Lacey Chabert as Skye Talisker, Gale Harold as Jim Pollan, Caroline Dhavernas as Grace Hatherley, Elijah Wood as Jeffrey Lindquist, T.R. Knight as Jackson App, Steffani Brass as Shannon Matthewson, Rachel Hurd-Wood as Lorinda Sheparton and Sarah Michelle Gellar as Buffy Summers
Robin Sachs as Ethan Rayne, Elisabeth Sladen as Dianna Earl, Laura Prepon as Lori Carew, Jordan Baker as Sheila Rosenberg, Mercedes McNab as Harmony Kendall, Brittany Murphy as Luna, Alex Diakun as Gredd, Richard Bakalyan as Thorm and Gary Oldman as Mr. Jason Felix
Watchers Council – Hallway – Morning
“This is…well, this is crap,” Grace said. She paced down the hallway, running her hands through her hair, flanked on either side by Rowena and Jim.
Behind them were the invisible Thorm and Gredd, following along.
“She may be your mother, but she’s also a guest, and as an employee, Grace, you’ve gotta play nice,” Jim chipped in. “We’ve got an image to maintain, you know.”
“Yeah, in case the media encampment out on the grass takes a snap of me…of me…” Grace couldn’t find the word.
“Snapping?” Rowena supplied.
“Yes! Thank you, Ro.” Then, doing a double take, she looked back at Jim. “And nice? Hey, I’m nice!”
“Grace, it’ll be fine.” Rowena threw her a reassuring smile. “Just keep your chin up, and be proud of what you do and what you’ve done. You’ve done good, girl, and I’m sure she’s proud of you.”
Grace huffed. “You don’t know my mother.”
“And the way you’ve been painting her, I’m sure Rowena doesn’t want to know your mother,” Jim cut in. “Dianna is a lovely woman, very dedicated…”
“Ha!” Grace exclaimed.
“…and is fantastic at what she does,” Jim continued.
“She’s retired, lapping up the lifestyle of sixty being the new fifty, and has enough cash to do whatever the hell she wants. That reminds me, I’ve gotta try and milk her for a new TV.”
“You wouldn’t think she’s retired. She still goes along to the London branch and helps out,” Jim pointed out.
“She only still goes by ’cause she’s a lonely old woman, which is good. I want her to be lonely,” Grace said bitterly.
“Grace!” Rowena chastised.
“What a little ingrate,” Gredd remarked. “If she was my spawn, I’d kill her myself.”
“In good time, you’ll get your chance,” Thorm told him.
Gredd pulled something from his pocket and began typing.
“What are you doing?” Thorm asked.
“Adding her to my list of who goes first once we’ve got that scroll,” he replied.
Thorm just sighed.
Grace then said, “Okay, I take it back. Actually, I’m too much of a nice person to wish her ill.”
“Besides,” Jim mused, “don’t you think it might be nice to have another watcher, although semi-retired, with experience like hers around?”
Grace rolled her eyes. “No!”
Rowena smiled. “Jim, they’re mother and daughter, and parents and children don’t always see eye-to-eye.”
“You and your mother don’t see eye-to-eye?” Jim asked Rowena.
Rowena paused and licked her lips nervously. “We’re not talking about me, we’re talking about Grace.”
Grace and Jim both scoffed.
“Why am I not shocked?” Jim muttered. In a louder voice, he asked, “Do you have any women in your life that you have a good relationship with? Scratch that…any person? Besides Willow, that is?”
“Yes!” Rowena replied.
“Who?” Jim said with a half chuckle.
At first Rowena didn’t answer. “Well, Althenea’s my best friend.”
“And?” Jim prompted.
“And-and, I do admire Faith. Oh, and Buffy. She and I plan on ice skating together this year…if it’d stay cold enough for the damn lake to freeze, that is. So yes, I do have women in my life besides Willow. I don’t need my mommy.”
“Just because one has a good relationship with their parents doesn’t mean they need their parents,” Jim countered.
“If you always saw eye-to-eye with your parents, good for you,” Rowena said, pointing a finger at Jim. “In fact, I bet you were a good boy.” She raised her brow. “A mama’s boy, even.” She grinned. “I, however, think for myself.”
Jim was about to say something when Grace interrupted.
“Hey, can I have my thunder back, please?” she asked. Jim backed down and Rowena bit her bottom lip. “Thank you,” Grace sighed, shaking her head. “Point is, I just know my mom’s gonna stick her oar in.”
Rowena smirked. “It’s what mothers do best…unless you’re a mama’s boy.”
