Act 7

Fade In:


Watchers Council – Gray Sector Conference Room – Resume

“Willow!” Jocasta called anxiously. “Are you all right?”

Willowgram actually seemed to be breathing hard, and it took her a moment to answer. When she did, the light giving form to her holographic image appeared dimmer than before.

“I’m okay,” she said, “but he’s made it past the second security level.”

“What can we do? How can we stop him?”

“You can’t stop him from here,” Willowgram said. “You’ve got to find his lab.”

Jocasta turned to James expectantly, who didn’t even look up from his laptop.

“Yeah, give us a target, man,” Livia said.

“Finally!” James exclaimed at his screen. “I’m in the satellite network now… entering the transmission code… tracing…”

“Mobilize all branches,” Giles told Velika. “They could be anywhere.”

Velika nodded and stepped away, activating her comm link. “Dispatch, alert all slayer units in all branches. Emergency saturation. Stand by for further instructions.”

“How long will it take to trace?” Livia asked.

James shrugged. “I don’t know. A few minutes maybe?”

“That should give us time to get to a skimmer,” Livia said to Mira.

“Us?” Mira asked pointedly, giving Livia a where-do-you-think-you’re-going stare.

“No way I’m sittin’ this one out,” Livia replied, pulling Mira toward the door. Then she called over her shoulder to Katherine, “You comin’, Katie?”

Katherine stood up and gave Jocasta’s shoulder a squeeze. Jocasta smiled and gave her head a tilt toward the door. Katherine grinned, gave Jocasta a big kiss, then dashed to join Livia and Mira.

Cut To:


Storage Facility – Makeshift Lab – Same Time

Eris watched as Rayne’s spiking bio-monitors slowly lowered a bit until they were out of the red zone. She watched Rayne’s chest move up and down as he struggled to regain his breath after his battle. When his breathing had calmed, she pressed the communications button on the chair.

“How are you doing?” Eris asked Rayne. “Your bio-functions are getting a bit stressed.”

“I’m fine,” Rayne said. “Little bitch got a few licks in, that’s all. It’s nothing to worry about. I’m ready for level three.”

“Okay,” Eris said and then turned back to her monitor.

Cut To:


Virtual Interface – Glory’s Apartment – Same Time

After another brief mind trip, Rayne found himself in a luxury apartment. Suddenly, the lights began to flicker, and the room began to shake, sending knick-knacks crashing to the floor. The door flew open, and Willow floated in, her eyes as black as coal.

She spoke an incantation, and Rayne found himself immobilized in an invisible but shimmering gel.

“Gotcha!” Willow said.

Then she zapped Rayne with bolts of magic like lightning, causing him to scream in pain.

Cut To:


Watchers Council Skimmer – Same Time

As Katherine lifted off and zoomed out the hangar, Livia got on the radio and called Velika in the conference room.

“We’re in the air,” Livia said. “You got that location yet?”

Cut To:


Watchers Council – Gray Sector Conference Room – Same Time

Velika turned to James, who was still staring at his screen, tapping his fingers nervously.

“It’s still tracing,” Velika said, “but it can’t be much long—”

“I’ve got it!” James exclaimed. “Transmitting coordinates now.”

“Coordinates are on their way,” Velika said.

Cut To:


Watchers Council Skimmer – Same Time

“Got ’em,” Katherine reported. “Heading there now.”

Katherine sent the skimmer into a steep plunge, earning herself a woo-hoo and a yee-ha from Livia and Mira.

Cut To:


Watchers Council – Gray Sector Conference Room – Moments Later

“Son of a…” James focused on his computer once again. After several long moments of work, a rueful grin came over James’s face. “Well I’ll be damned…”

“What is it?” John asked before moving closer to look at James’s screen. “Well I’ll be damned too,” he echoed.

“What?” Jocasta asked.

John turned to Jocasta to explain. “They hacked into the satellite relay system and planted a rerouting program that would return a false set of coordinates if anyone submitted an inquiry for Willowgram’s specific transmission code. It’s bloody brilliant.”

