Cleveland Convention Center – Hallway Outside Auditorium – Day
Andrew and Jeff walked out of the noisy auditorium. The crowd had cleared out a bit, and they easily spotted Tracey, Vi, Dawn and Skye at the far end of the hall. Before they could reach the girls, a group of Klingons ran over and grabbed Andrew. Jeff yelled in protest, but the Klingons only snarled and called him a P’tak.
They put Andrew down and shouted at him in a strange language that Jeff could not understand. Andrew shouted back in the same language, and they all began to laugh.
Jeff approached tentatively, unsure of what had just transpired. “Don’t worry, Jeff,” Andrew said, sensing his apprehension. “These are some friends of mine. They really went all-out with their costumes.”
One of the Klingons began shouting angrily at Andrew. “What did he say?” Jeff asked.
“He said that if I ever say that he’s not a real Klingon again, he’ll cut out my tongue and feed it to a targ.”
“Oh,” Jeff said uneasily. “Okay, well I’m going to go meet the others.”
Andrew nodded. “I’ll catch up to you in a few minutes.”
Jeff walked away, and Andrew turned to the Klingons.
Behind him, Seven emerged from a doorway and scanned the corridor. She spotted Andrew and sauntered over. Without saying a word, she tapped him on the shoulder. He turned, and she slipped a note into his very shocked hand. The Klingons clapped Andrew on the back as Seven walked back down the hall.
Andrew opened the note and read it to himself:
Come to the last door of the hall past the auditorium. Come alone. Resistance is Futile.
— Jerri Ryan
Andrew smiled. He turned to the Klingons and issued a standard goodbye. He found the room relatively easily and stopped in front of the door. The sign read “Storeroom.” Andrew hesitated, but finally opened the door and tiptoed in.
“Hello?” he said, as the door closed behind him. “Jeri, I read your note. Does this mean you really liked my idea?” Andrew looked around but saw nothing.
“Is anyone here?” He pulled out the note. “Maybe this is the wrong room.” He examined the paper. “Hey, that’s weird.”
He took out the autographed photo that Jeri Ryan had given him. “The handwriting on this picture is different than the handwriting on the note you just gave me,” he said, comparing the two pieces of paper. “And you spelled your name wrong.” He heard a low growl from the corner of the closet.
Andrew shrieked and ran to the door. Seven lunged at him. He grabbed a mop from a bucket near the door and threw it at her legs. It slowed her down long enough for him to open the door and escape, first into the hallway and then into the dealer room, where he quickly disappeared into the crowd.
Seven emerged from the storeroom, her face a mask. After a few moments, she re-entered the dealer room and slowly scanned the crowd.
Cleveland Convention Center – Dealer Room – Same Time
Dawn and Skye examined a display of phasers. “I just don’t see how a beam of orange energy could knock someone out,” Dawn commented.
“I think the beams are more gold than orange,” Skye replied, ignoring the main point of her comment.
“No way,” Dawn exclaimed. “It’s definitely orange. Possibly a light shade of orange, but orange all the same.”
“We need a tie breaker.”
Suddenly, Andrew ran up and took position behind the two girls, breathing heavily and looking around cautiously.
Dawn ignored the oddity of his behavior and asked, “Andrew, wouldn’t you say that phaser beams are more orange than gold?”
“Seven of Nine is trying to kill me!” he shouted.
Dawn and Skye eyed Andrew curiously. “Maybe he didn’t understand the question,” Skye joked.
“I’m serious! She told me to meet her in the storage closet, and then she just attacked me.”
“She lured you into a storage closet?” Dawn said suspiciously. “Are you sure you didn’t faint and dream this whole thing?”
Jeff, Vi and Tracey walked over. “What’s wrong with Andrew?” Vi asked, noticing his nervousness.
“Seven of Nine is trying to kill me!” he shouted again.
“Yeah, you wish,” Tracey said with a chuckle.
“We think he fainted when he met Jeri Ryan,” Skye explained. “Speaking of which, how did your meeting go? Was she nice?”
