Lacey Chabert as Skye Talisker, Gale Harold as Jim Pollan, Caroline Dhavernas as Grace Hatherley, Elijah Wood as Jeff Lindquist, Laura Prepon as Lori Carew, Christine Carlson Romano as Hope Lehane and Gary Oldman as Mr. Jason Felix
Donald Sutherland as Brian Percival, Matthew Modine as Captain Harry Fitz-Wolf, Freema Agyeman as Siobhan Hartley, George Takei as Mr. Nogura, Willem Dafoe as Elder Vampire, Georgina Cates as Myra Hindley and Sir Derek Jacobi as Varthrim
Watchers Council – Dining Room – Morning
Rowena looked down at the buffet. She started to hum. Then she began piling things onto her plate: two large spoonfuls of scrambled eggs, then another spoonful, three of hash browns, five links of sausage, two slices of French toast, a half-dozen slices of bacon. It wasn’t until she was on her third spoonful of fruit salad that she looked up.
Robin, Faith, Andrew, Willow, Grace, Hadley, Giles, Dawn and Skye were all looking at her. Or rather, staring.
“Hey,” said Rowena. “I’m eating for three, remember?”
“Ya never heard of seconds?” said Grace.
“Or, firsts?” said Robin with a grin. “For the rest of us.”
Sheepishly, Rowena headed back to the table. Everyone else began to get some breakfast. Moments later, Willow sat in the chair next to her. “Nobody’s really mad,” she whispered to her.
“I am,” said Skye from the table.
“Why?” Rowena asked. “You don’t even eat.”
Skye shrugged. “On principle. Besides,” she said, nibbling on a piece of bacon, “I’m finding the taste of food is pleasant. It doesn’t really satisfy my hunger, but…I like it.”
“Really?” Grace looked baffled.
Jeff and Hope entered the dining room, hand in hand. “A very good morning to you all,” said Jeff.
“Hurry up,” said Hadley. “Grab some food before Ro gobbles it all.”
“Hey!” said Rowena, although, since her mouth was full, it didn’t sound very convincing.
“We have some news,” announced Jeff.
“Is it about Lorinda?” Giles was pouring himself a cup of tea. “She is well, I trust?”
“You should tell Siobhan,” said Dawn. “I think she was a little worried.”
“Yeah, I’ll do that…”
“She was really worried?” asked Skye.
“A little.” Dawn had begun crunching on bacon. “Actually, I’ve had a talk with Shannon about what happened.”
“She told me something really interesting –”
Jeff raised his voice. “We’re getting married!”
For the second time that morning, everyone in the room went silent and stared. Skye blinked. So did Dawn. Rowena, her mouth full of eggs and French toast, stopped chewing. Robin stopped himself from pouring a cup of coffee and looked to Faith, who rolled her eyes. Grace opened her mouth to say something, but didn’t. Giles took off his glasses and started cleaning them with a napkin.
“Congrats,” said Willow at last, with a deliberate smile.
Watchers Council – Hallway – Later that Morning
“No, it isn’t that anybody disapproves,” Willow said to Jeff. She was still smiling. Her smile was still deliberate.
“That’s good to know,” said Jeff, one eyebrow raised. “But…”
“Well, you’re both kinda young. You gotta admit that.”
“I do admit that,” said Jeff, nodding. “Grandmother.”
“Sorry.” But he was grinning.
“Look, what’s the rush? That’s all I’m asking.”
“No rush. We just wanted to do it. And, truth be told, we are in a dangerous line of work.” Neither of them said anything as they reached a set of stairs and ascended. At the top, Jeff asked, “You’ll attend, we hope.”
“Of course I will! Why wouldn’t I?”
“Even though it’ll be a Catholic ceremony?”
Willow looked at him for a split second. “Like as in Roman Catholic?”
“But you – I mean, I know Hope is Catholic and all – but you follow Wicca. Don’t you?”
“Honestly? To me, religions are like different sets of clothes.” He shrugged. “Besides, you can’t deny there really are angels.”
“But that doesn’t mean…” She stopped herself, seeing the grin on his face. “Very funny. And yes – I mean, no, there’s no reason for me not to attend your wedding.”
“Didn’t think so,” Jeff almost laughed.
Willow furrowed her brow and made a mock frown. “It’s not like I’m going to burst into flames if I cross the threshold. No matter what some folks say.”
“Pillar of salt, wasn’t it?”
“Stop it.” Willow pointed her finger at him. “I’ve got a meeting to go to. You’ve got a slayer to check up on. Now git.”
Jeff chuckled as he left her. Willow watched him go, looking as if she wanted to say something, but didn’t have any idea what that something was.
Watchers Council – Buffy’s Office – Day
“Not like I wouldn’t be tempted myself,” Faith said, “but the fact is, she put Lorinda into the infirmary – during practice.”
