Lacey Chabert as Skye, Gale Harold as Jim Pollan, Caroline Dhavernas as Grace Hatherley, Michelle Rodriguez as Kadin Van Helsing, Elijah Wood as Jeffrey Lindquist, T.R. Knight as Jackson, Norika Fujiwara as Mia, Tessa Thompson as Chamique, Laura Pyper as Casey, Asia Argento as Marie, Alexis Bledel as Denise, Rachel Hurt-Wood as Lorinda, Steffani Brass as Shannon Matthewson, Elizabeth Harnois as Jocelyn O’Hara and Sarah Michelle Gellar as Buffy Summers
Gary Oldman as Mr. Jason Felix, Robin Sachs as Ethan Rayne, Elisabeth Sladen as Dianna Earl, Carl Lumbly as Nicholas, Cote de Pablo as Amira Aziz, Jordana Brewster as Carli Petronelli, Laura Prepon as Lori, Jennifer Eccleston as Tally Atwater, Tracy-Ann Oberman as Cameron Kreswell and Kyle Gallner as Camden Kreswell
Watchers Council – Coven Room – Morning
Willow, Andrew, Dawn, Skye, Jeff, and Jocelyn were settling down in a circle. Mats had already been arranged on the floor for the group to kneel on. Jocelyn shook her hands out and couldn’t quite seem to get settled.
"Don’t be nervous," Willow told her. "Just relax."
"I’m not sure I’m ready for this," Jocelyn replied.
"It’s just a general scrying," Willow said. "We do this every week, and we all take turns leading it. It’s easy."
Skye leaned over to whisper in Dawn’s ear. "Are we sure this is a good idea?"
"Every time she and I hold hands, my skin feels like it’s got ants crawling on it," Dawn whispered back.
As she said this, the group linked hands. Jocelyn took a deep breath and closed her eyes.
"Okay," she said. "Here goes nothing."
Watchers Council – Hallway – Same Time
Jim and Rowena hurried down the hallway side-by-side, carrying several three ring binders and manila file folders between them.
"We’re going to be late," Jim said.
"We wouldn’t be if you hadn’t decided that what some blogger writes is more important than the daily briefing," Rowena replied snippily.
"It’s a new age, Ms. Allister," Jim replied. "The blogosphere is the new six o’clock news."
"No, it’s not," Rowena said. "The six o’clock news is the six o’clock news, and much more accurate. So until it’s Katie Couric making those accusations, it can wait until after the meeting."
Watchers Council – Library – Same Time
The members of the Watchers branch were still milling around the library. Buffy and Grace were both sitting at the central table, along with several others. Buffy tapped her fingers impatiently.
She turned to Grace and asked, "Did Rowena say anything about being late?"
"She doesn’t talk much about anything," Grace said flatly. She was doodling in her open notebook, just putting the finishing touches on a stick-figure vampire with exaggerated fangs.
Kennedy’s Apartment – Same Time
Kennedy was half-wrapped in deep red sheets. She lay in bed alone, mumbling incoherently in her sleep. She turned over, pulling the sheets up around her shoulder.
Watchers Council – Coven Room – Moments Later
Jocelyn O’Hara nearly jumped out of her skin when the Coven Room doors flew open with a bang. In the doorway stood five men dressed in black, with ski masks over their faces. Three of them were pointing very large guns at the members of the coven.
While Skye’s mouth fell open and Jocelyn made a high-pitched noise and moved to cower in the corner, Willow and Jeff raised their hands without even getting up.
"Expatriam!" Willow said.
"Crucem!" Jeff shouted.
Nothing. It wasn’t until then that everyone noticed the two men behind the three with guns, reciting something in Sumerian.
"Dureh meh ninemeh chene meh…"
"Hands up!" one of the men with guns shouted. "Against the wall!"
As he and rest of the Coven rushed to comply, Andrew asked, "What the frak is going on?"
"That should have worked," Jeff said, disbelief in his voice. "Why didn’t that work?"
"Don’t move!" came another shout.
Dawn wore a wide-eyed look on her face as she pressed her cheek against the back wall, hands above her head. "Willow?"
