Exclusive: ‘Dawn of the Planet of the Apes’ prequel book’s 1st chapter

May 20, 2014 | 9:00 a.m.
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Caesar, the leader of the ape nation, performed by Andy Serkis, in a scene from the movie "Dawn of the Planet of the Apes." (David James/20th Century Fox)

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Caesar, portrayed by Andy Serkis (right) (in performance capture suit) and Malcolm (Jason Clarke), a representative of a colony of human survivors, in a scene from the movie "Dawn of the Planet of the Apes." (David James/20th Century Fox)

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Jason Clarke in a scene from the movie "Dawn of the Planet of the Apes." (David James/20th Century Fox)

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Andy Serkis and director Matt Reeves on the set of the movie "Dawn of the Planet of the Apes." (20th Century Fox)

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Jason Clarke and director Matt Reeves on the set of the movie "Dawn of the Planet of the Apes." (David James)

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Caesar, portrayed by Andy Serkis (in performance capture suit), in a scene from the movie "Dawn of the Planet of the Apes." (David James/20th Century Fox)

la ca 0220 planet of the apes 042 Exclusive: Dawn of the Planet of the Apes prequel books 1st chapter

Caesar, portrayed by Andy Serkis (in performance capture suit) in a scene from the movie "Dawn of the Planet of the Apes." (David James/20th Century Fox)

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Caesar, performed by Andy Serkis, in a scene from the movie "Dawn of the Planet of the Apes." (David James/20th Century Fox)

apphoto film summer preview2 Exclusive: Dawn of the Planet of the Apes prequel books 1st chapter

Caesar, performed by Andy Serkis, in a scene from the movie "Dawn of the Planet of the Apes." (David James/20th Century Fox)

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Caesar, portrayed by Andy Serkis (in performance capture suit), the leader of the ape nation, and Malcolm (Jason Clarke) in a scene from the movie "Dawn of the Planet of the Apes." (David James/20th Century Fox)

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Caesar (Andy Serkis) ponders his next move as he faces a threat posed by a colony of humans in a scene from the movie "Dawn of the Planet of the Apes." (WETA)

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Malcolm (Jason Clarke) is surrounded by apes as he tries to make peace in a scene from the movie "Dawn of the Planet of the Apes." (WETA)

The July 11 release of “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes” can’t come soon enough. In the meantime, get your fill of ape-on-human warfare with “Firestorm,” the official “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes” prequel novel written by Mark Bomback, Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver.

Hero Complex has an exclusive excerpt of the book’s first chapter, in full below. “Firestorm,” due out from Titan on May 27, promises to bridge the gap between the upcoming sequel and the 2011 hit film “Rise of the Planet of the Apes.”

“Dawn of the Planet of the Apes,” directed by Matt Reeves (“Cloverfield,” “Let Me In”), is set 10 years after the earlier movie, a reboot of the sci-fi franchise inspired by Pierre Boulle’s 1963 novel that brought in more than $480 million at the worldwide box office. The new film from Warner Bros. posits a world in which apes have developed their own community and human sightings are rare.

When a group of survivors — including Jason Clarke’s Malcolm, a single father and former architect; Keri Russell’s Ellie, a nurse; and Gary Oldman’s Dreyfus, the leader of the human colony in the ruins of San Francisco — seeks to restore electrical power to San Francisco, it comes into conflict with the rapidly expanding troop of apes, led by Andy Serkis’ Caesar. The orphaned offspring of a laboratory chimp has evolved into the leader of his own expanding tribe that includes wife Cornelia (Judy Greer), teenage son River (Nick Thurston) and a council of close friends.

Conflict between the survivors, however, seems likely to lead only to all-out war, with explosive imagery glimpsed in the latest trailer.

“Firestorm” promises to catch up fans on the background and context to the impending standoff. Reeves recently told Hero Complex that “Dawn” is an “ape-point-of-view movie.”  The ape perspective is even more fully indulged in “Firestorm.” Read on….

FIRESTORM: Chapter 1

For some reason, the orangutans always heard the helicopters first, and from their disturbed calls Caesar knew that one or more of the flying machines must be approaching again. He quickly worked his way to the top of the canopy, followed by Rocket, a gray, almost hairless chimpanzee who was one of his seconds.

