Stories taking place during or after an epic disaster have been around for years. Whether it is zombies, an alien invasion, the impact of an asteroid, the rise of machines, or some other major disaster, strangers are thrown together and have to survive these unusual circumstances. Can everyone cooperate and succeed, or will the group fight and fall apart? This is the question that drives most of these stories forward. If a major disaster actually occurred, circumstances would dictate who you would have to work with, but what if you could choose who you could work with in order to survive the ordeal? For my answer, I decided to select fictional characters because I’ve seen them in (fictional) action during extreme situations.

There are obvious choices. Any ‘Star Trek’ crew would be ideal as would anyone with superpowers, so I eliminated characters from ‘Star Trek’ and with super abilities from the list of options. I also crossed off aliens, robots, cyborgs, animals, gods, demons, vampires, werewolves, witches, and the sort. I kept my options open to humans to make this a challenge. Adding to the challenge is the number. I could have selected all 300 Spartans from ‘300,’ but that would be easy. So I kept my team to me and twenty others for a total of 21. Even though this is my team, I’m not the leader. Can I lead? Sure. However, in most apocalyptic situations, guns will be involved, and when guns enter the picture, I’m not the best person to lead. What would my role be? Medic. As a biology teacher, I have basic knowledge of the human body, and I know CPR and basic first aid; also, I grew up in the country, and during my younger days, I saw enough blood and innards to overcome any squeamishness.

To create my team, I looked at skills; the more skills and talents a character has, the better. Also, personality was a factor. I wanted a group that I would want to be around for a period of time. Will everything be all kittens and unicorns? Of course not, this is my group, so I selected people who could balance possible problematic personalities. I tried to stay within the sci-fi, fantasy, and horror genres, but I did give myself one non-genre slot, and I used it.

Walter White from ‘Breaking Bad’ is a chemistry teacher who gets diagnosed with cancer. Because his insurance refuses to cover the treatments, Walter goes into business with a former student, Jesse Pinkman. They make and sell meth. I didn’t pick Walter so we could reminisce about teaching high school, and I don’t want my group to be on meth. Walter’s on my team because of his chemistry skills. He knows how to take everyday items and make explosives, including pipe bombs, and how to make toxins like ricin. Walter is intelligent, calculating, and loyal—as long as he doesn’t feel threatened. If Walter feels safe and valued, he will poison anyone and blow up anything we need him to. And don’t worry. I’ll tell the rest of the team not to accept any red berries from him.

People will get sick and injured, so we need doctors. Dr. Dana Scully (‘The X-Files’) has worked in the field and studied a wide variety of oddities. Since we don’t know what we will be up against, Scully’s experience with everything from in-bred humans to aliens and her analytical skills will help the group identify new biological threats. Of course she can treat illnesses and injuries as well. To help her is Dr. Jack Shepard from ‘Lost.’ After his plane crashed on a mysterious island, Jack was up and helping people; he even instructed a non-medical person, Kate, on how to stitch his wound. Jack’s knowledge about how to administer health care with limited supplies and in a stressful environment makes him a perfect addition to the team.

With medical care covered, we need to move on to other basics like food and protection. John Locke, also from ‘Lost,’ was able to scout and navigate the island. I am discussing non-dead, non-smoke monster John Locke. He found food and water for the castaways, so I’m sure he would do the same in any situation. Helping Locke hunt would be Green Arrow. Like Locke and Jack, he spent time on an island. During his time on the island, Queen learned how to make a bow and arrow and hunt. Not only will he be a good provider of food, Green Arrow/Oliver Queen can build and maintain weapons. Also, we need people who don’t need a gun to fight, which is one of the reasons Batman is another member of my team. True, he’s rich, and maybe there is a scenario where we can hole up in the Batcave or Wayne Tower, but there is a lot more to Batman/Bruce Wayne than money. He has created and constructed countless gadgets, and his hand-to-hand combat skills are unmatched. Locke, Batman, and Green Arrow would be excellent scouts, hunters, and stealth killers, especially after Locke has learned a few new tricks from Batman and Green Arrow.

Since they’re not trying to get home, I think Locke and Jack will be fine being in the same group; they will be busy, so really won’t have time to argue. Batman, even when he is busy, can be difficult. He can be broody and be a bit preachy when he’s on his moral high horse. Green Arrow will keep Batman in check, but the archer can’t do it alone. Alfred Pennyworth, Bruce Wayne’s caretaker, knows how to knock Batman down a few pegs. Over the years, Alfred has had to tend to Batman’s wounds, so he could help the doctors from time to time; also, the man can cook. Alfred won’t be alone in the kitchen. Roadblock from the ‘G.I. Joe’ comics is a gourmet chef, so when he’s not needed in battle or for patrol, he will make sure we eat in style.

Manning the guns with Roadblock will be Sarah Connor (‘Terminator 2’) and the Winchester brothers, Sam and Dean (‘Supernatural’). My only worry about Sarah Connor is if we have to fight time traveling machines after her son, but I think that scenario has a low chance of happening, so I’m not too concerned. Sam has dealt with his Lucifer issue, and Dean is not as depressed when they join my team. When it comes to the Winchesters, the hunters work best when together; when they are apart for too long, things tend to fall apart. In case the threat we face is supernatural, then their expertise will be invaluable.

