Watchers Council – Computer Center – Moments Later
“Come on, James. If you can get to the High Command’s encrypted files, I want you to do it. If it comes down to it, I’ll take complete responsibility and your name won’t ever be mentioned. Just give me thirty minutes. You can even leave the building while I’m working,” Jocasta said.
“Nobody’s going to buy that you got past tons of encryption on your own.”
“Hey, computer science was one of my majors,” Jocasta insisted. “And, as much as it pains me to say it, I am a Rosenberg , and computing is in my blood. I promise you I won’t mention a thing about you helping me out.”
James threw up his hands in defeat. “Fine,” he said.
“I don’t trust her,” Anya said, eyeing Jocasta with disapproval. “She had three majors in college, so one of them was bound to suffer, and it was probably computer science. Besides, even if she says that she did this all by herself, you’re still going to get yourself in trouble if you help her out.”
“Well, let’s test the theory,” Jocasta challenged. “How ’bout I start by shutting you off?”
Anya gave Jocasta an indignant look but James ignored them and typed in a few commands on the console. After a few minutes, he glanced up at Jocasta.
“You’re in,” he said, getting up and leaving the room. Anya rolled her eyes and followed, but not before casting Jocasta one final disapproving glance.
“You’ve got thirty minutes and no more,” she said before following James out of the room.
Antonia’s Ship – Moments Later
As the Slayers made their way up the ramp and into the troop transport bay, Livia was surprisingly quiet.
“You okay?” asked a young recruit named Cherise.
Livia jumped slightly, but quickly covered it up. “Yeah, I’m fine. I was just thinking about what that kid, Aurora, did to the High Command’s lab facility. I saw it and still can’t believe it.”
“I guess you think you could have done better?” another Slayer, Monique commented snidely.
Livia’s dark eyes focused on Monique.
Mira, sensing that a confrontation was imminent, intervened. “Livia, you know anything about the rumors that the Command Council called an emergency meeting?” she asked quickly.
“Not much. All I know is that Giles asked for this mission and Velika approved it.”
“Velika? Head honcho of the Slayer department?” Cherise asked.
“One and the same. Giles wants me at the meeting to report what we find, even though us Slayers aren’t normally allowed into the Council Chambers,” Livia replied.
“Any idea what you’re going to say?” Mira asked.
“The truth, but first we have to find it,” Livia said.
“It’d be nice if we Slayers had a voice in the Council. Rumor has it that there were three chairs and not just the Command Council,” Monique said.
“I heard that too,” Charise added. “The Watchers, the Slayers and some other section. But I never heard much about them. Nobody knows who they were.”
“The Witches,” Livia said quietly to no one in particular. “They were the third group.”
“You’re kidding, right?” Monique and Cherise asked simultaneously in a shocked tone.
“The Council had its own Coven?” Cherise added.
“Yeah, once upon a time,” Livia said before she rose and walked toward the cockpit where Antonia sat.
There was a brief silence as the Slayers looked at each other.
“She’s puttin’ us on.” Monique chuckled.
“I don’t think so,” Mira answered.
“Why’s that?” Cherise asked.
Mira looked over to where the dark haired Slayer now stood grinning as she talked to Antonia. “One day Livia told me that her mother was a Slayer too,” Mira explained. “At least until the Coven rebelled. After that, magic was outlawed.”
“And Livia’s mom? What happened to her?” Cherise asked.
Mira shrugged. “Livia never said. But she knows things, I’m sure. Things they don’t teach at the Slayer Academy.”
Cherise and Monique looked at each other with pensive expressions.
Watchers Council – Computer Center – Later That Day
Jocasta scrolled through the first page of files, pausing every now and again and copying information onto a data rod. After a while, though, her demeanor began to change. Finally she frowned.
“This can’t be right,” she muttered.
“What?” Katherine asked.
