I wanted to post this edition of the Recycle Bin sooner, to be more topical when a certain movie coming out in theaters, but I didn’t really want to break up the previous Star Wars RB posts. So I guess the accidental early posting of Tales of the Jedi (IIa) came at a good time, as it moved this post up a week.
First and foremost I should say that yes, I am a fan of the Harry Potter series. I came to the books rather late; I believe I saw the first three films at least before reading the books, and most likely I saw The Goblet of Fire film while still reading the earlier books. I’m pretty sure the first book I read before seeing the film was Order of the Phoenix. That said, I eventually caught up to the point that I actually read Deathly Hallows when it came out and our copy was delivered by Amazon the day it was released. While I’d probably concur with many critics that there are plenty of things to nitpick about J. K. Rowling’s writing style, taken overall I think the series is exciting, imaginative, and definitely worth the read. There are many places where the books are superior to the movies (they contain a lot more detail) while the converse can also be true (the movies cut out a lot of unnecessary fluff).
During the course of reading the books, I came up with—you guessed it—a very fan-fiction-y idea of my own. While I have some good friends who are really into writing Harry Potter fan fiction (and I mean really into it), writing fan fiction isn’t something I particularly like to focus on. After all, I seem to be doing quite all right releasing my own original work which I can at least make a little pocket change off of, something I can’t do by using somebody else’s characters. Of course, that’s what the Recycle Bin is for, and now I’ve got at outlet where I can at least share a high-level overview of it.
I suppose I should clarify the title a little. The title of this project would most certainly not be Harry Potter and the Muggle Detective. First and foremost, while it’s set in the Harry Potter universe, Harry actually doesn’t play a very major role in it. In fact, he’s probably only in there a handful of times in mostly a cameo capacity. He and his friends may cross paths occasionally with the main characters of this tale, but only by coincidence that some events coincide with events from the books.
And that’s probably the second thing to take note of. This idea is based primarily on the books and not the films. In fact, it was intended to actually be a series of seven short stories and/or novellas, with each installment occurring either shortly before or actually during the events of each of Rowling’s books. The first episode actually takes place several months before the events of The Philosopher’s/Sorcerer’s Stone, while the final one would probably take place roughly concurrently with Deathly Hallows.
Another bit about the working title: I only refer to it as “the Muggle Detective” because the main character—ironically a muggle who happens to be a detective—doesn’t have a name yet. The name given below, Mardigan, is basically a placeholder (as typical for Recycle Bin entries) and was primarily chosen so he could have the nickname “[name that starts with M] the Mad Muggle”, a play on the fictional comic book “The Adventures of Martin Miggs, the Mad Muggle” that’s mentioned in the books. Several wizards and witches take note of the similarity and adapt the nickname to him, which he finds annoying at first but eventually adopts as his own.
As with all Recycle Bin entries, this is rough, unpolished, and most definitely incomplete. The synopsis is a very loose collection of ideas and, as usual, will likely never be further refined because, quite frankly, there’s no incentive to do so. While I’ve tried to keep the spoilers to a minimum, folks who haven’t read the books or seen the movies should be warned that this synopsis relies heavily on the story set forth in the original books and some spoilers may be unavoidable. Enjoy!
Mardigan “the Mad Muggle”, an American private eye transplanted to the U.K., solves mysteries in the wizarding world with the aid of his incredible skills of deduction, his wits, and a few handy magical artifacts.
The first installment is the one that is most well-formed. We begin several months before the events of Philosopher’s/Sorcerer’s Stone by following Nymphadora Tonks, Auror-in-training, as she is assigned a mystery involving a wizard criminal who has gone into hiding. “Mad-Eye” Moody suspects the criminal has disappeared into the muggle world and thus sends Tonks to seek out a detective named Mardigan for assistance. When she finds him, he is far from what she expects: he lives in his office (which is a disorganized picture of chaos), he is quick-witted and sarcastic, and most surprisingly, he’s a muggle with a rather in-depth knowledge of the wizarding world. When given the facts of the case, Mardigan agrees with Moody’s assessment and believes he has a few ideas where to look. The two set off to apprehend the criminal, leading Tonks into a world completely foreign to her: the muggle world.
What surprises Tonks the most about Mardigan is his array of magical trinkets and artifacts. Although he is a muggle, Mardigan has a vast arsenal of magical tools that, although formally untrained, he can wield with surprising skill. These include various wards, talismans, detectors, and defensive charms. His most prized item is a pair of true-seeing glasses, given to him by Professor Dumbledore himself, that allows him to see through almost any magical illusion. The glasses play an important role in one story where it allows him to travel to Hogwarts, which is usually protected by spells that explicitly keep muggles away. When the glasses are knocked off in a scuffle, Mardigan becomes susceptible to the anti-muggle charms and is only saved from his attacker when Tonks is able to return the glasses to his face.
But Mardgian’s greatest weapons are his mind and his power of observation. Patterning himself after his favorite fictional hero, Sherlock Holmes (“only without the tobacco, heroin, and violin”), Mardigan exhibits incredible skill at unraveling events from the scarcest of clues. What he lacks in skill with a magical wand he more than makes up in wit and ingenuity, outsmarting his enemies with carefully laid traps and surprises. That said, he still has to rely heavily on fisticuffs from time to time and on more than one occasion Tonks must come to his rescue when he winds up in over his head against a magical foe.
Upon apprehending the criminal in question (who is coincidentally a former Death Eater), Tonks and Mardigan are repeatedly thrust together in a series of cases where the wizarding world and the muggle world clash. During this time latent romantic feelings eventually surface, only to be disrupted (or heightened) when Remus Lupin enters the picture. Tonks becomes immediately infatuated with Lupin, resulting in a confrontation between he and Mardigan that reveals Lupin’s lycanthropy. Eventually, Mardigan and Lupin develop an “understanding” once Tonks comes to a decision about her feelings.
Eventually, Voldemort’s return begins to change the wizarding world. The Aurors’ increasingly rely on Mardgian to give them a pulse on the muggle world, which they in turn take back to the Ministry of Magic. While Tonks and Lupin play a greater role in the Order and its secret fight against the Death Eaters, Mardigan comes face-to-face with Death Eaters in the muggle world, thwarting several major attacks that would have been “catastrophes” had he not intervened.
I never got around to doing much about the final story. Obviously, I don’t want to give too much away for those who haven’t read the books, but while Lupin and Tonks become deeply involved in the events of Deathly Hallows, Mardigan finds himself on a deadly suicide mission that brings him face-to-face with the Dark Lord himself. While I haven’t finalized any details, I believe Mardigan sacrifices himself to delay Voldemort at some critical junction and is slain by the Killing Curse from the Dark Lord’s wand. News of his death reaches Tonks shortly before the climax of the seventh book where she and Lupin share a moment of silence for their fallen friend before facing their own deadly challenges. I’ve tried to imagine a number of scenerios that don’t result in Mardigan’s death, but none of them seemed satisfactory. Lots of characters come to untimely ends in Rowling’s final book, and it just seems fitting that Mardigan should play his small role in finding the saga’s resolution.
