Cleveland Convention Center – Storeroom – Continuous
Dawn looked petrified as a hand slowly moved towards her. She clung to the wall, keeping herself in as much shadow as possible. The intruder stepped forward and felt along the wall. Dawn ducked her head, narrowly avoiding detection. After several seconds, the hand stopped. The lights flipped on. Andrew screamed.
“What are you all doing in here?” Willow demanded as she took her hand off the light switch.
The group let out a collective sigh of relief. “Thank god, we thought you were Seven of Nine,” Dawn said.
“You’re hiding from Seven of Nine?” Rowena came into view just behind Willow’s right shoulder and shot Dawn a baffled look.
“Seven of Nine is trying to kill Andrew,” Dawn explained. He cowered behind her, scanning outside the door for any blondes with mechanical implants.
Rowena turned to Andrew. “Um, Andrew, you didn’t happen to get over-excited, by any chance?”
Andrew shook his head. “Seven attacked me. It was completely unprovoked.”
Willow looked utterly confused. “Whoa, hold on a second here. I thought she was doing that question-and-answer thing in the auditorium.”
“It’s a different Seven of Nine,” Dawn answered.
“Okay, you’re going to have to explain,” Willow said. She glanced at Rowena, who was equally perplexed.
“We think someone or something is impersonating Jeri Ryan,” Vi clarified. “Here, take a look at this.” Vi held out the letter and autographed photo. “When Andrew came here like the note said, he got attacked. So, do you think we should call Faith and get a team here?”
Willow frowned. “I’m not sure this is enough evidence for us to call in the troops.”
“How about a dead body?” Andrew said, staring at the ground near the far wall. A man lay face down, and he wasn’t moving.
Willow hurried over and knelt down next to the body. “He’s still alive,” Willow said, feeling his neck. “Pulse is strong.” She rolled him over so that he faced her. She was startled to see that his eyes were open. “Hey, can you hear me?” she asked. No response. Willow looked up at Rowena. “Call Faith.”
Dawn moved closer and looked down at the man. “What happened to him?”
“I’m not sure,” Willow responded. Her eye caught a small spot of blood on his collar. She pulled back his shirt and revealed two small puncture marks.
Rowena walked over. “There’s no answer at the Council. I got the answering service. Should I keep trying?”
Willow answered without looking up. “No, I think you should see this. It looks like he was bitten by something. But it didn’t kill him.”
Rowena knelt down beside Willow and examined the wound.
“Vampire?” Skye asked.
“No,” Willow and Rowena both answered immediately. Willow added, “The holes are too small.”
Rowena reached up to a nearby shelf, grabbed a sheet of paper towel and dabbed the marks repeatedly until a green liquid seeped out. She examined it for several seconds and concluded, “I think it’s some kind of paralyzing agent.”
“Hey guys? I think I’ve got something over here,” Jeff called from the front of the storage room. They moved towards him, and he pulled a garbage can aside, revealing a large scaly material. “Looks like skin,” he said.
“I think we can rule out any human involvement,” Willow commented. “Rowena, does any of this ring any bells?”
Rowena examined the skin and sighed.
“It’s a Komimitor demon,” she said, standing up. “A shape shifter.” She pointed down. “It sheds its skin when it morphs back into its real form.”
“What about the green goop?” Skye asked.
“Its fangs inject a powerful venom that paralyzes its prey for future consumption.”
“That’s gross,” Dawn said. She looked over at the man. “Is he going to be alright?”
“It’s not deadly. Eventually it will wear off, but…” Rowena said. Her expression became uneasy.
“What is it?” Willow asked.
“Komimitor demons gain their energy by stealing it from other creatures.”
“Like a soul sucker?” Jeff asked.
“Yeah, that’ll work for simplicity’s sake,” Rowena answered. “They pull the life out of their victims until there’s nothing left. I don’t know why this man is still alive.”
“He might not be if we keep standing around talking about it,” Skye said.
“Agreed,” Rowena answered. “Vi, Andrew, can you get him outside?”
“Sure,” they said, each moving to take an end.
