Wednesday, May 25, 2016

And the Children Shall Lead: My Attempts at Improvement

OK, having said all that about And the Children Shall Lead, I have also made some suggestions on how to improve it. Could I write a better script that the original? I am going to have at least a go at it. We will see how far I get. The first attempt will take in the teaser and about the first half of the first act, i.e., the parts that take place on Triacus. Note the early emphasis on the legend and the beginnings of an attempt to explain WTF is actually happening:

Captain's Log, stardate 5029.5. Responding to a distress call from our archeological expedition on Triacus.
[The briefing room. We see Professor Starnes on the view screen].
STARNES: (Ranting incoherently). Alien upon us. The enemy from within. The enemy!
KIRK: This is the message we received from Professor Starnes two days ago. Spock, what do we know about this expedition?
SPOCK: Seven single individuals and seven married couples, five of whom brought their children along. All highly respected scientists.
KIRK: Bones?
McCOY: All received complete exams before setting out and were found to be in excellent physical and psychological health. Nothing that could account for this.
KIRK: So much for the scientists. What do we know about Triacus itself?
SPOCK: Home of an ancient society. Little is known about it. This is the first archeological expedition to the planet. No reliable histories of it exist. Our knowledge is limited to legends.
KIRK: Legends often have a basis in fact. What do they say?
SPOCK: According to legend, Triacus was home to a band of marauders from a telepathic race known as Gorgan who waged war throughout the Epsilon Indy system. Although few in number, they were able to conquer much more populous worlds by taking their children hostage.
KIRK: People who might otherwise have revolted were kept docile by the threat of harm to their children.
SPOCK: Precisely, Captain.
KIRK: What happened to these marauders?
SPOCK: According to the legend, there was first a revolt by the children, who escaped. Without hostages, the Gorgan were hopelessly outnumbered. Their victims easily drove them from their own worlds and pursued them to Triacus.
KIRK: And what happened on Triacus?
SPOCK: The Gorgan were prepared for attack and had assembled extensive fortifications. The further their enemies advanced, the fiercer their resistance became until it suddenly ceased altogether without explanation.
KIRK: Was any explanation ever found?
SPOCK: Negative, Captain. The legend states that as soon as they were victorious, the Gorgan’s enemies fled in terror, believing that the evil was awaiting a catalyst to set it again into motion and send it marauding across the galaxy.
KIRK: I don’t think I like your legend, Mr. Spock.
INTERCOM: We are in orbit around Triacus, Captain.
KIRK: Let’s go down and investigate.

[Planet surface]

(On the ground, beneath a purple sky, adults are lying motionless. Kirk, McCoy and Spock investigate.)
MCCOY: (Looking at Professor Starnes’ body). He’s dead, Jim.
(Kirk removes a vial from his mouth.)
MCCOY: Cyalodin.
KIRK: Self-inflicted. Mass suicide.
(The sound of children playing, then the kids run into the scene. There’s a girl, three small boys and one older boy.)
MARY: You missed me.
STEVE: I did not.
TOMMY: Hi. Who are you?
KIRK: Kirk of the starship Enterprise.
TOMMY: I’m Tommy Starnes. This is Mary, Steve, Ray, and Don.
MARY: Come on. Play with us. Come on. (They make a circle and dance around Kirk.) Ring around the rosy, pocket full of posy. Ashes, ashes, we all fall down! Ring around the rosy, pocket full of posy. Ashes, ashes, we all fall down!

[End of teaser].

Captain’s log, supplementary. We have found all scientists on the Starnes expedition dead by mass suicide. Everyone has been deeply affected by what has happened here, with some important exceptions.

