Act 2



Fade In:


Jocasta’s Apartment – Resume

Jocasta looked around the living room once again. Then she noticed the message light blinking on her computer. She walked over to the computer station.

“Computer, play message,” Jocasta commanded.

The computer made a small beep, and then a voice came from the speaker.

“Jo, I’m really sorry, but I had to leave,” Katherine said in her recorded message. “S-Something came up…here at Slayer Command. I’ll call you later, okay? Bye.”

The computer beeped again. Jocasta frowned unhappily.

Cut To:


Watchers Council – Hallway Near Slayer Command – Early Afternoon

As Giles made his way from Slayer Command, he saw James in the hall. The computer technician seemed distracted, walking with his head down and his hands thrust into his pockets.

“James!” Giles called out. The tech didn’t respond. Giles stepped in James’s path and repeated his name. Finally, the young man looked up.

“Oh, hi,” James replied before settling his gaze on Giles’s uniform. “Mr. Chairman,” he added.

“James, I just wanted to remind you that we still need to meet some time today, if at all possible. Will you check in with my assistant later on?”

“Yes, sir,” James answered, nodding emphatically. “Absolutely.”

“Good,” Giles said. “I’ll see you then.”

Giles smiled a good-bye then continued down the hallway.

Cut To:


Watchers Council – Slayer Command Communications Center – Later

James looked as if he were being eaten by the communications station. Only his legs were visible as they stuck out from the crawlspace beneath the console. A variety of tools lay beside his legs.

“Aha!” his voice called from the cave of metal and plastic. “Exactly what I thought.”

His hand snaked out, snagged a tool, then slipped back inside. After a few moments, his hand re-emerged and dropped the tool. Then he turned over and began slowly backing out of the crawlspace.

“Why don’t you have your link on?” a voice boomed behind him, startling him and causing him to bang his head on the console.

James finished backing out, a scowl on his face. Anya stood beside him with her hands on her hips.

“I’ve been calling you for fifteen minutes,” Anya complained.

James checked his communications link. “Sorry, I didn’t know it was off.”

“What are you doing here anyway?” she asked. “I thought you said you weren’t going to do this project.”

“I never said that,” James objected.

“Yes, you did,” she insisted. “Just this morning, you–”

James cut her off. “Anya, cut to the chase. What do you want?”

“Oh, Livia called. Jessica wants to tour the Computer Center,” Anya explained. “So you need to get back to your real job now.”

James groaned and got to his feet. “Fine,” he grumbled as he followed Anya out of the communications center.

Cut To:


Watchers Council – Giles’s Office – Mid-Afternoon

When Giles entered his inner office, he found his colleague and friend, Veronica Wyndam-Pryce, waiting for him. His face showed surprise, and he looked back into the outer office where his assistant worked.

“Oh, I let myself in,” Veronica said with a smirk. “I hope you don’t mind.”

“Ummm…no, of course, not,” Giles replied. “Would you like some tea?”

“No, thank you,” she answered.

As Giles got water heating for his tea, he called over his shoulder, “What can I do for you?”

“I’m here to give you your two-week checkup,” Veronica said.

“A checkup?” Giles asked, confused.

“Your first two weeks as Chair?”

Giles’s face showed comprehension. He laughed and finished his tea preparations. Then he joined Veronica at his desk. “I guess I’d better sit down for this?”

“Probably,” Veronica said, drawing the word out. Giles sat down instantly. Veronica looked down at her hands, which were clasped in her lap, her expression deep in thought.

When his friend didn’t immediately begin her pronouncement, Giles leaned closer and said, “Veronica, you and I have been friends for most of our tenures here at the Council. If there’s something bothering you, tell me what it is for God’s sake and quit beating around the bush.”

Veronica looked up. “Sebastian, I nominated you for the position of Chairman because you’re not afraid to take chances and to stand up for what’s right, but I have to admit, you surprised me when you voted to convict Slayer Allison and Colonel Rosenberg of illegal magic use.”

“What did you want me to do, Veronica? Stand up and propose that we throw away the magic statutes on my second day on the job?”

“No, of course not,” she said. “However, I did expect you to try and get the Council to show them lenience.”

“Two weeks was lenient, and you know it as well as I do!” Giles replied. Then he paused and sighed. “Frankly, Veronica, I’m frustrated. In trying to avoid alienating myself from the Council, I may have alienated myself from Jo.” Giles paused again and ran his hand through his hair. “She’s still mad at me for not taking a stand on the magic issue, and now she’s upset because I don’t see things the same way she does in regards to Willow.”

