Lindsay Wagner as Velika Petrova, Bonnie Hunt as Veronica Wyndam-Price, Maggie Grace as Brianna Knowles, Felicia Day as Finola Hughes, Erin Chambers as Jenn Bailey, Ali Larter as Janet Pryde, Ziyi Zhang as Lian Soon, Linda Park as Jordyn Parker, Daniel Dae Kim as Darrin, Harris Yulin as Morgan Travers, Nicole de Boer as Dr. Wade Davis,, Kristen Bell as Natalie, Eric Jungmann as Aidan, Jorge Garcia as Mitchell
Mia Kirshner as Cassandra, Seth Green as Dixon Osbourne, Candice Bergen as Anita Devereux, Sam Neill as Oliver Worth, Jennifer Morrison as Dr. Meghan Ash, Katee Sackhoff as Reese, Jensen Ackles as Cooper Reed, Alan Alda as Senator Cregg
Special Guest Starring:
Nicholas Brendon as Xander Harris and Alyson Hannigan as Willow Rosenberg
Two days after the events of “Small World”
Tang’s Chinese Restaurant – Night
The waiter pulled a steaming tray of food off the counter as the cook yelled something in Chinese at him. Ignoring the cook, he used his back to open the double doors and headed into the noisy dining area. He maneuvered with great skill around two children who were running unsupervised through the aisles. He shot a stern look at the parents, who quickly gathered their children, allowing the waiter to continue on his path. Seeing his intended table in the corner, he gripped the sides of his tray tighter and made his way over.
“So of course, I was just as surprised as Lucy here to know that the hotel we reserved for our honeymoon went out of business,” Mike Allyn said as he leaned back and placed his hand over his wife’s.
Lucy Allyn beamed at her husband, then gracefully turned her head and gave a bright smile to the couple’s dinner-mates, Lex and Antonia. “Oh and Mike isn’t telling you the best part,” Lucy cut in before squeezing her husband’s hand.
“Hmmm,” Antonia replied as Lex stifled a laugh.
“House Kung-Pao,” the waiter interrupted rudely as he held one of the dishes in his hand.
“That’s me,” Lex said, raising his hand. Within seconds, the waiter had placed the dishes down in front of everyone.
Antonia turned and fluently spoke a few kind words in Chinese to the waiter, who nodded and gave her a small smile before departing.
“I didn’t know you spoke Chinese, Toni-Tone,” Lucy said. She piled some rice onto her plate before handing the spoon to Mike. “Council training?”
“No, not really,” Antonia replied to her old friend. “Just a few words I learned from a flight instructor years ago.”
“How is the Council doing these days?” Mike asked Lex. “The negative press seems to have died down. That Lisa Lance story on what happened in Orlando last night was quite riveting.”
“I’m just glad that shark-in-sheep’s-clothing got her agenda right this time,” Lex said.
“Wolf,” Antonia corrected.
Lex shrugged. “Shark sounds better.”
“Well they must be keeping you extremely busy. This is the first time we’ve seen you since the wedding,” Lucy said. “I hope Jo feels better soon. I’ve missed you guys. We never get to hang out and catch up like this anymore.”
Antonia forced out her best smile to her friend. “We’ll she’s sorry too, but I’m sure she’ll recover.”
“By tonight,” Lex muttered under his breath.
“So anyway…back to the honeymoon from hell,” Lucy continued, oblivious to Lex’s comment. “After hours of inquiry, we finally found this quaint little cottage community about two hours north of our destination –”
“Way out of our way,” Mike cut in quickly as Lucy nodded.
“It was horrid!” she agreed. “We spend several hours on an aircraft, then God knows how long on the comm link, and then have to drive another two hours to find the place. And once we get there, we find out that it’s practically medieval.”
“Medieval?” Antonia asked as she sprinkled some soy sauce on her food.
Mike nodded. “Very archaic amenities. Our room had no phone service whatsoever and no network access.”
Lex snorted derisively. “Please…what is this? The twenty-first century?”
“Exactly,” Lucy said. “Oh well, I’m just glad that the wedding went off as well as it did.”
“Me too,” Mike replied as he turned to gaze at his wife. “It’s rare to meet your soul mate.”
Antonia shifted a bit in her chair as Lex looked at her with a smile. They both quickly looked away and resumed eating.
The happy couple turned their attention back to Lex and Antonia.
