Lacey Chabert as Skye Talisker, Gale Harold as Jim Pollan, Caroline Dhavernas as Grace Hatherley, Michelle Rodriguez as Kadin Van Helsing, Elijah Woods as Jeff Lindquist, Norika Fujiwara as Mia Nakata, Laura Pyper as Casey Pierce, Asia Argento as Marie, Rachel Hurd-Wood as Lorinda Sheparton, Steffani Brass as Shannon Matthewson, T.R. Knight as Jackson, Elizabeth Harnois as Jocelyn O’Hara, Thora Birch as Tracey Hausser, Helen Shaver as Becca Giles, and Sarah Michelle Gellar as Buffy Summers
Elisabeth Sladen as Dianna Earl, Laura Prepon as Lori Carew, Robin Sachs as Ethan Rayne, Alexa Davalos as Gwen Raiden, Christine Romano as Hope Lehane, Mía Maestro as Isabel Ortiz, Jennifer Connelly as Althenea Dimmons, Evangeline Lilly as Marissa Stavros, Cote de Pablo as Amira Aziz, Mandy Musgrave as Hadley Ramirez, Ted Raimi as the Technician, Tracy-Ann Oberman as Cameron Kreswell, Carl Lumbly as Nicholas, Brittany Murphy as Luna, Mercedes McNab as Harmony Kendall, Renée Zellwenger as Mary Grace Allister, Sam Waterston as Ira Rosenberg, Sendhil Ramamurthy as Rajiv Venugopal, Alex Kingston as Thornkirk Doctor, Alecia Moore as Rachel Simms and Gary Oldman as Mr. Jason Felix
Cleveland – Building Basement – Night
In a simple basement room, several chairs had been arranged in a circle. Less than half were occupied. Those that were present wore the angular facial features of a vampire.
One of the vampires addressed the rest. "I have to say, I'm not very pleased with the turn-out tonight. These meetings are an important part of the road to recovery."
"They're not gonna recover, man," another vampire said. "You notice anything about who's missing? It's all the newbies. They've been dusting left and right, dude, just out of nowhere."
"Not just newbies," someone else said. "I was talking to Harvey when he just went poof, and he's been one of us thirty years now. 'Course, I kinda thought he'd fallen off the wagon, if you know what I mean."
"At any rate," the leader said, "we're still here, and we're here to help each other through this difficult time. Now, why don't we start by…"
"What's the point?" a large vampire asked, tattoos rippling on his biceps. "You've heard the rumors. All the slayers have lost their powers. If we're not gonna get slayed for drinking, why bother with the Twelve Steps?"
The leader looked around nervously as several of the vampires nodded and otherwise expressed their agreement with this statement. "We're not here because of the slayers, Bill, we're here because it's the right…"
"Are you kidding?" the large vampire, Bill, said. "That's definitely why I've been coming here." He stood up. "Now, if you'll excuse me, I have some things to catch up…"
At that moment, all of sudden, Bill turned to dust. His form collapsed into a small pile on the floor. The others stared at the spot where he had been standing.
"Well, I'm sure not gonna start drinking now," one of them said loudly.
"Me neither," said another. "Why start again when you've worked so hard to stop?"
"You said it," a third put in, nodding vigorously.
Watchers Council – Command Center – Early The Next Day
"Reports are coming in from all over the world," Jim told the small gathering of Buffy, Faith, Giles, and Robin. "Every slayer who has checked in has lost her powers, around the same time as the incident with Kennedy in India. Also around that time Shannon reported that Jocelyn collapsed here in the coven room. She's been unconscious ever since and on a ventilator to help her breathe. We realized our slayers were affected when Shannon couldn't lift Jocelyn to take her to the infirmary."
"Do we know what happened in India?" Robin asked.
"Somewhat, but I'll let Venugopal explain," he said as he motioned to the satellite image of the Indian watcher on the far wall. "Mr. Venugopal? If you can hear me, please explain again to the staff present what you know," he said.
