act 5



Fade In:
Dr. Miller’s Home –

Jeff sat dozing in a chair next to Reteesk’s bed. Dawn was reading a book. She looked up at a sound coming from the demon. One of his tentacles was twitching.

“Jeff!” she called, and the seer jerked awake. “He’s coming to.”

Jeff stood over Reteesk as the demon’s eyes fluttered. After a moment, they opened and widened as if surprised to see Jeff looking so closely at him.

“Mr. Lindquist,” he said, his voice more gravelly than usual. He turned his head. “And young Miss Summers. I thank you for your timely rescue.” He paused as if remembering. “S’Retniw?”

Jeff shook his head. “I’m sorry,” he said. “He died saving you.”

Reteesk sighed. “Such a brave fellow.”

“Do you know why you were attacked?” Dawn asked.

“Where are my clothes?” Reteesk asked. Jeff moved over to pick up the bloody robe that had been flung to the floor. “Look inside the inner pocket,” Reteesk continued.

Jeff fumbled around and finally produced a memory stick. “What’s this?”

“S’Retniw brought it to me,” the demon replied. “I haven’t had a chance to examine it, but I’m sure it is of the utmost importance to your Council.”

Dawn stood. “I’ll go tell the doc you’re up,” she said. “Welcome back, Reteesk.”

“Again, my thanks, young Dawn,” the demon said as she left. He looked at Jeff. “I feel I owe you my life, Mr. Lindquist.”

“We’ve lost too many friends, Reteesk,” Jeff said.

Cut To:
USS Erie – Connecting Compartment – Moments Later

“Gwen…” Ethan’s strangled voice cut through the last of the rushing water as the bulkhead pushed open.

The draining interior seemed oddly quiet. Gone were the sounds of battle, now replaced by the hollow sounds of machinery and the drips of the receding water. With complete disregard for the possible dangers, Ethan ran toward Gwen’s body slumped on the wet floor and skidded onto his knees beside her. Water had splashed up onto his face from his heavy footsteps. It rolled down his cheeks and dripped from his chin.

His mouth hung open; the smallest of yelps escaped him as he gingerly reached out to her damp body.

“Ethan, no! She might still be…” Xander warned, approaching from behind with Buffy and Kennedy in tow, but he stopped himself short as Ethan had already cupped her face with his hand.

Ethan’s face contorted for a few seconds. Then his shoulders relaxed, and his expression became unreadable. He carefully lifted Gwen into his arms, cradling her limp body and clutching her close to his chest.

“Ethan…” Kennedy took a cautious step forward.

Hand to her mouth, Buffy’s eyes welled, and she turned away. Xander moved over to her and wrapped his arm around her. Her hushed sobs could be heard over Kennedy as she went on.

“Ethan…” He didn’t look up at Kennedy’s words. “She’s…Gwen’s dea–”

Ethan shook his head and snapped back at Kennedy, cutting her off. “No!” He looked down at Gwen, his control slipping again. He gazed strangely at the limp form in his arms. “No…” he said vaguely. “No…she’s…she’s just run out of power.” He blinked up at Xander and the slayers. “She’s lost her charge.” His eyes brightened, and he gently placed Gwen back down and rose to his feet. “That’s it…of course! She’s just lost her charge.” He half-smiled.

Buffy and Kennedy cast dubious glances at each other, but Xander looked hard at Ethan. “You think…” he began.

“Look,” Ethan quickly explained, “Gwen’s always said that her batteries need to be re-charged after she’s exhausted herself. She just needs to re-charge!” he said, eyes insanely wide.

“Ethan,” Kennedy said, “she’s not an appliance. She’s not breathing…” She swallowed hard.

After a pensive moment, he sniggered. “Not yet…”

Ethan turned away and stared down at Gwen’s body. With his palms clenched and his fingers held rigid like talons, he caused a short arc of lightning to leap between his thumbs and forefingers. The arcs soon became more frequent and more intense. Then, two larger arcs snaked down his arms, and he thrust out his palms, firing two enormous streams directly into Gwen. Her body arched up as the lightning coiled around her, and then she fell back down with a thud.