“So…when are you two getting hitched?” Lucy asked as she shoved a huge heaping of food in her mouth.
Antonia and Lex both froze in place. With their food-laden forks paused halfway to their mouths, they glanced nervously at each other.
Tang’s Parking Lot – Later
“Remind me not to order that spicy Kung Pao again,” Lex said, grimacing and holding his hand to his chest.
Antonia did not comment; she just kept walking. Her head was tilted downward as she watched one foot move in front of the other.
“So…what’s on your mind?” he asked.
The blonde didn’t look up. She merely gave a hmmming sound from her throat.
Lex stopped and watched Antonia keep walking. “Toni…Cleveland to Toni…come in, love of my life.”
Antonia turned around, suddenly realizing that she had walked nearly ten feet in front of Lex without noticing that he wasn’t at her side. She gave a half smile.
“Sorry,” she stated softly.
Lex took three quick strides and joined her. Then he placed his palms on her temples and started peering into her forehead as if he were trying to read the thoughts flashing there.
“Nope,” he finally said as he shifted his gaze to her eyes. “Can’t read minds, but I have a jinx-y feeling that something is amiss, so spill.”
Antonia pulled away from his touch, mumbling inaudibly as she glanced over his shoulder.
“Umm, nope, sorry, but ‘mumblese’ is not my second language,” he said. “What’s. Up. Toni? And I mean it this time.”
Antonia let a sigh of frustration escape her lips as she glanced back at Lex. “Nothing. I just have a lot on my mind with this…” She paused and took in a breath. “…this trip I have. It’s a pretty big deal and –”
“I thought it was just a routine weather pattern flight,” Lex interrupted.
Antonia crossed her arms and glared at Lex. “It isn’t just a routine flight, Lex. Admiral Richardson believes there have been some strange anomalies with solar bursts from the sun, and the radiation may possibly affect our flight patterns and equipment, plus –”
Antonia stopped when she saw Lex put his hands up to slow her down. He glanced down at her, giving her his lopsided grin as he pushed a stray strand of hair away from her face.
“I’m sorry,” he whispered as he leaned down to kiss her. Antonia pulled back, however, nearly tripping backwards. Lex caught her. “Toni, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to upset you.” Lex’s voice was full of concern as Antonia shrugged his hands off her arms.
“You can’t just fix everything with a kiss, Lex. Life doesn’t work that way. You of all people should know that,” Antonia almost shouted. “I mean, how reckless are you?” She peered at him, expecting him to explain himself, but he was only confused.
“Huh?” Lex said, shaking his head. “Is this about what Lucy asked, the whole –”
“Of course not! Why would you even think that?” Antonia blurted. “I have more important things to worry about than marriage.”
“Look, this conversation is going nowhere, so why don’t we call it a night?”
Antonia quickly turned on her heels and took off in the direction of her vehicle. She could hear Lex calling out her name, but not once did she turn around. It wasn’t until she had started the vehicle and programmed it for home that she allowed herself to cry.
Watchers Council – Jocasta’s Office – Around Noon The Next Day
Jocasta held the somewhat heavy, shiny, black object in her hand, turning it slightly after a few moments of examining its surface. It was so smooth that she could see a faint reflection of herself. The bottom half was deeply engraved with a script she was not familiar with. She reached over with her free hand to pick up the scan wand and clicked the top to turn it on. A soft green light buzzed to indicate it was on. Jocasta placed the flat part of the wand over the item and was about to scan when Willowgram popped up right in front of her.
“I wouldn’t do that,” Willow warned from atop her emitter, causing Jocasta to nearly drop the item in her hand.
“Jiminy Crickets, Willow! You almost made me drop it!” Jocasta exclaimed as she gently set the object down on her desk. “We still don’t know how it got into the Vault in the first place, or what it does for that matter, and you come in scaring me into nearly dropping it and causing a possible meltdown of the earth.”
“I’m more concerned about what’s gonna happen when you scan it,” Willow said.
“Why? This halo-pen is top notch.”
“That’s what your great-great granny thought when she was scanning books for Giles.”
“Not the Malcolm thing?” Jocasta groaned.
“Yes, the Malcolm thing. Or, more precisely, the Moloch thing. He was cursed into a book and could be released only if someone read from the book.”
“Or if they scanned the book.”
“Exactly. Which is why I suggest a banning of the scanning.”
