Story by Chris Cook
Written by Chris Cook (with additional writing by Susan Carr)
Produced and Directed by Chris Cook and CN Winters
Edited by Angie Wilson
Sound by CSR
Art Direction by Chris Cook
Artist – Chris Cook
Rowena’s Bedroom – Evening
Candlelight flickered in the room and made shadows appear and disappear against the wall as cries of passion filled the air. A thin line of smoke curled upward from the burned-out incense stick, and the feet of two women mingled together in a sea of cotton sheets on the bed. The couple lay on their sides facing each other, with the sheet covering their nakedness.
Rowena’s Bed – Evening
Rowena clutched the redhead’s back, her face buried in Willow’s neck.
Willow continued to move sensuously, apparently ignoring any pain she might feel from Rowena’s nails leaving red marks across her back. Rowena shuddered, mouth open with no sound as her body convulsed in ecstasy.
Rowena loosened her grip as she tried to catch her breath, but Willow still held Rowena tightly to her. After a few moments of stillness, the blonde broke into sobs and Willow’s happy expression melted into concern. But instead of pulling away, she kept Rowena’s head in place by stroking her hair and not letting the woman look up.
"Shh." Willow whispered softly, trying to get her own rapid breathing under control. "It’s okay. I’ve got you, Ro. You’re safe," she coaxed.
After a couple of seconds, Rowena pulled away slightly and wiped her wet face. "I’m sorry," she said obviously embarrassed. "Here I am, blubbering like an idiot."
"Is it happy or sad blubber?" Willow asked as if she was unsure she wanted the answer, but needed it just the same.
Rowena smiled and stroked Willow’s cheek. "Quite happy."
Willow smiled gently and her shoulders relaxed against the bed. "Then there’s nothing wrong with that," she answered. "It’s not only about physical release…it’s an emotional and spiritual one too, sometimes. Tears are perfectly acceptable and even laughter now and then."
Willow’s index knuckle grazed Rowena’s face and when the finger came close enough to her mouth, Rowena’s tongue snaked out giving a small lick before she kissed it softly. The blonde watcher seemed to silently consider Willow’s words.
Finally she pushed away a sweaty strand of red hair from Willow’s face and smiled. "Wow, that’s some spell, eh?" she said.
Willow’s eyebrows scrunched together in confusion. "Spell? What spell?"
"That spell you just cast. I’d say you’re getting your powers back quite nicely. It’s kind of like that Beltaine thing, except I hope you kept it just between us."
For a moment Willow remained confused and then her eyes hardened slightly. "You think I cast a spell on you to make you…feel that?"
"Didn’t you?" Rowena asked.
"No," Willow replied.
"Well, I never felt that before. I mean, even when I had your body, it was, well, not like that."
Willow pursed her lips as if trying to hold back a smug expression and a small giggle escaped.
"Okay, I know you just said that laughing was okay, but…?" Rowena said indignant.
"Oh Sweetie, I’m not laughing at you. I swear. I’m…I’m delighted really," Willow said getting herself under control. "Come here." She rolled back towards Rowena and once again took the blonde into her arms. "Now," she continued, finally calm. "I swore I’d never cast a spell on someone without their consent again, well, unless they’re evil, but I think that goes without saying. But what happened at Beltaine, that was an accident caused by the Presidium messing with my magic."
"So, you did that all on your own? That was all natural?" Rowena asked.
Willow looked into Rowena’s eyes with a loving grin. "One hundred percent unsweetened," Willow teased, "but…yeah, just us, no mojo."
Rowena’s face blushed brightly even in the dim light from the candles. She tangled her fingers in Willow’s hair and pulled her face closer until their lips met in a passionate kiss. Breaking off she asked, "Does this mean I can make you feel that way, too?"
"Oh yeah," Willow said, her voice heavy with renewed arousal.
"Will it always be that…" Rowena paused as if searching for the right word. "Good?" she finally settled on, heat still gracing her cheeks.
"Oh no," Willow said and Rowena’s eyes raised questioningly. "Sometimes it’s better."
"Better?" Rowena answered amazed before a smile slowly took shape on her face.
"Um Hm," Willow answered as she rolled Rowena on top of her. "I hope you’re up on your multiplication tables, because you’ve only just begun your lessons."
Rowena smiled sensuously before she began to kiss her way down Willow’s neck.
"Good thing I’ve always been a quick study," she said before she wiggled her eyebrows and darted under the sheet.