“If it’s using this room to lure its prey, then there’s a good chance it will be back. It’s not safe to stay here,” Rowena told them. “We’re better off to camp outside someplace and do some surveillance.”
“Is there anything I should know about this thing that could help me kill it?” Vi asked, getting right down to business.
“Direct sunlight. It’s not vamp combustible, but it does abhor sunlight. Oh, it has sensitive ears too. Any noise with a high pitch should hurt it. If you can use either of these to your advantage, I suggest you do so.”
Vi gave a firm nod.
“Oh!” Andrew yelled over to Willow. “Let me have your Council credit card.”
Willow took out her wallet and began to hand it to him, but quickly snapped it away from his grasp. “Why?” she asked, with a furrowed brow.
“There’s a booth that’s selling Star Trek replica phasers.”
“Andrew this isn’t the time to –”
“No, not for me,” he explained. “They make a zapping sound. I can modify the pitch, and we can use them as weapons, or at least as a distraction to buy Vi time.”
Willow gave the card to him. “Fine, but grab them fast and meet us at the convention director’s office.” Andrew nodded and ran off. Willow turned to the others. “Okay, here’s what we’re going to do. I’m going to leave my cell on. Vi, I want you to get this man to the infirmary. Tracey, stand outside where you can see both exits in the front and look for anyone, or anything, as the case may be today, running away quickly.” Willow looked over at Skye, Dawn and Jeff. “You three are going to stay in this area. If you see anyone coming towards the closet, call my cell phone.”
“Should we try to stop them?” Jeff asked.
“No,” she stated. “Call my phone and wait for Vi. Keep watch to make sure it doesn’t get away.”
“Where are you going?” Dawn asked Willow.
“Rowena and I are going to the director’s office,” Willow explained. “Remember, call if you see anything.” Willow turned to go, but then looked back one more time. “Oh, and try to look discreet.”
Watchers Council – Hallway – Moments Later
“Robin, you are my last hope,” Kennedy said, as the two of them walked down the hall towards the basement door.
“Are you sure you’re explaining this right?” he said in a skeptical tone. “This doesn’t really sound like Faith.” They reached the stairs.
“Trust me, it’s no exaggeration. Normally I’d think this was all hilarious,” Kennedy explained, starting down the stairs. “But with everyone at the convention, Faith was supposed to be watching the phones, while I ran patrol.”
They reached the basement floor. Across the room Faith and Xander were having a conversation.
“What about a flame thrower?” Faith suggested.
“If they can survive a nuclear blast, I think they can survive a little bit of fire,” Xander answered.
Robin turned to Kennedy. “Wow…this is sad. But I think I’ve got a plan.” He walked over to the crate.
Faith looked down at him. “Robin, don’t stand down there or they’ll –” She was cut off as he climbed the first box and pulled her down. “Hey, what are you doing?” He put her in a fireman’s carry and moved back to the stairs, which he quickly ascended.
“I coulda done that! I just didn’t want to coddle her anymore,” Kennedy said as she followed him up. She flipped off the lights and closed the door.
Downstairs Xander yelled, “Hey! What about me? Who’s going to carry me up?” Across the room, a board creaked. “DON’T LEAVE ME DOWN HERE!”
Cleveland Convention Center – Office Suite – Same Time
Andrew walked into the director’s office carrying a large bag. Willow nodded to him and finished speaking with the director.
“Make sure you tell your men not to engage. This criminal is very unpredictable. We just want them to observe until our people arrive.”
The man looked uneasy. “Are you sure we shouldn’t evacuate?”
“Positive,” Willow answered. “Right now, that isn’t an option.” She nodded to the man and motioned Andrew to the door.
Once outside, Willow turned to Rowena, who was leaning against the wall with a cell phone at her ear. “Any luck?” she asked.
“I’m worried. No one is answering,” Rowena said, as she let the phone ring. “I wonder where they are.”
Watchers Council – Lobby – Seconds Later
Faith bolted towards the reception desk. She rounded the corner and grabbed the phone. “Hello, Watchers Council. How may I help you?” The line was dead.
Kennedy and Robin approached. Faith looked up as she put down the receiver. “They hung up.”
