Q: Who Has Your Back when Monsters Attack
We all know the monsters are coming, whether they are zombies, vampires, orcs, dragons, or aliens, they are coming – it is known. So who would you want by your side when they arrive?
I deal with New Jersey traffic and New York City attitude every day. So it’s gotta be bad – really bad – for me to gather a monster posse. So let’s assume this isn’t just a handful of monsters, but a veritable horde. If kaiju, at least two.
With those stipulations in mind, here’s my cross-SF/F, all-star monster slaying team:
- Nyx, courtesy of Kameron Hurley’s “Bel Dame Apocrypha” books. Assassin, bounty hunter and a ruthless killer who actually got booted from an assassin’s guild for breaking the rules. This is someone who’s not gonna lose it when the hordes come rolling into town, and can identify and pick-off the worst of them.
- Ellen Ripley, courtesy of Aliens. By the second movie, Ellen is the kind of lock-and-load alien killer who can keep a bunch of freaked out survivors focused. She keeps everyone pointed in the same direction and makes a fine front-line leader.
- Agent Franks, courtesy of Larry Correia’s Monster Hunter Nemesis. Dude, we’re fighting monsters. Of course we bring one of Larry’s guys along, and Agent Franks is easily the most disturbingly effective. Can you say tank? He’s the tank. Besides, takes one to beat one.
- Doctor Adoulla Makhslood, courtesy of Saladin Ahmed’s Throne of the Crescent Moon. The good doctor is extraordinarily knowledgeable about such things, and a gifted magician besides. Age, experience and magic. He’s there for strategic decision-making , tactical support and post-victory party planning.
- Spock, courtesy of Star Trek. Honestly, I don’t care if you’re creating a cross-SF/F, all-star team for knitting or jumping jacks – I call Spock. He just makes everyone around him better. Plus, he’ll analyze the situation, scientifically deduce the monsters’ weakness, propose three different solutions and provide a handy lesson on what it means to be human.
- Locke Lamora, from Scott Lynch’s Gentlemen Bastards books. So what’s a con-artist doing on a team of monster slayers? I need him for the out-of-the-box analysis, the asymmetric warfare, the solutions nobody else thinks of. And, naturally, for the escape routes.
- Oberon the Irish wolfhound, from Kevin Hearne’s Iron Druid Chronicles. And now a dog? Yeah, a dog…who can sniff out undead and invisible creatures, who can kneecap someone if need be, and who really likes bacon and sausages. Plus, really…every team needs a mascot.
Now that I think about it, this team would pretty much accomplish anything they set their minds to – provided someone could keep them all working together for longer than five minutes past the immediate monster-driven crisis.
I would need an adventuring party for the end of days. I have no illusions about my lack of fighting skills. I would most likely die if left on my own. The only thing I’ve got going for me is the fact that I lift heavy things and put them back down four times a week. Maybe I could lift a heavy rock and hurl it at a monster? That might just aggravate it, though. I do have a lovely singing voice, perhaps I could bolster the party’s morale by breaking into song. It seems to work in Dungeons and Dragons campaigns at any rate.
First, I’d want Gandalf from Lord of the Rings on my side. The man has experience. He defeated a balrog. Need I say more? His glowing staff is also particularly handy at turning away hordes of orcs. I’m sure he’s got something up his sleeves when it comes to zombies. The most impressive bit on his resume, though, is his ability to recruit useful people into a party. He did this not once, but twice. In The Hobbit and again in The Fellowship of the Rings. He has a pretty good party members living to dying ratio. You always need a good wizard in your party.
Now to the barbarian! For sheer strength, savagery and ability, I’d insist upon Karsa Orlong from Malazan Book of the Fallen by Steven Erikson. He is a beast, and while cowering behind him I’d be more than willing to witness his fighting prowess. Not to mention his sexual allure. He’s in good shape and wanders around mostly naked. I wouldn’t complain about that.
To mix things up a bit, I’d want a vanguard Commander Shephard from the Mass Effect franchise along for the ride. She (yes, she) is the person you want to get the job done. A thresher maw is the same level of dangerous beast as a dragon, right? She survived suicide missions galore. She knows what she’s doing.
