Watchers Council – Coven Room – Moments Later
Instead of crying, Elizabeth looked like she was trying to catch the dancing light around her.
Willow smiled. “Someday when she’s running the joint, I hope she remembers we all were nice and changed her poopy diapers.” She began to blow out the candles.
As the remains of the spell began to evaporate, Elizabeth looked at her father, as if for an explanation of where the light went. He walked over to her with Buffy following behind.
“Disappointed? Proud?” Buffy asked.
“Shocked would be my first reaction,” Giles said as he picked up his daughter.
“What are you going to tell Becca?” Willow asked as she made her way over.
“I’m not sure,” he replied.
“Well, like I said, Giles, this might change things,” Willow went on.
“How so?” he asked. “She’s still our daughter. Becca is still her mother.”
“I hope you’re right. I mean, Becca absolutely adores you and you’re a watcher, or were anyway,” Willow replied. “So hey, maybe she’ll take it better than you think,” she tried to add optimistically.
“Or maybe…?” Buffy asked.
“She won’t take it well,” Willow finished the sentence, “a-and maybe…do I really have to be the one to say it, guys?”
“She’ll hold it against her, against me,” Giles replied.
“Glad I didn’t have to say it,” Willow added softly.
Giles mustered a grin. “No, Becca will continue to love Elizabeth, I’m sure, a-and I don’t foresee her treating her any differently than she does now.”
“So, should we get the Academy enrollment forms in line, or do you want to wait a few years?” Buffy teased. Giles barely had a reaction, and Willow gave a nervous grin. “Come on, guys, this is great news,” she added. “I’m sure she’ll make an extra special watcher. Besides, she already knows the word ‘books.’ And you know that’s one of a watcher’s favorite lines: ‘I must consult my books’,” she said with a bad British accent. “She’s only four more words away from watcherhood.”
Giles smiled and ran his hand down Buffy’s arm. “I’m sure everything will be fine, ladies. But for the time being, I’d like to keep this between us.”
“Keep what between ourselves?” Xander asked as he walked inside the room.
“Elizabeth’s a watcher,” Buffy told him. Giles scolded her with his eyes at the outburst, and she shrugged. “It’s Xander,” she added in her defense. “He doesn’t count.”
“And a nice ‘how do ya do’ to you too, Buf,” Xander replied.
“No,” Willow said quickly. “Not counting counts here. It means you’re in the inner circle where no one else, including Vi, is allowed to be. That’s all.”
“Ahh, so Becca doesn’t know yet,” Xander said, understanding.
“Precisely,” Giles replied. “And I-I’d like to keep it that way for the time being.”
“Well, it’s not like she’s joining next week,” Xander replied. “She still has to master that coloring in the lines part first, which I hear is the hardest part on the watchers exam.” Willow slapped Xander’s arm. “What? Ask Ro. She said she flunked it.” Willow got a worried look suddenly. “Oh damn it, I’m sorry, Will.”
“Open your mouth a little wider, Xander,” Buffy told him. “I don’t think your foot is quite in there enough.”
“It’s okay,” Willow told everyone. “Truth is, the life of a watcher is always in danger in some way a-and…” Willow trailed off as she saw Giles’s nervous expression, “Okay, Xan, let’s see which one of us can get our foot in the farthest. Ready? Go.”
Giles began to grin. “Really, we’ll deal with this, and I’m sure Rowena and Kennedy will make it home safely. The power of positive thinking, right?”
“Right!” the group agreed.
No one added anything more. Instead, they all just looked at each other, as if not sure what else to say. Finally, Giles broke the silence.
“So, lunch?” he asked.
Everyone immediately started talking, each voicing his or her own opinions on the subject.
Russia Train Compartment – Same Time
“You might want to get some sleep,” Kennedy told Rowena, as she watched the woman looking outside the window.
Rowena turned with a slight grin. “I don’t think I’ll be able to sleep if I try. I’m a bit wired.”