The trio turned out of the hallway and into the large, airy lobby to see Dianna sitting on one of the couches by the reception desk, flicking through a magazine. Standing beside her on the floor was an oblong, hard travel box, roughly a yard high.
Grace took in a deep breath and Rowena placed a hand on her back, then the three made their way over.
“Watchers Monthly? Blimey. And this is Rowena Allister? My, my, she’s got a pair,” Dianna said, as she placed the issue with Rowena on the cover down on the table in front of her.
Jim covered his mouth, cupping it toward Rowena. “Another female admirer for your list,” he said.
Rowena gave him an exaggerated fake smile.
As Dianna sat back on the couch, she glanced up and caught sight of Grace, Rowena and Jim moving closer. Her face lit up.
“Dianna,” Jim said welcomingly, walking ahead of Rowena and Grace.
“Jim.” The pair met in a friendly embrace. As they parted she looked up at him with the sweetest possible smile and held his hand, squeezing lightly. “I’ve missed our mid-morning coffee sessions in the staff room. How have you been? Settling into the new job all right?”
“Yeah, I’ve been good, thanks. I miss London, though, and our coffee sessions.” He smiled.
“It’s getting so sweet in here, I think my fangs are starting to rot,” Gredd said to his partner. “Wonder if she knows what an ingrate her kid is?”
Dianna’s smile brightened when Rowena and Grace came up behind Jim.
“Hello,” Dianna said, offering her hand to Rowena, “I’m Dianna Earl.”
Rowena took her hand and gave it a shake. To her obvious surprise, Dianna leaned forward and gave her a peck on the cheek. Grace folded her arms and let her eyes wander away from the scene.
“It’s a pleasure to meet you,” Rowena said, now bearing a smile.
“Now I can say I’ve met a celebrity.” Rowena looked confused. “The magazine,” Dianna clarified. “Watcher and cover girl, very modern woman.” Rowena laughed, much to Grace’s dismay.
Dianna peered around Rowena to see Grace standing behind her.
“Grace,” Dianna said flatly.
“Mom,” Grace replied, her arms now by her side.
“She knows,” Thorm and Gredd said to each other.
A smile returned to Dianna’s face and she opened up her arms. Grace stared back at her mother for a long beat, and then, with a sigh, she walked into her mother’s arms.
Dianna closed her eyes and squeezed Grace, who replied with a weak squeeze and pat on the back.
Watchers Council – Classroom – Day
Lorinda slowly chewed a piece of paper as she watched Shannon, who was paying attention to the lecture Dawn was delivering at the front of the classroom. In the corner, near the door, stood Gredd, who was watching Lorinda with as much interest as Lorinda was watching Shannon.
While Dawn droned on, Lorinda pulled out a straw and, as soon as the watcher turned her back, she launched the wad at Shannon.
“Hey!” Shannon cried, clapping a hand to her neck. She glared at Lorinda.
“Lorinda!” Dawn exclaimed, as the rest of the class turned to see the commotion.
“Yes, Ms. Summers?” she asked sweetly, hiding the straw under her notebook.
“Do you have something to add to our discussion on the Roman Empire?” Dawn asked.
Shannon smirked and mouthed, “You’re gonna get it now!”
Lorinda looked back at Dawn and asked, “I’m sorry, Ms. Summers…what was the topic again?”
“The destruction of the temple in Jerusalem,” Dawn reminded her.
“Oh yes,” Lorinda replied, and then dropped her head, as if thinking. Shannon and the rest of the class seemed to prepare themselves to launch ridicule, but then Lorinda lifted her head and said boldly, “The destruction of Solomon’s temple marked the end of the Jewish rebellion in Judea and secured the rise of the Flavian Dynasty. Although General Titus Flavius was the victor in Jerusalem, it was his father, Vespasian, who received the triumph in Rome, and thereby secured his elevation to emperor after the chaotic Year of the Four Emperors.”
Dawn and the entire class stared at Lorinda in shock as the young slayer continued. “Upon his taking of the purple, Vespasian immediately set into action many reforms intended to redress the outrages committed by previous emperors. He restored the military and, with the cooperation of the Senate, rebuilt the Empire’s finances. However, his most memorable contribution to the Empire was the construction of the Amphitheatrum Flavium, or the Colosseum. Did you visit it when you lived in Rome, Ms. Summers?” Lorinda cocked her head in a saccharine-sweet pose.
