Lucy Lawless as Elizabeth Giles, Caroline Dhavernas as Grace Hatherley, Elijah Wood as Jeff Lindquist, Lacey Chabert as Skye Talisker, Helen Shaver as Becca Giles, Alexa Davalos as Gwen Raiden, Burn Gorman as Vaughn Rayne, Thora Birch as Tracey Hausser, T.R. Knight as Jackson App, Alan Tudyk as Martin Giles, Mischa Barton as Shannon Matthewson, Zach Braff as Norman Hansen, Sean Astin as Alex Rosenberg, Carey Mulligan as Jen Rosenberg, Jamie Bamber as Jake Allister, Scarlett Johansson as Sophie Allister, Marsha Thomason as Nikki Wood, Gabrielle Christian as Joyce Harris, Deanna Casaluce as Vanessa Calendar, Kimberly J. Brown as Mercy Lindquist, Daniel Radcliffe as Michael Lindquist and Renee O’Connor as Janice Weaver
Christine Carlson Romano as Hope Lehane, Laura Prepon as Lori Carew, Emma Caulfield as Anya, Felicia Day as Violet Joston, Michelle Rodriguez as Kadin Van Helsing, Charisma Carpenter as Cordelia Chase, Kristine Sutherland as Joyce Summers, Elisabeth Sladen as Dianna Earl, Anjili Mohindra as a slayer, Summer Glau as Tranquility, Katey Sagal as Lily Lindquist, K.D. Aubert as Nikki Wood, Edward Woodward as James Tyrell, Amanda Tapping as Dr. Regina Wagner, Jennifer Connelly as Althenea Dimmons, Amber Benson as Tara Maclay and Roy Dotrice as Samael
African Plain – Alex & Liz’s Tent – Moments Later
Inside their tent, Alex and Liz curled up together, nose to nose, in an oversized sleeping bag.
“This is less comfortable than I imagined it’d be,” Liz commented.
“Says the lady with the bony elbows,” Alex retorted.
Liz scoffed. “My elbows aren’t…you have oddly shaped shoulder blades.”
Alex rolled his eyes. “Speaking of sweet nothings, this is the, y’know, morning before the big fight or what have you. We could…make the most of it.”
Liz sighed and rolled onto her back, jostling Alex as she did so. “I don’t know. I’ve just got so much going on in my head right now.”
Alex kissed her high on her shoulder. “If that was a reason not to, we’d both have been celibate for years now.”
“All right, fine.” Liz rolled back towards him.
“You are such a romantic.” Alex grinned.
Liz giggled and buried her face into his neck, giving it a light but lingering kiss. He raised her head slightly, and soon their lips met.
Liz worked her fingers into his hair as she deepened the kiss, but before he could return the gesture, Willow’s voice could be heard from outside the tent.
“Are you guys decent?”
Liz broke off the kiss and huffed. “Yes.”
Willow pulled back the flap and ducked into the tent, followed closely by Jen. Alex looked up, concerned.
“What’s going on? Something wrong?” he asked.
“No,” Willow assured him. “Nothing like that. There’s just someone finally here that wants to see you. Both of you.”
African Plain – Same Time
“Do you think you can manage that?” Rowena asked Kennedy as she pointed to a map.
Kennedy nodded. “Holding the line will be tough, but, yeah, I think we can pull it off. Do you think we’ll manage?”
“Yes, I do,” Rowena agreed, as she began to make some notes. “Liz has the right idea – a fantastic idea. But when she comes over, I’ll brief her, too.”
“I have to admit, I thought you asked me to stay behind because you were going to…”
“…run you through the wringer for hooking up with my wife?” Rowena asked, not bothering to look up from her notes.
“Technically ex-wife. Til death, remember?”
“At least you waited until my body was cold.” Kennedy’s brow furrowed. “I’m teasing,” Rowena added, finally shifting her focus to Kennedy, with a smile of her own. “Yes, I am dead, Ken. I can’t compete, and on some levels…I’m not sure if I ever did, to be totally honest. But I meant what I said earlier. You make her happy. That’s all I ever wanted for her.
“That’s all I ever wanted, too.”
“Then apparently we agreed on something after all,” Rowena said.
Kennedy grinned and then nodded her head in accord.
The question made Rowena and Kennedy look over to see Alex and Jen both racing toward Rowena. Willow and Liz both stood silently, watching. The two adult children embraced Rowena as Kennedy, Tara, and Althenea looked on.
The twins began talking to Rowena at the same time, and she held her hands up, making them stop.
“Relax,” Rowena chuckled. “We’re not going anywhere until the spell is done,” she told them. “Your mom and I would like you to meet someone, though.” Rowena motioned her head toward Willow and then Tara.
“Kids,” Willow told them, “this is Tara Maclay. Tara, this is Alexander and Jennifer.” As the four of them moved off to the side, Rowena smiled at the display and turned to Liz, who was taking careful steps toward Rowena. When Liz got within five feet, she began to cry.
