Anomalous Zone – Forest – Moments Later
Having retreated from the edge of the clearing where the demons were gathered, the team now huddled beneath an ancient redwood that towered over the surrounding trees. Its trunk rose bough-less over a hundred feet before spreading its arms into the sky.
“Okay,” Livia sighed, “does someone want to explain to me why the hell Dr. Burkle is now a monster with blue hair?”
“I remember something,” Jocasta said. “It was from Willow’s diaries.” Katherine glanced up, surprised, as Jocasta went on. “She made a reference to a friend whose body had been taken over by a demon…a demon named Illyria.”
Mira’s forehead wrinkled. “Which friend?”
“I-I don’t know,” Jocasta answered, shaking her head. “She didn’t dwell on it…I think it might have been too painful.”
An awkward silence settled over the Council team for a few moments.
It was James who finally piped up. “Okay, but that still doesn’t explain what’s going on. I mean, even if Dr. Burkle has been taken over by a—”
“We don’t know that she’s been taken over at all,” Livia pointed out. “She could’ve been faking all along.”
“She wouldn’t do that!” Katherine said defensively. “That is not Dr. Burkle!”
Jocasta bit her lip. “I don’t know,” she said, shaking her head. “I mean, after seeing her bio-pod in Orlando…”
Katherine’s brow furrowed as if she were considering Jocasta’s statement but not liking it very much.
“Even if that’s true,” James continued, “we still don’t know why she would show up and bring us to the Zone. It makes no sense. And what about all that stuff about the Source? Was she just lying?”
“Dr. Burkle was not lying,” said an ominous voice.
The entire group spun around to see Illyria standing behind them. About thirty yards behind her stood a mob of her demon followers, baring sharpened claws and razor teeth.
Livia took a step forward, preparing to attack.
“Livia, wait…” Jocasta began, but it was to no avail.
Livia swung a hard right at Illyria, who dodged the punch easily. She moved fluidly into a hard stiff arm to Livia’s chest, a blow that instantly sent the slayer flying backwards. Livia slammed hard into the trunk of a tree a good fifty feet away, then fell limply to the ground.
“Livia!” Mira called out.
“Unimpressive,“ Illyria sneered.
Mira whipped toward Illyria. She brandished the Scythe and rushed forward, but Jocasta held out her arm and stopped her.
Mira looked confused. “You saw what she just did to—”
Jocasta shushed Mira with a look; then she turned toward Illyria, dropping to one knee. A lightning flash filtered through the canopy, dappling the faces of both humans and demons in too-bright light.
“O Great Illyria,” Jocasta began, eyes trained on the forest floor, “God-Queen of the Primals…”
“God-King of the Primordium,” Illyria corrected.
“Yes,” Jocasta nodded. “We humbly ask, where is the Source? You speak as if you know of it.”
James leaned over to whisper to Katherine. “What’s with the medieval-speak?”
“You behave as though you know your place, and yet you do not know me.” Illyria cocked her head and took a step towards Jocasta. Mira tensed. Livia blinked and tried to get to her knees where she had fallen.
“Tales have been told far and wide of the Great Illyria,” Jocasta replied.
“Flattery is for jesters,” Illyria spat, “especially when it is false.” Jocasta held her breath. “But your pathetic attempt has provided some amusement.”
Jocasta risked a glance up. “The Source?”
“There is a saying,” Illyria replied, “of which humans are sadly ignorant: ‘It is often the quarry which leads its own hunt’.”
Jocasta blinked. “You’re saying…”
“I am the Source,” Illyria proclaimed.
James’s eyes grew wide. “Holy crap.”
“I apologize, Great One, but I don’t understand,” Jocasta said. “We thought that the Source was the site of the experiment that originally formed the Anomalous Zone.”
“It is, and yet, it is not,” Illyria explained. “Over a quarter century ago, when I discovered the potential of the breach left behind by your fools of science, I hid myself among those studying the phenomenon. And when the time was right, I struck! I released the full energies of the breach and merged myself with it.”
