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    Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Season Eight, Issue #1
    “The Long Way Home, Part I”

    Prologue Summary:
    This story takes place after the end of Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season Seven.

    Start of Issue #1

    The opening image is the sun rising over the curve of the Earth from outer space.

    (NARRATION) BUFFY: The thing about changing the world… once you do it, the world’s all different.

    The next image is of Buffy herself, along with three other Slayers, jumping on tether lines out of one of the two helicopters visible in the night sky. All four are dressed in combat-style jumpsuits.

    Buffy and one of the others, a blonde-haired girl with a backwards cap (later revealed to be ROWENA), are carrying what appear to be lasers of some kind. The rear-most Slayer, with long, red hair (whose name is later revealed to be LEAH), leaps with her arms out to either side, clearly ready for a fight. Buffy’s third companion is a young Asian woman with a cap that has small cat ears and several buttons on her uniform, including one that says “rude girl” (her name is SATSU).

    (NARRATION) BUFFY: Everybody calls me ‘ma’am’ these days.

    As the team of Slayers descends, Buffy fires her laser-like weapon below her, where it appears to disrupt some kind of energy field.

    (NARRATION) BUFFY: There used to be one Slayer in all the world.

    Buffy is shown entering a crouching posture as she prepares to land.

    (NARRATION) BUFFY: Eighteen hundred now, that we’ve counted. Almost five hundred working with us, in ten separate squads.

    Buffy lands as the other Slayers are shown dropping through the hole in the force field.

    (NARRATION) BUFFY: There’s even three of me.

    From a wide-view, we see the women have arrived on the roof of a run-down castle on the top of a bluff. There’s an old cemetery in the foreground.

    BUFFY: Field’s vaped and we’re on the roof.

    RADIO-VOICE: Access should be right in front of you.

    The four are shown positioned in front of a boarded window, with Leah closest to it and Buffy just behind her. Rowena is covering their rear with a spear gun, and Satsu is shown to be providing camera coverage from a head-mounted camera to whoever is on the radio to the team.

    BUFFY: Leah, open her up.

    (NARRATION) BUFFY: The guys figured I was a target, set up two other Slayers to be me. One’s underground. Literally. One’s in Rome, partying very publicly – and supposedly dating some guy called “The Immortal.”

    Next we see Buffy and Satsu looking through the broken boards into the dark of the castle.

    (NARRATION) BUFFY: That part was Andrew’s idea. He did research on the guy, said it would be hilarious for some reason.

    SATSU: Can’t see a thing, ma’am.

    BUFFY: Can *smell* a thing, though.

    (NARRATION) BUFFY: Here at Command Central, not so much with the hilarious. More with the “what the hell am I doing?”

    Buffy dives into the open window, leaving the three Slayers watching her, confused.

    LEAH: What th’hell is she doing?

    (NARRATION) BUFFY: It’s not all that different, though. Still got my demons. And I still got my Watcher.

    We switch to a much different scene, in what appears to be a control room. Several young women, presumably Slayers, are working at computers around the edge of the room. Off to the side, what appear to be two young witches are concentrating on a glowing red ball between them. The room has a panel of monitors, one showing a confused Leah shrugging, through Satsu’s camera. In the middle of the room is a platform, clearly for command. And on the platform, is a man with his arms crossed behind his back… and an eye-patch visible over his right eye. He is wearing a grey and black uniform that looks very sleek.

    (NARRATION) XANDER: I used to be in construction.

    XANDER: You’re five by five, Buf. Satellite has them clustered by the altar and our psychics read them as unaware.

    We see Xander’s face in close-up.

    XANDER: Soon as Rowena’s placed, we’re go.

    (NARRATION) XANDER: Pay was good, hours were way better than this. They even ended occasionally.

    A young woman with short, curly brown hair looks up from her monitor to get Xander’s attention (this is RENEE)

    (NARRATION) XANDER: But when duty calls… you don’t exactly get to screen.

    RENEE: Mister Harris, we’ve got a development with the Barcelona squad.

    Xander walks over to her monitor to get more information.

    RENEE: Vamp nest looks a lot bigger than they thought.

    XANDER: How many in the squad?

    RENEE: Seven. Donna’s running them, but they’re pretty green.

    Xander looks at her monitor from over Renee’s shoulder.

    XANDER: Andrew’s still working southern Italy – tell him to pick his ten best, hop over.

    RENEE: Roger that.

    XANDER: Tell him his ten best. Not ten best *dressed*. We don’t want another Orvieto.

