Caroline Dhavernas as Grace Hatherley, Lucy Lawless as Elizabeth Giles, Helen Shaver as Becca Giles, Alan Tudyk as Martin Giles, Mischa Barton as Shannon Matthewson, Zach Braff as Norman Hansen, Sean Astin as Alex Rosenberg, Carey Mulligan as Jen Rosenberg, Zac Efron as Jake Allister, Ashley Tisdale as Sophie Allister, Marsha Thomason as Nikki Wood, and T.R. Knight as Jackson
Jennifer Connelly as Althenea Dimmons, Sharon Gless as the President and Alexander Siddig as Muhammad Karim
Giles and Becca’s House – Later That Day
A long shot of the Giles's home.
Giles and Becca’s House – Later That Day
Liz walked through the front door of her parents’ home carrying a two-year-old boy in her arms. Becca arrived with a smile and opened her arms.
"Nathan! Come here and see Grammy, Sweetie," she said as she scooped the boy up. He wore a large smile upon seeing her and wrapped his arms around her neck as she held him and gave him a kiss.
"And hello to you, too, Mom," Liz teased. Becca leaned in and gave Liz a kiss on the cheek as well. "Okay, that’s better," Liz added.
"You know I adore my first baby, too," she told her before looking at Nathan. "Your momma was just as little as you once, believe it or not. Yes, she was," she added in a baby voice to the small child before turning back to Liz. "Your dad and Martin are in the kitchen. Come on," she said with a nod of her head.
Giles and Becca’s House – Kitchen – Continuous
Becca came in first with the toddler as Liz followed. Giles and Martin were watching a news report on a projection television mounted into the wall – Karim was now on the screen giving an address of some kind. They turned the volume down as Liz entered.
"Hey little man," Martin said as he held his hand out to Nathan.
"Mar, Mar!" he said excitedly as he slapped it.
Martin still had a small grin on his lips as he faced Liz. "So how’s that first week going, Sis?"
"Smart ass," she muttered with a small smile through her gritted teeth so that the toddler couldn’t hear her.
Becca put Nathan down, and he immediately ran over to Giles, asking to be picked up with outstretched arms. With a smile, he obliged and put the boy on his knee. As Giles tousled Nathan’s hair, he said, "Grammy made cookies. Would you like one?"
Nathan nodded enthusiastically.
"Did you ever get cookies before lunch?" Liz asked Martin. "I never got cookies before lunch."
Martin chuckled and shook his head. "No, never."
"Oh, one cookie won’t hurt him," Becca said dismissively as she brought it over to the boy.
"This from the ‘eat all your vegetables’ woman," Liz added.
"Sounds like a busy morning at the Council from all the reports," Giles told Liz. "I thought you’d be working."
"Technically, I am. I’ve come to pick the brain of the smartest watcher I know," she told him. Giles looked over each of his shoulders. "Yes, you," Liz added in an annoyed tone.
"Let’s step outside," he told her with a slight smile.
Willow and Rowena’s House – Same Time
"Will, you don’t even have to ask. I figured it was a given," Xander told her as he watched her packing a suitcase. "You know I’ll look after Little Joe and Ira, that’s not an issue."
"You’ve already got Joyce to take care of and—" Willow said.
"And she adores them both. The three of them get along great, so again, not an issue. Besides, you’re the best of the best. This entire conversation is moot. And you and Ro will both return safe and sound."
"I hope you’re right," Willow said softly.
"I’m always right," he told her, making her smile. "But in the very slim-to-none chance I’m wrong, you know how much I love all the kids. You wouldn’t have to ask me to keep them – I’d fight to do it."
Willow reached up and stroked Xander’s face. "We have you to thank for so much."
"The pleasure’s been all mine," Xander teased. "Speaking of which, you sure you don’t wanna go for another of your own to name Rosenberg so Ira doesn’t feel so all alone?" Willow slapped his arm, and he chuckled, "Just puttin’ it out there. That’s all."
"A half dozen kids is plenty," Willow replied.
"Yeah, but the twins don’t count."
"They do so count."
"No, I mean they’re out of the house. And the teenagers, they’re almost gone."
"Which is why we each decided on having one more each," Willow added.
"So why not make it two more?" Xander asked.
"Why not get real, Mr. Insanity?" Willow countered.
Xander chuckled, and Willow found herself smiling, too.