Willow opened her mouth as if to say something, but instead let her head fall back against the pillow. "Good thing," she muttered absently.
TransWorld Atlantic Shipping – Nightwatchman’s Office – Same time
The office was old and cluttered, dominated by a wide window looking out over the expanse of water beyond the piers, the glass panes tinged with grime at their corners. A lone guard sat reading a magazine with his feet up on the desk, ignoring the portable television perched atop a filing cabinet. He turned the magazine sideways to let the centerfold open, gave an appreciative whistle, then hurriedly stuffed it in a drawer as the door behind him opened with a squeak from its old hinges.
"Nada," the second guard said, giving a cursory glance through the window at the dark bay dotted with the navigation lights of various late-working boats.
"Told you," the first guard shrugged, nudging a wheeled chair towards his comrade with his foot. "Take a load off Lenny. You’re new, eager, I get that, but trust me, ninety percent of the alarms here don’t work too good. And the other ten only pick up rats. I got no problem with rats, they stay in their holes, we stay in our office, everyone’s happy."
"What’s on?" Lenny asked, settling down and opening a can of beer from the bar fridge beneath the desk.
"SVU," the man shrugged, opening a can for himself. "Beats walking the perimeter. Cheers." They sat back and gazed at the battered old TV for a moment.
"Doesn’t it get to you, how formulaic this is?" Lenny asked after a moment.
"I mean, every episode they start with a couple of random people, they talk for fifteen seconds about something that’s nothing to do with the plot, then- bam! The victim shows up, random person A and B never show up again. Why not just skip to the detectives?"
"You think too much."
"Anyway, it’s a rerun."
"Reruns are better," the guard said with authority, "that new ADA, she doesn’t do it for me. The one they used to have was hot."
Both men winced as a spotlight crossed the window, shining blindingly bright for a moment into the dim office before it moved on.
"Aw, goddamnit," the seated guard complained, "jerks not looking where they’re shining those damned things…"
"She’s a big one," Lenny noted, "anything due?"
"Uh, the…" he searched the crowded drawer for a shipping timetable, "the… yeah, the Ceres, due eleven-thirty for pier ten, down east. She’s early."
"Yeah," Lenny agreed, peering through the grimy glass at the collection of spotlights on the lake beyond, "she…Carl…"
"What?" The guard stood and looked through the window.
"Oh Jesus! Run!"
TransWorld Atlantic Shipping Pier – Same time
Heedless of anything in its way the Ceres, a gigantic cargo ship riding high in the water with empty decks, continued on its course straight towards the Cleveland shore. As distant sirens sounded from police boats the ship rammed through the flimsy wooden piers, crushing motorboats and moored tugs as it went. Two tiny figures burst from a warehouse, running as fast as they could, when the massive freighter crashed into the dock proper, driving up an eruption of shattered concrete and twisted metal like a bow wave of debris before it.
A second later its prow, bent and scarred but still plunging forward, smashed through the front of the warehouse, tearing through its thin metal walls like paper. Amid showers of sparks, gushes of flame and the deafening din of the collapsing building the ship reared up, tilting sideways as its hull scraped against the shattered ruin of the dock, the sound of screaming, tearing reinforced steel blanketing the night as the huge vessel entombed itself in the wrecked dockland.
Ceres Bridge – Same time
An eerie silence descended over the devastated dockland, as the last screech of tearing metal died away, and even the distant emergency sirens, and the bleating alarms from the bridge’s computers, seemed to become hushed as the great vessel stilled.
Radio microphones hung at an odd angle from their cords, unheeded as faint voices emerged through their static, the dockland authorities repeating again and again their call for the ship’s crew to reply. A couple of pens rolled off the slanting consoles, clattering away on the floor.
At their stations, the bodies of the crew lay motionless, slumped over like rag dolls.
Ceres Main Deck – Same time
The searchlight of the first helicopter on the scene panned over the vacant container deck. A figure garbed in a tattered black cloak walked the length of the vessel, heading for the prow. It didn’t hurry or dodge about, but whenever the searchlight swept across the deck, the figure was always just outside its path.
As more helicopters approached, and the sirens of fire trucks and police cars drew near, the figure reached the prow, now tilted up twenty meters above the wreckage of the obliterated warehouse. It calmly stepped off the edge and dropped into the shadows without a sound.
End of Teaser
Onto Act One