“The Siege of Dallas,” Jocasta said, making the connection. “The supposed terrorist attack on the old collider site. That was you?”
“It was. And now the consequences of that action have finally come to pass.” She gestured at the landscape around them.
“You knew what would happen,” Mira realized, mouth agape. “You created the Anomalous Zone…on purpose.”
Illyria glared at her but simply said, “That is correct.”
Mira shook her head. “But…why?”
“In the eons since my enemies first trapped my essence, the Earth has moved on,” Illyria told her. “I awoke to find my army dust. But here, in this place where reality weeps, there are worlds that remain true, where power is still respected as it once was. Here, I can build a new army and conquer not only the Earth, but worlds uncountable. My palace will be a glittering opal in a pool of blood.”
“Can you say Napoleon complex?” James whispered, but Katherine wasn’t listening. She took a deep breath and stepped forward.
“What have you done with Dr. Burkle?” Katherine demanded.
Illyria turned to examine Katherine, cocking her head slightly. The edges of her lips quirked the smallest bit, in what might have been the Illyria version of a smile. “Dr. Burkle…is a figment.”
“What did you do to her?” Katherine repeated tightly.
“Katie…” warned Jocasta, still on one knee.
“What you know as ‘Dr. Elizabeth Burkle’ is the product of a century of cowering in the shadows,” Illyria told her. “When my powers were diminished in a clash with the Old Ones, protecting your Council I might add, I withdrew, allowing my human façade to move me through this world unnoticed.”
“I don’t understand,” Jocasta said. “If you helped the Council before why are you—”
“Because you’ve squandered your gifts. Look at what you’ve become – all of you.” Illyria sighed heavily. “In any regard, as for Dr. Burkle, she eventually began to believe that she truly was human and repressed the knowledge of my existence.”
“A split personality,” Jocasta noted. She did not see Livia sneaking around behind the trees.
“Such belief was in vain,” Illyria went on. “Once I became aware of the strength I could draw from dimensional anomalies, I merely bided my time, drawing Burkle ever closer to the Source of my power, to the realization of my destiny, to the glorious return of my godhood.”
“Too bad you won’t be alive to enjoy it,” Livia said as she smashed a small boulder onto Illyria’s head from behind. The rock broke into several dozen pieces on impact, leaving Illyria apparently unscathed. Livia blinked. “Uh-oh.”
Illyria turned and punched again, sending her flying once more. James had to dart back into the trees to avoid being mowed down by Livia’s hurtling body.
Seeing an opening, Mira attacked from her opposite side, swinging the Scythe at Illyria’s midsection. Illyria stuck an arm behind her and caught the Scythe mid-swing, without even looking. She then swung around, breaking Mira’s grip on the Scythe and sending her skidding across the rough forest floor in Livia’s general direction.
Katherine then attacked Illyria with a yell. After kicking the Scythe out of Illyria’s hands, Katherine attempted several punches and kicks in quick succession. Illyria easily parried each with one hand.
At the slayer’s next punch, Illyria caught Katherine’s arm. When she tried to punch with her other arm, Illyria caught it as well. Illyria pinned Katherine’s arms at her sides and lifted her up, bringing their faces very close together. Pain twisted Katherine’s face into a grimace, but it was sheer terror that was in her eyes.
Suddenly, almost as if on a whim, Illyria carelessly threw Katherine over her shoulder. The blonde landed several yards away on her back, grunting from the impact with the ground. Illyria turned back to Jocasta, who was now on her feet, arms raised as if to cast a spell.
“You are a witch.” Illyria sounded vaguely surprised. “Interesting.”
Still, Jocasta hesitated.
“You believe that by killing me you will kill your friend,” Illyria said. “You are correct, but your concern is unfounded.” She reached out and grabbed Jocasta by the neck. Jocasta, eyes wide, made a terrible choking noise. “You will not kill me.”
Mira, on her hands and knees, had managed to get over to Katherine.
“We have to help Jo,” Katherine told her.