“Can you bypass this rerouting program? Find the real coordinates?” Giles asked.

“Working on it,” James said.

Jocasta looked at the holographic projection of the virtual reality and frowned.

Cut To:


Watchers Council Skimmer – Same Time

“Katherine?” Velika’s voice cracked over the radio.

“Copy,” Katherine replied. 

“We may have to re-route you. Stand By. Over.” Velika answered.

“Copy that,” Katherine said with a sigh as Livia and Mira looked at each other confused.

Cut To:


Virtual Interface – Glory’s Apartment – Moments Later

With a roar of rage, Rayne burst his way out of the shimmering gel that Willow had trapped him in. Willow waved her hand, instantly shattering all the mirrors in the room, sending the dangerous shards flying toward Rayne.

He folded his hands in front of himself as if adopting a stance of prayer. Then he barked a single word, and the mirror fragments disintegrated into harmless dust the second they were inches from his body.

Rayne looked at the nearby coffee table and levitated it. With his mind, he hurled it at Willow. She tried to block it but failed, and she went smashing into the wall.

When Rayne tried to move toward her, Willow cast another spell, causing an energy snake to emerge from the carpet. It entangled itself around Rayne’s body and then lunged at his head. Rayne clapped his hands together through the snake’s head. The creature instantly disappeared. Willow slumped to the floor, exhausted.

Rayne stalked over to Willow. He reached down and grabbed her by the throat. Then he lifted her against the wall, strangling her. Willow raised her right hand. In it was a dagger. She brought it down, trying to stab at Rayne’s neck, but he was ready for her.

He caught her wrist with his free hand, stopping her easily. He squeezed her arm until the bones were heard cracking in his grip. When she dropped the dagger, he let her arm go and put both hands on her throat.

She tried desperately to pull his hands away but did not succeed. Within seconds, her arms went limp beside her, and her eyes closed. Willow’s image blinked once, then disappeared.

Cut To:


Watchers Council – Gray Sector Conference Room – Same Time

Atop her mobile emitter, Willowgram fell to her knees, her light dimming even more. Jocasta ran over to her.

“You have to hurry!” Willowgram croaked, her eyes pleading.

Cut To:


Storage Facility – Makeshift Lab – Same Time

Without removing Rayne’s helmet, Eris wiped the blood from his nose and face. When she was done, Rayne coughed and then drew in a ragged breath.

Eris pressed the communications button on the chair. “Are you ready to proceed?”

“I’m ready,” Rayne growled.

Cut To:


Watchers Council – Gray Sector Conference Room – Same Time

“I don’t know why it’s taking so long,” James complained. “It shouldn’t be taking this long!”

“Just keep with it, James,” Giles encouraged as Jocasta paced behind him.

“Warehouses!” Jocasta suddenly blurted before rushing to a free terminal at the conference table. “Hubris…didn’t they have a whole slew of them somewhere? You know…where Tyrell kept some of his 314 stuff?”

“That’s right!” Giles said. “You think Pantelles has set up shop in one of them?”

“Well, she’d know which ones were available,” Jocasta said as she rapidly began her search. “Which ones would meet her needs.”

“They’d need equipment,” John added, getting into the search as well. “Very specialized equipment.”

“And privacy,” Jocasta said. “They can’t afford to be interrupted.”

“I’ll compile a list of orders and deliveries from companies providing equipment and services for virtual interfacing systems,” John said.

“I’ll see which Hubris properties are in use and which ones aren’t and where they are,” Jocasta said.

“True,” John admitted, “but their best bet is to get the information from Willowgram as quickly as possible. Then they can high-tail it anywhere.”

Velika sat at another free terminal. “Send me the list of Hubris facilities. I’ll forward it to dispatch and get a team of slayers at each one.”

“How many are there?” Velika asked.

“Ummm…about a hundred, it looks like,” Jocasta reported.

“Well, maybe we’ll get lucky,” Velika said.

As the others typed furiously at their stations, Giles returned to the holographic projection, drawn to it when the image began to change once again, indicating that Rayne was entering the next security level. He stared at it worriedly as a new location began to materialize.

