Story by DragonWriter17 and David Elmer
Written by DragonWriter17, David Elmer, Gencie Salter, CSR, and Susan
Directed by DragonWriter17
Produced by DragonWriter17 and CN Winters
Edited by DragonWriter17
Sound by CSR
Art Direction by DragonWriter17
Artists: Emily, Libbi, and Gencie Salter
Watchers Council – Computer Center – Late Morning
James looked up from his work as his computer began to beep. He
reached over to check the incoming call and smiled before answering.
"Jimmy!" The excited face of his sister, Jessica, filled the screen. "Did you
see it? What’d ya think? Too cheesy? Be honest now. I’m trained to smile
and look classy when being criticized, you know."
James chuckled. "It wasn’t cheesy at all. It was awesome!"
"Really? You’re not just saying that because I know kung fu and can hurt
you?" Though her expression
was skeptical, Jessica’s eyes
shone with amusement.
"The movie was great, Jess.
Really great. And um, you...you
were good too." Before his sister
could respond, James rushed
on. "I mean, the special effects
alone will probably win it a
dozen awards. That’s some
pretty high-tech computer
"Yeah, well, I’m just glad Slayer Wars premiered so soon after the HDT
battle. Not that I like piggybacking off someone else’s success, but ever
since Livia kicked the crap out of Hubris, the public opinion polls have
been through the roof. People really love to see slayers win."
Nodding, James opened his mouth to respond, but was cut off by the
exaggerated clearing of a throat somewhere behind him. He glanced back
to see Anya glaring down at him with her hands on her hips.
"Don’t you have something more important to be doing on company time,
James?" the android snapped. "Like, oh I don’t know, working? What
happened to that new work ethic, mister? Chop chop, time’s a-wastin’!"
Sighing, James turned back to the screen and shrugged at Jessica. "Duty
calls." His expression softened as he asked seriously, "Talk to you later?"
Jessica smiled. "You betcha."
Hubris, Inc. – Dr. So’s Lab – Same Time
Horatio Tyrell stood behind Dr. Martin So and watched as the doctor
checked the vital signs of a female patient who was lying on an
examination table. The woman’s skin was a pale gray with occasional
rough patches of black, which made it difficult to discern her exact age.
Her eyes were frozen open, and
she struggled to breathe. As
they watched, a small spasm
rippled through her body.
"As you can see, by stage three
of the virus, the victim’s
condition has become apparent
in her physical features. She is
conscious but essentially
paralyzed. Before long, she will
enter a coma and become
basically non-responsive. Her brain functions will continue, however,
until the virus plays itself out. The entire process can take anywhere
from two to four days, depending on the strength of the victim’s immune
system," Dr. So said.
"Impressive. What are the early symptoms?" Tyrell asked.
"If you’ll follow me, I’ll show you," Dr. So said.
He led Tyrell across the small laboratory to another table, where a lab
technician was examining a male patient. His skin color was pale but not
yet gray, and he was sweating profusely.
"The virus manifests itself first with symptoms similar to those of the flu:
fever, chills, body aches, nausea, general malaise. This patient is
suffering from these indicators as well as congestion and headaches.
Soon these symptoms will worsen, and he will enter stage two," Dr. So
The patient began to cough violently, and the lab tech quickly handed
him a tissue. When the patient’s coughing had subsided, the lab tech
took the tissue from him. He looked at the tissue then showed it to Dr.
So. The tissue was covered with a thick, dark mucus that was an
unnatural gray color.
"Ah, stage two," Dr. So said in a pleased voice.
A short expression of disgust filled Tyrell’s eyes before his eyes went cold
again. He turned from the table
and began walking away. Dr.
So followed right beside him.
"What’s your progress on the
contagion level?" Tyrell asked.
"In its current incarnation, the
virus is contractible only via
injection directly into the
bloodstream," Dr. So answered.
"And the vaccine and antidote?"
"We do have a fully functioning vaccine and antidote. The vaccination
will prevent infection, should one be accidentally exposed, and the
antidote will kill all strains of the virus, active or inactive, within the
body. However, the antidote will not undo any damage caused by the
"You’ve done very well, Martin," Tyrell complimented. "Infection via
injection will suit my purposes for now, but I will need a more contagious
version for my future projects. Possible?"
"Oh, most certainly."
"I trust you have sufficient volunteers at your disposal?"
Dr. So flashed a smile. "Cloning...it’s a good thing," he replied.
Hubris, Inc. – Office Inside Dr. So’s Lab – Moments Later
Tyrell exited the lab and entered an office. There, he took a seat behind
the desk, activated the computer’s vid screen, and punched in a number.
A few seconds later, Morgan Travers appeared on the screen.
"Everything on schedule?" Travers asked.
"Yes," Tyrell replied. "When you get the signal, proceed as discussed."
"Are you certain the motion will pass?"
"Quite certain," Tyrell answered confidently. "My contacts in Black Sector
have assured me of their cooperation. All Councilors likely to reject my
reinstatement will be given no choice in the matter. With their family
members infected, they will vote accordingly, or their loved ones will die."
Tyrell looked away as if thinking deeply. "I will be returned to my proper
place as Chairman, and Sebastian will be crucified."
Hubris, Inc. – Hallway Outside Dr. So’s Lab – Moments Later
When Tyrell exited Dr. So’s lab, he found Eris Pantelles standing there,
her arms crossed and her eyes angry.
"What is going on in there?" she demanded, pointing inside the door. "I
will not tolerate being locked out of my own laboratories!"
Tyrell didn’t answer. He merely sealed the door firmly then turned to face
Eris. He crossed his arms but remained silent.
"I don’t appreciate being kept in the dark," Eris said coldly.
"You’ll be enlightened when and if I decide you are worthy of such
enlightenment," Tyrell said snidely. "And given your performance in
Waxahachie, I don’t think that will be any time soon." Tyrell stepped
around Eris and began walking away. Then he called over his shoulder,
"When I need your services, I’ll call you."
Eris’s face reddened, and her eyes narrowed into tight slits as she glared
furiously at Tyrell’s retreating figure. Then she stomped off in the
Lex’s Apartment – Same Time
Antonia entered the darkened bedroom carrying a tray. She set it gently
on the nightstand next to bed where a lumpy blob lay hidden under
several blankets. She stood and watched the figure for a moment then
"Right then!" she said cheerily and hit the control panel built in to the
nightstand. "Time to get up." The opaque windows cleared, allowing the
bright Cleveland sunlight to flood the room.
The figure groaned. "Not tonight, honey," Lex grumbled. "I have a
"I said ‘get up,’ dear," she laughed. "I require no more of you than getting
some liquid into that dehydrated carcass of yours."
Lex rolled over and stared bleary-eyed at his favorite pilot. "I can’t keep
anything down," he complained.
"This will help," Antonia said, sitting next to him and picking up a heavy
mug from the tray. "Grammy’s cure for whatever ails ya. Passed down by
our ancestors from time immemorial."
"It’s Willow Rosenberg’s chicken soup recipe," Lex said as he rolled his
"Jewish penicillin," Antonia nodded. "Just the thing for your flu. Now
drink up. I strained the broth for you. It’s all your stomach can handle
Lex looked at her over the rim of the steaming mug as he cautiously
sipped. "Mmmm," he grunted almost reluctantly. "Thanks, sweetheart.
You take good care of me."
"Of course I expect the same treatment if I’m ever sick," she said, glaring
at him and wagging her finger.
"I promise," he said. "Providing I survive this damn flu."
"You will," she said. "That I can guarantee. Willow’s cure has never failed
us yet." A small beeping noise emitted from the small data pad clipped to
her belt. "It’s time for the panel discussion that Jo, Giles, and Velika are
doing with those senators," she said, turning the device off. "Want to
watch it with me, or shall I go into the living room?"
"No, no…sit," he said, waving an arm to indicate the space on the bed
next to him. "If you want to risk getting this, then by all means join me."
Antonia laughed as she worked the control panel again. The holographic
video turned on, and she moved around to the other side of the bed. "It’s
been said that ‘love makes you do the wacky.’ So risking a case of the flu
is child’s play."
Lex grunted in agreement and sipped his soup.
World News Net – Studio – Shortly After Noon
Sitting in the center of a semicircle table, WNN Anchor Daniel Rice
watched his director as he waited for the cue that they were back from
commercial. To his right sat Giles, Jocasta, and Velika, representing the
Watchers Council. To his left sat three senators from Congress: Paul
Curtis of California, Demarie Angelique of Ohio, and Samuel Watters of
Receiving his cue, Daniel Rice focused on the camera and said, "Welcome
back." Then he turned to his left. "Senator Angelique, I believe you had a
question for Chairman Giles."
Angelique gave a nod then faced Giles. "If Congress renews the Council’s
contract for the Human Defense Treaty, what are you going to do to
address the public’s concerns about how the demonic threat has been
dealt with in the past? In other words, what are you going to be doing
differently to ensure that humanity is safe from demons?"
Giles smiled confidently. "An excellent question, Senator. The most
important change I intend to implement is to restore the three-part
structure which organized the Council in the past."
"You mean, you intend to reinstate the Coven branch of the Council?"
Rice asked for clarification.
"That is correct," Giles replied.
When the senators began whispering among themselves, Jocasta
interrupted. "A functioning coven can deal with magical threats. We can’t
expect evil to abide by the anti-magic legislation, so we’d better be ready
to fight fire with fire." This statement earned a few nods from the
"We have also moved the Seraphim armor into full production," Giles
continued. "Our goal is to equip each slayer battalion with at least one
battle suit before the year is out."
"In addition, each battalion will have a team of slayers who have been
specially trained to use the Seraphim armor," Velika added.
"Why don’t you outfit the entire slayer army with the battle suits?
Shouldn’t they be using the armor all the time?" Senator Watters asked.
"Our long-term plan is merely to train all slayers with the armor.