For this week’s Recycle Bin, we’ll present the second half of last week’s Star Wars: Tales of the Jedi project. We’ll jump back into the extended synopsis right where we left off, so see the previous post for details about the characters and about previous plot elements. Again, keep in mind that (a) this concentrates more on plot detail and less on characterization, (b) it’s very rough around the edges so there are plenty of plot holes and discrepancies that have not been (and probably never will be) ironed out, and (c) all character names are placeholders and not final. With that said, we’ll pick up where we left off….
The next significant plot point has Ranyar, Dirahn, and Myra sent upon a mission to a distant world in the Outer Rim to investigate the disappearance of some sort of scientific research team. Both Dirahn’s and Myra’s padawans have been left behind (Ranyar to date has refused to take a padawan), as the mission has been deemed too dangerous. The three Jedi arrive on a barren desert world. There is a brief skirmish with a band of disorganized smugglers that ends with the smugglers steering clear of the Jedi some distance away. They arrive at the expedition’s battered, half-buried ship and all clues eventually lead them underground into a series of deep caves. As they progress, Dirahn becomes more and more uneasy. He feels a great sense of foreboding, as if an oppressive numbing coldness is burrowing into his skin.
The reason becomes quickly evident: The trio are attacked by another “Force vampire”, the same type of creature that drained Dirahn years before. Before long, they discover that the creature is far from alone; somehow, an entire hive of the creatures escaped the great extermination by the Jedi centuries before and have laid dormant, awakened by the scientific expedition. The implications are staggering; if this many creatures survived, they could pose a huge risk to not only the Jedi Order by to the entire galaxy. Ranyar strongly suspects a trap: he believes Darth Scathe lured the scientists here with the sole purpose of awakening the creatures and forcing the Jedi to investigate. Three Jedi would prove to be ample sustenance to drive the creatures to seek more, and with their ship parked just outside the cavern and with their memories sucked from them, the creatures could easily bypass all Jedi security protocols, land on Coruscant, and be inside the Jedi Temple before anyone would be aware of it. If the Temple falls, then all Coruscant will fall followed by the rest of the galaxy. Ranyar makes his colleagues swear that the creatures not be allowed to reach the surface at all costs. The three of them must be expendable; if any of them fall or become injured, they must be left behind and the creatures stopped by any means. Dirahn reluctantly agrees, but Myra protests strongly. There is no time for argument, however, as the creatures quickly attack. Dirahn succumbs to the lead creature’s mental attacks—an artifact of his prior contact as a padawan—and the creatures separate him from Ranyar and Myra, making their way to the surface. With Dirahn under their control, the creatures could easily infiltrate the Jedi Temple without suspicion by bypassing all the Temple’s security codes.
As Ranyar and Myra pursue them, they argue over Ranyar’s order that they are expendable. During the arugment, they both reveal, rather reluctantly, that they have romantic feelings for each other. The argument is cut short when they are attacked again and Myra is injured. While she kills the creature that attacks her, the blow knocks her over a cliff, leaving her dangling precariously over a seemingly bottomless pit. Ranyar is faced with a terrible choice: spend precious moments rescuing Myra and let the creatures reach the surface and the ship, or leave her to intercept the creatures and likely let her perish. In a much more Star Trek mentality, he reluctantly decides that the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few. He promises to return for her and leaves her screaming for help as he rushes toward the surface. Just as he is beyond any hope of returning in time, the ledge gives way and she falls, presumably to her death. Racked with guilt, shame, and frustration, Ranyar dashes with Jedi speed to the surface just in time to watch their ship streak into the sky. He quickly surveys the landscape and spots a glint of reflected light on the horizon. Summoning all his Force skill, he races across the desert to find the smugglers’ ship. He commandeers it, nearly killing the smugglers in the process but leaving them alive. He sends a desperate coded signal to the Jedi Temple, which arrives just in time for the Council to take defensive measures. The battle is fierce but brief; with sufficient warning, the Jedi are able to wipe out the creatures and rescue Dirahn with minimal losses.
No one within the Council or the Order questions Ranyar’s difficult choice… except Ranyar himself. Even though he knows that logically it was the right decision, he finds himself constantly battling guilt and self-loathing. This becomes all too apparently when he watches Anya, Myra’s padawan, bounce from temporary mentor to temporary mentor, as no female Jedi are currently available to take her on full time. Anya is struggling; without dedicated mentorship, her skills are suffering and she begins to lose her focus. Ranyar approaches the Council with an unconventional proposal: he wishes to take Anya as his padawan. Many on the Council vehemently oppose; there are rules in place governing padawan apprenticeship, including strict guidelines forbidding mentors and apprentices being of opposite sexes, lest certain temptations arise to interfere. (Fans of the Star Wars: Clone Wars animated series will note that undoubtedly by the time of the Clone Wars, these rules must have been relaxed.) However, the same female Master who prophesied Ranyar’s battle with the Dark Lord eventually sways the Council. It is unquestionable that Anya’s skill with a lightsabre are astounding, and there could be no better mentor for her than the Order’s finest duelist. Both Ranyar and Anya must come to terms with Myra’s death and their personal parts (or lack thereof) in it; learning from each other could be most helpful and therapeutic. The Council eventually relents, and Anya becomes Ranyar’s padawan.
Several smaller adventures ensue, focusing on Ranyar and Anya’s new relationship. Gradually, Ranyar comes to accept his difficult decision and Anya begins to understand the weight he bears. Together, the two heal their wounds and become an astounding team. Several times, the Council awards them special recognition for their incredible efforts.
One mission, however, changes their entire future. While the details that bring them there are nebulous (I told you this was a rough outline), Ranyar and Anya find themselves on a distant world in a series of derelict ruins. The two become separated by a collapsing hallway, and Ranyar instructs Anya to double-back so they can meet in another chamber. Anya stops short, however, when she runs into none other than Darth Scathe. Anya is terrified; although she has heard many tales of the Dark Lord of the Sith, this is her first real encounter with him. Although she moves to defend herself, he does not attack. He only moves to prevent her from catching up with Ranyar. When she demands that he let her pass, Darth Scathe simply responds that Ranyar is busy, “catching up with an old friend.” They do battle, but it is very one-sided. Scathe deflects all of her attacks, but never with deadly force, ensuring she remains alive.
Ranyar enters a large chamber to be greeted by a voice from the shadows. It’s a familiar voice, but at first he cannot place it. Eventually, its owner emerges from the darkness; it is Myra, alive, well, and royally ticked off. She is furious with him for leaving her behind on the planet of the vampires. After she fell, she lay dying at the bottom of the pit. Scathe emerged; it was indeed a trap for the Jedi, but more importantly for her. He offered to heal her and help her gain revenge on Ranyar for his betrayal. Ranyar insists he did not betray her; the choice was clear, it was her one life versus the lives of untold billions. But she’s not having any of his “lies”. She confesses that she was in love with him, but that he left her to die because he valued Dirahn’s friendship more than hers. A climactic battle ensues, ending in a draw as a walkway collapses, leaving them on opposite ends of a deep chasm. So vile is her hatred of him that the ruins quake slightly around them as she screams. Shaking his head, Ranyar walks away as she screams after him. Although he believed he came to terms with his choice, now it seems even worse that before. Now he’s no longer responsible for her death, but her fall to the Dark Side as Darth Scathe’s apprentice.