"Nah, I love my kids, ALL my kids – home or not," she told him. "I just can’t do it again. Ira nearly killed me, literally. And I gotta say I’ve got more respect for Giles than ever because, really, I don’t know how he chased a two-year-old around in his fifties." Willow got a far-off look in her eyes and shook her head. "Doing it in my forties is just…I just couldn’t imagine that."
"Well, you can’t blame me for trying," Xander told her with a smile.
Giles and Becca’s House – Back Porch – Moments Later
"So that’s where we are," Liz said. "I asked Rowena what she thought, but she said I’m in charge. And I know…I have to be an adult here and call the shots but..."
She trailed off, and Giles said, "Sometimes the most adult thing…"
"...is to ask for help," Liz finished. "Aunt Buffy’s told me that before."
Giles grinned. "At least it’s good to know she was listening to me now and then."
"So what do you think I should do, Dad? Did I make the right call? It’s Shannon…Kennedy too…They’ve got loads more experience than I do."
He turned to Liz with a serious expression. "What’s your head saying about all of this?"
"Stand and fight. Find the bastard and put him out of commission, permanently. Use everything we’ve got in our arsenal."
"And your heart?"
"Run like hell and don’t look back. Take Nathan and get as far away from the Council as possible…Pretty cowardly, huh?"
"Sounds rather sane, given the reports we’ve heard," he replied. "But, in the end, we both know that won’t happen. So what’s the answer?"
Liz grinned. "Now why couldn’t I just figure that out on my own?"
"Because sometimes you need to hear the words out loud to truly decide," he replied.
"I suppose," Liz sighed. "This job is never going to get any easier, is it?" she asked.
"No," he replied. "But the truth is, most days aren’t this rough."
Liz grinned. "Thanks, Dad."
"For what? I didn’t do anything."
"You’ve done more than you know. You and Mom both."
Giles put his arm around Liz and kissed her on the side of the temple. "I have a suspicion you might want to speak with Martin now."
Liz grinned and shook her head. "How do you do that? How do you know everything?"
"With age comes experience," he told her as he patted her arm. "I’ll send him out," he added as he slipped away.
Liz stood a moment looking out over the backyard. She heard the patio door open, but it didn’t close until a few moments later.
"What’s up?" Martin asked.
Liz didn’t turn around. "Remember when you fell out of the tree house?" she asked as she nodded out toward the backyard.
Martin laughed as he came over to stand beside her.
"Yeah, but I haven’t thought about that in years. I kept crying, and you told me to toughen up; Mom would get me to the doctor, so I should just be quiet and take deep breaths until we got there." Martin chuckled again after finishing.
"On the way there, your good hand held mine so tight I thought I might need a cast by the time we arrived," Liz said as she turned to Martin.
"But if memory serves," Martin said, "you squeezed back...and it helped."
Liz smiled for a moment but then began to look serious.
"I need to ask you for a huge favor – an enormous favor…I’ll probably be leaving town, dealing with this latest problem. And…" She licked her lips. "And if I don’t come back, I want you to take care of Nathan. Mom and Dad are great parents, but they can’t keep up with him. And I know you just finished school. You’ve got your whole life ahead of you and—"
"I’ll do it," Martin told her before she could finish.
Liz nodded. "Thanks…I-I want to make sure Nathan’s around people that will love him. If Darryl tries to take him back…"
"He’ll have the wrath of the Council to face I’m sure," Martin told her. "And I’ll do everything I can to stop him from getting custody. But chances are, that’s not going to happen. We know that. He wasn’t much of a dad when he was around."
"True," Liz replied.
"Still, although I think this conversation is pointless... you’ve got my word." Liz nodded and for a moment looked like she was on the verge of tears. "Hey," Martin said softly, pulling her into a hug. "Like a strong woman once told me, toughen up," he teased. "Just be quiet and take deep breaths." Liz gave a light chuckle into his shoulder. When they pulled back from each other, Martin gave each of her arms a squeeze. "You’re gonna be fine, Liz."
"Promise?" she asked.
"Pinky swear," he said as he held out his little finger.
With a smile, Liz took it.
Watchers Council – Weapons Room – Same Time
"Are you sure about this?" Shannon asked Kennedy. The dark-haired elder slayer was putting some high-tech looking handguns into a metal case. "I’m the Head Slayer now. I should be the one going."
"No, you’re the Head Slayer now, so that means you need to stay here and give orders," Kennedy told her.
"But you don’t even have your slayer powers anymore," Shannon argued.
"True. That’s why I got mini-Blondie in tow," she replied with a grin. "Jen will do just fine watching my back while I feed you reports from the field."
"Kennedy," Shannon began again.
