees a mysterious blue box out of the corner of his eye. He tries to sense who or what is inside of the box, but he is having trouble. He only can sense that there is more inside the box than the outside would seem to present. The doors open and The Doctor steps out, walks right past Obi-Wan, ignoring him and his questions; hyper focused on the problem at hand. The Doctor is clearly annoyed at being interrupted as he uses his sonic screwdriver to scan the tear in the sky and the meteors on the ground. Obi-Wan, equally tired of being ignored, Force grabs the sonic from The Doctor. The Doctor is impressed and explains his theory to Obi-Wan: parallel dimensions are being ripped apart and smashed back together again randomly, making some sort of “patchwork universe”. He’s programed the TARDIS to travel to the largest tears in the fabric. Obi-Wan offers to help, The Doctor appreciates the offer, but says it’s best if he works alone for now; he doesn’t want to have to be responsible for anyone but himself. Obi-Wan ignites his lightsaber and insists he can take care of himself. The Doctor, incredulous, scans the lightsaber with his sonic screwdriver and mutters to himself, “How does that even work?!?”

On Fury 161, Ellen Ripley sits next to the crashed U.S.S. Sulaco. She stares at the corpses of Col. Hicks and, especially, young Newt. The android Bishop looks up at the sky and sees a tear, much like the one over Coruscant. He tries to draw Ripley’s attention to it and the meteors starting to fall, but she is too distraught over losing her “family”. With a distinctive “vworp-vworp”, the TARDIS lands and Obi-Wan and The Doctor exit. The Doctor scans the meteors and the sky tears again while Obi-Wan tries to console Ripley after her loss. He offers her the chance to possibly save a lot of kids like Newt. Ripley sets her jaw, and agrees to join them. Once in the TARDIS, she has a “bigger on the inside” moment.

We move on to Westchester where we see Lucia cowering in a corner and being chased by a Sentinel. The Sentinel is about to fire on her when the TARDIS lands in between her and the Sentinel. The Sentinel fires on the TARDIS, but the blast is harmlessly dissipated. The Doctor & Co. leave the TARDIS.  The Doctor tries to sonic the Sentinel, but he is wrapped up by a cable shot from its hand as the Sentinel says, “non-human entity detected”. Ripley shields Lucia’s body while young Obi-Wan Kenobi deflects more  blasts from the looming Sentinel.  The Sentinel is getting closer and while Obi-Wan is protecting them, he can’t stand up to the physical might of the giant robot. Just as the Sentinel lifts it’s foot to step on them, we see a hairy hand push a large red DEACTIVATE button. They are in the Danger Room and Rogue, Kitty, and Wolverine rush in to confront them. The Sentinel has disappeared, and The Doctor is dropped from where he was being held. Wolverine is belligerent, wanting to know just how they got there. The Doctor brushes himself off as Wolverine lunges at him, claws out.  Before he can finish the strike, a flash of blue blocks his claws knocking him to the ground, and we see Obi-Wan standing between the two, lightsaber in a ready position. The Doctor agrees to allow Rogue to access his memories to prove he’s telling the truth. They agree to work together to assist the girl.

Our last scene revealing the intro of the players shows that not only have our heroes converged, but their villainous counterparts have as well. We move to a dilapidated and (mostly) abandoned hospital located in an almost archetypally creepy swamp at twilight to see Magneto, Daleks, and Xenomorphs (in containers). Magneto listens to the Daleks scream about being free, about being the “superior” race. He’s not happy with that line of thinking and makes a note of it. It threatens to break into an all out fight when  a shadowy figure emerges from the background. Emperor Palpatine uses the force to separate the groups. Even Magneto can’t resist the power of the Force. He relents for the time being.  “I sense we are not alone,” he says to the group.

