Watchers Council – Giles’s Office – Resume
“You had no idea?!” James exclaimed. “You were the one who had her sent away! You can’t tell me you didn’t know what they were going to do to her!”
“James, I had no choice. I had to comply with a federal investigation,” Giles said. “Honestly, I didn’t know. I’m really very sorry. I did everything I could to get her back sooner.”
James snorted as he activated the grav-lift and used it to move the crate. “Well, it wasn’t enough.”
Speechless, Giles watched as James walked out with what was left of Anya.
Therapist’s Office – Same Time
Lex made eye contact with his Council-assigned psychiatrist. Dr. Amanda Gyllin returned his gaze.
“So…you went off on Toni and she stormed out?” Dr. Gyllin asked.
“Yes,” Lex answered.
“What do you think you should do now?”
“Apologize, I guess. Tell her I’m sorry.”
“Are you? Sorry, that is.”
“Of course I am. It’s just that…it’s so frustrating! I can’t do the things I want to do. I can’t work, I can’t help my friends, I can’t do anything because no one will let me!”
“No one will let you?”
“Yes. My friends keep acting like I’m gonna fall apart if I so much as move a box. My girlfriend hovers over me like I’m a helpless child. And you won’t let me go back to work.”
“Now, Lex…it’s not just me. Your doctor concurs as well. Physically, you’re just not ready to resume your duties. And given your reactions today, perhaps you’re not emotionally ready either.”
“No, no, no,” Lex objected. “See that’s where you’re wrong. I need to work. I’m going nuts being stuck at home. At least let me go back half-time, a few hours a day max. I promise you…you’ll see a remarkable improvement. Everyone will.” Lex looked at his therapist with hope-filled eyes.
Dr. Gyllin thought a moment then said evenly, “I’ll consider it, discuss it with your physician, and inform you in a week or so.”
“A week or so?!” Lex said disappointedly.
“Lex, I know you don’t want to hear this, but you need time to heal, physically and emotionally. If you jump back into work too soon, you could suffer a relapse. Or you could bury yourself in so many tasks that you don’t deal with the fact that you very nearly died.”
Lex’s expression became pained, and he looked away. Dr. Gyllin raised her eyebrow as if acknowledging that her suspicions were correct.
“I want to go back to something,” she said. “Let’s talk about the moment when you learned that you were infected with the virus.”
Lex groaned and slumped in his chair.
Cleveland Street – Early Evening
Mira and Livia walked slowly down a dark side street as part of a standard patrol. Livia was still in quiet mode, but that hadn’t seemed to bother Mira. She hadn’t stopped talking since they’d set out.
“That was really cool when Damesha did her demo, huh?” Mira asked. “The way she used her barrier like a shield? I bet she could use it to ram somebody if she worked at it. Don’t ya think?”
“Yeah, Damesha’s really gettin’ good,” Livia said unenthusiastically.
“She coulda used that trick in Hawaii, huh? When that rude chick tried to cut in line in front of her at the club? She coulda just given her a little invisible shove and then acted all innocent when the girl fell right on her a—”
“You know what?” Livia interrupted. “You talk too much.”
“Oh yeah?” Mira challenged. “Well, what are you gonna do about it?”
Livia didn’t reply. She merely grabbed Mira’s arms and shoved her against the nearby brick wall. Without giving Mira a chance to object, Livia planted a crushing kiss on her lips. When Mira began wholeheartedly returning the kiss, Livia released her grip. The two wrapped their arms around one another, pulling closer, seeking to deepen the kiss. Soon, one kiss led to another until finally the need for air drove the two women apart. When they separated, they were breathing hard and looking into each other’s eyes, not saying a word. A small smile started forming at Mira’s lips.
“What the hell is the matter with you?” Livia heard Mira’s annoyed voice say.
Livia blinked, then blinked again, wondering why she hadn’t seen Mira’s mouth move.
Smash Cut To:
Cleveland Street – Early Evening
Livia shook her head and looked at Mira. Livia blinked multiple times, seemingly trying to reconcile the image before her and the one that had just been in her mind.
“What?” Livia replied.
Mira stood several feet away with her hands on her hips. “I asked you a question, and you just stood there, staring at me with this blank look on your face.”
“Sorry,” Livia said. “I just zoned out for a minute, I guess.”
