Watchers Council – Hallway – Moments Later
Kennedy’s heels struck the floor harder and harder with each step, the tapping bouncing off the walls in the quiet hallway. She reached the stairwell and yanked the door open hard, slamming it into the wall.
“C’mon,” Faith said to Giles, as she picked up speed to follow Kennedy down the stairs. Giles trotted to keep up.
Watchers Council – Stairwell – Moments Later
Kennedy was halfway down the steps when she heard Faith’s voice at the top of the stairs.
“Ken! Ken, just wait a second! Yo!”
Kennedy turned in mid-step, her hand on the railing and looking up angrily at Faith and Giles.
“Kennedy, please, talk to us for a –” Giles tried, before Faith cut him off.
“Just what the hell do you plan to do?” Faith yelled.
“What do you think?” Kennedy shot back. She glared at Faith for a long beat, then glanced at Giles. The watcher’s face was a mix of concern and sympathy, and Kennedy looked away, as if staving off the failure of her resolve. After a brief pause, she began her journey again.
“Kennedy,” Giles called down to her. “Just think for a moment.”
“Yeah, use your head, will ya?” Faith added. “We know you’re all with the getting Kadin back. We get that.”
Faith began to walk calmly and casually down the steps toward Kennedy, who had stopped again, her back to them.
“And we are behind you in this task,” Giles said. His eyes flickered to Faith as she neared Kennedy. “But give us a chance to uncover precisely where she is. It makes no sense for you, or anyone, to leave until we know where to start looking for her.”
“I don’t care!” Kennedy snapped, turning her head and staring intently at Giles. “I have to do something!”
“You can,” Giles told her. “Believe in us. Let us figure out this situation and put a plan in motion…together…as a team.”
A sudden touch of a hand on her arm made Kennedy’s head snap to the left. She hadn’t even noticed Faith’s approach. Faith held firmly onto Kennedy’s upper arm and quirked her mouth at the angry slayer.
“Take it easy, Slick,” she said. “I’m not the enemy. And if I was…I got ya…”
Faith saw realization cross Kennedy’s face. Kennedy looked down for a moment, embarrassed at being caught off-guard. Suddenly, her head shot up, and her eyes flashed angrily. Kennedy jerked her arm away, quickly slipping from Faith’s hand.
“Stop treating me like a child!” she shouted in Faith’s face, her breath lifting a few wispy strands of the slayer’s hair.
“Stop acting like one!” Faith shouted back.
“I don’t have time for this!” Kennedy stalked down to the bottom of the stairs. Faith jumped the rest of the way, landing on her feet behind Kennedy. Faith grabbed Kennedy’s arm and turned her around roughly.
“You’re right, Ken – you don‘t have time for this! Not when we have to figure out where Kadin is and how to get her back!”
“And what if we don’t figure it out in time?” Kennedy’s voice was shrill, her eyes a little wild. “What if we do get her back and she’s…she’s…I know her, Faith!” Kennedy looked about, despairing. “I know there’s a beast inside,” she said quietly. “It’s not all of her. But it’s part of her. If someone taps into that enough, or gives it enough power…” Her voice began to waver. “She won’t…I can’t…”
Faith waited for Kennedy to finish her statement, but instead heard a horrible hiccupping sound. Faith peered at Kennedy, still gripping her arm, and saw heavy tears roll from Kennedy’s eyes as the slayer sobbed inconsolably.
“They’re not gonna take her from me…” she said. “I’ll kill them. I’ll…”
“Ken…” Faith sighed sympathetically.
Kennedy caught her breath, and her sobs stopped for a brief moment as she looked into Faith’s eyes. Suddenly, Faith felt the hard bump of Kennedy’s forehead against her shoulder as the slayer’s weight sank against her. A little off-balance, Faith cradled Kennedy in her arms and lowered them both to the floor.
Giles looked on as Faith sat on the last step, with Kennedy kneeling on the landing and encircled by Faith’s arms. He blinked back the threat of his own tears, glancing off and on at them. Faith rocked Kennedy gently. Giles finally walked down to meet them and then cleared his throat.