For a moment he could only stare, caught as always by the wonder and magnificence of the woods. The morning fog was all but gone, and the tops of the great trees bent under a gentle breeze. A blue-colored bird with a black crest was complaining noisily about his presence, and, above, a much larger bird drifting above on expansive wings. He remembered the first time Will had brought him here, how the forest seemed to shape itself around him, take him in, fill something inside of him he hadn’t understood was empty.

He shook off the reverie and set himself to the task at hand—keeping his troop alive and safe.

Rocket spotted the helicopter first, and a moment’s observation showed the machine coming straight for them.

Find this many, he signed to Rocket, holding up six fingers. Go, and be quick. Then he raced back down, leaping from tree to tree, toward the main body of his troop. Most were in the middle canopy, and he searched through them, making low calming noises, until he found one of the orangutans, Maurice. Maurice knew the hand language that Caesar had been taught.

Calm them, he told Maurice. Make them quiet, and lead them in that direction. He pointed off toward a thicker region of the woods, away from the approaching helicopter.

Then he moved further on down, to those who were too injured to climb or walk well. Most had been hurt in the fight at the bridge, some badly. Most of them did not know the hand signs, although a few of them were learning quickly.

As his feet came to ground, he saw a young female tending to an injured gorilla. She looked up and then bounded toward him. He recognized Cornelia—she wasn’t wounded, but had taken it upon herself to care for those who were. She put her head down and held out her hand when she got near, but only just in time, as if she was reluctant to do it at all. She seemed agitated, but that often seemed the case with Cornelia.

Helicopter coming, he told her. That way. Stay with Maurice.

She raised her head, a little defiantly.

Moving hurts them more, she signed, gesturing at the injured. Need rest.

Caesar shook his head.

If rest, die, he told her. Go. I lead them away.

Need rest, Cornelia persisted.

Caesar pant-barked at her, a clear threat. Cornelia’s eyes widened, but then she put her head down, backed away, and went to help the wounded to their feet.

Satisfied, Caesar took back to the trees. Moments later Rocket joined him with three orangutans and three other chimpanzees, one of whom was Koba.

Caesar had found Koba at the Gen Sys labs. The bonobo had been given Will’s mist, as had the apes from the San Bruno refuge. He was smart, and he was tough, and thus far had proven very useful. But he was a little unpredictable.

The cover of the prequel novel, "Firestorm."

The cover of the prequel novel, “Firestorm.”

Together, the eight of them rushed toward the upper canopy, straight toward the sound of the flying machine.

He had prepared them for this, just in case, and the seven who accompanied him knew what they would have to do. But the beating of the blades grew louder, and then the shadow fell against the uppermost boughs. Caesar was suddenly fearful that they were too late.

When he reached the top of the tree he saw his worries realized. The machine was already past their position, headed straight toward his troop.

He cast about desperately until his hand found a dead branch. He snapped it from the tree and hurled it with all of his might. He watched it turn, end-over-end, and hooted with triumph when it struck the rear rotors of the helicopter. He shook the treetop, screaming at the top of his lungs as Rocket and the others joined him and added to the din.

The helicopter banked and came back toward them.

Good, Caesar thought, in relief.

Dallas, a young chimp, screeched and braced to hurl himself at the helicopter.

“No!” Caesar shouted. Dallas hesitated, then aborted his leap.

Something hissed through the air and struck a branch.Caesar recognized it—one of the darts that made apes fall asleep. He flicked his gaze up and saw the shooter perched in the aircraft, taking aim again.

Follow, he commanded.

Dallas was so excited he almost disobeyed, but then he submitted, and they all went, launching themselves from tree to tree, dipping out of sight into the canopy but always reappearing, trying to keep the flying machine occupied and draw it away, always away from the troop, toward the high ground to the north.

***

The sun was on the horizon when Caesar called the seven of them down. Hoping they had drawn the hunters far enough, they settled beneath the protecting branches of the trees and the fog that had rolled in from the sea. They waited for the helicopter to leave.

But it didn’t leave. It kept circling, and after a time, Caesar heard another join it. And another.

Sam, another chimp, began to whimper.

What? Rocket wanted to know. What to do?


Don’t know, Caesar replied. Wait.

But he didn’t like it. Soon it would be dark. Humans couldn’t see any better than chimps. Everyone would be blind. Why were they still there? Could the machines see at night? He knew it wasn’t impossible.

Caesar glanced over at Rocket, who rewarded him with a look of utter trust, and he felt his gut tighten. Because he knew something Rocket didn’t.