Willow was in the same position. "It’s…it’s a counterspell. I’ve run into it before…"
She winced as one of the men bound her wrists above her head with a glowing green pair of handcuffs.
"What do they want?" Dawn asked.
"Quiet," one of the men ordered.
Watchers Council – Coven Room – Later
Jeff sat glumly in the corner of the room, staring at the magic swirling around the handcuffs on his wrists. The rest of the coven was sitting along one of the shelf-covered walls, all with their own bindings. The men in ski-masks still had several guns trained on them.
"Anti-magic handcuffs," Skye observed to her girlfriend, motioning with the pair around her own wrists. "Work wonders. They put some on me for a while when I first got here. Turned out they weren’t— Hey!"
Dawn was yanked up by one of the men and escorted across the room to the where the small intercom unit was hung on the wall.
"Dawn!" Skye shouted. "Dawn!"
"Hey, what’s going on?" Jeff asked angrily. He got a gun pointed directly at his head for his troubles. He shut up but still managed a stern glare.
One of them unfolded a small piece of paper and handed it to Dawn.
"Read," he said through his mask.
Dawn glanced over the paper briefly and looked back up at him.
"No," she said simply.
The man in front of her pulled out a sidearm and touched the barrel to Dawn’s forehead.
"Read," he repeated.
"No," Dawn said again. Her tone didn’t change.
"Read!" the man screamed.
Dawn actually smiled at him. He pulled the trigger, and Dawn’s blood sprayed on several jars of motherwort. Jocelyn emitted a squeak and covered her face with her hands. As Dawn’s body hit the floor with a thud, Skye looked at Andrew and sighed.
The masked men chose Jocelyn next. They pulled her to her feet and marched her past the spreading red pool on the floor to the intercom. She was handed the same piece of paper.
The man pointed his still-smoking gun at Jocelyn’s forehead. "Read."
Jocelyn glanced at Willow, mouth agape.
"Up to you," Willow said quietly.
Jocelyn looked down at the paper, then back up at the gun. She swallowed and looked back down at the paper.
"Attention Watchers Council personnel…"
Watchers Council – Hallway – Same Time
Rowena and Jim stopped in their tracks to listen to Jocelyn’s voice over the intercom.
"…Please remain calm. All slayers please proceed to the slayer rec room. All watchers please remain in the library. All other personnel please proceed to the…"
As the instructions continued, Rowena turned to look at Jim.
"Something’s happening," she said. Jim just nodded. Without any further discussion, Rowena walked over to a small red box on the wall. She opened a small door and pressed the button within. A recurrent, high-pitched alarm immediately blared through the hallway. Jocelyn’s voice was cut off.
"We should head to the emergency command center, try to get control of the situation," Jim said.
Rowena was looking over his shoulder. "Or we could just do whatever that guy with the gun says."
Jim turned to see one of the ski-masked men pointing a machine gun at both him and Rowena.
Watchers Council – Slayer Dorm – Same time
The hallway of the slayer dorm was already lined with open doors and abuzz with conversation. The alarm continued to sound, cutting through everything.
"What do we do?" Chamique asked Marie.
"Well," Marie said, "there was an announcement…barring any further instructions, maybe we should just…"
"Come on!" Denise interrupted. "Who the hell was that anyway?"
Lorinda had no one to complain to but Shannon. "That alarm is really annoying."
Then two pairs of masked men with guns appeared at each end of the hallway.
Casey pointed at the intruders. "Whoa. Guns. Guns guns guns guns guns gu—"
"Casey, we get it!" Marie snapped.
Watchers Council – Library – Moments Later
Two gunmen burst through the main doors of the library, startling Jackson completely out of his seat and onto the floor.
"Holy Mother of God!" Grace exclaimed.
"I don’t think that’s her," Buffy commented wryly from her seat.
"Oh, yes, thanks, because that was helpful," Grace snapped. She raised her hands above her head.
Buffy stood directly in front of the two gunmen. "This is my house," she said calmly. "You have five seconds to tell me what’s going on, or…"
"You are Buffy Summers," the gunman said. It wasn’t quite a question.
