Death Ray


Wilhelmina Scharnhorst and her scientific cohort Dr. Fessenden are out on an expedition in the dead of night, apparently in hopes of managing to interact with an orbiting satellite. Scharnhorst won't be impressed until she sees results, so the doctor sends out a signal from his miniscule device...


... and gets a response. The intention is to blow up a nearby rock formation, but they just narrowly avoid a humongous space laser blasting into the ground behind them. Scharnhorst is suitably impressed with the power of the satellite, but unless they can successfully control it, she deems it useless until then. Fessenden claims that his tiny machinery can hardly match to the power the ancients had over the satellite, but he knows a solution - there is a satellite facility in Grith territory that will grant them access to the original satellite controls. While he claims the Grith are nothing to be afraid of due to them not having weaponry, Scharnhorst states that their land is strange and sacred, and she only knows of one man who can successfully trek through it - Jack Tenrec!

The next morning in Jack's garage, he and Mustapha are adding turbo engines to their Cadillacs ("did all the ancients drive Cadillacs?" "Only in their dreams!") when Scharnhorst contacts him via radio, demanding a talk with him. He wants no business with her, but upon hearing she has plans regarding the Grith, he makes his way to the City in the Sea.

She claims the satellite will assist the city in utilising solar power so they can build and produce in ways that could benefit mankind, though Jack is only interested in the part involving the Grith. He's filled in on the facility located in their land, but Jack has no interest in assisting them - until, once again, Scharnhorst threatens the Grith by suggesting they send in the army to find it.


Jack, Hannah and Fessenden set out to the unknown lands where the facility is located; he doesn't trust the governess with telling the truth about it being a "solar" satellite, and is taking Hannah along solely for her opinion on the matter when they find it. Naturally, Hammer and his brothers are spying on Jack, curious to know why he's venturing into the unknown lands with Fessenden in tow, but they're only interesting in killing them dead.

The three of them enter the forest, but stop the vehicles and stand motionless - there's a shivat out there. This one in particular is identified by Tenrec as "old Cyclops," a one-eyed slither who shouldn't be able to spot them if they remain still and silent. Fessenden foils that plan by screaming in panic and driving back the way they came, Cyclops in hot pursuit.


Jack catches up and guides Fessenden on where he should go, taking him down a river. But it just takes them to a dead end - a waterfall! Fessenden grinds to a halt, but Jack plugs on...


... and goes straight through, ending up in a secluded cave. "How did you know this was here?" "I didn't!" Jack heads back out to fetch Fessenden, telling him to drive into the falls, but the shivat starts tearing into the truck!


He unbuckles the scientist from his seat and drags him into the river, where they manage to swim into the cave. The shivat chooses to seek munchies elsewhere, though Jack is mighty peeved at Fessenden for having gotten them into this mess.

They move on and set up camp in the forest, where the sounds of the Grith can be heard echoing through the trees. Jack reassures Hannah that if they come in peace then the Grith mean no harm, as they are spiritually connected with these lands and all creatures within its range.


The sounds indicate the Grith are nearby, when Jack notices a necklace hanging from a branch, which he believes is a talisman. He's unsure of its purpose, but given how he and the Grith share a common interest, he takes it with him. Fessenden witnesses "thousands" of Grith standing around observing him, prompting him to squeal like a pansy and hide in his sleeping bag, though Jack reminds him there's nothing to be afraid of. He chooses to take refuge in the truck once the others are asleep...

But Hammer pays him a visit! Taking a gander at his documents, he expresses interest in this "satellite" and desires to know more, but it's not until he hears it described as a "death ray" that his interest is really piqued. He demands to be led there, but threatens a serious beatdown if he squeals about this arrangement to Jack and the others.

Jack wakes up to the sight of Hobb in his rear-view mirror, who wants to know what he's doing here. Jack summarises the satellite nonsense but is told that he should leave, though he explains that if he does then someone else will still search for it; this isn't something that can just blow over. Hobb, being a good friend, gives him more time to finish the job, though he will give him a sign once his time in their lands is up. In the morning the crew head on until they're a mile from the facility, from which point on they travel on foot.


