Watchers Council – Willow’s Apartment – Night
A brilliant white flash caused Rowena to gasp and sit straight up in bed, startled, as if she had been awakened from a nightmare. She tried to catch her breath, but in a second there came another flash, then another, until it was as if someone had turned on a strobe light and forgotten to check the settings. Rowena squinted and saw the bed was surrounded by photographers, all snapping their flashbulbs in a frenzy.
“What are you –?” Before Rowena could finish her sentence, the yelling started.
“Ro! Look over here, Ro!”
“Can you explain the decision to remove Szabo from Team Four?”
“When was the last time you heard from your parents?”
“Why hasn’t the Council stopped the vampire menace yet?”
“Are you concerned that the ratings for your reality show are slipping?”
“Would you please comment on the ongoing scandal with the Welsh Memo?”
“Do you have anything to say to other women who’ve been raped?”
“Ro, is it true that you and Willow are going through a tough time?”
“Ro, is it true that you and Willow are engaged?”
Stunned into incomprehension, Rowena tried to get off the bed, only to get pushed back down by the encroaching mob. Panicked, she roughly shoved aside the nearest photographer, giving her enough space to get to her feet. The flashbulbs increased even more, if that was possible. She put her arms out in front of her and managed to burrow a tunnel through the crowd. It now surrounded her on all sides, towering over her and continuing to shout questions at a rapid pace.
“Would you care to comment on the situation with Faith?”
“Is it true you’re considering a replacement for Head Slayer?”
Rowena reached the edge of the crush, only to find the beginning of another. A circle of photographers and reporters surrounded Willow. She was wearing her fluffy pajamas and seemed perfectly at ease, casually twirling an axe in her hands.
“Well, that’s for us to know and you to find out,” Willow told them with a smile. “That is, you’ll find out if you buy my book, due in stores next month.” She noticed Rowena staring haggardly at the group and motioned to her. “Hey, baby! Come on over!” Relieved, Rowena nodded.
Willow put her arm around Rowena and said, “Here’s your photo opportunity, boys! Make it snappy! I’ve got a dinner date with the Weinsteins about that movie deal.” Rowena squinted at the glare from the flashes, eventually making out a familiar face.
“Jordon?” she asked, horror apparent in her voice.
Jordon Tyrell stood in front of Rowena and Willow, an audio cassette recorder in his outstretched hand. “Isn’t it great?” he said, pointing at Willow. “She gave me an exclusive.”
“You’re not welcome here!” said Rowena. She turned away from him to find that, suddenly, all of the reporters were vampires, their faces transformed into fanged monstrosities. Rowena turned back to Jordon, who laughed at her and then also morphed into a vampire. Rowena clung to Willow, eyes nearly bulging out of their sockets.
“What are we going to do?” Rowena asked.
Willow just smiled and shrugged. “Nothing, baby. We’re not going to do anything.”
Then Jordon grabbed Rowena, violently spun her around and sank his fangs into her neck. Rowena could only whimper in shock, pain and horror. Willow smiled placidly.
Watchers Council – Library – Night
Rowena woke up with a start to find that she was slumped in a chair in the middle of the library, her head propped up on one hand and a book open in her lap.
“I thought you were going to nap the whole night away,” Willow teased from a chair across from her. “You looked so peaceful, I didn’t want to disturb you.”
“Sorry,” Rowena mumbled, trying to focus her eyes on the book in her lap. “I must have dozed off.”
“I think I almost did, too,” Willow admitted. “We’re getting nowhere on this whole Kraven demon issue. I mean, it’s not even supposed to be native to North America, but suddenly we get three reports in two days? And you know the first thing Faith is going to ask is ‘How do we kill it?’, and I’d like to have an answer for her by tomorrow, but at this point I’d just like to ask, y’know, any particular haystacks, because –”
“Willow,” Rowena interrupted with a sigh, “you’re doing it again.”
“Oh, right,” Willow said, looking sheepish. “So anyway, I was thinking, I need to go talk to Giles about this thing with the reporter. After the way that guy stomped out of here today, there’s no way he’s just going to give up.”
