by Dan Joslyn
Copyright © 2006
Disclaimer: Some of the characters, etc., contained herein belong to Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy, 20th Century Fox, the WB, UPN, et al., because they are so clever. Rowena and a few other characters belong to the wonderful staff of “Watchers,” which I am weirdly now a member of, but they really belong to CN and Susan, so they get the credit. Any original characters belong to yours truly. Others are actual people…just so we’re clear, they did not say these things and did not endorse this fic in any way.
Distribution: The Mystic Muse: https://mysticmuse.net
Feedback: Greatly appreciated.
Spoilers: Watchers through “Hide ‘N Seek.”
Author’s Notes: The events herein are set between “Hide N Seek” and “Collateral Damage,” and hopefully is not contradictory to current or future canon in any way. Part One received the official CN seal of approval. Hopefully this series can tide people over until December. Enjoy!
Summary: The Council’s private struggles aren’t so private anymore.
CNN – THAT MORNING
SENATOR FORD: We can’t go on living in denial. This is a new world, and the legislation we enact needs to reflect that reality.
REPRESENTATIVE MARTIN: I am forced to disagree with the distinguished…
ROCK CARTWRIGHT: I’m sorry, sir…
REPRESENTATIVE MARTIN:…Gentleman from Tennessee. If we make substantial changes to our way of life, then the forces of darkness will have power over us. America creates its own world, not the other…
ROCK CARTWRIGHT: Mr. Representative, once again I apologize, but we have breaking news coming out of Cleveland. We’re receiving reports that there has been an explosion at the Council Headquarters. Details are still coming in, but I repeat once again that we are receiving reports of an explosion at the headquarters of the Watchers Council. Um…this is the new complex, located on E. Tenth Street in Downtown Cleveland. There is no word at this point as to the extent of the damage to the building, or if anyone was hurt in the explosion. Unfortunately I believe we’re going to have to come back to this debate another time, gentlemen.
SENATOR FORD: Of course, Rock.
REPRESENTATIVE MARTIN: Yes.
ROCK CARTWRIGHT: Thank you once again to our distinguished guests. I would like to emphasize once again that details are still coming in and that we do not know the extent of the situation. There is no evidence at this point of a terrorist attack on the building, or anything of that type. Okay, we’re going to head out to our Chief Tenth Street Correspondent, Tally Atwater, who I’m told is on the scene. We’ve got her via her cell phone. Tally, what can you tell us about what’s happening?
TALLY ATWATER: Well, Rock, there’s a relatively small hole in the side of the building, the side of the building that overlooks the street. It’s a couple of floors up. I spoke to a woman who was on her way to work at a bank nearby and she told me that there was a loud noise and then debris came down on the sidewalk. Fortunately, no one was injured, at least not from the debris. I have to emphasize that most of the building looks like it’s untouched, that in fact the building has not even been evacuated. We’ve been told repeatedly about how hard it is to get the Council to panic, and I guess we’re seeing that now.
ROCK: Wow, okay. Tally, is there any word on what might have been the cause of the explosion?
TALLY: I have literally just arrived on the scene. There’s a crowd of onlookers and members of the media that are starting to gather here, but nobody seems to know quite what’s going on. There is no evidence of terrorism and there is no evidence of supernatural activity at this point. However, we have so little information that I think it would be foolish to rule out either at this time.
ROCK: So you haven’t spoken to any Council members?
TALLY: No one has, Rock. No one’s gone into or come out of the building. We do know that most of the higher ranking members of the Council live within the complex and were most likely inside at the time. However…
ROCK: Actually, Tally, sorry, but as we have been reporting throughout the morning, Council Chair Summers is currently in Puerto Rico on Council business. We’re told that attempts to reach her for comment have so far been unsuccessful.
TALLY: That’s right, Rock, and it is often difficult to keep tabs on the whereabouts of Council, as they generally prefer to work incognito. Slayer Lehane particularly has protested when the media has attempted to keep tabs on her.
ROCK: Okay, thanks, Tally, we’ll be going back to you as this situation develops. Once again, if you’re just joining us, there’s been an explosion at Watchers Council Headquarters in Downtown Cleveland. There is a hole in the street side of the building, a few floors above street level. The building does not appear to be in any immediate danger of collapse and there is no word at this point about any possible, and we emphasize this is only theoretical, casualties. We have no word on the cause of the explosion at this point. Right now we’ve got our Consultant for Council Affairs on the line, Robert Devlin. He knows as much about the Watchers Council as anybody, and we’ve got him on the line now. Thanks for taking time out to talk to us, Mr. Devlin.
ROBERT DEVLIN: No problem, Rock.
ROCK: So, can you tell us what might have caused this explosion?
DEVLIN: I don’t think it would be prudent to speculate about that right now. There are hundreds of different things that might have happened, and until we know for sure we’re only going to make the situation worse by speculating.
ROCK: Fair enough. What do you make of the fact that the building has not even been evacuated?
DEVLIN: Well, one of the first things you need to understand about the Council is that it’s a very focused atmosphere, very busy and very focused. There are hundreds of things going on in that building even early in the morning that they are not going to disrupt unless they absolutely have to. And that is on a normal morning. I imagine this would qualify as something of an extraordinary morning.
ROCK: So you’re saying there’s something going on in the building that they simply cannot leave?
DEVLIN: That’s a strong possibility. And remember that this is an organization that spent more than a month working out of a condemned, earthquake damaged building on the West Side because they felt there were more important things to worry about than their own comfort and safety.
ROCK: Imagine if this had happened at the White House. Where would the President be right now?
DEVLIN: He’d be about a mile underground, I expect. But the Council leaders on site, if they were not injured, that is, are probably personally leading a possible rescue effort or damage assessment as we speak. I think that’s partly where the Council gains this romantic quality that people attach to it. Congressmen and Senators talk about problems, but the Council Heads take direct action.
ROCK: What about the site of the explosion? Can you tell us what happens in that part of the building?
DEVLIN: Well, if the reports I’m hearing are accurate, we’re talking about the fourth floor on the Tenth Street side of the building. That’s an area most commonly frequented by members of the Slayer branch. Much of that portion of the building is given over to training and living areas for the slayers.
ROCK: But not what we would call the “big name” slayers?
DEVLIN: Yes, Lehane, Kennedy, Joston, they have separate apartments on the Fifth Floor. However, they do use the training facilities, the gym, as well as the recreation…
ROCK: I’m sorry, Mr. Devlin, but we’re receiving new information at the scene. For that, we’re going to head back to Tally Atwater, who is on Tenth Street now. Tally?
TALLY ATWATER: Rock, several ambulances have arrived here at Council Headquarters and medical teams have entered the building.
ROCK: Are there any fire trucks or anything like that?
TALLY: No. This is solely medical personnel. There are five ambulances here, so I believe that, unfortunately, it appears that there were injuries in the explosion. As you know, Rock, the Council is infamous for what Senator Schumer called the “shroud of secrecy” that surrounds this place. That they’ve allowed medical help to enter the building to me is a strong indication that there’s something seriously wrong here.
ROCK: Thank you, Tally, keep us posted. Mr. Devlin, what do you make of all this?
DEVLIN: Well, once again, I don’t want to speculate too much before I know all the fact. Obviously this means that there were injuries, probably severe injuries, within the Watchers Council complex this morning. The Council has its own in-house medical facilities and the fact that they have asked for outside help is an indication of the possible severity of the situation. It also indicates to me that whatever the situation was, it is no longer ongoing and the Council feels things are under control for the moment.
ROCK: What do you mean?
DEVLIN: Well, as I said, the Council has an infirmary in-house, so if there was an ongoing situation that required the attention of its personnel they would probably have tried to make due with those facilities.
ROCK: What type of situation are we talking about here?
DEVLIN: I don’t want to speculate too much. There were past incidents in previous Council buildings where demons invaded the premises for the purpose of attacking the Council. The explosion could even have been defensive in nature. A young slayer, Rachel Jones, was killed four years ago in a battle with a demon in the front lobby of the old Council building. I want to emphasize that I’m not saying that’s what happened here. All I’m saying is that it looks at this point like the Council at least believes it has whatever the situation is under control.
ROCK: Let’s talk about these slayers for a moment. Most people would consider these girls essentially children, but they are blessed, some would say cursed, with the power to protect humanity from supernatural forces.
DEVLIN: That’s right. Now, they’re not all children. The Council believes that the cut-off for slayer powers is actually age 30. Faith Lehane is probably over 25, though it’s hard to get exact ages for most of the Council members. However, many of them are very young. The legislation you were talking about earlier…
ONE HOUR LATER
ROCK CARTWRIGHT: If you’re just joining us, a little over an hour ago there was an explosion at Watchers Council Headquarters in Cleveland. You’re looking at live pictures of the building. As you can see, there’s a hole on the westward side of the building, on the fourth floor. Experts we’ve talked to tell us that the immediate area is probably a recreation area that the slayers use as part of their living space. There’s televisions, pool tables, computers there for the slayers to use during whatever down time they may have. Medical teams were called and have entered the premises, but no one has left the scene at this point. We have no confirmation on any injuries, or the severity of those possible injuries. Chairwoman Summers was on an official Council visit to San Juan, Puerto Rico at the time of the explosion, and she is reportedly already in the air on her way back to Cleveland. We’re hearing conflicting reports as to the cause of the explosions. A terrorist group in Palestine has claimed responsibility, but the FBI is saying that they don’t think that is very likely. I’m…okay, we’re going to head back to Tally Atwater, our Senior Tenth Street Correspondent, who is reporting live from the scene. Tally?