Now that Myra’s fall has been revealed, the Sith begin to execute their plan in earnest. Darth Scathe has enlisted the aid of a warlike race known as the Klithzir (another placeholder name), a race subjugated by the Sith centuries ago who have quietly served the dark lords and hidden their activities from the Jedi and the Republic. Isolated attacks begin along the Outer Rim; it is apparent that the Klithzir have been raising a massive army and space navy, readying for an all-out assault on the Republic. They have quietly stockpiled weapons (remember those smuggling pirates again?). The Senate turns to the Jedi Order for advice, and as stated in Episode II, the Jedi are a peacekeeping force, not a militia.
Ranyar, meanwhile, becomes more and more frustrated with his current situation. He and Anya keep being assigned to trivial tasks, far from the rumored skirmishes with the Klithzir. Ranyar repeatedly petitions the Council to let him hunt down Darth Scathe; after all, he is the one prophesied to duel the Dark Lord to the death. But the Council repeatedly refuses. Ranyar suspects they fear that the prophecy predicts his fall to the Dark Side; this at once frustrates him but makes him feel cautious at the same time. He struggles internally between the rational and cautious view of the Council versus his own desire to end the conflict with the Klithzir before it really starts. Eventually, his frustration takes hold and he rushes off in search of the Dark Lord, with Anya reluctantly in tow.
We’ll gloss over the annoying (and unscripted) details that lead to tracking down a Sith Lord and jump straight to the meat of the story. Ranyar and Anya track the Sith to another isolated location (funny how all these duels take place in out-of-the-way locales). Once again, they are separated by suspicious circumstances (which I haven’t bothered to script either). They both strongly suspect a trap but have little choice but to proceed. Eventually, Ranyar encounters Myra. Ranyar prepares for an attack but it doesn’t come. Myra offers to lead him to Darth Scathe so he can destroy him… “and so you can become the Dark Lord of the Sith”, Ranyar observes sarcastically. “That’s beside the point,” she replies. She says that Scathe has also seen the vision of the future and he knows that he is the one to fall. But the only way Ranyar can defeat the Dark Lord is to lower his defenses and draw from his emotions and hatred—by using the Dark Side of the Force. Ranyar scoffs, but with a twinge of doubt as if he fears she may be right.
Myra makes good on her promise and leads him to another chamber, then disappears. Scathe is waiting for him. There is some ominous, climactic banter, followed by a titanic lightsabre duel that should give the Anakin/Obi Wan duel of Episode III a run for its money. Meanwhile, Myra intercepts her old pupil Anya, dueling her to prevent her from interfering with Ranyar’s duel with Scathe. The two battles carry on for some time, giving us lots of juicy Jedi-on-Sith action.
Eventually, Anya manages to get away from Myra long enough to try and track down Ranyar. She arrives to find the two Masters dueling even stronger than ever. Scathe incites Ranyar with comments about all his failings: the death of Kandir, the fall of Myra, etc. Eventually, Ranyar becomes so enraged in the heat of battle that he overwhelms the Dark Lord, first lobbing off his dueling hand and then beheading him. As he stands over the body, slightly swaying from the exertion, an explosion of hatred wells within him to the point that he hacks Scathe’s corpse to pieces with his lightsabre (off-screen, of course, so we won’t be too gruesome). He screams with rage, causing huge sections of the surrounding ruins to collapse from the quake in the Force. As he slumps backwards, the full weight of what he has done begins to press upon him. He glances up to see Anya on a balcony above him, on her knees with her hands over her mouth and tears streaming from her eyes. Ranyar realizes he has crossed a line that can never be uncrossed, and he wearily trudges back toward Myra, waiting at the other end of the chamber.
After one of the Masters picks up Anya and returns her to Coruscant, the Council begins to debate what needs to be done. Surely Ranyar’s fall poses a huge security risk. When they begin to debate if he will become Myra’s new apprentice, Dirahn objects. True, it is the way of the Sith for the apprentice to become the Master, but he doubts that Ranyar will have much to learn from her besides a handful of new tricks. Even before his fall he had far surpassed her in skill and raw power; it is unlikely that he would make himself subordinate to her. It is also unlikely he would embrace the ways of the Sith as she had. He had spent so many years opposing the Sith, fighting them after the death of his father/mentor that it would be unthinkable that he would wish to become that which he despised. At the same time, he will likely view his actions as irredeemable, and returning to the Jedi Order would be impossible. Dirahn proposes a new theory: while Ranyar has indeed fallen and may stay with Myra long enough to learn a new new Sith-like skills, he will leave her and attempt to walk the path of the Gray Jedi (remember them?).
Sure enough, the Republic’s spies seem to confirm Dirahn’s theory. They manage to track enough of the Klithzir movements to confirm that Ranyar traveled with them for a time, then eventually went his own way. What’s more disturbing is where he has gone. As the Council begins to analyze his movements, Dirahn recognizes a pattern in the star systems displayed. All are along the Outer Rim, spaced at oddly similar intervals. He asks the computer to adjust the galactic map for ten-thousand years in the past. The star systems immediately line up into a perfect sequence, equidistant around the galaxy’s spiral arms. Dirahn announces that he believes Ranyar is looking for the Crown of Stars, an ancient Jedi artifact.
The legend of the Crown states that ten-thousand years prior, a very powerful Jedi Master once created the artifact to amplify his access to the Force as a means of defeating a powerful Sith Lord. Unfortunately, the raw power of the concentrated Force overwhelmed him, driving him mad with godlike power. He nearly destroyed the entire galaxy but was finally stopped by his apprentice, who was forced to kill him to stop him. The padawan then broke the Crown into many pieces and scattered them across the Outer Rim as far as possible from the other pieces lest one be found and lead someone to the others. Dirahn fears that Ranyar, seeing Myra continuing Darth Scathe’s road to war, believes the situation so grave that he will take the desperate measure of finding the Crown, reassembling it, and using it against her. The Council reluctantly agrees with his theory and sends him to track down his old friend with Anya in tow.
Dirahn and Anya have a long discussion during their lengthy trip about Ranyar’s and Myra’s fall. Quite obviously, Anya blames herself for not being there to support either of her former Masters. Dirahn reassures her that only they can make such choices and no matter how much guilt they heap upon themselves, only Ranyar and Myra themselves can be blamed for their current states.
The next part is, unfortunately, really sketchy. Dirahn and Anya track down Ranyar and confront him, confirming his plan to find the Crown. Dirahn and Ranyar duel and Dirahn is injured (and maybe killed, but I’m leaning against that). Anya continues to follow him with the assistance of another Master on the Council, who is also likely killed in a duel. Meanwhile, the Council and the Senate receive word that several systems on the edge of the Republic have been attacked with entire worlds being destroyed, and rumors abound that an attack on Coruscant itself is imminent.
When the Klithzir fleet arrives at Coruscant, the Senate has gathered a rag-tag militia led by the Jedi. As the battle begins, the Republic fleet engages the Klithzir fighters and light frigates, but the heavier Klithzir ships hold back. Myra orders that their secret weapon be readied. When the Klithzir admiral asks why they shouldn’t deploy it immediately and ensure victory, she replies that she wants to instill false hope in them before crushing their spirits.