“I wish you wouldn’t. Giles is trying to leave, and we need to be the ones to deal with this. I still think if…maybe we could…” Rowena trailed off as Willow shot her a venomous look. Rowena threw up her hands and sat back in her chair. “Fine, no spell.”
“Look,” Willow said, purposely adopting a neutral tone as she got to her feet, “I’m going to take him tea and crumpets, visit with Elizabeth, and have a nice talk by the fire. If it comes up, it comes up. That’s all. If you want to come along, you can.” She had a hopeful look on her face.
Rowena managed to crack a little smile but replied, “No thanks. As much as I’d like to party with Giles like it’s 1899, I think I’ll stay here and work on that whole demons-attacking-people issue.”
Willow looked slightly disappointed. “Okay,” she said, before walking out of the library.
Rowena turned back to her book, but a split-second later, she raised her head again when Willow poked hers back through the door.
“And no nodding off again. If you do, I can’t guarantee you won’t wake up duct-taped to a chair in the Slayer Rec Room.” With a grin, she exited.
Cemetery – Night
Kennedy picked her way through the tombstones of an old, misty cemetery, casually twirling her stake. The slayer stopped in front of a large crypt, momentarily examining a rather generic stone gargoyle before she put her hands on her hips and sighed.
“Alone, as usual,” she complained. “This is what happens when you decide it’s time to give some of the maggots command experience.”
At that moment, a shadowy figure dropped from above in front of the slayer. “You’re not alone, girl. But you’ll wish you were.”
Kennedy glanced up at the crypt, then down at the snarling vampire in front of her. “Hiding on top of crypts?” she asked. “That been working for ya?”
“I got you, didn’t I?” the vampire answered.
Kennedy responded with a killer left hook, followed immediately by a hard right. The vampire slammed into the stone wall of the crypt.
“I think you may be under a delusion here about who’s got who,” she quipped. “Or whom… I never really got that.”
“Slayer!” the vampire exclaimed, holding the back of its head. “Dammit!”
“That’s the idea,” Kennedy replied, before side-kicking the vampire square in the chest, knocking him back against the crypt once more. Holding her opponent still with a foot planted in its chest, Kennedy pulled out a stake and raised it for the kill.
Then something small whistled right by the slayer’s ear and buried itself in the vampire’s chest. Kennedy fell forward awkwardly on her leg as the demon turned to dust, stumbling but remaining upright. She looked down at where a silver-tipped crossbow bolt had fallen into the grass.
“Hey!” Kennedy exclaimed, turning around. “You almost hit me! Do you know how dan…” Kennedy stopped when she saw who it was that had fired the bolt.
Kadin Van Helsing smirked at the slayer as she lowered her large repeating crossbow. “Looked like you could use some help.”
Kennedy still hadn’t moved since she saw Kadin.
“Actually, you still do,” the hunter continued.
“I’m fine,” Kennedy finally said. This was followed by silence. Both girls shifted awkwardly.
“So…,” Kadin began. “How’ve you been?”
“Oh, y’know, scary monsters, the usual,” the slayer answered. “You?”
“Same,” Kadin replied. After a moment she asked, “So how’s Mia?”
Kennedy looked very uncomfortable, shifting her eyes back down to the grass. “Oh, um, she actually…Mia left. Left town. Possibly left the country. I’m not really sure.”
“Oh,” was all Kadin said. There was another, even more awkward silence.
“So, what are you doing here?” Kennedy asked, seemingly as much to break the silence as anything else. “Is there another apocalyptic vampire plot afoot, or are you just here for…”
“No,” the hunter interjected quickly. “No, I just, you know – this is the Hellmouth.”
“There’s always that,” Kennedy agreed.
“I just wanted to be where the action was,” Kadin said. “You know me.”
“Yeah,” was all Kennedy said. There were a few more seconds of quiet. Kadin seemed extremely interested in the inscription on a nearby tombstone.
“I’ve got a cabin,” the hunter said suddenly. “It’s out in Grafton, middle of nowhere. But it’s nice.”
“So you’re…living here…now?” Kennedy asked slowly, as if she wasn’t quite sure what she wanted the answer to be.
“Uh-huh,” Kadin said. “I go where the beasts go…”
“And we have beasts coming out of our ears,” Kennedy finished. “Gotcha.”