“Willow?” Veronica asked with a confused look on her face.

“The holographic personality construct of the Progenitor File.”

“Oh, yes, of course,” Veronica said, remembering. “What’s Jo up in arms about?”

“She came into my office earlier today and asked me why I hadn’t paid a visit to Willow or sent someone else to check up on her during the past two weeks. I must confess that the thought never crossed my mind; even though she’s displayed sentience, I still find myself viewing her as nothing more than a computer program. Jo, however, sees things differently, and she wants me to take a motion before the Council that would give Willow legal rights,” Giles said.

“From what you’ve told me, Willow was responsible for the unmasking of Tyrell’s 314 project. That fact alone indicates that she’s an extraordinary program. So why are you reluctant to do what Jo is asking?”

“If I were to bring this type of motion before the Council, Travers and everyone else who thinks my appointment to this job was a mistake will have a field day.”

“So you’re telling me that you’re refusing to do this for Jo because you’re afraid of what the Council will think? Sebastian, that’s not like you,” Veronica said.

“I know, I know,” Giles admitted. “Normally, I-I-I wouldn’t give a flying fig what those windbags think, but now…I’m finding it very difficult to…to be comfortable in this new role.” Giles sighed. “I should have used Jo and Katie’s illegal magic-use case as the opportunity to begin the process of reintegrating magic into the Council, but I wasn’t ready. I’m still not ready.”

“Rome wasn’t built in a day, Sebastian, but you’ve got to start somewhere. This Council needs the Sebastian Giles that we’ve known for years,” Veronica said. Then her face brightened into a teasing grin, though her words were serious. “We need the radical Giles, the trouble-making Giles, the Giles who flies fearless in the face of failure and ridicule.”

Giles could not help but grin in response. “You’re right,” Giles stated. “I have to start somewhere.”

Cut To:


Watchers Council – Computer Center – Same Time

James stood at a proud parade-rest with Anya behind him as Livia led Jessica into the foyer of the Computer Center.

“Hey, James,” Livia said amiably.

“Livia,” James replied. Then he turned to his sister and said formally, “Jessica.”

Jessica playfully mimicked her brother’s serious tone. “James.”

“This is Anya,” James said, stepping aside to gesture toward the android. “My personal assistant.”

Jessica gave the synthetic a quick nod then turned back to James. “You got her when you worked at Hubris, right?”

James’s eyes widened for a moment, as if he were surprised that Jessica knew about this detail of his life. Then his eyes narrowed again. “Yeah,” he said as he started to walk away, beginning the tour.

Jessica instantly interjected, stopping James’s movement. “You must’ve done something really special to get an android,” she added, trying to be conversational. “They’re awfully expensive, a real luxury item. Even I don’t have one.”

“Well, I didn’t do anything illegal, if that’s what you’re getting at,” James replied defensively.

“No,” Jessica denied quickly. “No, that’s not what I meant at all, I was just–”

“Look, do you want to do the tour or not?” James asked impatiently.

Jessica slumped in defeat. “Fine,” she said in an irritated voice. “Do the tour.”

“Yeah, I’m looking forward to the tour, too,” Livia said in an effort to lighten the mood. “I’ve always wondered what goes on down here.”

James went from the foyer of the computer center to a door secured by a card reader. He slid his card, and the door buzzed and popped open. James held the door open as Jessica, Livia, and Anya entered.

Once beyond the security door, James led the group on a brief tour of the facilities, showing them first his personal work area, which held his desk and a series of workstations lined along the opposite two walls. Next was the control room, where a handful of technicians were conducting their usual daily operations.

When they reached the mainframe access room, James pointed out the huge, blinking and humming conglomerate of computers that served as the heart of the Council’s network of databases. After only the most cursory of explanations, James started to lead the group back out again. Anya stepped in front of Jessica.

“It’s really a fascinating system,” Anya interjected, directing Jessica’s gaze back towards the mainframe. “See the qubit processing unit? Forget about your old-style bits with their measly little on/off value,” she sniffed dismissively. “Ones and zeros are so Twenty-First-Century, don’t you think? Qubits exist in a state that’s neither completely on nor completely off. As a result, they have access to an infinite range of values that exist between one and zero. Of course, you never get full access to all of that potential computing power because you have to transfer it from its isolated state through an entanglement processor and…”

James rolled his eyes as Anya went further into her speech. When he noticed how entranced Jessica seemed to be, he tightened his lips and crossed his arms.

