Watchers Council – Library – Moments Later
“I told you,” Bonnie started. “They need an original Chosen One. We would have preferred Buffy, but we had to take what we could get. They need a slayer for a ritual. Chances are she’s dead already.”
“Why do I find that difficult to believe?” Giles asked. He straddled a chair in front of her, his forearms coming to rest on the back of the chair.
“Hey, if I say anything more, there’s a good chance the Presidium will kill me. What’s in it for me?”
“At the moment the Presidium is not your problem. We are.”
“I’m human. Slayers don’t kill humans.”
Giles darted up, kicking his chair away and grabbing her face in one hand. He closed the distance between them and spoke softly. “You forget. I’m not a slayer. But I’ve killed to protect a slayer. And if need be I’ll do it again.”
Xander, Buffy, Dawn and Skye, watching from various nearby tables, all exchanged looks before turning back to Giles. Becca sat in the corner watching the Scoobies, but unlike them her face didn’t register surprise.
Bonnie swallowed so hard, the sound was audible, and she hesitated in speaking. “You’re bluffing,” she tried to say courageously, but choked on the words.
“Test me,” Giles said, pushing her face away.
Watchers Council – Infirmary – Same Time
Willow walked past the infirmary door to see Rowena now free of the board and neck brace and trying to pull the covers off her body.
“What do you think you’re doing?” Willow chastised, making her way over to the watcher’s bedside.
“The Doctor says the fifth rib is fractured. That’s all. It’s bound, so I’m good to go.” As she swung her feet over the side of the bed, she winced and Willow put a hand on her shoulder.
“Yeah, you look good to go, all right. Get back down there.”
“Willow,” Rowena insisted with a shortness in her tone, “I remember the demons that attacked the girls and, while I’ve been lying here doing nothing, I realized there might be a connection we haven’t seen before. However, to prove my theory, I need to get to the database and the terminals.”
Rowena began to move again, but Willow tightened her hold on her shoulder.
“Ro,” Willow began. “You shouldn’t be up right now.”
“Get me a wheelchair or move it,” Rowena told her. “Either way, I’m going.”
Willow threw her hands up in the air. “Fine. Wait here. You and Becca are in good company,” she muttered.
“Never mind,” the witch told her. “Stay put…I’ll be back.”
Watchers Council – Archive Room – Same Time
Giles entered swiftly into the secondary archive room off of the main library, with Buffy at his heels.
“Maybe that was all the Ripper act in there, but I got a pretty good hunch you were being honest.”
“And your point?” he replied, not bothering to look at her.
“Who did you kill, Giles?”
“That’s not relevant right now. Finding the maps to the location that Bonnie gave us is.”
“Hey, you’re not shutting me down here. If you went around killing people then –”
“It was Ben,” Giles said flatly as he continued to scan the large bookcase.
“Ben? Glory/Ben? He died from the injuries in the fall. Willow told me a couple months after I got back from the dirt nap. You had her lie to me?” Buffy asked.
“No, I didn’t,” he said, continuing his search. “She didn’t know and she gave you the official report.”
“Buffy,” he said, turning to face her, exasperated. “I didn’t have a choice. If I had let him live and Glory found a way to return, she would have gone after you and Dawn, after everyone in fact. And I wasn’t about to let that happen.”
“So you killed him…to protect me,” Buffy answered, as if needing to hear the words out loud, even if she was the one who spoke them.
“Yes,” Giles answered as he turned back to the bookshelf. “And if I had to kill a human to protect Faith, or any of the other girls here, I would. Starting with Bonnie, if need be.” He pulled out a book and gave it a wave. He started to leave the room, but noticed that Buffy wasn’t following. “Are you coming?” he asked.
“Yeah, I just need a few seconds to digest this.”
“Digest,” he told her. “I have work to do.” With that, he left the room. Buffy shook her head to get her bearings and followed shortly after.
Watchers Council – Library – Moments Later
Giles slammed the large almanac down on Bonnie’s lap.
“Where is this cave?” he asked as he slid his finger along the shoreline.
“There,” she said, making him stop.
“Near the stadium?” he asked.
