Island – Repository Chamber – Continuous
“Such wonders,” Zeromus said as he stood in the doorway. “I find myself taken aback by the enormity and grandeur of this island. Of this very chamber.” He closed his eyes for a moment and breathed in the stale air as if it were sustenance.
“H-H-How? Giles?” Willow turned to Giles for just a second before returning her attention to Zeromus. “The spell worked, didn’t it?”
“It did. I, uh, I…” Giles stuttered. Then a look of dawning realization appeared on his face. “We dislodged his vessel.”
Zeromus exhaled, opened his eyes, and looked back at Giles. “Dislodged?”
Giles swallowed and cleared his throat. “Yes,” he said, in a deep, authoritative voice. “Your vessel was trapped at the peak of a time dilation field. You were caught in it the moment your ship passed into the fog.”
“That is why the stars are different,” the Old One grunted. “I could not have anticipated this. Nor was I informed of such a ward by my contact. Hmm…I suppose I cannot seek revenge. I imagine he has long since fed the worms of the earth. Pray tell, Shadow Man, I wish to know the current year.”
“2007. But I doubt you are familiar with our calendar.”
Zeromus cocked his head. “True. It has been thousands of years, no?” Giles replied with a nod. Zeromus nodded, as well, and then took a step forward. The others did the opposite, taking a step back. He smiled at this. “I believe thanks are in order.”
“Oh, I don’t know about that,” Giles said bluntly.
“Modesty in one with such power?” Zeromus chuckled. “Perhaps we are not so different, you and I.”
“I think you’ll find we’re very different,” Willow said sharply.
Zeromus stopped and closed his eyes again, a small, toothy smile on his face. “Mmm…such power you exude. I cannot deny its appeal, but I fear it would be insufficient to sustain me. Yet it growls with ferocious teeth. It comes from a place as dark as my own.”
He trailed off, deep in thought. Then he blinked and continued.
“Still, my thanks. I must say, it intrigues me that humans, even Shadow Men, were able to successfully dock at the shores of this island, especially considering the Guardians’ profound dislike for your kind.” Zeromus looked back at Giles, his eyes narrowing. “But you are different.” He stopped and appraised Giles with a curious eye, inspecting him. “You…you already possess their knowledge. Their words flow as freely as water through your mind.” Zeromus came to a stop. “There is a block, but you, sir, are a Guardian.” Zeromus shivered.
Giles stood tall, standing his ground. “What is it you aim to achieve now? Time has slain your empire, and your enemies are all long dead. Yes, these words have power, but they are useless to you now.”
“Oh, Guardian, naiveté does not become you.” Zeromus took another small step forward. Giles didn’t move. “These words are of more use to me now than ever.”
“Not true,” Willow cut in. “Our race is stronger than ever. We dominate all corners of the world. Our reach even extends into the stars.”
Zeromus shook his head. “No. No! That is a lie!”
“It’s not a lie, Zeromus,” Giles said, commanding his attention.
“You know my name. Do not presume that you have power over me because you know my name, Guardian.”
“The human race is dominant. We have staved off many apocalypses, many adversaries, and we have even fought off Lucifer’s armies. We have gone up against The First Evil and won.”
“In addition, there is no longer just one vampire slayer, but thousands, thanks to this woman here.” Giles pointed to Willow. “She may not be an Old One, but she is strong, and you’ll find champions the likes of her the world over.”
Zeromus grinned. “A challenge has never sounded so sweet,” he almost hissed through his razor teeth.
“Okay, perhaps we’d better stop antagonizing the powerful Old One, huh, Giles?” Willow’s voice echoed throughout the chamber. “And…umm…ya know, get on with making the jiggy
Zeromus frowned. “Jig-gee?” He sounded curious.
“Umm…yes, you’re probably right.” Giles coughed and took a slight step back.
“A sign of the times and my age, language has taken a turn for the worse,” Zeromus said.
“Ya think that’s bad,” Grace blurted out from behind Felix, garnering looks from Zeromus, Gile and Willow. Willow gave Grace a fiery glare. “You should hear gamer-speak.” Behind her back, she passed her gun into Felix’s hand.
Zeromus seemed stunned by Grace’s outburst, as did Giles and Willow. Everyone took a cautious step back as Zeromus began to move closer.
“Weapon charged! Targeting Zeromus’s vessel!” Lori’s voice erupted through the silence from the radio on the floor.
Zeromus stopped in his tracks and hastily looked about the chamber. “Weapon?” He furiously turned back to Giles. “Deceivers!” he roared, pushing back the others with his voice alone.
“Bloody hell,” Giles sighed.
Island – Spire Control Deck – Same Time
Lori placed her hand on the large blue orb that sat in the center of the control terminal interface. She spun it in its housing and pressed her hand down on a pressure pad. A sudden shaft of light white shot up from the power source and into the bottom of the stone above.
Above her, the glass walls parted as the large stone began to glow from its core with an intense golden light. The space around the stone rippled like water. Waves of energy radiated from the clear mass, then merged and became a swirling ashen and red speckled mist, distorting the surrounding stone and making it translucent.
Then the mist was suddenly sucked back into the stone. Once full, it transformed into a golden opaque stone. It gleamed brightly in its own light, but also caught the light of the sun. The air became still before an abrupt burst of light shot out from the center of the stone. Then another. And another. Three great torpedoes of golden, solid light flew high above the island. They screeched with a shrill cry as they cut through the air.