Eventually, Anya finished, and the four of them headed out of the mainframe room and back towards the front of the computer center. As they did so, Anya continued elaborating on the many functions of the computer center, usually emphasizing her critical role in its maintenance and operations. When they finally arrived back at the foyer, both Livia and James were trudging along behind Anya and Jessica.

Jessica faced her twin brother. “Well, thanks for the tour,” she said with a smile.

“Sure, no problem,” James replied, re-crossing his arms.

Jessica turned to Anya. “Anya, nice to meet you,” she said, shaking the android’s hand. “And thank you for the fascinating explanation of the Council’s mainframe.”

“Oh, well if you liked that explanation, you’ll love the one I’ll give you in the vehicle hangar. They have this awesome new grav-lift,” Anya said, linking her arm in Jessica’s and heading for the door. “Has Livia taken you there yet? I bet she hasn’t. Slayers aren’t known for their social skills. No, it’s all stalk-and-kill with them…”

“Hey!” Livia interjected as she leapt to catch up with the actress and android.

Within seconds, James was alone. He sighed in relief, but then frowned unhappily.

Cut To:


Jocasta’s Apartment – Later

Giles walked up to Jocasta’s apartment. He stopped in front of the door, cleared his throat, and took a deep breath. Then he knocked on the door.

As the door started to open, Giles heard Jocasta’s voice say, “Katie, you can let yourself in, you know. You don’t have to knock just because–”

Jocasta stopped in surprise when she realized who was at the door.

“Hello, Jo,” Giles said with a small smile.

Jocasta’s look of surprise gave way to one of annoyance. She crossed her arms. “Giles,” she said evenly.

“May I come in? I think we should talk.”

Jocasta paused and sighed. Then she stepped aside to allow Giles to enter her apartment. Once Giles was inside, Jocasta shut the door and turned to her mentor. She re-crossed her arms and waited.

“I wanted to tell you that I’ve been thinking about what you said earlier, about the Progenitor…about Willow,” Giles said correcting himself quickly. “I think you’re right that we need to develop some special protocols for Willow. She’s a unique program and should be granted unique privileges.”

Jocasta un-crossed her arms. “Well, good, I-I’m glad you agree with me,” she replied.


“I’ll need your help to convince the Council, though,” Giles added. “You’ll need to develop a report justifying the recognition of sentience and outlining the details of the protocols you want to establish on Willow’s behalf.”

“I can do that, no problem,” Jocasta assured Giles. “I can have it for you in a few hours.”

“Excellent! I’ve scheduled a meeting for this evening. Can you be there tonight a-and bring Willow with you?”

“Absolutely,” Jocasta said, smiling sincerely.

Giles returned Jocasta’s smile. Then almost at the same time, their smiles faded, and they averted their gaze. They shifted on their feet as if they were just now realizing that they weren’t supposed to be getting along.

After a seemingly interminable period of silence, Jocasta finally spoke. “Thank you, Giles,” she said, “for taking this to the Council.”

Giles smiled. “You’re welcome.”

The two became quiet again. Then Jocasta gestured back towards her computer. “I should probably get started,” she said.

“Ah, yes, of course, I-I-I know you have much to do,” Giles replied, backing towards the door. “I’ll…ummm…see you tonight, then.”

Jocasta nodded in affirmation.

When Giles had left, Jocasta frowned at the door.

Cut To:


Watchers Council – Katherine’s Quarters – Same Time

Katherine sat at her computer, browsing through the public archives. She read one screen then another, then sighed in frustration. She switched to a different database. When the search screen came up, she typed “Tara Maclay” into the open field and started the search. After a few seconds, the search results displayed: a brief biographical record but nothing more. Katherine groaned aloud.

“This is ridiculous!” she grumbled to herself. “Isn’t there any information on this woman at all?”

Suddenly, her computer chimed, making her jump slightly. It was her call service, indicating an incoming call. Katherine accessed the call program and saw that it was Jocasta. Katherine looked away, her brow creased with worry. She turned back to the screen but didn’t answer the call. She watched as the program indicated that a message was being left. Katherine activated the listen command.

