Cleveland Street – Night
A hard, cold wind tore off the hood of Kennedy’s coat. She winced as large, hard snowflakes blew horizontally into her eyes. The downtown street was mostly empty, white patches blowing airily across black asphalt…maybe a little too black, hiding treacherous patches of ice.
“I can never get used to this,” Vi said. Her cheeks were red, and white snow was sprinkled liberally over her favorite hat. Some flakes even hung off her eyelashes. “I’m from Phoenix, okay? I’ve read the Slayer Handbook, and it doesn’t mention anything about…this!”
“I don’t think people who’ve lived here all their lives are used to it,” Kennedy told her. “Cleveland in December reminds me of Antarctica, if Antarctica had a bad football team and a much higher crime rate. But I don’t think the monsters are gonna be any happier than we are.”
“The natural formation of the country is the soldier’s best ally,” Heli supplied, her blond hair whipping behind her. She didn’t look at all uncomfortable. Her two superiors gave her rather baleful looks. “Sun Tzu,” she clarified, as if it had been obvious. “Am I the only one who stayed awake in slayer school?”
“Hey, I teach slayer school, and I don’t remember that,” Kennedy said. She turned back to Vi. “Look, the sooner we get started, the sooner we’ll all be back inside and out of this mess. Take your team, and do as quick a sweep as you can to the west. I’ll go east.”
Vi nodded her head, then gestured for Heli to follow her. As the pair walked away, Vi asked the blonde “So, what are we supposed to do, throw snowballs at the vamps?”
“You can’t make snowballs in this weather,” Heli said, once again as if explaining the obvious. “The snow’s too dry. It won’t pack.”
“You know, Heli,” Vi said, “you’ve taught me one thing about Finland since I’ve known you. You people know way too much about snow.”
Meanwhile, Kennedy hadn’t moved from her wind-whipped spot on the sidewalk. Her expression seemed hard despite, or perhaps because of, the snow flying past her face.
“Something’s gonna happen tonight,” she said, to no one but the cold, then turned and walked towards her group.
Warehouse – Night
Willow’s head jerked up from its spot on the cold, stone floor. She looked up to see Faith standing over her, hands on hips.
“Wake up, Red,” the slayer urged her. “I think somethin’s happened.” She stretched out a hand to help Willow up. The witch grabbed the hand and got to her feet. Willow looked around to see an elaborate diagram drawn on the floor, taking up most of an empty building, seemingly some sort of warehouse. The two women were standing directly in the middle of a large circle in the center of the design.
“We can’t go outside the circle,” Faith told her, tapping one hand on what had looked like thin air above the edge of the circle. There was a dull tapping noise as her hand seemed to run up against something solid, and a few small reddish ripples spread out in the air from where Faith’s hand had run up against…something. “I figured it was magic, and that if anyone could get us outta here, you could,” the slayer explained. “Better make it quick, before he wakes up.”
Faith jerked her head over her shoulder. Willow’s eyes followed to where the brunette had indicated, and she saw a dark figure lying prone on the floor at the far side of the room, unconscious. Next to him on the floor stood the Idol of Fenris.
“Gregor,” Willow stated tonelessly.
“Yep,” Faith agreed. “Turns out he’s evil. What are the odds?”
“This is bad,” Willow observed.
“That’s why you need to make with the magic,” Faith said. “Get us out of here before Uncle Black Hat gets up and zaps us into next Tuesday or whatever.”
Willow sighed and took another look around at the pattern. “I don’t think I can,” she said.
“What?” Faith asked incredulously. “You’re, like, the most powerful witch, ever.”
“I don’t know about that,” Willow said, “but even if I was, I don’t know if I could get past this.” She gestured at the surrounding design. Faith stepped forward and put a hand on each of Willow’s shoulders. Willow glanced down at one shoulder uneasily.
