Dawn’s eyes slowly began to flutter open. What she saw was pinkish, and out of focus. With a few more blinks, she saw her surroundings more clearly. Dawn lay on a four huge four poster bed, surrounded by pink, heart-shaped cushions. She tried to move, but something held her back. Dawn looked up to see her wrists tied to the head of the bed by ropes that seemed to be made of purple velvet. She looked down to see that her feet were being held the same way.
“What the…” she said under her breath.
Dawn looked around the large, pink room. At the far end, a large cushioned chair sat in front of a high-definition television, which was blaring a reality show at top volume.
“Hey, you!” Dawn yelled. “Where the hell am I?”
There was no answer. Dawn tried again. “Hello?”
“Just a sec, Laguna Beach is on,” answered a female voice. Dawn rolled her eyes and waited. She sniffed the pillow next to her head and crinkled her nose at the smell of perfume.
After a moment, Luna emerged from behind the chair and walked toward the bed, one hand on her hip and the other carrying Madame Fliffertop I.
“Had to wait for a commercial break,” she explained. “You don’t mess with Luna’s Beach.”
“So you’re Luna,” Dawn ventured.
“The one and only,” Luna answered. “I bet you’ve been wondering who’s behind all this.”
“Um, actually, we sort of figured it out,” Dawn said.
“Here,” she said, pushing the stuffed cat toward Dawn’s bound hand. “Wanna pet her? She feels as real as when she was alive.”
“No thanks,” Dawn replied.
“Oh, come on. She won’t bite…Really, she can’t.”
Dawn looked at Luna for a moment. “No, really. I think I’ll pass on petting your pussy, no matter how tempting it might be…If you don’t mind me asking…Where are we?”
“In my secret underground lair. Duh!” Luna said haughtily.
“You have a lair?” Dawn asked dubiously.
“Any good villain does,” Luna replied. She leaned closer to Dawn and added quietly, “I’ve been studying.”
Dawn just smirked. “Right.”
Luna huffed and stood back up straight. “You know, slut, Skye’s mine,” she said, “and there’s nothing you can do about it.”
“I’m a slut?” Dawn protested. “Have you seen the outfit you’re wearing?”
“THIS IS VERSACE!!!” Luna screamed. Putting an offended hand on her chest, she attempted to compose herself. “You need to be calm, Luna, don’t let the new girl bait you. We went over this.”
“Who are you talking to?” Dawn asked, bewildered, her eyes shifting around the room.
“It…doesn’t matter,” Luna said, waving her hand in the air. “I’ve been planning this a very long time. Years, actually. You have no idea how hard it’s been.”
“Planning what?” Dawn queried, still obviously not sure what was going on.
“Getting back Skye, of course,” Luna said, as if it was the most obvious thing in the world.
“By kidnapping me?”
“By showing her who really loves her, slut!” Luna shouted. “Nobody leaves Luna, do you hear me? NOBODY!!!”
“Obviously someone did, and you’re have a little bit of difficulty getting over it,” Dawn said.
Luna looked as if her eyeballs were about to pop out of their sockets. For a moment, she was too angry to form words.
“I think it’s time to start the next part of the plan,” she finally managed.
“And what’s that?”
“The part where you get tortured,” Luna said, walking towards one of the lair’s many closets.
“Tortured?” Dawn repeated, flabbergasted. “Since when is there torture? Why with the torture?”
“Because there’s always torture,” Luna said, as if she was talking to an idiot.
Dawn sighed. “Why am I always the one who gets kidnapped by the ditzy blonde?”
“I think Dawn might be in serious trouble,” Skye said, panic evident in her voice, as she, Vi, Xander, Andrew and Tracey walked down what seemed to be an endless corridor.
“We’ll find her,” Vi assured her, her tone brooking no argument. “I’m in charge now.”
“Remember the last time when everyone went out to the forest and you were in charge?” Tracey pointed out. “It was total anarchy.”
“There were circumstances then,” Vi said, “circumstances that are no longer present, like a missing Kill Bill DVD.” Then she pointed at Andrew, her voice deadly serious. “And no oatmeal.”
“A man can only be pushed so far, before he becomes more than just a man,” Andrew intoned.
“You guys don’t know Luna, okay?” Skye continued, still not comforted. “She’s all psychotic and…curvy…and she makes Shannon from Lost look like Marie Curie.”
“She’s curvy?” Xander asked, suddenly interested. Vi shot him a look.
“Look, what I’m saying is that she’s completely unpredictable,” Skye persisted. “We have no idea what she’ll do to Dawn…or us.”