“I guess you’re not there,” Jocasta’s voice said, “I was just wondering what you were up to. I ended up getting called in to work, too. I’m on my way there as a matter of fact, so no last day off for us, huh? Anyway, I…ummm…I guess I’ll see you tomorrow then. Bye.”

Cut To:


Watchers Council – Council Chambers – Evening

“This meeting will now come to order!”

Giles banged his gavel on the podium in front of him, then stood in silence and watched as his fellow Councilors quickly turned their attention towards him.

“Thank you,” Giles said. He hesitated briefly before resuming. “I apologize for the short notice of this meeting, but I have several issues which I feel deserve immediate attention.”

Morgan Travers stood up. “Such as?” he asked accusingly.

Giles glanced briefly at Veronica, who winked at him in encouragement. He looked down at his hands for a few seconds before continuing.

“I’ll cut to the chase. I called this meeting in order to discuss the Progenitor File, or Willowgram, as she is commonly called. I know there are many of you who will question my sanity after I make this request, but I would like to put forth a motion designating the Willowgram as a sentient being and giving her the following rights–”

“You’ve got to be joking!” Travers exploded. “It’s absurd, giving rights to a computer program.”

“Mr. Travers, I would appreciate if you held all comments and objections until after I have completed making my case,” Giles said forcefully.

Travers glared at Giles, but returned to his seat.

From somewhere in the back, a Councilor raised her hand. Giles looked in her direction and nodded, indicating that she had permission to speak.

“I mean no disrespect, Mr. Chairman, but I, like Mr. Travers, question the validity of granting rights to a computer program. What you’re asking us to do is to make a monumental decision without offering any proof to convince us why this is something we should be considering.”

Giles nodded. “I agree, and that is why I have brought both Willowgram and Colonel Jocasta Rosenberg with me. Colonel Rosenberg is the one best qualified to present the case as to why this Council should grant Willowgram legal rights,” he said.

Jocasta, who had been standing off to one side, stepped forward, and Giles moved aside to allow her access to the podium.

“Thank you, Mr. Chairman,” she said. “I’d like all of you to take a look at this.”

She made a few keystrokes, and a series of images appeared on the large monitors on the wall and on the Councilors’ individual screens.

“These are copies of notes made by the engineers who originally designed and programmed the Progenitor File. They predicted that a personality construct would have the capacity to make independent decisions depending on the personality it was replicating,” she said.

Travers leapt to his feet.

“These diagrams merely show the potential for a personality construct to develop sentience. They do not prove that this particular construct is anything more than a computer program, nor are they based on any scientific fact,” he argued.

“That might be true, Mr. Travers, but there is one person in this room who can offer the very proof you’re looking for: Willowgram herself.”

She reached into her pocket and pulled out Willowgram’s mobile emitter. Setting it on the podium’s surface, she activated it and waited until Willow’s 12-inch image had materialized. She then positioned the emitter so that Willowgram could be clearly seen by everyone.

“Hello,” she said.

“Willow,” Jocasta said, addressing the hologram directly, “I need you to give an account of what happened when I came to the Progenitor Room with Councilor Giles and Slayer Allison and we first activated you.”

“Certainly,” Willowgram said. “When I was first accessed, I introduced myself as Willow Rosenberg because that’s the personality on which my construct was based. You immediately recognized that I was a personality construct and even deduced the materials with which my neural network database was designed. I told the three of you that only the Command Council Chairman or someone of Rosenberg descent (confirmed by DNA match) could access my program. Even after Councilor Giles explained what you needed, I refused to help you…until you passed the DNA scan. After that, I told you what you needed to know. Before I could finish, we were interrupted by armed guards and then-Chairman, Horatio Tyrell. When Tyrell tried to deactivate me, I told him that he didn’t have the authority to request my deactivation.”

“But as Chairman of the Council, he could have ordered your deactivation. So, who told you to make it so that Tyrell couldn’t deactivate you?” Jocasta asked.

“No one told me to do it. I restricted my access protocols by myself,” Willowgram said, a touch of pride creeping into her voice.

“What happened next?” Jocasta asked.

“You asked me for more information on the new Initiative, and I gave you that information I had on record. Tyrell tried to arrest you, Councilor Giles, and Slayer Allison, but Slayer Allison overcame Tyrell’s guards. I then downloaded myself into my mobile processor. Councilor Giles took me with him and sent you and Slayer Allison to track down her Watcher, Sean Rayne,” Willowgram said.

