Sarah Michelle Gellar as Buffy Summers, Helen Shaver as Becca Giles, Lacey Chabert as Skye Talisker, Elijah Wood as Jeff Lindquist, Robert Picardo as Dr. Miller and Steffani Brass as Shannon
Amanda Tapping as Dr. Regina Wagner, Mandy Patinkin as Detective Vaughn, Dean Winters as Detective Daniels, Richard Belzer as Mr. Lewis Mitchell, Claudia Black as Ms. Lynnette Doran, Torri Higginson as Ms. McGraw, Terry O’Quinn as Mr. Black, Charlie Weber as Ben, Peter Woodward as Jordon Tyrell, Robin Sachs as Ethan Rayne and Natalie Portman as Celestas
Watchers Council – Lobby – Morning
Andrew sat at the reception desk, his fingers skillfully gliding across the keyboard. Next to the keyboard was a writing pad, which was graced with frantic, almost incoherent scribbles, underscores, exclamation marks, and doodled stick figures of what appeared to be him and Tracey.
The document he was typing into was tentatively titled Tales of the Slayers of the Vampyres, though underneath was another title, The Council of Watchers: Will There Ever Be A Rainbow’.
Two men, one taller than the other, walked into the lobby and took in the sight of the large reception area. They strolled over to the desk, both reaching inside their coats.
“Excuse me, you work here?” the taller man asked Andrew.
Andrew quickly raised a finger to tell them to wait, his eyes never leaving the screen. The two men exchanged a brief glance and turned back to Andrew, who had now finished typing and clicked “Save” three or four times.
“Sorry, you caught me penning my mov…” He cut himself short when he looked up at their impatient faces. “Right, what can I do for you? Keep in mind, I’m the cook. I’m just sitting in for Linda while she goes to the dentist, so I’m not used to filing stuff.”
“Well, can you use the phone?” the shorter man sarcastically asked as he flipped open his leather wallet. “I’m Detective Daniels, and this is Detective Vaughn. We need to speak with whoever’s in charge”
“Oh, umm…wait a sec,” Andrew told them. He picked up the phone and dialed Buffy’s extension. His eyes wandered back to the two detectives as he hung on the line. He gave them a somewhat small, nervous smile as he waited. Andrew bobbed his head, quietly humming “Don’t leave me hanging on the…,” but was interrupted by Buffy picking up.
“Hey Buffy, I’ve got two detectives down in the lobby who want to see you…okay, hang on.” Andrew leaned out of the handset and looked up at the detectives. “What’s this about?”
“Something urgent, and we’d rather discuss it once with your department heads all in one place rather than everyone individually,” Detective Daniels said.
Andrew put the handset back to his ear, “You get that? Okay, everyone to Conference Room One. Five minutes. Got it.” He placed the handset back in the dock and pressed the PA intercom button. “Attention, all Heads of Department and senior members of staff. please make your way to Conference Room one immediately. Faith, do not come to the conference room. Thank you,” he released the button and stood, “Come with me, please. Lemme take you on a little tour while the Heads gather together.”
The detectives exchanged another glance. Reluctantly, they followed Andrew.
Watchers Council – Conference Room – Minutes Later
The Department Heads and the other senior members of the Council were now more or less seated around the table. Robin and Rowena sat with a variety of files and folders in front of them that were completely irrelevant to the meeting, having just been ripped out of their departmental meeting. Ken and Vi sat back in their chairs, still sweating and in their gym clothes from the early morning workout classes. Faith, in all her unofficial capacity, sat on the other side of Kennedy, her arms folded across her chest.
Not trying to be fashionably late in the slightest, Willow walked in with her cup of coffee in one hand and a couple of large tan folders in the other.
“Am I late?” She sighed as she put her hot cup down on the conference table.
“No, I swung by Buffy’s office on the way, and she’s as clueless as us. She said something about two detectives, but that was it. She was just going to finish up and then she’ll be here,” Rowena answered.
“Any idea what this is about?” Kennedy asked the group.
“I was going for surprise spot check, but then, I’m still spotless, so beats me,” Faith replied. “Just sounds like another day at the office…police see something they don’t understand and they come to the experts.”
Xander skidded into the conference room, looking a little distressed. “Am I late?” he wheezed.