Calcutta – Council HQ – Same Time (Evening)
"Yes, Mr. Pollan," he replied. "When we arrived at the monastery, several Bureau Nine associates were already on the scene, including the slayer Isabel, Lori and Mr. Felix. Some time later, they all left the monastery as Kennedy lost her powers. Likewise Kadin reported being unable to change into her demonic form."
Watchers Council – Command Center – Same Time
"Mr. Venugopal," Giles began, "Has Kennedy told you what happened inside the monastery? Is she conscious?"
Calcutta – Council HQ – Same Time
"Kennedy claims that when she and Kadin arrived into a cave, not far from the monastery, she witnessed a blooming flower that turned to dust upon Isabel touching it. Immediately afterward Kennedy describes having flu-like symptoms – at one point she seemed to be having difficulty breathing, as did Kadin. She still looked rather ill, but she insisted on leaving."
"Where is she now?" Faith asked.
"En route back to Cleveland," Venugopal replied. "She and Kadin should be there soon. They are faring much better than several of our coven members I must say…They appear to be comatose."
"Do you have any sick slayers?" Robin asked.
Venugopal paused a moment. "Now that you mention it, no we don't. Just the coven members, and as I said, Kennedy. But she's not a member of the coven as I understand it."
Watchers Council – Command Center – Same Time
"No, but she has been training in magic recently," Robin replied. "I think I'm starting to see a connection here, guys."
"How so?" Giles asked.
Robin grinned. "You mean you don't see it?" he asked with a hint of disbelief. Giles shook his head. "Anyone who deals in magic is getting sick or…worse. Witches are in comas. People who might not be as powerful are getting sick, like Ken and Andy. Slayers no longer have their powers…It's as if anyone who is tied or linked to magic in some way is feeling the effects of whatever happened in that cave."
"Yes," Giles said with a nod. "I'm…I'm assuming that, yes, that's correct."
Robin got a peculiar look on his face and leaned slightly forward. "Giles, are you feeling okay? You seem…off."
Buffy's eyes went wide. "He's chosen," she said. "He's a chosen watcher."
"I'm not following you," Faith said.
"Giles, quick," Buffy said. "What volume can I find information on Sacfro Demons?"
"Buffy, I'm sure that a Sacfro –"
"Which volume, Giles? Tell me," Buffy insisted.
Giles paused and appeared to think. After a moment he said, "I can't recall…" A look of panic began to take shape on his face. "Oh god, I can't recall."
"Settle down," Buffy told him before she turned back to the monitor. "Mr. Venugopal," she began. "Please contact the other branches for us and find out if we have the same situation at every Council branch – slayers with lost powers, coven members sick or in comas, chosen watchers who can't recall things they should know. Can you handle that?" she asked.
"Absolutely," he told her.
Watchers Council – Kitchen – Moments Later
Giles walked into the kitchen looking a bit frazzled, but he noticed Tracey at Andrew's side.
"Why don't you go lie down?" Tracey told Andrew. "I can handle this," she insisted.
"No, I'm fine," Andrew told her. "Besides, I feel better keeping myself busy right now." He turned and noticed that Giles had entered the room. "Hey, Mr. Giles. What can I help you with?"
"I came for some tea bags," he told him. "There aren't anymore in the conference room."
Andrew nodded and turned to open the cupboard above him. He began to sway slightly and gripped the counter.
"Andy?" Tracey asked as she took a few steps closer.
Andrew's nose began to bleed, and he started to fall, but Giles and Tracey both rushed forward, stopping his descent.
"Andrew!" Tracey yelled as they guided Andrew gently to the floor.
"Call the doctor," Giles told her, and she darted to her feet.
Bureau Nine – Dianna's Office – Later
Dianna sat in her office, alone. Most the lights were out. A set of controls lay in semicircle on one side of her desk. She held both hands over her face. Then she took a deep breath.
Her hands came down. Unblinking, she looked at the television screen on one wall. She pressed two buttons. The screen lit up.
"…the Watchers Council has no comment at this time," the announcer was saying, "but we have confirmed at least four more deaths of slayers in the last few hours. These were not in Hong Kong, but rather in San Francisco, Marseilles, and Mexico City. Any connection between this chain of events and the sudden cancellation of the wedding of two of the Council's leaders is a matter of speculation at this time. What is certain is that several guests at the ceremony fell suddenly ill. The Reverend Al Sharpton, in a radio interview earlier today, offered the theory that someone might have poisoned members of the Council."
