Watchers Council – Council Chambers – Same Time
Livia paraded the growling cyber-vamp before the frightened councilors.
“See, this is what 314 was all about,” Livia continued. “Not only does he have all kinds of cyber crap added to his anatomy, but he also has one special enhancement.”
Livia dragged the vampire to the window behind the lecterns and slammed her fist on the shade control button on the wall. As the motorized slats moved into an open position, Livia and her captive were flooded in direct sunlight. The councilors gasped in shock as the cyber-vamp remained unharmed by the sun’s rays.
“This is what my slayers had to face in Sunnydale,” Livia said. “I lost two girls and a lot more were injured. These things would have gotten loose in the population if it wasn’t for that man right there.” Livia pointed at Giles.
“So you want to point a finger of blame at somebody today?” Livia asked. “Point it at the man who created these things–him!” Livia pointed at Tyrell.
Drainage Ditch – Same Time
The body of the suspected fifth victim lay on its back on the bare concrete of a large storm drain. As Jocasta and Katherine approached, the forensics personnel stepped aside, staring nervously in awe at the two Council investigators.
Jocasta snapped on some rubber gloves and knelt beside the victim. Katherine, however, remained standing on the opposite side, preferring to observe from a distance. Detective Duggan watched intently while Detective Santeri crossed his arms and looked away, clenching his jaw repeatedly.
“It looks like the man’s throat was ripped out,” Jocasta commented. Santeri rolled his eyes.
“Vampire?” Katherine inquired.
“If so, it was an extremely vicious one,” Jocasta replied. “Here, take a look.”
Katherine swallowed hard and took a deep breath; then she too donned some gloves and knelt beside the victim. She lightly touched the victim’s shoulder as she leaned over to examine the neck wound more closely.
Suddenly, the slayer jumped away from the body as if she had been shocked by an electrical current. She scrambled backwards in fear, causing the nearby personnel to do the same. Alarmed, Jocasta ran to Katherine’s side.
“Katie! What is it?” Jocasta asked. She grabbed Katherine’s hand and stroked her arm, trying to calm the trembling slayer.
“M-Magic,” Katherine stammered. “Bad magic,” she added. “Whoever killed him…he’s using some really strong magic. I can feel it just radiating off the body.”
“Well, that settles that,” Jocasta said. “This is definitely Gray Sector territory.” Jocasta helped Katherine to her feet. “Will you be okay?”
Katherine nodded. Then Jocasta went back to the body where the two detectives waited.
“She okay?” Duggan asked.
“Yeah, she’ll be fine,” Jocasta replied. “She just picked up some bad vibes off the body, which means magic is involved. And that means I’ll be taking over the investigation.”
“What?” Santeri exclaimed. “No way!”
“Robbie,” Duggan said to his partner in a warning tone.
“No! You are not taking our investigation away from us!”
“Detective Santeri,” Jocasta explained in a calm tone, “I’m not taking the investigation away from you. You’ll just be doing it under my direct command.”
Santeri refused to meet Jocasta’s gaze.
“You’ve got to understand,” Jocasta continued, “this is no ordinary killer. He’s using some heavy duty magic, and you are going to need the resources of the Council to catch this guy.”
Santeri cast a steely glare in Jocasta’s direction and then abruptly walked off.
Jocasta exhaled and gave Duggan a well-I-tried look. Duggan stepped closer.
“Don’t worry, he’ll come around,” Duggan insisted. “Once he gets over himself and realizes you’re here to help. Sometimes Robbie’s hot head gets the better of him, but he’s a good cop.”
“I’m sure he is,” Jocasta said agreeably.
“I’ll arrange for copies of all of our case files to be sent to you,” Duggan said. “Including the reports from today.”
“Thanks,” Jocasta replied. “I’ll keep you posted on anything we find, and I’ll expect you both to do the same.”
“Will do, Colonel,” Duggan answered with a heel-snap and grinning salute.
Jocasta grinned back. “As you were,” she said as she returned his salute.
Jocasta rejoined Katherine at the edge of the ditch, and the two of them made their way up the embankment and back to where their Council skimmer was located.
“Well, I guess that means 314 creatures are off the suspect list, huh?” Katie asked as they got inside their vehicle.
