Act 3



Fade In:


Thailand – Jengar’s Tent – Day

Dawn and Rowena stood in Jengar’s tent, waiting. Outside, yelling could be heard coming from somewhere far away. Dawn fidgeted with a handcrafted rug spread across one table.

“We probably shouldn’t touch anything,” Rowena told her, her arms crossed.

Dawn pulled her hand back, biting her lip. The two stood awkwardly for a moment.

“So, what do you think’s happening?” Dawn asked.

“I don’t know,” Rowena said quietly.

“We’re doing the right thing, right?” Dawn asked. “This feels more Colonel Kurtz than I was expecting.”

“They are rebels,” Rowena shrugged. “Key ingredient, armed rebellion. We’re not in Sherwood Forest.”

Both women turned to see Jengar enter the tent. “My apologies for the delay,” he said. “It seems a few of our prisoners escaped.”

“Prisoners?” Dawn asked, nonplussed.

“Enemy combatants, your government would call them,” Jengar told them. Rowena and Dawn exchanged a look. He walked over to one corner and lit a stick of incense. “In a way it is…inspiring. I did not think that the outside world cared about what was happening to my people.”

“People will always mostly care about themselves,” Rowena told him.

“Yes,” Jengar said tightly as he turned back towards them. He was now holding a steaming pot of fragrant tea. “But not you. At great risk to yourselves, you have helped bring me what we need to complete our work.” As he spoke, he poured the tea into three small wooden cups. When he was finished, he offered each of them a cup. “I’m curious how such good Samaritans came to be in our midst.”

Dawn and Rowena both accepted their cups. Dawn took a sniff and wrinkled her nose.

“It’s a, well, a funny story, actually,” Rowena said. “What work?”

Jengar did not answer immediately. He let out a long breath and sat down on one of the cushions on the floor of the tent. “It’s necessary,” he said. “Humanity has marginalized my people for as long as anyone can remember. Sent us into the forest with the vipers. But we have survived long enough that a new beginning is –”

“Do you have anything to put in this?” Dawn asked. Rowena shot her a look. Dawn wriggled an eyebrow significantly. Rowena grimaced and grabbed the bridge of her nose.

“Ah, there may be some cinnamon in the chest,” Jengar told her. Dawn nodded and headed in the direction that he had pointed.

“Anyway, if we can’t get back to civilization, we can at least lend any expertise we may have,” Rowena said, turning back to her host. “If we had more information –”

As she spoke, Dawn opened the simple wooden chest in the far corner of the tent. Her eyes immediately widened.

“I don’t believe that will be necessary,” Jengar said. He took a long sip of his tea. “Now that we have the deer entrails and the root of the Ka-Aung-Gale, we should be ready.”

Rowena’s brow furrowed. “Sorry, now that you have the –”

“We actually have to go,” Dawn announced. Rowena and Jengar looked over to see her standing by the tent flap, hands behind her back. “I, uh, remembered that I didn’t tie my elephant up right, and now it’s going to be all over the neighbor’s lawn.”

Jengar did not look amused.

“Dawn, what are you –?” Rowena began, but Dawn gave her a very obvious significant look and jerked her head towards the exit. Rowena sighed and turned back to Jengar, setting down her cup. “Thank you for the tea.”

She exited. Dawn backed out the flap to follow her, never turning away from Jengar.

Cut To:


Thailand – Outside Jengar’s Tent – Moments Later

Rowena waited for Dawn, hands on hips. “Dawn, I’m used to going with it, but I have to ask, what is –”

Dawn pulled out what she had been hiding awkwardly behind her back and displayed it to Rowena. The Scythe.

Rowena’s eyebrows shot up. “Oh.” Then a look of realization passed over her face. “Oh. Bad.”

“Very bad,” Dawn agreed.

Rowena was still working this through in her head. “Oh, really, really bad. Maybe we should…”

“Yeah, we should,” Dawn agreed, and the two of them broke into a run, heading toward the tree line.

Jengar came out of the tent a moment later and watched them go. Two guards standing some distance away noticed him and looked over for instructions.

Jengar glared at them, his hands balling into fists. “Well…follow them!”

Cut To:


Astral Plane – Thailand Rainforest – Day

Willow walked along a thick branch in the canopy of the rainforest, leaves, vines, and ferns hanging around her like a green curtain. She stood over a wide-leafed bromeliad that grew out of the center of the branch and peered down at a perfectly circular pool of water at its center.

She stood up, eyes flitting from side to side. “I know you’re here,” she said, her voice just above a whisper.

And then the Naga was there, its tail coiled lazily around a branch, fangs falling from soft lips. “You have returned. This is unwise. I thought higher of your intellect, witch.”

“You’re protecting this place,” Willow said. “Protecting it from magic?”

The Naga’s eyelids flicked down and up in a fraction of a second, like a reptile. “There is no magic in paradise.”