“You’ve been doing that a lot lately. Are you sure you’re okay?”
Livia put on a bright smile. “You know me…five-by-five.”
Mira wasn’t convinced. Right when she was about to pursue the matter further, a call came over their headsets.
“This is Pryde! We need backup at MetroParks West…now!” barked the voice.
“Copy that, Janet! We’re on our way!” Livia replied in her mic.
Then Livia and Mira dashed down the side street.
MetroParks West – Moments Later
When Livia and Mira arrived at the park, they found Janet and Lian struggling against a beast that looked like a relic from the dinosaur age. The skimmer-sized monster was heavily armored, with solid overlapping plates lining its back and sides. It was using the two horns in its forehead to demolish a picnic area, all while Janet and Lian made vain attempts to pierce the beast’s thick hide.
“Its skin is too hard!” Janet called out as Livia and Mira arrived. “Blaster doesn’t even work against it,” she added, pointing to her holstered sidearm.
“You got a call in for a suit?” Livia asked.
“Yeah, but it’s gonna be a few minutes,” Janet said.
“All right then, let’s keep this thing busy and out of trouble till we can take it out with a seraphim suit,” Livia said.
“Livia?” Mira said.
“What is it?” Livia asked.
“Trouble,” Mira replied as she pointed at the hover bus full of school children that was just setting down in the parking lot next to the observatory.
“Oh crap!” Livia exclaimed as the monster suddenly turned, drawn by the arrival of the bus. “Janet, Lian! Get to the bus, get it out of here!”
As Janet and Lian sprinted for the bus, Livia and Mira moved in front of the agitated beast. It roared in defiance at them and stamped its feet angrily.
“Keep it distracted,” Livia commanded as she circled around to the side.
“What do I look like? A bullfighter?!” Mira shot back.
When the monster started to turn its head to follow Livia, Mira drew her sword and smacked the beast on the side of the head. It turned back to her and roared, dropping its head so that it could point its deadly horns in the slayer’s direction. It stamped its feet, preparing to charge.
Before it could move, Livia leapt onto its back. The thing sensed her presence and shook its head and shoulders violently. Livia latched onto the edge of one of the plates and hung on.
Mira started to stab at the creature’s face and eyes. The beast brought its head down hard, attempting to slam Mira with its horn. She dodged easily and even allowed herself a smile.
“Toro!” she shouted as the horn completely missed her.
Her smile disappeared when the monster turned more quickly than she expected and rammed her with the side of its horn, launching her several feet away.
Meanwhile, Livia was attempting to pry open one of the plates on the creature’s neck. She had jammed her sword under the edge of the plate and was pushing up on her sword with all her strength. She let go with one hand to hang on when the monster shook its head again. When she was able to, she put her hand back and resumed lifting. After a final surge, the plate broke away, revealing the soft, vulnerable flesh below. Livia pulled out her sword and raised it over her head. Then she brought it straight down, shoving it into monster’s neck.
The beast yowled in pain and crumpled, its spinal cord severed by Livia’s blade. As the monster crashed to the ground, Livia jumped from its back to avoid being crushed by the creature’s huge body. She landed and rolled then leapt to her feet.
“Mira!” she called out, scanning the area nervously.
“Over here,” Mira said, groaning as she walked back from where the fiend had thrown her.
“Are you okay?” Livia asked.
“Yeah, just got sucker-punched,” Mira replied. She looked at the now dead animal. “Good work,” she complimented.
“Thanks,” Livia said. “I’ll take one of these over a blaster any day,” she added, holding up her sword.
Mira looked at the monster more closely, her face scrunching into a confused expression. “That’s weird,” she said.
“I think this is a Zhwaerk demon.”
“Their dimension is really hot, like a burning desert. It doesn’t make sense for it to be here.”
“Well, aren’t you the know-it-all tonight,” Livia teased. “You gonna give up slaying for watching?”
“No,” Mira quickly denied. “I’ve just been doing some research on my own. I figure it might give me an edge. Especially since I’m not an MT like you. I need every advantage I can get.”
Livia shrugged. “Can’t hurt, I guess, but I’m not gonna spend my free time with my nose glued to a computer screen. That’s what watchers are for.”
Livia and Mira turned when they heard the tell-tale sounds of a seraphim suit’s jets.