The lightning gathered in his palms again, and he fired once more. Nothing. Then again. And again. With each try, Ethan yelled out, the pain becoming ever clearer on his haggard face.

Kennedy herself began to tear up. “Ethan, st–” Mid-sentence, she frowned at seeing the light in the compartment begin to dim.

The growing darkness garnered the attention of the others. Buffy glanced over her shoulder and turned fully with Xander, his arm still around her.

Kennedy took a large step back as the air around Ethan began to pulsate with deep blackness. It was as if the shadows were latching onto him, being drawn in, or rather, he was drawing them in.

Slowly, his hair changed. His eyes blackened, and the veins popped on his head, his arms and his hands. Words rang from his lips in an unfamiliar language, as the lightning in his hands changed from a glowing blue into a deep, dark purple. The growling in his throat reached a crescendo, and he released a horrifying scream as the lightning flew from him and into Gwen’s body once more.

Encased in the continuous streams of lightning, her body hung above the floor, aggressively convulsing. He held the unwavering scream as he himself began to shake.

One final surge of energy passed through him, into the streams of lightning and into her body.

Gwen’s eyes flew open. She fell to the floor as the streams of lightning withered out into the ether.

Ethan collapsed beside her. Exhausted, he clambered over to Gwen and lifted her up into his lap. From her mouth, she spewed water as she gasped for air.

“Eth…Ethan…” she struggled, sounding hoarse.

Ethan looked tenderly at her. A single tear slid slowly down his face. “I’m here, Gwen,” he said quietly. “I’m right here.”

Shivering, she closed her eyes and breathed deeply, then opened her eyes again and stared into his.

Ethan looked back questioningly at her.

“Give us a kiss,” she parodied him.

Ethan held her a moment, then barked a laugh, pulling her closer. Gwen buried herself deep against his chest.

Utterly taken aback, Kennedy, Buffy and Xander stepped forward. A bright, yet red-eyed, smile crossed Buffy’s face, while Xander squeezed her arm with an amazed grin.

Kennedy stifled a smile. Her expression was more of complete awe. “Damn…”

Buffy turned to Ethan. “Take care of her,” she ordered. Then she turned to Kennedy. “Come on, we’ve got to take back the bridge.”

Kennedy nodded, and the slayers ran from the compartment.

Cut To:
USS Erie – Bridge – Minutes Later

Buffy, at the head of the attacking slayers, pushed through the compartment door and into the guarding demons. With a cry, she knocked two of them down with the force of her charge. Before they could recover, she had snapped the neck of one and skewered the other with the Scythe.

Behind her, Kennedy and the other slayers fanned out and took on the other demons occupying the bridge.

Cut To:
Dr. Miller’s Home –

“That’s amazing,” Dr. Miller said. He, Andrew, Jeff and Dawn were watching a surveillance video on a laptop on Dr. Miller’s kitchen table. Jeff rewound the recording and the group again watched O’Mara transform into the Voice of Hell. Jeff then rewound yet again and froze video on the image of the demon.

“It finally makes sense,” Andrew muttered to no one in particular.

Dawn turned to Skye.

“Did you ever see her change?” Dawn asked her. “I want an honest answer here. No bull.”

“No,” Skye insisted.

“Forgive me if I’m not entirely convinced,” Dawn replied shortly.

“The answer is no, and I told you before, I only wanted the spell lifted because–”

“I know,” Dawn said, cutting her short. “You wanted to see if the soul works. So, does it?”

“I don’t have the urge to eat anyone, if that’s what you mean,” Skye replied, growing annoyed herself. “So yeah, the soul works. But as for seeing her do the presto-chango, no.”

“Ladies,” Jeff interrupted. “What are we going to do with this footage?”

“Right,” Andrew said, “if we can show the world that the woman who wants to close us down…”

Did close us down,” Skye corrected. Everyone looked at her. “But go on,” she added meekly.

“Anyway, this could go a long way in getting us up and running again,” Andrew continued, “especially before Faith goes to the stand tomorrow.”

“The Council doesn’t have a very long list of friends right now,” Jeff pointed out.

Dawn began to grin. “We don’t need a long list; just one will do. Let’s make a backup of this and make a phone call before I head to Washington tonight.”