Island – Repository Chamber – Moments Later
The light from the exiting torpedoes flooded the chamber through the glass panels in the ceiling, temporarily blinding the group and Zeromus. Giles shielded his eyes with a cupped hand, then belted out, over the piercing sound of the torpedoes, “Now!!”
Giles ripped a pistol out from his inside jacket pocket and aimed it at Zeromus. Zeromus’s head snapped in a solid motion from looking up at the ceiling to the gun.
Island – Central Concourse – Same Time
Casey and Hadley continued to fire at the demons, but they now sought refuge behind the stone pillars of the pagoda.
Buffy and Gwen stood almost back-to-back as they went hand-to-hand with the demons that circled them. They were having success at felling the demons, but still the creatures poured over the buildings and over the blockage at the entrance to the square.
The demons were getting too close for comfort, so Casey discarded her machine gun, tossing it to the ground. She grabbed the tsuka of her katana on her back and unsheathed it in a swift motion, ending with her in a defensive stance. She matched the oncoming demons’ roars and ran forward.
Hadley ran backwards as she unloaded her clip into a large demon coming at her. Her gun empty, she threw it at the demon, but it just bounced off. Reaching behind her back with crossed arms, she pulled two tomahawks out from their holsters attached to her backpack. She spun them skillfully in her hands and sliced the blade in her left hand across the demon’s chest. Then she twirled around and slammed the right one into the demon’s skull.
Buffy headbutted one of the demons in the face, then spun around and threw her axe like a discus into an oncoming demon, flooring him with one direct hit to the chest.
The first torpedo zoomed overhead, momentarily pausing the combat below. All parties looked to the sky at the trail of smoke left behind. Once the torpedoes had passed, Gwen looked back down and grabbed a demon by his head with both hands. With quite a bit of snapping, she broke his neck. He fell lifeless to the ground, and the fight resumed.
Island – Craggy Shoreline – Same Time
The first torpedo nosedived from high above down toward the skeleton ship. It gained speed and seemed to grow brighter, but when it reached the ship, it struck an invisible shield. The torpedo’s energy broke and dispersed around the shield that undulated with a deep purple hue. Then the second and third torpedo hit, yet the bone-ship was unscathed.
Island – Spire Control Deck – Same Time
Lori slammed a clenched fist onto the control terminal and sighed heavily. Her mouth hung open in disbelief.
“No effect,” she said. “The vessel’s protected by some sort of mystical barrier.”
“We kinda got our hands full right now!” Buffy’s voice blasted in Lori’s ear.
Island – Central Concourse – Same Time
With her Scythe now in her hands and the demon in front of her sliced in half, Buffy turned to her fellow warriors.
“Fall back!!” she screamed.
Hadley and Casey took position by the doors of the domed building, holding back the demons with their swordplay, allowing Buffy and Gwen to get through.
Once inside, Buffy began to push one of the large heavy stone doors closed. She dug in and mustered all her strength, and the first door started to edge forward. She yelled out, “Girls!”
Hearing the call, Hadley threw her two tomahawks into a demon, who fell to his knees. She ran inside and started to push the second door. Casey slammed her katana back into its saya and ran inside, while Gwen continued firing bolts of electricity out from the narrowing gap between the doors.
“Fire in the hole!” Casey shouted, as she tore off a red incendiary grenade from her belt. She ripped the pin off and rolled it outside.
Some of the demons further back looked down at it curiously, and then it exploded into an unforgiving cloud of white hot flames. Buffy and Hadley closed the stone doors at the last moment, just as the edge of the flames outside snaked through the tiny gap. Gwen and Casey jumped back with raised arms.
“What I wouldn’t give to be back in front of my desk with all my pencils,” Buffy said longingly.
“We can’t keep those doors closed, and we can’t hold them off,” Hadley said. “What do we do?”
Buffy walked into the center of the hallway, with Gwen behind her. “Simple. We do what we always do. We fight.”
“Buffy? Buffy?” Lori’s voice rang from Buffy’s earpiece.
She pressed her earpiece. “I’m here. We’re held up inside the hallway of the domed building.”
“If there’s a barrier around the ship, we don’t need to destroy the convoy, just the cargo,” Gwen offered.
Buffy waited for a beat. “Distract and attack, slayer style,” she slowly nodded, the realization just coming to her. “I like it. Lori, target the path leading up from the beach. Thin those things out.”
Island – Spire Control Deck – Same Time
Lori adjusted the orb on the control terminal and once again placed her hand on the pressure pad. It made a low beep, which could only be the equivalent of an ancient error warning, since nothing happened.
“C’mon…” she sighed. She fiddled with the controls and pushed down on the pressure pad again, but still to no avail.
“Lori?” Buffy asked. “I’m not hearing booms.”
She shifted her weight onto her cane and hobbled around to stand in front of the terminal and the power source.
“Power’s getting to the weapon, but it’s not responding. I think it’s running low on juice.”
“You’re our weapons expert, our big gun, who just so happens to actually have a big gun at her disposal. Get it working!” Buffy’s voice was not angry, but it was certainly firm.
Lori gulped and said, “I’m on it!” as she limped back around to the control terminal interface.
Island – Repository Chamber – Same Time
Zeromus roared, and before Giles could squeeze the trigger, the watcher was picked up by an invisible force, launched high into the air and sent hurtling into the stone wall with a thud.
