Dawn of the Planet of the Apes doesn't come out until Friday — but you can experience the beginning of the story right now. We've got the first chapter of the official movie novelization, by Alex Irvine, which shows how the apes overthrow the human race.
Here's chapter one of Dawn of the Planet of the Apes - The Official Movie Novelization, exclusively at io9:
Thunder rolled overhead and a hard rain fell through the upper canopy of the great trees, dripping and sheeting through their leaves into the shadowy space that stretched between the lowest branches—still twenty times an ape's height—and the ground. Caesar sat perfectly still, ignoring the rain and the thunder. Storms had never frightened him, but some of the other apes, raised under roofs and inside walls, had not lost their fear even after all the... years, was the human word... that had passed.
But more and more of them were being born out here in the forest where they were meant to be. Free. His son Blue Eyes—sitting beside him on the branch and trying without success to remain motionless—was one. He looked to Blue Eyes, who felt his father's glance and went still again.
A rustle in the trees signaled the approach of a scout. The ape stopped three trunks over, his hunting paint visible in the gloom, and made a series of hand signals.
Caesar nodded and looked down, to where Koba waited at the head of a troop of apes. All were armed with spears or knifes. Koba himself carried a harpoon, brought back from a foraging trip after the humans had died.
Koba looked up, his scarred face and milky eye marking him as a warrior. He had suffered much, and his sufferinghad made him savage.
Move. That way.
Koba led his troop forward.
Caesar looked to his son again, then looked around.Another troop of apes, waiting in the trees nearby, watched.
He raised an arm and thrust it forward.
Without a sound, thirty apes sprang from theirbranches, catching and swinging through the treetops. On the ground below, Koba's troop surged ahead, matching their pace.
The hunt was on. His son close behind him, Caesar secured his own spear, leaped, and swung at the head of his apes, a fierce glee building inside him.
None of them screeched or hooted, and to the elk herd that had paused to drink, the sounds of their passage through the canopy were masked by the downpour. The animals didn't react as Caesar's troop slowed and crept along branches toward the edge of the open area near the stream. Across the meadow he saw Koba's apes moving slowly along the ground, up to the edge of the trees.
Koba searched the trees, found Caesar, and nodded.
Caesar stood on his branch and let loose a mightybattle cry, a scream that tore through the pounding of the rain as the rest of his apes joined in. The elk panicked, looking up to see the apes coming at them out of the trees. They stampeded across the stream toward the protection of the trees on the other side of the meadow... just as Caesar had planned.
Koba's apes sprang up in front of them, breaking intosmall groups to cut off escape and separate the old and the slow from the main body of the herd. Elk could kill apes, but only if the apes did not fight together. Apes together strong, Caesar thought, remembering when he had first been able to recognize that thought... before, in the shelter.
Before the humans had died.
The elk began to scatter, the main body of the herd thundering upstream. Several smaller groups were driven into heavy thickets, or water deep enough to slow them down. Apes struck at these first, drawing blood and desperate trumpeting cries.
Caesar swung along the edge of the trees. He looked back to make sure his son was with him. Below them, three elk charged into heavy undergrowth. Blue Eyes let go of his branch, about to drop, but Caesar stopped him with a grunt. Blue Eyes caught the branch again, hanging by one hand, spear in the other. He was too eager, Caesar thought.
Wait, he signaled, and he paused to listen. Rustles and the snap of small twigs came from the undergrowth. He peered carefully into the tangle, trying to pick out where the elk had gone, the better to drop from the trees and finish one of them.
He looked back to Blue Eyes again... but his son was gone. At the same time another smell reached Caesar.
Blue Eyes was on the ground, stalking toward the thicket, body low and spear held ready.
Caesar recognized the scent just as the bear lunged from the thicket. The young ape turned to run, but the bear was too close. With a swipe of its great paw it knocked him tumbling away over the slippery ground. His spear was lost in the frenzy of violence.
The bear stood on its hind legs and roared over Caesar'sson, ready to strike the killing blow. Caesar flung himself from the branch, dropping feet-first and hitting the bear high on its back. It weighed as much as ten Caesars, but the force of his falling knocked it to all fours. Before it could react he sprang back up, wheeling around a low branch and throwing himself at it again. This time his feet hit it just as it rose to its hind legs, and again it was knocked off balance.
He landed in front of it, and gestured with one hand for Blue Eyes to stay back. With the other hand he unslung his own spear and leveled it at the bear.
It lowered its head and growled.
Caesar threw his head back and screamed, a challenge to the bear... and also a call for help.
He jabbed at the beast, keeping it away from his wounded son. At the same time he tried to force it toward the edge of a nearby rocky slope, with a smaller stream at the bottom. The bear faced him, swiping every time the spear point came close. Caesar moved to the side, staying close enough that the bear could not go around him and get to Blue Eyes.
If help did not arrive, he would have to try to kill it himself. There had been more bears since the humans died, and Caesar knew killing it was a dangerous task, even for many apes. By himself...
But then there was Koba, bounding along the upper edge of the sloping stream bank.
Caesar glanced away from the bear, and it nearly cost him his life. The animal lunged forward, arms spread wide in the attempt to drag Caesar in. He would not survive that embrace. He leaped back, but the bear pressed him.
There was only one thing to do.
Caesar set his feet and charged forward, spear leveled. The bear reared up to meet him.
At that moment Koba jumped out from the high ground, putting all of his weight behind his harpoon. The steel tip plunged deep into the bear's back, and Koba rocked the shaft back and forth, searching for the creature's heart, his toes gripping the bear's fur. Caesar angled his own thrust upward, driving his spear into its belly.
The beast thrashed in blind agony, crashing over a fallen tree and tumbling with the two apes down the slope to splash into the shallows of the feeder creek below. Caesar's head hit a rock on the way down, stunning him.
When he could look up again, he saw the bear on its side, dead. Its blood dripped from the broken shaft of Caesar's spear. Koba stood near its head, one hand on his harpoon. He looked down at the dead creature with a look of satisfaction.
Chasing elk was hunting.
Facing a bear was battle.
Caesar reached out and draped an arm over Koba,who returned the embrace. They had seen many battles together, but none closer than this.
Then Koba bent to pick up Blue Eyes' spear, which had tangled in the bear's feet as it fell. The stone tip was broken off and lost.
Caesar raced up the embankment and went to his son, angry at Blue Eyes' disobedience yet concerned at his wounds. Blue Eyes lowered his head when he saw his father coming. Caesar parted Blue Eyes' fur to see how badly he was hurt. Blue Eyes jerked away, embarrassed, as more apes arrived through the trees and on the ground. His son's behavior angered Caesar, but he held himself back.
The hunt was over. The apes had brought down several elk... and they would return with the bear, as well.