Story by Zahir al Daoud and CN Winters
Written by Zahir al Daoud (with additional writing by Susan Carr and CN Winters)
Directed by Zahir al Daoud and CN Winters
Produced by CN Winters and Susan Carr
Edited by Sharon Kierein and Angie Wilson
Sound by CSR
Art Direction by Chris Cook and Zahir al Daoud
Artists – Zahir al Daoud, Chris Cook, CN Winters, Chantal, Jinn, Sarah, Rob, Humaira
Watchers’ Library - Night
Willow was in a familiar position when Kennedy entered the library. She was at a table, surrounded by books. Most looked old and several had odd shapes. One was not so much a book as a scroll.
And Willow herself looked terrible - pale, with dark circles under her eyes. She looked up and almost smiled.
"Hi." She clearly tried to make the greeting sound normal, but failed.
Rather than answer, Kennedy sat across from her. Looked at her, straight into a pair of bloodshot eyes. Looked hard enough to get Willow's attention.
"What?" the witch asked.
"It’s not your fault."
Willow didn't answer at first. Instead she let her eyes wander in the shadows of the small library around her. "I know that," she answered in a soft voice.
"No, you don't. Look at you."
Willow paused a moment. "It’s...it’s not that. All I'm doing is making sure--making sure--it can't happen again. Not ever. It’s just a matter of the right combination of spells so I’m double-checking everything."
"More than the dozen times you already did?"
"That might not be enough..."
Kennedy reached over and grabbed one of the books from in front of Willow.
"Hey!" the witch exclaimed
Holding it up, Kennedy asked, "Is this the only copy of this one?"
"It’s one of only five! Be careful!"
"Do the Devon and Hong Kong covens have the others?"
"Yeah," Willow answered with little energy.
After a moment, she turned away, unable to meet the slayer’s gaze. Kennedy continued, "There’re lots of others, people that have done almost as much as you have, who’ve come to the same conclusion, right?" Willow simply bobbed her head. "And Willow? Slayers die everyday. If not from demons then from disease or even car accidents! You can’t save them all."
Willow looked back at Kennedy. Her eyes were wet. "Yeah, but I failed to save the one that trusted me most…She was so young," she finally whispered.
For a long beat, Kennedy said nothing. "Aren't we all," was all she could come up with.
Rowena entered from the hallway, bearing a tray in her hands. On the tray were three plates, holding a sandwich, some fruit and a collection of cheeses on a glass plate. She hesitated upon seeing that Willow was not alone, but then came all the way in and placed the tray on a nearby table.
"Time to eat," she said to Willow.
"I'm not hungry," was the reply.
"You might not be, but your body is," Rowena said with authority. "Believe me, I know."
At that moment Rowena and Kennedy shared a look, one of agreement and just the slightest shadow of old grief.
The slayer nodded. "Yeah, she’s right." Then she turned back to Willow. "Time to eat, Will."
For about three seconds, Willow said and did nothing. Then, she slowly rose and almost shuffled over to the dinner tray. Kennedy followed Willow as she sat down, paused, then reached for a grape. The witch put it into her mouth and began to chew as she reached for another.
Over Willow's head, Kennedy and Rowena shared another look. Attempting a smile--not a very sincere one, but not too fake either--Kennedy gave Rowena a slight nod which Rowena returned in kind.
"Eat up. I’ll be in the gym if you need me," the slayer told the two watchers.
Quietly, Kennedy made her exit. Once she did, Rowena put her arm around Willow's shoulders.
"It will get better," the blonde whispered in her ear.
"You oughta know, huh?" was the humorless reply.
"Yeah, I do."
Willow bowed her head, let Rowena enfold her in an embrace with both arms. She let her rock them both and felt the blonde kiss her atop the head. At last Willow's own arms circled Rowena, but her head remained down. She couldn't see the tears in Rowena's eyes--or the horror of memory in them.
Video Hut – Night
The corner of a banner flapped lightly in the breeze, which read ‘Under New Management’.
Video Hut – Same Time
Like all Vl'hurg demons, Ethrovai wore long robes. He gazed at his customer Oor and held something up for his consideration. When he spoke, his mucus-laden voice came from a mass of thick tentacles below where--in a human face--the nose would have been.
"Death," said Ethrovai enticingly, "the flaying of innocent young women, a brilliant cannibal escapes from his captors..."
"Nope" replied Oor instantly. "I already have Silence of the Lambs, the special anniversary edition."
Ethrovai nodded, returning the DVD to its place.
"Have you got The Grudge by any chance?"
"Japanese original or the remake?" Ethrovai asked.
"My kids can't speak Japanese, and they're too young to wanna read subtitles. I mean the new one starring that scary-looking blonde actress..."
"Oh! No, that's still in theaters. It'll be months before I get that." Ethrovai scanned over the other titles he had in the Children's Section. "Texas Chainsaw Massacre? An oldie but a goodie..."
"We've got both. Hi Brell!" he added as another demon, this one much more anthropomorphic despite the blue skin and protruding horns, entered the store. "Be with you in a second!"
