With Felicia Day as Vi, Norika Fujiwara as Mia, Lindsay Felton
as Skye, Asia Argento as Marie, Alicia Silverstone as Heli and Avril Lavigne as
Guest staring Hank Azaria as Carl, Harry Shearer as Lenny,
Chris Bath as the TV newswoman, Barbora Kodetova as the rave girl, Christopher
Meloni as the detective
and Kate Beckinsale as the Kudlak.
TransWorld Atlantic Shipping Pier/Ceres Wreck – Later
Evening was becoming night, but the area around the wrecked cargo ship was bathed in light from circling helicopters and huge floodlight towers that emergency crews were hastily moving into position. A ring of red and blue lights a mile wide, from police cars and barricades, surrounded the scene of devastation, keeping back a small armada of news vans, while the local news helicopters hovered warily overhead, the journalists within speaking quickly while looking enviously at the police and rescue choppers that were allowed over the wreck itself.
On the ground a crowd of reporters and general onlookers, waiting eagerly for news, gathered around the entry point in the police cordon, watching as each ambulance, rescue vehicle and personnel carrier moved through. Inside the barricades a mobile command post stood to one side of the convoy of vehicles, the police officers around it doing their best to ignore the shouted questions from the press behind the barricades.
"At present the authorities haven’t elaborated on their earlier statements," one of the reporters was saying breathlessly into her camera, "but a quarantine zone remains in place around the docks here, adding weight to the speculation that the crew of the ship may have succumbed to some kind of virus, which rendered them unable to prevent this catastrophic collision. We have no word yet on their condition, but there are emergency vehicles within the exclusion zone now, so it’s possible there are survivors being treated."
Watchers Council Library – Same time
"That’s in addition to earlier concerns about the possible ignition of spilled fuel," the reporter continued from a wide-screen TV positioned between the shelves, largely ignored by the various watchers and watchers-in-training who were busying themselves around the room. Andrew kept an eye on the screen, making the occasional note, and looked up when the doors near him opened to reveal Faith, in motorcycle leathers.
"Just got in," she said, handing him her helmet. "What’s up? Some tanker hit something?"
"A freighter," Andrew clarified, "sailed right into the docks – it’s kind of Dracula-ish." He stood and followed her to the main table, where Robin and Giles were conferring, while Willow sat nearby voicing the occasional thought as she worked through the books in front of her.
"I’m assuming there’s a demon angle to this," Faith went on, nodding her greetings to the others, "not that I wouldn’t want to help out, but we weren’t emergency services last time I checked…"
"One of our contacts put in a call," Robin said. "According to him the crew were all dead, at their stations, quote: ‘completely drained, through a neck wound.’ We’ve had word passed around to the authorities to be careful, but so far there’s no sign of whatever did this. They won’t put out a statement denying the virus story until tomorrow morning, so we’ve got all night to search the quarantine zone without being seen."
"We’ve got slayers on the scene?" Faith asked.
"Kennedy was leading a patrol nearby," Giles said, "they’re in the docks now, coordinating with our people in the police."
"And Ro’s with Dr. Miller," Willow spoke up, "they’re heading to the temporary morgue on the scene, to check the bodies. The report we got specifically said they had a single neck wound, not two, so whether it’s a vampire or something else…" she shrugged.
"It’s possible it was a miscommunication," Robin added, "they’re not as experienced as we are with checking vamp bites. Either way we’ll know for sure soon."
"Right. How’s Ken doing?" Faith asked.
"They haven’t found anything yet," Giles said, "they’re continuing to search. If they haven’t found anything by daybreak we’ll try to arrange for Willow to be escorted onto the vessel, to check for signs of what kind of creature did this."
"And if they do find anything, stake it," Faith nodded, scooping up her helmet from Andrew again. "I’ll head out there. So much for a night off," she said to Robin with a rueful grin.
"I second that," Willow mumbled to no one in particular.