Bonnie simply nodded and pursed her lips. “They’re gonna kill me for leading you there. You realize that, don’t you?”
“I do, but I couldn’t care less. If Faith is indeed dead, as you suspect, the Presidium won’t be a problem. I assure you of that.”
Bonnie began to shake and she looked away from Giles.
He turned around and faced the table of onlookers. “Buffy, would you please take Bonnie down to the holding cell? Dawn, Skye – bring Kennedy up here, if you would.”
“Can we help?” Xander asked, pointing to himself and Andrew.
“Yes. Find Robin. I’m sure he’ll want to go and we need him briefed as well.”
With a nod, Andrew and Xander got up and left the room. Buffy released the restraints on Bonnie’s wrists and helped her to her feet.
“Did he mean what he said?” the agent asked.
Buffy took her by the arm and led her toward the door. “Just pray that Faith’s still alive,” she told her.
Presidium Caverns – Moments Later
Faith tried to fight against the host of demons holding her, but it was useless. She watched as they secured one arm and then the other to the cavern wall, before locking down her feet as well.
She glanced up and saw a demon levitating near the ceiling, putting what appeared to be a bucket on a platform. As the demon tried to steady the bucket, some liquid splashed out and hit a demon that was setting up a light refractor below the platform. The demon on the ground began to howl in pain and his skin lit on fire. A fellow demon patted it out and the injured demon gave an angry fist to the one above.
“It’s not personal,” a vampire said as he walked up to her. “Well okay, for me it’s personal. I went to the trouble of turning my best friend and you killed him inside of a week, but the Presidium simply has an agenda.”
Gagged, all Faith could do was listen.
“Thinning the Slayer herd, you could say. This is just a fun and creative way to see that we accomplish that.”
Another vampire walked over to him. “We’re ready to release the batlike demons, so you might want to wrap it up here.”
“Lasers in place?”
“In place and tested. Weapons secured,” he nodded.
The vampire turned back to Faith. “Don’t worry. I’m sure it won’t be much longer. Oh, and if you stay right there, you’ll be safe. All the releases are aimed at least three feet in front of you. After all, we wanted to give you a front row seat when you watch your friends die.”
With a smirk, he began to laugh. He turned and walked out, the last one to leave the room. He pressed what looked like a remote control and Faith watched as red lines cut in different patterns across the floor for a split second, then faded to become invisible.
Although useless, she began to fight against her restraints.
Watchers Council – Hallway – Moments Later
“I gotta admit,” Skye said, as she and Dawn walked swiftly toward the Slayer Dorm. “Giles is one scary guy.”
“Well, he’s not usually like that,” she replied.
“That’s comforting,” Skye answered, not entirely convinced.
“Really. He only gets that way when someone hurts the family.”
“Great. Just remind me to not get you upset. He might get all Tony Soprano on my fanny.”
Dawn chuckled. “I think you’re safe,” she said, taking Skye’s hand in hers.
“My girlfriend, the mobster,” Skye said, smiling at Dawn.
Watchers Council – Slayer Training Room – Moments Later
Andrew and Xander walked in to find Robin doing pull ups on the bar. He noticed them and quickly dropped to his feet.
“Yeah?” he said anxiously.
“We got a location, maybe,” Xander told him. “Giles is gonna give a briefing in the library if you wanna tag along.”
“Go on up. I’ll be right there,” Robin answered.
Xander nodded and motioned for Andrew to leave first. Robin wiped the sweat from his face and neck and stared at the towel for a moment. Suddenly he teared up and began to cry silently, after a second burying his face in the towel again. After a few moments, he took a deep breath and wiped his face again. He squared his shoulders and walked out.
Watchers Council – Computer Room – Moments Later
“Do a search on ‘Snakel’,” Rowena prompted Willow.
They both sat side-by-side, looking at a computer screen. Willow began to type and an image and description came up.
“Print it,” Rowena said, nodding toward the screen.
“You’re awfully bossy when you’re sick,” Willow teased. Rowena simply raised an eyebrow in her direction. “And you lack a sense of humor too,” the witch added in a mutter.