Outfitting the entire slayer army is unnecessary and potentially
dangerous," Giles replied. "The day-to-day operations simply don’t
require the Seraphim’s firepower. Using the suit on a daily basis could
put civilians at risk. It would be like using a missile to kill a fly on the
wall. You’d kill the fly all right, but you’d destroy the wall in the process
and possibly hurt innocent bystanders."
"And as we saw in the contest at Waxahachie, a slayer doesn’t need the
armor to get the job done," Velika interjected. "As Chairman Giles has
said many times, the strength of the Council is its slayers. We need to
play to that strength."
"Of course, we’ll be pouring more resources into the portal project as
well," Giles said.
"Yes, finding a way to close the hellmouths for good and to prevent other
dimensional portals from being opened is our best bet for a permanent
solution to the demonic threat," Jocasta added.
"Good point," Senator Curtis commented.
"Well, I’m afraid we’re almost out of time," Daniel Rice interjected as he
got a wave from his director. He turned to the senators. "Any final
The three senators looked at one another and made a few whispers, then
Angelique turned to address Rice.
Hubris, Inc. – Eris Pantelles’s Office – Same Time
Eris and Sean Rayne stood in front of the large monitor on the office wall
as Angelique’s image filled the screen.
"Although we still have reservations," Senator Angelique’s image said, "we
must admit that we were very impressed with the Council’s performance
in the recent contest. We are also pleased with many of your ideas for
reformation within the Council. Continue to impress us, and the
likelihood of your retaining the HDT contract will be even higher."
As the senator finished her comment, Eris suddenly roared in
frustration. She picked up a heavy marble paper weight and hurled it at
the monitor, smashing the vid screen. Rayne wisely stepped a few feet
Eris pointed a her finger at the screen. "I am so sick of hearing about
that stupid contest!" She turned to Rayne. "We should’ve won! They
should be talking to me right now, about Hubris taking over the HDT, not
the damned Council!"
Rayne merely nodded his agreement.
"And Tyrell is no help at all," Eris complained. "Always biding his time,
keeping his little secrets."
Eris cast an angry glance in
Rayne’s direction. Rayne held
up his hands in a defensive
"Hey, don’t look at me," Rayne
insisted. "He’s cut me out of the
Eris straightened and held her
head high. "Well, I’m tired of
waiting. It’s time for me to take
charge. Time to play my final card."
"What card is that?" Rayne asked.
"Death," Eris replied grimly.
Then she smiled deviously, and Rayne answered with a similar smile of
End of Teaser
Guest Starring: Lindsay Wagner as Velika Petrova, Bonnie Hunt as
Veronica Wyndam-Price, Emma Caulfield as Anya, Iyari Limon as Mira,
D.B. Woodside as John West, Harris Yulin as Morgan Travers, Andrea
Parker as Eris Pantelles, Katie Couric as Lisa Lance, Tzi Ma as Dr.
Watchers Council – Lobby – The Next Morning
Lex Harris moved through the
entrance and walked toward
the elevators. Among those
waiting for the next car was
"John," Lex said, lifting his
convenience-store coffee cup in
"Lex," he returned. "I’m
surprised to see you. I thought
you were sick with the flu."
"Felt like death on a stick yesterday, but Toni fixed me up," Lex replied.
"And she let you come in to work today?"
"Eh, not exactly," Lex admitted. "She had to take a quick day flight, so
after she left, I just slipped away for a bit."
John gave Lex a questioning look.
"I won’t stay long. I’ll get a few hours in and then head home for some
more R&R. She won’t even know that I’ve been anywhere."
As the two men moved with the others into the elevator, Lex turned to
John and asked, "How did you know I had been sick, by the way?"
"Oh, you know me," John replied. "I know just about everything that goes
on around here."
Lex shrugged as the doors slid silently shut.
Fairview Hospital – Noon
As his cameraman adjusted his focus, a male reporter straightened his
jacket and cleared his throat. He looked back once at the emergency
room entrance in the background then faced the camera once again.
The cameraman gave a silent count with his fingers then pointed at the
reporter. The reporter instantly put on his serious face and looked
directly into the lens.
"Reports are coming in from all over the city of a mysterious illness that
is petrifying its victims...literally turning them into stone. There have
been at least ten cases so far, and it looks like more are on the way.
Local doctors have already called in the Center for Disease Control, but
we have received no official word on their findings. Naturally, we will
keep you posted on the latest developments in this breaking news story.
This is Ron Mickson, Channel 13 News."
Watchers Council – Giles’s Office – Same Time
Giles sighed as he pressed a button on his desk to deactivate the video
screen. Jocasta bit her lip nervously as the chairman silently watched
the screen disappear into the ceiling.
"There’s no indication that it’s demonic in origin?" she asked.
"None," Giles replied. "The CDC is consulting with Dr. McClelland, and
he’ll notify us of anything out of the ordinary."
"An illness that petrifies its victims is ordinary?"
"Anything supernatural," Giles corrected.
"Still, perhaps Katie and I should check into it?" Jocasta said. "We might
be able to rule out magic as a cause."
Giles appeared to think the suggestion over for a moment and then
finally nodded in agreement. "Very well," he said. "But don’t draw any
unwarranted attention to yourselves. No strong-arm tactics, please."
"When have we ever strong-armed anyone?" she protested vehemently.
"Hmm, let’s see. Katherine’s encounter with that reporter, your pulling
rank on the Marines on the ISS…shall I go on?"
"No," Jocasta pouted. "Fine, Giles. I promise you that Katie and I will
‘maintain proper decorum’." This last was said in imitation of Giles’s
manner of speaking.
The chairman rolled his eyes and said, "Dismissed, Colonel."
"Aye, sir," Jocasta smirked and stood up to leave the office.
"Oh, and Jo…" Giles said, and Jocasta turned around with one eyebrow
raised in question. "Please be careful, both of you?"
"We will," she said as she smiled warmly.
Giles nodded as Jocasta firmly strode out.
Hubris, Inc. – Dr. So’s Lab – Early Afternoon
Dr. Martin So was hunched over a lab table, his hand pressed against
the neck of one of his patients. At the sound of footsteps on the cold
floor, he turned to see Tyrell approaching him at a brisk walk. From the
rage on Tyrell’s face, So could tell something was wrong.
"What the hell do you think you’re doing?" Tyrell demanded angrily.
"What?" Dr. So asked, confused.
"Don’t play innocent with me, Martin. Your virus is loose in Cleveland."
"In case you’ve forgotten, the last time my plans were hatched
prematurely, I ended up being ousted from the Council," Tyrell growled.
"I don’t know anything about it. I-I-I swear," So stammered.
"He’s telling the truth, Horatio," they heard a voice say.
Tyrell and So spun around and
saw Eris walking towards them,
flanked by Sean Rayne and two
guards who were armed with
"I released the virus," she said,
She motioned towards her two
guards, and they immediately
took position behind So and
Tyrell, preventing their escape.
Eris reached into her jacket and pulled out a data rod, which she held in
front of Tyrell’s doctor. So gasped as he realized what it was: the data rod
that had been stolen from him months earlier at Dayson Laboratory.
"Been missing this?" she asked. "My plant within the Council found this
when your escaped clone slipped away with it. I found its information
She tucked the data rod back into her jacket pocket. "Once I understood
the implications of your research, I procured a sample of your precious
virus." She turned and faced Tyrell. "Nobody locks me out of my own
Then she smiled and continued. "I gave the virus to my brightest team of
scientists, and they perfected it. Made it contractible by physical contact
and made it much more virulent. Now the virus can run its course in as
little as 24 hours."
"Are you insane?!" Tyrell asked. "That virus could wipe out this entire
city, including you!" Tyrell glared at Rayne, as if asking him why he was
siding with this lunatic. Rayne merely crossed his arms in defiance.
Eris shook her head. "Not me. Vaccinated. Safe as a bug in a rug. Unlike
you and Dr. So." Eris put on a satisfied smile.
Tyrell and So jerked as their guards jabbed each of them in the side of
the neck with a hypodermic.
"It’ll be poetic justice, you see. The renegade creators of the virus, under
the sponsorship of the Council, falling victim to their own creation," she
Tyrell suddenly roared and elbowed his guard in his gut. As the guard
doubled over, Tyrell seized his blaster and opened fire on Eris and Rayne,
sending them diving behind an exam table. The other guard shoved Dr.
So to the floor and returned fire. Tyrell used his guard as a shield, letting
the blasts rip into his body.
As the dead guard slipped to the floor, Tyrell dove behind a counter, and
engaged in a shootout with the other guard. Rayne began shooting from
his location as well, pinning Tyrell down.
Dr. So scrambled desperately on his hands and knees, trying to reach
the exit. With their attention on Tyrell, So slipped past Eris and Rayne.
He got to his feet and ran for the door. Eris saw him, though. As Rayne
stood to fire at Tyrell, she stood with him and redirected his aim to the
fleeing doctor. Shot in the back, Dr. So crumpled to the floor.
Tyrell took advantage of the break and charged the other guard, who was
crouched behind a gurney. Tyrell blasted the guard, grabbed the gurney,
and used it like a battering ram to slam into Eris while shooting at
Rayne. Before either of them could recover, Tyrell was out the door.
Rayne ran immediately to Eris. She grimaced and held her side as he
helped her to her feet. Once standing, she fumbled for her comm link.
"Security!" she barked. "Horatio Tyrell is loose in the compound. I want
him found, and I want him dead, now! "
Hubris, Inc. – Hallway – Moments Later
As alarms blared, Tyrell dashed down the corridor. He stopped suddenly
when he heard guards thudding towards him. He slipped into a
connecting hallway and hid in the shadows of a doorway. As soon as the
guards passed by, Tyrell retraced his steps and headed for an emergency
Hubris, Inc. – Skimmer Lot – Moments Later
As an unsuspecting employee got out of her small skimmer, Tyrell moved
in. He held the blaster to her head and forced her back into the driver’s
"Start it up," he ordered. "Now! "
Shaking, she did as he asked, keying in her security code to the panel.
"Please don’t hurt me!" she cried.