“Not likely,” Jo replied.
“But, the magic residue…wouldn’t that suggest something other than 314?”
“We don’t know what all 314 involved. If they were capable of reprogramming vampires and enhancing them cybernetically with all kinds of weapons, who’s to say they wouldn’t add a magic arsenal in there as well?”
“Oh, god, you’re right,” Katie admitted with a shudder.
Watchers Council – Council Chambers – At The Same Time
As the Council fell into temporary disarray, with Tyrell shouting his outrage at the Slayer’s violation of the Council Chambers and the majority of the Council discussing in horror what they had just seen, Giles took the opportunity to move to Livia’s side and speak with her privately.
“Livia, are you all right?” Giles asked, noting the Slayer’s battered condition.
“Yeah,” Livia replied. “Stupid vamp just got lucky is all.”
“I wish you had sent word,” Giles chided. “We were worried when neither you nor Toni checked in.”
“We didn’t want to risk anyone findin’ out what we had,” Livia explained. Then she grinned widely. ” ‘Sides, it was more fun this way.”
Giles rolled his eyes but couldn’t keep from grinning as well.
“I’m gonna go get this thing under lock and key,” Livia said as she began dragging the cyber-vamp towards the exit. “Don’t worry, I won’t let him outta my sight.”
As Livia led her captive away, the councilors nearest her backed up, giving her a wide path. Once Livia and the cyber-vamp had safely exited the chambers, Veronica was finally able to get the councilors back in their seats and focused on the situation at hand.
“Well, now that the show-and-tell portion of the proceedings is over,” Veronica said lightly, “we’ll move on. Councilor Giles?”
“Thank you,” Giles replied. “I’d like to request a recess until tomorrow, if I may. I want to make sure that the…ummm…physical evidence just presented is secured and that it will be made available for inspection, should any councilors feel the need to examine the specimen more closely.”
“I object!” Tyrell spat as he rose from his seat. “This is clearly a stalling tactic on Councilor Giles’s part. He has no other evidence, nothing whatsoever that connects me or the High Command to any of this cybernetic 314 nonsense!”
“We’ll see about that!” Giles returned.
“Yes, we will,” Veronica intervened quickly. “But tomorrow,” she added firmly. “Securing the physical evidence must take precedence here,” she said as she picked up the gavel. “We are recessed until tomorrow morning at 9:00 a.m.” Veronica gave the gavel a single rap on the podium, and the Council members began to disperse.
Watchers Council – Conference Room – Night
In the conference room adjacent to Jocasta’s office, Jocasta and Katherine sat at the large table with the files from the murder investigation spread before them.
Jocasta put down the file she was holding. “Man, I wish I could’ve been there in the hall!” she exclaimed.
“I know,” Katherine agreed with an eager smile. “I would’ve loved seeing the look on Tyrell’s face when Livia uncovered that cyber-vamp.”
“Yeah,” Jocasta said in a satisfied voice. After the two of them replayed the scene in their minds once again, Jocasta cleared her throat sheepishly. “We better stop amusing ourselves with gloating and start working. These murders could still be crucial to the case. And even if they aren’t, we’ve got to stop this guy.”
“Tell me again what Detective Duggan said on the phone,” Katherine requested.
“The man in the ditch was Yosef Kassim, a lawyer, 53 years old,” Jocasta supplied. “The medical examiner said that his larynx was torn out.”
“Hmmm,” Katherine said, thinking hard.
“What is it?” Jocasta asked.
“It’s just that…lawyers make their living by talking, and this guy’s throat was torn out.”
“A-A-And the professor,” Jocasta said, catching on, “he was a known playboy, and he had his…well, you know.”
“The college student who had his heart taken, he was always involved in charity work, always giving.”
Jocasta’s brow creased. “I don’t see the link with the other two, though. The spine and the stomach…there has to be a connection!”
“I’m sure we’ll figure it out, we just have to–” Katherine’s words were cut off as her comlink went off. Katherine answered and then listened, then looked at her watch in embarrassment. “Oh! I’m sorry, Bri. I’ll be right there. I just wasn’t watching the time.” Katherine disconnected and stood up from the table. “I’ve gotta go. I’m patrolling with Brianna tonight, and I’m already late. I’m sorry.”