The light in the chamber suddenly dimmed, and Zeromus pivoted around to see Willow with her arms rigid by her sides, her palms open wide and her fingers taut like pincers. A blazing mist swirled in her hands, forming a ball of fire in each hand. After a moment they flared, easily doubling in size. Willow howled and then flung her arms out, the balls leaping from her palms toward Zeromus.
The Old One brought up his staff like a bat and swung at the first ball of fire. The connection sent the ball zooming across the chamber. It exploded against the wall on contact, tarnishing the stone.
Zeromus slammed his staff down and stood as the second ball homed in on him. He inhaled a deep breath and then exhaled. The ball was frozen in front of him, no more than an arm’s length away. The ball lost its shape and disintegrated back into its mist form. Zeromus then breathed the mist in.
Willow stood there, flabbergasted, as the last trail of her fireball was sucked into Zeromus’s mouth.
He grinned at her with a guttural gurgle of a laugh. “Pathetic,” he mocked. “Do you want to feel real power, little girl?” He raised his hand up to his mouth and blew across his empty leathery palm.
As Zeromus blew, a wispy black cloud formed in front of him. The cloud swirled and grew, deep purple arcs of electricity visible within. Willow took cautious steps back as the cloud floated toward her. It arched up, and then, within the blink of an eye, jumped straight to her, expanding to match her size and encasing her in a pillar of black.
Zeromus stopped blowing and lowered his hand with a perverse smirk.
Willow’s blood curdling screams filled the chamber as her body convulsed, the electricity lashing on her skin. The black cloud rushed into her eyes, her ears, her mouth and her nose. As the last remnants of the cloud poured into her body, she threw her body backward, smashing into the stone wall. Tears flowing down her face, her eyes opened – they were as black as her hair now was. The purple electricity crackled off her skin. Willow doubled over, holding her head, screaming in agony.
The sound of gunfire echoed behind Zeromus as Felix let rip with an assault of bullets from both his own handgun and the one that Grace had given him. The bullets ripped into Zeromus’s red cloak, but ricocheted off his skin and armor underneath.
“Grace, get out of here!” Felix shouted at the cowering watcher behind him. She looked up from her huddled position and quickly glanced at Willow, then she stumbled into a ducked run toward the door on the opposite side of the chamber.
With his eyes still on Felix, Zeromus threw his staff across the room, embedding it in the wall ahead of Grace and causing her to stumble and fall.
Zeromus raised his hands and the hail of bullets slowed to a halt in front of him. He grit his teeth and then threw his hands in Felix’s direction. The bullets shot back toward the watcher.
Felix’s eyes went wide as his knees deliberately gave way and he fell to the stone floor with a thump, narrowly missing the bullets that shattered parts of the wall behind him.
As Felix picked himself up, Zeromus was on top of him. Zeromus grabbed Felix’s throat, choking him. The Old One growled, spun on the spot and threw Felix across the chamber.
Grace stood and watched as Felix rolled to a stop. He was groaning, but conscious, barely. Her eyes darted back to Zeromus, who she noticed was looking right at her. Her eyes bulged as the Old One made for her.
Grace’s quaking hand reached up to her earpiece. “Buffy,” her voice quivered. “Casey, anyone? Help!!” she shouted, as she backed away and felt the cold stone behind her.
“Do you believe that reinforcements will stop me?” Zeromus asked her.
She closed her eyes and began to chant, her words barely audible.
“And magics?” he barked a laugh. “I believe I have proven myself to be resistant to craft from such weak spell-slingers.” He half-glanced back over his shoulder to Willow, who was now on her knees, quietly crying because she had exhausted her breath from screaming.
When he turned back to Grace, she was gone. Zeromus was taken aback. He blinked and darted his head from side to side. Then he moved at breakneck speed towards the podium at the center of the chamber and grabbed at the air. He snickered, as if he had ahold of something. Then he pulled hard and yanked Grace out by her hair, her glamour washing away from her head to her feet.
“Stupid girl,” he said, as he threw her backwards onto the floor. “Now, let us see what you have to offer.” Zeromus stood over the crying young watcher. She closed her eyes and brought her hands up to protect herself.
Zeromus reached out with his hand and went to place it on Grace’s forehead when he heard Willow’s screams resume, this time sounding more determined than pained. He shot a look at her to see her struggling to her feet. The black cloud poured out of her body, a white light flickering through the occasional break in the darkness surrounding her.
The Old One brought his hand away from Grace, stepped around her and walked towards the struggling witch.
A high-pitched, strident scream bellowed out of Willow’s mouth as a brilliant white light exploded from her chest, her hair now glowing an effulgent white. The black cloud quivered and shook as the light penetrated its mist and ripped it to shreds. As the black cloud fizzled out in front of her eyes, she saw Zeromus standing directly opposite her.
“Perhaps you are worthy of my attention after all.”
“You’re not worthy of mine,” she said calmly.
Zeromus quirked a smile and marched toward her. She opened her hands and released a beam of white light from her palms. The Old One’s right hand reached out toward the staff in the wall; it shook and broke out of the stone, flying back into his hand. He raised the staff and brought the scythed end down on the beam, slicing it in two.