Anya, now on her own, manages to track Ranyar down to a Republic listening post just outside the Coruscant system. The listening post has been taken over by the Klithzir, but Ranyar makes short work of them. When Anya reaches the observation center, Ranyar informs her that he already knows of her presence. She begs and pleads with him not to reassemble the Crown, but he tells her they have no choice. Soon Myra will deploy the Klithzir weapon—a special missile that is heavily shielded, impervious to all blaster fire, and with a warhead that will turn Coruscant’s atmosphere into an inferno of burning plasma. By the time the Republic fleet figures out what’s going on, the missile will be unstoppable. Using the power of the Force, he manipulates the pieces of the Crown into position, which resist being reassembled. With all of his Force mastery, he manages to fuse the pieces together and dons the Crown. He is instantly overcome with searing pain as he fights the Crown for domination over his own body.
Myra gives the order. The missile is deployed, streaking across the battlefield and homing in on the planet. Several Republic fighters try in vain to attack it, but either miss or have their weapons quickly deflected.
Ranyar awakens from his struggle, his eyes unnaturally peaceful and his voice hollow and nearly void of emotion. He gestures with his hand and the missile dissolves into nothingness, its constituent atoms scattered across the universe. He waves his hand again and every weapon on the battlefield, Republic and Klithzir alike, ceases to function. With another gesture, Myra is lifted from the Klithzir flagship and materializes in the listening post with Ranyar and Anya.
Unfortunately, the final confrontation between Ranyar and Myra is sketchy, and while I’m sure I could come up with some really great, poinent dialog, I haven’t gotten that far (and likely never will). Suffice it to say that Myra is unrepentent and Ranyar decides to enact his vengence “for the good of the galaxy”, slowly and painfully disassembling the molecules of her body and scattering them as he did with the missile. He does the same with the entire Klithzir fleet, wiping their very existence from the galaxy (which explains why we never hear of them anywhere else in the Star Wars universe). Anya pleads with him to stop during the entire incident, begging him to see what he has become. Evenutally she succeeds, and in one horrible moment Ranyar realizes he has just committed genocide and murdered one of his oldest friends. The Crown, however, is apparently sentient and begins to fight him for control of his body. Ranyar battles the artifact internally, eventually realizing that the only way to destroy it is to destroy himself. He apologizes to Anya and thanks her for never giving up on him, then tells her to destroy the Crown in such a way that it can never be reassembled again. He then scatters his own molecules as he did to Myra, disappearing in a swirling wisp of thinning mist. The Crown clatters to the floor. Anya takes it back to her ship, fastens it to a missile, and then finds the nearest black hole and fires the missile into it, destroying it forever.
There are bound to be a few closing scenes where the Council decides to bury Ranyar’s fall and herald him a hero, redeemed in the end to save the galaxy. We’ll also assume there’s a heart-felt scene where Anya and Dirahn (assuming he’s still alive) come to turns with the loss of their loved ones and look over a Coruscant sunrise/set as a new hope dawns for the Republic. But that’s all I’ve got, and that’s all you’ll get. Now I’ll go collapse and soak my aching wrists in ice water. Whew!
As stated in our previous Recycle Bin entry, my Star Wars anthology idea wasn’t really going anywhere. Besides the usual Recycle Bin killers such as, oh, being a copyrighted and trademarked world that I’d never be asked to write for, it was too broad and covered far too much ground. Eventually, I kept returning to a series of ideas following a single set of characters through several successive adventures. Since I naturally tend to lean toward long-form story telling, this idea became more comfortable to me and I eventually began to concentrate on it exclusively, completely abandoning the anthology idea. In continued to bear the same working title, Tales of the Jedi, mostly out of laziness.
As with the previous Star Wars project, the ideal format for this would be an episodic live-action television with hour-long installments. Borrowing a bit from Babylon 5, I saw it having a set number of seasons with a single cohesive story arc, but allowing for isolated smaller stories to be told during individual episodes. Thus, there would be a definitive beginning, middle, and end, primarily chronicling the adventures of a single Jedi knight and his mentors, colleagues, and apprentices. The events take place approximately one thousand years before the events of Episode I: The Phantom Menace, for the same reasons as mentioned in the previous entry.
As with every Recycle Bin project, this one is very rough around the edges and focuses more on the core plot and less on characterization and window dressings. That said, many of the characters are actually very well formed and have their own personal time lines. Sadly, none of the characters have been given names; this is one of those things I tend to focus on last, letting the choice of name stay in flux until the project becomes more solid. This way, I can look at the character’s entire arc from beginning to end and come up with a name that suits them, maybe even summing them up into a pair of succinct words. Therefore, the names listed below should be considered placeholders only, just so we’ve got something to call them.
Also note that this is a summary of an entire series with multiple seasons and many different running plot threads. Thus, this is a gross distillation of a much more complicated story and only covers the highlights of the plot. There’s actually a ton more detail than what I’ll list here, but for the sake of my bandwidth bill and your patience much of that has been omitted.
An episodic live-action television serial chronicling the rise of one Jedi from padawan to Knight and to Master, then his ultimate fall and redemption as he battles the return of the Sith and his own failings.
The series begins with young Ranyar and his mentor Kandir on a mission to track down pirates raiding freighters and passenger ships along a distant trade route. There isn’t much to really say about the story synopsis itself, other than it introduces the main characters of Ranyar, Kandir, Dirahn, and Myra. At one point the three padawans must go “under cover” as young, wealthy socialites to draw the pirates’ attention, a move the Jedi Council disapproves of but which Kandir convinces them may be their only chance of solving the mystery. Naturally, the padawans become separated from their mentors and end up resolving the situation on their own. The only other notable plot note in the pilot is a hint that the pirates are also involved in some sort of weapons smuggling, which is meant to seem very insignificant at the time (but which readers of GPF will likely note would be a classic Darlington foreshadowing of things to come).
Individual, mostly isolated episodes would make up the majority of the first season, several of which I’ve actually plotted out in detail. However, only three episodes bear any real significance:
In the first, a mysterious attack on a youngling within the Jedi Temple surprises the Council and terrifies the pupils. The young pupil is killed, seemingly having his life energy drained from his body. Only a single witness to the event can be found; another student, slightly older, notices a cloaked figure in the vicinity shortly before the body was discovered. Not long after this, the witness is likewise attacked and nearly killed; Dirahn interrupts the attacker and attempts to protect the victim, driving the attacker off. Unfortunately, Dirahn can provide nothing more useful for tracking down the murderous stalker. The entire Temple is placed on alert, with younglings confined to their dormitories while the Masters, Knights, and older padawans search the grounds.
It isn’t long before the next attack comes, and this time Dirahn is the victim. Ranyar and Myra are in the vicinity and Ranyar briefly duels the attacker, who happens to wield a lightsabre with considerable skill. After the attacker flees and Dirahn is taken to the infirmary, the Council believes it has unraveled the mystery. The attacker is an ancient species of creature (with an appropriately Star Wars-y funky name) that is essentially a “Force vampire”, feeding on the Living Force within a living thing. A Jedi would make for a most succulent meal for such a beast, and it would grow stronger with each successive feeding. It is believed that the creature somehow survived the great extermination of its race by the Jedi millennia before by becoming dormant and hiding in the catacombs beneath the Temple, staying alive by absorbing the ambient eddies of the Force given off by the hundreds of Jedi above. The Masters also take note of the attacks: in each case, the witness of the previous attack ultimately becomes the next victim, and apparently the creature chooses its targets to gain successively more Force energy with each feeding. It is unanimously agreed that Ranyar must be its next target, and that should he fall victim the creature will gain enough power to attack any Jedi in the Temple. Ranyar volunteers to provide himself as bait to draw the creature out. The Masters object, but Kandir convinces them otherwise. Even if Ranyar falls to the attack, the creature will need time to recuperate after the feast, leaving it vulnerable.