Once the frightened woman had started her vehicle, Tyrell yanked her
out and shoved her several feet away. Then he jumped inside, closed the
door, and lifted off.
Stolen Skimmer – A Short Time Later
Tyrell set the skimmer down in a busy lot and shut down the engines. He
was breathing hard, and sweat trickled down his face. He pulled down
the recessed mirror and looked at his reflection.
He was pale, and a sickly sheen covered his features. He pulled back his
collar and looked at his neck. The skin around the needle puncture was
already turning dark gray.
Tyrell growled and pushed his collar back into place. Then he quickly
exited the vehicle, abandoning it before it could be tracked.
Fairview Hospital – Parking Garage – Late Afternoon
Katherine swooped the Council’s skimmer down in a steep arc, causing it
to spin around as she deftly maneuvered it into the parking space on the
top floor of the parking garage.
Jocasta’s eyes opened only
when the slayer had cut the
"Do you always have to do
that?" she asked in
exasperation, prying her
reluctant fingers off the arm
Katherine smiled sweetly at her
lover. "Yep," she answered.
Jocasta sighed and opened the door to the skimmer. "Sometimes I think
you and Toni would make a better couple," she murmured under her
breath as she exited the vehicle.
"Nah," Katherine said, hopping nimbly out of the skimmer. "Face it, Jo,"
she said, moving around and taking the watcher’s hand as they started
towards the entrance. "You’re stuck with me…and my driving."
Jocasta pretended to groan, but her eyes showed her happiness.
Fairview Hospital – Emergency Room – Minutes Later
The two women looked around the crowded emergency room.
" ‘Chaotic’ would be too calm a word to describe this," Jocasta said.
Katherine simply nodded and looked around. Doctors wearing full
protective gear surrounded patients wearing everything from simple
handkerchiefs over their nose to archaic gas masks. Jocasta tried to get
the attention of one of the doctors, but he simply ignored the couple and
hurried down the corridor.
"Well, this isn’t working," Jocasta said with frustration.
"Come on," Katherine said. "I know someone we can talk to."
The slayer led her partner through the crowded area to the
administrative offices of the emergency room. She knocked briefly on the
window, causing the man inside to look up sharply.
"Hey Chuck," Katherine said as she opened the door and the two of them
walked into the small office.
"Katie," he answered, looking nervously between Katherine and Jocasta.
"Sorry, but I really don’t have time right now. If you can come back later,
I’d be glad to chat." He stood up and moved toward the door, only to find
his way blocked by the slayer.
"Chuck, this isn’t a social call," she said. "We need information on the
"Why come to me, then?" he asked, stepping back and putting the desk
between him and Katherine, as if erecting a shield. "I’m only a pencil-
"We need to see some of the victims who have been already admitted,"
she said. "Everyone else is too busy at the moment, and we don’t want to
interfere with their work. You don’t look too busy."
"Katie…" he began.
"I could use my Council authority to order you to help," Jocasta finally
spoke. "But I don’t think either of us wants to cause a fuss. Don’t you
"Who are you?" he asked, eyeing her colonel’s insignia.
"Dr. Charles Brooks," Katherine said by way of introduction. "Colonel
Rosenberg, head of the Council’s Gray Sector. Chuck and I became
friends when I had morgue duty."
"Pleased to meet you," Jocasta said, taking the nervous man’s hand.
"Can you get us in to see some of the patients?"
Dr. Brooks looked at them both. "The CDC has them in quarantine," he
"Then we’re lucky you’re the hospital’s liaison," Katherine said with a
grin. "No one will question you."
He sighed. "Come on," he said and led them from the office.
Fairview Hospital – Quarantine Unit – Minutes Later
Dressed now in contamination suits, the three entered the quarantine
ward. Various doctors, nurses, and other health care workers moved
quickly in and out of the area, seeing to the needs of the nearly dozen
people lying stiffly in their beds. Katherine and Jocasta immediately
approached the bed of the nearest patient.
Jocasta watched Katherine through the plasticine visor of her suit. The
slayer’s eyes went out of focus as she concentrated on the stricken
woman. After a moment Katherine shook her head.
"Anything?" Jocasta asked.
"Nothing," Katherine said. "No magical signature, and nothing is setting
my demon-sense a-tingling."
"What’s this about?" Brooks asked.
"We’re trying to determine if this is caused by magical or other
supernatural means," Katherine explained as she moved to the next
patient. Shaking her head after a few moments, she moved on.
Jocasta watched as Katherine carefully checked each patient. Finally,
she turned to Brooks and asked, "Has the CDC isolated the virus yet?"
"Not yet," Brooks said. "They have ruled out any bacterial agents, and
they’re pretty sure it’s not a prion. Does the Council have any clue?"
"No," Jocasta said. "Which is why we’re eliminating this possibility."
Jocasta paused a moment. "It’s nice to meet one of Katie’s friends," she
said. "I mean, a friend other than her slayer friends."
"Oh, you’re Jo!" he said, surprised. "She told me that she and Trent had
broken up and that she was seeing someone new. Yeah, I’m glad to meet
Jocasta smiled, and then they both turned as Katherine approached.
"No trace of any mystical activity," she reported.
Jocasta nodded. "We’d best get back then," she said.
Dr. Brooks led them out of the ward to the changing room.
Watchers Council – Red Sector Lab – Same Time
Lex and his assistant carried the heavy metallic arm of the Seraphim suit
over to the work table and gently laid it down. The assistant quickly
removed a panel on the underside, exposing the inner circuitry.
"There," Lex pointed at one of the many microchips embedded on the
circuit board. "The fault is in this one. Replace it."
"How can you tell?" the assistant asked.
Lex tapped his cheek under his metallic eye. "This is not just a part of
my pretty face, Tom," he laughed. "Get to it."
The assistant nodded and set about removing the faulty chip. Lex’s
attention was drawn to the vid display that another technician was
watching. He walked over to her.
"Nothing better to do, Sara?" he asked when he saw that she was
watching the news net.
The woman looked around guiltily, but nodded at the display. "Some
kind of new disease…watch."
Fairview Hospital – Same Time (on-screen)
Reporter Ron Mickson was standing outside the emergency room of the
hospital, obviously talking to the anchor back in the newsroom.
"Jerry, none of the doctors we were able to speak with were able to give
us any more information on the source of this disease," Ron reported,
"which is already being called the Medusa Virus, or MV for short."
Channel 13 News Studio – Same Time (on-screen)
"All right, Ron," said Anchorman Jerry Kingsley as he turned back to face
the main camera. "To recap, people are flooding the ERs of the city’s
hospitals complaining of strange symptoms that appear to be a slow
progression of petrifaction. You heard correctly: the victims’ bones and
tissues are apparently turning into stone. How far the ailment will go, no
one knows. If you have any unusual symptoms, contact your doctor
Watchers Council – Red Sector Lab – Same Time
As the weather report came on, Lex turned to Sara. "Man, and here I
thought having the flu was bad enough." When Sara nodded in
agreement, he gave her a playful nudge with his elbow. "Now get back to
The woman turned off the news net and went quickly back to her
Fairview Hospital – Quarantine Waiting Room – Early Evening
Now outside the quarantined area, Jocasta and Katherine watched as Dr.
Brooks hurried back to his office, leaving the two women to find their
own way out of the hospital.
"Well, this trip was a total bust," Jocasta pouted.
"Not really," Katherine said. "At least we know what it’s not."
"True," Jocasta said. "But I just got this feeling…"
"The spidey-sense tickling you now?" Katherine teased.
"Kinda," Jocasta replied. "I just feel like this thing’s not natural, and if
it’s not magical or demonic, then…"
"...it’s caused by a human agent," Katherine finished.
"Yeah, and it’s bad enough when we have vamps and evil demons to
"Wait a minute," Katherine said, holding up a hand to stop Jocasta as
they reached the waiting room set aside for the family and friends of
They stepped inside the doorway as the tinny sound from an overused,
institutional video screen blared over the noise of distress and worry. The
room seemed to quiet a fraction as a breaking news report came on.
Channel 21 News Net Studio – Same Time (on-screen)
Lisa Lance had a grim expression as she faced the camera. In the
background, a screen displayed a picture of Fairview Hospital and a
headline that read "Medusa Virus Exclusive Update."
"Just days before Congress is expected to award the Human Defense
Treaty contract to the Watchers Council," Lance reported, "evidence has
surfaced, linking the deadly petrifaction virus to Dayson Laboratory, a
research facility subsidized by the Council itself..."
Fairview Hospital – Quarantine Waiting Room – Moments Later
Jocasta and Katherine looked
at the vid screen in shock as
Lisa Lance finished her news
break and the station switched
to a commercial. They turned to
each other, their faces showing
the same surprise. Katherine
started to say something, but
then they both seemed to
realize that the room had
become deathly silent. As one,
they turned and saw the crowd
staring at them with growing anger and suspicion. Jocasta and
Katherine looked down at their Council uniforms and then looked back
at the crowd.
"Come on," Katherine whispered. Then she grabbed Jocasta’s hand and
quickly led her from the room.
"We need to talk to Giles," Jocasta said urgently as the two women
dashed down the corridor.
Watchers Council – Skimmer Lot – Same Time
As Giles exited the Council HQ,
he glanced again at the strange
message from Jocasta that was
showing on his pager.
It read, "Meet me at your
skimmer. Now. I’ll explain when
you get here. Jo."
Giles put his pager away and
hurried to his skimmer. He
stopped short when he saw
Tyrell step from behind it, holding a blaster in his hands.
"Hello, Sebastian," Tyrell said.
End of Act One
Watchers Council – Skimmer Lot – Resume
"Tyrell," Giles said with a touch of disgust in his voice. "What are you
doing here? What do you want?"
"What does it look like I want?" Tyrell said, stepping closer. "A little
payback perhaps? A little
revenge on the man responsible
for my disgrace?"
"The only one responsible for
your disgrace is you," Giles
"Don’t...push me..." Tyrell
warned, his chest heaving as he
struggled to breathe.
