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Treatment 6

I had a lot of fun writing this treatment. Like I said at the start of the week, when I wrote the logline, I was curious about the protagonist's motivations, and it's always fun when your characters take on a life of their own like that.

I really want to wax philosophical about how and why that happens, but this isn't really the place for it. So I'll just get on to the treatment.

For reference, here's the logline that started things: In a future where the entire world is controlled by only two, constantly warring supercountries, a young scientist develops a weapon that could end the war - but rather than give it to her country, wants to use it to establish her own.


And then here's the treatment:

Esme is a military scientist in a world entirely controlled by two warring supercountries. Despite her somewhat prestigious position, she lives in slums, walking past numerous maimed and crippled veterans every time she walks out her front door. She does what she can for them: feeds them, usually, maybe gives them some blankets when it’s cold.

Her job is as the lead scientist in the advanced and experimental weapons department. Having recently discovered mankind’s innate psionic abilities, she’s working on a psionic enhancer to give soldiers the ability to control superweapon-levels of psychokinetic force, as well as significant telepathic abilities. She finishes the first prototype, and while wearing it, is able to level a skyscraper in under a minute.

The senior brass want it in production yesterday, but Esme warns them that it’s not finished, and still has some pretty serious vulnerabilities. Notably, whoever’s wearing it is particularly sensitive to telepathy, meaning they could be influenced by the enemy. That convinces them to back down, but they’re still desperate for it to be finished.

Later, Esme meets with a mysterious figured called “Names” in a shadowy bar. After she’s updated Names on the weapon, Esme tells her that she’s having second thoughts about their plan. She knew she was designing a superweapon, but when she leveled that skyscraper, she barely even noticed. She’s worried about how many people will die.

Names acknowledges her concerns, but warns her that, now that the military has seen it’s possible, they’ll be able to get someone else to make it. If they stop the plan now, even more people will die than if they go through with it. Esme doesn’t like it, but she knows Names is right. They leave together.

The next day, Esme doesn’t show up to work. And even more terrifying, her assistants can’t find the prototype weapon, the plans, or anything. All traces of the psionic enhancer are gone. Everyone panics pretty much immediately amid concerns that she’s defected to the enemy, but a news broadcast interrupts them. It’s Esme.

Esme announces to the world that she and her country are seceding from their supercountry and from the war, and that they have the technology to make certain that their neutrality is obeyed. She promises security for any other country that desires to withdraw from the conflict, whether on her former supercountry’s side, or the enemy’s, and warns that she will respond with immediate and overwhelming force to any perceived aggression.  

As she expected (and feared), both supercountries immediately begin maneuvering to claim/reclaim her country as their own. However, as her weapon is small and easy to hide, and their armies are massive and impossible to hide; it isn’t difficult for her to ambush both of them and wipe them out entirely before they even know what’s happening. She has some moral qualms when attacking her former supercountry, but they don’t stop her, only slow her down.

After the display of the weapon’s power, a handful of countries take up Esme on her offer of becoming neutral. The supercountries immediately start fighting to take them all back, and Esme has trouble fighting in so many places - some hundreds of miles away from each other - at virtually the same time.

A couple factions within her own country argue over the future of the weapon. One faction thinks they need to go on the offensive, and start annexing land from the supercountries, maybe form a supercountry of their own. The other side wants to stick with the original plan and only enforce the neutrality of other countries that want it. However, both sides agree that they need to make more psionic enhancers, and that Esme can’t be the only one with access to it.

Esme, though, refuses to share the weapon with anyone. She’s even taken to wearing it constantly, leading to her being very suggestible - on every issue except sharing the weapon. Names worries about her, vocally, but she assures her she knows what she’s doing.

Eventually, the factional divide in her country breaks into, if not civil war, at least civil skirmishes. Both sides launch attacks at Esme herself, trying to take the plans for the weapon. She refuses to harm her own countrymen, and so is unable to adequately defend the plans. She maintains a hold on the weapon itself, but the plans are stolen. The only question is which side stole them.

The terrifying answer: neither of them. Her former supercountry announces the next day that it has the plans, and has already built their own prototype.

While she doesn’t have the plans, though, Esme still has the weapon, and she unites her country with the fact that if they can’t stop their supercountry, everything they’ve fought for will be for naught. They manage to ally with both the opposing supercountry, and every neutral country they’ve freed, to launch a massive attack on Esme’s former science lab, with the fate of the world in the balance.

The fighting is intense, and hundreds of thousands die in the one battle. Esme faces off against the enemy psychic wielding her weapon, and just their collateral damage numbers in the thousands of lives. But eventually, after Esme bests the psychic, she’s able to turn the battle into a victory.

The cost is tremendous. And when Esme realizes how much of it was at her hand, she breaks down. She realizes she’s no more trustworthy than anyone else to wield the weapon. But like Names said so long ago - even if she destroyed the weapon and the plans, it’s only a matter of time before someone replicates it. So she takes the only option she sees: she releases the plans to the public, allowing everyone on earth access to the weapon.

Many people die in the aftermath of her releasing the plans, but it’s only a short spike. Once literally everyone has a psionic enhancer, everyone has an intimate connection to everyone else’s mind. It leads to a new era of understanding and unity. Not perfect peace, but far closer than it was before.