Cemetery – Resume
Mira somersaulted over a large tombstone. The two demons attempted to flank her, so she climbed on top of a crypt and pulled out her crossbow. As she lined up a shot, she heard Livia scream her name. In the split second it took for her to look over at Livia, the two demons converged on her. A claw swiped across her calf, causing her to fall backward off the crypt. Her head hit the corner of a tombstone, and she cursed as she struggled back to her feet.
More roars began to drift in from all around the area. Mira pulled up her crossbow and aimed it at the knife-wielding demon. As she fired a bolt into its chest, the other demon gave a high-pitched screech and turned tail and ran.
Mira’s jaw dropped as a group of four identical demons shuffled quickly toward them. Strangely, the four demons seemed to ignore Mira and instead ran to the fleeing demon and began to beat it over the head. Then two of the four new ones approached the demon holding Livia and pulled it off of her; it hissed angrily in response.
“What the hell?” Mira muttered to herself as the demon she had shot pulled the bolt from its chest and lunged for her. Mira twisted and kicked it hard, causing it to fall past her. The knife that the demon had been carrying fell from its hands, and the monster stumbled away, returning to its clan.
Moving quickly, Mira skirted around the departing group and dashed toward her injured friend, putting herself between Livia and the demons. When it was clear that the creatures were leaving, Mira fell to her knees beside Livia and began checking her injuries.
“Livia? Liv, can you hear me? Liv?” Mira spoke urgently. She quickly shucked her field jacket and wrapped the entire thing around Livia’s injured shoulder, using both hands to apply pressure to the large wound as best she could. “Come on, come on!”
Livia suddenly coughed and choked wetly. Blood trickled down the corner of her mouth. Her eyes grew wide, and she looked around frantically. “Mira?” She choked again, coughing up flecks of blood on Mira’s shirt.
“It’s okay, they’re gone. I’m gettin’ you out of here.” Mira activated her link and began to speak. “Slayer Command,” she squeaked. She cleared her throat and tried again. “Slayer Command, this is Slayer Fitzgerald in sector B-29. I need a level-one med team out here, stat. Slayer down. I repeat, slayer down.”
Livia twitched and shuddered. Blood oozed from her raw shoulder, soaking Mira’s jacket. “Mira. I…I can’t.” Livia shuddered and gasped.
“Shhh,” Mira hushed her. “Save your strength. The medics will be here soon.”
“It’s gone,” Livia whispered, tears welling up in her eyes. “It’s gone.” Her eyes rolled back into her head, and she slipped into unconsciousness.
Lex’s Apartment – Night
Lex sat in front of his computer, tapping his feet impatiently as he waited for his call to be picked up. After a few moments, Antonia’s face appeared on the screen. Lex grinned broadly at his girlfriend.
“Hey, baby!” he said. “It’s been a while. I was starting to think you found someone else.”
Antonia chuckled. “Not likely. You know I can’t get enough of you.”
Lex leaned forward, smiling. “I miss you. When are you coming home?”
Antonia raised an eyebrow. “Couple of days. I thought you were keeping busy. You’re not just moping around waiting for me, are you?” she said, putting on a mock glare for her boyfriend.
Lex grinned. “Maybe.”
Shaking her head in exasperation, Antonia waved a finger at the screen. “Lexington Harris, you need to get out more. When was the last time you hung out with your friends?”
Lex pretended to look confused. “Friends? Why would I need friends? I have you.” Then he shrugged. “Besides, my friends won’t let me see them naked.”
Antonia burst out laughing. Lex watched her for a moment, then licked his lips. “Speaking of which, what are you wearing?” he asked, leering at her.
“My flight suit, you dweeb.”
“And under that?”
Antonia stared, open-mouthed, at the screen. “Why you little horndog! You’re gonna get me in trouble, and as it is, the Admiral’s just waiting for me to screw up again.”
Lex pouted at her. “But, I miss you. I want you to be home, with me.”
“Really?” Antonia asked. She frowned as Lex’s expression turned serious.
“More than you know.”
Sighing, Antonia nodded. “Just forty-eight more hours, baby. I gotta go now, though, okay? Love ya.”
