Watchers Council – Jocasta’s Office – Early Morning
Katherine knocked lightly, then peeked her head around the door to Jocasta’s office.
“Hey,” Katherine said as she entered.
“Morning,” Jocasta replied with a smile.
“Hi, Katie!” the holographic Willow called cheerfully when she saw Katherine approach the desk.
“Oh, um, hi,” Katherine said to Willow. “I didn’t expect to see you here.”
“I didn’t expect to be here,” Willow responded. “But Tyrell placed guards on the Progenitor Chamber, so Jo and Giles broke me out. Cool, huh?”
Katherine raised her eyebrows and looked Jocasta’s way. “You broke her out?”
“Well, I couldn’t leave her there!” Jocasta said defensively. “Besides, we need her help on this murder case.”
“Speaking of which, did you find out anything else while I was patrolling?” Katherine asked as she went around the desk to join the redhead.
“Unfortunately, yes,” Jocasta said.
“Why unfortunately?” Katherine inquired.
“There’s been another murder,” Jocasta replied. “This one was a psychic. The killer took his eyes.”
Katherine grimaced. “Well, that one fits the pattern,” she noted. “A psychic sees things others don’t.”
“Yeah, but I still can’t make the pattern work with the first and third victims. I know there’s a connection, but I just can’t see it!”
“Why don’t we look at your diagram again?” Willow suggested to Jocasta.
“Okay,” Jocasta groaned as she made a few taps on her console. “I’ve only looked at it a thousand times. What’s one more gonna hurt?”
On Jocasta’s screen appeared two outlines of a male body, like those used in autopsy reports. The one on the left presented a view from the front, and the one on the right a view from the back. Jocasta made a few more clicks, and an asterisk was added to the lower back of the diagram on the right.
“The first victim had his spine removed,” Jocasta said. After another click, an asterisk was added to the left drawing. “And the second victim had his… private parts taken.” Jocasta tapped her console again, causing asterisks to appear in the abdominal and chest areas of the left diagram. “The third lost his stomach, and the fourth his heart.”
“The fifth had his throat torn out,” Katherine supplied, pointing at the neck area of the left diagram.
“And now the sixth victim’s eyes were taken,” Jocasta said, putting the last two asterisks on the frontal view of the body.
“Hmmm,” Katherine said, thinking hard. “If you move that one over here with the others,” Katherine said as she pointed at the lone asterisk on the right diagram, “then it looks like the killer is moving up the body, taking body parts from each…area…” Katherine trailed off, deep in thought.
“What is it?” Jocasta asked.
“I think I know what the connection is,” the Slayer replied. “The seven chakras. He’s taking body parts that represent the seven chakras, well, the first six of them anyway.”
Jocasta peered at the diagram intently. “You’re right!” she said with a smile. Then she quickly sobered. “That means he’s got one more chakra to go.”
“Yes, the crown chakra: the mortal connecting to the immortal,” Katherine stated.
Jocasta turned quickly to the tiny hologram. “Willow, do another search on magical rituals, this time narrow your parameters to rituals involving the seven chakras.”
“Okay!” Willow answered happily. “One moment please.” Willow tilted her head as if she were contemplating something intently.
Katherine placed her hands on Jocasta’s shoulders as they waited for Willow to process the request. After about a minute, Willow straightened, but she wasn’t smiling.
“I’ve found it,” the hologram said solemnly.
“Tell us,” Jocasta prompted.
“It’s the Natma Margas,” Willow replied. “As you suspected, it involves an offering in the form of a symbolic representation of the seven chakras.”
“What’s it for?” Katherine asked.
“It’s basically an advanced augmentation spell, designed to multiply the caster’s magical powers,” Willow explained.
“Making him what? A super-mage?” Jocasta asked.
“More like a demi-god,” Willow answered.
Jocasta turned and faced Katherine, and each one’s worry mirrored on the face of the other.
Watchers Council – Conference Room – Early Morning
As Giles and the others listened intently, Jocasta related the information that she and Katherine and Willow had uncovered about the murders.
“So, the murders aren’t connected to Project 314?” Giles asked.