To finish the party off, I’d go back to my childhood and recruit She-Ra. She can lift mountains, punch holes in tanks, throw jets and spin-kick evil robots into oblivion. Not to mention, she has The Sword of Truth and a rainbow-unicorn-pegasus. Who needs a thief to lock pick things when you can just punch the door open? Oh, pools of acid blocking the way? Never fear, Swiftwind is here! Get on his back and we’ll fly over it. Or, let me just kick this wall and create an alternate route. She-ra is a good bet. No one but bad guys die when she’s around.
I think this team would see me safely through the monsters. I can cook a mean pot of stew. I’m always on kitchen duty when I go camping. At least they’ll be well fed and in good cheer.
Since it would be gauche to say my own character Marla Mason… I’d want Alyx, from Joanna Russ’s novel Picnic on Paradise and the stories in The Adventures of Alyx. She’s tough, unsentimental, and ultra-competent, and whether she’s depicted as a barbarian warrior or an agent of the Trans-Temporal Authority, she’s utterly formidable. (And also has a history of helping other people, mostly because she was hired to do so, which means maybe she’d help me.)
I wouldn’t mind Soldier from Caitlín R. Kiernan’s novel Daughter of Hounds, either: she’s also incredibly badass, and her ability to rewind time would be a great help. Then again, she wouldn’t hesitate to abandon me, or even throw me at the monsters to slow them down, so maybe she’s not the best choice.
I know this sounds completely cliché, but I’d pick Ellen Ripley from Alien. When the movie first came out, I was a very impressionable little girl and the television trailer scared me to bits. The vision of the egg gradually cracking open to allow ominous white light to pour out probably wouldn’t have been so terror-inducing if not for the music and that electronic wail that still haunts my dreams and sends shivers through my body. It would be years before I finally saw Alien on cable, and completely fell in love with the character of Ripley.
When monsters attack, I’d definitely want to be with someone who can function under duress. In the first two Alien movies, Ripley is often clearly afraid, but doesn’t let her emotions hinder her even when facing death. That is the trait I admire the most in the character. Even when terrified, Ellen Ripley pushes through that paralyzing emotion to find a way to fight back.
One of my all-time favorite scenes in any Alien movie is when Ripley makes it to apparent safety in the escape pod only to discover the monster is onboard. As the alien unfurls from the console, she manages to calm down enough to concoct a way to outwit it. Those tense moments as she slides into the space suit and prepares to blow the hatch reveal her utter humanity. She’s so afraid, but determined to survive against a horrific predator that has already killed her crew.
That is probably what I love most about Ripley. She’s not a powerfully built person, she’s not specially trained for warfare, she’s not a soldier of any kind, but a regular person working on a salvage ship. Yet, she outlives many of the people you would assume would survive simply because she is very adept at evaluating dangerous situations and conceiving plans to survive or escape. And that is exactly the sort of person I’d want at my side.
I spent the month of September reading Mark Lawrence’s “Broken Empire” trilogy so the first character that popped into my head is Jorg Ancrath. I quickly dismissed Jorg because while his quick wits and ruthless cunning tend to see him through sticky situations relatively unscathed, those around him tend to die terrible deaths. You know that old axiom, “I don’t have to run faster than the [bear/zombie/monster/fanboy] I just have to run faster than you”? Well facing any sort of otherworldly foe Jorg would probably sever my hamstrings and leave me to fend for myself.
So Jorg is out.
Since I’m currently reading Miles Cameron’s The Dread Wyrm (Book 3 of the “Traitor Son Cycle”) the next most obvious choice is the Red Knight. Cameron knows medieval armor, arms, and combat like no other author I’ve ever read and he applies this technical knowledge to the fighting of formidable mythical creatures. The Red Knight is the captain of a mercenary company that makes bank slaying fiendish creatures. His use of tactics and strategy makes him an easy choice.
Then there’s Agent Franks of Larry Correia’s Monster Hunter International series. When you absolutely, positively have to kill every living and/or undead thing in the room with nothing but fists and deadpan humor you call Agent Franks. Correia offers a lot of fantastic, professional monster hunters to choose from but Agent Franks really takes the cake in terms of pure, unadulterated badassery.
