Act 3



Cut To:


Watchers Council – Staging Area – Night

The Council staging area bustled with activity. Several slayers loaded weapons into a Council van under Emma’s supervision. Nearby, Kennedy, Willow and Wilton had gathered around the back of another van. The back doors were open, and Kennedy sat on the bumper, with the two other witches leaning on either side. She cradled Vanessa against her chest, with the baby’s head buried inside her unzipped Council jacket as she nursed.

“Are we sure about this?” Wilton asked. “Just the three of us to mask a bunch of slayers against a Vor-powered anti-masking spell?”

“We can do it,” Willow said. “It’s easier to disrupt someone else’s spell than build your own.”

“And we’re doing both of those,” Kennedy commented. “I mean, adding Dawn or Jeff to the mix couldn’t hurt, right?”

“We’ve been over and over this plan,” Willow argued, “and I think it’s the best we’re gonna get. We have to hold back as many people as possible, because this could very easily be a trap to get us to leave headquarters defenseless so Zorgy can pull another D.C.”

“D.C. wasn’t defenseless,” Kennedy pointed out darkly. “All the slayers and witches were home. Didn’t help.”

“You’re a bloody barrel of laughs these days, aren’t ya?” Wilton commented.

Kennedy glared at her, but was soon distracted by Kadin walking toward the group. She removed Vanessa from inside her jacket and adjusted her shirt.

“Not to mention the very real possibility that you’re dragging my wife into the actual trap,” Kadin said, as she reached out and accepted Vanessa from Kennedy. “If you guys let anything happen to her, I guarantee I will be going full angry smurf on your asses.”

“We’re going to be staying in the van,” Willow told her, “so it should be as safe as we can possibly make it. And trust me, first sign that this thing goes south, I’ll be flooring it out of there.”

“No, you won’t.” All four women’s heads swiveled to see Grace finish making her way toward them on her crutches. When she finally got there, she said, “You do that, and you’ll be hanging Gwen and a full squad of slayers out to dry. We’ve got one shot at this, I can’t have you bailing on me.”

Willow took a step toward Grace. “I’m not a coward, Madame Chairwoman, but I’m going to make the best decision for the Coven’s safety out there, you get me?”

Holding the witch’s gaze, Grace replied, “I know I don’t need to explain this to you, Head Priestess, we are already at war. Now more than ever, we all need to be united. And no matter how much you hate it, the person everyone needs to unite behind is me, not you.”

“Now more than ever?” Willow scoffed. “If this all works out, are you gonna hang a ‘Mission Accomplished’ banner on the front of the building, too?”

Wilton blinked at this. “I don’t get it.” Both of the older women turned to stare at her. “What?” she said defensively.

“It’s like you’re a zygote,” Grace said.

Wilton grinned. “But a sexy zygote, right?”

Before anyone could respond to this, Kennedy had her arm around Willow and had begun to pull her away. “We’ve gotta go,” she said quickly. “Can’t miss that window, right?” She waved ruefully to Kadin and Vanessa with her free hand, while still using the other to guide Willow away.

Grace sighed as she watched the three women get into the van. “Good luck,” she said, though definitely not loud enough for any of them to hear.

“Great,” Kennedy grumbled as she climbed into the passenger seat. “Now I’m going to die with the phrase ‘sexy zygote’ in my head.”

Cut To:


Watchers Council – Van – Minutes Later

Silence reigned in another Council van. Emma maneuvered wordlessly through traffic, while Buffy sat in the passenger seat next to her, stealing the occasional nervous glance over at her charge.

Several other slayers sat in the van behind them. Shannon busily adjusted the settings on a crossbow, peering down through the sight at least twice to check whatever tweaks she had made. She shook her head, still not satisfied.

“I’m thinking…Arby’s, maybe?”

All the other girls looked directly at the speaker, Cindy Loomis. She grinned at them from beneath her shock of red hair.

“OK, I’ll bite,” Buffy said, her head poking back around her seat. “What?”

