Forest Refuge Animus

By Josh Lazarus Brodersen


Forest Refuge Animus title image by Neil Weber Art by Neil Weber

Cast of Characters


  • Human, Male
  • Combat Master
    • Jeet Kune Do
  • Animus of the Cosmos
    • Shapeshifting:  Aaron can change into any animal form, excluding insects and humans.  The forms are separate.  They do not share wounds, but they also don’t heal while he’s in another form.  So if he get cut as an eagle, then changes into a sparrow, the cut will disappear.  However, if he changes back to an eagle the cut will reappear.
      • Preferred Forms
        • Anaconda  (Holds)  :)
        • Cheetah  (Speed and claw rips)
        • Cobra
        • Eagle  (Natural Flying form)
        • Polar Bear  (Brute Strength)
        • Rat
        • Wolf  (Throat rip into a cheetah claw rip.)
      • Fighting Style:
        • Normal:  Aaron is a generalist.  His skill level is off the scale, as show in his ability to out perform cybered opponents.  If his opponent has a weakness, Aaron will use it against him.  Aaron also enjoys using a person’s strength against them, especially if a cyber is not used to his enhanced abilities.  
        • Protector:  Aaron’s uses his shapeshifting to it’s fullest.  After a small adjustment, he becomes proficient in most forms of natural weapons.
  • Appearance:  He is an albino.  White skin, white hair, pink eyes, ponytail.
  • Background:  An orphan, Aaron has received extensive training.  Taking what he needs from his teachers, he rejects their teachings on the importance of weapons.  He has had a dozen different jobs in his life.  The one he kept the longest was security tester.
  • Quirks:  Doesn’t believe in cyberware


  • Rat, Male
  • Appearance:  Big, and mean.  Looks fairly strong.
  • Background:  Father to Kyle and Eric, has "adopted" Teddy after Jonathan disappeared.
  • Personality:  Fairly abusive father.  Something of a sadist.
  • Quirks:


  • Rabbit, Male
  • Alchemist/Healer
  • Warrior of Blood
    • Blood Shaping
      • Blood can only enter/leave Creede from cuts or wounds. Note:  Remember, his claws and gums bleed when that weaponry is enhanced.
  • Appearance:  Gray fur, blue eyes.  Fairly old.
  • Background:
  • Personality:  Creede constantly battles a darker version of himself for control of his body.
  • Quirks:


  • Rat, Male
  • Appearance:  Off-white fur.  Small.  Always wears long sleeves and pants, even when it’s hot.  Generally fearful look.  Edgy around sudden movements.  Eyes constantly dart from one side to the other.
  • Background:
  • Personality:  Quiet and nervous.
  • Quirks:  Never speaks.


  • Rat, Male
  • Scientist
  • Appearance:
  • Background:
  • Personality:
  • Quirks:


  • Cat, Male
  • Appearance:  White with orange stripes.  One blue eye (left), one green (right).  Small for a cat.
  • Background:  Josh is one of the few cats who have adapted to the bloodless environment of Refuge Forest.  Friends with Eric, Kyle and Teddy.
  • Personality:  Quiet, reserved and polite.  He understands that the fact he is a predator tends to make other animals nervous.
  • Quirks:


  • Rat, Male
  • Appearance:  Brown fur.  Tall, but skinny.  Always wears long sleeves and pants, even when it’s hot.  Confident, composed.
  • Background:
  • Personality:  Because of his father and Teddy’s treatment of him, Kyle has sworn off all violent emotions.  Kyle tries to protect his brother by diverting as much of their father and Teddy’s attention to himself as possible.
  • Quirks:
    • Code: I am the last link in this chain of suffering.  I will not allow myself to add another link.  I will not pass my pain to another.  I will heal, not harm.  I will never raise my hand in anger.  I shall comfort, not frighten.  I am in control of myself.  My abusers have no control.


  • Sparrow, Male
  • Psychic Sensitive (Natural)
    • Psi Empath Healer
  • Animus of the Stars
    • Telekinesis-  Powered by anger and negative emotions.
  • Appearance:
  • Background:
  • Personality: Mondriant has a problem dealing with the constant influx of foreign emotions he receives as a result of his powers.  He went berserk a few years ago as a result of being overwhelmed by the violent emotions of several rabid animals.  Afterwards he spent time in personal meditation to regain control.  This control is evident in his control of himself when he encounters the infected animals.
    • Shade has been a pillar of strength for him, but Mondriant was becoming dependent on the stability he drew from him.  As such, Mondriant has decided to see if he can stand by himself.
    • "Hello.  I’m an Empath.  I like it.  I mean, I can heal my friends and tell when they’re in danger.  <Sigh  Yes, I can sense danger.  I tend to be shy; Strong emotions scare and overwhelm me.  I hate that part.  Losing my sense of self when I’m in crowds is not my idea of a good time.  Shade was my stability, and my downfall.  With him I could lower my guard, he can calm his own emotions.  He used to do that to shield me from the outside onslaught of emotions I always receive, allowing me a few minutes of peace, an escape from the constant pressure of emotions that are not mine.  But the price has become too great.  Every repast, every moment of peace lowers my ability to control it.  The more I rest, the less I can hear my own voice in the flow of feelings.  I’m very open, revealing my deeper feelings easily.  Turnabout is fair play I suppose.  Sometimes, I get flashes of people’s hidden feelings and I feel guilty without giving something back.  It hurts.  I sometimes see stuff that is best kept hidden.  If that occurs, I usually inform the person that I know, apologize for having the knowledge without their permission, and promise to never reveal what I have learned.  I have nightmares.  Not just any nightmares mind you, but an amalgam of everyone’s hidden fears and emotions.  It is frightening.  Sometimes, when I’m alone or overwhelmed, I question the existence of my own emotions and mind."
  • Quirks:


  • Human, Female
  • Scientist
  • Inventor of Blood-fury
  • Aaron’s girlfriend
  • Appearance:  Blonde hair, Blue eyes.  Glasses.
  • Background:  The daughter of a major megacorp, Rebecca is next in line to be CEO.  She has proven herself to be a capable leader and a brilliant scientist.
  • Personality:  Meticulous and a planner, Rebecca prefers high-tech solutions to everyday problems.
  • Quirks:


  • Bat, Male
  • Ninja
    • Shade knows how to fight, hand to hand or with a sword.  Shade is most deadly when he blocks out his sight and relies solely on his sonar.
  • Animus of the Moon
    • Shadow Mastery-  Concealment, Teleport between shadows
  • Appearance:  Black fur, Dark brown eyes.
  • Background:
    • Shade has known Mondriant since they were both very young.
    • Shade's brother was killed when he was young.  It was an accident but Shade blames himself.
  • Personality:
  • Quirks:


  • Rat, Male
  • Appearance:
  • Background:
  • Personality:
  • Quirks:

Theodore (Teddy)

  • Rat, Male
  • Appearance:  Big.  Big.  Big.  Teddy is a take on one of his old nicknames, "Bear."
  • Background:  Jonathan’s son
  • Personality:
  • Quirks:


  • Mouse, Male
  • Mage
  • Animus of the Sun
    • Light Projection-  Timothy cannot use this ability when he first acquires it.
  • Magic (Requires Amulet.)
    • Flight:  One of the few spells he knows on his own.
  • Martial Art (Requires Amulet.)
    • Pressure Points:  Timothy is capable of numbing areas and limbs.  He can fracture bones, rupture internal organs, prevent bleeding, remove hangovers.  There’s a decent amount more he can do, this ability crosses the line between martial arts and magic.
  • Appearance:
  • Background:
    • Timothy used to be a dictator in a futuristic society.  He abused his power and ruled with an iron hand.  See Black Guard.
  • Personality:
  • Quirks:


  • Mouse, Male
  • Ghost
    • only seen by Timothy
  • Magic
    • Detect what is hidden:  Watashi wa kakusareta o sathi surimasu.
  • Timothy’s ‘evil half’
  • Appearance:
  • Background:
  • Personality:
  • Quirks:


  • Squirrel, Female
  • Knife Thrower
    • Wyndle is a master marksman, er woman, who can put a dagger through a leaf at 12 yards.
  • Animus of the Earth
    • Inertia Control-  Wyndle can affect the amount of force an object has.  She can reduce an object’s inertia to zero, then throw it, making it’s inertia incredible just before it leaves her hand.  In the beginning, this is the only trick she knows.
  • Appearance:
  • Background:
  • Personality:
    • Wyndle is an adrenaline junkie.  She hates feeling safety, and goes to extreme lengths to take risks.  Once she accidentally burned down her house playing with fire.
  • Quirks:

The Script

Issue One, Part One

And so it came to pass...

(A chipmunk is running through a forest.)
Narrator (Shade):  This is our forest, our home, / in it we lived in peace, under the protection of the One Tree. /  Some say that the tree controls the great barrier of thorns. /  Some believe that it was responsible for our increased intelligence. /  I never gave it much thought. /  Till that day when our world changed.
(Chipmunk approaches tree with a door and windows.)
Narrator:  If I had known about the immense magnitude of what was going to happen,
(Chipmunk opens door and walks in.  Shade is hanging upside-down, sleeping.)
Chipmunk:  (Acting reverent.)  Uh, sir?
Narrator:  I would have said something more appropriate.
Shade:  Can’t this wait till evening?  It’s the middle of the day for crying out loud.
Chipmunk:  No, sir.  It’s my brother, he’s been injured, I think.
Shade:  (Sigh.)  Why didn’t you just get Creede?
Chipmunk:  It’s something odd.  I think he was attacked.  Please, sir.
Shade:  (Flipping to his feet.)  Ok, I’ll go.  Where is he?
Chipmunk:  By the Barrier. (Pause.) Um, Shade?
Shade:  What?
Chipmunk:  Bring your sword.
(They run/fly towards the barrier.  Several animals onlook.)
Shade:  So what happened?
Chipmunk:  I found him a few minutes ago.  He said he was bitten by a strange rat.  The wound wasn’t that serious, but he seemed sick.
Shade:  Sick?  How?
Chipmunk:  It’s a little hard to explain.
(The brother is curled up in a ball about 100 yards from the barrier.  He’s lying against a tree.  He turns to face Shade as Shade approaches.)
Shade:  (Taken aback.)  By The Tree!  (Referring to the One Tree.)
(I’m not sure what the brother would look like.  Probably halfway between a normal chipmunk and a fully infected one.)
Shade:  Are you all right?
Brother:  (You might want to letter this a little weird.)  I’m just fine.
(First chipmunk circles off to right.)
Chipmunk:  He was like this when I found him.
Brother:  What do you mean, ‘Like this?’  I feel perfectly fine.
Shade:  You really look unwell.  Who did this to you?
Brother:  He bit me.
Shade:  Who?
Brother:  Bit me.  (Changes to full infection.)  Let me show you.
(Brother bolts toward Shade and catches him off guard, backhanding him a good distance onto the ground.  Brother grabs chipmunk by arm and gets him in a chicken wing, pulls his head to the side and bites him on the neck.)
Shade:  {How can he be that fast?  Caught me off guard.}  (Draws sword)  Hey, let him go!
Brother:  As you wish.  (Drops chipmunk to ground.)
(Big fight, Shade does not get cut or bit.  After being knocked around a bit he manages to kill brother.)
(Shade collapses against a tree.)
Shade:  {What the heck was that?  A new strain of rabies?}  (Looks up.  Flash images of brother biting chipmunk, claws bleeding, mouth bleeding, any wound on Shade.)  {Is it contagious?}  (Examines extent of injury.)  {I need help.}
(Shade assumes a meditative pose and the scene changes.)
(Meditative pose: Shade should be upside down and have his wings wrapped around himself.)

(New scene, Mondriant in meditation.)
(Shade appears, he looks ghostlike.)
Shade:  Mondriant, I need your help.  (Mondriant looks up.)  I need your help.  (Fades away.)

(Back to Shade, Mondriant’s projection appears.)
Mondriant:  You look hurt, should I get Creede or just come myself?
Shade:  I think I might have contracted something.  (Flash images of Brother.)  Get Creede, tell him we need to get samples.
Mondriant:  No, the infection isn’t within you.  (Looks over at chipmunk.)  But it isn’t gone.  (Looks back.)  I’ll get help, hold on.

(New scene:  Creede’s workshop.  Alchemical tools are everywhere.  Creede is currently working on something very complex.  Note:  This will NOT collapse at any point in the comic.)
Mondriant:  (From off camera.)  Creede?
Creede:  (Stops what he’s doing and looks at Mondriant.)  What do you want?
Mondriant:  Shade’s been injured, and there’s this chipmunk-
Creede:  This wouldn’t be your doing, would it?
Mondriant:  (Shouts.)  That was two years ago, I’m much stronger now!  (Regains composure.)  Shade needs your help, I’ll show you where he is.  He said it involved a new virus strain.  You know the drill.
Creede:  A new virus?  This better be important, and not some new strain of that cursed flu.