“I’m so sorry,” Liz said.
The other reunion was briefly stopped while they looked over at the sound of Liz’s whimpering.
“Come here, Sweetheart,” Rowena said, opening her arms. “You listen to me, okay?” the watcher began, as she held on to Liz. “You did everything you could.”
“It was my fault,” Liz sobbed.
“No,” Rowena insisted in a firm, authoritative voice, as she put Liz’s face in her hands. “Trust me. You were great that day, really. It was just my time. There wasn’t anything you could have done to change that. You have to believe me – for both of us.”
Liz snorted. “You know, I didn’t even cry like this when I saw my dad,” she confessed.
“Because you don’t feel responsible for his passing,” Rowena explained. “And I’m here to tell you now, don’t feel responsible for mine.”
Rowena wiped Liz’s tears away before pulling her back into another hug.
African Plain – Minutes Later
Willow, Tara, Althenea, and Kennedy sat in a circle beneath a lone, scraggly tree amidst the savannah. A map lay among them, surrounded by small candles.
Rowena stood a short distance away with Liz. She leaned over toward her former pupil. “This part always makes me feel left out.”
Liz snorted. “Especially now, I’m sure.”
“Especially now,” Rowena sighed.
Tara threw a small handful of shining gold powder onto the map as the group continued with their spell.
“We beseech you, Goddess, show us the way.”
“Give us guidance in our hour of need,” Althenea intoned. She carefully sprinkled her own handful of powder over the map.
“Bring light to the darkness,” Kennedy said. She tossed her powder into the air and watched it settle in slow wisps.
“Goddess, we pray to thee,” Willow finished.
She tossed her powder onto the map and waited, breath held. After a long, quiet moment, the powder moved and piled itself in a single spot on the map. The pile glowed with a quiet, golden light.
The women beneath the tree exchanged small, soft smiles.
“So that’s it, huh?” Liz said, appearing, along with Rowena. They peered over Tara’s shoulder at the map.
“Yep,” Tara nodded. “That’s where we need to do the final spell.”
“Ow!” Willow suddenly yelped.
“What’s wrong?” asked everyone else under the tree, suddenly full of concern.
“Sorry,” Willow said, a sheepish look on her face. “I just pinched myself to make sure this wasn’t a dream.”
Kennedy and Rowena exchanged an amused look.
Command Pavilion – Later that Morning
The leaders of various slayer squadrons from all over the world were gathered in the large command pavilion. Liz stood on a platform with Jen, while others leaned against the translucent walls, their identities causing whispers among the slayers. Rowena, Kadin and Giles were among them.
Next to Jen floated a 3-D depiction of African topography. “This is the T.F.D.S.R., or what’s left of it,” she said.
“The what now?” Kadin asked, without bothering to raise her hand.
“The Tankenyan Federated Democratic Socialist Republic,” Liz clarified.
Kadin noticed Rowena rolling her eyes. “What? Like I follow current events? Please.”
“Aaanyway,” Jen continued, as she poked a spot on the map and the image zoomed in, “we’re here.” She moved her finger across the map, and a series of small yellow lines appeared. “A select team will head here.” She made a dot on the map. “They know who they are. And, of course, to make things interesting, the bad guys are here.” They were represented by red lines, directly between the Council lines and their goal.
A murmur went through the crowd.
Young Joyce sat in the front row. “I can’t help but notice,” she said loudly, “that there’s a lot more red lines than yellow lines.”
Liz nodded. “The enemy outnumbers our first line by a substantial margin. But then, what else is new? As a bonus, many of them might already be dead, which means you can’t kill them – or you can try and succeed, but they have the ability to come back.” More murmurs. “We have our own…deceased forces.”
“Again, we look seriously outnumbered,” Joyce repeated.
“We’ve taken out a lot more of them than they have of us over the years,” Jen explained. “Never thought that’d come back to haunt us…literally.”
“Maybe this is a stupid question,” Nikki piped up. She was leaning on a post in the corner. “Why don’t the evil dead people just zap themselves over there and stop us at the spell location? Or why can’t our dead people just zap there and do the spell? Obviously we’ve got dead witches. No offense.” She glanced over at Althenea.
Althenea shrugged. “No, I’m dead. It’s fair.”
Rowena stepped forward. “Short answer, we can’t just zap there – us or the baddies. The spell location has what could be characterized as a doorway. Without the ‘key,’ you don’t get in.”
“You have a Key,” Dawn offered as she held up her hand.
“Not that kind of key,” Rowena continued. “It’ll be up to the Council forces to hold that line and give us enough time to get to that closed doorway so that we can open it.”
“We have another advantage,” Liz offered. “We know right where we need to go. It’s not far, but with the demonic forces so thick in the area, it won’t be an easy feat. Plus, every demon and villain we’ve ever put in the ground will try to follow us in the hopes of stopping us.”