“I don’t think so,” Jocasta said, “but I can’t rule it out. I mean, Aurora had to use some serious mojo to take out Eve. We don’t know exactly what all went on down there. If Eve really did learn from her predecessor, then she would have known that ignoring the power of magic can be fatal. And so would Tyrell and the High Command.”
“But I thought the High Command was totally against magic, so why would they create an army that used it?” James asked.
“We don’t know that they did,” Katherine answered. “We just know that it’s possible.”
“What the High Command really opposes is anyone outside of their control using magic,” Jocasta explained. “Magic was fine until the Coven rebelled and refused to use magic the way they dictated.”
“What’s your next step?” Giles asked Jocasta, getting the group back on track.
“Well, according to the Natma Margas, the mage has to complete the ritual during the full moon,” Jocasta explained.
“Which is tomorrow night,” Katherine interjected.
“That gives me and Katie a day and a half to follow up on the black market items needed for the spell. Hopefully, we can find him and stop him before he’s able to complete the ritual.”
“You two focus on the mage, then,” Giles said to Jocasta and Katherine. Then he turned to James and Lex. “In the meantime, I’ll need you two to continue searching for evidence connecting Tyrell to 314.”
“We’re on it,” James said confidently.
“Yeah, I’ll even strong-arm Antonia into giving us a hand,” Lex added.
Jocasta rolled her eyes and said, “You strong-arm Toni? As if!”
Watchers Council – Council Chambers – Morning
After banging the gavel and reconvening the Council, Veronica turned to Giles and asked him to continue his presentation. Giles rose and took his place at the lectern.
“I’d like to begin by playing two security videos which will corroborate certain testimony given so far,” Giles stated. “One shows Sean Rayne in the Council Hangar and the other shows Chairman Tyrell and an armed guard entering and exiting the Progenitor Chamber…”
Watchers Council – Computer Center – Morning
James, Anya, Lex, and Antonia were hunched over four different monitors, scanning through hours of security video.
Lex leaned back in his chair and stretched. “Okay, I’m done with the corridor videos near the Council chambers. Unfortunately, I’m battin’ a big ‘0’ for 4,000 here.”
James got up from his computer and joined Lex. He made a few strokes on the console and brought up a new series of videos.
“Here’s a new set you can start on,” James instructed.
Lex took a look at the screen and groaned. “Parking lot video? Ugh.”
“At least you’re not doing elevator video like me and Anya,” Antonia said. “God, riding in an elevator is boring enough, but watching hours of video of other people riding in an elevator…that’s just mind-numbing.”
“Well, at least you get the occasional secret make-out session between–”
“Hey, I think I got something!” Anya interrupted.
James immediately ran to Anya’s side. Lex and Antonia quickly followed. Together they watched the video.
“It blipped out,” Antonia complained.
“Yeah, but not completely,” James said. “Anya, let me sit there.”
When Anya rose, James took her seat and began a rapid series of clicks and keystrokes on the console.
“It may take some time to enhance it,” James said, “but I think we may have something useful here.”
Watchers Council – Jocasta’s Office – Afternoon
With Katherine seated beside her, Jocasta activated her speakerphone and called Detective Duggan on his comlink.
“What?” the agitated officer answered in a slightly annoyed and breathless tone, as if he were being rudely interrupted.
“Detective Duggan?” Jocasta asked, momentarily unsure if she had entered the correct phone number.
“Oh, hey, Colonel Rosenberg,” Duggan replied abashedly. “Sorry ‘bout that. It’s been a circus over here. You musta heard. That’s why you’re calling, right?”
“Um, no, actually I was just calling to update you on some stuff we’ve learned. What’s going on?”
“Apparently, Robo-Killer has struck again,” Duggan said.
“There’s been another murder?” Katherine asked.
“Not yet, but I’m sure it’s on the agenda,” Duggan answered. “I’m at the Wholeness Is Oneness Spiritual Retreat Center.”
“Is that the one owned by Jeremy Greerson?” Jocasta asked.
“Yep, ‘cept now he goes by the name of Ramakrishna,” Duggan said sarcastically.
