Originally broadcasted 10/07/08
Watchers Council – Coven Room – Resume
The box containing the Loathestone lay open in the center of the Coven’s circle, formed by Willow, Kennedy, Andrew, Dawn, Jeff and Alex. Incense burned and crystals glowed.
Willow continued to intone the ritual. “May this evil be banished forevermore. May our children’s hearts be free of its fear. May our ancestors smile at its absence.”
Liz, Skye, Calendar and Faith stood off to one side as a light purple glow filled the Coven Room.
“And you’re totally sure about this?” Faith asked Liz.
The watcher shrugged. “Worst case scenario, it doesn’t work, and then we’re not any worse off, right?”
Faith did not look convinced.
Watchers Council – Holding Level – Same Time
Demons of all shapes and sizes, in every cell of the Council’s holding area, looked up at the sound. It was a deep throb, like heavy machinery through a couple of walls, only it was a little too deep for that. Then a wall of something transparent and red, an energy wave, swept through the cells, walls and bars proving no barrier. It was gone as quickly as it had appeared.
In its wake, demons began to claw at the walls and at each other. Horrible growls and wails overwhelmed the otherworldly background noise.
Watchers Council – Coven Room – Same Time
As Willow continued to speak in the background, Faith began to hear the same deep vibration. Her eyes at first rolled slightly back in her head; then she winced and grabbed her forehead.
Skye looked genuinely concerned, putting out a hand to steady Faith. “Are you okay?”
Faith opened her mouth to answer, but then she groaned.
Faith saw the Council’s towering headquarters burning.
The image of fire spread, superimposed over a series of futuristic skylines. In the background, human beings wailed in pain.
Norman and Nikki lay side by side on top of rubble, eyes open but sightless. Robin’s wound was still smoldering…Faith let the laser weapon slip from her hand.
Flash to Coven Room:
“NO!” Faith screamed. She ran forward before anyone could stop her, breaking the circle.
“Faith, what are you–?” Kennedy called out.
“You took my life!” Faith shouted, grabbing her temples and collapsing to the floor next to the Loathestone’s box. “I’ll be damned if I’m going to do anything you tell me to!” Willow was next to her, trying to prop her up.
“No one’s telling you to do anything,” Alex assured her.
“I can’t, I can’t…” Faith continued.
“Not us, the Stone,” Liz said. “It’s talking to her again.”
“For a rock, it’s awfully chatty,” Dawn observed.
Faith suddenly turned and grabbed Willow by the throat with both hands. Caught off guard, Willow made startled noises deep in her throat as Faith tried to strangle her.
Watchers Council – Slayer Training Area – Same Time
Several pairs of slayers were sparring in rows in a large gymnasium, the floor lined with blue mats. Jen walked between the pairs, offering pointers every once in a while. They all wore protective headgear and had extensive padding slipped over their chests.
Joyce was fighting a somewhat taller girl with black hair, maybe twenty years old. A spin kick from the taller girl to Joyce’s chest sent Joyce to the ground, but she immediately flipped to her feet. “Nice one, Joanne,” she complimented.
The same red wall of energy swept through the gymnasium, and something off appeared in Joyce’s eyes. She landed a hard jab square to Joanne’s mouth, sending the other girl reeling with blood spattering from her lips. She stumbled momentarily, and Joyce stepped forward and kneed her directly in the kidney.
Joanne cried out and collapsed to the ground in pain, as several of the other groups stopped what they were doing to watch. Joyce grabbed her fellow slayer by one arm and wrenched her awkwardly to her feet.
“Okay,” Joanne managed, “I give. Uncle…or whatever.”
Joyce acted as if she hadn’t heard her, pulling Joanne’s arm so that it was locked behind her back. Then she twisted just a little bit more.
Joanne screamed, and when Joyce let her go, she fell once again to the floor, curled into a fetal position and cradling her arm.
“Aaah!” she yelled in pain. “What the hell!? What…aaah…what happened to sparring?”
Jen strode forward out of the growing crowd. “The bad guys aren’t going to be just sparring, Joanne.”
Joyce kicked Joanne in the ribs, eliciting another groan of pain. “You big crybaby.”
“You broke my frikkin’ arm!” Joanne shouted.
Jen knelt down next to her. “You really are going to have to toughen up, or you’re going to end up dead out there.” She stood up and turned to Joyce. “Nice job.” The two slayers fist-bumped with smiles on their faces.
Watchers Council – Coven Room – Same Time
It took both Alex and Dawn to haul Faith off of Willow, leaving the red-haired witch gasping for air. Faith winced again, hearing the otherworldly vibration in her head.
Liz snapped her fingers in front of Faith’s face, and the former slayer’s eyes fluttered. “Faith, listen to me. I need you to hold on here. What’s it saying?”
“Not…words,” Faith said through clenched teeth. “Pictures.”
The skies, filled with roiling clouds, were split by cracks of black and red lightning. Below, gigantic demons, worms thousands of feet long, dragons the size of the Empire State Building, huge cackling insects, all savagely fought each other. Flesh tore beneath claws, and trees were uprooted without a second glance by the combatants.