Dawn could only continue to stare for a moment, then shut her mouth with a snap. “Very good, Lorinda. Yes, I had the pleasure of seeing the sights in Rome. But let’s stop the juvenile spit-balling and continue, shall we?” With a glance at Shannon, she gave a small shrug and turned back to the board. Shannon smiled at Lorinda, who scowled in return.
Another student leaned up to talk in Lorinda’s ear. “How did she see that?” she whispered. “Does she have eyes in the back of her head?”
Lorinda just shrugged, her scowl still in place. The two girls started to whisper again, and Lorinda finally began to grin.
Gredd’s demon face now wore a scowl as Thorm entered the classroom and came up to him. The class ignored the two unseen demons as they continued to listen to Dawn’s lecture.
“What’s up?” Thorm asked.
“I’m gonna kill that girl first,” Gredd replied, pointing at Lorinda. He reached for his device again. “She’s getting bumped to the top. The ingrate is now second.”
Thorm glanced at the slayer, who was preparing her peashooter for another shot. “Her? Why? She looks nice enough.”
“Nice?” Gredd stormed. “She looks like my ex-wife!”
Thorm rolled his eyes. “Oh please!” he exclaimed. “Your wife has been dead twelve hundred years, let it gooooo already. You ate her and used her bones to make that nice bookshelf, remember? Just get over it!”
“I thought I was,” Gredd replied. “But when I saw this one, it all came back to me. I mean, look at her…the shifty eyes, the evil grin. It’s a wonder these others just don’t kill her themselves!” Gredd paused and looked thoughtful for a moment. “I’m really looking forward to corporeality this time…just so I can turn this horrible girl inside out.”
Thorm looked at Gredd for a moment. “You really need to find a hobby.”
Watchers Council – Senior Conference Room – Mid-Morning
Rowena, Willow, Buffy, Jim, Robin, Faith, Grace and Dianna sat around the conference table. However the picture was different from usual meetings as a tray of tea, coffee and cookies cast an informal air over proceedings.
Gredd leaned over the table, trying to sniff the food. Giving up, he gave a wave and moved to the back of the room to stand next to Thorm.
Grace was wedged between Willow and Rowena. She was engrossed by her repeated dunking of her cookie into a cup of warm tea.
“That cookie’s about to drown, ya know?” Rowena said, nudging Grace’s arm slightly.
“Umm…” Grace looked toward Rowena as the bottom of the cookie crumbled and fell with a plop into her tea. “Damn it,” she cursed softly.
Rowena patted Grace’s hand, then reached for her own cup of tea.
“Thank you all. This is very kind of you,” Dianna, sitting between Jim and Robin, said between sips.
“Eh, think nothing of it. We do this for all our guests…only we don’t use the best china for just anyone.” Buffy grinned.
“How’s retirement treating you?” Jim asked.
Dianna smirked as she raised her cup to her mouth. “It’s boring.” She took a sip. “Then again, I am a busy body. Plus, it’s good to keep the old mind at work. Let’s just say I’m not quite ready to knit and have watching Countdown be the highlight of my day,” she giggled. “No, it’s not all that bad. I’m quite the lady of leisure nowadays. I can swan off on holiday whenever I like.”
“And is this a holiday?” Robin asked.
“Yes, it kind of is,” Dianna replied. “I thought I’d treat myself and come over to see my daughter…that and I wanted to have a snoop ’round this branch.” She smiled. “And I must say, I’m very impressed by what I’ve seen so far. Just the scale and control of the operation you’ve got going on, it’s commendable. It really is.”
“We try our best,” Willow said with a shrug.
“And the way you acted and took control last May was outstanding. You put the Old Guard to shame, you did,” Dianna complimented with a smile. “There’s also been a lot of buzz ’round the London branch about Rowena’s investigation into the vampire species.”
“Can this woman kiss any more ass?” Thorm remarked, making Gredd snort.
“Actually, it’s Grace’s investigation too,” Rowena piped up. “She’s helped me a lot and, in fact, she’s come up with an intriguing thesis about the chemical reactions inside a vampire’s body.”
Dianna raised a brow. “Really? Now that does sound intriguing. Do you have any quantifiable evidence?”
“Grace,” Rowena handed over the conversation to her.
Grace sat forward and shook her head. “No, it’s just a theory at the moment.”
“It’s that kind of thinking that puts the New Guard in a different league than the Old Guard,” Dianna said. “You must tell me more. And Rowena, I’d love to go over your results about your case study on that vampire you experimented on…of course, with Grace too.”
“Sure,” Rowena replied, “only you make it sound…”
“Oh, forgive me, please,” Dianna put up her hands. “I should have said ‘investigation.’ You can take the woman out of the Old Guard, but you can’t take the Old Guard out of the woman.”