“That does seem at least kinda reckless,” said Willow, “don’t you agree?”
Buffy waited a split second before saying anything. “What does Dr. Miller say?”
Faith waved that aside. “Slayer healing. She’s fine now. This time, anyway.”
“Next time, she might not get so lucky. Her, or whoever,” said Willow.
“Okay, people,” said Buffy, “this is wandering over into the overreaction section. A slayer got knocked out during practice, right?” No one said anything at first so Buffy repeated, “Right?”
Willow spoke up. “Yeah.”
“Hasn’t this happened before?”
“Now and then…” admitted Willow.
“Except this time it was one of the B-niners who did it,” said Faith.
“You mean,” said Buffy, “one of the slayers who used to belong to Bureau Nine and is now part of the Watchers Council?”
Faith’s features hardened. “If you want to call her that.”
“That is what she is, right?”
Silence followed. “Technically,” said Willow at last.
Before she could say anything else, one of the phones on Buffy’s desk rang. Gesturing for Faith and Willow to wait, Buffy picked up the receiver. “Yes? Okay, put him on, Joan.” She met Faith’s eyes. “Hi Jason. Yeah, a little bit of a ruckus. Siobhan knocked out Lorinda during sparring practice and…what? Really? Okay, when? See you there, then.” She hung up.
Both Willow and Faith looked worried. “What’s up?” asked Willow.
“Jason heard about what happened, including a few interesting details that we don’t seem to have, and has something to show us. He said two hours in the Command Center. Wanna come?”
“Wouldn’t miss it for the world,” said Faith, one eyebrow rising.
Buffy’s phone rang again. She answered it. “What, Joan? Nope, no idea.” She looked at the other two. “Either one of you seen Xander?” They shook their heads. “Tell Lori we don’t know.”
Watchers Council – Xander’s Workshop – Day
Dipping his brush into a small can, Xander wiped away the excess stain and continued to apply liquid to the length of one half of a cane. The half he worked on was held by two clamps.
Between two other clamps was the other, lower half. It clearly contained a sheath. Its wood gleamed in the light, wet with fresh stain. The upper half, on which Xander worked, revealed a razor sharp length of steel, half a yard in length. Arcane symbols were etched on the blade.
Someone knocked on the door. Xander didn’t look up, but kept applying the stain.
“Xander,” said Grace’s voice from the hallway. “You in there?”
He said nothing. After a few moments, the sound of footsteps began and faded. The brush continued to dip, then apply.
Nearby, on a worktable, lay the head of the cane. It was silver, with the stylized shape of an eagle’s head. He’d set it upright and sometimes gazed over toward it, as if studying its profile.
Watchers Council – Hallway – Later that Day
“I didn’t say anything about my hair,” Lorinda said, walking beside Jeff.
“Didn’t say you did,” Jeff replied.
“You said –” Lorinda argued.
“What Jeff said was,” Hope interrupted from the other side of Lorinda, “you mentioned the word hair, not that you were talking about your hair.”
Lorinda took this in. “I don’t remember saying ‘hair,’ either.”
“Well, you did,” said Jeff. “Although, in light of what Dawn found out, maybe that wasn’t quite it, either.”
Lorinda’s head whipped in Jeff’s direction. “What’re you talking about?”
“Speak of the devil,” said Jeff with a grin. Dawn approached, with Shannon and Skye on either side. Both groups stopped in front of the conference room door.
“I still say this is all much ado about nothing” said Shannon. She didn’t look anyone in the eye.
“Maybe,” said Dawn. “Let’s be safe, though. Slayer dreams mean stuff.”
“Hey,” said Lorinda. “You had a slayer dream?”
“It might have been,” said Shannon. “Let’s go inside and get this over with.” She headed into the conference room, followed by Dawn and Jeff.
Lorinda followed her. “What was it about? Your slayer dream? An apocalypse? Some new kind of demon? A hellmouth about to open somewhere? Maybe a prophecy about to be fulfilled? A long-lost slayer weapon?”
“Yeah.” Shannon hurried in.
“What do you mean…Me?” Lorinda closed the door behind her.
Hope and Skye looked at the closed door for a few moments. “I was almost tempted to ask to sit in,” said Skye after a few moments. “My guess is it’ll just be more of the same, though. Bickering about who did what and who was supposed to do what.” She shook her head with a half-smile. “Idiotic, really.”
“Oh, I’m sure you’ve noticed.”
“Maybe, but that depends on what you’re talking about.”
Skye sighed. “Something happens. People try to figure stuff out. Then they get into a minor war over whether folks from B9 did things they shouldn’t have and what that was and so on. This one’ll be bigger than some because it’s all about Felix himself.”
“Felix has been helping!”