Dockland Warehouses – Same time
Kennedy walked silently through the gap between two warehouses, her eyes alert for any sign of her prey. She paused as her radio earpiece spoke to her, and slid the stake in her hand back into the sleeve of her white jacket.
"Ken here, what’s up?"
"Faith’s on her way," Robin told her, "she’s got backup with her."
"Okay," Kennedy nodded, heading for another alleyway, "I’ll finish this sweep then we’ll switch over. Out." She flipped a switch on the radio controller on her belt. "Girls? The cavalry’s on the way. Finish your patrols and meet back at the rendezvous point." She listened as the other slayers confirmed their orders, then dropped the stake back into her hand and prowled forward into the mouth of the alley.
All was still as she walked its length, the only sound coming from a helicopter that passed by overhead. Kennedy glanced absently up at it, then lowered her gaze again to ground level.
A woman was standing in front of her, only a few feet away. She wore a dark, ragged cloak, black but stained by grime and dirt in patches, making it seem a dirty gray. Her head was lowered but she was staring at Kennedy, through her tangled black hair. Kennedy frowned at her, and surreptitiously thumbed a button on her belt radio.
"I’m at the eastern corner of my search block," she said quietly when the channel opened, "we’ve got a suspect here…hold on." She lifted her head, her eyes never leaving the silent woman, and spoke out loud.
The moment the word left her mouth the woman leapt forward, seeming to fly the distance between herself and Kennedy. The slayer dodged instinctively, rolling backwards as a pair of hands that were suddenly long-fingered, vicious talons struck the concrete ground where she had been standing.
"Woah!" Kennedy had time to yell, before the vampire leapt again, a feral hiss emerging from her throat. Kennedy caught her wrists as she lunged and rolled again, pulling the vampire with her and using a foot planted in her stomach to toss her away. She scrambled to her feet just as the vampire hit the side of the warehouse and crashed to the ground.
"Oh-kay," Kennedy muttered, "come get some." She flipped her stake, catching it point-down as the vampire rolled upright and charged again. Kennedy leapt at it, and the two collided in mid-air, crashing down to the concrete. Kennedy grunted in protest as one of the vampire’s claws gripped her arm tightly, tearing her jacket and drawing blood, but her other hand drove the stake into the creature’s chest. She rolled, keeping the vampire in her grip, and pushed her body weight down, impaling her opponent.
"There ya-" she began to say, then she hesitated as the snarling woman remained solid. "-go?"
The vampire pushed itself upright, tossing Kennedy to the ground in one fluid motion. The slayer rolled with the impact, ending up crouched a few feet away as the vampire pulled the stake from its chest and looked at it.
"Ken!" Heli called from the end of the alley, skidding into view.
"Stay back!" Kennedy yelled.
The vampire’s head flicked around, fixing Heli with a stare, and it threw the stake at her with one flat swipe of its arm. She jerked back with a startled cry, clutching at her side as the weapon cut a gash in passing before punching through the metal side of the warehouse behind her.
"Oh no ya don’t," Kennedy growled as she charged, wielding a foot-long blade that extended from the hilt she let fall out of her other sleeve into her hand. The vampire whirled to face her and caught the blade between her open palms, and with a terrific heave lifted Kennedy off her feet and threw the slayer over her head behind her.
On the verge of colliding painfully with the warehouse wall, Kennedy somehow twisted around in mid-air, planting her feet on the wall and pushing back off, catching the vampire around the waist as she cannoned into her and sending them both to the ground. She wasted no time in pressing her advantage, rearing up astride her opponent and aiming a swipe at her neck. The vampire twisted her torso around, barely avoiding the blade’s swing, then rolled, pinning Kennedy beneath her.
"Get off!" Kennedy shouted, kicking at the vampire’s legs to throw her off balance. The two struggled apart just as Heli, limping slightly from the pain in her side, reached them, aiming a crossbow at the vampire.
"I don’t think that’ll-" Kennedy said as the other slayer fired, putting a foot-long wooden bolt through the vampire from chest to back. She calmly reached behind her and pulled the bolt through, keeping her eyes on the two slayers as if her wound was barely noticeable.