After some more trekking, they find themselves overlooking the satellite facility, which is still standing after so many centuries! Rather dilapidated and with numerous creatures living inside, of course, even with a mother zeke nested on the second floor, though it flies out the roof upon seeing them and leaves its child behind. Fessenden finds the computer console while Hannah locates a power generator, and using the two in conjunction...


The machine works! However, Hannah and Jack see what kind of content appears on the monitors, including such bombshells as "aiming mechanism" and "defence operations," and only now do they realise this is a laser satellite, not a solar one! Jack cocks his rifle and takes aim at the machine, but Hannah urges him not to destroy it before they can study it. The mechanic remains pessimistic, assuming no good can come from this.


But that conversation is interrupted with the arrival of Hammer, Wrench and Vice, who claim the facility as their property, tying Jack and Hannah up outside to use as target practise. Yes, they plan to blow up two very small humans with an enormous laser cannon located several miles into space. They're poachers, they're probably not adaptable to new technology.


Fessenden slowly communicates with the satellite, setting up the aiming mechanism and pinpointing their location, while Hannah urges Jack to spill the beans on whatever heroic plan he has to get them out of this mess. At this point in time, he's rather clueless...


Until the Grith's talisman unravels from its necklace and drops into his hand, allowing him to cut the ropes. By the time he's released himself the satellite has already taken aim, leaving little time to release Hannah!


So he just grabs the pole she's tied to and runs for it, making it to the trees just in time before the laser destroys where they were standing.


Under the assumption his long-time nemesis has been obliterated, Hammer moves onto the next step of his plan - attacking the City in the Sea! He believes that once he blows the city to kingdom come, Scharnhorst will know who's in charge and bow down to him.

Outside, Wrench and Vice are guarding the entrance, shooting at the mother zeke. It swoops down at them, but only as an intimidation move.


However, they witness a Grith riding the zeke! This spooks them enough to dash back inside, granting Hannah and Jack the chance to reclaim their weapons. Hammer kicks his two brothers back outside again while Fessenden finalises the satellite's target, only for Jack to bust in through a grate in the wall!


Hammer and the doctor flee outside, but Hannah discovers the satellite has already started its preparation sequence and can't be cancelled! Jack suggests they simply re-aim the satellite, using the map to give her the coordinates.

Outside, Hammer and his brothers prepare to charge in, but Vice and Wrench hear strange noises from the woods, and this time there's no buts about it, they're not sticking around! It's actually the sound of the Grith informing Jack his stay is over, but Hammer remains where he is...


... until the computer announces that the satellite is aimed at the facility, followed by a herd of stampeding mammoth, urge him and Fessenden to make tracks. Jack and Hannah make a dash for it, but they witness the mother zeke flying overhead - its child is still inside the facility!


With just seconds until the satellite fires, he grabs the zeke in a bag and returns outside, swinging the child into its mothers arms as it flies to safety. Jack himself, however, is blown away by the enormous shockwave, but is otherwise not too worse for wear.


Come sunset, Jack parks the Cadillac by a cliff facing the sunset. Taking the Grith talisman off, he hangs it on a branch like the way he found it, claiming it has served its purpose and was only a loan, and not something to be held onto. Hannah is still curious about his understanding of the Grith, but poor Jack is in no mood to bear with her questions.

This episode was written by three people - Ted Pederson has been writing cartoons since the late '70s and was largely involved with Thundarr the Barbarian, Centurions and Flash Gordon. Francis Moss was one of the story editors for both Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Care Bears. And last but not least, Dennise Fordham was one of the story editors on Cadillacs And Dinosaurs and later served the same role for Atomic Betty.


Yeah, it actually says "AIMING ECHANISM" but we can forgive Engrish every once in a while, can't we?


Dr. Fessenden sounds exactly the same as Doctor Zub from The Incredible Crash Dummies.