“Maybe the roaches got them,” Kennedy joked. Robin chuckled, but immediately stopped when Faith shot daggers at him with her eyes. Kennedy’s laughter continued.
“Shouldn’t you be getting ready for patrol?” Faith said grumpily.
Kennedy stopped laughing and grumbled. “I should have left you down there,” she said as she sulked off.
Cleveland Convention Center – Hallway – Same Time
Rowena clicked a button on her phone and then put it in her pocket.
Andrew turned to Willow. “Why didn’t you tell him to evacuate?”
“The demon could shift into any form and exit with the crowd. As long as it doesn’t know we’re here for it, we should be able to trap it.”
“Ahh,” Andrew nodded. “Well, I got the phasers. There were only four left, but they were easy to modify.” Andrew fired one, and it began screeching loudly.
Rowena put a finger in her ear and gave it a wiggle. “Damn, that should do.” She examined one of the weapons, then noticed his shopping bag. “That’s a large bag for only four of these.”
Andrew opened the bag. “I also bought some communicators.” He pulled one out and flipped it open with ease. A light blinked on with a click, and Andrew turned a knob near the top of the device. He handed it to Rowena and repeated the process with a second communicator. “They’re just like walkie-talkies. Plus they look just like the ones from the original Star Trek.” He held it to his mouth. “Neat, huh?”
“Very,” Rowena said through her communicator. Andrew flipped his shut and put it back in the bag. Rowena followed, imitating his action. However, she had much less finesse and managed to pinch her finger as it closed.
Willow smiled at Andrew. “Good thinking.”
“We should meet up with the others,” Rowena said, examining her ailing finger.
“Oh, hold on,” he exclaimed. “That’s not all.” He turned and waved towards a group of Klingons. They approached in burly strides. “These are some friends of mine. They want to help us fight the demon.”
The Klingons towered over Willow and Rowena.
“Andrew, we really shouldn’t allow them to get involved in this,” Willow replied. “We’ve all been trained for this.”
“Trust me, these guys are definitely qualified.”
Andrew turned to the Klingons and shouted something in a language Willow and Rowena did not understand. The warriors each pulled a bat’leth from their back and began an impressive sequence of movements with the blade. The largest of the group stepped forward and twirled his blade around his body with impossible speed, concluding the performance with a right handed slash that decapitated a nearby cardboard cutout of Darth Maul.
Rowena clapped loudly and walked up to the warrior. She examined the blade he carried. Behind her, Willow simply stared. Her mouth was wide open with amazement.
Andrew poked her. “See what I mean?”
Willow managed to find her words. “Okay…they can help.” She pulled out her phone.
Cleveland Convention Center – Dealer Room – Same Time
Jeff, Skye, and Dawn stood conspicuously next to a booth at the far corner of the room. Dawn was equipped with a pair of large black sunglasses. She leaned against a table with her arms crossed. Every now and then, she lowered her glasses and scanned the crowd.
Skye was holding an obviously fake conversation with Jeff, who read a newspaper, ignoring her. He held it up, hiding all but his eyes, which looked out through a small rectangular cut in the paper.
Dawn jumped when her phone rang and pulled the glasses from her face. She took it out and answered, “Hello?”
Cleveland Convention Center – Hallway – Same Time
Willow held her phone to her ear. “Dawn, we’re on our way over. Has our demon come by yet?”
Behind her, Rowena was waving a bat’leth around as the Klingons looked on.
Cleveland Convention Center – Dealer Room – Same Time
“Nothing yet,” Dawn answered, looking around. “Do you have a plan to catch this thing?” She listened to the voice on the phone for several seconds and then continued, “Do we have the firepower to pull that off?”
Skye tapped Dawn on the shoulder. Dawn looked over. “We’ve got company,” Skye said, motioning towards a group of aliens. Seven was slowly walking through them, smiling and waving.
“Willow, it looks like our party guest has arrived.” Dawn watched as Seven reached the hallway and disappeared around the corner. “She’s moving towards the closet.”
Willow began to convey instructions, but Dawn stopped her. “Willow, someone’s heading for the hall. He just turned the corner.”
Through the phone, Willow yelled, “Stop him!”