Rounding out the team I’d have to include Eric Carter of Stephen Blackmoore’s Dead Things and Suzuke Hollis of M.L. Brennan’s American Vampire series. Eric Carter puts the black in black magic, using his necromancy in an array of detestable ways to achieve his goals. He’s dangerous and scary and that’s exactly the kind of guy I want on my side when the ectoplasm hits the fan. And as for Suzuke…I’ll admit I have a pretty large crush on her. She’s practical, tough-as-nails, and has a mischievous streak matched only by her martial prowess.
So that’s my team. They’re not necessarily the best and brightest that fantasy/urban fantasy has to offer but they have the skills to carry my shell-shocked self through any horrors the world could throw at me.
How much fun would it be to commit monstrous mayhem alongside the ladies of Rat Queens? Those “booze-guzzling, death-dealing battle maidens-for-hire” are the perfect antidote to my Hermionelike existence. (Seriously, I spent 14 years at “Miss Ela Hockaday’s School for Girls.” Our mascot was the Killer Daisy, and our crest had a unicorn. I needed this comic in my life.) These willful women are hilarious, courageous, fun, and unrepentantly vulgar. Bring it.
Pure bias and loyalty necessitate that I also nominate Harry Dresden from “The Dresden Files,” because not only would his deadpan snark make fighting the monsters a heck of a lot more entertaining, but he has a history of overcoming astronomical odds. He also tends to inspire acts of heroism and general badassery in those around him, and said comparatively vanilla allies tend to survive the day, albeit with a few minor exceptions. I wouldn’t mind leveling up in heroics and kicking a little monster butt, myself. Plus, we’d probably go for a celebratory meal at Mac’s afterward, which sounds awesome, assuming Mac didn’t kick me out of the bar for asking for a gluten-free menu.
Ellen Ripley, Eowyn, Kamala Khan, October Daye, and any number of Pratchett’s heroines have pretty great pedigrees for putting monsters down, namely Granny Weatherwax, Tiffany Aching, and Susan Sto-Helit. And while we’re on Pratchett, Sam Vimes once arrested a dragon and defeated an ancient evil while shouting the words to a children’s book, so he’d make a great monster-slaying partner.
However, depending on the scale of supernatural nastiness, it may be prudent to take the burden off the above underdogs to pull off the impossible and find someone with genuinely godlike powers. Heck, if we’re talking pure, pie-in-the-sky, unrestricted ally selection, why not pull out some of the biggest guns the genre has to offer? Dr. Manhattan from Watchmen has near-omnipotence to level at his enemies, but his emotional distance from humanity makes him an unpredictable option to have at one’s side. So at the risk of being kicked off this article for being a cheating cheater who cheats, I’m going to go with post-ascension Sazed, from the Mistborn series: a genuinely good-hearted, loyal, wise dude who becomes a literal god. What greater presence could one have on their team? Unless my death and/or enmanglement was required to preserve Harmony, which would suck. Maybe it’s best to keep my teammate mortal after all. Harry, you busy tonight?
Nine companions….there something karmic there. A squad assembled to protect something important…like me and my family. The Fellowship of the Ring wasn’t always operating in harmony; a little friction is good, it gets the juices going for a fight. So for the eight others (I’ll gladly assume the roll of protected ring-bearer…or just protected occasionally helper, hacker and forager, whatever works to help keep me and my family safe) not only should they be better than decent killing machines and be able to work together, but they have to be a bit interesting as well. And they don’t necessarily have to be human…
Snow, the dragon from Stephen Deas’ “The Memory of the Flames” series. Snow can fly, read minds, and could burn a horde of zombies (or vampires, for that matter) faster than you can say her original name (Alimar Ishtan be Atheriel). Air power in combat with any monsters is always a good tactical option. She also apparently is part of a larger consciousness…so if there are other dragons about, she could call in a multi-part air strike. Apparently being part of this consciousness allows her to be reborn (with a major prerequisite of needing a dragon egg…someone owed a favor from Daenerys?) The only issue with this selection is… she kinda hates humans, since they’ve kept her kind in a drugged stupor for centuries. We must hope she can put this aside in the face of a horde of monsters and read the good intentions of this group..and not side with the other guys.
