Watchers Council – Liz’s Office – Later That Day
"Thanks, Jackson," Liz said as she switched off the communicator.
Rowena walked into the office and closed the door gently behind her.
"You have news?" she asked.
"Yeah, Jackson said they just got a call from La Palma in the Canary Islands."
"Off the coast of Africa, near Morocco?"
"Yes," Liz said with a nod. "A man claims that Karim is going to send a tsunami that will destroy the Eastern U.S. Seaboard," she said calmly.
"Water," Rowena muttered.
"Yeah, and lots of it," Liz replied. "That was the first thing I thought of, too – Aunt Will and Ken talking about that whole feeling-of-drowning spookiness. That adds a bit of validity to the report if you ask me."
"I’d agree," Rowena replied. "But still…"
"I’m checking with Homeland, CIA, and such to see if there are any reports at all coming from La Palma or the surrounding areas," Liz told her before she could finish. "If they have even an inkling that he’s there, I want Shannon to send her teams to search the area."
"The U.S. is about to be destroyed, maybe Nova Scotia too, and you’re smiling?" Liz asked.
"Oh, no," she said quickly. "I’m just thinking of the gal I used to bail out of jail and where she’s at now." She began to grin again, and this time Liz joined her for a moment.
"Well, when you talk to Nathan about his mom," Liz told her, "be sure to mention the where she’s at now part and not the jail time, okay?"
Rowena continued to grin. "I’m proud of you. You’re doing a wonderful job under intense circumstances."
"I’ll feel wonderful once we’ve got this S.O.B. and I know everyone’s safe. Right now the only thing I can’t figure out is how is he going to do it, if that’s his plan. Jackson said the connection was lost before the person could tell us more."
"I’ll get my team started on it," Rowena told her. "In the onset, I’ll speak with Willow to see if it’s possible for him to do it by magic."
"You really think that’s possible?" Liz asked. "I mean a huge tidal wave over the ocean? That’s a pretty amazing feat for any warlock."
"Doesn’t hurt to ask," Rowena told her.
Watchers Council – Coven Room – A Short Time Later
"No," Willow shook her head as she spoke to Rowena in her coven room.
"Are you sure?"
"Well, warlocks can do a lot, but something of that size? I really don’t think it’s possible. Flooding a city, maybe. Heck, even a large portion of a single state near the Great Lakes, yeah. But the entire Eastern Seaboard? No one has ever had that kind of power…unless you count Moses," she said in afterthought and added, "but even then he parted a small section of the Red Sea and not an entire ocean. And ya know, rumor has it, he had divine help."
"Photo evidence confirms that Karim has help, too, but from a dark place."
"True," Willow replied.
"Well, either way, I’ve got all my watchers researching all angles – nature, history, geography, everything on La Palma they can find. I’m hoping they turn something up quickly."
"Me too because the locator spells just aren’t working for this guy. He’s got some serious magic going on," Willow told him. "And I don’t think there’s anyone around to give him a broken yellow crayon speech."
"Yes, he’s already taken out half of Boston, so I really wouldn’t put anything past him. Just keep researching ways the Coven might find him and stop him. I’ll let you know what my team turns up."
"Will do," Willow replied. "I’ll come help in a little bit. Right now I’m getting in touch with the covens that won’t be joining us. That way they can form a second front…in case…"
Rowena gently pulled Willow into her arms and gave her a soft kiss.
"We won’t need a second front. Karim doesn’t realize just who he’s dealing with…but he’ll find out soon enough."
Willow gave her an affectionate smile.
Watchers Council – Research Room – Same Time
Nikki was scratching her forehead when Liz walked up with two cups in her hand.
"Rubbing your head doesn’t make it work any better," Liz teased as she put the containers down.
"I could have gotten those," Nikki told her upon seeing the cups. "You didn’t have to—"
"The day I make you a coffee runner is the day…well…I really can’t think of anything because my brain hurts from running on maximum overdrive."
"I’ll let this one slide, I guess," Nikki replied.
"Oh my gosh!" Liz said. "Is that a joke, an attempt at humor, in my presence?" Nikki blushed. "Please, don’t stop. I’m glad to see you loosening up a little bit."
"It’s hard. I’m your assistant, not your equal, and—"
"How do you put your pants on?" Liz asked.
"Excuse me?" Nikki replied.
"How do you put your pants on? One leg at a time, right? So do I."
"Well, sometimes I sit on my bed and put both legs in at once," Nikki countered. Liz just stared at her for a moment. "But I get what you’re saying," she added quickly.
"Thank you," Liz went on. "I’m not any different than anyone else here. And while it’s true I have many skills, that’s true of everyone, really. Everybody on this earth has certain things they do that make them special. You too, and I recognize that."