“I’m gonna level with ya, Red,” Faith said quietly. “I spent years in prison, and another couple months stuck inside some sort of body-stealing slime monster. I’ve had my fill of being trapped.” She moved her face a little closer to Willow’s before continuing. “I gotta get outta here, Will. Please try.”
“Look, Faith,” Willow explained, “this is a Gordian Web. It’s the most sophisticated containment ward that either of us will ever see. As far as I know, no one has ever escaped it.”
“And as far as I know there was only a Chosen One – okay, Chosen Two – until you changed that. You get the point?.”
Willow shook her head. “You don’t understand. I didn’t do that all by myself – Al and the Devon Coven helped. With a Gordian Web, things get in, they can’t get out. I’m pretty sure we can’t even call anybody on our cell phones. I’m willing to try to break the spell, but I seriously doubt it will do any good.”
Faith took her hands off Willow’s shoulders. “Fine,” she said perfunctorily. “I guess, meanwhile, I’ll go to Plan B.”
“What’s that?” Willow asked.
Faith went back over to the barrier and began beating on it with both fists, hard.
“Oh,” Willow said in a small voice and then a look of an idea came to her face. “Wait…let me try to get Al on the phone for some ideas,” she added. She patted her pockets, but came up empty. “Damn it,” she swore.
“Now what?” Faith asked.
“I left my cell at home, I think.”
Faith reached into her pocket and quickly tossed hers to Willow, then resumed her banging. Willow looked at the phone as if she wasn’t sure it would work.
Coven Room – Night
“Reach out with your mind,” Dawn said quietly, her eyes fixed on the girl across from her. “Feel your senses sharpening. Focus your mind. Let the energy wash over you, until you feel every tiny, elemental particle in the air.”
“I did this with my old watcher, you know,” Shannon told her, her eyes snapping open. “I really should be out patrolling tonight.”
Dawn sighed. She and Shannon sat in the center of the Coven Room floor on square red cushions. The young slayer looked a little impatient.
“I thought you’d be glad to get out of the cold,” Dawn told her pupil, “and I thought that, since we were assigned to work together, we should spend some time together.”
“I’m sorry, I know you’re trying your best,” Shannon said. “It’s just that I’ve already had a watcher, a very good one. He taught me how to sense demons, and a lot of other things. He was a good teacher.”
“I know,” Dawn said. “I read your file. About fifty times, actually.” She grinned sheepishly. “I just need to know how good you are, you know, so we can find areas where you can improve. You want to get better at slaying, don’t you?”
“Yeah,” Shannon agreed.
“Okay, then can we try this one more time?” Dawn urged. “For me?”
Shannon took a deep breath, readjusted herself on the cushion, and closed her eyes as tight as she could.
“You have to relax a little,” Dawn told her softly. “You’re too tense.”
Shannon, eyes still closed, nodded. Some of the tension went out of her forehead and eyelids. She became perfectly still.
After a moment, Dawn asked her, “Are you sensing anything?” At first, there was no response from the young girl.
“No,” Shannon finally replied, without opening her eyes.
“Well,” Dawn told her, “I mean, it makes sense. I doubt that there are any demons wandering around here at the Coun –”
“Wait!” the slayer interrupted. “I am…” she suddenly opened her eyes. “There’s a demon outside this room.”
Both girls quickly got up to their feet.
“Are you sure?” Dawn asked, a little doubtfully.
“I’m sure!” Shannon insisted. “I told you. I used to do this all the time with…”
“All right, don’t panic,” Dawn said, her voice rising a little. “Just…get behind me.” She hurried over to one of the nearby shelves and pulled a wooden stake out of a box that contained several of them.
“No,” Shannon said.
“What?” Dawn asked incredulously, turning back to face her new slayer.
“I won’t get behind you,” Shannon continued. “The last time my watcher told me to get behind them, I listened, and he ended up dead. I’m a slayer. I’ll protect you.”
Dawn leaned down to look her pupil in the eye. “It’s my job to train and protect you when I need to, Shannon. Let me take care of this.” She posed dramatically and held the stake out towards the door, holding Shannon behind her with her other arm. The doorknob began to turn.