“It was great,” Jeff gushed. “She seemed nice, even though I went non- verbal. Andrew didn’t faint, but he did pitch his series idea.”
“Ohhh,” the four girls said in unison. Dawn put her hand on Andrew’s shoulder. “Andrew, I’m not sure how to say this without hurting your feelings…”
“Yeah, I know it’s not believable. But that’s not why she’s trying to kill me.” He held up the note Seven had given him. “Take a look at this. We were coming out of the auditorium when I ran into some friends.”
“Yeah, that’s when I went to find the girls,” Jeff added.
“Right, but after you left, Seven came up out of nowhere and gave me this note.” Dawn took the note from Andrew and read it aloud. When she had finished, Andrew continued. “I went to meet her, thinking that maybe she liked my idea after all, but when I got there, she attacked me.”
“Why would Jeri Ryan attack you?” Vi asked.
“She didn’t,” Andrew replied. “Seven of Nine did.”
They all looked confused. “Aren’t they the same person?” Tracey asked.
“Duh! One’s an actress, and one’s a T.V. character,” Andrew chastised. “And you think I’m delusional,” he muttered under his breath.
“That’s not what I meant,” Tracey replied indignantly. “I know one’s real and one’s fake. What I’m saying –”
“Here, look. One of them is an imposter.” He pulled out the autographed picture. “I compared the handwriting of the note Seven gave me and the autograph Jeri gave me.” He held them side-by-side. “They’re clearly different people.”
Dawn looked up. “Are you sure it wasn’t just some look-alike who wanted some quick hanky panky with you in the broom closet?” Dawn paused, and a wince took over her face. “Did I really just say that?”
“We should go check out that closet,” Tracey said. “If anything, it will help us forget the last five seconds of this conversation.”
“What if she comes back?” Andrew said fearfully.
“Don’t worry, Andrew,” Vi said, patting him on the back. “This time, you’ve got a slayer on your side.”
Watchers Council – Basement – Same Time
Kennedy descended the stairs, a bag in her hand, and took a quick look at the floor. Satisfied that there would be no roaches in her path, she walked toward the center of the room.
“Come on, Faith,” she called up the stairs. Timidly, Faith joined her and looked around at the floor. Suddenly Faith screamed, startling Kennedy, and the elder slayer jumped back onto the stack of crates she had vacated earlier.
“Oh god, here we go again! Look…I am not carrying your well-toned and, might I say, heavy body up those stairs again unless it’s life or death. You can walk.”
“Well, why did you bring me back down here, anyway?” Faith challenged.
“Because I need help setting off these bombs,” she said, holding up the bag as a reminder. “The exterminator can’t make it here today. The earliest he’s available is ten tomorrow morning, and you said you refused to stay here unless –”
“Yeah, yeah, whatever. Can’t you do it by yourself? I’ll just stay here and…um…supervise.”
“Faith, when I described the roaches, he said they’re pretty common in older buildings like this one,” Kennedy continued in a very reassuring tone of voice. “And since they haven’t spread to any other floor, it’s probably not a bad infestation. So let’s just set the bombs. Why don’t you come on down so we can do this, and then we can go upstairs?”
Faith looked uneasy. “You know, that sounds like a nice offer, but I think I’m going to hang out up here for a while.”
“And what? Get fumigated?”
“I’m a slayer. It probably won’t hurt me.”
“I thought you might say that. Looks like it’s time for plan B.” Kennedy walked over to the stairs and yelled, “Hey, plan B! Your services are needed.”
Faith looked on as Xander descended the stairs. As he reached the basement floor, Kennedy turned to him. “Xander, Willow once told me that you talked her out of ending the world. So, I thought that you would be the best person to talk Faith down off her boxy tower.”
Xander donned his resolve face and adopted a swaggering stance. “I’m goin’ in,” he said in a dramatic voice.
He strolled over to Faith, who was now sitting Indian-style on her perch. His head was just level with the top of her crate. He looked up, “How ya doing, Faith?”