"Shannon, enough. I might not have slayer strength anymore, and I might be a decade older than you, but I can still kick your ass if need be," she told her sternly. Slowly, she grinned for a moment before looking serious again. "We need someone experienced in slaying out there. You’ve got the experience, too, but if we fail, we need quick minds in a far away location to plan our next move. Got it?"
"I got it, but that doesn’t mean I have to like it," she countered. She sighed. "I wish Faith were here."
"You and me both," Kennedy replied. "But we know that’s not an option. Anyway, I’m sure you’ll do wonderful. Now," she said, picking up the packed case, "if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got a radical Islamic madman to hunt down."
Unknown Tropical Location – Building – Same Time
Muhammad Karim smoothed down a black cloth with gold inlay over a simple rectangular stone altar. The room was lit brightly by a single rough-hewn window in the stone.
A young man with a full beard and wide, scared eyes appeared at the door. "Commander," he began quietly, "I do not wish to disturb you…"
"It is all right, Salim," Karim said. He looked up at the young man. "I was only preparing the altar. I prefer things just so, you see."
"Yes, of course," Salim bowed his head momentarily. "Commander, I have been meaning to speak to you…concerning the ritual."
Karim’s expression remained personable, his inner motivations completely hidden by deep black eyes. "Yes?"
Salim hesitated then took the leap. "It’s just that I am not so sure that this is something we should do."
Still, Karim betrayed nothing. "Really?"
Salim stepped forward, gaining confidence. "We have a holy mission, given to us by God. We should not sully it. This plan passes beyond the boundaries of Jihad, as do the methods I fear you’re using. This is not a holy war. This is a holocaust."
Karim smiled and walked over to Salim. He took the young man’s face in both hands. He spoke quietly. "We all have doubts, Salim. They are God’s way of testing our faith."
"But…all those dead…"
"They are infidels," Karim explained. "Enemies of Islam. They must be purged."
Very slowly, Salim nodded. Karim embraced him, though it was impossible to find joy in his onyx eyes.
Australian Airfield – Later That Day
Five men and five women dressed in robes walked toward an airliner that had a Council logo on the side. The runway held a few service vehicles, but for the most part the area appeared vacant.
"Why England?" a woman asked a man. Based on his different attire from the others, he appeared to be a high priest.
"Dimmons believes gathering in a place where Druid energies are stronger might help in this task," he replied. "All the World Covens have been called."
Before she could add another word, rapid gunfire broke out, and all ten people collapsed at the same time onto the runway.
Watchers Council – Lobby – Later That Day
As Liz cleared the security checkpoint, Nikki made her way over to her.
"Ms. Giles?" she asked as she approached. "I tried to call you."
"Nikki," Liz sighed, "for the last time. You’re not that much younger than me, and when you call me Ms. Giles, I expect to see my mother standing behind me."
"I’m sorry," she began again. "But, we’ve got another situation."
"Now what?" Liz asked, exasperated.
Watchers Council – Coven Room – Moments Later
Liz, Nikki, and Willow stood in the quiet room.
"So...all of them?" Liz asked softly.
Willow nodded sadly. "The Australian Coven was boarding the plane. They never had a chance."
"Everyone was killed?" Liz asked.
Willow nodded again. "Machine gun fire ripped through the group; even the pilot who was flying them to England couldn’t escape. An attempt was made on the Tokyo Coven, too." Liz’s eyebrows quirked in response. "But they were able to thwart it thanks to a protection spell. The Tokyo high priestess felt what happened in Australia and immediately put up a force-field around her witches. Seconds later, an assassination attempt was made on them, too. The jet there was destroyed, but the Coven itself managed to make their way to safety before returning to their headquarters."
"How would he even know to be there?"
"I’m assuming he has parts of his army waiting for us to move," Willow told her. "He probably figured that all the covens would be meeting in a central location. On a more positive note, if there IS one, then Al might be on the right track about the gathering. Our combined power might be what he’s afraid of."
"Al’s Coven is on lockdown now, I imagine?"
"Yes," Willow said with a firm nod. "As are the other covens who weren’t in the process of leaving. They’ve all bumped up their magical protections in their lobbies and surrounding grounds while awaiting orders."
Liz nodded as well and paused for a moment. "Okay then, here’s the plan. Nikki, over here." She motioned toward a table. "Take notes, please," she told her. The young woman produced a small pen-like item. She pushed a button, and it extended out in two places. A holographic image of a screen and a keyboard appeared. After another adjustment she poised her fingers as if to type. At that point, Liz continued.
