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Author's Commentary on the "Roman and Xylos" Series

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Germany 1930s

The title is silly… I hadn’t thought of one before, and suddenly needed it. I really think of it as the “Roman as a Nazi” story but I didn’t want to give that away in the title.

In the handwritten version, Roman takes off his Nazi uniform and changes into some old clothes provided by Xylos’s “father”—a disguise as part of his plan to help them escape. However, in hindsight that didn’t make much sense to me—it seems like the advantage of him being an official Nazi is that his position and uniform will help them get away more safely. So I’m going to cut the whole changing clothes bit.

I think I had wanted it so that when Max’s older brother came in, he would see his brother in the kitchen with a half-naked man, who was obviously still a Nazi, and draw a lot of conclusions. But I think coming home to see a fully-clothed Nazi would still be alarming. I’m going to add a few lines about that, just to get some closure to the scene.

“Human lives were cheap and fragile, but they loved with all their being, no matter the hurt it caused them, and that felt familiar and right to him.” I think this line, from Xylos’s perspective, works particularly well following the “Beginning” opening scene of the series—he loves Roman and follows him into exile, which had to be incredibly painful emotionally, but loving Roman and being loved by him is probably pretty epic normally, full of highs and lows that Xylos has learned to accept.

It’s always tricky, deciding when to say “Xylos” and when “Max” (the human name). I try to use Xylos sparingly, only when he’s using his powers or thinking about things Max couldn’t possibly know. Same with Roman—I use it when his character name is unknown, but try to use the character name after that.

The snippet of an idea that inspired this scene was Jewish Xylos opening the door to see Roman in a Nazi uniform, and Roman is like, “Awkward,” then, “You look good.” Bone-dry, but also not quite realizing how completely inappropriate and horrible this situation is, or will look to others. And I like how Roman immediately wants to kiss him—out in the street!—and is perturbed when Max is reluctant due to the entire situation of appearing homosexual, kissing a Nazi, everything. Roman’s just like, “Huh, thought I’d get a warmer welcome!” It illustrates how he really feels this is just a game, and everything he’s been doing has been convenience while he looked for Xylos. And I like how he’s a bit arrogant and predatory, in a good way.

I thought about the appropriateness of using “Erik Lehnsherr” as Roman’s character name, considering that Erik Lehnsherr is well-known in this multiverse as a Jewish victim of the Nazis. But I like to keep things simple and circular, the same names coming up again and again, which kind of lends to the slightly artificial or contrived nature of their existence.

Having watched the Foyle’s War episode “The German Woman” (with James McAvoy in a small part) I now know that Germans in England during World War II would be subject to quite a bit of scrutiny. Max and his family would probably be okay; they would have paperwork as being Jewish refugees. Erik’s prominent Nazi ties (also his mother’s) would be a little harder to explain, and admitting he was homosexual wouldn’t help either as that was still illegal (witness Alan Turing). None of these things is really a problem; they would just have to think of them, so they could magic them away.

As I was typing the story, and trying to wrap it up, I got to over-thinking about how Max and his parents and brother might get out, but they were leaving behind other family, friends, neighbors. It seemed a bit horrible. I thought I ought to mention it, at least.

This is one I could see continuing at some point. At least get them to safety in England, maybe.

 

Gunpowder, Treason and Plot

Inspired by the TV miniseries Gunpowder, Treason and Plot. Michael Fassbender had a supporting role in the second half, playing none other than Guy Fawkes. It was all meant very seriously, but it was also kind of absurd how inept people were, and I could just imagine Roman’s reaction to being stuck there.

As noted below, I couldn’t remember all the historical guys’ names when I first wrote this, so I just gave them generic designations like Lord West, Lord North, etc.. I have since looked them up and will replace their names in the typed version.

On that comma: I believe the title of the actual miniseries has just one comma, after “gunpowder.” Normally I prefer to have two, with one after “treason” as well. I expect it will be inconsistent, depending on whether I’m thinking of the miniseries or my own story at the time.