“What happened to him?” Jocasta prompted.
“He was conducting a service of some kind when out of nowhere Frankenstein’s monster appears on the stage with him, grabs him, then disappears.”
“He teleported?” Katherine asked.
“Looks like,” Duggan said.
“So, the killer took this one alive,” Jocasta said, thinking hard. Then she looked at Katherine and asked, “Why would he do that?”
“Because of the crowd?” Katherine offered.
“If that’s the case, then why not just take him later, when he’s alone?” Jocasta replied.
“The service he was conducting was an all-day kinda thing, apparently,” Duggan interjected. “He might not have been alone any time today.”
“And time is a factor,” Katherine explained. “The killer’s got to get the last body part and gather the rest of his ingredients in time for the ritual tomorrow night.”
“What ritual?” Duggan asked.
“We figured out what the killer is up to,” Jocasta said, “and it’s not good.”
The Demon Bar – Afternoon
Jocasta and Katherine entered the same shady demon bar in which they had met Giles less than a week ago. Several non-human forms were hunched at a table nearby, laughing, until they saw the two women come in. The demons sobered and stared as Jocasta and Katherine made their way up to the bar.
The orange-haired, blue-skinned bartender smiled broadly when she saw them. “Hey, if you’re looking for Giles, he’s not here. Haven’t seen him since the last time you guys were here.”
“Oh, we’re not looking for Giles,” Jocasta replied. “We’re looking for some information, actually.”
Jocasta pulled out a small data pad and placed it on the bar. She called up the appropriate file and then passed the data pad to the bartender.
“We’re researching a ritual set to take place tomorrow night,” the watcher explained, “and one of the ingredients, well, we’re not really sure what it is. We were hoping someone here might know.”
The bartender read the selection carefully. Then a look of recognition came over the blue-hued demon’s face. “It’s the jivanas that’s got ya, right?”
Jocasta and Katherine both nodded.
“Yep, that’s a tricky one,” the bartender explained. “It’s the blood of a Vritrani demon. If I’m not mistaken, it has to be fresh, too. Otherwise, the spell won’t work.”
“Where can we find some of these Vritrani?” Katherine asked.
“Oh, there’s only one here in Cleveland,” the bartender said. “They’re very territorial, can’t stand to be within 100 miles of each other. Except when they’re breeding, of course. Then they’re all over the place, just rolling and writhing and–”
“So, where can we find the one that’s here in town?” Jocasta interrupted.
“Last I heard, he was hanging out at the old Sisters of Grace hospital,” the bartender replied. “He lives down in the lowest levels. He only comes out when it’s dark, so if you want to find him, your best bet will be tonight.”
Jocasta retrieved her data pad from the bartender and gave her a big smile. “Thanks, we appreciate your help.”
“Anytime!” the bartender replied.
Jocasta and Katherine headed for the exit. They were stopped by Tira, the crab-like demon whom they had met on their last visit.
“When you see Giles,” Tira purred, “tell him he still owes us a gig.” Then she made a sound that was half-growl and half-laugh and swept past them.
Watchers Council – Council Chambers – Afternoon
Giles punched the button on his console, removing the picture of the cyber-vamp now in council custody and ending his comprehensive examination of the enhanced demon’s biology and cybernetics.
“This has all been quite fascinating,” Tyrell said snidely. “But you still haven’t proved that I or the High Command had anything to do with this cyber-demon of yours.”
“I’m afraid Chairman Tyrell is correct,” Veronica said to Giles. “Do you have any evidence at all directly tying the High Command to the development of the 314 project?”
“Well, I…” Giles replied awkwardly, “…um…my colleagues are following up on…um…on several leads as we speak, and–”
Giles stopped in his response when he saw Anya striding purposefully in his direction.
“Councilor Giles?” Veronica prompted.
“One moment, please,” Giles requested as he stepped away from the lectern to meet Anya. When she had joined him, she thrust a data rod into his hands.
“Here, play this, now,” Anya stated so directly that it was practically an order.
Giles smiled quickly in embarrassment and then leaned closer to Anya so that he could speak with her privately.