Cut To:


Virtual Interface – The Magic Box – Same Time

On the fourth security level, Rayne materialized in a small retail store, a magic shop. Rayne chuckled and walked around the room, examining the candles and talismans and books. When he looked for Willow, he didn’t see her.

“Oh Willow…” Rayne sang out. “Time to come out and play.”

“Willow doesn’t live here anymore.” A voice came out of the shadows in the corner. “And I don’t think you want to play with me,” the voice said.

Then Dark Willow stepped out of the shadows, her hair and eyes black.

For the first time since he entered the virtual interface, Rayne looked worried.

Cut To:


Storage Facility Complex – Same Time

After getting their search assignment, Katherine set the skimmer down at a large complex of warehouses south of the city, about halfway to Akron. There were no other facilities for miles, and the place seemed to be deserted. Except for the occasional parking lot light pole, the location was dark.

Livia and Mira and Katherine gathered flashlights and weapons and exited the skimmer. They stood in the parking lot and listened, scanning the area.

“Well, we got about a hundred-in-one odds of this bein’ the place, but let’s not take any chances,” Livia said. “Stick together.”

With Livia in the lead, the trio of slayers set out to investigate the warehouses.

Cut To:


Virtual Interface – The Magic Box – Same Time

Rayne and Dark Willow weren’t even bothering with magic per se. They were simply trying to beat each other to death. Both were already battered and bruised, but at the moment, Rayne had the advantage.

He punched Dark Willow in the face once then twice, sending her stumbling back. When he went to land the finishing blow, she blocked him and punched him in the stomach. He grimaced and groaned and doubled over. Then Dark Willow gave him a savage upper cut that knocked him across the room and into a glass curio. He tumbled to the floor, dazed.

Dark Willow sauntered over and stood over Rayne dramatically. She conjured up her trademark fireball and grinned.

Cut To:


Storage Facility – Makeshift Lab – Same Time

Rayne’s bio-functions were all in the red zone, and shrill alarms were sounding from the computer. Eris left her station and went over to the interface chair.

Rayne’s chest was heaving, and blood was pouring down his face and neck and staining his shirt.

Eris pressed the communications button on the chair. “Rayne, you’re way off the charts. We should cut the connection.”

“No!” Rayne spat back. “This bitch is goin’ down,” he growled.

Cut To:


Virtual Interface – The Magic Box – Same Time

Rayne seemed barely able to focus on Dark Willow as she stood over him. His head swayed unsteadily as he looked up.

“I told you that you didn’t want to play with me, but you didn’t listen,” Dark Willow chided sarcastically. “Shame on you!” she added, shaking her finger at him. 

Her amused expression grin gave way to a snarl, and she threw the fireball down at Rayne.

Rayne’s eyes cleared a mere second before Dark Willow released the fireball. It was all he needed.

He cast a deflection which caused the fireball to bounce directly off his shield and hit Dark Willow herself. She exploded into flames, screaming in agony as the magical fire slowly and painfully consumed her.

Cut To:


Watchers Council – Gray Sector Conference Room – Same Time

Horror-stricken, Jocasta and the others watched as the black-haired version of Willow died a slow and torturous death by incineration. When the holographic image went blank, their eyes turned to Willowgram.

She was now fully prone with her eyes closed and her light barely flickering. Jocasta ran over and touched the hologram with her fingertips. Willowgram’s eyes opened, and she looked squarely at Jocasta.

“There are only two more levels,” she whispered. “If he breaks them..”

“We’re not gonna let that happen, Willow,” Jocasta said in a determined but strained voice. “We will stop him, I promise!”

“I’ve got it!” James suddenly cried out. Jocasta and the others rushed over as James called up a GPS grid map. “Here,” he said, pointing out the location.

Velika consulted her data pad. “That’s Livia’s location,” she said before activating her comm link. “Livia, this is Velika, do you copy?”

Cut To:


Storage Facility Complex – Same Time

“I copy,” Livia answered, signaling to Katherine and Mira to stop.