“Pourquoi?” another slayer asked.
The question of “Why?” was translated into the small headset Calendar, and everyone else, was wearing.
“They don’t want to go back, right?” Calendar said from the front row, turning to the crowd behind her. “Think about it: Existence on earth or back in their hell dimension – not many of them are looking to go back to Hell, Hades, whatever.”
“Exactly,” Liz replied, “so that means we all have a job to do. And if we all do what we’ve been trained to do, we’ll make it through this.” She caught her father’s eye across the tent, just for a second. He smiled a little and took off his glasses.
“So,” Jen told the gathering, “if it’s all right with everyone, let’s move on to battle strategy…”
Rocky Area – Same Time
A circle of large rocks sat in the savannah, with Wagner at the center. Demons of every sort were arranged around her. Heli and Tyrell were there, and the proceedings were dwarfed by towering Kraven beasts and muscle-bound, armor-clad Vutch demons.
“This is our chance,” Wagner announced. “Our chance to get our existence back. Our chance to grab the power of the Stone that even the Old Ones could not control. Our chance to gain the ultimate revenge!”
The hordes screamed in approval. Tyrell grinned maniacally. Even Heli quirked an eyebrow.
“We are the new order of the Earth,” Wagner continued as the bellows began to die down. “I have asked Ms. Hamalainen to draw up a battle plan for us. She always had a gift for that sort of thing.”
Heli got up from the rock she’d been sitting on and strode forward. She had her own map, this one on paper. “We occupy opposite ridges, here and here. The battle will be in the valley between. We may be able to defeat them straight on, but, if we wish to truly crush the Council’s forces, here is what I suggest…”
Ridgeline – Morning
Shapes moved on the horizon, silhouetted against the rising sun and pink sky. It was hot, and the air shimmered in places. Liz stood, arms crossed across her chest, on the opposite ridge from the shapes, watching them.
Below her, a valley stretched wide and long, dotted with the yellow stalks of tall grass and white, sun-bleached rocks. Behind Liz, a sea of activity stretched a long way in either direction. Watchers, slayers and witches moved among the tents, getting ready to move out. Energy weapons were charged. Swords were sharpened. Helmets and gloves were fitted into place. Supplies were hurriedly carried from one battalion to another.
Rowena came up next to Liz, grass and gravel crunching beneath her feet. “It’s almost time,” she said.
“So where does that leave us?” Liz asked, without turning to look at her.
“On the brink of greatness,” Rowena replied.
“You’re awfully sure,” Liz sighed, sounding a bit unsettled.
“You’re a fine researcher, but strategies were really your strong suit.”
“But we can’t know, can we?” Liz challenged. “We have to just hope…”
“Don’t knock hope,” Rowena said. “It’s better than the alternative of despair.”
“A lot of sentient beings are going to die today in this valley,” Liz remarked.
“Hopefully more of their sentient beings than ours,” Rowena commented. “And think of all the innocents you might be saving in the long run. These people know they’re risking their living existence for something greater than themselves.”
“You mean risking their lives,” Liz corrected.
“No,” Rowena told her. “Life doesn’t end with death. Death isn’t so much an ending as a new beginning, a transition.”
“Is it contagious?” Liz asked.
“Is what contagious?” Rowena replied, confused.
“Whatever the thing is that makes you and my father talk in riddles,” she clarified with a smile.
Rowena’s smile matched Liz’s. “So you think I just died and left, eh? Pulled up a cloud and a harp?”
“I don’t know – I’ve never been dead. Couldn’t tell ya how it works,” Liz replied.
Rowena grinned. “I can’t give you all the answers, but I can say this…you’ll never be as alone as you think you are. Never. And sometimes, every once in a while, you need rest, because…being more alert couldn’t hurt,” she said knowingly.
Liz’s jaw began to slip slightly. “You were there that night I talked to Willow.”
“I’ve watched you many nights, sitting in front of a computer, so I’ll tell you now while I’ve got the chance. You made me a promise – you said you’d stop and smell the flowers. You better start keeping that promise, particularly since you’re dating my baby. He shouldn’t be spending lonely nights at home.” Rowena sighed. “I’m sorry. I know we don’t have much time, and I shouldn’t spend it lecturing you.”
Liz wore a sad grin. “Lecture away. I’ve missed it, actually.”
Rowena began to smile slightly, too. “Well, next time you’re in front of that computer and it’s after five and you think, ‘Maybe I should call it a day,’ well, maybe it’s really not you doing the suggesting, and maybe you should listen.” Liz chuckled, and Rowena patted her on the arm. “Time for me to organize my troops.” She turned and walked away.
“Good luck,” Liz said to the thin air where Rowena once stood.
On the horizon, the shapes continued to move.
Watchers Council – Liz’s Office – Morning
For the first time in years, the curtains were open during the day. Grace stood in the window, looking dozens of stories down at the blue expanse of Lake Erie, dotted with wind farms.
