Graphic: “CNN Special Report”
Announcer (V.O.): “And now we return to an exclusive CNN Special Report…Robert Devlin‘s Inside the Watchers Council.”
Willow sits on the couch in the apartment she shares with Rowena. Rowena is next to her, an arm around Willow’s shoulder.
Willow sighs. “Jocelyn O’Hara was…a student of mine. She had so much power…” She shakes her head. “But no matter how much I worked with her, she couldn’t control it. And, in the end, I think she let it control her.”
“Do you have any regrets?” Devlin’s voice asks.
Willow sets her lips, and Rowena’s hand squeezes her shoulder.
“We can’t live in the past.”
Devlin (V.O.): “But sometimes, moving on isn‘t so easy.”
Watchers Council – Hallway
In long shot, Willow leans against the wall of an empty white hallway. She doesn’t seem to notice the camera. Quickly, the camera zooms in. Willow takes a deep breath and blinks several times. Her upper lip quivers.
Then, with a sob, Willow’s personal dam breaks. She covers her mouth with a hand as tears stream down her cheeks. The camera focuses on her for several seconds, her sobs the only sound.
Buffy sits behind her desk, the Scythe hanging behind her head. It looks as official as possible.
“Jocelyn O’Hara was in the custody of the Council’s London Branch, where our Coven head there, Althenea Dimmons, was attempting to find a way to rehabilitate her. She came to the conclusion that Joc…Miss O’Hara was never going to recover on her own. That was why she made the decision, approved by Miss Rosenberg and myself, to perform a ritual known as Persephone’s Knot.”
Buffy licks her lips, looks down at some papers in front of her. “It’s a very dangerous procedure, but we all knew the risks. Miss O’Hara was pronounced dead one hour ago.”
She looks back up at the camera. “She was supposed to play me in that movie.” There is silence. “This is always hard…and it never gets easier.”
Dawn and Skye sit next to each other on a couch in the watchers lounge.
“Wow,” Dawn breathes. “Wow. I mean Jocelyn didn’t have that many friends here, but she was a nice girl. I remember that time with the terrorists…she saved our lives. Well, not my life, but you get the idea.”
“I’m just sad that those boobs had to go to waste,” Skye comments. Dawn gives her a baleful look. “What?”
“You know, she wanted to be an actress, or maybe a model,” Jeff says in the Coven Room. “For all I know, she could have done it. She certainly had the looks. But sometimes, I guess life chooses for you…what you’re going to do, I mean. She was a witch. She had no other choice.”
Kennedy sits on a couch in the Slayer Rec Room. Her face doesn’t betray any emotion.
“We lose people all the time. You tell yourself that you have to learn how to deal with it, but you never learn how. You just start burying it deeper every time. You get harder. Like an old jelly bean.”
“Can you edit out that last part?”
Watchers Council – Weapons Room
Kennedy and Xander walk through a large room where many pointy things are stored. Swords, knives, daggers, arrows, bows and some more esoteric weapons line the walls.
Devlin (V.O): “Despite the loss, life still goes on at the Council. The slayer known publicly as Kennedy has been tapped to lead the expedition against the new demon threat.”
“We’re not sure exactly what we’re up against here,” Kennedy tells him, “so we’re looking to cover all the bases.”
“Both ranged and melee?” Xander asks. Kennedy nods.
Devlin and Kennedy sit across from each other in the slayer rec room, with a few blurry figures in the background.
Devlin (V.O.): “The Council‘s reclusive number two slayer granted us a rare interview before heading into the field.”
“Yes, it’s my real name,” Kennedy says.
“First name or last name,” Devlin presses.
“First,” Kennedy replies.
“Do you have a last name?”
“Are you going to tell me what it is?”
Watchers Council – Slayer Meeting Room
Kennedy’s usual team, including Marie, Chamique, Denise and a few others, are arrayed in comfortable chairs. Kennedy stands in front of them.
“This is a day raid,” she announces. “We don’t have all the information we’d like to, so we want to catch them napping. Hopefully literally. Now, Marie, you’ll…”
Devlin (V.O.): “Though the exact nature of the threat has not yet been identified, Kennedy has been charged with preparing her girls for any eventuality.”
