#0 Prelude: Cheris transcript

[NOTE: At times the transcript may lag behind the comic pages. I apologize – this is a one-Yoon operation.]

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#0 transcript

Cover:
Ninefox Gambit (logo) – the “i” in “Gambit” is a white chess pawn splattered with blood.
#0: Cheris: Prelude
by Yoon Ha Lee
Image: in the foreground, head-and-shoulders of a woman with short black hair, clad in a black uniform; her face shows an hourglass with red sand becoming black as it runs down. In her hair, stars and galaxies become skulls. In the background, a long-haired woman scowls, firelit by red light from her lantern pendant.

p. 1
Panel 1
Caption 1 in sci-fi “computer” font: Location: Hexarchate world Bonepyre
Status: Secured
Date: High calendar year 1241
Date: Mwennin (struck through) Lanterner calendar year [redacted]

Caption 2: Of course, a classroom for boring heretical lessons is a classroom anywhere.

Image: A stern woman in red-and-white hanbok-inspired dress teaches at the head of a classroom, where a holo displays “heretical” text (nicked from the Hunminjeongeum). Three teenaged students sit at desks. The two on the left also wear white-and-red hanbok-like clothes. The third, at the right, wears a green turtleneck and isn’t paying attention to the lecture. A white-and-blue robot cat levitates near the third student’s desk.

p. 1
Panel 2

Image: The teacher stops by the desk of the middle student. She smiles and cups the cheek of said student, a teenage girl with her hair in a braid.

Teacher: Well done, Stria. Your mother must be so proud.

p. 1
Panel 3

Image: echoes Panel 2. The teacher crosses her arm and scowls at the student in the green turtleneck, a teenage girl with her hair in a bob, looking up reluctantly from her book. The robot cat looks up at the teacher in alarm.

Teacher: Ah, Tavia. Do you enjoy embarrassing me?
Cheris: My official name is Cheris…Mother.

p. 1
Panel 4

Image: close-up of the book Cheris (Tavia) was reading. The left-hand page shows mathematical notation (an excerpt from the Chinese remainder theorem). The right-hand page shows a diagram of an hourglass and a sketch of a moth. The robot cat looks on.

Teacher (off-panel): Still groveling to the Hexers. Have you forgotten—
Cheris (off-panel): The Hellspin Massacre was 397 years, 7 months, and 2 days ago. They won! We’re part of the Hexarchate now! No one cares about dried-up history!

p. 1
Panel 5

Image: close-up of the teacher’s face (Cheris’s mom), still scowling.

Teacher: You think numbers solve everything…like your father. Come with me.

p. 2
Panel 1
Establishing shot: Cheris’s mom and Cheris enter a study. Cheris’s posture is hunched. In the foreground, a desk with a ruler (going up to 7) and a book. In the background, a crammed bookcase with a family portrait on one shelf. Note to Eller: you can tell that I was WAY more invested in drawing the chess knight bookend than a bunch of boring rectangle books. Note to Ursula: it’s not legible at web resolution but the lone red book is labeled CALABI-YAU.

Cheris’s mom: At least your father didn’t – doesn’t – have to tolerate your behavior, Tavia.

p. 2, Panel 2
Close-up on the family portrait, taken outside during a partly cloudy day in an alien sky with three moons: Cheris’s mother on the left, smiling down at Cheris as a toddler, her arms outflung. Cheris and her mother are both in Mwennin traditional clothes a.k.a. hanbok-derived because the author is lazy and already had toddler-in-hanbok photo reference lying around (the toddler was me and I’m sure my dad doesn’t mind lol). Cheris’s father is silhouetted, his features indistinct; he has the hexarchate’s hourglass emblem on his jacket. (No, dear sweet Shinjo, he’s not Kujen. Kujen has short hair and would have resorted to an ashhawk baster. Sorry not sorry.)

Cheris (off-panel): If you hate the Hexers that much, why did you fuck one?

p. 2, Panel 3
Close-up: Cheris’s mom’s jaw drops in appalled shock.

p. 2, Panel 4
Close-up, matching panel 3: Cheris’s mom’s expression smooths to an angry frown.

p. 3, panel 1
Close-up: Cheris’s mom snatches up the ruler on the table. Her index finger lands on the numeral 4.

p. 3, panel 2
The panel is all black.
SFX: CRACK!

p. 4, panel 1
Caption:
LOCATION: Oris and her mother’s home on Bonepyre
STATUS: secured
DATE: High Calendar Year 1241
Date: Mwennin Lanterner Calendear Year [redacted]

Establishing shot: a colorful city neighborhood featuring traditional Asian-style architecture and landscaping with a sci-fi spin, including a pink-violet sky and three moons. The exception is a single plain, uncolored house. In the foreground amid the greenery is an asshole goose.

p. 4, panel 2
Cheris: Oris, you measured it wrongn! To scale from 16 servings to 3, multiply by 3/16.