Grace half-grinned, though mockingly, at her mother’s jolly demeanor. It was then that she really took notice of the travel box that now stood behind Dianna’s chair.
“You got me a present to make up for my lack of nothing at Christmas?” Grace said bluntly. The jolliness vacuumed right out of the room.
“I’d give her a gift,” Gredd replied. “I’d start with my right foot up her –”
“Gredd! Hush!” Thorm ordered.
Dianna gave Grace a look, then snapped her fingers. “Oh yes, thank you for reminding me.” Grace sat up, surprised. Dianna took a sip of her tea. “Yes, I’m not just here for a holiday. Well, I am, but I got roped into doing some extra work. Actually, what’s in the box isn’t a pressie, my dear.”
Grace closed her eyes and smirked, nodding her head. “No, of course not.”
“I am sorry, Gracie. Tell me what you’d like and I’ll get it for you,” Dianna said.
“Well, I wouldn’t mind…” Grace began, but Jim interrupted her.
“So what business has the London branch got you to do now?” he asked.
“Well, I shouldn’t have said roped, it was my own doing actually,” Dianna replied. “The gist is that the London branch recently procured an Arc de Lumière.”
“An Arc of Light?” Willow inquired. “Really?”
Dianna nodded. “Yes. Thing is, they already have one.”
“And what is this arc thingy?” Faith asked.
“Essentially it’s just a trinket, while it’s inert. It’s very pretty. However, it has the power to…cut through darkness when activated,” Dianna told the group.
“So it’s like a torch?” Buffy asked. “Just a really pretty one?”
“It’s more than just a torch, Buff,” Willow said. “The Arc de Lumière is used to ward off dark spirits and souls, and also for allowing safe passage through the Dark Realms.”
“Slayer here.” Faith put her hand up. “What are the Dark Realms?”
“Basically, really evil dimensions,” Grace put in.
“Evil dimensions,” Gredd scoffed. “These bozos spend so much time complimenting each other, they wouldn’t know an evil dimension if it came and bit them on the behind.”
“You’re being very anal today,” Thorm said. “First the foot remark, and now with the biting. Please stop. It’s scary.”
“Yes, basically.” Dianna agreed with a smile. “Anyway, seeing as I was coming over here, I offered to bring it with me. One, to save them the trouble of sending it via airmail, and two, because it’s in safer hands than those thieving git posties.”
“Well, thanks for bringing it over. I’ll get someone to take it down to the vault later on,” Jim said.
“Actually would you mind if I took it down to the vault?” Dianna asked, “No slight on your staff, it’s just I feel very responsible for anything I do, and I like to see it through right to the end.”
“It’s true. She doesn’t mail Christmas and birthday cards, she delivers them herself,” Grace supplied. “Speaking of which, don’t suppose you got me a Christmas card?”
Dianna smiled and reached into her handbag. “That I have, although belated,” she handed Grace her Christmas card over the table.
“Thanks,” Grace took the envelope, sounding more than a little surprised.
“Well, if it makes you feel better, I’ll take you down to the vault a little later,” Jim told Dianna.
“That would be fantastic, thank you,” she smiled.
Watchers Council – Basement Vault – Afternoon
The elevator doors parted and Jim and Dianna walked out into the long corridor leading up to the large mechanical vault doors. Thorm and Gredd followed them.
Dianna was preoccupied by her cell phone, letting out a slight groan as she pressed the keys. “I’m not being funny, but what’s with all the new-fangled technology that’s supposed to make our lives easier? Why in god’s name is predictive text so bloody awkward?! Oh, I don’t know,” she said, as she stuffed her cell phone into her coat pocket.
“I know what you mean, but that’s why I have a BlackBerry,” Jim commented with a smile, swiping his key card into the reader. The cage door clicked open. “I love my BlackBerry.”
He held the door to the cage over the vault door open for Dianna, snapping it shut once both were inside.
“It’s too much trouble, if you ask me,” she said. “I only really use my phone on the odd occasion, and when I do use it, I only use it as a phone. You know, to ring for a taxi, to ring for a pizza. It’s not like I’ve a fancy man who I’m texting on the sly.” She snorted as Jim entered his authorization code into the computer terminal, followed by his palm scan.
Jim cocked an eyebrow. “Umm…so who was that?”
“My neighbor, Patsy, back in London. She’s looking after my cat and wanted to know if Polly would eat Sainsbury’s own cat food. I’m all out of Whiskers, apparently.”