“Nope,” Willow clarified, “we’re early for once. Bustin’ a gut, right there with you.” She smiled as she took a drink of her coffee.
Behind Xander, Buffy entered with the two detectives and Andrew in tow. Xander moved out of the way and took a seat beside Vi. Once the detectives had been ushered in, Andrew closed the door and sat next on the other side of Xander.
“Thank you all for convening in such a hurry, and I’m sorry to break you away from your other duties,” Buffy addressed the group.
“What’s this about, Buffy?” Robin asked.
She cocked her head to one side. “Honestly, I don’t know.” She turned to the detectives. “These are Detectives Vaughn and Daniels. So, gentlemen, you have our attention.” She offered them the front of the table, stepping aside and taking a seat next to Rowena.
“Thank you Miss Summers.” Detective Daniels said. “Okay, we’ll keep this brief, ‘cus to be honest, we don’t know much ourselves.”
“Early this morning,” Detective Vaughn continued, “just before dawn, a construction team working just off of Gorge Parkway, near the Bedford Reservation in the Cuyahoga Valley, broke through into…something …something big.” Several of the Council members around the table exchanged glances. “From what the team uncovered so far, it appears to be some kind of massive structure beneath the Valley.”
“Excuse me,” Buffy interrupted, jumping in during the brief pause before Vaughn’s next sentence, “but where do we fit in?”
“Because you people got a reputation for being experienced in these sorta things,” Detective Daniels answered.
“The paranormal,” Vaughn added.
“What suggests that the structure beneath the Valley is paranormal?” Willow asked.
“Yeah, maybe it’s an archeology issue, an old hut or something,” Robin added.
“I seriously doubt it’s a ‘hut’,” Daniels replied.
“Look, there are markings, scripts,” Vaughn commented. “I dunno of what. From what we saw, it looks…mythical, and we’re not talking bits of broken pottery and plates from a Native American tribe. This stuff looks weird.”
“What do you want us to do?” Buffy asked.
“That’s up to you.” Vaughn reached into his coat pocket and produced a file sliding it across the table to her. “But I say you get moving on it before they give away the university rights to the site. If it turns out to be nothing, sorry we wasted your time. But if it turns out to be something, you’re welcome.”
Buffy opened the file and scanned the page, looking slightly shell-shocked at the tiny print. “What’s all this?”
“The legal paperwork to stop construction. You’re a school, after all. You can demand crews stop so you can examine the site,” Vaughn replied. He stole a glance at Daniels before turning back to Buffy.
The detectives gave the group a nod and headed for the door.
“Andrew?” Buffy muttered absent-mindedly.
“On it! Right this way, gentlemen.” Andrew escorted them out.
Stunned silence fell over the group. After a long beat, Buffy slid the file over to Robin. “Double checker guy…thoughts?”
He opened the file and began to read. “Looks genuine. The investigation is ours.” Robin slid the file back to Buffy, who took in a deep breath before she stood up and walked around to the front of the table.
“Okay,” she began, “Will, Ro – you’re our biggest brains here. Head down to the site to see what we’re dealing with. Faith? Do you mind playing chauffeur for our ladies and sticking close by them…not official Council business, of course, but as a favor? In case they need some ex-slayer muscle?” she asked knowingly.
Faith grinned and shrugged. “Boy, I don’t know. My dance card is just overflowing with activities lately.” Buffy just rolled her eyes and Faith gave a snort. “Yeah, I’m there.”
“Good,” Buffy answered, “After you’ve snooped around, give me a call. You might want to be ready, Xander. Your years in construction might come in handy.”
“You got it, Buff,” he replied.
“Cool. Meeting adjourned then.” Buffy spent a moment looking around fruitlessly for the gavel, then shrugged and knocked on the table instead.
Cuyahoga Valley – Construction Site – Day
Willow, Rowena and Faith walked across the now-abandoned construction site, ushered by two police officers.
“So you guys are the specialists that’re taking over, right?” one of the officers remarked.
“Yeah, something like that,” Rowena answered.
“Ehh, you two look like the bookish type,” the other officer commented, pointing to Willow and Rowena.
The two women glanced at each other with a smirk, while Faith stifled a laugh.