“What is it?” Giles whispered to the android.
“Evidence,” Anya insisted in a normal tone of voice, as if that were all Giles needed to know. She turned around and strode away with a look of satisfaction on her face.
Giles looked at the rod nervously for a moment.
“Councilor?” Veronica prompted. “Do you have more evidence to present?”
Giles tapped the data rod against his fingers to seal his decision.
“Yes. Yes, I do,” Giles replied.
Giles returned to his console and slid the data rod into the reader. Then he took a deep breath and looked towards the large screen. A security video from an elevator began to play.
Watchers Council – Elevator – Day (Video Screen)
Sean Rayne joined Horatio Tyrell in an elevator.
“Can we talk?” Rayne asked.
Tyrell removed a cylindrical device from his jacket pocket and activated it. At once, the video became fuzzy, although the audio remained unaffected.
“We can now,” Tyrell replied. “Is everything ready?”
“Yes, sir,” Rayne said. “The Sunnydale facility is complete and powered up. The equipment has arrived and is being stored. The core lab for 314 should be ready before the day is out.”
“Excellent!” Tyrell said. “All we need do now is transport Eve and our prototypes, and the production of our new army can begin. Within a few months, the Council won’t know what hit them.”
Watchers Council – Council Chambers – Resume
Tyrell jumped to his feet. “This is total and utter nonsense!” he shouted. “It’s clearly a complete fabrication!”
The other twelve members of the High Command looked at Tyrell in total shock.
Giles smiled smugly at Tyrell then turned his eyes to Veronica. “I rest my case.”
The High Commander nearest to Tyrell met the Chairman’s eyes. “Why?” he demanded.
Tyrell returned the gaze with a glare of his own. “Because you wouldn’t!” he spat back at the twelve. “The High Command,” he continued with disgust, “the alleged leaders of this organization…completely unfit to lead…”
“Madame Chair,” Giles spoke so as to be heard over Tyrell’s rant, “I move that we initiate an immediate removal of chairman Horatio Tyrell from office in preparation for impeachment proceedings.”
“Second!” a voice came shooting from the ranks.
“And you, the members of the Command Council, my esteemed fellow Councilors—you are no better!” Tyrell went on. “All words and no action! Stagnated in the ways of the past!”
Ignoring Tyrell, Veronica said, “We have a motion, properly seconded. Cast your votes now.”
Tyrell walked around the High Command table pointing a finger out into the various sections of the Council as they punched in their votes.
“Not one of you here has a clue what it takes to protect this world!” Tyrell declared loudly. “Only I had the vision to do what needed to be done!”
“The votes are in, the motion has passed,” Veronica stated officially. “Security, please take Tyrell into custody and see that he is booked into detention.”
Two security guards strode forward quickly and grabbed Tyrell, cuffing his hands behind him and pulling him towards the exit.
“You’ll see, you’ll see!” Tyrell screamed as he was dragged away. “When the demon hordes overrun this place, when the Slayers fail, you’ll look back to this day, and you’ll wish you had listened to me!”
As the guards led Tyrell out, the door slammed shut with a thud that echoed in the now quiet chambers. Councilors looked at each other in shock until Veronica’s voice drew their attention back to the center.
“Ladies, Gentlemen, it appears that we have a vacancy to be filled,” Veronica said. “Before we address that issue, there are some changes that need to be made. In the past, the High Command has chosen its own candidate to fill any vacancies on their board, and they have also chosen the Chair. We can see from Tyrell’s exploits that the High Command has taken on more power than it should. Therefore, I recommend that the Command Council amend its By-Laws so that it is the entire Command Council who nominates and elects the position of Chair.”
Large portions of the Council clamored in agreement.
Travers jumped to his feet. “You can’t do that!” he objected. “You can’t just change the By-Laws whenever you please! You don’t have the authority!”
“But I do,” Veronica replied. “According to the Council By-Laws themselves, part three, section five, paragraph eleven: ‘These By-Laws may be amended at any time by a majority vote of the Command Council.’ A proposed change may be made by the Chair, who, at this moment, is myself. So, do I have a motion to amend the By-Laws as I described?”
