Council – Buffy’s Office – Afternoon
The afternoon sunlight shined through a window directly to the right of Buffy’s desk. where the newly elected Head Watcher was quietly slumbering on a rather large open green binder. She let out a soft snore as she drooled all over the pages of her new handbook.
As a loud knock on the door echoed through the room, Buffy’s head shot up, ripping the drool-covered page out of the book in the process. “Come in,” Buffy said, with the page still stuck to her face. She quickly pulled it off as Rowena entered.
“I hope I’m not disturbing you?” Rowena asked as she approached the desk.
“No, not at all,” Buffy said, as she hastily tried to tape the page back into the book. She noticed Rowena staring. “Slayer strength, you know… makes it difficult to turn pages. My mom never let me near the phone book.” She closed the binder. “So…what‘s up?”
“We’ve matched the demon that killed the young man.” Rowena held out the report for Buffy.
“Yay! More paper,” Buffy said, taking the report. “So it’s a stri…stree…strey…”
“A Strieaufix demon,” Rowena said easily. “A nocturnal predatory species native to North America. They habitate in large family units and tend to settle in big cities, where both population and death rates are high. Also, they are known to collect trophies from their victims.”
“So not the warm and fuzzy, non-lethal demon variety?” Buffy asked, glancing up from the page.
“‘Fraid not,” Rowena answered, taking a seat across from the desk. “Unless by warm and fuzzy you mean vicious and destructive. And instead of non-lethal you mean…well, lethal.”
“That was pretty much what we were expecting, right?” Buffy asked rhetorically, as she let the report float down to her desk. “Can you make sure Kennedy’s group and all other patrols going out tonight are informed, so they know what to expect?”
“You got it,” Rowena said, as she stood up from her seat. She paused. “It’s a little odd though.”
“The Strieaufix are very aggressive,” Rowena explained. “It’s strange that there was only one fatality in such a populated area.”
Just then there was another knock on the door. “Come in,” Buffy called from her desk.
“Hey,” Robin said as he entered the room. “Oh, Ro. Sorry, I didn’t realize you two were meeting. I can come back later.”
He made for the door, but Buffy called him back. “No, it’s fine, we were just finishing up anyway. What’s up?”
“Lorinda,” Robin said with a sigh. He looked over at Rowena, who frowned.
“Who’s Lorinda?” Buffy asked.
“One of our junior slayers,” Robin answered with a sigh. “She’s a…bit of a handful.”
“What did she do this time?” Rowena asked.
“Well, somehow she got the idea in her head that we were going to let her stake Skye,” Robin said with a confused shrug. “Apparently she said as much during workouts this afternoon, and the other girls didn’t believe her. Nasty things were said and Tanya ended up in the infirmary with a bloody nose.” Buffy cringed. “I would have asked Faith to talk to her, but she’s busy not looking for the Strieaufix. So I thought Buffy, maybe you could try talking to her.”
“Yeah, sure,” Buffy answered, standing up. “How old is she?”
“Thirteen,” Robin replied. “She’s just outside, if you have some free time right now.”
“That’s fine,” Buffy said, eying the green binder with a look of disgust. “I’m not busy. Send her in.”
Rowena and Robin exited. Buffy rounded the desk and stopped next to the door as Lorinda entered. “Come on in, Lorinda,” she said cheerfully as she closed the door. “My name is Ms. Summers, but you can call me Buffy. I’m going to be taking over for Ms. Allister.”
“Buffy Summers?” Lorinda said, eyeing Buffy suspiciously. “But you’re not a watcher.” Not waiting for a response, she quickly brushed past Buffy and plopped down in the empty seat Rowena had occupied moments earlier.
“Have a seat,” Buffy said sarcastically as she rounded her desk.
“So you’re the Buffy Summers?” Lorinda asked. “Like the original Sunnydale slayer?”
Buffy paused at the question. “Well, yes,” she replied proudly.
“Huh,” the younger slayer grunted.
“What?” Buffy asked, now more than a little annoyed.
“Oh nothing. I just…” Lorinda put her feet up on Buffy’s desk. “I thought you’d be taller.” Buffy stared as Lorinda continued. “You know you have drool on your face?”
Woodbine Avenue – Dusk
Faith and Kennedy walked side by side down a deserted Woodbine Avenue as the sun faded on the horizon. Kennedy reached for the radio on her belt. “Vi? Find anything yet?”
“Negative, Slayer One,” Vi replied several seconds later.
“Ten-four,” Kennedy said into the radio, then replaced it on her belt. Faith let out an audible sigh. “If you want I can still call you ‘Slayer One’,” Kennedy offered.
“No, that’s okay,” Faith replied sadly, as she kicked an empty soda can.
“I don’t know why you’re so bummed out about this,” Kennedy said. Faith kicked another can. “I thought you wanted to get away from the bureaucracy of the council. All the rules.”