“We’re not let out that much, only so much vitamin D you can get from a table-top lamp in the library,” Willow joked, smiling at Rowena.
“It is a little strange, us being the ones to do recon. Normally we’d send the dispensable ‘red uniform’ guys that always die at the beginning of Star Trek episodes. Should we be worried?” Ro said.
“You mean should I be worried that you’re spending too much time in the kitchen with Andrew in the mornings, or we should be worried that we’re just the most qualified,” Willow added coolly.
Rowena smirked. “When you put it like that…”
“Here we are,” the officer to their right said.
Carefully, Willow and Rowena approached the fissure in the ground. The hole in the earth was larger now, more of the surrounding soil moved aside to show a greater surface area of the roof.
“Holey moley,” Willow gasped, her eyes wandering from the reddish, rune-carved roof to the gaping black hole.
Rowena looked at her in jest. “That was just bad.”
“Bad puns and Red are like peas and carrots,” Faith remarked.
“That was an exclamation. No pun intended,” Willow retorted.
They bent to their knees to get closer to the roof. Thousands of carvings, engravings, symbols, and bits of text adorned the stone.
Willow went to her jacket pocket, pulled out her digital camera and took a picture of the roof, lining the markings up as best she could. After the click of the shutter, she put the camera away.
“Faith, hold my legs,” Rowena said, as she began to lean in further. Her eyes skimmed around the area as Faith kept a secure hold on her. She leaned back up and looked over at Willow, shaking her head.
“You able to read any of that?” the witch asked.
“Not from up here. There’re a lot of different symbols though. What do you think?” Rowena glanced from the black hole back to Willow. “I think we’ve got to get down there.”
Willow nodded in agreement.
“Gee, your one trip out of the library and you guys still won’t be getting any sun,” Faith teased. Willow and Rowena just grinned and shook their heads.
Watchers Council – Buffy’s Office – Moments Later
Buffy put her phone down and sat back in her chair, looking up at Xander and Kennedy sitting opposite her.
“We’ve got a green light,” she told them, “Kennedy, organize slayer details to get down to the site immediately, ideally as many girls as you can pull without leaving us dry here.” She checked something off on her list.
“Sure. What about Faith?” Kennedy asked.
“If she wants to go, no one’s stopping her, but you’re going to be on site, so I’ll talk to her after this and see if she wants to stay on, just in case, you know,” Buffy replied. “Xander, you know the drill: man power, equipment, supplies, all that stuff.”
“Check.” He clapped his hands.
“I’ll talk to Robin about getting books and watcher stuff down to the site. From the way Ro was talking, translating whatever’s written on the roof is gonna be a brainteaser, not to mention whatever they find inside. So we need our best resources down there, and that means…”
Giles’s House – Day
The front doorbell rang a couple of times, the wait between buzzes becoming shorter as the ringer grew impatient. So impatient, in fact, that the person behind the front door resorted to knocking.
Giles shuffled out of the kitchen, tea towel in hand, making his way to the front door. “Hold on! Hold on!”
He unlocked the door and opened it to catch Buffy in the act, about to knock once again.
Her slightly awkward face beamed a large smile within a second. “Ah, Giles, so the very person I wanted to see.”
“Well, this is my house”
“Can I –”
“Oh yes, come in,” Giles moved aside and welcomed Buffy inside. Closing the door, he turned to her and asked, “The kettle’s just boiled, would you like a cup?”
“Well, this was going to be somewhat of a fleeting visit, but sure.”
Buffy followed Giles into the kitchen. Pouring the boiling water into two cups, Giles quickly glanced at his former slayer. “I presume there was something you wanted?” he asked as he handed her a cup.
“Actually, there is.” Buffy warmed her hands around the mug, “We had a visit from the local PD earlier this morning.”
“Really?” Giles took a sip.
“A construction team working in Cuyahoga Valley found ‘something’ buried beneath the ground. Ro and Will think it’s a temple of some kind.”
Giles leaned back in his chair, mug in hand, “Do we have the resources, the numbers to do an excavation like this?”
“I’ve already got Xander and his crew sending equipment, and Kennedy organizing slayer rotations as guards there.”
“I don’t need to tell you about spreading yourself too thin, do I?” Giles advised.
Buffy smiled. “No, you don’t. I’m on top of it.”