"Yes," Buffy nodded. "I’m in charge here."
"You are not in charge of anything right now," the man replied. He had a thick accent. "We have your sister."
Buffy let out a sigh.
Watchers Council – Slayer Dorm – Same Time
Shannon paid no attention to the mixture of panic, fear, and confusion among her fellow slayers, instead taking several steps forward towards the nearest pair of masked men.
"Hands up!" one of them shouted.
"No thanks," Shannon replied. "We’re slayers. We’ll do the threatening here."
Lorinda watched this and, not to be outdone, ran up next to Shannon.
"Yeah!" she challenged. "You’re dealing with the big girls now."
Shannon took another step forward, and Lorinda followed suit. They gave each other a pair of brief sidelong glances, each seeming to say "I’m seriously doing this with you?" Then they put up the tough fronts again.
"How about this," Shannon said, as the rest of the slayers in the hallway watched nervously. "You put down the gun, and we’ll refrain from kicking your ass into another time zone."
"It’s really what’s best for everyone," Lorinda nodded. "I honestly have better things to do with my day than beat you senseless, and you…"
A shot rang out, and Shannon looked down to see that Lorinda was now on the floor. Blood was seeping across the front of her shirt from a spot on her chest just below her right shoulder. For a moment, everything went quiet except for the alarm in the background.
"Wow," Lorinda managed, her voice very weak. One of her hands touched her wound and came away covered in blood. Lorinda looked at her red-soaked fingertips, not quite comprehending.
"Holy crap!" Chamique exclaimed.
"Hands up!" the gunman repeated.
Shannon’s eyes were still locked on Lorinda’s, her mouth slightly open. She was almost startled to see that her hands were now above her head. The rest of the slayers in the hallway had followed suit.
Watchers Council – Library – Same Time
Buffy blinked, clenched and unclenched a fist. "Go ahead and shoot her," she said tightly. "It won’t help."
"You are right," the masked man in front of her said. "We already tried that. She appears to be immortal."
Every muscle of Buffy’s body was tensed. She glanced over at where another gunman was quickly herding a group that included Grace and Jackson into a small area next to a row of bookcases. Her eyes measured distances, assessed probabilities.
"But there are other things we can do to her, other ways we can destroy her," the man continued. He immediately had Buffy’s full attention. He held up a small black walkie-talkie. "So, will you do as I say, or should I make the call?"
He and Buffy stared at each other for a long moment. Then, ever so slowly, Buffy’s hands began to rise into the air.
Kennedy’s Apartment – Later
Two gunmen burst into Kennedy’s apartment, weapons up and ready. There was no immediate response from within. The two men glanced at each other, nodded. One checked the bathroom, using the tip of his gun to pull back the shower curtain. The other went into the bedroom. He found the bed empty and the covers pulled back. He checked the closet, but found only clothes and shoes.
The two gunmen met back at the door. One spoke into his radio in a foreign language. The response was brief but stern. The two men nodded and left the apartment, closing the door behind them.
The apartment was still for about five seconds after the door closed. Then Kennedy fell through the ceiling tiles in a cloud of dust, landing hard on the floor. Dressed only in her pajamas, she groaned and got to her feet. She looked at the door from which the men had just exited and set her jaw in determination.
Watchers Council – Hallway – Later
Faith walked slowly down a hallway in the slayer dorm. Her hands were held behind her head; behind her walked two men with guns. Her features remained motionless, but her eyes were very active, taking in every bit of her surroundings. The three of them reached the door to the slayer rec room, and one of the gunmen motioned her through.
Watchers Council – Slayer Rec Room – Continuous
The room was already full of slayers, guarded by a few of the masked men. Casey knelt on the floor, desperately trying to apply pressure to Lorinda’s wound with a torn-off piece of her sleeve.
As soon as Faith walked through the door, she spun around and grabbed one of the rifles by the barrel. She sent the butt of the gun smashing into the face of its owner. She wrested the rifle from his grip before any of his compatriots could react.