Eventually, Ranyar flushes the creature out and duels it. The battle is intense; Ranyar has his raw talent and youthful skill, but the creature draws upon the skills of hundreds of Jedi it has drained over the centuries. Ultimately, Ranyar defeats the beast and beheads it. The Council analyzes the battle and determine that Ranyar’s willingness to sacrifice himself, combined with his ability to control the emotional response to fighting a creature that nearly killed his friend, is enough to count as Ranyar’s padawan trial. He is promoted to the full rank of Jedi Knight, although he continues to operate in conjunction with his mentor for some time, much like Anakin Skywalker and Obi Wan Kenobi served side by side after Anakin was promoted.
The second key story (which may or may not run before the previous one) involves Kandir and Ranyar encountering a bad of “gray Jedi”, Force-sensitives skilled in the Jedi arts who reject the strict teachings of both the Order and the Sith and seek to walk the delicate, fine line between them. They view the Force as not divided into Light and Dark, but as a gradual blend of grays that can be traversed with appropriate discipline. There is very little actual plot scripted here, other than having Kandir and Ranyar discuss why they believe the Jedi path is more appropriate. But the importance of this story is to introduce the concept that some see the Force not as two opposite extremes, a theory that will come into play later.
The third key story may or may not have been part of the first season. In some ways, I feel it should be later, but then I wouldn’t want to push its revelations too late in the series run. Kandir and Ranyar are sent on a mission to a planet on the edge of the Republic to investigate rumors of arms smuggling passing through the system. (Remember the pirates from the first story? I knew you would.) The pair meet with the queen of the planet, who seems genuinely shocked and appalled that someone within her government would be involved in such a detestable practice. (Remember that prior to Episode II, the Republic had been at peace for thousands of years, so the prospect of large scale arms smuggling could be a possible hint of oncoming war.)
Kandir and Ranyar agree, however, that the queen’s story doesn’t seem to add up. Due to the nature of the facts at hand, it would be impossible for the smuggling to occur in this system without someone high up in the government giving the pirates their blessing. There is also the fact that the queen herself wears a strange amulet, which she claims is an “heirloom” of the royal line, but which Kandir recognizes as a being composed of a mineral known for suppressing detection of the Force. Was she trying to dampen the Jedi’s ability to detect something? Or perhaps she was trying to hide her own Force sensitivity?
The entire situation makes Kandir uneasy, and he confesses to Ranyar that he [wait for it…] has “a bad feeling about this”. He has seen visions of tragedy in their immediate future that seem to overwhelm him. Ultimately, he reveals a closely guarded secret: He is Ranyar’s biological father. He was sent to escort and protect his mother, a very important diplomat, and the two unexpectedly fell in love. The pair tried to keep their affair secret until Ranyar’s birth made it unavoidable. The Jedi Council nearly stripped him of his rank and position. But when Ranyar’s mother was assassinated, Kandir proved to be the only one capable of solving the mystery. When Ranyar proved to be Force positive, he was accepted into the Jedi academy for training. While his mother’s death nearly drove Kandir to the Dark Side, it was the hope that Ranyar instilled within him that kept him on the side of Light. Against incredible odds and many protests, Kandir petitioned to becomes Ranyar’s mentor, a decision the Council eventually admitted was the right one based on Ranyar’s current status. Raynar is, of course, shocked by the revelation, but somehow in his heart the Force tells him it must be true. Kandir begs him to keep his emotions in check, to not let them influence him. He fears that the following day will sorely try both of them.
The next day, the two Jedi part company to continue their investigation. Kandir tells Ranyar to confront the queen with their suspicion of her involvement, while he will investigate suspicious activity down at the space dock. When Ranyar arrives in the throne room, he finds the queen is dressed in much different attire (think something more in the black leather realm) and no longer wearing the amulet. There’s some witty banter, followed promptly by her drawing a red-bladed lightsabre. As the two begin to fight, Kandir suspects that his former apprentice is in trouble and begins to head back to the throne room. He is cut short by the sudden appearance (the as-yet unnamed) Darth Scathe. Two duels ensue. Ranyar eventually makes short work of the queen, running her through. Sensing his father may also be in trouble, he uses his Jedi speed to arrive at the other fight just in time to see Kandir fall. Overcome with a wave of grief and fury, Ranyar leaps the distance between himself and the Dark Lord and begins to duel him. The Sith Lord replies only in a deep, gravely voice, “Today is not your day to die, young one,” and blasts him away with a bolt of Force lightning. Before Ranyar can recover, Scathe closes the blast doors between them, leaving Ranyar and the dying Kandir on the other side. Kandir dies in Ranyar’s arms just as the palace guards arrive to arrest him for assassinating the queen.
Eventually, a representative of the Jedi Council arrives. Given the evidence (the queen’s own lightsabre, etc.) and the Council’s testimony, Ranyar is released and all charges are dropped. However, the message is clear; the Sith have returned yet again where they were believed to be extinct. The fact that they are smuggling weapons is also troubling. Ranyar struggles with the impact of both gaining and losing his father in the span of a day, but resolves to master his emotions as his mentor taught him and concentrate on solving the puzzle of the Sith before them.
The middle portions of this project are less distinct and would probably concentrate on smaller stories less important to the overall plot. A number of events have to happen, however: Both Dirahn and Myra both graduate to Knighthood (probably well before the previous story), more hints and rumors of the Sith emerge, and Myra accepts Anya Mistrider as her padawan (although this may occur largely off-screen). The most significant item here is that an elder female Master on the Council has a prophetic vision in which Ranyar and Darth Scathe will ultimately duel to the death. One must fall, but she is uncertain of which. After the duel, the Republic will be cast into a new period of darkness which will threaten the entire galaxy. The Council decides to keep this prophecy from Ranyar lest it affect his judgment, but the prophet Master decides on her own that it is in his best interests to know the truth. The facts of the prophecy trouble Ranyar. It is not so much the specter of death at the Dark Lord’s hand that frighten him, but the fact that even if he apparently wins this final confrontation, the entire galaxy will be at stake. This ominous foreshadowing will, of course, be echoed periodically throughout the remainder of the series to ensure nobody forgets it. 😉
And… that’s all you get for now. This post is already getting long enough; time to move to the next one. The second half of this Tales of the Jedi idea will be in next week’s update. Stay tuned….
For this edition of the Recycle Bin, I’m throwing out one of many, many Star Wars related ideas I’ve had over the years. Star Wars has always been a major influence on me, ever since it was released on my third birthday back in 1977. From the childish stick-figure doodles I drew back in elementary school to the premises I’ll be sharing with you here, I like many others have taken George Lucas’ space opera epic as my own and expanded it with my own ideas. I’ll just never get paid for my contribution, so I might as well throw it out here and hope I’ll never get sued. 😉
Actually, this is (at least) a two-part entry, mostly because there was an original premise that eventually morphed into something else. This time, I’ll introduce the original version; sometime later (probably the next update) I’ll include the “final” version into which this one eventually evolved.