“I figure this won’t take very long, however it turns out,” Cindy explained. “I figure, I’ll be very keyed up afterward. And that goes one of two ways. Emma knows what I’m talking about, am I right?”

The girl in the driver’s seat pointedly did not acknowledge her.

“Look, we all respond differently to stress. I’m saying I’d like to respond with Arby’s, seems way better than everybody else around here lately. Right?”

“I don’t think we can stop for Arby’s while we’re transporting a prisoner,” Shannon noted.

“What, this bitch doesn’t like roast beef sandwiches?” Cindy asked, her smile unwavering. “What kind of a monster is she?”

Fade To:


Cleveland Brewery – Later that Night

Gwen sat alone, legs folded across each other, in a small metal folding chair in the center of a concrete floor. Large silver tanks, cylinders at the top and tapered to points at the bottom, surrounded her on either side. Bags of barley and hops, so large that each would have been difficult for your average human to lift alone, were stacked along one wall, reaching two thirds of the way to the ceiling.

She did not move or flinch when, with a sudden, loud “FWOMP,” a large portal, at least ten feet in diameter, appeared directly in front of her. Its colors flashed blue, then green, then purple, all swirling together at once in the energy field. A few seconds later, one of Zorgy’s red sneakers stepped out of the portal, closely followed by the rest of her.

She surveyed the area briefly, then held out her hands from her sides, in a gesture of openness. “Gwen Raiden. I knew you’d give me a call. Turns out, the Council, maybe not super empathetic as to the specific needs of you and your partner?”

“I guess not,” Gwen replied. Slowly, she unfolded her rubber-clad legs and rose to her feet. “You came alone?”

Zorgy gestured widely to the empty brewery and gaping portal. “I mean, obviously. Hey, I came alone before, right? Anyway, what about you? If you’d wanted security, I would’ve understood.”

Gwen pulled off a glove and let an arc of sparking electricity run between her thumb and forefinger. “This is all the security I need.”

Seemingly impressed, Zorgy raised one eyebrow and said, “Okay then.”

Above them, on a steel beam in the rafters, Shannon crouched, waiting, along with Emma and several other girls. Silently, she held up a clenched fist. Across the room, Cindy Loomis lay prone on top of a pile of barley bags, alongside her own team of slayers. She held up her own clenched fist in acknowledgement, then, unable to suppress a grin at her own cheek, moved the fist back and forth next to her face, while simultaneously making her opposite cheek bulge with her tongue. Emma rolled her eyes at her roommate.

“Interesting spot to meet,” Zorgy was saying. “I knew you were a woman of many talents, but I didn’t know about your craft brewing.”

As she spoke, her eyes scanned around the perimeter of the production floor. At one point, they landed exactly on Cindy and her group of slayers. Gwen held her breath.

But then Zorgy’s eyes moved on, and Gwen breathed a quiet sigh of relief. “The owner owed me a favor,” she explained.

Cut To:


Council Van – Outside Brewery – Same Time

The Council vehicles had parked directly behind the brewery, by a set of large, closed garage-style doors. One of the vans had the side door slid open, and next to it leaned a nervous Buffy, keeping watch. Inside, Kennedy and Wilton sat cross-legged across from each other, holding hands as they chanted under their breath about keeping someone “hidden from evil eyes.”

In the very back, Willow sat on her own. She wasn’t speaking, instead making a series of motions in the air. Each left behind a glowing trail, forming a series of runes and designs.

Buffy glanced over her shoulder. “C’mon, Will,” she said under her breath.

Cut To:


Cleveland Brewery – Same Time

“You said you needed what I can do,” Gwen said, folding her arms over her chest. “But I’m going to need some assurances first.”

Zorgy left off her scan of the area to look directly at the other woman. She smirked. “Look, Gwen…Can I call you Gwen?”

“My last name is cooler.”

“I can’t argue with that.” The Empress nodded, a small smile on her face. “Ms. Raiden. If you help me, I’ll help you. That’s the deal. But I want to be very clear going in what I mean when I say ‘help.’ I take it, since you’re here, that you have some idea of what’s coming?”