In his other hand, Zeromus summoned a ball of purple energy and threw it at Willow. Before it reached her, it split into three and gathered momentum. Nonchalantly, Willow clapped her hands twice, and the balls turned to ice in mid-air, then fell and smashed into thousands of shards on the floor.
“Child’s play. You are weak, witch. Do not fool yourself into believing otherwise.”
She was weak. Her breathing was shallow and hard, but she wouldn’t give an inch.
Zeromus conjured another ball of energy and flung it at Willow. She raised her hands in front of her, and the ball broke on a shimmering white barrier. It held.
Zeromus released an animalistic roar as he advanced on Willow. The sheer power behind it sent a quake throughout the entire chamber. A crack appeared in Willow’s barrier. The crack splintered and spread, and when it could take no more, the barrier shattered like glass. The immense force of the roar was like a gale, and it forced Willow back, despite her attempt at digging her heels into the grooves of the stone floor.
She still held her hands out in front of her, trying to fend off the Old One. Zeromus dropped his staff to the floor and laced his crushingly powerful fingers through hers. As he gripped both of her hands, a cold and suggestive smile appeared on his face.
Willow screamed as Zeromus forced her down onto her knees, slowly bending her hands backwards.
“Look at me,” he said. Willow couldn’t through her own tears. “Look at me!” he commanded, and she did obey. Zeromus’s eyes gleamed, and then they widened as he slowly opened his mouth. Willow did the same. “I shall enjoy this,” he said, and then he inhaled.
A sparkling, cherry light was drawn out of Willow’s mouth and up into Zeromus’s. As he did this, Willow’s hair returned to its normal red hue. Zeromus started to glow as he absorbed Willow’s magic.
“Hey!” Buffy’s voice suddenly thundered around the chamber.
Her voice alone was enough to cause Zeromus to pause in his draining of Willow, the glowing red ball of her magic flying back into her mouth. He let go of her hands, and she fell to the floor crying, clutching her hands close to her chest.
“You wanna dance, bitch?” Buffy shouted, with one hand gripping the Scythe’s handle and the other wrapped around the pole at the stake end. “Come and tango with me…I dare ya.”
“I have never fought a slayer before,” he said. Zeromus’s staff returned to his hands as he slowly approached Buffy.
“Not a slayer, Bub,” she corrected him. “The slayer.”
“In a moment.” He stopped beside the podium. “I want what I came for.”
With that, Zeromus stepped up onto the podium. Buffy’s eyes went wide, and she dashed forward. The Old One stood tall and proud atop the platform, his arms opened wide as he waited to receive his long sought-after prize. Buffy skidded to a stop when she realized that nothing was happening.
Zeromus looked confused. He looked up to the crystal above his head, then down to the platform beneath his feet. His face abruptly contorted with pure bile. A foam bleeding from his mouth, he growled at Buffy.
“What have you done?”
Buffy just looked confused and shrugged.
“As if the Guardians would bless a foul demon with their secrets,” Giles said from behind Zeromus. The watcher was now on his feet, not looking the least bit dazed.
The Old One turned to Giles with burning eyes, and at seeing him stand, unwavering in his resolve, a demented grin crossed his face. “Then, Guardian, I shall relish in eating your mongrel brain.”
As Zeromus made for Giles, Buffy blindsided him, shoving him off the podium and onto the floor. She sprang to her feet and readied the Scythe. Zeromus recovered and was back up a split second after her.
“Nobody touches my watcher. Got that? And if you want to taste the Guardians’ real power,” Buffy heckled as she turned the Scythe, catching the sunlight on its still gleaming blade, “then get a load o’ this. It’s a weapon made for me. A weapon to slay the last pure demon to walk the Earth. Way I see it, that kinda makes it, uh, you.”
“You shall die!” Zeromus roared.
Buffy grinned in response. “Pucker up, Pal. Time for a taste.”
She kicked herself up into the air and swung the Scythe down on Zeromus. He was too quick, however; he countered her scythe’s blade with his own, and when Buffy landed, he tossed her aside with a huge swing of his powerful arm.
“Giles!” Willow called out, lying on the floor and reaching out to him with her hand.
He ran over to her while Buffy and Zeromus faced off.
“They need to get out of here,” she said weakly as he knelt beside her.
“Yes. Grace –” he began, only to be cut off.
“Not us,” Willow said firmly. She reached for Giles’s hand, holding it tightly. “A little help?” Giles nodded.
He caught his breath as a light formed beneath her palm, flowing from Giles into her. She let go of Giles, who gasped for air.
Willow stood up, winced and placed a hand on her head. “Ooo… head rush…” She blinked a couple of times and looked over at Buffy. “Buffy!” Her call garnered the slayer’s attention. “Out!” Willow raised her hands up to the ceiling, and a strange blue glow outlined both Buffy and Zeromus. The glow expanded and covered their entire bodies, and then they evaporated out of the chamber.
Willow wiped her brow and blew out a short sigh. She looked back at Giles, who was struggling to his feet once again. Grace sniveled and wiped her eyes as Willow and Giles came over to her.
“Are you okay?” Willow asked, placing her hands on Grace’s shoulders.
She sniffed. “He hurt my hair. ”
Willow grinned and gave her a quick hug, helping her to her feet.
Giles helped Felix, who was holding his head. “What happened?” he asked.
“Don’t worry about that,” Willow said. “We need to find that spell right now.”