Back in the “shelter” where he had been held prisoner, he had known what he wanted to do, and he had worked out how to do it, piece by piece. First he had figured out how to get out of the cages at night, then how to gain dominance over Rocket and the others, then how to escape the facility. He had gone to Will’s house and found the mist that made apes smarter. One thing at a time, all put together beforehand.

He had had a plan.

Now he was just reacting. He hadn’t expected them to follow him out here. This was where apes belonged— people belonged in the city. Things had been wrong before, but now they were as they should be. It seemed to him so obvious that he thought the people would understand, especially since he had been careful to hurt as few of them as possible. He didn’t want humans as enemies. He didn’t want them as anything.

He just wanted apes to be free.

Caesar (Andy Serkis) ponders his next move as he faces a threat posed by a colony of humans in a scene from the movie "Dawn of the Planet of the Apes." (WETA)

Caesar (Andy Serkis) ponders his next move as he faces a threat posed by a colony of humans in a scene from the movie “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes.” (WETA)

In hindsight, he should have known better. But his plan had ended with them in the woods, safe, and free. He hadn’t thought it through any further.

They were free, but they were far from safe. His only hope was to evade the humans long enough that they decided it wasn’t worth the trouble.

His thoughts were interrupted when bullets began shredding the leaves above them. He knew from the sound these weren’t the kind that knocked apes out—these guns sounded like the ones humans had used on the bridge. Loud. It was unexpected. Since the bridge, the humans had tried to capture them, but never to kill them.

Down, he commanded.

They scrambled to obey and, one by one, the eight apes dropped as quickly as they could without injuring themselves. By the time they reached the rich leaf mold of the forest floor, it was very nearly dark. The ground here was steep and somewhat rolling. Caesar motioned for them to follow, and they began moving away from the helicopters. He felt exposed and out of sorts. When it was dark, apes were supposed to be in a tree, as high as possible.

They moved through the fog. There was a moon, but very little of its light worked its way through the vast, leafy ceiling above.

He heard something and stopped, tapping Rocket on the shoulder. Rocket passed the order around by touching the rest.

Caesar heard the sound again—a thin, faint human voice, like he used to hear coming from the phone when Will was using it. He looked around frantically, trying to find the source.

“Up!” he whispered to the others.

As they started back to the trees, guns barked, this time the quieter hiss-pop of tranquilizer rifles. A dart thudded into the redwood inches from Caesar’s face. He saw them now—men in black clothing, wearing some sort of masks.

I did exactly what they wanted me to do, he understood suddenly. Stupid.

They swarmed desperately up into the trees, darts hissing past them. He heard a human cry of fear and then an explosion of real gunfire. An ape screamed in pain, but Caesar’s ears were ringing enough that he couldn’t distinguish who it was. They were fleeing in absolute darkness now. He flung himself into space, reaching for the next limb, hoping it would be there.

It wasn’t.

He fell with a yelp, arms flailing. He caught a branch, and it felt as if his arms were being pulled off, but he swung from it, again reaching into the night, trusting this place he loved, desperately hoping it would save him.

More guns chattered in the darkness. He went desperately higher, knowing the helicopters were still there, hearing the dread beating of the wind they made, but knowing he had to get away from the men with the guns.

They gathered together in the middle canopy in the shelter of a mass of twisted limbs.

Caesar tapped Keling, one of the orangutans. He couldn’t see any better than Caesar, but orangs were better at finding their way through the branches, day or night. Keling understood, and allowed Caesar to climb on his back. The others followed his example, the chimps each climbing on to the orangs’ backs, and soon they were creeping slowly from tree to tree. There were a few more pop-hisses of gunfire, but it seemed random.

The sound of the helicopters faded as they went, and Caesar reasoned that if the machines weren’t following them, the humans probably weren’t either. He signaled Keling to take him down. They couldn’t stay in the area, not with these humans who could see at night, and although it went against his instincts, they could travel much faster on the ground and lead any humans who might track them even farther afield.

Caesar kept them going uphill until dawn, and then they collected together.

In the light he realized Dallas was missing. Everyone else was tired and sore, but otherwise unscathed.

Jason Clarke in a scene from the movie "Dawn of the Planet of the Apes." (David James/20th Century Fox)

Jason Clarke in a scene from the movie “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes.” (David James/20th Century Fox)

Wearily, Caesar led them back into the trees, where they changed their direction, hoping to intercept the others from the troop. Hoping as well that the false path they had just made would keep the humans occupied for at least a day or so.