(Follows Mondriant back to Shade)
Creede:  (Whistles.)  What in the forest happened here?  (Goes to help chipmunk.)
Shade:  That chipmunk attacked me, it looked like some new form of rabies.  Watch out, it might be contagious.
Creede:  Don’t worry, I’m always careful.  (takes blood sample, bandages neck)  (To chipmunk)  You’re going to be fine.
(chipmunk enters combat form, grabs Creede)
Chipmunk:  (Letter oddly.)  I know that.
(Creede breaks free.  Gets cut while being thrown.  Drop of blood lands on leaf above him.  This should slowly drip down until the end of the fight.  A single half drop should almost land in a very small cut, but Creede moves at the last minute.  Creede uses the tree next to him, which has some of chipmunks blood on it, to brace himself as he stands up.  As Creede gets to his feet, he pulls his hand back, he has received a splinter from the tree bark, and it does have blood on it.)
(Fight scene.  Mondriant collapses from the negative emotional surge.  Mondriant manages to recover as Shade kills chipmunk.)
Shade:  Are you all right?
Mondriant:  (huddling near a tree)  Yes.
Shade:  Do you need help?  (Lays hand on Mondriant’s shoulder.)
Mondriant:  (Pulls away.)  I’ll be fine.
Shade:  (looks around)  That’s odd.  (To Mondriant.)  Do you get the feeling were being watched?
Mondriant:  (Looking around)  Yes.  It feels like it’s coming from … (Points out of comic)  There!

(Scene change.  Aaron wakes up with a gasp.)
Aaron:  The same animals, again.  What’s with that?  (Pans back)
(Scene:  Looks like a children’s room.  Animal wallpaper, stuffed animals, posters, animal clocks, etc.)
Aaron:  There haven’t been any animals around here in years.
(Looks at clock.  Reads 8:17)
Aaron:  Oh, perfect.  I slept through the alarm!
(Scene:  Running out of apartment.  Moderately polluted, no vegetation or anything.)

(Approaches base, base is near barrier.  sees another person)
Person:  Don’t try to stop me.  I’m going to cross the barrier.
Aaron:  Hey, if you want to get yourself killed and save me the trouble, that’s fine by me.
Person:  You New Eden employees are all alike, you can’t see the forest for the trees.  I’m 98 percent cyborg and a master of Muay Thai, stand back.  (Different martial art?)
Aaron:  You are absolutely nuts.  But go ahead and try.  You’ll never make it.
Person:  When I get through, I’ll be sure to come back here and kick your ass.
(Person proceeds to charge the barrier.  Manages to dodge for all of two frames before being totally impaled by no less than five thorny vines.  This should be impaling and constricting, while cutting with thorns.  Pain level is off the scale.)
Aaron:  Cybernetics pollute the purity of martial arts, fool.  Besides, I’m eighth Dan Jeet Kune Do, and I wouldn’t even think of going in there.
Aaron:  (Starts to walk toward the base.)  Oh well, better get to work.

(Scene:  Boss walks into office.  Sits down.  Presses a button on a intercom.)
Boss:  Ms. Walters, has there been any sign of Aaron yet.
(Shadowy shape behind Boss.  Glint of gun.)
Boss:  Ms. Walters?  Ms. Walters?
(Boss get pegged in center of forehead with suction dart.)
Boss:  Aaron, I thought you were supposed to do this test at eight.
Aaron:  If you knew the exact time I was going to sneak in, it wouldn’t be a realistic drill, now would it?  Besides, none of the people here saw me enter.  Except Ms. Walters.  She’ll wake up in a few minutes, but she’ll have a nasty headache.
Boss:  Well, I look forward to reading your report on our security.  It still amazes me how you can break in so easily without cyberware.
Aaron:  (Shrugs)  Pure body and spirit allow for pure style.
Boss:  (Turning toward a window.)  Did you hear of the agent who tried to penetrate the barrier today?
Aaron:  {No, but I saw him on my way in.}  I heard a little.  Did he succeed?
Boss:  Of course not.  He wasn’t even a full cyborg.  What the heck was the poor fool thinking.
Aaron:  You know … With all of your cyberware and high tech approaches, none of the megacorps have managed to even dent the barrier, let alone breach it.  Maybe you should try a different approach.
Boss:  (Looking away, whispered.)  We are.
Aaron:  Sir?
Boss:  Nothing.

(Scene:  Aaron walking outside with Rebecca.)
Rebecca:  You know Aaron, if you got a internal clock installed, you wouldn’t have to make up excuses why you’re late so much.
Aaron:  We’ve gone over this, no cyberware.  Period.
Rebecca:  Oh, I forgot you’re crazy ideals.  "Purity of body and purity of mind breeds purity of style."  Is that right.
Aaron: (Grins) You’re so mean.
Rebecca:  Sorry.  Then again, you must have something in your philosophy.  You’re the youngest North American champion in years.
Aaron:  If I don’t need cyberware to defeat cybered contenders, and I can sneak into the most heavily guarded corporate base without being noticed, I think I can do without cyberware.
Rebecca:  Of course you can, I apologize for bringing it up.  I guess I’m just a new tech girl.
Aaron:  Speaking of dodging subjects, can you tell me anything about the new project your working on?
Rebecca:  What new project?
Aaron:  The new approach your father mentioned … for breaching the barrier.
Rebecca:  You know that’s classified, but it might come up at the meeting.  So, I’ll see you then.  (Begins to walk off.)
Aaron:  Bye  (Waves, walks off.)
(Go one or two frames.  notices body of intruder being torn apart by animals)
Aaron:  What in the world?  Animals!
(Zoom in on an animal.)
Aaron:  (taken aback)  ...I think.  This isn’t a natural occurrence.
Aaron:  (Turns toward the base.)  {That’s it.  Let’s see what your hiding.}

(Scene:  Middle of woods.  By a stream.)
(Timothy is flung through a (dimensional)gate.  Falls face first on the ground, in the mud.)
(Tim gets up and starts washing his face off in the stream.)
(Tim finishes, and sees another reflection of himself in the water.)
Tim:  (Turning around and dropping into a combat stance.)  (Upright stance with legs together, one arm up, the other at waist, both hands held loosely with the forefinger pointing)  What are you doing here?
Tim2:  Do you honestly think that fleeing to this dimension will erase your guilt?
Tim2:  You had power, control, you ruled with an iron fist.
Tim:  (removes the amulet from around his neck.  He should become, somehow, less colorful or vibrant.)  * Power?  Control?  I just killed one of my best friends, and the other will die from that last technique. *
Tim2:  * They just didn’t see your vision. *
Tim:  * My vision!  You said power was the most important thing in the world.  It’s not.  * (Throws amulet away.)
Tim2:  * And who’s voice am I? *
Tim:  (Putting his finger through the apparitions neck, as it disappears.)  * Shut up! *
Tim2:  (From nowhere)  * You can’t get rid of your dark half so easily. *
Tim:  (walking off)  * I have got to stop talking to myself. *

(Scene:  Creede’s laboratory.  Creede is analyzing the blood sample.  At some point he sees his reflection in a glass, and notices his gums are bleeding.  He quickly reaches for a small handkerchief.)
Creede:  (Wiping mouth)  No, no.  Not now.
(Wyndle walks in.)
Wyndle:  Creede, I wanted to see how you were doing.
Creede:  (Snaps.)  Fine!  (Turns away.)  I- I’m fine.
Wyndle:  Are you sure?  You don’t look so good.
Creede:  Yes, I’m sure.  I just need to finish this test.  (Turns back to his equipment.)
Wyndle:  If you need help, you know you can- (reaching out)
Creede:  (Grabs Wyndle’s hand, and pulls her close.  Creede’s fingers are starting to bleed.)  (Letter this a little odd, but not as much as any of the others.)  I said I was fine.  If I need your help, I’ll let you know.  Now,  GET THE HECK OUT OF MY LAB!
Wyndle:  Creede, you’re hurting me.
Creede:  (Uses her wrist to push her back.)  Get lost.
Wyndle:  (Notices blood on wrist.  Note:  It’s Creede’s blood, she isn’t cut.)  {What’s going on.  Better talk to Shade.}  Uh, bye.
Creede:  (Setting up a vial in a apparatus.)  This should cure it.  (Mixture starts flowing through apparatus.)  Just an hour or so.   Just hold on an hour or so.  (Doubles over.)  (Fade out.)

(Scene:  Back in the base.  Aaron is sneaking around several corridors.)
Aaron:  {They’ll expect me to be at least ten minutes late for the meeting, so I should have enough time to check in Rebecca’s office.}
Aaron:  (Breaks into Rebecca’s office.)  Hmm, (Walks around a little.) It wouldn’t be in the desk, or the bookshelf, unless … (Types on the computer.) Password … (Pause)  New Tech  (Screen: Access granted.)  Always a new tech girl, huh Rebecca?  Now where should I look?  Animals?  Negative.  Forest?  Barrier?  Negative.  Negative.  New technique?  Negative.  Projects?  Eighty two of those.  What the heck could it be.  (Thinks.)  (Flashback to Shade fighting chipmunk) Blood … 3 matches … Blood Test - Aaron  Hey!,  Blood Transfusion Storage  No, Bloodfury?!  Bingo.
(Several screenshots of virus.)
Aaron:  A virus that infects animals, causing a berserk rage that is transmitted by direct blood contact.  (Pause.)  That’s corrupt.  Secondary effects, causes natural weaponry to be enhanced, bleeding of the mouth and claws, enhanced strength, enhanced speed.  Humans immune.  Experimental attempt to instill obedience toward humans.  Varied results.  That is the sickest thing I have ever heard of.  (Turns away from computer.)  But it does mean that my dreams have some basis in reality.  Animals do still exist.  That has to be what the barrier is hiding.
(Alarm buzzes.)
Aaron:  (Cradles head in hand.)  Oh great.  Well, no time like the present to test a theory.

(Scene:  Hallway, two guards are walking up to Rebecca’s office.)
(Aaron busts out of office.)
Grunt 1:  Halt.  This is a restric-

(New scene:  Security room.)
Grunt 1:  (Just bleed the previous speech bubble into this frame, adding static at the end.)
Extra 1:  What’s going on?
Extra 2:  (who is sitting by a monitor)  Intruder in zone 4.  No, zone 3.  Eight guards unconscious.  Twelve cameras off-line.  How the hell can he be moving that fast?
Extra 1:  Who?
Extra 2:  I think it’s Aaron, that special agent.
Extra 1:  (Scratches head.)  I thought he wasn’t cybered.

(Scene:  Aaron running through corridors.  Several "blast doors" close off various hallways.  One of them he manages to duck under.)
Over a com:  Give up Aaron, you’re headed towards the barrier.
(A Grunt rounds a corner.  Aaron punches the grunt with his left hand, turns the punch into an elbow to the face, spins to his right, circling around to the Grunt’s left, and connects with a backward elbow with his right arm, then finishes the spin and keeps running.  Grunt is quite out.)
Aaron:  (One word per strike.)  That’s … my … plan.
(More running, ends up facing a blast door with a Grunt on either side.)
Over a com:  Aaron, this is your boss, stop this immediately.
(Aaron ducks under the first spray of gunfire, jumps, does a forward flip and kicks the one on the right into the wall.  Then, he rips the keypad panel off the wall, jumps back to avoid two gunshots, throws the keypad into the grunt on the left’s gun.  Landing, he vaults forward, grabs the grunt on the right, and throws him into the other Grunt.  Aaron then grabs two of the wires that are sticking out of the wall (where the panel was) and pushes them together.  the blast door opens a foot or so and Aaron rolls under it.)
Aaron:  (Space this in the above fight.)  Sorry, but I have to try something.
(Outside Aaron faces two lines of grunts one on each side, forward is the barrier.)
(The video display on the outside keypad buzzes to life.)
Rebecca:  (Over the keypad video.)  Aaron, please don’t throw your life away.  Whatever is bothering you, we can work it out.
Aaron:  (Looks at the video display)  Rebecca … (Turns around, a tear forming in one eye.)  I’m sorry, I have to know.  (Bolts toward the barrier.)
Over a com:  Stop him!  Don’t let him get through.
Grunt X:  You’re kidding, he’s an employee.
Grunt X2:  He couldn’t possibly make it through.
Over a com:  I said: KILL HIM!
(Grunts open fire.  Guess what?  They miss.)
(Aaron makes it to the barrier.)
(Major dodge scenes.)
(Aaron manages to make it through the barrier, the vines still trying to spear him.  Aaron makes it about ten or fifteen feet away, and after dodging a vine, he slips on a loose rock.)
Overlay:  Calm, see with your minds eye.  Organic, fluid, natural motion.  This is what cybers don’t understand. Pure body and spirit allow for pure sty- (trips at this point.)
(The vines shoot for him, he cringes and brings his arms up to block.)
(Aaron notices that he’s not dead yet.)
Aaron:  {What the?}
(When he looks up, the vines pull back.)
(Aaron scuttles away from the barrier, then notices the forest.)
Aaron:  (Stands up.)  Trees?  Like in the history books.  (Cradles a leaf)  Leaves?  Interesting.
(Aaron looks around.)

(Back inside the base.  Rebecca and her father, the boss, are standing around a view screen.)
Rebecca:  (Slams he fist down on the controls.)  Son of a bitch.  He made it.
Rebecca:  (Turn to a subordinate.)  You, get together five of our least cybered employees.  Tell them I want a conference in five minutes.
Boss:  Do you think it was the fact he wasn’t cybered?
Rebecca:  I’m going to find out as soon as I can get all the cyberware out of some of our goons.
Boss:  Meanwhile, I think we should start phase three of the Bloodfury project.
Rebecca:  (Smiles.)  That sounds like fun.  I’ll put it in motion the second I get done with the briefing.

