Time and Again

Teaser

Story by DragonWriter17 and Dan Joslyn
Written by DragonWriter17 (Additional writing by Robert Kidman, Zahir al Daoud and CN Winters)
Directed by CN Winters
Produced by CN Winters and Susan Carr
Editing by Lilly
Sound by CN Winters
Art Direction by Robert Kidman
Artists – Robert Kidman, Zahir al Daoud, Isis, Mattxxx, and CN Winters
Cover Art by CN Winters

Washington D.C., 1953

Fade In:
Int.
Washington, D.C. – Restaurant – Day

The middle-aged man in a brown suit looked in the mirror on the wall of the private dining room. He did not look healthy. Not fat, nor particularly sick. If anything, his eyes were sharp and his form fit for a man his age. But a puffiness had begun to emerge around his eyes and jaw line. He tilted his face in one direction, then another. He grunted under his breath at what he saw.

"Senator," said a voice from the corner of the room, "having any doubts?"

Joseph McCarthy turned around and managed a smile. He held out his hands in shrugging gesture. "Tired is all. No rest for the wicked and all that."

The figure in the corner nodded. He was actually in shadow, so only his general form was visible. Seated before a small table, he had his hands resting atop it, holding a box. "I understand," said the figure. "Too well."

McCarthy's eyes wandered to the box. His smile grew in size and dishonesty. "Guess so." He hesitated, then finally repeated himself. "Guess so." He nodded, rubbed his hands together.

"I have a bit of news for you."

"Listen, do you mind if I check on that drink I ordered?" He pointed to the door.

"Patience, Senator. The waiter will bring it once I…we…leave. You can then have as many as you like."

McCarthy nodded. "News?"

"Yes. We'll be leaving the capital."

"Really? For how long?" McCarthy was suddenly very, very still. He actually held his breath.

"That has not yet been decided. Our goals," he said, his hands making a tiny twitch over the box on the table, "are extremely long-term. You could say I…we…are engaged in preparatory work. One nation, even one continent, is not sufficient. Nor is one generation. Ours – and I include you in this – is the work of many decades."

"Proud to be part of it," said McCarthy. "It is vital what we do now, saving everything good and valuable on this earth."

"On the contrary, Senator," said the figure, standing up. Now that his face emerged into the light, his features were visible. McCarthy started to take a step backwards but stopped himself. "Your mission has nothing to do with being good or valuable," Varthrim said. "There are indeed Soviet agents trying to undermine the West, Senator. Your efforts are to be directed totally in allowing them to do so, is that clear?" He waited for a moment. "Is that clear?" he said again, baring his fangs.

"But…I thought…that is…"

"Of course, odds are, you will accuse someone who actually is trying to undermine freedom and democracy," mused Varthrim. "Unfortunate, but probably inevitable. Still, your efforts are to be aimed whenever possible at the innocent. They are to be hounded. They are to be destroyed. And you are to make as many accomplices as possible in the wrecking of the lives of the harmless, diverting efforts from the genuine security of this nation. Those are your orders, Senator."

"Well, that isn't exactly how…" He stopped himself as Varthrim picked up the box from the small table. As Varthrim took a few steps toward McCarthy, the latter broke into a sweat. When Varthrim's hands looked to be ready to open the box, the Senator slammed himself against the wall. "Please! No! I understand! I do!"

"And…?"

"I will obey. I will!"

Varthrim nodded. One hand went back to his side. "Perhaps we'll meet again, Senator." He left the room without another word. McCarthy sank into a nearby chair, breathing hard. One shaking hand took a handkerchief from his pocket to dab the sweat from his forehead. When the door opened again, he almost jumped.

It was a waiter with a double Scotch on the rocks. He downed it in three gulps. "Another," he said, catching his breath. "Easy on the ice this time." His voice shook.

"A Mr. Cohn is here to see you, sir."

"Good, good – bring him in. And then, my drink. Okay?"

"Very good, sir."

The waiter slid out of the room, leaving Senator McCarthy alone. He started to look in the direction of the mirror, but jerked his eyes away at the last moment. With an effort of will, he stopped his hand shaking.

Fade Out.

Cleveland, All Saints Day 2007

Fade In:
Int.
Watchers Council – Meeting Room – Morning

Buffy sat at the head of the long conference table. Willow, Xander, and Kennedy were at her right, while Robin and Faith were at her left. All had given their reports except for Robin, who was giving his now.

"So, all in all, I'd say the Slayer Games were a tremendous success," Robin said proudly.

"Damn straight!" Faith agreed.

"The junior slayers not only bonded well within their squads, but also across divisions," Robin went on. "They gained valuable experience that will aid them in the field. And Jim says the media absolutely loved it. Our approval rating –"

"Okay, okay," Buffy muttered, interrupting Robin, although with a smile. "I admit it. You were right. I was wrong. The Games were a good idea." Robin flashed a wide grin in response.

As chuckles emerged from the others, Buffy turned to Willow. "You said Rowena had sent a report?"