She pressed another button. The image changed.
"…another series of events perhaps far more mysterious is also taking place," said another announcer on another channel. "Medical authorities in Egypt have announced the sudden and complete disappearance of a usually-fatal disease that afflicted that nation's poor for over a decade. Every single person with the disease has gone through what is being termed quote 'total and spontaneous remission' end-quote. Also missing, or least canceling all public or even semi-public appearances is supermodel-turned-actress Lynn Tyler. Production of her first film has been delayed due to what her representatives describe as a quote 'sudden bout of flu' end-quote. Miss Tyler, you may recall, came from behind to win last year's reality show America's Next Superstar. And to top it all off, the island of Monte Vizzini off the coast of Italy, long reputed to be haunted, has vanished. Literally. Witnesses insist it just evaporated. Both witnesses, however, admit to having been at least a little drunk."
"You see, my friends, the will of God is not mocked. This club or Council or whatever it is…goes around taking credit for defeating Satan. But that just doesn't make sense. No one but God can do that. It is just arrogance to suppose any different. Then, they go and pretend two women can marry each other…"
Press a button. Change the channel.
A sitcom this time. Two men, evidently friends, look at a trophy and the arrow sticking out of it. One of them holds a bow. The other, eyes huge, says "What have you done? My god man – What have you done?"
A commercial for a brand new kind of soap. It washes away every kind of dirt, and kills pesky fleas, flies and cockroaches as well. Do not use near children or small animals.
Promotion for Spider Man 3.
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.
Several pundits sat around a table, arguing. "What makes you think anyone else can do any better?" demanded one man in a nice suit. "Criticizing those in the hot seat is easy. Too easy."
"Wait a minute," another man interrupted. "Are you suggesting that no one should ever criticize the president?"
"…nasty surprise for gang members using magic bullets. The LAPD went in expecting a full-blown firefight, based on reports of bullets that literally flew around corners. What they found instead was a gang completely unarmed as well as outnumbered…"
This announcer looked grim. A picture of a young blonde woman appeared behind her. Below was a name with dates. "We have now identified one of the slayers killed in the incident in Hong Kong," she said. "Rachel Simms. From Cleveland, Ohio. Orphaned at age eleven, she fled abusive relatives and was homeless by the time she was fifteen. Convicted of shop-lifting, she spent years behind bars. But then, five years ago, she became a slayer, and everything turned around. Recruited by the Watchers Council four years ago with a group of other homeless slayers, Rachel served honorably and well. She even helped save the world, quite literally. Then in 2005, schoolteacher Peter Kent was being attacked by vampires. He fell in love with the young woman who rescued him. They were to be married next month, after her thirtieth birthday, when they both knew she would lose her powers and again be just ordinary. Except that she never made it. And, in this reporter's opinion, Rachel Simms never would have managed to be ordinary in any case."
Shaking, Dianna's hand turned the screen to 'off' then wiped tears from her eyes.
Watchers Council – Infirmary – Later
Grace entered the infirmary, carefully balancing a tray with various food items on one hand as she opened the door with the other. She stopped when she saw Xander sitting on one side of Willow's bed and Rowena on the other, sandwiched between her lover and Althenea. With careful steps Grace made her way over.
"I don't know if you guys have eaten or not," she told them, getting their attention. "I brought tacos," she told Rowena. "Seems to be a favorite of yours lately," she said with a slight grin.
Rowena returned the grin and moved the bed table toward her so that Grace could set the tray down.
"I'm not hungry," Xander told her. "But thanks."
Grace noticed that Xander hadn't taken his hand off of Willow's.
"You don't have to be hungry to eat a taco," Grace countered as she picked one up. "That's what makes the humble taco so great – it's not too filling but it's still nourishment. Plus, the added bonus is you can eat it with one hand." She walked over and held the food out. "Here, humor me."