“You should come by some time,” Kadin ventured.
“Yeah,” the slayer agreed. “Some time.”
It appeared that more awkward silence was inevitable, so Kadin nipped it in the bud. “Well, I’ve gotta go. People to see, monsters to kill…”
“I know the drill,” Kennedy said. “Well, see ya around.”
“See ya,” Kadin said. There was a moment where both girls seemed to be waiting for the other to leave first. Kennedy smiled nervously. Then Kadin sighed and turned to leave.
Kennedy let out a long, deep breath and did the same, shaking her head.
Watchers Council – Computer Room – Same Time
Andrew sat at one of the terminals, typing furiously, biting down on his lower lip in concentration, when Jeff walked in.
“Whatcha doing?” Jeff asked.
“What?” Andrew asked, turning toward his friend. “Oh, I’m working on a draft of my screenplay. I want to have it ready by the time the studios start beating on my door.”
“Huh?” Jeff raised an eyebrow.
“Look, there’s no way we fooled that Devlin guy,” Andrew explained. “The media is going to get wind of the Council sooner or later…and when they do, we’ll all be famous, like Avery Brooks or-or Kate Mulgrew!”
Jeff seemed uncertain. “I don’t know about that, Andrew…”
“Well, yeah, Kate Mulgrew isn’t that famous,” Andrew admitted, “but we will be! Just think, Willow’s probably saved the world at least a dozen times.”
“So you’re saying people will see us as, like, superheroes or something?”
“It’s just like the X-Men, only the Council…it’s real!” Andrew exclaimed. “And the people are going to demand that the story be told in epic, yet accessible, form, from an insider’s perspective, with realistic CGI effects and toy tie-ins to Burger King kids’ meals!”
“So your movie is…” Jeff began.
“The Slayer Saga. It’s eventually going to be a trilogy, but I only have part one so far. It’s called The Chosen One. Part Two is The Awakening. For part three I’m torn between…”
“…do you think that Katie Holmes would work as Faith? The film could benefit from the publicity, but I’m not sure she has the gravitas to pull off the role of the dark –”
“Andrew!” Jeff yelled, bringing his friend up short. He returned to his normal voice once he got the quiet he needed. “No one’s going to find out about the Council. Rowena wouldn’t let that happen. It’s too important.”
“Oh, come on, Jeff,” Andrew argued. “This is the age of the internet. People are good at denying things, sure, but they’re not that good. The truth will come out. And my bet is sooner rather than later.”
Jeff sat in the chair next to Andrew. “Look, Andy, Rowena’s right. We can’t let that happen. Witchcraft, monsters, vampires, demons? People couldn’t deal with all that. You think we’ll be welcomed out there?” Jeff pointed to the door. “What happens when a bunch of people appear and claim that they’re special, that they’re Chosen, and the rest of humanity isn’t? I don’t think they’ll welcome us, Andy. I think they’ll resent us.”
Andrew sighed. “I know. It’s just…it would be cool to be famous, wouldn’t it?”
Jeff smiled. “Yeah, it would be.”
“Well don’t worry, I won’t rat us out or anything,” Andrew said. “All I was saying is that I think we’re fighting a losing battle on that front.”
“Maybe we are,” Jeff answered, “but I think we still have to fight it.”
Watchers Council – Giles and Becca’s Apartment – Later that Night
Giles held his daughter in his arms until Willow reached hers out. With a smile, he carefully handed the baby over to her. Willow smiled for a moment at seeing the baby grin, but it wasn’t enough to keep the happiness in place for long.
“I just feel like maybe we’re fighting a losing battle here, Giles,” Willow said, absently tickling the face of baby Elizabeth, who gurgled from her cradled position in Willow’s arms. Giles sat across from her.
“Perhaps,” Giles replied, pouring himself a cup of tea from the tray Willow had brought, “but I don’t think we need to worry just yet. You told me yourself that this Devlin fellow doesn’t have anything concrete. It’s only his word against ours at this point, and, frankly, with the right people our word will count quite a bit more.”
“But, a million dollar bribe, Giles? Yeah, we have nothing to hide…I can’t believe they agreed to make him an offer!” Willow frowned. “I wish I could have met with him first, but I’ve never been good at lying.”