    RENEE: Yes, Mister Harris.

    Xander returns to the main monitor for the current mission, but takes a moment to address a concern with Renee.

    XANDER: “Xander”, Renee, I told you, it’s “Xander” or “Sergeant Fury”.

    The angle reverses and we see Renee smiling coyly with her head low so that Xander wouldn’t be able to see even if he happened to pay close attention.

    RENEE: Wasn’t Nick Fury a *colonel* when he ran S.H.I.E.L.D.?

    XANDER: I like him better in the “Howling Commando” days. But your nerd points are accumulating impressively.

    RENEE: I try, Sergeant.

    Xander has returned his attention to the mission monitor, where Satsu’s camera shows Buffy standing outside a wooden door with the group behind her.

    Xander: (into radio) Okay, Buf. Game on.

    Back in the castle, the wooden door is launched across the room. Buffy’s side-kicked it out of the frame, her leg still extended. The image reverses to one of three very large and gruesome demons in the center of the large room. They have tentacles like hair and tusks. Between them, there are at least two human bodies, men, obviously dead.

    We see a close-up on Buffy’s face, looking determined and ready for a fight.

    (NARRATION) BUFFY: Their first victims. Gotta get ‘em past it.

    BUFFY: Flank ‘em. Now.

    Buffy charges the first demon alone. It stands up, ready to fight her.

    DEMON: Thissss one… looks tasssty.

    The demon lunges and brings a fist down where it expects Buffy, but she slides beneath its head, kicking its arm as she stops.

    BUFFY: Thanks, I work out.

    Buffy fires a punch upwards from below its chin with a large *KRAK*, but the demon wraps her ankle with its tail and whips her out, throwing her across the room toward the altar.

    BUFFY: AHH!

    Buffy crashes through the altar, shattering it. A large cross falls from the altar towards Buffy. In a new panel, the other two demons are stalking toward Leah and Satsu, who appear to be cornered.

    DEMON #2: Sssad little girl… Lossst the element of sssurprise.

    Suddenly, both of these demons are skewered from behind through the head and neck, gore scattering with a *CRISSH* and a *UUURLLLGH!*

    From Leah and Satsu’s perspective, we see the shots came from outside the building. Rowena and two previously unseen Slayers are hanging on repelling lines and holding the spear-guns seen earlier.

    ROWENA: Dat vent vell.

    Meanwhile, Buffy is still facing off with the first demon. The Slayers watch from near the window as it faces off with her. Buffy is holding the large gold cross from the destroyed altar in front of her, a peg sticking out of the bottom of it where it was seated in the altar.

    DEMON: Sssstupid human, I am no vampire. You think I fear the cross?

    In a blur of movement, Buffy pounces, driving the base of the cross through the top of the demon’s skull with a *SHUUK*. The demon’s teeth shatter as it head is driven to the ground. Grimly, Buffy pulls the cross back up toward her shoulder, staring down at the demon.

    BUFFY: Might wanna start.

    We see a view from the ceiling. Leah is watching as Buffy gently sets the cross aside against a stone column. The other Slayers are surveying the three demons and the human bodies.

    LEAH: That were a wee bit repulsive.

    BUFFY: Went okay. ‘Cept I feel a little weird about using a crucifix to kill someone.

    LEAH: Yeh dinno much about religion, do yeh?

    SATSU: (looking at one of the men’s bodies) Ma’am? What is that?

    Buffy joins her and they stare down at the man’s chest.

    SATSU: On his chest.

    We see a symbol has been carved into the man’s chest. It is made up of a straight horizontal line, an intersecting semi-circle above it, and a four pointed diamond about and left of the shape.

    BUFFY: This isn’t recent.

    SATSU: They were hostage for a time?

    BUFFY: Satsu, zoom in. Xander, send this to Records. Copy Giles on it.

    XANDER: (through the radio) Gotchya.

    Rowena, Leah, and Satsu watch as Buffy walks toward the wall, apparently inspecting a container.

    ROWENA: Vhat are you thinkink?

    BUFFY: Self-inflicted. I don’t think these are random victims.

    The image moves over to Buffy, who is lifting the rifle she has found out of the container. It appears to be an M-16. She hefts it as though familiar with it, and looks at it with concern.

    BUFFY: I think these boys were looking for a fight.

    In a wider view, the Slayers are still studying the room for more clues or equipment. Rowena pulls a tarp off of a machine on the floor, calling over to Buffy.