Instead, one of the gunmen had his weapon inches from Shannon’s forehead. The girl almost went cross-eyed looking at it.
"Drop it," Faith was told. She glanced from the masked man to Shannon and back again.
"You drop it first," she replied. There were two other gunmen in the room, in addition to the one on the floor and the one threatening Shannon. They were both pointing their rifles at Faith.
"We have everyone," the man said. "We have Rosenberg, Allister, Summers…Can you take out all of us before one of us makes the call?"
Faith hesitated. The gun didn’t seem to fit in her hands; she held it awkwardly. "Where’s Kennedy? Why isn’t she here?"
"We have her, too," the man said smoothly. "If you do not drop the gun, you will be the one who killed her. You will be the one that killed all of them. Just as you fear."
Still, Faith hesitated. Marie sat in the center of the room, tensed and ready to spring up at a moment’s notice. Casey was pretending not to notice what was going on, instead continuing to tend to Lorinda. The wounded girl let out a small whimper.
The man’s finger tensed on the trigger. Shannon winced in anticipation of the bullet.
With a sigh, Faith dropped the gun on the floor. The gunman she had attacked picked it back up with one hand, cradling his shattered nose with the other. There was quite a bit of shouting in a foreign language, and after a few moments Faith was thrown hard to the floor near the far side of the room.
After taking a second or two to collect her bearings, she looked up to see Denise sitting next to her.
"You too, huh?" Denise said.
Watchers Council – Library – Same Time
Grace watched as Rowena and Jim were led into the library, roughly jostled by the gunman behind them. Nearby, Buffy was leaning back on the end of a bookshelf, appearing to be deep in a completely false state of relaxation.
"Sit," the gunman ordered, and Rowena and Jim slowly sat down on the floor near Buffy, Grace, Jackson, and several other watchers.
"Hello everyone," Jim said.
"Hey," Jackson replied. Grace shot him a look.
"Nice you of you two to finally join us," Buffy said casually.
"Yes, well, we were…detained," Jim replied.
"How many of them are there?" Rowena asked. She was trying to look around the room without drawing attention to themselves.
"I think I’ve seen four different guys, so far," Buffy said, hardly moving a muscle. "It’s hard to tell. The masks."
"Well, that still means we have them vastly outnumbered," Jim said. "If we all rushed them simultaneously…"
"A lot of people would still get shot," Rowena interrupted. "Probably killed."
"It’s not worth it," Buffy said quietly. She paused. "Not yet."
Grace looked considerably less calm as she looked between her three superiors.
"Am-Am I the only one who still has no idea what’s happening? Who are these guys?" Grace spoke in a loud whisper, but her gestures grew increasingly expansive. "What do they want? Where the hell did they come from? How did they get in?"
"Add when and why, and Jim’s got his lead paragraph for a press release," Jackson commented. Grace slapped him in the shoulder.
"Grace, don’t panic," Rowena said. "We panic, we die."
"Too late," Grace replied.
"Has anyone seen Xander?" Buffy asked suddenly. Everyone looked in her direction. "Someone read instructions for watchers and slayers. And they told me about Dawn. I’ll bet that means they have the Coven."
"The scrying," Rowena said, realizing. "They all were going to be there." Her eyes got wide all of a sudden. "Willow."
Buffy nodded. "Hang on, Ro. Willow can take care of herself. The intercom was cut off, so they never got to instructions for…everyone else…like Xander."
"Buffy, you don’t think he’d do something stupid?" Rowena asked.
"Dunno," Buffy replied. "He’s seemed kinda…not great, y’know? Since the thing?" She and Rowena shared a look.
"What thing?" Grace asked, totally confused.
"They’ve been like this all week," Jim told her confidentially.
Watchers Council – Hallway – Same Time
Two of the masked gunmen made their way down yet another Watchers Council hallway, lined with unmarked doors. One of them stopped, looked over his shoulder, then said something to his partner. The two of them split up, each opening doors on one side of the hall.
One opened a door and found nothing but an empty apartment. He turned to his partner and shook his head.
