Act 6



Fade In:


Watchers Council – Gray Sector Conference Room – Resume

What?! ” Jocasta exclaimed. “What do you mean you’ve been kidnapped?!”

“My main CPU,” Willowgram explained. “It’s been stolen.”

Everyone in the room shared a shocked and bewildered look.

“Stolen?” Jocasta finally said. “When? How? Who?”

“I don’t know, I don’t know, I don’t know,” Willow replied, answering all three questions in succession.

Jocasta looked helplessly at Giles, who was already in the process of activating his comm link. “I’m alerting security now,” Giles said.

“If somebody’s jacked her CPU, how come she can still talk to us?” Livia asked.

“It must be the mobile emitter,” Jocasta said. “Maybe they couldn’t turn it off.”

“I tried to contact you myself, but my self-activation protocol was disabled,” Willow said. “But when you activated the emitter…”

“…you were able to communicate,” Jocasta finished. Willowgram nodded.

“Willow, where are you now?” Katherine asked.

The hologram shrugged uncertainly then cocked her head as if she were listening. “Wait,” she said. “Something’s happening.”

Cut To:


Storage Facility – Makeshift Lab – Same Time

In their lab, Eris watched as Rayne carefully set a shoebox-sixed CPU into the connection cradle on the table. He snapped the CPU into place then flipped the switch to begin synchronization.

Eris turned to her computer and typed in a series of commands. Her screen showed a series of diagnostic bars all going from red to green. She turned back to Rayne and nodded.

“Here goes,” he said before switching on a mobile emitter similar to Jocasta’s.

Instantly, Willowgram’s twelve-inch form materialized above the holographic formulators.

“Hello Willow…” Eris greeted smugly.

“We’re so glad you could join us,” Rayne added.

Willowgram looked at her captors nervously. “Hey?” 

Cut To:


Watchers Council – Gray Sector Conference Room – Same Time

Jocasta and Katherine and the others hovered anxiously around Willow’s mobile emitter, waiting for her to tell them what was going on. At the moment, she still had her head cocked, as if she were listening to something only she could hear. After a few seconds, she straightened and looked right at Jocasta.

“It’s Rayne and Pantelles,” Willowgram announced.

“Dear Lord,” Giles muttered before pulling off his glasses and massaging the bridge of his nose.

Livia merely growled and got up, stomping a few feet away.

“We have got to get these guys,” Mira pleaded with Velika, who nodded in agreement.

“Jo, what are we gonna do?” Katherine asked Jocasta.

“I don’t know,” the redhead replied in a lost voice. Then an idea came to her, and she turned to Giles. “James…we need James.”

“I’m sending a security team for him right now,” Giles stated firmly. “Anya is going to have to wait, whether James likes it or not.”

Cut To:


Storage Facility – Makeshift Lab – Same Time

As Willowgram looked around the lab, Eris and Rayne continued connecting equipment and checking settings.

“W-W-What are you doing?” Willow asked. “Why did you bring me here?”

“Why do you think?” Rayne answered.

“Because I’m such a good conversationalist?” Willow offered with false hope.

Rayne rolled his eyes. Eris ignored the chatter entirely and focused on her computer screen.

“You want the Progenitor File,” the hologram said.

Rayne put his index finger on his nose and then pointed at Willow. “All the Council’s secret records, all that forbidden knowledge that they don’t want falling into the wrong hands…soon, it’ll be ours.”

Willowgram pulled herself up tall and crossed her arms bravely. “I happen to be the most secure program ever created in Council history, way ahead of its time,” she told the former watcher. “Try to break through my security, and all you’ll get is a good brain fry.”

Rayne scoffed. “You haven’t been updated in years, sweet cheeks, so your ‘way ahead of its time’ security is no more than an obsolete challenge.”

“We’ll see about that,” Willow said.