“What’s your plan?” Mira asked.
There was a beat. Jocasta was still choking.
“I have no idea!” Katherine said in a voice approaching hysteria.
Illyria looked up to see the enormous redwood falling directly towards her. Katherine leapt to her feet and tackled Jocasta free from the God-King’s grip just as the gigantic tree slammed to the ground, crushing Illyria beneath its trunk.
With Katherine’s help, Jocasta slowly got to her feet, still clutching her throat with one hand. She saw that several demons had gathered around the spot where Illyria had stood, staring incredulously at the fallen tree. She turned to see James standing by the stump, his laser device in his hand.
James pumped his fist. “Yeah! That’s right! Who’s the man?!”
“You are,” Livia admitted groggily as she and Mira trudged toward Jocasta and Katherine. Livia had a hand to the back of her head, while Mira’s face and arms were covered in cuts and bruises.
“Is she…dead?” Mira asked as she picked up the Scythe.
That was when the tree began to move. All five Council members turned to see Illyria, ever so slowly, rise to her feet, holding the massive tree trunk above her head like it was a dumbbell.
“M-M-Maybe we should run,” Katherine said quietly.
“Good plan,” James agreed quickly.
Just as they turned tail and ran, Illyria threw the tree in their direction with a small grunt. It landed just behind them with a crash, sending them scurrying even faster.
Illyria watched as the mission team disappeared into the trees. One of her demon followers, red with ram-like horns, walked up behind her.
“Shall we follow them, my liege?” the demon asked eagerly.
“Unnecessary,” Illyria replied, waving her hand dismissively before turning on her heel and striding away. “Come,” she directed. “I must gather the others.”
Watchers Council – Command Center – Same Time
Sebastian, Veronica, and Velika were camped in front of an array of large monitors. John West was at the console; the others stood behind him. Willowgram sat atop her mobile emitter to John’s left. The various screens showed a mixture of satellite surveillance images, national news feeds, and Council communications networks. One of the monitors was playing a previously recorded press conference at which Sebastian had spoken.
John pointed to one of the satellite images. “The Anomalous Zone is continuing to expand,” he reported. “It’s encompassed a significant portion of the Midwest.”
“It’s growing so fast,” Veronica commented.
“Yes, it’s expanding at much faster rate than it did during the Siege of Dallas,” John said. “It’s also beginning to affect the hellmouths.”
“Affect the hellmouths?” Sebastian asked.
“That’s right,” Velika confirmed, pointing to another monitor. “Nearly every major branch of the Council that is located on a hellmouth is reporting unusual phenomena.”
“The same thing happened after the original collider accident,” Willowgram added. “Dimensional anomalies, ghostly apparitions, you name it.”
Veronica frowned and touched Sebastian’s arm. “Do you think that…?” She trailed off, not wanting to finish her question.
“No, I refuse to believe that,” Sebastian said firmly. “Jo and the team, they are alive. We just have to hope that they’ll find the solution soon.”
“And if they don’t?” Velika asked.
“We’ll, um, we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it…if we come to it,” Sebastian said.
He turned his eyes back to the monitors. Veronica and Velika shared a worried look.
Anomalous Zone – Fog Bank – Moments Later
The mission team scrambled out of the forest directly into one of the mist rings that permeated the Anomalous Zone. Once inside, James called out to the others.
“Wait! Hold up,” he said, stopping and bending over at the waist. “Let me catch my breath.”
Jocasta struck a pose similar to James’s. Even the three slayers were breathing hard.
Mira looked back the way they had come. “Do you think they’ll follow us in here?”
Livia shrugged. “Don’t know. I hope not.”
Just then they heard a loud growl—from something clearly not human and probably rather large.
“Come on,” Livia said. “We need to keep moving.”
She ushered the others on ahead of her, keeping her blaster pointed in the direction of the growl. She backed up several yards, then turned to catch up to the rest of the team as they hurried deeper into the fog.
