Five Months after the Petrifaction Virus Incident
Katherine’s Quarters – Night
With the news net warbling quietly from the wall monitor in the living room, Katherine walked over to the kitchen area and then bent over to pick up two boxes stacked on top of each other. Jocasta immediately ran to Katherine’s side.
“Here, let me help you,” Jocasta offered.
“I got it, thanks,” Katherine said. “Slayer strength, remember?” she reminded. “I think I can handle it.”
“Show-off,” Jocasta replied, giving Katherine a playful nudge as the slayer easily lifted the two boxes. “I’m trying to help out here, but you’re not letting me do much.”
Katherine carefully walked to the front door and laid the boxes on the grav-lift on top of a half-dozen already there. The blonde turned around and smiled. “You’re gonna be doing quite enough tomorrow,” she said, “unloading for me and everything. I’m sorry I can’t be there.”
“Hey, no problem,” Jocasta said. “That’s what girlfriends are for.” A glowing smile spread over Jocasta’s face. “Soon-to-be-living-together girlfriends, that is,” the redhead gushed happily.
Katherine pulled Jocasta into a warm long hug and kissed the watcher soundly.
“Last chance,” Katherine said with a grin. “Are you sure you wanna go through with this?”
Jocasta looked Katherine right in the eyes. “Absolutely,” she said with confidence before returning Katherine’s kiss.
After a moment, Jocasta pulled away and tilted her head as if listening intently for something she had just heard. She turned and looked at the wall monitor where the news net was broadcasting.
“Look, they’re reporting about Tyrell,” Jocasta said, moving toward the screen and pulling Katherine along with her.
News Net Studio – Same Time (on-screen)
Reporter Lisa Lance stared straight at the camera as the background picture showed a still photo of a wheelchair-bound man being rolled out of a courthouse under heavy guard as crowds pushed in on all sides.
“Horatio Tyrell, former chairman of the Watchers Council, was sentenced today in federal court for multiple counts of terrorism, conspiracy, and murder,” Lance reported. “Having pled guilty to all counts as part of a plea agreement arranged earlier in the year, Tyrell was sentenced to three consecutive life terms. Because of his involvement in the infamous 314 Project and the tragic release of the Petrifaction Virus, Tyrell could have received the death penalty. With his body left ravaged by the effects of his own virus, the former watcher says that he now wishes that he had never survived. Family and friends of Tyrell’s victims say that the chairman is getting exactly what he deserves: living out the rest of his days in a prison hospital.”
Lance turned to the second camera, and a new photo appeared behind her, this one containing two mug shots of Sean Rayne and Eris Pantelles.
“The search continues, however, for Tyrell’s accomplices,” Lance continued, “former watcher and long-time associate of Tyrell, Sean Rayne, and former vice president of Hubris, Inc., Eris Pantelles. Rayne has been on the run since his escape from federal detainment last fall. Pantelles hasn’t been seen since federal troops raided Hubris headquarters in search of evidence tying her to the creation and dispersal of the petrifaction virus.”
Lance once again turned to face the front. This time, a photo of an android production facility is pictured.
“The former Hubris VP is also being investigated for an alleged violation of the Robotics Regulations Act. She is accused of tampering with the security protocols of a Hyperdyne series android. Solaria Inc., who produces the Hyperdyne series, has issued a product recall and has assured its customers that its androids are completely safe. And now, in other news…”
Katherine’s Quarters – Resume
Katherine turned to Jocasta. “Well, at least that’s over with,” she said.
“Yeah,” Jocasta agreed. “You know, I was really surprised when Tyrell actually lived up to his half of the deal. Once we gave him the antidote, he spilled the whole thing. A conniving, power-hungry tyrant who keeps his word. Go figure.”
“Have you seen him since—?”
Jocasta shook her head. “No. Didn’t want to. Giles goes to see him, though. About once or twice a month. I think he was planning to go tonight. You know, because of the sentencing and everything.”
“I can’t even imagine what to say in a situation like that,” Katherine said with a shudder.
Federal Prison Hospital – Same Time
Horatio Tyrell shifted his body weight in his hospital bed as he heard the doors to the high-security infirmary open. He rolled his eyes and groaned, curling his lips into a grimace of distaste when he saw his nemesis, Sebastian Giles, approaching. Giles checked in with the guard at the front, then made his way toward Tyrell’s bed, sitting down in the nearby chair.
“Evening, Horatio,” Giles said politely. “How are you feeling?”
Something inside Tyrell seemed to snap. He turned his body savagely in an attempt to spring from the bed and accost Giles. The former chairman instantly doubled up in pain as needles of fire shot through his body, forcing him back against his pillow. Giles looked on sympathetically, his eyes involuntarily drawn to the peppering of scars left behind by the Petrifaction Virus on Tyrell’s pale skin.
“How do you think I feel?!” Tyrell growled through the pain. “Trapped in a body that doesn’t bloody work! Living in constant pain thanks to what that bitch did to me! And-and having to put up with you every day!”
Giles hid a grin at Tyrell’s exaggeration and then said in an even tone, “I only come every couple of weeks or so.”
Tyrell merely huffed in retort. “I don’t know why you come anyway. Your need for gloating must surely have passed by now.”
“We were watchers together,” Giles answered. “I feel it is my duty.”
“Duty?!” Tyrell barked incredulously. “What do you know of duty? You who balked at doing the real work of the Council. You who lacked the guts to do what was necessary to save this world. You who would prefer to create some kind of peace-maker, feel-good version of the Council that won’t do a damn thing to rid this world of the demonic menace. I can’t believe that someone like you managed to—”
“That’s enough!” Giles said angrily, standing up from his chair and pointing at Tyrell. “The one thing you will never learn, Horatio, is that, even in victory, it is better to retain one’s humanity and civility than to become a heartless, tyrannical egomaniac. You blame me for your fall, but the person who is really to blame is yourself…for believing your own hype and for falling prey to your own delusions of grandeur.”
Tyrell didn’t flinch at Giles’s words. He defiantly returned Giles’s glare.
“And as for Eris,” Giles continued, “the Council will find her, and when we do, she’ll be locked away for life just like you.”
At that, Giles marched towards the door. He stopped when he heard Tyrell speak once again.
“A word of advice, Sebastian,” Tyrell called out. Giles turned back to Tyrell, who had a look of deadly seriousness on his face. “Whatever you do,” he warned, “don’t underestimate Eris Pantelles.”
A worried expression came over Giles’s face.
Storage Facility – Makeshift Lab – Same Time
In a large office deep within an old storage facility, Eris Pantelles and Sean Rayne busied themselves with converting the office into a highly technical lab. With cables snaked around him and electronic parts at his feet, Rayne worked on installing what appeared to be a modified medical chair. Nearby, Eris sat before a table of networked computers, her fingers flying effortless over the keys. She stopped her flurry of typing, hit one key, smiled, and then turned to Rayne.
“Network is up and secure,” she announced.
Rayne merely grunted in response as he struggled to attach a helmet-like device to the back of the medical chair. He groaned and gave a final push and heard the device loudly click into place. Then, with a quick snap, he attached a thick wad of cable to the back of the helmet. He straightened and let out a long breath as he wiped the sweat from his forehead.
Eris rose from her seat and joined Rayne by the modified chair. She ran her hand over the arm of the chair and then across the helmet.
“Is it ready?” she asked, her eyes shining with anticipation.
“Just about,” Rayne replied with a satisfied voice.
“Goooood,” Eris said, smiling deviously.
End of Teaser