Giles let go of Felix, who found his footing. “I know what to do,” Giles said. He marched past Willow and Grace, going to the podium. He bent down and pushed in the same letters on the steps.
“Giles, no!” Willow shouted as she ran to him.
She was too late. Giles stepped up onto the podium. The platform beneath his feet pressed down, and the drone of the device coming to life filled the chamber. He caught Willow’s hurting eyes. He gave her a small smile and then closed his eyes as the drone reached a crescendo. A beam of white light shot from the needle above and washed over his head, then dissipated almost immediately. Once it had gone, Giles stood motionless on the device, the droning now just a background noise.
“What…what now?” Grace asked.
“We get him down, that’s what,” Willow said, reaching for him, but Felix grabbed her arm.
“No,” he told her. “He needs to do this, Willow.”
“Oh my god, Lori!” Felix said suddenly. “She’s up in that tower on her own. I need –”
“You go,” Willow said. Felix seemed unsure. “I know he has to do this,” she added. “Grace can finish the pics. I’ll just make sure he doesn’t fall down once he’s done. Now go.”
Felix nodded and high-tailed it for the door. He bent down and grabbed an assault rifle, then ran. “Be careful!” he tossed over his shoulder as he went.
Gorge – Bridge – Night
Giles stumbled off the podium, the beam of light shutting off behind him.
He took a moment to compose himself. He looked around at the cobalt cliffs and rocks surrounding him. Above him was the same brilliant starry night that he had seen once before. He cleared his throat and ran along the bridge, toward the grand doors ahead of him.
“Hello! Hello!” he called out, his cries reverberating around the gorge.
“Hello, Mr. Giles,” a small, soft voice came from the shadows in front of the doors.
Giles came to a skidding halt. A figure came out of the shadows, dressed in an olive colored cloak. The shadows parted, and the starlight hit the porcelain-skinned face of Celestas. A small smile came to Giles’s face.
“It’s good to see you again,” she said, returning his smile.
Island – Catwalk Between Towers – Later
High above the island and the hordes of demons below, Buffy and Zeromus continued to fight – steel against steel, fist against fist.
She threw her Scythe down onto Zeromus’s weapon. Sparks flew as the metals scraped and collided. They were locked in a grapple, each pushing forward with their weapon, trying to break the deadlock and get the upper hand. Zeromus pushed harder than Buffy, pushing her Scythe closer to her chest. The strain was evident on her face. She pulled away and backflipped just in time to avoid Zeromus’s blade.
He roared at her and rushed forward as she recovered, landing an incredibly powerful punch square in her chest. She went flying backwards and through the stone wall into the tower behind her.
Buffy picked herself up from the rubble and coughed, a large gash on her forehead spilling blood down the right side of her face. She roared and charged forward with the Scythe raised above her head.
Practically on top of Zeromus, she swung the Scythe in furious, unforgiving arcs, each of which he easily dodged. She jumped up onto the railings of the catwalk, then leapt off with a pointed foot and kicked Zeromus in the head.
He reeled back and shot Buffy a surprised, yet somehow oddly pleased, look and went for her again.
Island – Spire Control Deck – Same Time
Lori continued to work on the control terminal. All her attempts ended in the same error sound. Her concentration was broken when she heard the shrill screams and growls of demons, growing louder.
She moved from the control terminal and picked up an assault rifle that was propped up against the door. With her cane in the other hand, she went down a couple of the stairs, and as she turned the corner, four demons rounded into view. As their eyes flared at the sight of Lori, she pulled the trigger and sprayed the demons with bullets. As they fell, another group of demons came up behind them.
Gorge – Bridge – Moments Later
“Celestas, I –” Giles began.
“Mr. Giles, there is no time,” the Guardian said, with a motion for Giles to go back along the bridge to the podium. He did so, and she walked alongside him. “Zeromus is far greater an adversary than anything or anyone you have faced before. He cannot be defeated.”
“Then what do we do? We can’t kill him, and there seems to be no end to his army! Tell me, what do we do?” Giles stopped and glared at her.
“Sometimes in battle, flight is better than fight.” Celestas tilted her head to the side as she stared deeply into Giles’s eyes.
“Did you really know that Bureau Nine would make magic disappear from the world?”
She shook her head. “No. We did not. But the lack of magic is the reason why the download process was interrupted and did not resume.”
Giles walked up onto the podium and turned to face Celestas, who was still standing behind him on the bridge before him. A white light shone up from beneath Giles’s feet.
“As soon as you are returned to your body, the download process will resume,” she said. “But whereas before you received only partial knowledge, because you were removed from the platform, now you will receive our full knowledge when you leave here. Of course, it will take time to integrate with your mind, as before, but you will receive it nonetheless. Remember, I did say you would find a way to acquire the rest of it. Think of all this as a full circle affair.”
Giles smiled. “Thank you. Thank you so much.”
“You are most welcome. We are not the Guardians of your world any longer, and contrary to popular belief, neither are the slayers. You are. The watchers are the saviors and protectors of the world.”
“Then I am sorry for what I am about to do.”
She smiled at him. “You do what needs to be done, Mr. Giles.”
“But it’s your legacy.”
“Our legacy lives on within you.” She looked at him a moment longer with sparkling eyes, but then her tone dropped. “But listen to me very carefully, Mr. Giles. Things are going to change, and not for the better.”