“No!” Shannon cried, grabbing Dawn around the waist and twirling her away from the door. The door opened to find the two girls in mid grapple.
A female form stood silhouetted in the light from the hallway. The intruder took a few steps forward into the Coven Room. It was Skye.
For a long few seconds, no one said anything. Dawn and Shannon paused, each with a hand on the stake, looking at the new arrival. Skye also seemed unsure of how to respond.
Dawn let out a long breath, and smiled. Skye smiled back. Shannon still looked a little confused.
“Well, Shannon,” Dawn said, “I guess this is something we need to work on.” Shannon looked dubious. “Listen, why don’t you head down to the gym and we can work on some techniques there, okay? Go on, I’ll join you.”
The young slayer hesitated at first. After a moment, Shannon nodded and left the room. Dawn and Skye looked at each other and the pair began to giggle.
“I heard the conversation outside the door. So, I’m a demon now, huh?” Skye asked, a smile on her face.
“Apparently,” Dawn agreed, still giggling. “She’s a great girl, really, but she’s a little over dramatic sometimes.”
“She has a right to be, I guess,” Skye said. She glanced at the cushions on the floor. “So, you’re doing it by-the-book, I take it.”
“Oh, yeah,” Dawn said, “at least until I get a feel for it.”
“Sometimes I think that’s the problem around here,” Skye continued, summarily plopping herself into the comfy chair in the corner of the room. “Everything’s by the book.”
“What do you mean?” Dawn picked up the cushions and carried them over to a pile at the opposite end of the room.
“It’s just…okay, bear with me.” Skye pulled her feet up onto the chair and sat up straighter. “Cobras are terrorizing the village. So the village brings in a mongoose, right? The cobras aren’t expecting it, and they’ve never met a mongoose quite like this one, so it picks them all off, one by one. So the villagers think that, if one mongoose was good, a bunch more has got to be better.”
“Have you been reading Riki-Tiki-Tavi again?” Dawn asked her girlfriend, “Because you know that Rudyard Kipling was a racist, chauvinist pig, right?”
“Let me finish,” Skye went on. “So the villagers bring in all these other mongooses, and it’s good for a while. They have a whole den of mongooses, and since they’re spending so much time together, they all become exactly alike. But now the cobras are afraid, and they know what they’re up against…so they start to wise up. And when the cobras start getting organized, the mongoose den is in trouble. You know what I’m saying?”
“Sorry, sweetie, but no,” Dawn said, putting her stake back in its box. “Maybe you can tell me the moral of the story later. Right now, I’ve gotta go back to work. I’ll see you later?”
“Yeah,” Skye agreed, forcing a smile. Dawn gave her girlfriend a small peck on the lips and left the room. Skye stayed in her chair. She didn’t look very happy.
Warehouse – Night
THUD! Faith banged both fists against the invisible barrier that surrounded her and Willow. THUD! Translucent red ripples slowly expanded outward through the air from where her fists stopped. THUD!
“Faith, could you please stop that?” Willow asked wearily. She was sitting at the far edge of the circle, tiredly resting her back against the barrier. “It’s not helping, and I’m starting to get a headache.”
“You got any better ideas?” Faith replied. THUD! “Your magic thing didn’t work, and you don’t look like you can try again right now.” THUD! “The phone spazzed when you tried it.” THUD! “And we still don’t know where we are.”
“Well,” the witch answered, “I’m not sure, but I have a theory that if someone called us from outside the circle, the phones might work. Maybe Al will pick up the mind call I’ve been doing.”
Faith dropped her fists for the time being. “Great, so now all we need to do is wait for the cavalry to come get us?” she grated. “We were supposed to be going out to dinner with this guy. They won’t miss us for hours.”
“If Al doesn’t hear my thoughts, then, eventually, someone will figure out something’s wrong, and they’ll try to call one of us,” Willow insisted. “Jeff or someone can do a locator spell. They’ll send Ken and Vi to the rescue, guns a-blazin’. It’s only a matter of time.”