Jocasta nodded in agreement. Then she opened her desk drawer and pulled out a sheet of white paper and a pencil.
“Paper!” Willow commented. “How quaint!”
Jocasta picked up the black object and placed the paper over the engraved surface. She ran the pencil tip lightly over the sheet, transferring the engravings to the paper. When she was finished, she pulled it off and showed it to Willow.
“Think this might work?” she asked the hologram.
Willow looked at it for a moment before nodding. “Typically, the power needs to come directly from the encrypted object, so I think you’re safe. And I have no record of any incidents that involved a scan of a tracing.”
Jocasta smiled, pleased with herself, and set the paper aside for the moment. “Good. Now that we have that settled, tell me what you’ve been working on.”
Willow perked right up with a bright smile. “Okay, you know how you wanted me to look up some super-duper protection spells? Well, I think I may have found a doozey.”
“Yeah?” Jocasta said excitedly.
“Problem is…it’s not translated.”
“Just run it through Babel.”
“Can’t. Won’t work. It’s in a very ancient, proto-Babylonian dialect.”
“Well, that sucks,” Jocasta whined. “Eh, just put in my work queue. I’ll get to it later. In the meantime, keep looking.”
“Aye, aye, cap’n!” Willow said, giving Jocasta a salute before blipping away.
Watchers Council – Computer Center – Same Time
“Stop that,” Aidan protested as he tried, unsuccessfully, to remove Anya’s hand from the holo-board.
“You’re not following protocol. You’re going to get James in trouble,” Anya replied testily as she began whizzing through the program with ease. “These files need to be on a more secure line, which means they belong in this array instead of that one.” She gave a disgusted huff. “I don’t know how you even got this job when your knowledge of databases is clearly unsatisfactory.”
Aidan let out a loud grunt and pushed himself away from the desk. “That’s it! I quit, James. I quit.”
James peeked his haggard face out from the side of his computer station. “Anya, let Aidan work.”
“But James,” she started to whine as she turned to look at him. “He’s going to let the tadpoles out!”
James lowered his eyes for a moment, his pale face illuminated by the soft green light of the screen. He glanced in Aidan’s direction and gave him a weary smile. “Aidan, take a break.”
“Wait a minute!” Aidan objected. “It’s not my fault! She’s, she’s…a mess. She’s not even a full functioning…”
“Aidan, I know!” James snapped.
Watchers Council – Jocasta’s Office – Moments Later
Jocasta squinted at the scanned engraving on her screen. She glanced at the black object on her desk. Then she sighed and rubbed her eyes. When her gaze returned to the screen, she closed that project and moved on to a less difficult task: Vault security. She called up the specs for the new security matrix on one screen, then put in a call to the computer center on her vid-screen. Within seconds, James’s image appeared.
“How’s that new security design coming?” she asked.
“I work only so fast,” James snapped. “This new security system you ordered for the Vault isn’t like creating a simple firewall, you know.”
“Everything okay?” Jocasta replied cautiously. “When we discussed it yesterday, you seemed fine with upgrading the system. Said you’d have a basic sketch of the new matrix by lunchtime.”
James glanced to the side as if checking to see if someone was behind him. When it appeared that the coast was clear, he turned his attention back to Jocasta.
“I know, I know,” he said. “It’s just…it’s Anya. It’s been a challenge getting her to act ‘normal’ again. Very frustrating.” James sighed. “I’m sorry. Look, call me back after lunch, and I should have what you need.”
“Sounds good,” Jocasta said, then ended the call.
Jocasta looked up from her screen to see Antonia walking through her office door.
“Bad time?” Antonia asked, sticking her hands in her pockets.
“No, no,” Jocasta said as she motioned for the pilot to come and take a seat. “Just chippin’ away at the same ole, same ole, really.”
“Good. That’s good,” Antonia replied as if she hadn’t even listened to Jocasta’s answer. “You free for lunch?”
Jocasta narrowed her eyes and cocked her head to the side, but didn’t comment on Antonia’s shortness. “Yeah, I’m free. Just give me a minute.” Jocasta busied herself with a data pad then asked, “So…how were the sickeningly happy newlyweds?”
“If you hadn’t played hooky, you’d know,” Antonia answered.
“Hey…I had highly critical…things that I needed to do,” Jocasta said in self-defense.