“Ladies?” he said, getting both of their attention. He reached his hand down to Kennedy, and she reached up and took it. He pulled her to her feet, steadying her as she stood up.
“Come along now,” he told her, as he put his arm around her shoulder. He motioned Faith to follow, and he began to lead Kennedy by up the stairs. “If I’m not mistaken, we have a monster hunter to find, do we not?”
For the first time since hearing the news about Kadin, Kennedy allowed herself a small smile.
Watchers Council – Training Room – Later that Day
“You’ve got to be kidding,” said Casey. She had in her hands a dark jumpsuit, holding it as if it were dirty somehow. Her head tilted toward a sleeve, where the Watchers Coat of Arms was sewn. “Oh, cute. Camouflage.”
Nearly two dozen teenage girls giggled at that, some of them loudly. A few just smiled.
Siobhan and Valentine gave each other a look. “These are fairly standard field uniforms,” the latter began. “Designed to hold multiple weapons as well as communications gear. Padding at impact points. High tech mesh armor over vital areas.”
“Ugly color, though,” Lorinda noted. “Midnight blue? Ick.”
“Civvies are better,” Casey said, ignoring Lorinda’s comments. “They help you blend in. Retain your cover. These things stick out like a sore thumb.” She tossed the one in her hand onto a pile of other, identical uniforms.
Jeff offered, “I don’t think anyone was suggesting that slayers should wear these and nothing else. Were you?” he asked Siobhan.
“Hell no,” she replied. “The idea is to have more options.”
Casey’s rejoinder was cut short as the door opened. Lori, Xander and Vivien March entered the room. They heard Xander saying, “…used for general training and orientation.”
“Oh, good,” Casey said. “We can get our Weapons Master’s opinion about these…things.”
“Uh, what’s up?”
Valentine spoke. “Siobhan and I brought the basic field uniforms over. The idea is for the Council slayers to try them out, see what changes can and should be made, get a sense of what circumstances to use them in. That kind of thing.”
When she saw the resistance in the Council slayers’ eyes, Lori said a little loudly, “You all should recognize those.”
“Why?” Shannon asked.
“My team was wearing them when we gave you backup last summer. Four of our girls died in those, defending this facility and the people in it.” Her tone wasn’t icy, not yet.
That brought silence. Xander stepped forward and looked at one. “We can change the loop sizes.”
“They’re adjustable,” said Siobhan. “See?”
“Oh. Right. That’s clever.”
“But it’s a uniform,” Casey grumbled.
Siobhan looked at her, observing her faded and ripped black jeans, black leather jacket and chains. “Oh, and that isn’t?”
“I can go anywhere in these.”
“No, you can’t,” Grace interjected, up until now off to the side. “Sorry, but that would be totally wrong for some assignments. And totally right for others.”
“Exactly!” said Valentine. “Like – well, like scuba gear. Or a parachute.”
“These field outfits,” Siobhan continued, “are designed for open combat situations, not patrols when you’re surrounded by civilians. We even have a few hooks and high-tensile cords that can be used for climbing, as well as extra insulation for extremely cold environments. They also serve as identifiers in battles with a high number of combatants.”
“We know each other,” said Casey.
“You won’t always,” Lori countered. “The Council’s operations are bound to be very large sometimes, and you won’t always be able to work with slayers personally known to you.”
Valentine spoke again. “We at Bureau Nine have not usually operated with magic users. That’s one area where people like Jeff and Dawn are helping us catch up. These,” she held up one field outfit, “are what we bring to the table. Remember, for most of its existence, Bureau Nine didn’t have any slayers, but we still needed to fight monsters. These helped. Sometimes.”
Again, silence. “I guess I can see that,” said Shannon after a minute.
“’bout bloody time,” muttered Siobhan.
“But do they have to be blue?” asked Lorinda.
Jeff shrugged. “They can be dyed, I’m sure.”
“Why?” Siobhan replied, still annoyed.
“Why not?” Casey retorted, just on principle.
Siobhan opened her mouth, but didn’t say anything.
“No reason I can see,” Lori offered. The tension in the room decreased. Slightly.
