[all content Copyright © 1993-2015 Jim Ward-Nichols]
EXT. LOWER MANHATTAN, NEW YORK CITY -- DAY 1
The formerly bustling metropolis is now a barren landscape of twisted metal and concrete rubble. "Street level" is now at subway level, broken stairways and railings climb skyward to a street long since destroyed. What remains of the skyline is a jagged mishmash of grotesque metal sculptures intermittently framed by random buildings seemingly untouched by the holocaust that razed most of the island. Ironically, among the edifices spared is "FAO Schwartz", which now stands two-stories taller, showing its subterranean guts owing to the lack of a 5th Avenue. The camera pans to reveal US Special Tactical Agent GINA GANTLY, squad leader of an elite Special Forces Group. The squad's mission today is to locate, subdue, sedate and apprehend Unknown Hostile Lifeform Eleven-Twenty-Two (UHL-1122). UHL-1122 is an extremely intelligent creature that is a mutated combination of humanoid, reptile, and biomechanical components that resulted from the absorption of the radiation from the many neutron weapons used during The Final Conflict. UHL-1122 is an endoskeletal biped whose various organs are held in place by a thin membrane of translucent cartilage. It wears a protective "suit" of reactive armor. It has no visible eyes. It communicates to its minions using an audible "language" comprised of binary chirps. Its offensive/defensive weapons are a kluge of Chinese tactical nukes, directed energy plasma weapons and incongruously, an Egyptian Scimitar. UHL- 1122 controls the island south of Tribeca through a caste of minions, many of whom are similarly disfigured mutants.
Gina and her team are quietly exiting a stealth APC concealed in the one remaining tube of the Holland Tunnel.
GINA - Flanking pattern Delta-eight. Comm traffic on VLF Mode 3 only. Let's move out.
Gina and her team are equipped with an abundance of classified, above-top-secret weapons. Among them are the EHA-2 rail-gun. These weapons fire a projectile within which is a sub-atomic singularity -- a microscopic "black hole". Once released from its tritium-magnetic shell, the target implodes into a time-space event horizon.
GINA (CONT'D) (under her breath) - Okay asshole. Let’s dance.
Each squad member is equipped with the Lockheed Terex airdyne, a personal mobility device that can silently glide the soldier over uneven terrain and with the greatly minimized chances of triggering land mines or booby traps.
Lance Corporal BRINK O'HARA is just completing the fold-out assembly of his airdyne. His Battlefield Situation Display comes to life.
O'HARA - The FOFO is coming in. (he shows the display to Gina) Everybody's accounted for. (pointing) There's the bogey.
GINA - Is he by himself?
O'HARA - Hard to say. No UAV data yet.
GINA - Flannagan! Where's air support?
Lieutenant MAX FLANNAGAN is an aviator "on-loan" from the Colonial Air Force. He is an arrogant misogynist who takes great personal pride in humiliating Gina whenever a chance arises.
FLANNAGAN - Air support is standing by. UAVs are loitering over Brooklyn, downwind. We don't want to spook them with the noise.
GINA -We need better BSD recon.
FLANNAGAN -It's your call but...
GINA - Move them in.
Flannagan begrudgingly signals his minions to move Unmanned Aerial Vehicles equipped with high-resolution infrared and X- ray sensors to gather imagery of UHL-1122's position and situation. The squad disperses in a carefully rehearsed flanking pattern aboard the airdynes.
INT. RUINS OF FREEDOM TOWER ATRIUM -- DAY 2
UHL-1122 is sitting atop a stainless steel contraption that resembles a throne. It's long, extended carapace which one could assume is its "face" is pointed skyward, as if in meditation. Another creature enters the room. It's "mouth" opens, emitting a binary burst of "0's" and "1's".
CREATURE 1 (in English sub-titles) - The air. It moves in a strange way. Seismic anomalies are near.
UHL-1122 ceases its meditation and "looks" at the creature. After a pause for thought, it responds.
UHL-1122 (in English sub-titles) Humans. I sensed it. Deploy countermeasures. So arrogant, they are. Time that they should learn humility.