“Good,” Giles gave a slight nod, “and at least we’ll be able to keep tabs and the situation quiet.”
“See, Giles, you get it. But I need a favor. Will and Rowena can only do so much. The place is loaded with carvings, symbols, ancient text, blah, blah, blah.”
Giles arched a brow, “And you want me to go, too?”
“If it’s not too much trouble. We’re only talking a couple of days, probably…So…should I ask Becca if you can come out and play, or would you like to?”
The elder watcher smiled. “Consider me there.”
Temple – Hall – Day
In full rock climbing gear, Vi was slowly lowered further down into the dark, seemingly endless, chasm. Her gloved hands grasped tightly onto the dynamic rope connected to her belt. As she furthered her descent, Vi went to a pouch on her belt and withdrew a flare. Bending the bioluminescent stick in her palm she threw it beneath her.
The sound of the stick hitting and rolling across the floor beneath nearly twenty seconds later told her that she still had a way to go down.
Vi radioed up to the others to slowly lower her. Stretching out with her pointed sneaker, she finally felt the hard surface below.
“Easy does it, just a little more…a little more…” she spoke into her shoulder mounted radio. With feet firmly on the floor, Vi breathed a sigh of relief. “I’m down!” she called out, looking back up to the distant crack in the ceiling. Vi tugged on the rope and unclipped the carabiner on her harness from the rope.
Vi withdrew her flashlight from its hip holster and began to examine the pitch-black void around her.
“I know I shouldn’t have gone to see The Descent,” the auburn-haired slayer sighed as she took cautious steps further into the black.
The vivid beam of light from the flashlight cast onto walls around her, suggesting that she was in a hall of sorts. The silence was deathly, air thick with dust and the bitter stale taste that time imbues on enclosed spaces. With each step Vi took, the sound reverberated through the empty space, again indicating the size of the temple.
She pointed her flashlight in front of her to see a parting in the stone walls – an archway leading further into the temple. Vi proceeded down to the archway and through the tunnel-like passage, until she came to an opening to the next chamber. She squinted her eyes and focused on what appeared to be a shaft of strange white light.
Inquisitively, Vi took a step inside the next chamber and continued ahead up to what she could now see was a raised stone platform. A beam of unnatural light shone down upon it from a giant, inverted, spire-like needle above.
Vi trained the flashlight at the base of the platform to see the engravings. A look that might have been fear flashed across her face and she did not take a step further. Instead, she turned and left the chamber, heading back to the main hall.
When she finished retracing her steps, Vi reattached her carabiner to the rope and activated her radio.
“All clear, by the looks of it, but I really think we need to get the Indys down here…I’ve found something.”
Temple – Hall – Later
The once pitch black hallway was now lit up by several mounted lights. The new light revealed that the hall where the digger had broken in was an antechamber – highly decorated with patterned stone blocks, its walls adorned with ornaments and statues of women.
Inside the grand hall, a small group of slayers ordered to stand guard stood in formation around the hoisting system while Giles helped Rowena step out of her harness. Rowena unclipped her helmet and ran her hands through her wavy hair, bringing back the bounce and life that the helmet had so cruelly taken away.
“Reminds me of the time when we went to Wales for the annual retreat.”
“Wales?” Giles asked, buffing his glasses on his clean hanky.
“Yes. The last retreat before the old Council was destroyed. You had prior commitments with –” She nodded up to Willow as she made her descent into the temple.
Willow nervously took in breath, her eyes firmly closed in a futile attempt to imagine she was anywhere other than suspended in mid-air.
“Ah, yes,” Giles smiled nervously. “Well, she was worth the trade off.”
When Willow was a few feet above the ground, Giles reached up, opening his arms so she would be lowered into his hold.
Willow jumped slightly as she felt Giles’s arms wrap around her. “Oh!” she opened her eyes to see Giles’s soft smile. Willow’s cheeks grew a little red. “Sorry. Heights really aren’t my thing. I didn’t make the honor roll one year because I refused to climb the rope in gym class.”
Once Willow was free of her harness, the three watchers proceeded down the tunnel to the inner chamber, where the rest of the lights were set up. As they emerged, the three of them were completely taken back by the enormity and grandeur of the domed chamber.