“It has affected the past, it is affecting the present and you and your family must not allow it to affect the future. This thing has shaped the world into what it is today, and if you believe Zeromus to be a major threat, then you are seriously mistaken. There is a force far greater, one which believes that nothing is real except suffering. Mr. Giles, beware the –”
Island – Spire Stairwell – Same Time
Lori fell back hard onto the steps. She let out a sigh through a clenched jaw and stabbed the demon that loomed over her with her cane weapon. As the one fell beside her, she stabbed out at another demon, who grabbed onto the end of her cane.
The demon dropped on top of Lori and covered her body with his, snapping at her face with his crooked teeth. She screamed and wrestled with him, trying her best to hold his head back.
Then, gunshots broke out further down the stairwell. The cries of the demons overshadowed the gunfire, and then the demon on top of Lori jerked and slumped forward onto her, completely lifeless.
She groaned and rolled him off. When she did so, she found a crude axe embedded in the back of his skull and Felix standing over her with an offered hand and a gentle, comforting smile.
She returned his smile with tears in her eyes. “Timely. Very timely,” she said, and took his hand. As she got back to her feet, she wrapped her arms around Felix. “Thank you,” she whispered in his ear.
The embrace had taken him by surprise. He replied by squeezing her tight. He was evidently a bit choked up himself. He pulled away from her, coughed, and asked, “Is the weapon online?”
Lori frowned a little and then nodded. “Yeah, but it’s…jammed, I think.”
“But power is getting to it, right?”
“Sure, why –? Hey! Jason?” she called after him, as he thrust his gun into her hands and rushed past her, picking up his metal briefcase.
He turned back to her. “Just wait here. Right here. We’ll leave in two minutes.” Then he took off.
Island – Repository Chamber – Minutes Later
As Lori and Felix neared the entrance to the chamber, they saw Gwen firing her electricity into the onslaught of demons. Hadley and Casey had both reverted to firing their guns.
Willow stood alongside them. She had her head down and was muttering a spell. She flung her head up and threw out her hand, and a huge gale blustered down the hallway, flooring the demons.
She turned around to see Felix and Lori. “Get in! Everyone get inside!”
As the group fell back, the demons pounced to their feet once again. With everyone inside, Willow stood in front of the doors, and they crashed closed under her will.
“Freeze,” was all she said, and the doors were suddenly encased in a crisp icy blue shell. “That should hold for as long as we need.”
“Yeah, unless they’ve discovered a little known thing called fire,” Gwen quipped from her position on the floor, sitting with her back to the podium.
As Willow turned to Gwen, the light surrounding Giles abruptly shut off, and Giles opened his eyes and stumbled down from the podium.
“Oh my Goddess…” Willow exclaimed as she rushed toward him, trying to steady him. “Are you okay?” she said, taking Giles by the arm. Her eyes frantically scanned his face.
Groggily, Giles nodded. “I’m…oh.” He started to lean over too far, but Willow tightened her hold. He blinked and came to, his balance stabilizing.
“Did it work?” Felix asked, as he and the group gathered around Giles and Willow.
Giles licked his cracked lips, swallowed and then answered. “Yes. The link’s been re-established,” he sighed heavily and looked at the others. “Where’s Buffy?” he sounded grave.
“Still fighting Zeromus, probably,” Willow answered.
“She’ll never win,” Giles told her.
Island – Catwalk Between Towers – Same Time
“You are weak, Slayer,” Zeromus said, as he circled a battered Buffy.
He came to a stop behind her and stomped his staff into the stone. Reaching down with his other hand, he picked a scrambling Buffy up by the back of her shirt.
Through a bruised eye, Buffy peered out at the summer blue sky and the sparkling azure waters.
“You are not worthy for my face to be the last thing you see before your mortal death. I want you to see death head-on and realize that you are not special, that you are nothing more than just a human. Now…are you ready, Slayer?”
Buffy shuddered as she looked down below at the top of the domed building, a glass panel directly beneath her. In her hand, she gripped the Scythe tightly. Then she felt Zeromus let go.
The glass rushed up to meet her. Painfully, she brought the Scythe around and clutched it close to her chest. Then she closed her eyes.
Island – Repository Chamber – Same Time
The loud shatter and rain of glass echoed throughout the chamber, and the Council group looked up as one.
“Buffy!” Giles cried as he saw her body plummet toward the floor.
“Maceros!” Willow shouted, with her hand pointed at Buffy.
A green cloud erupted between Buffy and the floor. It expanded and shot up at her. As it engulfed her, it absorbed the momentum of her rapid descent and gently brought her down to the floor. When the green cloud evaporated around her, she fell into Giles’s arms.
She held the Scythe out, and Willow took it from her, handing it to Casey.
“Gi–Giles…” Buffy croaked, nuzzling close to his chest.
His eyes welled, and he stroked her hair. He turned to Willow, who was equally upset at seeing the battered slayer. “We need to…”
Zeromus’s roar filled the chamber, and they looked up to see the Old One zooming down toward them.
Giles held Buffy in his arms and ran for cover, with Willow in tow.
The group gathered around Giles, Willow and Buffy, readying their weapons as Zeromus thundered into the chamber. The ground beneath their feet violently quaked as he landed.
“Do you think that you can win this?” he taunted. “Do you think that you can defy an Old One! I am Zeromus!”
He threw his head back as he roared, and then he ran at the group.
Calmly, Giles looked at Willow and said, “Out.”