TALLY ATWATER: Okay, Rock, we’re receiving our first injury reports from the authorities. I want to emphasize that this does not come from the Council, but from sources within the paramedical response units who are on the scene here. This is only preliminary information. The figures I have here are that there are two dead, three injured here at the Council this morning.
ROCK: And that was in the explosion?
TALLY: Actually, that’s something else that we’re hearing here, Rock. We’re told that many of these injuries did not occur in the explosion. Rather, they were part of larger events here this morning, of which the explosion was only a part.
ROCK: And is there any word on what those events might have been?
TALLY: I think that only the Council knows that information for sure. They have yet to release any information. I’m told that the Council’s Spokesman, Jim Pollan, will be holding a press conference at some point in the next few hours. Hopefully we’ll have more information by that time.
ROCK: Is there any word on the identities of any of those casualties you mentioned.
TALLY: There have been rumors going around the crowd gathered outside Council Headquarters, Rock, but we certainly do not want to report anything specific until we have confirmation. That simply would not be appropriate. What I can tell you is that there is a persistent rumor right now that at least one of the two dead is someone who would be considered a “high ranking” member of the Watchers Council. I want to emphasize that that is only a rumor at this point.
ROCK: Okay, thanks, Tally. We’re going to bring Robert Devlin back in now. He is a Consultant on the Watchers Council here at CNN. He won a Pulitzer for his coverage of the Crisis for The Cleveland Plain Dealer. What do you make of these latest developments?
ROBERT DEVLIN: Well, this goes back to what I was saying before. This is the Council we’re talking about. The supernatural is probably involved, which means it’s probably not a straightforward bombing or explosion.
ROCK: What do you make of this report that one of the senior Council members was killed this morning?
DEVLIN: Well, with the information we have, it’s probably inappropriate to…
FORTY-FIVE MINUTES LATER – AROUND ELEVEN THAT MORNING
TALLY ATWATER: Rock, we’re hearing now, we’re getting confirmation now from sources within the Council that the slayer Violet Joston is among the dead today here in Cleveland. This is not official, but we have received confirmation that Violet Joston is dead.
ROCK CARTWRIGHT: Okay, Tally, thank you. A very unfortunate situation today on Tenth Street. Is there any word on the nature of what occurred this morning?
TALLY: No, not yet. That press conference we told you about is going to start soon, we’ll see if they will have more details for us then.
ROCK: Do we have confirmation on the identities of any of the other casualties there, Tally?
TALLY: Well, one source told me, and this is not confirmed, but they told me that Faith Lehane was among the injured, but that she was cleared by medical personnel. I should say again, that is unofficial at this point, but that is what we’re hearing.
ROCK: Okay, thanks Tally. Faith Lehane, of course, perhaps the best known of the Council leadership, thanks to her graphic death on international television during the Crisis and the sensation caused by her subsequent resurrection. Since then, she has been the centerpiece of the Council’s public relations campaigns. However, we’d like to go back for a moment to the reported death of the slayer Violet Joston. Let’s bring Robert Devlin back in here for a moment. Robert, what can you tell us about Slayer Joston and her position at the Watchers Council.
ROBERT DEVLIN: Violet Joston what they refer to at the council as the Number Three. She’s is behind only Lehane and Kennedy in terms of rank in the Slayer Branch. She is extremely well-respected within the Council. In part at least that is due to the fact that she is one of the only slayer veterans of the Battle of Sunnydale currently serving at the Cleveland branch. I can also say that it is in part due to her personality and natural leadership skills. She was an important voice within the Slayer Branch. Everyone at the Council calls her “Vi”. I myself have had the opportunity to interview Slayer Joston on multiple occasions and I can tell you that…
TWENTY MINUTES LATER – LATE THAT MORNING
JIM POLLAN: There’s been a lot of speculation about the explosion and other events that took place around the Council this morning and I’d like to start by clearing some of that up. There was a series of incidents early this morning that resulted in the deaths of two council members. The dead were both slayers working for the Council, Violet Joston and Marly MacRae. Several members of the Council also sustained injuries of varying degrees. Yes, Faith Lehane sustained some severe blood loss but was treated and released. Rowena Allister sustained burns over about thirty percent of her body, and is currently resting comfortably in the Watchers Council infirmary. The Council is deeply saddened by the loss of Slayers Joston and MacRae, and our condolences go out to their friends and family. Now, before I take questions, I’d like to make an additional announcement. The Watchers Council is strongly interested in the whereabouts of Slayer Heli Hamalainen. We’re passing out pictures of her now. If anyone has any information, has seen or heard anything related to where Slayer Hamalainen might be, they can call our hotline at 1-800-WATCHER. Thank you. I’ll take a few questions. One at a time, please.
REPORTER 1: Can you tell us anything concerning the nature of this “series of incidents”?
POLLAN: The information that I am authorized to release is limited at this time. I can tell you that there was an explosion in the Slayer Recreation Room on the fourth floor. This was the result of an explosive device in the room at the time. I can also tell you that this was not an accident or anything of that sort. This was an attack on the Watchers Council, and more specifically on its leadership. Yes?
REPORTER 2: What type of attack was this? Was this supernatural, demonic, terrorism…
POLLAN: This was a personal attack on members of the Watchers Council. That’s all I can say at this time. In our view there is no additional threat to the greater population. All Council branches have been placed on alert, certainly, but this is an attack on the Council, not humanity. Over here.
REPORTER 3: Can you tell us what the cause of death was for the two slayers.
POLLAN: Slayer MacRae died due to being in close proximity to the explosive device when it went off. A final diagnosis is still pending regarding Slayer Joston, but it was the judgment of medical personnel and Council representatives on the scene that she was poisoned with the venom of the Marsaulix demon.
REPORTER 4: This…Marsaulix demon, was it involved in the attack?
POLLAN: There were no Marsaulix demons involved. One moment, let me finish. They are a very rare breed, not native to North America. Unfortunately, their venom is deadly to most humans within seconds. Even with her Slayer immune system, there was nothing that could be done for Slayer Joston and she was dead within a minute of being poisoned. Attempts were made to revive her, but these attempts were unsuccessful.
REPORTER 5: If none of these demons were involved, how did Slayer Joston come to be poisoned?
POLLAN: That information is still being gathered.
REPORTER 6: You asked for information on the whereabouts of Slayer Heli Hamalainen. Was she involved in the attack?
POLLAN: I can tell you that Slayer Hamalainen is missing, and that the Council takes any missing persons situation involving one of its personnel very seriously. I can tell you that the incident is still under investigation, and that it would be inappropriate to speculate as to the source of the attack while that investigation is still ongoing.
REPORTER 7: Is there any…
POLLAN: I’m sorry, but that’s all that we have time for right now. We will have more briefings as time goes on, but for now…
ROCK CARTWRIGHT: Okay, so that was Council Spokesman Jim Pollan. Confirming some of the reports we’ve had as well as adding some additional information. He confirmed the deaths of Violet Joston and Marly MacRae that we had reported. He said that this morning’s incident was not an accident, that it was a specific attack on the leadership of the Watchers Council, but he did not elaborate as to details of the attack or those who might have been behind it. There was this interesting tidbit involving Heli Hamalainen, who is apparently missing following the events of the attack. Let’s bring in our panel…
ROCK CARTWRIGHT: The video you’re looking at now is something a lot of people out there are probably very familiar with. This footage was filmed on a Cleveland street during the Crisis by a camera crew from the Cleveland Fox affiliate, WJW. That station would win a Peabody for its coverage of the Crisis, and provided many of the defining images that world took away from those incredible events. This was certainly one of those images. That is Violet Joston, killed this morning in the attack on Tenth Street, having just discovered the body of her twin sister. Her reaction, as you can see, was brave, violent, and went a long way toward providing the Council with the mostly positive image it currently enjoys. Though they did not know her name at the time, many of those around the world who lost loved ones felt like they knew everything they needed to know about this girl. Right now we’re going to bring on Jeremy Phillips to tell Violet’s story. Jeremy?
JEREMY PHILLIPS: Violet Joston was introduced to the world at what was probably the single worst moment in her entire life. And yet the girl the public came to know was not sad, or angry. In one of the first interviews she gave following the Crisis, she told the Washington Post that quote “The life of a Slayer requires sacrifices, we all know that. Unfortunately, sometimes that means the people in our lives have to make sacrifices, too.” Soon, the grief was replaced by that brilliant, memorable smile, and America never knew what hit it.