Tyrell groaned and began to cough, falling against the side of the
skimmer when his knees threatened to buckle. Giles made a move for the
blaster, but Tyrell recovered and thrust it forward until Giles stepped
"Trust me," he said haltingly in a choked voice, "you really don’t want to
touch me right now." He straightened and stood, then pulled back his
Giles gasped involuntarily when he saw the darkening blackness
spreading from the needle mark in Tyrell’s neck. He took a step back.
Giles stared for a moment and then met Tyrell’s eyes.
"What do you want?" Giles asked Tyrell again.
"I want to help," Tyrell answered.
Giles huffed and gave the former chairman a skeptical look.
Watchers Council Infirmary – Quarantine Zone – Later That Evening
Hooked up to various monitors, Tyrell now lay in a hospital bed in the
quarantine ward of the Council’s infirmary. An armed guard stood watch
outside. A nurse in a contamination suit was tending to him. She looked
up when Chairman Giles entered, followed by Jocasta and Katherine. All
three moved awkwardly in their suits as they headed for Tyrell’s bed.
Giles smiled through the plasticine visor of his hood and gave the nurse
a nod. She nodded back and slipped from the room. Once she had gone,
Giles turned to Tyrell.
"I don’t mean to be insensitive to your plight, Horatio, but I want to know
what the hell is going on. Why did you come to me, and what is your
connection to this-this Medusa Virus?"
"Why do you assume that I had anything to do with this virus?" Tyrell
replied. "Maybe I just caught it like everyone else."
"Fat chance," Jocasta said, "considering the fact that it was created at
Tyrell didn’t answer the accusation; he merely glared in response.
"Damn it, man, people are dying!" Giles barked. "You’re dying! I’ve got
senators breathing down my neck, and the future of the Council, of-of
humanity itself, is on the line here! If you’ve got answers, then you’d
better start talking, now!"
"Very well," Tyrell said finally. "But first, the terms."
"Terms?" Giles said in surprise.
"My help isn’t free," Tyrell replied. "I want something in return."
"What?" Giles asked.
"To be cured of this damn virus," Tyrell said.
Jocasta snorted at the ludicrous request, but Giles calmly asked, "And
what are you offering in exchange?"
"All the evidence you need to clear the Council and to take down the real
enemy: Eris Pantelles and Hubris, Inc."
"Hubris is responsible for the virus?" Katherine asked.
"I thought Dr. So created it," Jocasta said.
"He did," Tyrell replied with a nod. "But Pantelles is the one who released
"You’re willing to go public with everything, give an official statement?"
"Yes," Tyrell said. "But only after I’m cured."
"Give the statement first, and then we’ll think about it," Jocasta
"Jo," Giles said, cutting his eyes at Jocasta. She glared at Tyrell but then
stepped back. Giles turned back to Tyrell. "Well, I can’t promise a cure,"
he said. "We’ve barely begun the research necessary to—"
"I have the cure," Tyrell interjected. "But it’s stashed away where I can’t
get to it."
"You have the cure?" Jocasta demanded incredulously.
"Of course! Do you think I’m a fool?" Tyrell answered, leaning up. "Do
you think I would allow Dr. So to create such a thing without having the
cure in hand?" Tyrell lay back against his pillow. "Unfortunately, Eris
turned on us both, injected us with the virus. Dr. So is dead, but I got
away, barely, and now that bitch has her strike team and Rayne after
"Sean is helping Pantelles?" Katherine asked.
"Yes," Tyrell stated angrily.
"Sounds like you’re reaping a little karmic payback," Jocasta said
"Listen to me, you little—" Tyrell began.
"Enough!" Giles interrupted. "Let’s stay focused on what’s important
here." Giles turned his attention to Tyrell. "What exactly is in this ‘stash’
of yours and where can my slayers find it?"
Abandoned Factory – Later That Night
"I’m déjà vuing here," Livia muttered as she, Mira, and Katherine led a
team of slayers up to the abandoned factory that they had raided three
months earlier in their unsuccessful search for Tyrell and Rayne. The
entrance had been boarded up, but it still showed the marks where
missiles had blown the door to bits.
"Yeah," Mira agreed. "We gave this place a pretty thorough going-over the
last time we were here." She took hold of one of the boards and pulled it
loose, taking care to make as little sound as possible. The slayers froze
for a moment, waiting to see if the noise had drawn any notice.
"Are we sure this isn’t a wild goose chase?" Katherine asked. "Maybe
Tyrell just wants to tie up Council resources."
"More likely a trap," Livia said. "So everyone be on the alert."
She motioned the team to stay put as she slipped through the opening.
After a tense moment, she reappeared and motioned the other slayers to
follow her. One by one, they slipped into the darkness of the factory.
Abandoned Factory – Same Time
In the depths of the abandoned building, Eris’s strike team struggled to
move a huge, well-rusted drill press. Clang! One of them dropped his
pry bar, and the noise echoed throughout the building.
"Damn it, Jim! Watch what you’re doing!" complained one of his fellows,
whose foot had narrowly been missed by the falling bar.
"Hey! I’m a trained killer, not a furniture mover!" Jim complained.
"Easy there," Sean Rayne cautioned. "Save the bickering for when we’ve
got the goods and are well away from here. There’s no use asking for
He seemed somewhat distracted, as if his attention was directed
elsewhere. His hands began to move in front of him, magically drawing
strands of foxfire between his fingers, making a ghostly cat’s cradle of
"I thought you said that no one knew about this stash?" Jim questioned.
"If the Council’s already checked this place out once and didn’t find
anything, what’re the odds that they’re within hearing distance now?"
"Better than you think," Rayne said with a smile.
Abandoned Factory – Same Time
"What was that?" Katherine asked as the slayer team made its way into
the depths of the building. She stopped and motioned for the others to do
the same as she looked around.
"What was what?" Mira asked.
"I thought I heard something," Katherine answered. "Didn’t you?"
"Nah," Mira said. Shrugs and headshakes from the other slayers
indicated that none of them had heard anything either. They all looked to
Livia for directions.
She looked at Katherine. Their eyes met, and it was as if they shared a
silent communication before Livia made the call to proceed. "Eyes open,
ladies. Be ready for surprises."
Abandoned Factory – A Short Time Later
Jim grunted as they made another go at the drill press, then he looked
up at Rayne. "You know, you could help instead of standing around
playing with your…what the hell is that stuff, anyway?" Jim asked.
Rayne smiled. "This?" he asked, stretching a strand of ghost-light
between his hands and twirling it into complex patterns that drew the
eye. "Just a bit of insurance I picked up on the black market. Nothing to
concern yourself over. As for me working, trust me, I’m hard at work
right this moment. So, you just mind your business, and I’ll—"
"Slayers!" hissed one of the strike team soldiers, cutting off Rayne. All
hands reached for their weapons.
"Easy, boys," Rayne cautioned. "Just take it easy. I told you I was hard at
work. Now just step back and watch the master."
"Showtime," he whispered as the light he held flared to life.
Abandoned Factory – A Short Time Later
"Okay, put your backs into it!" Livia ordered.
There were a few groans of protest, but the slayers gave a final shove,
and the drill press slid aside. Hidden underneath was a cache of
containers, including several marked with biohazard symbols.
"Looks like we’ve hit pay dirt," Mira observed. She brushed rust off her
hands, knelt down, and started passing the containers up to the other
"Good," one of the other slayers exclaimed. "This place gives me the
creeps for some reason. I keep feeling like I’m being watched."
Katherine shared a look with Livia.
Abandoned Factory – Same Time
"This is freaky," Jim said. He waved a hand in front of Mira’s eyes as she
lifted the last container from the stash. "But cool," he continued. "You do
have your uses after all," he said, looking at Rayne. He pulled his gun
and aimed it at Mira. "Can we ice them now?"
Rayne shook his head and rolled his eyes. "That’s the problem with you
hired goons: no sense of style. You never want to take time and savor the
moment. It’s always, ‘Let’s blow their brains out and get back in time for
a few rounds of brewskies with the boys.’ No stopping to smell the roses."
He sighed melodramatically. "Very well then, have at it. But start with
my former protégé." He gestured towards Katherine. "She senses
something. Always was too damned perceptive for my own good."
Jim hesitated a moment, shrugged, then walked over by Katherine, and
pointed his gun at her head.
Smiling widely, Rayne whispered, "Say good night, Katie. This may sting
"Good night, Sean," she instantly replied before flashing a grin in Rayne’s
Rayne froze with a look of shock on his face as Katherine, moving with
almost casual grace and speed, grabbed Jim’s hand and twisted. The
man screamed and dropped his gun to the floor.
Simultaneously, two of the Hubris soldiers, from their position of
concealment behind a stack of crates, took aim at Katherine. They never
got a chance to fire.
Livia, who had slipped behind them in their moment of distraction,
slammed their heads into the crates. Then, possibly to make sure they
were unconscious, or possibly just for the hell of it, the slayer slammed
their heads together. The two men slumped to the floor.
Katherine lifted Jim off his feet and propelled him directly into Rayne,
sending them to the ground and disrupting her former watcher’s spell.
A group of surprised slayers suddenly faced an equally surprised Hubris
strike team. Some of the soldiers began firing while others dove for cover.
The slayers dove right after them.
Katherine made for Rayne, who was struggling to his feet, when a burst
of automatic weapons fire sent her ducking for cover. From somewhere
behind a pile of debris came a burst of gunshots followed by a "Hoo-yah!"
from Mira. Then one of the Hubris’s finest sailed over the crates and
landed with a thud right in front of Katherine. When she looked back,
Rayne was gone.
Abandoned Factory – A Short Time Later
As her slayers finished securing the area, Livia spoke into her comm
"Yeah, we’ve got things buttoned up here," she said as she waved
Katherine over. "We’ve got Tyrell’s stash and a few prisoners. No, some
got away in the confusion. Yeah, Rayne was one of them. Slippery
Katherine shook her head as Livia continued. "What? Yeah, we’re all
okay. Thanks to Katie." Livia gave Katherine a grateful smile. "Things
woulda gone down real bad if she hadn’t managed to see through Rayne’s
spell and give me a heads-up about what was going down."
