Watchers Council – Council Chambers – Later that Day
Giles sat in his chair and watched as two more members of the Command Council took the floor and began to argue. He glanced over at Veronica Wyndam-Pryce, his friend and chief ally in the Council. He could tell from her expression that she was equally as fed up with the arguments, which had been progressing in one form or another for most of the meeting’s last half-hour. After a few minutes, Veronica leapt to her feet.
“Enough!” she roared, silencing the shouting match. Then she turned and glared at Tyrell, who, as Chairman of the Council and High Command, should have put an end to the arguments instead of wasting time.
“Mr. Chairman,” she said, putting the emphasis on Tyrell’s title while betraying none of her inner feelings towards him, “in the interest of saving everyone’s time, I must formally and respectfully request that you end this pointless bickering and call a vote to see if Councilor Giles has made enough of a case to proceed with a full agenda meeting tomorrow.”
“Very well,” Tyrell said nonchalantly.
Veronica glanced over at Giles as the rest of the Council began to vote. After a few minutes, Tyrell quieted things down and took the floor again.
“Councilor Giles has received 51% of this Council’s vote for, and 49% against,” Tyrell said. “Mr. Giles, you have twenty-four hours to assemble the rest of your evidence. This meeting is adjourned.”
As the other Councilors began to file out of the chamber, Veronica caught up to Giles.
“51 to 49 is not good odds,” she said. “If you plan on faring better tomorrow, you’re going to need some pretty damaging evidence, tangible evidence too, not just word of mouth.”
Giles nodded. “I realize that, and I’ve got things in motion as we speak,” he said.
“I hope, for your reputation’s sake, that you don’t lose any momentum on this,” Veronica said.
Watchers Council – Infirmary – Same Time
“For the last time, Miss Allison, I’ve told you all I know,” Sean Rayne said impatiently to his former Slayer. “Tyrell was the mastermind and, as far as I know, the only person in the High Command who knew about the project,” Sean Rayne said.
“We never had the most solid or friendly relationship as Slayer and Watcher. In fact I found it difficult to trust your judgment at times.”
“Well thank you very much,” Sean said offhanded which Katherine ignored.
“But in light of all that, I never expected you to be caught up in anything this devious Sean,” Katherine confessed.
“I didn’t find out about the project’s existence until you and I captured that rogue unit on the streets, and when I confronted Tyrell for information, he told me what was going on but threatened to fire me if I didn’t cooperate with him in keeping things under wraps,” Rayne said smoothly.
Katherine rolled her eyes. “Somehow I doubt that,” she said.
A smile crossed Rayne’s lips. “Of course, I’ll admit to none of this in court.”
“Offff course, not,” Katherine said sarcastically.
Rayne sobered and leaned towards Katherine. “You’re a good Slayer, Katie, one of the best I’ve looked after. But you’d better be careful about which team you choose to play for. The High Command is this organization’s most powerful faction, and getting on their bad side could be quite dangerous to your health,” he said.
“We’ll see about that,” she said. “Goodbye, Sean.”
She then turned and left.
Watchers Council – Jocasta’s Office – Moments Later
Jocasta returned to her office and sank into her desk chair when a knock came on the door.
“Come in,” Jocasta said.
The door opened and Giles walked in. She greeted him with a smile, but he could tell it was forced.
“Find anything?” he asked.
“I’ve been searching through hours of video tape to see if I can find any contact between Tyrell and other High Command members that is suspicious, but so far I’ve come up empty. He talks to everyone on the High Command, which is perfectly normal, and there’s no one in particular who’s stood out.”
“We need to find something soon. Tyrell gave me twenty-four hours to find what I need, so the clock is ticking,” Giles said.
“I know that, and I’m trying, but so far I keep running into a brick wall,” Jocasta said.
“There is one person we know who knew something about the High Command’s activities: Sean Rayne,” Giles said.
At that moment, Katherine entered the room.
“I tried that angle already. He’s insisting that Tyrell was the project’s mastermind and that he found out about the project’s existence only after we captured that cyber-vamp on the streets,” she said.
Jocasta rolled her eyes and was about to reply when her computer console beeped.
” Rosenberg ,” Jocasta answered turning on the speaker.
“Hey Jo. It’s Livia. Giles there?”
“Yes. What’s the status report?” Giles asked.
“We made it to the site okay, but it looks like somebody beat us here and did a little clean-up of epic proportions. But we’ll keep looking, even if we barely make it back in time for the meeting,” she said.
“Thank you, Livia,” Giles said.
“No sweat, boss,” Livia replied.