Cut To:
CNN Headquarters – Same Time

A group of men and women were in the room, their eyes fixed on a monitor showing a satellite feed of Robert Devlin.

A man wearing a white oxford with the sleeves rolled up and a loose fitting tie around his neck looked at Devlin and asked, “What if it’s a fake?”

“What if it’s not, and you lose the scoop of the decade? The Council won’t sit on this information, and they gave it to me first. Their fate is going to be decided in the next twenty-four hours, perhaps even less.”

“All the more reason that this video might be fake,” the man argued.

“I don’t believe that it is, sir. Plus, with everything that’s happened, well, it makes sense. The dots are connecting here,” Devlin replied. “But that’s a decision you’re going to have to make soon. I won’t wait.”

The man sighed and rubbed his forehead. “I don’t like ultimatums, Mr. Devlin.”

“Neither do I, sir,” he replied. “But that’s not an ultimatum. I’m just stating a fact. Someone will release this footage. So what’s the answer going to be?”

Cut To:
USS Erie – Bridge – Same Time

Demons littered the ground, and Kennedy had to step over one to stand next to Xander.

“Why aren’t you driving?” she asked. “You are the military man that knows everything, right?”

“Army, not Navy – different branches,” he replied. He opened his mouth to say something, but stumbled as the sub shifted violently to one side for a moment.

From the helmsman’s position, Buffy called out, “Oops! My bad.”

“Wouldn’t it be ironic?” Siobhan began, as she approached Xander and Kennedy.

“What?” Kennedy asked.

“We defeated the demons, but she’s the one who ends up killing us and making the entire Eastern U.S. Seaboard radioactive for decades?”

“Buffy,” Xander called out. “Why not let someone else drive for a while, okay?”

“I’m getting the hang of it, I think,” she said. Her eyes were intensely focused straight ahead into nothing-ness.

Kennedy turned to Siobhan. “This is insane. See if we can find a crew member alive – any crew member. They have to have more of an idea than we do about how to drive this thing.”

Siobhan nodded, and Xander went over to Buffy. Kennedy then closed her eyes and called out silently.

“Willow, can you hear me?”

Cut To:
Niagara Falls –
Cave of the Winds Tour – Lobby – Same Time

Willow and Rowena were looking through the crowd. Willow’s laptop bag was in her hand.

“I don’t see them,” Willow remarked. Then she cocked her head to the side. “Ken?” she said aloud.

“Where?” Rowena said, looking around.

“No, in here,” Willow said to Rowena, tapping her temple. “I can barely hear you,” she told Kennedy.

“Demons took over the sub, but we’ve got it back now. Looks like the crew sent a distress signal when all hell broke loose, but we don’t have a driver alive. Buffy’s behind the wheel now and–”

“You’re letting Buffy drive!? What are you? Nuts?” Willow exclaimed in horror. Rowena hurriedly motioned to her to keep it down. A few people close-by looked their way at the outburst. Rowena quickly handed Willow a cell phone so that she could act like she was talking into it. “She can barely drive a car,” Willow added, in a quieter voice.

“Look, can you just find out how to drive a sub, and I’ll take over?”

“I can try, but no promises. My powers are little weak right now. I don’t know if I’ll be able to make first contact,” Willow said. “Just remember that you’re using SONAR to see, okay? If there’s a really big blip, go the opposite direction. If I haven’t called to you in a half hour, then call back to me.” She then turned to Rowena. “We’ve got to find a Wi-Fi setup around here,” she told her, raising her laptop slightly. “I need U-Boat captaining info.”

Cut To:
USS Erie – Bridge – Same Time

The boat shook again, and Kennedy said, “That’s it.” She walked over and stood next to Buffy. “I’m taking over here.”

“But I’m starting to get the hang of it,” Buffy whined.

“Before or after you kill us?” Xander asked as he stood next to her. Buffy did a double take at him. “I’m just saying, let Kennedy have a go, because she can’t do any worse,” he added in explanation.

Buffy’s eyes narrowed. “Thanks for the encouragement, Mr. I Have Come to Support You.”