Vi raised a hand and stopped walking at a spot where another tunnel branched off from the main corridor. Everyone kept walking, except for Xander.
“You coming?” he asked. The others stopped and looked at Vi.
“You’re supposed to stop when I do that,” Vi said, exasperated.
“Since when are you the boss?” Skye asked.
“I’m the slayer on-the-spot,” Vi insisted. “That means I’m in charge.”
“Andrew’s High Priest of the coven,” Tracey pointed out. “Doesn’t he outrank you in some way?”
“Look, I think we should go this way,” Vi continued, pointing down the other hallway.
“Honey,” Xander said, trying a little too hard to be nice, “what makes this different from the last four side tunnels?”
“Well…” Vi began, but then faltered. Skye tapped her foot impatiently. “I just have a feeling, okay?”
Andrew poked his head around the corner and inspected the other tunnel.
“It does kinda look different,” he said. “I think it’s taller…This could be it. Only one way to be sure, though.” With that, Andrew grabbed the glasses off Vi’s face and threw them down the tunnel.
“Hey, that’s my costume, you little pip – ” Vi was cut off by a loud grinding noise.
“What is it?” Tracey asked, as the group congregated at the entrance to the tunnel. Suddenly, one after the other, several gigantic axes, their blades a good six feet in length, sliced out of slots spaced evenly down the length of the tunnel and into similar slots on the opposite side. Then they sliced back across the tunnel, creating a deadly gauntlet of sharpened steel.
“Yep, this is the way,” Andrew said.
“Wait, what?” Skye asked, bewildered. “Why does axes mean Dawn? You people are just jumping to conclusions and things don’t make…it doesn’t make sense!”
“The way to the villain’s lair is always guarded with an overly complicated, unnecessarily lethal security system,” Andrew explained.
“This isn’t a security system,” Vi said. “It’s the Spanish Inquisition.”
“Which, of course, no one ever expects!” Tracey said, a grin on her face. Andrew laughed, and her grin just got bigger.
“When the axes fall…it just seems random,” Xander said.
Vi bit one of her nails in concentration. “One…two…three…one…two… three…one…” She snapped her fingers. “There’s a pattern,” Vi announced.
“But…sweetie, why would there be a pattern?” Xander asked. “It would be really easy, and more effective, to just make them random.”
“There’s always a pattern,” Andrew said. “Otherwise, how could the secret agent get to the lair for the climactic confrontation? Lead the way, Vi.”
“What?” Skye exclaimed. “You can’t be serious.”
But Vi was already tensed and counting down. “Two steps forward, now!” she yelled suddenly…and took two steps forward. Everyone hurried to follow, even Skye, who was barely missed by the first blade on its way back down. Vi was counting again.
“Now!” she yelled again, over the whooshing of the blades, and everyone made it safely into the next space between axe-paths. And then the process was repeated again, and again. Soon there was only one axe between the group and the other end of the gauntlet.
“Now!” Vi ordered once more, but this time, Tracey’s bare foot slipped on the bare floor and she stumbled to her knees.
“Tracey!” Andrew yelled, and turned around.
“Andrew, no!” Vi exclaimed, but Andrew already had his arm around Tracey’s arm and was pulling her out of harm’s way. The axe fell towards them as Tracey got to her feet, seemingly in slow motion. It swished by just as Andrew finished pulling Tracey to safety, mere millimeters from slicing the pair into a quartet.
“Are you guys okay?” Skye asked.
“I think so,” Andrew nodded. Tracey nodded, as well…and then her already skimpy top completely fell off, the string having been sliced clean through by the axe. Tracey immediately covered herself with her arms.
“And here I thought the evening was going so well,” she said sarcastically. Both Xander and Andrew averted their eyes. Tracey actually looked a little disappointed. Vi reached into the pocket of her blouse and held a safety pin out to Tracey.
“What are the odds that you would have a safety pin?” Skye asked, a little perplexed.
“Ms. Moneypenny is always prepared,” Vi explained.
“Don’t look,” Tracey teased Andrew, as she prepared to pin her top back together.
“Not looking,” Andrew said, turning his back. “I need my bag,” he added in a whisper to Xander.
Xander grinned and patted him on the shoulder in support.
Watchers Council – Lobby – Night
Becca gently rocked Elizabeth as the baby drifted off to sleep. Giles smiled at the pair while sitting in a chair off to the side of the room.
“Where the frilly heck is everybody?” Willow wondered, walking towards the pair from the nearest doorway. “I’ve been looking all over, but everyone’s…Oh my Goddess, look how cute!” Willow gasped when she saw little Elizabeth’s outfit. She had to shake her head to overcome the blast of cuteness. “I think I’ve figured out the location of a nest, and nobody’s here. What happened to the party…wait, did Andrew have another practical joke planned?”