“Is everything in place?” she asked.
Sophie Allister-Rosenberg was sitting behind her in a well-cushioned chair.
“I think so, yes,” she answered. “Lockdown procedures have been tested. The magical wards are all up. Invited guests only. No outsiders of any…”
When she didn’t finish her sentence, Grace turned around. “What’s…?”
Rowena was now standing between them, leaning lightly on Liz’s desk.
“…kind,” Sophie finished. She jumped up, arms flung wide. “Mom!” She hugged Rowena as hard as she could.
“Yeah, kiddo,” Rowena said. “It’s me.”
Grace stood back from the two of them, a smile on her face.
Sophie let her go and took a step back. “Wow! I mean, I’d seen…but you’re here, and you look…”
“Hot?” Rowena ventured.
“Like my mom…but younger,” Sophie said.
“Well, I guess that’s okay, too.” Rowena grinned.
“Wow,” Sophie said again. “Wow…”
“You said that already,” Grace commented.
“Have the others seen you?” Sophie asked, still flustered. “They were looking for you.”
“This was actually my last stop,” Rowena assured her.
Sophie put her hands on her hips. “Saved the best for last, huh?”
“More like ‘saved the one who needed to see me least’ for last.”
“Mom,” Sophie said with a tinge of hurt.
“No, it’s true. You were always very independent, head-strong, self-sufficient,” Rowena complimented her. “I wouldn’t have had it any other way.” Sophie smiled, and Rowena turned to look at Grace. “And it’s nice to see another self-sufficient gal.”
“I’m not going to hug you,” Grace told her flatly.
“Of course not.” Rowena shook her head.
“I am far too dignified and distinguished,” Grace said as she took a few steps closer.
“Does distinguished mean old?” Rowena asked.
“Hey!” Grace exclaimed.
“You actually look more distinguished than she does now,” Sophie put in.
“Don’t help her!” Grace told her.
“Oh, come here,” Rowena sighed. She hugged Grace tightly to her. Seeing the smile on Grace’s face made Sophie’s smile even larger. “Thanks for not screwing up,” Rowena said as she pulled back, still smiling.
“Well, don’t give me that great honor just yet,” Grace said. “Speaking of. is this just a social call, or…?”
“No,” Rowena said. “I actually came with a warning and a request.”
“Warning?” Sophie looked very concerned. “About something besides the world endingness?”
“They’re coming,” Rowena said.
“You mean demons?” Grace asked.
“Demons.” Rowena nodded. “They’ll be here before too long. You need to be ready. Do you have protection spells in place?”
Grace gave Sophie a significant look. “Well, we did…”
“She’s on the ‘okay’ list,” Sophie said, sounding a bit indignant.
“Good to know I made the cut,” Rowena teased. “Seriously, though,” she said, digging into her pocket, “here’s another list. I need these people here, inside the Council, as soon as possible if they’re not already. They can’t leave.” She then turned to Sophie. “And we’ll need your help, too, when the time comes.”
Grace opened the folded paper and then looked up at Rowena. “What is this list, and why are my kids on it?”
“We need them for the spell,” Rowena told her.
“In Africa?” Grace asked. “You want to send my children into a war zone?”
Rowena said nothing at first, then simply answered, “Yes.”
“Grace,” Rowena began, “we need them. The more generations in the spell circle, the more–”
“No,” she repeated.
“Fine. How about one then?” the deceased watcher asked, trying to bargain.
“You expect me to choose?” Grace asked. “There’s no room for bargaining here. It’s not safe to send them there and–”
“Look at the list. My only granddaughter is on it,” Rowena told her. “Faith’s grandson and great-grandson are there. If any of these children have any hope of having a stable life from this day forward, we need to rid the Loathestone of the trapped souls. Once we do the final spell, everything will return to normal…but we need the power of as many generations as possible.”
“I can’t choose,” Grace told her. “I’m sorry.”
“Mercy,” Rowena told her without delay. “I’ll make the choice for you. Send Mercy, she’s the eldest.”
Grace bit her lip indecisively. “Does Jeff know about this?”
“He’s the reason I’m here – aside from wanting to see Sophie and Joe and Ira that is.” She grinned at her daughter. “So what’s it going to be?” she asked, turning back to Grace.
Grace looked back down at the paper and then back up at Rowena.
Rowena put her arm around Sophie. “You know how important I think children are. And you also know I wouldn’t ask if it wasn’t so vital.”
Grace still didn’t reply.
Africa – Command Pavilion – Morning
Liz held the clear container holding the Loathestone in front of her, at eye level, for a few seconds. Then she sighed and set the box down on the table in front of her. She opened its lid and, extremely carefully, removed the Loathestone and set it into a black velvet pouch. Then she strung the pouch around her own neck. She threw her head back, set her shoulders, and waited.
Robin appeared in the doorway behind her, silhouetted by morning light.
