Well that was real mature...

Well that was real mature...

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Twin Engines of (Self) Destruction

Empress cover artwork by Stuart Immonen.
I know I've been neglecting my blog lately. My son switched schools this year and, having coached AAU wrestling, I applied to be the assistant coach of his middle school wrestling team.  It made for a busy fall and winter. So, while I still hope to do a writer's commentary on my Darby Pop story that was published back in September (you can still get a digital copy here), I thought I would fill the dead air by posting my rejected story for the 2017 MillarWorld Annual. The story was based on Empress by Mark Millar and Stuart Immonen. In addition to the rejected story, I also thought I would include a draft I threw out. The first story was going to focus on the supporting character of Captain Dane Havelok. It was a sequence of him getting ready to try to get Queen Emporia, the wife of a galactic dictator, off of Earth in which he needed a ploy/disguise for Emporia. It was titled "The Fine Line Between Loyalty and Treason." While it worked in concept, it felt too much like a missing scene from the original story rather than a complete story in its own right. I was going to take another pass when I came up with (what I thought was) a better story. The one I submitted (and was rejected) worked better, but in hind sight probably paralleled the original tale too much (including the climactic twist). It followed Dane trying to get Emporia away from a faction of rebels. It was titled "Protector." I still like it (although I wish I had another panel on page two). So here it is folks, TWO ways in which NOT to succeed (or as I like to call them, my "Twin Engines of Self Destruction" (any Star Wars fans get the joke?). If you are an aspiring writer. Learn from my mistakes.

EMPRESS: "The Fine Line Between Loyalty and Treason"
Short Story

Script by Brett Harris
5 pages
Second Draft:
18th November 2016

Page One

1/ Single panel splash page with title and credits. We see CAPTAIN DANE HAVELOCK walking down a corridor. He looks pretty much as he does when he is introduced on pages 7-9 of Empress issue #1.

NARRATION (DANE): I have to hurry. King Morax is about to execute three workers for "incitement to disobedience."

Page Two

1/ Dane has stopped at a door and is using a card key on a futuristic lock mechanism while looking over his shoulder.

NARRATION (DANE): Queen Emporia is expected to be there, and, by extension, so am I. We have to keep up appearances if my plan to get her off Earth and away from that maniac is going to work.

2/ Dane entering a room with benches and rows of lockers.

NARRATION (DANE): We only have a window of about twenty minutes between the execution and dinner.

3/ Dane at one of the lockers. It is open and he is reaching in. Behind him, we can see an engineer's helmet, gloves, and boots sitting on the bench. They should be identical to the armor Emporia is putting on in Empress #1 pages 8-9.

NARRATION (DANE): I have to get the traveling cloak to disguise her long enough to get her to my ship. Tor is waiting and what I have planned, they'll never see coming.

4/ Same basic panel but we can see he is pulling out a long hooded cloak. We see a partially dressed male human ENGINEER in the background (as if he has just come around the corner of the row of lockers). It is clearly his helmet, boots and gloves on the bench.

ENGINEER: C-captain H-Havelok! Is the Queen making a surprise inspection?

5/ Close on Dane's surprised look. Do NOT over do it with slack jaw and google eyes, just raised eyebrows will suffice.

NARRATION (DANE): Uh-oh. It's time to improvise.

Page Three

1/ DANE is holding up the cloak for the ENGINEER to see.

DANE: No, I, ah, was retrieving a traveling cloak for a visiting dignitary --

2/ The Engineer looks suspicious.

ENGINEER: Anyone can do that, you should never be away from Queen Emporia's side.

3/ Dane throwing the cloak at the Engineer like a net.

DANE: I'll keep that in mind for the future.

4/ Dane punching the Engineer through the cloak, which has landed over his head.

NARRATION (DANE): Damn, pulled my punch. I have gotten too used to sparring. Let's face it, Emporia is never in danger from someone outside. No one would dare cross King Morax.

Page Four

1/ The ENGINEER pulling the cloak away, his nose bleeding and a look of rage on his face.

NARRATION (DANE): My role is ceremonial. I fear I may have gotten soft.

2/ The Engineer taking a swing at DANE, who is blocking the blow with one hand and grabbing at the cloak, which is hanging off the Engineer's shoulder, with the other.