Violet and Angie Joston were born minutes apart in Scottsdale, Arizona, and were never far apart through their childhood years. Vi, as she was called by everyone who knew her, found out about her destiny at a young age. At that time, she was just what was referred to as a “Potential”, but Vi threw herself into the training despite no guarantees of ever gaining slayer powers. “It was something that set me apart,” she would later tell The Arizona Republic. “My sister was the most popular girl in school, my mom was this big-shot lawyer, and Dad was this amazing artist. This was what I could do.”
When Vi and Angie were teenagers, their parents went through a divorce. Vi never spoke about the situation, except, typically, to offer words of encouragement to other children of divorce. It wasn’t much later that Violet’s Watcher of almost a decade would be killed by agents of an entity the Watchers Council calls “the First Evil”, though not before receiving the message that all Potentials and their Watchers were to gather in a small California town called Sunnydale. Vi immediately left her entire life behind, hitchhiking across the desert for three days before reaching her destination.
Months after its existence was revealed, the Battle of Sunnydale is still a nearly complete mystery despite the fascination it holds for history buffs. It is known that Violet received her Slayer powers in Sunnydale and fought in the subsequent battle. When Vi would talk about this period, she would focus on the friendships she forged there, as well as the sacrifices of those who never made it out of the crater. She would become very close with many of her comrades. One such friendship was with a slayer named Rona Samuels, who was killed in action a year and a half later. Another was with the slayer the world knows only as Kennedy, who would emerge, as Vi herself said, as “the best of all of us Potentials.” When asked where she herself fit in, Vi replied “I’m not the best, just the coolest.”
Sunnydale was also where Violet would first meet her long-term boyfriend, Xander Harris. He ran, and still runs, the Council’s weapons shop. What at first was merely friendship would, over the years, develop into something more. Vi’s time for romance was limited, however, as in the formative years of the Council she began to take on more and more responsibility with the Slayer branch. Talking about Violet’s contribution in those early years, Faith Lehane said “A lot of people owe their lives to Vi. A lot of people. I think, a lot of the time, it felt like we were all up to our own ears in our own crap, and Vi and Rona were the ones actually out there doing their jobs.”
When the world found out about the Watchers Council, it was in the middle of a Crisis no one was prepared. Many across the world lost loved ones. In that climate, the Violet Joston we saw avenging her twin sister was more than just a celebrity. She was a symbol. Everyone knows the story of Faith Lehane, the only person ever to die on international television and live to tell about it. This was the larger than life story, the one that looked good on the front page of a newspaper. As the weeks went on, however, more people began to pay attention to the distinctly life-sized story of this other girl, the one in the strange-looking hat that she says her father made for her.
It has been five months since Violet Joston arrived on the national scene, smiling through the tears like much of the rest of us. And somehow, watching her do it made it a little easier to smile ourselves. In that time, she managed to stay slightly beneath the radar. She claimed that she was never bothered by news crews, but her MySpace page became one of the most popular on the site. In a time when the sudden appearance of slayers might have seemed a little scary, Vi was the slayer you could take home to mom. And though she’s made that final sacrifice, the one that she always knew was a possibility, Violet Joston’s contribution will never be forgotten. Some may ask why no angel has come for Vi, like the one Faith Lehane says came to her. Maybe she was just too down to earth for that.
ROCK CARTWRIGHT: Thank you to Jeremy Phillips for that story. Slayer Violet Joston, dead this morning at the age of 22.
MSNBC – LATER THAT AFTERNOON
JENNY CHU: We still have alarming little information at this point. It may be days before we really find what happened on Tenth Street, if we ever do. We’re going to head back to the scene now, where Lars Brickman is standing by. Lars?
LARS BRICKMAN: There isn’t much at this point in terms of new developments, Jenny. The Council did issue a statement a few hours ago stating that no blood donations would be necessary, apparently expressing surprise at the sudden appearance of an impromptu shipment from a local hospital. Also, we’ve already started to see people coming to the front gate of the Council grounds. You can see behind me that quite a few flowers have already been left here for the two dead slayers, as well as a few get well cards for those injured in the events this morning.
JENNY: Lars, have you heard anything more about this slayer who is missing, Heli Hamalainen?
LARS: The Council, in typically closed-mouthed fashion, refuses to elaborate on what is going on with her. We have managed to find some background information on Slayer Hamalainen. Apparently she is a native of the nation of Finland, and served briefly as a slayer in London before requesting a transfer to America for undisclosed reasons. She has been in this country for almost four years now and during that time has worked as a team leader in the slayer branch here.
JENNY: Thanks, Lars, we’ll keep heading back to you throughout the afternoon and evening as more information becomes available. Among the casualties this morning on Tenth Street is Slayer Marly MacRae. While she has not received nearly as much attention over the past five months as some of her fellow slayers, Slayer MacRae was not completely out of the public eye. She was a devoted skateboarder, as she told recently told EXPN.com, quote “since before it became all sold out and stuff.” She recorded this interview with ESPN announcer Keith Allen during the recent X Games:
KEITH ALLEN: Hey guys, look who I found in the stands down here next to the half pipe. I’m standing here next to a woman who could kick my ass with her eyes closed. Slayer Marly MacRae, what are you doing here at the X Games?
SLAYER MARLY MacRAE: You know what, I got a couple days off, and what better way to spend them than at this sweet contest? The air these girls are getting is just unbelievable. My mind is blown right now.
KEITH: I hear you’re something of a skater yourself. You have a lot of time between vampire stakings to try out some of these moves?
SLAYER MacRAE: Not moves like these, no.
KEITH: Now, you’ve got superpowers. You’ve got the advantage over the girls we’re watching up here.
SLAYER MacRAE: Yeah, well, apparently the whole improved coordination thing is specific to the weapons department, y’know? I’ve known plenty of clutzy slayers in my time. The healing has come in handy after a rail grind, though.
KEITH: Is there anyone you’re looking forward to seeing today?
SLAYER MacRAE: I’m just taking in these vibes, man. I am looking forward to seeing what Cara-Beth Burnside is gonna pull out, though. She’s taking the whole sport to another level.
KEITH: Slayer Marly MacRae, keep up the good work, let’s head back up to the booth for the conclusion of the Women’s Vert Final…
COMEDY CENTRAL – THAT NIGHT
JON STEWART: Obviously a tragic situation this morning at the Watchers Council in Cleveland, as two Slayers were killed in what appeared to be, uh, an attack of some kind. We don’t really know any more than that right now, the Council has been very closed-mouthed on the subject. What I think is important here is that these two outstanding women, Violet Joston and Marly MacRae, are now gone and deserve our thanks for what they’ve done. (he turns to a different camera) It’s in times like these that America really counts on its news networks for the latest and most accurate information. Let’s see how they handled the situation.
Clip from CNN: We really don’t know anything new right now.
Clip from MSNBC: There isn’t anything new to report.
Clip from FOX NEWS CHANNEL: The flow of information at this point is a miniscule trickle…
STEWART: Yes, there is nothing more pathetic than a 24 hour news channel with no actual information to report. (laughs) Now, to be fair, today the networks were exercising unusual restraint in their coverage.
Clip from FOX NEWS: I don’t want to speculate right now…
Clip from MSNBC: I think speculation would be wrong…
Clip from CNN: Rock, I feel speculation would be inappropriate at this time…
STEWART: (fake British accent) I refuse to monger your spurious rumors, sir! (laughs) My Jim Pollan impression is unusually good today. (more laughs) That’s right, the networks refused to speculate, instead sticking only to a strict interpretation of the evidence.
Clip from MSNBC: We’re hearing that multiple top Council operatives may have been killed.
Clip from CNN: There’s a rumor going around here outside the building that the bomb may have been the result of muslim extremists.
Clip from FOX NEWS: One local resident told me that she thought she heard what sounded like quote “the sound of magic” coming from within the Council.
STEWART: The local resident went on to add “It reminded me of Barry Manilow three years ago at the Palace. He was magnificent!” (laughs) Yes, America’s 24 hour news networks, trusted because when no one tells them anything, they just make stuff up. (laughs) (turns to a different camera) Fortunately, The Daily Show has our own Samantha Bee on the scene, and we go to her now for an update. Samantha?
SAMANTHA BEE: (wearing a parka in what looks like the rain) Thanks, Jon. Tragic developments this morning in Cleveland as the Watchers Council lost two of its very finest.
JON STEWART: I’m sorry to interrupt, Samantha, but is it raining where you are?
SAMANTHA BEE: Jon, I don’t really think we should be jumping to conclusions about that just yet. (laughs)
JON STEWART: But it looks like you’re soaking wet.
BEE: That may be true, Jon, but at this point our sources are not willing to confirm or deny the fact that it’s raining. (laughs)
STEWART: But that’s a fact, it IS raining, you can’t really dispute that.
