Story by Robert Kidman and Gelfling21
Written by Robert Kidman and Gelfling21 (with additional writing by Dan Joslyn)
Directed by Robert Kidman, Gelfling21 and CN Winters
Produced by CN Winters and Susan Carr
Edited by DragonWriter17
Sounds by CSR
Art Direction and Art by Robert Kidman
Watchers Council – Cafeteria – Evening
"…oh come on…" Grace sighed as she sat in front of her laptop at one of the tables in the nearly empty cafeteria. Her eyes narrowed as she clicked the mouse button once again. "Sod it!"
"Burning the candle at both ends?" Jackson asked as he took a seat opposite Grace.
"Yeah, I hear Ro’s a real a slave driver," Niven said, slumping into the seat next to Jackson.
Before Grace could defend or reply, Denise spoke up as she came into view. "She’s not as bad as everyone makes her out to be." Denise pulled up a chair and sat next to Niven. "She’s just…focused and dedicated. You know, the stereotypical watcher type—except for Jackson, who’s breaking the mold and…" She cast a glance to Grace who returned her stare. "... you." She grinned.
With brows arched and a slightly deadpanned expression, Grace said, "Why thank you. And by further breaking the mold, I’m not doing work." She turned her laptop so that the screen faced them. "I’m playing solitaire."
"Oh …" Denise both started and finished.
"I’m not ‘all work and no play,’ ya know," Grace added.
Niven batted away her comment. "’Course you’re not. You’re Gracey, the fun time girl. Fun’s had by all when you’re around."
Grace didn’t respond.
"So you play? Real cards, I mean. Not on your laptop?" Jackson asked.
"Ah, I see. As if scripted by some higher power, we’ve inadvertently stumbled upon the reason why you three are harassing me while I’m trying to deal a black queen. So let me get this straight, you’re asking me now after I’ve been here like five months if I want to play cards with you guys?" Grace said tonelessly. "I’m reading it as you’re not asking me to play with you guys, so much as you’re just trying to make numbers up since Hope did a runner?"
"Kinda, yeah," Niven put it bluntly.
Grace snorted and shook her head, looking actually slightly hurt through her small sarcastic smile.
"Ignore him. We were gonna ask you whether you’d like to play with us ’cause you seem outsidey," Jackson added, "and we’d like to get to know you better…" Grace put her hand to her chest and fluttered her eyes mockingly. "…and because we need another person to play. But not that we’re coming to you ’cause we think of you as second best."
"No, not at all," Denise quickly threw in.
"Right! Purely an opportunity to get to know you better," Niven added with a smile.
"So what do you say?" Jackson asked hopefully.
Grace sighed and looked up at Jackson, "Oh, I don’t know. I’m pretty busy what with being Ro’s PA and all..." The three others wore a shared look of disappointment. "But...I am a mold breaker. I might be able to do an hour or two on Wednesday evenings." She managed a slight smile and a nod before adding, "Might."
Bureau Nine – Mr. Felix’s Office – Night
Mr. Felix paced, arms folded, in front of his desk as he spoke into his Bluetooth earpiece. With a guffaw he walked towards the window overlooking the floor where the employees worked.
"So Weyland Yutani and Blue Sun are worried about losing a couple extra million by investing a little more in our organization? Honestly, they can easily recoup their supposed losses in a day, if that!" Mr. Felix sighed, pinching the bridge of his nose. "We are working towards a safer future for the generations ahead; it is not selfish asking for more money in order to accomplish that goal!" He fell silent as he listened to the reply. "Well, they are more than welcome to come down here, and I’ll give them the grand tour of the operation myself. Still, can’t complain, at least we’re not dealing with Wolfram and Hart," the latter he said gratefully.
"They want results? Did they not get the report last Thursday? We have our own squad of slayers as well as ex and retired watchers on board. Also we have…" His attention was drawn to a woman escorted by security, who had just entered the floor. A small smile crept across his face., "…yes, I know I don’t have to tell you. Please, if you would get in touch with The Consortium and get them to handle this matter; I’m about to dot the I’s and cross the T’s with a new affiliate of ours. Yes, she’s arrived. And yes, she certainly does look the part. Okay, bye."
Mr. Felix pressed his earpiece ending the call, straightened his suit, and stood by his desk.
A shapely figure of a woman was distorted by the vertical lines of frosted glass that streaked down the door face.
