Act 4

Fade In:


Iraq – Dilapidated House – Moments Later

With the gun in her shaking hand, Rowena opened the back door and closed it quietly. She crept to the edge of the house and quickly looked around the corner, holding her gun in front of herself as she turned.

Not seeing anyone there, she walked to the next corner and peeked around the corner, just for a moment, to see the insurgents still next to the vehicle. Instead of examining the soldiers, they were now looking inside the vehicle. She pulled back out of their sight, her back to the wall. Her breath coming in gasps, she raised her weapon and tightened her grip on it.

Cut To:


Iraq – Dilapidated House – Same Time

“What’s going on?” Faith whispered, unable to see from her location.

“Two guys are taking our stuff, from what it looks like,” Kennedy whispered back.

“Where’s Ro?” Faith asked.

“I don’t see her on this side,” Buffy answered. “Ken?”

“Nothing,” the dark haired slayer answered.

Son of a bitch,” Faith swore under her breath.

Kennedy and Buffy watched as the two men now looked toward the house, and the slayers both simultaneously ducked back against the wall.

“What’s wrong?” Dawn asked.

“I think they’re coming in,” Buffy answered.

“Screw this,” Faith said. She reached behind her, pulled out her gun, and cocked it.

The Iraqi woman began to say something, but Faith put her free hand over the woman’s mouth and motioned for her to be quiet.

Cut To:


Iraq – Dilapidated House – Same Time

Sweat poured from Rowena’s forehead, and she wiped it away on the sleeve of her free hand. She looked back around the corner to see the two men talking and pointing toward the house. She ducked back around the house and began to mutter softly.

“Our Father…who art in heaven…Hallowed be thy name…”

Cut To:


Iraq – Dilapidated House – Same Time

Faith now crept across the floor.

“You guys take cover,” she told them. “I’m backing up Ro.”

“Be careful,” Buffy replied, but Faith had already disappeared from the living room.

Cut To:


Iraq – Dilapidated House – Same Time

Rowena continued to stand by the side of the house, praying, only this time her words were coming quicker and quicker. “And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen.”

She looked around the corner again and saw the two men heading to the front door. She licked her lips once and took a deep breath. In a matter of seconds, she rounded the corner, planted her feet firmly, and opened fire. One man fell instantly and then lay motionless on the ground, but the other raised his weapon.

Rowena swiftly fell back against the wall and heard him return fire. She looked out briefly, but he was gone from sight. She quickly dropped down to look under the truck. She saw a pair of legs and realized he was using the vehicle as cover.

She heard another spray of shots, this time shattering glass and ricocheting against concrete.

Cut To:


Iraq – Dilapidated House – Same Time

The team inside covered their heads. Bullets shattered the glass in the window and whizzed through the house above them.

Cut To:


Iraq – Dilapidated House – Same Time

From the back door, Faith could hear the exchange out front. She crept along the wall and looked around to see Rowena on the ground, gripping her gun. Faith gave Rowena a “Psst,” noise, at which the watcher turned around quickly and fired.

Faith saw the watcher raise the gun and moved back around the wall immediately as the shot rang out. But when she looked down at her right arm, she noticed it was bleeding.

Rowena was wide eyed, her mouth opened. She looked like she might call out, but stopped herself. Instead, she rose and moved back toward the far corner of the house, just as Faith was coming around it again.

“Shoot me, why don’t you?” Faith condemned softly.

“I told you to stay inside!” Rowena whispered hotly.

“I’m not leaving you out here alone,” Faith answered.

“Did I hit you?” Rowena asked.

“Just a scratch. Thank god for slayer speed.”

Rowena wiped the sweat from her brow again. “Look, take that corner and don’t move until you absolutely have to. He’s at the front of the vehicle.”

Faith nodded and headed for the position Rowena had formerly held, while the watcher went around to the other side to flank the remaining attacker. Reaching her position, she peered around the corner and raised her gun. The weapon seemed to grow heavy, shaking slightly in her grasp, as she waited for him to reappear above the vehicle. She took a deep breath and steadied the weapon.

As soon as his head finally cleared the top of the vehicle, Rowena fired two shots that sent him to the ground. She released a heavy sigh, but didn’t lower the gun.

The watcher crept out from her corner and looked at the first man, who still lay motionless on the ground. Slowly she passed around the vehicle to see the second man flat on his back. His eyes were closed and blood was pouring into the sand from his head.