Flash to Coven Room:
“What pictures?” Liz asked, her voice as calm as she could make it. Andrew hurriedly handed the watcher her recorder. Liz pushed a button. “I need you to tell us what you’re seeing, Faith.”
Faith yelled again, this time without words.
A mountain stood in the midst of the jungle, black ash pouring from its summit.
Flash to Coven Room:
“There are…demons — big demons,” Faith said, nearly hyperventilating. “Killing people, killing each other…war.” Liz continued to hold the recorder in front of Faith. “Jungle…a mountain…so much fire…aaah!”
She could see a clearing filled with wildflowers
Then she saw a placid lake.
Next she saw a huge stone face, surrounded by choking vines.
Flash to Coven Room:
Faith began to fall backwards, but was held up by Alex and Dawn.
“Pillars,” she gasped, “a lake of fire. Ocean of…water and…fire…”
“Stay with me,” Liz repeated evenly, her recorder still poised.
Faith’s eyelids fluttered again. “Faces…a waterfall, a wall of water…wildflowers a-and wind…I don’t…I don’t understand.”
“Neither do we,” Skye deadpanned.
Faith’s legs went limp, and she slid to the floor before the others could catch her. There was a moment of silence in the Coven Room.
“So…” Liz finally said, “was that how it was supposed to work?”
Watchers Council – Hallway – Same Time
Nikki walked down a hallway, datapad in one hand and black leather case swinging from the other. Her eyes widened in surprise when she saw a wall of red energy sweep around the next corner. She only had time to take one defensive step backwards before it swept over her.
She shook her head, as if trying to clear out some cobwebs, bracing against the wall with her datapad. She then regained her balance enough to walk to the nearest door and open it.
Inside, a male watcher stood over a cowering demon with red tentacles for arms.
“I swear to God,” the watcher was saying, “you don’t start talking right now, I take another sucker. Then we’ll see how your girlfriend likes you…yes?” He belatedly noticed Nikki’s presence.
“Did you guys just, um…notice anything?” Nikki asked.
“Like what?” he asked.
“Um…nothing,” Nikki replied. “Just, uh…carry on.” She closed the door. After a moment, muffled screams could be heard from inside the room.
Nikki stumbled across the hall to another door, which she swung open. Inside, Norm was arguing with a younger man who wore a pair of glasses with images flickering across the lenses. Neither of them noticed her intrusion at first.
“Vaughn,” Norman was yelling, “the upkeep on the network is your job, isn’t it?”
“It’s not my fault!” Vaughn shouted back. “It’s all the extra media people like you keep cramming onto the server.”
“People like me?” Norman asked.
“Yeah!” Vaughn replied. “Do you have any idea how much of the datastream is devoted to your stupid”
He was cut off when Norman stepped forward and grabbed the glasses off his face. Norman threw them to the floor and ground them under a foot. The distinct sound of glass breaking could be heard.
“Don’t wear your spectop when you’re talking to me,” Norman said evenly.
“Do you have any idea how much those cost!?” Vaughn asked shrilly.
“As a matter of fact…What do you want?” Norman finally seemed to notice that Nikki was standing in the doorway.
Nikki’s mouth opened then closed. Her bag fell to the floor, followed immediately by her datapad, which clattered against the tiles. She took off running down the hallway at full speed as the sound of a deep, throbbing vibration began to overwhelm her senses.
Watchers Council – Coven Room – Moments Later
Faith tried to get her breathing under control as she knelt on the floor, Kennedy’s arm around her shoulders.
“It’s a good thing you’re not a slayer anymore,” Kennedy said with a half-smile. “Otherwise, we never would have gotten you off of Will.”
“You would have found a way,” Willow rasped, rubbing the red mark on her neck.
“So, what, we pissed it off?” Alex asked.
“Emotions,” Dawn remarked. “Another new trick for a rock.”
“It’s still here,” Faith said ominously.
“Well, duh,” Skye said. She pointed. “It’s sitting right–”
Nikki burst into the room, and everyone turned to look at her. “Everyone’s going crazy!” she announced.
“I’m gonna need more than that, Nikki,” Liz said, her voice still low, calm and even.
“Fighting…each other.” Nikki was out of breath.
Very quickly, Liz leaned down and picked up the box holding the Loathestone. She shut the lid.
“Good idea.” Willow nodded.
It took both of them a moment to notice that Nikki was now watching the box in Liz’s arms very intently. “Maybe…maybe you should give that to me,” she said quietly.
Liz grew very still. “Why?”
“So I can put it away,” Nikki said reasonably. “It needs to be behind shielding until we can–”
“No,” Liz interrupted, “I mean, why should I give it to you specifically?”
“No!” Faith yelled suddenly. She threw off Kennedy’s arm and shot to her feet. “I don’t want you near that thing, Nikki!”
Nikki put her hands on her hips. “Oh, like you’re suddenly so concerned for my well-being?” Faith took a step back, looking hurt. Nikki put out her hand. “Just give it to me.”
Andrew narrowed his eyes. “You are acting a little strange…”
“I think maybe I should just keep it for now.” Liz said, slipping the box under one arm.
Nikki growled and sprinted forward, arms outstretched.
Shouts and scuffling could be heard.
“Give it to me!” Nikki screamed, all sanity gone from her voice.
End of Teaser