“They’re at your location,” Velika said over the radio. “The far building on the southeast corner. I’m sending backup now, but you’ve got to hurry!”

“We’re on our way!” Livia replied before turning to Mira and Katherine. “Looks like we hit jackpot! Let’s go!”

Then the three ran off at full slayer speed.

Cut To:


Storage Facility – Makeshift Lab – Same Time

Eris made a few adjustments to Rayne’s medical support functions, and his bio-alarms quieted. Then she went over to speak with him.

“I bumped your support a notch or two. Feel a little better?” she asked.

“Yes, thank you,” he replied. “Two more levels, lover,” he added in a pleased tone.

“I know,” she said in an equally pleased voice before trailing her fingers lightly down Rayne’s chest.

“I’ll rest a bit and then finish this thing,” he said. Eris gave his hand a squeeze.

Suddenly, a different alarm went off, and Eris rushed over to a side console.

“What is it?” Rayne asked.

“Perimeter alert,” Eris said. “We’ve got company.”

“Who is it?”

Eris entered a few commands until a split screen of security camera images appeared. Eris zoomed in on the one showing Livia and Mira and Katherine arriving.

“Slayers,” Eris hissed.

“Push the med support all the way and get the transport ready,” Rayne commanded. “Once I’m done, yank the CPU, and we’ll get the hell out of here!”

Eris jacked up the medical support and sent Rayne on to the final security level. Then she quickly returned to her video console. She entered several commands, then smiled deviously at the image of the slayers breaking down the door to the warehouse.

“Just in time for the welcoming party,” Eris said as she hit the Enter key.

Cut To:


Storage Facility – Main Room – Same Time

In front of the renegades’ waiting transport sat three large chunks of metal that looked disturbingly like kneeling seraphims. With a high-pitched whine, the three sets of armor lifted their heads.

With their electronic eyes glowing, the three security bots uncurled themselves and stood up, their weapons ejecting and clicking into place.

Cut To:


Virtual Interface – Vor’s Dream Arena – Same Time

For the next level, Rayne found himself in a huge arena. He stood upon a floor of sand and was surrounded by towering iron walls. He did a full 360 several times, taking in the details. He stopped when he heard the sound of a heavy metal gate opening. 

When Rayne turned toward the sound, he saw a red-haired Willow walking calmly out of the gate. He folded his arms and waited for her to reach him. When she was several yards away, she stopped.

“You’re persistent, I’ll give you that,” Willow said. “But this time, you’ve really bitten off more than you can chew.”

Rayne merely snorted derisively.

“You barely survived the last level. What makes you think you’ll survive this one?”

“May I remind you that I survived the last level. You didn’t.”

Willow tilted her head in acknowledgement of that fact but didn’t waver. “Doesn’t matter. You’re going down.”

Rayne chuckled.

And then at precisely the same time, they cast, sending powerful lightning-like blasts toward each other. The energies collided in a massive explosion.

Cut To:


Storage Facility – Main Room – Same Time

With the door broken in, Livia and Mira and Katherine rushed inside the warehouse. They ran past boxes and conveyor belts, assembly areas and grav-lifts, all having been abandoned months ago when Hubris, Inc., fell under federal investigation.

They cleared the large front section and headed through an entrance to the back portion of the warehouse’s main room.

“There’s the office!” Livia cried, pointing out the office in the far corner.

When the slayers hurried around the processing assembly that was between them and the office, they found the three security bots waiting for them. They skidded to a halt.

“Oh my,” Katherine said worriedly.

Mira stared open-mouthed for a moment and then said, “And who was it who didn’t want to take time to pick up a seraphim suit?”

Livia shrugged. “Hey, there’s only three of ’em,” Livia commented. “One for each of us. How hard can it be?”

One of the bots sent a laser blast at them. They dove behind the processing assembly just as the blast exploded the front side of the unit.

“Hard!” Mira shot back.

Cut To:


Virtual Interface – Vor’s Dream Arena – Same Time

A weakened but apparently victorious Willow stood in front of one of the massive iron walls. Rayne lay at the base of the wall, beaten and bloodied and spent.