“Paradise, huh?” Willow tried a small smirk, though she made it look a little too cute. “There’s an awful lot of danger down there for the Garden of Eden. This land belongs to your people. You’re on the smiley side of the force…I think. Maybe you’re unhappy with some of the things your folks are doing down there.”

The Naga was silent for a moment. Its body hung in the air. Willow’s eyes drifted briefly down from the spirit’s face.

“They are only trying to survive,” the Spirit finally said.

Willow shook her head to get her thoughts back on track. “Listen to me. There’s a prophecy, and a thing, and the upshot is there’s a possibility that whatever’s happening is the first steps toward the end of the world. You can’t protect your people from that.” Willow lowered her voice and spoke with unusual seriousness. “I need you to help us.”

The Naga lowered its eyes, looking about as sad and resigned as a giant snake creature can. “I cannot lift my protection.”

Willow opened her mouth to protest, but then the Naga was upon her, pressing a soft, human finger against her lips. Willow’s breathing quickened. “But if you’re very, very good, I can help you find your friends.”

Willow licked her lips and gave a weak nod.

Cut To:


Thailand – Rainforest – Day

Shannon picked her way along the rainforest floor as quickly as she could, thwacking ferns, brush, and leaves to the side with wild movements of her arms. Lorinda followed more slowly, still carrying Jeff piggyback-style.

Shannon stopped, her hands on her knees, at the foot of a very tall tree. Its trunk rose upward as far as could be seen, disappearing into a distant leafy sky. The roots splayed around her like walls. A moment later, Lorinda appeared. With a grunt, she set Jeff down on the dead leaves of the forest floor, his back to one of the roots.

“I’ve been embarrassed many times in my life,” Jeff said blearily, “but I don’t think I’ve ever been more embarrassed than this.”

Lorinda, breathing hard, ignored him. “Ya think we lost ’em?”

Shannon straightened, her ears almost pricking up like a cat’s. For a moment, she listened and watched. Then she said, “Maybe.”

“So, okay,” Lorinda said, her voice still low, “we have two priorities, right? First off, prevent the amazing Technicolor murder machine from erasing us. Second off, contact the mother ship…somehow. I’m thinking it doesn’t have to be in that order because we don’t know if –”

“Shh!” Shannon hissed suddenly, and Lorinda whipped her head around. Somewhere, maybe, a twig snapped. Jeff’s eyes widened.

“What was that?” Lorinda whispered frantically.

“We should hide,” Shannon whispered in reply.

“We can’t leave Jeff,” Lorinda insisted. At this point, the sound of more than one person approaching could clearly be heard.

“Just go,” Jeff said quietly from the ground.

“No!” Lorinda hissed frantically.

“They’re going to kill you,” Jeff insisted. “You should –”

Two figures burst into the clearing beneath the great tree, and everyone stopped and stared. Rowena and Dawn stared back.

Slowly, a huge grin spread across Dawn’s face. She ran forward and hugged Shannon as hard as she could with the Scythe in one hand. “Oh, thank the Goddess. I thought you were dead.”

“I was pretty sure you weren’t, but hey,” Shannon said with a smile.

“Now I can’t breathe,” Dawn said in a choked voice, and Shannon let her go.

“Sorry,” Shannon said.

Dawn held up the Scythe, presenting it to Shannon. “I think this belongs to you,” she said. Shannon took it with a smile. She held it for a moment, feeling the weight of it in her hands, then let her arms drop to her side, the Scythe in one hand. She smiled.

“Took you long enough,” Lorinda said with a smirk.

“You seemed to have the situation under control,” Rowena noted, eyes shining proudly, “though I have to say, you all look absolutely awful. Especially you, Jeff. No offense.”

He grinned. “None taken,” he said dryly.

“Are you okay?” Dawn asked as she knelt down in front of him.

“I’m good,” he told her. “Lorinda has healing hands.”

Dawn patted him on the head in a patronizing manner. “I’ll bet she does.” Lorinda rolled her eyes. “You’ve lost a lot of blood, okay?”

“Where’s Aileen?” Rowena asked. Silence descended for several seconds. Rowena sighed. “Son of a bitch.”

Shannon tried to put on a brave face. “Not that I’m not happy to see you guys, but, uh, what are you doing here?”

“Well, we were trying to prevent genocide,” Dawn said, getting back to her feet and trying in vain to brush off her pants. “I’m not sure where we are on that.”

“Yeah,” Jeff said, “that’s what we were doing, too.”

Rowena’s brow furrowed. “Wait, you were captured by the rebels, right?” Lorinda nodded. “You weren’t trying to help them.”

“Yeah, Jengar told us about us his whole plan to destroy the human race,” Shannon said, “so Lorinda had this idea that…” A thought occurred to Shannon. “…you were helping them?”