“There was no joke,” Giles explained. “Actually, they all left on a mission, but my wife and I judged it would be too much excitement for Elizabeth, so we stayed behind.”
“Ro went out on a mission without telling me?” Willow looked slightly hurt.
“Rowena judged that the situation required immediate attention, and you weren’t present. And as I understand it, the two of you were not exactly in a position where you were…sharing everything with one another.”
“Giles, what happened?” Willow asked, still confused as to what exactly was going on.
“It’s complicated…” Giles began.
“Skye’s ex hired goons to go after Dawn,” Becca interrupted.
“I was going to arrive at that bit,” Giles said ruefully, “given sufficient time.”
“We’ve got to organize a search party,” Willow said excitedly, “go after them. They don’t even know what they’re…”
“Willow, Rowena and the others are certainly capable of taking care of themselves,” Giles interrupted. She looked uncertain. He sighed. “Perhaps your feelings on this matter are being affected by something else?”
Willow looked at him reluctantly for a moment, then at Becca’s encouraging smile. She licked her lips and said, “I’m not sure if things are ever going to be the same between Rowena and I…We’ve both said things, things I’m not sure we can ever take back. And we’ve both done things…” she sighed. “Maybe that reporter was right. Maybe the heads of Council branches being together just isn’t a good idea.”
“Willow,” Giles began, “as I have been told repeatedly through the years, love is not logical. If a slayer can be in love with a vampire, the Head of the Coven can love the Head of the Watchers. This is merely a part of the process. Growing pains, if you will.”
“And I’ve seen how Rowena looks at you, Willow,” Becca added. “The woman would give her life for you.”
“I dunno, guys…sometimes it feels like we’ve already broken up,” Willow said sadly.
“These things take work,” Becca told her. “If you want to stop feeling that way, you’re going to have to take action.”
“I guess,” Willow answered. After a moment, she shook her head again. “Sorry, didn’t mean to go all movie-of-the-week on you guys. I just came here to tell people about this nest, but obviously no one cares.”
“A nest? Around here?” Giles asked, sounding interested.
“Yeah,” Willow replied, “I was running these pattern analyses, and the data is focused around a specific point…but these kill counts, they aren’t high enough for a nest of the size that would be indicated by the sightings.”
“Well, still,” Giles said, “people are being killed.” He stood up, donning his glasses to look at the papers Willow was handing him. “I suggest we put a strike team together right away, then.”
“We?” Willow asked. “Don’t you mean me? Or…you, but when you think you it means me, because you’re not…are you?”
“I could perhaps be of some assistance,” Giles answered, “especially with the other experienced Council members in the field at the moment.”
“Great!” Willow said. “I’ll go get the rosters and make the calls. Meet you in the briefing room in fifteen minutes.”
Willow left the lobby. Giles’ gaze rose from studying the papers to see Becca smirking at him while holding the baby.
“What?” he asked.
“Other members in the field?”
“W-Well, that’s what’s going on, isn’t it?”
Becca couldn’t contain her chuckle. “You’re pathetic,” she answered dryly.
“No, you’re right. I should have Willow head the operation with the team. We’ll go home and –”
Becca stroked his cheek. “Go,” she told him.
“Are you sure?” he asked, with a touch of hopefulness in his voice.
“Yes, before I change my mind,” she teased.
Giles smiled and started to dart off but then he turned around and gave Becca a kiss before starting on his way again. Becca simply smiled as she watched him go.
Becca held up Elizabeth in front of her and said, “No being a watcher either, Missy.”
“Have you had enough?” Luna expectantly asked Dawn, a grin on her face.
“Please, that’s enough,” Dawn begged, still tied to the bed, “I’ll tell you whatever…why are you torturing me again?”
“You want some more?” Luna said wickedly. Dawn closed her eyes tightly in anticipation of the pain.
Luna brought her finger down on the play button of her stereo remote, and the familiar, high-pitched chorus of Hanson’s “MMMBop” filled the air. Dawn wriggled as much as she could in her restraints, trying desperately to break free and cover her ears. After a moment, Luna paused the song once again.
“Wow, that’s almost…a large number of times through the song,” Luna commented. “You’re totally getting close to the record.”
“Lucky me,” Dawn replied through gritted teeth. “You’re never gonna get her.”
“Excuse me?” Luna asked incredulously.
“Skye,” Dawn answered. “She’ll never fall for your act.”
“Let me tell you something about your precious Skye,” Luna said, her voice on edge. “She’s a slut, too. She’ll go where her naughty regions tell her to. And…” She looked Dawn up and down with disdain. “I am definitely hotter than you.”