Drizzt Do’Urden, Bob Salvatore’s dark elf. Drizzt is like a cockroach…you can’t kill him and he keeps coming back…in series after series after series. Pretty good for a character that was an after thought. He survived being a dark elf with morals, and he’s obviously had valuable experience fighting orcs. Though he started out as a lone drow, he proved he can be part of a team (like this one!) with the Companions of the Hall. He also brings stealth, which might be required in some situations. Drizzt can be as quiet as our next member can be loud.
Qantaqa, Binabik the troll’s wolf companion in Tad Williams’ “Memory, Sorrow and Thorn” series. I could have gone with Guenhwyvar, Drizzt’s panther or a GRRM dire wolf (Ghost is my wife’s fave). But Qantaqa seems a bit wiser (he pre-dates A Song of Ice and Fire), and doesn’t have to go back into a magic idol to recharge like Drizzt’s magic panther (this would kind of suck during a zombie fight). The team needs someone to patrol the perimeter (even dragons need to rest), and Qantaqa is proven in that regard. Plus if you get tired of riding on the dragon, you can always ride the wolf…if allowed. And there is the minor problem of making sure the dragon doesn’t see the wolf as food.
Thor, Norse God, son of Odin – might as well have a Norse god, but not the Chris Hemsworth version (though my wife certainly wants him on her team. She also wants Clay Matthews…I see a common thread). I prefer the more arrogant-bordering-on-obnoxious Thor from the comic books of my youth (though I am interested in how he is depicted in Rick Riordan’s new book The Sword of Summer). The combination of Thor’s hammer-created whirlwind and Snow’s dragon fire would be a better weapon than a scud missile…provide Thor doesn’t piss off the dragon. After all, this mind meld is about creating a kind of Avengers, isn’t it? And instead of Tony Stark to torment Thor, we’ll add…
Patrick Stewart (as Captain Pickard, Professor Xavier Walter Blunt or whoever he wants to be). Every group needs a leader. I’d volunteer, but I would certainly defer to someone who not only was part of the Borg collective (and who wouldn’t be envious of that), but as 70-year old Walter Blunt used his Falkland Island martial skills…and ended up kicking a cop in the nuts. That’s a skill the should work fighting anything, right? Not sure Professor X’s mind control would work on the undead (vamps or zombies) but it would be fun to try. And if anyone can convince the dragon Snow to cooperate with us humans, Jean Luc can.
And, of course, you can’t have Patrick Stewart without …
Sir Ian McKellan (as Gandalf, Magneto, or Patrick Stewart’s favorite selfie sidekick). Let’s face it. Fighting monsters is hard and stressful work; people are gonna die, you’re going to get zombie gore or some other innards all over you. There will be rough days. Sometimes you feel like the world is going to end. Having Patrick and Ian to lighten the mood (not to mention Gandalf the White’s skills at fighting orcs, perhaps a little healing magic and other assorted monsters) would certainly bring the team much needed comic relief. And we’ve seen good teamwork already between Magneto and Professor X…and maybe Gandalf could talk the dragon out of eating all of humanity. This is cheating, of course…since Stewart and McKellan have played multiple pivotal roles, I’m counting on them to morph into whichever is needed given the monster situation. Hopefully they will oblige.
Michonne from The Walking Dead– as someone who is losing their hair, I’m as envious of Michonne’s sword play and zombie killing skilz as I am her copious locks. A survivor like Drizzt, she adapted multiple times to her circumstances, even without her sword in the later seasons. A loner at first (like Drizzt), she has proven she can work well as part of a fighting team. She and Qantaqa could go into any zombie infested house and clear it out…provided the dragon leaves them anything to do.
Walter Blunt’s manservant, Harry, from Blunt Talk. Yeah, not exactly fantasy (even though since Brent Spiner/Lt. Commander Data makes an appearance on the show, that means it is almost canon, right?). But Harry provides critical services that this team (and I will need). He is Blunt’s driver, procurer of whiskey and other necessities, keeps meticulous records and is a great cook. I’m sure he could handle his own in a fight, but a monster fighting team has to eat (and drink whiskey)…right?
I look forward to the campfire conversations with this group almost as much as the battles.