“Not the point,” said Skye softly. “Look, you and Faith have all your sister issues to work out – or to ignore, as the case might be. Hey,” she raised her hand as Hope opened her mouth to speak, “it’s your business, not mine. Though the two of you make me so glad I fell for a Summers girl, not a Lehane. No offense.”
“None taken,” said Hope automatically.
“You’re polite. I like that. Anyway, whatever is between you and Faith has become part of the whole merger brouhaha.”
“But…it’s not like Bureau Nine is taking over the Watchers Council.”
“The whole idea was for us to work together.”
“Yep. And you know what they say about best-laid plans,” she shrugged. “Still, your boyfriend helps a lot. I mean he’s been around here practically since the start, Willow’s fair-haired boy and all. Well, dark-haired. He’s kinda the bridge between the two factions right now.” She grinned, looking at the conference room door. “Want me to listen in?”
Hope looked tempted, but finally shook her head. “No.” She sighed. “You haven’t said anything.”
“Sure I have. I say things all the time.”
“No, I mean about…Jeff. And me.”
“Oh. Good on you. Best wishes and all that. Really.”
“Sincerity might be nice.”
Skye did a take, then laughed. “I’m distracted. And to be honest, envious. I’d love to get married myself. But, not really possible.”
“You could do what Willow and Ro did – go to Canada.”
“Nope,” said Skye with a shake of her head. “Same sex marriage is one thing. Marriage between the living and the dead…there ain’t a jurisdiction on Earth gonna touch that one. Not for a long, long, long time!”
Watchers Council – Conference Room – Same Time
Shannon took a deep breath. All around her people watched and listened. Dawn, Jeff, Lorinda, Buffy, Mr. Felix, Willow, Faith and Robin. “They started last week. I’d have these dreams about an estate of some kind. I think it was England. But a long time ago, like 1776 times. Maybe longer. I know there was a hedge maze, and hills. The guy who ran the place was this old guy with white hair and big sideburns. Tall, real tall. And sometimes he talked to a girl with bright red hair. That girl was…” she hesitated, “Lorinda.”
Everyone looked at Lorinda – who in turn stared at Shannon. “I do not have red hair,” she said.
“I know that!”
“Then how can it be me?”
“Because it looked like you! Just with red hair, and, well, a bit more…” She hesitated. “This Lorinda,” she said at last, “was a bit more developed.”
Lorinda’s eyes had become daggers.
“And,” continued Shannon, “the old guy kept looking for you, for her. You know what I mean. Calling out her name. Lorinda. I’ve never even heard of anyone else named Lorinda, have you?”
“It’s a family name,” said Lorinda.
“Okay,” said Shannon, “and so he keeps looking for Lorinda, and he’s real upset, practically screaming your name. Then, I see her – you – whoever – on a sailing ship. A big one. At sea.”
“Wasn’t there something else?” asked Felix. “When Miss Summers recounted your dreams to Hope and Jeff, she included another detail.”
“Oh, yeah. It was a pirate ship.”
“How did you know that?”
“The flag. Right out of a movie. Skull and crossbones.”
“So your slayer dream,” began Lorinda, “was about me with red hair and big boobs and a ship flying the Jolly Roger?”
Shannon just shrugged in response.
“Sounds like someone’s just seen Pirates too many times before they went to bed,” Lorinda remarked. “We really called a meeting for this?”
“It might be an apocalypse,” Shannon replied. Lorinda rolled her eyes. “Not because of the dream,” she added, “but because, for once, we agree with each other. I don’t think this is a big deal, either.”
Felix leaned forward. “Shannon, please think back. I’m asking this because different pirate captains used different flags, and I suspect your dream is more than just a dream. You might have been seeing history. Please, was there anything at all unique about the pirate ship or the flag? Did you see the ship’s name?”
“What about the flag? You saw that, yes?”
“Precisely what did it look like? What color was it?”
“Black. With white.”
She shook her head.
“Is there anything else, any detail at all you can recall?”
For a few moments, Shannon concentrated. “The skull…I think it had horns. Kinda weird. But that flag was in at least two dreams, I know. And the skull definitely had horns.”
“Don’t tell me,” said Faith, “That’s important, right? And you’ve already put it all together?” She was frowning.
“I’ve put something together, Miss Lehane. Quite simply, I’ve been studying up quite a bit about the history of the Watchers Council lately. One can understand why.” He smiled. Faith did not smile back.
“Go on, Jason,” said Buffy. “Some of us are listening.”
He opened a file. “In 1725, there was a slayer…a young woman named Lorinda Sheparton. The first of your line to be called,” he looked pointedly at Lorinda, “but not the last. That has been something of a puzzle, I understand, because very few slayers have ever been closely related to one another.”
“My family is just special that way,” was Lorinda’s reply, in a flat tone.