Ancient glyphs adorned the walls from floor to ceiling. Symbols, drawings, texts – an entire library of long forgotten knowledge was engraved into the red stone walls. In the center of the room stood a large podium, and the shaft of light from before was now drowned out by the artificial glare from the mounted flashlights. The large needle hung from the ceiling directly above the podium, tipped with a magnificent cut-glass angled crystal.
“Jinkies…” Willow’s eyes widened in astonishment.
Temple – Domed Chamber – Minutes Later
Particles of dust danced a lonely waltz in the slight breeze wafting through to the chamber from the tear in the ceiling in the previous hall. Wide-angled beams of ashen light cast across the chamber, adorning the walls with shadows and giving even more life to the grand chamber. The light also revealed more ancient carvings and symbols.
“Good…god….this is…this is incredible?” Rowena gasped, as she took a slow walk around the left side of the large cylindrical chamber. She ran her hands across the burgundy stone walls. “The glyphs and symbols continue all the way up the walls to the center of the dome. It even spills over onto the floor.” She lifted one of her boots to see the hieroglyphs beneath.
“I just can’t get over how this temple wasn’t discovered before,” Willow added from across the chamber, where she was examining the opposite wall.
“It was only recently that the local government gave permission for housing to be built so close to Cuyahoga Valley National Park,” Giles explained. “The members of one of the local country clubs wanted luxury apartments out here to get away from the pace of life in the city. Can’t blame them much, but more likely they wanted to be out here to be within a stone’s throw of the country club and golf courses…lucky gits.” Giles mumbled the last bit. “Though, if they had given permission twenty years ago, it’s likely they would have still found this temple. If the temple was discovered back then, the old Council would have been involved, and all the information here would have been lost when Caleb destroyed The Council.” Giles held his flashlight up to the wall in front of him, his eyes narrowing on certain glyphs.
“The more I think about it,” Willow added, “the more I believe we were pre-ordained to find this place. You just don’t not find something like this, especially with a local populace sitting right on top of it.”
Giles rubbed his chin. “Perhaps, but I try not to believe that our life is planned out for us. Though I admit it sounds rather odd for me to say such a thing, considering the life I’ve led.”
Silence fell over the three watchers once again as each of them kept moving across their chosen walls. The archaic glyphs, symbols, and texts engraved into the walls seemed to be divided up into sections, but what each section and the individual glyphs denoted still eluded them.
“Seems we’ll be here for quite some time. There’s much to uncover,” Giles remarked.
Willow and Rowena looked at each other for a moment and grinned slightly.
“Yeah,” Willow began, “there’s the dark and dank option, or we could take some digital photos of everything, shoot some videotape. It is the twenty-first century, Giles,” she teased.
Rowena stifled a small chuckle.
“Where’s the bloody fun in that?” Giles asked. He continued to look at his surroundings and not directly at the young women, whose smiles got wider at the comment.
Giles scanned tiny sections of the wall before him. Certain symbols and words made sense to him; he jotted these down in his journal.
Picking up his flashlight and slowly moving sideways, he came to a panel that was recessed into the wall. Taking a curious step forward and raising his flashlight, he cast light onto an elaborate graphic depiction. The panel illustrated a grand battle between winged beings from the sky and ghastly beings from the earth. The two rivals clashed both on the rocky ground in their thousands and high above an ancient stone city surrounded by sun-drenched sands. Stuck between the two warring opposites were several figures – people – running, hiding and sobbing out for help. The sky was colored a blood red, along with parts of the ground.
Below the main illustration was a small symbol, a circle. Giles bent down and brushed the circle with his hand. As the dust was cast away he noticed the circle to be the image of a snake eating its own tail. His brow creased; he knew what it was and what it meant. He ran his fingers around the image of the snake, then glanced back up at the image of the ancient war.
“Can you make out any of this?” Willow’s voice echoed through the chamber.
Broken out of concerned thought by her voice, Giles stood up and stared back at the image, taking several steps back before turning to the other watchers.
Rowena sighed, rubbing the back of her neck. “No. I can’t make heads or tails out of some of this. There is the odd glyph…’fire’…’bad’…’tree pretty?’ There are at least,” she paused as she looked at the walls and pointed with her finger, “four different languages it looks like. Possibly more.”
