Originally broadcasted 5/23/06
V.O. Giles: “Who are we?”
Watchers Council – Library – Evening
The library was packed with watchers, some racing up and down aisles to collect books, others brainstorming on a fold-up whiteboard. Some others sat at the tables, the surfaces strewn with piles upon piles of books.
Rowena leaned forward in her chair, elbow on the table, with her head supported by her hand. Her red, vacant eyes stared down at an array of glossy pictures of ancient text.
A hand out reached to touch her arm – it was Robin. She sniffed, blinking back her tears. Robin squeezed her arm lightly with a reassuring smile and looked back to his research.
V.O. Giles: “A question much debated. Supposedly answered in a round-about-way by philosophers, or through religious teachings. Mind you, interpretation of religious meaning normally leaves you with even more of a headache than I have now.”
Willow limped into the library on crutches, with a bandage covering part of her forehead. She slowly made her way over to the table where Rowena and Robin sat and took a seat next to Rowena, propping her crutches against her chair before lacing her fingers through Rowena’s. Surprised, Rowena looked up and began to sob at the sight of Willow’s hand on hers. Willow softly smiled and turned her attention back to the research. Rowena followed suit, all the while their hands still locked.
Watchers Council – Slayer Gym – Same Time
V.O. Giles: “Still, the answer has never been verified, nor is it likely that it ever will.”
Faith struck a Slam Man with a barrage of hard-hitting punches, striking each area of the target as they lit up in sequence. With each strike, the device swayed back and forth, the weights in the bottom keeping it stable despite the strength behind the slayer’s hits.
V.O. Giles: “It’s sad, unfair. Many more things under the sun, to say the least, though you do have to give it to them.”
Beads of sweat erupted from her pores and her tank-top was damp, sticking to her skin. Faith continued to beat the device, harder, faster, as the period between each light decreased. She grit her teeth, her knuckles becoming sorer with each connection with the hard plastic. Faith began to let out a scream, quickly growing louder.
V.O. Giles: “Such an answer is what drives us, gives us aim, gives us purpose.”
The sequence finished and Faith doubled over, resting her hands on her knees, breathing in heavily. Another light flashed on the forehead of the Slam Man a moment later, and in a heartbeat, Faith stood and delivered a round-house kick to the head of the device, sending the heavy contraption crashing to the floor.
Giles’s House – Same Time
Dawn sat on Giles and Becca’s couch, books and black and white photocopies of pictures of ancient symbols on the seat next to her. Sitting across from her in a highchair was Elizabeth, seemingly content to play with her toys. Shannon walked into the room, her arms filled with books.
V.O. Giles: “I feel lucky that I‘ve been granted a life where this answer seems, if only slightly, more attainable.”
Dawn gave Shannon a slight grin to convey thanks, but immediately turned back to her books and papers. She jotted down possible words and sentences on her large notepad. but the amount of scribbling outweighed the amount of actual accurate translations.
V.O. Giles: “What’s sad is that many wander this life void of any such aim, and inevitably forget what it is they wanted to ask in the first place.”
Watchers Council – Skye’s Cell – Same Time
Skye lay back on her bunk with her hands behind her head, staring up at the cracked stone ceiling.
V.O. Giles: “Such is life, I suppose.”
Xander‘s Warehouse – Continuous
V.O. Giles: “But you must put yourself in the shoes of whatever higher power holds the answer to such a question.”
Large black trucks bearing the Council’s logo backed up into the entrance of the large depot. As they came to a stop, slayers and crew members of Xander’s workshop opened the backs of the vehicles, retracting the ramps to reveal large industrial equipment: diggers, drills, floodlights. They proceeded to unload the equipment, placing certain items on trolleys or just leaving them in the warehouse.
V.O. Giles: “How do you even begin to conjure the words to mold an answer so clandestine and primordial for human comprehension?”
Kennedy and Kadin were two of those unloading the trucks. Coming down the ramp of a truck, Kennedy wheeled a floodlight down to the floor, maneuvering the trolley around other workers weaving past her.
V.O. Giles: “I suppose it’s not unlike when your child looks up at your life-wizened face, and asks, ‘Daddy, why do people die’?”