Livia listened intently for a minute. "That bad, huh? Okay, we’ll get the
stuff over there ASAP."
"More victims?" Katherine asked worriedly.
Livia nodded solemnly as she disconnected. "Come on, let’s get outta
Hubris, Inc. – Eris Pantelles’s Office – Later That Night
Eris rose imperiously from her chair and stalked over to stand before
Rayne and her strike team commander.
"What?!" she exclaimed.
"We, um, we were unable to,
um, retrieve the cache, ma’am,"
the commander said. "We were
"Attacked? By whom?"
"Slayers," Rayne supplied.
"Slayers?!" Eris demanded.
"So you know what that
means," Rayne said.
"Tyrell went to the Council. Damn it!" Eris complained. She paced a few
times until her eyes landed on her strike team commander. "Get out of
my sight!" she told him, and he instantly scurried from the room.
Eris circled back around her desk. "That son of a bitch..." She scowled a
moment, apparently deep in thought, then she smiled. "It doesn’t matter.
Nothing can save him now."
Watchers Council Infirmary – Quarantine Zone – Later That Night
In Tyrell’s room, Giles and Jocasta stood a few feet away as Dr.
McClelland loaded a hypodermic with the antidote from Tyrell’s stash.
On his bed, Tyrell was sweating and breathing hard, his face ashen and
creased in a grimace.
"Hurry, damn it!" Tyrell said before groaning and closing his eyes as pain
racked his body.
"According to Dr. So’s research, this antidote should take effect right
away," Dr. McClelland said softly to Giles and Jocasta as he injected the
serum into Tyrell’s I.V. line. "The patient should feel an immediate chill
and then experience a slow reduction in the level of pain as the virus is
eradicated throughout the body."
The three watched nervously, seemingly counting the seconds, as they
waited for Tyrell’s reaction. Tyrell groaned again, almost screaming, then
his eyes flew open.
"What are you waiting for? Give me the damn antidote!" Tyrell yelled.
Dr. McClelland looked at Giles and Jocasta in confusion, then turned
back to Tyrell. "We already did," he told the former chairman.
"What?!" Tyrell exclaimed. "Give me more, maybe it takes more!"
Dr. McClelland gave him another dose, and once again, they waited, and
once again, they were disappointed. The supposed antidote was clearly
having no effect.
Tyrell growled in frustration. "That bitch!"
"What is it?" Giles asked.
"Pantelles!" Tyrell answered. "She said that her scientists had modified
the virus, made it more virulent. They must have changed it just enough
Tyrell screamed and went into a stiff buck before going still, his eyes
rolling back into his head. Dr. McClelland instantly checked his vitals.
After a few seconds, Dr. McClelland let out his breath and turned back to
Giles and Jocasta.
"He’s still with us," the doctor said. "But he won’t be much longer if we
can’t find a cure."
"It’s got to be something close to what you already have," Jocasta said.
"Maybe if you compared the old strain to the new, created a matrix of
similarities and differences—"
"I don’t care what you do, just find a cure!" Giles commanded before
storming out of Tyrell’s room.
Watchers Council – Red Sector Lab – Same Time
Lex inspected the reinstalled arm on the suit. He gave a pleased nod then
gestured towards his assistant. Tom worked at the remote controls, and
the arm went through a series of maneuvers.
When Lex was finally satisfied, he said, "That’ll do. Good work, Tom."
Tom left the control panel and joined Lex by the Seraphim armor. Lex
shook his head and blinked his eyes a few times. Then he wiped his
forearm against his brow.
"I think I’ll head home," Lex told his assistant. "I’m not feeling very well
"You should have gone home hours ago," Tom chided.
"Yeah, yeah," Lex said as he headed for the exit. "Who promoted you to
Tom laughed as Lex finally left and then returned to testing the suit’s
controls. A moment later he looked up when he heard a loud thud. He
quickly walked to the exit, and the doors slid silently open. Outside was
the crumpled form of Lex Harris lying on the floor.
Watchers Council Infirmary – Quarantine Zone – Moments Later
Having shed her protective suit, Jocasta followed Giles as he strode
angrily through the outer area of the quarantined zone. She was hard
pressed to keep up with the chairman.
"Giles, wait a minute," she finally called as he reached the entrance.
"The Command Council needs to be informed of this, Jocasta," he said as
he stopped in place, allowing her to catch up with him.
"I know, but with everything going on, do you think it’s wise to go to
them before we have a viable solution?" she asked. "I mean, Travers has
them one step away from a vote of no confidence, and this could give him
what he needs to press the issue."
Giles did a double take as he looked at her in surprise. "Since when have
you become so proficient in politics?" he asked with a wry grin.
"Well, since my mentor became chairman, that’s when," she answered. "I
just think we need to give them something besides bad news."
"As much as I’d like to avoid it, I just don’t see how I—"
Giles was cut off when the double doors to the quarantined area opened
with a swoosh and a team of emergency medics rushed through escorting
a stretcher. Giles and Jocasta moved to the side of the corridor to allow
the team to pass. As it did, they could see that the patient’s face was
obscured by an oxygen mask, but suddenly Jocasta let out a gasp of
Watchers Council Infirmary – Quarantine Zone Waiting Room – Later
Giles leaned up against the wall, the weariness stark on his drawn
features. Jocasta sat next to Antonia on the lounge, holding her cousin’s
hand. The pilot’s eyes were dry, but red-rimmed with worry.
"He’s gonna be all right," Jocasta murmured.
Antonia snorted. "Are you trying to convince me or yourself?"
"Both, I think," she answered
with a sigh.
Giles straightened up as Dr.
McClelland entered the room.
"It’s just a relapse of the flu,
right?" Antonia blurted out,
confronting the doctor before he
could even speak.
"I’m afraid not, Ms. Allister," he said.
"It’s not…" Jocasta said, and her face fell as he nodded.
"It is," he said. "He’s got the virus."
End of Act Two
Watchers Council Infirmary – Quarantine Zone – The Next Morning
Lex groaned and slowly pried open his eyes. His skin was pale and
clammy; even his cybernetic eye seemed to glow in a paler shade of blue.
He grimaced in pain then
smiled when his eyes focused
on the faces of Jocasta and
"Well, hey," he croaked. "What
are you two doing here?" Lex
stopped smiling when he finally
noticed the protective suits they
were wearing. "Wait a minute..."
"You’re in the infirmary, Lex,"
Antonia told him, "under quarantine."
"Quarantine?" Lex said with a puzzled expression. Then his eyes grew
wide. "But that means that I— No, god no."
"Lex, baby, it’s gonna be okay," Antonia said urgently as she gave Lex’s
arm a small squeeze. "Right, Jo? Tell him."
"We’re working on a cure now, Lex," Jocasta said. "We’ll beat this thing, I
"Oh god, oh god," Lex gasped, his breathing becoming short and shallow.
"I’m not panicking. I’m not. I’m not. Stop looking at me like I’m
Tears began falling from his human eye as he struggled to keep control.
He looked at his girlfriend desperately. "Tell me this isn’t happening.
Antonia tried to hold back a sob but failed. She hugged Lex as best she
could, and the two of them began to cry in earnest. Jocasta added her
tears as well, but then she stopped and silently slipped away, giving the
couple some time alone.
Jocasta left the room, shed her protective suit, and exited the quarantine
zone. Katherine was waiting for her outside, and when she saw the
distraught redhead come out of the double-doors, she immediately went
to her. She wrapped her arms around Jocasta and hugged her tightly.
Jocasta dropped her against Katherine’s shoulders and let the sobs
Watchers Council – Conference Room – Later That Morning
Giles entered the room and glanced at its occupants as he moved around
to take his seat at the head of the large table. Jocasta and Katherine sat
to his right. Willowgram stood atop her mobile processor on the table in
front of Jocasta. To his left were Dr. McClelland, Livia, and James.
"Where’s Antonia?" he asked.
"With Lex," Jocasta answered sadly.
Katherine reached over and took Jocasta’s hand in a comforting grasp.
Jocasta gave her a grateful smile.
"Yes, of course," Giles said sympathetically. Then he turned to Dr.
McClelland. "You have a report, Doctor?"
"The CDC has quarantined the entire Council headquarters and its
grounds," the doctor began. "Everything’s locked up tight, no one in or
"That’s pretty harsh," Livia said, her eyes darkening.
"We’re lucky that’s all they did," McClelland said. "They could have
carted us all down to their center in Atlanta and sealed the building. It’s
only because we have better facilities than they do that they’re allowing
us to stay here."
"Have there been any cases in other cities?" Giles asked.
"Not that the CDC has reported," the doctor replied. "But it takes time for
their advisory to trickle down."
"Willow?" Giles said. "Any reports on the network which could indicate
"Accessing," Willowgram said. After a few seconds, she added, "Nothing
"Thank you," Giles said and leaned back in his chair. "How is Tyrell’s
"Not good," McClelland answered. "The disease is progressing steadily.
The large bones in his legs are nearly completely petrified. The bones in
his arms and torso aren’t far behind. We seem to have slowed it down
some with a steroid drug commonly used to treat arthritis."
"Stiffening of the joints?" Livia said.
"Exactly," he nodded. "But it’s not halting the disease. His lungs and liver
and kidneys are already showing signs of stress. And Tyrell is in
increasing pain as the disease advances. We’ve got him on strong doses
of narcotics, but it’s not helping much."
"Good," Jocasta said spitefully.
"Jo!" Giles warned.
"I’m sorry, Giles, but he deserves it," Jocasta fumed. "Use him as a
guinea pig if it’ll help Lex, but don’t coddle the bastard."
"That’s enough, Jo," Giles said. "Tyrell will be punished for his crimes
with all due process, but until then we’ll treat him as humanely as we
would anyone else. Is that clear?"