Anomalous Zone – Base Camp – Same Time
Growling fiercely, the two wolverine-like rhino demons were in full-fledged attack. Anya was scrambling up the side of the bio-pod out of the reach of one of the demons. Once at the top, Anya turned and fired a laser pistol at the beast. It howled when the blast connected, but didn’t back down.
Cooper, in full wolf form, circled the other demon, lunging and snapping at its legs. Finola was on the back of the beast, trying her best to hang on as the monster bucked and thrashed.
“Stay still, ya bloody piece o’—” she complained to no avail.
Anomalous Zone – Foot of Mountain – Same Time
Lex and Antonia were running as fast as they could through the rough brush at the foot of the mountain. Lex was in the lead. Antonia was right behind him, stopping periodically to fire a series of rapid shots from her blaster at something behind them. After running down an incline, the newlyweds ducked behind a large boulder and held their breaths. For a moment they heard nothing.
“Are they still coming?” Lex whispered.
“I hope not,” Antonia whispered back. “My blaster’s almost done.”
They waited nearly a minute, listening intently. Then they heard crude voices shouting to one another in unintelligible demonic tongues.
“I’ll take that as a yes,” he said wearily.
“Come on,” Antonia said, pointing at the mist ring ahead of them. “We’ll lose them in the fog.”
Before the pursuing demons could get any closer, the two took off once again.
Anomalous Zone – Rocky Plain – Moments Later
When the mission team emerged from the fog bank, they found themselves on a desolate plain surrounded by mountains. Frequent lightning flashes lit up the overcast sky. As they stopped to rest again, the group took in the sight of another new landscape.
“I should get frequent flier miles for this,” Mira quipped. “I feel like I’m on one of those trips that visit ten countries in five days.”
Suddenly, the team heard footsteps rapidly approaching from inside the mist. Livia looked around frantically, but there was no cover nearby.
“Get ready!” she shouted. “Something’s coming!”
Livia and James pointed blaster and laser toward the fog. Mira tightened her grip on the Scythe. Jocasta and Katherine began calling upon their magic, their fists glowing with crackling white energy.
All five balked and blinked when they saw Lex and Antonia stumbling out of the mist. The two arrivals did much the same when they saw Jocasta and the others standing right in front of them.
“Toni?” Jocasta said in total shock.
“Jo? Oh thank God!” Antonia said, rushing over to her best friend and hugging her tightly. Lex quickly joined his wife, and the rest of the team drew near as well.
“Toni…Lex…what are you doing here?” Jocasta asked, still in disbelief.
“Got hijacked by the AZ on our way to Vegas,” Lex explained. “Toni’s ship is history, but we’re okay.”
“Guess you’re gonna get in on the action whether Jo wanted you to or not, huh?” Mira teased Antonia.
“I changed my mind,” the blonde pilot said. “I’d rather be in my honeymoon suite, sipping champagne and eating chocolate-covered strawberries.”
“Among other things,” Lex quickly added, causing most of the others to smile.
Livia, however, was eyeing the terrain nervously. “I hate to break up the family reunion, but we really need to move. We’re sitting ducks out here. We need to get somewhere defensible.”
“That small mountain over there,” Mira pointed out. “Bound to have some nooks and crannies, maybe some caves if we’re lucky. We can take high ground if nothing else.”
“Looks good,” Livia said. “Let’s go.”
Anomalous Zone – Side of Mountain – Moments Later
Livia led the others along a narrow path that wound up the side of the mountain. As they reached the top, the rough terrain flattened out into a wide ridge that overlooked the plain below. As the wind whipped loudly around them, Livia and Mira walked to the edge of the cliff and looked over the side.
Livia’s body instantly slumped in disgust. “You have got to be kidding me…” Mira had similar look of defeat.
“What?” Jocasta asked as she and the others drew near.
When they looked down at the plain below, they saw a demon army much more massive than the one they had seen previously. By the light of campfires and torches, they saw an army that filled the plain as far as they could see. Over the sound of the wind, they could hear the clamor of demon voices and the clash of weapons. Moving among the throng, with a wide berth set aside for her, was Ruler and Commander, God-King once more, Illyria.