    ROWENA: I tink ta forcefield was deirs, too.

    UNNAMED SLAYER: So they wanted to be alone with those things? That doesn’t add up.

    The image gradually begins pulling away through a shattered stain glass window. The Slayers have assembled around their leader, who speaks with her hands upturned as if teaching.

    BUFFY: This is all bad math. But that symbol…

    We see the group from even further above the castle.

    BUFFY: That’s gonna clear it up.

    The view pulls away even further. We can see almost the whole castle. Surprisingly, at least a hundred feet in the air, we see a pair of dark boots, dark pants, and the tail of either a dark cape or coat, as if of someone hovering high in the sky surveying the scene.

    BUFFY: That’s gonna tell us what those guys are part of.

    The next seen is very bright. A helicopter is coming out of view from the shining sun, cloud tops seen below it. One of the passengers is speaking.

    PASSENGER: An army.

    We see the inside of the helicopter. Behind the two pilots, we see into the passenger cabin of a military helicopter. The original speaker is a man in uniform, GENERAL VOLL, sitting with arms crossed and looking angry or impatient, probably both. Another passenger is with him, a MAN IN A BROWN SUIT with a briefcase held against his chest on his lap.

    MAN IN SUIT: You don’t think that’s overstating it, General Voll? Our intel says they’re too loosely affiliated to… I mean, they’re scattered in those –

    VOLL: “Squads,” right. Terrorists call ‘em “cells.”

    General Voll shoves his finger into his fellow passenger’s face as he continues to speak. Or rant.

    VOLL: We go ahead with this, we gotta be together on exactly what we’re facing. And that’s an army. They got power. They got resources. And they got a hard-line ideology that does not jibe with American interests.

    We get close enough to Voll’s face to see he wrinkles around his eyes, and his expression is very angry.

    VOLL: Worst of all, they got a leader. Charismatic, uncompromising, and completely destructive.

    Voll turns and looks out the window of the helicopter to support his next statement.

    VOLL: I mean, for the love of God…

    A stunning image appears before us as the view reverses. The helicopter is flying over a large crater than can only be Sunnydale.

    VOLL: … look what she did to her hometown.

    On the ground, a tent is set up on a two lane road with a humvee parked next to it. Guards stand outside it, and inside, men at computer stations are visible. It could even be the same road where the bus stopped in “Chosen”

    RESEARCHER: We have you at sixty feet under.

    Inside the tent, there are three men monitoring equipment, two in uniform, and the man who is speaking, wearing a shirt and tie.

    RESEARCHER: You must be picking up some traces.

    The view shifts to the surface of the crater. Despite some debris and a wrecked car visible, the surface appears to have grown smooth over the time since it’s collapsed. Three people in environmental suits are standing together over a hole that appears to have been bored deeper into the crater, below the surface of the rubble. There is a winch over it of the sort used to lower men into caverns or utility tunnels. A voice coming through a radio headset is heard belonging to a man lowered on the winch.

    SPELUNKER: That’s a negative, sir, unless you count the willies…

    The owner of the voice, also in an environment suit, is in a cavern opened up below. There is also visible debris here: bricks, a fire hydrant, a stove.

    SPELUNKER: It’s like a museum down here. But no bodies, and no mystical reading.

    From the shadows, two hands are reaching for the spelunking researcher, whose back is turned.

    SPELUNKER: I’m all alone down here.

    He turns, as if hearing something, but much too late to avoid whatever is charging him. With an *AAAAAAHHH*, the men in the tent at the side of the crater remove their headsets in surprise.

    The next image is the symbol the Slayer team found in the castle. It is projected on a black screen. A voice that is revealed to be Buffy’s asks a decent question.

    BUFFY: So what’s it all mean?

    The view reverses and we see that Buffy and Xander are alone in a study, with the image projected in front of them. Buffy is sitting on the end of a conference table, contentedly eating a sandwich, while Xander sits along the side, his legs tossed casually up on the table.

    XANDER: Nothing from the experts, but I’ve been studying it for a while.

    BUFFY: And?

    XANDER: I think it’s a frown turned upside down. And then turned upside down again.

    BUFFY: So you think it’s a frown?

    XANDER: Guy with a monocle frowning.

    BUFFY: You’re a terrible Watcher.

    XANDER: I’m not a Watcher.

    BUFFY: Well, clearly.

    Buffy gets up and walks over to the projected image, peering at it curiously. Xander stands up behind her, ready to change the topic.

