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The Calvary Incident

Green Berets and Marines time-jump to save history by killing a rogue SEAL team bent on rescuing Jesus from the Cross inadvertently leaving the 21st century a frozen, unrecognizable wasteland.

Admiral Atkins develops the Athena I supercomputer that identifies the time lacunas— delicate areas in space-time, where people may transport to the past. By 2025, a new cold war with China has begun. Fear that China will dominate time travel persuades the Senate Intelligence Committee to release funding for Admiral Atkins to lead a handpicked team of Navy SEALs back to Biblical Jerusalem. But Atkins is a religious fundamentalist with unorthodox views on interpreting the Bible. Unknown to his sponsors, Atkins’ private agenda is to rescue Jesus from the Cross. Atkins’ true purpose is only discovered three years after his departure.

Alternate Reality: If Jesus does not die, the effect across time proves catastrophic. Constantine fails to inspire his legionaries with the Christian symbols of Latin crosses and Chi Rhos. He loses the Battle of Milvian Bridge. Maxentius not Constantine becomes emperor. In consequence, Rome does not fall in the fifth century. Instead, Rome triggers a climate changing nuclear war in the 15th century. A 15,000-year ice age commences covering the continents in half-mile thick sheets of ice. It renders the 21st century unrecognizable.

Institutional self-preservation forces the Department of Defense to organize a second, Hunter-Killer team to intercept the SEALs. Secretary of Defense O’Sullivan fears the SEALs may co-opt the second commando team—after all, who could be opposed to rescuing Jesus? O’Sullivan concludes that a hybrid team, rather than one from a single military service, would be harder to corrupt. Young Marines, an eccentric professor, a beautiful Russian linguist, representatives from the CIA and FBI, a British Special Air Services captain, a USAF paramedic, and a Green Beret sergeant major fit the profile. Secretary O’Sullivan knows the free-spirited and resourceful Green Beret Colonel Robert Lake who led a commando team that rescued his younger brother from terrorists in Africa. O’Sullivan places Lake in command. Lake has two months to hammer his disparate group into a cohesive fighting unit to Time Jump and blunt the SEALs.

Unknown to O'Sullivan or Lake, a ruthless operative sympathetic to the SEALs penetrates the Hunter-Killer team. Religious fundamentalist allies of the rogue Admiral Atkins at the CIA appoint the psychopath Sampson as one of their two representatives on the team. Sampson’s mission is covertly to attack the Hunter-Killer team from within. Sampson bludgeons an unsuspecting Marine from behind. He wraps a burlap sack, containing a huge viper, around the unconscious Marine’s head and induces venomous snakebites.

The SEALs are denied modern firearms for their earlier trip because they are on a research expedition. Nevertheless, they have been in Biblical Jerusalem for 3 ½ years and use their time well, buying the patronage of Pontius Pilate and hiring local criminals as an auxiliary force. The Green Beret Hunter-Killer team possesses rifles because the imperative to kill the SEALs overrides the risk of accidental technological contamination. Time travel is imprecise. The Hunter-Killer team arrives not near Jerusalem but far off in the Judean Desert, where bandits attack them. Instead of 112 days, the team has only 28 days before the Crucifixion. The Hunter-Killer team is hard-pressed to acclimate to the first century, locate the SEALs and kill them before Passover when Jesus will be sentenced to death.

Colonel Lake and Sergeant Major Foster are seasoned Green Berets. Steady under pressure and adaptable to any threat, they provide the leadership for the Hunter-Killer team. They enjoy the assistance of Professor Emory who sees the world slightly out of phase, providing insightful solutions when they are most needed. Emory’s intellectual brilliance is countered by his gift for plunging into awkward and funny situations.

Gunny Sarver is the quintessential Marine NCO— tough, knowledgeable, and courageous. He leads his six corporals through harrowing situations. Corporals Tauscher and Georgelakos are USMC Scout Snipers and prodigious rifle shots. In an earlier campaign, Tauscher kills a Syrian sniper about to fire on him. He wears the bullet intended to kill him, which he plucks from the chamber of the slain sniper’s Russian Dragunov rifle, around his neck as a talisman. The young Marines inform the civilian audience by explaining military culture, tactics, and weapons to one another. The Marines provide comic relief, including misadventures in an ancient whorehouse and their involvement with Lilith, a sexy “cougar” harlot who bewitches Tauscher. Above all, the Marines display camaraderie and willingness for self-sacrifice, which is a central theme. They are immensely likable.