“That is certainly true,” Giles agreed, a wistful smile crossing his features, “but that doesn’t change the fact that the Council, for the moment, is not in danger of being forced ‘out of the closet,’ to borrow a phrase. This reporter’s story will not be published. Rowena will see to it.”
“I know that, but…” Willow trailed off, looking pensively down at the tiny girl in her arms. Elizabeth cooed in return.
“Willow, you can tell me,” Giles said. “What is it that’s bothering you so much about this?” Willow looked up at him for a few seconds, then she sighed.
“It’s just, they don’t get it, Giles.” Willow sounded exasperated. “Rowena wants me to do a forgetting spell on Devlin.”
“And you don’t think you can do it?”
“Of course I can do it,” Willow explained defensively. “I just don’t think we should do it. You can’t use magic to mess with people’s minds that way. I’ve done it before, Giles,” Willow looked away from her mentor for a moment, briefly turning her attention back to the baby. “I’ve tried it, and it never goes well. That way leads to much badness.”
“So you believe that Rowena is asking you to do something unethical?” Giles asked.
“Yes,” Willow replied. “I just don’t understand why she doesn’t see my point of view.”
“Willow, Rowena has spent her entire adult life trying to protect and help the Watchers Council. She does only what she believes is right,” Giles said. “As do you.”
“I’m just tired, Giles,” Willow sighed. “It’s bad enough that I have to deal with the dark magicks all the time. If everyone else starts pushing me, too…”
“Willow, I assure you,” Giles said kindly, putting his hand on Willow’s shoulder, “Rowena loves you more than anything in the world and will help you with anything you need. It seems to me that you have a choice to make, but you shouldn’t let it affect how you feel about each other. That’s too important.”
Willow nodded, looking thoughtful. She tickled the baby’s stomach, eliciting another gurgle from Elizabeth. Giles smiled.
Plain Dealer Newsroom – Morning
“So…what exactly is it that you’re asking me to publish?” Robert Devlin’s editor looked dubiously across his desk to where his reporter stood in his usual unkempt jacket and khakis. The office was surrounded by glass windows that looked out onto the newsroom full of cubicles, bustling with activity as usual. Devlin hung up his cell phone and then turned to his editor.
“Sorry about that. It’s all right here, Marty,” Devlin explained impatiently. “This Council…they’re not just running schools for young girls. Several girls have died in their care under what can only be described as suspicious circumstances, and nobody seems willing to investigate.”
“So, there’s abuse of some kind –”
“No, I don’t think so,” Devlin continued. “These deaths…they’re combat deaths.”
“This isn’t Iraq, Devlin, and these are little girls,” Marty answered. “What exactly are you saying?”
“I’m not completely sure,” Devlin admitted. “I trailed a group of the girls the other night…”
“…and the way they acted, what they did… and there were these guys, they were deformed…I don’t think they were human.”
“Devlin, you’re my best investigative reporter,” the editor said with a sigh, “so I give you a lot of lee-way on these things, but you’re not making sense. What do you mean they weren’t human?”
“I’m saying…I think they were vampires.”
A silence followed, broken only by the muffled sounds of typing outside the office. Finally, Marty spoke, slowly and deliberately, with heavy skepticism in his voice.
“You’re saying that this Council is really some sort of supernatural-fighting organization and that these girls are, what, their army?”
“I know how it sounds,” Devlin said urgently. “But you have to believe me, Marty. I’ve got definite connections to this thing in Vancouver, too. And that’s not even the most bizarre thing.”
“No. So I went there, right, to this Council school or whatever. And their PR guy…he tried to bribe me to drop the investigation.”
“A million dollars.”
A whistle escaped the editor’s lips. “And you didn’t take it?”
“No, of course not,” Devlin answered incredulously. “So you see, I’m pretty sure they’ve got something big to hide. You don’t throw that kind of cash at somebody who’s barking up the wrong tree. So I guess the question is…do you believe me?”
Devlin’s editor looked away from his reporter for a moment and sighed, settling back in his chair. “I can’t believe I’m saying this…but yeah, I do. I believe there’s something seriously Outer Limits going on here.”
“So you’ll publish the story?” Devlin asked hopefully.
