Originally broadcasted 03/18/08
Public Park – Day
Cuervo Vista, California
Today the park was all but empty. An unseasonable cold snap had sent children and their parents indoors. So there was no one to pay heed to the little boy. He walked past empty swings, past picnic tables without any food or people, past trees without any birds or squirrels.
He was a pale child, with dark hair. A round face gave promise of a slight chubbiness to come. His piercing eyes seemed to take in much, but see nothing.
At the far end of the park was a house. It appeared in good condition. It was two stories, with a yard and a very sturdy-looking fence.
“Solicitors Not Welcome” and “Keep Out,” read signs fixed to stakes on the lawn. The fence itself bore another sign: “Beware of Dog.”
The boy didn’t cross the street. He merely stood upon the grass of the park and stared at the house with all its signs discouraging entry. He did not blink. As he stood there, his breath became slightly visible. Minutes passed. His blinking grew less frequent.
House Living Room – Continuous
Emily Hoffman sat at the table, placing a tea set to the side. She began to serve the tea to herself and the younger man in a suit across from her.
“My plan isn’t working, sorry to say,” she said sadly. Dark circles made her eyes look more shrunken than they actually were. Still, her hands did not shake as she poured two cups of tea.
“You did always say this was no more than a temporary measure…” began the man in a suit.
“Indeed, yes,” she said, nodding. “And to be sure, I cannot say for certain that the essence of my plan was not appropriate. So far as I can tell, my own strength of will remains strong. The nightmares are no worse than they have been. Happily.” A ghost of a smile flickered across her mouth as she said this. She passed a teacup and saucer to the younger man. “You’ve no better leads today than last night I take it?”
“Ah. Honestly, I hadn’t expected much progress yet. One hopes, naturally, however…” she trailed off. When she spoke again, her voice was deeper and harder. “It seems some people are more susceptible than others. Even with all the mystical buffers intrinsic to the box, somehow It continues to call out. And some people… they respond.” She lifted one eyebrow at this last word.
“Even here? I thought Cuervo Vista had an unusually high number of sacred spots and an extremely low incidence of any crime? It was seemingly as safe an environment as might be hoped for.”
“So I believed. But, even here… ” She stopped abruptly, glancing toward the window. Without another word, she stood. Less than a second later, she was at the window, looking out. “Yes, even here.”
The younger man approached from behind, gazing over her shoulder.
“Who is that?”
“A local boy. Hardly a day goes by when he doesn’t come by and stare like that. I swear, whatever is inside that box acts like a siren song to him.”
“Perhaps he’s just the odd juvenile delinquent?”
“No. I checked. His name is Warren Mears, and by all accounts an honor student. Straight As in all his classes, except physical education. Unpopular with his fellow students, but then that is something of the norm for the gifted.” She sighed. “God only knows why he shows up. But I cannot believe it bodes anything but ill.”
Across the street, Warren Mears continued to stare at the house.
“I’m leaving tonight,” said Emily Hoffman. “And the box comes with me. I believe now that I must arrange for more-or-less constant movement.”
He nodded. “I’ll arrange it at once.”
In the chilly air outdoors, the little boy continued to stare. And stare. And stare.
Smash Cut To:
Watchers council – Faith and Robin’s Apartment – Early Morning
Robin’s eyes flew open, his pupils expanding from microdots due to the lack of light. He jumped up from the covers. The room shook as an explosion struck and a shrill emergency siren sounded.
“Code red. Council lockdown in progress. This is not a drill. All personnel report to their respective departments. Weapon caches on all levels are now accessible. This is not a drill,” the automated message blared over the P.A. system.
“Faith?” Robin croaked, coughing to clear his throat.
He turned, but she wasn’t there. In fact, the bed looked relatively made on her side. He looked around the dark room, not seeing her. After throwing back the covers, he leapt out of bed and rushed for the door.
Before he had left the bedroom, he suddenly stopped. He looked past his boxer shorts at an astonishing sight. He had two complete legs.
Another explosion rocked the Council, snapping him out of his reverie, and he made for the front door, running with ease.
As he grew closer, the shouts, screams and cries amplified to nearly deafening levels. He threw open the front door to his apartment.