Jocasta mumbled an assent, and Giles turned to Livia. "I want you and
Katherine to work closely with Velika on damage control, both within and
outside the building. We must do all we can to prevent a panic." Both
"I need more computer resources," McClelland chimed in. "Just mapping
out the genome of this virus is taking up everything the medical
"James?" Giles asked.
The technician looked surprised to be addressed. "Oh, um, I can make
additional memory and processing available to the medical computers. I
can even tie in to outside resources such as government agencies and
large private sector supercomputers if I have to. We can borrow
processing time without them even being aware of it."
"Is that legal?" Katherine asked.
"Well, not exactly," James admitted, tracing the wood grain pattern on
the table in front of him.
"Do what you have to, James," Giles said. "In the meantime, I’ll handle
the Command Council. I’ve already contacted Senator Townsend and
issued a press release denying the allegations that we’re the source of
this virus." He turned to Jocasta. "Jo, I’d like you and Willow to assist
Dr. McClelland in any way you can. I know you’re not trained in
medicine, but your computer skills are invaluable, and Willow can
quickly analyze the data."
Jocasta nodded, and Willowgram beamed happily.
"Well, if there’s nothing else," Giles said and looked at each of them.
"Then let’s get to work."
Watchers Council – Council Chambers – Later That Morning
Giles rapped the gavel on the podium, but the sound was drowned out by
the shouting in the room. Giles gave Veronica an exasperated look. She
shrugged, and Giles turned back to the podium. Giles banged the gavel
again much louder. When that failed, he finally shouted at the top of his
"Councilors!" he roared, and the din finally subsided.
He sent a glare around the room, and the councilors took their seats
"I know this is upsetting, but we must remain calm in the midst of the
storm," Giles said.
"Remain calm?!" Travers snapped as he stood to his feet. "A deadly virus
is loose in the city, and the Council is being blamed for it, and in the
meantime, we’re trapped here in HQ, sealed in by the CDC, while our
elite medical staff sits around, scratching their heads, wondering which
end of the thermometer goes up their ass!"
Councilors throughout the room echoed their support of Travers’
assessment. Travers remained standing and addressed Giles again.
"The Council has seen nothing but a string of disasters since you became
Chairman," Travers stated. "I think it’s high time that you resigned and
allowed someone more capable to take over the leadership."
Once again, a large contingent of councilors verbalized their support.
"And if I don’t?" Giles said.
"Then I’ll be forced to begin formal proceedings against you," Travers
Giles and Travers engaged in a long and chilly stare-off as councilors
held their breath and waited. Giles finally broke the tension by smiling
"Go ahead," he told Travers. "I have nothing to fear if the truth comes
out, and believe me, when Tyrell starts talking, the truth will come out.
Then we’ll see who’s still standing around here."
Travers glared and said nothing more as he returned to his seat.
Watchers Council Infirmary – Lab – Afternoon
The bank of vid screens positioned behind Dr. McClelland displayed a
variety of amino acid sequences and viral interactions. A 3D holo-
simulation of viral protein folds hovered over the table. Willowgram
walked over to it and ran her
hand along one of strands of
"Here," she said, indicating one
of the vertices. "And here," she
added, pointing to a paired
helix of amino acids. "These are
two primary changes between the old version of the virus and the one
modified by Hubris."
"Not much, but it’s enough," Jocasta said. "Hard to believe that such a
small change could keep the antiviral agents from working."
"It does, though," Willowgram replied.
"Looks like we've got our work cut out for us," Dr. McClelland said to the
Watchers Council – Giles’s Office – Same Time
Giles and Veronica trudged wearily into the chairman’s office and sank
into two of his leather chairs. Veronica rubbed her temples and groaned.
"Tell me again why we took this job?" Veronica said.
"Sorry. Can’t remember at the moment," Giles replied. "Something about
making the world safe for puppies and Christmas, I believe."
Veronica snorted a small giggle, and Giles joined her with a chuckle.
"You certainly cut Travers off at the knees this morning," Veronica said.
"An empty threat, I’m afraid," Giles said ruefully. "I don’t expect Tyrell to
implicate Travers in any way."
"Both of them!" Veronica said with a smile.
"No argument here," Giles agreed. "Unfortunately, we’re stuck with the
two of them."
"Especially Tyrell," Giles said. "He’s the Council’s best bet for getting out
of this mess."
"Yippee, I feel better already," Veronica said flatly.
Hubris, Inc. – Eris Pantelles’s
Office – Same Time
Eris sat at her desk, typing on
her computer, a grim
expression on her face. When
the proper screen had been
accessed across the securely
encrypted line, she typed the
Eris paused, allowing herself a smile. Then she sobered and added a few
more instructions. When she was done, she hit the send button.
Watchers Council Infirmary – Quarantine Zone – Moments Later
Antonia set the wireless keyboard aside, turned off the computer screen,
and turned it back to face Lex’s bed. Then she went to stand beside Lex.
She looked sadly at him as he slept fitfully. She patted his arm with her
gloved hand then headed for the door.
Antonia stuck her head out and looked down the hallway where Tyrell’s
room was located. Her eyes were cold and hard.
Watchers Council – Hallway – Same Time
Travers looked intently at the screen on his pager for a few moments,
then closed it. He narrowed his eyes thoughtfully then walked off in a
Watchers Council – John West’s Office – Same Time
John was at his computer, carefully reading a message on his screen. He
typed a quick reply, sent it, and logged off.
He stood up, took a deep breath, and then left his office.
Watchers Council – Computer
Center – Same Time
James abruptly got up from his
station and started to leave.
Anya hurried over and called
out to him.
"Where are you going?" she
"Don’t worry about it, I’ll be back soon," he answered.
Watchers Council Infirmary – Quarantine Zone – Moments Later
Activity in the quarantine zone was busy as nurses and doctors and
technicians moved about in their protective suits. No one paid any mind
when a similarly suited figure moved down the corridor towards Tyrell’s
room. The armed guard gave the figure a bored glance then returned to
staring at the wall. Looking briefly up and down the hallway, the figure
opened the door and stepped inside.
Watchers Council Infirmary – Quarantine Zone – Seconds Later
Tyrell shifted uncomfortably as the door opened and then closed again.
When the suited figure appeared above him, Tyrell’s eyes flickered open,
and he looked up questioningly at the person.
Instead of checking his vitals or administering more pain medication, the
figure crossed the room and picked up a pillow from an empty bed.
Tyrell gave a weak smile and tried to lift his head a little as the person
moved back to his bedside. The weak smile turned into a grunt of
surprise as the pillow covered his face, pushing him hard into the
mattress. His muffled protests went unheard outside.
Watchers Council Infirmary – Quarantine Zone – Seconds Later
Tyrell’s heavy arms moved weakly at his sides as he tried to claw at the
pillow on his face. As the
seconds passed, Tyrell’s
struggling waned. Finally, his
movements ceased altogether.
The door opened suddenly, and
Dr. McClelland came into the
room, holding a hypodermic.
When he saw the figure holding
the pillow over Tyrell’s face, the
doctor grabbed the assassin by
the back of his suit and
slammed him roughly against the nearest wall.
"Move, and I’ll stick this hypodermic right up your ass," the doctor
The assassin remained frozen as McClelland hit the emergency button on
the wall. A moment later, the armed guard and a gaggle of nurses flooded
"Hold him!" McClelland said, turning the suited figure over to the armed
guard. The guard shot a confused glance at the doctor, but held the
assassin firmly in his grip.
"He just tried to kill Tyrell," McClelland explained as he frantically ran
over to Tyrell and began CPR on the unconscious man. "Come on, damn
McClelland continued CPR until Tyrell coughed and sucked in a deep
"Finally!" the doctor said in relief. Then he motioned one of the nurses
forward. "Anna, take over."
McClelland approached the figure the guard was still holding. "Come on,
you," he said angrily before grabbing a fistful of suit and yanking the
assassin out of the room, with the guard right on their heels.
Once outside the quarantine area, McClelland pulled off his protective
suit and glared at the figure before him. Then he reached forward to grab
the assassin’s hood. As the hood slid off, Dr. McClelland gasped and took
a step back.
"Okay," he said calmly. "Didn’t see that coming."
Anya stared blankly at him for a moment. Then suddenly, she blinked
and came to. She put her hands on her hips and glanced angrily between
McClelland and the guard.
"What the hell is going on?" she demanded.
End of Act Three
Watchers Council – Conference Room – Late Afternoon
Jocasta and Antonia entered the conference room together, joining the
group that was already there. Giles and Veronica were near the head of
the table. John, Livia, and Katherine were seated in the middle. James
was conspicuously absent.
Jocasta and Antonia took the
chairs near Katherine.
"As I’m sure you’ve all heard by
now, someone tried to
assassinate Tyrell," Giles said,
opening the meeting. "However,
Dr. McClelland reports that
Tyrell is essentially unharmed
from the attempt."
"Too bad," Antonia muttered.
"Yeah," Jocasta agreed.
"Is it true that the assassin was Anya?" John asked.
"You mean the Annoying Neurotic Yackety Android?" Livia asked,
surprised. "Wait, I thought synthetics were programmed not to harm
"They are," Jocasta said. "The protocol is hardwired into their central
processing unit, making it virtually impossible to reprogram."
"And yet Anya’s programming was modified," Giles pointed out grimly.
"What does James have to say about it?" Veronica asked.
"Nothing at the moment," Giles said. "He’s been detained by Security."
"What?" Jocasta protested. "You don’t believe that James had anything to
do with it, do you?"
"It’s standard procedure," John said. "Anya belongs to him, and he does
have the skills necessary to modify her programming."
"So do I," Jocasta said, glaring at John. "So do you, for that matter."
Then she turned her attention to Giles. "So do a lot of people around
here. And there’s no shortage of people who would be glad to see Tyrell
"Like John said, it’s just standard procedure," Giles said. "And as for
your other point, who does want Tyrell dead?"
"Besides all of us?" Antonia snorted.
"The real question is who has the most to lose if Tyrell talks?" Veronica
"Indeed," Giles said, nodding in her direction. "I think it’s clear who
ordered the android to make the attempt on Tyrell: Eris Pantelles."