“Time’s something we don’t have,” Faith returned. “As soon as Uncle Crazy-Ass wakes up, he’ll fry us.” She pointed over to Gregor’s prostrate form, still in the same spot across the room.
“I don’t think so,” Willow said, adjusting her position against the barrier so that she sat up a little straighter. She rested her hands on her knees. “He could have killed us outright, but he kept us alive. He must have a reason for that.”
“So he wants to torture us first,” the slayer said. “What’s the diff? I’m surprised he hasn’t woke up already.”
“He said he was feeling weak,” Willow stated, thinking out loud. “Maybe that spell took a lot out of him…more than it usually would.”
“Well, that’s good, right?” Faith said hopefully. “Maybe I can beat this thing after all.” She raised both fists again.
“Faith…” Willow began. THUD! “…don’t.” she finished half-heartedly.
Across the room, Gregor’s eyes came open. Both women watched as he deliberately brought himself up to a sitting position.
“Good evening, ladies.”
Willow and Faith looked at each other.
“See what you did?” Willow admonished. They both turned back to look in Gregor’s direction.
Watchers Council – Computer Room – Night
In an otherwise dark room, Robin’s face was lit by the white glow of his computer monitor.
“Retrieval completed,” announced the computerized version of Willow’s voice. “Have a nice day!”
Robin scrutinized what W.I.L.L.O.W. flashed up onto the screen. “That’s weird,” he said after a moment. His eyes on the screen, Robin reached for his coffee cup.
“Do you require anything else, sir?” the computer asked cheerily. Robin raised the cup to his lips only to find it empty. He sighed.
“If you’re going to be that chipper, I’m going to need more coffee,” he told the computer. “Don’t go anywhere,” he continued, pointing at the screen. He got up to leave.
On his way out of the room, Robin paused and looked back for a moment. “Maybe Rowena’s right?” he mused, and then shuddered before he continued on his way.
Watchers Council – Kitchen – Night
Robin walked into the Council’s main kitchen, limping only slightly on his prosthetic leg, and made a bee-line for the coffee dispenser. He grabbed the half-full pot and was about to pour it into his mug when something made him pause. The sound of heavy breathing came from somewhere behind him. Robin slowly put the pot down and, as stealthily as he could, made his way around the kitchen’s central island. He looked as if he expected something to jump out at him.
In fact, it was Robin who jumped, staggering backward to the far counter and bracing himself on it in an attempt to recover from the shock. “Oh my God!” he exclaimed.
Tracey’s head appeared above the island. She screamed. She didn’t seem to be wearing a shirt. Robin screamed back. A scream only slightly more masculine than Tracey’s then could be heard.
“Jesus, Mr. Wood…you scared the crap out of me!” Tracey yelled.
“I scared you?” he nearly shouted. “How am I supposed to be able to eat in this room…ever again?”
Andrew poked his head into view as well. “Hey, Mr. Wood,” he said nervously. “Um…Tracey and I were just, well, we were, um…re-enacting. Y’know, that episode of Farscape where…”
“I know what you were doing,” Robin said sternly. “And I would appreciate it if you would do it somewhere besides next to the public coffee machine.” He made as if to leave, then thought better of it and returned. “And for God’s sake, put on some clothes.”
The older man left the room, leaving Andrew and Tracey to awkwardly avoid eye contact with each other. The moment seemed to have passed.
“So…you up for some D&D?” Andrew asked.
“That’d be great,” Tracey agreed.
“Cool,” he said. “I’ll go get the twelve-sided dice and talk to Jeff.” He paused. “And maybe get some pants.”
Tracey watched Andrew leave, wearing only underwear and looking uncomfortable. Once he was out the door, she sighed.
“Crap,” she muttered, and began looking around for her own clothes.