"Kevlar all around," she started, and Nikki typed. "From the division heads to – I don’t know – the guy who brings the donuts. I want everyone in all the World Councils covered from head to toe. Helmets, gloves, everything. I don’t want a single amount of skin exposed on anyone when they step outside. We will not lose anyone else to this lunatic – not like this. Second, make sure no one without prior access clears any Council doors – no unauthorized visitors of any kind right now. If you’re not on the ‘it’ list, you don’t get in. No exceptions. Third, where’s Grace?"
"Still in the air," Nikki answered and then hit the screen of her palm unit. "ETA in an hour," she reported.
"Good, "Liz replied. "Get with Amira. I want her to assign two teams to the airport. Get with Homeland Security to do a sweep of the entire area for anyone who might have a land-to-air missile. Have Amira clear the airport. I want Grace to land safely, and I want an escort for her before she steps off the plane. Make sure they take her Kevlar, too, in case what’s on the plane won’t fit her. Got it?"
"Yes, Ms.—" Nikki stopped herself and then said, "Yes, Liz."
"Next, Aunt Will...are we any closer to getting a fix on this nutcase? Where he’s at? What he’s got planned?"
"Ro’s heading the research teams worldwide. Alex is handling our Coven research until I get to the Magic Library. Other covens are also researching while they wait. But as of fifteen minutes ago, no, we aren’t any closer. I came here to look in my private collection of books when Nikki called to say you had returned."
"I’m sorry," Liz apologized. "I had to get Nathan over to my folks."
"I know," Willow said understandingly.
"Speaking of which," Liz began, "can your Coven do protection spells for Council members at their homes?"
"No, that’s stretching us too thin. But we could offer to assign a slayer or armed guard to each family here – like one location per clan. Anyone could also bring their family to the Council, where we do have a protection spell in place."
"Right, we can’t guard everyone’s parents, sibs, and so forth. They’d have to all be at the same place," Liz replied to Willow before turning to Nikki. "Okay, send a memo stressing that Council members should contact their families and have them all meet at one location if they want private protection – at an area within Council headquarters or at one place of their choosing. If that’s not an option, then tell them to warn their families. They’ll need to provide addresses so that we can send support to those locations…As for my folks…"
"Already done," Willow told her.
Liz looked confused for a moment. "When?" she asked.
"After Australia called," Willow explained. "I sent some added muscle and some magical support over to them."
"I thought we didn’t have magical support for everyone?"
"We don’t," Willow answered. "And yes, you don’t need to point out that I am being biased when it comes to protecting our family. Besides, the people I sent aren’t officially part of the full-time Council anymore. They’re just visiting the Gileses."
"Willow," Liz tried to begin disapprovingly.
"Argue with me later about it," Willow told her. "Right now, we need to be researching."
Giles and Becca’s House – Same Time
Giles opened the door to see Dawn, Skye, and a man with a rifle on his back.
"Cavalry’s here, just in case," Dawn told him. "Can we come in?"
Giles grinned and opened the door wider, letting them inside. "We have a baby inside," Giles told the man. "Make sure that rifle doesn’t leave your hands."
"Yes, Mr. Giles," he said, extending his hand. "And let me say it’s a real pleasure to meet you."
"Thank you," Giles said, motioning him inside. "Head back to the kitchen, and we’ll see to lunch."
Unknown Tropical Location – Café – Same Time
Salim was in the back of one of those overcooked tropical cafés, with a few wooden ceiling fans spinning lazily above round, empty tables. He held a telephone receiver to his ear and looked very, very nervous.
"He has been corrupted by black magic," Salim said into the phone, his voice low and furtive. "This is not why I became involved with the movement. I wish to ensure my place in heaven, but…this cannot be the way. It is too high a price."
He paused momentarily, listening to the voice on the other end of the phone.
"He plans to send a tidal wave…yes, a tsunami. It will destroy the entire Eastern Coast of the United States. Do you understand?"
There was another pause. "How? I will tell you how. He will—"
Salim was cut off by the sound of a dial tone on the other end of the phone. "Hello?" There was no reply.
Slowly, with great fear etched on every inch of his face, Salim turned around to see Muhammad Karim standing behind him. "Commander…" he managed.
Karim’s expression was as dark and blank as his eyes. Suddenly, Salim began to make choking noises and grabbed for his throat. He collapsed against the wall of the café, his wide eyes locked on Karim. After a few more moments, Salim slumped to the floor.
Karim regarded his inferior’s corpse dispassionately.
End of Act One
On to Act Two