She continued across the active warehouse floor to an area marked off by masking tape, where several other pieces of equipment were already waiting. Kennedy placed the trolley inside the border and put her foot down on the brake.
V.O. Giles: “Maybe you can’t tell them because you don’t fully know yourself.”
She clapped her hands together to get rid of the dirt from the trolley handle, then wiped her hands on her jeans and looked back to the other trucks. With a sigh, she put a foot forward and began to take a slow walk back over to the unloading area.
Watchers Council – Dr. Miller’s Office – Same Time
V.O. Giles: “Quantifiable evidence has told us who we are: a flesh woven bag of bones, organs and blood. Charming.”
The door to Dr. Miller’s office pushed open, and Willow walked inside with her crutches. Dr. Miller glanced up at her from behind his desk. The awkward smile he gave her quickly faded when he looked back to Becca who sat opposite him, biting her nails. Her eyes were glassy and her body trembled slightly. Buffy sat to her left, her hand on top of Becca’s as it gripped the chair.
When Willow sat down on the other side of Becca, she grasped Becca’s other hand in a similar manner. Dr. Miller began to speak.
V.O. Giles: “Even doctors in white lab coats wonder who they are, but often they contradict themselves.”
With each word he spoke, Willow’s hold on Becca grew stronger. She swallowed hard.
V.O. Giles: “They believe that our physical body is just a vessel that we exist in, but at the slightest suggestion that our body is the vessel for a soul, or for something bigger than ourselves, they won’t have it.”
Dr. Miller stood, a folder in his hand. He walked over to a wall light and produced several semi-transparent, shiny black scans. He flicked the switch and the light illuminated the scans as he held them up, revealing a brain scan. He pointed to certain areas on the scan, areas that were black and gray.
V.O. Giles: “It’s a vessel, it’s not a vessel, not for that anyway. Unbelievable, some people.”
As the doctor finished speaking, tears fell from Becca’s eyes. She brought her hands up to cover her face. Willow rubbed her back and looked up at Dr. Miller, who took his glasses off and threw them on his desk. Buffy and Willow looked at each other, but said nothing.
Watchers Council – Buffy’s Office – Continuous
V.O. Giles: “You can‘t define an answer like this one as having a beginning and an end, in one clear statement. There are so many connotations you can’t measure, for how long is a piece of string?”
Buffy sat at her desk with her planner open at the entry for the next day. At the top of the page she had written “Council Meeting Agenda,” beneath which she had begun to write down key points.
V.O. Giles: “Has anyone ever considered that it’s an answer that we as a species simply aren’t able to comprehend, nor are we even ready to?”
As she wrote, the text became mottled, the ink running as a small pool of water fell onto the page.
V.O. Giles: “What if it’s an answer we’re not allowed by divine right? Or maybe, just maybe, it’s an answer that we don’t want to know?”
Buffy broke down, the tears falling heavily down onto the page. She slammed the planner shut and pushed it away from her. Then she collapsed forward onto the table, wrapping her arms round her head.
Watchers Council – Kitchen – Same Time
V.O. Giles: “Perhaps the question we should be asking is, how have we come to where we are today? And where are we going?”
Sweaty, fatigued, Xander stalked into the kitchen, heading straight to the fridge. Once he had opened it, he brought out an icy can of soda pop and snapped back the tab, guzzling the refreshing drink down. As he closed the fridge and turned to leave, Vi walked in. The pair of them jumped a little, not expecting the other to be there.
V.O. Giles: “No matter how any book-bound philosopher attempts to interpret the answer, I can tell you, with absolute certainty and honesty of heart, that we are where we are today because of knowledge and intuition.”
The two lovers gazed at each other for a brief moment. As if instinctively knowing what was next, they walked to each other and pulled one another into a tight embrace.
Watchers Council – Hallway – Same Time
V.O. Giles: “Knowledge and intuition are a double-edged sword, with the sharpest of blades.”
The doors to the library swung open as Rowena walked out into the empty hallway. She wandered down the hallway a little way until she came to a stop and leaned up against the wall, resting her head back. She closed her eyes and took a deep breath.
V.O. Giles: “They can be our savior on one hand or, on the other, our downfall.”
