Story by: David Zahir,
CN Winters and Susan Carr
Written by: Susan Carr with additional writing by CN Winters
Directed by: CN Winters and Susan Carr
Produced by: CN Winters and Susan Carr
Edited by: Kate
Sound Department: Steff
Art Director: Chris Cook
Artists: Chris Cook, David Zahir, Mytryk, Cynthia Taz, Coen and CN Winters
Rowena Allister walked through the front entrance to the new Watcherís Council headquarters and frowned at the spectacle before her. The foyer was filled with bustling activity. Willow and Giles stood to the side watching as Andrew directed a crew workmen.
"Whatís going on?" she asked as she approached them.
"Oh, Ms Allister," Giles said. "Yes. Good morning."
Ro looked at him a moment longer as he watched the activity and then turned to Willow, raising an eyebrow as if to repeat her question.
"Oh," Willow said waving a hand at the area behind the reception desk. "Weíre just putting the finishing touches up here. We want to maintain the appearance of a private school, you know."
"Of course," Ro replied. "But the Council has not yet made its final decision regarding whether or not to allow you to remain in operation. Do you think itís wise to continue to spend the Councilís funds this way?"
"Ms AllisterÖ" Giles began in an annoyed tone and then glanced at Willowís warning glare. "I can assure you that we are the Council."
"Mr. Giles, I have the utmost respect for what you and Ms. Rosenberg have accomplished so far but you must know your methods do not follow Council operating procedures. I am only here to observe and assist as I can. And I am a firm believer that all of our resources would be better used fighting evil rather than each other."
Giles was about to reply when a brown-uniformed young man entered through the front doors.
"May I help you?" Willow asked, looking sideways at Rowena and Giles to make sure the verbal blows would not start flying again.
"Delivery for W. Rosenberg," he replied, a large rectangular package tucked awkwardly under his arm.
"Oh, thatís me!" Willow said. The man gently placed the package on top of the reception desk and handed her his electronic clipboard to sign.
"Thanks," Willow said and looked at the address on the package as he left.
"Whoís it from?" Andrew asked coming over to see. Giles and Rowena also moved closer to the desk.
"Buffy," Willow said, pulling the tab on the top of the box to open it. Reaching a hand inside, she pulled out a small envelope. Opening it she read aloud, "Dear Will. The University of California sent this to me since mine was your last known address. It took them this long to track us down. Good thing they had these saved in Sacramento and not Sunnydale, eh? I hope you donít mind, but I took the liberty of doing it up nicely for you. Iím so proud of you, my little hacker. My love to all, Buffy."
"What is it?" Giles asked.
Willow pulled out the rest of the packing material from inside the box and then tore off the brown-paper wrapping. Inside was a large framed certificate. The hand polished cherry wood of the frame and the gold-edged matte under the glass clearly showing the care and expense that went into it.
"My diploma," Willow laughed, holding it up for them to see.
"University of California Sunnydale," Rowena read. "Congratulations. High honors, thatís impressive, considering."
"Considering?" Willow asked with a frown. "Considering what?"
"Well, considering you were so busy fighting evil the unconventional way in which you learned," Ro shrugged.
Willow opened her mouth to reply when Ro continued, "Tell me, Ms Rosenberg, do you plan on going to graduate school? Because if you blew up your high school and then your home town, Iíd hate to see what will happen at your next graduation."
"Did you just make a joke?" Giles asked, blinking in confusion.
"Yes, Iíve been known to do that from time to time," Rowena said in deadpan before cracking a small grin.
"How did you know about the high school?" Willow asked.
"Mr. Gilesís journals as well as Mr. Wyndham-Pryceís were all standard reading at the Academy, although neither has reported to the Council recently," Ro answered instead.
"Now that is not true Ms Allister. Mr. Wyndham-Pryce frequently reported to the Council when there was one to report to," Giles said with a smirk.
Willow smiled at Roís frown and Giles added, "I too have been known to joke once in awhile."
Just then Kennedy came bounding down the large staircase with her usual Slayer energy.
"Hey honey!" she said, kissing Willow on the lips, causing Roís frown to deepen even further. "Whatcha got?"
"Present from Buffy," Willow said and showed her lover the framed certificate.
"Wow!" Kennedy said. "Cool! Mind if I go hang it up in our apartment?"
"Thanks." Willow smiled and handed the frame to Kennedy.
"Okay, guys!" Andrew announced as he climbed up the ladder left by the workers who moved off to the side. "After much research, debate and great craftsmanship, I am proud to present our Mission Statement. A creed for which all to follow, one could say. A way of life really." He lifted a hand to the drape covered wall doing his best Vanna White impersonation.
"Go ahead, Andrew," Giles said indulgently, before Andrew could add more.
"Ta da!" Andrew trumpeted and pulled the drape away revealing a large wooden coat of arms. The three ravens over the lion stood out sharply against the background with the Councilís motto offset in flowing script.
"Expedia est Potentia," a new voice read aloud. The others turned from the crest to the newcomers.
Vincent DeVeer stepped aside to reveal the face of the speaker. The manís eyes reflected his smile as he observed the group. Behind them were two other suit-clad men, both older gentlemen, their bearing reflecting that of the speaker.
"Knowledge is Power," the speaker translated, focusing on Giles. "That is not the Councilís motto, Rupert. Have you forgotten Ė From Knowledge, Victory?"
"Of course not, James," Giles replied. "But that was the old Council. This is our motto, reflecting change and a vision for the future. We can never have ultimate victory over evil but we can have power to keep it at bay. "
"I see," he said. "Well, arenít you going to introduce me to your colleagues?"
"Certainly. James Tyrell," Giles said. "May I introduce Andrew Wells, one of our Slayers Kennedy and Willow Rosenberg."
"Ms Rosenberg," Tyrell said, taking Willowís hand as the redhead frowned at him suspiciously. "Youíve been quite resourceful, I understand."
Willow turned to Giles as she pulled her hand away. "Are they all like Travers or is that just a coincidence?"
Giles hid a smirk while DeVeersís smile grew even larger.
"Quinton was a dear friend of mine and one who will be sorely missed," Tyrell told Willow.
"Iím sorry for the loss of your friend, Mr. Tyrell. But forgive me for being a bit suspicious of those who kept company with Mr. Travers. I found him to be less than forthright in all our dealings together when he ran the Watchers Council," Willow remarked.
"Any of those dealings happen last summer, Ms Rosenberg? I heard about your extended holiday in England last year with the coven. Feeling rested and ready to do the Councilís bidding again?"
"Very much so," Willow said with a hint of defiance in her voice and taking a step closer to Giles. She turned her back to Tyrell. "In any case," she added, "welcome to Cleveland. I hope your brief stay will be pleasant."
"Iím sure itís a lovely city, despite its location on a Hellmouth," he said genially. "But Iím afraid weíre here strictly on business."
"Oh?" Willow said and her tone caused Giles to glance at her as if looking to check the color of her eyes. "Well, thanks for taking the time out of your busy schedule to visit, but as you can see we too are quite busy."
"Actually, no youíre not," he said. "You see, Ms. Rosenberg, this operation is now shut down. By order of the Council of Watchers, you are hereby instructed to cease and desist any further activity. All resources you acquired shall be returned and all Slayers will immediately report to Mr. DeVeer for reassignment. Understood?"
End of Teaser
Onto Act One