"So, what do you need for us to do?" John asked.
"I’d like for you to question James," Giles told him. "Find out everything
you can about where and how he acquired Anya. And then I’d like you to
analyze the android and find out what you can about how her
programming was altered."
John nodded, and Giles turned to his slayers. "Livia, Katie, I’d like you to
guard Tyrell. Since someone went to such great lengths to silence him,
he’s even more valuable to us than before."
"I can help John with Anya," Jocasta offered when Giles turned to her.
Giles nodded in acknowledgement.
A look of shock and then anger appeared on Antonia’s face at Jocasta’s
statement. She glared at her cousin and then looked away.
"Thank you," Giles said. "That is all."
Giles moved into an adjacent office, and Veronica followed him in. Once
Giles had left, Antonia immediately stood up, gave Jocasta another glare,
and then stormed from the room. Jocasta started to say something, but
her angry cousin was already gone. John came over and touched
"I’ll see you back at the lab," John said.
When Jocasta nodded, John gave her shoulder a squeeze, flashed an
encouraging smile, and left the room. Livia followed him to the door.
Katherine pulled Jocasta close and touched her cheek.
"Are you okay?" she asked.
"No," Jocasta said in a hurt voice. "Why is she so—"
"You should talk to her," Katherine said, looking deeply into Jocasta’s
eyes until her gaze was met.
"Okay," Jocasta said after a long stare.
"If you need to talk, you know where to find me," Katherine said.
Jocasta forced a smile, and Katherine kissed her soundly. Then
Katherine joined Livia by the door, and the two slayers headed for the
infirmary. Jocasta took a few moments to center herself then left to find
Watchers Council – Office Beside Conference Room – Same Time
As Giles began gathering his belongings, Veronica came and perched on
the corner of the desk.
"And what do you need from me, Sebastian?" Veronica asked.
Giles looked up at her and blinked in confusion. "What?"
"Well, you gave everyone else a task..." Veronica prompted.
"Oh, yes," Giles said. "Yes, I did."
"So, what do you need me to do?"
Giles sighed. "Support me…as you always have." He took her hand in his
and then kissed her knuckles. "Oh, and keep Travers off my back."
Veronica let out a bark of laugher as she pulled her hand away and stood
up. "What do you think I am? A miracle worker?"
Giles let out a rueful chuckle.
Watchers Council – Outside The Conference Room – Moments Later
Jocasta strode out of the conference room and headed for the elevator.
She stopped when she noticed Antonia standing in the windowed alcove
nearby. Jocasta took a deep breath then walked slowly over to her
cousin. She placed a gentle hand on Antonia’s back.
"How could you?!" Antonia
demanded, whirling around to
"What? What did I do?" Jocasta
asked, truly confused.
"You chose to stop helping Dr.
McClelland so that you could
work on that stupid android!"
Antonia accused. "Lex is dying,
and you don’t seem to care!"
"Of course I care!" Jocasta said. "How can you say that?"
"Then why aren’t you helping Dr. McClelland find a cure?"
"Because Dr. McClelland doesn’t need me. Willow’s helping him. She’s
actually more useful to him than I am."
Antonia huffed in retort and shook her head. She gave Jocasta a final
glare and pushed past her. "Fine. Go play with your little circuits and
your subroutines. Maybe Lex will still be alive when you’re done!"
Antonia stomped away. Jocasta watched with a pained expression as
Antonia passed the elevators and went straight to the stairwell,
slamming the metal door behind her.
Watchers Council – Gray Sector Lab – Later
Jocasta sat behind a computer,
monitoring the read-outs as
John began attaching cables to
the access ports in Anya’s arm.
"Is all this really necessary?"
Anya asked, looking around at
the equipment. "I’ve run a full
diagnostic, and there’s nothing
wrong with me."
"Anya, you tried to kill
someone," Jocasta replied. "I think that falls in the ‘something is wrong’
"Well, I only have your word for that," Anya answered testily. "Sounds
like a bunch of nonsense if you asked me. I have safety protocols, you
Jocasta looked up and smiled reassuringly at the android. "I know you
do, but something is overriding them or bypassing them. It’s buried so
deep in your programming that you’re not even aware of it."
Anya scoffed and then pinned Jocasta with an icy stare. "If it is, you’ll
never find it...Colonel." Jocasta and John both froze at the cold tone.
Then, Anya winced and slapped John’s hand. "Hey! Watch the
upholstery, mister. I’m not made of plastic here."
John rolled his eyes. When all the cables were hooked up, he moved to
sit at another computer. He typed a few keys then said, "Okay, give it a
Jocasta typed in a series of commands and then groaned. "I can’t seem
to get past this coding. All I’m getting are error messages." She looked up
at John, but he shook his head and shrugged. Jocasta sighed. "Let’s try
another route then."
As they typed, Anya sat silently for exactly ten seconds before blowing
out an irritated breath and trying to fix her mussed hair. "I don’t know
why I have to be treated like a prisoner," Anya muttered, glancing darkly
at the armed guard standing by the door. "If someone did tamper with
my programming—which I seriously doubt—then it’s not really my fault,
now is it?" Anya softened her tone and continued. "I mean, it’s not like I
would’ve had a choice. It wouldn’t really be me doing it...right?"
Jocasta gave Anya a sympathetic smile, but it didn’t seem to comfort
Anya. The android huffed and turned her attention to John. Her eyes
narrowed as she watched him pick up another tool and approach her.
"That better not be what I think it is," she growled.
John held up the tool and twirled it slightly. Anya rolled her eyes and
lifted up the back of her shirt to reveal another panel in her lower back.
"Why I let you two clowns tinker with my highly sophisticated body is
beyond me," she grumbled. "Where the hell is James?"
Watchers Council – Detention Area – Later
James sat on the floor of his cell, thumping his head lightly against the
wall. Every time his head knocked against the wall, the guard outside the
cell tensed and glared. James smirked and then glared right back.
"Unbelievable," he mumbled to himself. "High-profile guy like me, and I
get the jumpy rookie."
The door to the cell wing slid open, and Jocasta and John walked in.
James scrambled to his feet as they spoke to the guard and then
approached the cell.
"Can somebody please tell me what’s going on?" he asked through the
perforations in the glass wall. "They said something about Anya going
crazy and trying to kill someone, but they wouldn’t tell me anything
"Well, they’re half right," Jocasta said. "Anya hasn’t gone crazy, but she
did try to kill Tyrell."
James looked shocked. "That’s impossible! She’s programmed not to hurt
anybody. I updated her security protocols myself!"
John shared a concerned look with Jocasta then cleared his throat. "Are
you sure you’re the only person that’s ever worked on her?"
"Of course I am. Well, except for the techs that built her. But I’ve taken
care of all of her maintenance, personally."
"And why is that?"
James crossed his arms and glared at John. "Wait a minute, you think I
stripped her protocols? Zasranec! You—"
"No, we don’t," Jocasta interrupted. "And where did you learn that kind
At James’s abashed grin, she shook her head. "Look, we all know that
Eris Pantelles and Hubris are the bad guys here, but we need to figure
out exactly when Anya’s program was tampered with so that we can
prove it. And we can’t do that without your help."
James looked unconvinced. "Well, you can’t just pick her apart and go
rooting through her systems! What if you damage her personality? Or-or
her memory or something else that’s important?"
"James, please," Jocasta pleaded.
"No way," James said defiantly.
"James, if we don’t do it, someone else will. You know we’ll take every
precaution." Jocasta stepped closer to the cell and lowered her voice.
"Look, we’ve run into nothing but error messages and weird code loops
when we’ve tried to find the subprogram that’s been controlling her. If
there’s anything you can do to help us figure it out, you need to tell us."
James cast a wary look at John then let out an exasperated breath.
"Fine! The errors you’re getting are probably just the trap doors I put in
to keep anybody from ever tampering with her."
At Jocasta’s raised eyebrow, he shrugged. "Yeah, yeah, fat lot of good it
did me. Anyway, Anya’s backups are in a security box in my quarters.
The key code is ‘two two beta charlie.’ They contain all the passwords
you’ll need to get into the basic structure of her programming."
Jocasta glanced at John, who nodded and hurried out of the room. She
turned back to James. "Thanks. We’ll get to the bottom of this, I
"Yeah, right. And then you’ll get me out of here?"
"Count on it."
Watchers Council – Gray Sector Lab – Night
Jocasta stood beside a table where Anya lay, still connected to the
diagnostic equipment. John finished loading the backups into his
"I told you before, you should let James do this," Anya snapped. "He does
all my maintenance. At least he knows what he’s doing."
John sighed and shot a pleading look at Jocasta. She only shrugged
"Don’t look at me," she said. "I even specialized in cybernetics, and she
doesn’t trust me anymore than she does you."
"I guess she really is a one-man
"Oh yes, fantastic. Mock the
dying android," Anya griped.
She crossed her arms over her
chest, then sighed when
Jocasta moved them back into
position at her sides. "You
know, if I actually received a
paycheck, I’d be asking for a
raise right about now," Anya muttered.
Jocasta ignored the android’s ranting and walked over to her computer.
"Okay, this is much better," she said as she typed.
The three sat in silence as Jocasta and John worked. It took several
minutes before Anya finally opened her mouth to say something. Before
she could, though, John cursed quietly.
"I still can’t get far enough into the program. It’s not even asking for
passwords anymore; it’s just looping me back to the beginning."
Jocasta nodded. "I’m seeing the same thing. Look, what if we—" She
paused and turned to Anya. "I think this might work better if
we...deactivate you temporarily."
John murmured his agreement, but Anya gasped and sat up.
"Deactivate me?! No! What? You can’t just turn me off! What if I never
wake up? Do you have any idea how hard it is to reinitialize a synthetic?
Why do think they only deactivate older synthetics? I’m not supposed to
be turned off until I’ve outlived my usefulness. Oh no," Anya looked up at
Jocasta with wide eyes. "Have I outlived my usefulness? Is James going
to get a new synthetic?"