“You just don’t get it, do you?” she asked.

She waved her hand, and the iron of the wall liquefied into gel-like arms that grabbed Rayne and pinned him to the wall.

“This is my world,” Willow said. “And I control what’s in it…every aspect of it. You don’t stand a chance.”

“Is that so?” Rayne replied with a devious smile.

Behind Willow, barbed chains emerged silently from the sand and rose like serpents ready to strike. Ethan took a deep breath and seemed to summon all his energy in a single glowing sphere. He turned it at Willow sending her toward the pit behind her. 

The barbed chains dug into Willow’s flesh, twisting tighter and tighter around her legs and body until the sand of the arena floor turned red from her blood. With a jerk, the chains began pulling Willow under the sand.

She screamed and flailed with her arms, clawing uselessly at the sand as she was dragged under.

Rayne broke free from the iron wall and walked over to Willow. His eyes flashed with sadistic satisfaction.

Cut To:


Watchers Council – Gray Sector Conference Room – Same Time

Willow and Willowgram screamed in tandem as the chains began pulling Willow under the sand-covered floor of the arena.

Jocasta activated her comm link. “Katie! Please hurry! He’s killing her!”

“We’re trying!” Jocasta heard Katherine say over the link.

Cut To:


Storage Facility – Main Room – Same Time

Katherine and the others had overcome one of the security bots and were working on the other two. Katherine was pummeling hers with her shield, using it like a battering ram, while Mira and Livia double-teamed the other.

Mira used her blaster to hone in on those areas already made vulnerable. After receiving multiple shots, the robot began to stumble. Mira ducked behind the metal table where Livia was waiting.

Once Mira was safely in place, Livia grinned and said, “My turn.” 

Then Livia shot up, vaulted over the table, and ran at the robot, sending a barrage of laser blasts into its head and body. As the succession of bolts penetrated the robot’s armor, it began to spark and jerk, until finally it went crashing to the floor of the warehouse.

Meanwhile, having weakened her robot, Katherine jumped aboard a nearby fork lift, activated it magically, and used it to skewer her opponent right in the chest. It too expired in a shower of sparks.

Cut To:


Storage Facility – Makeshift Lab – Moments Later

On her console, Eris watched unhappily as the three slayers overcame her security robots. She turned and glanced at Rayne in his chair, still connected to the virtual interface. She then looked at the door to the main room, where the transport was waiting. She worriedly looked back at Rayne.

“Hurry up, Sean,” she muttered over.

“One more to go,” he answered, his breath little more than short gasps. 

Cut To:


Virtual Interface – Cleveland Waterfront – Same Time

It was twilight. Rayne saw a woman, in her mid to late sixties sitting by the lakeshore with what appeared to be a boathouse behind her. Her legs were crossed, and her eyes were closed as if in prayer. He walked with a few feet and towered over a much older Willow, who simply looked up at him.

Rayne smirked. “This is it? The last stage is an old woman by the water?”

Willow’s face showed no emotion – no anger, no joy, no sadness. 

“You’re not allowed here,” she said casually. “You must leave or it will be your end as you know it.”

“I’ll take my chances,” he said as he raised his arm, a fireball forming in his hand.

Willow shook her finger at him. “Don’t say I didn’t warn you.”

Rayne threw the ball, but it shattered around her and then ricocheted off of an unseen barrier, heading toward him. He ducked at the last moment and watched it fly over his head. 

“Fight me!” he screamed in frustration. 

“Not all battles are fought with brute strength,” Willow said as she rose from her sitting position to stand in front of him. “Sometimes, Mr. Rayne, love and devotion are what you need to prevail. Do you have enough knowledge of both?”

“How-How do you know my name?” the former watcher asked.  

“When you’ve been around as long as I have, you learn a few things, pick up a few skills.” Willow grinned at him, which made the wrinkles around her eyes and mouth more pronounced for a few seconds. “But again, the question you should ask yourself is this: Are you worthy of what’s behind this door?” she asked as she nodded behind over her shoulder. 