Robin immediately dodged back into the doorframe as a woman rushed past him. He stayed within the doorframe and blinked at the sight of men and women pouring out of their rooms. The hallway seemed awash with chaos and confusion.
Robin waited for the opportune moment and then jumped into the crowd, pushing against them and trying his best to stay upright as he headed for the stairwell at the far end of the hall. Then someone slammed into Robin head on causing them both to come to a stop amid the rush of people.
He grabbed the woman for support, as she did him.
“I’m-I’m sorry, are you –”
She looked up. It was Casey.
“Ca-Casey?” he stammered. His eyes widened as he looked down at her face. A single deep scar ran from her forehead, just above her right eye, down across her face and tapered to an end on her chin. In addition, her right eye was a dead white. “Wha-what happened?”
Just as he was about to reach out to her face, Casey stepped back from Robin and shook out her shoulders.
“You’d better get a move on, Rob. They’ll be waiting for you upstairs.”
She went to move past him, but Robin pulled her back, the initial look of shock now replaced with pure and utter bewilderment.
“Casey, who’s waiting? And where’s Faith?”
Casey frowned at him for the briefest of moments before her perplexed expression molded into one of contempt. She chuckled and shook her head. “You’d better wake up, mate,” she said. She slapped his left cheek twice and then rushed past him, barking orders. “C’mon gang, move it!”
He turned and watched as Casey actually manhandled others out of her way. Some went crashing into the walls, some even toppled others like dominos. Then she was lost in the crowd.
Watchers Council – Lobby – Moments Later
Robin skidded to a halt in the lobby, just in time to see a cloud of burning, roaring flames roll toward the glass front of the Council building. He immediately raised his hands to cover his head and turned away with his back to the flames.
Watchers Council – Grounds – Same Time
A large stone wall, like a military installation, now surrounded the Council complex. As the cloud of flames neared it, the flames broke around an otherwise-invisible shield. The shield wailed with a high-pitched drone as it braved the incredible power of the explosion.
Watchers Council – Lobby – Same Time
Robin spun around upon hearing the sound, and also upon realizing that he was not on fire. He watched as the flames rippled over the shimmering shield, then petered out, leaving an eerie silence in the lobby.
“What the hell is going on?”
“Robin!” a male, English voice called from behind him.
When Robin looked over his shoulder, he gasped and completely turned around to face the man, stunned. His eyes were huge and his mouth hung open in disbelief at the sight of Wesley Wyndham-Pryce running over to him.
“We’d better move,” was all Wesley said, as he reached out and grabbed Robin’s arm. “The forward shield’s weakening. We’ve got to get upstairs.”
“Get out of my way, now!” a woman shouted from the adjacent hall.
Being pulled aside by Wesley, Robin turned to see Willow turn the corner into the lobby, with the Coven hot on her heels. Walking behind her were Amy Madison, Jonathan Levinson, Jeff and Skye. Their attire was drab and dark, their expressions hard and cold.
“Spread out. You know how this one goes,” Willow ordered, as she stopped directly opposite the large glass doors.
The others took their positions branching out from Willow, creating a semi-circle. She closed her eyes for a brief moment, and when she opened them, her pupils were black. Her hair then followed suit. Robin watched as the other members of the Coven also embraced their dark sides.
“Open!” Willow roared, and threw out her hand at the glass doors. They violently swung open.
Watchers Council – Roof – Same Time
The roof access door to the Council building burst open and slayers dressed in black tactical uniforms, toting machine guns, ran for the cover of the stone wall overlooking the front of the Council. Two slayers raced for the mounted rail guns situated at the corners of the roof.
Amira, sans hijab, slammed herself hard against the stone wall, narrowly evading a hurled ball of pulsating red energy. She reached to her belt for her earpiece. Once in, she tapped the button.
“On my mark…go!”
Amira threw herself out from behind the cover and opened fire, as did the other slayers now lining the front wall. The two slayers on the mounted rail guns powered their monolithic weapons and unleashed a rain of screeching, white-hot bullets from the barrels.
Street – Outside Watchers Council – Same Time
Across from the Council building was a heavily armored and equally heavily battered SUV. Three masked individuals, clearly female, fired their grenade launchers at the bubble-like shield.