Cleveland Street – Night
Moving in slow-motion, a fist sliced a graceful arc through wind-blown snow. The fist ran into Kennedy’s chiseled jaw. Kennedy’s breath could be seen puffing out in little white clouds from her mouth and nose. She winced and fell backwards.
At full speed, the back of Kennedy’s head slammed into the frozen asphalt of an empty convenience store parking lot. She groaned painfully, stiffly trying to get up. A kick in the ribs from her assailant stopped that plan fairly quickly.
“So, you’re one of those slayers, right?” said the hulking, muscle-bound vampire standing over Kennedy. Nearby, Marie was caught up in hand-to-hand with another large vampire, but managed to notice her fallen comrade.
“Kennedy!” she yelled, concerned, but she was unable to extricate herself from her own fight.
“We’re not afraid of you anymore,” the vampire standing over Kennedy continued. He kicked the slayer once again while she was on the ground. “Times are changing.”
“Who are you, Bob Dylan?” Kennedy quipped through clenched teeth.
“And now, it’s time for you to die!” the vampire finished, but as he leaned down towards his squirming victim, something hit him in the back of the head and he staggered forward. Confused, the vampire put a hand to the back of his head. When he looked at his fingers, they were covered with snow.
“Hey!” Heli yelled from behind a tall snow bank at the edge of the parking lot. “Over here! Yeah, that’s right, over here!”
“Pretty good shot for a gal from the desert, dontcha think?” Vi gloated next to her. “And you said it wasn’t good packing snow.” She poked her head over the snow bank. “Come and get it, scuzzbucket!”
“That was an ice-ball,” Heli replied defensively. “It’s different. Over here!”
The vampire looked over to the pair and took an angry step in their direction. Then, amidst the howling wind, a distinct squelching noise filled the frigid air and he stopped in his tracks. In a moment, the vampire turned to dust, his remains quickly lost in the white already covering the ground. Kennedy still lay on the ground behind him, but now had a stake thrust upward where the vampire’s heart had just been.
While Vi hooted in celebration behind the snow drift and attempted unsuccessfully to get Heli to high-five her, Kennedy grimly returned her stake to her coat pocket. It was at that point she noticed Marie, pinned to the ground by the vampire she had been fighting. The younger slayer reached desperately for her stake, but it had fallen to the icy asphalt just too far away for her to grasp. The vampire bared his fangs and bore down on Marie’s neck.
Quickly sizing up the situation, Kennedy sat up, blinked a few times, and took one deep breath, sending a steam plume into the air. She stretched out a hand through the snowflakes towards the struggling pair.
Almost immediately, the wayward stake rolled a few inches towards Marie’s hand. The slayer alertly grabbed her weapon as soon as it was within reach and buried it deep into the vampire’s back. The vampire was reduced to dust, and Marie, a small scratch visible on her neck from where the vampire had attempted to bite her, breathed several sighs of relief before she sat up.
“Did you just…?” she asked her superior.
“It was the wind,” Kennedy told her, maybe a little too quickly. “Good thing there’s so much tonight.”
“That was harder than usual, wasn’t it?” Vi asked, walking up to the pair with a blond Finn in tow.
“Yes, it was,” Kennedy agreed stoically.
Vi looked at her, as if expecting a more detailed response, but after a moment seemed to realize none was forthcoming. “We should get inside,” she said finally.
“Definitely,” said Kennedy.
As the quartet walked away across the icy parking lot, Vi could be heard asking, “Are my ears supposed to feel like they’re burning?”
The Alcove – Same Time
Skye confidently strode into the bar and paused at the entrance. She took a slow look around, and her eyes squinted at a lone blonde woman sitting in the corner, sipping from a bottle of beer. The woman looked as if she was trying very hard to appear casual, but her expression as she scanned the crowd was eternally hopeful. Skye smirked and strolled in her direction.
“Hey,” she said, “Here alone?”
The woman looked around for a beat, as if to see if Skye was speaking to anyone else. “Uh, no, um…I mean, yeah,” she stumbled.