“Whatever,” Dawn blurted sarcastically. “Can we get back to the fine Oklahoman rock & roll?”
Luna wasn’t paying attention. “And she’s a bitch, too. You’ll think everything’s perfectly fine, but she won’t be there, not really. She’s off in her own world, thinking of everything but the people who love her, the people who matter.”
Dawn seemed less sure of herself.
“I’ve got a very convincing fake laugh and the best boobs money can buy, and I still couldn’t keep her,” the blonde continued. “So do you really think she’ll stay with you? You’re a freak. You’ve got nothing she wants.”
There was a moment of silence as Dawn said nothing and Luna gave a self-satisfied smirk.
Luna pressed play again and Dawn attempted to drown out the music with her own scream.
Park – Next to Statue – Night
Faith twirled her knife in between her fingers, looking extremely bored as she sat on the grass next to the entrance to Luna’s headquarters, still wearing her pirate Halloween costume.
“How long’s it been?” she asked.
“Almost an hour,” Rowena replied, checking her watch from her listless position next to Robin on a nearby park bench.
“But they’ll be okay, right? I mean…Dawn will be okay?” Jeff said tentatively from his position spread-eagled on a patch of grass. With difficulty, he raised his head a few inches. “Right?”
“Help’s on the way,” Kennedy said, as she sat on the back bumper of the council van. “Vi can take care of herself.”
“But Dawn…” Jeff pressed.
“Will be fine,” Robin assured him. “Probably.”
Faith’s eyes widened. “Guys…I think I just realized something.”
“What?” everyone else asked in unison.
“We’re trying to rescue Dawn, and we sent those five?”
“Vi’s been doing a great job,” Kennedy defended, “and Andrew’s been…Vi’s been doing a great job.”
“I guess,” Faith answered, “but remember the last time she was in charge? They’re down there fighting this bitch, who seems pretty damn dangerous to me, and they’re probably just listening to Andrew talk about movies.”
“I’m sure things will turn out all right,” Rowena asserted, sounding as if she didn’t quite believe it herself. “But if you think it’s necessary, we could always attempt to get past the laser squirrels again.” Rowena pointed up to a nearby tree where one of the escaped squirrels was sitting, almost taunting them.
Kennedy’s bored expression turned into one of abject fear. “We’re not doing that, are we? I mean…there have to be other options.”
Faith just sighed and looked up at the rodent. “If Dawn gets offed because of squirrels, B’s gonna kill me.”
Corridor in Luna’s Lair – Same Time
“If Dawn dies because of this, I’m gonna kill somebody,” Skye said, exasperated, as the group turned yet another corner somewhere beneath Faith’s feet, “and I’m not guaranteeing it won’t be somebody here.”
“Hey, we’re all trying our best, okay?” Tracey replied, a little annoyed. “It’s not our fault your crazy ex-girlfriend has some sort of…pointless tunnel fetish.”
“But we’re never gonna find her like this!” Skye countered. “We’re just wandering randomly.”
Vi stopped and turned to look at Skye. “We’re also never going to find her if you keep up this negative attitude.”
“Hey, you can’t talk to me like –”
“You know what?” Vi interrupted. “I don’t care. I’m in charge here, whether you like it or not. And I say we’re going to find Dawn and figure out a way to get her out of here. Are you on board or not?”
There was a beat where Skye just looked at the redhead, her expression unreadable.
“Yes,” she finally answered. “I’m sorry, you guys, I just…I’m really worried about her.”
“Apology accepted,” said Vi, turning to continue in the direction the group had been headed. “You know, Skye, there are two types of people in the world – a person who thinks they can and a person who thinks they can’t. Both of them are right. But the question is, which one are you?”
“Right now, I just want to be the person who gets Dawn back,” Skye answered, her reserve nearly faltering.
“Then you will,” Vi said with great certainty.
Behind the group, Tracey was telling Andrew, “I like your suit.”
“Really?” he replied happily. “Thanks. It was really hard to get into, but I think it was worth it. But this collar is kinda chafing my neck.”
“Well…” Tracey began, awkwardly sidling closer to Andrew, “that’s because getting out of the suit is the fun part.”
“Really,” she breathed.
“I dunno,” Andrew said, fiddling with his tie, “I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to untie this knot. Have you ever tied men’s neckties before? I’m not sure I’m doing this right.”
Tracey’s face fell.
“Hey guys, hurry up,” Xander’s voice called from beyond the next corner. “Check this out.”
Andrew and Tracey rounded the corner to see Xander, Vi and Skye peering through a grating in the wall of the tunnel.