Surviving a monster attack would not necessarily require rocket science; but it would be beneficial to have some kicking ass/MacGyver-esqe qualities on your side. As a prior active duty Marine, I already possess some training so any potential partner for surviving the eventual monster apocalypse requires some consideration. After all, you don’t want to spend your days worrying about someone making death-inducing mistakes or be so annoying you think about welcoming death with open arms.
The following potential partners are in no particular order outside the random sequence they popped into my head:
Option 1: Taggert from Ayize Jama-Everett’s The Liminal People
Taggert has some incredibly useful skills such as healing or hurting someone by manipulating their basic metabolism and such. He goes through a journey of redemption giving him just enough of a conscious to care about people but not too much where he wouldn’t be able to kill someone that needed killing.
Option 2: Philippe from Aliette de Bodard’s The House of Shattered Wings
Philippe has survived some of the most painful experiences, both mentally and physically, and still has a strong desire to fight for life no matter what pain he feels. That kind of motivation to find a way to survive means he will always push forward despite all odds against it. His magical abilities to manipulate the elements to a degree wouldn’t hurt either.
Option 3: Carolyn from Scott Hawkin’s The Library at Mount Char
If you haven’t read this book, it might be difficult to explain the awesomeness that having Carolyn as a partner for the monster apocalypse would be. (You really should read this book.) She has the patience, planning, and cunning to make certain survival is achieved. Granted, she might have been the one to start said apocalypse but we won’t go there.
Option 4: Wasp from Nicole Kornher-Stace’s Archivist Wasp
Wasp has the grit and determination to fight like hell to live. Her ability to think quickly particularly during one-on-one combat is an incredible asset. She is skilled with a blade, really any weapon of opportunity, and not afraid to get in close for a kill.
The above options represent a mere drop in the bucket of potential partners should the monster attack happen one day. What this tells me is that I should get back to reading and preparing.
Guardians of the Galaxy.
Listen Like Thieves. One of the things that irks me the most about superhero teams is the obsession with the high road, even when it’s bound to get everyone killed. Not the Guardians, they know when to act (and listen) like thieves. Why sit there and wait for the weakest link in the zombie resistance to break and run, thereby leaving the rest of us to die a horrible death watching our insides being chewed? The way I see it, the Guardians don’t wait for the proverbial shit to hit the fan. They sneak out the back door and double back with a better plan- hopefully one that involves Rocket blowing the zombies and monsters up from a non-biting distance.
Will a few people get left behind? Probably, but the rest of the Galaxy will be saved from the zombie hordes, and let’s be honest- are we really that choked up about the folks who decided locking themselves in a room to meet the zombie hordes in solidarity are the kind of planners we want surviving the zombie horde? Hell, the raccoon came up with a better plan! The Guardians have morals and values about saving people; they just don’t wear them on their sleeves. And be honest now, is that really the team you want to be fighting with? The one who berates themselves for leaving the obvious stragglers behind (let me reiterate- the ones who can’t plan and figured they’d lock themselves in a small room) or do you want to be on the team that accepts their shortcomings and moves on. It’s a zombie apocalypse, not a therapy session. The Guardians don’t let the whole ‘saving the universe’ thing weigh heavy on their shoulders. It’s not selfish, it’s called smart…and let’s face it, those other guys wouldn’t have made it anyways. Running back into the zombie surrounded building isn’t a virtue…Unless there is a Walkman, but it better have a really great collection of songs on it.