There was a brief pause before Kennedy asked, “What happened out here last time?”
“Sex, death, destruction,” Rowena replied. “All the makings of a nice movie of the week, which I’m sure Andrew would love to compose,” she added with a slight grin.
“So, is this place guarded, and who guards it? I’m looking for details.”
“I’m not sure where to start,” Rowena answered.
“Pick a place, any place,” Kennedy prompted.
Rowena grinned at the comment, before looking serious again.
“You know those men I killed in Iraq?” Kennedy nodded. “They weren’t the first people I killed, and since I’m heading back to the temple, they might not be the last.”
2002 – Russia – Train Compartment – Near Dawn
As the train began to roll to a stop, Rowena and Chris grabbed their backpacks and headed toward the hallway.
Russia – Train Aisle – Moments Later
Rowena looked left and then right. She noticed a man moving quickly toward them. She continued to stare in his direction until she saw him reach into his jacket and pull out a gun with a silencer and attempt to take aim at them through the crowd. Rowena drew her weapon immediately, and Chris’s eyes widened.
“Down,” she shouted, as she pointed the gun toward his head.
Not needing to be told twice, Chris ducked, and Rowena fired two shots at the man – one going into his forehead and the other into his chest. The passengers on the train began to scream and tried to run in various directions.
Rowena grabbed Chris by the hand and then noticed two other men trying to work their way through the mob from the other direction.
“Follow me,” she told him.
Russia – Train – Moments Later
With Chris behind her, Rowena moved out the door and grabbed the ladder, going to the top of the train’s roof. She motioned Chris to the other side once they were on top.
Looking over the edge, she saw the two men step from the train and begin to look around at the traffic around them. She quickly sent two more shots from above, felling each man.
“Go!” She motioned Chris down the other side of the train.
The crowd and police gathered on the other side next to the dead men on the platform as Rowena and Chris began to race across the track to the other side of the train yard.
“Now what?” Chris asked. “You just committed murder, and I’m an accessory. Do you know what they do to people in Russia for that?”
“Quit whining and keep moving,” she answered. She began to reload her gun without slowing down.
Russia – Train Compartment – Moments Later – Night
After Rowena finished, she took a sip from her bottled water.
“Damn,” Kennedy sighed quietly.
“Yeah, I’m pretty much damned,” Rowena replied, but then she slowly began to grin. “But I’m trying to improve. I’m sure this trip is going to knock me down a few more Karmic points, though.”
“Well, you didn’t really have a choice. I mean, they were going to kill you, weren’t they?” she asked.
“I’d say that was their plan, yes. The gun pointed at us was a big tip off,” Rowena replied with a grin. “So just know there are people who will stop at nothing to stop us, and keep in mind, if it comes down to us or them…don’t be afraid to pull the trigger.”
“I don’t have a gun.”
“If I die, you might have mine,” she replied. “And don’t be afraid to use it if that’s what happens.”
“I’m not sure I can kill anyone, a person I mean,” Kennedy said. “Demons are different. People…not so quick with the slayage there.”
“Here’s hoping you’ll never have to find out,” she said, raising her bottle and taking a drink. “Just remember, though, if it does come down to a choice…they won’t leave you alive. So if you pull that trigger, shoot to kill.” Kennedy looked visibly shaken at the prospect. Rowena then added, “But like I said, if I’m still around, I’ll handle it. Protecting slayers is what watchers do, or at least that’s what we’re supposed to do.”
Rowena bit her lip and looked away. Kennedy didn’t press the point, as if understanding Rowena was thinking about a slayer other than herself.
Watchers Council – Lobby – Moments Later
Willow held Elizabeth in her arms, while Xander carried little Martin. Giles and Buffy stood side-by-side, talking, as everyone moved in the same direction.
Willow scrunched her eyes for a moment when she saw Faith standing near the reception desk, being approached by two men dressed in suits that she didn’t recognize.