Willow closed her eyes and threw her hands up into the air, while Felix ripped off his backpack and threw it up onto the podium. Zeromus let out an even louder roar as he charged ahead. Just as he was about to reach them, Willow threw her hands down, and the group vanished in a burst of blue light.
Zeromus swung his blade where Willow’s head had just been and skidded to a stop. He screamed in anger.
Offshore – Sea-Rescue Vessel – Bow Deck – Same Time
The blue light landed on the bow deck, and it quickly dissipated, revealing the group. Willow was on her knees, breathing hard.
“Felix, now!” Giles shouted at the man.
Felix reached into his shirt pocket and pulled out a detonator identical to the one that Gwen had used earlier. He flicked the lid up and slammed his thumb down on the red button.
Series of Shots – Same Time
– A metal briefcase sitting under a stone bench on the Central Concourse, concealed by various weapons crates
– The movable stone block base holding up the central pillar of a Left District building
– A flashing metallic device wedged between the scrolls in a cabinet in the same Left District building
– A similar flashing metallic device in the Spire’s Control Deck, propped against the crystal power source
Smash Cut To:
Island – Repository Chamber – Same Time
Zeromus made his way over to the podium, but blinked at seeing Felix’s backpack on top of it.
The Old One heard the faintest of beeps, and as he reached out, the bag exploded.
Smash Cut To:
Island – Same Time
Explosions rippled throughout the island from all angles. The biggest explosion came from the weapons platform as the energy built up in the stone shot out of it, causing it to fracture and eventually explode. A huge ball of mystical energy, coupled with the flames and smoke of the bomb, coursed down the central spire, violently blowing chunks of the stone structure outwards as it tumbled to the ground. When the explosion hit the ground, another blast rocked the island. The fire and energy swept through the alleys, burst through windows and doors and buckled the foundations and structures of the buildings.
The domed building shattered and collapsed in on itself. Buildings fell on top of one another. If the initial explosions didn’t kill the demons, the resultant storm of heat and stone and glass certainly did.
The demons on the shore were knocked back by the blast, but other than that, they were unscathed. Their numbers were still huge.
Offshore – Sea-Rescue Vessel – Bow Deck – Same Time
The group shielded their eyes from the blast. They too were knocked back, but when the explosions died down, they dropped their hands and arms, and their eyes were met with the image of the completely decimated island, now but a shadow of its former glory.
“Wha…what happened?” Grace said, stunned.
Lori stood beside Felix. When he turned to her, she said, with the briefest of smiles, “Now I get it.”
“Felix, get the engine running!” Giles commanded, with Buffy still in his arms. “Willow, prep the spell to shift us out of this plane, but wait until I say to shift us out!” She was still breathing hard, but she nodded and Grace helped her to her feet.
“That won’t have killed…” Buffy managed softly, and, as if on cue, they heard Zeromus’s roar bellowing from the island, drowning out all other sounds.
“Felix! Go!” Giles shouted up at the cabin.
The sound of the engine firing up rumbled from beneath the deck, and slowly the vessel started to move.
Island – Ruined Domed Building – Same Time
Another explosion erupted from beneath the rubble. As the dust settled, Zeromus stood tall, staff in hand, looking relatively untouched.
He bared his fangs, and like lightning, the Old One zoomed toward the shore.
Offshore – Sea-Rescue Vessel – Stern Deck – Same Time
Giles closed the door to the deck head. Buffy lay on a padded bench nearby, with Grace tending to her wounds.
“Giles!” Gwen shouted out. He raced around to the bow deck and saw Gwen pointing toward the skeleton ship. “It’s moving,” she said.
“Zeromus,” Giles said quietly. “Casey, Hadley –”
“We’re on it!” Hadley said, as she and Casey took position with their rifles behind the paling of the side of the vessel.
“Gwen?” Giles asked. “Are you up to the task?”
She blew out a sigh. “The batteries are running a little dry, but I should be able to give as good as I get. They don’t call me the Energizer Bunny for nothing.” Gwen slipped off her gloves and moved toward Casey and Hadley.
“Lori –” Giles turned to find Lori ready with a bazooka propped up on her shoulder. “Oh, well, yes…lovely.” She gave him a grin.
Skeleton Ship – Bow Deck – Same Time
“Give chase!!” Zeromus howled at his minions that scurried about. “I want that Guardian dead!!” Zeromus snapped his neck to the right. “Take aim and fire!”
Sea-Rescue Vessel – Bow Deck – Same Time
Large, heavy lead balls were shot from Zeromus’s vessel, as it made short work of the distance between it and the Council’s vessel.
As the lead balls swooped to crash into the Council’s ship, Gwen fired off her arcs of electricity. They lashed against the lead balls, forcing them out of their path and into the ocean. For their part, Casey and Hadley opened fire with a hellish rain of bullets. However, the projectiles simply bounced off the shield surrounding Zeromus’s ship.
“Get down!” Lori shouted, as she trained the aim on her bazooka on the nose of Zeromus’s vessel. She pulled the trigger and jolted back as the rocket flew out of its housing.
Skeleton Ship – Bow Deck – Same Time
Zeromus watched as the rocket flew directly at him. He lifted his chin up and snickered as the rocket exploded and broke around the shield.
Sea-Rescue Vessel – Bow Deck – Same Time
“Willow, now!” Giles shouted.