“No, I said I wanted to come keep you alive…and there’s more than one way to do that, so let’s go,” he said, motioning for her to follow him. She looked over to Kennedy, who waited expectantly, tapping her foot.

“Fine,” Buffy said, giving up.

“Thaaank you,” Xander exaggerated, as Kennedy took the helm.

“See if you can find someone to help us surface,” Kennedy told them as she examined the screens around her.

Xander nodded his agreement and began to walk away.

“I don’t think this is going to work out with us, Xander,” Buffy said as they started to leave.

Xander stopped and faced her. “Why? Because you can’t have your way all the time?”

“I’m just saying–”

“I’m not your doormat, Buffy. If that’s what you’re looking for – someone to kiss your ass 24/7 and cower at your command – then you’re absolutely right. It’s not going to work. But if you want a partner – someone who’ll love you and respect you, and yes, on occasion, not agree with you – then you’re walking away from the best man you’ll ever have. It’s your choice.”

Xander started on his way again. Buffy paused for a moment, but then moved quickly to catch up. Kennedy grinned from behind the wheel. Although she stilled her head slightly to hear them, she didn’t look back at the pair.

Cut To:
USS Erie – Hallway – Seconds Later

“Hey,” Buffy said, following Xander. “We were talking.”

“Then walk and talk, because we’ve got to find someone to get us to the surface, fast.”

“I gotta admit, Xander,” she said. “This isn’t a side of you that I’m used to seeing.”

“I told you Buffy, I love you, but I’m not a lovesick teenager anymore. If you tell me to jump, I won’t ask how high. Well, unless we were in mortal danger from demons, but that goes without saying, since that’s your line of expertise. Now, we’ve got work to do and–”

Xander suddenly felt himself pushed against the wall. Buffy kissed him passionately, silencing him. When they pulled away, Xander straightened his shoulders.

“Maybe I’m presuming too much…but I’m guessing you’re not walking away,” he said with a growing grin.

Buffy seemed slightly embarrassed by her actions, but she managed a weak nod. Xander reached down, taking her hand in his.

“Let’s find someone to get us topside,” he said, again leading the way.

Cut To:
USS Erie – Galley – Same Time

Siobhan looked around the sub’s galley, finding nothing. She had turned to leave when she heard the sound of metal moving against metal. She walked over to the tall cabinet where she had heard the noise and quickly opened the door.

“Don’t kill me!” a scared sailor shouted, as he tried to hide behind a mixing bowl in his hand.

“I’m a slayer, you wanker,” she said, extending her hand. “I’m here to help you, but first, you need to help us.”

He looked reluctant and then said, “Uh, okay?”

Cut To:
USS Erie – Infirmary – Same Time

“How you feeling, Luv?” Ethan said as he stood over Casey’s gurney.

“That shot you gave me helped,” she told him. “You have medical training?” she asked.

Ethan grinned. “No, but in another life, I did pick up a needle or two. Not my prouder days, I must admit. Vision any better?”

“One eye, yeah,” she replied. “The other…”

“I won’t lie,” Ethan told her. “It looks bad, but perhaps if you have sex with Willow Rosenberg…”

Casey snorted. “Not bloody likely – eye or no eye.”

Ethan grinned. “Let me know if you need anything,” he said, before walking to the gurney across the room. “And how are you doing?” he asked Gwen, who was sitting up in the bed.

“Better,” Gwen answered. She immediately began to cough, and Ethan gently rubbed her back.

“Does that help, or make it worse?” he asked.

“Helps,” Gwen answered. “Thanks.”

“That was a damn fool thing you did, young lady,” Ethan told her. Then he then smiled and said, “And we all thank you.”

Gwen smiled and stroked the side of Ethan’s face. “Not always about money, is it?” she replied, her voice still a bit strained and gravelly.

Ethan seemed to truly consider the question. “Most of the time, yes, it is,” he said seriously, before starting to grin. “But you’re right…not always.”

Gwen’s smile grew larger.

Cut To:
Niagara Falls – Cave of the Winds Tour – Cafeteria – Same Time

Willow tapped away on her computer, while Rowena continued to scout the room, looking for her family.

“Any sign of them yet?” Willow asked, not looking up from her keyboard.