“Hey, Buffy,” she said, handing over Elizabeth. “I’ll catch up to you guys in a few.”
As the rest of the group headed toward the dining hall, Willow walked over toward Faith with a curious expression, intercepting the two men.
“Hey, guys,” she said, making them turn just as Faith arrived. “I’m Willow Rosenberg. Can I help you with something?”
“We’re just here to see Ms. Lehane,” one of them commented.
“And you are?” she asked.
“Detective Augustine,” he answered, before motioning to his partner. “And Detective Williams.”
“What can we do for you today?” Willow asked casually.
“We’ve had a few people report that Ms. Lehane might have left a state prison in California without serving all of her time. We’d like to ask her a few questions. That’s all.”
Faith opened her mouth to speak, but Willow grabbed her hand.
“Do you have a warrant for her arrest for some reason?” Willow asked. The detectives looked at each other, and at Willow’s hand locked in Faith’s. “My new girlfriend,” she said, raising their hands.
Augustine looked suspicious. “Thought you had a guy,” he said to Faith. “I read that in a magazine.”
Faith and Willow looked at each other. “She’s bi,” Willow answered. “Got a problem with that, pal?”
“No ma’am,” Augustine replied, as if trying to avoid an argument. “We just have a few questions.”
“Again, do you have a warrant?” Neither of them said anything. “I’ll take that as a no,” Willow replied. “If you don’t have a warrant, then why are you here taking away Faith’s time from her duties at the Council?”
“We have several prisoners that have claimed they remember seeing Faith there. But she was suddenly gone, no explanation.”
“Wow, criminals claiming they’ve seen Faith behind bars. That’s credible.”
“As well as a few guards,” Williams offered.
“And an arrest record?” Willow asked. “Where’s that?”
Detective Augustine appeared apprehensive. “Any arrest record we might have had seems to have magically disappeared.”
“So you have no written evidence of a conviction of Ms. Lehane, only some jailhouse snitches that claim she was placed in a correctional facility? Is that right?”
“We need to follow up on this, ma’am,” Williams said flatly.
“And I’d say you have,” Willow replied. “Perhaps you did have a woman named Lehane in prison that resembles our Faith. She’s a beautiful woman, but that doesn’t mean she’s the same person people claim to have seen. In fact, I’m willing to bet that this woman,” she said, holding up Faith’s hand again, “is a different woman altogether. Now if you don’t mind, she and I have work to attend to. Have a nice day, gentlemen.”
The detectives lingered for a moment and then made their way to the door.
Once they were gone, Faith gave a deep sigh. “You shouldn’t have done that.”
“I didn’t do anything. I just asked questions – none of which they have the answers to. And it’s not like I lied, because you’re not the same woman that went to prison, Faith. Not by a long shot.”
Faith nodded. “Fine. Can I have my hand back now?”
“Oh,” Willow said, letting go as if she had forgotten that she had it in hers. “Look, if they show up again, Faith, or if any other authorities show up, don’t say anything. And if they put you under arrest, don’t say anything, anything, without us getting Alex, okay?”
“Willow,” Faith tried to begin.
“No, Faith. We need you. And by now you know the real score…you do a lot more good here than you do sitting in a jail cell somewhere making license plates. Got it?”
Faith began to grin. “Yeah…I’m tryin’.”
“I know,” Willow replied. “Which is why I’m not letting them take you back. Not now. Not ever. I destroyed the evidence years ago, a-and they’ve got nothing but some prisoners, who are really, really not credible, a-and they can’t build a case on that. So just…relax, okay? Don’t go getting all guilt-riddley on me, ya hear me?”
Faith grinned. “Okay, Red, I hear ya.”
Russia – Train Compartment – Night
“So what happened next?” Kennedy asked. “After you got off the train?”
“We had to find a way to get to the temple. That meant finding transportation.”
“I’m assuming you found a place?” Kennedy asked.