“What is it?” Tracey asked curiously.
Andrew looked through the grating and nodded in approval. “Central Command. Nice.”
On the other side of the grating, hundreds of Luna’s large, bug-like employees bustled from computer screen to computer screen over three wide levels. In a central opening, a large map of the Cleveland area was illuminated. A few more bugs skittered around the map, moving various pink and white My Little Pony toys around over its surface. Still other bug minions marched around the perimeter, holding guns in their fore-legs, seemingly on guard duty. On the opposite end of the bottom level from the grate was a large metal door that had been painted pink. A sign on the door read “Luna’s Lair” in glittering silver letters.
“Dawn’s behind that door,” Skye said anxiously.
“I’m with you on that one,” Xander agreed, “but how do we get past the swarm? I mean, I’m not saying they’re more than generic monster-of-the-week material, but there sure are a lot of them, and we’re not exactly well armed.”
“Speak for yourself, Mr. Astronaut,” said Vi, as she pulled out a decent-sized battle axe from the inside of her blouse.
“Do I really want to know where you’ve been keeping that?” Tracey asked.
“Is always prepared,” the group said in harmony.
“We know,” Tracey interjected. “Xander’s right, though. We need a plan.”
“That door looks like it could be opened by computer,” Andrew volunteered. “If I could get to the mainframe, I bet I could override the security protocols and open the door.”
“How do you know which one is the mainframe?” Skye asked. “There’s like a hundred different computer screens in there.
“I think it’s the big one over there under the lit-up red ‘Mainframe’ sign,” Vi pointed out.
“Oh, right,” Skye agreed sheepishly.
“Guess that means someone needs to distract the bug-eyed brigade,” Tracey said.
“Leave them to me,” Vi stated confidently.
“You sure?” Xander asked. “I mean, I know you’re all that, but there’s gotta be over a hundred…”
“I’ve got it,” Vi insisted. “We should split up. Andrew, Tracey, Skye, get downstairs to the mainframe. When you get that door open, find Dawn and get her out of there. Remember to watch out for traps. Xander and I will distract the mantises…manti…really big bugs. Got it?”
“Right,” Vi said, and then, with a big spin-kick she knocked in the grating with a crash. Smoothly, she stepped into the opening and then through it, dropping softly down onto the upper-most of the command center’s three levels.
“Okay then”, Xander said, and followed his girlfriend. After a moment, Skye and Andrew did the same.
“Oh God,” Tracey sighed. “We’re gonna die, aren’t we? I’m gonna die in this stupid bikini.” And she stepped through the opening.
Watchers’ Council – Conference Room – Night
Willow walked in front of a map she’d drawn on one of Andrew’s big boards, showing the sites of recent vampire kills.
“As you can see,” she said, “we believe we’ve located the site of a nest. We’re not sure on the numbers, so exercise extreme caution.” She nodded, and the lights clicked on. “Okay, Heli, you’re leading this one. You choose the team.”
“Heli?” Jaye asked. “What are Faith, Kennedy and Vi doing?”
“It’s Halloween,” Marie told her, “the top brass are all out having too much fun to do their jobs.” She smiled ruefully.
“Hey, I can handle this,” Heli insisted.
“Right,” Saida answered sarcastically, “because you did such a great job delivering babies while we were off risking our necks in Vor.”
As the argument intensified, Giles walked over to Willow, who seemed to be in her own little world. “Perhaps you should step in before this gets out of hand,” he prompted.
“What?” Willow asked, shaking her head to bring herself back to reality. “Oh, right, probably. SHUT UP!” The room fell silent. “You’ve got your orders. Heli, choose your team.”
“We’ll take Marie, Chamique, Pexie, Grace and Shannon,” the Finnish slayer said. Jaye raised her eyebrow, but said nothing when Willow shot her a look.
“Alright,” Willow said, “We’ll move out in half an hour. Be ready.”
The group began to file slowly out of the room. Giles looked questioningly at Willow. “What?” she asked.
“You seem a bit…distracted,” Giles commented. “I think that perhaps the situation with Rowena is weighing on you more than you may want to admit.”
“Giles, I’m fine,” Willow replied. “I was thinking about the nest. Rowena and her issues are the furthest things from my mind.” Giles raised an eyebrow. “Maybe not the furthest thing,” she admitted, “but still, we’ve got work to do.” She turned toward the exit and motioned him to follow.
Park – Next To Statue – Night
“I just can’t get her out of my mind, you know?” Rowena said sadly. Robin sat next to her on a park bench near the statue that hid the entrance to Luna’s headquarters. The pair’s eyes were fixed on Kennedy and Faith, who were sparring playfully on the grass a small distance away.