“I’m responsible for these girls,” Kennedy says. “I try my best to be part of their lives, and they’re definitely a part of mine.”
“So being a slayer’s not just about hacking and slashing?” Devlin asks.
“Oh, hell no.” Kennedy says. “I mean, wait…can I say hell? I mean, even if I couldn’t, you could bleep it, right? Anyway, that is part of it, but it’s also about responsibility and leadership and camaraderie and a bunch of other big words. What it really comes down to is ‘I’ve got your back, and you’ve got mine.’ Every slayer is part of that.”
“What about Heli Hamalainen,” Devlin asks. “Was she part of it?”
There is silence for a moment. Kennedy’s eyes flick down. “I thought she was. That’s what made me so angry.”
“Made? So you’re not angry about it anymore?”
Kennedy stares at the camera. “Oh, I’m still angry.”
Watchers Council – Faith’s Office
Faith and Kennedy discuss slayer assignments in Faith’s office. They’re both behind the desk, Faith sitting, Kennedy peering over her shoulder.
Devlin (V.O.): “Kennedy has been the chief lieutenant for Slayer Commander Faith Lehane for years now, ever since the founding of the latest incarnation of the Watchers Council.”
“Faith and I work really well together,” Kennedy nods. “I don’t think either of us would have been as successful as we’ve been without the other.”
“So, there have never been any problems between the two of you?” Devlin asks.
“Nope,” Kennedy says quickly.
“None at all?” Devlin presses.
Kennedy gives him a glare. “We’ve each done things we’re not proud of. The past is the past. The now is the now.”
“Well said,” Devlin comments. “So, why are you so reticent when it comes to giving interviews?”
Kennedy just continues to glare in his direction.
Watchers Council – Hallway
Willow walks down the hall, carrying two salads in clear plastic boxes.
Devlin (V.O.): “While the strike team continues preparations, most of the Council takes a break for lunch…including the Coven Mistress herself.”
Watchers Council – Willow and Rowena’s Apartment
The camera follows Willow as she enters her apartment and finds Rowena splayed out over the couch, a quilt over her prodigious stomach.
“I come bearing leaves!” Willow calls out. “I hear they’re edible now. It’s the neatest thing.”
Rowena’s eyes widened. “You’re going to let them put me on national television like this?”
“Oh, come on,” Willow chides her. Rowena makes room for her on the couch and Willow sits. “You know you’re beautiful.”
The two of them kiss briefly before Rowena reaches for her salad.
Willow and Rowena sit next to each on the couch, Devlin in a chair across from them.
“What’s it like being the most visible lesbian couple in history?” he asks.
There’s a moment of silence as the two of them take in that question.
“I guess we don’t really think of it that way,” Rowena says. “If we did, it’d be more than the two of us in this relationship, and that’s not what we want.”
“It is nice, though,” Willow chimes in, “to think that maybe we can be an inspiration to other girls who might be feeling like outsiders.”
“Yes, I guess it is,” Rowena agrees. “We’re just two important and powerful women who just happen to be in love with another woman.” Willow grins and nods her head. “What?” Rowena asks.
“Important and powerful,” Willow tells her, still with a grin.
“The two of you certainly are,” Devlin nods, “and a lot of people are certainly interested. Although actually, much of the media attention has been frustrated because the two of you just seem so…normal.”
“I don’t think I’ve ever thought of my life as normal,” Willow says.
“It’s funny to read what they’re saying, though,” Rowena says.
“Last week one news outlet called the two of you, and I quote, ‘Ozzie and Harriet’,” supplies Devlin.
“More like Ozzina and Harriet,” Rowena grins.
“I don’t know what that even means,” Willow says. “Was that a TV show? Were they boring or something?”
“One subject of speculation recently has been the nature of your pregnancy, Mrs. Allister,” Devlin continues. “Who the father is, for instance.”
The two of them look at each other, then back at the camera. “I don’t know if we need to talk about that right now,” Rowena says.
“We are very happy about it, though,” Willow puts in.
“Yes,” Rowena nods. “Happy.”
“Happy as a clam,” Willow continues. Her brow furrows. She turns to Rowena. “Where does that expression come from?”
“Clams look like they’re smiling,” Rowena tells her.