"Okay," Nikki told her. "Wanna tell me what some of those might be because I haven’t figured it all out just yet?"
"For one, you put up with me. If that’s not a special skill, I don’t know what the hell is."
Nikki snorted. "You’re not bad. In fact, of all the senior watchers I’ve worked with…" Nikki lowered her voice and muttered the next words, "I like you best. You’re not at all what I expected."
Nikki shrugged. "Some people, when they first get promoted, they…I don’t know…they get a chip on their shoulder, like their sooo ploosh. Ya know?" Liz nodded. "But you’re not like that. Heck, you even bring me coffee."
"Well, I studied under Rowena, who brought me coffee when she’d get some for herself. We’re all in the same boat, the same fight – so whether it’s facing a pack of Skulter demons or getting a cup of coffee, we help each other."
"Well, I do appreciate it, really," Nikki told her sincerely.
"Besides," Liz continued, "I don’t have many friends my age here at the Council. It’s a bit isolating being a Giles, so if I can make a few friends with a steamy cup of joe, so be it." She then raised her mug. Nikki took hers and clinked it against Liz’s before they both took a drink.
"Liz?" one of the watchers at the terminals called out. "I think I found something."
Liz and Nikki walked over to where the watcher was sitting and looked over her shoulder.
"Look at this," she pointed to the holographic screen in the air.
Liz and Nikki both read the information for a moment before Liz hit her communication link at her ear.
"Aunt Will?" she asked.
After a few seconds Willow’s voice came over, "Did you find something, I hope?"
"Maybe. Could someone use magic to make the earth move, like an earthquake or a volcano? I mean, can they change the landscape somehow?"
There was a pause for a moment, and then Willow cleared her throat. "For someone with as much magic in them as Karim, yes."
"I think Roberts here found out how Karim’s going to do it. Can you organize a conference in the meeting room in ten? I know it’s short notice but—"
"We’ll all be there," Willow assured her.
Watchers Council – Meeting Room – Minutes Later
Liz, Nikki, and Roberts all appeared in the research room on a wall-mounted screen. In the large meeting room Shannon, Kennedy, Will, and Rowena all sat closest to the video conference screen, while an image of Althenea showed on the opposite wall, obviously watching from London. The room was also filled to the brim with other staffers.
"Show ’em what you’ve got, Roberts," Liz motioned.
"Certainly…." She clicked a button, and a map came up next to her head. "The Canarys, off the coast of Africa, are a series of volcanic islands. La Palma is one of these islands. During one of the last volcanic eruptions in the last 100 years, part of La Palma slid four feet. Since that time, water has been accruing in the mountain, making it even more unstable. Scientists fear that if there's another eruption, or series of eruptions, much of the island would slide into the sea."
"Why is this an issue?" Shannon asked. "I mean, that island’s like a thousand miles away, right?"
"Good question," Liz replied. She hit a button on the console in front of her, and another image popped up from the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami. "If such an event occurred, it would generate a tsunami, or series of tsunamis, greater than those that destroyed the coastal areas of Indonesia, Sri Lanka, India, and Thailand the day after Christmas in 2004. But that’s not the worst part…"
"You mean there’s more?" Kennedy asked.
Liz nodded and motioned for Roberts to continue.
"The time factor," Roberts went on and pressed a button, bringing up another map that showed the U.S. Coastline and the Atlantic Ocean. From the Canary Islands a series of circles moved toward North America.
"The first tsunami would reach the U.S. Coastline in about six hours," Liz explained. "Within ten hours every area would be hit – from Canada to South America – so time is not on our side here. I’ve had Ebstein work up some possible projections. According to his figures, if this were to happen, it would destroy nearly every city on the coast. It would start in the New England area, around New York, and make its way north and south. All major cities along that coastline of North America would be eliminated – casualties could be in the tens of millions."
At first, no one in the room spoke.
"But on the bright side, if there is one," Liz continued, "parts of Northern Canada and possibly South America might be spared, or at least not as hard hit, but even that’s not guaranteed."
Again, the room fell silent until Rowena spoke.
"Dreadful news, to be sure, but a wonderful job. Excellent work," she told them. "What’s our first step, Liz? How can we help?"
"Get all the watchers organized," she told Rowena. "Have them start calling all the governors along the coast. Warn them of what might be coming and the timetable we’re working on. If they start now, we might be able to clear much of the smaller cities. As for the larger cities…the sooner they start moving, the better. I realize we won’t get everyone out, but some is still better than none. It wouldn’t be a bad idea to contact the Prime Minister of Canada and several South American countries too."
Watchers Council – Meeting Room – A Short Time Later
"Yes," Rowena said as she spoke into visual phone. Seated in front of her on the screen was a man dressed in a suit and tie. "I appreciate all your help in this effort, Mr. Prime Minster."