Jocasta closed the connection and turned to Giles.
“What was that all about?” Katherine asked.
“While you and Jocasta were searching on your end, I sent Livia and a team back to Sunnydale to see if they could find anything of value,” Giles said.
“Yet so far they’ve come up empty…just like us,” Jocasta said with a sigh. “What are we going to do? If we don’t find something soon, Tyrell is going to get away with this.”
“I know,” Giles said gravely. “But I also have faith in you. You’ve just got to continue looking, and eventually you’ll find something we can use.”
Watchers Council – Jocasta’s Office – Later That Night
Katherine entered the room carrying two coffees, but paused when she noticed that Jocasta had her head on her desk and her eyes closed. Smiling, the Slayer moved to close the door, nudging it shut with her elbow, but even that tiny noise startled Jocasta into wakefulness.
“I’m awake, I’m awake,” she said. She shook off a yawn and glanced at her watch.
“I haven’t been out that long and I come back to find you sleeping on the job,” Katherine said teasingly as she set down the coffees.
“I wasn’t sleeping, just resting my eyes,” Jocasta protested.
Katherine’s eyebrow raised as if she were unconvinced.
“You know, I wish sometimes I was a Slayer, ’cause you’ve got all those special skills like surviving without sleep,” Jocasta said.
“You’ve got your own skills,” Katherine said. “Like your unfailing loyalty. If Mr. Giles asked you to, you’d stay up twenty-four hours a day, wouldn’t you?”
“I owe Giles a lot,” Jocasta said, her voice taking on a distant, reflective quality. “He and my mom were very close. After she died, I grew up with Antonia’s family, but still Giles was always around, always there to be sure they were taking care of me, that I was all right. He’s actually the reason I joined the Council. He was my hero – he still is actually. So maybe now I can return the favor a-and look out for him.”
Jocasta gave Katherine a half-hearted grin and Katherine put her hands on top of the Watcher’s shoulders.
“He knows you’re doing your best Jo.”
“Oh, I know that,” Jocasta answered. “I’m just worried my best isn’t good enough to help him is all.”
Jocasta released a heavy sigh and Katherine gave her hands a light squeeze.
“We’ll find something,” the Slayer told her. “I promise.”
Antonia’s Ship – Cockpit – Later That Night
The light from the computer was the only glow in the small area as Antonia studied the screen.
“Commercial flight, commercial, commercial,” she said absently as her finger scrolled down.
Suddenly she perked up and took a closer look at the monitor. “Hubris, Inc.?” she muttered.
She clicked on her com-link. “Hey Cuz, you around?”
“Here, Toni. Did you find something?” Jocasta asked over the radio.
“Maybe, maybe not. I’ve got over nine thousand entries to go through on flights over Sunnydale in the last forty-eight hours. And, no, that’s not an exaggeration – 9125 to be exact – but I found one in particular. Hubris, Inc. This list doesn’t give the durations, just the flight plan. You might want to see how long it took them to get from point A to point B in the national flight registry.”
“You’re thinking they made a stop in Sunnydale. Why?” she heard Giles’s voice ask.
“They use the G150-S. Plus they’ve recently been getting contracts on a Pay-to-Slay basis from what I read in the newspaper.”
“You actually read?” Jocasta teased.
Antonia grinned and nodded her head. “Nice one. You know, I could always call it a night and take a nap,” she threatened playfully.
“No, no, don’t do that,” Jocasta said quickly.
“That’s what I thought,” she said with a smirk. “Anyway, it could just be a coincidence but that’s more than what we have at the moment. Livia’s teams got the search lights out now but still haven’t found anything of value. I’ll let you know if I come across anything else.”
Watchers Council – Jocasta’s Office – Same Time
“I’ll pull up the national flight registry in my office,” Giles told Jocasta as Katherine still sat beside her. “We might have another connection here so tomorrow morning look for anyone that might be associated with Hubris instead.”
“Tomorrow?”a confused Jocasta asked.
“Yes, go home and get some rest now.”
“But Giles-,” she tried to argue.
“Just go. Tomorrow we’ll see if Tyrell might have some association with them.”
“It’s not illegal for Tyrell to speak to anyone at Hubris,” Jocasta reminded him.
“Not illegal but perhaps unethical. At this point I’ll take any lead we can get. But for now, go away. I need you both rested for tomorrow so even if it’s just for a few hours get some sleep and I’ll let you know where we stand.”
“I said go,” he replied more firmly. Katherine grinned at the exchange.
“Yes Dad,” Jocasta answered, raising her hands in surrender.