“No, but they’re not officially late yet,” Rowena said, with a glance at her watch, “so I’m not going to worry. I mean, I shouldn’t, right? They’ll be here soon.”

Willow grinned. “They’re probably trying to find a place to park, too.”

“Right,” Rowena said, more at ease.

“Oh crap,” Willow said.

“You found something?” Rowena asked.

“They need to surface soon,” Willow explained. “From what I’ve found, when a distress signal goes out, the nuclear reactors shut down, and the submarine may be on battery power alone.”

“And that’s bad because…?”

“Pick a scenario,” Willow said, finally looking up. “Flooding, limited oxygen, higher levels of carbon dioxide, temperature failure.” Willow closed her eyes for a moment. “Ken?” she called out.

Cut To:
USS Erie – Bridge – Same Time

“Tell me good news, Will,” Kennedy called back.

Cut To:
Niagara Falls – Cave of the Winds Tour – Cafeteria – Same Time

“Okay,” Willow replied. “You might just be on battery backup right now – you’re not nuclear anymore.”

“Well, that’s good news, right?”

“In a way, sure. But all the gadgets inside might stop working when the battery runs out. That means the air will run out, too. You’ve got to find a way to get to the surface as soon as possible.” When Willow didn’t hear a response, she called out, “Ken?”

“Sorry, Willow. I got all that. We’ve found a few guys that might help. Thanks for the tip. I gotta go.”

Cut To:
USS Erie – Bridge – Same Time

Kennedy was looking at the three men that Buffy, Xander and Siobhan had just led inside.

Try to be safe. Let me know when you surface.”

“We will,” Kennedy said, just as she moved away from the steering wheel to allow the three crew members to step forward. “It’s all yours, boys,” she told them. “Nothing fancy is needed here,” she added. “We just need someone to get us to the top.”

“No one from the bridge is left?” asked the sailor that Siobhan had found.

“No,” Kennedy answered. The man looked sad, and she quickly added, “I’m sorry. I wish we were able to do more, but…”

The sailor held up his hand. “It’s okay. Let’s see what we can do.” He turned to one of the other men. “Ian, do you think you’d know how to…?” he said, motioning at the instruments. “I’m just a cook,” he explained to the gathering.

“Yeah,” his fellow sailor replied, “but it’s been a while.” He walked up to the control panel and began hitting some buttons.

Cut To:
USS Erie
Open Water – Day

The USS Erie emerged from the surface of the water, and a short time later, the hatch opened. A sailor poked his head out and looked around them. Surrounding the submarine from above were SEAL helicopters.

Cut To:
USS Erie
Bridge – Minutes Later

The sailor from the hatch escorted an officer from the SEAL unit to the bridge, with several other SEALs following behind them.

The Council group turned to see them enter.

“Are we ever happy to see you guys,” Buffy said with a large smile.

The commanding officer didn’t seem to share her enthusiasm.

“You are all hereby placed under arrest,” he said, as the other officers came over to escort them away.

“What?!” Kennedy exclaimed.

“Hijacking a Naval Vessel isn’t something we take lightly, ma’am. Now if you’ll all come with us.”

“Hijacked? Hey, we saved your sub, buddy,” Kennedy argued.

“Are we going to have a problem here, ma’am?” he asked.

“No,” Buffy spoke up. “Just…lead the way.”

“What a crock of–” Kennedy started to say.

“Not the time, Ken,” Xander told her, as the officers came closer to escort them out.

Cut To:
Cave of the
Winds Tour Lobby – Niagara Falls – Same Time

“Okay, it’s been a half hour now,” Willow said. She turned to Rowena, the two of them standing at the side of the tour lobby, out of the way of the passing crowds. “Time’s beyond up at this point. Where are they?”

Rowena looked across the human traffic and began to grin. She pointed across from them. Willow looked over in the direction she was pointing to see Mary Grace and her mother, pushing a double stroller.

Willow looked like she was about to bolt over, but Rowena quickly grabbed Willow’s forearm.

“Easy,” she told her. “Let’s not cause a scene.”