“Hey, how we doin‘,” he said. “The gang’s all here.”
“I don’t feel anything,” Liz said quietly.
“I’m sorry?” Robin asked.
Liz turned to look at him. “The Stone,” she explained. “I’m wearing it around my neck, and I don’t feel evil or crazy. I’m just me. That means the pouch must be working, right?”
“I guess we’ll thank heaven for small mercies, huh?” Robin replied. “We need you how you usually are. Calm, cool and collected.”
Liz appeared uncertain, but she nodded. “Right.” She took another moment to steel herself then looked him right in the eye. “Lead on.”
Battlefield – Moments Later
Liz and Robin joined a large group huddled just at the center of the Council lines, at the very bottom of the ridge. Willow and Rowena exchanged one last embrace, which Kadin distracted Kennedy from by throwing a comforting arm around her shoulders.
“Whatever happens,” Liz heard Buffy say to her mother, “stay close to me.”
“Oh honey,” Joyce replied, “there isn’t much danger in me straying. I can’t be deader than I already am.”
Buffy thought about that for a moment. “Good point,” she agreed.
Liz heard Jeff and Lily having a very similar conversation as she passed. Dawn and Skye stood together, chatting with something close to amiability, while Faith and Hope shared the moments in hushed voices before Hope vanished.
Liz watched Nikki’s eyes follow her as she passed, and her hand subconsciously strayed to the pouch under her shirt. She was standing with Alex, Andrew, Althenea and Tara just on the edge. At three points around the group were Young Joyce, Jen and Calendar, in full battle armor.
“Are we ready?” Liz asked them.
One corner of Tara’s mouth quirked upwards. “Almost.”
“What’s the–?” Liz started to ask, but then she heard the sound of raised voices and smiled herself.
“So you’ve slept with how many women since we broke up?” Anya asked loudly.
“First of all, we never ‘broke up.’ I had plans to get back together that went unfulfilled,” Xander shouted back, as the pair walked up to where Liz and the rest of the group were standing. “Which leads me to point two – you’re dead. You died. Did you honestly think I’d swear off women for the rest of my life? Besides, you were sitting there, talking and laughing with–”
“Well, I’ve had some time to think since then, haven’t I?” Anya interrupted. “I knew you’d move on, but running a full-service sperm donation business wasn’t what I had in mind. I mean, you could at least have charged them!”
“Hey!” Buffy began. “That’s not really–”
Xander sighed and turned from his dead girlfriend to Liz. “Sorry we’re late.”
“Don’t you ignore me, Xander Harris!” Anya continued.
Liz quirked an eyebrow. She called out to Jen. “Slayer Commander Rosenberg, give the order!”
Jen nodded smartly and pressed a hand to her ear, speaking into her comlink. “All units, prepare to attack!”
Meanwhile, Liz pulled Willow slightly aside.
“What is it?” Willow asked.
Liz didn’t reply. Instead, she removed the pouch carrying the Loathestone and held it out to Willow.
“Oh, no,” Willow said, waving a hand defensively. “You don’t want me to be the one with–”
“You’ll be fine,” Liz assured her. “You’re the big witch. You’re the one who needs to make it. If I get there with the Stone and you’re not there, I have no clue what to do with it. Not to mention, I know who I want protecting this.”
“The Council isn’t one woman,” Willow argued.
“For this it is,” she said, as she tightened her hand over Willow’s that held the stone. “We each have our strengths – this one is yours.”
“Liz, there’re a dozen of us from all over the world that could lead this spell. And you weren’t around the last time I went…a little weird.”
“Willow,” Liz said, slowly and clearly, “I know what happened way back when, and even in light of that, I would trust you with my life. I trust you with the world. Do you understand?”
Willow sighed teasingly and said, “Well, I’ve been told I am pretty awesome.”
At just about that moment, the dry air was cracked wide open by a roar, starting suddenly and growing louder as it went. Heads whipped toward the sound.
From the opposite ridge, demons, large and small, living and dead, bearing claws and swords, streamed into the valley below. They stretched from horizon to horizon, and no end could be seen to the depth of their lines. It was a berserker army, shaking the ground even from a distance.
“Team Alpha, on me!” Liz commanded, and the group drew itself tightly around her. Willow hurriedly strung the Loathestone pouch around her own neck.
“Let’s do this!” shouted the young Joyce.
Althenea and Tara exchanged one final, slightly sad look.
“Yeah,” Althenea said, quietly enough that it could hardly be heard. “Let’s do this.”
Battlefield – Moments Later
In the valley, where the earliest men had walked, two armies smashed into each other like the ocean smashes into the shore. The air filled with whizzing arrows and the bright yellow and white flashes of energy weapons. The blue fire explosions of magical ammunition ripped reality apart. In the sky above, Council aircraft took on winged monsters. Immediately, the Council’s superior technology cut down demons by the score, but more enemy troops appeared in seconds to take their place.