The Emperor knows that true power is when others are convinced your cause is their own. He senses something similar to The Force in this girl and it reminds him of a young Jedi Knight, so bright with hope, but with a dark fault line running through her. She needs help understanding what’s at stake for her. The Emperor promises to return the other villains home, and slaughter their heroes, but this girl, Lucia, meeting her is first.  The Daleks huddle with each other around the Genesis Ark and explain that they were freed from the Void between dimensions after being sent there by The Doctor, and they have no desire to return. Unbeknownst to Magneto or Palpatine, some of the Daleks are spiriting away with Xenomorph containers

Back in the Danger Room. The exotic battle-grams are gone revealing dull, pitted steel walls and our heroes, huddled in heated talk. The Doctor has bad news for Lucia: They’re trapped here, in this lucid dream world she’s created. They can’t stay there for long, either; her patchwork universe is highly entropic and decaying at an accelerating rate.

“What the hell does that mean, Bub?” says Wolverine.
“It means,” says the Doctor, “If we don’t leave before this side universe collapses — we’ll all perish with it.”

“Can we wake her up?” Ripley thumbs her laser rifle safety back and forth. Click click. Click click.

Obi-Wan understands what The Doctor is saying. He touches Lucia’s forehead, almost in benediction. “We could,” he says, “if she were sleeping.”

Obi-Wan sits on the floor, Lucia facing him, and they try different ways to wind down this universe; metaphors of water funneling down a drain, the dusky end of a long day, falling asleep…asleep….NO!

Lucia snaps up from her meditation and runs from the room, sobbing.

There’s confusion and consternation. It was working, they could feel the pull back home, what happened?

Wolverine knows. He smells the tell-tale chemicals running through Lucia’s body,heavy meds. He knows she’s sick, and he knows it’s not something she’ll easily defeat. She’s a kid scared on the high diving board: she can’t go back and she won’t go forward. He heads after her.

Back to the swamp at twilight. Palpatine finishes laying his plans on the table. Of course, the plans he reveals are only half the plans, the half that include the others and their goals. The Emperor did not get where he is through honesty, integrity; he got there through cunning and manipulation. What he has not revealed to the others, what he senses that they cannot, is that Lucia is powerful, yet broken.  She is trapped between worlds. She is fragmented. A poison courses through her veins, a cancer – not chemical but mental. She needs a push, she needs a motivation, she needs to never return home.  Shaking off these thoughts for now, he resumes his leadership position.  “Take me to them,” he says to Magneto.

“On the grounds of the Xavier School in Westchester. Wolverine, Kitty, and Lucia in conversation, huddled behind cover – they’re in the middle of a battle with the Daleks, consistently yelling, “EXTERMINATE.” Seeing Lucia’s anguish at the situation, recognizing that she’s more than a powerful psychic or mutant or wielder of the Force – that she’s a scared little girl. Ripley decides to end this mess — to punch through. She grabs Lucia’s hand and runs, dodging fire from the Daleks. Wolverine’s yelling at her, but she doesn’t want to hear him.”

Looking right at Lucia, the Emperor monologues about power and ruling the universe by his side. He speaks of using their power to rule over lesser beings. Magneto looks uncomfortable. He’s heard this kind of speech before, and it shames him to be on this side. As the Emperor walks towards Lucia, behind them, Obi-Wan, The Doctor, Wolverine and Rogue appear from around a corner. The Emperor ignores them as the Daleks reach out for the girl, then begin attacking. As The Emperor is focused on Lucia, Kitty is able to phase again, protecting herself along with Ripley. Obi-Wan and Wolverine are deflecting blasts with their weapons as Rogue shields The Doctor with her body. Logan gets hit by a Dalek beam in his claws and falls over “dead.” He gets back up after a while, surprising the hell out of the Daleks (“EX-PLAIN! EX-PLAIN!”) and The Doctor. Suddenly, the Daleks all rise up into the air and are crushed simultaneously.  We see Magneto with an outstretched hand, anger written on his face. “I’ve had my fill of genocidal mad men, no matter what form they come in!”

