Zenith Chapter Zero
Note: The following story takes place shortly before the events of “The Extraordinary People”
An opening shot of New Ingersol Hall at Brooklyn College, nighttime, in the heavy rain. Inside, two guards lie dead at the foyer.
Upstairs, we are taken to the front door to the lab of Professor Pontanus. From inside a voice can be heard.
Nature makes the mean, I always say.
Inside, several men in jumpsuits wearing black masks with a red hand print across the face ransack the college laboratory. They seem to be searching for something. Tied to a chair, beaten and bleeding, the old professor sits with his head held down.
The great alchemical scholars believed humans to be similar to stones. Did you know that, professor?
The Red Hand sits, examining a metamorphic rock sample. He is a tall, dark skinned figure. His face is bandaged heavily, concealing hideous burns. White hair is exposed in various patches through the bandages on the top of his head. The only visible features of his face are his mouth and eyes, around which are also severe burns as well. Red veins stain his eyeballs like spider webs. His left hand is completely bandaged, leaving only his burnt fingers exposed. On his right is sort of red biker glove.
They believed the transformations stones underwent were similar to that of our very souls. That they reflected the deeper psychological transformations we must all one day face.
The professor looks up nervously.
It…it’s not here…y-you’re wasting your time…
Hand continues admiring the stone. He is completely uninterested in the professors pleading.
Heat and pressure brings about great change in even the most insignificant of stones…such as this…such as you, professor.
He stands and walks toward the trembling professor. He nods, and two henchmen grab the old man and pull his head back.
D-do what you want to me, y-you’ll never complete the machine.
Hand chuckles, holding the rock he was admiring over the professors head.
Those scholars…what I admired about them the most was that they understood no matter how tough something thinks it is-
His red right hand begins giving off steam. The stone turns bright red, and soon begins to melt. Molten rock begins seeping through his fingers.
Melting breaks anything down. It is the Calcination phase. The purification by fire. The transitional phase that exposes our radiant inner cores.
Close up on professors eyes, the molten rock inches from his face.
Close up of Hands face, his smile visible through the bandages.
What are you made of, dear professor?
Final shot of New Ingersol hall in the heavy rain, the professors screams echoing overhead.
TITLE: His Red Right Hand
The next day. Opening shot of an old building,
Closeup of the front door of the office of private detective Samuel Vincent.
Coulda handled em all my damn self.
Inside, Sam Vincent sits at his desk examining the headline of a newspaper. Daniel Valentine sits at a window looking outside dreamily. There’s a band aid on his nose and cheek.
*Chuckles* No doubt about it, old man. But ya gotta admit, kids are gettin tougher these days. Everyone’s eager to prove something.
Sam stands, reaching into his pocket for a pack of cigarettes. He tosses the paper on the desk.
Closeup on the headline:
PRIVATE DETECTIVE SHUTS DOWN GUN SMUGGLING RING
*Lighting his cigarette* Tougher my foot. And can you believe this headline? Since when does a gang of seventeen year olds selling uzi’s count as gun smugglers?
Daniel chuckles, picking up the paper.
You’re pretty cranky for someone who made the front page again. At least you the prestige. I’m the one doin all the leg work.
I hear ya, kid. And don’t think I don’t appreciate you out there with me. It’s a goddamn shame how quick the whole world was to turn on you capes.
It’s a mistake he doesn’t realize he’s made, calling me a cape. It’s the mask that fools him. Tricks him into thinking I’m something worth praise.
Closeup of Daniels face reading a section of the article:
Suspects alleged they were assaulted by a knife wielding masked assailant. Police have issued no statement on the matter, or on the irony of a possible “Cape” sighting on the year anniversary of the Presidents nationwide ban on costumed vigilantism.
I don’t have the courage to correct him.
Sam’s daughter, Salina, enters the office. She appears to be shaken up and out of breath.
Dammit girl, if you’re going to cut class, at least have the decency to not let me catch…Salina?
Close up on her face. Her eyes are teary, and she looks greatly distraught.
My professor was murdered last night on campus.
Daniel and Sam look at her in shock, and quickly exchange glances.
Go with her. See what you can do. If Brown’s there, be careful.
Brooklyn college campus, daytime, Students are gathered in mourning in front of Ingersol Hall as police Sergeant Norma Brown issues a statement to the crowd.