"Anya! Calm down. We know what we’re doing." Jocasta got up and
gently patted the android’s shoulder. "James wouldn’t let us do it if he
thought you wouldn’t be okay.
"I don’t think he’d let you deactivate me!"
"It wouldn’t be for very long," John said. "We’re already pretty close. I’d
say an hour, tops."
Anya was silent for a moment. She glanced back and forth between
Jocasta and John. Finally, she lay back on the table and waved a
dismissive hand at them.
"Well, get on with it then."
John began the deactivation process. Jocasta moved closer to Anya and
looked down at the android with concern.
"Don’t worry. I’ll monitor your personality and memory pathways the
whole time. The computer will alert us before we can mess anything up.
Is there anything else that—"
"Will I dream?" Anya interrupted. She no longer looked cross, only
Jocasta blinked in surprise. She hesitated for a moment then smiled.
"Probably. Your brain’s very advanced. Practically human. I bet you’ll
have lots of dreams."
Anya sighed. "You’re a horrible liar. You see, this is why you’re so bad at
"How would you know? You’ve never played poker with me."
"Exactly. It wouldn’t be a challenge at all."
Jocasta chuckled. "Well, we’ll see about that when you wake up."
Anya just nodded. Jocasta looked up at John. He reached for the
keyboard and entered the commands that would deactivate the android.
As her systems began shutting down in sequence, Anya looked up at
Jocasta with wholly human fear in her eyes.
"Listen, if I don’t...I mean, if I’m—" Anya swallowed and then blinked a
couple of times. "Will you just tell James that—" She stopped and looked
"What do you want me to tell him?" Jocasta asked.
Anya was silent for a moment, then she sighed and rolled her eyes.
"Never mind. You wouldn’t get it right anyway."
As her last system finally shut down, Anya closed her eyes and lay still.
Jocasta watched the android’s unconscious form for several moments.
Then she turned and walked back to her computer.
"Okay," she said to John, "let’s make this quick."
Watchers Council Infirmary – Quarantine Zone – Same Time
Willowgram and Dr. McClelland watched the holographic simulation of a
virion attempting to attach to a cell. The viral particle’s capsid latched
onto the cell wall, and the observers held their breaths—the last several
simulations had been disappointments. The stress was beginning to
show on McClelland's face.
After a moment, the virion unrolled and broke apart.
"Yes!" McClelland exclaimed, pumping his fist. He smiled widely and
turned to Willowgram. "We don’t go after the viruses themselves—
instead, we eliminate their molecular chaperones..."
"...thereby destroying their ability to co-opt the cell’s manufacturing
infrastructure and to reproduce themselves," Willowgram finished.
"I do believe this is going to work," Dr. McClelland stated optimistically.
"So, we try it out?" Willowgram asked.
"Normally—and ethically—I should try it on animal subjects before using
it on a human being. But I’m not sure that Tyrell has the time to spare,"
the doctor answered.
"I’m not sure that Tyrell counts as a human being," Willowgram replied.
Watchers Council Infirmary – Quarantine Zone – Same Time
Tyrell’s face was pale, and his breathing was shallow. The monitors
tracking his vital signs beeped and chirped in increasingly irregular
patterns. Livia and Katherine watched with concern.
"He’s not looking so hot," Livia observed.
"Yeah," Katherine agreed. "He’s not a good man, but to die like this…"
Livia snorted in rebuttal. "He’s the bastard that had this stuff developed
in the first place. So as far as I’m concerned, he’s gettin’ what he
deserves. The only reason I’m hoping he hangs on is ’cause it might help
Lex and all the other victims."
A nurse entered and took Tyrell’s vitals with grim efficiency. She reached
out and thumbed the intercom. "Doctor, you’d better get down here.
Tyrell’s room," she told him.
Watchers Council Infirmary – Quarantine Zone – Later
Dr. McClelland inserted a hypodermic needle into a small vial and
extracted a dose of the new antiviral serum.
"How long will it be before we know if the cure is effective?" Katherine
asked as the doctor injected the syringe’s contents into Tyrell’s I.V. line.
"It had better work quickly or…" He trailed off before glancing worriedly
at Willowgram as she stood atop the bedside table.
They waited in awkward silence. Dr. McClelland watched the monitors as
they beeped and chirped. Livia shifted her weight several times before
shoving her hands into her pockets. Katherine wrung her hands
nervously. No one seemed inclined to engage in small talk. They waited
some more, watching Tyrell anxiously, until Willow broke the silence.
"It’s working!" the hologram announced happily.
Everyone looked at her and then at Tyrell. There wasn’t any visible
change in the former chairman’s condition.
"I’ve interfaced with his monitoring equipment," Willowgram explained.
"His blood oxygen level is increasing, and his pulse has steadied. His
temperature has increased, but that’s good because it means his body is
fighting the infection."
The room erupted in celebration.
Dr. McClelland held up the vial of antiviral serum. "Let’s go check on Mr.
Harris," he told Willowgram.
Watchers Council – Gray Sector Lab – Same Time
John looked up at Jocasta, watching her hands fly across the keyboard.
"And?" he prompted.
Jocasta didn’t look up as she continued scanning the computer screen.
"It was buried way down in the basics of her programming. See this?"
She pointed at an area on the screen and waited for John to move
around behind her before continuing.
"This is what a normal activation sequence looks like. The safety features
here and here are typical for all brands of synthetics. And these few
down here are upgrades specific to the Hyperdyne series. Now, this is
what Anya’s looks like." She typed a few more commands and then sat
back in her chair. "Behold the magical disappearing code."
"Wait a minute. You’re saying this was done when she was activated?"
"Yep, right there at Hubris, Inc." Jocasta rubbed her forehead wearily.
"At least this proves that James didn’t do it."
John nodded. "Unfortunately, it also means that Hubris has had a spy in
our midst for years."
Jocasta stood up and crossed the room. She sighed as she looked down
sadly at the deactivated Anya. "She was a pawn this whole time, and she
had no idea."
"Man, is she gonna be pissed when she wakes up," John said with a
Jocasta let out a sharp laugh that echoed in the silence of the lab. After a
moment, she regained her composure and activated her comm link.
"Giles, it’s me," she said into the link. "We’ve found the program. It looks
like Eris had it installed back when Anya was activated. It’s been
running silently in the background the whole time."
Jocasta listened and then nodded. Suddenly, she smiled brightly and
glanced back at John.
"A cure? That’s great, Giles! I’ll be over in just a minute. If you can get
them to release James, then he and John can start fixing Anya’s
She paused mid-sentence, her face contorting first into a look of
confusion, then into one of disbelief.
"Giles, you can’t be serious! But what about— Well, yes, but I—"
Jocasta’s expression tightened. "No," she said in a forced calm. "No, I
Jocasta shut off the link. John began to speak, but stopped when
Jocasta removed the headset from over her ear and threw it across the
room. He let a few tense moments pass before speaking.
"So...they’re not releasing James?"
"No. I mean, yes, they are." Jocasta gripped the edge of the lab table, her
knuckles turning white. She took a deep breath. "They’re not letting us
"What?!" John exclaimed. "Why the hell not?"
"I don’t know. Giles just said to leave her deactivated. He said a security
team would take her down to detention until the federal agents came for
John stood silently as Jocasta retrieved her link. She began gathering
cables and closing Anya’s access ports.
"You want me to tell him?" John asked quietly.
Jocasta looked surprised by the question, then she shook her head. "No,
I should be the one."
John walked up behind her and gently touched her shoulder. "Let me
handle it. You’ve got a cousin to see to."
"Yeah, okay." Jocasta sighed, still looking down at Anya. "I wonder what
they’re going to do to her."
"I don’t know. But we’ll do what we can to get her back. She’s part of the
"Right," Jocasta replied. "She may be an annoying part of the team, but
she’s one of us."
Series of Shots – Night
-- Security guards lifting the deactivated Anya from the exam table
-- Jocasta moving to stop them, but John holding her back
-- The guards carrying Anya out of the lab
Series of Shots – Same Time
-- A weak but cured Tyrell sitting up in his hospital bed, addressing a
-- Giles and Travers and Veronica next to Tyrell as he makes his
-- The Senate HDT Committee watching Tyrell on their vid screens
Series of Shots – Same Time
-- Antonia sitting beside a clearly recovering Lex
-- Jocasta and Katherine entering Lex’s room cautiously
-- Jocasta smiling at Lex then looking at Antonia worriedly
-- Antonia getting up and hugging Jocasta tightly
-- Jocasta and Katherine joining Antonia around Lex’s bed, smiles all
Series of Shots – Same Time
-- A guard opening James’s cell and releasing him from detention
-- John greeting James outside the cell and shaking James’s hand
-- John with a serious
expression giving James the
bad news about Anya
-- James pushing past John
and running down the line of
-- James walking up to the cell
containing the deactivated Anya
-- Anya crumpled like a rag doll in the corner of the cell
-- James touching the glass of the cell wall sadly
Series of Shots – Same Time
-- Black transports landing all around the headquarters of Hubris, Inc.
-- Federal agents in SWAT gear pouring out of the transports
-- The agents blasting through the entrances and flooding the premises
-- Soldier bursting into Eris Pantelles’s office but finding it empty
Channel 21 News Net Studio – The Next Day
"The Watchers Council has been officially cleared of any wrong-doing in
the case of the petrifaction virus," Lisa Lance said solemnly toward the
main camera. "In fact, it is due to the efforts of the Council that a cure
was found so quickly. Federal authorities have instead turned their
attention to Hubris, Inc. Last night a team of federal agents raided
Hubris’s headquarters, but they were unable to locate executive Eris
Pantelles, who has been implicated in both the development and the
release of the deadly virus."
Lance turned to the side camera. "Earlier today, the Senate confirmed its
appointment of the Human Defense Treaty contract to the Watchers
Council. Was their decision the right one? Only time will tell. Stay tuned
for more breaking news, here on Channel 21!"
End of THE SHADOW OF DEATH