BEE: You’d be surprised, Jon. Never can be too careful these days…
CNN – THE MORNING AFTER
ROCK CARTWRIGHT:…Really, an outpouring of affection from the general public as the well-wishers continue to gather on Tenth Street. We’re still waiting for that Watchers Council press conference to begin, when it does we will bring it to you. In the meantime, we’re going to go down to CNN’s official Tenth Street correspondent, Tally Atwater. Tally, are you there?
TALLY ATWATER: Yes, Rock. People continue to visit the front gates here at the Watchers Council Headquarters, leaving cards, flowers, candles, things like that. You can see behind me that the pile has already grown to a considerable size. Violet Joston in particular was a symbol to those who lost loved ones in the Crisis and she didn’t really carry the mixed political baggage that some of the other members of the Watchers Council leadership have begun to accumulate over the last five months. So obviously emotions running high here outside Council HQ, as I imagine they are inside as well.
ROCK: Tally, are you hearing anything there about when this morning’s press briefing is going to get underway?
TALLY: Well, Rock, we’ve actually been told something very interesting. A young watcher went through the crowd handing these out. (holds up piece of paper with Watchers Council letterhead) It says here that the reason for the delays we’ve been having here is to allow Buffy Summers, that’s Watchers Council Chairwoman Buffy Summers, additional time to prepare her statement. It goes on to say that the briefing will begin in about an hour’s time. Now, we had been expecting the briefing to be delivered by a Council Spokesperson, most likely Jim Pollan, but this would seem to imply that the Chair herself will be appearing before the media this morning.
ROCK: That would seem to be what it’s saying, Tally. That would be somewhat unprecedented. Chairwoman Summers has never even given a televised interview, much less held an open press conference.
TALLY: That’s right, Rock. The Watchers Council has given plenty of interviews over the past five months or so, but only a tiny handful of those were by Chairwoman Summers, and those were all very brief print interviews with decidedly friendly publications. Probably the most in-depth was with the Council’s own magazine, Watchers Monthly, and even they apparently only got five minutes with her.
ROCK: Pretty much everything about the Chair has been the subject of wild speculation ever since the Crisis. She says she’s very busy, and that’s why she’s limited her public appearances. Everyone connected with the Council has spoken about Chairwoman Summers like she’s some sort of legendary figure. Faith Lehane herself called her “the greatest Slayer who ever lived.” That’s the sort of thing that gets said about her. I guess the question is, have those skills as a slayer translated to the boardroom?
TALLY: Well, Rock, you can’t get anyone who works at the Watchers Council to say anything bad about Buffy Summers, but I suppose it’s an open question whether that’s a really well coordinated PR effort or actually the truth…
FOX NEWS – LATER THAT MORNING
SHEPHERD SMITH:…Well, actually right now we’re going to head out to Cleveland. Watchers Council Chairwoman Buffy Summers is making her first ever appearance in front of the media. As you can see, they’re at the indoor briefing room there…the reason being, we were told, that it is a more secure location. The Council Spokesman, Jim Pollan, saying yesterday that it would be inappropriate to release information on the incidents that led to the death of two slayers yesterday morning while the Council’s own internal investigation was still ongoing. We’ll see if Summers deviates from that…okay, live from Cleveland, this is the Chairwoman of the Watchers Council.
BUFFY SUMMERS: Listen, I just want to say a few things and then I’ll hand things over to Jim here. Yesterday…(she blinks in the face of dozens of flashbulbs, hesitates)…yesterday, the Watchers Council lost two of its very finest, Slayers Violet Joston and Marly MacRae. I considered Vi…Slayer Joston, a personal friend. We’re all a family here at the Council, and right now that family is mourning the loss of two wonderful members. (she pauses, needing a moment to pull herself together before continuing) I understand that it might not seem like we’ve been real open about things that have happened here…we’re trying, really we are, but you have to keep in mind that this is not what we’re used to. The rest of the world is used to turning to tv, to the internet, to newspapers, and not used to monsters and magic. For us, it’s the other way around. Monsters are a fact of life, and it’s all you guys in this room we have trouble with. We’ve all been going through a lot the past few days, and I want to really emphasize that if we felt at any time that the public was in some sort of immediate danger we would not have kept that a secret. While we are all deeply affected by the loss of two girls, they knew the risks when they took the job. Slaying is one of the most dangerous occupations on Earth, and that’s why these girls deserve the gratitude of all of us. They put their lives on the line on a nightly basis…Vi and Marly aren’t the first girls I’ve had to bury, unfortunately, and they almost certainly won’t be the last, but every one of these girls is a person, too. They’re not numbers, they’re not superheroes, they’re these incredibly brave young women, each one a human being with everything that comes with that. (she pauses, looks down at her notes with a sigh) There’s something else I wanted to say. This wasn’t an accident. It was an attack on the Council…an attack on us…from the inside. (flashes increase once again) Slayer Heli Hamalainen is responsible for the explosion and other events at the Watchers council yesterday morning. She had obviously been working on this for some time. We are still investigating what happened, and I’ve appointed Robin Wood to lead that investigation. However, we haven’t found anything at this point that would indicate anything other than that she was working alone. Slayer Hamalainen lived with us and worked with us for years. I have personally appointed her as a leader on strike teams several times. Nobody saw this coming, and responsibility for that starts at the top. That’s my responsibility. Heli Hamalainen betrayed the Watchers Council in the worst manner possible, and she is still at large. The Watchers Council is offering a five million dollar reward for any information leading to the capture of Heli Hamalainen. If you see her, contact us. Do not engage with her…she has slayer powers and is probably very dangerous right now. At the Council we’ve got our best people on this, and the FBI has been contacted and is conducting its own manhunt. Jim has that information on how to contact us if you know anything about where she is…I want to say something else, too. Heli Hamalainen may have slayer powers, but she was not a slayer. A real slayer uses her powers to protect humanity, not hurt it. And if Heli’s out there somewhere, watching this, I want to tell her something: We’re going to find you. And you’re going to pay for what you did. That’s what’s going to happen here. Thank you.
(she leaves the podium while reporters yell questions)
JIM POLLAN: Gentlemen, ladies and gentlemen, please, look, if you have any questions, I am ready to, please…
MINUTES LATER – CNN
ROCK CARTWRIGHT: Well, we went in wondering if there would be anything new at this morning’s Watchers Council briefing. I think that to say there was is a little bit of an understatement. Let’s bring our panel back in. Robert Devlin from the Cleveland Plain Dealer, Aamir Haslem, Supernatural Editor at Time Magazine, and our very own slayer…
LORI CAREW: Former slayer, Rock.
ROCK: Former slayer, right, Lori Carew. First of all, Lori, let’s start with you. You worked at the Watchers Council for a few years. Give us some insight…what happened?
LORI: The Council was betrayed by one of its own, plain and simple. They don’t like to advertise it, but it’s happened before. More than once, actually. This is the first time I can think of that it was a slayer, though it doesn’t really surprise me. It’s hard to find a higher stress job than slaying, and eventually somebody was gonna snap. I never did anything like this, but getting almost killed that frequently does stuff to you. You have to have an outlet for it, and my impression of Heli was that she really didn’t.
ROCK: Aamir, do you agree, is this what happens when a slayer goes postal?
AAMIR HASLEM: I have trouble believing there’s not a more sinister explanation. There are just so many underground groups, demons, vampires, sorcerers, even just plain human terrorists, that would give their middle finger to see some of this top Council leadership dead.
ROCK: So you’re saying that Slayer Hamalainen was working for somebody…or something?
HASLEM: I think we really have to consider that possibility. There’s a lot of magical muscle out there, and neither we nor the Council really knows what they’re capable of.
ROBERT DEVLIN: But there’s a lot of magical muscle inside the Council, too. Willow Rosenberg isn’t the only weapon they have, but she’s been enough so far. It’s hard to explain to people how important she is, but look…when things have looked worst for the Council, when it looked like everything was about to go South, Rosenberg didn’t just give them the edge they needed, she changed the rules of the entire world so they won. Not to mention some of the other things the Council has done with magic…I have trouble believing somebody just…put one over on them.
LORI: Wouldn’t be the first time.
ROCK: Go on, Lori.
LORI: Look, I do think there’s something going on here that nobody’s saying. It’s not like Heli woke up one morning and decided to kill people.
ROCK: What do you mean?
LORI: There was a bomb in the slayer rec room, for pete’s sake! This thing required a lot of planning. So Heli, if it was her working alone, really thought this one out…as is evidenced by the fact that, so far, she’s gotten away with it. It takes either a lot of planning or absolutely amazing luck to give the Council the slip like this. And another thing…Marly MacRae, the girl that was killed by the bomb? She and Heli were roommates for years, maybe even best friends…I mean, maybe not 24/7, but mostly they got along. So what the heck happened?
ROCK: That’s the question we’re all asking, I suppose. Robert Devlin, what do you make of Buffy Summers, first of all that she made a speech at all, and secondly what she said during that speech?
DEVLIN: Well, look, I think what’s really interesting was the end of it, where she basically threatened Slayer Hamalainen directly. Nobody from outside the Council has been able to speak to Chairwoman Summers much, but I think we really got a glimpse of the real Buffy Summers there.