Rowena rubbed the bridge of her nose. “Okay…I think there’s a misunderstanding here. Which genocide are you guys talking about?”

Lorinda’s eyes widened. “Oh my God, is Allister evil now? I knew this would happen eventually.”

Rowena shot her an acidic look.

“What?” Lorinda said with a shrug. “Everyone else has been evil.”

“I haven’t!” Shannon insisted.

“You tried to shoot Summers with a crossbow,” Lorinda replied. “I think that counts.”

“Why does everybody keep bringing that up?” Shannon asked.

I’m not evil!” Rowena shouted.

“Maybe we shouldn’t yell,” Dawn suggested, her voice taking on a nervous edge.

Shannon held up a hand. “Okay, rewind. Jengar has some kind of techno slash magic machine and it…takes people apart and they turn gooey. And he wants to do that to everybody in the world.”

Rowena blinked a few times then staggered backwards. She put a hand on one of the roots of the tree, steadying herself. Dawn slowly sank to her knees, mouth open.

“Yeah, it sucks,” Jeff commented.

Lorinda narrowed her eyes. “Wait a minute. What did you do?”

At that moment, Shannon happened to look up. “Holy –” She stepped back, and a large object hit the ground in front of her at a high speed, having fallen from high above.

Willow now crouched in the center of the group, having hardly made a sound when she landed. Slowly, she stood up to full height.

“Willow?” Rowena said plaintively, her voice almost breaking.

“Maybe it’s just the loss of blood, but today is very confusing,” Jeff said from his seat on the ground.

Cut To:


Thailand – Jengar’s Tent – Day

Several Ravana rebels ran up to the entrance to Jengar’s tent and as one stopped short, giving each other sidelong glances. Suddenly they pushed one of their own into the tent. He turned around, grimacing at their betrayal, before turning back to the task at hand.

Jengar waited, sitting on a wine-red pillow in the center of the tent, legs folded under him. He held a cup of tea. “How did it go?” he asked in Ravana. The soldier hesitated, shifting his gun awkwardly under his arm. Jengar opened his eyes and looked up at the soldier without blinking. “Shanjo, you can tell me. I know you tried your best.”

“I didn’t know you knew my name, sir,” said Shanjo.

“I know all your names,” Jengar said.

“Sir, we couldn’t catch them. They’re really, really fast, and I don’t –”

Without preamble, Jengar threw the tea in Shanjo’s face and then hurled the cup at the side of the tent. Shanjo screamed, his hands clawing for his eyes as they were scalded by hot liquid.

Jengar spun back to face his soldier, face contorted in rage. Veins bulged from his neck. “They’ll never stop,” he shouted. “They won’t stop until we’re all dead, you understand?” He brought himself up short and ran a tense hand through his hair. His voice quieted. “We have to do it now,” he said. Then he took a deep breath and yelled, “We have to do this now!”

Cut To:


Thailand – Rainforest – Day

Shannon and Lorinda stood by, watching as Willow and Rowena greeted each other with a kiss that seemed never-ending. Shannon’s mouth hung open, and Lorinda had one eyebrow quirked and her arms crossed across her chest. Smacking sounds came from somewhere.

“Don’t you have to, like, breathe?” Shannon asked. “I mean, maybe I haven’t been doing it right.”

“Probably not,” Lorinda said. “But I’m pretty sure if we don’t break this up soon it’ll count as porn, and your little red-state head will explode. Ladies!”

Willow and Rowena broke off their kiss. Rowena licked her lips, and Willow turned bright red.

“I’ve never made out with a ghost before,” Rowena said. “Sorry about that.”

“We’re cool,” Jeff assured her from the ground. He gave them the thumbs-up. Dawn nodded vigorously as well. Lorinda rolled her eyes.

“Not a ghost,” Willow said. “It’s astral projection. Just somethin’ I’m tryin’. And I’ve had a lot of pent up…” She giggled nervously.

“Yeah. Moving on…” Lorinda said, sounding bored. She took a few steps forward. “Now that you’re done sucking face, you can go get the cavalry, right? ‘Cause we’re gonna need ’em.”

Rowena looked away. She retreated several steps and turned her back to the group, staring out at the trackless forest.

Willow’s forehead wrinkled. “Wait, what’s…what’s going on?”

Cut To:


Council HQ – Coven Room – Night

Willow shot up from her circle and in five steps was out of the coven room. Skye, taken off-guard, did a double take, then got up from her chair and took off after her.

Cut To:


Council HQ – Hallway – Moments Later

Skye caught up with Willow in the hallway. “Willow?” she prompted.

“Get Buffy, tell her that her streak is over. Make sure she’s at Command Central,” Willow said. “Grace and Kennedy, too.”

“I feel like I should be sarcastic here, but I’m too tired,” Skye said. “What the hell’s going on?”