“No matter,” The Emperor replies as he unleashes a force blast of unequaled magnitude sending all our heroes, minus Lucia, crashing into the walls. When they wake up, both she and the Emperor are gone.

Lucia’s quiet and withdrawn on the voyage back to the swamp. How the most powerful Jedi could live in such a place is beyond him, he thinks. The Emperor tries to draw her out. Lucia asks to go back.  “You want to go home?” he asks her. “Not home, just back to the others,” she replies. He leaves Lucia in the hospital, a reminder of home- a push for her to choose escape with him. She is surrounded by tanks of Xenomorphs, chomping at her through see-through walls. She has nowhere to go, and he isn’t worried about her escaping.

In the swamp-hospital, fronds of ferns and reflections on murky pools turn to images of home. She re-visits them: fronds, leaves, and branches become her parents, rocks rippling on the water become her school, the droplets of dew dance like her classmates taunting her. She scolds herself for falling into it all again. She ran away; home is a long way from here, but now a bad man, the worst kind, has her in his grasp. She tries the meditation Obi-Wan taught her, but without his tutelage — no good. But really, she’s just confused, her reality a swirling torrent. She doesn’t want to go back to the hardships of her life. She doesn’t. She can’t. She mustn’t go back. She knows she is being manipulated; she can feel the hand of another, but she can’t resist. Not here. Not yet. She curls against the wall and sobs.

Lucia’s been asleep. She’s not sure how long. She is awakened by a soft light suffusing the cell…a vision of Master Yoda. “Look so good, you do not, hmmm?” Blinking a few times to gather her senses, Lucia sets her eyes on the little green imp. “Look who’s talking,” she responds before her social filter kicks in. “Sorry,” she mutters under her breath. Yoda’s expression softens, sick in body as well as mind- one must be whole to challenge the other. After all, this isn’t a jedi in training, at least not yet. She is a young girl, divided in thought. “In here alone are you, but brought with you much, yes?”

“I don’t understand, I have nothing, actually less than nothing.”

“Mmmm, your parents I see. A place, yes?”

“I was thinking of home, school. I was miserable there. But they’re not real.  They aren’t here; I was just thinking about them.”

“Debilitating, sometimes our thoughts are. Become real, here.” He points his cane at her forehead, lightly touching her with the tip. “Two halves at odds, when one you make them, unstoppable you will be.” The words fade slowly as does the apparition

Yoda’s enigmatic message received: Lucia can escape from her prison. Hope springs….

In the TARDIS. Everyone is kitted out for a rescue mission. The Doctor, in typical overspeak that Ripley dumbs down, explains that Lucia is the source of energy for the patchwork universe. For the Doctor it’s a matter of tracing that energy to its source. Obi-Wan, remarks that when they are close enough, he’ll sense the Emperor’s presence.

Ripley and Wolverine have a side conversation about Lucia. Ripley’s worried for her, concerned that she could be hurting herself. She’s confused and trapped with no one to protect her. Wolverine knows a thing or two about powerful little girls and vows to find her.

The Emperor’s chambers. With Magneto gone, The Emperor is in full control of the forces at his disposal. The Daleks are easy enough to keep in line but he can sense the Xenomorphs yearning to be released from their containers. He feels their hunger.  Curious, he opens a couple canisters and levitates the facehuggers in the air. He looks for a moment at Lucia and then sends them flying into the swamp to find a suitable creature to plant their eggs in. The Emperor is more…thoughtful. He senses that Lucia  is sick, and plans to use that to his advantage. She has great power and if he is to be stuck in this new reality, perhaps she can be his Sith apprentice. Perhaps rivalling his own apprenticeship with Darth Plagueis.

The Emperor knows that for Lucia to open the way back home for them, he must make it too painful for her to stay. Lucia has to be out of her mind. With pain.

Palpatine instructs a Dalek to bring Lucia, blue lightning crackling and haloing, mirroring his sadistic passion.