Inside a kitchen in the plain house, Oris and Cheris, both wearing bright yellow aprons, bake cookies together. Cheris’s green turtleneck sweater obscures her neck. Her robot cat friend hovers unhelpfully.

p. 4, panel 3
Oris: Your mom pays attention to you. Mine ignores me no matter how much I bake

Cheris: That Nirai official offered me a position as a mathematician based on the papers I sent. Not a student.

Oris looks away from Cheris, expression pensive. Cheris’s collar slips, revealing livid bruises. The robot cat looks on with its ears drooping.

p. 4, panel 4

Cheris (off-panel): Dad would’ve been proud. Mom wouldn’t let me go.

Oris (off-panel): Your mom’s proud, too. She’s so protective!

Cheris (off-panel): “Why can’t you be more like your cousin,” you mean.

The robot cat knocks a bowl of flour off the counter.

p. 4, panel 5

Cheris: Say, where’s Aunt Miresh, anyway?

Oris lunges unnsuccessfully after the bowl of flour. Cheris takes the opportunity to fix her collar. The robot cat zips away.

p. 5, panel 1

Caption:
Location: City Hall, Administrative City 07, Bonepyre
Status: Unstable
Date: High Calendar Year Unstable

Oris (off-panel): “Our moms went to some boring panel downtown.”

Cheris (off-panel): “Are they crazy? There’s only 7,247 Mwennin left. Do they want the Hexers to finish purging us?”

Establishing shot: a peaceful protest/demonstration in the streets before a majestic Asian-style building emblazoned with an hourglass symbol in a hexagon outlined in gold and flanked by trees. Cheris’s mom and Oris’s mom are in the foreground. Some rando grins at the viewer, holding a sign that says DUE PROCESS 4 HERETIX. In the foreground are four spider lilies.

p. 5, panel 2

Dzera (Cheris’s mom): You’re so lucky with your daughter, Miresh. “Cheris” talks back and I lose it.

Miresh (Oris’s mom): Tell her you’re a mathematician too, Dzera–better than that man was.

Medium shot of Dzera, expression unhappy, talking to Miresh.

p. 5, panel 3

Dzera (off-panel): “It’s still not safe. If I tell her what really happened–“

Flashback: Dzera and her husband argue, the former pointing at the latter accusatorily, the latter clutching his head. It’s not clear what the topic was.

p. 5, panel 4

Miresh: Shit! Kel riot police!

In the foreground, two Kel soldiers in black uniform with gold braid approach. The one on our left points a finger at the protesters; his hand is black-gloved. In the background, Dzera and Miresh cringe in fear; a parent drags their waving child away.

p. 5, panel 5

(no text)

Close-up: The same Kel soldier who pointed in panel 4 pulls the black glove off his right hand, grinning nastily.

p. 6
Oris: “Wait another generation, Cheris. No one will know about Hellspin Massacre.
Oris: “No one will remember Mwennin pinwheel pastries.
Oris: “Hexers program their Kel soldiers. You think they’ll stop there? We’re next.
Oris: “I’ve seen you reading papers on how effective Kel ‘formation programming’ is. You want that?”

Head-and-shoulders of Oris, eyes downcast and expression sad, in the center.

The top shows a closer view of the city hall, line art with no color except for the Hexarchate’s hourglass in glowing gold topped by grinning skulls, and red splatters over the tree. A column of cursive text reading THE ONE TRUE CLOCK repeats downward, leading to the Lanterner flame to the right of Oris’s face. A stray protester sign flutters, burning, from the flame, saying DUE PROCESS 4 HERETIX. The ‘X’ in HERETIX has been drawn as an hourglass.

The bottom left shows a squad of four Kel soldiers, marching in formation with right arms outstretched and grinning sadistically. Behind them is more cursive text reading THE ONE TRUE CLOCK. From their hands flies the Kel phoenix, marked with the Hexarchate hourglass and four-pointed stars.

To the bottom right, the phoenix’s beak catches the ribbon of Miresh, who is fleeing, her faces distended in horror. Dzera has grabbed Miresh’s arm and, also fleeing, is trying to drag her to safety.

(p. 7 forthcoming)

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