Giles walked over to the blonde watcher, “Yes, at least. From what I’ve examined the information scribed on these walls is encoded in multiple dialects and codes, as well. You’ve just got to know how to read them all.”
“I take it you understand some of it then?” Rowena replied.
“Yes, but some being the apt word,” he answered with a nod.
“Guys? You might want to take a look at this?” Willow called, catching the other two’s attention. As Giles and Rowena came closer, Willow turned to them, her hand on one section of the wall as if to bookmark where she was reading. “This section I can understand, well, partly. It’s in Hebrew.”
“Hebrew?” Rowena mused.
“To say my Hebrew’s more than a little rusty is an understatement, but one thing caught my eye.” Willow moved her hand off of the wall and revealed a symbol that had been covered by her palm. “It’s the symbol for scythe. Y’know, the funky ‘m-question mark’ thing.”
Giles leaned in and peered at the symbol. “Well, I can’t say that I’m surprised. It was used throughout the ancient world.”
“Oh I know, but here’s where it gets interesting,” Willow replied, pointing her finger to a particular Hebrew word. “‘Shomer’ – it means ‘guardian’ or ‘watcher.’ Coincidence, no?”
“Wait a second, what are you suggesting? That maybe there’s some link here between what’s on these walls and the people who forged the scythe?” Rowena asked.
“Well, between this and the statues of those women back in the antechamber…” Willow answered, nodding her head.
“Let me take a look.” Giles stepped forward and examined the section in Hebrew. “Willow’s right. This is about the Guardians, though this section is an extract, an account of…” Giles straightened up and looked back at the two women in surprise. “It’s an account of a fallen Guardian.”
“Huh?” Willow deadpanned.
“It-it tells of a Guardian who abused her power, who lost sight…not as in to go blind, but as in losing sight of their cause, their goal. As a result, she was stripped of her powers and title as Guardian and banished from the…temples.”
“Temples?” Rowena reiterated.
“Yes…” Giles read on silently to himself for a moment. “This temple belongs to the Guardians. This site was where they recorded their knowledge and the happenings of the ancient world…” He read silently for a few moments. “This is interesting…the Guardian that was banished was stripped of her title and privileges – that word I’m unsure of, but in any case…Bitter and angry, this Guardian wandered aimlessly, but eventually turned to…Satan,” he said in a soft voice.
“This is a very upsetting story,” Willow remarked quietly.
“It says she pleaded with him to take her in. She offered herself and what she knew to the cause of evil, and Satan accepted her with open arms under the condition of total loyalty, granting her eternal life.”
It was at that point Shannon entered the chamber, her presence made known by the loud, echoing “Woah!” that made the three watchers jump.
“Shannon, what are you doing –?” Rowena began, only to be cut off.
“Man! This place is huge! HELLO!” she called out, easily amused by the reverberating acoustics.
“Shannon,” Rowena reaffirmed in a sterner tone.
The young slayer giggled. “Sorry! Umm…yeah, Xander tried to get you on the radio, but for some reason he couldn’t. Said it must be something to do with this chamber and its structure? Either that or a solar flare or something. I don’t know about that radio junk.”
“What did he want?” Giles asked.
“Oh yeah, there’s a couple of suits up on the surface to see you guys.”
“What do you mean ‘suits’?” Rowena said. “Like lawyers?”
Shannon shrugged. “I dunno. They just showed up in a stretch black limo a few minutes ago. They only want to talk to whoever’s in charge. They’re pretty snotty so, my guess, yeah, lawyers.”
The three watchers exchanged confounded glances and then Giles looked back at Shannon.
“Thank you Shannon, we’ll be right behind you.”
The pint-sized slayer gave a nod and bounced out of the chamber.
Rowena caught Giles’s glance as he looked back at them, “‘Suits,’ eh? This’ll be interesting”
“Here’s hoping it’s the golfers’s lawyers trying to stop the excavation, so they can hurry along their shiny new apartments?” Willow quipped.
“Wouldn’t be surprised,” Giles added with a sigh. “Come on then, let’s see what this is all about.”