"Yes, she did," Willow replied. "She's sorry she couldn't be here. The twins were apparently having a kickboxing contest all last night, so she stayed home. Plus, it's not like she had much to report, you know?"

"No, we don't know," Kennedy teased from down the row. "'Cause you haven't actually told us yet."

"Oh…right," Willow said. "Anyway, all she said was there hasn't been any progress on the Mary Bennett case, but the investigation is still ongoing."

Buffy and the others waited expectantly for more, but Willow didn't offer any. "That's it?" Buffy asked.

Willow nodded. "Unless you want a summary of sixteen different ways to ease heartburn during pregnancy?"

Buffy scrunched up her nose in mild disgust. "Uh, that's okay. Don't think I'll be needin' that information any time soon." She looked around the table. "Any additional business?"

Willow raised her hand.

"I thought you were done," Buffy said.

"That was Ro's stuff," Willow explained. "This one's mine."

When Buffy gestured for her to continue, Willow turned and faced her colleagues.

"I just wanted to remind everyone about the All Saints Service at St. Matthew's at noon today," she said. "High churchy, not usually my kinda thing, but…they're making a special effort to remember those who have died in the line of duty for the Council, so…" She gave a small shrug as she trailed off, leaving a somberness in the room.

"Thanks, Will," Buffy said. "I can't speak for anyone else, but I'll be there. Anything else?" She gave the room another once-around. When no one spoke up, she announced, "Meeting adjourned."

As Willow walked past Xander, she touched his arm. "Are we still on for noon?"

He gave her a small smile and nodded. "You bet," he said, but without his usual exuberance.

"Good!" Willow replied happily as she backed toward the door. Then she turned and ran to catch Kennedy.

Cut To:
Int.
Watchers Council – Hallway – Seconds Later

"Kennedy!"

The brunette turned at the sound of her name being called. She saw Willow hurrying toward her.

"Hey," Willow said as she arrived. "Are you going to the service? Xander and I are going, and I thought maybe –"

"Thanks. Not interested."

When Kennedy turned to go, Willow spoke up again, stopping her momentarily. "A-A-Are you sure? These sorts of things…they can seem kinda hokey, but some people find them very healing."

Willow then gave Kennedy the softer, sneakier side of her resolve face until the slayer had no choice but to cave.

"Fine," Kennedy grumbled. "But it better not last long," she warned. "If I have to sit through two hours of thee's and thou's, I'm leaving."

Willow merely grinned.

Cut To:
Int.
St. Matthew's Church – All Saints Day Service – Near Noon

As people continued to enter the sanctuary, Willow twisted in her pew to glance at the cluster of people at the entrance. Not seeing who she was looking for, she reluctantly turned back around.

"You're gonna need a chiropractor after this service if you keep doing that," Xander said, straightening his tie.

Willow gave a sheepish laugh and tried to sit still. Within ten seconds, though, she was looking back again. This time she saw a nicely dressed Kennedy step inside the doorway. Willow stood up and waved Kennedy over. When she arrived, she took the seat that Willow had saved beside her.

"Looks like half the Council is here," Kennedy commented as she sat down, pointing out Buffy and Faith and Felix and many others scattered in the rows around them.

"Yeah, it's a good turnout," Willow replied.

When the organist began to play, the soft chatter in the room dwindled to nothing, and all eyes went to the front. As the minister made his way to the pulpit, Willow leaned over and patted Kennedy's leg.

"I'm glad you came," she told her.

Kennedy rolled her eyes but smiled.

By the time Willow leaned back, the minister was asking them to stand and sing the opening hymn.

Cut To:
Int.
Waxahachie, Texas – Supercollider Complex – Same Time

Dr. Roman Solaris paced behind a line of technicians operating a bank of computers and consoles. He stopped and hovered over the shoulder of his senior technician, Vera Duncan.

"Status?" Dr. Solaris inquired sharply.

"Pre-acceleration and electron removal complete," Duncan replied. "The protons have passed through the Booster and are now in the Main Injector."

Dr. Solaris turned to another technician. "Clarke, what are the energy levels?"

Chip Clarke had been staring off into the distance, and he jumped noticeably when the doctor barked his name. "Uhhh…" His eyes flickered nervously over his console as he struggled to comply.

"Damn it, man! Pay attention!" Dr. Solaris bellowed.

"P-P-Protons are at 400 GeV!" Clarke finally sputtered.

"Very well," Dr. Solaris said, calming down. He turned back to his senior technician. "When they reach 980 GeV, commence with injection into the Super Proton Synchrotron."

"Injection into the SPS at 980, yes sir!" Duncan answered.

Dr. Solaris made a pleased murmur, then stood up straight, peering through the thick glass of the observation room and into the cavernous basin beyond, where billions of dollars of equipment lay in a maze-like network.

"Soon, we'll accomplish what those idiots at Batavia and Geneva could only dream of achieving. Proof of the Higgs boson – that which gives mass to every other elementary particle in the universe." He paused and smiled. "The God particle."