“At the moment, not that great,” she answered. “You?”
“Well, since you asked, not that good. I was supposed to go to the convention with Andrew, but Willow asked for my ticket.” He sighed and leaned up against Faith’s box. “So instead, I spent the afternoon resetting the string tension of the crossbows, which stunk because I over-tightened one of the strings and it snapped on my finger.” He held up his bandaged hand. “And then…”
Kennedy cleared her throat audibly, “Xander, how is any of this going to get her down?”
“It’s all part of building a rapport with the person you’re trying to talk down. Did you ever see The Negotiator?”
“She’s not about to jump off a building. She’s just scared to go near the floor.”
“Why?” Xander asked, turning to Faith. “What’s on the floor?”
Faith looked down and said, “About a zillion roaches.”
“ROACHES?!” Xander exclaimed, jumping up on the crate next to Faith. He turned to Kennedy and bellowed, “You never said anything about roaches! I can’t believe I was walking around on the same floor with them!”
“What is wrong with you two?” Kennedy pointed to the ground. “They’re more scared of us. And who could blame them? You two are crazy!”
Xander ignored her. “I bet they left their roach residue all over the floor…” He looked at his feet. “…and my shoes!” He quickly pulled off his shoes and let them drop to the ground.
Kennedy let out a frustrated grunt.
Xander turned to Faith and said, with a panicked voice, “I read that in Asia roaches eat human flesh. Do you think that’s true?”
“That’s it!” Kennedy gave up. “I’m setting the bug bombs. You wanna die, that’s your choice.”
She walked deeper into the basement, carrying her bag of bug bombs and shaking her head.
Cleveland Convention Center – Dealer Room – Same Time
“It’s weird that they would all just disappear like that,” Rowena said to Willow, as she surveyed a crowd of hobbits. A hooded alien of a species that Rowena could not recognize walked past, mumbling to itself. She watched the alien for a second and said, “I’m beginning to think that maybe this convention wasn’t the greatest of ideas.”
“How so?” Willow asked, stepping aside as a very authentic-looking Boba Fett breezed by her, flamethrower in hand.
“Hmmm…let’s see.” Rowena’s voice took a sarcastic tone. “We’re surrounded by people in crazy costumes…” Her comment elicited some grumbles from several passers-by. “…in a room that smells of sweaty prosthetics and glue.”
“Is that what that is?” Willow said, waving her hand past her nose. “Well, look on the bright side, there’s always…” Willow paused, her eyes fixated on something behind Rowena.
“What?” Rowena said, looking behind her.
“XENA!” Willow yelled as she ran past Rowena, almost knocking her over. She kicked on the brakes and halted in front of a display of medieval weaponry and one of its proprietors, who was dressed like the Warrior Princess. Slowly, Rowena walked over and caught up.
“Willow, do me a favor?”
“Umm,” Willow said absently as she looked at the displays.
“Warn me the next time you plan to practice the hundred meter dash,” Rowena said.
“Look at this,” Willow said, pointing to a sword on display behind a glass partition. “That’s Callisto’s sword, first seen in episode twenty-seven. It was the fifth of the second season,” she added proudly. “Callisto used this to kill Perdicas.”
“Actually,” Rowena began, “Callisto’s sword was first seen in season one.” Willow looked uncertain. “Remember, when Callisto posed as Xena and used it to kill a bunch of villagers?”
“You’re right. The ladder fight episo…hey, wait.”
Rowena smiled mischievously at her lover, then leaned in close to the glass and examined the sword. “Also, that’s not Callisto’s sword. Look at the hilt.” She pointed, tapping the glass several times. “It’s missing a red jewel in the center. But it is a close match.”
“Well, you sure have an eye for detail,” the other salesman behind the counter said as he walked over. He was dressed in sheep-skin tunic and carried a plastic dagger on his belt. “Just keep your voice down. I’ve sold three of those already.” He chuckled. “So is there anything you ladies would like to see? I’ve got some reasonably-priced chakrams, if you’re interested.”