Livia shook her head. “We run ourselves ragged to get away from this bitch, and now we’re right back on her doorstep?!!”
She swung her blaster strap over her shoulder and walked away, still shaking her head. Mira let out a deep breath and joined her.
“Who’s that?” Antonia asked her cousin.
“Dr. Burkle,” Jocasta answered. Antonia and Lex got confused looks on their faces.
“Yeaaah,” James said. “Apparently, Dr. Burkle is a demon-god who created the Anomalous Zone so that she could reclaim the earth for herself and her Army of Doom.”
After an extremely long beat, Lex forced a grin and said, “Okay then. Glad that’s been cleared up.”
Then he and Antonia turned and walked away, still wearing their perplexed expressions.
Anomalous Zone – Rocky Outcrop – Continuous
Soon the whole Council team had moved away from the cliff and gathered near a rocky outcrop. Mira leaned her Scythe against the rough stone face and sat down on a small boulder. Livia paced a few feet away. The others looked at each other expectantly, but no one said anything for a time. Finally, Mira spoke up.
“So, what’s the plan?” she asked Jocasta.
The redhead glanced around uncertainly. “I-I-I don’t know,” she said. “We came here to repair the original reality rip, what Dr. Burkle called the ‘Source,’ but now…” She paused to think then went on. “I mean, if she merged herself with the breach somehow, I don’t know how to make this work.”
“We take her out,” Livia stated matter-of-factly.
“But she’s a god,” James interjected. “How are we gonna deal with that?”
“With magic,” Katherine said softly but firmly. She turned to Jocasta. “It’s time to trust your heart, Jo. You’re the only one here that can stand up against Illyria.”
“Katie’s right,” Livia said. “You’re our big gun.”
Jocasta’s face twisted in alarm. “I’m your—? No, I-I-I was never a gun. Someone else should be the gun. I, I could be a, a cudgel. Or, or a pointy stick.”
Katherine took Jocasta’s hands in hers. “Don’t be afraid of yourself. Don’t even be afraid of her.” She released one hand to point toward the cliff. “You have the power, but most importantly, you have the knowledge.” She gave her girlfriend’s hand a squeeze. ” ‘Knowledge is power’,” she said, her lips curling into half smirk. “Or so I hear.”
Jocasta smiled back and said, “Okay.”
“Great,” Lex said. “We’ve got the former Dr. Burkle covered. Now what do we do about the rabid throng of demony badness down there?”
Livia stopped pacing and walked over to where Mira had left the Scythe. She picked up the weapon and hefted it into both hands.
“There’s only one thing left to do,” she said grimly. “We fight.”
Anomalous Zone – Base Camp – Same Time
The rhino-beast screeched as Cooper, in wolf form, ripped through the tendons and muscles of the creature’s right back leg. Now crippled, the demon fell to its knees. With the worst of the bucking over, Finola was finally able to ram her dagger into monster’s neck at the base of its skull. Its screaming instantly stopped, and it sank to the ground, dead.
Minutes before, Anya had managed to blast the other rhino-beast to kingdom come, so the base camp team was out of danger—for the moment at least. As Anya climbed down from the top of the bio-pod, Finola rolled off the dead demon and looked around for Cooper.
“Do you think that’s all of them?” Anya asked as she hurried over. “No, of course, that’s not all of them,” she answered herself, her voice becoming frantic. “It’s the end of the world. There will just be more and more of them until we can’t fight them anymore…until we’re just another pile of body parts.”
Finola wasn’t even listening to the android’s rambling. She was watching Cooper as he approached. She smiled when she took in the sight of his now human but totally naked form.
Anya threw her hands up and turned her back, going on with her speech. “I mean, what are you supposed to do at a time like this? Facing imminent death, certain demise…how do you deal, how do you cope, how do you spend those last few moments of life as you know it?”
Finola’s smile curved into a sexy smirk. She looked down Cooper’s body and then up again, lifting an eyebrow in his direction. He joined her in her smile.