Slowly, Gwen nodded.

“Good!” Zorgy said cheerily. “So hopefully you understand me when I say that what I mean is, I will let you live. I will let your boy toy live. I will let your son live. I’m not coming to wave at the humans from a balcony, their benevolent but firm ruler. I’m coming to wipe humanity from the cosmos, except, just maybe, for a select few I deem worthy. But I’ve got good news! You get on board, you get on my list.”

“Your list?” Gwen ventured. From the sound of her voice, her throat was very dry.

“My list of worthy people. And believe you me, I’m checking it twice. Santa and I have a lot in common, it turns out. Did you know, we’re both very into disemboweling?”

Cut To:


Council Van – Outside Brewery – Same Time

Willow made a final slash of her fingers, and the couple dozen runes hanging around her all flashed white at once.

Cut To:


Cleveland Brewery – Same Time

The portal through which Zorgy had arrived sputtered briefly, flashing in and out of existence for a few moments. She turned just in time to see it wink completely out of existence.

For the next three seconds, the production floor was absolutely silent.

“Well, that’s not great,” Zorgy said. She started to turn back toward Gwen. “Did you–?”

Before she could finish the sentence, she was broadsided by a full blast of lightning. The Empress of Vor flew several meters across the room, landing hard on her side and continuing to roll until she bumped up against the bags piled against the wall.

“Sorry, I think I’m gonna pass on that offer,” Gwen said as she strode over. Her clenched, outstretched hands began to flicker and spark before unleashing another torrent of electricity.

Thunder bellowed throughout the production floor, and fleeting shadows were seared away by the blinding light. Gwen cooly walked on while pummeling Zorgy with licking arcs of electricity. With a slight snarl, her hands tightened, and she sent a final, crackling jolt into Zorgy.

As the atmosphere calmed, Gwen came to a halt but, after a beat, Zorgy pushed herself up to her knees, then quickly stood up, brushing herself off. She seemed little the worse for wear, considering, with the possible exception of some frazzled hair.

“Seriously?” she shouted. “This is your play? You know they’ll have that portal back open in about ten minutes on the other end. You could have been Queen of Tahiti, now you and your whole family are gonna die screaming. And for what? Loyalty? To the Watchers Council?”

“They’ll surprise you,” Gwen said.

Zorgy looked up to see that Cindy and her team of slayers had jumped down from on top of the pile of bags and were falling toward her. At the last moment, she took one step to the side and then grabbed the ankle of the nearest girl when she came within reach. She easily spun the girl around and slammed her into the concrete floor, face first. The girl did not move. On the other side of the production floor, she saw Shannon, Emma, and the rest of the slayers jump to the floor, as well.

She sighed. “Yeah, OK, fine.”

Then, several things happened at once. Zorgy kicked one girl in the midsection and sent her flying before she had a chance to get her guard up. Two more then attacked her simultaneously with swords. First, she slid her body sideways, allowing the weapons to pass on either side. Then she grabbed both blades with her bare hands, holding the two slayers fast. They had time to see Zorgy give them a wicked grin before she quickly spun, sending them each spiraling away into the air in opposite directions.

Now holding the blade of a sword in each hand, she dropped one, then flipped the other end over end, catching it by the hilt. Just as she did, Gwen saw an opening and sent another blast of lighting her way. This time, however, Zorgy saw it coming and held up her free hand while simultaneously parrying an ax-thrust from Cindy. Just short of reaching her, the electricity ran into an ethereal green shield in the air and dissipated harmlessly.

Seeing Gwen’s look of wide-eyed surprise, she explained, “You think you guys are the only ones who can juice themselves up with borrowed magic? Well, I think of it more as rent-to-own, but still…”

By this time, Shannon, Emma and the rest of their group had reached the fight. “Hey, I know you guys!” Zorgy crowed. Then she took on several slayers at once. The clanging of metal and the occasional magical blast from Zorgy were the main noises in the open space. Another girl went down, then another.