"Damn," Heli said, surprised.
"Yep," Kennedy agreed. Two more slayers appeared, one at either end of the alley, and the vampire looked back and forth, judging the odds.
"Okay," she went on, advancing slowly on the cornered vampire, "now let’s just be nice and civilized while we rip your skanky head off and see if that dusts you." She feinted a kick at the vampire’s legs, but had to lunge to catch the creature as it dodged unnaturally fast. She caught her prey’s leg, and slayer and vampire both fell to the ground, with Heli closing in quickly, blade in hand to deliver the final blow.
Instead the vampire struck out, and with an audible cracking of ribs Heli was thrown across the alley, crying out in pain as she landed in a crumpled heap. The vampire flipped to her feet and made to close in on the fallen slayer, but a hand on her shoulder stopped her. Kennedy spun her around and landed a heavy punch directly on her jaw, sending her reeling.
"Not so nice when you’re on the receiving end, huh?" she said, following up with two more punches. Seeing the vampire staggering she kicked her squarely in the chest as hard as she could.
She and the other slayers were surprised to see the vampire literally hurled back, leaving a body-sized dent in the warehouse wall where she hit two yards above the ground before falling. Before she landed she twisted around, reaching out a claw to snag the end of a ladder bolted to the wall. Before anyone could reach her she had swung onto the ladder and darted up towards the rooftop.
"Come back here!" Kennedy yelled, leaping after her. She cleared two rungs in one jump and scrambled up after the retreating vampire.
"Circle around!" she ordered the other slayers, "make sure she doesn’t get down the other side! Lyn, check on Heli!" Just as she reached the top, though, the vampire, an indistinct shape in the gloom above the faint spotlights below, leapt from the top of the ladder, flying 20 yards clear across the alley, landing with a clunk on the opposite rooftop.
"What the hell," Kennedy said, staring after the retreating shape as it vanished into the night.
Watchers Council – Corridor Outside Council Room – Next morning
"What are you doing here?" Kennedy asked, approaching Bonnie who was waiting outside the Council meeting room, deliberately avoiding eye contact with the various people passing through the doorway.
"Restricted area," the woman noted sourly, nodding towards the door, "I can’t go in unless- Mr. Giles?" she broke off, seeing Giles approach. Kennedy shrugged and walked past her.
"As you can see we’re busy," Giles said evenly, "if this is about your living conditions it can wait until later."
"It’s about the ship that wrecked itself last night," Bonnie replied.
"Yes?" Giles asked. Bonnie raised an eyebrow and tilted her head towards the Council room.
"Willow," Giles asked, seeing the witch approaching, "her ‘invitation’ can be revoked, can’t it?"
"Oh, yeah," Willow said, "as soon as she leaves the room the barrier re-establishes itself."
"Very well," Giles sighed, "come in." Bonnie silently followed Giles and Willow into the room.
"To start off," he said, taking his seat at the head of the table, "just to bring everyone up to speed, Faith?" The senior slayer, looking somewhat tired, looked up from the cup of coffee she was nursing.
"Our girls went over every square inch of that place until dawn," she said, stifling a yawn, "and nada. We know the vamp didn’t double back to the wreck, she’d have been seen – our people and the police. Delta got a glimpse of something moving fast over the rooftops, south of where Ken met her vamp, my guess is that she gave the cops the slip somewhere on the perimeter and is lying low in the city."
"We’ve had the police rule out the virus story," Robin added, "no need to panic people."
"And it definitely was not a virus that incapacitated the crew?" Giles asked.
"No," Ro said, "not unless you can catch disembowelment and neck rippings now. Some kind of demon definitely killed the ship’s crew. Whether it was a vampire, though…"
"What I fought last night was a vampire," Kennedy said firmly, "no question. No demon sets off my vamp radar like that. It was different, though. For one thing, the usual stake through the chest didn’t seem to have much of an effect."
"You mentioned it had claws?" Giles prompted.