A voice from the back piped up, “So moved.”
“Do I have a second?”
Another voice spoke, “I second the motion.”
“Any further discussion?” Veronica asked.
“You can’t just throw away years of tradition!” Travers insisted. “It’s the way it’s always been done.”
“Not always,” Giles disagreed. “The Council was run very differently in the past, and I for one think it’s high time we returned to some of our former practices so that everyone has an equal voice.”
Once again, large portions of the Council murmured in agreement.
“You do want everyone to have an equal voice, don’t you, Mr. Travers?” Veronica needled him.
“Of course I do,” Travers answered, a little too quickly.
“Very well then,” Veronica replied. “The motion has been made and properly seconded. I now call for the vote.”
Veronica and Giles watched the screen as the votes were tallied. When time was called, Veronica smiled.
“The motion has passed,” she announced.
The Council erupted into cheers and applause. Veronica let the celebration continue for a moment, then she banged the gavel once again.
“Now that the By-Laws have been amended and the Council is able to elect a permanent chairman,” Veronica said, “I open the floor for nominations for the position of Chair. Since I already have the floor, I nominate Sebastian Giles.”
As applause filled the room, Giles snapped his head up and stared at Veronica with his mouth wide open. As the cheers continued, Giles smiled half-heartedly at the Council. Then he abruptly pulled Veronica aside.
“What do you think you’re doing?” Giles demanded in a low voice.
“Nominating the best man for the job,” Veronica replied with a smirk.
“No, no, absolutely not,” Giles stated. “I, I, I am perfectly ill-suited for this: I don’t play politics well, a-a-and even if I did, I don’t like to.”
“Sebastian, that’s why you’re perfect,” Veronica said. “You’re not about power, you’re about the cause. And you do what’s right. I’m not nominating you because we’re friends. I’m nominating you because you’re the one we need,” she stressed.
Giles started to deny Veronica’s statements, but before he could, she stepped back to the podium.
“Do I have a second for the nomination of Sebastian Giles?” she called to the Council.
“I second the motion,” a voice came from the crowd.
Veronica turned to Giles and grinned, raising her eyebrows in an unspoken question. Giles rolled his eyes and then nodded, indicating his acceptance of the nomination. Veronica turned back to the podium.
“Are there any other nominations from the floor?” she prompted.
“I nominate Morgan Travers,” one of the High Commanders declared.
“I second the nomination,” another High Commander said immediately after.
“Thank you,” Veronica stated. “Any other nominations?” She waited for a moment, then banged the gavel. “Nominations are now closed.” She paused, then addressed the Council once more. “The service records of the candidates will be made available for your perusal this afternoon and evening. After supper, we shall reconvene to conduct the election. This meeting is adjourned.” Veronica gave the gavel a final tap.
Watchers Council – Giles’s Office – Afternoon
Veronica and Giles sat in silence, enjoying some hot tea after supper. Veronica gazed at her colleague and friend and noted his furrowed brow and far away look.
“I hope you’re not too angry with me, Sebastian,” Veronica said.
“Oh, no, of course not,” Giles said, coming out of his deep thought. “I know that you were doing what you thought was right. I’m just not sure I share your confidence in choosing me.”
“Trust me, you’re the right man,” Veronica reiterated. “Of that, I am absolutely certain. And besides, this Council is your birthright.” Veronica placed her hand over Giles’s and smiled. Giles covered her hand with his and returned her smile.
“Greetings, Chairman-to-be!” boomed a voice from the doorway, immediately followed by a fanfare of party horns.
Veronica and Giles abruptly released their hands and turned towards the noise.
They found Lex standing before them with a party hat on his head and a sack of pretzels and a bottle of soda in his hands. Behind him were Antonia, James, Anya, and Livia, each of whom held a party horn and additional drinks and snacks. Giles’s mouth fell open, and Veronica’s eyes widened.
“We come bearing gifts of bread and wine,” Lex announced dramatically as they approached Giles’s desk. Then he shrugged. “Okay, just pretzels and grape soda.”
“But it’s the thought that counts,” James quickly added.