“Back to the point. How were Mike and Lucy?”
“As you suspected, very, very sugar-coated,” Antonia replied. “But happy, really happy.” She glanced down at her hands. “They even started to poke around about when Lex and I will make our wedding-dream-day come true.”
“Oh boy,” Jocasta said, her eyes widening. “Did you freak? You freaked, didn’t you?”
Antonia shifted in her seat and put forth her best stern face. “I most certainly did not freak. I may have avoided the situation by not talking about it, but I did not freak.”
“What did Lex say?”
“About what?” Antonia asked in fake absentmindedness, beginning to toy with the black object on the desk.
Jocasta let out a sigh. “Toni, haven’t you two talked about it yet?”
“Marriage!” Jocasta nearly shouted. “You’ve been joined at the hip for quite sometime, a-a-and after everything you two have gone through, well, it would make sense that people would start asking.”
Antonia stood up, taking the black object with her. “This is so stupid!” she complained, starting to pace in front of the desk. “I mean, we haven’t been dating that long…”
“And I have plans –big giant plans that I haven’t even begun to start on…”
“Like tomorrow, I’m going away for this flying expo that’s being held –”
“ANTONIA LEIGH ALLISTER! ”
Antonia stopped her pacing and glared at Jocasta. “What?”
Jocasta pointed at the object in Antonia’s hand. “Would you mind putting that back on my desk?”
Antonia looked down and noticed that she had picked up the small, shiny-black object that she’d been toying with on Jocasta’s desk. “Oh. What is it?”
“Since the Magic Reintegration Plan went into effect, I’ve been going through the Vault, checking out the items there. This one is very old, and from what I can tell from just touching it, it’s also very powerful.”
“What does it do?”
“Haven’t a clue, but my guess is that it’s either a portal opener or something that will scramble every part of your body throughout space and time.”
“Ohhh-kaaaay…evil magical object back on desk,” Antonia said as she carefully placed the item back on the desk.
Jocasta pulled a box from her desk drawer. It had a smooth black surface much like the object itself. After carefully putting the device back inside its container, Jocasta tapped the top, causing a soft blue shield to seal the box all the way around. Then she returned the box to her desk drawer.
“So,” Antonia said, shifting her balance on her feet a few times. “Lunch? We could meet up with Katie, have some girl-on-girl time.”
Jocasta grinned and quirked an eyebrow at the comment.
“Err, just girl time,” Antonia corrected herself.
The redhead laughed. “Katie would love to, I’m sure, but she’s got slayer stuff.” Jocasta cast a hopeful glance at her cousin. “Maybe we should invite Lex. Then you two can kiss and make up?”
“No,” Antonia instantly replied. “I think we need some space right now.” She shrugged. “Besides, I’m sure he’s tinkering in his fortress-of-solitude lab. So, you ready?”
Jocasta raised her index finger. “Got one more call to make.” She turned to her vid-screen, keyed in the requisite number, and waited.
Jocasta’s Office/The Vault – Same Time
Within seconds of activation, a chubby young man in a crumpled uniform appeared on Jocasta’s screen. He had been eating a donut and was now brushing the bits of dropped sugar glaze from his clothing. Jocasta rolled her eyes.
“Mitchell, how’s that inventory coming?” Jocasta asked the young man.
Mitchell cleared his throat nervously and fidgeted in his chair. “Oh, it’s, um, it’s coming.”
“You haven’t done anything, have you?” Jocasta said.
Mitchell scoffed loudly but unconvincingly. Jocasta pinned him with her stare. He slumped and gave a little whine. “I don’t know why you’re making me do this,” he complained. “We already have an inventory.”
“That one was done ten years ago,” Jocasta stated.
“So? Nothing’s changed.”
“Of course it has!” Jocasta said. “I brought in a dozen or so items myself just last year.”
“Hey, I put them on the log,” Mitchell defended.
“And that’s all you did,” she said. “Look, I want that inventory, and I want it now.” Before Mitchell could make another objection, she quickly added, “And I want it done right.” Jocasta leaned closer to the vid-phone. “So, if you want to keep your job, make…it…happen!”
Mitchell looked at Jocasta with fear in his eyes. He swallowed hard then said, “Ah, yes ma’am.”
Watchers Council – Jocasta’s Office – Same Time
Jocasta let out a frustrated scream through gritted teeth as Antonia shook her head and tried not to giggle. The redhead cocked her head at her cousin and narrowed her eyes.