Faith came out from her corner to see Rowena still standing there looking at the man she had just killed. She watched as the gun slipped from the watcher’s hand and clattered to the ground.

“You okay?” Faith asked.

Rowena didn’t answer. She ran toward the back of the truck, and Faith heard her make a heaving sound. Faith uncocked her weapon and put it in her rear waistband, then walked back toward the house.

Fade To:


Iraq – Army Vehicle – Later

Faith drove the truck, with Rowena sitting in the passenger seat. No one said anything as they moved along the road.

“I would have done it, you know?” Faith said to Rowena, breaking the silence in the truck. “You didn’t have to.”

“You’re a slayer,” was all Rowena said.

“So?” Faith answered.

“Your job is to protect people, not kill them,” Rowena answered.

“So it’s your job to kill people, then?” Faith countered, a touch of doubt in her voice.

“It’s my job to protect the slayers, and the Coven, at all costs,” she replied.

At first, Faith said nothing. Finally she added, “And that’s what you did.”

Rowena looked out the window, watching the desert go by them and simply muttered, “Yeah.”

The truck returned to utter silence.

Fade To:


Iraq – Army Vehicle – Night

The vehicle came to a stop at the make-shift base again. As the team climbed out, Faith sighed, “Here we are…again.”

Rowena moved swiftly around the vehicle and stalked toward the tent.

“Ro?” Dawn called out, making the watcher stop. “Let’s try a little tact here, okay?”

“I’m beyond tact,” she replied, and continued on her way.

“Oh jeez,” Dawn sighed. She rolled her eyes as the rest of the group raced to catch up with Rowena.

The watcher passed the guards swiftly and entered to see General Boeing sitting at a table, eating dinner.

“Back already?” he asked.

Rowena pulled out the gun and slammed it on the table. “You’re lying to me,” she began.

“Excuse me?” he asked, confused.

“You’re holding insurgents here. You have to be. We called my…” Rowena cut herself short, as if weighing what term to pick, “Coven Priestess, and she confirmed our first guess that the source of the power is here. So you’re lying about having a detainee here.”

Boeing’s expression slowly changed from confusion to concern. He then cleared his throat. “We have no insurgents held here,” he began. Rowena opened her mouth to argue, but he held up his hand and finished with, “but we do have what you might call a detainee.”

“Meaning?” Rowena prompted.

“Come with me,” he said. He rose from the table and walked out of the dining area.

Rowena took the gun from the table and put it back in her waistband, then followed the general.

Cut To:


Iraq – Army Detention Area – Moments Later

“Private Ridder,” the General said, as he walked toward one particular cell in the detention area, the Council team following behind him. “You’ve got company.” They all stopped as the General began to unlock the cell. “Private Ridder here is a conscientious objector,” Boeing explained, a touch of sarcasm in his voice. “In other words, a coward.”

“I’m not here to debate politics,” Rowena replied to Boeing.

The private came to his feet and watched as Boeing, Rowena, Dawn and Andrew made their way inside the cell.

“What are we looking for, Andrew?” Rowena asked.

“A shiv to draw blood and suaeda fruticosa, or common name of shrubby sea blite, aka seepweed.”

“Find ’em, and any other items he might use,” she instructed him. Andrew nodded. “Dawn, check his library and open all the books to make sure they match the cover.”

Dawn and Andrew walked toward a small cabinet.

“Hey! What do you think you’re doing?” Ridder asked. He charged toward the pair.

Boeing reached out to stop him but missed. Rowena, however, maneuvered him by grabbing his arm and using his weight against him, putting him flat on his back.

“Damn,” Kennedy said, obviously impressed.

Rowena then pulled her gun from her waistband and shoved it into the private’s mouth. Buffy and Faith glanced at each other with obvious concern.

“I’ve had a bad day,” Rowena began. “I’ve already killed two men, and I’ll kill a third if I have to. Understand?”

The private nodded slightly. Rowena stood up quickly, but still kept the weapon pointed at Ridder where he lay on the floor of the cell.

With her back to Andrew and Dawn, she continued to watch him and point the weapon, while the two Coven members resumed their search.

“Now, get up against that wall,” Rowena said, motioning with her gun.

Boeing pulled the private to his feet and pushed him back against the wall with a shove.

“I’ve got him covered, Ms. Allister,” Boeing told her.