This edition of the RB is even less polished that last time’s Powerpuff Girls idea. (I still can’t believe I posted that.) It mostly consists of the central premise, onto which would be tacked various specific stories that would be developed later. Ideally, it would take the form of a live action television drama with hour-long episodes, some of which may consist of multiple parts. This idea is actually pretty old (within my own personal time line, that is) and probably predates Episode I: The Phantom Menace. Of course, many of the ideas it may have presented would likely already be covered by much of the “Expanded Universe” material orbiting George Lucas’ films, but it could also have served as a vehicle to bring some of those items to television as episodes of the show.
And yes, I am aware of the Dark Horse Comics series Tales of the Jedi. The choice of my working title is an unfortunate coincidence and may or may not have preceded that series, but since I’ll never be able to do anything with my version anyway, it’s not very important in the long run.
A live-action, hour-long anthology series chronicling the history of the Jedi Order and its battles to protect the Galactic Republic (and its preceding organizations) from the machinations of the Sith.
As an anthology series, the principle characters of any given episode’s story would change from week to week. However, each episode would have had a framing element set in the years after Episode VI: Return of the Jedi in which an aging Luke Skywalker (ideally played by Mark Hamill himself), founder of the resurrected Jedi Order, teaches his students object lessons relevant to their studies through adventures and legends taken from the recently rediscovered Jedi archives. Each episode would begin with one of his pupils encountering a problem, to which Skywalker would relate a tale from the archives that the viewer would see as a flashback. The episode would conclude with the student drawing a moral from the story and applying it to the problem at hand. Of course, to add variety, things could always be mixed up to let the pupils share stories with each other, showing that they too learn and grow from their experiences (and to potentially give Mr. Hamill the occasional vacation).
Unfortunately, besides Skywalker himself, no other characters were developed. There were a few unnamed padawans of various ages, genders, and species, but they mostly existed to run into trouble until Luke helped talk them out of it. As such, the “characters” in my head were largely unformed, nebulous, and completely interchangeable. As a tip of the hat to other “Expanded Universe” material, any of Skywalker’s pupils from the post-Return material could have been substituted, of course. I didn’t plan to include any other characters from the original films, although ageless characters such as R2-D2 and C-3PO could have been added fairly easily.
All of the stories would be set far into the Jedi Order’s past, probably at least a thousand years before the events of Phantom Menace. (This time frame stems primarily from the statement in Phantom Menace that the Sith had not been seen for a thousand years.) This would provide significant freedom to explore many new characters, locations, and themes not dealt with in the theatrical films without having to worry too much about conflicting with the established canon and story arc. However, this would also be the series’ Achilles’ heel; without a set time frame or the film references to draw on, the series’ designers would be forced to “devolve” the civilizations and technologies of the films to earlier times, much like they did while producing the prequels, but on a much more limited television budget. This would be compounded by the fact that the setting would change from story to story, meaning that the likelihood of reusing sets, costumes, and 3D models as cost-cutting measures would be pretty much nullified.
The more I thought about this idea, the more I realized how much of a problem this would become. True, some locations like the Jedi Temple could be realistically reused even over a supposed time frame of thousands of years, but it just became far too daunting to prove feasible. (Mind you, that’s not really a problem for a writer, who can help his readers imagine any time or place with a few choice words. That said, even as unrealistic as it may be, I envisioned this as a TV show and tried to approach it with that mentality.) Add to this the fact that I’ve found I’m not that great at writing anthology fiction. I’ve discovered through GPF that I’m much more drawn toward long-form story telling, where I can spend time developing characters, stories, and themes.
As I swapped in the occasional non-GPF processor cycles on this idea, I began to realize that the anthology angle wasn’t going to work for me. A single, solitary story began to emerge focusing on a core set of characters in a fixed time frame, and the more I tried to expand upon the anthology concept, the more it became lost next to the fledgling monolithic saga. Eventually, I decided to give into the change in focus and abandoned the anthology altogether. Next time, I’ll share with you at least part of the larger Star Wars idea; because of the depth involved, it may actually require multiple updates!
I have a bit of a quandary that’s got me effectively stuck on a task at my day job. Thus far, Google and every other resource I’ve searched have been little help. In the unlikely event somebody out there that reads this blog (or at least gets the update notices via RSS, Twitter, or the other various feeds) can help me, I’m going throw this out and hope it garners some feedback.
I’ll try to keep this as short as possible. Our production Web site, built in ASP.NET and C# and running in IIS on Windows Server 2003, recently added authentication via client certificates stored on users’ smart cards. We allow users to attach their smart card certificates to their existing account, then authenticate them by verifying their certificate, looking up the user account by that certificate’s fingerprint, and loading their profile. These certificates are signed by a trusted third-party certificate authority (CA) owned by the client and every morning we download the latest certificate revocation lists (CRLs) so we can reject certificates as they are revoked by the CA. My download process is working fine and dandy, so that’s not the problem; neither is the actual import process, as I know the command line options for Microsoft’s
certutil command that will import the CRLs.
My problem stems from removing the old CRLs, which so far I haven’t been able to accomplish without going into the Microsoft Management Console and clicking through the GUI. We’ve had problems with the size of the certificate store, as the CRLs tend to be very large and we have to remove the old ones before the new ones can be imported. I’ve tried the few suggestions I’ve found online that haven’t seemed to work, such as a command-line switch for
certutil that’s supposed to overwrite the old CRL with the new one (it just imports the new one and leaves the old one in place). We want to automate this process into a scheduled task, so it can run early in the morning when our users aren’t on the system and without human intervention.
Here are the tools available to me:
certutil(part of Microsoft’s Certificate Services package);
I’ll tell you, I’m pretty frustrated and exhausted by this task. It’s not that I can’t do the research and figure it out for myself; I have done the research, and everything I’ve read applies to certificates and not CRLs, and they’re not exactly a direct swap in usage. I’d prefer not to provide much more detail than this for security reasons.
For the time being, I’ve been manually removing the old CRLs through MMC and then running a batch script to do the import every morning as my first task. That’s working fine for now, when I’m in the office every morning, but I’ll be taking some vacation time soon that will start to cause problems. I swear, if this was OpenSSL and Apache on Linux, I’d have this solved in a heartbeat (or at least an afternoon). If you have any suggestions, please feel to post a comment or shoot me a direct e-mail at the usual address.
Just posting a quick note to let you guys know I’ve bumped good ol’ WinHahser to version 1.5. This is both a bug and feature release, so both of you using it will probably want to upgrade. Here’s a quick list of the changes:
System.IO.FileStreamobject uses a 64-bit integer for its
Lengthattribute, meaning this was totally my mistake, not Microsoft’s. The end result here is that WinHasher would crash on files larger than 2GB since it would end up trying to calculate its percent complete on an overflowed negative value. I’ve updated the code so that the single-file length calculations also use 64-bit integers and now I can finally validate that Fedora 11 DVD ISO download. Note that there’s still a hard cap at 8.05EB whether your hashing a single file or you sum up multiple files together. While it’s possible to bump this up to an unsigned 64-bit integer and go for even more ridiculous large numbers, I seriously doubt anyone is going to be running a SHA-1 hash that large any time soon.