“Ma’am, yes ma’am!” Antonia said, snapping her heels together and saluting, with only the barest of smiles twitching at her lips. “I will make it happen!”
“After that comment, you are so buying me lunch…for the rest of your life.”
Watchers Council – Outside The Vault – Moments Later
Mitchell trudged down a hallway toward a guarded doorway. He flashed his identification card at the two armed guards and entered the small room.
Inside the room was a huge vault door surrounded by a ring of laser sensors. He walked over to the access panel on the near wall, swiped his key card, and entered a code on the key pad. Within seconds, the laser grid was disarmed, and the heavy metal door began rolling back.
When the door was fully open, Mitchell stepped inside and slapped his palm against the large red button on the wall, causing the door to close. Then he passed through the double doors and headed into the Vault proper.
Watchers Council – Inside The Vault – Moments Later
As he passed down a long aisle of floor-to-ceiling shelves filled with boxes and bins, Mitchell grumbled unhappily to himself.
“Make it happen,” he said in a sarcastic and high-pitched imitation of Jocasta’s voice. “I’ll make it happen all right…when I’m damn good and ready.”
He moved close to a shelving unit and lifted the edge of a box, looking at its label. “Damn busy work…that’s all it is.” He let the box drop with a thud, causing a cloud of dust to poof into the air.
He wandered over to the other side of the aisle, slid out a pallet about halfway, and poked at the various items on it. He settled on a small box in the center of the pallet and picked it up. It was a nicely made wooden box, not unlike a jewelry box. Carved into the box’s top was a message: “Break this, and you’re dead. (And I ain’t kiddin’.) – XH.” Next to the message was a stick man drawn with x’s for his eyes and his tongue stuck out.
“Oooo, looks dangerous,” Mitchell mocked. He gave a scoffing snort and tossed the box onto the end of the pallet.
Just then, the pallet tipped forward and crashed to the floor, causing all of the items on it to tumble into a heap at Mitchell’s feet. He cursed and tried to stop the avalanche but was unsuccessful.
Once things stopped falling, he sorted through the mess, cursing the entire time. He checked each item for damage and set it aside. When he got to the bottom of the pile, he groaned. The box he had been looking at was broken, crushed under the weight of the other items.
“Oh no,” he said worriedly as he knelt in front of the box.
With a shaking hand, he opened the splintered box top. Inside was a small green vase lying in a bed of Styrofoam peanuts. It appeared intact and undamaged. Mitchell let out a heavy sigh of relief.
“Thank goodness,” he said. He gave a few small laughs as he stood up and wiped the sweat from his brow.
His laughs stopped when he heard the small tink of splintering glass. His glance shot over to the vase just as a wail-like moan escaped from it. His feet took a step or two back, but then he froze in place, unable to take his eyes off the object. As the moan continued, an eerie mist seeped from the vase. It hung near the floor, swirling around itself as it grew larger and larger, until finally it coalesced, genie-like, into the form of a young woman. She was petite, with long dark hair, and unquestionably beautiful, striking even. But her eyes were cold.
She was Cassandra of Bruges.
She looked at Mitchell only briefly then cast a quick glance at her surroundings. After a moment, she turned her eyes back to the pudgy, terrified man before her.
Mitchell returned her stare for perhaps a second or two before squealing and running for the exit. Cassandra reached out with her hand and sent a magical burst flying into the man’s back. He screamed and went sprawling to the floor. Before he could even crawl to his knees, she was on him, kicking him onto his back and standing over him.
He was shaking violently, trying not to look into the pitiless eyes that bore down on him. Cassandra bent down and snatched up his identification card, making Mitchell jump in fear. She looked at it, then let it drop, then stared hard into the man’s face.
“Mitchell,” she began in a reasonable voice, “I’m going to ask you some questions, and you’re going to answer them.”
“N-N-No,” Mitchell replied in a quavering voice. “I’m n-n-not gonna tell you anything.”
Cassandra’s eyes narrowed then yellowed, and with a growl, her visage became that of a vampire.
“Okay, okay,” Mitchell said, holding up his hands. “I’ll tell you anything, just…aaggghhhh!!!”
Mitchell had no more time for pleading as the vampire yanked the man to his feet and drove her fangs into his throat.
End of Act One