“No, they don’t,” Willow insists. “They don’t even have mouths!”
Watchers Council – Slayer Gym
Devlin (V.O.): “After their morning classes, many of the teenage slayers drill in combat skills. Today is no exception.”
Shannon and Lorinda are in the center of a circle of girls yelling encouragement…mostly for Shannon. Both brandish long, wooden staves that look a little too big for them, though they handle them easily enough. They maneuver deftly around each other, eyes fixed on their opponent. Mia stalks the perimeter of the circle, arms crossed.
Devlin (V.O.): “Every once in a while, two girls are pulled out to spar, demonstrating their abilities to the others. I‘m told that today’s match is particularly interesting.”
Shannon feints right, then executes a spin-attack that Lorinda blocks with her staff. Lorinda tries to counter-attack, but Shannon dodges the blow. She replies with a flurry of attacks, the first several of which Lorinda parries before Shannon suddenly spins once again and catches her in the back. Lorinda doubles over, until Shannon’s staff catches her under the chin and sends her tumbling backwards to the padded mat.
Mia walks forward, speaking to the group. “Okay, so does anybody want to tell me what the difference was here?”
Devlin (V.O.): “The class instructor is Mia Nakata, who has the number three slayer job that was once filled by Violet Joston. Slayer Nakata‘s rise to prominence is the stuff of an Alger novel.”
Mia speaks directly into the camera.
“When I got my powers, I was living on the streets. I was part of a gang…did some things I don’t like to remember, just to get by. When the Council found me…I saw them as three steady squares, a roof over my head. Now it means a lot more than that to me.”
Watchers Council – Slayer Gym
Mia is still speaking to the class. “You don’t want to commit yourself too fully, especially when you’re dealing with a double-sided weapon like this one…”
Behind Mia, the camera catches Shannon helping Lorinda to her feet. “You okay?” she asks.
Lorinda works her jaw back and forth. “Nothing’s broken,” she replies.
Mia hears the two of them talking and turns. “Lorinda! Since you’re feeling so chatty all of a sudden, why don’t you tell us what you did wrong there?”
Lorinda shifts her weight and shrugs. “I dunno.” She lowers her voice and grumbles, “Why do we have to know this, anyway?”
Mia steps forward, and the camera scrambles around to close in on her and Lorinda’s faces, which are now inches from each other. “What did you say?” Mia growls.
Lorinda sizes up Mia and sets her jaw. Shannon rolls her eyes and sighs, as if she’s seen this a million times before.
“I said I don’t know why we have to learn this,” Lorinda repeats, this time so everyone can hear. “Quarterstaffs are just so 1066.”
“You have to learn it because I said you have to learn it, you hear me?” Mia shouts in her face, then gestures to the rest of the class. “Look at everyone here. They all had to learn it. What makes you so special that you don’t have to?”
“I don’t –”
“Why are you here?” Mia is screaming now. “Tell me, Sheparton! Let me let you in on something. It’s not always about you. All I’m trying to do here is help you, and you spit in my face.”
“I’m sick of you, Sheparton. I’m sick of everyone like you. I‘m sick of this bullcrap!”
Mia grabs one of the quarterstaffs from the mat and, full of frustration, flings it wildly through the air. The circle of girls parts hastily and it slams into the mirrored wall of the gymnasium, shattering a panel of glass before falling to the floor with a clatter.
In the ensuing silence, Mia runs both hands through her hair and takes a deep breath. “I don’t need this,” she says under her breath. With that, she walks to the door of the room and exits, slamming it behind her.
The camera swings back to the girls, who continue to just stand there, most with their mouths hanging open. “Wow,” Shannon breathes. She glances back and notices the camera. “Oh, jeez.”
“Was it embarrassing?” Mia repeats. “Of course it was. I lost my temper. There isn’t much more to say.”
“Do you have any idea where it came from?” Devlin’s voice asks.
Mia blinks a few times. “I’m just…not used to this. I’m fine with a gun or a sword in my hands, but kids, especially snot-nosed little…she disrespected me, and not for the first time…and something just clicked or snapped or whatever.”
“So where do you go from here?”
“I’m just going to have to get past it and move on…and Lorinda needs to get serious about her studies.”