The high walled, many gated city of Biblical Jerusalem provides the backdrop for the Time Travelers. The palaces and marketplaces, awash with riches, contrast sharply with crowded shacks, reeking inns filled with criminals, and brothels disguised as pagan temples. Hard Roman legionaries march through Jerusalem’s narrow, twisting streets, punishing the lawless and the innocent alike. In the shadows, Green Berets and Marines engage in fierce firefights with Navy SEALs intent on killing each other. Lacking firearms, the SEALs improve their odds by engaging Romans and cut-throats to attack their opponents.

Captain Joseph King is a British SAS officer who falls in love with the beautiful but exasperating Veronica Tovarich, the team’s linguist. In a twist of Fate, Captain King becomes the Joseph of Arimathea of the Gospels. He provides a tomb he acquires to cache arms, as a burial chamber for Jesus. Veronica wipes the face of Jesus with a veil, capturing his visage in a swirl of blood and sweat, and becoming the legendary Veronica of the Stations of the Cross. In love, King and Veronica elect to remain in the first century. The two carry the chalice and saucer used at the Last Supper to Glastonbury in fulfillment of the Arthurian legends about the Holy Grail. Simon, an African-American SEAL is conscripted by the Romans to bear Jesus’ Cross on the walk to Calvary. Unexpectedly, the SEALs and the Hunter-Killer team enable rather than prevent Jesus’ crucifixion.

Although Jesus is the prize whom both the SEAL team and the Hunter-Killer team pursue, for very different reasons, Jesus and other religious figures are secondary characters. Jesus, the Apostles, and Mary are treated sensitively so as not to offend a general audience and damage the commercial appeal of the screenplay. Judas, as one of literature’s great villains, is easier to handle. Judas is befriended by Atkins and his SEAL henchman, Stackhouse. Judas’ weakness and venality almost allow the SEALs’ plan to succeed.

The redoubtable SEAL Stackhouse proves the most terrible of the SEALs. Physically daunting and utterly ruthless, he turns on Admiral Atkins. He orders his criminal auxiliary to coerce the mob into demanding that Pilate release Barabbas rather than Jesus. He kills two of the SEALs. He also kills several of the Hunter-Killer team members and Lilith. No matter the cost, the Hunter-Killer team will not depart Jerusalem while Stackhouse lives, even if it means missing the narrow return window for time transport.

Modern weapons alone are insufficient to ensure survival. Under twenty feet, a Roman soldier with a sword can stab a Marine before a pistol can be drawn. Arrows can be shot accurately for 200+ yards. Guile, as well as strength, must be employed. To spare his battered team from a final fight with the Romans, as they trundle back to the time lacuna, Lake acts as bait for a column of Roman cavalry in pursuit. He leads them off-course from the main body. Lake’s only advantage is the enormous racehorse, Comanche, which he brought back through time. The thoroughbred is genetically superior to any first-century mount. An exhausting 36-hour pursuit through the desert nearly kills Lake who dramatically transports to the present:

[A pursuing Roman throws a javelin.]The razor-sharp missile passes through the gossamer horse and rider, burying itself in the sand, its wooden shaft trilling. Colonel Lake and Comanche have disappeared.

The screenplay is written on several parallel levels. At its simplest, it is a rugged action-adventure in Biblical Jerusalem with dangerous opponents, high stakes, and plenty of sex and violence. On another level, it explores old themes like loyalty, comradeship, and grace under fire. It demonstrates how a good officer might coach a disparate team into an effective fighting force. The faithful will find miracles in Jesus’ behavior; the secular will just as easily find unremarkable explanations for events. For theologians, there are esoteric comments on the nature of God hidden in the rantings of Admiral Atkins, which most viewers will summarily dismiss as proof of Atkins’ insanity. For the philosophical, there are illustrations as to why history unfolds the way it does and demonstrations of the iterative interplay between free will and destiny.

Science fiction fans have a choice of a Newtonian deterministic model— in which time is linear and the smallest change alters the future— OR a quantum physics solution where consciousness and offsetting events compensate for all but the most devastating damage to the timeline. Refreshingly, for the romantics, there is a happy ending.

Script Excerpt
Written by:
Format:
Screenplay
Starring Roles For:
40 Year Old Rugged Actor
50's Black Actor
Angelina Jolie type
In the Vein Of:
Game of Thrones (HBO)
Battlestar Galactica
End of Days
Posted:
11/17/2017
Updated:
08/05/2020
Author Bio:
Retired US Army Lt. Colonel. Former paratrooper and Special Forces ("Green Beret") officer. Assignments included S3/S2-Operations and Intelligence Officer and Adjunct Faculty at the US Army Command & General Staff College. A graduate of the National Defense University. Experienced with small arms and explosives, as well as years of training with various martial arts, edged weapons, sticks, staff, and cane. .

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Contest Results:
Las Vegas Screenplay (Finalist) [2019]
Final Draft/Big Break (Quarterfinalist) [2017]
Military Script Showcase (Semifinalist) [2018]
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