"Like, wolfman claws?" Andrew asked, handing a fresh coffee to a grateful Faith from his breakfast trolley, "or more Lady Deathstrike?"
"The latter," Kennedy said with a wan grin, "plus no teeth, and no ‘grr’," she gave an exaggerated frown, mimicking a vampire forehead. "But other than that she was grade A vamp. Real fast, and strong."
"The autopsies of the crew support that," Ro noted, "they weren’t your usual draining victims."
"How so?" Robin asked.
"Well for one, there was only one puncture. And they weren’t just drained of blood, the entire torso had been emptied. From the remains, I’d say the internal organs were shredded and consumed. The ribcage and spine were largely pulverized as well, within the damaged area we didn’t find any remains larger than splinters half an inch long."
"No thanks," Kennedy quietly said to Andrew, who was offering her a toasted sandwich, "I just lost my appetite."
"All in all," Ro finished, "I’d say we’re looking at a vampire subspecies. They turn up occasionally-"
"Like Dracula," Willow muttered.
"Oh not again," Xander grimaced.
"-usually the result of black magic, or a kind of quasi-evolution that seems to go on to fit localized niches."
"Claws, no fangs, consumes internal organs," Giles mused, "it doesn’t ring a bell."
"We’ve got until nightfall to hit the books," Willow suggested.
"Not so sure," Kennedy answered. "If this thing can survive a stake it might survive sunlight too. We don’t know what we’re dealing with."
"We should be safe there," Rowena said warily, "there’s never been a recorded subspecies with resistance to direct sunlight. Unless we’re dealing with something new…"
"Once we narrow down the type of vampire," Willow added, "we’ll be able to look up ways to get rid of her."
"And given that she gave us a run for our money," Faith added, "we’ll be fielding all our best in a single unit tonight. Me, Ken, Vi, Mia, Marie – I’d have liked Heli but she’ll be off duty for a couple of days. We’ll take our heavy-duty gear. Xander, you up for being wheel-man?"
"I’ve got no plans," Xander said.
"We’ll spread everyone else on patrol as usual, and the moment someone spots our mystery girl we’ll intercept her and do whatever you guys think will kill her. Or, you know, just beat the hell out of her and chop bits off until she dusts, I’m willing to bet that works too."
"Very good," Giles said, "Bonnie, does your contribution involve the slayers at all?"
"Not that I can think of," she replied.
"In that case, Faith, Kennedy, you might prefer to get some rest."
"I hear ya, boss," Faith yawned, rising from the table as the watchers remained seated and turned to Bonnie.
"TransWorld Atlantic is a legitimate company," she began, "but there’s a group within them that deal with demon migration – as you know vampires prefer to travel by sea, so as to remain out of sunlight-"
"Yes," Giles said impatiently.
"They’re a benign group," Bonnie went on, ignoring his tone, "they don’t deal with hostile vampires as a rule."
"The evidence kinda suggests they did in this case," Willow noted.
Bonnie shrugged. "It’s possible they weren’t aware of what they were transporting."
"They thought it was a nice vampire?" Ro asked skeptically.
"Since the Council was established here," Bonnie continued, "a minority of vampires would rather survive on legally-obtained pig’s blood than risk being hunted and killed by a slayer patrol. It’s not a matter of being ‘good’ or ‘evil’, it’s just a matter of being smart enough to survive. These vampires need to do business just like everyone else – they need jobs, food, shelter and transport, and they know better than to kill the people who provide them. Does anyone else have any sarcastic comments they’d like to air?"
"You’re complaining about sarcasm?" Willow asked.
"I don’t like competition," Bonnie said, waving a hand dismissively. "The TransWorld group won’t deal with the Council – if you make enquiries you’ll get no answers, and if you push harder they’ll destroy their records and relocate."
"But you know some people?" Robin asked rhetorically.
"I know some people," Bonnie said with a faint smile. "Get me a phone and a laptop with broadband and I’ll get you everything the company knows about this creature." The various watchers exchanged glances.