“Your namesake,” Felix continued, “incidentally had red hair. She was identified as a potential quite young and became the ward of a respected watcher of the era, Robert Merrick.”
“Merrick?” said Buffy.
“Your first watcher,” said Robin.
“Only he was Alfred Merrick. They must be related.”
“Presumably,” said Felix.
“You don’t know?” said Faith, one eyebrow rising sarcastically.
“How old was he?” asked Dawn.
“In 1725, he was sixty-three. That was the year the first slayer Lorinda disappeared. Rumor had it she’d been kidnapped or had fought to the death with a certain pirate captain. Miss Sheparton, Jeff tells me that when you lost consciousness you said a word.”
“He’s wrong. I didn’t.”
“The word was ‘hair’.”
“No. That’s what he says, but I don’t remember it.”
“I believe perhaps you did not say the word ‘hair.’ I wonder if, instead, you said the name ‘Harry.’ Because, you see, the pirate who supposedly faced your namesake was called Harry Fitz-Wolf. And this,” he took out a picture, “was his personal flag.” He held it up for all to see. The picture was a painting of a sailing ship. In close-up was the flag of the ship, unfurled in the wind – a pirate flag on a black background, with a white skull and crossed bones. The top of the skull had horns.
“Legend says that Harry Fitz-Wolf was half demon,” said Felix. “And he wielded enough magic to terrify his crew and his enemies.”
Silence ensued for a few moments. “Nice piece of detective work,” said Robin. Faith didn’t quite sneer at that.
“Actually, without Miss Summers’s help I wouldn’t have uncovered it, but thank you.”
“So what happened next?” Robin asked. “Do you know?”
“Robert Merrick went after Captain Fitz-Wolf, chased him as far as the Caribbean. Merrick was, evidently, quite a powerful magic-user in his own right. Both vanished from history. At about the same time, another slayer was called. It was presumed all three, including Lorinda, had been killed.”
“So nobody really knows, then,” Faith said.
“Correct,” Felix said with a short nod. “But from that time on, several members of the Sheparton family have been called as slayers, a unique situation as far as anyone knows. And then, the current Lorinda is rendered unconscious by a blow that should have done no such thing, at approximately the same time as Shannon here begins to have special dreams about Lorinda’s namesake. Call me paranoid if you like…”
“You’re paranoid,” said Faith.
Felix smiled at that. “But,” he continued, “I believe something may be happening. Or, about to happen. I could, of course, be wrong.” He put the picture down and waited.
“That’d be too easy,” muttered Willow.
“One question,” spoke up Lorinda. “This Captain Harry you’re talking about.”
“What did he look like?”
“No paintings or engravings survive. Or, at least none I’ve been able to find in the last day or so.”
Felix nodded. “Yes, as a matter of fact.” He took out a photocopied sheet from his file, and began to read aloud. “Although guilty of truly terrible deeds in his career of piracy and mayhem, all who had met the dread Harry Fitz-Wolf agreed him to be a man of unusually pleasing appearance. His form was slender yet strong withal, his features regular and welcome, his eyes pale blue and his lips ever eager to smile pleasantly upon all those not his enemies.” He looked up. “Does that please you, Miss Sheparton?”
“Yeah,” said Lorinda with a small smile. “It does.”
“Me, too,” muttered Buffy.
“Buffy,” said Willow, in a put-upon tone.
“What? He sounds cute!”
“He’s dead,” pointed out Dawn.
“Oh, like you’re one to talk!” Buffy countered.
“And he’s half-demony,” said Willow. “Plus, you know, a pirate. As in walk-the-plank, take no prisoners, loot whole towns kinda thing.”
Faith shrugged. “Her perfect man, if you ask me.”
“If I might interrupt,” said Jeff suddenly, “I agree that this doesn’t exactly seem like the stuff of coincidence. We should probably keep our eyes open for something else, something that will tie in the history Mr. Felix has uncovered with…well, current events.”
“Agreed,” said Robin.
Cruise Ship Command Deck – Dusk
The captain entered without a pause. “Something unscheduled on the radar, Number One?”
His first officer lowered the binoculars and met the Captain’s eyes. His own eyes looked huge. “Sir, it isn’t just on radar anymore.” Then he pointed and the Captain’s gaze followed his hand. He stared, not quite comprehending.
Less than a hundred yards away, a full-size sailing ship was following the cruise ship on a parallel course. From its rigging, fluttering in the wind, was a pirate flag.
“That cannot be,” muttered the Captain.
“It literally appeared out of nowhere, sir.”
The Captain stared for a few more moments. “It’s keeping pace. That is a sailing ship and it is keeping pace with us.”
“Yes, I know. Which is…”
While they watched, hatches on the side of the sailing ship opened – and the mouths of cannons emerged. None of the crew, Captain or First Officer or anyone on the watch, had much time to react before the cannons began to fire.
End of Act One