“Okay, now ‘Rogous demon’,” Rowena said. “Try that.” Again, something came up and Rowena examined the screen for a moment before she repeated, “Print it.” Willow hit a key and Rowena spoke again. “Jeria demon.” Once more, another result. Rowena began to smile. “Bingo,” she muttered.
“Bingo?” Willow asked.
“Go get the print-outs and then tell me what you see,” Rowena answered.
With a shrug, Willow stood up and went to the printer. She began to look at the papers and a grin started to come to her face. She looked over at Rowena. When Willow looked over Rowena’s shoulder, the blonde turned her whole body to see what had distracted her.
“Hey guys,” Dawn greeted as she and Skye poked their heads into the room. “We might have found a location on Faith. Pow wow in the library. Kennedy’s on her way, so they’ll be starting soon,” she said as she pointed upstairs.
“Thanks, Dawnie, we’ll be there.”
As Skye and Dawn moved on, Willow walked over to the terminal with the papers. “They’re all from the same place originally,” Willow told her.
Rowena nodded. “There were a couple of other demon varieties out there today. Now maybe it’s the morphine talking, but it’s a pretty good guess this might be the dimension where the Presidium comes from. The more we learn about that dimension –”
“The better the chance of finding a weakness,” Willow finished.
Rowena smiled and nodded again.
Watchers Council – Library – Moments Later
Willow wheeled Rowena into the library, trying not to interrupt Giles’s speech, but he stopped and turned toward the noise.
“Sorry,” Willow apologized.
“How are you?” Giles asked Rowena.
“Nurse Ratched won’t let me walk, but other than sore, I’ll live. What do you guys have?”
“A location,” Giles answered. “Kennedy’s leading a team inside a cavern near the lake.”
“We’re going along, too,” Buffy told the room, pointing to herself and Robin.
“Be careful,” Willow told them.
“Don’t have to tell us twice. After today, I’m ready for just about anything,” Kennedy answered. She then turned to Giles. “Can we get going now?” she asked.
He nodded. “By all means,” he told her.
“Wait,” Willow said. Kennedy looked visibly frustrated. “Let me conjure something first. It should only take a few extra minutes while you get the troops ready.”
Presidium Cave Corridor – Later that Day
Kennedy ran down the passageway several paces ahead of a pack of twenty-five girls and Robin. She darted in and out of recesses, checking for any sign of life before moving on to the next alcove.
In the distance behind her, slayers continued to re-check the same areas for movement. She pulled a blue, glowing crystal from her pocket for a moment before stuffing it back inside.
“We’re close,” she whispered to herself as she glanced back at her sisters-in-arms. Kennedy heard a muffled noise and noticed what seemed like another corridor further down. She raced swiftly toward the sound and turned the corner.
Immediately, she spotted Faith chained to a wall and began to rush forward, but suddenly she stopped herself just short of the makeshift doorway.
“It’s a trap,” Kennedy muttered. She tried to peer into the room without actually stepping inside.
Faith sighed in relief and began to nod excitedly, confirming Kennedy’s suspicion. She seemed to smile at Kennedy’s best she could from behind the gag in her mouth.
Buffy and Robin turned the corner and they both said “Faith!” in unison. Robin tried to move forward at Kennedy’s right but she put her hands out, stopping him. Just seconds later, Rona and her team of three slayers turned the corner.
Rona was focused only on Faith. A matter of seconds after stopping Robin, Kennedy watched helplessly as the dark-skinned slayer darted around her left. Faith’s relaxed expression suddenly tensed as she saw Rona running into the room.
“Rona! No!” Kennedy shouted.
Finally catching up after hearing the commotion, Vi and her team made their way to the small entryway and watched as Rona entered the room. Rona wore a shocked expression, as if realizing her mistake, and she turned to rush back out of the room. It was too late.
The liquid in the bucket on the platform above the door spilled in its entirety, covering the slayer. Helpless, those gathered in the hallway watched as Rona’s body was set ablaze and she screamed. The heat was so intense that she completely burned up almost instantly.
Vi watched in disbelief as Rona became nothing more than ash. “Rona!” she screamed as she raced forward.
End of Act Three