“Yeah, we did. But someone else found the owner of the business first.”
Russia 20002 – Vacant Store – Dawn
Rowena looked around through the window of the apparently vacant store and then opened the front door, motioning Chris inside first.
“Again?” he sighed. “I told you –”
“Yeah, Tyrell, I know. I’m not taking my chances.”
With a roll of his eyes, Chris cleared the threshold and Rowena followed.
Russia 2002 – Vacant Store – Moments Later
“You really need to start trusting me soon,” he told her. “Besides, I’m not going to be the only one walking through all the doors first and into god-knows-what.”
“You can always leave,” Rowena told him.
“With assassins, and now the GRU, looking for me? I doubt it. Sorry, sister, you’re stuck with me,” he replied. “Now, care to explain why we’re here?”
Rowena continued to look around the shop. “We need a way to get to the temple. This man can help us procure a snowmobile, and since we don’t have our bags anymore, camping gear too.” Rowena cupped her hands around her mouth and shouted toward the back, “Antonov? Это Rowena Allister. Вы здесь?”
When they got no response, Chris said, “Looks like he’s not around.”
“He swore he’d be here. I talked to him to confirm.”
“Well, he’s not answering,” Chris replied. “Let’s just get what we need and go.”
“I’ve already broken one commandment today, a big one. I’d like to keep that down to a minimum, okay?” Rowena said as she walked toward the back of the room. “Antonov? Это Rowena. Мы говорили по телефону.”
Rowena moved the curtain aside to a back room and peered inside to see the shopkeeper on the floor in a pool of blood.
“Antonov!” she exclaimed, running inside. Chris quickly followed upon hearing her yell.
“What the –” Chris began as he looked at the body. He didn’t finish the sentence as a bringer leapt toward him, tackling him to the ground.
Two others shot out of the shadows, trying to surround Rowena, but she rolled backward from her stooped position, quickly coming to her feet.
The closest one swung at her with his curbed blade, but she sidestepped him and grabbed him by the wrist, snapping his hand toward himself. With a hard pull backward, she pushed the knife into his own stomach, then pulled up, effectively gutting him. As the other advanced, she pushed the dead bringer toward him and jumped over Chris and the third bringer he was struggling with on the floor.
Seeing Rowena escaping, the bringer battling with Chris sent a right hook across his jaw and left him to help his fellow bringer in his pursuit of Rowena. She scanned the store for something to fight with and noticed a sword above the cash register.
“Chalybs! Hic!” she shouted in Latin, making the sword fly to her waiting, outstretched hand.
The weapon arrived just as the bringers both stabbed their knives toward her. She twirled the sword downward, cutting off their hands. As she backed away, a look of amazement crossed her face when they didn’t seem fazed by the attack, simply picking up their blades again with their opposite hands.
“You gotta be kidding me,” she muttered.
They both advanced at once and Rowena leapt over the counter just inches from the swipe of one bringer. As his hand came down, he shattered the glass counter, entrapping his hand. Rowena swung her sword as fast as she could, cutting his throat. On instinct, he reached with his other arm, but without a hand, he had nothing to grab the wound with. His partner cleared the counter, not bothering to check on his fellow bringer’s condition as he closed in on Rowena.
“Ro! Duck!” Chris called out from behind her.
Rowena had raised her sword above her head, but quickly fell to her knees. Chris sent a crossbow bolt over her head and straight into the bringer’s chest. He stumbled back for a moment, but then began to advance again.
Rowena’s eyes widened in disbelief as the bringer tried again to move forward. She rose back up and sliced across his neck, finally sending him to the ground.
“Are you okay?” Chris asked.
Rowena slowly turned around. “Reload,” she told him. “We need to check for more.”
“How did you do that? Get that sword from across the room and move that quick? That was…wow…”
“Borrowed magic,” she answered shortly, as her eyes scanned the room.