MessageBoxobject for this, meaning the hash was displayed in a read-only form that couldn’t be copied and pasted elsewhere to be compared. (It’s much easier to copy and paste two hashes into a text editor, for example, and visually scan the two lines for differences.) Well, I wasn’t the only one to find this annoying. WinHasher user Todd Henry had issues with this too and suggested that I either put the hash result in a text box that could be copied and pasted elsewhere, or add a box where an externally produced hash (say from a Web site) could be pasted into the dialog and have WinHasher compare them. Interestingly enough, I was already planning to make that change when he wrote me, and now it’s there. Once WinHasher is done, it will display a new result dialog with both a copyable hash result field and a new “compare to” field that will take an external hash string and tell you if it matches or not.
I realized after I updated the files and the site that I forgot to make any changes to the documentation to reflect these updates. Oh, well. I don’t think they’re major enough to sweat over, so I’ll leave those alone for now and make sure they get updated by the next release.
This wasn’t exactly what I was planning for the first post to the Recycle Bin, but it’s been gnawing at my mind for a while so I might as well exorcise it. I came up with the original idea months (if not years) ago, but it was recently resurrected by watching an episode of the show about a week ago (one I had never seen), and it all came rushing back. Please assume there is a hearty helping to tongue-in-cheek with this; it’s meant to be played in a “so serious it’s meant to be funny” tone that pretends to portray itself as dramatic while making you stifle your chuckles at its absurdity. The ideal distribution format would be as a big-budget, live-action tent-pole action film complete with copious special effects and suitable simian CGI.
Just a reminder: As with all Recycle Bin posts, this is a snapshot of an idea in development. For that matter, it’s an idea in development that I will never finish, because there is no incentive to complete it unless I want to get my pants sued off. Thus, there are likely to be tons of plot holes, inconsistencies, incomplete scenes, and huge sections glossed over with gross summaries like “they fight”. The summary below primarily consists of the plot, which is the trickiest to get right. Many of the in-jokes, cameos, and subtle humor has been left for the “phase two” that will never come, since those elements would be window dressing compared to a coherent story. This gives you a little insight into how I write may of my stories, including GPF. I usually try to get the plot nailed down first so everything makes sense, and then add on the fun stuff like humor and random characterization.
Twenty years after the fall of Townsville, the Powerpuff Girls, now young adults oblivious to their superhero past, must rediscover their heritage in time to defeat an old nemesis.
The “film” begins the same way the series does: “Sugar. Spice. And everything nice. These are the ingredients Professor Utonium used to create the perfect little girls. But he accidentally added another ingredient: Chemical X! Thus the Powerpuff Girls were born!” A brief montage similar to the opening sequence of the show ensues, but is eventually interrupted when the narrator adds, “but that was twenty years ago.” He continues in a faux news reel style to summarize the last two decades: the city of Townsville was destroyed by an unknown force and subsequently abandoned. Those citizens who survived the cataclysm either refuse or unable to speak of what happened. The city now lies in ruins, rapidly being eclipsed by its nearest big neighbor, Metroburgh. The Powerpuff Girls are now nothing but a local urban legend told by the Townsville survivors scattered among the surrounding states. The “news reel” ends with an announcement that Hershel Industrial Manufacturing has purchased all of the land currently occupied by the empty city and plans to level what remains to expand its Metroburgh facilities.
One of the young executives in charge of this project is Blossom, a rising star in the Hershel empire. Her sharp intelligence and impeccable organizational skills have helped her rise in the ranks with alarming speed, making her the youngest of an elite few who report directly to the CEO himself. She enters Hershel’s office to report that the project is on schedule and that the leveling work will begin within the next few days. Hershel gives her carte blanche access to the company’s resources to ensure everything is completed on schedule. “I’ll leave the details in your capable hands,” he says.
Meanwhile, disaster ensues at one of Hershel’s R&D labs. Shortly after the lead researcher explains to his female technician about the mysterious test chimp JoJo who just “showed up” in a shipment some twenty years ago, another shipment arrives containing a case of mysterious liquid labeled only “Chemical X”. Shortly afterward, alarms begin blaring throughout the lab. In Hershel’s office, his secretary interrupts the CEO to inform him there has been an “incident” at the lab. Showing only modest concern, he dispatches Blossom to investigate. As Blossom leaves, she eyes the secretary warily. Although we never see her face, the woman watches Blossom leave and never takes her eyes off her until the doors close behind her.
Blossom arrives at the lab just before the police. The evidence is grim: Jojo’s cage has be torn open from the inside out, a case that should contain vials of liquid has been ripped open and the vials are gone, what’s left of the two researchers has been splattered all over the back wall, and the sole window in the lab has be shattered with the glass fanning out into the grass outside. One of the detectives is a young woman Blossom’s age, with short black hair and responding to the nickname “B”. She is gruff and abrasive, but thorough in her interrogation. For some reason, Blossom can’t take her eyes off the other woman; she is haunted by a feeling of deja vu, certain that she has seen the woman before. Despite her dismissive attitude, “B” also shares the feeling that she has seen the young executive before, and watches her leave in grim fascination.
Somewhere in here I need to introduce Bubbles and the day care. Unfortunately, I haven’t reached that level of detail, and probably shouldn’t since I’ll never do anything with this anyway. Suffice it to say that somewhere in here Blossom ends up at the day care and meets with Bubbles. The name of the day care is brought up (“Pokey Oaks”), which Bubbles explains is a name that just stuck with her since she was a child, although she can’t explain its origin.
Eventually, Mojo Jojo makes his re-emergence. Although older and somewhat graying in his fur, he is still the egotistical hyper-intelligent simian he’s always been. He begins to wreck havoc within Metroburgh, bringing him in direct conflict with the police. Although I’m somewhat sketchy on the details, somehow “B” and Blossom end up defeating him, reluctantly teaming up to outwit him and send him into temporary retreat. Bubbles should also be present, but she cowers under cover and eventually runs away.
Confused by the events of the day, a weary Blossom heads home only to run into an older woman. He never see her face; we always see her from angles where her face is off-camera, obscured by something, or simply out of focus in any given shot. Her hair is thick, long, curly, and flaming red, although there are hints of gray within the curls. Blossom recognizes her. “You’re Mr. Hershel’s secretary,” she says. “What was your name?” “Sara,” the woman replies. She insists that Blossom must go to Townsville before it is leveled, and gives her an address. When Blossom attempts to press for more information, the woman disappears down the street.
Intrigued by the mystery, Blossom reluctantly agrees. She arrives in the deserted town and finds the address. Inside the dilapidated building is an old hermit, bumbling in a makeshift laboratory. When the old man sees her, he is overcome with emotion. It’s Professor Utonium, his clean-cut black hair now a tangled gray mass and his square jaw erroded with age. He calls Blossom by name, but she does not remember him.