Jocasta stood and joined Katherine. “It’s okay, I understand,” she said, pulling the Slayer into a hug. “Be careful,” she whispered urgently into the blonde’s ear.
“I will,” Katherine assured her as they separated, “I promise.” Katherine kissed Jocasta soundly to seal the deal and then rushed from the room.
Jocasta returned to her work on the murder case. She rifled through the folders until she had retrieved the photos of the first and third victims, the ones whose spine and stomach were taken. She stared at the photos for several moments, once again trying to make a connection.
Failing, Jocasta tossed the photos down on the table and left the room, headed for the Progenitor Chamber.
Watchers Council – Outside The Progenitor Chamber – Night
As Jocasta hurried down the corridor on the fortieth level, her attention was drawn to a pair of armed guards standing outside the main conference room. She narrowed her eyes and proceeded to the entrance. The guards immediately blocked her path.
“Step aside, soldiers,” Jocasta commanded.
“No can do, Colonel, ma’am,” the guard on the left said. “No one, not even you, is allowed access to this room.”
“By whose authority?” Jocasta demanded.
“Chairman Tyrell’s,” the guard responded.
Jocasta’s face tightened in anger, and she curled her hands into fists. “Tyrell,” she growled under her breath as she stomped away from the Progenitor Chamber.
Watchers Council – Giles’s Office – Night
“I knew we shouldn’t have put Willow back in the Progenitor Chamber!” Jocasta declared as she stood behind her mentor.
Giles ignored the fuming Jocasta and called Tyrell on his videophone.
When Tyrell’s image appeared on Giles’s screen, the chairman said smugly, “Sebastian, what can I do for you?”
“What the hell do you think you’re doing?” Giles demanded.
Tyrell smiled and said, “I’m sure I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
“The Progenitor Chamber! You’ve had it sealed!”
“Oh, that,” Tyrell said smartly. “I’m just rectifying a certain mix-up that has come to my attention.” Tyrell looked behind Giles and added, “Isn’t that right, Miss Rosenberg?”
Tyrell chuckled and then disconnected the call.
“Son of a…” Giles swore as he angrily punched the end-call button on his console.
“Giles, we have got to do something,” Jocasta said. “We cannot let him have control of Willow!”
“What do you suggest?” Giles asked.
Jocasta merely grinned and raised her eyebrows.
Watchers Council – Crawl Space Above Progenitor Chamber – Night
Jocasta and Giles crept slowly along the beam above the ceiling of the main conference room in which Willow’s program was housed.
“When you said you wanted to free Willow, I didn’t think you meant an actual physical operation,” Giles complained. “I imagined a much less strenuous electronic emancipation.”
“Well, excuse me,” Jocasta replied. “Next time we want to break into the Council’s most secure computer center, I’ll make sure it’s already got a direct hot wire to my office, okay?”
Giles looked up, startled. “You can do that?” he asked. Jocasta ignored him.
Jocasta and Giles continued their progress until they reached the access hatch near the room’s entrance. They attached the mini-winch to the metal beam and connected the cable to Jocasta’s harness. Jocasta popped the lock and folded the hatch door inside the ceiling.
“Here we go,” Jocasta said as she lowered herself through the hole and let the winch take her to the floor.
Watchers Council – Inside The Progenitor Chamber – Night
Jocasta unhooked herself from the cable and moved towards the center of the room.
“Willow?” Jocasta called softly.
“Hi, Jo!” Willow said cheerfully as she materialized in front of Jocasta. “I was wondering when you were going to come back.”
“Well, if Tyrell had his way, I’d never have come back,” Jocasta said. “He’s got guards posted outside.”
“Guards?” Willow said in surprise.
“Yep, which is why I’m breakin’ you outta here!” Jocasta answered with a grin. “I think you should be housed in the office of a Rosenberg, don’t you?”
Willow matched Jocasta’s grin. “Downloading to my mobile processor now,” Willow said. After a moment she added, “Download complete.”