LORI: I think you’re right, Rob. I mean, I didn’t really talk to her all that much, but I always got the impression that she was pretty hardcore, for lack of a better word. At one point in the speech she mentioned that these weren’t the first slayers she’s had to bury. Apparently, that’s literally true.
ROCK: Well, we all know slaying is a dangerous job…
LORI: No, look, I wasn’t there in Sunnydale, but, actually…It was Vi that told me this story. Look, in Sunnydale, when it looked really bad and people were getting killed left and right, one night Buffy physically dug a girl’s grave and then came back in to the house where they were, threw her dirty shovel in the middle of the floor, and gave this big speech. So…yeah, hardcore.
HASLEM: That is the reputation they have within the organization, Summers is the insider, the hardliner, and Lehane is the outsider, the rogue…
CBS – LATER THAT DAY
KATIE COURIC: Heli Hamalainen was suddenly thrust onto the world stage today when the Watchers Council apparently accused her of attempting to assassinate its leadership. Slayer Hamalainen is a native of the small Northern European nation of Finland. It’s a country of a little over five million people with a slightly smaller area than Montana, previously best known to the world as a hotbed of cross-country skiing, modern architecture, and reindeer. Now, it’s the home of one of the most famous murderers of modern times. This afternoon the President of Finland, Tarja Halonen, released a statement denying that the nation was responsible in any way for what happened yesterday morning in Cleveland. CBS Correspondent Colin Frain is in Hamalainen’s childhood home of Tampere, and he has filed this report.
COLIN FRAIN: Tampere is the largest inland city in Scandinavia, with two popular professional ice hockey teams and two of northern Europe’s largest and most prestigious universities. It was here, in the city’s western district, that Heli Hamalainen spent her childhood. An only child, Heli was raised by this woman, Marja Kirvesniemi. She is now over 80 years old, still living in the same house that she first moved into with her husband after World War II. She is Heli’s grandmother. (Black Out, sad music begins) This picture shows Heli Hamalainen at five years old. She looks happy, normal, but those who knew her in later years say they rarely saw this wide smile. When Heli was six years old, her parents asked Marja to babysit and went out for dinner at a local restaurant. It was the last time Heli would see her parents alive. A horrific car crash killed them both instantly, and Heli was left an orphan.
MARJA KIRVESNIEMI (through a translator): She was very quiet after that, very quiet. Many children have something so horrible happen to them, they cry and cry. Heli was not this way. At first I think she was angry…it was like talking to a little woman. Very smart, very smart, but after that she was very quiet.
COLIN FRAIN: Heli was indeed very smart. She was near the top of her class in both primary and secondary school, both of which she attended here in Tampere. I spoke to a couple of young people who claimed to be old classmates of Heli’s, and they repeated the same memories that I have heard repeatedly here, memories of a whip-smart girl who didn’t talk much, a girl with very few friends who didn’t really seem unhappy about that fact. Heli had the equivalent of straight As in secondary school, and could have gone to any university she wanted, but that wasn’t in the cards.
MARJA (through a translator): Her last year of school, Heli kept running into these men, she called them the Robes. I thought it was a gang, like you hear of. She of course would always outsmart them, but it was scary for me. Then some girls from the UK came to visit. Within a few days, Heli went with them.
COLIN FRAIN: Marja Kirvesniemi says she never had any idea her granddaughter was a slayer until the Watchers Council appeared on her doorstep, and that she has not seen Heli since that day. She showed me the wall of cards she has that Heli has sent her on every major holiday since she left, the only contact she has. Heli doesn’t write much, Marja says. She’s still that quiet little orphan in the back of the class, even from across the world. The news of Heli Hamalainen’s alleged crime rocked this city in Southern Finland this morning. Tampere is no stranger to the dark side of history. It was perhaps the most important battleground in the Finnish Civil War, and was the site of the first meeting between Vladimir Lenin and Josef Stalin. And now Tampere is the birthplace of Heli Hamalainen. Katie?
CNN – TWO DAYS LATER
ROCK CARTWRIGHT: Well, it’s been two days since the attack on the Watchers Council, and the search for the alleged perpetrator of the attack, Heli Hamalainen, is still ongoing. CNN’s Senior Tenth Street Correspondent Tally Atwater is outside Council headquarters with more. Tally?
TALLY ATWATER: Thanks, Rock. In recognition of the public outpouring of support following the deaths of slayers Violet Joston and Marly MacRae, the Watchers Council announced today that there will be a public Memorial Service held at the Cleveland Convention Center tomorrow morning at 11am. That’s just a few blocks from here. That will be followed by private funerals later in the week for the two slayers. There will also be the usual ceremony when the two names are added to the Slayer Memorial, that of course at the old Council headquarters in Edgewater.
ROCK: Tally, is it your sense that the Council is almost surprised by the obvious way the public is really…showing its support in the wake of these events?
TALLY: I think that’s a fair assessment of the situation, Rock. While Violet Joston had received a certain amount of publicity, it wasn’t nearly on the same level as Faith Lehane or Willow Rosenberg, and I think the Council saw this as more of a personal tragedy than a public one. As Chairwoman Summers said yesterday, the Watchers Council isn’t used to dealing with the world at large from a public relations perspective, and this is really their first experience with this type of situation.
ROCK: The sentiment has really felt unanimous, hasn’t it, Tally?
TALLY: As unanimous as anything can be in this country anymore, Rock. These are frightening, uncertain times from anyone’s perspective, human or otherwise. A lot of people were looking for a direction, and then the Watchers Council appeared on the scene and said, in a calm voice, “don’t worry, we know what we’re doing”. They’ve somehow managed to project an image that is the best of the both worlds. They try to portray themselves as solid and dependable, the main authority on the supernatural, and they’ve done a pretty decent job of that up to this point. But they’ve also, perhaps intentionally, perhaps unintentionally, acquired an air of celebrity. So they’re also seen as glamorous and sexy. And as any corporation will tell you, if you can manage to be both dependable and sexy at the same time, you’ve pretty much got it made.
ROCK: And for the moment, the Council does seem to have it made, at least from a PR standpoint. Obviously, the injuries and deaths are a tragedy, but it might be possible that the Gallup poll released today showing the Council with an approval rating in nineties will at least bring a smile to some faces on Tenth Street, if only for a few seconds. Finally, Tally, has there been any progress in the hunt for Heli Hamalainen?
TALLY: Well, the Council says that its hotline has been ringing off the hook with tips from people who believe they may either have seen Hamalainen or know something about her whereabouts. They’ve put that five million dollar reward out there, and they’re getting the calls. All they’re saying at this point is that every call is being fully investigated, though there comes a point where even the resources of the Watchers Council may be stretched a little thin. Rock?
ROCK: Thanks, Tally. While the situation in Cleveland is drawing much of the world’s attention today, it’s not the only thing going on this week. There’s a little thing this upcoming Tuesday called the midterm elections, and they’re proceeding as scheduled. Who will be in control on Capitol Hill when all is said and done? For the answer to that and all the related questions, we’re going to bring in CNN’s Senior Political Analyst, Jeff Greenfield. Welcome, Jeff.
JEFF GREENFIELD: Good to be here, Rock.
ROCK: Now, this is obviously the first big national election since the Crisis. What’s your take right now on how the supernatural, and, by extension, the Watchers Council will fit into things on Tuesday?
GREENFIELD: Well, obviously, it’s the number one issue in this election. You just mentioned that Gallup poll that came out this morning, showing the Council with an astronomical approval rating. They should of course be careful. President Bush had very similar numbers in the polls right after September 11th and went on to squander that political capital pretty quickly, to the point where Democrats are currently running ahead in some national polls. I think that might be because there’s simply no consensus among voters that either side is truly capable of dealing with the supernatural world.
ROCK: Let’s talk more about that. When a recent Washington Post poll asked “Which major political party will do a better job of keeping you safe from supernatural threats?” The Democrats were actually up by a very slim margin. This is not a party known for being strong on national defense. What’s going on?
GREENFIELD: Well, I think that’s relatively simple. Democrats haven’t really put together any sort of real public platform on the subject, but the Bush administration has apparently known about magic, demons, etc. for years and not only kept it a secret, as the Watchers Council did, but completely ignored it. And it’s becoming increasingly clear that the American people do not feel that ignoring the problem is the right way to go.
ROCK: The Bush administration really a problem for Republican candidates in this election. One thing that’s really become apparent is the way both parties have rushed to associate themselves with the Watchers Council, if you will. Who do you think has done a better job of doing that?
GREENFIELD: It’s not really clear on a national level, Rock, and I think will vary according to the race and area of the country. The Council has done its best to stay apolitical, not endorsing anyone in this campaign, but I think it’s clear where they stand from a social values standpoint. Their well-spoken position on the rights of what they call harmless species of demons and their mostly unspoken but still relatively obvious positions on some of the other social issues like gay marriage places them firmly left of center.
ROCK: But it’s not just liberals that are embracing the Watchers Council this week. Talk about the Conservatives we’re seeing publicly voice their support for the organization.