Sea-Rescue Vessel – Stern Deck – Same Time
Once again in her ritual with the four crystals, Willow’s eyes flew open, and she threw her hands up into the air. The blue light shot out of the four crystals and up into the sky.
Skeleton Ship – Bow Deck – Same Time
As the flames and smoke died on the skeleton ship’s shield, Zeromus saw the last remnants of the Council’s vessel shimmer out of sight.
Frantically, he scanned the vacant ocean in front of his vessel. Then his eyes went wide.
“Full stop! Full Stop!! Ffuuuulllllllllllllll…”
Everything started to slow down, including the vessel, the clouds in the sky, the ocean breaking against the hull, the demons and Zeromus himself. Then the vessel came to a complete halt. Zeromus’s frightened stare finally locked into a vile, open-mouthed grimace, and he was still. He remained that way, seemingly forever.
Fade to Black
Watchers Council – Infirmary – Night
Kennedy stared aimlessly into space. Her eyes were glazed and vacant, the expression on her face completely unreadable. A large white cotton pad clung to her neck with surgical tape. The general sounds of the infirmary were just white noise to her ears.
She didn’t react at first. But slowly, Kennedy’s eyes shifted toward the doorway. There stood Kadin, with a lump in her throat and her mouth ajar.
“We need to stop meeting each other this way, don’t you think?” the hunter finally said.
Kennedy didn’t answer, so Kadin moved to her side and reached out to caress her cheek. However, Kennedy awkwardly shifted away. Kadin breathed hard and then leaned forward to cup Kennedy’s face. This time, Kennedy didn’t pull away or flinch. In fact, she nuzzled against Kadin’s loving hand. Kennedy brought her own bandaged hand up and gripped Kadin’s.
A long overdue tear broke free from the corner of Kennedy’s eye and coursed down the contours of her face, accentuating her bruised skin. Kennedy’s mouth was poised to speak, but she struggled to muster enough breath. Her bottom lip and her chin began to tremble.
Kadin tried to reassure her. “Baby, I love you no matter what, and if you’re not ready to talk about what happened, I won’t push. If you don’t ever wanna talk about it, I’m down with that, too. Just know that I’m here for you. I ain’t going nowhere.”
A sharp ,sudden breath shuddered out of Kennedy’s mouth, and she started to pant, gasping for air. Her entire body shook, and her face scrunched up. With a strained look, she finally said, “Kadin, I…” Her voice was shaky and hoarse. She whimpered and turned to look into Kadin’s eyes.
Kadin’s eyes welled up also. She tightened her hold. “Oh, Ken.”
“I’m…I’m so tired…” With that, Kennedy broke down with a flow of tears.
Kadin herself appeared overcome. Gently, she got up onto the bed and pulled Kennedy into her arms. She hugged her tightly and stroked her hair.
“Shhhusssh…It’s all okay now,” she said, as she gently rocked her.
Kennedy gasped for air and held onto Kadin for dear life, curling her shirt into her fist. She just sobbed.
“I’m not okay,” Kennedy managed to choke out. “I’m a murderer,” she whispered.
Kadin bit her lip and just pulled her closer.
Watchers Council – Hallway – Same Time
Grace stared at the lighter in her hand for a moment before finally knocking on the door in front of her. After a few seconds, Rowena opened it.
“Hey,” Rowena said with a grin. Grace handed the lighter to her. “Why don’t you come in?” Rowena asked as she took it.
Grace shook her head. “No thanks, I…”
Noting the girl’s nervous behavior, Rowena asked, “What’s wrong?”
At first, Grace said nothing. Then she quickly blurted, “I’m a coward. And I’m a liar too.”
“I promised you I’d look after Will,” Grace answered. “But I ran. I got scared and I ran like a chicken. Some watcher, huh?”
Rowena slipped her arm around Grace’s shoulder, pulling the girl gently inside. “Come on. We’ll have a talk, watcher-to-watcher.”
Slowly, Rowena began to grin, and she quietly closed the door behind them.
Giles and Becca’s House – Bedroom – Night
Becca glanced up from her book, through her small frames that were perched on the ridge of her nose.
“You coming to bed?” she said with a small grin.
“That I am,” Giles said with a soft, yet broad, smile as he walked into the bedroom, the sound of his bare feet muffled by the carpet underfoot.
She closed her book and placed it on her nightstand. She took off her glasses and put them on top. Giles took off his own glasses and set them aside, then slipped into bed. She moved closer to him to meet him, her eyes on his, occasionally glancing down at his lips. He pressed his lips against Becca’s as she ran her fingers through his hair.
Fade to Black
Giles and Becca’s House – Bedroom – Later that Night
Giles leaned back from over the side of the bed, the cord of the bedside lamp swinging and clinking against the shade. On went his glasses, up went the pillow behind his back and out of the drawer came a red hardback notebook with a pen clipped to the wire spine. He flung open the notebook, pulled the pen from the spine, clicked it and began frantically scribbling.
Becca rolled over, obviously naked beneath the sheets, still sleeping. She instinctively wrapped her arm around his, snuggling into his elbow. He looked at his sleeping wife, then to the notebook, and back to his wife again.
He put the notebook back on the nightstand as a small half smile graced his face from the corner of his mouth. Sliding into her embrace, he turned off the light.
Special Guest Starring:
Natalie Portman as Celestas
End of Triangle
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