“Thank you,” Jocasta said to the hologram before turning to address the Council. “I think this demonstrates clearly enough that Willow does, like her engineers predicted, have the capability for independent thought. She not only changed her own access protocols, but she also downloaded herself into her mobile processor and told us how to get out of the Progenitor Room.”

“The Progenitor File is a computer program. How do we know that it wasn’t programmed to answer Colonel Rosenberg’s questions? This entire meeting is a waste of this Council’s valuable time.”

Giles stepped forward. “Again, your objections are noted, Mr. Travers. Please continue, Colonel,” he said.

“I don’t know about all of you, but the fact that Willow was able to change her access protocols and download herself to her mobile emitter indicates a form of sentience,” Jocasta said.

Veronica Wyndham-Price raised her hand and was recognized by Giles. She addressed Jocasta directly. “Colonel, I’m willing to accept that the…ummm… Willowgram is functioning on a semi-sentient level, but what exactly are you asking us to approve on its…I mean…her behalf?” she asked.

“I think Chairman Giles should answer this question,” Jocasta said. She stepped aside to allow Giles to take his place at the podium.

“As evidenced by the role she played in exposing Tyrell’s plot to resurrect Project 314, Willowgram can be a powerful tool; however, in order to use her to the fullest extent, some changes in her programming protocols need to be made. Currently, the Willowgram is connected only to the Council’s main database grid, but in order to make full use of Willowgram’s capabilities, she needs to have access to the worldwide data network grid as well,” Giles said. “Also, while the Progenitor Room was specifically created to house the Willowgram’s programming, circumstances have proven that it is too much of a security liability. Therefore, I propose that the Willowgram’s programming be rerouted to Colonel Rosenberg’s office.”

Travers jumped to his feet again. “I object. If the Progenitor File is as powerful a tool as you say it is, then the entire Council should be allowed access to it,” he said.

“The Progenitor Room will remain operable, and anyone who has the right security clearance will be allowed to access the Willowgram from there,” Giles said. “Any other objections before I continue, Mr. Travers?”

Travers glowered at Giles, but when he didn’t say anything, Giles continued.

“The third change I am proposing is that she be granted full control of her access protocols, allowing her to control how and when she is activated and how, when, why, and by whom her programming is accessed,” Giles said. “Do I have a second for the motion?”

Veronica once again raised her hand and was recognized by Giles. “I second Chairman Giles’s motion to allow the Progenitor File full access to the entire Council database and also to the worldwide database network, full control over her own access protocols, and to allow for her programming to be directly rerouted to Colonel Rosenberg’s office,” she said formally.

“Thank you,” Giles replied. “I have a second. Is there any further discussion on the matter?”

When no one made any additional questions or comments, Giles called for the vote. After a few moments, he announced the results. “Voting is now closed, and the motion has passed.” Giles banged the gavel down on the podium next to Willow’s mobile processor.

Willowgram put a finger in her ear as if in reaction to the loud bang of the gavel.

“Sorry,” he said sheepishly to the hologram before picking up her mobile processor and handing it to Jocasta. Then he turned his attention back to the Council. “Thank you for your time, Councilors,” he said. “This meeting is now adjourned.”

Cut To:


Watchers Council – Hallway Outside Council Chambers – Moments Later

Jocasta and Giles came out of the large doors, wearing very pleased expressions. Jocasta was carrying Willowgram’s mobile processor. She held it up, patted it and said, “Thanks again, Giles.”

“No, thank you…for convincing me and then the Council.”

“Just doin’ my job,” Jocasta said lightly. “Which I’ll be back at officially, starting tomorrow, so I’m gonna head home and rest up.”

“Oh, yes, well, I won’t keep you any longer,” Giles said. “Have a good night, Jo.”

“You too, Giles,” Jocasta replied.

As Jocasta headed down the hallway, Giles watched her go, a hopeful smile on his face.

Cut To:


Watchers Council – Detention Area – Later That Evening

John West was just beginning his night-shift rounds, checking with the major divisions of Council Headquarters for any relevant updates. He knew the information he needed was probably in his email, but he preferred doing a face-to-face whenever possible. Having just left the guard station on the detention level, he waited patiently at the elevator.