Cut To:


Watchers Council – Gray Sector Conference Room – A Little Later

Having been yanked from home, James now sat at the conference table with his laptop tied directly into Willowgram’s mobile emitter. James’s fingers were moving over his keyboard like lightning. Jocasta looked over his shoulder nervously.

Next to James sat John, who was working furiously at Jocasta’s computer terminal. Giles and Katherine sat nearby, while Velika and Livia and Mira stood at the end of the table, relegated to simply waiting for further instructions.

“Whatcha got?” Jocasta asked James.

“The mobile emitter’s signal is a deeply embedded protocol,” James explained. “There’s no way they could cut it without getting through the security levels first.”

“So that’s why Willow can still talk to us?” Katherine asked. James nodded.

“Then why couldn’t she warn us earlier, before they were able to remove her from the Council?” Giles asked.

“Willowgram’s self-activation command is a new addition,” John supplied. “It’s not embedded in the high security database.”

“So they hacked it and made sure she couldn’t call for help?” Katherine asked.

“That’s right,” John said.

“How the hell did they get to her at all?” Jocasta asked angrily. “All those security measures, the checkpoints, the shielded CPU room?”

“From what security has been able to tell me, it appears that they used magic somehow,” Giles said. “To enter unseen, to manipulate the minds of the guards…”

“Willow, can you tell us where you are?” James asked. “Are you picking up anything about the location?”

Willow shook her head. “I’m not hooked into any outside lines,” she said. “It looks like an office of some kind. It’s a large one, though…maybe for a warehouse.”

“Gee, that narrows it down to about a thousand or so buildings in Cleveland,” Livia muttered.

Willow started to shrug in helpless apology, but instead, she gasped in pain. She clutched her stomach and groaned.

Jocasta and the others looked at Willowgram in alarm.

“It’s started,” Willow said grimly.

Cut To:


Storage Facility – Makeshift Lab – Same Time

Rayne got into the modified chair and made himself comfortable. Eris knelt at his feet and strapped his legs into place. As he buckled a large belt around his waist, Eris rose and then swung a table in front of him that contained a keyboard and small screen. Eris moved to stand behind the chair. Rayne began entering commands on the keyboard, his eyes flickering as lines of code sped by on his screen.

Within seconds, an archaic greeting materialized on his monitor. Letters flashed into place one at a time in a vertical line on the lefthand side of his screen until they spelled out “W.I.L.L.O.W.” Then a redheaded cartoon character popped up.

“Welcome to the Interactive Learning Lab of Watchers,” the cartoon chirped helpfully. “How can I help you?”

Rayne smiled and hit the keyboard once again. “Request access to the secure virtual interface,” he spoke aloud as he entered commands.

“I’m sorry, but you are not authorized to enter the S.V.I.,” the animated character replied.

Rayne entered a different sequence.

“Uhh, sorry. Can’t do that,” Willow quipped.  

Rayne tried again.

“Not happenin’,” the cartoon announced.

Rayne kept at it.

“No can do.”

Rayne’s eyes narrowed as he continued.

The computerized character looked at her watch and then glanced upwards. “S.O.L., dude…”

Rayne never slowed his efforts but kept typing.

The animated figure suddenly straightened and got mean-looking. Her red hair turned black, and her voice become cold. “Bored now,” she said.

As Rayne continued his attempt to break the code, the black-haired Willow kept repeating her “Bored now” denial. Rayne pressed on, and after a few final strokes, he hit the Enter key with a flourish.

The cartoon Willow suddenly reverted to her chipper red-headed self. She smiled brightly and said, “Congratulations! You may now enter the secure virtual interface.”

Rayne grinned and looked back at Eris behind him. “I’m in,” he told her.

“Good,” Eris said.

“It won’t do you any good,” Willow said from her mobile emitter. “You’ll never make it through all the levels.”

“We’ll see about that,” Rayne said, throwing her own words back at her.

Eris reached over and punched the button on the mobile emitter, sending Willow’s holographic image away. Then Eris lifted the high-tech helmet and set it over Rayne’s head. Rayne adjusted it slightly while Eris belted a strap across his chest. Rayne rested his arms on the chair, and Eris strapped them in as well.