Priorities. And that leads to the second reason I’d want to take the Guardians to fight the zombie horde – priorities. Jason Quill and his crew know how to throw back a few drinks. I don’t know about the rest of you, but if I get caught in the zombie horde war, besides not getting eaten there damn well better be a decent stash of beer. I mean, come on. I have faith the Guardians can deliver on that…in fact, I think the Raccoon might drink me under the table…
We’re all Losers Here. Another thing Guardians really excel at? Calling each other on their own self-aggrandizing BS. Yes, Jason might essentially be intergalactic royalty, but does that mean he gets to act like it? No! The Guardians don’t fool themselves into thinking they’re on top of the world. They embrace their loser status and work with it, and that’s important when facing the zombie horde. The last team you want to be on is the one convinced they’re good enough to beat the zombies. Trust me, they get eaten first – usually opening a closet or not checking under the toilet seat. Not a single one of The Guardians of the Galaxy is perfect. They know it’s no hoe in they’ll beat the zombies (or monster horde). They’re reminding each other they probably won’t. You know what’s the number one cause of zombie related deaths in the zombie apocalypse? Over confidence. The Guardians aren’t really confident they can survive anything. It’s the little things like that that keep you on your toes. And carrying a crate of explosives with you everywhere you go…
Survival Stats. The last reason I’d want the Guardians watching my back. There is another crucial aspect of putting together a superhero teams to help defend against the imminent zombie and monster hordes – What is their survival ratio? Look at one of my other favorite movies, The Mummy from 1999 with Brendan Fraser. For the three core party members, namely Rick O’Connell, Evie, and her brother Jonathan, things turn out just fine. But for the rest of the characters? As far as all of them are concerned the movie plays like a supporting character snuff film. Everybody gets it in a horribly gruesome way, the only question is when. So far The Guardians have been pretty damn good at keeping everyone associated with them alive. I’ll take the living team for 100$, please.
So there you have it. When the zombie apocalypse I’ll be hanging with the Guardians…and let’s face it, the space ship that can leave earth doesn’t hurt…just need to remember to check the cargo hold…
When I first read the topic, my thoughts leapt instantly to Buffy, who is not only the vampire Slayer par excellence, but has taken down her fair share of demons and assorted supernatural Big Bads, including an evil god (Glory.) In fact, when it comes to surviving an apocalypse, or several, you really can’t go past the Buffy Summers’ CV…
On the other hand, I’d want more than one person, however able and experienced, backing me up against a supernatural Ragnarok. So I decided I’d better put together a Dream Team to work with the Slayer. And since I’m currently featuring a Heroines series here on SF Signal, I felt consistency required that I put together an All-Heroines Dream Team—and the second person for that team would have to be Agatha Heterodyne, Girl Genius and plucky steampunk Spark Extraordinaire, who can defeat overwhelming odds if you only give her a monkey wrench and a soldering iron. Also, Agatha is a young woman who likes to think outside the square: exactly the person you want on your team when the supernatural chips are down.
Speaking of extraordinary capability and thinking, it wouldn’t be a Dream Team without the redoubtable Hermione Granger lining up alongside Buffy Summers and Agatha Heterodyne. After all, as my partner (clearly a man of perception) pointed out, it’s Hermione who does (almost) all the useful thinking at Hogwarts and in the Order of the Phoenix, as well as much of the heavy lifting when it comes to snapping out spells and waving wands around to useful effect. And Hermione, like Buffy, has a strong moral compass, always an important consideration since most Big Bads are adept at trying to blur those lines. Clearly, therefore, no All-Heroines, Big Bad-defeating Dream Team would be complete without Hermione Granger.
Someone else who would be very useful indeed is the X-woman, Rogue, given her ability to drain an opponent’s powers—so long as the others in the team could rely on her, of course. But they’ve all had to deal with uncertain allies before, so the advantages would seem to outweigh the risks.
The final member of the Dream Team has to be Asantir, another contender that, like Buffy, sprang instantly to mind—perhaps not surprisingly since she also stepped up, pretty much unheralded, in my own “The Wall Of Night” series. Asantir, however, is a valid contender, since she has risen on merit, first to the rank of Honor (i.e. elite) Guard captain, and subsequently to become Commander of all Night’s armies. So she not only provides (possibly much-needed) maturity in what is otherwise a team of young women, but is a proven fighter against supernatural opponents, including bringing strategic as well as tactical leadership ability to the Dream Team. She also shows signs of being immune to magic, or possessing artefacts that achieve the same effect …
Either way, Asantir is cool-headed and the ideal anchor person for a Dream Team spearheaded by Buffy the Vampire Slayer, with Agatha Heterodyne, Hermione Granger, and Rogue deployed to ensure a kickass outcome. In fact, the zombies, vampires, orcs, dragons, aliens, evil gods, monsters-de-jour, and other malignants, should be calling off all apocalypse plans right about now and hightailing it out of this ’verse