EXT. CANAL STREET -- CONTINUOUS
A gaggle of airdynes pass overhead.
FLANNAGAN (to Gina) - New tactical.
Gina engages her head-up display. The BSD (Battlefield Situation Display) now clearly shows UHL-1122 is alone but on the move. The FOFO (Friend or Foe) data overlay shows the positions of the other members of UHL-1122's caste and their position in relation to Gina's team. Clusters of "friendly" targets are centered in Battery Park and the site of the Downtown Heliport.
GINA - What are those sensor returns at Houston Street?
FLANNAGAN - I don't...
The answer to Gina's question is delivered swiftly and horribly as hundreds of shiny flying nanobots dismember Flannagan from the torso out. Gina is spared only because she was in the cone of protection immediately behind him. She directs the airdyne down an alley to avoid the next swarm.
GINA (into VLF translator) - Man down! The fucker knows we're coming. Take evasive action. Swarm of nanno-wasps took him apart!
O'HARA -My God Gina! What's happening? (referring to the BSD display)
The display shows that fully half of the squad is "OTS" (out of service) and presumed dead.
GINA (into VLF translator) - Attack mode Golf Echo... attack mode Golf Echo.
O'HARA - You sure about that?
GINA - Let them eat static.
Each member of the team steps off their airdyne, sets the controls to "auto loiter", and the comm systems to "ECM" and resumes the attack on foot. The airdyne's comm systems are now emitting a cacophony of high-powered digital gibberish. The nanobots' navigational algorithms are confused by this and give chase to the airdynes, which now have been reduced in functionality to that of essentially very expensive "chaff".
INT. RUINS OF FREEDOM TOWER ATRIUM -- CONTINUOUS
CREATURE 1 (in English sub-titles) (referring to a graphic display device) - Their machines seem to wonder aimlessly. Our countermeasures follow them.
UHL-1122 (in English subtitles) - It's a ruse, they'll soon be here.
UHL-1122 - clambers toward a weapons locker and extracts several plasma weapons and the scimitar.
UHL-1122 (CONT'D) (in English sub-titles) - We bring the fight to them.
UHL-1122 and several of his minions march briskly through a steel-lined blast door.
EXT. HOUSTON STREET -- CONTINUOUS
What remains of the squad has begun to converge on the ruins that once were the Freedom Towers. Using advanced urban warfare tactics, their progress is careful, measured and almost undetectable.
O'HARA - He's on the move. He's...they are almost on top of us!
GINA -Where? How?
O'HARA (almost in a panic) - I don't know! I don't know!
O'Hara sweeps a portable sensor toward the ground. There under us. Somehow they're under us.
GINA - I thought we had this area fully mapped.
O'HARA - Apparently we missed something.
At that moment, a squad member begins firing his weapon wildly into the ground.
SQUAD MEMBER 1 - The ground! It's liquefying! I could see them moving under me!
As Gina steps toward him to get a glimpse of what he is shooting at he suddenly is pulled right through the concrete, severing his right arm in the process. All that remains is his helmet and his arm, still clutching the rail-gun. Suddenly, in only a few second's time, three more squad members meet the same fate. They're screams can be heard echoing in the distance.
GINA (into the VLF translator) - Fall back! Back to Canal Stree...
As O'Hara, Gina and the remaining squad members pivot to retreat, they are blocked by several mutant combatants. A squad member reacts by firing his EHA-2 Rail-gun. The projectile prescribes a deep black line centered directly on a creature. The line resembles a tear in space with objects nearby seeming to bend into it. The projectile bursts on impact causing the singularity contained within it to begin its inexorable collapse of mass, time and space nearest the event horizon. The creature is essentially turned inside out, collapsing into an infinitely small quantum particle. Light bends near the event until the utter annihilation is complete.
The creatures are frozen with fear. They separate as UHL- 1122 makes a dramatic entrance. Gina, O'Hara and the lone remaining squad member now stand opposite UHL-1122 and his henchmen. O'Hara raises his rail gun. UHL-1122 raises his hand as if to signal surrender. It then slowly touches a button located on its thorax. A translation device.