“Love ya,” Lex replied, kissing his fingertips and placing them on the screen. Antonia waved and disconnected the call. Lex leaned back in his chair. A contemplative expression crossed his face as he looked around his apartment.
“Yeah. Home,” he whispered to the empty room.
Watchers Council – Hallway – Night
Veronica came out of a conference room and was closely followed by High Commander Lucretia Upton. As they exited, both women groaned in a mixture of exhaustion and frustration.
“God, I hate committee meetings,” Veronica complained.
“Just be thankful we’re not hashing all this out with the entire Command Council,” Lucretia said. “If we were, we’d still be debating whether the committee should be named ‘The Committee on Financial Reform’ or ‘The Financial Reform Committee’.”
Veronica chuckled amiably until she noticed someone coming towards them. Her face fell.
“Ladies,” said Travers in greeting.
“Morgan,” Lucretia replied evenly. Veronica merely forced a smile.
“Heading to Chambers?” Travers asked.
“No,” Lucretia answered. “Why? Do we have a meeting?”
“Not a meeting exactly. More of a gathering, you might say.”
“What for?” Veronica inquired.
“Sebastian’s going to be on the news net. A live interview, I heard,” Travers reported. “I’m headed to the Council Chambers now to watch with the others. Join us?”
Both women nodded, and Travers went slowly on his way.
Lucretia turned to Veronica. “He didn’t?” the high commander whispered worriedly.
Veronica shook her head in disbelief. “I guess he did,” she said. “The idiot!”
Suddenly, Travers’ link went off, followed shortly by both Veronica’s and Lucretia’s. The two women looked at each other, glanced at Travers, and then answered their respective calls.
Before they could even finish their greeting, they heard Travers exclaim loudly down the hallway, “What?!”
Then they each listened to their callers. Within seconds, they too shouted, “What?!”
The two councilors looked at each other again, an expression of shock on their faces. Then their eyes went hard.
“We’ll be right there,” they both said.
Watchers Council – Infirmary – Same Time
Velika put a finger in her ear as she tried to listen to the voice on the other end of her link. A cacophony of sound swirled around her. Doctors and nurses were trying to calm screaming girls, and Mira was currently threatening a frightened Dr. McClelland.
“I’m her best friend, dammit!”
“I realize that, Mira, I do,” he told her. “The woman was by your side night and day when you were in here, but I just can’t let you in there—not until the surgeons are done operating.”
Mira roared in frustration and stalked over to a group of slayers crowded together on gurneys, having blood drawn. Velika interrupted the person she was talking to, indicating she would call them back, and disconnected her link; then she looked around for someone who was coherent enough to speak with her.
“Jenn!” she called, waving at the strawberry-blonde girl who was standing wide-eyed in the doorway.
The slayer walked quickly to Velika and nodded. “Yes, ma’am?”
“I want every unaffected slayer in the debriefing room. Now.” While Jenn hurried away to follow her order, Velika caught Dr. McClelland’s eye and gestured toward his office. He nodded his permission and returned his attention to the shaken slayer he was tending.
Watchers Council – Infirmary – Dr. McClelland’s Office – Seconds Later
Velika slipped into the office and closed the door behind her. The sounds from the infirmary became muffled. She took a deep breath, then crossed the room and activated the vid-phone. After a moment, the haggard face of Amanda Blair appeared on the screen.
“Commander Petrova?” the Irish watcher said, nervously fraying the end of her scarf.
Velika nodded and forced a smile. “Mrs. Blair, I’m sorry it took so long to return your call. As you can probably imagine, we have our hands full at the moment.”
Blair nodded and stopped fiddling with her scarf. “Yes, yes, I understand. We have twenty girls so far suffering from this affliction. Our doctors aren’t telling us a damned thing.” The woman clenched her fists. “My slayer is in a bloody coma, and they’re all just sitting with their thumbs up their arses!”
Velika held up a hand to forestall further ranting. “Please, Mrs. Blair. I understand your frustration. I nearly lost a few of my girls as well. But rest assured, the Council is doing everything in its power to get to the bottom of this.”
The door slid open suddenly, and Velika turned to see Jenn peeking her head inside. “The slayers are assembled, Commander. With, um, one exception.” She glanced nervously back at the infirmary then continued. “And the Moscow branch is on the line for you.”