“No, I won’t.”
Devlin’s face fell. “But you said…”
“Look, I said I believe there’s something to all this. But you don’t have that something yet,” the editor said, picking up a wad of scribbled-on notepaper from his desk up in his hand. “There’s nothing here, Rob. Nothing solid, anyway. And look, these guys…why do you think no one will take them on? It’s because they’ve got the power, they’ve got the connections and they’ve got the money to make our lives very difficult. I’ve got to cover my ass here.”
Devlin sat stone-faced. “I see. Well, I wouldn’t want to mess up your severance package…”
“Rob, look,” the editor continued, raising his hand to keep the reporter in his seat. “I need something concrete. I need it on tape, I need a signed confession, I need something. If we go around making claims we can’t back up, that’s libel. You know that.”
Devlin stood up from his seat. “Fine. You want it on tape? I’ll get it. And with it, I’ll get you that story of the century.” He turned and left the office.
“I bet you will, at that,” the editor said quietly.
Watchers Council – Conference Room – Afternoon
The room was darkened except for a projector screen showing an image of a rather angry-looking bright red demon with yellow eyes and broad horns sprouting from the side of its head. Rowena strode in front of the screen, casting a shadow as colors played across her face.
“This is a juvenile Kraven demon. Originally a native of South America, they were brought here by slaving ships during the –”
“Blondie!” Faith interrupted from her seat at the conference table. “We don’t need a history lesson. We just need to know how to –”
“Kill it, I know,” the blonde watcher finished. “We, um, we’re still exploring options.”
“So we don’t know squat,” Kennedy said flatly. “That’s comforting.”
“Wait, that’s a juvenile?” Vi said, her voice tinged with fear. “So you’re saying these things we’ve been fighting, what took apart my patrol two nights back, are just…baby demons?”
“Fortunately, no,” Rowena replied as she took a seat at the table. “This is just the only picture we could find. The adults look almost exactly like this, but bigger. It appears that, before the other night, no one’s ever encountered an adult Kraven and lived long enough to sketch it.”
“Look at that: Vi goin’ where no human woman has gone before,” Faith joshed.
“Kind of like her and Xander,” Kennedy quipped, earning a smack on the arm from the red-haired slayer.
Faith turned back to Rowena. “So if we don’t know how to kill ’em, what’s the plan?”
“Well,” Rowena said, “I want Kennedy to lead a group tonight to the corner of Fulton and West 25th. It’s near there that we had the last sighting of this thing. All the texts say that Kravens are supposed to be in hibernation right now, so I want to know what’s going on, do a little recon.” She turned to Kennedy. “You up for it?”
“What do you think?” the slayer replied, cracking her knuckles.
“So why do you think this thing woke up?” Faith asked.
“Well, according to the texts, Kravens are supposed to hibernate in cycles as a species. Their next arousal wasn’t due until 2012,” Rowena said.
“I know I get antsy going that long without a good arousal,” Kennedy quipped with a smirk.
“Y’know what? I have no idea why this thing’s awake!” Rowena nearly yelled. She got to her feet. “Just go and get me some information so I can figure it out. Try not to get yourselves killed.” With that, she stormed out of the room.
As the door slammed shut, Vi was the first to speak. “Whoa, what’s eating her?”
“You got me,” Faith said. “You wanna go pick your team, Slick?”
“What?” Kennedy had been staring thoughtfully at the door Rowena had used. “Oh, yeah,” she said, shaking her head. “Let’s go.”
Cleveland Street – Night
An old white Geo Metro, a dent in the passenger-side door and duct tape on one of the headlights, came to a stop beneath the flickering bulb of a single streetlight. As the car’s lights dimmed and the engine sputtered to a stop, Robert Devlin stepped from the vehicle. With a grunt, he opened the trunk and pulled out a small digital video camera. He flipped open the camera’s view-screen and poked a few buttons, letting loose a slight sigh of relief when the camcorder did indeed begin to warm up. He scanned his surroundings cautiously.
“Not the best part of town,” Devlin muttered to himself. “One of these days I’d like to end up investigating the food quality at the Ritz-Carlton…” Devlin stopped when he heard the faint sound of female voices. Quickly, he moved behind the front end of his car and crouched low, peeking his camera over the hood.