GREENFIELD: Well, I think what it really comes down to is how the evangelical community reacts to all this…and whatever happens it will be far from unanimous. There’s more of them since ’04, nobody’s arguing about that. The events of the Crisis, especially the situation with Faith Lehane. Not everyone believes her account of how she came to still be alive, but I think it’s safe to say that most evangelicals do. So they see the Watchers Council as a literal validation of their faith, and hence the Council is very popular among some on the far right. You could make that generalization about a lot of the newer members of these churches. At the same time, a lot of the people who’ve been there for years, trying to get evolution out of the schools and put abortion clinics out of business, are certainly wary of the very idea of someone like Willow Rosenberg, an openly gay woman who apparently possesses the ability to alter the very fabric of reality. So what I think you’ll see is the evangelical vote going in a few different directions this elections, which is something of a departure from what we’ve seen in the past.
ROCK: Okay, Jeff, bottom line, who controls the House and the Senate after November 7th?
GREENFIELD: Well, it’s honestly hard to say, since the Council obviously isn’t running. By the way, side note, I wouldn’t surprised to see a few candidates come out of the Watchers Council in 2008, once they’ve had a little more time in the public spotlight. I think the attack on Halloween changes a few things, in that it’s now a lot more important to be pro-Watchers Council. If I had to go on record I would say that Republicans will lose seats, maybe enough for the Democrats to take the House, definitely not enough for them to take the Senate. And then we’ll start seeing how things shake out down the line looking towards 2008…
CNN – THAT NIGHT
LARRY KING: Our guest tonight comes to us direct from Watchers Council headquarters in Cleveland, where she is a relatively high-ranking member of the slayer force. In a CNN exclusive, this is the first one-on-one interview with a member of the Watchers Council since the attack on its headquarters two days ago. Marie LeBouchard joins us now on Larry King Live. Thanks for joining us, Slayer LeBouchard.
MARIE LeBOUCHARD: Thanks for having me, Larry.
LARRY: Slayer LeBouchard, how have the events on the morning of October 31st affected you personally?
MARIE: Well, listen, I knew Vi and Marly both really well. I also knew Heli really well, or at least I thought I did. We were all friends. So it’s been a very upsetting couple of days, to say the least. I’m not sure it’s really hit me yet, actually. I…I’m sorry, I can’t really explain what I’m feeling right now.
LARRY: Fair enough. Slayer Violet Joston, she touched so many people in her unfortunately brief life. How will you remember her?
MARIE: The thing about Vi was that she was almost always smiling. Even when she was really having a tough time on the inside, she always tried to put on that happy face and cheer the rest of us. This can be a tough job, and it can be tough to keep your spirits up, and Vi was really a big part of that, y’know? A lot of really bad things have happened since I’ve been here, y’know, big battles, sneak attacks. For a while in May it looked like we’d lost our leader here in the slayer division, Faith Lehane. But I’ve really never seen it quite like this around here. We all loved both Vi and Marly, and then that grief is mixed with the feelings of betrayal, y’know? None of us even suspected Heli of planning anything. I know I certainly didn’t.
LARRY: On the topic of Heli Hamalainen, give us an update on that situation. I understand that you have been appointed to represent the slayer branch in the ongoing investigation into what actually happened. The Watchers Council has so much security, so many resources at its disposal, not to mention magical powers. How was she able to escape and, to this point in time, evade capture?
MARIE: Well, I think at least part of it was luck. In my experience, that’s always an important factor in this business. Another part of it was just how well and how long she planned this, and I personally think that she had to have been planning this for a really long time…that’s not, um, not necessarily what the investigators will come up with, but that’s what I think. And at least another part of it is magic.
LARRY: You mean her slayer powers?
MARIE: No, I mean…Willow Rosenberg, Jeff Lindquist, Dimmons over in England, the top people over there in the coven…they’re usually really good at finding people. But they’ve been coming up empty.
LARRY: Are you saying that Heli Hamalainen is more powerful when it comes to magic than the combined covens of the Watchers Council? Frankly…
MARIE: No, Larry, no, I’m not saying that. Magic isn’t my expertise, I’m just a girl from Louisiana who suddenly ended up with superpowers, but what they tell me is that it’s possible to concentrate all your time on learning how to block a certain spell, say, the one for finding people, and not know how to do anything else. I don’t know how that works, but there you go.
LARRY: And what I find fascinating is that no one suspected Hamalainen of any wrongdoing prior to the attack. Can explain that at all? Was her entire persona just an act?
MARIE: Well, y’know, I’m not even sure if she was really acting, is the thing. She was always hard to read. She didn’t talk a lot, she didn’t smile a lot, she was sorta hard to get along with sometimes. I mean, she didn’t register as a crazy person, but…I dunno. It’s one of those things where she managed not to get caught actually doing anything, I guess, and you don’t go around suspecting everyone you know is secretly psychotic, so…
LARRY: Is that what you think happened, Slayer LeBouchard? Heli Hamalainen was just…just crazy?
MARIE: You mean as opposed to this being part of some larger conspiracy or something?
LARRY: I suppose, yes.
MARIE: Well, look, we haven’t discovered any evidence that she wasn’t working alone. We try to keep our finger on the pulse, so to speak. There’s sort of the demon version of what the CIA would call “terrorist chatter” that we can and do track, and there was nothing about this incident either before or after.
LARRY: There have been claims of responsibility from terrorist groups. You don’t believe any of them are credible?
MARIE: No, no I don’t.
LARRY: Slayer LeBouchard, can you tell us anything more about the others who were injured in the attack. Rowena Allister, Faith Lehane…
MARIE: They’re all doing really great, actually. Slayer healing is one of the perks we get on this job, and Faith had some cuts, or I guess the doctors would say “lacerations”, that have pretty much completely healed. Rowena Allister, um, she was more seriously injured, and she doesn’t have the healing, so that’s going to take some time. She was burned pretty badly, and my guess is it will be a little while before she gets back on her feet. She is doing better than she might be, though. I understand Rosenberg’s been spending a lot of time with her, helping her re-grow skin in the burned areas.
LARRY: So Willow Rosenberg hasn’t exactly been concentrating all her energies on finding Heli Hamalainen.
MARIE: No, that’s not what I…we’re all trying our best here, all right? We’re all only human. Humans with superpowers, but…that doesn’t make it easier to take, right? It kinda makes it harder, thinking that I had a thousand chances to stop…we’re only human.
CNN – THREE DAYS AFTER
ROCK CARTWRIGHT: Security is at an all-time high in downtown Cleveland this morning, as we are drawing close to the start of the public memorial service for the two fallen slayers. Tally Atwater is on the scene at the Cleveland Convention Center. Tally, describe the scene there for us.
TALLY ATWATER: A very diverse crowd is gathering here in Cleveland to pay tribute to these young women. Many of the big names at the Watchers Council are already inside, but we decided to talk to some of the members of the general public who have come here today.
TALLY: Why are you here today?
MIDDLE-AGED WOMAN: I feel like these are the people who keep us safe and we need to support them when they go through some tough times.
ONE OF GROUP OF YOUNG MEN: We really just feel like this is a tragedy, y’know. I mean, Marly MacRae was like all these girls I know, but she had superpowers, and, y’know, protected the world and stuff.
AFRICAN-AMERICAN MAN: Because there’s so much going on in the world that I think sometimes we really need to take time out to figure out what…what means something to us.
TEENAGE GIRL 1: We were in the mall this one time…
TEENAGE GIRL 2: That’s right!
TEENAGE GIRL 1: And I said ohmigod that’s Vi!
TEENAGE GIRL 2: And I said no way…but it was!
TEENAGE GIRL 1: So of course we went over to talk to her, right?
TEENAGE GIRL 2: Right.
TEENAGE GIRL 1: And she was super nice…
TEENAGE GIRL 2: Oh, remember we took that picture with our cell!
TEENAGE GIRL 1: We were both on her FList.
TALLY: Can you tell us why you’re here today?
INCREDIBLY CUTE LITTLE BOY: Because when the angels came for my sister, and I was sad, then I saw Slayer Jost…Slayer Joston on the TV, and she was talking, and she said…she said the same thing had happened to her and I was…I wasn’t as sad anymore.
TALLY: Awww…Sorry, he’s just too cute, isn’t he? Those are just some of those who are here today, people from all walks of life. There is a darker side to this story, however. The security down here is just incredible. There’s several distinct layers of security; everyone who gets into the Convention Center has to go through an exhaustive screening process. Obviously the Council fears that Heli will try something today.
ROCK: Heli might try something. Any idea what that something might be?
TALLY: It’s all very vague, Rock. I don’t know if the Council has received any specific threats, but that almost seems to be the indication.
ROCK: Tally, some are comparing the security levels to those that are put in place for a presidential visit, but the president is not expected to attend today, is that correct?
TALLY: That’s right, Rock. The Council has specifically requested that no one remotely connected to politics attend this morning’s gathering. Obviously we’re less than a week from the midterm elections, and the Watchers Council expressed concern that there would be some out there who would try to politicize this tragedy.