    XANDER: Don’t call me a Watcher. And you need to talk to Dawn.

    BUFFY: (ignoring him) I think it’s a beautiful sunset.

    XANDER: Seriously, you gotta see Dawn.

    Buffy looks back over her shoulder at him, looking sad and a little weary.

    BUFFY: She’s just gonna whine.

    XANDER: She’s got a lot to whine about.

    BUFFY: There’s nothing I can do till we find Willow.

    Xander looks at her earnestly, and perhaps with admonishment.

    XANDER: You could be her sister.

    Buffy is next seen stepping through a door, some time after talking to Xander.

    (NARRATION) BUFFY: Xander is so stupid when he’s right. But all Dawn does lately is talk about her problems. Which admittedly…

    As Buffy steps through the door, she is in a large chamber of their base, which appears to be a castle. A stairwell wraps around the edge of the room. There are open portals in the ceiling, and it’s hard to tell if it’s a disused part of the castle, or meant to be a nursery or something else. Sitting in the middle of the room is DAWN. And she’s a giant. She literally fills the room sitting against one wall. She has a sad and lonely expression.

    (NARRATION) BUFFY: … have gotten bigger.

    BUFFY: Thought I’d come see you.

    DAWN: ‘Cause Xander made you?

    BUFFY: What are you talking about?

    DAWN: (ignoring the question) Has Willow called?

    BUFFY: I’m sure she will soon… but if you told me about it, I could at least get some of the apprentice witches…

    DAWN: I’m not talking to you about it.

    BUFFY: But you’ll talk to Willow.

    DAWN: Willow understands. She taught me a lot, especially when you were dead.
    BUFFY: Taught you a lot of what?

    Throughout this scene, Buffy is shown in several positions on the stairs around Dawn to indicate the passage of time. She and Dawn talk for at least a while, because when they resume speaking, Buffy has gotten comfortable, lying on her back on the landing of the stairs, looking at Dawn upside down.

    DAWN: … because you act like it’s my fault.

    BUFFY: You were dating a thricewise.

    DAWN: Kenny never said he was a thricewise!

    BUFFY: I said he was a thricewise. Leah said he was a thricewise. Giles said he was a thricewise and he only ever met him on the phone!

    Some time later again, Buffy is at the top of the stairs, about to leave Dawn’s room.

    BUFFY: You should get out, run around on the moor.

    DAWN: It’s frickin’ freezing! Why do we have to be in Scotland?

    BUFFY: You don’t have to be in Scotland. You have to be at Berkeley.

    DAWN: Believe me, as soon as I’m person-sized, I’m out of here.

    BUFFY: I got things to do.

    As Buffy steps out of Dawn’s room onto a circular stair going up, Dawn glares at her. Buffy glares over her shoulder right back.

    DAWN: I could swat you like a flea.

    BUFFY: Your butt looks big in those giant pants.

    Buffy begins climbing the circular stairs away from Dawn’s closed door.

    (NARRATION) BUFFY: How does that happen? How do we turn into twelve-year-olds all of a sudden every time we talk? Face it, we haven’t gotten along since…

    Buffy steps outside. Her face looks very sad as she stares out at the world around her.

    (NARRATION) BUFFY: … since we changed the world.

    The view becomes very wide, and we finally see Buffy and her friend’s new home. The castle sits high on a cliff side, and the view of the mountainous Scottish terrain is amazing. It appears to be sunset.

    (NARRATION) BUFFY: I miss my home.

    Buffy’s face turns toward us, looking as lonely as Dawn’s did.

    (NARRATION) BUFFY: I miss my mom.

    Buffy’s face turns down in profile as her thoughts wander.

    (NARRATION) BUFFY: I miss the gang. And churros. And sex. Great, muppety Odin, I miss that sex.

    Buffy’s face grows annoyed or angry as she loses her train of thought.

    (NARRATION) BUFFY: Ooh! I just *know* Dawn had sex with that Kenny and won’t say anything to me – but she’ll tell Willow. Fine, her first time and it all goes wrong with I’m *totally* well versed in and anyhow Willow’s the expert on boys since *when* now?

    Buffy reaches a hand to her forehead in frustration. She looks exhausted.

    (NARRATION) BUFFY: Outstanding. I can’t even feel *sorry* for myself in a linear fashion. Suck it up, Summers.

    Buffy sits with her legs hanging of the side of the castle wall. She is visible in silhouette.