“For blind dudes, they sure do fight pretty good. Who are those guys? Guardians from the fortress or something?” he asked.
“From their clothes, features…I’d say they’re harbingers,” she replied.
“What’s a harbinger, and what the hell do they want with you?” he asked.
“Me? In case you forgot, you were attacked too,” she replied.
“Attacked, but only long enough so they could get to you,” he reminded her. “They were after you…so what aren’t you telling me?”
“Nothing,” Rowena answered. “Their presence here is as much a mystery to me as it is you.” Rowena shook her head to regroup. “Let’s search the rest of the store and get out of here as quickly as we can.”
“No argument here,” Chris replied.
Watchers Council – Dining Hall – Moments Later
Willow and Faith walked in to find Xander, Buffy and Giles at a table with the kids.
“What’s going on?” Buffy asked as they took a seat.
“Joe Friday poking his nose around,” Willow replied. “They asked if Faith was ever in prison.”
“What did you tell them?” Giles asked.
“She lied,” Faith replied.
“I didn’t lie,” Willow said in a frustrated voice as she sat down. “I told you, I just didn’t answer their questions and asked a few of my own. They’ve got nothing but some people talking. That’s all.”
Looking dejected, Faith took a seat.
“Faith,” Giles said, “I need to get Elizabeth more juice and something for myself. Care to give an old man a hand?”
“Sure,” she said, rising to meet him.
Watchers Council – Lunch Line – Moments Later
“I know what that look means,” Giles told her as the two of them went through the lunch line again. “You’re thinking about turning yourself in again, aren’t you?” Faith shrugged her shoulders. “We’ve all done things we regret. Things we wish we could take back. Even myself. But going back to prison isn’t going to help as many people as you working here.”
“I know. I’m just…I didn’t do my time, Giles. I didn’t pay my debt, ya know?”
“Faith, you pay it every day of your life. Whether you’re in a cell that’s eight by eight, or answering your calling as a slayer, you are helping people. Prison is designed to rehabilitate people, to make them useful members of society. You’ve done that, and you continue to do it everyday.”
“It just doesn’t feel right, Giles,” she told him as she walked beside him, taking items as she went along and putting them on her tray. “Apple?” she said, holding up a juice.
“Yes,” he replied. “And don’t get off subject,” he added.
“How about this, then? Why should I walk around free when people who have done less than me are sitting in jail, huh?”
“Why are you walking around alive when others should be dead? Is that the real question you’re asking here? You’ve had no problems with working for the Council instead of going back to jail prior to this. So what’s different now?”
“Stop hitting the nail on the head, okay? It hurts,” she told him, trying and failing to look stern.
“Faith,” Giles began, “you are here for a reason, and I-I don’t believe you’ll find that reason in a jail cell. So please, for everyone’s sake at the Council – for everyone in the world – don’t allow your guilt to force you into a foolhardy decision. Heed the advice Willow is giving you.”
“Soapbox ready to be put away yet?” Faith asked with a grin.
“Yes, now that it’s time to eat,” he said, matching her grin. “Just as soon as I get some more cherry Jello squares for Liz.” He motioned to the server behind the counter. “She loves those little buggers.”
Watchers Council – Underground Parking Garage – Early Evening
“Bugger!” an American woman’s voice seethed as the bottom of the box she lifted out of the trunk of her red Mini Cooper gave way, scattering her belongings across the asphalt. She bent down, tucking her long dark brown hair behind her ears. She placed the lid of the box on the bottom to cover the hole and began to put her belongings back in.
“Bugger?” Xander said, appearing from the other side of his camper van, parked a couple spaces down. “That’s an odd expletive for a fellow Yankee Doodle to use. Not that it doesn’t rub off on anyone who works here.”
She looked up, not wearing the friendliest expression on her face. “Half English. I’m half English.”
“So you’re a Yankee-Limey, then.” He smiled.
“Guess so,” she replied bluntly. Carefully, she picked up the box.