“Who are you – Groucho Marx? I need to say the secret word and collect $50?” Sean asked. 

“Something like that, yes,” Willow answered casually before a small grin formed on her face. “Are you willing to bet your life?”

“Forget this,” he said as he reached to move her out of the way.

When he did, his hand burned red hot and looked scorched. He pulled it back with a painful scream. 

“Not everything is about power and control. However, this world isn’t yours for the taking, Mr. Rayne,” Willow told him firmly. “And I’ve made a promise to protect it. So…” she continued in a much more serious tone, “this is your last chance. Leave from here or suffer a fate worse than you can imagine.”

Rayne let out a howling scream of frustration and charged toward Willow, who simply raised her hand toward him. A single beam of white light emitted from her fingertips and coiled around his neck, bringing him to his knees. 

“Sadly, you leave me no choice,” Willow answered as she seemed to tighten her hold on Sean by the sounds of his strangled gasps. 

Cut To:


Storage Facility – Main Room – Same Time

Just as Livia and Katherine and Mira finished off the security bots, they ran for the office in the back. They had to jump out of the way, however, as the transport nearly ran over them while maneuvering inside the warehouse.

Before the slayers could even get off a round from their blasters, the transport shot its way out of the back wall and lifted off into the night.

“Hurry!” Katherine cried before leading the way to the lab inside the office.

Cut To:


Storage Facility – Makeshift Lab – Same Time

The slayers found Rayne still in his chair, jerking aggressively in the virtual interface.

“Trash the equipment!” Livia commanded.

“No!” Katherine interjected. “We don’t know what’s Willow and what’s not. We just need to deal with Rayne.”

As Livia and Mira watched, Katherine ran straight for Rayne. She lifted the thick tangle of cables that led into the back of his helmet and then yanked them out with savage force.

Cut To:


Watchers Council – Gray Sector Conference Room – Same Time

The holographic projector allowing Jocasta and the others to view the virtual interface suddenly went blank. Atop her mobile emitter, Willowgram lay motionless, her light barely visible.

“Willow!” Jocasta yelled desperately as Giles and the others looked on with equal concern.

There was no response from Willowgram.

Jocasta activated her comm link. “Katie! What’s happening?”

“We just got here,” Katherine said over the link. “We severed Rayne’s connection. Did it work?”

“I don’t know,” Jocasta said, her voice choked. She turned back to the hologram. “Willow?” she whispered.

Willowgram still made no response. Tears started rolling down Jocasta’s cheeks, and she ducked her head.

“What is it?” Katherine asked.

Jocasta lifted her head. “It’s Willow. She’s—” Jocasta stopped when she saw the faint hologram open her eyes. A laugh of relief escaped. “She’s alive!” Jocasta cried as Willowgram’s image became slowly brighter and Willow sat up. “Are you okay? Did he make it in?” Jocasta asked the hologram.

Willowgram shook her head. “He didn’t know the passwords.”

“Passwords?” Jocasta asked. 

Willowgram nodded and started to chuckle. “Willow – not me but the Willow – gave instructions to the programmers prior to her death. She asked for a seventh level and two specific passwords. Willow even gave him a hint, and had he done his homework, he might have gotten in but…oh well,” she said happily. “All the better for us, huh?”

“Sounds like Willowgram is going to be just fine,” Giles said, patting Jocasta on the shoulder. 

“Chances are you’re not gonna tell me the passwords, right?” Jocasta asked.

“Nope,” Willowgram answered. “But with a little soul searching, you might figure it out.” Willowgram made a zipper motion across her lips.

“Oh yes,” Giles added. “She’s gonna be just fine.”

“She’s alive Katie,” Jocasta said over the comlink again.

Cut To:


Storage Facility – Makeshift Lab – Same Time

“She’s alive,” Katherine heard Jocasta repeat.

“We did it! Willow’s okay!” Katherine shouted to Mira and Livia, who immediately gave each other high-fives in celebration.

“Thank you,” Jocasta told Katherine.

“Well, don’t thank us yet,” the blonde slayer said. “Rayne is accounted for, but I’m afraid Eris got away.”

