APE INVADERS: The First Version of Animal Dawn
Back in 2004, Animal Dawn co-creator Ed Gross was driven to come up with the idea for an imagined “summer blockbuster,” which combined elements of The Wizard of Oz, Planet of the Apes and alien invasion flicks. The result was a concept called Ape Invaders. Written quickly – almost stream of conscious – the idea was to just get the idea down on paper. One reading this and eventually reading Animal Dawn, there is definitely a linear connection between them.
It should be noted that the accompanying illustrations were done by production designer Andrew Probert, whose credits include Star Trek: The Motion Picture, Back to the Future and Star Trek: New Voyages, an old friend who pitched in to help visualize this concept.
APE INVADERS (Draft Dated August 4, 2004)
THE PREMISE: An alien race uses a time-traveling device known as the “Time-Ripper” to travel to the past of a particular world, taking a large number of more savage incarnations of a species, genetically altering them and bringing them to a future date to allow them to conquer a planet. In this story, the aliens take a society of intelligent apes (250,000) from earth’s distant past and drop them into 2005 to allow them to conquer the planet. What they don’t realize is that one ape had used the technology to slip into our time to try and warn us of the impending invasion to try and give humanity an upper hand.
The Aliens: These beings – known by their people as “The Winged Ones” – are a bird-like species with wings that allow them to fly, but a very frail skeleton. They are brilliant, but definitely an offshoot of their homeworld’s native life forms. They created all sort of technology for the ruling species, but a paranoia set in and the tide was turned against them with the rulers fearing that despite being physically much weaker, they might come up with a means of destroying them. To this end The Winged Ones were hunted to the point of extinction. Once numbering in the hundreds of thousands, their numbers were reduced to approximately three thousand. The survivors of this genocide managed to take much of their technology – including starcraft – and escaped to the stars. Devastated by the loss of so many of their kind, they turned malevolent and came up with the ultimate means of extracting vengeance. They use the Time-Ripper to bring a large city’s worth of savage ancestors of their homeworld into the present, genetically altered them (it should be pointed out that all genetic experimentation on The Winged Ones to improve their physical stature failed; some sort of internal blocking in their system), equipped them with wings (a salute to themselves) armed them with weapons (IMPORTANT NOTE: The Alien technology is different from earth’, but not necessarily far superior to ours; they are not the automatically invincible and superior foes) and unleashed them on the unsuspecting present day population. Within a matter of weeks, The Winged Ones proving victorious. The experience fueled a new craving for conquest, utilizing this means of traveling from world to world and repeating the formula. In Ape Invaders, their sight is focused on Earth.
The Apes: Somewhere along the evolutionary development of apes into man, there came a highly-advanced pocket society of intelligent apes of different types. They built their own culture, forged weapons, lived and waged war as later humans would, and some even attempted to contact the stars with crude but amazingly advanced equipment. It is this society that the Winged Ones locate through their time portal device (think of Star Trek’s Guardian of Forever on a much smaller scale). Looking at present day earth and seeing it as ripe for conquering, they use the Time Ripper to transport this society (maybe one hundred thousand strong) into their vessels, and then lay waste to all aspects of the Ape Society (which is why we have no record of them, of course). The Apes are given wings, and indoctrinated in their new goals in life. The gorilla warriors embrace this goal though they bristle under the authority of The Winged Ones and would love nothing more than to kill them all and steal their technology. The chimps are a little more sympathetic towards the humans on modern day earth after they learn about them, but pretty much fall into line with the rest of their species. The Apes are being told that history shows they will not survive and this is a way to ensure that their society does indeed live on as the superior race. The Apes are given command of spacecraft, armed with high-tech weaponry and eventually are launched into an aerial and ground attack against the people of earth. Unbeknownst to the army is that one of the solider – a chimp named Alexander – used the technology first and came back to warn humanity. When the apes arrive, the humans are a little more prepared than expected. Alexander has to lead forces against the invaders, knowing full well that the aliens themselves must be targeted and the Time Ripper destroyed before the Winged Ones can use it again to undo all that is happening and relaunch their attack.
Alexander: The chimpanzee who is first to come to earth. Unfortunately he doesn’t remember anything beyond this name – Alexander. Not where he comes from or why he’s here. What gradually unfolds about Alexander is that he is the ape who managed to develop and send a crude signal into space that attracted the attention of the Winged Ones. In essence, all that is happening is his fault and he lives with that guilt, which is why he can’t stand idly by as his people wipe out the human race.
Initially thrilled by contact with the Winged Ones, his joy turns to horror as their plans are revealed. He acts as though he is going along with this, and has one of the apes’ greatest minds he learns everything he can about their technology. When he learns about the true nature of the Time Ripper and the fact that the attack is scheduled for 2005, he manages to use the device and transport back to our time to warn us. Unfortunately the shock of re-entry combined with the massive psychological guilt he’s feeling over having contacted the Winged Ones results in the aforementioned amnesia. With horror he’ll gradually regain his memory. At some point he will address the UN to detail what he knows.
When we first meet Alexander, he and his story seem to suggest a very different tale from what will eventually unfold. Think the Beauty and the Beast TV series of the 1980s in the sense of an extraordinary being that is teamed up with a human woman. This would be on the road to a deeply felt friendship, not the romance of the Beauty and the Beast.
Commander Gale: This 20-something woman is a Special Forces member in a war zone who initially finds Alexander. She’s shocked but manages to pull him to safety and while waiting for help, hides in a bombed-out building, doing what she can to keep him alive. They get to know each other this way, and things reach a head when enemy soldiers move in for the kill. Alexander stands up, his wings unfurl and he goes into a rage, attacking the enemies and saving Private Gale (Dorothy, aka Dee). Gale’s arc in this story will go from being concerned, to developing strong affection for Alexander but, upon learning of his true nature and what’s to come, she freaks and becomes his enemy, trying to place him under arrest and leading the hunt to bring him down, believing that somehow he and all this talk of invasion is actually a plan by the enemy to mislead. Some kernel of truth makes its way through to her, however, and she sees the error of her ways. It may be too late, though, because the invasion has begun.
Napoleon (temporary name): The Gorilla leading the invasion for the Winged Ones. He and Alexander have butted heads many times in the past regarding the future of their people and his desire to spread out their empire and enslave the less advanced apes of their time period. He is a savage racist who is jealous of what humanity has achieved and would love to see nothing more than the extinction of this hairless race. In the end, while the main target will be the taking down of the Winged Ones so they can’t do this again, Napoleon will go up against Alexander in a savage mid-air battle.
The Ape Army: Winged warriors who depart from their spacecraft and begin the assault on earth, armed with hi-tech lasers and shooting humans from the air, lifting them up and dropping them, tearing them apart with their hands, etc. A truly frightening sight that should put to rest the thought of The Wizard of Oz in terms of winged monkeys.
The Earth Team: Alexander and Gale will lead this team, which should consist of several other key players to be determined as the project develops. This team, however, should be given state-of-the-art equipment and give the impression that they can turn the tide against the alien and ape invaders.
To be continued….