“Thank you, Jenn.”
The young slayer ducked her head and hurried away. Velika turned back to the woman on the screen.
“Coordinate with the London office and see what you can do about getting a full report together. I’ll handle Moscow and Oceania. I want a count of all slayers affected in an hour.”
Blair murmured her agreement, and Velika could see that she was making notes. “And, Mrs. Blair?” Velika said. “My heart goes out to you and your slayer. I know she means a lot to you. Finola’s a tough kid, so I’m sure she’ll be fine.”
“Thank you,” Blair replied sincerely. “You’re a good soul.”
Velika didn’t have to force the smile this time as she signed off. With a heavy sigh, she left the office.
Watchers Council – Infirmary – Seconds Later
Velika headed toward the middle of the room, looking carefully at the faces of her slayers. As she passed the doorway to the infirmary, she was nearly knocked over as Jocasta came barreling in.
“Commander Petrova! I’m so sorry!” Jocasta was flustered, waving her arms in the air. “Have you seen Katie?”
Velika shook her head. “If she’s been affected, then she’s probably in here…somewhere,” she said, indicating the mob with a weary wave. “If not, then she should be in the slayer debriefing room.”
“Okay, thanks,” Jocasta said before walking into the infirmary to find Katherine.
Velika left Jocasta to her search and moved through the room again. She stopped by the bed of a slayer with a bandage around her head.
“Where’s Mira?” she asked.
The girl pointed toward the operating rooms. Velika thanked the girl and shook her head as she headed in Mira’s direction.
Watchers Council – Infirmary – Moments Later
Having come up empty in her search, Jocasta returned to the entrance. She went to leave but jumped back when the infirmary door suddenly opened. In came Katherine, being led by a limping Brianna.
“Katie!” Jocasta exclaimed when she saw her girlfriend.
Katherine released her hold on Brianna and allowed herself to be swept up into Jocasta’s arms. Brianna just sank to the floor and leaned against the wall, exhausted.
“I came as soon as I heard,” Jocasta said into Katherine’s ear. When they pulled out of the hug, Jocasta gently touched Katherine’s bruised face and looked into her eyes. “Are you all right?”
Katherine nodded. “I think so. Kinda dizzy. I sorta got whacked in the head.”
“Here…sit down,” Jocasta said as she guided Katherine to the floor. “I’ll get Dr. McClelland.” Jocasta gave Katherine a kiss then went to find the doctor. Within seconds, she was back with him and a nurse.
“Well, well, look who’s back,” Dr. McClelland joked as he quickly knelt between Katherine and Brianna.
“Just couldn’t get enough of this place,” Katherine joked back. “I liked it so much, I told all my friends about it.”
“I see,” he replied as he looked over at Brianna.
“I’m fine,” Brianna said to his inquiring glance. “Busted leg is all. I can wait.” Brianna grimaced sharply.
“How ’bout some pain meds till we can take a look?”
“Drugs are good,” Brianna said through clenched teeth.
Dr. McClelland nodded to his nurse, who stepped away to get the pain medication. Then he turned his attention back to Katherine. He took out his penlight and shined it into her eyes one at a time.
“I hear you got a good knock on the head.”
Then he held his finger up and asked her to follow it with her eyes, which she dutifully did.
“Well, your reactions are good, so I don’t think you have anything to worry about. A slight concussion maybe, but that’s all. We’ll get you checked out just as soon as we can, okay?”
Dr. McClelland stood and spoke to Jocasta. “She’ll be fine. Just keep an eye on her. It could be a long wait.”
Watchers Council – Infirmary – Observation Lounge – Same Time
Mira stood in front of the observation window, watching the surgeons within as they worked on Livia. In her hands, she still held the golden knife the demon had dropped at the cemetery. She twirled it as she stared blankly ahead. Velika walked up behind the slayer and wrapped an arm around her shoulder. Mira stiffened, but didn’t pull away.
“Mira?” Velika reached up and gently touched a wet clump of hair on the back of the slayer’s head. “You’re bleeding.”
Mira shrugged her off and continued staring through the isolation window. “Just hurt. Don’t make a case out of it.”
Without another word, Mira looked down at the knife, then turned and stormed out of the room. Velika took what must have been her hundredth deep breath of the night and activated her link. She groaned in frustration when no one responded.