When the doors opened, he was surprised to see James in the car. “James,” John said with a curious smile. “What are you doing down here?”

James shifted nervously on his feet. “Oh, I-I-I got tired of waiting for the elevator to go my way, so I got on anyway. I figured I’d just tag along and then…head to where I’m going.”

“Oh,” John replied as he got in the car.

John punched the button for Gray Sector. Then he looked at James as if wondering why there wasn’t another button lit up. James quickly caught on and punched another button on the pad. The elevator doors closed.

Cut To:


Watchers Council – Giles’s Office – The Next Morning

James shrank into the leather chair before Giles’s desk. He looked from side to side nervously. When Giles sat down, James forced himself to sit up straight and meet the Chairman’s eyes.

“James, thank you for coming,” Giles said. “I know it’s been difficult getting a hold of me. It’s been quite hectic around here.”

“Yes sir, I mean, no sir, I mean, I didn’t mind, sir. I know you’re very busy,” James stammered.

Giles gave a light smile then cleared his throat. “James–”

“Giles, I know what you’re going to say,” James interrupted, “and you’re right. I’m not pulling my own weight around here. There’s a lot more I could be doing, and I want you to know that I’m ready to step up to the plate. It’s high time I took on a bit more responsibility.”

Giles’s eyes widened in surprise. “Well, I…ummm…I’m glad to hear you say that because I have two projects for you.”

“Really?” James replied enthusiastically.

Giles nodded. “The first thing I’d like you to do is to coordinate the changes in to the Progenitor File that Jocasta and I were able to procure on Willow’s behalf.”

“Oh, yes, Jocasta forwarded her report to me last night,” James said. “I can do that, no problem.”

“The other project is an outside investigation,” Giles said, handing over a data pad, “involving a break-in at a local research facility. I’d like you to look into it.”

James stood and took the data pad eagerly. “I’ll get on it right away!” he said with a wide smile. “Thank you, sir!” he added and headed for the door to Giles’s office. As he entered the hallway, he glanced at the details on the data pad and stopped in place when he read them.

“Dayson Laboratory,” he stated before looking off with a concerned expression.

Cut To:


Watchers Council – Computer Center – Morning

James hurried into his work area in the computer center. Anya appeared to be on her way out.

“Where are you going?” James asked the android.

“To find Livia and Jessica,” Anya replied.

“But I need your help re-routing the data transfer for the Progenitor File,” James complained.

“I’ll help you later,” Anya said. “Right now, Jessica desperately needs a decent tour guide, somebody who really knows what goes on around here. Livia is woefully inadequate in that department.”

Before James could command her otherwise, Anya slipped out the door.

“Fine,” James said sarcastically. “Help Jessica. All hail Jessica.”

James plopped into his lab chair and pouted. After a moment, he took a deep breath and turned his attention to the access protocols for Willowgram.

Cut To:


Watchers Council – Lobby – Later

Antonia skipped out of the elevator wearing an excited grin. She carried a large bag of various snacks in one arm. When she passed through the lobby, she saw James coming towards the elevators.

“Hey, I was just about to call you,” Antonia said happily, “but now I don’t have to.”

“Uhhh…what for?” James asked.

“With the weather so nice for a change, we’re throwing an impromptu picnic, and you’re invited,” the pilot said. Then she took James by the arm and led him out the front entrance of Council Headquarters.

Cut To:


Park Near Watchers Council – Moments Later

As Antonia and James arrived at the gazebo, they found Jocasta and Lex setting the long table with a hodge-podge of food and drink. Livia and Jessica and Anya were gathered on the far side, chatting. Giles was nearby, perched on a bench, talking with Willowgram, whose holographic image was a bit faded in the bright sunlight. Antonia gave Lex a kiss, then added her bag of goodies to the stack.

“Dig in, everybody,” Jocasta announced. And soon everyone—except for Willow and Anya—did just that.

While she ate, Jocasta cast occasional glances towards the sidewalk that led to Council HQ. Having noticed, Antonia asked, “Where’s Katie?”

“Ummm…I don’t know,” Jocasta admitted. “I haven’t talked to her since yesterday. I left a message.” She glanced towards HQ once again. This time her face brightened. “There she is!”

Jocasta rose from her place at the table, left the gazebo, and met Katherine on the sidewalk. They kissed sweetly, but briefly.

“Hey, I missed you,” Jocasta said sincerely. “I’m glad you could make it.”