As Rowena put her gun away, Dawn called out.

“This isn’t The Stand,” she said, handing a hardcover book to Rowena.

The watcher opened the book to the title page and read out loud.

Extra-dimensional Beings of a Demonic Nature, huh? Doesn’t sound like a Stephen King book to me,” Rowena said. She handed the book back to Dawn and turned to look expectantly at Ridder.

“Care to explain this, private?” Boeing asked.

Ridder growled at them in anger, his eyes furtively glancing back and forth between the General and Rowena. “Look, I can’t be persecuted because of my religion.”

“And what religion would that be, exactly?” Rowena asked.

“I’m a Wiccan,” he answered.

Rowena gave a short laugh. “No, you’re a Sorcerer. There’s a big difference…Now, how many of these things did you summon?” she asked.

“I don’t remember,” Ridder answered.

Rowena pulled out her gun, switched off the safety, and steadied her aim in a single movement. “I said, how many?” she repeated.

“One,” he answered quickly. “You can’t call forth more than one at a time.” Rowena raised one eyebrow. “No, really,” he went on. “It’s in the book. See for yourself.”

Rowena then looked at Boeing, who wasn’t taking his eyes off Ridder. “General, can you move him to another cell while we finish our search?”

“Yes, ma’am,” he answered her. “Move it out,” he told Ridder, grabbing him roughly by the arm and leading him away. Rowena put her safety back on and went to stand beside Dawn, helping her go through the library.

“Man,” Kennedy said, as she walked inside the cell. “Good thing he didn’t call your bluff,” she added to Rowena.

Without looking back or stopping her task at hand, she answered, “Who said I was bluffing?”

Kennedy scoffed. “Oh, come on.”

Rowena turned around, her face expressionless. “That man created something that’s killing people. He might do it again, if he can get his hands on more supplies. If I have to stop the source to get us out of here quicker, I will. Anything else?” Rowena asked shortly.

“No, ma’am,” Kennedy said, sounding more irritated than anything.

“Good, then be a pal and find a box that we can load this stuff into,” the blonde watcher replied. With that, Rowena turned back to the bookshelf.

Cut To:


Watchers Council – Coven Room – Later

Willow stood at her workbench, and Xander gave a light smile before making his way inside.

“Whatcha up to?” Xander asked.

“Hey, Xan…Just still researching. I’m trying to pinpoint Ethan. Al’s working on it, too,” she answered.

“No luck so far, huh?” he asked. Willow just sadly shook her head no. “Jeff said you got the chance to talk to Ro today,” Xander said as he entered further into the Coven Room.

“Yeah, I did,” Willow answered. The perky, happy tone was missing from her voice, and Xander frowned.

“And that’s…not a good thing?” he asked.

“What?” Willow answered automatically. “Oh, no,” she said quickly. “I was glad to hear from her, ecstatic even, but…”

“But what?” Xander asked.

Willow shrugged. “Just a feeling.”

“Like?” he prompted.

“Like she seemed upset. But maybe it’s just jet lag or something.”

“Did you ask her if she was okay?”

“Yeah, and of course the typical answer of ‘fine’ was all I got. That’s what’s got me worried. When she uses the word ‘fine,’ she’s really not fine…I can’t help but think I should have gone. You know, instead of sending Dawn?”

Xander seemed nervous. “Well, you did talk to her, so you know she’s…alive.”

“Yeah, alive is good,” Willow replied, but she couldn’t keep the sarcasm out of her voice.

“I’m sorry, Will. I’m not doing too good at the cheering of spirits right now, am I?”

That made Willow grin. “That’s okay, Xander,” she said, stroking his arm briefly. “Let’s talk about how the big date went.”

“Great,” Xander said, his mood perking up at the change of subject. “This is something new, I must admit.”

“Dating a slayer, huh?”

“No, dating someone who’s not a demon. It’s refreshing actually.”

Willow just chuckled, as Xander smiled.

Cut To:


Iraq – Army Detention Cell – Moments Later

Andrew had a box at his feet that was nearly filled with items. Dawn looked inside and shook her head.

“This guy’s like Ethan on a bad day. Look at all this stuff.”

“So I guess it’s safe to say we got our man, then?” Buffy asked. Everyone just looked at the box, then at Buffy and then the box again, before turning back to Buffy. “Just checking,” she added.