(Outside, Wyndle finds Shade, who is looking at the barrier)
Wyndle:  There you are, Shade.  (Walks up)  Did something happen to Creede?
Shade:  (Looking at the barrier.)  Do you ever wonder what happened to all the humans?
Wyndle:  What does that have to do with Creede?
Shade:  (Ignoring her.)  Some say that they live on the other side of the barrier.
Wyndle:  What would that matter?  No one has been able to figure it out.
Shade:  But what if the barrier was created to keep the humans out?  Would they try to cross it?
Wyndle:  (Lays a hand on his shoulder and spins Shade around.)  Look, this is a simple question.  What is wrong with Creede?
Shade:  He’s been kind of moody since we encountered a new virus strain.
Wyndle:  Was he infected?
Shade:  I don’t think so, I wasn’t and Mondriant wasn’t.
Wyndle:  Great, Mondriant.  I’m going to go jump off a high branch now before things get worse.
Shade:  Hey, leave him alone.  It wasn’t his fault.
Wyndle:  So what’s this about humans anyway.
Shade:  Just a dream.  Nothing of substance.  But that new virus strain wasn’t natural.
Wyndle:  Are you suggesting that this virus is of human origin?  Aren’t you a little old to believe in humans?
Shade:  What- (Notices several animals coming through barrier) ev- (More animals show up) er. (Close up on one animal.  Infected.)
Shade:  By the Tree.
Wyndle:  (Same Panel)  (Looks surprised.)  You fought those?!
Shade:  Yes.  Get Creede!  Now!
Wyndle:  (Takes off)

(Scene:  Aaron walking.  A group of animals, fleeing the oncoming horde, run past him.  The group doesn’t notice him, except for a cat, white with orange stripes.)
Aaron:  (Startled.)  An- animals.
Cat (Josh):  A human.
Aaron:  {I can understand him.  Is that a good sign or a bad sign?}
(Rest of the group doesn’t stop.)
Cat (Josh):  Hello.  Sorry I can’t talk, but I really need to get going.  Are you really a human?
Aaron:  Yea.  Um, what’s going on?
Cat (Josh):  You don’t know?  Shade is fighting a group of sick animals.
Aaron:  {Shade?!?  The bat from my dream?  Here?  He’s real?}  Thanks for the information.  (Runs off in the direction the animals came from.)  Bye.
Cat (Josh):  If you go that way you’ll run into the infected animals!
Aaron:  I know!
Cat (Josh):  (Runs in original direction.)  I wonder if all humans are that odd.

(Scene:  Shade fighting a group of infected animals.)
Shade:  You can help anytime you know.
Mondriant:  (Who’s running away from some infected birds.)  Help!
(Wyndle and Creede show up.)
Wyndle:  (Spikes one of the birds chasing Mondriant.)  Get some combat training you dope.
Creede:  (Looks normal)  The cavalry has arrived.  (Pulls a packet out of a pouch and throws it.  Small scale explosion.)
Aaron:  (Good distance in the background.  Mouth agape.)  Shade?  and that sparrow.  From the dream.
(Good animals get overwhelmed.)
Wyndle:  There’s too many of them.  (Gets clawed.)  Aaaa.
Creede:  Wyndle!
Aaron:  {I’ve got to help them.  Wait, I’m human.  They just might ...}
Aaron:  (Running up.)  Stop!
Shade:  Aaron?  It can’t be.
(Infected Animals hesitate.)
Aaron:  (Interposing self)  Humans can’t be infected.  I’ll hold them.  Now run!
(Animals retreat, Aaron managing to hold them off for a few frames.  He then begins to get overwhelmed.)
Aaron:  Uh oh.  (Bolts.)

(Running montage scene.)
Aaron:  (To Shade.)  Hi, I’m Aaron.  We’re toast, aren’t we?
Shade:  There’s still hope.  Maybe the One Tree can help.
Wyndle:  (Collapses.)
Creede:  (Stopping to help her.)  She’s been cut.
Shade:  Let me-
Creede:  No, I can manage.
Aaron:  I’ll carry her.  (Goes to pick her up.)
Creede:  (Backing off.  Eyes a little wide.)  Of course.
Wyndle:  (Clearly delirious.  You may want to space this between the rest of the conversation.)  Human, no.  Infected.  Animals.  Get … away from … me.
Shade:  (To Wyndle)  I don’t think he’s dangerous.
Mondriant:  No, he feels - safe.  (To Creede.)  Are you all right, you seem to be taking this lightly.
Creede:  (Shakes head.)  I’m all right.
Aaron:  She’s been cut, I think she’s infected.  She needs some kind of treatment.
Creede:  I have something back at my lab that might help.  I’ll meet you at the One Tree.
(Split up.)

(Creede busts into lab, looks at the apparatus.)
Creede:  ("Sinking" look.)  Only enough for one and a half doses.
Creede:  (Strapping arm with a band.)  Fine, (Taps needle, squirts air out.)  one half-dose for me.  (Injects self.)
Creede:  (Preparing second syringe.)  One complete dose for  (Collapses, eyes turn red.)  her.  (Eyes turn normal.)  I can - do - this.  I’m - okay.
Creede:  (Stumbles out of door.)  Got - to - hold on.
Timothy:  (From somewhere on a tree.)  Something’s going on.
Tim2:  (From behind him.)  So what.  It’s none of your business.
Timothy:  Maybe I can help.  (Starts after Creede.)
Tim2:  You’re going to regret this.
Tim2:  (Notices Tim has left.)  You’re nothing without me.  (Pause)  Get back here.  Hey!

(Rest of group retreat to the One tree.)
Aaron:  So, what do we do now?
Mondriant:  We find out why you’re here.
Shade:  But you said he was "safe".
Mondriant:  (To Shade)  We still don’t know what’s going on.  Did you see Creede back there?
Shade:  What are you talking about?
Mondriant:  Three words from human over there and he zones out.
Aaron:  Was he infected?
Shade:  I don’t think so, but he has been acting strangely lately.
Aaron:  Violent tendencies?  Bleeding of the mouth and claws?
Shade:  He hasn’t done that, but a few others have.
Aaron:  It’s a virus, called Bloodfury.  It’s transmitted by direct blood contact.  If that rabbit was reacting to what I said, it’s because he’s infected.
Wyndle:  (Weakly)  His fingers were bleeding.
Mondriant:  Your wrong, if he was infected, I’d be able to tell.
Creede:  (Walking up from off camera.)  Human’s right.  I’m infected.
Creede:  (Walking over to Wyndle)  I started noticing symptoms a few hours ago.
Creede:  Luckily I had time to make enough for her and me.  (Begins administering treatment.)
Mondriant:  (Begins to say something in response.)  (Knows Creede is lying.)
Aaron:  How is it that a rabbit can find a cure for a bioengineered disease?  For that matter how come you’re all speaking English?
One Tree:  (These speech bubbles should seem to come from everywhere.)  They’re not.
All:  (Except Creede who is helping Wyndle, and Wyndle, who’s losing consciousness.) ?!!?!!?!!!
One Tree:  Haven’t you noticed you haven’t been speaking in English?
Aaron:  What?  (Pause.)  I guess you’re right.  Who are you?
One Tree:  A mother.  From me all of nature flows.
Aaron:  So what does that have to do with us?
One Tree:  You five are my chosen.  You are to be charged with defending this place from forces that would destroy it.
Creede:  Can’t you do that by yourself?
One Tree:  My barrier seems to have become ineffective.
Aaron:  Is that how I got through?
One Tree:  No, as one of my chosen, the barrier will not harm you.
Creede:  But what if we’re not able to defeat them?
One Tree:  You have to.  You five are the only creatures on this world who can receive the gifts I wish to give you.
Creede:  (Starting to look worried.)  (He knows he might still be infected.)  But what if one of us dies?
One Tree:  There will be another five chosen in the next generation.  Do not worry, no force in nature will harm you.
Creede:  But-
One Tree:  (Cutting him off.)  It is time.  All of you posses the knowledge of where a single shard of my power is stored.  You may have seen it in a dream or vision, or just have a hunch.  Go, retrieve them, then return here.
Creede:  (Quietly as he walks off.)  Damn.
(Split up.)

Timothy:  (Still spying from far off.)  * Does that rabbit look sick to you? *
Tim2:  * No.  Why should we get involved? *
Timothy:  * He seemed really worried. *
Tim2:  * He said he was ill , and implied he might not be able to assume the power he was chosen for. *  (Looking at Tim and smiling)  * You think you might be able to usurp that power.  Don’t you? *
Timothy:  * What?  No! *  (Swinging at him)  * I just want to see if he needs help! *  (Follows Creede)
Tim2:  * Repentance is still out of your grasp. *  (Laughs, fades from view.)

(Shade walks with a purpose.)
(Walks up to a simple grave, one stone, shouldn’t be able to read it.)
Shade:  Should have known you would have it.
Shade:  It was meant for you, wasn’t it.
Bat:  (Walks up from behind stage.)  It wasn’t your fault.
Shade:  Yes, it was.  If I hadn’t wandered near the barrier you wouldn’t have followed.
Bat:  You couldn’t have known what would have happened.
Shade:  You wouldn’t be dead if it wasn’t for me.  It’s your shard, you should be using it.
Bat:  You’re wrong.  It was always meant for you.
Shade:  You’re the elder.  This should be your honor.  Not mine.
Bat:  Don’t you understand?  You posses a determination that I never had.  Right now, you have a higher level of skill than I ever had.  My death propelled you to reach your full potential.  It has meaning because of that.
Shade:  But I could have done that without you dying.
Bat:  Yes, you could have.  But at the time you couldn’t have known what would happen.  You just didn’t have the skill then.  You couldn’t have prevented it.
Shade:  You’re right about one thing.  I’m not going to let my guilt prevent me from assuming my responsibility.
Bat:  Then the testing can begin.
Shade:  What?
(Panel fades to black.)

(Standing on a featureless black plain.)
Shade:  Where are we?
Shade:  (Looks around frantically.)  Hello?  Someone?
Shade:  (Turns around.  Scenery changes, outside, forest setting.  Looks horrified.)  Oh no.
Shade:  (Shown from behind.  Is facing the barrier.)  Please, not here.
Bat:  (From somewhere in the barrier.  Very weak.)  Help.
(I think this next part would be most effective as a large picture with several pictures ‘floating’ in it.)
Shade:  (Searches the barrier.  Bat still calling for help.)
Shade:  I’ve been looking for hours.  Where could he be.
Shade:  (Yelling.)  Not again.  You can’t die-
Shade:  (Quieter.)  again.
Shade:  (Looks up.)  I’ve been chasing a ghost.  (Walks off, trying to ignore the calls for help.)
(Scenery fades back to the featureless plain.  Bat is standing in front of Shade.)
Bat:  Are you done?  You almost found me there.
Shade:  I was chasing my own obsession, wasn’t I?
Bat:  Yes.  You can’t allow it to consume you.
Shade:  So maybe I couldn’t save you.
Bat:  (Looks at Shade.)
(No transition, just go one frame here, one frame there.)

(Back at grave.)
Bat:  But it still wasn’t your fault.
Shade:  (Tears forming.)  That doesn’t matter, it’s still going to hurt.
(Bat disappears into a glowing crystal shard.  Shade touches it and absorbs it.)
Shade:  See you around,
Shade:  brother.

Issue One, Part Two

(Timothy and Tim2 are following Creede.)
Tim2:  * At least let me tell you what they said. *
Timothy:  * How can you understand them? *
Tim2:  * Does it matter, I just can? *
Timothy:  * Fine, explain it to me. *

(Mondriant wonders aimlessly, switching direction a few times.)
(Looks around, notices a familiar area of trees.)
Mondriant:  (Look of horror.)  Not here.  Please, not here.  (Flash:  Walks into an opening in the trees.)
(Mouse, obviously not Tim BTW, is standing at the other end of the grove.)
Mouse:  (Not maliciously.)  So you’re back.  Going to protect lives again?
Mondriant:  (Huddles.)  I have to.  If I can’t handle this, we’re all dead.
Mouse:  (Chuckle.)  Handle it.  Of course.  That’s what you do.
Mondriant:  (Yells.)  I’m a lot-
(Fade to black.)

(Same featureless background.)
Mondriant:  (Looks around, unsure.)  -stronger now.
Mouse:  (From behind him now.)  You could just go with it.
Mondriant:  (Turns, grabs the mouse by the shoulders, and pushes him up against a tree.  Make any background you see fit.  Have it appear as needed.)  How could you even suggest-
Mouse:  (Cuts him off.)  Go ahead.  You enjoyed it the first time.
(Flash:  Beak penetrating mouse’s eye.)
Mondriant:  (Drops him.)  It was
(Flash:  Beak breaks nose.)
Mouse:  Three pecks.  One in my eye, one broke my nose, the last fractured my skull.  (Maybe some blood effects in the surrounding forest.  This is in Mondriant’s head after all.)
(Flash:  Beak shatters top of skull.)
Mondriant:  (Weaker.)  an accident.
(Flash:  Mondriant leans back smiling, laughing. (maybe a howl or something))
Mouse:  Stop lying.  You forget who your talking to.
Mondriant:  (Sinks to his knees.)  It felt good.
(Flash:  Licking up blood.)
Mouse:  It was the best you’ve ever felt?  Primal, powerful, full of instinct.
Mondriant:  I was overwhelmed.
(Flash:  Rabid animal or two, Mondriant stands among them.  Looks just as bad.)
Mouse:  You didn’t even have the disease.  You just enjoyed the rush.
Mondriant:  (Cowers.)  Yes, I enjoyed it.
Mouse:  Would you kill me again?  To feel that way.
Mondriant:  No.
(Flash:  Mouse, lying on floor.)
Mouse:  Why not, you can’t hide behind Shade all the time.
(Flash:  Mondriant curled up in a ball, in darkness.)
Mondriant:  I don’t do that any more.  Every reprieve, every break in the constant attack of emotions, makes me weaker.
(Flash:  Pan back, Mondriant is huddled (same position as above) with Shade’s wings around him.)
Mondriant:  The more I try to absorb his stability, the more I depend on it.
Mondriant:  (Flash:  Mondriant pulling away from Shade.  Same scene as (8 pages) above.)  No more.
Mouse:  So what’s going to stop you next time?
Mondriant:  (Cowering.)  Every time I start to go that far, you’re there.  I see you everywhere.  You won’t leave me alone.  If I killed again, I’d see them also.
(Flash:  Mouse’s mangled face.)