“Dammit, Giles. Where the hell are you?”
News Net Studio – Same Time
Giles fidgeted in his seat. He glanced at the cameras pointing at him then straightened his jacket. The epitome of calm, reporter Lisa Lance sat perfectly still as her assistant touched up her makeup.
“You’ve got your link off, right?” Lance inquired.
“Oh, yes, I do,” Giles replied. “But thank you for reminding me.” Giles checked his link to be sure, then straightened his jacket again.
“Don’t worry,” Lance assured the chairman. “Everything will go just fine.”
“Thirty seconds,” the director called from the booth.
Lance’s assistant finished his work and slipped away. Lance straightened in her chair, adjusted her earpiece, and watched the camera, waiting for her cue. Giles cleared his throat and also turned his eyes to the camera.
Watchers Council – Council Chambers – Same Time
The room thundered with the voices of councilors expressing their shock and outrage over the latest news. Travers banged the gavel on the podium multiple times and shouted over the din.
“Councilors, please!” he said. “Take your seats and settle down.” Once the chamber was relatively quiet, he continued. “There’s nothing we can do until Commander Petrova gets here to give us her report. I suggest that we end this pointless speculation and focus on the news net program. By the time Chairman Giles’s appearance is over, Petrova will probably—”
“It’s on!” a councilor called out. Then all eyes went to the large monitors about the room.
News Net Studio – Same Time
“It’s no secret that the Watchers Council has been under considerable fire over the last several months,” Lance announced. “Some of that fire has come from this very network. Tonight, though, the Council is here to tell its side of the story.”
Lance shifted in her chair to face Giles.
“With me this evening is none other than Councilor Sebastian Giles, the recently-elected Chairman of the Watchers Council,” Lance said to the camera before turning to Giles. “Welcome, Mr. Chairman, and thank you for agreeing to come on the show.”
“Thank you, Ms. Lance,” Giles replied with a smile and a nod. “I appreciate the opportunity.”
“Let’s get right to it then. You’ve indicated that the Council has been unfairly represented in the media. How would you answer some of the criticisms that have been raised?”
“First of all, I would like to point out that the Council has years of experience in dealing with the demonic menace.”
“The New Council has been in operation for nearly 130 years, hasn’t it?”
“Yes, that’s correct,” Giles answered. “We’re not ones to rest on our laurels, though. We have continually worked to improve our operations. The army of slayers is the largest it’s ever been. Our newly-designed armored battle suit—the seraphim suit—has been thoroughly field tested and is currently in full production. We expect the entire slayer army to be fitted within a year.”
“Yes, I’ve seen the demo. The seraphim suit does represent a remarkable achievement. Technology aside, though, wouldn’t you say that the slayers represent the Council’s number-one strength?”
“Absolutely,” Giles agreed. “They are what the Council is all about. They are our soldiers, our front line. They are the ones who fight for us, defend us, day in and day out, often at the expense of their own lives. Without the slayers, there would be no Council.”
“Slayers like Katherine Allison?” Lance interjected.
Giles hesitated as if caught off guard. When he opened his mouth to answer, Lance jumped ahead.
“She represents the typical slayer, doesn’t she? Let’s take a closer look at Miss Allison then.”
As Giles lifted a hand to object, Lance shifted in her chair to face the front. She turned her eyes to the large monitor in front of them.
Sisters of Grace Hospital – Night (On The Monitor)
In a slightly shaky film from a handheld video camera, Lisa Lance was shown trailing Jocasta and Katherine as they moved towards their skimmer.
“Colonel Rosenberg!” Lance said, shoving her microphone in Jocasta’s direction. “Is it true that the Council has known about the demon population living at the hospital and has taken no actions against it?”
“No comment,” Jocasta said, pushing the microphone aside.
Lance immediately thrust the microphone forward again. “But isn’t it true that—”
Lance’s question was cut off as Katherine stepped between Jocasta and the intruding microphone and grabbed the female reporter by her lapels.
“She said, no comment,” the slayer responded coldly.
Katherine maintained eye contact then slowly released Lance’s jacket. Looking suitably frightened, the reporter didn’t follow.