[Planet surface]

(Again we see the bodies, with the children running and playing.)
KIRK: No sign of grief?
MCCOY: No, Jim. No indication of any kind.
KIRK: Or of fear.
MCCOY: They seem completely secure and unafraid.
KIRK: Even without their parents being dead, Tommy’s behavior seems abnormal for his age.
MCCOY: The way those deaths occurred, any reaction is possible including regression or lacunar amnesia. That’s my diagnosis. Until specific tests can be made, it remains that.
KIRK: I’ll be guided by that opinion, Doctor, for the present. What about questioning them?
MCCOY: Not until the fabric of the traumatization weakens or you come up with another explanation for their behavior. Forcing them to see this experience now could cause permanent damage.
KIRK: Accepted, Doctor.
KIRK: Children. Children, listen to me. It’s late and it’s time to go up to the ship.
DON: Oh, not yet.
MARY: But we’re just beginning to have fun.
RAY: Not now.
KIRK: I’m sorry. I’m sorry. You’ll go up with the doctor.
MCCOY: Come on. It’s time to be going.

[They leave. Kirk turns to Spock, trailed by a couple of red shirts].
KIRK: While Bones examines the children, let’s have a look at what Starnes and his party found on this planet.
(The wander through the ruins. Besides generic ruins, we see signs of a battle – burns on the walls, spent phaser packs, bones, disturbed soil, extensive damage, etc. Kirk visually inspects the artifacts. Spock uses his tricorder, as does at least one red shirt.)
KIRK: Spent energy packs, burn marks, bones, violent damage. This looks like the scene of an ancient battle.
SPOCK: Indeed. My tricorder is reading signs of extensive phaser-type burns and traces of blood.
(The signs of battle damage become more frequent and intense).
KIRK: Signs of intensifying resistance, just the way the legend says.
(Suddenly the phaser burns, spent energy packs, bones, disturbed soil, traumatic damages, etc. cease. We see ruins that have suffered the ravages of time, but no sign of any violence).
SPOCK: And this appears to be where all resistance ceased.
KIRK: Tricorder, Spock? Anything that could account for the sudden cessation of all resistance.
(Spock raises his eyebrow as if to say that his tricorder can hardly pick up events that happened hundreds if not thousands of years ago, but goes ahead and scans).
SPOCK: (His tricorder beeps) Odd.
KIRK: Getting a reading?
SPOCK: There seems to be some disturbance coming from that cave.

[Cave, with a mysterious device in it].

KIRK: Picking up any life-forms, Mister Spock?
SPOCK: Definitely not humanoid, Captain. Impossible to make any specific identification. The readings do not correlate with any known information.
KIRK: (shivers) Oh, that’s strange. That’s very strange. I’m getting a feeling of anxiety in this place. It doesn’t sound very scientific, does it? But it’s strongest right here.
(The red shirts are also showing strong signs of anxiety).
RED SHIRT I: It gets stronger the closer we get to that device.
SPOCK: I’m not aware of it, Captain.
KIRK: Maybe that’s what’s registering on your tricorder.
SPOCK: I am not familiar with anxiety, but I wasn’t aware it could be registered on sensors.
(First one red shirt, then the other, panic and flee).
KIRK: No, of course. That’s, that’s me. That’s me. But what’s causing your tricorder to react?
SPOCK: Vulcan immunity to emotion has obvious advantages.
KIRK: Lemli is right. It seems to be emanating from that device over there. (Approaches it, and is overcome with panic and flees).
(Spock gets closer and closer, but as he approaches, even he starts feeling it. It takes him a greater and greater effort until even he is unable to endure it and leave, though not as panic-stricken as the others.

[Planet surface]

SPOCK: Are you all right, Captain?
KIRK: Yes, I’m fine. And you, Mr. Spock?
SPOCK: Having a human half has its disadvantages.
KIRK: Let’s get back to the ship. Whatever that device is, it appears to have a defense against approach. Let’s rig a sensor array in the cave and lock it into the Enterprise sensors. I want to figure out what that thing is. In the meantime, I want to check out those tapes from Professor Starnes’ tricorder. And I am going to question those children. Mr. Leslie, Mr. Lemli, you remain here and bury the bodies.

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