(Back in real world.)
Mouse:  I glad that I cause you so much pain.  You use it to be stronger.
Mondriant:  (Practically in a fetal position.  Notices he’s back in real world.)  What?
Mouse:  Will I be your last victim?
Mondriant:  Yes.  (Standing up.)  Yes!
Mouse:  Then there’s one thing left.
(They embrace, the mouse disappears, just like the bat with Shade.)
Mouse:  I forgive you.
Mondriant:  (Sinks to his knees again, crying.)  I’m sorry, and thank you.

(Timothy and Tim2 are following Creede.)
Timothy:  * So the rabbit has to get the shard or the worlds doomed? *
Tim2:  * I figure that as long as someone gets it, there shouldn’t be a problem. *
Timothy:  * You make me sick. *
Tim2:  * You were thinking the same thing.  Why did I have to voice it. *

(Wyndle walks towards a grove of trees.)
Wyndle:  {This is near my old house.}  (Walks up to a charred tree.)
Wyndle:  Yup, this is the place.  (Walks up to house, puts hand on door, hesitates.)
Wyndle:  Why did it have to be here?  The one place where … (Turns away.)
Wyndle:  (Composes self.)  {Idiot, you just answered yourself.}  (Walks in.)
Wyndle:  (Hesitantly looks around.)  Hello?  Anyone here?
Wyndle:  (Looks around.)  Please, someone?  (Walks through several charred rooms into a normal looking room.)
Squirrel:  (Sitting in a chair.)  Hello child.
Wyndle:  Mother?
Squirrel:  Close enough.  So how’ve you been?
Wyndle:  I thought you were-
Squirrel:  Like I said, close enough.  You didn’t answer me dear.
Wyndle:  I’ve been chosen to be a-
Squirrel:  I mean personally.  Did you ever think about settling down?
Wyndle:  What?!
Squirrel:  How about that nice...
Wyndle:  Why do you always do that?  I just want to help people.
Squirrel:  That’s odd.  I thought you wanted conflict and danger in your life.
Wyndle:  (Snaps at Squirrel.)  That’s not … (Loses momentum.) entirely true.
Squirrel:  Really? So what would you do if you weren’t saving lives?
Wyndle:  (Taken aback.)  I, I don’t know.
Squirrel:  More thrillseeking?
Squirrel:  NO!
Squirrel:  You’d probably shrivel up and die.  You can’t handle the mundanity of a normal life.  The safety, the schedule...
Wyndle:  The monotony.  It’s a moot point.  I worked hard enough, so I don’t have to worry about what ifs!
Squirrel:  Like what if you hadn’t lit that match?
Wyndle:  That isn’t fair, I was too young to understand.
Squirrel:  (Fades, along with most of the lighting in the room, revealing it as deserted and charred.)  Are you so sure?
Wyndle:  (Pause.)  (Looks around.)  (Weakly.)  What about my shard?
Squirrel:  (From nowhere.)  Do you really understand?
(Flash of fire.)

(Flashback.  A younger Wyndle is playing with matches in an open, two story room, with an open staircase on one wall.  Lighting each individually, watching it burn then putting it out.  Wyndle looks on from outside the room.)
Wyndle:  What is this supposed to prove?
Younger Wyndle:  (Letting the matches burn almost to her fingers.)
Very Young Male Squirrel:  (Walks in from another room.)  Whatcha doing?
Younger Wyndle:  (Turns away, hiding the matches.)  Nothing.
Very Young Male Squirrel:  Can I try?
Younger Wyndle:  No, you’re too young.
Very Young Male Squirrel:  Am not!
Younger Wyndle:  Fine,  (Strikes a match.)  but you have to remember,
Wyndle:  No.  No!  (Walks into the room and tries to move VYMS, she passes right through him.)
Younger Wyndle:  When you play with fire, (The match burns down, she is holding it very near the top.)
Wyndle:  (Looks very worried.)  (Reaches out, and says next line in unison with Younger Wyndle.)
Younger Wyndle:  You might get burned.  (Match starts to char her fingers.)
Younger Wyndle:  Ouch!  (Drops match.  Starts a fire.)
Wyndle:  Mom!  Dad!  Get out now!  There’s a fire!
Younger Wyndle:  (Grabs VYMS and drags him to the door and pushes him outside.)  Stay out here, I’ll get mom and dad.
Younger Wyndle:  (Runs back inside, to the staircase.  The fire has already begun to spread to it.  She stops before it.)
Younger Wyndle:  (Clenches fist.)  Play with fire, get burned.  (Runs through the fire getting a little singed.)  Mom!  Dad!  Fire!
(As Younger Wyndle disappears upstairs, flashes back.)

Squirrel:  (Facing Wyndle, who shakes head as her senses snap back to reality.)  Do you really understand?
Wyndle:  Now I do.
Squirrel:  Then claim your shard.  (Dissolves into a pillar of flame with a shard floating in the middle of it.)
Wyndle:  (Looks at the pillar.  Considers reaching into it.  Then walks over to where the match landed, and picks up a clump of ash.)  I told you.  (Rubs clump, starts to reveal shard.)  I understand now.  (Shard glows.)  I’m not going to burn my hand off if I don’t have to.  (Absorbs shard.  Pillar dissipates.)
Wyndle:  (Running out the door.)  Good-bye.  (Quieter.)  and thanks.
Squirrel:  (Standing just outside the door as Wyndle disappears from sight.)  You do understand.  (Fades.)

(Timothy and Tim2 follow Creede.)
Tim2:  * All you have to do is take his place. *
Timothy:  * And die, I’m not one of the five. *
Tim2:  * The tree said only five on this world.  In case you forgot, you are not from this world. *
Timothy:  * I’ll only try if that rabbit is too ill. *
Tim2:  * So little ambition, how did you ever survive without me? *

(Aaron wonders around.)
Aaron:  {This is nuts, talking animals, running from my boss.  What the heck am I doing here?  and where am I going?}
One Tree:  That’s what I was going to ask.
Aaron:  (Looks around, then realizes the voice is coming from the forest itself.)  Why was I chosen?  Why not an animal?
One Tree:  Five were to be chosen.  I’m glad there was a human in the group.
Aaron:  Why, what’s the difference?
One Tree:  It shows humanity is not truly lost.
Aaron:  What?  You mean-
One Tree:  Few could take steps into this place.
Aaron:  (Stops walking.  Clenches fist.  Continues.)  Does this have anything to do with that virus?
One Tree:  Humanity is separating itself from nature.  My domain is the natural world.  I cannot tell what they are doing.
Aaron:  Is there any hope?
One Tree:  You being here shows that the division isn’t complete.  If you can embrace nature, so can others.
Aaron:  (Stops walking.)  Wait.  This is a test, isn’t it?  To see if I can join you?
One Tree:  Actually, this is a formality.  You have already been tested far beyond any of the others.  You have left your entire world behind.  Your job, your girlfriend,
Aaron:  Not everything.
One Tree:  Unfortunately.
Aaron:  You mean I have to give up even that?
One Tree:  Yes.
Aaron:  (Pause, looks down.  Looks up.)  I accept.
(Far shot of light from Aaron absorbing the shard.)

Creede:  (Wondering around, coughing up blood, and falls against a tree.)
Timothy:  (In a tree, talking to Tim2.)  * He doesn’t look so good. *
Tim2:  * Perfect, just wait a little longer, and we’ll know where he’s going. *
Timothy:  (Swings through Tim2)  * Will you please leave? *
Tim2:  (From background of next panel, this panel shows Creede from the front, he’s standing at the entrance to his house, but you can’t see the entrance because that’s where the camera is.)  * I’ll only leave if you really want me gone. *
Creede:  (Sigh)  Back to square one.
(Circle around, showing Creede’s back.  Creede is back at the entrance to his lab.)
Creede:  At least the cure might be finished- Aaaggh.  (Stumbles forward.)
Creede:  (Looks up, almost full infection.)  Not now.  (Closes eyes.)  Not now.  (Reverts to normal.)
Creede:  (Walks into his lab.  Looks at the cure apparatus.)  Three quarters dose.  I hope it’s enough.
Creede:  (Injects self.)
Creede2:  (A second ghostly Creede enters the room.)  Hello Creede, how-
Creede:  (Collapses on the floor.)
Creede2:  (Looked surprised.)  Are you all right?
(Shown from outside.)
Timothy:  * There’s some sort of barrier blocking the entrance. *
Creede2:  Oh no, you aren’t still infected.  You imbecile.  You should have given yourself the full dose.
(Back inside.)
Creede2:  Wyndle would have been fine with half a dose.
Creede:  (Struggling to his feet, full infection.)  You have no proof of that!
Creede:  (Shouting. Letter this odd.)  I’m going to kill you for even suggesting it.
Timothy:  * This is starting to sound serious. *  (Starts chanting.)  Nyujokyoka …
Tim2:  * You honestly don’t think that’ll work without the amulet. *
Timothy:  * You just have to be right, don’t you? *
Creede2:  Aaaaagh!
(Barrier drops.  Timothy and Tim2 rush in.)
(Creede2 is leaning against the wall, ‘blood’ dripping from a wound in his arm.  Creede is standing in an offensive stance, and fully infected.)
Creede2:  That’s not- You can’t hit a ghost.
Creede:  I beg to differ, (Notices Timothy’s) But where are my manners, I have guests.
Timothy:  (Drops into a combat stance.)  * I heard a commotion, I just wanted to investigate. *
Tim2:  Actually, he was looking for a shard of power.
Creede:  (Attacks, Timothy tries a few finger counter-strikes that have no effect.)  The shard is here, but I’m going to destroy it.
Tim2:  (Looks closer.)  You can see me?
Creede:  Not just- (Creede backhands Tim2 into the wall.)  see.
Timothy:  * Hey, I’m the corporeal one here! *  (Maneuvers in front of the door.)
Creede:  Fine, you want attention, I’ll let you have it.
(Creede rushes Timothy, who jumps out of the way.  Creede goes through the open door, and Timothy closes it.  Creede starts pounding on it.)
Creede:  Do you think this will keep me out?
Creede2:  * We’re doomed. *
Timothy:  * I can see that. *
Tim2:  * What about that shard everyone’s talking about? *
Creede2:  * Creede’s the only one capable of absorbing my shard. *
Tim2:  * Are you sure? *
Timothy:  * I can’t hold this much longer. *
Creede2:  * The are only five on this world.  That’s it.  No more.  He has to absorb it. *
Tim2:  * He’s not from around here. *
Timothy:  (To Creede2)  * How do you know this language? *
Creede2:  * It won’t work.  He isn’t Creede and if he fails, both he and the shard will be destroyed. *
(Door buckles.)
Timothy:  * That thing out there... *
Creede2:  * Is Creede. *
Tim2:  * Used to be Creede, and it can affect you.  If he gets back in here, what will you do? *
Creede2:  * I’ll die, and take the shard with me.  And the world will be doomed. *
Timothy:  * Then we don’t have a choice.  There is no other way, but I’m not ready. *
Creede2:  (As Creede bust through the door and into the room.)  * There is always a choice. *
(Creede jumps at Creede2.  The panel goes black.)

(Timothy is standing alone against a featureless black background.  Tim2 walks up to him.)
(Flashes of the One Tree explaining about the shards.)
Timothy:  {I can understand them now.  The shards are the key, but Creede cannot-}
Tim2:  * What’s going on? *
Timothy:  * I don’t know. *
Tim2:  * Well, as long as we’re here,  WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU THINKING? *
Timothy:  * What? *
Tim2:  * You could have power, but no!  You said you weren’t ready. *
Timothy:  * I’m not! *
Tim2:  * You are always ready for power! *
(Flash of Timothy standing in front of a throne, a rat and a crow stand before him.)
Timothy:  * If I was ready I wouldn’t have ki- * (Chokes on the last word.).
Tim2:  * No, you want the power, *
Tim2:  (Grins.)  * Wait, maybe you want redemption. *
(Flash:  Timothy fighting the crow and rat.)
Timothy:  * I have to do this because it needs to be done, not for any personal reason. *
Tim2:  * Aren’t you worried about being corrupted, you enjoyed abusing your power last time. *
(Flash:  Tim and rat fight and break.)
Timothy:  * Yes.  I’m afraid. *
(Flash:  Rat drops twitching.)
Tim2:  * You’ll be just as bad. *
(Flash:  Tim chanting, max. energy.)
Timothy:  * No.  Never! *
(Flash:  Spell goes from Tim and strikes crow.)
Timothy:  * I’ll never be like that again. *
(Flash:  Scene from before:  Tim looks at amulet, and throws it.)
Tim2:  * And what about me?  I want you to be like that! *
(Flash:  Amulet lands.)
Timothy:  * You are a part of me... *
(Flash:  Amulet lies lifeless.)
Timothy:  * But you do not control me! *
(Flash:  Amulet glows.)
Voice Over (Creede2):  * You have a choice.  Choose. *
(As little translation as possible here.)