Cut To:
Int.
St. Matthew's Church – All Saints Day Service – Later

The minister was well into his sermon, and he had the congregation's full attention.

"You see…saints are normal people," he said. "Yet they differ from most others in this world – not because of their moral perfection but because of the degree of their faith and how they live it."

He paused and swept his eyes across the crowd.

"Some are called to lead quiet lives of service. Like Gandhi and Mother Teresa. Others are called to overcome extraordinary challenges. Like Helen Keller and Martin Luther King."

"Still others," he said as he directed his gaze toward Buffy and those seated around her, "are called to fight the forces of evil directly. Like our friends at the Council." He gestured toward the group and smiled.

Then he turned a more serious face back to the congregation. "They risk their lives daily, in unspeakable circumstances, to make this world safer for all of us."

He paused again as many in the congregation looked toward the Council members with grateful smiles on their faces.

"But the truth is," the minister went on, "we are all called to be saints – to believe, to inspire, to help, to protect, to love…"

Cut To:
Int.
Waxahachie, Texas – Supercollider Complex – Later

"Are diversion magnets ready?" Dr. Solaris asked.

"Yes sir!" Duncan replied.

"When the opposing beams reach 10 TeV, divert to the collision chamber."

"10 TeV, yes sir!"

"Detectors and monitors?" Dr. Solaris called out.

"All set and ready," came a voice from the end of the line of consoles.

Vera Duncan glanced expectantly at Clarke. He was once again staring off into thin air, his brow furrowed as if he were greatly distracted. She sighed and shook her head.

"3 TeV," she announced in his place. After nearly a minute, she pronounced the next increment, "4 TeV."

Dr. Solaris's eyes lit up in anticipatory glee as he focused on the collision monitors. "Almost there…" he crooned.

Cut To:
Int.
St. Matthew's Church – All Saints Day Service – Same Time

The minister had moved from the pulpit and taken position before the altar. He had his hands clasped in front of him.

"Let us now remember those who have gone before us," he announced in a strong voice.

There was a collective deep breath as the members of the congregation prepared themselves for the meditation to come.

"Those who have proven themselves by their bravery and valor…"

Xander swallowed hard and dropped his gaze to his hands.

"Those who have served quietly and loved unconditionally…"

Willow closed her eyes, took another deep breath, and let it out slowly before opening her eyes again.

"Those who have altered our lives forever."

Kennedy clenched her fists tightly and then stared. Except for tiny flinches in her facial muscles, she didn't move at all.

Cut To:
Int.
Waxahachie, Texas – Supercollider Complex – Same Time

The observation room was shaking slightly as a distant hum poured from the acceleration basin.

"8 TeV," Duncan reported. "9 TeV."

"Doctor! We've got a coolant leak in Section 38 of the collider tunnel!" came a voice from the back.

"Ignore it!" Dr. Solaris ordered. "We're almost there!"

"10 TeV!"

"Divert! Divert!" the doctor practically screamed, startling Clarke from his intense reverie.

Cut To:
Int.
St. Matthew's Church – All Saints Day Service – Same Time

"Some have been honored in their generations," the minister went on. "Others have perished without acclaim."

He then opened his arms in an inviting gesture. "Together, let us remember them all," he instructed. "In silence, let us remember."

As the minister bowed his head, the congregation followed suit. As the organist once again began to play – this time softly and serenely – Willow reached out and took the hands of those beside her. Neither Xander nor Kennedy objected; instead, they warmly returned the small squeeze she gave each of them.

After a long moment of silence, Willow suddenly gasped aloud, gripping her friends' hands more tightly, as the flash of a shockwave shot from her body and then disappeared.

Cut To:
Int.
Waxahachie, Texas – Supercollider Complex – Same Time

"What's happening?!" Clarke cried, cringing away from his console.

"We're losing containment," Duncan called out. "The collision reaction is out of control!"

"Initiate the emergency particle deceleration protocols!" Dr. Solaris ordered.

"I did! They're not working!!!"

Cut To:
Int.
St. Matthew's Church – All Saints Day Service – Same Time

As Willow ignored the annoyed glances from nearby congregants and shook off the concerns of her friends, the minister began his closing prayer.

"Almighty God…"

Cut To:
Int.
Waxahachie, Texas – Supercollider Complex – Same Time

In terror, the entire research group looked up and out the thick glass window of the observation room.

The collision chamber on the far side of the basin started to glow ominously. They should have run, but all they could do was watch.

Voiceover, Minister: "…you have surrounded us with a great cloud of witnesses…"

Suddenly, the glowing air was ripped open, like flesh slashed by a jagged blade. And it began to pulse…its rate increasing with every second.

Voiceover, Minister: "…Grant us during our earthly pilgrimage to abide in their fellowship…"

"Oh God…" whispered Dr. Solaris as the pulsating mass of energy peaked and then exploded.

Black Out.

Voiceover, Minister: "…through our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen."

Fade Out.

End of Teaser
To Act One