Giles left the room and Jocasta’s eyes shifted quickly from her computer to Giles retreating form. Quietly she pushed a button to eject the data rod from her computer when she heard Giles yell from the other side of the office. “And leave the data here. No taking it home to study.”
Jocasta folded her arms across her chest and Katherine hid her mouth with her hand as a light chuckle escaped. Jocasta scowled toward the door where Giles just left.
“Come on,” Katherine said softly, sensing Jocasta’s frustration. “Let’s go back to my room. It’s closer to the council.”
“Oh,” she answered nervously, “well, that’s okay. It’s really not that far to my place.”
Katherine ran a hand down Jocasta’s arm. “Sleep is all I have in mind Jo. Honest. You need some rest right now before anything else.”
Jocasta nodded and picked up her briefcase. Before she could take a step forward Katherine shook her head and took it back from her.
“Like Giles said, leave it for tonight and come back with fresh minds in the morning.”
The Slayer set the briefcase in the chair then dragged the protesting Jocasta from the room.
Watchers Council – Jocasta’s Office – Next Morning
Jocasta sat at her desk, reading through the latest report from Antonia.
“Come on,” she muttered. “There’s got to be a reason for Hubris to be in the Sunnydale area. We just have to find it.”
Just then, Katherine entered. “There you are,” she said. “You were gone when I woke up.”
“Sorry, but I had to get back here. We’re running out of time,” Jocasta said worriedly.
“It’s okay. At least you got some sleep,” Katherine said.
“I did. Giles was right about my needing some rest,” Jocasta admitted.
“Did your cousin find out anything else about Hubris, Inc.?” Katherine asked.
“Not much. Antonia’s sure they were out at the site, but we can’t prove it,” Jocasta said.
“Am I interrupting anything?” a voice asked from the doorway.
Jocasta glanced up to see Colonel John West, who ran the night shift for Grey Sector, standing there.
“Not really. What do you need?” Jocasta asked.
“Sorry for taking you away from this whole thing with the High Command, but our division in Chicago wanted me to pass along their thanks for the team you sent yesterday,” West said as he entered and took a seat facing the desk.
“I didn’t send any teams. I’ve been too busy to even think about this sh…stuff,” Jocasta said.
West gave her a smile upon hearing her edit herself.
“I know. I sent the team, but I used your name to get the authorization, which is why I’m telling you,” West said slyly. “I also managed to offset the Council’s refusal to give us more resources for the Portal Project by diverting half of our secondary research team away from the Paranormal Division.”
“What?” Jocasta exclaimed.
“Hear me out,” he said holding up his hands. “Yes, it’ll set us back a bit in that department, but if we can make some headway in figuring out how to contain Hellmouths, it might convince the Council that this is something they should be seriously funding.”
“Good thinking,” Jocasta said proudly. “I knew there was a reason I made you my second.”
“What can I say? I’m good,” West quipped.
“That you are,” Jocasta agreed.
Just then, one of the room’s computers began to beep. Jocasta glanced down at her desk console and, after a few moments, she frowned and looked back up.
“What’s wrong?” Katherine and West both asked.
“I’ve got to go find Giles. We might have a crisis on our hands,” Jocasta replied, a touch of anxiety creeping into her voice. She got up and left the room.
“I’ll come with you,” Katherine said, and she raced out of the room as well.
West stood a moment and then turned, but the two women were already gone. “Another crisis? Can’t they come one at a time?” he asked the empty room.
Sunnydale Wasteland – Morning
Livia blinked as the sun crept over the horizon and its light fell on her. Wiping the sleep from her eyes, she sat up and looked around. Despite the earliness of the hour, Mira and a few of the other Slayers were already back at work, combing through the wreckage of the High Command’s lab looking for evidence.
“I think we found something!” Mira shouted. Livia leapt to her feet and led the charge of other Slayers as they rushed towards Mira.
“What is it?” Livia asked.
“I’m not entirely sure,” Mira said. “But it’s shiny.”
Suddenly Livia’s keen hearing picked up a faint rumble.
“Run,” she shouted.
Before the Slayers could obey, they were knocked to the ground by a deafening explosion.
Livia was the first to make it back to her feet.
“What the hell was…” she trailed off.
A few feet away from her, a man stood in the exact spot she and the other Slayers had been gathered around moments before. He morphed into vamp face and snarled. The Slayers all looked stunned to see him surviving in the sunlight.
“This is one helluva wake-up call,” Livia muttered.
The vamp answered her smart remark by charging.
End of Act Three