Military Facility – White Room – Same Time
The rasp and wheeze of labored breathing accompanied the sound of Kadin’s shackles rattling and shaking in time to the rise and fall of her stomach and lungs. She closed her mouth and tried to breathe more normally through her nose. The rasping became a shrill whistling at the back of her throat as mucous rose up to choke her off. She gasped, mouth wide open, struggling for air, as she sat with her head leaning against the bars of the cage.
Raindrops fell. She blinked at them on the floor before her, fascinated. More fell, and Kadin looked down at herself and saw her body shaking violently with chills. The shuddering was so violent that it was making the sweat fly to the floor in droplets as big as raindrops.
She turned her head aside and groaned. Another groan answered hers. It was made by the room’s heavy door as it was slowly opened and closed. Kadin did not raise her head from where it lay against the bars of the cage, the sweat trickling down them, glistening and slick.
Soft footsteps approached the cage. Kadin did not look up. Instead, she closed her eyes against the harsh fluorescent lighting and tried to even out her breaths.
The footsteps stopped. Kadin opened her eyes and looked left to see Dr. Goodell’s hand move forward. She heard the click of the lock. The door squeaked just a little as the doctor opened it.
Kadin curled her lip in disgust at the woman and swallowed. Cool fingers pressed against her forehead, and a steadying hand gripped her upper arm.
“You’re lucky I’m not a cat-beast, or I’d spit in your face and claw your eyes out!” Kadin snarled at the blonde woman now taking her pulse.
The doctor blinked at her, then reached into a bag by her side and pulled out a simple, soft cloth. She patted the sweat from Kadin’s face and neck. “Your breathing will even out, and the sweating and chills will go away,” she told Kadin.
“Quit acting like you care, you –”
“Believe or not, I do!” Dr. Goodell said. “I have cared about every single person who has gone through this…ordeal. I just wish I could have helped them more…”
“You care? You wanna help?” Kadin rasped. “Then let me go! Let me go… back…back…” Kadin’s breathing became more labored again with the effort of speaking.
“I’m sorry, Kadin, I truly am,” the doctor said. “But I just can’t. If I did that…” She paused for a moment, then went on in a hushed whisper. “You don’t know how powerful these people are. They –”
The door to the room groaned loudly again, and it opened to reveal three men in long white coats, just like the one the blonde doctor wore. Dr. Goodell turned from Kadin, dropping the cloth into her medical bag and quickly picking up a stethoscope, which she applied to Kadin’s chest.
One of the men approached the cage. He coolly watched as the doctor listened to Kadin’s heart, unmoved by the subject’s ragged breathing. Dr. Goodell sat back on her heels and pulled the stethoscope away. She looked down at the floor and sighed sadly. Then she turned and met the steely eyes of the waiting man in a white coat.
His eyes flickered from the doctor’s to Kadin’s.
“It’s time,” he said.
Watchers Council – Hallway – Moments Later
Casey came to a sudden stop at a fork in the hall. She looked ahead, then to her left and then to her right. Her eyes widened momentarily, and she headed down the hallway to the right.
“Oi!” she shouted, picking up pace. “Oi!” she repeated, the second time with more teeth.
With more of a grunt than a huff, she launched into a run to catch up with Grace, who seemed to be trying her best to evade and ignore her charge’s calls.
Casey reached out, grabbed her watcher’s arm and spun Grace around to face her. Grace flailed her arms around wildly in protest. Eventually, she threw off Casey’s hold. With her arms back by her sides, Grace blew away a strand of hair that danced in front of her face.
“What’s up with you?” Casey barked.
“Me? What’s up with you? You’re the one who’s bringing crazy back!”
“You should look in the mirror, luv,” Casey said, nodding at Grace with wide eyes. “I think it’s in fact you that’s outshining Margot Kidder in the mental department!”
“Really? Not looking too hot yourself right now, Case,” Grace sighed. “Look, just what the hell is going on?”
“You know what’s going on, Grace! You gettin’ all cozy with the B-Niners! Putting your slippers under their bed.”
“I am not cozy with them,” Grace argued, “and I certainly ain’t putting my slippers under their bed, or anyone else’s bed for that matter! I’m totally slipperless!”