"No, Mrs. Rosenberg," he replied. "Thank you. We’ll start our efforts immediately," he told her.
"You’re welcome, Sir, and take care," she told him as she hung up. She then turned to Nikki, who was just hanging up her own phone. "One down," Rowena told her. Nikki smiled.
Watchers Council – Liz’s Office – Same Time
Liz likewise was in front of a television monitor. She, however, was looking at a formally dressed woman who was shaking her head in the Oval Office.
"I realize what I’m asking, Madame President," Liz told her. "But it’s imperative that you start immediately. We might have four hours, or we might have four weeks."
"But you can’t give me any specifics. I’m supposed to go to the Mayor of New York and tell him to move 10 million people in about four hours? Are you insane? It can’t be done."
"What’s worse?" Liz challenged. "Saving 2-3 million residents or watching all 10 million die because they never got a warning or the needed vehicles to move? Don’t cause a wide-scale panic – just start getting people out."
"The logistics are just too difficult for the large cities."
"But not impossible," Liz told her. "And know this: When it’s all said and done...if we haven’t been able to thwart this attack, I will let the press know that the executive branch and the president herself were warned. I’ll make sure they know your response was to do nothing after the Watchers Council pleaded for you to take action."
"Don’t threaten me, Ms. Giles. You’re not even the Head of the Watchers Council, and I refuse—"
"Speaking of which, Grace Hatherley will be arriving soon and making an address I’ve written for her. All the major networks – television and Internet – are giving her time. So, would you rather have the country hear the situation from you first or from her? You have a choice, and if I’m not mistaken, you’re in the middle of a re-election campaign, are you not?"
The president was quiet at first. "Fine, I will personally have my staff contact the governors and let them know the status. I’ll deploy troops immediately to the largest areas. Are you happy?"
"No. I’ll be happy when we’ve stopped this madman – something your directors at various agencies have failed to do. But, for the moment, thank you for your cooperation, Ma’am. The millions of registered voters that you’re saving will also thank you, I’m sure. As for the Council, we will be in touch."
Liz didn’t wait for the president to reply. She switched off the connection with a sharp motion of her hand that spoke of her frustration.
She then muttered, "I wonder how long it’ll take until I hear I’m being audited?…Damn I hope she loses, or it’s gonna be a long four more years for me."
At that moment, the door to the office opened, and Grace walked inside. "How’s it going?" she asked.
"Thank god you’re here," Liz sighed. "I just pissed off the President of the United States. How’re you?" Liz answered in dead-pan.
Grace smiled. "Well, sounds like it’s been a real hands-on learning experience for you so far," she teased. "Oh, and welcome to the club. I’m not one of her favorites either."
Liz smiled too for a moment. "I’m glad you’re back."
"Thanks. Not happy to be here, though, I must admit," Grace replied. "But I have to say, Liz…I’ve seen your memos while I was coming over, and you’re on the ball, girl. When I decide to pack it in for good, you’ve got my vote."
"Really, that’s the last thing I want to hear right now because, frankly, you can keep this job forever, Grace."
Grace patted Liz on the shoulder in support. "Got that address?" she asked.
"Yes, right here," she said as she handed it over.
At that moment, Grace pointed to a television monitor. "Looks like you got the commander-in-chief…commanding. Pretty darn quick, too, I might add. How’d you do it?" On the screen the president was taking a seat as the camera rolled.
"I mentioned re-election season," she replied.
Grace smiled. "Play to the weakness, good call…Now let’s walk while I read," she said as she waved the paper and motioned Liz to tag along.
Watchers Council – Hallway – Moments Later
As Grace and Liz walked, Rowena caught up to them.
"Did you see the president’s address?" she asked.
"Slightly," Grace replied as she continued to read and walk at the same time.
"What did she say?" Liz asked.
"She’s assembling troops right now and said that the Council would be making an official address shortly."
"Okay, good," Grace said as she motioned for Rowena and Liz to follow her through a closed door.
Watchers Council – Media Center – Continuous
Grace took a seat at an official looking desk on the set as a camera sat before her.
"Are we going live or download?" she asked.
"Live," the technician told her. "We’re just waiting on MSN to tap in. Should be any second."
Grace rolled her eyes as she put Liz’s speech in front of her. "Go figure. Let me know when they’re in and we’re ready."
"Liz? Excellent copy." Grace then gave her a thumbs-up.
"Ready in ten, Grace," the technician prompted. "Nine, eight, seven, six…" Although he was quiet, he counted out the last few digits on his fingers and then pointed to Grace.