“Here, let me help,” Xander offered.
“No, I’m fine,” she said as she lifted the box up into her arms. Skillfully, she balanced the box in the curve of her arm as she reached up and slammed the trunk shut.
“I’m Xander,” he introduced.
“Grace,” she answered, then exhaled. “And from my display of how to drop things, you can see I have none.”
Xander looked at her Mini Cooper, running his hand over the body of the mod-red car.
“Sweet ride you got here, trés cool,” he complimented.
“Thanks. Yours is…” She quickly glanced at his RV and then back at him. “…from the same era. Ironic, huh?” she managed a weak smirk, her eyes puffy and tired.
“Yeah, but I don’t travel as much as I used to,” Xander replied with a smile. “So, you’re new, huh?”
“I’m a newbie watcher,” Grace said.
“A WIT? Can’t say it’s the most glamorous job at the Council, but we do need some more watchers. Perhaps a retro Eighties ‘winners don’t do drugs’ or a Seventies Farrah Fawcett poster gal for the watcher promotions. ‘Cause the slayer division is getting pretty full from Faith’s ad campaign,” Xander replied.
“Not sure I’d be the best bet. I didn’t choose the gig…the gig chose me,” she revealed.
“Oh, a Chosen watcher. Nice.”
“If you say so,” she said. She did not sound like she agreed.
Xander seemed unsure of what to say at that point. “Well, you’re in the right place: Chosen Central. So you’re newly Chosen?” he asked.
“Inquiring minds and all that jazz?” Grace commented with a smile.
Xander clasped his hands. “I’m told my nosy attentiveness is one of my best features – that and having the knack to replace a window in record time, which, believe it or not, is required here more than you might think.”
She took a breath, her smiling mouth hanging open in slight disbelief.
“Uh, yes, I’m newly Chosen, but not new to the fold. Having a watcher for a mother and all. I’ve got to take the full WIT course, in spite of already having most of the know-how in my pompously large noggin’.” Grace moaned, sighed, and shook her head. “I just find it frustrating having to re-learn what I already know. But I should thank you.”
“You’re the first person to really give me the time of day since I’ve arrived, though that might be because I’m not the most welcoming and tactful person.”
“You’re the new guy…along with a boat load of other new guys. Plus, we’re still kinda adjusting to the new digs and the changes that being out to the world brings. I know that things will calm down. When, however, is a different story. We’re a nice bunch, though…you’ve got nothing to worry about,” Xander assured her.
Grace nodded. “Well, look, I’d better take this in and up to my dorm. I really want to get settled tonight. Tomorrow’s another day, and the day that I intend to start working for my paycheck. Plus, I noticed an ad on the bulletin board in the staff room about Ms. Allister wanting an assistant for some ‘special project.’ I might go for that. It’s kinda like a cop-out, y’know? Bring coffee, donuts, books.”
“I can put in a good word with Ro for you,” Xander said.
“You’re a watcher too?”
“Oh God, no,” Xander chuckled. “Not that being a watcher is bad,” he said quickly. “Me and books mix like oil and water. I’m the weapons master, handyman extraordinaire, Council clown…the fun guy and friend to all,” he replied. “Plus, my best bud is Rowena’s girlfriend, proving it’s not always what you know. But I will say, as a former donut runner myself, you look like you could handle the job.”
Grace looked at him with an arched brow. “And in return for the reference?”
“You let me help you carry up your stuff.”
“Just so you know, I’m not looking for a boyfriend,” she told him.
“Neither am I,” he replied. “Well, a girlfriend, I mean. I have one of those, and I’m quite happy with her. Besides, she could break me into little handyman bits if I ever cheated on her,” he said as he grinned. Grace looked confused. “Slayer strength.”
“Oh,” Grace said, starting to grin, too. “Well, okay. You got a deal then.” She reached into her pocket and put the car key into the trunk lock. “You can bring my suitcases.” She smirked.