“He’s the one I want anyway,” Jocasta said angrily. “I’m gonna kill him when I see him!”

Katherine turned to the chair where Rayne now sat with his helmet removed. His eyes were frozen open, and blood was running down his face and neck from his eyes, ears, and nose. Blood-flecked drool dripped from his open mouth as he stared vacantly at the ceiling.

“I don’t think you have to worry about that, Jo,” Katherine said solemnly.

Fade Out.

Fade To:


Watchers Council – Detention Area – Same Time

Giles tensed as the door behind him opened. He glanced back to see Veronica entering quietly. One of the guards in the hallway closed the door behind her. Veronica gave Giles a hesitant smile, which he didn’t return. He simply turned back to continue watching the only patient in the room.

Sean Rayne looked pale and small underneath the stark white sheet, surrounded by machinery that perpetually monitored his condition. A computer on the wall behind the bed showed a readout of Rayne’s brainwave patterns. At the moment, there wasn’t much going on.

Veronica broke the silence with a heavy sigh. She walked past Giles and took a seat in the chair beside the bed. She ignored the indignant sound from Giles and took Rayne’s hand in her own. When Giles didn’t comment further, Veronica looked up at him.

“Is it so difficult for you, Sebastian? To remember him before? We used to be friends, you know.”

“‘Used to’ being the operative phrase,” Giles replied snidely.

Veronica shook her head and looked fondly down at Rayne. “Don’t make me dredge up all the old stories, Sebastian. You know how good my memory is.”

Giles was silent for a while. Rayne’s chest slowly rose and fell. The beeping of the heart monitor was the only sound in the room. Finally, Giles snorted disdainfully and turned to leave.

“Don’t waste your memory on him, Veronica. He didn’t waste his on us.”

Veronica’s quiet response stopped Giles at the doorway.

“Maybe,” she said. “Or maybe we gave up too easily.”

Giles stood at the door, half-turned toward her. Veronica brushed a strand of hair off of Rayne’s forehead. She bit her bottom lip, but didn’t look up when Giles left.

Fade In:


Jocasta’s Apartment – Bedroom – The Next Morning

Jocasta and Katherine were curled up under the covers, snuggled happily together, seemingly in no hurry to get out of bed.

“Thanks again for saving Willow,” Jocasta said sincerely.

“It wasn’t just me, but you’re welcome,” Katherine replied.

“Was it hard?” Jocasta asked softly. “Pulling Rayne from that machine?”

Katherine dropped her gaze for a moment, then she looked back up. “It wasn’t hard doing it. I just did what I had to,” she answered. “But it was hard seeing him afterwards. He’s just… gone, and I did that.”

“He did it to himself,” Jocasta insisted, “by trying to kill Willow. You saved her and possibly him. That program was going to kill him because he couldn’t come up with the final passwords. I saw it with my own two eyes.”

“I know, but I might have made things worse by just yanking him away.”

Jocasta kissed Katherine on the forehead and pulled her into a warm hug. 

“You did the right thing,” Jocasta said, praising her. “I’m certain…Now if I could only figure out what the passwords are.”

Katherine snorted. “That’s going to bug you something terrible, isn’t it?” 

“Well, I don’t like not knowing something that I think I should know, ya know?” Jocasta paused a moment. “That made close to no sense, didn’t it?” she asked.

“Perfect sense,” Katherine said with a grin. “Remember, I speak Jocasta-ese fluently.”

Katherine snuggled in closer to Jocasta. 

Cut To:


Watchers Council – Infirmary – Same Time

Antonia gave a small knock and pushed open the door to Lex’s room. She peeked inside and found Lex sitting up in his bed, eating breakfast. He brightened when he saw her and motioned for her to come in.

Carrying a small bag, she stepped inside, shut the door, and walked over. She smiled and gave Lex a kiss, which he happily returned.

“Breakfast, huh?” Antonia commented, noticing that very little of the food on the tray was gone.

“If you can call it that,” Lex complained, using his fork to push an egg-like substance around on his plate.