“That breast dagger looks authentic, but I think we’ll just browse a bit,” Rowena said politely.
“Okay, give me a holler if you need any help.” He walked away and greeted several customers examining a set of armbands.
Willow turned to Rowena with a look of complete bewilderment. “I didn’t know you were a Xena fan.”
“Xenite,” Rowena corrected.
Willow seemed tongue-tied for a moment. “You should have said something. I have all the seasons on DVD, well, the first five anyway. Six ought to be out soon.”
“To be perfectly honest, television shows were not really regarded highly at the Watchers Academy, but all the watchers I knew admitted in private that they loved the show.”
Willow snorted. “Well, I know one watcher who’s not on that list.”
“Oh, do you now?” Rowena asked playfully. She paused for a moment, and a new look of shock washed over Willow’s face.
“No way! You’re pulling my leg,” Willow said.
Rowena shook her head. “I kid you not. I worked late one night and stayed up until around two that morning – wasn’t that long after I moved into the Council building – and what did I see but our esteemed Rupert Giles watching the Oxygen network and chastising Xena to just ‘kiss Gabby already’.”
“Ohhh, baby,” Willow laughed. “Just wait until Giles gets home.”
“Sorry,” Rowena told her. “I’ve been sworn to secrecy. I promised him I wouldn’t say anything, so you gotta promise me to keep a lid on it.” Rowena held out her pinky.
“Oh, man,” Willow complained, “I got dirt this good, and I can’t use it.” Rowena nodded sadly. With a frown, Willow’s pinky took Rowena’s in a sacred shake. “So, any other nice surprises I should know about?”
Rowena cautiously looked around for any familiar faces. After several seconds had passed, she pulled out her wallet and began shuffling through various compartments. Willow looked on until Rowena found what she had been searching for. She did another quick perimeter sweep and finally pulled out a plastic card.
“Xena: Warrior Princess Official Fan Club. Charter member number 238,” Rowena said proudly.
Willow smiled at the card.
Rowena put the card back in her wallet, but before she could get it safely behind her Council credit card, Willow presented a small plastic card of her own.
“Charter member number 184. I guess that means I’m a bigger fan than you,” she said, before sticking her tongue out at Rowena. Willow smiled and walked past her stunned girlfriend.
Rowena hurried after her and called, “Where have you been hiding those DVDs?”
Cleveland Convention Center – Storeroom – Moments Later
The inside of the storeroom was pitch black.
“Can anyone see anything?” Skye whispered.
“No,” Jeff answered. “But someone’s standing on my foot.”
“Sorry,” Andrew said, followed by some rustling in the dark. “There’s got to be a light in here somewhere. Did anyone see a switch when we came in?”
“Just feel along the wall,” Vi suggested. A great deal of haphazard thumping ensued.
“Whoa! Hey, Jeff, watch where you put your hands!” Tracey yelled.
“That wasn’t me,” Jeff said defensively, from the other side of the room.
“Then who’s standing behind me?” Tracey asked.
“Andrew…” Dawn chided in a teasing voice.
“I wonder if the switch is on the back wall,” Andrew interjected, changing the subject. “I’ll just go check.” The search concluded, however, when his foot caught something lying in a heap on the floor. Andrew tripped over the mass and went face-first into the wall with a loud, “OW!”
“That sounded painful,” Tracey said. Her voice had a hint of satisfaction.
“Uh oh,” Dawn said, moving close to the door. “I think I hear someone coming. Everyone hide!”
“Where?” Jeff whispered. “There’s barely enough room for all of us to fit in here.” Dawn shushed him.
At the bottom of the door, a pair of legs blocked the light from the hall. The doorknob began to turn. Inside the closet Dawn grabbed Skye’s hand. Jeff, Vi, and Tracey readied for a fight. And behind them all, Andrew let out a low, panicked whimper.
The door pulled open, and a figure stood less than three feet from Dawn. It moved toward them, its face only a silhouette against the hall light.
End of Act Two