Eris folded the auto-IV units over Rayne’s arms. She rechecked the blood and fluid packs, then turned on the IV system. Rayne gave a small grunt as the automatic needles set themselves into the veins in his arms. Then Eris attached a series of sensor pads that would monitor Rayne’s bio-functions. Finally, Eris hit the sequencing button on the front of the helmet. She heard the hum of the probes as they emerged from the interior of the helmet and made contact with Rayne.

“Ready?” she asked him.

“Ready,” he replied.

Eris hit the start button. Rayne cried out and jerked in place as he was sucked painfully into the virtual interface.

Cut To:


Virtual Interface – Sunnydale High Library – Same Time

Rayne’s virtual self flew past glowing streams of electronic energy. Codes and numbers churned around him as he drowned in a maelstrom of digital data. Suddenly the swirling stopped, and he found himself in a very real-looking room. He shook his head dizzily then turned around to examine his surroundings.

It was a library, a twentieth-century school library by the looks of it. It had wooden swinging doors for an entrance, a checkout desk, a study area, and shelves of books—real books—in both the lower and upper levels. There was an appalling lack of computer access. Rayne snorted derisively.

Just then, a familiar and yet unfamiliar redhead came walking out of the book cage. She was young, and her hair was long, to her shoulders. Her manner of dress was almost childlike: a colored t-shirt with denim overalls. She jumped when she saw Rayne standing there.

“W-W-What…” she began nervously, “…what are you doing here?” 

Rayne smiled dangerously. “I’m here for you.”

Willow backed away. “Me?” she squeaked.

“Mmm-hmm,” Rayne said. Then he rushed her.

Willow screamed and tried to run away. Rayne caught her and pulled her toward him. Willow stomped on his foot, making him cry out and release her. Willow ran up the stairs and into the stacks.

Rayne quickly followed. He chased her around one bookshelf and then another before finally snagging her. He hit her once then threw her against one of the bookshelves. She fell down in front of it. Rayne hurried over and began pushing on the shelf. Before Willow could even get up from the floor, Rayne sent the shelf crashing down on top of her.

Willow’s virtual self lay still and unmoving beneath the bookcase. Then her image blinked in and out several times before disappearing completely.

Cut To:


Watchers Council – Gray Sector Conference Room – Same Time

Back at the Council, Willowgram cried out in pain once again, wrapping her arms protectively around her torso. Jocasta and the others closed in around the table and watched helplessly.

“Willow!” Jocasta exclaimed. “What happened?”

Willowgram shook off the pain and straightened. “Rayne has entered the virtual interface,” she said. “He’s cracked the first security level.”

“What will happen if he cracks them all?” Jocasta asked.

“My neural network will break down, and Rayne will have full access to all of my data,” Willow answered.

“Your neural network will break down?” Katherine said. “You mean, you’ll…”

“Die?” Willow supplied. “Yes,” she said, answering her own question. “My data will still be there, but my interface…my personality…will be gone.”

“No…” Jocasta said in a choked voice.

“No,” James said firmly. “No, no, no! I am not letting them get away with this again!” James began working at his laptop frantically.

Cut To:


Storage Facility – Makeshift Lab – Moments Later

Eris watched the readouts of Rayne’s bio-functions carefully. When she saw that they had calmed, she punched the communications button on the chair that allowed her to speak with Rayne while he was still interfaced.

“What’s going on?” she asked him.

“I’ve completed the first level, and now I’m on to the second,” he answered.

Cut To:


Virtual Interface – Willow’s UC Dorm Room – Same Time

After another dizzying speed trip, Rayne found himself in a new location. This time, it was a college dorm room. It had the usual twin beds, desks, and drawers typical of dorm rooms. Posters were on the walls and doors, and textbooks lined the shelves. A UC-Sunnydale sticker stood out prominently on a notebook on the nearest desk.