"Good afternoon, I’m Grace Hatherley, Chairwoman of the Watchers Council," she began as she addressed the camera. Liz and Rowena both watched from the wings with slight grins. "We understand the Oval Office just gave an address on an impending terrorist attack, but we’d like to share all that we know at this time. The details I’m about to describe affect the entire North American Eastern Seaboard, not just of the United States, so it’s imperative that our neighbors to the North and South take these advisories into account as well."
Liz put her hand up to her ear and whispered, "Right away." She then motioned to Rowena that she was stepping out, and Rowena answered silently with a nod before looking back to Grace as she continued her address.
Watchers Council – Slayer Meeting Room – Moments Later
Liz and Nikki poked their heads inside the door to see Shannon and Kennedy talking to each other.
"You wanted to see us?" Liz asked.
"Yes," Kennedy answered. "My team’s almost assembled, but I want you two with me if you’ll come. I need watchers for this mission, too, and I want two of the best. So, will you come?" Liz and Nikki looked at each other and then both nodded. "Excellent. Get your gear and head to the North Garage. We’re moving out in fifteen minutes."
Watchers Council – Lobby – A Short Time Later
Willow and Rowena were dressed in body armor from head to toe.
"Ready?" Willow asked her.
"As I’m going to be," Rowena answered.
With that, they both put on their helmets, with the face shields down, and began to proceed to the door.
Silently, Willow called out, "Ken, can you hear me?"
Watchers Council – Slayer Building – Same Time
"Loud and clear. You on your way?" Kennedy replied out loud. Liz and Nikki looked around to see who she was talking to since the statement seemed to come out of nowhere. "We’re not far behind," she added.
Seeing the younger women’s confused expressions, Kennedy just smiled and tapped her temple.
"It’s Willow," she said.
Both women made an ‘Oh’ expression and nodded in understanding.
Council Jet – Coven Group – Later
"I wish we could get there sooner," Jake replied from his seat. Next to him was his sister Sophie, and across from him sat his parents. On the other side of the aisle sat Alex and a few other coven members.
"Hey, this is faster than Concorde ever was," Rowena commented, making Willow nod.
Jake and Sophie looked at each other and shrugged.
"Okay we give," Jake replied. "What’s a Concorde?"
Willow turned to Rowena with a smile. "You know, there are times when I can actually feel the liver spots bursting onto my body."
Rowena gave her a hearty laugh and then turned to their children. "Well, when we were your age..." Rowena teased in an old-lady voice, making Willow laugh.
"Oh, stop it," Jake told them, now laughing too.
"It was a very fast jet that flew Transatlantic," Rowena told them in her normal voice. "You could go from New York to Paris in about three and half hours."
"That’s fast?" Sophie asked.
"When a normal flight would take about seven hours? Yes," Rowena answered.
"How did you guys get anything done in the stone age?" Alex asked as he leaned across the aisle.
Rowena and Willow looked at each other for a moment before they began to chuckle at the same time.
"And to think I’m even older than you," Rowena sighed to Willow before turning back to their kids. "Can you believe that when I was in high school…get this…there was no such thing as the Internet?"
"Get outta here," Jake told her.
"That’s true," Rowena said. "Not for your mom, of course, because she’s a spring chicken compared to me. By the way, did you pack my walker, dear?"
The group all laughed.
Council Jet – Slayer Group – Same Time
"So, what’s it like having someone talk in your head?"
Kennedy turned from the window. "Huh?" she asked.
Liz repeated the question. "Willow talking in your head? What’s that like? That’s a pretty cool power if you ask me."
"When she’s saying something I don’t want to hear, it’s rather obnoxious," Kennedy replied seriously before starting to grin.
"My dad said you guys used to date," Nikki told her.
"Many, many, many…many moons ago, yes," Kennedy replied. She didn’t say anything more. She just went back to looking out the window.
"You still love her, don’t you?" Liz asked, although it came off more like a statement than a question.
Kennedy grinned slightly but didn’t take her eyes off the clouds around them. "She’s got a good life," she answered. "I’m happy for her."
"Yeah, but she can’t get her out of her head, literally," Nikki said to Liz, who gave a small chuckle.
Kennedy’s grin widened. "Full of one-liners just like her mother," she muttered but still looked out the window.
London – Council Lobby – Evening
Once the Cleveland Coven was inside the London Council, they began to take off their helmets. Althenea rushed over, giving Willow and Rowena a hug at the same time, and then reached over to hug the children.
"I have good news," Althenea told Willow. "I think we have a way to stop Karim."
"That’s wonderful," Willow replied. "What is it?"
Althenea seemed reluctant but then said, "The Cone of Power," in a firm voice.
Willow stared at Althenea for a moment, her mouth open. Finally, she exclaimed, "Oh, hell no, are you crazy?!"
End of Act Two
On to Act Three