“Right,” Willow said, although she still moved swiftly to meet the two women and the twins. Willow hugged Mary Grace first, since she was closest, while Rowena hugged her mom. Then, Willow quickly knelt down on the ground to face the stroller. Fighting back tears, she reached out and gently took each one of the twins’ hands.

“Hey guys,” she said softly. “Remember me?”

Both of them immediately kicked their legs and shook their arms wildly, both making cooing sounds. Willow started to cry softly and had to bury her face in her hands for a moment. Rowena was also teary-eyed as she reached down and rubbed Willow’s shoulder in support.

The reunion was interrupted when Rowena’s mom said, “Guys, look.” She pointed to a large screen television mounted on the wall behind them, playing CNN. Willow and Rowena both wiped their eyes to focus on the screen.

Cut To:
CNN Television Studio – Same Time

“Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen,” Robert Devlin began. He was seated in a studio, facing directly into the camera. “We have a late-breaking story this afternoon, and later we’ll have an interview with Lori Carew, one of the better known former slayers and an occasional guest commentator on supernatural matters here at CNN.”

“But before we get to Ms. Carew’s interview, reports have just come in from the Pentagon that members of the Watchers Council have been arrested in connection with the deaths of several sailors during an apparent hijack attempt of the nuclear submarine the USS Erie.”

Cut To:
Cave of the Winds Tour Lobby – Niagara Falls – Same Time

Willow and Rowena looked at each other as the television began to roll footage of Buffy, Xander and Kennedy being taken away. Although they couldn’t hear what the group was saying, it was obvious that Kennedy was voicing her displeasure with the situation.

“Those lying bastards,” Rowena muttered.

Cut To:
CNN Television Studio – Same Time

The image of Robert Devlin filled the screen again.

“This news comes just hours after we received a digital tape from the Council which shows Congresswoman Autumn O’Mara transforming into a demon species. Let’s roll the tape now so that you can judge for yourself.”

Once the video had finished, the camera turned back to Devlin. “Now, joining us this afternoon to talk about these events is Lori Carew of the Watchers Council. Thanks for taking the time today.”

“It’s my pleasure, Robert. Thanks for having me,” she replied politely.

“First, this Pentagon report. It says that prominent members of the Council murdered several sailors and hijacked the USS Erie. It also states that it’s no coincidence this happened on the eve of the Committee on Homeland Security’s inquiry into the Watchers Council. At this point some are theorizing that, should the Council not be reinstated, they would threaten nuclear retaliation against major US coastal cities. Can you say if these allegations are true?”

“First, let me express my condolences to the families and loved ones of the fallen servicemen. Our job at the Council is to protect the world, but it’s these fine men who help protect the country. So we’re saddened that we weren’t able to prevent casualties. That said, I can assure everyone that these accusations are unequivocally false.”

“How did the Council members even get on board?” Devlin asked.

“The Council received a tip from an anonymous source that a demon force was planning to overrun the vessel, although we didn’t know how. Our team was sent and welcomed aboard the ship by high-ranking officials in the Navy. Obviously, the attempt was thwarted, but sadly not without the loss of human life.”

“Do you have any idea what happened on the submarine?”

“No. The only contact anyone has had with the team occurred prior to their departure. But I can tell you that their reasons for being there have been documented, and I’m sure in the next few hours, as we learn more, all of this will come to light.”

“Now as for this video tape,” Devlin began, “it shows Congresswoman Autumn O’Mara transforming into a demon. Again, critics have pointed out that the timing is peculiar, and they question the validity of the tape. Can you explain why the Council is releasing this tape now?”

“It just came into our possession,” Lori answered. “A human-friendly demon was killed trying to bring this recording to us. If you noticed, the footage clearly shows the leader of the terrorist group known as the Voice of Hell transforming into Congresswoman Autumn O’Mara.”

“We currently have experts reviewing the footage,” Devlin replied. “But how can you prove that it’s legitimate?”

“Truthfully, at this point, we can’t, but we do know that it was important enough to have someone killed over it. I think that speaks quite a bit to how valuable and real this footage is,” she replied.

“I guess we’ll just have to see what happens in the coming hours,” Devlin remarked.

Lori grinned slightly. “We certainly will, I’m sure.”

Fade to Black

End of Act Five

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