Lorinda stands in the hallway outside the gym. “I would like to point out that I am completely innocent here. I have done way worse than that, and there has never been that level of insaneness. That woman has issues. It’s my opinion that she needs serious professional help. Seriously.”
“Mia’s a top-notch slayer,” Kennedy insists. “We’d never trust the girls with her if she wasn’t. She’s been through a lot, but she’s a good person. Whatever happened in there, if she screwed up…you can’t look at just this one thing, okay? The skills we teach these girls – it’s not playtime. We’re talking life and death stuff here.”
“Ms. Sheparton did raise a point. How often do you use quarterstaffs?”
“Well then –”
“But ask me about a tree limb, a steel pipe, a broom stick…” Kennedy grins. “Get the point? Sometimes you have to use the things around you as weapons. The first step is actually learning those weapons. And I’m sure anything that Mia said or did is nothing compared to what a demon would do to those girls. We rarely need to do it, but we investigate any claim that a student might make against an instructor. These girls need to feel safe inside these walls, but they also need to be serious about being here.”
“Have I ever gone off on a student?” Faith asks. “Hmm…Can you define ‘gone off’?”
Watchers Council – Coven Storage Room
Dawn and Skye walk through the Coven’s extra storage room, selecting ingredients. Jars and boxes line the walls, their contents often colorful and exotic.
Devlin (V.O): “I found one of the Council‘s most controversial figures gathering ingredients for a protection spell.”
Dawn reads from a list. “We’re looking for kingsfoil, um, sulfur…” She looks up at the walls. “It’s on the top shelf. I can’t reach it.”
“No problem,” Skye tells her. She easily jumps about six feet off the ground and grabs a jar from the top shelf, before falling back down and handing the jar to Dawn. “Here ya go.”
“Okay, now you’re just showing off for the camera,” Dawn says with a smile.
Skye sits in a chair in an empty classroom, speaking directly to the camera. “My name is Skye Talisker, and I’m dead. My heart doesn’t beat, and my skin is room temperature. I’m a vampire. And I work here, at the Watchers Council.”
Watchers Council – Coven Room
Dawn and Skye spread out ingredients on the Coven Room floor, separating things into piles.
Skye crinkles her nose. “Man, this stuff smells like rotten fish wrapped in underwear.”
Devlin (V.O.): “Skye Talisker has volunteered to be the subject for extensive Council experimentation on vampire physiology, the results of which have extended human knowledge and become a fixture on the best-seller lists. However, the mere idea of the Council harboring a vampire has been the subject of a spirited debate, a debate which boiled over last winter.”
Devlin sits across from Skye in the classroom.
“How did it feel to be at the center of the first slayer strike in recorded history?” he asks.
“It was flattering,” Skye replies instantly. “I didn’t know everyone cared so much.”
“Most people believe that all vampires are evil. Are they really just people too?”
“I can’t speak for all vampires,” Skye replies, “but I’m definitely evil. It’s just that I like to get my evil out through sarcasm rather than neck slurping. I can tell you, though…being undead isn’t as glamorous as Stephenie Meyer would have you believe. Getting burned by sunlight is very, very inconvenient, and blood…tastes pretty frikkin’ bad.”
Devlin raises an eyebrow. “Really?”
Skye nods. “Think of it this way…how would you feel if the only thing you could get nutrition from were brussels sprouts?”
“Dating a vampire is…weird,” Dawn admits with a shrug. “It hasn’t been the easiest thing in the world, but confidentially…it’s also kinda hot.”
“Do they have my blessing?” Buffy asks from behind her desk. “Dawn is an adult, and Skye is a…do I have to answer this?”
“Talisker’s done her part,” Faith says. “And in return, we put up with the part where we’re living with an evil bloodsucking fiend. Next question.”
Watchers Council – Staging Area
Marie sits on a bench below a rack of battle gear, listening to loud rock music on her iPod. Her eyes are closed.
Marie (V.O.): “Before I go on a mission, I like to get myself into the zone, relax.”
Nearby, Denise has a sword in her hand, and is executing a series of moves with it.
Devlin (V.O.): “Each slayer on the strike team has her own method of preparing for the upcoming mission, which will be the first ever accompanied by television cameras.”