It’s that cop dad warned you about, the one that hates capes.
All cops do, Sal.
Yeah, but her…
Shot of a stern yet beautiful Norma Brown addressing the press. She has long brown hair, glasses, and appears to be very serious in nature. She wears a long overcoat. Her badge is proudly exposed at her hip.
She wakes up early to do it.
Various word bubbles surround Brown. Her eyes remain closed in mild irritancy.
Any suspects so far in the murder of Professor Pontanus?
Is it true the Professor was set on fire in his own lab-
Are the students of Brooklyn College in any danger of further-
No official statement can be made at this time on the cause of Professor Pontanus’s death. Forensic science experts will find those responsible for this heinous crime, of that we are confident. No further questions at this time.
Reporters clamor as Brown departs into the building.
Set on fire?
Sal looks down with sadness.
It’s been going around that he was found burned to death…
Shot of Dan’s stunned face.
Cut to the Dan and Sal walking through the quad.
Pontanus was such a nice old man…why would anyone want to…
Covers her mouth in disgust, then looks up at Daniel.
Danny, you gotta do something. That woman, Brown, she’s visited dad at the office a few times before. I can tell when she’s lying. The cops don’t have a clue who did this. Danny, I know you’re suppose to draw as little attention as possible, but please, as a favor to me…
Shot of Daniels face with closed eyes while he listens to her plea. The panel is drawn closer to his eyes as she says this. His eyes open on her last sentence, stern and with determination.
Nighttime. Zenith leaps about and runs along the rooftops of Brooklyn. The acrobat/knife expert wears a high collared short black jacket. It is zipped up, concealing the lower half of his face. Over his eyes is a traditional black domino mask with white lenses. His hair hangs out in the wind.
The light from the library tower glows in the distance. He fires his Z-line towards the tower and swings dynamically toward the rooftop of Ingersol Hall.
Zenith enters through a stairwell window and maneuvers through the empty building. He taps the corner of his mask and speaks in a low tone to himself.
The white lenses of Z’s mask turn green.
Death is something I’m used to.
Z approaches Pontanus’s lab. A yellow police tag is across the door. He enters.
It’s not something I’m proud of. Solidifying yourself in the face of it, not letting its horrid sight tatter your mind, these are the things I’ve learned to do in this…life.
He examines the igneous rock samples burned into the floor around where Pontanus was killed.
Because that is what I chose. I knew what I was in store for when I signed away on that dotted line. I chose to endure this so no one else has to.
He continues to examine the ransacked room. He picks up a book, and through the eyes of his green lenses we can see fingerprints.
Least of all students. No one should have to-
The lights click on. In one blindingly fast motion Z sends two throwing knives behind him toward the door.
One knife lands in the wall by the light switch, pinning the sleeve of a woman’s lab coat, the next lands mere inches from her face. She is stunned.
Taken back for a moment, Z gathers himself.
Don’t panic. I’m here to help find who did this.
D-Don’t panic?! You just threw knives at me!
Z approaches her and removes the knives. He places them in his coat and zips it up, covering his face.
Sorry about that. What’re you doing here at this hour? Who are you?
I…I was a colleague of the professor…My name is Jane Lead…Doctor Jane Lead. Why are you dressed like that?
Z ignores her second statement and walks toward the rock samples in the floor.
This is where the professor was murdered. People say he was burned alive, but there’s no sign of that here.
That was a lie…I was the first to find the professor that morning…
Close up of Jane’s eyes. They look down slowly in despair.
Shot of the dead professor in his chair, still looking up. His eyes look like charcoal. Parts of his face are melted as well.
We’re taken back to the lab. Jane is holding herself in obvious discomfort from recalling her tragic discovery.
I’m sorry…What happened to him?
His…his face was partially melted. I know this may sound crazy, but I think someone poured magma on him.
I know how it sounds, but look here.
Kneels by igneous rock samples burned into floor.
I’ve been in this office countless times, and I’ve never seem these igneous rock samples embedded in the floor before. And look, the crystals here are small, meaning that it cooled rapidly.
Thanks for the quick lesson, but how is it possible someone melted solid rock without burning anything else in the lab, let alone themselves?
The doctor rises and reaches into her lab coat pocket for a pack of cigarettes.