UHL-1122 (filtered) - Impressive. Insanely destructive. Very impressive. But it must have a range limit, a minimum range.
Gina and O'Hara are impressed that UHL-1122 has correctly determined that the EHA-2 cannot be fired in close proximity as it would also annihilate the user. They wonder if it will use this assumption to exploit a tactical disadvantage.
GINA - Our orders are to take you into custody. Just you. Not them. (gesturing to the other creatures)
UHL-1122 (filtered) Custody. A quaint concept.
At that moment, a crack of conventional weapons fire is heard. The projectile impacts UHL-1122's reactive armor. The section of armor explodes outward disintegrating the incoming missile.
Gina swivels to see where the fire is coming from. High and to her right are two squad members who have taken up sniper positions. A second crack is heard.
This projectile hits precisely where the first one did, except this time, the armor has already been depleted. The second missile pierces the armor, severely injuring UHL-1122.
When Gina swivels back around to face UHL-1122, it has lunged toward her in a blind rage. She gropes for the EHA-2 rail- gun and attempts to pull the trigger. The weapon will not fire, the close-range lockout engaged. UHL-1122 effortlessly bats the weapon from her hand like a toy. O'Hara and the other squad members are now engaged in a fire-fight with the other creatures.
UHL-1122 grabs Gina by the waist.
UHL-1122 (CONT'D) (filtered) - In another reality we might have been friends.
It extracts the scimitar from its scabbard.
GINA - I'm not dying by your hand. Not here, not now, not today. That's not the deal I made.
UHL-1122 (filtered) - Check the fine print.
Gina's agonized scream is cut short as UHL-1122 summarily decapitates her, Gina's body falling to the ground while he holds her head in his hand. The raging firefight continues. UHL-1122 bellows digital orders while hoisting Gina's head skyward.
EXT. THE LOTS -- DAY 1
It is a typical gray day at The Lots. The perpetual acid rains and cold winds heighten the misery that comprise this destitute vagrant camp that is The Lots. The LOT MAN navigates through a maze of junk and rusting discards, washing machines, old cars, pieces of fallen aircraft -- some of which have been fashioned into improvised living quarters. Indeed everything is improvised here, open-air markets, bathing and toilet facilities... everything.
Scattered through The Lots are numerous four-sided pole- mounted video kiosks, the sole source of information or entertainment in The Lots. The kiosks command standing- room crowds around the clock. Only one programming channel is available on the kiosks -- THE TUBE. As the Lot Man passes one, an Asian woman can be seen smiling, swallowing a pill, exhorting the viewer to take whatever she's taking, usually birth control pills or sedatives.
As The Lot Man approaches another kiosk, the crowd surrounding it becomes excited. Some people are gasping, others applaud and yet others are yelling expletives. Lot Man is intrigued as to what provoked this reaction. He edges closer to the screen.
P.O.V. VIDIOSK -- CONTINUOUS
A synthetic, digitally-generated image of the TUBE ANNOUNCER appears. (Live hosts have long since been replaced by digital counterparts).
TUBE ANNOUNCER - With the words "check the fine print", Hostile Lifeform eleven-twenty-two ended the record-breaking run of Gina Gantly of New Marina Del Rey earlier today.
The display changes to a slow-motion replay of the final moments of Gina's life.
TUBE ANNOUNCER (CONT'D) - After over three weeks of successful challenges, Gina lost her head over this one with UHL getting away with nothing but a scratch and an impressive last-minute victory.
The picture cuts to the announcer's digital visage superimposed over a studio with a live audience.
TUBE ANNOUNCER (CONT'D) - Join us tomorrow when a former school teacher from Long Beach Prime suits up for...
The audience shouts in unison as the theme music begins.
TUBE ANNOUNCER (CONT'D) (with audience) – WIN… YOUR… DREAM!!
EXT. THE LOTS – CONTINUOUS
The Lot Man reacts with jaded disgust over what now seems to pass for entertainment.