“I think I know what you mean,” he answered quietly, as he reached down to pick up a pebble. He tossed it at the squirrel in the tree, so its laser stayed away from them as they talked.
“Things were so good for a while,” Rowena continued, her eyes not moving from the mild violence occurring across the lawn. “I guess when I took this job I just figured we would…work it out, whatever came up, we would work it out. I’ve sworn to do my best to protect the world, and I knew that would mean making some hard choices…but I need her. I don’t think I really realized how much I needed her until I didn’t have her.”
“Rowena,” Robin told her, watching Faith’s skirts swirl as she tried a spinning kick that Kennedy easily blocked, “I know how you feel about Willow. And I know how she feels about you, whether she’s willing to admit it right now or not.”
Kennedy tripped and fell backwards to the ground, but she used her legs to keep Faith at bay.
“The thing is, you’ll never work things out if you spend all your time worrying about how they’re not working out,” Robin continued. “You have to be thankful for all the times when everything was perfect, however few they may be. Because those moments, they don’t last forever, and it’s why we’re doing all this fighting in the first place – so we have the chance for more moments.”
Kennedy sprang to her feet and ducked a blow from Faith, then attempted a leg sweep that Faith just hopped over, her skirt fluttering in the wind to reveal a knife strapped to her boot.
“I could say the same thing to you too, you know?” Rowena said, motioning to Robin’s leg. “The good times aren’t over.”
“That’s not what I mean at all,” Robin replied, as Faith managed to block a couple hand-strikes from Kennedy.
“When’s the last time you were…intimate…with Faith?” Rowena asked. “Was it before Vor?”
“That doesn’t matter,” Robin answered. “We’re talking about you.”
“I’ll take that as a yes,” she replied. “But keep this in mind, Faith isn’t going to wait forever. And you’re going to have to let her see you, all of you, at some point again.”
“So now you’re giving me advice on relationships?” Robin asked.
“I don’t need things to be picture perfect in my own life to see what’s up with others.”
Robin grinned. “Now it’s my turn to say, Willow isn’t going to wait forever, and ask you the same question…how long’s it been?”
Rowena began to grin and shake her head. “We’re both a pretty damn sorry lot, aren’t we?”
Robin chuckled. “Yeah, maybe, but I know I’m incredibly lucky. It took me a while to realize that, but I think I do now. I’ve got Faith. She’s just…amazing. And maybe you are right – maybe it’s time to see what happens if I approach her.”
“She won’t reject you, Robin. You’re there everyday but she misses you… I’m not sure that made sense.”
“Perfect sense, because I miss her too. I just…I don’t know how she’s gonna react once…once she sees I’m…missing parts.”
Rowena blushed as she answered, “I think the part of you she’s missing lately isn’t your leg.”
He smiled and turned his face to his companion. “Listen to you, Little Miss Blue Joker.”
Rowena chuckled. “Told you, it’s been awhile. You tend to think about it more when it’s gone.”
Robin smiled as he watched Faith control a punch from Kennedy and throw the younger girl over her hip to the ground. Faith jumped on top of her opponent, drew a fist back, as if to shatter her skull, and slowly smiled.
Rowena smiled back at Robin. “By the way, I like the eye-patch,” she complimented.
“You’re just thinking how sexy Willow would look with one,” Jeff said, appearing with coffee in both hands. He handed one each to the two watchers.
Rowena turned slightly red. “How much of that conversation did you hear?” she asked.
“Enough.” Jeff smiled before he continued. “So, how do you think they’re faring down there?” he asked, as he watched Faith help Kennedy up in the background.
“The underdog battalion?” Rowena answered. “I’m sure they’re fine.”
Luna’s Command Center – Same Time
Xander flew through the air and smacked into a large metal contraption, covered in small dials and blinking lights. He groaned and attempted to get to his feet, only to find one of the bug minions had trained its rifle on his forehead. Xander went cross-eyed as he tried to look at the rifle’s laser sight. But then the gun-wielding insect went limp and slid to the ground.
Vi stood over the body and pulled her axe out of the back of the bug’s head.
“Thanks, honey,” Xander called.
“No problem,” Vi answered matter-of-factly, before spinning around and decapitating another of the minions. Seeing three more attack, she pushed against the floor with the axe and knocked out two bugs with a flying kick, before grabbing the axe and slicing through the third. Another minion tried to grab her from behind and she delivered a backwards head-butt, sending it staggering long enough for her to recover.
“They just keep coming!” she yelled to Xander.