Skye chuckled. “I’m Skye,” she said, moving her head closer to the woman’s, to be heard over the crowd. The woman’s face blushed at the proximity.
“Oh,” she replied. “I’m…um, I’m Taina.”
“Nice name,” Skye replied. She looked around and gestured to the bar around them. “So…do you like this place?”
“It’s okay,” Taina said in a timid voice.
“It’s pretty dank if you ask me, but there aren’t too many places on this side of town.”
“True,” Taina remarked.
“Why don’t we go somewhere else? Away from the noise and bad lighting,” Skye said with a sexy smirk. “I’d make it worth your while.”
“What?” Taina’s eyes widened.
“Yeah,” Skye waved an arm around the crowded room. “This place is interesting and all, but it’s not my style, not really. But, hey, if you’d like to stay…” Skye then turned her back and began to walk away.
“No,” Taina announced, bringing Skye to a halt. Skye grinned deviously before turning back to face the young woman.
“Changed your mind?” she asked confidently.
Taina looked at the sultry expression on Skye’s face and took a deep breath. “Yeah, let’s go.”
Skye took the woman’s hand and led her from the bar.
As the couple passed by the pool table, one of the players looked up, her eyes following them as they disappeared into the crowd.
“Hey, Kadin,” the other player called. “Your shot…Earth to Kadin?”
The other player walked over and saw the rogue hunter looking at the exiting pair.
“I know that girl,” Kadin remarked, sounding as if she was still considering where she had seen the woman before.
“Yeah, you’ve known lots of girls over the years, I’m sure,” the other player joked.
Kadin ignored the jab, still looking toward the closed door that Skye and Taina had slipped through. With a shake of her head, she turned back to her game.
Warehouse – Night
Gregor sat sullenly in a small chair near where he had placed the Idol of Fenris. His eyes were locked onto the idol’s ghoulish features.
“What’s he doin’?” Faith wondered quietly from her position in the center of the room, still trapped within the Gordian Web. “He’s just been sitting there since he woke up.”
“He’s putting it off,” Willow said quietly.
“Putting off what?” Faith asked.
“What’s he’s going to do with us,” Willow answered, foreboding in her voice.
“You surmise correctly, Miss Rosenberg,” Gregor announced, ever so slowly rising from his chair. He was obviously very weak, and movement came only with difficulty. “Even after all these years of contemplating, such action as I must undertake does not come easily to me.”
“Well, quit stallin’!” Faith said angrily. “Get on with it!” She banged her hands once again against the barrier holding her and Willow inside the circle.
The witch put a hand on the slayer’s shoulder. “Faith, we need to buy more time, not encourage him,” she whispered.
“Screw that,” Faith said, shaking off Willow’s hand. “I want to know.”
“And what is it that you wish to know?” Gregor asked. With the assistance of his staff, he had walked closer to the center of the room and now stood close to the barrier.
“I want to know why we’ve been kidnapped,” she told him. “Slick trusted you. She’s your niece, dammit! And you just betray her like this?”
Gregor’s face grew even more pained. “Kennedy is not a part of this,” he said sadly.
Willow had been examining her captor, and now spoke up. “You look…terrible.”
Gregor allowed himself a chuckle. “Yes, I imagine I do.” Leaning heavily on his staff, he staggered a few steps closer to the circle and its occupants, until he was just on the other side of the barrier. “As you may have guessed, the spell I performed to bring us here has drained most of my remaining energy. I expect I shall die very shortly.” A wan smile crossed his features. “I’m rather looking forward to it, actually.”
A stunned silence followed from the two women. “So that’s it, isn’t it?” Faith finally said. “He’s going to sacrifice us as part of some last rite.” When no one answered her, she continued. “That’s it, right?”
“In fact that is not it, as you put it, Miss Lehane,” Gregor said. “I have no intention of killing both of you.” That answer brought a sigh of relief from Willow. “Just one of you,” he finished.
End of Act Two