Brell waved and went to the General Releases wall. Ethrovai turned back to Oor.
"How about Alien: Resurrection? They've never seen that," Oor commented.
"You're in luck! It’s in!" With that Ethrovai grabbed the DVD for his customer, taking it to the counter. "Just one for the kids?" he asked.
The other Vl'hurg nodded and followed along. "They're already watching something now, and after they finish this," he indicated the bag of Chinese food he'd brought in, "I figure they'll only have the energy to see one more flick."
"Okay. Then, what about you and the missus?"
Oor thought about it, his tentacles pulsing a little, much as a human might have tilted their head or hummed. "Mar'arj really likes a good scary movie."
Instantly Ethrovai grabbed a DVD, one of a stack he had near the register. "This is the scariest thing to come in this year!"
The DVD cover showed a familiar pair of blonde twins, along with the title of the movie: New York Minute. Oor visibly shuddered. "I don't know...scary is one thing, but those things damn near made me soil myself last time."
"Does Mar'arj react the same way?"
"Yeah, yeah she does."
"And you'll be there to comfort her, a shoulder she can hide in. Who knows? Maybe you'll get lucky!"
"Hmmmm...she has been looking nice and bloated lately..."
Meanwhile, Brell was still in the "A" section of the General Releases. He was busily scanning various titles, sometimes picking up one to read the back cover. In fact, he'd just put down the unrated version of American Pie and was reaching for But I'm a Cheerleader when a three-fingered hand tapped his shoulder. Brell turned around.
"Good evening, Brell," said the third Vl'hurg in cultured, clipped tones. "And how are you this splendid night?"
"Brell is good, Reteesk."
"Wonderful to hear it!" Reteesk answered.
"Reteesk, good?" Brell asked politely.
"I bides fair, my friend, fair. Ethrovai dropped me a missive that the next Farscape season was here at long last, and down I came. What about you?"
"On way home." Brell shrugged. "Mate and spawn out of town, visiting mother."
"How long have they been gone?"
"You poor chap! Tell you what, there's a delightful eatery that's opened up just a hop, skip and jump from this locale. Luigi's, have you heard of it mayhaps?"
"Mostly Italian, but with all kinds of specialties tailored for non-human clientele. I had the goat's eyes with garlic over linguini the other night and been looking for an excuse to dine there again ever since. Allow me to treat you to a meal!"
Brell smiled. "You good friend!"
"One does try."
It took the DVD storeowner barely four minutes to get Reteesk's purchase rung up and his credit card payment processed. It would have taken them even less time, but a very gothic looking female vampire kept pestering about the special edition of Underworld and wouldn't shut up. Ethrovai drew the line, however, at letting her cut in line when it came to paying.
Cleveland Alley – Night
Reteesk led the way through various ill-lit alleys.
"A shame really," he noted, using a little globe of light to show the way, "one cannot take the most direct route. But Homo sapiens, I fear, are not the most civilized of species. So apt to react very badly indeed at any hint they share this world with...well, anyone. Still, they do try hard and deserve considerable credit for that."
Brell nodded in agreement.
"Mind you, it is vampires and their sort that really put a crimp into any hopes for much change along those lines. Pity, really." Then Reteesk stopped short as they spotted a figure in the distance. "Hullo. Who is this, then? Anyone you know, Brell?"
The blue-skinned demon looked to where his companion pointed.
Walking slowly in the shadows was a totally unfamiliar character. Tall and hairless, the green humanoid figure had eyes that glowed like headlights of piercing amber. Its skin was green. And as it approached, seemingly oblivious to either Brell or Reteesk, the black leather garments it wore became visible. They seemed sewn directly onto the skin.
Reteesk stepped forward. "Hale and well-met, fellow traveler!"
The creature made no reply. It in fact seemed to ignore their presence altogether. By now its mouth was visible--lipless, revealing long teeth.
Fluttering his tentacles, Reteesk stepped almost in its way. "No need to be discourteous I'm sure," he gently scolded.
Almost languidly, the green demon with glowing eyes raised one leather-sheathed arm and pushed Reteesk. Hard. Reteesk, despite his weight, hit the side of the alley wall with a squishy sound. He gave a quick grunt in pain, which brought Brell to his side.
"I say! Stop that! There's no need...!"
"Reteesk! You okay?"
"I am...well, winded really. Perhaps I might have suffered a small bruise or two, but more to my dignity than my flesh." Still he rose again awkwardly, and winced as he brushed dust off his robes. "But what an appalling personage, even if I must say so myself!" He looked after the still-walking creature. It continued to make its way, still ignoring everything in its path.
Then, the creature with the green skin and glowing eyes did something that made both Brell and his tentacled companion stare. It was walking through an alley that was blocked by an old, clearly abandoned automobile. The machine didn't even have tires any more. Rather than go around, the stranger stopped. It reached down and grabbed the undercarriage with both hands. Then pulled--in opposite directions. With a horrible grinding sound, the rusted machine ripped in half.
And the stranger continued walking...
End of Teaser
Onto Act One