ROCK: Okay, thank you once again to Tally Atwater, reporting live from outside the Cleveland Convention Center. We’re nearing the start of the memorial service now, and you’re seeing pictures from our cameras inside the building. We’re going to bring in CNN’s own former slayer, Lori Carew, to comment on some of what we’re seeing. Thanks for being here today, Lori.
LORI CAREW: My pleasure.
ROCK: We can several well-known faces in just the front row there. There are others who are very powerful within the Council but don’t make many public appearances. Give us kind of a rundown here.
LORI: Well, right now we’re looking at Xander Harris. He was in a relationship with Vi, so obviously he’s one of those most personally affected by the events on Halloween. It’s actually very encouraging to see him here, in public, and hopefully this will be helpful in terms of the healing process, both for Xander and the rest of the Council. We’re told he won’t be speaking today, that he doesn’t feel ready to do that in public. He’ll be saving his feelings on that subject for the private funeral. We see him talking there to Chairwoman Summers. She has been more visible this week than she has been at any time previously. Umm…there’s Mia Nakata, it’s interesting to see her there since she was formerly in a leadership position at the slayer branch but that was before…well, it was never quite clear what happened, but she left the Council entirely for some time.
ROCK: On the flipside, Lori, who isn’t there today, who is conspicuously absent?
LORI: Um…well, obviously Rowena Allister. She’s still recovering from her injuries at home. I haven’t seen her yet, but we have heard that Willow Rosenberg is in attendance. I think there’s a couple of slayers you normally would have thought would be here, but somebody’s got to be out there looking for Heli, even during the memorial service.
ROCK: You said Xander Harris would not be speaking today. Is there any indication on who we will be hearing?
LORI: Yes, um, this is actually pretty interesting. I have heard that Kennedy will be making some remarks. She’s been one of the most reticent of the Council in terms of publicity. She doesn’t even use a last name. But she’s second only to Faith Lehane among the slayers at the Council, and I think in a lot of ways since the Crisis she has been the top slayer in the field. So it’s really interesting that the public knows so little about her. She and Violet Joston served together in Sunnydale, so it makes sense that she’d be speaking today. Um, I’m told Andrew Wells will be starting off the program. It’s hard to describe to an outsider what he actually does at the Cleveland Watchers Council. He’s sort of the jack-of-all-trades there.
ROCK: All the levels of the Watchers Council on display today on this decidedly somber occasion. I just want to ask you before the program gets underway, what is your take, as something of an insider, on this sudden increase in security that we’re seeing today. Is this a response to some specific intelligence concerning Heli?
LORI: Obviously this is pure speculation, but I think that, yes, there’s been some development in the case that we’re unaware of. If there was some sort of big break in the search, though, I doubt we’d be seeing the line-up that we are inside the Convention Center. They’d be out there pursuing the bad guys.
ROCK: Bad guys? You don’t think Heli was working alone?
LORI: Well, look, let me ask you this. Was Lee Harvey Oswald working alone?
ROCK: Umm…officially, yes. Why do you…?
LORI: What about unofficially?…
COUNCIL INTERNATIONAL BROADCAST FEED – MINUTES LATER
ANDREW WELLS: I just want to say how great that was. Really, really amazing. The Cleveland Boys’ Choir, everybody!
ANDREW: Okay, now we’re going to bring in an incredibly sweet girl I happen to know very, very well. Our next speaker is Tracey Hausser, and she will be talking about Marly MacRae. Tracey?
TRACEY HAUSSER: Today is really about Vi and Marly, but first maybe I should introduce myself, since a lot of people out there probably just thought “who the heck is this girl, and why is she suddenly on national television?” Well, the answer to the first question is that my name is Tracey, I work in the kitchen at the Council. I also have a radio show on WBWC, which is probably why they thought I would be good at this. Unfortunately, there’s probably more people in this room than have listened to every edition of my show combined, so this might be an adventure.
TRACEY: But the real important question is the second one, why am I up here, and that’s to say a few things about Marly. It’s a cliché, I know, but she was just so full of life, and when I say that I mean in a slayer way, and with slayers sometimes you get the feeling that they’re trying to squeeze everything in right this second, just in case. Buffy Summers says that the slayer philosophy is “Live In the Now”, and I don’t know of anybody who better typifies that than Marly. She was always ready for anybody who needed her, ready to be helpful, ready to be supportive, ready to make them laugh. She was pretty good at that, in a sarcastic, Blink-182 sort of way. You know what I mean. She was one of those people whose personality just had a tendency to take over a room…I think that’s why they made her a squad leader, you know? You couldn’t help but notice Marly. Though I think at least part of that was the hair.
TRACEY: I don’t, um, I don’t remember this picture being taken, the one we’ve got up here, but it’s got the pink hair, so that must have been, what, February?
SOMEONE IN THE FRONT FEW ROWS: March!
TRACEY: Right, March. The thing about Marly is that, in addition to her slayer abilities, she seemed to have the ability to change her hair color at will depending on the situation. She was good at that. She was also good with guys. Every girl at the Council knew, you wanted to hook up, you went out with Marly, because so many guys would flock to her general vicinity that you were sure to pick up one by sheer osmosis. Now, before I fully…got together with my boyfriend, I asked Marly what her secret was. If she could teach me to get the guys like she did. And she said to me, she said “Just be yourself.” Just be yourself. Marly was never anything but herself, I think. And that self was nice, beautiful, caring…She was pretty skinny, but Marly took up a lot of space. And now, there’s a great big hole where that space used to be…
COUNCIL INTERNATIONAL BROADCAST FEED – LATER
ANDREW WELLS: I want to say thank you once again to everyone who brought flowers and things and left them outside the Council headquarters. Your gifts are definitely appreciated. You can see some of them up here on the stage now. And we of course want to say thank you once again to everyone who’s come here today, to honor these two amazing young women. We’re going to have another speaker here now, her name is Kennedy, and she is our Second-in-Command in the Slayer Division. She’s going to talk about Vi. Kennedy?
KENNEDY: Yeah, um, thanks Andrew. I just have a few things that I want to say, that I think maybe I need to say. Vi was…she was a whole lot of things to different people. To Xander, she was a hot girlfriend with superpowers. To the girls, she was a teacher. I think they probably thought she was the fun teacher, the one you hoped you would see on your schedule. To Angie, she was a sister. To her parents, she was a daughter. To a lot of the people out there, she was something else, kind of a symbol I guess. It’s sort of strange to think of your best friend as a symbol of something else. Because that’s what Vi was to me, she was, she was my best, my best f—
(there is a pause while Kennedy tried to pull herself together)
KENNEDY: I’m sorry. I thought maybe I could make it through this. Vi would probably have told me differently, huh? She always knew me pretty well, sometimes better than I did. That’s what happens, I guess. We were together in Sunnydale. We were the ones who survived. People, when I hear them talking about it, people say that we “fought together”. I guess that’s true. But that’s not what all the girls remembered about those weeks, months, days, I dunno how long it was. After a while the power went out and there was no way to keep track. It was the waiting. We all sat there in that basement and we knew, with absolute certainty, that we were all going to die, and that when we died, the world wouldn’t last long, either. When Vi arrived on the doorstep, she was this absolutely filthy scared little gawky thing. If you’d asked me then, I would have said she was the most freaked out of all of us. But the thing was, after she got there, things started looking up, little by little. And it wasn’t because death had gotten any less certain. I didn’t stop to think about it then, but I think maybe it was Vi. She just made you happier, just by being in the area. Just the way she carried herself, her whole being…there is…there was nothing better to cheer me up than just hanging out for fifteen minutes with Vi. I, uh, I remember a couple years ago, after Rona died. Vi and I had a talk, about how we were the last two. There’s girls all over the world who remember the battle, but we were the last of those original six or seven, the scared girls in the basement…and now there’s just me.
(she takes a deep breath, trying not to cry again)
KENNEDY: Okay. So, that’s why I think Vi got me, better than anyone. Sorry, Kadin, but…Because something like that messes with you, changes you. And I couldn’t have lucked into a better friend. Sometimes I don’t know what she saw in me. All I know is that, if there’s only one person in the world who really, really gets how you tick, I hope for your sake it’s somebody like Vi. She was just such a, such a light, for everyone she met. I have trouble believing anybody ever met Vi and didn’t love her right away, y’know? She and the world just had this love affair or something. That’s what makes all this so, so…I can’t even describe it. It’s senseless, I guess. I have to remind myself that Vi’s still here, all around us, still in love. I think she’s watching us right now, with that great big smile on her face, even if we can’t see it. And I think she’ll be helping me when I finally meet the person that did this…
CNN – TWO DAYS AFTER THE MEMORIAL SERVICE
ROCK CARTWRIGHT: We’ll turn back to the Watchers Council now, and to do that we’ll bring in our expert panel. Former slayer Lori Carew here, along with Aamer Haslem, Supernatural Desk Editor for Newsweek.
LORI CAREW: Thanks for having me.