“Hit her again, Gwen!” Shannon growled between dodges.

“I can’t!” she called back. “I’ll hit you guys!”

“Maneuver Seventy-Five!” Shannon shouted, and then she, Emma, Cindy and a couple of other girls all simultaneously rolled backward, away from Zorgy.

Seeing her opening, Gwen immediately threw everything she had at the Empress. Streams of electrical force poured from each hand. Zorgy’s shield strained under the onslaught, but as it did so, she took several quick steps forward. She grabbed Gwen by the front of her shirt and lifted her. The thief’s eyes grew very large.

“Not used to being on this end, huh?” Zorgy asked, and then she launched Gwen into the nearest brew vat. With a deafening clang, the metal wall of the vat collapsed under the impact. The half-brewed beer spilled out, pouring onto the floor.

Zorgy turned back to the handful of slayers still arrayed against her and said, “This was your big plan? You set me up, get me right where you want me, and this is all you got?” She gestured widely with her sword as she spoke. “This is lowkey pathetic, you guys.”

Cindy, still holding her ax in a defensive stance, cut her eyes over to Emma and said, “She doesn’t sound like a demon empress.”

“Wow, you guys really don’t know shit about me,” Zorgy commented as she stalked toward them. “So the watchers sent you guys in here to get slaughtered without actually prepping you for jack. I mean, they’ve got one job, am I right?”

Shannon spoke quietly and evenly to the girl with close-cropped blue hair standing next to her. “Caitlyn, go. Get help. We’ll hold her.” The girl hesitated briefly, and Shannon growled, “Now!

The girl took off running, and the remaining slayers all took a few careful steps toward Zorgy. Before they engaged, however, she reached out an arm and sent a blast of green energy from her fingertips directly at the blue-haired girl. She only made it halfway to the garage doors at the end of the room before the blast hit with the force of a train, sending her into and through the wall of the building, disappearing from view in a cloud of destroyed plaster and drywall.

The Empress turned back to the group and chirped, “So, what’s Plan C?”

“Forty-four!” Shannon barked, and the five remaining slayers made a coordinated attack on Zorgy, all at once.

But she parried multiple blows and, with the last two girls thrusting toward her, she grabbed one of their shirts and, with a tug, slammed that girl’s nose into the forehead of the other attacker with an audible “thunk.” Both slayers flopped to the floor, unconscious. Zorgy looked at them for a second and then laughed.

Shannon, Emma and Cindy were the last three slayers standing. Their eyes all found each other, just for a moment, as the three of them formed a circle around their opponent and slowly circled her.

“Shannon Matthewson,” Zorgy said. “Aren’t you thirty yet? Are you gonna lose your powers in the middle of this fight? That would suck.”

The lead slayer did not take the bait. Instead, she gave a barely perceptible nod to her comrades and then they all simultaneously raised the weapons to attack. Before they could reach her, though, Zorgy sighed, said, “Screw this,” and snapped her fingers on the hand that wasn’t holding a sword. As if from an explosion with the Empress as the epicenter, the three slayers were blown in three separate directions.

Shannon flew almost straight up until her head clanged on one of the steel beams holding up the ceiling. She fell awkwardly to the floor, unconscious. Emma, meanwhile, flew down the length of the production floor, waving her arms in a futile attempt to get her balance, eventually rolling to a stop maybe fifty meters away.

Emma pulled her head up from the floor and took in the situation. Cindy had been blown directly into the stored barley piled against one wall, bursting several of the bags and sending the grains pouring everywhere. Her landing having been cushioned, she was the first of the trio to recover. The redhead grabbed her ax and stood up in front of Zorgy, her teeth set, breathing hard.

“You’re not gonna win,” Cindy growled. Her horned opponent just smirked at her.

With a feral yell, Cindy swung her ax, but Zorgy easily grabbed the handle with her free hand and stopped the attack cold. She pulled Cindy’s weapon away and tossed it casually to the floor with a clang. With the same hand, she then grabbed Cindy by her red hair, casually pulling her closer. The slayer yelped.