Suddenly, the ground began to shake, and they heard screams coming from outside. They all briefly looked at each other, then collectively bolted toward the exit.

Cut To:


Iraq – Army Detention Cell – Moments Later

As the group made their way outside, they saw a small number of troops trying to hold on to a man who was half buried in the sand. Though they pulled with all their combined might, it wasn’t enough, and the man slipped below the surface.

After he disappeared, the other men stood in the small circle, unsure of what to do next.

“Run!” Faith yelled over to them.

Her shouting was met by confusion at first, but when the monster resurfaced, they didn’t need to be told twice. They ran toward the detention center, while the slayers charged past them to engage the Whitters Demon.

“Come on,” Rowena said, waving to Dawn and Andrew to follow her in the opposite direction.

Kennedy, Faith and Buffy came to a halt as the demon slipped below the surface.

“Where’d it go?” Kennedy asked.

Before anyone could answer, a massive tail appeared above the surface of the sand. It swung and hit all three of them, tossing Kennedy and Faith into one another and sending Buffy ten feet away. Then it slipped back below the surface.

Faith wiped blood from her nose. “I’ve got dibs on the next retirement,” she moaned as she got to her feet, pulling Kennedy along with her. She looked over and saw Buffy sprawled across the ground, near the detention center, unmoving. “B?” she called out as she and Kennedy broke into a run toward the blonde slayer.

By the time they arrived, Buffy had slowly begun to move to a sitting position.

“You okay?” Kennedy asked.

“Yeah,” Buffy replied. “Just got my bell rung. Actually, it’s still ringing.” She put a finger in her ear and gave it a wiggle. “Damn, no one told me it would be that big.”

At that moment, the monster re-emerged and opened its huge mouth to swallow them. Faith pulled her gun and opened fire. It seemed to stun the creature for a brief second, but not enough to stop it, and it began to descend toward them.

“Move!” Faith yelled, as she jumped out of the way. Kennedy and Buffy rolled as well, each narrowly avoiding being swallowed.

“We’re gonna need more firepower,” Kennedy remarked.

The three of them watched as a shift in the sands started to move away from them. “It’s getting away,” Faith said, pointing to the disturbance.

The slayers began to give chase, but were cut off when Rowena pulled up in front of them in a Jeep CJ, along with Dawn and Andrew.

“Get in!” she hollered to them.

Faith and Kennedy jumped on the sides of the vehicle, while Buffy took the back, and Rowena drove off after the monster.

“Don’t lose it,” Andrew told Rowena from the backseat.

“Would you like to drive, Andrew?” Rowena snapped.

“Well, I did mention it,” Andrew remarked.

“Enough already with the driving!” Dawn shouted.

“Where’s Kevin Bacon when you need him?” Andrew muttered to himself.

Dawn pointed out the window. “It’s going right!” she yelled to Rowena.

The slayers held on for dear life as Rowena made a hard right turn, tearing up the desert, to keep the demon at their side and in view.

“It’s heading toward that village,” Dawn pointed up ahead. “We can’t let it get there,” she stressed to Rowena.

“I’m workin’ on it,” the watcher answered shortly.

Buffy managed to crawl to the back cargo hold and ripped open a crate. Inside, she found a box full of hand grenades.

“Ah ha,” she said as she pulled one out, “this will do.” She pulled the pin and threw it as far behind them as possible. “Fire in the hole!” she yelled, just seconds before it exploded behind them.

The back end of the CJ almost lifted off the ground, as Faith and Kennedy continued to grip the sides of the vehicle.

“Damn it, B!” Faith swore. “Quit playing with the hardware!”

“I just wanted to see if they were live,” she replied.

“They’re live!” everyone shouted at once, making the slayer wince.

Dawn’s eyes suddenly widened.

“Uh oh,” she said. “It’s making a U-turn.”

The hump in the sand began to shift and and headed back toward the jeep. Rowena slammed on the brakes and everyone jumped out. Buffy climbed out of the back and started to hand out the grenades.

“Squeeze the bar, pull the pin and toss away,” she told them. “We’ll need someone as bait, though,” she added. Everyone looked at her without saying a word. “Right. Big snake. I’m the bait. Got it…But you guys be ready.”

She ran to the front of the CJ.

“Hey!” She waved her hands over her head while yelling and stomping her feet. “Come and get me, you big, overgrown nightcrawler! Over here!”