"From donut runner to taco runner, huh?" Rowena said to Grace.
Grace grinned and then looked serious for a moment. "I don't mind. And if you guys need anything else, I'll be up in the office, so just ring me."
"Thank you, Grace," Rowena told her.
Grace gave a nod, and as quietly as she entered, she left.
"I can't do it," Xander said as he stared across the room.
Rowena put her food down and walked around the bed toward him. "If you can't eat, Xander, you don't have –"
"I buried Vi this year. I can't bury Will too…I just can't do it."
Rowena stepped closer. She hugged Xander around the neck before giving him a gentle kiss on top of the head.
"We'll find a way to fix this, Xander," she told him. "I promise."
Watchers Council – Command Center – Later
Robin, Dawn, and Skye all sat around a table, surrounded by various stacks of paper. He turned to Dawn and Skye.
"You both feeling okay?" Robin asked. "After Andrew…"
"I'm queasy," Dawn confessed, "but I'm still good."
"Any new news?" Giles asked as he entered the room.
"How's Andrew?" Robin immediately asked.
Giles shook his head. "He's in the same state as the others, it seems. We need to start getting some answers, fast."
"I don't have any answers yet, but I did notice something odd that might lead to a clue," Skye said.
"Explain," Giles told her.
"On the reports I've been seeing, virtually every young vampire seems to have become dust when the slayers lost their powers. Like spontaneous combustion – boom!"
"That's good then," Robin replied.
"Yeah, you'd think, huh?" Skye commented. "However…"
"There's always a 'however,' isn't there?" Dawn added as she rubbed her temple.
"It doesn't seem to have an effect on extremely old vampires," Skye continued, "one of whom almost instantly killed six slayers sent to take her down in Miami. But a few other vampires, who might be considered young, are still intact…for now. Including yours truly and – of all people – Harmony."
"How do you know Harmony is alive?" Giles asked.
"After the Rosenberg peace summit, she insisted I take her cell phone number. At the time it seemed pointless, but after looking at the reports, I called since she's less than a decade old. She's 'a-okay'," Skye replied.
"I'm failing to see a connection here," Giles said. "But again, that could be just me."
"No, it's not," Robin told him.
"The point is…" Skye began. "Okay, it's not so much a point but an observation…It doesn't seem like age alone is playing a role here in vampires going poof, although that's what it looks like at first glance."
"Something else is keeping certain vampires around." They all heard a voice come from the doorway and turned to see Rowena standing there.
"Yeah," Skye said as Rowena walked further into the room. "The common denominator I see is humanity. I have close ties to Dawn – immortal, yes, but she's still human. Harmony has close ties to Luna – crazy, without a doubt, but still, she's a person."
"Sounds plausible…Bring me up to speed then," Rowena told them.
"Rowena, you don't have to be here," Giles told her. "No one would think less of you if you wanted to stay with Willow and Althenea."
"No," Rowena told him. "They don't know I'm there, not really. And I can't save them by sitting on my ass so…what's the plan, guys?"
"Mr. Giles," they heard someone say over the intercom.
"Yes?" he replied.
"This is front desk security. There's someone here to see you."
Watchers Council – Lobby – Moments Later
Giles and Buffy walked over to the front door to see two security guards standing on either side of Ethan, who looked like he might fall over at any moment.
"Allo Ripper," he greeted him. "I seem to be feeling a bit under the weather. I thought you might have some information that would be helpful."
"I can't believe you're standing upright," Giles told him. "You just crushed one of our theories." Giles let out a sigh.
Ethan suddenly hunched over and heaved, making Buffy and Giles leap away from him.
"Or not," Buffy said to Giles. She looked over her shoulder. "Clean up on aisle three!" she yelled.
French Chateau Living Room – Morning
"I gotta be a bit more careful when it comes to coordination," proclaimed Harmony as she stepped through the door.
Not a single mirror hung on any wall. The curtains keeping out the sunlight were pink, as were the walls. And the upholstery on the Empire-style furniture. The carpet, too.
"What do you mean?" Luna said, following Harmony.
"Every time we go out, I have to take an umbrella," said Harmony. "And if I'm not careful, the umbrella doesn't match!"