Zorgy looked her in the eyes and said, “Really? Coulda fooled me.” Then she ran her sword through Cindy’s midsection.

Cindy sputtered, her eyes terrified. With a small smirk, Zorgy then pulled up on her sword, slicing up through her body with a sickening crunching noise. Cindy coughed once, and when she did a large, red glob of blood poured out of her mouth and onto her chin.

No!” Emma screamed.

Zorgy whipped her head around at the sound, fixing her eyes on Emma. She smiled in genuine glee. Then, without looking away, she kicked at Cindy, sending her backward off of her sword and onto the floor. The slayer remained face down, motionless, while a growing red pool poured out from beneath her. Then the Empress tossed down her sword and walked casually over toward where Emma was still on her back, trying without success to get to her feet. Emma tried to scramble away on all fours, but it was no use.

“You’re Emma Choi, right?” Zorgy said as she walked toward her. “Buffy Summers is your watcher?” She grabbed the slayer by the back of her shirt and held her up in front of her. Emma’s eyes were frantic. “Or, you’re her slayer, at any rate.”

She punched Emma in the face, hard. After the first blow, Emma managed to get her hands up to defend herself, but the punches just kept coming, and before long her arms fell back to her sides.

“For one thing, she can’t be much of a watcher,” Zorgy said between punches. “But really what I mean is, she’s the Slayer, right? You’re just another girl in a long line for her. But for you, she’s…Aw, screw it, I’m talking to myself here.”

Emma’s head lolled back on her shoulders. Her face was one large bruise, and one of her eyes was already swelling shut. Blood trickled from the edge of her mouth.

At that moment, one of the garage doors slid open with a crash. In the resulting opening stood Buffy, Wilton, Kennedy and Willow, the last of whom was still lowering her arm from the spell she had cast on the door.

“We saw Caitlyn come through the wall…”

Buffy trailed off when she fully took in the scene inside the brewery. Slayers were strewn over the floor. Several were not moving at all. Some others were trying desperately to drag themselves to their feet or to limp away. The floor had been stained with blood in several places, including the enormous pool under Cindy’s body, and there was also a large lake of spilled beer near a destroyed tank.

In the middle of all of it stood Zorgy, still holding the bleeding and bruised Emma in front of her. “‘Tsup, witches!” She waved incongruously, then gestured around her. “You like what I’ve done with the place?”

“Bloody hell,” Wilton swore under her breath.

Em!” Buffy shouted in horror.

“Does this thing belong to you?” Zorgy shrugged and casually lowered Emma to the floor. The slayer swayed on her feet, but her eyes managed to find Buffy’s, and she slowly began to shuffle in her general direction.

“Run along, little girl. You’re not worth wasting my magic,” Zorgy taunted them. She kicked Emma in the back, sending her stumbling toward Buffy. The Empress then clapped her hands together and green magic flames appeared in each of her palms. She grinned at the women in the doorway.  “Her, on the other hand…” she said, with a nod of her head toward Willow.

“Get as many of the girls out as you can,” Willow said, very quietly, but in a tone that brooked no argument. Her eyes were diamond-hard, and she took off her hairclip, putting it in her pocket. “I’ll deal with her.”

“Will!” Kennedy hissed. Then Willow turned to look at her, and Kennedy saw her expression and hesitated. “I…are you sure?”

“Go,” Willow confirmed.

Without further argument, Kennedy, Buffy and Wilton all rushed forward. Buffy went straight for Emma, who immediately collapsed into her watcher’s arms when she reached her.

Meanwhile, Willow and Zorgy only had eyes for each other. They each walked toward the other, ignoring the chaos around them. The Empress threw a green fireball at the High Priestess, who waved a hand and deflected it to the floor, where it quickly dissipated.

Willow sniffed the air. “That’s borrowed power,” she said to her opponent.

“I mean, sure, if you want to be a magic snob,” Zorgy replied. “But the thing is, when Rupert Giles took you down a bazillion years ago, he had borrowed power from, what, a dozen witches? I’ve got borrowed power from something like a thousand demon mages. Turns out the Presidium’s leftovers were good for something after all.”