“You did it, G-man,” Livia said with pride. “You sent Tyrell packing. Way to go!”
“Yay!” the group cried again, tooting their horns.
Somewhat embarrassed, Giles responded, “Well, um, thank you. I couldn’t have done it without all of your help, though.”
“Damn straight!” Anya announced. “So slap my hand!” Anya lifted her hand and held it palm out.
As Giles debated what to do, Veronica grinned and shook her head. Giles lifted his hand, intending to administer the celebratory hand slap, but when his phone rang, he switched his gesture to a just-a-moment index finger.
“Yes?” Giles answered. “Jo, I’m glad you called. I–”
Already into the pretzels, Lex called out through a mouthful of salty goodness, “Hey, is that Jo?”
Antonia ran to Giles and leaned over to talk into the receiver. “Hey, cuz, guess who’s gonna be the next Chairman of the Council? Woo-hoo!”
“Giles, that’s great!” Jocasta said. “I’m so happy for you!”
“Well, we shouldn’t be celebrating yet,” Giles replied. “There’s still the election this evening. Thankfully, Tyrell has been removed, however. How’s your investigation going?”
“Katie and I have tracked down that ingredient we were worried about,” Jocasta explained. “We’re gonna check it out tonight. The demon it comes from lives at the old Sisters of Grace hospital, apparently.”
“All right then, keep me posted, and be careful,” Giles instructed.
“Will do,” Jocasta replied. “Oh, and Giles?”
“Tira says you owe her a gig.”
Jocasta and Katherine giggled on the other end of the line. Giles loosened his collar and cleared his throat.
“Thank you for the message; goodbye,” he said curtly before disconnecting.
Watchers Council – Conference Room – Afternoon
At the head of the table, Morgan Travers faced several of the High Commanders, who wore grim, unhappy expressions.
“This has been a total disaster!” one High Commander said angrily.
“It’s all Tyrell’s fault,” another added. “He mishandled the entire 314 Project, and then stupidly allowed himself to be recorded.”
A third voice spoke up. “And then he allowed Sebastian Giles to proceed with this–”
“Gentlemen, please,” Travers interjected. “I agree that things have not gone according to plan, but we must remember that all is not lost.”
“Oh really?” the first High Commander responded bitterly. “If Giles gets elected, he’ll be nothing but trouble.”
“Just think of it this way,” Travers said, “if Giles wins, we’ll be able to keep a close eye on him, control him to a certain extent. On the other hand, if I win, it’s back to business as usual.”
“Keep your friends close, but your enemies closer, eh?” the second High Commander said thoughtfully.
Travers smiled. “Absolutely.”
Killer’s Basement – Night
Ramakrishna opened his eyes to a darkened room. He tried to sit up, but found himself bound and gagged on a long table. He struggled against his bonds to no avail. He stopped when he heard mechanical footsteps approaching.
Soon, a face leaned over, and dark eyes met his.
“I’ve got to step out for a moment, but I’ll be back,” the killer said coldly. He pulled on the ropes holding down his victim and smirked. “Don’t go anywhere,” he said.
Watchers Council – Council Chambers – Night
Veronica tapped the gavel twice and opened the Council meeting.
“We’ve all had time to examine the service records of our two nominees, Morgan Travers and Sebastian Giles.” Veronica announced. “Now, each will be given the opportunity to address us before we vote. Councilor Travers?”
Veronica looked at Travers and gestured towards the podium. Travers nodded and then took his place.
“Fellow Councilors, like you, I was shocked and appalled to learn of Chairman Tyrell’s treasonous actions,” Travers stated dramatically. “In no way, do I support such deal-with-the-devil solutions.”
“The Council is facing many problems, that’s true, but none we haven’t faced before,” Travers continued. “What the Council needs, and what I will most certainly bring to it if I am elected Chair, is a reliance on tradition, on proven methods. It is the strengths of our past and our present that will see us through to our future.”
Travers paused and looked out across the group. Then he leaned forward onto the podium. “What the council does not need, however, is a self-righteous vigilante, who thinks the rules can be broken whenever he damn well pleases as long as the end justifies the means.” Travers took a long look at Giles, then turned back to the group. “Thank you,” he said with a small nod.