"Oh, honey! You're right! You are soooooo smart."
"I'm surprised you didn't think of that. You're so good with colors."
"Back Hellspawn! Daughters of Satan!"
Both young women jumped at the screeching voice. It belonged to a young man in a long, dark overcoat. The exact shade was difficult to judge because the overcoat was, by any standards, excessively stained and in poor repair. Still, it looked better than the young man's hair – which was almost certainly brown. It also had not been washed in days, possibly weeks.
In the intruder's fist, outstretched like a weapon, was a crucifix. Harmony flinched at the sight.
"Ah ha!" yelled the young man. "Your foul origins stand revealed!" Fumbling in his inside pocket, he managed to pull out a crude wooden stake roughly eighteen inches long. "Prepare to meet your Foul Master!"
"I am so going to fire our security," said Luna.
"You keep saying that," muttered Harmony, "but then you never do."
"I'm sorry! I forgot! Forgive me?"
"Yeah," Harmony said, "but…" She pointed at the intruder.
Luna raised her voice. "How the hell did you get in here?"
"I waited until lunch. And anyway, Hell is where you're going, you bloodsucking succubus!" He stumbled over the last two words, but kept his crucifix raised.
"Hey, dumb-ass! Got a news flash! I'm not a vampire!" She stepped towards him.
But Harmony beat her to the punch. She stepped forward, grabbed the crucifix from his hand, and tossed it away. Then she stared at him, shifting her face. Her eyes went gold, her brow furrowed, and when she spoke, it was from a fanged mouth. "But I am! Boo!"
"Sweetie!" Luna giggled. "How did you do that?" She pointed out the discarded crucifix.
Harmony giggled back. "I dunno! All of a sudden, it just wasn't bothering me any more."
"That is so cool!"
"Isn't it? I wonder what else I can do?"
"Well, one thing's for sure!"
"From now on, anybody comes after you with a cross, you can use 'em as a slurpee! Like this guy!" She turned to the intruder. "Hey! Where'd he go?"
"Uh…" Harmony pointed at the now-open window.
Luna blinked and turned to Harmony. "You wanna go kill him?"
"Nah. I'm on the pledge."
"Oh, right. Still, who'd know?"
"I think it'd be best if I didn't."
They both sighed.
Staten Island – Later That Day
A Vl'hurg demon wearing blue robes pulled back a set of sensible brown curtains and peered out the front window of a split-level home. A crowd of humans was gathering in the street outside the house. Many in the crowd were shaking their fists in the general direction of the window or yelling. All looked very angry.
Another Vl'hurg, this one taller and skinnier and wearing green robes, appeared behind the first. "Granddad," she asked, "what's going on?"
"Nothing to be worried about, S'Retniw," Granddad said. "The neighbors have gotten themselves a little riled about this Council business, as if we had any better idea what's going on than they do."
Several in the mob outside began throwing rocks. Thuds could be heard as the projectiles struck the walls of the house. The sound of a window breaking came from upstairs.
"S'Retniw, I think perhaps you should get away from the window," Granddad said, his tone very serious. He looked back at his grandspawn and saw her tentacles twitching nervously. "Don't worry yourself too much. It's always something with the humans. Trust me, all this will blow over before you know it."
"If you say so," S'Retniw replied uncertainly. "I hope that Faith woman is all right, with all these problems with the slayers. She was nice."
"Yes, she was," Granddad agreed.
S'Retniw looked back out the window. "What are they doing now?"
Just as Granddad turned back to the window, one of the mob chucked a clear glass bottle with a burning rag sticking out towards the house. Both of the Vl'hurg ducked, Granddad shielding his tentacles with his arms, as the front window shattered. The jar struck the far wall of the room and exploded into a small fireball.
The two demons watched in fear as flames spread up the back wall of their living room.
"We have to get out of here," Granddad exclaimed as he got to his feet.
S'Retniw looked out the window and saw the crowd growing larger. She moved out of the way as another rock sailed into the room.
"And go where?" she asked, her eyes wide.
End of Act One
On to Act Two