With a battle-axe held lightly in one hand, Kennedy walked into the glare of the streetlight, followed by a team of four girls. She stopped, and when she held up her free hand, the rest of her group stopped as well.
“This is the place,” she said.
“Are you sure?” Marie asked, looking around. “I don’t see anything.”
Devlin’s Camera Viewscreen – Same Time
“I have spent years honing my keen slayer senses, grasshopper,” Kennedy explained condescendingly, “and that’s how I can tell the Kraven’s hiding in this warehouse.”
“Really?” asked a shorter blonde slayer named Morgan.
“Well, that and this is where that snitch said the demon was nesting,” Kennedy admitted. “Y’know what the cool part is about slayer powers? My knuckles don’t even hurt.” She flashed a smile at the girl, who returned it.
“I just meant, we have to be careful with this reporter guy sniffing around. He could be following us right now,” Marie explained. She looked over her shoulder with an air of worry.
Cleveland Street – Same Time
Devlin hurriedly hunched over even further behind the car, sending a piece of gravel skittering across the asphalt.
Marie’s head whipped around, but she saw nothing but a dumpy-looking car amidst the all-encompassing night.
Devlin’s Camera Viewscreen – Same Time
“I wouldn’t worry about him,” Kennedy assured her lieutenant. “Rowena’s in the process of pulling the wool over his eyes but good.” She smirked grimly. “Deceit’s her strong point. She always gets her man…or woman.” With that, Kennedy turned briskly and led her group towards the nearby warehouse. Behind her, an African-American slayer carried a large green duffle bag over her shoulder.
“Y’know, Chamique,” said one of the girls, “your bag’s kind of puke colored.”
“Hey, it’s not the bag that counts,” Chamique replied.
Cleveland Street – Same Time
As the slayers left, Devlin peeked his head over the hood of the car. Then he got to his feet and followed, his camera ready.
Warehouse – Moments Later
Kennedy led her team of slayers warily across the dirty gray and black floor of the warehouse, her battle-axe ready in her hand. A few non-descript wooden crates were scattered across their path. Ahead of them, towering stacks of crates dominated the further parts of the cavernous building, forming a sort of wall of packaging.
“Yep,” Morgan commented dryly. “It’s a warehouse.”
Kennedy raised a finger to her lips for quiet and took a few cautious steps forward before slowly lowering her axe.
“I don’t think it’s here,” the slayer leader admitted.
“So what do we –?” Marie began, before being interrupted by a sweeping crash from beyond the wall of crates.
“WHO DARES ENTER MY SANCTUARY?!” boomed a deep voice with a strange and definitely otherworldly strength behind it.
Kennedy’s eyes scanned her surroundings in an instant, but saw nothing but the dusty rafters. “This is the Watchers Council!” she yelled. “Come out with your hands up…or possibly your tentacles!” Kennedy cracked a ghost of a smile and turned to Marie. “I always wanted to say that,” she whispered.
“WHAT IS YOUR BUSINESS HERE?!”
Warehouse – Same Time
Outside the large brick building, Robert Devlin stood by a dirty, opaque window. One of the panes was broken, and through this, he had poked the lens of his camcorder. He scanned the inside with his camera, then found his target.
Devlin’s Camera Viewscreen – Same Time
Kennedy confidently stepped forward, seemingly towards her unseen host.
“Well,” she began casually, “I’m here to kick ass and chew gum. And I’m all out of gum.”
Warehouse – Same Time
Marie gave her leader a confused look. “Huh?”
“Faith always says cool stuff, and it made more sense in my head, okay?” Kennedy defended. Without another word, she ran towards the wall of crates, holding her battle-axe. Just as she was about to reach the box barrier, a massive red fist punched right through the wall and sent Kennedy flying thirty feet backwards. She crashed into one of the crates, smashing it to pieces. Kennedy gritted her teeth, obviously in some pain, as blood dripped from a cut across her cheek.
“Whoa!” exclaimed one of the girls. “Are you okay?”
“I’m good,” Kennedy said, slowly picking herself up to her feet. “What was…” At that moment, the front of the wall of crates exploded into nothingness. “…that?”