“That Siobhan bird knows what we’ve been teaching the junior gems,” Casey countered. “And then she waltzes in like her you-know-what don’t stink and tells them that what we’ve been teaching them is wrong! And now ‘er and Valentine want to play dress up with ’em! But the worst of it is, the absolute worst of it, is that you – my best friend, my watcher – agree with them!”
“Agree…?” A dawning look appeared on Grace’s face. “That’s it, isn’t it? You think I’m taking their side?”
“Well, aren’t you?”
Grace couldn’t help but snort. “I’m not siding with them, Casey. I’m not siding with anyone.”
“You’ve been pretty sweet on them since we came back from the Triangle. I remember when you weren’t Felix’s biggest fan, and now it’s all like tea and cakes.”
“Tea and…? Look, I just got to know him a little better. I think if everyone in this Council sat in a room with him for ten minutes, they’d realize that he’s not half bad and that, once in a while, he does have valid ideas worth exploring. The whole point of the merger is that there are no sides, that we make everybody us – not Council-folk and B9’ers, just us! All this subtexty feuding stuff needs to end, and it needs to end now, ’cause I’m worried about what’s gonna happen if this escalates any further.”
“So you agree with their methods then?”
“Some of them, yes,” Grace said with a nod.
With her hands on her hips, Casey shook her head and then stared at Grace. “Unbelievable. Like mother, like daughter, ay?” Casey looked her up and down and then turned and walked away.
Grace’s eyes filled with tears.
Watchers Council Meeting Room – Moments Later
Buffy and Giles sat in front of a computer with a webcam.
“Oh please,” she said, annoyed. “Don’t feed me that. This whole thing has Initiative written all over it in big bold letters.”
On the computer screen, Riley could be seen in a grainy image that flickered now and then.
“I’m telling you, Buffy. I have no idea what this ‘savage’ thing is. And the Initiative was disbanded years ago.”
“You have to admit, Riley,” Giles pointed out. “The comparisons are eerily similar – the experimentation on humans to make a supreme killing machine?”
“Giles,” Riley said, “I’ve heard absolutely nothing about this. I’ve got a very high clearance, and I can tell you that our group isn’t responsible.”
“What a load of horse –” Buffy didn’t finish the sentence. Giles gripped her arm, making her stop.
“Riley,” Giles began, trying to keep some form of tact in the conversation, “any help you might be able to give us, any contacts who might have information, would be extremely helpful. The life of an important member of the Council hangs in the balance. So please, can you do some checking with your contacts?”
“And if you don’t know someone, then maybe your wife might,” Buffy added.
“Sam’s dead,” he replied matter-of-factly. “Killed two years on a mission in St. Petersburg, Russia, saving ten soldiers.”
Buffy’s mouth dropped open in shock, but Giles quickly said, “We’re sorry, Riley. Our condolences. Sounds like she was a brave woman.”
“Thanks, she was,” Riley told him sincerely. “But like I said, I don’t know anything. Experimenting is not what our force is about, but I’ll do some checking with the higher-ups I know. I might get nothing more than rumors, and that’s if I get anything at all. This just doesn’t sound like the stuff our division would do.”
“Well, rumors are more than we have now, and might lead us in the right direction, so any help is appreciated,” Giles told him.
“I’ll do what I can,” Riley said, as the connection flickered again.
“Thank you. A-and again, our condolences,” Giles repeated.
Riley simply nodded. “Thanks. One way or another I’ll be in touch.”
Giles nodded and turned the connection off. He then looked over to Buffy. He said nothing.
“Now I feel like a horse’s ass,” Buffy sighed and rubbed her temple.
“You had no way of knowing,” Giles told her.
“True, but I never should have gone there to begin with,” she replied. Buffy ran her fingers through her hair in frustration. “Remember when it was just the four of us? Solving the latest monster mystery, fighting demons? I miss those days. All this bureaucratic, red tape crap makes my head hurt. But I have to say, although I still think he was an S.O.B., I have a new respect for Travers if this is the garbage he had to deal with on a daily basis.”