AAMER HASLEM: Glad to be here.
ROCK: Before we get started, I want to show you this footage from a campaign speech that Sen. Hillary Clinton gave earlier today.
SEN. CLINTON: I saw those pictures, those images on Halloween, and like many here in New York, as well as around America and the world, I felt sick to my stomach that human beings are still capable of such barbarous acts against one another. And as we mourned the passing of two fine, brave young women, we also began to experience an entirely new kind of fear. And so today I ask the Watchers Council, and our own law enforcement agencies, where is Heli Hamalainen? If they have some idea, I think they owe it to the American people to let us know. And if the investigation is truly going nowhere, what do you need to bring this murderer to justice? I am more than willing to let the Watchers Council do its job, but I say this because, well, if Heli is here in New York, I want to know.
ROCK: What do you make of that? Lori?
LORI: The chickens are restless.
HASLEM: Did you just call Senator Clinton a chicken?
LORI: It’s a “Far Side”…never mind, the point is that this is to be expected. Sen. Clinton’s race in New York isn’t close, she’s trying to build momentum for a presidential run in 2008, and she can afford to take chances. Frankly, I think a lot of people are starting to ask the same question.
ROCK: Where is Heli.
LORI: Where is Heli, that’s right. And let me tell you this…All Chairwoman Summers’ pompous rhetoric to the side, I have my doubts that the Council will have an answer to that question anytime soon. Heli is smart, and one of our dirty little secrets in this country is that smart people generally can get away with crimes. Timothy McVeigh would not have been caught had it not been for the fact that he was pulled over for removing his license plate. Heli’s not that dumb.
HASLEM: I personally think it’s a little early to start throwing around phrases like “pompous rhetoric”, but I agree in principle. The longer Heli goes uncaught, the more you’re going to see comments like this. I personally don’t think it’s the smartest thing for Sen. Clinton to be discussing this close to the election, but she’s not the only one with that view, I can assure you.
ROCK: How important is it to the Watchers Council that Heli Hamalainen is found sometime soon?
HASLEM: Well, to me that depends on your definition of “soon”. I think they need to catch her eventually, or this is the sort of thing that may get out of hand. In my opinion it also depends on whether Heli strikes again. I know that’s not what anyone wants to think about right now, and that the Council has repeatedly insisted that she’s somehow not a danger to the public. However, as long as Heli remains at large we have to consider that possibility. And that I think is really the danger the longer she eludes authorities, the climate of fear that can be created.
ROCK: What do you think, Lori?
LORI: I think they need to catch her very soon or the Watchers Council is going to run into some problems, and I think that Aamer’s on the right track as to why, though I think he underestimates the severity of the Council’s situation.
ROCK: When you say problems, what do you mean by that?
LORI: What I mean is that the Council has enough trouble operating in the public eye when they have a positive image. They kept themselves a secret because they worked best that way. I think they may find it nearly impossible to operate in a world where people don’t trust them. Aamer here talks about a “climate of fear”. The Council needs what I would call a “climate of hope” to work in, or they don’t have much chance at all.
AAMER: Surely that’s overstating the problem just a little. The resources the Watchers council has at its disposal…
LORI: Let me ask you this, and play Devil’s Advocate here for just a moment. If the Council can’t catch one girl with a ninety percent approval rating, and everyone in the country trying to help them, what are they supposed to do about a major supernatural attack with a fifty percent approval rating? And I think if they don’t catch Heli soon, they just look very very weak and I think that’s an image they just cannot afford to project.
ROCK: Strong language from a former slayer.
LORI: Just tellin’ it like it is.
ROCK: I know this is a theoretical question, but could that have been Heli’s intent with all this, to in some way permanently undermine the council’s authority?
AAMER: Oh, definitely. I think the question is whether she has any chance of succeeding. I would say no, I guess my colleague would say yes.
LORI: Look, you’re not gonna find a bigger supporter of the Council than me. They have experience and they have good intentions, and they have the resources to carry out those intentions. But that support should not prevent me or anyone else from acknowledging the inherent weaknesses in the organization, of which there are many.
ROCK: You know something we don’t?
LORI: Everybody at the Watchers Council does.
HASLEM: And that’s the problem: secrets. It’s hard to fully support an organization when you don’t know exactly what it is that they do, or how they do it. We give them all this power, and as long as there’s no check on that power, well, to borrow a phrase, the chickens are going to get restless.
ROCK: Well, on that note, we’re going to bring in our Senior Political Analyst, Jeff Greenfield. Jeff’s taken a look at some of the polls out there and is here to let us know what’s really happening inside America’s head. Jeff?
JEFF GREENFIELD: Well, I think maybe the chickens ARE restless, because the numbers aren’t good news for the Watchers Council. Less than a week after that Gallup poll showing a ninety percent approval rating, the Washington Post poll released today shows that the Watchers Council may have little time to grieve. That approval number has apparently already dropped to seventy-five percent. While we might have expected a slight drop as time goes on, this is much bigger and much quicker than any pollster would have expected.
ROCK: I suppose the obvious question, Jeff, is why that support has eroded the way that it seems to have eroded.
GREENFIELD: Well, I think our panel just hit on the reason, and it’s that same question: Where’s Heli? The Council doesn’t seem to have an answer, and it seems less authoritative every day it doesn’t. I think the Bush administration in this case is more than just a convenient analogy. The crime Heli Hamalainen committed wasn’t nearly as grievous in terms of loss of life as the crime Osama bin Laden committed, but she could very easily turn into the Council’s Osama bin Laden…
COMEDY CENTRAL – THAT NIGHT
JON STEWART:…Apparently, the questions we’re all asking lately is “Where’s Heli?” I know everyone’s asking this question because that’s what my television kept telling me today. It’s the same reason that I know the top three occupations in America are lawyer, doctor, and New Jersey mob boss. Never mind that I spoke to dozens…literally dozens…of people today and nobody asked me that question. They were more like “Are there any bagels left?” or “Is it hot in here, or is it just me?” The answer by the way, is that, yes, it is in fact hot in here. But no! The televised gurus, with their fingers on the true zeitgeist of the masses…yes, I said zeitgeist…It’s German, so you know it’s philosophical…the televised gurus have spoken.
KATIE COURIC: Where’s Heli?
JEFF GREENFIELD: It’s that same question, where’s Heli?
SEAN HANNITY: They still haven’t been able to answer that one thing I think we’re all asking, which is where is Heli?
JON STEWART: If I didn’t know better, I’d think they were watching one another’s shows! Oh, wait…Breaking news, Heli has just been found! She’s in the upper left hand corner, right behind that comically teetering banana stand. Oh, oh, sorry, that’s Waldo, we apologize. Heli herself is apparently not dumb enough to wear a red and white striped shirt and hat, and hence is still at large. We’re going to bring in The Daily Show’s Senior Fugitivity Correspondent, John Oliver, who is reporting live from outside Watchers Council Headquarters in Cleveland. John?
JOHN OLIVER: Well, Jon-without-the-h, I’ve been listening to the statements put out there by the Watchers Council and the FBI, and I think they’re missing a very important step in the search for this killer.
STEWART: Really? What would that be?
OLIVER: Well, I think it’s obvious, really. They should ask the media.
STEWART: The media?
OLIVER: Yes, Jon, it has become clear that the news media and Heli Hamalainen are on a first name basis, which would lead the unbiased observer to believe that they are, in fact, close personal friends.
STEWART: Well, I don’t think we can make that assumption. I mean, it might just be because Hamalainen is a hard word to say…
OLIVER: Maybe for you weak-tongued Americans, Jon, but those of us from the mother country have no problem at all with polysyllabic Finnish surnames. To call this woman by only one name would put her in the same class as Madonna or Cher, and if we do that, the terrorists have won. One terrorist in particular, with a hard-to-pronounce, polysyllabic Finnish surname.
STEWART: I hardly think that calling her by her first name gives Heli any substantial victory, John.
OLIVER: What I don’t think you’re realizing is that going by one name is a secret signal among terrorists. It means “I’m the boss.” Just ask Osama.
STEWART: Osama bin Laden?
OLIVER: That’s right, Jon, though only someone grossly unfamiliar with terrorist organizational patters would use his last name.
STEWART: John Oliver, everybody! While I thank John for that incisive commentary, I can’t help but feel that no one could ever seriously compare Heli Hamalainen to the man behind September 11th.
JEFF GREENFIELD: She could very easily turn into the Council’s Osama bin Laden.
STEWART: I can’t help but feel that America will never seriously get out of Iraq and concentrate on taking out the bloodsucking fiends on our own streets…Sorry, I was just trying to see if there was a pattern. In any case, I think there’s a lesson here. Watch out America, because Osama bin Laden just got a whole lot cuter and blonder. But not the dumb kind of blonde, more like the icy, James Bond-villain-type blonde. Anyway, be afraid…
USA TODAY – NOVEMBER 7th – ELECTION DAY
FRONT PAGE HEADLINE:
As Voters Head to Polls, No Progress In Sight