“I guess it’s a good thing I stopped by the doughnut shop then, huh?” she teased, holding out the bag and swinging it in front of Lex’s face.

He grabbed the bag and ripped it open, quickly unwrapping the huge éclair inside. He took a big bite and moaned in pleasure.

“Oh god, I am so addicted to these things,” he said. Then he grimaced and backtracked. “Not in a bad way, though,” he corrected. “I mean, I don’t have to have them. I could—”

Antonia held up her hand to stop Lex’s babble. “Lex, it’s okay. I’m not worried about doughnuts and éclairs.” She sat down in the chair and took Lex’s hand. “But I am worried about you.”

Lex hung his head. “I know,” he said. Then he looked up. “I’ll do better,” he said optimistically. “I promise.”

“The doctor says he wants you try some new therapy, something that will help you manage the pain a little better.”

“Yeah, it’s meditation and stuff,” Lex said, though not particularly enthusiastically. Then he chippered up again. “But hey, I said, ‘ Zen me up, man’.”

Antonia gave a small smile and then sobered. “What can I do to help?” She dropped her head and looked at her hands. “I want to help, but I guess I was just…doing too much, I don’t know. Just tell me what to do, how to—”

Lex stopped her by gently putting his fingers over her mouth until she met his gaze. Then he gave her hands a squeeze. “Just…stay with me,” he whispered, his eyes full of hurt and vulnerability and need.

“Always,” Antonia said before kissing him once again.

Cut To:


James’s Apartment – Kitchen – Same Time

A clamber of dishes greeted James as he walked sleepily into the kitchen. Anya stood at the counter, moving bowls and pans back and forth in what looked like an attempt to cook. She turned to look at him and smiled brightly.

“Accessing protocols. Failure. Hello! I’m making cake.”

James looked at her sadly. He went back into the living room, got a bag, and re-entered the kitchen. He set the bag on the table.

“That’s great, Anya. Hey, I brought some of your things from the computer center. Would you like to look at them?”

Anya just gave him a confused look, so James opened the bag and pulled out a small book—a real book.

“See?” he said. “You were reading this last summer. You said you wanted some more human experiences, so I bought you this book so that you could read the story instead of just downloading it into your memory pathways. Remember?”

Anya continued to stare at him blankly, so James pulled other items out of the bag and showed them to her, one by one. When he had gone through every item, with no recognition from Anya, James approached her slowly and laid a gentle hand on her cheek.

“I’m so sorry, Anya,” he said quietly. “I’m going to try to fix you, but it may take a while. But I promise, okay? I promise I’ll fix you.”

Anya blinked and cocked her head to the side. “Okay, Jack!” she blurted cheerily. At that, she turned back to the counter and dumped an entire package of flour into a bowl, sending a white cloud into the air. “Holy frijole!” she exclaimed. 

James frowned and turned away.

Cut To:


Livia’s Quarters – Living Room – Same Time

Still dressed in the same clothes from the night before, Livia sat slumped on her couch. A collection of empty beer bottles decorated her coffee table. She held one in her hand and ran her finger along the rim.

She sighed, leaned up, and put the bottle on the table beside the rest. When she did so, her eye caught the thin digi-frame sitting on the corner of the table. She picked it up and leaned back, then activated the frame.

A series of photos from her vacation in Hawaii appeared. She scrolled through them slowly. Janet receiving a lai around her neck when they arrived at the hotel. Lian getting a hula lesson from one of the dancers at the luau. Damesha happily posed between two hunky Aussies at the surf shop.

Livia stopped at the next picture and stared at it. It was of Mira on the beach at sunset. She held a flower in her hands and looked as if she had just turned to the camera. Her eyes were bright, and there was a slight smirk to her lips, as if she were seconds away from making a smart remark. Livia smiled fondly at the picture and touched the screen with her fingertips.

Then her expression grew dark, and she turned off the digi-frame and tossed it aside on the far end of the couch. She pushed herself up from the couch and trudged down her hallway to the bedroom.

Fade Out.


End of Machinations

Next on Watchers: Restoration