A look of realization formed on Giles’s face, and he muttered, “Travers.” He stood up, motioning for Buffy to follow him as he began to leave. “I think you’ve got a smashing idea!”
Giles was already out the door when Buffy asked, “I do? What did I say?”
From the hallway, she could hear Giles shout, “We need to get Willow!”
Buffy raced after him. “Giles? What did I say?” she repeated.
Military Facility – Hallway – Later that Day
The squeak of wheels and heels on the highly-polished floor filled Kadin’s ears and made her head throb even more. She moaned and tried to turn her head from the sounds. Then she held her head straight and squeezed her eyes, trying to open them. Her eyelids would not obey. She squeezed them harder, grimacing with the effort, and succeeded in opening them this time.
All she could see was white. She continued to stare and saw that the whiteness above her was interrupted at regular intervals by lines running about the length from her head to her toes. She stared at them, puzzled, until she recognized them as fluorescent tubes in the ceiling. She was moving beneath them. She tried to raise herself onto her elbows, but something prevented her from doing so. She looked down and saw straps across her chest and arms. She flexed her legs a little and found that they were restrained, too.
The three men and the blonde doctor were beside her, walking, as she floated between them. Dr. Goodell looked down gently at her. “Don’t try to move,” she said quietly. “It only makes it feel worse. The drugs take a little while.”
Kadin looked to her left and right and saw that she was not only strapped down, but there were also metal roll-guards on either side of her. She was on a gurney, and the men and the doctor were rolling her down a narrow hallway. She watched as nondescript doors moved past her and looked up again at the fluorescent tubes.
“How…How big?” she asked, weakly. “How big is this…place…?”
Dr. Goodell looked down and smiled sadly. “It’s bigger than you think,” she replied, and laid her hand on Kadin’s arm. Kadin felt its warmth and closed her eyes again.
“She’s out,” one of the men said.
“No…” the blonde doctor replied. She stopped stroking Kadin’s arm. “Not quite.”
Fighting to stay conscious, Kadin forced herself to focus on her surroundings. The squeak of the wheels on the floor and the occasional jolt of the gurney gave her something to concentrate on.
“We’re almost there,” Dr. Goodell’s soft voice filled Kadin’s ears. She saw Kadin’s eyelids twitch a little and bent over low as she walked beside the gurney. “It’s all right,” she said, unconvincingly, into Kadin’s left ear.
Kadin breathed out a couple of short breaths, her lips moving.
“I can’t hear you,” the doctor said quietly. “I’m sorry, Kadin, I can’t hear what you’re saying.”
Kadin’s neck muscles tightened as she worked her jaw. Dr. Goodell heard a swallowing sound come from Kadin’s throat as the hunter tried once again to speak. The blonde bent down closer, her ear to Kadin’s mouth.
“What, Kadin? What is it? I’m listening…”
Kadin exhaled with effort. “Tell…tell her…”
One of the men broke formation and stepped quickly ahead of the rolling gurney to touch a red button on the wall. A set of plate-glass double-doors opened at the end of the hallway in front of them. The man flipped an intercom switch beside the red button.
“We’re here,” he said.
“Kadin, tell who what?” Dr. Goodell prompted.
Kadin’s voice was barely audible over the sound of the wheels.
“Tell Ken…I love her. And I’m…sorry.” Then Kadin relaxed completely, now unconscious.
Dr. Goodell rose from her hunched position and stopped walking as the gurney and the men pushing it moved past her and through the large double doors. The man at the red button cast a quick glance over his shoulder at her before falling in line with his comrades and walking through the doors.
The men turned a corner and wheeled the gurney out of sight as the double doors closed, leaving Dr. Goodell staring at her reflection in them.
Watchers Council – Conference Room – Same Time
Faith held her coffee cup in the fingers of both hands. The steam still rose off it where it sat on the table, and she danced her fingertips against it, tapping it noisily as she tried not to stare at Kennedy.
Kennedy sat with her head turned to one side, ignoring her own coffee. She was lost in thought, it seemed, until she suddenly turned to Faith.
“Knock it off, will ya?” she barked.