The TARDIS lands at the swamp near the villainous hospital. Magneto has brought them to the general area. Our heroes trudge through the muck, following the glow of Obi-Wan’s lightsaber as he leads the way. The Doctor notices the white rifts are getting smaller, their time to separate the universes is growing short. They finally arrive at the Emperor’s base on the top floor. It’s small and modern and seems out of place in its decrepit surroundings. They enter to find Palpatine and Lucia sitting in a chairs having a conversation, surrounded by Daleks and containers of facehuggers. She looks nervous but doesn’t move. She looks to Ripley immediately but quickly looks away out of shame or embarrassment. The Emperor rises and is immediately flanked by 2, full grown Xenomorph aliens. They have hatched from eggs planted in creatures from the swamp, most likely alligators, but Ripley recognizes them immediately for what they are. “Brood,” Logan mutters under his breath.

We have a momentary stand-off until The Doctor, after having assessed the situation, says, “We’re here to take Lucia home.”  “I think not,” the Emperor replies, and the 2 xenomorphs run towards our heroes. Obi-Wan uses a force push to send one flying to the other side of the room where it quickly scrambles to get up and attack again but Wolverine leaps into the air, claws out.  Ripley cries out, “No!!!!” but it’s too late. Wolverine has cut the arm off the alien spraying acid all over his body. He cries in agony and shouts, “Rogue, Kitty, they’re not Brood!”  The Emperor then raises a hand and we see the lids of the face hugger containers open as their contents are released and frantically search for a new host in the room full of potential victims. “Don’t let them near your face!” Ripley shouts as she runs to get Lucia.

Everyone else leaps into action; Magneto taking on the Daleks, Obi-Wan takes on Palpatine, but his lightsaber is knocked out of his hand and sent flying across the room.  The Doctor takes over for Obi-Wan and we see what happens when a Sonic Screwdriver goes up against a Jedi with a lightsaber–after finding the right frequency, The Doctor is able to temporarily short out Palpatine’s lightsaber. Ripley has picked up Obi-Wan’s lightsaber and is holding off the facehuggers as best as she can with Lucia standing behind her. The battle is furious but our heroes slowly turn the tide until at last, Palpatine is the only one left standing.

“It’s over, ‘Senator’” Obi-Wan says to The Emperor. “There are too many of us. You can’t have her.”

From off panel a mechanical voice states “It is only beginning”. A few of the remaining Daleks say they have tired of pretending to work for Palpatine, and are ready to unleash the ultimate Dalek weapon. From behind them float 10 Daleks with Xenomorph chitinous armor instead of metal (making them immune to sonic screwdrivers and magnetism). Facing our heroes are Xenomorphs that can fire lasers at long range, and Daleks they can’t explode for fear of the acid shower it will cause. Ripley and The Doctor look at each other and share an “Oh crap” glance.

Palpatine takes advantage of the distraction, grabs Lucia and runs. Magneto destroys the few remaining normal Daleks, but no one knows how to stop the Dalekmorphs, so The Doctor tells them to retreat into the safety of the TARDIS. Once inside there’s an argument: the Doctor wants to try to force a way out of Lucia’s universe, but it could be destroyed, rent by the energy.

The baddies are at the door, the lights of the Tardis flicker. The Doctor’s hand is poised over the button to leave. Rogue grabs his hand and stops him. She tells everyone to trust her and she can beat the Daleks at their own game. The doors of the TARDIS open and Rogue steps out, with everyone’s powers and memories. She slices through the outer shells of the Dalekmorphs with Obi-Wan’s lightsaber and phases through any acid splash. She uses The Force to restrain the Daleks inside the Xenomorph shells and tosses Obi-Wan his lightsaber back, telling him to go after Palpatine.