“We got trouble,” Willow told her. “End-of-the-world type trouble. Now.” She kept walking down the hallway and didn’t look back.

Cut To:


Thailand – Jengar’s Camp – Day

The area around the Uncreation Machine swarmed with Ravana. Some climbed over the metal contraption at its center, hurriedly loading new spell ingredients like coals onto a fire. A few climbed the metal beams to reach the controls above. Jengar himself was already at the top, flicking switches and rotating dials on a comically complex control panel.

Below them the camp was starting to empty of non-essential personnel. They melted into the forest, light packs slung on their backs.

The elderly Ru-Te clung to a support beam just below him. “Sir,” he called out in his own language, “what are you doing?”

“I am beginning the new world,” Jengar announced.

“The mechanism is not fully tuned yet,” Ru-Te implored him. “Sir, the effect may not be limited to humans…”

“I will not let the Ravana continue to suffer,” Jengar growled. “Either they will triumph, or they will perish.” He turned to where Ru-Te hung perilously over the scoured earth well below. “And all will perish with them. If we cannot hold dominion over our lives, none will.”

Ru-Te’s eyes widened. “You’re insane.”

Jengar strode over to where Ru-Te hung and looked down at him for a long moment. Then he stomped on his hands with all the force he could muster. Ru-Te screamed and loosed his grip. He fell to the ground below, where he hit with a loud thud and lay still.

“I may be insane,” Jengar said, “but so is this world. Perhaps it’s time to start over.”

He turned back to the controls.

Cut To:


Thailand – Rainforest – Same Time

Dawn finished helping Jeff to his feet. He tested his legs then nodded and lightly pushed Dawn away. “I’m actually doing okay.” She nodded and stepped back, though the folds around her eyes still showed concern.

“We need to keep moving,” Shannon said. She stood at the edge of the tiny clearing under the tree, her eyes furtively scanning the forest.

“I don’t know,” Rowena said. Her back was to one of the protruding roots of the tree, her eyes downcast. “Maybe we should just wait here for reinforcements, now that we know they’re coming.”

Shannon spun to face the group, gesturing with the Scythe. “You didn’t see this thing in action, Ro. We need to get back there and stop it.”

Lorinda held up a hand and shook her head. She took two steps forward. “Wait, let me get this straight. You want us, rather than running away and not dying, to go back into the lion’s den and risk getting de-existed by that crazy mad scientist’s doo-hickey, not to mention, you know, shot in the face?”

Shannon stepped forward, bringing her face within a few inches of Lorinda’s. “You got a problem with that?”

Lorinda looked down, forehead creased. Her eyes widened in surprise; then she looked back up at Shannon. “Actually, I don’t. Which is kind of a stumper.”

“Maybe you’re growing as a person,” Dawn suggested.

Lorinda blinked a few times as she thought about this. “That seems unlikely to me.”

Then Jeff groaned and brought his good arm up to put his hand to his forehead.

“You’re not as strong as you thought you were,” Dawn told him as she came to his aid.

“No,” Jeff said, his voice strangely far off. “It’s not that. It’s something –”

He collapsed to the forest floor. The group closed in around him. A wildness shone through in his eyes. “Oh Goddess,” he breathed.

“What’s the hell is going on?” Lorinda asked.

“The end,” Jeff whispered.

Dawn and Rowena shared a look. There were a lot of different emotions in it, none of them good.

Cut To:


Thailand – Jengar’s Camp – Day

By the time they got back to Jengar’s Camp, the machine was already well underway. Metal scraped against metal, and jets of steam hissed into the humid air. The Council group stood between two trees that counted their ages in eons, hidden from prying eyes by the undergrowth. Rowena and Dawn stared up at the machine, open-mouthed.

“That is not what I thought was happening,” Dawn said.

Shannon and Lorinda knelt beneath a large overhanging fern frond. “Now’d be the time for a plan,” Shannon said.

Rowena gulped and scratched the back of her neck. “Ah…well, we only have the one weapon, and our best witch is a bit –”

“Lorinda?” Shannon asked. Rowena’s mouth shut with a snap. She seemed a little put out.

Lorinda looked around her feet for something. “Okay, um –” She grabbed a half-foot stick and nodded in approval. She started using it to scratch marks on the dirt floor of the forest. “Shannon, you’re the best fighter, and you’ve got the shiny-shiny blade of death, so we need to get you up on top of that thing. Allister, you’re the best figure-outter, recent decision-making skills notwithstanding, so you go up too.”

Rowena swallowed hard. “How?” she asked, her mouth suddenly dry.

Lorinda looked up at her, impish smile on her face. “Just like we used to do it in Joston’s Slayer class. Misdirection.” She looked at Shannon. “You game?”

“I’m ready,” Shannon said.

“Destiny says you’re gonna lose,” Lorinda fired back.