Giles narrowed his eyes and pursed his lips tightly, but gave no other sign of feeling Travers’ barb. He turned his eyes to Veronica, who was waiting for the applause to die down.
“Thank you, Councilor Travers,” Veronica stated formally as Travers took his seat. Then she turned to Giles and invited him to the podium. “Councilor Giles?” she said with a smile and wink.
Giles smiled back and took his place at the podium.
“First of all, let me say thank you for expressing your confidence in me by nominating me for the position of Chair,” Giles began. “I promise that if I am elected—and even if I’m not, for that matter—I will do my very best to see that the Council not only succeeds in its mission but also excels at it.”
Giles stopped and scanned the room. “That success and that excellence, however, are dependent on one thing: balance. It was an imbalance of power that allowed Tyrell—and his allies, whoever they might be—to secretly initiate the 314 Project. That imbalance must be corrected. We must return to our roots and restore what the Council once was over a hundred years ago.”
“But we also need to be willing to adapt,” Giles said enthusiastically, “to discover innovative ways to complete our mission, to employ a balance of old traditions and new techniques.”
Giles paused once again. “The battle against the demonic menace is far from over. Are we ready? Elect me, and together, we will make sure that we are prepared; we will make sure that this world is safe for humanity. Thank you.”
As Giles took his seat, the Council loudly applauded. Travers folded his arms tightly across his chest and clenched his jaw. Veronica returned to the podium.
“Councilors,” she said, “you have heard from the candidates. Now is the time to cast your votes.”
Sisters of Grace Hospital – Night
From behind the overgrown weeds and brush of the nearby lot, Jocasta and Katherine watched the north entrance of the condemned charity hospital. The doors and windows, once boarded up, were now broken open and had been for some time. Seeing nothing, Jocasta huffed in frustration. Katherine adjusted her headset and activated her radio.
“Livia,” Katherine called into her headset.
“Yeah?” Livia responded over the radio.
“You got anything?” Katherine asked.
“Nope, not a thing,” Livia answered. “Entrances, ground floor windows, tunnel access, all clear. Are you sure this is the right place?”
“It’s supposed to be,” Jocasta said, joining the conversation. “I mean, he’s got to come here, and it’s got to be tonight, so where is he?”
“Well, we’ve been watching since this afternoon, so unless he’s got wings and can land on the roof, he’s not–”
“Dammit!” Jocasta exclaimed, jumping to her feet.
“What is it?” Katherine asked, joining Jocasta.
“How could I be so stupid?” Jocasta cursed herself.
“What is it? What’s going on?” Livia asked.
“The killer, he’s a teleporter,” Jocasta said.
“Which means…” Livia started.
“He’s already inside,” Katherine finished.
“We’re going in,” Jocasta said as she and Katherine made a run for the front doors. “Send a team to cover the north entrance, and keep the place surrounded.”
“Wait, I’ll send a team over to come with you,” Livia offered.
“There’s no time,” Jocasta replied. “Just be ready in case he bolts. Oh, and watch for the Vritrani demon, too.”
“Roger that,” Livia answered.
Katherine and Jocasta slowed as they reached the entrance to the old hospital. They crept to the doors, pulled out their flashlights and pistols, and slipped inside.
Sisters of Grace Hospital – Night
Using their flashlights, Jocasta and Katherine quickly navigated their way through the maze of hallways and descended into the lowest levels, where the bowels of the hospital’s plumbing and heating systems came together. They passed old steam pipes and natural gas lines, huge boilers and pumps. As the two women made it to the final floor of the facility, Katherine grabbed Jocasta’s arm, stopping the two of them in place.
“What is it?” Jocasta asked in a whisper.
“He’s here,” Katherine answered. “I can feel it.”
“This way,” Katherine said, moving off to her left.
They crossed the large boiler room and entered a small corridor, lined with several electrical rooms. A faint light was seeping from the room at the end of the hallway. Katherine pointed in that direction.