Anomalous Zone – Rocky Outcrop – Moments Later
“Let me get this straight,” Lex said. “You wanna send three slayers with one Scythe between them against a gazillion demons while the rest of us, who have no special powers whatsoever, help Jo get to and through her death match with the God-King relatively unscathed?”
“Lex!” Antonia said accusingly.
“What?” he replied defensively. “I’m just trying to be clear.”
“Look, I know it’s a long shot,” Livia told them, “but it’s the only shot we’ve got.” She looked each Council member in the eyes, and one by one, they all nodded. “Good. Now let’s get ready before that army discovers we’re here.”
At that, Livia handed her blaster rifle to Lex. She gripped the handle of the Scythe tightly in her fist and then walked toward the edge of the cliff, ignoring the rumbling thunder and the flashes of lightning streaking through the sky.
Mira watched Livia go, then turned her eyes to the others. James plopped down on a rock and began checking his laser cutter. Lex looked at the blaster and then swung its strap over his shoulder. He smiled at Antonia and pulled her into a warm hug. Jocasta and Katherine moved a few yards away. They whispered intently for a moment then kissed passionately. They stayed locked in each other’s arms, leaning their foreheads together. Mira sighed and got up. She shot a pained glance at Livia and then walked away, around the rocky outcropping, out of the sight of the others.
Anomalous Zone – Base Camp – Same Time
There was a flash of naked, dirt-covered skin. Then the sound of ragged moaning. Then a deep, guttural grunting accompanied by the slap of flesh against flesh.
Then an exasperated huff followed by the clear stamp of an android foot.
“This is no time for sex!!!” Anya complained loudly to Finola and Cooper.
The writhing couple paid Anya no mind. She huffed again and turned away, pouting noticeably.
Anomalous Zone – Behind The Rocky Outcrop – Moments Later
Away from the others, Mira paced nervously, clenching and unclenching her fists repeatedly. As she turned on her heels, she suddenly found Aurora standing right next to her.
“Gah!” Mira exclaimed, startled.
“How’s it going?” Aurora asked.
“Oh, swell,” Mira replied. “Can’t you tell?”
“It’s almost time,” Aurora said, her voice strangely distant. “Are you ready?”
Mira’s expression grew worried and then demanding. “Is Livia going to die?”
“Not if you stop them,” Aurora said. “Not if you make the sacrifice.”
“I will,” Mira said resolutely. “Whatever it takes.”
Aurora’s eyes bored into Mira’s. “Will you give up your life? All that you are, all that you were meant to be?”
“Yes, damn it! Just tell me what to do!”
Aurora smiled at Mira and then ran her fingertips across the slayer’s forehead and down her cheek. “When the time comes, you’ll know what to do,” she told her. “Now go. She needs you.”
Mira took off, heading back around the outcropping. As Aurora watched her go, the corners of Aurora’s lips gradually turned down as her smile fell away.
Anomalous Zone – Rocky Outcrop – Moments Later
Mira was breathing heavily as she came around the outcropping and back onto the ridge. She froze in place and looked around her, as if seeing the area for the first time.
The ridge was mostly smooth, dotted periodically with flat-topped, person-sized rocks. A particularly large one lay to the right of the cliff’s edge. The sky was dark and overcast, its roiling clouds streaked with lightning. Dragons could be seen circling among the clouds. Large drops of rain began to fall, creating patterns in the dust. Over the sound of the wind and thunder and rain, the voices of the demon army rumbled and became a roar.
“This is familiar…” Mira mumbled to herself before letting her eyes land on Livia.
The slayer was standing stock-still, Scythe in her right hand, staring out over the plain below. Mira took a deep breath then stepped forward slowly.
Mira stopped next to Livia’s left. She too looked out over the edge.
Demons of every shape and size stood below them, stretching out beyond the horizon. Their sheer mass was obscured by the ever-present mist. One demon raised his rough, multi-pronged axe, and then another did the same. Soon the entire army unleashed a primal battle cry that drowned out even the thunder itself. It was a sound that had never seen civilization—pure ferocity.