(Back at Creede’s lab.  Seems like after a freeze frame.  Creede hits Creede2, hard.)
Timothy:  * I’m ready.  I wish to be tested! *
(Flash:  Amulet flies up.)
Creede2:  (‘Bleeding’ profusely.  Leaning against the wall for support.)  * You already have. *
(Flash:  Amulet vanishes in a sparkle of light.)
(Creede attempts to strike Creede2 in the neck;  Timothy ties to stop him.  Tim gets knocked into Creede2 as he glows and dissolves.)
(Timothy drops to the ground, trying to contain the energy within him.)
Creede:  You are pathetic.
Creede:  (Turns toward Tim2.)  If you don’t dissipate with the death of your friend, I’ll kill you later.
Creede:  (Leaves, laughing.)
(Frame of Tim2 looking at Timothy, who lies still.)
Tim2:  He’s gone now.
Tim2:  You can stand up.
Timothy:  (Weakly struggling to his feet, amulet around neck.)  I’m not so sure.
Timothy:  (Surveys the lab.)  Let’s get going.  It’ll be a long walk.
Tim2:  (Points at amulet.)  Why don’t you fly?
Timothy:  (Looks at amulet.  Looks at Tim2.  Looks at amulet.)  It’s warm.  It hasn’t done that since-
(Shows outside of Lab)
Timothy:  (Still inside.)  I did it!  Hiko!

Shade:  (Walks back to original point.)  Anyone here?
Shade:  (Looks around.)  Guess I’m the first to get back.
Mondriant:  (Leaning against a tree for support, slightly hidden.)  Not exactly.
Shade:  What are you doing there?
Mondriant:  My testing didn’t agree with me.
Shade:  Are you all right?
Mondriant:  No, but I’ll manage.
Shade:  Are you sure you don’t-
Mondriant:  (Shouts, leaning toward Shade, who staggers back as if struck.)  I said I can handle it!
Shade:  How did you do that?
Wyndle:  (Walking up.)  Hi everyone.
Shade:  Hi.  You seem fine.
Wyndle:  Out of curiosity, was everyone’s testing as odd as mine was?
Shade:  Um, mine involved something from my past that I’m not proud of.
Mondriant:  Same here.
Wyndle:  I guess I went though something like that.
Aaron:  (Walking up in snake form.)  So what does everyone think?
Wyndle:  Who?
Shade:  Aaron?
Mondriant:  You’re the human?
Wyndle:  You look-
Aaron:  (Switching to a squirrel form.)  Different?  I noticed.
Mondriant:  How can you do that?
(Aaron and Mondriant get into a side conversation.  Note:  Aaron should have a different form in each shot.  Just keep changing it..)
Wyndle:  (To Shade.)  Have you seen Creede?
Shade:  No.
Timothy:  (Floating onto a nearby rock.  Mondriant and Aaron notice.)  He isn’t coming.
Wyndle:  (Draws three daggers.)  How do you know that?
Mondriant:  (Looks at Timothy.)  Because he has Creede’s shard.
Wyndle:  You have three seconds to start talking, or I skewer you.
Timothy:  (Hops to the ground.)  My name is Timothy, I’m a field mouse, and I’m not from around here.
Tim2:  (Appearing somewhere.)  He’s the guy who usurped Creede’s power.
One Tree:  You aren’t Creede.
Timothy:  I noticed.
Tim2:  This tree is a genius.
One Tree:  (Whispered to Tim2.)  Will you be quiet?
Tim2:  I’d like to see you make me.
Wyndle:  So where is Creede?
Timothy:  He tried to kill the shard bearer.
Wyndle:  I don’t buy it.  (Throws a dagger.)
Mondriant:  (As Timothy dodges, the dagger splitting the rock behind him.)  Creede was infected.
Wyndle:  (Ignoring him.  Closes hand to hand.)  You probably killed him yourself.
Timothy:  You don’t want to do this.
Wyndle:  (Swings, Tim taps her arm in several places.)  Why not?
Timothy:  Because next time, you’ll be pulling back a bloody stump.
Tim2:  (Yelling at Tim.)  Oh come on, you should have ripped her arm off the first time!
Wyndle:  I am not impres- (Drops to knees in pain, clutching arm.  Does not cry out.)
Aaron:  (In wolf form.  Interposes himself.  He’ll stay wolf for a while.)  Next one to attack deals with me.  Now settle down.
Tim2:  Since when are you in charge?
Timothy:  (Whispers to Tim2.)  Be quiet.  (Puts guard down.)
Wyndle:  I am not taking orders from a human.
Aaron:  (To Wyndle.)  In case you forgot, there’s a large, mean, group of animals infected with the Bloodfury virus coming this way.  Fighting among ourselves will not get us anywhere.
Wyndle:  (Thinks.  Puts daggers away.)  Fine.  This can wait.

Shade:  (Turning toward the One Tree.)  So what’s with these shards?
One Tree:  You are the Animus of the Moon.  As the moon obscures itself in darkness, so you have power over darkness.
Shade:  How do I use it?
One Tree:  It’s like the location of the shards, you already know how.
Shade:  (Thinks.  Drops into a combat stance, shadows pull toward him from the surrounding area.)
Shade:  Always wanted to try this.  (Jumps back into a shadow.  Falls out of one not too far away.)
Tim2:  (Sarcastic.)  Nice try.
Timothy:  (To Tim2, a little loud.)  I said be quiet.
Wyndle:  (To Timothy.)  Who are you talking to?
Timothy:  Uh, myself.
Wyndle:  You’re crazy, aren’t you?
Tim2:  Something like that.
Mondriant:  (Pokes at Tim2.)  I’d go crazy too if I had to listen to you all day.
Wyndle:  Don’t you start.
Tim2:  What’s the deal with the sparrow.
Mondriant:  My name is Mondriant.
One Tree:  You are the Animus of the Stars.  You are aware of your connection to the people around you.  This connection has been strengthened, -
Tim2:  Pathetic, you’re all talk.  No fangs.
Mondriant:  (Taking a half-step back.  Generating an energy ball.)  How - dare - you.  (Throws ball, knocks Tim2 back into a tree, tree cracks, knocks a few branches in two, tree behind it cracks, etc.)
Tim2:  (Under breath.)  I will not forget that, sparrow!
One Tree:  -and is now two-way.  You seem to understand the possible physical manifestations of it.
Wyndle:  Violent, talks to imaginary people, and now he’s dangerous.  Oh yes, I feel safe with him on the team.
Timothy:  Hey, lay off him.  He’s dealing with it the best he can.  So what are you, Little Miss Let’s Maim The New Guy?
Wyndle:  The name’s Wyndle.
One Tree:  Wyndle, you are the Animus of the Earth.  Gravity and inertia are your domains.
Wyndle:  That explains the rock.
Shade:  (Thinking.)  Moon, stars, earth- so who’s sun?
Aaron:  Good thinking.
One Tree:  Creede was supposed to be the Animus of the Sun.
Timothy:  But he was infected, so I assumed his shard.
Shade:  Wait, you said we were the only five who could absorb the shards.
One Tree:  Correct.
Shade:  So how did he survive absorbing a shard?
One Tree:  I don’t know.  It shouldn’t be possible, and Creede should be here.
Timothy:  Guess you didn’t take this Bloodfury virus into account.
One Tree:  Creede wasn’t infected with any natural virus.
Aaron:  It was man-made.
Tim2:  Looks like your god has a blind spot.
Timothy and Mondriant:  Will you be quiet!
Aaron:  Well, that explains why Creede isn’t here, but how did you survive?
Timothy:  (Holds up amulet.)  This used to belong to my parents.  It appeared on me when I absorbed the shard.
Wyndle:  A trinket.  You survived an impossible ordeal because you had a trinket.
Timothy:  Someone once told me it contains the power of a child’s imagination.  I know it allows my magic to work.
One Tree:  That shouldn’t have been enough.  There must be something about you.
Tim2:  Him?  I doubt it.
Timothy:  I don’t know.
Shade:  So what can you do?
Timothy:  Nothing.  I can’t do anything more now than I could have done without it.
One Tree:  You should have power over light.
Timothy:  (Tries a few methods.  Combat stance.  Ken-Ryu Fireball.  Nothing happens.)
Timothy:  I can’t seem to get it to work.
Wyndle:  So what the heck did you do to my arm?
Timothy:  (Shrugs.)  Pressure points.  I need the amulet for those too.
Aaron:  Look we can worry about this later.  Right now we better get going.
Shade:  Wait, what happened to you?
One Tree:  He is the Animus of the Cosmos.  All of nature is his domain.  You can see the results.
Aaron:  Am I that obvious?
Timothy:  So why aren’t you in human form?
Aaron:  (Sighs.)  Because humanity has turned its back on nature.  The separation is too complete to allow me to assume human form.
Wyndle:  Animus of Cosmos, huh?  Does that make you our leader?
Aaron:  Only as far as you like my ideas, and at the moment I think we need to stop a large infected horde.
Wyndle:  (Smiles.)  I’ll buy that.
Shade:  Let’s go then.  (All but Mondriant turn to leave.)

Mondriant:  Wait, one more question.  (Looks at Aaron.)  How did you know?  That we were here.  That you were one of us.
Aaron:  Well, I saw it in a dream.
One Tree:  Aaron and Shade are dream linked.  They can communicate through dreams.
Mondriant:  Why him?
One Tree:  He most wanted it.
Shade:  (Annoyed.)  Hey!  We can discuss this later.  Let’s get going.

Extra (Infected Animal):  That will not be necessary.  (All turn to look.)  We are already here.
Wyndle:  (Zoom in on Creede.  He should be off to one side.)  Creede?!?!?!?!?!?!
Extra:  That name has no meaning to him.
Tim2:  Told you he was infected.
Wyndle:  Creede, you can’t have forgotten.  Don’t you remember us?
Extra:  What he remembers is of no consequence.
(Combat is joined.  Creede stands relatively still, fighting to change back to non-infected.  Add a little flux effect in here.)
(Note:  At some time during the battle, Aaron’s ability to temporarily "store" damage should come up.)
Tim:  How can they be this fast?
Aaron:  The Bloodfury virus enhances their abilities.
(One of the infected animals misses Tim and breaks a large tree branch.)
Tim & Tim2:  No kidding.
Wyndle:  Creede, don’t allow this.  Help us.
Shade:  (To Mondriant.  These two might be back to back.)  Mondriant, why isn’t Creede fighting?
Mondriant:  (To Shade.)  He’s fighting with something.
Wyndle:  (Shakes Creede.)  Creede!  Creede!  Please talk to me!
Creede:  I’m sorry.  I can’t …  (Trails off, goes full infection.)
(Wyndle steps back.)
Creede:  DIE!!  (Swings at Wyndle, the blood that trails from his fingers forms into cutting slices.)
(Tim  knocks Wyndle out of the way.)
Wyndle:  (To Tim.)  I thought-
Tim:  We’re teammates.  It doesn’t matter how annoyed I am with you.
Wyndle:  Thanks, I think.
(Creede enters the fray.  Grabs Tim2 and gets clear.)
Creede:  (To Tim)  You were wrong to take my shard.  No matter, I’ve gained all the power I need.  Still, I want my shard.  If you don’t give me the shard, (twists Tim2 and puts a "blood claw" to Tim2’s neck.) he dies.
Wyndle:  (To Mondriant.)  Who is he holding?
Mondriant:  Tim’s dark side.
Tim:  (Laughs.)  You expect me to care that you’re going to kill my dark half.
Tim2:  Hey!  He really means it!
Tim:  Shut up!  I don’t need you.  I don’t want you around.  You are on your own.  Besides, it seems to me that if he can touch you, (Tim2’s eyes widen.) you can (Tim2 turns, grabs Creede’s arm and tries to gain some leverage.  He gets into position, but can’t get any power into it.  Creede starts to "spear" Tim2.  Before Creede can connect, Tim knocks  him into next week.) distract him.
Tim2:  Next time you want to cut something close, DON’T USE MY NECK!!!!
Tim:  Hey Creede, if you want this shard, you’re going to have to carve it out of me.  (They fight.)
(Tide of battle turns.  Infected animals leave.)
(Mondriant collapses from emotional shock.)
Wyndle:  Is it over?
(Shade goes to comfort Mondriant.  Mondriant TK’s Shade away.)
Aaron:  For now at least.  Now, does anyone mind if I ask a few questions?
(Fade to black.)

Issue Two, Part One

That what they had, they prized not…

(Begin dream sequence.)
In the year 2015, mankind had spread to almost all corners of the world.
 (Pan over a metropolis.  Pollution spreading.)
Then, nature decided it had enough.
 (Littering.  Deforestation.)
Around the remaining woodland, barriers of thorns and winds sprang up,
 (Vines erupt from the ground.  Tornadoes destroy a plane or two.)
trapping 99.99% of the worlds remaining natural resources.
 (Inside barrier, lush vegetation, pools of water.)
Attempts to penetrate the barrier were unsuccessful.
 (Several tanks smashed by vines.  Troopers bleeding.  Same truck tearing down trees before.)
35 years later, mankind finally managed to breach the barrier,
 (Camera moves through barrier.)
Of course, if you think the battle is over,
 (Pans around forest.)
You have a lot to learn, …
 (Pans under a tree branch)
 (Ends up showing Shade hanging upside-down, who smiles after the last word.)
(End dream sequence.)