One of the bugs ran over to a yellow and black-striped panel set into a wall, lifting it with a clawed appendage to reveal a red button, which the minion pressed.
Loud klaxons began to blare, as a calm female voice repeated “Warning… Intruder” over and over. Red lights began to flash, illuminating Vi as she took out two minions with one deft swing of her battle-axe.
Xander looked around at the activated alarm system. “Oh…that’s not good, is it?
Luna’s Lair – Same Time
The alarm wailed as Luna smiled in self-satisfaction. “You hear that, slut?”
“Yeah,” said Dawn from her position tied to the bed, looking as if Luna had attempted to apply way too much mascara to her eyes at some point, “that’s my friends, coming to rescue me.”
“Or coming to kill you,” Luna stated dramatically. A pause ensued while Dawn considered this statement.
“Wait…why would they want to kill me?” she asked, confused.
“Because I’ve captured you,” Luna explained.
“I get that part,” Dawn continued, “I just don’t understand how you got from that to them wanting to kill me.”
“I did some research,” Luna replied, “and in these situations the heroes usually have to choose between saving the love interest’s life or saving the world.”
“Wait, what did you do?” Dawn asked worriedly.
“You have some elaborate plan to destroy the world that hinges on me, right?” Dawn attempted to clarify. “I mean, does it use my Key powers or what?”
“Your what powers?”
Dawn looked her captor up and down and gave matters a moment’s consideration. “There is no plan to destroy the world, is there?”
“No, not really,” Luna admitted. “This stuff is harder than it looks, okay?”
“So, they’re coming to kill me because…”
“That’s how it works,” Luna answered, once again acting as if she was talking to a complete idiot.
Dawn, who actually was talking to a complete idiot, rolled her eyes. “Fine. Whatever.”
Luna’s Command Center – Same Time
“Access Denied,” blinked the Mainframe terminal in front of Andrew. Tracey was leaning over his shoulder in the revealing bikini, but he wasn’t noticing. Skye stood a little farther back, tapping her foot nervously as she kept watch. The sounds of Vi and Xander’s struggle with the insect creatures could be heard in the distance.
“Damn,” commented Skye, “remind me not to get Vi angry.”
Andrew sighed in frustration.
“What’s wrong?” asked Tracey
“I can’t get in,” he said, his voice filled with frustration.
“You’ve got to get that door open,” Skye urged him. “We have to rescue Dawn.”
“Gee, Skye, I didn’t know that,” Andrew grated. “Why don’t you come over here and get past the highly advanced security protocols?”
“Sorry,” Skye said. “It’s just…”
“Dawn’s in trouble, we know,” Tracey assured her. She turned back to Andrew. “Can you get in or not?”
“Honestly, I don’t know,” he answered. “These were probably installed by that hacker guy we have locked up back at the council. I can try. I just hope Vi holds them long enough.”
Luna’s Command Center – Same Time
Vi sliced one bug creature twice diagonally with her battle-axe, then spun around and slammed it into the chest of another.
Xander punched a minion in its mandibles and it fell backwards. “Where’s a can of Raid when you need one?” he quipped. “You wouldn’t happen to have that tucked in your blouse too would ya?” he asked Vi.
He looked over at Vi to see her kicking one minion behind her while slicing forward with the axe.
Suddenly there was a loud crack and Vi instantly fell forward. Xander looked up to see an insect guard on one of the upper levels behind Vi, holding a rifle. Blood pooled out onto the floor beneath Vi’s motionless body.
“NO!” Xander screamed.
He reflexively stepped forward, only to see Vi was still alive and definitely kicking. She smacked the heads of two bugs together and they both fell to the floor. Behind her, Xander saw the bug guard taking aim at the back of his girlfriend’s head.
“Vi!” he yelled. “Behind you!” Vi spun around just as the weapon cracked. Sparks flew as the bullet struck her axe and ricocheted away into one of the demons, who fell to the floor. The guard attempted to fire again, but nothing happened. It shook its weapon. as if there was something wrong with it, then ran in the opposite direction. Xander ran towards Vi.
“Are you okay?” he asked frantically.
“Yeah,” she said, “why wouldn’t I be?”
Xander just sighed with relief. Then he realized Vi wasn’t looking at his face anymore, but at something behind him. Xander turned to see about thirty-five insect creatures clustered between the pair and Luna’s door, all of them looking ready for a fight.
“We got a plan?” he queried nervously.
The corners of Vi’s mouth slowly twisted upwards into a grin. “I am the plan,” she announced, before launching herself forward with a loud, wordless battle-cry.
“And here I was foolish enough to think I was finally dating a normal girl,” Xander said, shaking his head.