The creature broke the surface and seemed to sail across the sand. It was so large that it cast a shadow over the group, as they all looked up at it in awe.

“This better work,” Kennedy said to Faith, without letting her eyes leave the creature.

It was only a few feet away when it began to open its mouth to swallow Buffy.

“Now!” the blonde slayer yelled and threw her grenade. The other team members did the same, and immediately turned and ran for all they were worth. Buffy, however, waited until the last possible moment and then rolled out of the way of the creature, before she too turned and broke into a run.

The demon lunged toward her and opened its mouth again, but before it could swallow her, there was an incredibly loud noise. With a large, fiery explosion, the demon blew apart the inside. The entire group suddenly found themselves covered in demonic blood, viscera and bile.

“Arghhh,” Andrew complained. He tried to wipe his face, but since his hand was covered in goop, too, he only made it worse. The fire from the explosion and debris, however, was too close to the truck, and a moment later, it too exploded, sending everyone on the run again.

“Where’s Buffy?” Rowena asked as she looked at the now-burning Jeep. She shielded her eyes from the heat of the flames with her arm as her eyes searched.

A moment later, the blonde slayer came through the dark smoke and walked toward the team, still covered in demon parts and slime. When she was a few feet in front of them, she stopped.

Now I remember why I don’t do this full-time,” she said dryly. She shook her wet hands and tried unsuccessfully to wipe the grime from her face.

Fade To:


Iraq – Small Town – Later

Hot, sticky and tired, the group walked into town to confused looks from the villagers. Faith just grinned and gave them a wave as they passed. They spotted two soldiers near what appeared to be a rug shop and walked over.

“Hi there,” Rowena began. “We’re working with General Boeing. Any chance someone here might give us a lift back to the base?”

The soldier seemed equally confused by their appearance. “Huh, sure,” he finally answered. “You guys okay?”

“Yeah. We just slay deadly creatures for a living,” Kennedy said, looking at Andrew with a disgruntled expression.

“Hm, alrighty then,” the soldier said with uncertainty, but with a grin just the same. “There’s a washroom at the end of the block, if you want to get cleaned up a little first.”

“Thanks,” Rowena answered as the group started on their way again.

Buffy grinned and slipped her arm around Dawn’s waist. “I wish you’d come back to Cleveland, instead of going to Europe,” Dawn said, as they walked side by side. 

“Summer classes are starting soon,” Buffy answered. “But I’ll try to visit more often.”

“Promise?” Dawn said hopefully.

Buffy offered her pinky. Dawn took it in her own and gave it a shake. 

“Well, at least we did good,” Dawn said optimistically. “We got the bad guy, killed the demon. All in all, a very good day, if you ask me.”

Just then a huge sound made them all duck and take cover against a wall. Screaming followed, along with the smell of smoke and burning flesh.

They looked up the street to see G.I.’s running toward a fire, while several locals ran in the opposite direction. The G.I.’s they had just spoken to moments before ran past them to join the others that had arrived.

The team watched as the soldiers tried to pull one woman away from a small boy that now lay on the street, unmoving. She sobbed uncontrollably as they had to physically pick her up and move her away from the fire. Another set of G.I.’s squatted next to a fellow soldier, who was screaming more in fear than in pain, asking his comrades to find his leg. Faith glanced to his right to see a camouflaged pant leg lying about twelve feet from him, and she had to turn away.

“Yeah,” she muttered to the group. “We made a real difference here, didn’t we?”

No one said anything else or even looked at each other.

Fade To:


Watchers Council – Willow’s Apartment – Night

Willow heard the front door open, and she put down the book she was reading, got up from her bed, and walked over to see who it was that had entered.

She smiled and rushed across the room just as Rowena tossed her flight bag onto the sofa.

“You should have called,” Willow told her. “I would’ve met you at the airfield.” Rowena didn’t say anything, and Willow began to look concerned. “Are you okay?” the witch asked.

Rowena’s bottom lip began to quiver, and she shook her head. Without a word, Willow pulled her into a hug, and Rowena broke down into tears. For the moment, all the witch could do was stroke the back of her lover’s hair as Rowena held onto her as tight as she could.

Fade to Black



End of WarZone


Next on Watchers…

Faith’s past catches up with her, and it’s hard to tell whether it will be a help or hindrance when her son, Norman, shows up on the Council’s doorstep.

Click here to read “Maternal Instincts” now!