    (NARRATION) BUFFY: You’re a big girl now.

    Halfway around the world, General Voll eyes are looking appalled through the slot in a metal door.

    VOLL: (whispering) Lord.

    Voll jumps back from the door, disgusted. He is in a hallway of what appears to be a laboratory or medical center. With him are the man in the brown suit and a doctor in a labcoat. He is looking at something we can’t see in a room or cell and doesn’t like it at all.

    VOLL: How it that thing alive?

    DOCTOR: Well, magic. Obviously.

    The three men leave the door and walk down the hallway. Other doors like that one are visible, as well as a nurse’s station.

    DOCTOR: We believe Subject One was keeping him alive. Keeping both of them alive, after the decimation.

    VOLL: But… I mean, did they eat? What did they eat?

    DOCTOR: Best guess? (stopping and looking at General Voll) Whoever else was trapped in there.

    Voll doesn’t enjoy the thought, and rubs his forehead under his hat.

    VOLL: Insane. At least tell me they had the decency to go insane.

    The doctor is moving toward a different cell as he responds to Voll.

    DOCTOR: Unstable, but surprisingly coherent. Subject One is the more vocal right now. Once our man underground got over his girly screaming fit, he told us her first words. (peers into the new door) “I’m gonna help you kill her.”

    Voll is very upset that that news, and begins waving his finger around.

    VOLL: Who compromised our intel –

    DOCTOR: Magic, General. You still have to learn the rules.

    VOLL: There aren’t any goddamn rules.

    DOCTOR: That’s sort of what I meant.

    Voll marches over to the door himself, ready to look in at Subject One. The man in the brown suit turns to the doctor with a question.

    MAN IN SUIT: Do you think she *can* help us?

    VOLL: What does she want?

    DOCTOR: Access to all our magical hardware. A weapons lab for her “boyfriend.”

    VOLL: You can’t mean they –

    DOCTOR: Try not to picture it. Also release and full immunity if they succeed in taking Buffy Summers down. And, well… she wants a lot of cheese.

    VOLL: (staring into the cell) Cheese. Of course. We got a name on this nut job?

    Inside the cell, a young woman is kneeling in a padded room. Her hair is unkempt, she’s wearing only a hospital gown, and is covered in bandages. In her hand, a green ball of magical energy is glowing as she stares at it, with a crazy smile on her lips.

    DOCTOR: Amy. She says her name is Amy.

    End of Issue #1
    Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Season Eight, Issue #1
    “The Long Way Home, Part I”

    Prologue Summary: This story takes place after the end of Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season Seven.

    Start of Issue #1

    The opening image is the sun rising over the curve of the Earth from outer space.

    (NARRATION) BUFFY: The thing about changing the world… once you do it, the world’s all different.

    The next image is of Buffy herself, along with three other Slayers, jumping on tether lines out of one of the two helicopters visible in the night sky. All four are dressed in combat-style jumpsuits.

    Buffy and one of the others, a blonde-haired girl with a backwards cap (later revealed to be ROWENA), are carrying what appear to be lasers of some kind. The rear-most Slayer, with long, red hair (whose name is later revealed to be LEAH), leaps with her arms out to either side, clearly ready for a fight. Buffy’s third companion is a young Asian woman with a cap that has small cat ears and several buttons on her uniform, including one that says “rude girl” (her name is SATSU).

    (NARRATION) BUFFY: Everybody calls me ‘ma’am’ these days.

    As the team of Slayers descends, Buffy fires her laser-like weapon below her, where it appears to disrupt some kind of energy field.

    (NARRATION) BUFFY: There used to be one Slayer in all the world.

    Buffy is shown entering a crouching posture as she prepares to land.

    (NARRATION) BUFFY: Eighteen hundred now, that we’ve counted. Almost five hundred working with us, in ten separate squads.

    Buffy lands as the other Slayers are shown dropping through the hole in the force field.

    (NARRATION) BUFFY: There’s even three of me.

    From a wide-view, we see the women have arrived on the roof of a run-down castle on the top of a bluff. There’s an old cemetery in the foreground.

    BUFFY: Field’s vaped and we’re on the roof.

    RADIO-VOICE: Access should be right in front of you.

    The four are shown positioned in front of a boarded window, with Leah closest to it and Buffy just behind her. Rowena is covering their rear with a spear gun, and Satsu is shown to be providing camera coverage from a head-mounted camera to whoever is on the radio to the team.

    BUFFY: Leah, open her up.