I just think this is a funny little thing. And Roman decides to throw the whole thing over to go lie on the beach with Xylos, drinking rum. Why not?

 

Alien Covenant

It’s probably wrong to love MF as the evil android David in Prometheus and Alien: Covenant. He’s just such a delightfully malicious little scamp. Anyway, this is one take on Daisy finding him and helping get off the planet. Technically Xylos doesn’t appear, but he could in the future.

I wanted Daisy to find Roman as the evil android David. But, David wiped out a planet’s population. The authority can’t let that stand, and can’t let him go out into the universe with his plans. So I finally came up with the idea that Roman and Daisy would be sent to the island, only in this case it’s kind of a “ship in a bottle”—Roman thinks he’s sailing the stars, doing whatever, but actually it’s a virtual world where he won’t actually be harming anyone.

Here’s the crew of the Covenant. I hope I got their lines and names right in the story.

  • Jake Branson—the captain who dies at the beginning
  • Chris Oram #2
  • Daniels (female) #3
  • Tennessee—pilot
  • Maggie Faris—pilot
  • Lope—sergeant, head soldier
  • Rosenthal “Rosie” (female)—soldier
  • Ledward—soldier
  • Tom Hallett—soldier
  • Cole—soldier
  • Ricks—xenogeologist-type
  • Upworth (female)—communications, medic
  • Karine (female)—ecologist
  • Walter
  • Ankor—soldier

Couples:

  • Branson & Daniels
  • Oram & Karine
  • Hallett & Lope (M/M)
  • Tennessee & Faris
  • Ricks & Upworth
  • Ankor & Rosenthal

I hope I’m not overdoing the idiocy of the crew’s plans and behavior—I mean, they did behave like idiots, but now I’m having Daisy notice this in-story. To me it’s kind of funny, because it’s how she might normally force people to behave using her powers (or I would say, her powers are why they’re acting like idiots), to get the outcome she wanted, but here they’re doing all the work for her, she just has to go along for the ride.

I tried to think in more detail of how the environment would be affected if all animals of reasonable size, including larger insects, were wiped out—most of the pollinators would be gone, so at first you would still get flowers in anticipation of them, but they wouldn’t get pollinated and so no fruit/seeds would form, and after a few years many of the flowers would die out without successfully reproducing. Plants pollinated by wind and water would be okay, like many grasses and mosses; and with everything dying, the fungi and other decomposers would be doing well. But the loss of so many animals would cause an ecological collapse that would eventually trickle down even to microbes, though I’m sure the world wouldn’t become totally lifeless, things would adapt.

Okay, I admit, even after some research I’m not sure what the difference is between “Xenomorph” and “Neomorph.” There’s the thing the Engineers created, and there’s the thing after David tinkered with it. According to Wikipedia, the neomorph was featured in Alien: Covenant and is more feral, being born from spores ingested by animals. Which doesn’t really clear up if those were tinkered with by David or not. So I will try to be vague.

I was trying to come up with a reason why the Covenant didn’t pick up any other signals from the planet. Obviously, they could pick up random signals; and even if they couldn’t understand them, they should have been able to detect non-natural signals coming from the planet’s advanced civilization. Even if David had managed to wipe out all or most of the sentient population within ten years, satellites would still be operational, probably some automated signals would still be sending out info. So I decided that the civilization, first, had decided to abandon and discard their technology, taking down the satellites themselves. They seem pretty ancient and had achieved some pretty advanced things—making their own civilizations on other planets like Earth, for example, and creating pretty efficient planet-wipers also—and it seems like a natural cycle would be to have a backlash against that, especially if the full horror of their planet-wipers became understood (like after it killed everyone at their Prometheus outpost). This also explains why David is living in a rock-hewn citadel, and not in some kind of high-tech lab with all the ingredients and equipment he needs to tinker—that doesn’t exist anymore.