The door, held open by one of the members of the escort, revealed the stunning Gwen Raiden. Her PVC garments clung to her form, as if a second skin. Her long brown curls dangled over her shoulders, punctuated by dissident flares of red highlights that only served to accentuate her porcelain white skin.
"Miss. Raiden. Welcome to Bureau Nine. I’m Mr. Jason Felix."
Gwen arched a brow as she strode over to him. "So you’re the guy with the big fat wallet o’ green that managed to pry me away from my island paradise, huh?"
"I am indeed," Mr. Felix replied with a chuckle. "It’s an honor. You’re everything your file says you are and then some." He offered his hand with a warm expression of friendship on his face.
"I have a file? I could take that as a sign of my own sloppiness, but I’d rather take it as a compliment." She took his hand in hers, devoid of glove, and gave a firm shake, all the while looking him in the eyes to see if he faltered in his stance. Surprisingly, he did not.
Parting, Mr. Felix motioned to a seat opposite his desk, "Please."
She took a seat, crossing her legs, the sound of her PVC pants rubbing and creaking. "I have to say that you’ve either got a large pair of the proverbial or that your files must not be very complete if you were willing to shake my hand."
"To the contrary, Miss. Raiden," Mr. Felix began.
"Gwen," she corrected with a slight curl of her lips.
"Gwen. I emphatically know that your touch can be lethal, and I know that since you’ve acquired L.I.S.A from Morimoto-san, your ‘abilities’ are grounded, for lack of a better term. Most of the time, anyway."
She sat back in the chair. "Damn, I am getting sloppy."
"I know that if you really wanted me dead then you wouldn’t do the deed here, in the heart of my power."
"For lack of a better term?"
Mr. Felix grinned. "No, it would be in a more intimate setting. It would be at my home in the late evening where I’m alone, unprotected, and I would hear the faintest of sounds, believing that it was my imagination or that of the wind commanding the branches of the tree on my front lawn. Then as I settled in, there would be the softest of touches on my shoulder, the sweetest and most considerate, like fine silk, and then…nothing. No doubt the police would rule it out as a freak electrical accident. But, the point is, it wouldn’t be here, and it wouldn’t be now, and it most certainly wouldn’t be before you’ve satisfied your curiosity as to exactly what I am offering."
Gwen couldn’t help but smirk, and she averted her gaze from him for the briefest of moments before returning her stare. "So my file comes with my M.O. attached, huh? I think it’s good for business for both sides to get a feel for one another. Helps the process run more smoothly...like silk." She grinned. "So Mr. Felix…"
"Jason," she repeated with a smile, sitting forward. "Satisfy me."
He stifled a smirk and let out a breath. Mr. Felix reached into his drawer and produced a leather-bound folder, which he slid across the table. "As you know, Bureau Nine wishes to hire you because of your expertise in the fields of espionage and larceny."
"Put ever so eloquently. Well, I doubt I’m here because of my fine taste in decor," Gwen quipped.
"Obviously, there’s something we want. Open the file."
Gwen unclipped the folder and opened to the first insert. The page depicted an artist’s impression of a bronze sphere, measuring slightly smaller than a soccer ball. The only visible markings were a line that horizontally circled the center of the sphere and another line that vertically crossed down the sphere, splitting the sphere into four quadrants.
"It’s remarkably unremarkable," Gwen said. The vague expression on her face and in her voice was a reflection of what little detail the page offered. "So…what is it? What’s it for?" she asked.
"It’s…a cog, if you will, designed to be an essential component of something much greater," Mr. Felix replied.
"Huh. And this ‘greater’ is...?" Her eyes glanced up from the page to meet his. His eyes had grown bold and resolute. "I like to know what I’m stealing is all." He just offered her the slightest smile in reply. Gwen nodded. "Okay. ‘Cog’ it is then," she said, fashioning an exaggerated perturbed smile.
"You’re the only thief in the entire world with the expertise and ability to gain access to the sphere’s location with ease and finesse. I don’t have to remind you that it’s imperative that you’re not detected. Not that I doubt your ability to get yourself out of a jam, just messy and not at all professional," Mr. Felix explained. "Turn the page. That’s the organization that is currently in possession of the sphere."
Gwen turned the page to show a photograph and details of the building.
At the top of the page, typed in bold, it read: "Target: The Watchers Council, Cleveland Branch Headquarters."
Gwen smirked, closed the folder, and looked back up to Mr. Felix. "Piece of cake."
To Act One