The large vault door came to life and began its slow, heavy journey to the wall as it opened.
“You named your cat Polly?” Jim asked with a grin.
Dianna smirked. “Yes, but you wouldn’t like her surname,” Jim gave her a quick glance as they entered the vault. “Pussy.” She stifled a laugh.
“Polly Pussy. Tell me you don’t call that out into the night when she doesn’t come home,” Jim chuckled.
“Okay, I won’t,” she giggled.
“What do we categorize the Arc as?” Jim asked, as they stepped over the threshold of the vault.
“Miscellaneous,” Dianna suggested, pointing him in the right direction.
“Right, here we are,” Jim said, as they stopped in front of a row of metal lockers. “Now which one is free?” He swiped his ID in the reader, then proceeded to open and look for space in several of the many drawers.
The sound of a ringtone echoed through the vault, sending both Dianna and Jim in search of their cell phones.
“It’s me,” Jim told her, as he took his cell phone out of his pants pocket. “Hello? Hello? Yes this is…sorry, you’re breaking up…hold…hold on…” He held the cell phone away from his ear and turned to Dianna, “Reception’s crappy. Here’s the key card. Just swipe it in the reader next to the drawers and see if you can find a space for the Arc. I’ll just be a minute.”
Dianna smiled. “Not a problem, thanks!”
With the key card in hand, she swiped it through the reader on the next drawer down from the one Jim had tried. There was a space. She glanced to her left and saw Jim walk out of the vault.
She placed the travel box down on the floor and unclipped the lid, revealing the small, clean-cut glass Arc carefully nestled inside, surrounded by black packing foam.
Wrapping her hands around the delicate glass object, she lifted the Arc out of the box and placed it down inside the open drawer. As she moved her hands away, she brushed her right palm across the sleek surface of the Arc.
“Akerbris,” Dianna all-but-whispered, yet it was enough to power the Arc. A white-golden light began to illuminate from within the glass.
“Good boy,” she said coldly. Turning around, her eyes immediately fell on a security camera, which was encased in a cloud of light. She grinned.
Dianna squatted down and lifted out the black foam from her case to reveal a compartment underneath. She pulled the top of the secret compartment off and gazed down at the fake bronze Sphere.
Reaching inside, she took the fake Sphere in her hand and turned back to the lockers. She swiped the key card in the reader next to the drawers until she found the one that contained the real Sphere.
“What’s she doing?” Gredd asked.
“Like I know!” Thorm replied testily.
With the fake Sphere in her left hand, Dianna pocketed the key card and reached in and picked up the real Sphere. She placed the fake Sphere into the drawer and closed it, before carefully putting the real Sphere into the secret compartment of her travel box.
“Ah, she’s a thief,” Gredd said. “I think this job of ours just got a whole lot easier.”
“No doubt,” Thorm replied. “If she could just walk right in, think of what we’ll be able to do once we’ve got that scroll.”
Once the lid was shut and the compartment hidden, she uttered, “Dormoda,” and the light from the Arc faded, along with the light encasing the security cameras. Dianna shut the drawer containing the Arc, picked up her travel box and walked out of the vault.
Standing outside, Jim still struggled to hear the person on the other end of the line, “You want to arrange an interview with who? Mr. Wood or Ms. Summers? I…I can’t…”
Dianna came up behind him, her hand slipping her cell phone back into her coat pocket and pulling out Jim’s key card.
Jim looked over his shoulder to see her approaching. He rolled his eyes and mouthed ‘sorry’ to her. She batted away his apology with her hand.
“If you…if you…honestly,” Jim sighed and closed his cell phone, “all that trouble and they hang up.”
“Typical,” Dianna sighed.
“Isn’t it just. Sorry about that, I’m expecting a call from the PR guy on The View about scheduling an interview with some of the staff.”
“Ooo, exciting.” Dianna smiled.
“All done?” he asked.
Dianna nodded. “Yep, it’s stored safe and sound. Now I can relax. Oh yes, here’s your key card,” she said as she offered it to him.
“I’ve got some rounds to do. Fancy tagging along and I can show you ’round the building?”
Her face lit up. “Oh, please!”
Jim and Dianna exited the cage and headed up the hallway to the elevator, engrossed in small talk.
Bureau Nine – Mr. Felix’s Office – Same Time
Mr. Felix leaned forward and placed his wireless phone back in its dock,. He released the faintest of sighs, his face showing his anxiety.
Before the light on the LCD display of the phone went out, it read “J. Pollan – Watchers Council HQ PR Officer.”
End of Act One