“Screw destiny,” Shannon said without hesitation.

Lorinda cackled in delight. “Awesome. Let’s do this.”

Before the big charge could begin, Dawn slowly raised her hand. “Um, guys? I just had a thought.”

Cut To:


Thailand – Jengar’s Camp – Moments Later

Lorinda ran as stealthily as she could into the clearing. Jeff and Dawn followed behind. They were less stealthy, Jeff particularly. The bandage around his shoulder was soaked red.

The three of them ended up behind a tent. “This is the worst week I’ve had in…a couple of years…at least,” Jeff panted.

Lorinda peered around the edge of the tent. The great machine continued to chug. The vague shimmer of its outer shield was obvious. No one seemed to have spotted them yet. “We don’t have a lot of time, guys. Can we get to the witchery?”

Dawn nodded and clasped hands with Jeff. “Nos ingenero vos phasmatis vetus,” they chanted. “Permissum aer existo exuro. Permissum meus hostilis ornamentum cado vacuus. NOS INGENERO VOS PHANTASMIS VETUS. PERMISSIUM AER EXISTO EXURO!”

A sort of wave spread out from the group, like a ripple in the air, barely visible. Nothing discernible happened immediately. Jeff once again looked like he might fall over. Even Dawn was breathing hard. “Did it work?” she asked.

Lorinda raised an eyebrow. “You’re not sure?”

“Well, I was just looking through the Narthex Compendium the other day. I’d never tried it before, and it didn’t say it would work on modern –”

“One way to find out,” Lorinda said with gritted teeth. She charged out from their hiding place, making a beeline for the machine.

“You’ve got maybe ten minutes,” Dawn called after her.

To Lorinda’s surprise, she ran right past a few Ravana, intent on whatever task they had been assigned, without being noticed. She came up short not far from the machine. It loomed above her, belching steam, grinding like a locomotive. Several fidgeting Ravana stood guard around the base of the structure.

“Hey! Scaly guys!” she called out. “You ever want to machine gun a slayer? Now’s your chance. Who wants to be like evil Rambo?”

The guards noticed her and pulled their triggers…but nothing happened. The guns made faint clicking noises, and that was it. Lorinda broke into a grin. “Magic two million, seven hundred and forty-two thousand. Physics zero,” she said under her breath.

Then she laughed and ran off in the opposite direction. “Catch me if you can, Dumbasses.”

Most of the guards took off after her, shouting to one another in their own language. Shannon and Rowena crouched beyond the tree line, watching this unfold.

“The thingy didn’t take this long last time,” Shannon observed. She tightened her grip on the Scythe.

“It must be ramping up to a bigger…detonation,” Rowena replied. “Like the whole world, for instance.” 

“At least that shield’s still active.” Shannon’s eyes strayed upward to the crown of the dome. “How are you at climbing?”

Rowena swallowed hard. “I’ll make do.”

“Let’s go,” Shannon said, and she took off for the nearest support beam. Rowena followed after a very brief hesitation. Three guards tried to block their path. Two went for Shannon, and she took them on with no hesitation. They raised the butts of their guns as clubs, realizing that they were useless for shooting. Shannon kicked one in the stomach, sending him stumbling backward, then swung her blade into the stomach of the other. He grabbed for his mid-section and fell.

Meanwhile, the third guard charged at Rowena. She stepped out of his way at the last second, using his momentum to flip him to the ground. Then she kicked him in the face as hard as she could to make sure he stayed down. “Sorry,” she mouthed, but she couldn’t be heard over the ever-increasing noise of the machine.

Shannon, meanwhile, brought the charge of the final guard up short when she rammed the sharpened wood at the bottom of the Scythe into his chest. She pulled it out with a “snikkt” sound, and he crumpled to the ground. Without a pause, she walked over to the support beam. She grabbed, testing its strength for a moment. Then she brought her foot up to the girder and began to climb, keeping one hand clenched tightly around the Scythe.

Cut To:


Thailand – Jengar’s Camp – Same Time

Over a dozen guards chased Lorinda through the camp. She bowled over at least one unarmed Ravana while trying to make her escape. She came to the far edge of the camp, where a wooden pole apparently meant to be used for target practice stood next to a pile of firewood.

Going full-tilt, she took a flying sideways step off the pile of wood and grabbed for the pole with both hands. She used it to spin fully around just in time to execute mid-air kicks to the faces of the first few demons. She flipped to her feet, grabbed a stout log, and brought it up into the face of the next Ravana to reach her.

“You want this?!” she shouted, an almost feral glint in her eye.

Cut To:


Thailand – Jengar’s Camp – Same Time

The noise of the machine grew ever louder as Shannon and Rowena climbed even higher. There was a tiny, queasy-making amount of give to the metal structure beneath them. Rowena had to stop and hold on for dear life at one point. But Shannon kept on. Great gears chugged twenty feet from her, and the air was so humid that it began to hang around them as a mist. She could see the blue, ball-shaped pulse of magic at the center of the contraption, eldritch lightning crackling over its surface.