They eased to the doorway and peeked in the room. It was larger than the other rooms along the corridor and, like the rest of the abandoned hospital, was cluttered with garbage, cardboard boxes, and broken furniture. It also contained large pieces of electrical equipment: walls of circuits, busted consoles, discarded transformers. When Jocasta and Katherine heard a shuffle and a series of mechanical whirs coming from behind the equipment on the far side of the room, they crept silently inside.
When they eased around the corner, they saw him, silhouetted by the candles and kerosene lamps lighting the room. He stood over the still form of the now-dead Vritrani demon, whose scaly body was covered in its own light blue blood, which glowed eerily in the shadows. The killer held a vial of the glowing blood in his right hand. He looked at it once, then tucked it safely away into his long black overcoat. He turned to go, but found himself facing two gun barrels pointed in his direction.
“Freeze!” Katherine ordered. “Don’t move!”
The killer snorted derisively. Then, without so much as a word or a gesture, he magically ripped the pistols from the hands of Katherine and Jocasta. The weapons flew from their fingers directly into the grip of the killer’s hands. He looked the pistols over as Jocasta and Katherine ran for cover.
“Mmmm, nice,” he said approvingly. Then he opened fire.
As Jocasta and Katherine ducked behind an electrical console, bullets tore into the layers of sheet metal and plastic. They stayed down, huddled together, until the bullets stopped. They heard the killer throw one of the guns down, then they heard him moving slowly in their direction, his gait marked by the telltale sounds of his cybernetic legs.
“What do we do?” Jocasta asked Katherine desperately.
“You die,” the killer said, stepping around the console and pointing the second gun at them.
Before the killer could squeeze the trigger, Katherine leapt from her knees and grabbed his forearm, pushing it up so that his shots fired into the ceiling. She brought his arm down hard on the edge of the console, dislodging the gun from his hand. She punched him in the face twice and then in the stomach, doubling him over.
He came back up instantly, however, backhanding Katherine with his cybernetic left arm, sending her flying several feet away near Jocasta. He smiled when he saw the Slayer crash into a pile of equipment, then he moved in for the kill.
Jocasta intercepted him. “Murus muniatur!” she said, waving her hand before her.
The killer’s face broke into shock as he rammed into an invisible wall. He looked angry at first, but then he just laughed.
“I don’t believe it,” he said mockingly. “The Council’s actually dippin’ into the ol’ magic hat again. Will wonders never cease?” Then he reared back and punched the barrier, shattering it instantly, sending Jocasta to her knees.
Using his right hand, he grabbed the stunned Jocasta by her hair and pulled her head back, exposing her neck. He lifted his left arm and flexed his cybernetic hand as he prepared to rip her throat out.
As his hand shot towards Jocasta’s neck, a magical blast knocked him away from Jocasta and into the wall near the door. Jocasta turned to look behind her and saw Katherine climbing out of the equipment pile.
Jocasta stood and ran to Katherine. “Are you okay?” she asked.
Katherine nodded. “You?”
“Been better,” Jocasta said with a smile.
Katherine smiled in return.
Their smiles ended when they heard the killer chuckling behind them.
“Now that was a pretty good pop, I must admit,” he said. “But you girls have got to know that you are way outta your league. I can crush you, pummel you, pulverize you, and I can do it without breaking a sweat.”
“Yeah, but can you do it without consulting your thesaurus?” Jocasta shot back.
The killer gave a sarcastic laugh, then his face tightened into fierce concentration as he lifted both arms before him. Suddenly, large pieces of equipment shot towards the door. Jocasta and Katherine had to move quickly to avoid being rammed. By the time they finished dodging chunks of metal, they found the exit completely blocked.
The killer now stood beside one of the many piles of cardboard and debris, holding one of the kerosene lamps from the other room. He smashed it on the floor next to the garbage, igniting it instantly. Katherine and Jocasta backed away.
“Ooops,” he said, raising his hands to his face in fake alarm. “Whatever shall we do?” he cried. “Oh! I know,” he said. Then he dropped the act and teleported from the room.
Jocasta and Katherine remained frozen in terror as they watched the flames grow and begin to engulf the room.
End of Act Three