I like how David remains menacing to Daisy throughout the whole story. It doesn’t matter because he can’t harm her, but you understand he definitely would like to, in his thoughtful experimental way, or put her in a cryopod with the humans so she won’t cramp his style. She’s like this constant irritation that was not part of his original dreams of glory, and he definitely gets the sense she will put a damper on his fun. I think it’s important to keep up that vibe—it’s more true to the character of David, and more interesting than him falling in love with her or automatically making her a true partner.

 

The German Woman

James McAvoy had a small guest-starring role in the first Foyle’s War episode, “The German Woman.” I’ve extrapolated from that.

Although I didn’t finish it, it would have played in well that Roman and Raven are siblings in Germany perhaps who are Jewish and at risk, folding in Michael Fassbender’s role as Jewish Erik Lehnsherr—that might have been their names.

I like the bit of poetry in there, about Roman being the storm to Xylos’s sunshine, both necessary for nature to flourish.

 

Assassins

Inspired by a fanvid that mashed up James McAvoy’s character from Wanted with Michael Fassbender in various action movies, particularly the idea that both the Wanted character and Magneto can curve the path of bullets with their minds.

I like the bit where I describe Roman healing Xylos’s injuries in detail. That’s a nice touch.

 

Roman the Conqueror

Everyone needs a good old-fashioned romance novel-type of medieval conqueror situation, with Roman as the conqueror and Jane as his assistant, hunting down young royals Xylos and Raven.

Roman the conqueror and his dragon Jane; Xylos and Raven are the royal youngsters. Conquered half the known world to find you, dreams of the enemy, etc..

One pivotal idea I had was that there’s a conspiracy of lords against Roman, who try to draw Charlie in; but Charlie’s loyalty is wavering. Anyway, the lords don’t need Charlie—they need Birdie. She was betrothed by her stepfather to a northern king even worse than Roman, who would happily use her rescue as an excuse to sweep down, crush Roman and everyone else who stood against him, and become king here, too. So Roman and Charlie (and Jane) end up fighting side by side with a mixed army to prevent this third guy from taking over.

 

Dictator

Loosely based on James McAvoy’s role in The Last King of Scotland, playing a young Scottish doctor who ends up in the orbit of dangerous African dictator Idi Amin. I have replaced the dangerous dictator with Roman; he’s well-suited to the part.

I have some little notes throughout the story about changes, such as “Rework a little for timing.”

The pain and anxiety are described well, too well, making it somewhat uncomfortable to read, actually.

“More from Roman’s POV here”—right as he first walks in and sees Nicholas

I think the story doesn’t provide enough context—you really have to have seen the movie to imagine the setting and atmosphere. And, I think it feels kind of repetitive with other things I’ve done. But, that’s how these things go—I like to try out a lot of different ideas and see what sticks.

“Should Roman’s buddy really be Azazel instead of Johnson?” I had actually written Azazel first in the story, then crossed it out and put in Johnson, a more generic name.

“More earlier about Xylos’s power”—when Nicholas desperately wants everything to disappear, and Roman can feel his latent power crackling around them.

“Vaguely German country—make names vaguely German” instead of Johnson, Williams, etc..

At the conclusion of the main scene, I ask, “Is Roman caring enough here? I feel like he might seem a little insincere. Patronizing or dismissive is fine, though.”

Roman is a “monster of confidence”—that’s good.

Future plans:

Nicholas goes back to Scotland and his parents. Life seems strange there, government people harass him—then he hears on the news about an attack in Roman’s country, one of the kids seriously injured, can’t get a hold of anyone, so he flies back to stay—different attitude though, more in charge.

Go back in time: young man with a country at his feet, enjoying the good life while trying to ignore the increasingly obvious violence.

The scene where Nicholas has to drive Roman away from rebels with guns

Earlier stuff with the wives and kids (who can’t be biologically Roman’s, remember)

Maybe even has a flirtation with a wife, anyone who knows fears it will end horribly, but Roman just laughs—maybe this is what puts Nicholas in his bed? Anyway, don’t neglect that relationship