When Shannon reached the top, Jengar had his back to her, shifting levers on a large control panel with a great deal of effort. She stood up on the central platform of vibrating metal. Her fingers tightened around the leather grip of the Scythe. Behind her, Rowena struggled up the final stretch.

Shannon walked ahead slowly, her footsteps lost in the noise of the machine. She crept forward, each footfall carefully placed. When she was only a few feet behind Jengar, she raised the Scythe, ready to strike. She swung.

Jengar twirled and blocked the axe shaft of the Scythe with his forearm, halting the blade inches from his face. Then he kneed Shannon in the stomach, and she went stumbling backwards.

Cut To:


Council HQ – Command Center – Night

Grace slid into her chair in the Council Command Center and slipped on her communications earpiece.

“How much time do we have?” she asked.

Kennedy walked behind her, already wearing her own earpiece. “Maybe less than none. But I’ve had worse odds.” She sat at the desk next to Grace and started to poke at a touch-screen computer. 

“Do we have an ETA for the rescue team?” Grace did not look up from her own computer.

“Five to fifteen minutes,” Kennedy told her.

“That doesn’t sound soon enough,” Grace observed. “Do they…” she paused, business-like exterior shaken slightly. “What do we know?”

Kennedy turned to face Grace. She reached out and grabbed her hand. “Jeff’s alive,” she said. “Okay? And in twenty minutes he’ll be as alive as any of us.”

Grace took a long breath and nodded. She turned back to her console. “I guess we gotta hope Ro and Shan get things under control.” Kennedy shot her a look. “What? I know I always think best after several days trudging through the rainforest. Doesn’t everybody?”

Cut To:


Thailand – Jengar’s Camp – Day

With a grunt, Rowena pulled herself up with both arms onto the upper platform of the dome. What she saw when she looked up was a continuing fight between the Scythe-wielding Shannon and the extremely agile Jengar.

He fought as much with his elbows, knees, and feet as with his hands. Shannon swung for him with the Scythe, but he ducked, launched himself off a back foot, and landed a shoeless kick to the side of her head. She tumbled, coming dangerously close to the edge of the platform. She rolled back and kicked for his legs, but he took it in the shin without wincing and stood his ground.

Shannon took the opportunity to scramble to her feet. She held the Scythe at the ready with a small grin on her face. “Muay Thai, huh?” Her eyes flicked briefly to Rowena, who was circling behind Jengar very slowly, trying to make it to the control panel.

“I think you may find,” Jengar said, “that I am a man of many surprises.” 

“Two things you’re wrong about,” Shannon said. “One, you’re not a man, you’re a demon. Some people are both. Not you. Two, I’m not surprised. Because, big-ass Muay Thai fight to save the world? Pretty much where I live.”

She raised the Scythe slightly, muscles tensed. But before she could blink, Jengar shot an arm behind him and closed a hand around Rowena throat. Shannon froze. Rowena thrashed and kicked, but Jengar’s grip held firm.

“I thought, for just a moment, that maybe you did understand,” he said, his voice flat and dead, “but you haven’t seen the things I’ve seen. Children hacked to pieces by soldiers. Streams turned red with the blood of their mothers and fathers.”

“Don’t,” Shannon breathed.

“But you haven’t seen them,” Jengar continued, “0r you would know that I can’t let you turn it off.” With that, he threw Rowena across the platform. She tried to brace for impact, but her head smashed against the control panel. There was a crash of steam as the hydraulics broke under her. Rowena slumped over on the platform, unconscious. The control panel was partly smashed in, levers broken off and dials cracked. Below them, the machine continued to accelerate.

Jengar turned back to Shannon. “Now no one can.”

She growled and leaped for him.

Cut To:


Thailand – Jengar’s Camp – Same Time

Lorinda swung one of the useless guns like a club. She slammed it into one Ravana’s forehead and then into the gut of another. But there were still several of them. Two of them grabbed her around the arms, and, though she tried to kick and escape, a third grabbed for her gun.

“No!” she insisted through clenched teeth. “I’m in control here, you hear me!” They dragged her to the ground and rained blows on her.

Cut To:


Thailand – Jengar’s Camp – Same Time

Dawn and Jeff still hid crouched behind the large tent. She peered around one corner at the great machine. Shannon and Jengar fought on the platform on top. “I can’t see Rowena anymore,” she reported.

Her eyes drifted down to the apparatus below and the blue energy pulsing beneath it. Her lips parted as she watched the machine accelerate.

“I don’t know if I’d survive that,” she said, her voice suddenly far away. An eyebrow went up. “I don’t know if I want to. I-I think…maybe I do. That’s…progress, right?”

