Story by Watchers Staff (outlined by Zahir al Daoud)
Written by Robert Kidman, Gelfling21, Zahir al Daoud, Dan Joslyn, Susan Carr and CN Winters
Produced by Susan Carr
Directed by CN Winters
Editing by DragonWriter17
Sounds by CN Winters
Art Direction by Robert Kidman
Artists – Robert Kidman, Zahir al Daoud, Isis, Mattxxx and CN Winters
Cover Art by Robert Kidman
VOH Meeting Place – Night – Resume
Skye turned her head and looked over her right shoulder into the furthest corner of the room. Out of the shadows and into the slanting rays of moonlight stepped Ethan Rayne.
Skye blinked in surprise and stared open-mouthed at him.
He smiled slowly back at her. "Hullo, luv…"
"Skye," the Voice of Hell began. "I'd like you to meet Ethan Rayne. You asked for someone more powerful than Willow Rosenberg…I'm certain he'll be able to help with your problem."
"Pleasure to meet you," Ethan replied. "Now as I understand it, you've got a curse that prevents you from feeding on humans?"
"Uh, yeah," Skye said at first, unable to answer. "Do you think you can lift it?"
"Most certainly," he replied. "But first there's the matter of compensation," he said, looking toward VOH.
"When the spell is lifted, then you'll be paid," VOH replied to him.
"Fine," he agreed but then added, "Show me the funds."
"Do you doubt me?" VOH asked.
"I doubt everyone, dear. So unless I see the money, there'll be no spells lifted today…least not by me anyway."
The sound of a door opening made the group turn to see Steve, the vampire, walking in.
"Sorry I'm late, guys," he told everyone. "Traffic was hell and –"
"Enough," VOH said, cutting him off. "I have no time for excuses. This sailor must be turned, now," she said, motioning to the serviceman. Two demons grabbed him from either side and brought him before Steve, who immediately changed into his vamp form.
Skye and Ethan exchanged a quick, concerned glance to each other and watched as Steve sank his teeth into the scared sailor. The vampire then held out his wrist, and another demon made a slash with a blade. Blood began to drip out. The young man weakly fought as Steve brought over his wrist, pushing it into the sailor's mouth.
A sad, sympathetic look flashed across Skye's features as she helplessly watched. She looked back at Ethan, who rolled his shoulders nervously.
After a few moments the demons dropped the sailor to the ground, lifeless.
"How long will it take?" VOH asked Steve.
"Not long," he replied. "Probably a few hours at the most. I've sired many over the centuries," he added.
"Too bad you never learned how to read a watch in all those years," VOH countered.
Before Steve could form a reply, VOH took out a stake and shoved it deep into his heart. The vampire looked down, concerned, and then back up as he combusted on the spot.
"Punctuality is important," VOH told the onlookers casually. "If following orders is too much to ask, don't bother being here. Understood?"
Nods went around the room. "Now, Mr. Rayne," she told him. "Please set up your supplies while I get the funds from my office."
"Absolutely," Ethan replied. "This way, my dear," he told Skye as he led her toward the corner.
The overweight demon followed behind them. "This I need to see," he replied.
They came to a pentagram, and Ethan motioned Skye to sit in the middle as he began lighting candles at each point. He turned as VOH walked over carrying a suitcase. She stopped a few feet short of him and opened it up for him to see inside.
He walked over, inspecting the package. "Lovely," he told her. "May I keep the case, too?" he added.
VOH grinned. "Certainly. Now if you would…" She then motioned to Skye.
Ethan walked back and faced Skye. "Hold on, luv," he told her. "This might sting a little."
Skye's eyes widened.
Giles and Becca's House – Living Room – That Same Evening
Buffy, Xander, Jim, Giles, and Becca – the last with Liz in her lap – sat around in various living room locations, watching Keith Olbermann interviewing a congressman on television.
MSNBC Studio – Same Time (On Screen)
"So you disagree with your fellow congresswoman regarding the Watchers Council, Mr. Frasier?" Keith asked the man seated across from him.
"I'm saying I don't know enough about the Council as a whole to make an informed decision. That's why myself, and a few others, would like to hold this congressional meeting to get to the heart of the matter before rushing to judgment."
"Are you saying that perhaps O'Mara's criticism is misplaced?" Olbermann asked.
"To a point, yes. Personally, I don't fault the Council for recent events like the blood bank heists, which she seems to be trying to use as a litmus test for disbanding the Council. From what I've read, they stopped attacks in several cities, but they couldn't stop them everywhere because these people can't be everywhere at once."
"Right. Do we get rid of the police department because they find a missing child but fail to stop a drug deal on the corner? Do we forgo having a fire department because they're unable to save a house from burning completely to the ground?" he posed.
"Exactly," Rep. Frasier answered with a slight grin. "Like the military, too. Since they haven't found Bin Laden, does that mean we do away with our Armed Forces altogether? No, of course not."
"So in other words, let's not cut our nose off to spite our face," Olbermann surmised.
"Right, but that's what it seems O'Mara wants to do, and there are a few of us who want to see what threat, if any, the Watchers Council truly poses to the public. Either way, though, I'm sure these hearings will be interesting."
"I'm sure you're right. Thank you for taking some time to talk with us this evening, Congressman," Olbermann said.
"You're very welcome, Keith."
Olbermann turned toward the camera.
"That brings us to another end of Countdown, 1,973 days since Mission Accomplished. Goodnight and good luck," he said as he crumpled up a piece of paper before him and threw it toward the screen. A graphic made the screen look like it shattered, and suddenly it went black.
Giles and Becca's House – Living Room – Resume
"Hey, we made the number one story on Countdown," Xander remarked. "That's something, right?"
"You know," Buffy began as she held the remote in her hand, "we really need to send both of them something nice – some flowers, maybe some fruit…a gift basket of some kind."
"True," Becca replied. "Seems like cooler heads are starting to prevail, and think, even if they aren't in the majority."
"Send them an Elmo," Liz said as she held up her stuffed animal Elmo.
Buffy grinned. "I'd like to send them a whole big box full of Elmos."
Liz snorted and rolled her eyes. "That's silly, Aunt Buffy. You only need one Elmo, not a box full."
Buffy looked over at Giles. "Ever the practical one – there's no denying this is your child, Giles."
"No baskets, or Elmos, just yet," Jim chimed in. "It might be construed as payola," he replied. "And bribery really isn't something we want to add to our list of sins right now."
They all turned toward the foyer as they heard the door open and close quickly. Skye came to a stop, sounding winded.
"Ethan Rayne is right behind me. He's working for VOH," she told the gathering.
They all looked at each other, and then Giles sighed, "Bloody hell."
End of Teaser
To Act One