At that moment, Xander leapt out of his apartment door with a bellow, landing on the gunman’s back. His partner fumbled momentarily, afraid of shooting his own man. The first man stumbled backwards, running Xander into the wall with a thud. Xander hung on, groping around for the man’s gun. The masked man ran Xander into the wall again, and he lost his grip, sliding to the ground.
Xander immediately found two gun barrels in his face. Somewhere in the background the alarm abruptly cut off, leaving silence in its wake. Xander looked at each of the men then began shaking his head.
"Just do it," he said through clenched teeth. "Please...just do it."
Watchers Council – Hallway Outside Armory – Later
Kennedy peeked around a corner. At the far end, two men stood at the entrance to the armory, their guns held lightly in their hands. They had removed their ski masks, and both had swarthy complexions. One had a small beard.
"Armory’s guarded," someone whispered from behind Kennedy. She whipped around, startled, and found Mia and Marissa standing behind her.
Once she collected herself, Kennedy smirked. "Guess I wasn’t the only one with this idea," she whispered. "How did you guys get away?"
"Hid under the bed," Mia replied. "What about you??" she asked, noticing Kennedy’s frown.
"Hid in the drop ceiling of my kitchen," Kennedy answered.
"Sounds like that took some effort," Mia retorted.
"Hey, it worked," Kennedy replied.
"They must have missed my room. No one showed up," Marissa said. "Makes sense. No one knows I’m here, right?"
"They get everyone else?" Kennedy asked.
"As far as we know, yeah." Mia nodded.
Mia just shrugged. "Can’t say for sure, but we have heard shots fired."
"They’re smart," Marissa put in. "Constant patrols, always moving around. We won’t be able to go all John McClane without getting caught at some point. And I don’t know how much help I can be, what with the lack of slayer powers."
"And if they catch us, they’ll shoot somebody," Kennedy sighed. "Possibly everybody."
"So, we need a plan," Mia stated.
The three girls looked at each other for a moment.
"We have to get somewhere less conspicuous," Kennedy finally said.
"Like the ceiling?" Mia asked.
Watchers Council – Meeting Room – Later
Still wearing a dark green ski mask, one of the gunmen stood in front of the Watchers Council logo in a small meeting room. He looked directly into a hastily erected camera, operated by one of the other members of his group. A light on the side of the device switched from green to red, and the cameraman signaled with his arm.
"I speak to the People of America," began the man in front of the camera, in surprisingly good English, "and to those around the world who work for the organization calling itself the Council of Watchers. I speak to you from the headquarters of the Watchers Council, in Cleveland. My name is not important. I am only a servant of God. We are now in control here. If you value the lives of those who live and work here, I suggest you listen to what I have to say."
"The Council and its slayers are a great, swift sword in the hands of the godless. It relies on unnatural power in order to achieve its aim, and that aim is its boot heel on the throat of the world. It is the domain of Zionists, Satanists, and homosexuals. If America wishes to ally itself with Satan, it can travel the path to hell on its own. Good Muslims will not follow."
Youngstown, Ohio – Rest Stop – Same Time
Robin stood stock still in the corner of the rest stop dining room, surrounded by a diverse group of people. They were all looking up at a small television hanging from the ceiling. Robin flinched when the camera zoomed out to reveal another masked man holding what looked like a very large knife to Xander’s throat. Xander himself was now on his knees, managing a defiant look despite the way his head was pulled back by his hair.
"We demand the following," the speaker continued. "First, the Watchers Council must withdraw immediately from the Muslim world, including the proposed branch in Jerusalem. Second, the United States government must release all illegally held political prisoners, including those at Guantanamo Bay and all other locations."
The masked man with the knife raised his weapon, and Robin visibly tensed.
"If these requirements are not met, we will execute the leadership of the Council of Watchers," said the spokesman. He raised a hand, and the man with the knife kicked Xander in the small of the back. As Xander pitched forward gasping, the spokesman looked directly into the camera. "This is the last mercy that we shall dispense."
Robin had not even noticed Amira appear next to him.
"We have work to do," she said.
End of Act One
On to Act Two