(Scene change.  Aaron wakes up with a gasp.)
Aaron:  The same animals, again.  What’s with that?  (Pans back)
(Scene:  Aaron is in a wooden bed, inside a tree room.  He is in the form of a rat.)
Aaron:  It seemed so real.
(Looks at clock.  Reads 9:13)
Aaron:  Oh, perfect.  I slept through the alarm!
(Scene:  Runs out of the door.  Practically plows through Mondriant, then notices he is about 4 feet off the ground (On a branch).)
Mondriant:  Having a little trouble adjusting to your new lifestyle?
Aaron:  (Notices he’s a rat.)  I guess.  (Looks questioningly.)  Why are you here?
Mondriant:  I heard you having a nightmare.
Aaron:  How can you-  Wait, I remember, you’re psychic.
Mondriant:  I prefer empathic.
Aaron:  Sorry.
Mondriant:  Well at least you didn’t say "psychotic."  Wyndle keeps calling me that.
Aaron:  You seemed to handle yourself just fine yesterday.  Why does-
Mondriant:  Can you ask that another time?  I just wanted to be sure you were OK.
Aaron:  Oh sure, I’m fine.  How am I ever going to explain this to my boss? / Sigh.  I guess I don’t have to.
Mondriant:  Who’s Rebecca?
Aaron:  What?
Mondriant:  I thought you asked how you were going to explain your actions to Rebecca.
Aaron:  Hey that’s personal.
Mondriant:  Sorry.  It’s just, you seem so worried about her, that’s all.
Aaron:  No, Rebecca can take care of herself.  She just designed that damn virus, that’s all.
Mondriant:  I- I didn’t mean to-
Aaron:  Well you did, (Notices how sorry Mondriant looks.) but I think I needed to tell someone.
Mondriant:  (Smiles.)  Well, if you want to ask something, feel free.  By my count, I owe you one question.
Aaron:  (Camera backs off and fades.)  all right, what’s the deal with you and Shade?

(Scene, Rebecca’s office.  Rebecca is talking on the (Vid)phone.)
Rebecca:  I told you, ALL cyberware has to be removed.  I meant ALL.  Not just all weapons and armor. / No.  Not even internal clocks.  Do you want to see what happened to the last person with an internal clock?
(There’s a knock/page at her door.)
Rebecca:  And tell them, no synthetics.  Plastic, polycarbon weave-
(Repeat knock/page.)
Rebecca:  Yes, glass is okay, but no plastic frames.
(Repeat knock/page.)
Rebecca:  Can I call you back?
(Repeat knock/page.)
Rebecca:  There’s someone here who need his lungs removed.
(Repeat knock/page.)
Rebecca:  Thanks, be right back.  (Hangs up phone.)
(Repeat knock/page.)
Rebecca:  (Gets up and flings open the door.)  What?!?!??!
Grunt:  (there is a glowing blood collar around his neck.)  I’m sorry, but he insisted.
Rebecca:  (Taken aback.)  Who?
Creede:  (Hops in.)  Me.  (Hops into a chair.)
Rebecca:  You can talk?
Creede:  I can do a lot of things.  (Looks over at Grunt.  Waves.)  You’re dismissed.  (The blood collar leaps off of grunt and into Creede.) (Blood can only enter/leave Creede from cuts or wounds, here use his claws.)
Grunt:  (Leaves choking.)
Rebecca:  You’re infected.
Creede:  Yes.  Your cursed virus works.
Rebecca:  The virus isn’t capable of what you just did.
Creede:  That’s because I’m not an ordinary bunny.
Rebecca:  And what makes you so special?
Creede:  I’m an alchemist, and I’m one of the One Tree’s chosen.
Rebecca:  So what do you want?
Creede:  Since I’ve been recoded by your virus, I want to help you, but I can also help myself in the bargain.
Rebecca:  I’m listening.
Creede:  I want a shard of power that was taken from me, but in order to get it back get it back we need to defeat the other chosen, and I know a how to drop a large invasion force right in their midst.
Rebecca:  (Presses the intercom.)  Ms. Walters, hold all my calls.  (Pause.)  Yes, all of them.
Rebecca:  (Clasping her hands in front of her.)  Now where were we?
(Fade to black.)

(Scene:  Shade and Tim are in Creede’s lab.  Tim is fiddling with some of Creede’s apparatus.)
Shade:  So you were serious about being a magician.
Tim:  Mage!  A magician does parlor tricks; I work magic.
Shade:  Touchy.
Tim2:  I’d be touchy if I had to listen to your stupid questions all day.
Tim:  Sorry Shade.  This guy (Points at Tim2) is starting to get on my nerves.
Shade:  I’d say you’re crazy, if Creede hadn’t attacked your friend there.
Tim2:  I am not his friend.
Tim:  (Gets to the apparatus from last episode.)  This one, definitely this one.
Shade:  So how do you think Creede saw him?
Tim2:  Why do you insist on asking questions you already know the answer to?
Tim:  The transformation must heighten his senses somehow.  (Stops fiddling.)  How much spiritual training have you had?
Shade:  Like what?
Tim2:  Oh no, I see where this is going.
Tim:  Can you sense ghosts and things like that?
Shade:  A little, ...but with the shard,
Tim2:  (To Tim, pointing at Shade.)  If he can hit me also, I’m leaving!
Tim:  (To both Shade and Tim2.)  Go ahead, try.
(Shade closes his eyes, and generates a shadow aura.  Tim goes back to his analysis of the apparatus.)
Tim2:  Hey don’t you brush me off.
Tim:  Do you hear something?
Tim2:  If I wasn’t insubstantial I’d...
Shade:  If I wasn’t insubstantial I’d.  I can hear him.  (Opens eyes.)  I guess you aren’t crazy.
Tim2:  That’s it!  I’m leaving.  (Walks out through a wall.)
Shade:  Is he always like that?
Tim:  Usually he’s much worse.
Shade:  So where are you from?
Tim:  I’m a field mouse, I’m from a field.
Shade:  If you don’t want to discuss it just say so.
Tim:  Actually, that’s where I’m originally from.  I am over a hundred and twenty.
Shade:  What?
Tim:  A hundred and twenty.  Don’t tell me you can’t count that high.
Shade:  The longest lived animal on record was ninety.
Tim:  Well, I spent about fifty years in that reality.  It’s a nice place, but when your friends start dying of old age, it gets dull real fast.
Shade:  You know, I’m only about ten.  You’re twelve times as old as I am?
Tim:  Does that make you uncomfortable?
Shade:  I’ve been taught to respect my elders.  I put up with Creede because he’s twenty, and here you’re saying you’re a hundred and twenty.  How old does your kind get?
Tim:  My "kind" lives ‘till about eighty.  I’m an exception.
Shade:  Well, how old are you going to get?
Tim:  How old do I look?
Shade:  Uh, about nine, maybe ten, why?
Tim:  Six, actually, and that’s how old I’m going to be for eternity.
Shade:  You’re immortal, (Sarcastic.) right.
Tim:  Not immortal, unaging.  There is a difference you know.
Shade:  So what have you been doing the rest of your life.
Tim:  (Looks pained.)  Listening to my other half.
Shade:  How bad could his advice be?  He just seems like a jerk.
Tim:  (Stops.  Grabs Shade’s arm, (fingers dig between the bones of the forearm) Shade writhes in agony.)  THAT. JERK. IS. THE. MOST. EVIL. BEING. I. HAVE. EVER. MET.  He used me for seventy years.  He enjoys pain and hurting people and- (Catches himself, and pulls away from Shade.)  (Much quieter.)  There’s a lot more of him in me than I’d like to believe.  Sorry.  I-
Shade:  (Recovering.)  That’s okay.  If I could put up with Creede, I can put up with you.
Tim:  That’s not what I meant.  I’m sorry.  Please, don’t let me do that again.
Shade:  (Nods.)  You sound exactly like Creede.
Tim:  ....
Shade:  Creede sacrificed himself to save Wyndle.  All you have to do is keep listening to your positive tendencies.
Tim:  I don’t have someone telling me what’s right, just someone telling me what’s wrong.
Shade:  Then you’ll have to decide, just like the rest of us do.  We all have ghosts were not proud of, some are just more vocal then others.
Tim:  You are really going to put up with me because I’m older.
Shade:  It’s the same reason I put up with Mondriant.
Tim:  (Sarcastic)  Right.  Mondriant is younger that you, he told me last night.
Shade:  Physically.

(Outside:  Tim2 is pacing back and forth.)
Tim2:  Great, now he’s got a support group.  I’ll never be able to accomplish anything here.
Mondriant:  (Walking up with Aaron.)  That’s good.  Maybe we won’t have to listen to you anymore.
Aaron:  (To Mondriant.)  Are you talking to that figment again?
Tim2:  One day, one day I’m going to-
Mondriant:  (Pokes him with a wing.)  What?
Tim2:  ....
Mondriant:  I thought so.
Aaron:  (As he and Mondriant enter the lab.)  I still can’t believe you talk to figments of other peoples imaginations.

Mondriant:  Any luck?
Shade:  Tim thinks he’s found the correct apparatus.
Tim:  It’s the only one that was used yesterday.  So, unless Creede made the antidote before he saw the virus, it is definitely it.
Aaron:  Does Creede keep notes?
(Mondriant, Shade, and Tim give him a disgusted look.)
Tim:  If you want to call them notes, that’s your right.  We got doodles, diagrams, graphs, the lyrics to a song, part of a novel, some calligraphy, practiced mirror writing, and the dialogue from his chat with Wyndle.  There is nothing in his "notes" about this contraption.
Aaron:  Sorry I asked.  By the way, where is Wyndle?
Shade:  I thought I saw her at her mothers grave before.
Mondriant:  Why was she there?
Shade:  Must’ve been the testing yesterday.  Did anyone find out what her testing was?
Mondriant:  Couldn’t have been any worse than-
Shade:  Why don’t we see what Wyndle is doing?
Mondriant:  Uh, all right.
(They leave.)
Tim:  Was Shade covering for Mondriant that much last night?
Aaron:  When Mondriant wasn’t insisting he was fine by himself; why?
Tim:  He mentioned he does that because Mondriant is older.
Aaron:  I thought Mondriant was a year younger.
Tim:  Those two are odd.
Aaron:  Yeah, odd.  So, why are you the only one wearing clothes?
Tim:  How long have you wanted to ask that?
Aaron:  Hey, I used to wear clothes.
Tim:  It’s like I said;  I’m not from around here.
Aaron:  Still sticking to that alternate reality story, huh?
Tim:  It’s the truth.  If you believe it or not, that’s how it works.
Aaron:  I’ll accept if for now.
Tim:  So have you noticed you’re the only one in rat form?
Aaron:  (Been poking around.)  Now that you mention it, I haven’t seen any rats around here.  I saw two mice yesterday, but that’s it.
Tim:  That’s something to ask about.  (Turning back to apparatus.)  Anyway, you know I’m from an alternate dimension; what’s your story?

(Wyndle is talking to a grave, crying slightly.)
Wyndle:  -but he got infected, so-  (Notices Shade and Mondriant.)
Mondriant:  Are you okay?
Wyndle:  (Turns away.)  I’m fine.
Shade:  It’s just, we haven’t seen you today.
Wyndle:  I just wanted to be alone.
Mondriant:  It wasn’t your fault.
Shade:  What are you-?
Wyndle:  (Turns around.  Grabs Mondriant.)  And what do you know about "fault"!  I’m sure if we asked that mouse you murdered-
Mondriant:  (Cuts her off, TKs her away, similar grab.)  He’d say it wasn’t my fault.  (Puts her down.)  Now, we’re here to see if you are all right.  You aren’t the only one with problems.
Shade:  (Hesitant.)  Mondriant, are you- (Very slight pause.)
Mondriant:  (Cuts him off.)  Yes, I’m done.  Let’s go.
Shade:  But wha-?
Mondriant:  (Still looking at Wyndle.)  Now.
Shade:  Um, okay.  (Begins to walk off.)
Mondriant:  (Whispered to Wyndle.)  I guess we aren’t so different.
Wyndle:  (Swings, her fist stopping at Mondriant’s throat.)  Don’t you EVER say that again.
(Walk off.)

(Back at Creede’s lab.)
Tim:  (Still working on apparatus.)  I like how you tripped on the loose rock.
Aaron:  (Obviously offended.  Exaggerating.)  I’m still the first human to breach the barrier.
Tim:  (Still not looking back.)  Didn’t the One Tree say it can’t harm us?
Aaron:  Fine!  Just take all the impressiveness out of it.
Tim:  (Turns around.)  If I wanted impressive, I would have brought up the blast door with the two security guards.
Aaron:  Wait, you thought that was impressive?
Tim:  With this amulet, I might have been able to do it.  Without the amulet, no chance.
Aaron:  (Puts hand on Tim’s shoulder.  Looks at amulet.)  You really are dependent on that aren’t you?  Would you like to try sparing without it?
Tim:  (Getting nervous.)  Uh, um.  I- I guess.
Aaron:  Don’t worry, after a hundred years, how bad can you be?
Tim:  Actually, my other half is the one who knows things like that.
Aaron:  You were doing fine against Creede yesterday.
Tim:  But I had the amulet then.  You don’t understand.
Aaron:  (Sigh.)  Fine, why don’t you try sparring with it first.
Tim:  But- uh, are you sure that’s a good idea?
Aaron:  I thought you said you weren’t that good.
Tim:  I know a few moves that you haven’t seen anything like.
Aaron:  I know a lot, try me.
Tim:  (Takes a nearby block of rock, maybe granite, and looks it over.)  Now watch closely.
Aaron:  (Tim steps back.)  So you can break rocks, I’ve (Tim stabs the rock with his forefinger.  The rock explodes into a cloud.)  seen people who  (When the cloud clears, a statue of Tim is standing there.)  can’t do anything like that.
Tim:  Without the amulet, I can’t even break boards.  I’m worthless.
Aaron:  The more you believe that, the truer it is.
Tim:  ....
Aaron:  So how’s the science stuff going?
Tim:  You really don’t have the slightest clue here, do you? /  (Picks up a glass stirring rod.  Turns back to the apparatus and examines the residue in one of the flasks.) Well, neither do I.
(Shade and Mondriant show up.)
Aaron:  So who taught Creede?
Shade:  Creede learned from a rat named Jonathan.
Tim:  (Twitches, shattering the glass rod he’s holding.)
Shade:  Someone you know?
Tim:  No!  No, I’m thinking of someone else.  He doesn’t happen to have a cybernetic arm?
Shade:  Cybernetic?  What’s that?
Aaron:  It’s when you replace part of your body with a machine.
Shade:  No.  I’m almost sure he doesn’t have any of that.
(Wyndle shows up.)
Tim:  Yeah, definitely someone else.
Wyndle:  So, what’s going on?
Tim:  If I’m going to figure this thing out, I’m going to need to talk to Jonathan.
Wyndle:  Not that stupid squeak.
Shade:  Do you have to use racial slurs?
Aaron:  You know, squirrels and rats are both rodents.
Wyndle:  (Offended.)  Don’t you lump me with them.
Aaron:  (Looks innocent.)  Don’t lump them together.
Tim:  (Annoyed.)  Anyway, where is he?
Mondriant:  Subterranean.
Tim:  Where?
Shade:  There’s a network of tunnels and caverns under this forest.  Unfortunately, the only one I know who goes down there with any regularity is-
Shade (Keeps talking.), Aaron (Slaps forehead.), Tim (Shrugs nonchalantly.), Mondriant (Caught in moment.):  Creede.