Willow’s facade cracked slightly for the first time. “How do you–?”

“How do I know about that?” Zorgy filled in. “Let me save us some time, OK? I know all the things about you. And, to be clear, I know everything about all y’all. I know about your new sciencey gal pal, and how you really, really wish your wife would just be cool with you two scissoring or whatever. I know you’ve got four kids, and I know one of them’s a slayer whose goal-scoring stats are down this year because she keeps getting thrown out of soccer games for anger issues. What’s up with that, by the way? Your ‘do as I say, not as I do’ parenting style not the winner you thought it was gonna be?”

Shut up!” Willow screamed. Every conscious head in the room turned toward her. Kennedy gave her a look of deep concern around a slayer whose arm was heavily draped over her shoulders as they made their way to the exit.

Zorgy took another step forward, then said, “Y’know what? I’m thinking maybe you should make me.”

Both of them let loose simultaneously, Zorgy with a torrent of glowing green magic and Willow with a stream of cool blue. The two blasts met in the middle and pushed against each other. Pure eldritch energy sparked and foamed, dripping to the floor as a liquid.

Zorgy laughed. “That’s the best you got?” She pushed her hands forward, and the two streams seemed to dissipate. Willow looked confused for a moment before a look of determination washed over her. “Don’t worry. I won’t kill you now. You still gotta watch me torture and kill your family,  starting with the bratty slayer and ending with Robin Wood’s chew toy.”

Willow’s eyes shot black in an instant, and she released a barrage of magical spheres in Zorgy’s direction which the Empress parried with ease, so much so that Zorgy continued to laugh as she batted ball after ball away, each one shattering around the brewery. Dark veins began to creep up Willow’s arms and, instead of spheres, Willow sent a shaft of light in Zorgy’s direction, which the empress met with a single open-palmed hand.

By this point, Buffy had dragged Emma as far as the open doorway. She glanced back at the still-raging battle, but didn’t stop, and said, “We gotta keep moving.”

“Leave me,” Emma groaned quietly. “Save yourself. She’s…she’s worse than we thought.”

Buffy blinked. “Just stay with me,” she said, pulling Emma toward the vans. “First Rule of Slaying, remember? Stay alive.”

“No promises,” Emma mumbled.

Willow’s muscles strained under the pressure of continuing to push back against Zorgy’s magic. Slowly but inexorably, the spot where the two magical streams met began to move, away from the demon and toward the witch. The darkness from Willow’s eyes and arms vanished as quickly as it had appeared.

“Ya OK there, fam?” Zorgy asked in a tone of faux concern. “Seems like it might not be going as great as you hoped.” She seemed completely unphased. “To be honest, I’m disappointed. I expected more from the Great Willow Rosenberg.”

Willow said nothing, gritting her teeth with her desperate effort. She watched the green magic move closer and closer. Her breath came in gasps. What started as a straining groaning turned into a guttural scream, as Willow put every atom of her being into her magical defenses. Her eyes got wider as Zorgy began to gain ground on her.

Still, Zorgy’s green magic inched toward her, and its pace had started to quicken. A moment later, Willow went down to one knee, no longer able to stand under the onslaught. Terror washed over Willow’s face.

“Right there,” Zorgy said as she loomed over Willow, her voice laced with menace. “That look of pure fear…This trip was worth it.”

A second after that, Zorgy’s power had pushed Willow’s magic all the way back, and with a bright green flash, it struck her. The force of the blast flipped her head over heels, and she landed on the unforgiving floor with an unceremonious thud. Zorgy pointed and laughed.

“Will!” Kennedy called out in concern.

“This is your big gun? She looked real acrobatic with all that tumbling.”

Both Kennedy and Wilton tried to extricate themselves from the slayers they were helping long enough to send assistance, but, relieved of her battle with Willow, Zorgy quickly sent magic blasts in each of their directions, knocking them over before they could get themselves set.