Well, that depends on three physical parameters: It’s temperature, pressure, and composition. There were few minerals in this rock, so there was most likely one set melting point. That, combined with tremendous heat and pressure…
But that still doesn’t answer how the old man was murdered, or why. Did he have any enemies?
An elderly college professor? Not likely. Science was his life. All I know about his past was that he was a researcher for government sponsored geological experiments. He-
Z raises his hand to halt her speaking
Wait, did you hear that?
Z puts a finger to his mouth and heads toward the door. He pulls out a knife and angles its blade so he could see its reflection of outside.
Several henchmen from the previous night are approaching from down the hall. Most of them are breaking into various rooms. Z notices a few shattering the glass displays along the hall and taking the stones from its contents.
You heard da boss. Every rock you see. Can’t be too careful.
You’d better hide.
Jane hurries to a nearby closet and hides inside.
Three masked henchmen enter the room.
Search da whole place. Remember, no stone unturned. Heh. See what I did there?
*Sniggers* Good one, Dom.
*From off panel* Pretty funny.
Haha, thanks I just- what wha-?
Two throwing knives land in the thighs of Hench 2. He screams and collapses.
Hench 1 and 3 watch in complete shock, and pull out handguns.
Another Z dagger lands in Hench 3’s hand. He drops the gun wailing.
Hench 1 reacts immediately, shining his flashlight and gun toward dark corner of the room from which the knives came.
The Zenith of Man stands, daggers in each hand, in a ‘ready for anything’ sort of pose. Hench 1 fires, and Z swipes at the air and a tiny spark lights on the blade of his knife for a split second. Two halves of a bullet land at his feet. He fires several more times, and Z repeats the same pattern of uncanny reflexes, getting closer to Hench 1 with each shot stopped.
Hench 1 fires again, and only the click of his empty gun is heard.
Trembling, face to face with the knife wielding Zenith, Hench 1 says in a low, terrified tone:
Z clicks off the light in his hand.
Complete darkness. Only voices are heard.
W-WHERE AM I-
WHAT WAS THAT?! WHY CAN’T I SEE-
Who killed the old man?
People lose eyes talking that way to me. Be careful.
Hench 1’s vision returns quickly, as if a curtain was pulled from over his eyes. His gaze quickly shifts to his left, to see a throwing knife pinning a blindfold mere inches from his face.
WHAT THE #@%$ MAN! C-CUT IT OUT!
Poor choice of words.
He readies another knife in his hand.
W-WAIT! WHADDYA WANT FROM ME MAN?!
Why were you $%#@-wits stealing rocks from a school? Why’d an innocent old man have to die over it? Tell me!
L-look, I was only on board for the bread. I didn’t want nothin’ to do with killin no old man!
Another knife is launched at his right.
Who’s your boss? Tell me or my next one takes off your nose ring. You’ll live, but you wont like it.
OKAY ALRIGHT!! H-he’s this guy, some burn victim or somethin. Whatever made him that way drove him bat#$@%, and now he’s some serial arsonist or some shit like that. His glove, I don’t know what he did to it, but he can burn #$@! by touching it!
Like a rock? It makes that much heat?
Yeah! T-this doesn’t shock you or anything?
Shot of Zenith’s face, half concealed by the collar of his jacket.
I’ve seen worse. Where is he? What’s his name?
We dunno, he never told us. After awhile we just started callin him-
Shot of Hand sitting in a big chair. His eyes are not visible, only a dim red glow, a tiny pinpoint coming from his right eye. His left hand is holding his chin, and his right clutches the armrest. His face is expressionless, and appears to be in deep thought. A very breathtaking and villainous scene. His right hand is giving off steam.
*From off panel* THE RED HAND!
Taken back to Z and Hench
Where can I find him?
He sets up with his crew in the basement of a burnt down warehouse by the pier.
Z stands, walks over to Hench 1 and grabs him by his collar. They are on the roof of the Student Union building. He brings him to the edge and stands him straight for a second.
Z punches the thug over the edge of the building. He screams all the way down, but is stopped mere inches from the cold concrete. Z loosens his Z cable and the thug lightly hits the ground. Panicked and dazed, the thug loses consciousness. The red hand print mask falls lightly to the ground like a leaf onto the sleeping thug, a Z carved into it.
END OF PART 1