Alley and Street Outside Abandoned Garage – Night (On The Monitor)
In a grainy video clearly taken from some distance, Katherine was shown running out of an alley and nearly plowing over Commander Wilma Jenkins, all while seemingly in a panic. The tall black woman held up the shaking slayer.
“Katie! What is it? What’s going on?” Wilma asked.
“I-I-I was…they were after me, and I—” Katherine babbled incoherently. “You’ve got to get in there…now!” she finally said.
Alley and Street Outside Abandoned Garage – Night (On The Monitor)
The grainy video continued, showing paramedics as they came out of the garage with Mira on a gurney. A beaten and bloodied Livia stayed alongside the gurney the whole way to the ambulance, holding Mira’s hand.
“Oh my god,” Katherine exclaimed, moving towards the ambulance. “Is she okay?” she asked frantically as the paramedics lifted the gurney into the vehicle and shut the door.
Livia turned to Katherine, her eyes burning with fury. “No, she’s not okay, thanks to you,” Livia said, backing Katherine away with her glare.
Alley and Street Outside Abandoned Garage – Night (On The Monitor)
The video cut to Livia holding Katherine face-first against the side of the Council skimmer.
“Katherine Allison,” Livia said, as she used her free hand to pull a set of heavy-duty cuffs from her belt. “I am placing you under arrest for the court-martial offense of ‘Cowardice in Battle,’ as described in Article 99 of the Revised Code of Military Justice.”
Livia snapped the cuff on the wrist she held, roughly yanked Katherine’s other arm in place, then cuffed that wrist as well. When she was done, she pulled Katherine away from the side of the transport and turned her around.
“You have the right to remain silent, anything you say…” Livia continued her recitation as she led Katherine away.
News Net Studio – Resume
When the videos had finished playing, Lance turned to Giles.
“And this wasn’t the first time Miss Allison has faced detention, is it? Both she and your protégé, Colonel Jocasta Rosenberg, were sentenced to detention earlier in the year for using illegal magic, isn’t that right?”
“Yes, that’s true, but—”
Lance ignored Giles attempt to answer and turned back to the camera. “If Katherine Allison is a typical example of the slayers who are supposedly defending us, then it’s no wonder that the number of civilian casualties due to supernatural or demonic activity have increased in the last twenty years.” Then she turned back to Giles.
“Now just a minute—” Giles began.
“There are more people being killed by demons and vampires now than there were twenty years ago. Isn’t that true, Mr. Chairman?”
“Well, technically, yes, but—”
“Isn’t it true that the Council is clearly not doing all it can to eliminate the demonic menace? Isn’t it true that the Council is considering reintegrating magic into its operations—despite the disaster of the Coven Rebellion? And isn’t it true that the Council secretly allows certain demons a free existence instead of eradicating them all from the face of the earth?”
When Giles was once again unable to answer, she turned back to the front. “Let’s review the evidence,” Lance said as she turned her eyes to the video monitor.
Demon Bar – Night (On The Monitor)
The fuzzy image of a dark street corner showed as the camera operator adjusted his focus. He zoomed in on the street sign then panned over to reveal the entrance to a bar, its neon light blinking weakly.
Several creatures, obviously of demonic origin, were shown coming down the sidewalk and entering the bar, talking and laughing companionably with one another.
Shortly after, a human male was shown coming down the sidewalk. He stopped at the entrance, looked around nervously as if checking to see if anyone was watching. The camera zoomed in.
It was Sebastian Giles. He took one final look behind him then entered the bar.
Watchers Council – Council Chambers – Same Time
Veronica and Lucretia watched the large wall monitor in dismay as the video at the demon bar played. Veronica dropped her head and shook it, groaning.
Travers sat with his arms crossed and his face stony. He cut his eyes left and right cautiously, then grinned to himself before resuming his unhappy expression. Then he stood up and stated in a loud and dramatic voice, “This is outrageous! Our own chairman!”
With everyone watching, he activated his link. “Give me Security Chief Tremaine.” Travers waited until his call was transferred. “Colonel? Are you watching this fiasco on the news net?” Travers listened a moment. “I want that demon bar taken care of, now! Take your special ops team and destroy it. Clear?”
News Net Studio – Moments Later
As soon as the video had finished, Lance instantly turned back to Giles.