She turned to Jeff, looking for validation, but he wasn’t where she’d left him. He was looking around the far corner of the tent.

He glanced back at Dawn. “Lorinda’s in trouble.” And then he was gone.

“Jeff!” Dawn called. “You can’t just –” she sighed. “Aw, foo fighters!”

Cut To:


Thailand – Jengar’s Camp – Same Time

Lorinda, her eyes scrunched tightly shut, tried her best to shield her face with her forearms as several Ravana continued to kick and punch her. Then there was a flash, and two of the demons went flying. The others turned to look for the source of the blast. Lorinda slowly opened her eyes to see Jeff lowering his hand. For a moment, he glared at the demons, eyes hard. Then his eyes rolled up in his head, and he flopped awkwardly to the ground.

The remaining Ravana began to walk in his direction, but then Lorinda was on them from behind. She clocked the first one in the head with a rock only slightly smaller than her head, and before the next closest could move to stop her, she slammed the rock upward into his chin. She rammed a fist into the face of another and brought her elbow into the teeth of a fourth.

A few moments later, she knelt over Jeff. She had a huge gash over one eye and a giant bruise on one cheek. She cradled his head in her hands.

“Hey, Jeffy,” she said gently. “Wake up.” There was no sign from him. She stared at him, disbelieving emotion welling up behind her eyes. “Wake up!” she shouted, the words forcing their way up her throat.

Cut To:


Thailand – Jengar’s Camp – Same Time

Jengar’s elbow impacted Shannon’s cheekbone with an audible crunch. She grunted in pain but stood her ground. A half-spin on her part nearly brought the axe of the Scythe to slice into Jengar’s side, but he dodged out of the way. He danced back, weight shifting between the balls of his feet.

Shannon’s eyes narrowed, and she feinted with the Scythe towards Jengar’s chest. He brought up a forearm, and she used the opportunity to grab his hand and throw him off balance to the side. He rolled as he fell, getting out of the way of the Scythe as Shannon brought it down. The metal tore under it, and for just a moment it stuck.

On the second jerk the Scythe came free, but Jengar was already there, his shin slamming into her side. She fell to the platform but immediately bounced back up. Below them, the machine churned ever faster.

Cut To:


Council HQ – Command Center – Night

The main doors to the Command Center burst open at once, and Buffy and Willow entered side by side. “I hear we’ve got good news and bad news,” Buffy said. “Where are the helicopters?”

“Nearly there,” Grace said from her seat.

Buffy put her hands on her hips and glanced at Willow. “Can you, I dunno, send your little thought beams to Rowena?”

Willow shook her head. “Tried already. Couldn’t make a connection. Either there’s too much interference or she’s…” She trailed off and swallowed. Buffy frowned.

“There’s something else,” Kennedy announced.

Buffy walked over to lean over her shoulder. “What is it?”

“Magic users reporting a large supernatural distortion,” Kennedy said. “Major heebie-jeebies. Just the last few minutes.”

Buffy’s blinked a few times. “That tracks, I guess. Which magic users?”

Kennedy looked away from her screen and up at Buffy. “All of ’em. Everywhere. In the world. Plus…” She held up her arm. “I’ve got goose bumps.”

Cut To:


Thailand – Jengar’s Camp – Day

Dawn skidded as she fell to her knees beside Jeff. Lorinda was leaning over his prostrate form. “What happened?” Dawn asked.

“He saved me,” Lorinda said, a tearing in her voice. She had held her ear next to his face, but now she brought her head up. “I don’t think he’s breathing.”

Dawn took this in for a short beat, running a hand through her dark, matted hair. “Okay. We should – we should do CPR. It’s worked before.”

“Right,” Lorinda said with a single nod. “You get the chest compressions. I’ll do mouth-to-mouth.” The two women moved into position.

Cut To:


Thailand – Jengar’s Camp – Same Time

Shannon blocked Jengar’s punch with the shaft of the Scythe, the blow making a clang as it struck. He followed this up with a sudden kick from his left leg, nearly completely inverting himself as he brought his foot at close quarters up to her eye level. However, she caught his foot between the shaft of the Scythe and her face. She took a half-step back and pulled, sending Jengar on a full flip through the air. He landed on his back and grimaced.

The sound of the machine, the great screeching and growling, was all around them. Rowena still lay unconscious next to the destroyed control panel.

Shannon leaped forward, Scythe raised, but Jengar brought his foot up from lying flat on his back and kicked her in the chin. She fell back, and he rolled to his feet. Shannon shook her head and spat a stream of blood onto the platform as she stuck out her tongue in pain.

“You mabe me bite my mongue,” she said, then attacked again, Scythe held high.