The Professor begins to relate the events of the past two decades. Although the full details are never revealed, the Powerpuffs were forced into a powerful confrontation with their arch foe, Mojo Jojo. Everything about the fight seemed typical for the time: Townsville was in peril, lots of buildings were destroyed, etc. Only this time, the carnage spilled over to a nearby government research lab. The lab was utterly destroyed and many of the researchers were injured or killed. The contractor employing most of the researchers sued the government over the incident, forcing the feds to intervene. Mojo was incarcerated and the Powerpuffs were taken into “protective custody”. The girls were separated and placed into foster care. The Professor, disgraced and stripped of his credentials, was left destitute and held responsible for the destruction as the girls’ legal guardian, ruining him professional and financially.
During the next few years, the effects of Chemical X on both the girls and Mojo began to wear off. Apparently, while the chemical remains permanently in their systems, regular exposure is required to maintain their spectacular abilities. Without this exposure—for the girls living in the Professor’s house and for Mojo his repeated skirmishes with the girls—their powers lessen and become semi-dormant, almost to the point where they seem nonexistent. Absent from Chemical X, the Professor, and each other, the girls eventually forget their amazing heritage and grow up not knowing their full potential.
The Professor opens a hidden secured door to reveal a small alcove containing newspaper clippings, videos, and other paraphernalia from the girls’ heyday as superheroes. Blossom immediately recognizes both Bubbles and “B” (Buttercup). The Professor hands her a scrapbook full of photos and clippings, then pulls out the last remaining vial of Chemical X in his possession and begs Blossom to find the other girls and recover their powers and memories. For the past twenty years, he has been piecing together the puzzle behind their final battle with Mojo and has come to the conclusion that it was no accident. The contracting firm running the destroyed lab knew Mojo’s attack was coming and intentionally put their people in harms way to force the government to intervene. It was all a ploy to wrest the girls’ from the Professor’s care and scatter them.
Just as the Professor is about to reveal the contractor’s name, Mojo attacks. The remnants of the house are destroyed and Blossom barely escapes with her life. The Professor is not so lucky. Crushed beneath the rubble, he pleads one last time for Blossom to reunite the girls, then dies in her arms. Mojo continues his attack, forcing Blossom to take cover. Behind a fallen wall, she eyes the vial of dark liquid warily, uncorks it, and downs a third of it. After much hacking, coughing, and gagging, she suddenly awakens to new memories and strength. She steps out from behind the rubble and confronts Mojo, fighting him to a standstill. He eventually retreats, returning to Metroburgh. Blossom takes to the air (with difficulty, since it’s been years since she last flew) and passes him to find the other girls first.
Eventually, Blossom gathers Buttercup and Bubbles and attempts to convince them of what the Professor told them. She brings with her the scrapbook from the Professor’s shrine as evidence. Neither woman is convinced. Only when Mojo begins attacking random citizens do they seem receptive. Blossom shoves the vial of Chemical X at them, telling them they’ll have to decide for themselves. She, on the other hand, cannot stand still and let Mojo destroy Metroburgh. They watch in amazement as Blossom takes to the air and begins to fight the chimp with her super speed and might.
Buttercup eyes the liquid suspiciously, shrugs, and says, “What the heck,” throwing back a swig. She passes the vial to Bubbles as she begins to gag. Bubbles refuses to drink. “I’m nobody,” she whimpers. “I’m no hero.” However, as soon as Buttercup regains her composure and begins to test her recovered powers, Bubbles is amazed. Buttercup grabs Bubbles by the shirt and shakes a fist in her face. “Drink it, you big sissy, before I reverse your digestive tract the hard way.” “There’s no need for violence,” Bubbles replies testily. They are interrupted by Blossom being tossed over their heads.
Bubbles eventually drinks and the battle ensues. The fight is very sketchy, but Mojo is eventually defeated. (Is he killed? I’m not sure. I’m very uncertain on that note and can see pros and cons either way.) At the end of the battle, Mojo is obviously injured (if not dying) and unable to continue. “This is all HIS fault!” he wheezes as the girls close in. Blossom is not amused. “You brought this on yourself, Mojo,” she replies defiantly. At this, Mojo begins to laugh maniacally, although it ends abruptly in coughing and wheezing. “I thought you were the smart one,” he growls at her. “Are you so blind you cannot see? HE was the one who goaded me into attacking that lab! Can you not see how HE has manipulated us all? Do you not know that HE is the one who has defeated us both?”
Blossom stares at him in confusion, then realization crosses her face. She pulls out a newspaper clipping from the Professor’s scrapbook. It describes the attack on the government lab from twenty years before. Popping out of the text is the name of the contracting firm: Hershel Industrial Manufacturing. Blossom’s mind reels. Hershel Industrial Manufacturing… H. I. M…. HIM!
Mojo either expires or is handed off to the proper authorities. Meanwhile, the girls take flight and return to the remains of Townsville, where the leveling and groundbreaking is to commence shortly. They arrive just as Mr. Hershel is about to dig with the ceremonial shovel. The crowd watches in amazement as the Powerpuffs land nearby.
Blossom confronts Hershel with the Professor’s story, Mojo’s testimony, and the evidence from the Professor’s scrapbook. Hershel is coy and dodges the accusation, neither confirming nor denying his involvement. Blossom continues to goad him (again, details are sketchy here; maybe somewhere she has discovered some of the plans for the factory to be built, including details that make little sense) until she finally evokes a response. Hershel’s voice suddenly moves up an octave to a high falsetto, gaining a mysterious reverb. Before their eyes, he transforms into the HIM we all remember. A battle naturally ensues, eventually ending in a draw.
Enraged, HIM begins to transform into a hideous monstrosity with only a hint of his original form. The battle is rejoined, and only after much destruction is he eventually defeated. He opens a portal to another realm, vowing that his “defeat” is only a minor setback.
The girls and the spectators are left among the smoldering, flattened remains of what was once Townsville. Eventually, someone has to ask, “What now?” A glint of mischief enters Blossom’s eye. “‘Mr. Hershel’ left the Townsville project in my hands. He wanted to make sure the city was leveled and new construction began promptly thereafter. But he never said explicitly what we should build. We’ll rebuild the city.” Buttercup looks at her skeptically. “Won’t the board of H.I.M. object?” “He left everything in my hands,” she replies. “Carte blanche. He should have been more specific.” The narrator states with obvious flair, “And finally, once again, the day is saved, thanks to the Powerpuff Girls!”
[One thing left unanswered is why HIM wanted Townsville destroyed in the first place. Apparently it had something to do with building something (the new factory) on the spot. Unfortunately, the story hasn’t developed that far in my head, so I only have a mental note that he needed the land for something and it had to be the land occupied by Townsville. It couldn’t be anywhere else. It also has to be something so important that he was willing to plan for years to obtain it; the building of the contracting firm, the government lab, the disbanding of the Powerpuffs, ensuring the city remained desolate, raising the capital to buy the land, building a massive factory on the spot, etc. This is obviously a project with at least 25, 30, or even more years on the time line. Maybe that should be left up to the “sequel”.]
[It should also be apparent that most of the events have transpired according to his plans; he kept Blossom and Mojo close to keep an eye on them, he made sure Mojo would be exposed to Chemical X again, he knew Ms. Bellum would tell Blossom to go to Townsville, etc. It is obvious he wanted the Powerpuffs out of the way for a time, but that he also wanted them to reawaken. Did they reawaken too soon? Was their reawakening a key requirement to his plan? Is his “retreat” all part of the scheme? This is a detail I really wish I could iron out.]