    (NARRATION) BUFFY: The guys figured I was a target, set up two other Slayers to be me. One’s underground. Literally. One’s in Rome, partying very publicly – and supposedly dating some guy called “The Immortal.”

    Next we see Buffy and Satsu looking through the broken boards into the dark of the castle.

    (NARRATION) BUFFY: That part was Andrew’s idea. He did research on the guy, said it would be hilarious for some reason.

    SATSU: Can’t see a thing, ma’am.

    BUFFY: Can *smell* a thing, though.

    (NARRATION) BUFFY: Here at Command Central, not so much with the hilarious. More with the “what the hell am I doing?”

    Buffy dives into the open window, leaving the three Slayers watching her, confused.

    LEAH: What th’hell is she doing?

    (NARRATION) BUFFY: It’s not all that different, though. Still got my demons. And I still got my Watcher.

    We switch to a much different scene, in what appears to be a control room. Several young women, presumably Slayers, are working at computers around the edge of the room. Off to the side, what appear to be two young witches are concentrating on a glowing red ball between them. The room has a panel of monitors, one showing a confused Leah shrugging, through Satsu’s camera. In the middle of the room is a platform, clearly for command. And on the platform, is a man with his arms crossed behind his back… and an eye-patch visible over his right eye. He is wearing a grey and black uniform that looks very sleek.

    (NARRATION) XANDER: I used to be in construction.

    XANDER: You’re five by five, Buf. Satellite has them clustered by the altar and our psychics read them as unaware.

    We see Xander’s face in close-up.

    XANDER: Soon as Rowena’s placed, we’re go.

    (NARRATION) XANDER: Pay was good, hours were way better than this. They even ended occasionally.

    A young woman with short, curly brown hair looks up from her monitor to get Xander’s attention (this is RENEE)

    (NARRATION) XANDER: But when duty calls… you don’t exactly get to screen.

    RENEE: Mister Harris, we’ve got a development with the Barcelona squad.

    Xander walks over to her monitor to get more information.

    RENEE: Vamp nest looks a lot bigger than they thought.

    XANDER: How many in the squad?

    RENEE: Seven. Donna’s running them, but they’re pretty green.

    Xander looks at her monitor from over Renee’s shoulder.

    XANDER: Andrew’s still working southern Italy – tell him to pick his ten best, hop over.

    RENEE: Roger that.

    XANDER: Tell him his ten best. Not ten best *dressed*. We don’t want another Orvieto.

    RENEE: Yes, Mister Harris.

    Xander returns to the main monitor for the current mission, but takes a moment to address a concern with Renee.

    XANDER: “Xander”, Renee, I told you, it’s “Xander” or “Sergeant Fury”.

    The angle reverses and we see Renee smiling coyly with her head low so that Xander wouldn’t be able to see even if he happened to pay close attention.

    RENEE: Wasn’t Nick Fury a *colonel* when he ran S.H.I.E.L.D.?

    XANDER: I like him better in the “Howling Commando” days. But your nerd points are accumulating impressively.

    RENEE: I try, Sergeant.

    Xander has returned his attention to the mission monitor, where Satsu’s camera shows Buffy standing outside a wooden door with the group behind her.

    Xander: (into radio) Okay, Buf. Game on.

    Back in the castle, the wooden door is launched across the room. Buffy’s side-kicked it out of the frame, her leg still extended. The image reverses to one of three very large and gruesome demons in the center of the large room. They have tentacles like hair and tusks. Between them, there are at least two human bodies, men, obviously dead.

    We see a close-up on Buffy’s face, looking determined and ready for a fight.

    (NARRATION) BUFFY: Their first victims. Gotta get ‘em past it.

    BUFFY: Flank ‘em. Now.

    Buffy charges the first demon alone. It stands up, ready to fight her.

    DEMON: Thissss one… looks tasssty.

    The demon lunges and brings a fist down where it expects Buffy, but she slides beneath its head, kicking its arm as she stops.

    BUFFY: Thanks, I work out.

    Buffy fires a punch upwards from below its chin with a large *KRAK*, but the demon wraps her ankle with its tail and whips her out, throwing her across the room toward the altar.

    BUFFY: AHH!

    Buffy crashes through the altar, shattering it. A large cross falls from the altar towards Buffy. In a new panel, the other two demons are stalking toward Leah and Satsu, who appear to be cornered.

    DEMON #2: Sssad little girl… Lossst the element of sssurprise.