Dawn ran toward the hallway, with Jeff and Skye at her heels. When they reached the hallway, Jeff yelled, “Stop!”
The boy, a teenager in a Starfleet uniform, turned to face them. He gave them a suspicious look.
They all froze. Finally, Skye stuttered out, “I… I think you dropped something back there.” She pointed to the exit of the hall.
“What is it?” the boy asked.
“It’s umm…how would you describe it, Jeff?” Dawn said, turning to her right.
Jeff shot her a half angry, half surprised look, and they turned back to the boy.
“Uh, you really need to see it.” He waved his arm for the boy to follow and walked out of the hall. The boy looked down at a piece of paper he held in his hand. Eventually, he followed. Skye and Dawn took position behind him. Once they were out of the hallway, Dawn grabbed the paper.
“Hey, give that back!” he yelled.
“Trust us, you don’t want to go anywhere near that closet,” Jeff said.
The boy looked at the paper in Dawn’s hand. “Why’s that?”
“It’s a practical joke,” Dawn said spontaneously. “Run by a couple of guys who hate these conventions.” She waved her arms at the others to continue the lie.
Skye nodded. “Yeah, that’s right. Uh…we’ve seen them before. They tricked a friend of ours once. You’re better off going back to your friends.”
The boy took one more look at the paper and then grudgingly returned to where the rest of his group were swapping trading cards.
Dawn pulled out her phone and dialed up Willow again. “Willow, we got the kid away, but we weren’t that quiet about it. She may know we’re out here.”
“Don’t worry,” Willow said from behind them, her phone in hand. “The cavalry’s here.” Dawn turned to see Willow approach with Rowena, Andrew, Vi, Tracey and a group of Klingons. Jeff took a step back when he saw the warriors.
“Has it come out of the hall?” Vi asked, taking position at the entrance.
“No,” Skye answered. “We’ve got it trapped down there. Umm…what’s with the tall guys?”
“They’re friends of Andrew’s,” Rowena answered.
One of the Klingons pounded his fist to his chest and roared. “Today is a good day to die.”
Willow turned to Andrew. “If that’s the kind of thing they say, I’d prefer not to understand them.”
The Klingon laughed and clapped Willow on the shoulder, almost knocking her over.
Willow shook it off. “Okay, Vi and I will take point,” she said, taking the bag from Andrew. She handed out communicators. “Klingons, guard the hallway.” She glanced at Rowena and then motioned to the Klingons. “Rowena, watch them.” Willow gave Tracey, Skye, Dawn and Jeff each a phaser. “You four stay right here. If it gets by us, use the phasers and try to incapacitate it.”
Everyone nodded. Willow motioned to Rowena and they moved towards the hallway.
Rowena stopped halfway down the hall and indicated for the Klingons to stop. They acted in silence. As she passed the Klingons, Willow smiled and said, “Try not to dismember any of us.”
One of the Klingons grunted and grabbed Vi’s arm. She turned, and he thrust his bat’leth into her hands. Vi took it and moved toward the door with Willow.
Vi leaned against the wall on the right as Willow reached for the knob. Vi readied the bat’leth and nodded to Willow. She opened the door quickly and Vi rushed in with the blade raised at chest level. She stopped.
“There’s nothing here,” she said, peering into the room. Willow joined her. The room was empty except for some generic cleaning supplies and a couple of trash cans.
Willow stepped in and looked around. There was no evidence of the creature. She looked up and noticed a hanging grate from the entrance to a ventilation shaft. She opened her communicator. “It’s moved. Pull back positions. We’ll regroup at the director’s office.” Vi and Willow turned from the closet. The door slammed shut as they exited.
Inside the storeroom, one of the large trash cans wobbled against the wall and then collapsed in on itself. The metal melted together and morphed into a solid white mass of scales and limbs. As the creature stood up, its former skin fell to the floor.
It was tall, similar to the dragons of old fairy tales, with one small difference. It could walk like a human. The reptile blinked several times, then shook into a new form. Seconds later, Willow Rosenberg emerged from the closet. She smiled widely and followed her counterpart’s path toward the convention floor.
End of Act Three