Then she leaned down and picked up one of the swords that had been tossed on the ground. She twirled it lightly in her hand as she walked toward Willow. Cheerily, she began to hum the chorus from “Shake It Off.”

Willow had managed, with great effort, to turn herself over to look up at Zorgy. Her eyes got very wide, and her jaw dropped when she saw the Empress of Vor standing over her, sword at the ready.

“I’m going to carve you into pieces, starting with your hands.”

Willow raised a hand to defend herself, but whatever spell she tried to call up, it sputtered and produced only a few sparks. She had nothing left.

Zorgy put one foot on either side of Willow’s prone form. “So this is it, huh? This is the witch that activated all the slayers and blew up the Presidium? Not impressed.”

She raised her sword, readying to strike at Willow’s outstretched hand. The witch winced in anticipation of the blow, sealing her eyes tight.

Then came a loud “Clang!” and the sword dropped. Zorgy swayed briefly, then toppled over like a sack of hops, half on top of Willow.

The shocked witch opened her eyes to see Shannon, bleeding profusely from several cuts and with a large lump over one eye, standing over her holding the large, broken steel strut from the destroyed vat that she had just smacked Zorgy over the head with. She tossed it to the floor with an even louder “Clang!

With panicked movements, Willow pushed Zorgy’s unconscious form off of her, rolling the horned demon over onto her back. “G-get the anti-magic cuffs on her, a-and the rest of the restraints,” she called loudly, between quick, kind of crazy breaths. “Whatever we have. All of it. Right now!”

Shannon turned her head at the sound of more crashes and bangs to see Gwen haltingly climbing out of the remains of the destroyed vat. The thief blinked several times as she scanned the scene, including the unconscious Zorgy, the injured girls, the spilled barley and beer mixing on the floor, and the slayer-shaped hole in the wall. Finally, her eyes settled on Cindy, lying in a pool of her own blood.

She put a hand over her mouth. “Oh God,” she said under her breath.

Black Out

Fade In:


Watchers Council – Garage Entrance – Night

VO: (Flagpole Sitta Cover by AWOLNATION featuring Elohim)

I had visions, I was in them;

I was looking into the mirror…

In slow motion, the back doors of a Council van opened. From behind them, one red sneaker stepped down onto the asphalt, followed by another, connected by manacles that gave off a slight green glow.

To see a little bit clearer…

The rottenness and evil in me…

Zorgy wore another, similar set of manacles around her wrists, connected to those around her feet, and had a metal ring around her neck, connected to another chain. She was surrounded by several bedraggled slayers, several of whom held one or more of her chains.

Fingertips have memories

Mine can’t forget the curves of your body

And when I feel a bit naughty

By another, nearby van, Rowena threw her arms around Willow. The witch returned the hug, but her eyes were completely hollow. For a moment, her gaze met Zorgy’s, and the Empress smiled.

I run it up the flagpole and see who salutes

(But no one ever does)

In the other direction, Shannon had her arms around Charlotte, but it was more of a restraint than a hug. The younger slayer sobbed as she watched Cindy’s body taken out of the back of another van on a gurney. Cindy’s eyes were closed, and her face was smeared with dried blood.

I…I’m not sick but I’m not well

And I’m so hot ’cause I’m in Hell

A moment later, an emergency worker pulled a sheet over Cindy’s face. While she held Charlotte back from running to her dead friend, Shannon stared in Zorgy’s direction.

Been around the world and found

That only stupid people are breeding

The cretins cloning and feeding

And I don’t even own a TV

“Move, now,” one of Zorgy’s slayer guards growled. Zorgy shot the girl a long look, then began to shuffle forward. Somehow she kept up her swagger despite all her restraints.

Put me in the hospital for nerves

And then they had to commit me

The Empress watched another slayer carry Emma out of a van, Buffy just behind them.

You told them all I was crazy

They cut off my legs, now I’m an amputee, God damn you

Buffy watched with extreme concern as medical personnel descended on them, putting Emma onto a gurney and shining a pen light into her eyes to test her responsiveness.