When Willow’s image had flickered away, Jocasta retrieved the mobile processor, put it in her pack, and moved back under the open hatch in the ceiling. She reattached the cable to her harness.
“Giles,” Jocasta said into her headset. “I’m ready.” As the winch began to lift her off the floor, Jocasta smiled. “Hey, this is pretty cool. I feel like a real-.” Wham! Jocasta’s commentary was cut off as her head collided with the side of the hatch. “Ouch!”
Watchers Council – Outside The Progenitor Chamber – Night
When the guards heard the thump, they turned towards the door and listened.
“Did you hear something?” the guard on the left asked.
“I thought I did,” the other answered.
They both cocked their heads and listened intently.
Watchers Council – Computer Center – Night
James watched the guards on his computer screen. Then he screamed into his headset as he bounced in his chair.
“They heard you! They heard you!” he exclaimed in a panic. “Whatever it is you’re doing, hurry it up and get out of there!”
Watchers Council – Inside The Progenitor Chamber – Night
Jocasta grimaced as James screamed in her ear.
“Okay, okay! You don’t have to yell!” Jocasta replied in a firm but hushed tone. “Giles, I’m gonna raise my arms. You guide me around the edge.”
Jocasta lifted her arms, and Giles activated the winch once again, this time pulling Jocasta to the side so that she would clear the edge of the hatch. Soon, the redhead was safely inside the ceiling. Once disconnected from the winch, she re-locked the hatch and heaved a sigh of relief.
Watchers Council – Outside The Progenitor Chamber – Night
After several moments of intense listening, the guards straightened up, having heard nothing else.
“Musta been the ventilation system,” the guard on the left said.
“Yeah, musta,” the other agreed.
Street Somewhere In Cleveland – Night
As the nearly-full moon shone down upon them, slayers Katherine and Brianna walked slowly along a deserted backstreet, completing the first leg of their night’s patrol.
“So how are things with you and Jo?” Brianna asked, giving her fellow slayer a playful nudge in the ribs.
Katherine’s face immediately spread into a wide smile. “They’re good, they’re more than good,” Katherine said confidently. Then she added excitedly, “I’m working with her on a Gray Sector investigation, so I’m getting to see a whole lot more of her.”
“You mean you haven’t seen all of her yet?” Brianna teased. “You better get busy!”
“Bri!” Katherine responded with a blush.
Brianna just laughed and nudged Katherine again. After a few moments of silent walking, Brianna asked, “Have you told her yet?”
“No, not yet,” Katherine replied. “I tried, but I just couldn’t do it.”
“Katie,” Brianna accused.
“I know,” Katherine admitted with a sigh. “I just…I mean, it’s not the kind of thing you can just drop into the middle of a conversation.”
“Katie, you have to tell her. If you don’t, things could get really bad.”
Katherine looked away from her friend. Her brow creased in worry, and her expression became pained and thoughtful.
Watchers Council – Conference Room – Later That Night
Once Jocasta had Willow’s mobile processor perched on the conference table outside her office, she switched it on and waited. Within seconds, the mini-version of Willow appeared.
“Hi, I’m back!” Willow said in her usual cheery tone. Then she sobered somewhat and asked, “So, what’s the demon du jour today?”
“I’m not even sure if it is a demon,” Jocasta stated. “It’s that attack I was telling you about earlier. It’s actually one of a series of gruesome murders. I had originally thought that they were connected to Project 314, but now I’m not so sure.”
“Why don’t you tell me what you’ve got, and we’ll go from there?” Willow offered.
Jocasta nodded and began to share the information that she and Katherine had gathered so far.
Psychic Shop – Night
Outside a store front, a pair of cybernetic legs came whirring to a halt. The long black overcoat billowed away from the legs as the wind caught it. Dark eyes turned to the large hand-painted sign in the window. It read, “Dominick Zahir, Psychic and Spiritual Advisor.”
The killer’s cybernetic left hand tightened into a fist. He lifted his normal right hand to his face, where he stroked his stubbly chin.
“Wonder if he knows I’m coming,” the killer said with a grin.
After a moment, his smile slipped away, replaced by a look of icy determination. With the telltale whines and whirs of his cybernetic limbs, the killer made his way up the sidewalk.
End of Act Two