“Better late than never,” Livia muttered.
Watchers Council – Computer Center – Same Time
Tools and bits of machinery surrounded James as he worked fervently to put Anya back together. A freckled, redheaded assistant approached him nervously, clutching a data pad to his chest.
“Excuse me, Mr. Wells?”
James raised his head and glared at the assistant. The young man flinched. James waited for him to speak. When he didn’t, James rolled his eyes.
“Well?” he snapped. “You can obviously see that I’m busy, Aidan. What’s so important?”
Aidan flinched again and held out the data pad. “I…I just need your signature on this, sir. And um…”
James snatched the pad, signed it, and handed it back to him before the poor assistant could finish his sentence. Aidan blinked, hesitating as James went back to tinkering with Anya’s components. When it became obvious that he wasn’t leaving, James sighed and looked back up at him.
“Was there something else, or have you just decided to waste your time bothering me today?” Not waiting for an answer, James snatched a screwdriver from his tool box, waving it vaguely in Aidan’s direction. “Be gone, minion!”
With a barely audible whimper, Aidan scampered off. James shook his head and got back to work.
Jocasta’s Apartment – Same Time
In the living room, Katherine leaned her weapons rack against the sofa and smiled. Then she opened a nearby crate and pulled out a cordless drill and a small tool box. She snapped a battery in the drill and gave it a few test revs. Jocasta immediately came dashing from the bedroom.
“What are you doing?” she asked worriedly, staring at the drill.
“Just getting ready to hang my weapons rack,” Katherine answered.
“You mean like…on the wall?” Jocasta asked, casting a nervous glance at her walls.
“Well…yeah,” Katherine said pointedly. “That’s where a weapons rack usually goes.”
“You were planning to put it in here?” Jocasta pressed. “On my…on the walls?”
“Well, I wanted to because I need to be able to get to it quickly, but if you’d rather I didn’t…”
“No, no, that’s fine,” Jocasta said, looking desperately at the living room walls. “You go ahead. It’ll be fine. Just…fine.”
Katherine rolled her eyes and gave a sigh that was almost a groan. “What about the hall?”
“The hall!” Jocasta exclaimed in a relieved voice. “Yes, the hall. Great idea. Love it. Really.”
“Okay, the hall it is,” Katherine said, lifting her weapons rack and toting into the hallway.
Jocasta let out a deep breath and relaxed her shoulders as Katherine left the room.
“I’ll need to move these pictures,” Jocasta heard Katherine say from the hall.
“Move the pictures?” Jocasta nearly shouted in alarm, her eyes widening in fright before she dashed into the hall. “Move the pictures?” she repeated in a small whine. “Okay,” she finally squeaked through a forced smile.
Katherine merely grumbled.
Lex’s Apartment – Same Time
Lex slouched in his chair in the living room. He took a drink of his beer and stared unhappily at the television screen on his wall. He rapidly changed the channels, apparently finding nothing to his satisfaction. Sighing, he turned the television off, and picked up the phone.
He punched in the familiar number and waited. After several rings, the voice mail system picked up.
“Hi, this is Toni, you know what to do,” Lex heard Antonia’s voice say before the requisite beep finally sounded.
“Hey Toni, it’s me, Lex.” Lex gave himself a derisive laugh. “Stupid. Obviously, it’s me. I don’t know why I say my name like you’re not going to recognize who I am.” Lex paused took a deep breath. “Then again, maybe I haven’t exactly been myself lately. It’s just been…so hard…lately…and I…” Lex moved the phone to the other side. “What I’m trying to say is—”
Lex stopped when the voice mail system beeped, indicating that his time was up. He pulled the phone away and let his arm drop weakly into his lap. After a moment, he put the phone back. When he leaned back in his chair, he frowned and then pulled out his dispenser pen and clicked out an insta-tab.
Before he could put the pill into his mouth, a warning beep emitted from the pen. Lex sat up and glanced at the tiny screen on the shaft of the pen.
“Only 2 doses remaining,” it flashed. “Please refill.”
“What?!” Lex complained. “How can it be—?”
Lex groaned and flopped back in his chair. He sat motionless in his chair for the longest time before popping the insta-tab into his mouth and washing it down with a swig from his beer.