Where the two armies came together, chaos reigned. Slayers hacked with swords and shot off great red blasts from futuristic guns. The demons fought back just as fiercely. One girl was struck in the back of the head by a mace the size of a basketball and went down face-first. Another looked down and saw demonic claws three feet long stretching through her abdomen. The sun-baked ground began to receive a drenching red rain.
Team Alpha was in the center of the Council lines, though it was hard to see far in either direction due to the raging battle and dust-choked air. Joyce Harris had a sword stuck in a demon in one hand and was firing darts of light with a small handgun-type weapon with the other. Her eyes no longer looked sane.
“Stay together!” Liz was shouting at the top of her voice. “Stay together!”
Jen screamed into her comlink. “Where the hak’s my left flank? Hold that ground!” She took out a red, horned demon with a swing of her axe, then went back to yelling.
Ever so slowly, the group moved forward. Willow, Jeff, Tara, Althenea, Alex, Dawn, Kennedy and Andrew sent glowing magical charges into the crowd, causing demons to pitch head over heels when they were hit. Calendar fought hand to hand with two large daggers, piercing brains and hearts. Ichors of several colors already splashed her face and gear.
Enemy Hut – Same Time
“What’s the status?” Wagner asked Tyrell.
“They’re on the move and gaining some ground.”
She grinned. “Send in the first wave.”
Tyrell nodded and left the tent.
Battlefield – Moments Later
“Nikki, position!” Liz shouted. Nikki was standing stock-still, not seeming to hear. “Nikki!”
Nikki shook her head and looked furtively at a small handheld GPS device. “We’re not close yet.” She pointed. “That way, I think.”
A dark-skinned slayer fought gamely nearby, chopping off demon limbs with each swing of her thin, shining sword. Then one of the demons she was fighting got back up behind her, and with a single swing it sent her head flying off her shoulders.
The voices in Buffy’s comlink were many and loud. “These guys don’t die!…We’re losing here…Hold fire, those are our girls…Hold on!…How can we fight when they keep coming back?…”
“This is Buffy Summers!” Buffy announced. “We knew what we were facing. Hold the line.”
“We can’t hold the–” someone began to reply, before being abruptly cut off.
Buffy seemed a little shocked, though she glanced up when someone yelled, “Look out!” She turned just in time to see a large demon bearing down on her. She shot a crossbow right at his forehead, and he fell.
“Good shot, honey!” Joyce told her.
“Thanks, mom,” Buffy replied.
“Don’t panic,” Kennedy shouted into her comlink. “Work together. Don’t let them pick you off one by one.”
Kennedy turned just in time to get punched in the face. She flew backwards several yards, the back of her head landing hard on the rocky ground. She groaned.
Heli stalked across the battlefield towards her. “Let’s see how many stab wounds it takes before you die,” she said.
Kennedy continued to scramble backwards on her palms and heels, trying to mumble a chant as she moved. “We could really use some backup now, Liz,” she said into her comlink.
As Wagner’s next onslaught of demons began to surround the Council troops on the ground, a wave of people appeared directly in front of them, making them stop in their tracks for a moment.
Hope, Lori and Cordelia stood side-by-side. Behind them were rows of people in attires from various decades.
“Everyone ready?” Lori asked, not expecting an answer. “Charge!” she ordered, as her own dead army of loved ones raced ahead to face the advancing demon hordes.
Seeing Heli stalking toward the prone Kennedy, Jeff sent a magical blast Heli’s way. The evil slayer caught it in one hand without breaking stride and sent it right back towards him with a flick of her wrist, making him dive out of the way.
Kadin was locked in combat with a huge, muscley green demon. She saw what was going on. “Ken!” she screamed.
In an instant, Kadin’s skin changed from tan to blue, her fingernails changed into razor claws, her eyes changed from beautiful green to deep black, and even her molars became sharp as knives.
She ripped open the abdomen of the demon she was fighting and knocked down two others when she threw the body in their direction. Kadin bounded over toward Heli, who momentarily looked slightly concerned.
Then Kadin was snatched high into the air by a huge demon, twenty-five feet tall. She growled and scrabbled at its wrist, unable to free herself.
Heli stood over Kennedy, hands on her hips. She cocked her head, bird-like, while studying her prey.
“Why won’t you stay dead?” Kennedy growled, trying to get to her feet. Heli put a foot on her chest to stop that nonsense. She looked supremely serene in the middle of the blood, guts and confusion.
“Death gives you sight,” she said. “I’ve seen the clockwork behind reality.” She removed a dagger from a sheath at her waist and leaned down closer to Kennedy. “It’s ticking down to an inevitable conclusion.” She raised the dagger, and Kennedy’s eyes widened. “I would like to see that,” Heli said calmly, and the dagger plunged downwards.
Heli’s arm was caught, the blade inches above Kennedy’s face. Heli looked up and saw Vi standing there, a stern look on her face.