Faith, fingers still tapping the cup, curled her lip in confusion. “Huh?”
Kennedy glared at Faith, then at Faith’s hands.
Faith looked down at her fingers. “Oh,” she said and immediately stilled them. Now lying flat against the thin paper cup, her fingertips began to burn. “Ow!” she said, jerking her hands from the cup. “Hot.”
Kennedy turned away, already lost in her own thoughts again.
Faith sighed, then pushed Kennedy’s cup closer to the troubled slayer.
“Drink up,” she said. “Andrew’s coffee is better than a good, stiff drink.” She smiled, but Kennedy seemed not to hear her.
Faith looked up at the ceiling and sighed heavily. She stared at one spot in particular. Someone had thrown a pencil up, and it was stuck in the ceiling. She looked around the entire room. Three other pencils were also sticking out of the ceiling at various places. She leaned way back in her seat, straining her neck back as far as she could and counted yet a fifth pencil in the ceiling.
“Oh, for God’s sake!” Kennedy said. “This is pointless.”
“No…” Faith said, still staring at the overhead pencil collection. “I’d say it was the points that made it possi –”
“What the hell are you doing?” Kennedy asked. Then she noticed Faith bent back in her chair with her nostrils pointed right at Kennedy. Kennedy then looked up. “I wasn’t talking about that,” she said testily, pointing upward.
Faith rocked forward into an upright position and smiled sheepishly. She took her coffee and sipped at it.
“Mmm….good!” she said, with faux cheer. “You should try it.” Kennedy huffed at her. “Yo, Ken, unclench…just a little, okay?” she said. “You’re not doing yourself any favors being all tensed up like this. Drink your coffee. Andrew made it just the way you like it.”
“Oh yeah? Did he tell you that?” Kennedy shot back irritably.
Faith shrugged. “Okay, so he didn’t make it just for you. But he woulda…” Kennedy sat, staring into space. “I woulda, too. And I don’t make coffee for no one. Not even Robin.”
“Anyone,” Kennedy corrected.
“We’ll find her, Ken.”
“And when we do? What if she’s –?”
“Stop jumpin’ the gun! For all we know, she’s bustin’ loose right now, givin’ ’em all a taste of her own ‘savage.’ And if not, we’ll give them a taste of our own Council brand of S-A-V-A-G-E,” Faith spelled.
Kennedy looked at her, waiting for her to explain.
Faith smiled. “Slayer Activated Vengeance Against Government Experimenters. Pretty clever, huh?”
Kennedy stared back, her face as drawn and worried as before. Then she looked away and ran a hand back through her hair.
Faith’s face fell, and she looked down at her coffee cup. A moment later, the sound of a small snort reached her ears, and Faith glanced up to see Kennedy looking at her with a slight smile on her face. Faith grinned back at her.
The doors of the conference room opened, the air rushing in and blowing the steam off the coffee cups. Faith and Kennedy looked over as Dawn entered the room with Willow, Buffy and Giles, all looking determined and sure.
Kennedy looked questioningly into Willow’s eyes. The redhead smiled confidently. “It’s amazing what a few minutes sleep can do,” the witch told her, still smiling.
Kennedy then turned to Buffy expectantly. “We know where she is,” the blonde reported.
“How? Where?” Kennedy asked.
“It was Giles’s idea,” Buffy told her, smiling at her former watcher. “He remembered that Travers had installed cameras in all areas of the Council because he wanted it, and I quote, ‘as tight as a U.S. military base’.”
“Right,” Willow added. “Long story short, I went back into the old Council databases, found the location, tapped into their camera feed and lo and behold…there was Kadin.”
“No witchy work?” Kennedy asked.
“Nope, just old-fashioned, state-of-the-art hackery. They covered their bases magic-wise with some pretty strong wards; neither Jeff nor I could get a reading on the place. But technology? Not so easy to disguise from someone who’s determined.”
“Especially with the hacker extraordinaire here,” Buffy said, motioning her head toward Willow.
“Really?…Thanks,” Willow replied proudly to Buffy, before she turned to Faith and Kennedy. “So what are you slayers waiting for? We’ve done our part…now it’s up to you.”