(Scene:  Tim, Aaron(Still rat form.), Wyndle approach a small group of rocks.  Piled so they form a small entrance to a cave.)
Wyndle:  How did I let myself be talked into this?
Aaron:  You’re the only one who’s been here before.
Wyndle:  Once, about two years ago.
Tim:  Well, Mondriant is claustrophobic, and Shade isn’t leaving him up here alone, so that leaves you.
Wyndle:  All right fine.  (walks into the cave.)
(Aaron follows.)
Tim2:  (Appears behind Tim when the camera angle changes.)  I still think this is a dumb idea.
Tim:  (Turns toward him.)  I don’t remember asking your opinion.
Tim2:  Don’t you know?  You should always listen to the voices in your head.
Tim:  I know, but you’re not in my head.  (Points at him.)  You’re over there.  (Goes in cave.)
Tim2:   No fair using logic.

(A note about light.  Light in the underground comes from glowing bunches of "moss".  These clumps are always found on the ceiling or very high on the walls.  They are fairly prevalent, but not universal.  They are attracted to movement and heat.  The more frequently used a cavern is, the brighter it is.)

(Later:  The three (Tim2:  Four! / Narrator: Sorry.  Now be Quiet.)  The four of them approach a medium sized cavern. (About three times Wyndle’s height, many small crevices.))
Aaron:  You know, this looks like a perfect place for an ambush.
Tim:  You’re just being paranoid.
Aaron:  I guess you’re right.
Wyndle:  No he isn’t.  Last time I was here there were lots of lookouts and ambushes.
Tim:  If you feel that strongly about it-  (Sideways glance at Tim2.)
Tim2:  (Obviously annoyed to be bothered.)  all right fine.  To detect what’s hidden:  Watashi wa kakusareta o satchi surimasu.
Tim:  Watashi wa kakusareta o satchi surimasu.
(About 10 rats step out from the shadows.)
Rat1:  I don’t know what you’re doing, but it won’t be necessary.
Aaron:  (To Tim.)  Told you.
Rat2:  (To Aaron.)  Who are you?  I haven’t seen you before.
Aaron:  We’re looking for a rat named Jonathan.
Rat1:  Sure, and how do you know him?
Wyndle:  He’s the one who taught Creede.
Rat1:  And I assume you’re friends of Creede.  Why didn’t he come himself?
 Scenes leading up to Creede’s appearance:
Creede and Group enter sewers.
  (Creede, Jonathan, and some additional rodents enter a manhole.)
 Creede and group in sewers.
 Creede and group at place where sewers and caves meet.
 Creede and group in caves.
 Creede and group grabbing and infecting a stray rat.
 Creede and group approaching central cavern.
 Creede eavesdropping on Animus group.
Aaron:  (As Wyndle is stumped.)  He’s contracted a virus that prevented him from coming with us.  The problem is he can’t tell us how to work his machines to make a cure.
Rat3:  Why don’t I buy that?
(Rats draw weapons, Tim and Wyndle assume combat stance.)
Aaron:  You’re kidding me, ten of you, and I thought I was going to work up a sweat.
Rat1:  (Advances, swings at Aaron.)  And what-
Aaron:  (Assumes a cobra form, and wraps up Rat1.)  makes you think you can stop us?  Now can we pass?
Rat1:  (Squirming.)  I give up!  I give up!
Aaron:  Stop squirming.
Rat1:  (Stops.)  Y- Y- Yes-sir.
Aaron:  Now, tell the rest of them to let us pass.
Rat2:  He isn’t our leader.
Tim:  Do YOU want to argue with the snake?
Rats 4 - 10:  No.
Rat3:  (To Rat2.)  Maybe this isn’t a good idea.
Rat1:  No it isn’t!
Rat2:  (To Tim and Wyndle.)  I suppose you’re his servants.
Tim:  Actually, she does more damage than him, and I’m .... well, you can imagine.
Rat2:  Fine.  You three can pass,  (To Aaron.)  but not in that form.
Tim2:  Four!  There are four of us!
Aaron:  (Assumes rat form.  Says to Rat1, who stands still, scared out of his mind.)  Hey, calm down.  It’s not like I’m a real snake.
Rat2:  (As they walk off.)  Call ahead, and keep an eye on them.
Tim:  (As they walk off.)  No, you’re just a human.

(Later.  Rats ducking through shadows in foreground and background.)
Aaron:  I still feel like we’re being watched.
Tim:  Don’t be silly.  So, Wyndle, do you have any idea where we’re going?
Wyndle:  No.
Tim:  (Picks up two rocks, taps one, it explodes.)  Then, I guess we should, (Taps second rock, tosses it into a shadow.  A rat jumps out.)  ask these people who have been following us.
Rat:  (Shaken.)  Don’t do that!
Tim:  What?  That rock wasn’t going to explode.
Aaron:  We’re not being watched, huh?
Tim:  I didn’t say that, I meant that it would be silly if they weren’t watching us.
Wyndle:  (To rat.)  Are you allowed to give us directions?
Rat:  What?  I’m a spy.  I’m not giving you directions!
 Scenes leading up to Creede’s appearance:
 Creede and Group enter sewers.
Creede and group in sewers.
  (Jonathan:  Good thing you brought me along for directions.  You might have wanted to tell Rebecca that you’ve never been down here.)
 Creede and group at place where sewers and caves meet.
 Creede and group in caves.
 Creede and group grabbing and infecting a stray rat.
 Creede and group approaching central cavern.
 Creede eavesdropping on Animus group.
Tim:  (To Wyndle.)  Mind if I talk to him?
Wyndle:  (Drawing a dagger.)  No, I’ve got him.
Tim2:  Violent.  I think I’m starting to like her.
Aaron:  (Stopping Wyndle.)  That isn’t necessary.
Wyndle:  How do you expect to get any information out of him if we don’t interrogate him?
Aaron:  He isn’t our enemy, if he doesn’t want to tell us anything, he doesn’t have to.
Rat:  (Sneaking away.)
Wyndle:  But he’s been following us.
Tim2:  And she was just going to have a little fun.
Aaron:  (Grabs rat.  Doesn’t take eyes off of Wyndle.)  No excuses.  (To rat.)  You’re free to go.
Rat:  I suppose I’m supposed to be moved by the fact you’re letting me go?
Aaron:  Yes, now if you’ll excuse us.  Let’s keep moving.  Wyndle, lead.
Tim2:  You’re kidding.  Tim, let’s ditch these two.  Please.
Tim:  Um, will you two be okay if I scout a little bit?
Aaron:  Sure, why?
Tim:  I need to clear my head.
(Aaron and Wyndle walk off one way, Tim another.  Rat stands scratching his head.)
Tim:  (To Tim2.)  Why do you have to do that?  Do you have any idea what it’s like to listen to you all day?
(Exchange phantom blows.)

Issue Two, Part Two

(Later still.  Wyndle and Aaron wonder.)
Aaron:  Didn’t we pass this place an hour ago?
Wyndle:  You’re welcome to lead at any time.
Aaron:  I just wanted to mention that that’s the ninth left turn we’ve made.
(Walk up to a rat (David) standing in the middle of the tunnel.)
Aaron:  Hello.
David:  Who are you?
Aaron:  Just two people looking for a rat named Jonathan.
David:  I’ve been informed that you let one of our number go without harming him.  That is not the action of an invader.
Aaron:  We aren’t invading.
David:  So once again, who are you?  I’d like a little more details.
Aaron:  I’m Aaron and this is Wyndle.  We are two of the One Tree’s chosen.
David:  How do I know I can trust you?
Aaron:  Try me.
Wyndle:  (Whispered to Aaron.)  Do you know what you’re doing?
Aaron:  (Smiles.)  Not at all.
David:  Crossbow.  (Another rat moves out of the shadow and hands one to him.)
Wyndle:  Are you sure you want to do this?
Aaron:  Don’t worry, I think I know what he’s going to do.
David:  Don’t move.  (Aims crossbow, pause, fires striking Aaron in the shoulder.)
Wyndle:  (Draws dagger.)  You double crossing-
Aaron:  Wait!  He did it on purpose.
Wyndle:  I know that!
Aaron:  He could have hit me in the head.
Wyndle:  So?
Aaron:  He didn’t, now put the dagger away.
Wyndle:  But-
Aaron:  Now.
Wyndle:  Fine.  (Puts dagger away.)
 Scenes leading up to Creede’s appearance:
 Creede and Group enter sewers.
 Creede and group in sewers.
Creede and group at place where sewers and caves meet.  Roots line the wall.
  (Jonathan:  And these roots are the underground equivalent of the thorns.  They mean we’ve just stepped below the forest.
  Creede:  Ah, now that we’re here,)
 Creede and group in caves.
 Creede and group grabbing and infecting a stray rat.
 Creede and group approaching central cavern.
 Creede eavesdropping on Animus group.
David:  Why not attack?
Aaron:  Because you want to see how far I’m willing to go to find Jonathan.  Sensei did the same thing when I wanted to learn martial arts.
David:  I accept your trust.  (To the side.)  Heather, Doug, bind his wound.
David:  (Walks up.)  I’m David, the leader of this group.  Welcome to our home.

(Scene:  Kyle and Eric are playing a game.  (I’m thinking of something like jacks.))
Teddy:  What the heck are you losers doing?
Kyle:  What’s it to you?
Teddy:  (Begins walking toward Eric.)  I’m not going to have my little toady playing some sissy game.
Kyle:  (Interposes self.)  Maybe you-
Teddy:  (Punches Kyle in the stomach.  Hard.)  Still playing brothers keeper, eh?  (Grabs Kyle by the chest with his left hand, and brings his right hand back.)  Don’t you know?  I’m your brothers keeper.  (Swings.)
Teddy:  (Notices hand has stopped.)  What?
Tim:  (Fingers pressed to shoulder.)  I believe you should rethink this action.
Teddy:  Get your hands off me you pervert!
Tim:  I usually pick on people my own size, but in this case I’ll make an exception.
Teddy:  I said don’t touch me!  (Swings with left hand.)
Tim:  (Avoids strike, then thumps (palm blow) Teddy in chest.  Teddy collapses.)
Kyle:  Why did you do that?  He’s just going to be in a worse mood when he gets up.
Tim2:  Stop him from getting up.  It only takes one strike.
Tim:  Sorry, but I couldn’t have just stood by and watched.
Kyle:  Why not?  Everyone else does.  (Looks at Teddy.  Scratches head.)  What the heck did you do to him?
Tim:  Hit his chest off rhythm from his heart.  He’ll be fine in a few minutes.
Kyle:  Well, it was unnecessary, I can take care of myself.
Tim:  (Pause.)  (Sigh) My name is Timothy, who are you?
Kyle:  I’m Kyle, this is my brother Eric.
Tim2:  (The villain bit where they put one hand on each shoulder from behind, lean forward, and look sideways at the persons head.)  I like this one.  (Tim2 will spend the rest of this scene examining Eric.  Eric still can’t see him.)
Tim:  Does he talk?
Kyle:  No.
Tim:  (Looking at Teddy.)  And just who is this jerk?
Kyle:  Theo-  (Eric grabs his arm.)  Teddy.  He prefers Teddy.
Tim:  What right does he have that lets him hit you like that?
Teddy:  (Struggling to feet.)  I’m stronger, and I’m in a lousy mood.
Tim:  Well, I’m a much better fighter than you.  So if you don’t want me to break every bone in your body, leave these two alone.
Teddy:  (Grabs for Tim.)  Shut up.
Tim:  (Taps Teddy in the arm, once below the elbow, and once closer to the wrist.)  Don’t do that.
Teddy:  I’m gonna-
Tim:  Fine.  You want to hit me, go right ahead.
Teddy:  (Pause.)  What did you do to my arm?
Tim:  A fracture in the two bones in your arm.  It should break the next time you exert it.
Teddy:  (Pause.)  Fine, be that way.  But the second you’re not around... (Leaves.)
Kyle:  You didn’t have to do that.
Tim:  Are you kidding?  He would have-
Kyle:  Killed me?  Not likely.  He talks tough, takes a few swings, but beyond that he isn’t vicious.
Tim:  And you put up with that?
Kyle:  It keeps him away from my father.
Tim:  Why would that make a difference?
Kyle:  Six months ago, his father disappeared.  He’s been staying with my father, and he likes my father’s philosophy a little to much.
Tim:  ....
Kyle:  (Starts walking away.  Eric follows.)
Tim:  Have there been a lot of disappearances lately?
Kyle:  Well, Jonathan was the first, but there’s been about forty of them between then and now.
Tim:  Not the Jonathan that taught Creede?
Kyle:  Who?
Tim:  Creede’s a rabbit.
Kyle:  Yea, I remember him teaching a rabbit alchemy.  Why?
Tim:  I’ll have to explain later, I need to find my friends.  Do you know these caves?
 Scenes leading up to Creede’s appearance:
 Creede and Group enter sewers.
 Creede and group in sewers.
 Creede and group at place where sewers and caves meet.
Creede and group in caves.
  (Creede:  Finally, some places I recognize.  We should go to the village, plenty of new recruits there.)
 Creede and group grabbing and infecting a stray rat.
 Creede and group approaching central cavern.
 Creede eavesdropping on Animus group.
Kyle:  If we go to the village, they should know where your friends are.
Tim:  All right, lead the way.
Kyle:  (As they walk off.)  Did you really break Teddy’s arm?
Tim:  (Shrugs.)  As far as he knows.