“Payback’s a bitch.”
Vi elbowed her in the face, sending Heli sprawling while Vi came away with the dagger in her hand. She plunged it down into Heli’s heart in one motion.
She turned and helped Kennedy, who looked like she might cry, to her feet. “You okay?”
“Yeah,” Kennedy nodded. “I haven’t almost died in a couple years so…it was bracing.” She looked plaintively at Vi. “Come with us.”
Vi glanced over at where Heli lay motionless, a knife in her chest. “Nah,” she said with a sigh. “She’ll come back. You guys keep going. We’ll hold them back now.”
Kennedy pursed her lips, then nodded. A demon came up behind her, and she turned just long enough to send a magical blast into its chest that sent it flying in the opposite direction. Then she turned back to Vi. “Guess I’ll see you around, then.”
“Yeah.” Vi nodded sadly and added, “but hopefully not too soon…Go on.”
She watched Kennedy disappear into the battle. Then she jerked suddenly. “Hurk!” She reached around her back and pulled out a knife. “I never…see it…coming…”
She collapsed to the ground. Heli stood behind her with a wicked grin on her face.
“Guess history does repeat itself,” Heli said smugly.
Vi’s body vanished, though, and Heli’s forehead creased.
“So they say,” Heli heard a voice from behind her say. She didn’t have time to turn as Vi pulled Heli’s head back and slit her throat.
Immediately after the attack, Vi turned around and raised her sword. Heli reappeared and tried the same tactic, but Vi was ready. Their swords crossed.
“Are we going to do this forever?” Heli asked.
“I’ve got all the time in the world,” Vi smirked.
Heli growled and raised her weapon to strike.
As Kennedy ran to try and get back with the team, she passed where Jen was simultaneously hacking at demon limbs and screaming into her headset. “I don’t care how many there are. What did we train you for? I need you to hold that edge of the…don’t give me that! Damn it, what kind of slayer are you? I swear to God–”
The rest of her diatribe was drowned out when a Council aircraft and winged demon dove from the air, locked in combat. The futuristic vehicle crashed into the middle of the battle, exploding into an orange fireball dozens of meters in diameter. Jen swore impressively as she continued to try to fight her way forward.
“Where is everyone?” Kennedy muttered.
“They haven’t broken ranks yet,” a woman said behind her.
Kennedy turned to see Jenny Calendar standing there.
“Are you…?” Kennedy began, her eyes growing wider.
“A friend. Rowena said I should come,” was all Jenny answered. “Follow me now,” she added, tugging Kennedy along by the arm.
Enemy Hut – Same Time
“They’ve called in…reinforcements,” Tyrell informed Wagner. “But we’re working our way through their ranks of the deceased.”
“Find our demon scout,” Wagner told him. “Find out who has the Stone and bring it to me.”
Tyrell nodded and left the tent, but Wagner heard a voice behind her say, “I know where it is…I can feel it.”
Wagner grinned and turned her head toward the voice. “Have we met?”
Battlefield – Same Time
Liz was in the center of several of the Coven members, trying her best to thread her way through the flash and crash of the battle. She reached out to put a hand on Nikki’s shoulder.
“We have to wait a second,” she shouted over the din. “We need to stay together, or all this is for nothing.”
Nikki glared at her furiously. “This is all your fault!”
Liz shook her head, looking confused. “What…?”
“You led us into battle against a bunch of baddies who can’t die!” Nikki insisted. “You’re going to get the entire Council massacred, and for what? Because you’re afraid of it?”
Liz and Willow caught each other’s eyes just briefly, and then Willow went back to doing her best to shield the noncombatants of the group. Liz looked back at Nikki. “You don’t know what you’re talking about…”
“You can’t see the true beauty of it!” Nikki was screaming. Then, all of a sudden, she seemed to calm down. “You need to give it to me,” she said evenly.
“I don’t have the Stone,” Liz told her.
“I saw you with it!” Nikki yelled, and then, without any warning, she sucker-punched Liz in the gut. Liz was wearing battle armor, but she was still taken by surprise and doubled over. Robin tried to get in between them, but Nikki pushed him out of the way.
The group remained stationary, and the surrounding circle of demons was beginning to close ever tighter.
Nearby, Kennedy continued to follow Jenny.
“I’ve got to know,” she said. “You’re Jenny Calendar, aren’t you?”
“We have to keep moving,” Jenny replied.
“No!” Kennedy shouted and stopped, as the battle raged around her. “You have to tell me.”
Jenny walked back with a sympathetic look and then pushed Kennedy to the ground. With her other hand she tossed a dagger that landed in the forehead of a demon, making him topple to the ground.
“Yes,” she said, as she reached her hand back to Kennedy, pulling her to her feet. “We’ll talk, but only if we keep moving.”
Kennedy smiled and began to follow Jenny again.