Russia – Train Compartment – Near Dawn
Rowena and Kennedy heard the conductor yelling through the aisle, “Irkutsk! Irkutsk!”
“Looks like we made it through the first leg of the journey,” Rowena said.
Kennedy looked outside the window and pointed. “They don’t look like Eskimos,” she said. “What’s up with that?”
Rowena smiled. “Actually, we’ve got a long way to travel. It’s still relatively warm in this region. Not unlike the Northern U.S. or Southern Canada.”
“But where are we going…?”
“Expect around minus ten to twenty degrees Fahrenheit,” Rowena answered with a grin.
“So how far of a lead do you think they have on us? Tyrell, I mean.”
“I’m not sure, but being part of the known Watchers Council has its privileges,” she replied.
“Meaning?” Kennedy asked.
“No snowmobiles this time. I worked with the Russian government to secure us a plane. Doesn’t mean that Tyrell hasn’t done the same, but I do know it’s costing us a pretty penny. I’m hoping Tyrell doesn’t have the capital we have.”
“So we might make it there first?” Kennedy asked.
“Perhaps,” she replied, grabbing her bag. “But we’ve got to hurry.”
“Like I said,” Kennedy replied, putting her bag over her shoulder, “I’m there.”
Irkutsk, Russia – Small Airplane Hangar – Dawn
“Zdravstvujte!” Rowena said with a smile as she walked across the floor of a hanger toward a waiting small plane.
A man moved around under the wing to greet her and Kennedy. “Rowena Allister?” he asked.
Rowena nodded and answered, “Да. Kennedy,” she said, pointing at the slayer, who gave a friendly wave.
“Хороший встречать(выполнять) Вас. Право этот путь.,” he replied as he motioned the two of them to follow him.
“Spasibo,” Rowena replied. “Nice to meet us, this way,” Rowena translated to Kennedy in a hushed tone.
Russia – Small Airplane – Day
Kennedy sat in the backseat while Rowena sat next to the pilot. She looked out the window at the snow-covered land below her.
“Are we there yet, Mom?” Kennedy said in a whiny voice, making Rowena turn around and grin.
“If you ask me one more time, I’m gonna turn this plane around right now,” she replied with mock sternness.
Kennedy just chuckled.
“Я только лечу к Дудинке,” the pilot said.
“Я знаю. Я имею транспортировку там,” Rowena replied.
Kennedy held her hands up for an explanation, and Rowena smiled. “He only flies as far as Dudinka, which can’t be much further. From there we’ll get some snowmobiles for the rest of the trip up. It’ll be about another four hundred miles, hopping from town to town, village to village, in sub-zero temperatures. But there is one good thing,” she added.
“When we land in Dudinka, you can officially say you’ve been to the Arctic Circle. If you like, we can go a couple thousand extra miles and visit Santa Claus.”
“Maybe next time,” Kennedy replied.
The pilot began to smile and tried to say in choppy English, “St. Nicholas. Yeah, yeah, North Pole.”
“See?” Rowena told Kennedy, motioning to the pilot. “Everyone knows Santa Claus.”
Suddenly, the plane’s engines began to sputter.
“Whoa!” Kennedy shouted from the back seat as the cabin dropped a few feet.
The engine’s noise grew louder, and the pilot grabbed his radio saying, “Критическое положение!”
“What’s happening?” Kennedy asked.
“Что не так?” Rowena asked the pilot.
“Машинная неудача. Я должен сажать самолет,” he replied.
“What’s going on?” Kennedy asked again.
“We’re going down,” Rowena replied. “Hang on!”
The plane began to nose-dive toward the ground, which was coming up toward them faster and faster.
“Oh my God,” Rowena said, almost under her breath. She held onto the chair arms, bracing herself.
The pilot pulled on the controls with all his strength. He leveled the plane out, but not before it went racing toward the forest in front of them. The plane skidded along until it slammed into some trees.
End of Act Two