Denise executes a spin-kick, then lets out a deep breath.
Denise (V.O.): “I was actually watching the Olympics a while back and they had the skiing on. They showed Picabo Street, and she was visualizing exactly what she was going to do. Then she went out and won the gold medal. Before I go on a mission, I like to visualize exactly how it‘s going to go.”
Watchers Council – Weapons Storage
Shilpi shows the camera a thin, slightly curved sword with a simple cord woven around the handle.
“I brought this with me from Bureau Nine,” she says. “It’s been in my family for a long, long time. I had an ancestor who used it in the service of the Mughal Emperor. It’s the only sword I ever use.”
The camera is jostled in the back of the van. Denise and Chamique sit in the back. They’re silent, and never look at each other.
Kennedy (V.O.): “You‘re always aware when you go out that you might not come back. You’re going out to kill things, things that want to kill you.”
Outside Abandoned Church
The camera catches up to Kennedy just as she hops out of the van and slams the passenger-side door behind her. The van is parked out front of an abandoned brick church, its sign half torn away. The skies are overcast with a dark gray hue, and there is an intermittent coating of slush on the ground.
Kennedy (V.O.): “After a while, some girls start to think, ‘I’ve done this twenty times and I was fine. Nothing’s gonna happen this time.’ And those are girls who get killed.”
The team gathers in front of the van, Kennedy doing a visual once-over to make sure everyone is accounted for.
“Not your usual demon haunt,” Chamique comments, looking at the church’s modest steeple.
“We’ll go in through the front,” Kennedy announces. “Everyone stay close.” She turns to look at the camera. “You too.”
Church Front Door
Kennedy opens the church’s front door with a long, loud creak. The camera follows her and the rest of the team as they creep inside. A few of the pews are missing. The curtains hang, haphazardly and diagonally, across only a couple of windows.
“Doesn’t look ocupado,” Marie comments. “Maybe the watchers gave us the wrong location.”
“Eyes peeled,” Kennedy whispers.
The sound of metal rolling across the floor can be heard distinctly, followed by a hiss.
“What’s –” Denise begins.
“Smoke,” Kennedy realizes. “Stay together.”
Indeed, clouds of smoke are beginning to waft across the church, obscuring the leaning cross at the far end. A silhouette emerges out of the gathering gloom, an indistinct shape except for its glowing gold eyes.
“Welcome,” the shape’s inhumanly deep voice announces.
“Who are you?” Kennedy asks. Behind her, Chamique coughs into her sleeve.
“I serve the Voice of Hell,” comes the reply. “She speaks through me.”
“The Voice of Hell is a girl?” Marie whispers.
Kennedy ignores her. “Why are you here?”
“We are gathered for the War,” the demon with glowing eyes tells them. “The Final War between your kind and ours, which will end with your kind banished to the same hell where you sent our ancestors.”
Kennedy smirks as the smoke continues to fill the church, reducing the visibility to almost nil. “Right. The darkness approaching, blah, blah, blah. You apocalyptic demon types really don’t come up with new lines, do you?”
“You’re wrong,” the demon says, with the slightest hint of a smile in its voice. “The darkness isn’t approaching. The darkness is here.”
Feral cries suddenly overwhelm the camera’s microphone into static, and the camera captures several demons, of varying shapes, colors and sizes, flashing across the frame, barreling into slayers.
“Ambush!” someone shouts.
“It’s a trap!” someone else yells.
The cameraman runs, his panting audible. The picture shakes to near incomprehensibility, as the camera captures a series of images rising out of the smoke. Marie takes a punch from a seven-foot-tall demon with blue fur, and flies backward several feet. Shilpi stands majestically on the top edge of a pew, fighting a lithe, black-scaled demon with her ancestral sword.
The camera stops briefly on Kennedy, hunched between pews, whispering frantically into her radio. “Base, this is Slayer Two. Come in base. Dammit!”
Then the camera hurries forward, but stops when Denise lurches out of the mist toward it. One hand is holding her neck, while the other reaches out feebly toward the camera.