Antonia’s Apartment – Same Time
Antonia sat at her desk, working at her computer. When she heard the phone ring, she didn’t move to answer it. She cut her eyes at it once then turned back to her computer screen. She immediately closed the flashing box that revealed Lex as the caller and went back to her work. After a minute or so of vain attempts to focus on the task at hand, she accessed her voice mail program.
“You have 3 new messages,” it told her. “Do you wish to hear your messages?”
Antonia sighed and then said, “No.”
She shut down her computer and went over to her sofa, plopping down in it with another heavy sigh. After fidgeting a moment, she picked up her phone and entered a number. She listened to it ring and soon heard a familiar voice answer.
“Hello?” Jocasta said.
“Hey Cuz,” Antonia said with forced levity. “What’s up?”
“Oh hey Toni,” Jocasta replied. “Just getting Katie settled in, that’s all. What about you?”
“Just…hangin’ out, I guess.”
“Oh, he’s…ummm…he’s fine. Just…” Antonia cleared her throat. “He’s fine.”
“Good, glad to hear it,” Jocasta said. “I was a little worried about him after this morning.”
Antonia didn’t reply right away. When she did, she said, “Yeah. Well…I’ll let you get back to work then.”
“Okay,” Jocasta said with a hint of suspicion in her voice.
“See ya,” Antonia told her cousin and best friend.
Then she disconnected the call without even waiting for Jocasta to finish saying good-bye. After a moment of staring at the wall, Antonia punched in a new number.
“Hey Harry,” she said in greeting when the other person answered. “You wouldn’t happen to have any flights, would you?”
“I swear, you must be psychic or something,” Harry replied. “Gino just called in asking for a sub on his overnighter to Melbourne. You interested?”
“Definitely,” Antonia said without a smile.
Lex’s Apartment – Moments Later
Lex was no longer in his chair. Instead, he paced nervously in front of his coffee table. Finally he stopped, picked up the phone, and punched in a number. After several long rings, a harried voice answered.
“Hello?” came Jocasta’s voice over the phone.
“Hey Jo-Jo!” Lex said teasingly.
“How many times have I told you not to call me that?” Jocasta replied wearily.
“I don’t know. I lost count around seven thousand.”
Jocasta merely groaned.
“So whatcha doin’?”
“Helping Katie unpack. What’re you doing?”
“Oh, nothing,” Lex said with a shrug. “Just…hangin’ out, I guess.”
“Are you okay?” Jocasta inquired cautiously.
“Yeah, sure,” Lex answered with strained confidence. “Just a little tired. I’m heading to bed now. Just wanted to check in, see how things were going, that’s all.”
“Well, they’re going fine,” Jocasta said without providing details.
“Good,” Lex commented. “That’s good.” When Jocasta didn’t say more, Lex slapped his leg. “Well, I’ll let you get back to it then.”
“Okay. Have a good night,” Jocasta said.
“Okay. You too,” Lex replied before hanging up.
With a final sigh, Lex trudged off to his bedroom.
Jocasta’s Apartment – Same Time
Jocasta looked curiously at her phone. Then she shook her head and returned the receiver to its base.
“What’s going on?” Katherine asked when she saw the confused expression on Jocasta’s face.
“I don’t know,” the redhead replied. “First Toni, then Lex, both of ’em making big with the very avoidy small talk…something’s definitely up.”
“They’ve both been under a lot of stress lately,” Katherine commented, “with Lex’s recovery and all. A lot of relationships don’t survive a serious illness.”
“Well, thank you Miss Pessimist, for that depressing comment,” Jocasta complained.
“I wasn’t being a pessimist,” Katherine corrected. “I was just stating a fact. Coping with a prolonged illness can—” Katherine stopped and just turned away in an annoyed huff. “Oh, never mind.”
Jocasta took note of Katherine’s tone and straightened her back into a superior posture and walked away, calling over her shoulder as she did so. “I think I know Lex and Toni a little bit better than you do. They might be in a tight spot right now, but I promise you, they’ll come out of it just fine.”
“Fine,” Katherine muttered to herself.
Cleveland Alley – Later That Evening
Livia and Mira walked down an alley that went behind several bars. They watched a bartender come out of The Buccaneer and heave a big black garbage bag into a dumpster before heading back inside. As they passed the back entrance to the bar, Mira raised her arms over her head and stretched.