The Emperor drags Lucia through the door kicking, pushing, fighting at every turn; he pushes her down against the far wall. He’s cackling as he advances, pontificating about master and subject, directive and submission, master and apprentice – the way of things, he states. He kneels beside her, leans closer to her ear, “Take your place at my side.” He slowly retracts his right arm, pulling aside his robe, revealing his light saber.  He deftly removes it from his belt, raises it above his head. THIS is what Palpatine lives for: the anticipation, the thrill of total and absolute mastery over another. Without notice, his lightsaber comes down, stopping an inch from her face. Lucia’s face is calm. Palpatine assures her that was the measuring blow. He asks again for her devotion. She denies.

Palpatine raises the lightsaber again. This time his intention is to maim her, to scar her.

The lightsaber comes down. Lucia breaks her cool briefly. She raises her arm.

The lightsaber strikes her arm and it stops. It doesn’t cut Lucia. There’s a gentle pop, a hiss of static. Realization spreads through every fiber of her being – nothing in this world can actually hurt HER.

The Emperor bellows in fury. He raises it. He brings it down on Lucia. It stops again.

Lucia learns…this is her world, filled with what she brings to it. She doesn’t have to play by the rules of others. “Unstoppable she is.” She catches the blade of the Emperor’s lightsaber in one hand. CRACKLE CRACKLE FIZZZZ. She pushes it away and climbs to her feet, rubbing her cheek with one hand. Obi-Wan arrives and sees that Lucia has things well in hand. Lucia looks over to her mentor and smiles, “It’s ok, I can handle this.”

Obi-Wan runs back to the heroes, and everyone else piles inside of the TARDIS and it plunges through the last remaining tear in the patchwork fabric of time and space, beginning the final journey home.

When they are gone, Lucia’s universe goes dark.

The Doctor watches Lucia with her parents on a TARDIS monitor. Kitty Pryde asks him if she’ll be okay. The Doctor expresses a tired, bittersweet smile. The Doctor is an old being, who’s seen empires crest and crumble, good men and women undone, stars extinguish their fires. But even the Doctor doesn’t know the answer when a life hangs so finely in the balance….somehow, though, he knows – maybe it’s just an inkling of a thought, but he knows, she will be fine.

Now that Lucia’s mind is ONE and no longer drawing them to the pocket universe, the Doctor uses the TARDIS to reverse-trace where each of our heroes come from, dropping them off at their respective homes. The Doctor and Obi-Wan bid each other farewell, but under their breath, they each mutter that the other is an old narrow minded fool. The X-Men admit that they are no strangers to weirdness, but frankly – and no offense – they don’t ever want to see that Blue Box again.

With everyone else gone, the Doctor flips a few switches, but pauses, looking at Ripley. He wonders if she might be interested in staying on and seeing all of time and space. She says no, she’s lost  too much time traveling in space. The TARDIS doors open and instead of Fury 161, they are cloaked and in the back of the church during Ripley’s daughter’s wedding; something she missed while floating in cryosleep. He apologizes that they can’t stay, but says that he thought she may have wanted to see it. Ripley tearfully thanks him, and the TARDIS takes her back to Fury 161.

……

STAY TUNED FOR THE JUDGES FEEDBACK….LATER

2nd Challenge and Teams- http://www.grayhavencomics.com/2013/07/30/grayhaven-comics-apprentice-2nd-challenge-and-team-assignments/

6 Responses to THE APPRENTICE- 2nd Challenge Completed Projects

  1. Erin August 3, 2013 at 2:49 pm #

    That looks like a lot of work. There’s so much detail in these projects but it also looks like so much fun. I think both teams did a great job.

  2. attila August 3, 2013 at 8:41 pm #

    Liked the Team 1’s choice of franchises more than Team 2’s, but the execution of the plot is more detailed in the later .
    It’s going to be interesting to hear the judges.

  3. Paul Brian DeBerry (@soyourazombie) August 3, 2013 at 11:39 pm #

    Really liked Team #1 more down to Earth characters. Great job by both sides.

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