    Suddenly, both of these demons are skewered from behind through the head and neck, gore scattering with a *CRISSH* and a *UUURLLLGH!*

    From Leah and Satsu’s perspective, we see the shots came from outside the building. Rowena and two previously unseen Slayers are hanging on repelling lines and holding the spear-guns seen earlier.

    ROWENA: Dat vent vell.

    Meanwhile, Buffy is still facing off with the first demon. The Slayers watch from near the window as it faces off with her. Buffy is holding the large gold cross from the destroyed altar in front of her, a peg sticking out of the bottom of it where it was seated in the altar.

    DEMON: Sssstupid human, I am no vampire. You think I fear the cross?

    In a blur of movement, Buffy pounces, driving the base of the cross through the top of the demon’s skull with a *SHUUK*. The demon’s teeth shatter as it head is driven to the ground. Grimly, Buffy pulls the cross back up toward her shoulder, staring down at the demon.

    BUFFY: Might wanna start.

    We see a view from the ceiling. Leah is watching as Buffy gently sets the cross aside against a stone column. The other Slayers are surveying the three demons and the human bodies.

    LEAH: That were a wee bit repulsive.

    BUFFY: Went okay. ‘Cept I feel a little weird about using a crucifix to kill someone.

    LEAH: Yeh dinno much about religion, do yeh?

    SATSU: (looking at one of the men’s bodies) Ma’am? What is that?

    Buffy joins her and they stare down at the man’s chest.

    SATSU: On his chest.

    We see a symbol has been carved into the man’s chest. It is made up of a straight horizontal line, an intersecting semi-circle above it, and a four pointed diamond about and left of the shape.

    BUFFY: This isn’t recent.

    SATSU: They were hostage for a time?

    BUFFY: Satsu, zoom in. Xander, send this to Records. Copy Giles on it.

    XANDER: (through the radio) Gotchya.

    Rowena, Leah, and Satsu watch as Buffy walks toward the wall, apparently inspecting a container.

    ROWENA: Vhat are you thinkink?

    BUFFY: Self-inflicted. I don’t think these are random victims.

    The image moves over to Buffy, who is lifting the rifle she has found out of the container. It appears to be an M-16. She hefts it as though familiar with it, and looks at it with concern.

    BUFFY: I think these boys were looking for a fight.

    In a wider view, the Slayers are still studying the room for more clues or equipment. Rowena pulls a tarp off of a machine on the floor, calling over to Buffy.

    ROWENA: I tink ta forcefield was deirs, too.

    UNNAMED SLAYER: So they wanted to be alone with those things? That doesn’t add up.

    The image gradually begins pulling away through a shattered stain glass window. The Slayers have assembled around their leader, who speaks with her hands upturned as if teaching.

    BUFFY: This is all bad math. But that symbol…

    We see the group from even further above the castle.

    BUFFY: That’s gonna clear it up.

    The view pulls away even further. We can see almost the whole castle. Surprisingly, at least a hundred feet in the air, we see a pair of dark boots, dark pants, and the tail of either a dark cape or coat, as if of someone hovering high in the sky surveying the scene.

    BUFFY: That’s gonna tell us what those guys are part of.

    The next seen is very bright. A helicopter is coming out of view from the shining sun, cloud tops seen below it. One of the passengers is speaking.

    PASSENGER: An army.

    We see the inside of the helicopter. Behind the two pilots, we see into the passenger cabin of a military helicopter. The original speaker is a man in uniform, GENERAL VOLL, sitting with arms crossed and looking angry or impatient, probably both. Another passenger is with him, a MAN IN A BROWN SUIT with a briefcase held against his chest on his lap.

    MAN IN SUIT: You don’t think that’s overstating it, General Voll? Our intel says they’re too loosely affiliated to… I mean, they’re scattered in those –

    VOLL: “Squads,” right. Terrorists call ‘em “cells.”

    General Voll shoves his finger into his fellow passenger’s face as he continues to speak. Or rant.

    VOLL: We go ahead with this, we gotta be together on exactly what we’re facing. And that’s an army. They got power. They got resources. And they got a hard-line ideology that does not jibe with American interests.

    We get close enough to Voll’s face to see he wrinkles around his eyes, and his expression is very angry.

    VOLL: Worst of all, they got a leader. Charismatic, uncompromising, and completely destructive.

    Voll turns and looks out the window of the helicopter to support his next statement.