“You know that’s not why I left. I had a lot of other issues.” Faith looked down at the ground for something else to kick. “I never really wanted out. Now I’m useless.”
“Are you serious?” Kennedy asked incredulously. “You’re free. You can fight evil however you want. You don’t have to answer to anyone. You’re like ‘Faith the Lone Wolf.’ Out on your own. Riding your motorcycle, kicking ass and taking names.”
“Thanks for trying, Ken, but that sounds like the plot of some bad TV show,” Faith said, as she moved her foot back to kick another object that was resting next to a sewer grate. She stopped mid-motion and said, “Hold up.” Bending down, Faith picked up the object and examined it in her hand. “I think it’s a claw. The clean-up team must have missed it.” She stood up and handed it to Kennedy.
“Looks about two inches. It definitely belongs to our guy,” Kennedy said, rolling it around in her palm. She looked down. “Right by the sewer?”
“Didn’t Robin say the dead guy had his ankle slashed up?” Faith asked. They both quickly took several steps away from the grate. “They’re in the sewers.”
Kennedy reached for her radio. “Vi, meet us on Woodbine.”
Watchers Council – Detention Block – Same Time
In the last cell of the dark detention block, Skye lay motionless, with her eyes shut, on a thin prison-issue cot. In the background, the drip of a leaking pipe sounded every few seconds.
Skye remained still as the door to the detention block creaked open and a pair of footsteps began to echo through the hall, increasing steadily in frequency and amplitude. A smile spread across the vampire’s face as the intruder stopped.
“Long time, no see,” Skye said. She opened her eyes and looked over to where Buffy stood just outside her cell. “I’d offer you a drink, but I doubt you want anything I’ve got.”
Buffy didn’t reply.
“So, what brings you back around these parts?” Skye asked, as she rolled into a sitting position in the center of the cot. She leaned back against the wall behind her and allowed one leg to dangle off the side of the bed. “Let me guess? You missed me so much that you just had to come back for a visit.”
“Not quite,” Buffy replied. “There’s been a change in the Council’s leadership.” Skye’s smile disappeared and her expression hardened. “I’ll be taking over as Head Watcher.”
“But you’re not a watcher,” Skye said, almost angrily.
“As everyone keeps telling me.”
“What happened to Ro?” Skye asked.
“Rowena is still with the Council. The change was her idea,” Buffy answered, still remaining completely still. “I just thought it would be best that you heard this news from me.”
“How considerate of you,” Skye replied in a dangerous tone. Quickly, she regained her composure and walked toward Buffy. “Well, thanks for letting me know. I’ll see you later. Take care.” When Buffy didn’t move, Skye sat back down on her bed and picked up a magazine, as if she intended to read it. “Bye bye now.”
“I’m not finished,” Buffy replied. Skye shot her a look of pure hatred. “I want to make a few things abundantly clear to you,” Buffy continued. “You are under no circumstances to attempt to reconcile your relationship with Dawn. As of this moment, that is no longer a possibility.”
“You can’t tell me who I can love and who I can’t,” Skye countered. “I’ll do whatever I damn well please.”
“You’ll do whatever I tell you,” Buffy replied. “I have a few dozen junior slayers who would just love a chance to put you in the ground…figuratively. Right now you’re of more value to this Council locked down here as a source of information than as a pile of dust. But remember this, in the future I’m the one who decides exactly how much you are worth to this Council.”
“What about what Dawn wants?” Skye asked, rising from the cot once more. “What if she decides she wants to be with me?”
“Then I’ll stake you myself.”
Without warning, Skye grabbed the side of the cot and hurled it at the bars of her cell. The bed crashed against the hard metal and fell to the ground in a deafening clatter. Buffy didn’t even flinch.
“Take some time to think it over,” Buffy added, before heading back to the door to the cell area.
Skye quickly pulled the cot out of the way and stepped up to the bars on her side of the cell. “Hey!” she called after Buffy, who was almost to the door. “Bitch! You can’t do this!”
Buffy exited the room without responding. With a frustrated cry, Skye kicked the cell door.
Sewer – Night
“Oh man,” Faith sighed as she splashed down into the wet, dark sewer beneath Woodbine Avenue. She looked down at her legs, which were now ankle-deep in brown, murky sewer water. “There’s no way that’s gonna come out.”
Seconds later, Kennedy splashed down beside Faith, spraying the older slayer with more sewer water. “Crap,” Faith groaned, wiping some brown liquid off her face. “Vi and Heli coming?” she asked, stepping away from the sewer entrance.
“Should be down any second,” Kennedy replied, joining Faith near a large circular hole in the side of the sewer wall. The opening, which was blocked by a large grate, appeared to house a tunnel that was visible for about five feet before it stretched into darkness.
Faith pulled a small flashlight from her pocket and shined the light through the grate. “This has promise.” Behind her, Vi let out a loud shriek as she landed butt first in the murky sewer water.