Command Tent – Minutes Later
Back on the surface, the Council had now assumed full control of the site. Various tents had been set up around the area. Equipment cases, cables and lights littered the site, either standing or piled up outside of tents, or just left on the ground. There was a large number of people milling around: maintenance crews, watchers, slayers standing guard. Further back, near the Gorge Parkway access road, a temporary car lot had been set up, where cars and black vans and trucks were parked. A cordon blocked off access to the site, with a couple of watchers and slayers standing next to it to prevent anyone from getting through.
Giles, Willow and Rowena marched into the command tent, passing two young slayers who stood just outside. At the other end of the tent stood two lawyers dressed in black, one male, the other female. They smiled upon seeing the three walking in.
“I’m Mr. Giles,” the elder watcher said, shaking the hands of both lawyers. “This is Miss Rosenberg and Miss Allister.”
“Pleasure. I’m Mr. Lewis Mitchell, and this is Ms. Lynnette Doran.”
“Thank you for seeing us,” Ms. Doran added.
“Now that the formalities are out of the way, I’m sure you can appreciate just how busy we are, so I apologize if this sounds rude, but…what are you here for?” Giles said.
The lawyers looked at each other, and Mr. Mitchell stepped up. “Of course, time is precious, and not just your own. We represent an organization that deals in such matters –”
“Such matters?” Rowena interjected.
“Such matters as unearthing an ancient temple,” Ms. Doran replied, exchanging a nod with Mr. Mitchell.
“How do you know what we’re excavating?” Giles asked.
“Because,” Mr. Mitchell replied coolly.
“The trees have eyes?” Willow answered.
Mr. Mitchell smiled. “Something like that.”
“Exactly what is it you want?” Giles pried, his tone firm.
“We wish to take over control of the excavation, to ensure that the temple remains intact and that whatever is inside is preserved.” Mr. Mitchell replied.
“This incident was reported to the local police, and they have since handed over the rights to this investigation to our school,” Rowena answered. “We have jurisdiction over this site and we are not looking for help, but thank you for the offer.”
“Who said we were offering?” Mr. Mitchell glared at her with a slight unsettling smile.
Giles stepped between Rowena and the lawyer. “Are you threatening us?”
“Oh, I never threaten, Mr. Giles,” Mr. Mitchell answered. “I simply mediate conflicts. And right now, you are in conflict with my employer.”
“Who would that be?” Giles asked, his expression one of annoyance than curiosity.
“Hmm. Let’s say someone with a vested interest in this matter,” Mitchell cryptically replied.
Giles stared down at the lawyer. “Girls!” he called out. Two young slayers entered the tent as Giles kept his eyes on the stranger. “You have a choice, Mr. Mitchell – walk out of here now, or be forcefully escorted off this site.”
The pair locked eyes for a few moments, before Mr. Mitchell turned his head and nodded to Ms. Doran that the pair should leave.
Ms. Doran walked past Rowena and Willow. She looked at them coldly and stood by the tent entrance, where the two slayers stood guard.
Mr. Mitchell flashed Giles a lizard smile. “It really would be in the best interests of everyone if we assumed control of the excavation.”
Giles leaned forward, his breath on the other man’s face. “Get…out.”
The lawyer smirked and walked round Giles, nodding his head at Willow and Rowena, and stepped aside for Ms. Doran to leave first. He took a step outside, but then, after a moment’s consideration, turned and walked back to Giles. Reaching into his inside breast pocket of his black blazer, Mr. Mitchell produced a small white card and extended it to the elder watcher.
Giles snatched at the card, never taking his eyes off of the man.
“In case you change your mind.” With a final smile, Mr. Mitchell returned to Ms. Doran and the pair left the tent.
Rowena quickly turned to the two slayers standing by the entrance of the tent. “Escort them off-site and to their car. If they return anywhere near this site, notify us immediately.” Obeying, they left the tent too.
Giles averted his stare from where the lawyers had just left to the card. His eyes widened as he read the name on the card. Vexed, he looked back up.
Willow walked to him, as did Rowena.
“Giles, who are they?” Rowena asked hesitantly, swallowing hard.
Giles looked at the two women, but said nothing. Instead, he shook his head and handed it to Willow before he quickly left the tent.
Willow and Rowena examined the card to see the name of Wolfram and Hart. Her eyes went wide and she motioned for Rowena to follow her.
End of Act One