I…I’m not sick but I’m not well

And I’m so hot ’cause I’m in Hell

Then Buffy glanced over her shoulder to see Zorgy smirking at her.

I’m not sick but I’m not well

And it’s a sin to live so well

A crowd had gathered behind a hastily erected barrier nearby. It included Liz and Jen. The latter clenched and unclenched a fist as her eyes shot daggers at Zorgy. The Empress winked and blew her a kiss.

I wanna publish ‘zines

And rage against machines

Jen looked like she was going to step forward, but Liz reached out and grabbed Jen’s arm.

I wanna pierce my tongue

It doesn’t hurt, it feels fine

The slayer turned to see Liz shaking her head at the slayer.

The trivial sublime

I’d like to turn off time

And kill my mind

Nearby, Faith leaned against one of the support columns of the parking garage, looking for all the world like she was waiting for the bus. Zorgy turned her head to give her a curious once-over.

You kill my mind, mind

Without changing her demeanor, Faith casually lifted up one hand and raised a middle finger in Zorgy’s direction. The Empress laughed at this.

Paranoia, paranoia

Everybody’s coming to get me

Just say you never met me

I’m running underground with the moles, digging holes

Next to the door into the building, her arms crossed, stood Grace. She watched Zorgy the whole way, her face expressionless. Robin stood behind her shoulder, taking in the mass of medical personnel on the scene and Charlotte’s ongoing sobs with concern.

Hear the voices in my head

I swear to God it sounds like they’re snoring

But if you’re bored, then you’re boring

The agony and the irony, they’re killing me (hey)

Though she couldn’t raise her hands above her waist due to her restraints, Zorgy extended the fingers on one hand and managed a small, impetuous wave in Grace’s direction. The Chairwoman did not respond.

I…I’m not sick but I’m not well

And I’m so hot ’cause I’m in Hell

A moment later, Grace’s head turned to watch Zorgy, the back of her horned head just visible between her cadre of slayer guards, disappear into the building.

I’m not sick but I’m not well

And it’s a sin to live so well

She stared after her for a long beat, then turned to see Willow gingerly walking up to her and Robin with a pained gait, Rowena just behind her. From another direction, Shannon, still sporting a nasty bump on her forehead, joined the group, along with Gwen. No one said anything for at least four seconds.

One, two, three, four. VO: Ends

Grace said, very quietly, “Good job.”

Shannon avoided the Chairwoman’s eyes, while Willow’s flashed angrily, just for a moment. Then the witch took a breath through her nose. When she spoke, it was very clear she was making a great effort to stay calm. “I don’t think anything I have to say about any of this at this point is going to be productive. I will meet you in forty-five minutes, I have to get checked out first. We’re doing this at her cell, right?”

Grace just nodded.

“Good. I’ll be there,” Willow said. “Please don’t start without me.”

Without another word, she walked past Grace and Robin and through the doors. Rowena shot them an apologetic look before doing the same. The Chairwoman turned to Shannon and said, “Well, I guess someone just invited herself. You’ll be there, too?”

“Actually, I came over to tell you they want me to do the concussion protocol,” Shannon replied, her voice quiet and raspy. She looked around at the scrum surrounding them again, then continued, “You’re the watcher.”

“I need someone to back me up,” Grace pressed her.

“You mean someone who can outvote Willow if you need them to,” Robin commented.

Grace turned on him, her tone immediately harsh. “Do you have a problem with that?”

Robin held up hands defensively. “I only mean…Shannon’s a few weeks from deactivation, we take any head injury very seriously, but especially now. You don’t want to rush her back and then…”

Grace sighed and nodded again, then turned back to Shannon.

“I’ll try,” Shannon said. “You know the rules. Doctor has to sign off. But I just want to say…we paid a lot for this. Make it count.”

Then she turned and walked back toward a waiting member of medical staff. Grace blinked a few times, then turned and walked in the opposite direction, into the building. This left Robin, now somehow very alone in the middle of the bustle in the garage.









Black Out


End of Act Three

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