Heli dropped down beside Vi and helped her up. “Find anything?” the Finnish slayer asked.
“I think so,” Kennedy said, as she pulled open the grate with surprisingly little force. She climbed into the tunnel, with Faith right behind her.
Sewer Tunnel – Moments Later
With Kennedy in the lead, the four slayers crawled their way through the narrow, dark tunnel.
“Well, I don’t know about you guys,” Faith said. “But this isn’t exactly how I pictured spending my evening. I could be watching House right now. Anyone tape it?”
“Oh crap!” Vi said.
“What’s wrong?” Heli asked. “Did you forget to record Faith’s program?”
“No,” Vi replied. “I think I just put my hand in some…”
“Eww,” Faith and Kennedy said in unison.
“This sucks,” Kennedy added as an afterthought. “This job is enough to make me wish I had been offered the Head Watcher gig.”
“Nah, you wouldn’t have liked the job,” Faith said, as they all continued crawling. “I mean you saw the look on B’s face when Ro dropped all that paperwork in her lap. She’s probably still sifting through it right now.”
Giles’s Living Room – Same Time
“I love this program,” Giles said, as he removed his glasses and wiped away the tears from his eyes. “Hugh Laurie is so bloody hilarious.”
“You know he’s actually English,” Buffy commented, muting the television when a commercial for a dish detergent came on. “He fakes the American accent.” She took a moment to wipe away her own tears.
“He does.” Giles answered. He reached for his teacup, which was resting on his glass coffee table. “I didn’t get to ask you how your first day went.”
“Good,” she replied, as if she had been waiting for the question. “Very good. I got a lot accomplished. I met with a few students, familiarized myself with pending Council issues and put out some fires in the kitchen.”
“Not another debate over Andrew’s cooking, I hope.”
“No, I meant actual fires,” Buffy answered. “When I went in for lunch, Tracey and Andrew were arguing. Something about that old game show The Newlywed Game.” She shrugged. “Anyway, he dropped a dish rag onto a lit burner. From there, a few oven mitts caught fire. Chaos ensued. Not much fun.”
“How are you coming along with the materials Rowena gave you this morning?” Giles asked before taking a sip from his tea. “I remember when I first started my career as a watcher, I lived by that handbook. It was so profound and engaging. Captivating really.”
Buffy’s eyes narrowed. “Ro told you I fell asleep while I was reading, didn’t she?”
“She may have mentioned it,” Giles said with a guilty smile. “Oh! It’s back on!” He quickly reached for the remote and un-muted the television.
Watchers Council – Coven Room – Same Time
Dawn stuck her head inside the Coven Room and looked around. Finding no one there, she walked inside and shut the door. She turned on the light and quickly made her way over to Willow’s workbench. Setting down the backpack she was carrying, she reached into her back pocket and pulled out a piece of paper.
After first taking another look at the door, she glanced over the paper , then pulled down a jar from the nearest shelf. She opened her backpack quietly and pulled out several unzipped plastic baggies with writing on them. Carefully she began to put the ingredients from the jar into one of the bags, before glancing over her shoulder at the door again.
Sewer Tunnel – Moments Later
Kennedy kicked open the grate that closed off the end of the tunnel. “Finally,” she said. She plopped out and moved aside, allowing the other three slayers to exit as well. Kennedy took a moment to take in the new surroundings. “Faith, turn on the flashlight.”
Faith did as asked, shining the light around the deserted room. The floor was dry and covered with trash, including piles of crumpled newspaper, heaps of shredded cardboard, and a few ripped mattresses. “Something’s definitely been living down here,” Faith said. “Fan out.”
The foursome moved around the room, rummaging through the garbage. “Kennedy?” Vi called after a few minutes. “I’ve got something.” Kennedy, Heli and Faith approached Vi’s position. “There’s a pile of bones. I don’t think they’re human.”
Kennedy looked down at the find. “I think you’re right. We should get some of these back to base. There’s something weird about this place.”
Vi crouched down and started collecting samples.
“Do you think this is the nest?” Heli asked.
“Yeah, I do,” Kennedy answered, scanning the room with her eyes. “Come on, let’s go.” She moved back towards the tunnel that brought them there.
“Aren’t we going to wait for them to come back?” Heli asked her.
“My orders were for recon only,” Kennedy replied as she climbed into the tunnel. “Besides, these things are nocturnal. We’re better off coming back during the day when they’ll all be asleep.”
“Come on,” Faith said, steering Heli towards the tunnel. She looked back. “Vi, you coming?”
“Yup,” Vi said, as she stood up and pocketed the samples she collected. “I think I’ve got enough here.”
“Cool,” Faith replied. “Let’s get the hell out of here. It stinks worse here than the tunnel.” In turn Heli, Vi and Faith climbed through the opening. Before moving too far, Faith turned and shut the grate.
End of Act Two