Mira and Livia stood side-by-side, rain dripping down their foreheads and into their eyes. Neither looked at each other.
Mira turned to Livia and said, “You need to give me the Scythe.”
Livia snorted. “Get in line. I’m the slayer in charge, and I outrank you, so I get to carry it.” She paused and shot a smirk in Mira’s direction. “’Sides, it looks better on me.”
“Tell that to my slayer dream,” Mira insisted, hands on her hips.
“No way,” Livia said, shaking her head. “This thing’ll be like a demon magnet down there. Everybody’s gonna wanna take down the slayer carrying it.”
Mira’s lips quirked into a smile. “Are you tryin’ to protect me?”
“Of course I am,” Livia said sincerely. “You know how I feel.”
After a brief stare-off, Mira rolled her eyes. “Fiiiinnne, you’re the boss…” she said with mock sarcasm as she turned away, apparently resigning herself to Livia’s decision to keep the Scythe.
“And don’t you forget it,” Livia added, giving Mira a playful elbow nudge.
After a quick chuckle, Mira sobered and turned back to Livia. She waited for her fellow slayer to turn and look at her.
“You’re also a good friend, Liv. You’re my best friend, and…” Mira hesitated, glanced away, then looked back. “…I wish it hadn’t taken me so long to figure it out, but…I love you.”
Livia stared at her in shock for a few seconds. Her expression changed to anger, but it was just a mask for the hurt underneath and the hope below that. “Don’t say that,” she told her. “You’re only sayin’ it ’cause you think this is the end.”
Mira shook her head and moved closer. She took Livia’s face in both hands. “I’m saying it because I know it’s not the end.”
Then she leaned forward and kissed her. Livia hesitated for only the smallest of seconds before eagerly returning the kiss, wrapping her left arm around her, then dropping the Scythe so that she could add her right arm to the embrace.
The lengthy kiss did not go unnoticed by the others. Jocasta and Katherine shared a happy grin at the sight, but James, Lex, and Antonia looked on with total surprise.
When Mira and Livia finally ended their passionate kiss, they were smiling widely at one another. The two slayers looked happy, truly happy, happier than they had been in a very long time.
But soon Mira’s expression changed to a frown. She pulled out of Livia’s arms and said, “I’m sorry…”
“What?” Livia asked, confused. Before she could contemplate the matter further, though, a fist slammed into her temple. Livia instantly crumpled to the ground.
Wincing, Mira shook out her hand.
“Mira, what the hell are you doing?!” Antonia demanded as she and the others ran over.
“Yeah, I didn’t know you two were…” Lex trailed off, letting everyone fill in the blanks.
“We’re not,” Mira said as she picked up the Scythe Livia had dropped.
“Then what was with the…?” Lex pursed his lips and made loud smooching noises.
“We’re not…yet,” Mira tried to explain. “Or maybe not at all…not after this…” She swung her free hand in a helpless gesture. “I don’t know, okay?!!”
“Guys!” Jocasta interrupted as the sound of the demon horde grew even louder. “Can we just skip that and get to the part where she punched Livia in the face?”
Mira ignored everyone else and met Katherine’s eyes. “Just tell her…tell her I meant it. Okay? Every word.” Then she started walking away. “And trust me, I know what I’m doing,” Mira told the group. Then she furrowed her brow. “Kind of. Anyway, I have to do this.” She hopped up on the large flat stone that was next to the cliff’s edge and overlooked the battle plain.
“Mira!” Katherine called, causing the slayer to look over at her. “Do what?”
“This,” she said. Then she raised the Scythe over her head.
There was a bright white flash, and lightning snaked down from the sky to strike the Scythe. The energy gathered quickly, surrounding Mira with a ghostly white glow against the gray sky.
James leaned over to Lex. “Do you have any idea what’s going on?”
Lex shook his head. “At this point I’m just going with it.”
End of Act Six