(Rat village.  Huge central cavern, hundreds of side passages.  Lots ands lots of caves that serve as houses.  Central fountain.)
David:  So, with all the disappearances around here, it’s hard to keep track of people.  I do remember Jonathan though.  He was one of the first to vanish.
Wyndle:  Oh great.  Does that mean we have to figure out where they’re disappearing to?
David:  Only if you want to talk to Jonathan.
Wyndle:  (Appropriate "I want to bang my head into the wall" look.)
 Scenes leading up to Creede’s appearance:
 Creede and Group enter sewers.
 Creede and group in sewers.
 Creede and group at place where sewers and caves meet.
 Creede and group in caves.
Creede and group grabbing and infecting a stray rat.
 Creede and group approaching central cavern.
 Creede eavesdropping on Animus group.
Aaron:  Do these caverns have any connection to any human areas?
David:  Hu - mans?  Why would you say that?
Aaron:  Six months ago is when the research on the Bloodfury virus was started.
David:  Bloodfury?  What’s that?
Wyndle:  Time for our story....

(Timothy approaches with Kyle and Eric.  "And me!  Stop forgetting about me!."  Fine, and Tim2.  Now, shut up!)
*Artist’s note: "Quit your whining or I’m going to draw you with really, REALLY big ears. Besides, if it were up to me, I’d just leave you out altogether."
*Tim2:  "That’s it!  Step in here and say that!"
*Neil:  "Whatever. Look, I’ve said everything I need to. If you have a problem with it, you can come to me because if you’re going to continue being like that, then you’re not worth my time."
Tim:  Are you sure you’ll be all right?
Kyle:  Yes, but I’m not so sure about Theo- (Eric grabs him.)  Theodore.  (Holds Eric’s hand.)  He isn’t here.  He won’t care if I use his real name.
Tim2:  (While Kyle is talking to Eric.)  (To Tim.)  Are you saying you actually care?  That’s a lie.
Tim:  (Quietly, with disgust.)  Be quiet.
Kyle:  Who are you talking to?
Tim:  (Looks at Tim2.)  Inner demon.  (Next panel-  Looks surprised.)
Kyle:  (Holding Tim’s hand with both of his.)  Don’t worry.  (Lets go of his hand.)
Tim:  (Kyle goes further.)  Wha?
Kyle:  We’re here.  If you ask for David, he should be able to help you.
Tim:  But-
Kyle:  See you around.  (Leaves.)
Tim2:  Was he talking about me?
Tim:  (Calling after him.)  If you need help, find me.
 Scenes leading up to Creede’s appearance:
 Creede and Group enter sewers.
 Creede and group in sewers.
 Creede and group at place where sewers and caves meet.
 Creede and group in caves.
 Creede and group grabbing and infecting a stray rat.
Creede and group approaching central cavern.
  (Creede:  Found it.)
 Creede eavesdropping on Animus group.

(In the main chamber.)
Wyndle:  So I agreed to show the new guys the way.
Tim:  (Walking up.)  I seem to have done fine without you.
David:  This must be Timothy.
Tim:  And you must be David.  Kyle told me you might help.

(Conversation goes into background.)
Scenes leading up to Creede’s appearance:
 Creede and group enter sewers.
 Creede and group in sewers.
 Creede and group at place where sewers and caves meet.
 Creede and group in caves.
 Creede and group grabbing and infecting a stray rat.
 Creede and group approaching central cavern.
Creede eavesdropping on Animus group.
Creede:  Perfect, half the group.  Divided we fall.  (Goes to move.)
Tim2:  (Off to the side, shows up after the camera change.  To Creede.)  Having fun?
Creede:  (Keeping his voice down.  Grabs Tim2.)  What are you doing here?
Tim2:  Not so hard.  We both have an agenda.
Creede:  So?
Tim2:  I know a way we both can get what we want.
Creede:  You have three seconds.
Tim2:  Tim can’t function without the amulet.  If you take it, he’ll surely give you your shard.  If not, it will be easier to take it.
Creede:  (Drops Tim2.)  How do you propose?
Tim2:  (Smiles.)

(Back to the center of town.)
Tim:  So, we have to find where these people are disappearing to.  That makes sense.
Wyndle:  I never liked mysteries.  Investigation tries my patience.  That was always Creede’s part.
(Jonathan starts circling around out of sight.)
Creede:  (In normal form.  Walks out.)  And I’ve already figured it out.
Wyndle:  Creede.  What are you doing here?
Creede:  Right now I’m here to talk.
Wyndle:  Are you going to give up?
David:  Where’s Jonathan?
Tim2:  (Looks right at Jonathan, but doesn’t say anything.)
Creede:  He was infected with an early version of the virus.  He’s been taking rats from this area for a while now.
David:  That’s a lie!  He would never do that!
Wyndle:  (To David.)  And Creede doesn’t act like this!
(Other rodents can be seen just outside the light.)
Timothy:  (Backing off.)  We’re surrounded.
Aaron:  (Whispered to Tim)  Why would he just stand there?
Creede:  I want my shard.
Timothy:  Well you’re not getting it.
Creede:  (Gestures toward Tim.)  Frank?
Frank (Rat extra):  (This is choreographed.  Frank moves past Wyndle, David, and Shade.  Aaron is standing next to Tim.  Frank lunges off center and a little slow.  Aaron goes left, Tim goes right, and taps Frank twice on the left arm.  This should LOOK the same as what he did to Teddy.)
Tim:  (Backs next to where Jonathan is hiding.)
Tim2:  Checkmate.
Aaron:  Ambush!
Jonathan:  (Lightning quick grabs the amulet.  Knocks David to the side.)
Tim:  (Decolors.  Like before.)  <Gasp.  (Look of shock, clutches neck.)
Frank:  (Goes to swing at Tim.)
David:  (Losing consciousness.)  Jonathan.
Creede:  Wait!  (Frank stops.)  As long as he has my shard, you won’t hurt him.
Frank:  (Glares at Tim, but backs off.)
Tim:  (Not paying any attention to Frank.  Drops to his knees.)
Frank:  (Turns to leave, leads with right foreleg, follows with left foreleg which snaps.)  (Turns back growling.  Full infection.)  (Takes a half step forward.)
Creede:  (Off camera.  Forms a dagger of blood.  Full infection.)
Wyndle:  (Off camera.  Draws a dagger.)
Creede and Wyndle:  (Paste Frank.  Wyndle in leg, Creede hits him in the back of the neck, severing the spine.)
Creede:  I said you won’t hurt him.  He’s mine.
Creede:  (Grabs amulet from Jonathan.)  And now, so is this.  (To Tim)  If you want it back, I want my shard.
Wyndle:  (Walks forward.)  Creede, don’t do this.
Creede:  (Brings a claw to Wyndle’s neck.)  You don’t have my shard, I can kill you.
Aaron:  (Assumes a higher combat form.  Mongoose? Snake (grabs Wyndle with tail, drags back)? Cat?)  (Grabs Wyndle and pulls her back.)
Creede:  Now if you’ll excuse us.  I’ll be back in one day.
Wyndle:  (Drops to knees, reaches outward.)  Creede, please....
Aaron:  (Tries to comfort Wyndle.)

(Back above ground., inside Shade’s tree.  Shade is resting, it’s night.)
Mondriant:  (busts in.)  Shade, get up.
Shade:  Five more minutes.
Mondriant:  (Picks up Shade’s sword, and tosses it to him.)  Now.
Shade:  I’ll be up in an hour anyway.
Mondriant:  (Walks right up to Shade.)  I said now.
Shade:  Why?
Mondriant:  Something happened to them.
Shade:  (Jumps down.)  WHAT?!?!?!?!
Mondriant:  I don’t know, but we’ve got to get down there.
Shade:  You know neither of us have been underground.
Mondriant:  (Starts walking out the door.)  Follow me, or I’m going alone.
Shade:  (Pauses, then follows.)  Wait up.
(Outside Shade’s tree.  Overhead shot, looking down.)
Shade:  So who’s going to watch the forest?
Mondriant:  I think this is important to the forest.
Shade:  Why do you always have an answer?

(Back underground.  Inside a large meeting hall, many rats and mice are gathered.)
Timothy:  (Pacing back and forth.)  * I’m okay, I can deal with this.  I’m okay.  I can deal with this. *  (Repeat.)
Wyndle:  (Sitting in a chair.  Looking at Timothy.)  If you don’t stop that, I’m going to fold you in half.
David:  (Lying on a bed with Aaron standing over him.)  Why do I get the feeling I’m in the best shape besides you?
Aaron:  You can’t blame them for being a little shook up, we just got out maneuvered.
Wyndle:  Creede said he was going to kill me!
Aaron:  Seems like we got hit in some sensitive areas.
David:  So what’s the plan now?  We can’t just hole up in here until they break in.
Timothy:  (Nervous.)  * He wants me.  His shard, I have it. *
Aaron:  (Grabs Tim by the shoulders.)  I noticed you aren’t speaking the language any more.
Timothy:  * What?  I can’t understand-  Oh no. *
Aaron:  I hope it’s because you’re just nervous.
Timothy:  * The translation spell; it won’t work without the amulet. *
Wyndle:  Great, well, I suppose you’re not going to be able to tell me what’s going on.
Aaron:  (Over his shoulder, to Wyndle.)  I think he’s speaking English.  It’s an odd dialect.
Timothy:  * An infinite number of parallel dimensions and you never encounter any that speak your language.  You’d think that eventually, *
Aaron:  * Can you understand me? *
Timothy:  (Looks stunned.)  * You speak English?!  *
Aaron:  * Well, most humans in the company do. *
Timothy:  * You learn languages by company? *
Aaron:  (Nods.)  * Ask me about that later, but basically. *
Timothy:  * We have to give my shard to Creede.  You have no idea what that amulet can do. *
Aaron:  * Do you know how to remove these shards. *
Timothy:  * No. *
Aaron:  * Then surrender isn’t an option. *  (Goes back to Dave.)
Arthur:  (Walking up, Teddy, Kyle and Eric behind him.)  I heard what happened.  Did that dumb bunny really say he just wanted that mouse’s hide?
Aaron:  Something like that.
Arthur:  Why don’t we just trade him for our lives?
Aaron:  (Looks back at Arthur.)  Because we don’t know how to give Creede what he wants, and even if we did, that wouldn’t stop him.
Arthur:  So, what do you plan on doing about this Creede, pink eyes?
Aaron:  (Looks at Arthur.)  I don’t have time to deal with you.
Arthur:  (Grabs Aaron by the shoulders, and pushes him back.)  Oh, you’ll deal with me.
Aaron:  Don’t you think that this is a bit rash?
Arthur:  (Pulls his hand back for a punch.)  No.
Mondriant:  (Has just entered the room, and is off stage.  He hits Arthur with a TK ball.)  I do.

(Time lapse, about 1 hour.  All are standing around Dave, who looks fairly well.)
Shade:  So Creede showed up and kicked the crap out of you?
Aaron:  (Nods.)  Basically.
Mondriant:  I knew I had a bad feeling.  So, what now?
Timothy:  (Note:  Timothy and Mondriant CAN understand each other due to Mondriant’s empathic abilities.)  * We need to get the amulet back. *
Wyndle:  (To Aaron.)  Can you do something about that?
Aaron:  No.  But he wants his amulet back.
Wyndle:  Of course, that’s most important.
Aaron: Well,  * Tim, what type of power will it give him? *
Timothy:  * Well, it allows my magic to function, in his hands (trails off) *
Tim2:  * You haven’t the slightest idea what it can do. *
Aaron: * Something you wouldn’t want to see? *
Timothy: * Definitely. *
Aaron:  Basically, it’s something that could be extremely dangerous, if Creede figures out how to use it.
Tim2:  *I suppose that’s one way of putting it. *
Wyndle:  Then we’re going to have to stop him, so maybe we can cure him.
Mondriant:  What if there is no cure?
Shade:  Then we do what he would have wanted us to do.
(Uneasy silence. Timothy is of course clueless.)
Timothy:  * So, what’s the plan? *
Aaron:  Okay, we need a plan of attack.
Tim2: (looks at Timothy.) * I have some information you need to know. *
(Fade to black.)

To be Continued…

The Comic

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