Luna’s Command Center – Mainframe Terminal – Same Time
“C’mon, c’mon,” Andrew muttered, typing commands as fast as he could into the terminal.
“Do you have it?” Skye called from behind Andrew and Tracey, wringing her hands.
“Almost…Frak!” Andrew sat back, defeated. The screen once again read, “Access Denied.”
“So what do we do now?” Skye asked.
“Move over,” Tracey said suddenly.
“What?” Andrew asked.
“Get out of my way,” Tracey insisted, physically moving Andrew from the chair in front of the work-station. She sat down, cracked her knuckles methodically, and began typing.
“Tracey…” Andrew began.
“Let the techie do it, okay?” Tracey told him. “I think there’s a hole in the firewall…” Her typing sped up, much faster than Andrew’s had been. Andrew watched her in awe.
Suddenly, the screen read “Access Pending.” Andrew and Tracey shared a proud look. Then the screen went blank before reading, “Please Reverse the Polarity.”
“The polarity?” Skye asked incredulously. “What the…”
“You always have to reverse the polarity,” Andrew said ruefully.
Tracey looked around at the flashing dials and switches covering the walls of the command center. “It should be…there!” She pointed across the room at a red dial, on which “Polarity” was written in black block letters. Its arrow was pointed towards “Forward,” rather than “Reverse”.
“I’ll get it,” Skye said, and took off.
Tracey noticed Andrew was still looking at her.
“What?” she asked, blushing a little.
“You are so hot right now,” Andrew replied. Tracey just smiled.
Skye ran full speed across the Command Center, stepping around the strewn bodies and fluids of various bug creatures that Vi had slain. She stopped abruptly to avoid another minion as it flew past her at high speed and left a dent in the wall, sending sparks flying from the computer equipment embedded in it.
“Sorry!” Vi called.
“That’s okay!” Skye answered, but Vi was already back into the melee, chopping the claw off of one insect, grabbing it in mid-air and stabbing it deep into the neck of another. Skye wrinkled her nose in disgust, then took off again.
Eventually, she reached the far wall of the room, where the dial was located. She tried to turn the arrow to the opposite side with all her might, grunting from the effort. The dial wouldn’t budge. Breathing hard, Skye released the dial and took a step back. The sounds of the battle going on around her seemed to fade completely away.
“What’s she doing…” Andrew wondered, as he and Tracey watched the events with interest. Skye took a final, deep breath, and stretched out her hand towards the dial. Without being touched, the arrow began to move ever so slightly.
“C’mon, c’mon, this is for Dawn…” she said, her voice sounding as if she was concentrating as hard as she could.
Suddenly, the “Polarity” dial turned all the way from “Forward” to “Reverse.”
Skye let out a long, relieved breath, as the sounds from Vi and Xander’s “distraction” seemed to return. Luna’s door slid open.
“We’ll hold them back,” Xander yelled while holding a bug creature’s fore-limbs away from himself with his bare hands. “You guys go get Dawn!”
Skye ran to comply.
Luna’s Lair – Moments Later
Andrew and Tracey entered Luna’s lair, followed immediately by Skye.
“Dawn!” Skye exclaimed. Her expression changed somewhat when she saw her girlfriend tied with velvet rope to a pillow-covered bed. “What’s…going on?”
“Trust me, it’s not nearly as sexy as it looks,” Dawn told her. “So you guys came to rescue me?” She paused for a moment, then raised an eyebrow. “Right?”
“Right,” Tracey assured her.
“Great,” Dawn sighed with relief. “Where’s Faith…or Kennedy…or Rowena? I can’t see them from here.”
“They’re not here,” Andrew said.
“Figures,” muttered Dawn, letting her head fall back down on the pillows.
“Where’s Luna?” Skye asked, as she and Tracey moved to untie Dawn’s bindings.
“I wouldn’t do that,” Luna said, appearing at the door of one of her several walk-in closets. She had changed her outfit to a slinky dress that revealed ample cleavage. “Not if you want the slut to live.”
“I thought you said there wasn’t a plan?” Dawn asked, exasperated.
Luna pulled a lacey pink silk cover off a nearby end-table to reveal a red button embedded into the top. She pressed it casually. A panel slid open above the bed Dawn was tied to, revealing several laser guns lined up neatly. Quickly, metal arms extended the lasers into various positions…all pointed at Dawn.
Luna smirked. Dawn’s enough fell open.
“Why would you booby trap your own bed?” Tracey asked, confused.
“Who said that was my bed?” Luna replied. There was a moment of stunned silence in the room.
“Then…what’s with the pillows?” Dawn wondered.
End of Act Three