Kennedy smiled at Faith for a brief moment, and the older slayer smiled back.
Faith smacked the table with her palm and said, “Let’s do it.”
Military Facility – Operating Room – A Short Time Later
The insistent beep of the heart monitor and the hissing of the oxygen pump were the only sounds in the operating room. The nurse held the tray for the chief surgeon. He reached for the syringe on the tray and stopped.
“I told you, I don’t want to use this one!” he growled. “It’ll tear the artery. I need the smaller one!”
“Yes, doctor, I’m sorry,” the nurse said, and turned to get the correct syringe. The surgeon shot a glance at the anesthesiologist from under his surgical cap.
The anesthesiologist smirked back from behind his surgical mask and then looked at Kadin’s vital signs again. “She’s doing very well,” he said, unsolicited.
“We’ll see how well once she’s got a good dose of this in her,” the surgeon replied.
“Doctor…” the nurse called. She stood before him again, another syringe laid out on the tray.
“Finally!” he sneered at her.
She pressed her lips together angrily from behind her mask and watched as his gloved hand picked up the syringe. Unfortunately, the nurse had apparently filled the tube too much, for the surgeon instantly glared at her. The nurse prepared for an upbraiding, but instead, the surgeon depressed the plunger, causing some of the dark green liquid to spurt out in her direction. She jumped back, fearful.
The surgeon let out a laugh. “It only hurts for a minute,” he said sarcastically to her.
The nurse turned away, a look of contempt in her eyes.
The doctor turned to Kadin.
“Signs?” he asked tersely.
“Still holding steady,” the anesthesiologist replied.
The surgeon leaned over Kadin and brought the needle’s sharp point to her neck. A sudden clattering made him jump, the needle almost breaking the surface of Kadin’s skin. “What the –?”
The nurse had noisily put the tray back on its shelf. She turned and looked blandly back at the surgeon, as though daring him to yell at her. The surgeon turned back to Kadin and looked at the anesthesiologist.
“Take my advice,” the surgeon told him, “never operate in the same room with your wife.”
The anesthesiologist gave a quick laugh as the surgeon bent down again, pushing the needle into Kadin’s neck. He looked up at his monitor and watched as the sharp point pierced Kadin’s skin and traveled through her neck toward her carotid artery. With skillful, practiced hands, the surgeon guided the needle deeper and deeper until he saw, on the monitor, the point touch the outer wall of the artery.
With a final nudge from the surgeon, the needle punctured the artery perfectly. Even the anesthesiologist watched the monitor, fascinated, as the surgeon began to depress the plunger and send the dark green fluid on its journey down into Kadin’s artery, toward her heart, and then to every part of her body.
Once the vial was drained, the surgeon carefully withdrew the needle, his hands as steady and gentle as though he were handling a wounded dove. He stepped back and nodded. The anesthesiologist stared at his equipment, intent on monitoring Kadin’s vitals.
The nurse – the surgeon’s wife – held a piece of sterile gauze to the puncture mark on Kadin’s neck, but there was no bleeding, and hardly a mark showed where the needle had entered.
The surgeon removed his gloves and tossed them into a medical waste container. Then he undid his mask and let it hang off his neck as he continued to watch Kadin.
“Better back up now,” he told his wife.
She took the gauze from Kadin’s neck and backed away, watching the patient expectantly. Nothing happened for several moments. The nurse looked at the surgeon.
“Maybe I did give you the right amount,” she said. “She’s not –”
The beeping of the heart monitor became suddenly fast and erratic.
“Respiration and heart rate are increasing rapidly,” the anesthesiologist said.
“Get away from her,” the surgeon told him.
The anesthesiologist got up from his seat and joined the surgeon and the nurse.
They watched as Kadin’s body began to twitch – first fingers and eyelids, then legs, knees, arms and toes. The twitches became spasms, but the restraints held her securely on the table. Without warning, the heart monitor went wild, and Kadin’s body tensed up violently.
Before anyone could react, Kadin’s eyes popped wide open, their deep, jet-black color somehow darker than ever before.
The surgeon smiled.
End of Act Two