A cloud of splinters and dust gradually dispersed into the dark, revealing a huge, muscular red demon, its full and terrible height rising almost to the faraway ceiling. Broad horns protruded from its misshapen skull, framing glowing yellow eyes. The demon held a huge serrated sword in its hand, big enough to slice a semi in two, let alone a slayer. It let loose a blood-curdling roar.
“Whoa,” said Marie quietly.
Warehouse – Same Time
“Jesus, Mary, and Joseph!” exclaimed Devlin. He clapped one hand to his mouth while the other held the camera steady.
Devlin’s Camera Viewscreen – Same Time
Kennedy looked around at her cowering troops.
“C’mon, this is nothing,” she said. “We took out that Presidium Bastion, remember? We can waste this Conan wanna-be!” Kennedy gestured at the behemoth with her axe.
No one moved. With a sigh, Kennedy saw that she might have to lead by example. She rushed the demon once again…
Warehouse – Same Time
…and met with an extremely similar result, this time smacking hard into the far brick wall of the warehouse, cracking the mortar in several places. Kennedy sank to the ground, coughing.
“IS THAT ALL WHO OPPOSE ME?” the demon cackled. “HUMAN FEMALES WHO DO NOT KNOW THEIR PLACE?”
With one last sputter, Kennedy dragged herself to her knees, her face covered in a mixture of dust and her own blood. She took a few ragged breaths. “Okay,” she muttered, “now I’m pissed.”
Warehouse – Same Time
“She takes a licking and keeps on ticking,” commented an impressed Devlin, his eyes transfixed by the LCD screen of his camcorder.
Warehouse – Same Time
Kennedy drew as much breath as she could and shouted. “Chamique, toast him!”
The African-American girl smiled and slung her duffle off her back and onto the floor, then unzipped it to reveal a large metal contraption with military markings.
“A flamethrower?” asked Morgan incredulously. “How come you get a flamethrower?”
“Because I’m cooler than you,” Chamique replied. She shouldered the weapon, and, with one last smirk, unleashed a sheet of flame in the Kraven’s general direction.
Kennedy managed the beginnings of a smile, too. “I call it, ‘Kraven en Flambe’.” With a painful sounding cough, she continued. “Get it? ‘Cause ‘Flambe’ means fire in…” A look of horror came over Kennedy’s features.
The red demon was engulfed in flames for a brief moment, but immediately the fire began to dissipate, leaving the Kraven standing unharmed. The wooden crates behind the demon, however, were on fire…a lot of fire.
Chamique cringed. “That was probably not the greatest idea ever, huh?”
“That thing is flame retardant!” Morgan exclaimed. “It’s like…an asbestos demon!”
“I WAS FORGED IN FLAMES!” boomed the demon. “YOU CANNOT DEFEAT ME!”
“Wanna bet?” said a confident-sounding voice, and the demon turned its gaze downward to see Marie smirking up at it, a sword in her hand.
Devlin’s Camera Viewscreen – Same Time
The demon swung its huge sword down at Marie, who rolled out of the way with a grunt. With slayer agility, she sprang back to her feet and began to scale the demon itself. With a few quick leaps, Marie was standing on the Kraven demon’s shoulder, a background of burning wood and black smoke behind her.
“Hey, I can see my big ol’ box from up here,” she commented drolly, before swinging her sword at the demon’s neck. With a sharp clang, the sword found the demon’s skin impenetrable and broke, leaving a shocked Marie staring at the broken piece of blade in her hand.
The demon smoothly flicked Marie off its shoulder like she was a fly, sending her falling into the flaming wood below.
Warehouse – Same Time
“Marie!” yelled Kennedy. She grunted in pain as she scrambled to her feet. She gazed up at the huge red demon, its horrible visage wreathed in flame. “We have to get out of here,” she said, almost to herself. “Girls!” Kennedy shouted. “Get out of here!”
“What about Marie?” Chamique asked, slightly panicked.
“I’ll get her,” Kennedy replied. “Everybody get out of the building!”
Devlin’s Camera Viewscreen – Same Time
Jumping out of the way of another slash of the demon’s huge sword, Kennedy ran right into the flames.