The grenades impacted the shield in practically the exact same spot, but there was no effect. The shield just rippled like water from the force, and flames coursed around it. The slayers’ gunfire from the roof of the Council met the same fate.
SUV – Same Time
A woman sat crossed-legged on the floor of the vehicle in the middle of a mystical circle, surrounded by runes and symbols crudely drawn in yellow paint. Her head was hung low, her words barely a whisper. In her hands, which rested in her lap, was a glowing piece of orange rock. The SUV swayed and shook from the gunfire, but she continued to chant, unfazed.
Watchers Council – Lobby – Same Time
In the center of the Coven’s circle hovered a huge ball of swirling black energy, punctuated by purple arcs of electricity that grew exponentially with each passing second. As one voice, the Coven chanted and held their hands out toward the ball, which started to convulse.
Robin held onto Wesley as the building shook once again.
“Wesley, what the hell is going on here?”
Wesley just frowned.
“Now!” Willow’s voice boomed throughout the lobby.
On command, the Coven, in unison, turned their hands toward the attackers across the street and the ball of energy shot out of the lobby and through the doors, leaving scorch marks in its wake.
Watchers Council – Grounds – Continuous
The ball flew across the dead brown grass and cut through the stone barrier like a knife through butter. Then it crossed through the shield.
Street – Outside Watchers Council – Continuous
One of the masked women beyond the barrier yelped to her comrades. “Everyone run!”
Before they had a chance to escape, the ball of energy zipped into their location, breached their shield and collided with the SUV.
A burst of brilliant white light, followed an instant later by an immense explosion, ripped through the SUV, churning the metal and tossing the wreckage into the air. It landed back on the melted, sticky and blackened asphalt with a crash.
Watchers Council – Lobby – Same Time
The Coven gathered around Willow, all intently watching the smoldering wreckage lighting up the street. The wailing cry of the alarm now shut off, as Willow’s hair faded back to her natural autumnal tones.
She sighed and turned away from the Coven, walking toward the hallway. As she passed Robin and Wesley, she grumbled, “I’m going back to bed. If there’s another threat, don’t wake me. Deal with it yourselves.” Then she disappeared around the corner.
“Another one bites the dust,” Amy said as she walked toward the hallway with her fellow Coven members.
“How many’s that now?” Jonathan asked.
“Four in the last six days, I think,” Jeff responded. “Maybe Ken’ll get the message.”
“Hear, hear,” Skye said, running a hand through her hair. “Ethan and the second Coven group were first on the scene the other day, the jerks. They’re ahead of us by three kills!”
“Willow’s pissed, we’re all pissed,” Jonathan sighed. “Let’s just hope he doesn’t use that as leverage.”
“As if he could!” Amy sneered. “If the old man thinks he can trump Will…well, he’s got another think coming. Maybe a dead dog on his doorstep…that or a dead wife. We’ll see.”
With that, the Coven left the lobby.
Robin stumbled back against the cool steel of the elevator door. Wesley looked at him curiously. “Are you okay?”
He reached out, but Robin took a hesitant step back. Wesley blinked.
“Yeah…yeah,” Robin shook his head and sniggered, faking a half smile. “Sudden rush of blood to the head, is all. I just…I just got up too quick. Haven’t had a chance to wake up properly,” he backed away from Wesley and then headed for the hallway.
Wesley turned as Robin walked around him and watched with an arched brow as Robin disappeared down the hallway.
Unknown Location – Dark Room – Same Time
A bank of monitors sat on a desk, each displaying a different area of the Council.
One of the monitors focused on following Robin down the halls.
“Is that him?” an American woman asked. “The other Robin?”
“Based on his reaction, I believe so, yes,” an English man replied.
Giles sat in a high-back leather chair. His hair was slicked back with gel and his narrow eyes gleamed with a mischievous look.
Buffy, her arms crossed against her chest, stepped from the shadows to stand beside him.
“Soon it will all be over,” she said as she watched. “Kennedy and the Rebels will fall, and we’ll be victorious.”
A sinister smirk curled on Giles’s lips. His hand ran down Buffy’s back until it reached her buttock, giving it a squeeze.
End of Teaser