“You shouldn’t be here,” Rayne heard a voice say.

When he looked, he saw Willow standing beside the nearest bed. Her long hair was gone; in its place was a shorter, perkier cut. She wore casual cargo pants and a shirt with a cartoonish design on it. She seemed nervous but stood her ground.

“I won’t be here for long,” Rayne replied coolly.

Instantly, a book shot out from the bookshelf and flew toward Willow. She ducked, and it went crashing out of the window behind her. Another book quickly followed, and Willow raised her hand and magically deflected it, sending it thudding against the wall. Rayne smiled. Then he sent a barrage of books after the redhead.

Willow deflected several, but she couldn’t stop them all. One hit her thigh, and another hit her shoulder. Then a fairly large book glanced off her forehead, and she went tumbling against the nightstand behind her before falling to the floor.

Cut To:


Watchers Council – Gray Sector Conference Room – Same Time

Willowgram cried out multiple times and even doubled over as she felt what her other self was experiencing in the virtual interface.

Jocasta looked on with increasing panic. “James! Can’t you do something?”

“I’m working on it,” he grumbled as his fingers flew across his keyboard.

Cut To:


Virtual Interface – Willow’s UC Dorm Room – Same Time

In the dorm room, Rayne stepped closer and looked down at Willow. She was on the floor on her hands and knees, trying to regain her breath. When she met Rayne’s stare, a look of determination was on her face. Her eyes narrowed, and Rayne suddenly noticed a pencil hurtling his way.

Rayne jumped back, a bit startled, but easily batted the pencil away. He chuckled and pointed at Willow. “Sneaky,” he said.

When Willow merely smiled, Rayne got a worried look on his face. He whipped around and found an armada of pens and pencils floating right behind him.

He raised his arms defensively as the pens and pencils shot towards him. He deflected most of them, but several found their mark, embedding deeply into his flesh. He swatted frantically at the attacking swarm, groaning as a few more of the pointed projectiles sank into his body. When one pierced the side of his neck, he went down.

Cut To:


Storage Facility – Makeshift Lab – Same Time

Back at the lab, Rayne jerked violently in the chair. He clenched his fists tightly and pulled against the straps holding him in. Underneath the helmet, the veins on Rayne’s neck were bulging with the strain.

Eris watched Rayne passively then turned her eyes back to her screen, where Rayne’s bio-monitors were beginning to spike.

Cut To:


Watchers Council – Gray Sector Conference Room – Same Time

“Okay, okay, I think I’ve got it,” James said as he finished a long line of code. “Hit it,” he barked at John.

“Gotcha,” John said as he punched a button on a junction box that linked Willowgram’s mobile emitter to Jocasta’s holographic projector in the center of the conference table.

“If this works, we should be able to see the virtual interface,” James said.

As if on cue, the holographic projector fired up, and the image of the battle in Willow’s dorm room appeared.

“Holy moly!” John said as the others moved closer to watch the scene.

Cut To:


Virtual Interface – Willow’s UC Dorm Room – Same Time

Rayne growled angrily and yanked out the pencil that was embedded in the side of his neck. Then he stood up, raised his hand, and barked out an incantation. All projectiles immediately disintegrated, their dust falling harmlessly to the floor.

Rayne turned slowly around and found Willow struggling to her feet, pushing herself up on the nightstand. Without even looking behind himself, Rayne held out his hand. The desk drawer opened, and a metal letter opener flew into Rayne’s grasp. He closed the space between himself and Willow.

Cut To:


Watchers Council – Gray Sector Conference Room – Same Time

Jocasta and the others watched in horror as Rayne thrust the letter opener into Willow’s gut. They shuddered as they heard both Willowgram and her virtual self scream in tandem.

Rayne gave the letter opener a final wrench, and then Willow slipped to the floor, blood on her shirt. As Rayne smirked over her, Willow groaned her last breath and then blinked away.

Fade Out.


End of Act Six

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