"Set me up in the library with someone to watch me, if you like," Bonnie added, "in case you’re worried that I’ll try to contact the Presidium and try to get myself reinstated in their good books."
"Why are you suddenly eager to help?" Giles asked.
"Because I’ve got no better option," Bonnie said flatly. "You people burned my bridges with the Presidium when you killed my former boss, so that puts me on your side. Take it or leave it."
Slayer Gym – Later
The largest punching bag swung alarmingly on its chains as Kennedy worked it over. Mia wandered in from the dorms, headed for the weight sets, but changed course when she saw Kennedy.
"Don’t you sleep?" she asked, as Kennedy backed up and moved to kicking routines.
"I slept," she replied in between blows.
"For an hour," Mia countered.
"I am a slayer," Kennedy retorted, giving the bag a particularly vicious roundhouse kick. "At least," she added in an undertone, "I’m supposed to be."
"Who says you’re not?" Mia asked, moving in behind the bag to hold it as Kennedy continued her pummeling.
"Well last night wasn’t exactly gold star material," she complained. "I mean, on principle, when a vampire slayer meets a vampire, it should really end up with the vampire being slayed. Not cracking half of Heli’s ribs and getting away."
"On principle," Mia added, "a vampire with a stake through her heart should end up gritting someone’s driveway. And Heli’s going to be fine – no harm, no foul."
"Yet," Kennedy scowled. "I was this close to her, had her pinned, swung at her – and I missed."
"You missed or she dodged?"
Kennedy shrugged and moved back in to punching range. "Does it make a difference to the next person she jumps?" she asked bitterly, as Mia let the bag go and circled to stand beside her. Kennedy drew back and let fly a full-body swing at the punching bag, then leapt back in surprise as the bag tore free from its chains and smashed into the mirrored wall several meters behind it.
"That’s seven years bad luck," Mia observed, as the remaining shards of the mirror tinkled to the floor.
"Great," Kennedy sighed, "put it on my tab. Was that thing half-broken of something?"
"I’m thinking more along the lines of ‘frustrated slayer taking it out on inanimate object,’ myself," Mia shrugged. "If you’re not tired, how about lunch?" Kennedy nodded, then paused a moment while Mia turned away, staring at the ruined punching bag with a frown.
The Boiler Room Nightclub – Evening
The converted warehouse was packed with ravers, gyrating in time to the deafening staccato beat thudding out of the gigantic speakers surrounding the floor. Black leather dominated the crowd, with a sprinkling of PVC, tattered lace and metal studs. Eyes closed, the dancers thrust together, many a hand moving roughly over a partner’s body. In dark corners money and pills changed hands. Just above the heads of the crowd, dancers dangled in harnesses fashioned from leather straps attached to chains fixed to the ceiling, the dancers running through choreographed routines like debauched cheerleaders.
The thunderous music completely covered a commotion from the main door. The dancers remained unaware as the slim figure of the vampire wove her way through them, ignoring the vague glances and occasional rough fumbles from the tightly-packed crowd. Something caught her eye and she came to a halt, staring at a teenage girl in front of her clad in shining black from neck to toe, her face a mask of white and carefully-applied black shadows.
"Girl!" the teenager shouted above the din. "Wicked makeup!" She looked up and down the vampire’s body, taking in her tattered cloak. "What’s with the rags?!"
The vampire appeared to study her for a moment more, then opened her mouth, her tongue stirring. With only a second’s hesitation the teenager stepped forward and put her hands on either side of the vampire’s face, leaning in to kiss her.
Instead though the creature’s tongue shot out from between its lips, the razor-sharp tendril piercing the stunned girl’s throat, throwing a fine spray of blood back over the vampire and the dancers behind her. Shouts of aggravation turned to screams as the girl collapsed, convulsing, her hands clutching at her stomach in agony as the vampire’s lash-like tongue drove further and further into her esophagus, writhing inside her.
The press of people panicked and tried to flee, as the vampire began to feed.
End of Act One
Onto Act Two