“You sure you’re okay?” Livia asked. “That demon nailed ya pretty good.”
“Nah, I’m fine,” Mira replied with a dismissive wave. “I’m just a little sore.”
“We don’t have to finish our patrol, you know. I could have one of the other teams—”
“I said I’m fine,” Mira insisted. “What are you, like my mother or something?”
“No, I just…never mind. You’re fine.”
“That’s right,” Mira said defensively. “I’m fine.”
“Fine!” Livia replied, annoyed.
“Fine!” Mira shot back.
“You may be fine now,” came a loud, growling voice in front of the two slayers.
Livia and Mira stopped in place and went into a defensive stance as a large burly demon stepped from an alcove and into the alleyway.
“But you won’t be by the time we’re done with you,” the demon said as he proceeded to block their path.
“We?” Livia asked pointedly, not particularly concerned with the apparent threat.
The demon merely laughed as his comrade emerged from the shadows behind the two slayers, effectively pinning them in. The two demons both pulled huge maces from behind their backs and began tapping them in their palms, all while chuckling melodramatically.
Livia and Mira looked at one another and rolled their eyes. Then they each took off in opposite directions to engage the demons.
Livia pulled her sword and ran right at her opponent, screaming in defiance. He did the same, and they met in a clash of weapons, clearly trying to crush each other with brute force. They locked arms and glared, grappling mere inches apart, groaning with the strain.
Meanwhile, Mira was taking more of a hit-and-run approach, using her smaller size and faster speed to duck the demon’s blows and make strategic stabs at his legs. Initially confused by his prey’s failure to engage directly, the demon quickly adjusted and anticipated her next move. He blocked it and slammed his elbow into Mira’s face, causing her to stumble back towards Livia.
Livia cut her eyes in Mira’s direction just in time to see the slayer hit the ground. A look of intense fear came over Livia’s face. It got knocked off, however, when the demon took advantage of her distraction and kicked her in the stomach, sending her doubled over and down on one knee. The demon moved in and raised his mace, ready to bring it down on her head.
At the last second, Livia shifted her position, letting the mace fall harmlessly past her. Then, while the demon was still following through, she rose to her feet and stabbed him right in the back. She gave the sword a good wrench and twist, and the demon slumped to the concrete. Livia whipped around to check on Mira.
Mira was back on her feet, facing her opponent once again but seemed unsteady, shaking her head as if she were clearing it. The demon moved towards her, raising his mace, ready to take advantage of her momentary weakness. Once he had committed, Mira smiled and prepared herself.
Just as Mira moved to block the demon’s blow, Livia rushed in awkwardly from behind her and took the blow for her, pushing the demon a few feet away. Livia didn’t have the good angle, though, and the demon was able to sweep around and ram the butt of his mace into her back, sending her to the ground. Luckily, before he could do more to Livia, Mira threw her sword, sinking it into the demon’s back. He immediately crumpled.
As Livia got to her feet and turned around, Mira walked to the demon to retrieve her weapon. Livia came limping over, holding her back and trying to catch her breath.
“Damn, what was up with that ambush?” Livia asked.
Mira yanked the blade from the demon’s body. “No, what was up with you and your savior antics?” she demanded.
“What?” Livia asked, confused. “What are you talking about?”
“I’m talking about you jumping in between me and my demon,” Mira replied, putting her hand on her hip.
“Geez, if I’d known you were so attached, I would’ve left you two alone.”
“I had him, and then you just rushed in there.”
“I was trying to save your life!” Livia shouted.
“It didn’t need saving!” Mira countered. “I had the angle. You didn’t. You should have just…”
Mira stopped when she heard the scuffling of many feet nearby. Together she and Livia slowly turned and scanned the alley.
They saw about eight demons scurrying forward to surround the two slayers, half on one end of the alley and half on the other end. These demons were different from the two original ambushers. They were smaller with pointed ears and enlarged heads. They crept low to the ground and glanced nervously about; their jerky movements were unpredictable and punctuated by occasional hissing. The creatures suddenly snapped out their claws and gnashed their teeth at the two slayers.
“…called for immediate backup and prayed that one was nearby?” Livia said, finishing Mira’s sentence.
“Uh-huh,” Mira agreed worriedly.
End of Act Two