NARRATION (DANE): However, survival is a great motivator. I am a survivor.

3/ Dane has twisted the cloak around the neck of the Engineer, whose eyes are bulging. Dane is pulling it tight. Clearly the Engineer is choking.

NARRATION (DANE): I'll do what needs to be done to make sure the Queen and her children survive.

4/ Same basic panel but the Engineer is dead. Eyes now rolled back and facial features have gone slack.

NARRATION (DANE): That's my job. It's who I am.

Page Five

1/ DANE standing over the dead Engineer, looking at his hands. Some of the blood from the Engineer's bloody nose has gotten on them.

NARRATION (DANE): I got my hands dirty a little sooner than expected.

2/ Dane now sitting on the bench inspecting the cloak, the Engineer's helmet next to him.

NARRATION (DANE): He won't be the last to die today.

3/ Close up of the cloak in his hands. It is ripped and also has blood on it.

NARRATION (DANE): Ruined. Time to adapt.

4/ Same basic panel but now the cloak is on the floor and Dane is holding the helmet.

NARRATION (DANE): This could work. Probably better in the long run. I can't give up.

5/ Dane walking down a corridor with the Engineer's armor.

NARRATION (DANE): I'm loyal to the queen, even if it means committing treason.

CAPTION: The end of the beginning...

And now the story I chose to submit that was rejected:

EMPRESS: "Protector"
Short Story

Script by Brett Harris
5 pages
Final Draft:
27th November 2016

Page One

1/ Single panel splash page with title and credits. We see CAPTAIN DANE HAVELOCK running down a corridor. He is pulling QUEEN EMPORIA behind him. She is dressed much like she is when we first see her in Empress #1 on page 7: Attractive dress, head pieces, the colors are lighter and she has an additional cloak which is flapping behind her, a strip has been torn off. They are running from three men (Rebels against King Morax). One is firing a gun at them the blast going right through her flapping cloak. Dane is wounded with a wrap made of the missing cloak around his torso. A stain of blood shows through.

EMPORIA: Are they insane?! Striking at us on Earth! At the opening of my husband's war museum!

DANE: Keep moving, highness, I need to get you to a defensible position.

Page Two

1/ DANE and EMPORIA running around a corner.

2/ Dane and Emporia (their backs to the reader). Reveal a dead end.

DANE/EMPORIA (together): Shit.

3/ Dane pulling off Emporia's cloak and head piece.

DANE: Highness, if I may?

4/ Dane thrusting the horn of the headpiece through a REBEL as he rounds the corner.


5/ Dane punching a second rebel over whom he has thrown the cloak like a net. (The first rebel is lying bloody at his feet).


Page Three

1/ A third REBEL hitting DANE from behind with the butt of his gun.


2/ Dane slumped over the second Rebel unconscious at the feet of the third Rebel.

No dialogue.

3/ The last rebel aiming his gun at EMPORIA.

EMPORIA: Coward! You would shoot an unarmed woman? Do you not have enough manly bits between your legs to show King Morax that you are not afraid to get your hands dirty?

4/ The rebel tossing his gun away casually with a smirk.

No dialogue.

5/ The rebel charging Emporia.

REBEL: For the cause! Death to Morax and his Queen!

Page Four

1/ A single panel page of EMPORIA slugging the REBEL with a massive bone crunching, teeth rattling punch.


Page Five

1/ EMPORIA standing over the fallen REBEL.

EMPORIA: Been a while since the cages.

2/ Same basic panel but Emporia is kicking the fallen rebel.

EMPORIA: I still got it.

3/ Emporia helping DANE up.

DANE: What happened?

EMPORIA: You were amazing, my protector.

4/ Dane (being steadied by Emporia) looking down at the rebel.

DANE: I don't remember.

EMPORIA: Your training kicked in automatically before you passed out.

5/ Emporia helping Dane down the corridor, their backs to the reader.

EMPORIA: Come, let's get you to a medic.

DANE: Highness, why is your hand bruised?


If you want to read last year's rejected entry based on the Flash Gordon-esque Starlight you can find it here. I'm REALLY proud of it and still a little heart broken it didn't get selected.


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