Cut To:


Thailand – Jengar’s Camp – Same Time

Lorinda’s cheeks puffed in and out as she blew air into Jeff’s lungs. Dawn counted compressions under her breath as she pressed down on Jeff’s chest. Lorinda came up for air as she did so.

After a few gulps of humidity, Lorinda once again put her mouth over Jeff’s and closed her eyes. She breathed out. Unbeknownst to her, his hand twitched below her. Without opening his eyes, Jeff breathed in the air Lorinda was giving him. But she didn’t move away, and then they really were kissing, his lips pressing upwards against hers. After a moment, he pulled away ever so slightly.

His lips moved to whisper, “Grace.”

Lorinda’s eyes shot open, and she sat straight up.

Jeff’s eyes fluttered open, and Dawn held his head up. “He’s back!” she said triumphantly, not appearing to have noticed anything.

“Yeah,” Lorinda said, her voice a little wistful.

Cut To:


Thailand – Jengar’s Camp – Same Time

Jengar bent over backwards at the knee, avoiding the Scythe as it swung just above his nose.

Just as he straightened up, Shannon jabbed at Jengar with the forward point of the Scythe. However, he slapped it aside, jumped forward, and kneed her in the kidney. She doubled over, and he landed a punch to her left temple. Before she could hit the ground, he grabbed for the Scythe.

Shannon’s fingers closed tight around the leather of the hilt. She rose again and pulled, but all four of their hands remained on the Scythe. Their eyes locked for a split second. Jengar smiled. Shannon’s eyes widened.

He jumped from both feet at once and landed a hard kick to her solar plexus. The two of them went flying in opposite directions. Shannon lost her grip and skidded backwards towards the edge of the platform. Jengar came away with the Scythe and executed a roll to his feet.

Shannon teetered on the edge of the platform, the backs of her feet hanging over the clash and crash of the machine below. The lightning playing over the surface of the blue ball, much increased in frequency now, could be seen beneath her. She flailed her arms briefly, searching for balance, but failed to find it. With a yelp, she fell.

She grabbed for the platform with both arms as she fell past. They landed on the metal with a crash, and she slid briefly before stopping. She dangled from the edge, her hands desperately clinging to the outer edge.

Jengar appeared above her, staring down dispassionately.

Shannon’s muscles strained as she tried to hang on. “You don’t…have to do this.”

He shook his head. “Stubborn girl. I’ve already done it. Neither of us has much time left. You see, Little Blue Slayer, there are two types of people in this world.”

She groaned. “Are you really going to do a whole villain speech right now?”

Jengar ignored her, turning the Scythe over in his hands. “There are those, like me, who make their own fate. And there are those, like you, who cannot escape theirs.” He knelt close to where Shannon hung. “So here we both are. I think I will leave you now, find a quiet place to spend the last moments. I suppose it’s possible you’ll find your way up from there, come after me, but it won’t matter. Still, I wouldn’t want you to have the advantage…”

With that, he tossed the Scythe off the edge of the platform.

“No!” Shannon grabbed for it with one arm, but her hand found only air. It fell past her in slow motion, through the steam released by the machine. It tumbled past massive gears and valves, and finally, directly into the blue ball of energy.

Shannon, now dangling helplessly from a single hand, watched in horror as the Scythe began to disintegrate. It took on a strange beauty. Bits of it drifted from the gleaming surface, like dust blown on the wind. First the leather binding disappeared, then the wooden stake at the bottom, and then the blade itself slowly melted away until there was nothing left.

Shannon stared in disbelief for a long moment as the clash of machinery continued beneath her. Then, she made a choking noise in her throat, as if she was having trouble breathing. She brought her free hand to her chest, as her heartbeat, suddenly audible, began to slow.

Cut To:


Thailand – Jengar’s Camp – Same Time

Lorinda pitched onto her hands and knees, having the same trouble breathing.

“What’s wrong?” Dawn asked her. She ran around Jeff to try and help.

Lorinda could barely talk. “Did everyone just get…really tired…all of a sudden?”

Cut To:


Council HQ – Command Center – Night

Casey slumped against the wall in one corner of the Command Center, bracing one hand against a touch screen. Willow rushed to her side. Within a few seconds several girls around the room were having similar problems.

“Bloody hell,” Casey gasped. She was having trouble catching her breath.

Cut To:


Thailand – Jengar’s Camp – Day

Jengar got to his feet above Shannon. He took one last look at the machine below him, nearly ready to detonate. “My work is done.”

Then he walked over to what remained of the control panel. Rowena made a small groaning noise as he stepped over her. He unscrewed a valve of tarnished brass from that part of the panel that had remained untouched. The magical shield that would have kept the potential blast inside the dome flickered momentarily, then died.

He then strode to the nearest support beam and began the climb down. He paused only long enough to toss the valve that allowed the shield to activate into the Uncreation and watch as it disappeared.

Black Out



End of Act Three

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