“How can we trust the Council to defend us if the chairman himself frequents an establishment known to serve demons—demons that are obviously under the protection of the Council? How can we trust the Council to defend us if it violates its own laws in regard to magic? How can we trust the Council to defend us if the slayers themselves are unreliable?”
The camera focused on Giles as he responded to Lance’s attack.
“I assure you that the slayers are completely reliable. They do their jobs, and they do it exceptionally well. Just ask the people whose lives have been saved by a slayer.”
Giles paused, and Lance crossed her arms, this time not interrupting.
“Yes, it’s true that Slayer Allison and Colonel Rosenberg used illegal magic. However, they did so in the fulfillment of their duties, to save their own lives and the lives of others from a very powerful mage. It is for this reason that the Council is investigating the possibility of reintegrating magic. Magic was used successfully for hundreds of years before the unfortunate events of the Coven Rebellion. Since our enemies are not going to abide by the anti-magic legislation, we can no longer afford not to have magic as a resource. In fact, it was a dangerous spell that caused Slayer Allison to desert battle—a crime for which she was completely cleared by the Slayer Command Tribunal, by the way.”
While Giles continued, Lance stopped and put her hand to her earpiece as if she were receiving a message from her director.
“Now as for your preposterous allegation that the Council has some kind of secret demon-protection scheme going on, I—”
Lance cut Giles off. “Sorry to interrupt, Mr. Chairman, but we’ve just received critical video, recorded just moments ago on location at an encounter between a team of your slayers and a demon.”
Lance turned to the monitor.
Parking Garage – Night (On The Monitor)
Two slayers—one light-haired and one dark-haired—were engaging a very large and very ugly demon. The dark-haired slayer punched the demon, but her punch had little if no effect. The demon merely grabbed her by the shoulders and drove her to the ground.
The light-haired slayer jumped on the demon’s back and wrapped her arms around the demon’s head and attempted to break its neck. She struggled with the move, like a child trying to twist off a stuck jar top.
“Any time now!” the dark-haired girl shouted at her sister slayer as she fended off the demon’s blows.
“I’m tryin’!” the light-haired slayer shouted back. “I just can’t—”
Just then, the demon reached over its shoulder and yanked the light-haired slayer off its back, tossing her against a nearby car. While the demon was doing that, the dark-haired slayer managed to get her legs under the beast and kick it away from her. When it ran at her again, she pulled her pistol and shot it once, then twice. It howled in pain, but didn’t go down. Instead, it started right after them. The dark-haired slayer ran to the light-haired slayer, who was just now getting to her feet.
“Come on, let’s go! We need backup!” Then she grabbed the hand of the light-haired slayer, and they both fled from the scene.
News Net Studio – Moments Later
Lance turned back to Giles. “Reports are coming in from all over the city that the slayers have apparently lost their powers.”
“What?!” Giles said in shock.
“You said it yourself, that without the slayers, there can be no Council, so how can the Council defend humanity if its primary weapons have been rendered useless?”
Giles looked flabbergasted for a moment. Then he suddenly stood. “I’ve got to get back to the Council at once.”
“Mr. Chairman! Mr. Chairman!” Lance called after the retreating Giles. But he didn’t stop.
When it was apparent that he wasn’t coming back, Lance turned to face the main camera. “Well, folks, you heard it here first on Channel 21 News. The Council’s slayers have somehow been stripped of their powers, leaving the city and the world completely vulnerable to supernatural attack. I’ll have more details for you in a moment after this short break.”
The Demon Bar – A Little Later That Night
While the crab-like Tira sat entranced by a bleach-blonde male vampire belting out an ancient hard rock tune in the full karaoke section, the orange-haired and blue-skinned bartender talked with a lizard-skinned demon near the bar. She nodded then patted the demon on his scaly shoulder.
“Give me a minute,” she told him, “and I’ll check in the back to see if I’ve got another bottle stashed away somewhere in there.”
As she neared the doorway to the storage area in the back of the bar, a shout from the entrance forced her to stop and turn around.
“Council troops!” a terrified demon screamed. “RUN!”
Before the demon could even begin running away, the entrance exploded behind him, and a wave of flame engulfed the bar.
End of Act Two