Watchers Council – Coven Room – Same Time
Mirroring the bustle of the library, the Coven members were working hard. Whiteboards were scattered around the room, with groups of four to each board. Little or no white was visible between the scribbles in red marker.
V.O. Giles: “Those are the two factors behind the progression of mankind, and behind what drives us as a species, as individuals.”
Andrew and Jeff jotted something down on one of the whiteboards. More pictures of ancient text and symbols were pinned up and stuck to the edges of the boards.
V.O. Giles: “It is these factors that have brought us to where we are now, and they will lead us to our next destination, be it good or bad.”
They took a step back, examining what they had written. Both grimaced, then stepped forward, wiped parts of the board clean and began to fill in the gaps, their eyes darting between the pictures of the text and symbols and the whiteboard.
Watchers Council – Infirmary – Same Time
V.O. Giles: “It‘s not the destination that will ultimately shape and change us. It’s the journey.”
An incessant, slow beep from various medical instruments sounded through the room.
V.O. Giles: “It’s a fallacy to believe that we walk this life unscathed by change.”
ECG readings repeated in neon green waves from one side of the black screen to the other, before restarting. The length of the line was shallow and small, but still very much alive.
V.O. Giles: “And so I reprise as I lie here, heart torn, mind racing…”
Close-up of Giles lying on a hospital bed, his body rigged up to various machines. His eyes were closed, his chest cavity leisurely filling up with air with the aid of a breathing apparatus.
V.O. Giles: “…I’ve come to truly understand and appreciate one fact above all others…knowledge is power.”
Cuyahoga Valley – Landscaping Site
The Day Before Last
A thunderous crash filled the valley as a mechanical digger pierced the earth. The vehicle arched up as the claw tore into the dark earth, creating a gaping black hole.
“Whoa! Whoa! Whoa!” The foreman yelled, racing over to the digger. He slammed his fist against the dull metallic body of the vehicle. “Tony! Tony! Back it up! Back it up!” His voice competed with the sound of other drilling and digging, as well as the churning sound of the drill head echoing up from the hole in the earth.
Putting the gear stick in reverse, Tony pulled against gravity and managed to back the vehicle up, bringing the drill head out of the ground.
At a safe distance, Tony stopped the engine. He was greeted by the foreman, who nearly ripped the door off of the digger’s cab.
“What in the hell did you do?”
“I didn’t do nothin’ Pete. I was just diggin’ and the drill head just fell through somethin’.”
“Through somethin’?” Pete asked incredulously. By now the other men had started to gather by the digger and the fissure in the ground. “Hey, hey!” He paced away from the digger.
“It was like it hit stone!” Tony called out after him, taking off his hard hat and throwing it on the other seat in the cab.
Pete ran to the hole, parting the others as he tried to get nearer. “Okay guys, move back, move back.”
As he reached the fissure, he bent down, teetering on the edge as he peered over. “Jeez, what the…”
One of the other men bent down too, gazing into the endless black below. “Wanna drop a penny?”
Pete looked round the disturbed earth and found a rock. Placing his hand out over the hole, he held it there for a moment and then let go. With bated breath, the crew watched as the stone was engulfed by the black, then listened intently for the sound of it hitting the ground. Eyes shifted, looking from one another back to the hole. An eerie silence had descended over the site. Moments later, they heard the faintest sound of the rock hitting the ground inside the hole.
“How far down do you think that is?” One of them asked.
“Guys, you might wanna look at this,” said one of them, as he began to shift the earth away from around the fissure.
The crew carefully moved toward the man. With each handful of dirt he lifted and cast to one side he began to uncover what looked like a stone tablet, with strange carvings almost resembling letters.
“What the…what the hell is this?” Pete let out. His eyes, as well as those of the others around him, moved back to the fissure in the earth.
Tony pulled a cell phone from his pocket and dialed a number.
“Who you calling?” Pete asked.
“My cousin, Gene. He’s a cop,” he said before turning toward the phone. “Yeah, Gene. I’m on a site and got something that might be interesting to that friend of yours at that Council place. You gotta check this out.”
Beneath them, the single shaft of light from the hole lit an enormous, ancient space.
End of Teaser