“Marie!” she shouted again, her eyes darting around, before the smoke put Kennedy into a coughing fit. Covering her mouth with her sleeve, Kennedy plunged deeper into the flames and disappeared from view.
The Kraven’s sword slashed amidst the fire, searching for a pair of slayers.
Watchers Council – Lobby – Later that Night
Willow half walked, half jogged into the lobby, a worried expression on her face. Rowena was already leaning on the reception desk, which Andrew sat behind wearing a headset.
“I heard there’s an alert,” Willow said. “What’s up?”
“Well, apparently, Kennedy’s little recon mission ended up burning down a warehouse in Ohio City.” Rowena did not look pleased.
Willow’s brow furrowed even further. “Is everybody okay?”
“Last we talked to her, Morgan was less coherent than Attack of the Clones,” Andrew supplied. “So we’re not completely sure, exactly.”
At the sound of the front doors bursting open, Willow and Rowena spun to see a soot-and-blood-covered Kennedy, supporting a weak-looking Marie, enter ahead of four slayers in various lesser states of disrepair.
“Kennedy,” Willow exclaimed, “are you okay?”
“I’ll live…probably,” Kennedy replied flatly. “Remember that whole thing about how we don’t know how to kill a Kraven demon? Turns out, we still don’t. The thing’s immune to swords, fire, and is roughly the size of Rhode Island. It’s also definitely not asleep. I have to get Marie to the infirmary.” The group of slayers disappeared from the room as Rowena and Willow looked on.
“Well, at least everyone’s okay,” said Rowena.
“Yeah,” Willow agreed. “I don’t know how we’d explain another dead girl to that reporter.”
Rowena gave her girlfriend a particularly icy stare, which Willow duly noticed.
“I didn’t mean…y’know, in addition to dead girl being very bad all around, I meant…” A look of realization came over Willow’s face. “Oh! This is because I mentioned Devlin, isn’t it?”
“We both agree that the problem isn’t going away,” Rowena said.
“Well, yeah, the way he left today, I’m pretty sure he wasn’t convinced,” Willow agreed.
“And I think we both know the only way to solve it,” Rowena continued, her voice even.
Willow held up her hands. “If this is about the forgetting spell, I already told you –”
“Willow, we don’t have a choice!” Rowena argued, her voice edging from even towards shrill. “If the world at large finds out about us, there will be utter chaos. People will die. Innocent people. Hundreds, possibly thousands.”
“I get that part,” Willow said defensively. “I’m just saying, we need to find another way.”
“Willow, there is no other way,” Rowena said. “Don’t you think I’ve tried? I wouldn’t ask you unless there was no other possible…” Rowena choked up and looked as if she might cry.
“Baby, is…” Willow began.
Rowena rubbed one eye with her hand and took a deep breath. “Willow, Devlin is one of the most upstanding, determined individuals I’ve ever met. He can’t be fooled, he can’t be dissuaded, he can’t be threatened and he can’t be bought. Magic is the only way.”
“It’s wrong,” Willow said quietly, but firmly. “You know that…or some part of you does, anyway. I wouldn’t want to be with somebody who didn’t realize that.”
“Of course it’s wrong!” Rowena snapped. “God, do you think I want to do this? To invade someone’s mind against their wishes? It’s pretty damn wrong, all right. But this isn’t about wrong or right. It’s about doing what’s necessary…” Her voice broke again. “It’s about doing what’s necessary to protect the human race.”
“You sound like the Presidium,” said Willow stonily.
The pair of lovers looked each other with hurt and distrust. An uncomfortable silence filled the air between them.
“Is this a bad time?” a voice interrupted.
Both women turned to see a soot-stained Robert Devlin standing in the door, carrying a video camera under one arm.
“What…what do you want?” Rowena asked tiredly.
“I wanted to tell you guys that I was wrong,” he said.
Willow and Rowena looked at each other, stunned grins crossing their faces briefly before they turned back to the reporter.
“That’s wonderful news, sir,” Willow gushed.
“Glad you think so,” Devlin replied, taking a step forward into the lobby. “You see, this isn’t the story of the century.”
“No?” asked Rowena.
“No,” Devlin said. “It’s the story of the millennium.”
End of Act Two