“Me too,” Katherine replied, taking Jocasta’s hand as they headed towards the gazebo.

“Is everything okay?” Jocasta asked.

“Oh, yeah, sure,” Katherine answered nonchalantly. “Just had some work to do, that’s all. You know how it is…all work is all slay.”

“Well, there’s plenty of food, so help yourself,” Jocasta told Katherine as they walked into the gazebo.

After Katherine had filled her plate, Giles moved down a space to allow Katherine to sit next to Jocasta. Then the redhead stood and knocked on the wooden table to get everyone’s attention.

“Now that Katie’s here, I wanted to say a few things,” Jocasta began. “First of all, thanks for coming. It seems like every time we get together, it’s because a crisis is at hand. This time, though, it’s for a celebration. If you read your email, you know what’s up. If not, here it comes. Thanks to Giles, Willow has been granted a unique status as a semi-sentient being. From now on, she’ll have full control over her own access.”

The group fell into applause, and Willow grinned from ear to ear.

“Does this mean I’m officially a Scooby now?” Willow asked.

“A what?” Jessica asked, confused.

“A Scooby,” Jocasta answered Jessica. “It’s what the original founders of the new Council used to call themselves way back when.” Jocasta turned back to Willow. “Yes, you are now officially a Scooby—a virtual one, at any rate.”

Everyone lifted their glasses in salute to the hologram, who surprised them all when she did a quirky curtsy.

“In addition,” Jocasta continued, “it was a good time to celebrate Jessica’s visit with us. I hope your time with us has been productive.”

As they had for Willowgram, the group lifted their glasses and hailed the actress—James included. Jessica’s eyes widened at James’s seemingly sincere salute, but she quickly recovered and graciously thanked them all for their hospitality.

When Jocasta sat down, her remarks apparently over, Lex immediately stood up and lifted his glass and sloshed it in the direction of Jocasta and Katherine. “And let’s not forget our beloved Jo and Katie,” Lex announced in mock formality, “who have just returned to us after their unfortunate incarceration. We missed them so.” Lex wiped an imaginary tear from his cheek until Jocasta popped him in the head with a crust of bread.

“Hey, it’s not unfortunate,” Livia interjected. “If anybody ever tries to pick a fight with any of us, we can just tell ‘em we’ve got ex-cons as friends, so they better watch out.”

Katherine pelted Livia with a cube of cheese. “Like anybody would pick a fight with you, Miss Dealer of Destruction.”

“Hmmm…Dealer of Destruction…” Jessica said thoughtfully before ripping out her PDA to jot down a note.

The announcements portion of the event now over, the picnic returned to its leisurely pace and mood. Katherine and Jocasta were snuggled up together on one of the benches lining the gazebo. Livia and Lex were having a dessert-eating contest at one end of the table. At the other end, Anya was debating with Giles and Willowgram about the rights issue of synthetics versus holograms. Antonia was snapping pictures left and right with her pocket camera.

Jessica and James were sitting alone on the far side of the gazebo. They seemed to be not only getting along but actually enjoying themselves.

Katherine nodded her head in the direction of the twins. “It looks like the squabbling siblings are finally making up,” she commented.

“They weren’t getting along before?” Jocasta asked.

“Not at all,” she answered. “They barely spoke to each other for years.”

“Well, they’re talking now,” Jocasta said. “Which is more than I can say for poor Giles.”

The Chairman was trapped in an apparent Anya-rant, repeatedly opening his mouth as if to speak but finding himself cut off by the incessant speech of the android.

“I should probably go rescue him,” Jocasta said without moving from her comfortable spot in Katherine’s arms.

“Yeah, you probably should,” Katherine agreed.

Just as Jocasta began extricating herself, Giles’s comm link went off. She watched as he excused himself to take his call.

“Oh, saved by the bell,” Jocasta said as she settled back into place with Katherine.

“Chairman Giles,” the Councilor answered officially. After a few moments of listening, his face became angry and he exclaimed loudly, “What?!”

Everyone stopped what they were doing and watched Giles. The Chairman began to massage his forehead as his caller continued. “Don’t do anything. I’ll be right there.”

By the time he had ended his call, the others were gathered around him, and Jocasta was at his side. “Giles, what is it?” Jocasta asked.

“Sean Rayne has escaped,” he announced.

Fade Out


End of Act Two

Go Back Next Act