We have doctors, hunters, fighters, and cooks. Now we need mechanics and engineers. Even if there is no electricity, we might need transportation, and we could find generators to make power. Also, weapons need to be maintained, and armor and other protective gear for the fighters would give the team a better chance at survival. When it comes to engines, the best person for the job is Kaylee Frye from ‘Firefly.’ Kaylee kept the Serenity flying during the most trying of times; she had to make do with old parts and found ways to make the ship run when she was missing parts. Not only does Kaylee have a way with engines, her attitude remains positive; she was the heart of ‘Firefly,’ and I hope she brings that warmth to the group, especially to Batman’s dour world. Helping Kaylee in the mechanical engineering department will be Steel, who built his own suit so he could fight crime. I know many would want Iron Man, but I would rather hang out with John Henry Irons than Tony Stark any day of the week. With his talent for forging armor, the fighters will greatly benefit from having him in the group, and since he can fight, Steel can help on the battlefield as well.

No one is going to be able to do much if we don’t have supplies. There is no one better at finding supplies than Glenn (‘The Walking Dead’). Fast and nimble, Glenn has an uncanny ability to find everything from medical supplies to spare parts. He also can hotwire cars and siphon gas. She might not be able to find supplies as fast as Glenn, but Lois Lane knows how to uncover information, and information is always a valuable commodity. The Lois on my team is not whiney, weak, or obsessed with Superman. No, the Lois on my team is the confident, capable, and intelligent crime fighting ace reporter. This Lois has been seen in various media from time to time over the years, so I know she is a great choice. Also, I imagine she will get Batman and Green Arrow to train her so she can get into fray when the time comes.

Sometimes guns and knives might not be the best way to handle a matter. We might need to talk our way out of a jam. Who would be better at negotiating our way out of trouble than Ben Linus from ‘Lost’? No one. Ben has an eerie gift for lying when he tells the truth and telling the truth when he lies; odd, I know. The silver-tongued leader of the Others always seemed five steps ahead of everyone. Even when his back was against the wall, Ben never stopped plotting or scheming. His ability to read situations and people and to take lies, wrap them with truth, and sprinkle glitter on the twisted ball is what I want on my team. I would not want to go up against another group with Ben as a member. Along with Walter, I know my team would have two people who are fiercely devoted to what they hold dear and would do almost anything to protect what they cherish. I know they have the makings of being evil geniuses, but if Ben or Walter starts trouble, then Lois Lane will see through them; if not, then Batman will. Nothing counterbalances potential evil like the moral superiority of Batman.

There are many different threats we could face, one of them being technological. Perhaps an advanced alien race invades or society is destroyed by a self-aware A.I. on a rampage. Any technological dangers can be handled by Oracle, the genius who can hack the most sophisticated of computer systems. After the Joker shot her, Barbara Gordon used her technological skills to help Batman, the Justice League, and her group, the Birds of Prey. I have no concerns about her being in a wheelchair slowing us down. Over the years, she learned a fighting style conducive to her condition, and she developed the attitude of “I’m in a wheelchair. So what? I can still kick your ass.” And she can train others too. She trained not one, but two Batgirls, taking their potential and molding them into Batgirls many consider better than her time in the cowl. With Batman and Green Arrow also in the group, members can go to Oracle for more training, making us one formidable team.

During uncertain times, some people feel the need for spiritual comfort and solace. I am not a very religious person, but I respect some might want guidance. The only person I would want to fulfill this role is Derrial Book, the Shepard from ‘Firefly.’ Patient and wise, Book never shoves his views down another person’s throat, and he is willing to engage in a thoughtful and respectful debate on faith. Also, Derrial Book was born Henry Evans, and he was a mole for the Browncoats. He became an officer in the Alliance, and he sent a few people to Heaven before he started preaching about it. Someone skilled in combat and not too preachy is the type of spiritual counselor I want in my group.

This motley band needs strong leadership, and I have selected two women, yes women, for the job. Both are intelligent, capable, can remain calm in stressful situations, work well with different personalities, and have a commanding presence. I consider Zoe Washburne (‘Firefly’) to be the co-captain of the Serenity, and she was often the calm voice of reason when Malcolm Reynolds would go too far. She always had his back, getting him out of many messes. Stern without being bombastic, Zoe could put Jayne in his place without relying on a gun, so doing the same with this group wouldn’t be difficult for her. The other leader of the group is Ellen Ripley from ‘Aliens.’ While I respect her ability to survive in ‘Alien,’ ‘Aliens’ is where she demonstrates her qualities as a leader. She remains calm and rational as others freak out, and she listens to everyone before formulating a strategy. Her plan and her actions save lives and prevent the aliens from taking over the colony. I highly doubt anyone in this group would doubt the authority of Zoe or Ripley, even Batman, and the remaining survivors we encounter will likely either want to join us or will flee with these two confident women as our leaders.

This is my team. I am confident I have selected people (yes, I know they’re fictional) who can find us shelter or build one, locate water, hunt, cook food, gather supplies, provide protection, and solve certain matters by creative means. I picked these characters for their talents and their personalities. If this happened in real life, then I would have to get along with whoever is around, but if I could select a small team, then this is the group that can ensure my survival and that I can get along with, including Batman. With this group, no matter what ended society as we know it, I know we can survive any dangers that come our way.