Originally broadcasted 03/20/2007
Cleveland – Highway Intersection – Late Night
Flashes of lightning rippled through the heavy black clouds that hung in the night sky. The rumble of distant thunder occasionally sliced into the silence.
Closer to the ground, gliding across the empty asphalt plane, a convoy of three vehicles – a truck flanked from in front and behind by two heavy-duty blacked out jeeps – continued toward their clandestine destination, aided by the high intensity beams that cut through the swarming darkness.
The driver of the truck leaned forward in his seat and peered up at the sky, where the wispy, cotton-like clouds were illuminated by another burst of lightning.
“Goddamn storm,” he grumbled, returning his stare to the back of the jeep in front of him.
The clouds rumbled with thunder once again, the sound much louder than before.
The driver took his right hand off the wheel and switched on the radio but was greeted by more white noise, rather than music.
“‘C’mon…” He cast a glance at the radio and started to press the buttons. Each station he tuned to was rife with distorted audio and more white noise.
An intense white light exploded in front of the convoy. The driver shot a squinted glance up moments before his eyes went wide at the sight of the jeep in front reversing.
“Jesus!” he gripped the wheel and slammed his foot on the brake.
The convoy came crashing to a halt. The jeep in front slammed into the truck’s cab and the jeep behind drove into the back of the stopped truck.
In the truck cab, through grit teeth, the driver held the back of his neck. His eyes now open, he unclipped his seat belt, pushed opened the door and jumped down to the ground.
“Is everything okay? What the hell happened?” he shouted, as he walked to the driver’s side door of the jeep in front. A man dressed in black military garb got out, shaken and out of breath. “Are you okay?”
“…uh…yeah…” the man pointed to a small smoldering hole mere meters ahead in the middle of the road. “Bolt of lightning struck dead in front of us.”
“Damn! All I saw was the flash,” the driver said. “We good to go?”
The man nodded. “Yeah, we’re…” the steady hum of the engines cut out, along with the headlights, “…good? Foster, what happened?” he called into his jeep.
“Power’s out, sir. Must be the battery,” Foster said. He got out of the passenger door and moved to the hood of the jeep.
“In all three vehicles?”
Foster frowned when he saw the battery. “Sir, the battery’s fine. I don’t understand?”
“Call it in to HQ,” the man said, pulling his shoulder-mounted radio to his mouth. “Teams, get out of the jeeps and set up a perimeter…” A look of perplexity washed over his face. “…the radio’s dead.”
“The lightning?” the truck driver asked.
“No. Me,” a female voice said from behind the two men. As they turned, the woman roundhouse kicked the man in black and thrust her palm into the truck drivers’ face, decking both of them.
Hearing the attack, Foster ran around the truck with his gun raised and opened fire. The woman twirled out of the line of fire to Foster’s side and grabbed his wrist. “Please, who carries a gun anymore?” Gwen Raiden said, and then snapped his wrist. She grabbed the gun as it fell and pistol-whipped him over the head.
“Out of the jeeps…NOW!” the man in black belted out as he got to his feet with the help of the side of the truck. On his command, the teams piled out the jeep behind the truck.
Gwen glanced over her shoulder to see the new troops running toward her. Most of them were women in their early twenties, some younger. Guns holstered were on their waist and knives strapped to their legs. The others were men wearing heavy armor and carrying submachine guns.
“I guess they do,” Gwen muttered. She shot a look at the man now standing and coming toward her with his dukes up. “If only you knew what was best for you, you wouldn’t have gotten up.” The man charged her, but she brought her boot up between his legs, knocking the wind right out of him. His face turned a deep shade of red and his eyes grew watery.
Gwen looked at the man, now on his knees, almost annoyed. “Seriously, what did I say?” she asked him as he toppled over, clutching his groin.
Gun fire broke out, and Gwen raced around the other side of the jeep and launched into a cartwheel, spinning toward the guards. As she landed back on her feet, she raised her fists and threw a punch that landed square in the male guard’s face. A female guard to her left, however, grabbed her arm and effortlessly threw Gwen back with tremendous strength.
“Slayers…” Gwen breathed as they advanced on her, “…crap.”
Pouncing back onto her feet, Gwen took a fighting stance. When the slayer kicked out, Gwen grabbed her boot and pushed her to the ground hard on her back, then twisted the boot, snapping her ankle. The slayer howled out in pain.
Gwen swiped the downed slayer’s knife and threw it at another slayer, who grabbed it between her palms.
She turned back to the jeep and ran toward it. She vaulted into the air, pushed off the jeep, and spun into a kick that connected with the closest slayer, causing her to knock down the others behind her.
Gwen looked to her side to see guards taking aim at her with their guns. She reached to her belt and threw her magnetic grappling hook at the cab of the truck. She pressed a button and was pulled sideways far faster and farther than she could have jumped. The guards tried their best to keep their guns trained on her, following her flight.
Gwen landed on the hood of the truck and frantically clambered up onto the cab, still under fire, and then onto the top of the truck. She ran to the other end of the vehicle, but a slayer landed in front of her, blocking her path, holding a metal pole like a fighting staff. The slayer managed a sadistic smile.
The slayer ran at Gwen, whirling the pile in front her, but Gwen dodged each end as it came around. Then, at the opportune moment she grabbed the pole with both of her hands and tried to pry it from the slayer. Gwen broke out into a sweat and the slayer pressed down harder. Pain and struggling was evident on Gwen’s small, porcelain face, veins starting to pop up from under the skin on her forehead. She slammed her heel into the slayer’s stomach, tore the pole from her grasp, and slammed it into the girl’s forehead, knocking her off the truck.
Discarding the pole, Gwen panted and headed for the back of the truck. She jumped down onto the hood of the jeep, slipped off her glove, and placed her palm on the lock on the truck door. A small spark of electricity flashed, then Gwen pulled open the door and stepped inside.
A nondescript metal crate with a numeric keypad was held in place by chains.
A small smile crept over her face. However, as Gwen climbed in, a powerful kick connected with her back, sending her crashing face down onto the floor of the truck.
Recovering, Gwen sprung back to her feet and drove her bare palm into the slayer’s face. A thunderous clap filled the air and the slayer was ejected from the truck and crashed into the windshield of the jeep.
Gwen ran over to the crate and placed her hand on the keypad. It exploded in a rain of sparks, laced with blue arcs of electricity. She lifted the top of the crate. Inside was the dull bronze Sphere, nestled between two thick blocks of foam padding.
Hearing a sound from behind her, Gwen pivoted and received a powerful smash to her face. Reeling back, she lost her footing and fell back. As she did, her bare hand lightly brushed the face of the Sphere.
She looked up with pure bile in her eyes at the slayer that had knocked her down. A small crackling sound began to echo through the truck. The sound grew and caught both the slayer’s and Gwen’s attention.
It was then Gwen realized that she had touched the Sphere. She turned her head to the crate and the once dull face of the Sphere started to glow. Its bronze exterior began to turn a shining, rich gold. Grooves and indentations began to carve themselves into the sphere, each glowing a fiery orange hue, as the crackling sound reached a deafening pitch.
Gwen’s eyes filled with utter dread.
“Oh shi –”
End of Teaser