“You…” she rasps, barely loud enough to hear. “You have to get out of here. Get out…” She removes her hand from her neck, revealing that it is soaked with blood from a very serious-looking wound on the side of her throat. She falls to her knees and then collapses face-first into the ratty carpet. Somewhere, a female voice can be heard screaming incoherently.
Abandoned Church Interior
Announcer (V.O.): “Coming up on Robert Devlin‘s Inside the Watchers Council…the battle continues…”
Kennedy yells, “Follow my voice!” in the smoke-filled church, then spins and perfectly stakes a vampire through the heart.
Watchers Council – Infirmary
Announcer (V.O.): “And ends in a medical emergency.”
Dr. Miller shouts to a nurse in a bustling infirmary. “I’m going to need a transfusion…” he looks down, then back up at her. “Maybe several transfusions.”
Announcer (V.O.): “That and more, next on CNN.”
Graphic: “CNN Update”
A music cue leads into Rock Cartwright sitting behind a desk, a busy, computer-filled newsroom behind him.
“This is the CNN Update,” he begins, “giving you the latest headlines every half-hour. I’m Rock Cartwright.”
A graphic appears over his shoulder, “O’Mara Fights Back”, with a picture of the Congresswoman.
“Ohio Congresswoman Autumn O’Mara spoke out strongly today against a string of apparent terrorist attacks by a demon group calling itself the Voice of Hell. The presidential hopeful’s rhetoric today in Concord, New Hampshire was surprisingly aggressive.”
Concord, New Hampshire – Auditorium
Congresswoman O’Mara stands behind a podium, speaking passionately. “I will not stand idly by and let these monsters destroy our way of life. There is a reason we call them demons, and that is because they are creatures from Hell! I call on our leaders to take drastic measures now. The time when we could live side-by-side with these creatures in ignorance has passed. For the sake of our children, we must act.”
“O’Mara made the comments after the attack yesterday on a Skokie, Illinois LargeMart that killed seven and injured twenty-five,” Cartwright explains. “The store was crowded with last-minute Christmas shoppers. The suspect, a Greatsnak demon, killed himself before he could be apprehended by the local Council.”
The graphic over his shoulder changes to the Council shield.
“Meanwhile, on 10th Street, Council Spokesman Jim Pollan commented on the Voice of Hell attacks for the first time.”
Watchers Council – Press Room
Jim stands behind his own podium, the large Council logo framing his head.
“We are taking the situation very, very seriously, and we are investigating the matter as thoroughly as we can. But, and I can’t emphasize this enough, the public should not panic. We are remaining vigilant, and hopefully the public is as well, but the only difference between this and previous threats is that the campaign seems to be somewhat more organized.”
The graphic over Rock Cartwright’s shoulder is now a large dollar sign.
“Retailers expressed concern that the attacks would keep fearful shoppers home in this final week of the Christmas shopping season. One CEO said that the impact on the economy could be, quote, simply enormous.”
The graphic over his shoulder changes to the stick-figure logo of Major League Baseball.
“Big news today out of the sports world, as the New York Mets announced the signing of professional baseball’s first female player. 19-year-old Venezuelan Selena Betancourt, who has slayer powers but declined to work for the Watchers Council, signed a five-year, fifteen-million-dollar contract. At a press conference today, she defended her decision to pursue a career in athletics.”
New York City – Mets Press Room
Selena, a small, beautiful girl with a ponytail sticking out the back of her blue and orange Mets cap, sits behind a table and speaks into a microphone. Behind her is a backdrop that interlaces the Mets logo with that of Subway restaurants.
“With this contract, I can support my family,” she says in heavily accented English. “They can move here, to America, and my younger brother can go to college. None of that would have been possible had I gone to the Council. Also, I wish to follow in the steps of my hero, Omar Vizquel. I am very happy today.”
She grins widely, and cameras flash.
“The Philadelphia Phillies announced today that they plan to protest the signing of Betancourt, claiming her powers will give the Mets an unfair advantage,” Cartwright explains. “However, inside sources claim Major League Baseball will reject the complaint.”
“This has been a CNN News Update, giving you the latest headlines every half hour. I’m Rock Cartwright.”
The camera swings out to a wide shot, while Cartwright shuffles papers. The theme music plays him out…
Fade to Black
End of Act Two