Battlefield – Same Time
Now swordless, Vi and Heli stood toe-to-toe and exchanged blows in the center of the battle, beating on one another and sending sprays of red with each blow. Much to Vi’s surprise, Heli produced another knife from somewhere and stabbed Vi in the chest. She laughed, a strange noise from her. Vi stumbled backwards, blood seeping from her wound.
“Of all the places and all the eras of the world,” Heli said, “we are now standing in the–”
She was cut off when Vi pulled the knife from her chest and stabbed her through the throat.
“God, Shut Up,” Vi managed through gritted teeth. Then both women collapsed backwards to the ground.
Battlefield – Same Time
Jen arrived at the rest of the group preceded by her comlink, which she threw to the ground in disgust. She ignored Nikki and Liz’s fistfight and stepped on the bit of electronics, which sent up a few tiny sparks in protest before dying.
“Son of a whore!” she growled.
Alex turned momentarily from helping fend off the horde of demons. “Good thinking. Now who’s in command?”
“Who cares? This is pointless,” she replied. “And I definitely don’t need any lip from you. Just because you slithered out a few minutes before me doesn’t mean that you have any say over what I do.”
“Slithered?” Alex asked. “Jen,” he said reasonably, “it’s in your head. You have to –”
Jen hit him across the nose with a right cross, and suddenly there were two scuffles going on in the circle formed by the Coven members, who were increasingly having difficulty holding off the slavering demons.
“I can’t keep doing this forever,” Dawn called to Althenea, her breath coming in gasps. “We need to keep moving.”
Both Joyce and Calendar were also out of breath, covered in dark liquid that didn’t quite look the right color to be blood. Calendar leaned on her sword as she watched Nikki try to tear off Liz’s battle armor with her bare fingernails, while Robin and Faith tried to pry the pair off of each other.
“We have to…stop them,” Calendar said between breaths.
“Yeah?” Joyce sounded a little disappointed. “I’d personally rather go back to killing things.”
Calendar gave Joyce a hard look. “Come on,” Calendar said as she tried to pull Joyce along.
“Can’t keep your hands off me, huh?” Joyce asked, batting her away.
Calendar then pushed Joyce forcefully to the ground. “You’re a slint of the highest order,” Calendar shouted.
Joyce screamed and rushed Calendar, tackling her at her midsection and bringing her to the ground.
Command Pavilion – Same Time
Shannon strode into a group of watchers who were milling around a moving, interactive map of the battle below the surface of a table.
“Green Battalion needs a refill on the ammo packs…” She trailed off as she observed the chaos. “Who’s in command here?” she asked.
One of the watchers, a man in his fifties with spectacles, stopped and shrugged. “We’ve lost contact with the Alpha group. Gao on the right flank is the highest-ranking slayer still on the coms, but she keeps shouting about needing backup…”
“Then send in the reserves,” Shannon told him.
“There are no reserves,” the man replied. “This is it.”
Shannon sighed and walked over to the map, studying it for a moment. She activated her comlink. “All units, this is Matthewson. I’m taking command.”
“What are you doing?” the watcher she had been talking to began. “I told you, everyone is out there.”
“Shut up,” she told him. She pointed out the door. “Go take command of Green Battalion.” She reactivated her comlink. “Okay, all Battalions, listen up. Here’s the plan–”
Enemy Hut – Same Time
Wagner heard the door open and said, “Status report.”
“And here I thought you were inconsequential,” came the response.
Wagner looked up to see Rowena standing in front of her with a confident grin. With cat-like grace, Rowena slowly closed the distance between them.
“Look close, Sweetie,” Rowena told her. “Take a good look. Because I’m the last sight you’re ever gonna see.”
Wagner sneered at the dead watcher.
Battlefield – Same Time
“Over there,” Jenny pointed out the Alpha group. “Stay with them.”
Jenny turned, and Kennedy grabbed her by the arm. “Don’t go,” she pleaded, almost sounding like a child.
Jenny leaned over and gave her a kiss. “I never really left. I never will,” Jenny promised. “They’re waiting, so go. I have things to do.”
Kennedy turned to where Jenny pointed, and when she turned back to her birth mother, she was gone.
Battlefield – Same Time
Alex managed to knock Jen off of him with a surge of magic, but she shook her head and kicked him in the stomach as the two of them lay side by side on the ground.
Willow turned her head to yell at the group behind her. “Everybody, stop fighting!”
She turned back just in time for a red ball of energy to strike her right in the chest.
Unbeknownst to Willow, the pouch with the Loathestone flew away, the pouch landing in one location while the stone tumbled away from it. Willow lay on the ground, stunned, trying to get her bearings. It was a moment before she noticed a figure swooping down on her from above like a hawk.
“Hey, Willow,” Amy Madison said, as her feet settled lightly on the ground. “Miss me?” She wrinkled her nose and shook her head.
Willow’s eyes conveyed both shock and concern.
End of Act One