“Every High Command file I’ve scanned through so far that even hints at 314 just contains information about Tyrell. There’s no way one man, especially an egotist like Tyrell, could pull off a project like 314 by himself. Tyrell’s way too pompous to have kept his mouth shut concerning all of this. Other members of the High Command would have to have known at least something about the cyber-vamps and Eve, but, according to this, no-one did.”
“If the files won’t tell you the truth, why not trail Tyrell and see who he talks to,” Katherine suggested.
Jocasta’s frown turned into a bright beaming smile. Katherine watched as she dove back into the encrypted files and began to download surveillance videos from the security cameras in Tyrell’s office and the area surrounding it.
“What are you looking for?” Katherine asked.
“I’m checking to see who Tyrell’s talked to recently. If I can establish a connection between his recent visitors and Project 314, we’ll be in business.” She glanced over at Katherine, only to see that she’d gone silent and seemed distant, deeply into thought.
“Are you okay?” she asked.
“I’m fine,” Katherine said. “I’ve got to run a quick errand. I’ll meet you back in your office a bit later.”
“Okay,” Jocasta said, watching Katherine make a hasty exit before turning her attention back to the computer screen in front of her.
Sunnydale Wasteland – Same Time
Livia and her fellow Slayers stood in a circle, surveying the charred landscape where, just 24 hours before, the High Command’s Sunnydale lab facility had once stood. As she glanced around her, Livia frowned.
“What’s wrong?” Antonia asked as she came to join Livia and the other Slayers.
“When we arrived for the battle we set down over there, right?” Livia said, gesturing towards an area near where Antonia had parked her ship. The pilot nodded and Livia then pointed in the opposite direction.
“Notice anything weird?” she asked. Antonia cocked her head in wonder as she examined where Livia pointed. “See those white circles?” the Slayer prompted.
“They’re landing marks,” Antonia answered.
“Right, but who made them…’cause they weren’t there before,” Livia said.
“How do you know they weren’t there before the attack?” Antonia asked. Seeing Livia tense up, corrected herself. “Oh right. Photographic memory.”
“Keep looking, guys,” Livia shouted out to the other Slayers. Tapping Antonia on the arm, the two of them walked toward the area.
“Any guess on what vehicle made these marks?” Livia asked when she and Antonia reached the area.
“Looks like a G105-S,” Antonia said.
“You bring any to the attack?” Livia asked.
Antonia shook her head.
“No. To my knowledge the Council stopped using the G105-S a long time ago. They used to be the standard craft used for shipping, but the Council’s got bigger ships for that purpose now,” she said.
“Damn. Looks like somebody beat us out here,” Livia said irritably.
Antonia opened her com-link and quickly requested a direct feed to the Council’s data lab.
“James, this is pilot Antonia Allister. Can you get me any and all records pertaining to G105-S craft flying in or near the area that used to be Sunnydale, California in the last forty-eight hours?” she said.
Just then, Mira walked up to Livia and lightly tapped her on the shoulder.
“Find anything?” Livia asked.
Mira shook her head. “Lots of cinder blocks…There’s nothing out here. Not even a paperclip.”
“I suggest we start shifting some rubble then,” Livia answered. “Go break the news to the girls. Let ‘em know that we’re in for a long night.”
“Joy,” Mira growled with a forced grin as she walked away.
Watchers Council Infirmary – Moments Later
Katherine approached the doors to the infirmary, but was stopped by two Council security officers. She flashed her badge, identified herself as a Slayer, and then whispered something to one of the guards. He nodded, muttered something into his microphone headset, and then motioned her through the doors. She was met on the other side by an orderly, who led her to one of the beds, which was separated from the rest of the room by a curtain. Katherine approached the curtain and peeked through.
She walked through the curtain and came to a stop just inches from the bed, from which Sean Rayne stared at her in surprise. Most of his body, with the exception of his torso and arms, showed blackened skin.
“Hello, Sean,” she said calmly, ignoring his condition. “We need answers.”
End of Act Two