The next morning, after some decent coffee and a bagel, Talia rolled into work feeling pretty good, and reasonably hopeful. Mornings usually weren’t too bad, especially in the middle of the week.

This morning, however, the waiting room was almost half full, and the triage nurses were getting a workout. Her first hit was a three-year-old boy whose index finger had been all but severed by having it inserted into the hinge side of a door somebody had slammed. The kid was fairly calm, all things considered, especially after they gave him something for the pain. But his parents were hysterical, especially when the boy was wheeled off to surgery.

When Talia picked up the paperwork for her next patient, she saw right away that he had flu-like symptoms, and was bleeding from the nose.

“Hold him in triage,” she said. “I want to check something out.”

Randal wasn’t around, but she found the room assignment for his patients, and called that floor.

Ravenna was staring at her as she put down the phone. Talia heard someone sneeze in the waiting room, followed almost instantly by a loud expression of disgust.

“What is it?” Ravenna asked.

“There were two women in here last night,” she said. “Both had a fever and some kind of sinus thing. One crumped last night, and the other is circling.”

“What killed the one?”

“Multiple systems failure, it looks like,” Talia replied. “But they haven’t done a post mortem yet.”

“What is it?”

“I don’t know,” she said. “But I have a feeling we’re about to see a lot of it. How many have come through triage this morning with these symptoms?”

“So far I think we’ve had six,” Ravenna said. “Not all of them are bleeding—some just have the fever.”

“Okay,” Talia said, letting out a deep sigh of resignation. “This is out of my league. Who is the health coordinator?”

Herrin, the health coordinator, had a voice so smooth it was almost oily, and an attitude that “patronizing” wasn’t strong enough to describe.

“Dr. Kosar,” he explained over the phone, “We haven’t been notified by the CDC or the World Health Organization of an outbreak or even of the possibility of an outbreak.”

“Of course not,” Talia said. “Because it’s happening here, in the ER, and not at their facilities.”

“Nevertheless, eight cases isn’t enough to declare an emergency,” Herrin said.

“One of those eight is dead,” she replied. “And the other probably will be before this call is over.” She scanned the latest report from the front desk. “And actually, we’re up to ten now. We don’t know what this is, we don’t know how contagious it is—”

“Dr. Kosar,” Herrin said, cutting her off. “You’re primarily a surgeon, aren’t you?”

“I’m an ER doctor,” she said, trying to keep the pretty swear words where they belonged, way down in her belly.

“But you mostly deal with and refer trauma, not infectious disease, is that correct?”

“Yes,” she said. “That is correct. But I damn well know an infectious disease when I see one, and this one is nasty.”

“Then we need someone whose specialty is infectious diseases,” Herring said. “I’ll look into it—when and if the situation demands it.”

“There’s a reporting process, right?” Talia persisted, feeling the discussion getting away from her. “Because the CDC can’t declare on outbreak unless someone gets the data to them.”

“There is indeed a reporting procedure,” he assured her, “and it will be followed.”

“Great,” she said, knowing it was useless. “But we need to set up our isolation procedures now,” she added. “While you look into it.”

“I’ll get back to you, doctor,” Herrin said. She heard the line go dead.

“Oh, …—no he didn’t!” she exploded.

“What?” Ravenna asked.

Talia looked at the phone and considered calling Herrin back just to swear at him. But she knew she wouldn’t get him this time. His secretary wouldn’t even put the call through.

“From this moment on,” she told Ravenna, “Everyone in this ER is going to wear a face mask, do you understand? Patients included.”

“Okay,” Ravenna said. “I just hope we’ve got enough.”

“If we don’t, go ‘borrow’ some from upstairs,” Talia told her.

Six hours later, the old lady was dead, and so was a young man who had come in that morning. She got a call from Herrin’s office. The CDC and the WHO had both declared the outbreak of an unknown viral infection, and the hospital was prepared to implement isolation and quarantine procedures.

Hanging up the phone, Talia swore colorfully in both Czech and English for a few moments, before returning to work.

—-

Are you excited to see “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes”? Did “Firestorm” satisfy your desires for an ape-centric worldview? Leave your thoughts in the comments section below.

– Noelene Clark and Gina McIntyre | @LATherocomplex

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