    VOLL: I mean, for the love of God…

    A stunning image appears before us as the view reverses. The helicopter is flying over a large crater than can only be Sunnydale.

    VOLL: … look what she did to her hometown.

    On the ground, a tent is set up on a two lane road with a humvee parked next to it. Guards stand outside it, and inside, men at computer stations are visible. It could even be the same road where the bus stopped in “Chosen”

    RESEARCHER: We have you at sixty feet under.

    Inside the tent, there are three men monitoring equipment, two in uniform, and the man who is speaking, wearing a shirt and tie.

    RESEARCHER: You must be picking up some traces.

    The view shifts to the surface of the crater. Despite some debris and a wrecked car visible, the surface appears to have grown smooth over the time since it’s collapsed. Three people in environmental suits are standing together over a hole that appears to have been bored deeper into the crater, below the surface of the rubble. There is a winch over it of the sort used to lower men into caverns or utility tunnels. A voice coming through a radio headset is heard belonging to a man lowered on the winch.

    SPELUNKER: That’s a negative, sir, unless you count the willies…

    The owner of the voice, also in an environment suit, is in a cavern opened up below. There is also visible debris here: bricks, a fire hydrant, a stove.

    SPELUNKER: It’s like a museum down here. But no bodies, and no mystical reading.

    From the shadows, two hands are reaching for the spelunking researcher, whose back is turned.

    SPELUNKER: I’m all alone down here.

    He turns, as if hearing something, but much too late to avoid whatever is charging him. With an *AAAAAAHHH*, the men in the tent at the side of the crater remove their headsets in surprise.

    The next image is the symbol the Slayer team found in the castle. It is projected on a black screen. A voice that is revealed to be Buffy’s asks a decent question.

    BUFFY: So what’s it all mean?

    The view reverses and we see that Buffy and Xander are alone in a study, with the image projected in front of them. Buffy is sitting on the end of a conference table, contentedly eating a sandwich, while Xander sits along the side, his legs tossed casually up on the table.

    XANDER: Nothing from the experts, but I’ve been studying it for a while.

    BUFFY: And?

    XANDER: I think it’s a frown turned upside down. And then turned upside down again.

    BUFFY: So you think it’s a frown?

    XANDER: Guy with a monocle frowning.

    BUFFY: You’re a terrible Watcher.

    XANDER: I’m not a Watcher.

    BUFFY: Well, clearly.

    Buffy gets up and walks over to the projected image, peering at it curiously. Xander stands up behind her, ready to change the topic.

    XANDER: Don’t call me a Watcher. And you need to talk to Dawn.

    BUFFY: (ignoring him) I think it’s a beautiful sunset.

    XANDER: Seriously, you gotta see Dawn.

    Buffy looks back over her shoulder at him, looking sad and a little weary.

    BUFFY: She’s just gonna whine.

    XANDER: She’s got a lot to whine about.

    BUFFY: There’s nothing I can do till we find Willow.

    Xander looks at her earnestly, and perhaps with admonishment.

    XANDER: You could be her sister.

    Buffy is next seen stepping through a door, some time after talking to Xander.

    (NARRATION) BUFFY: Xander is so stupid when he’s right. But all Dawn does lately is talk about her problems. Which admittedly…

    As Buffy steps through the door, she is in a large chamber of their base, which appears to be a castle. A stairwell wraps around the edge of the room. There are open portals in the ceiling, and it’s hard to tell if it’s a disused part of the castle, or meant to be a nursery or something else. Sitting in the middle of the room is DAWN. And she’s a giant. She literally fills the room sitting against one wall. She has a sad and lonely expression.

    (NARRATION) BUFFY: … have gotten bigger.

    BUFFY: Thought I’d come see you.

    DAWN: ‘Cause Xander made you?

    BUFFY: What are you talking about?

    DAWN: (ignoring the question) Has Willow called?

    BUFFY: I’m sure she will soon… but if you told me about it, I could at least get some of the apprentice witches…

    DAWN: I’m not talking to you about it.

    BUFFY: But you’ll talk to Willow.

    DAWN: Willow understands. She taught me a lot, especially when you were dead.
    BUFFY: Taught you a lot of what?

    Throughout this scene, Buffy is shown in several positions on the stairs around Dawn to indicate the passage of time. She and Dawn talk for at least a while, because when they resume speaking, Buffy has gotten comfortable, lying on her back on the landing of the stairs, looking at Dawn upside down.

    DAWN: … because you act like it’s my fault.

    BUFFY: You were dating a thricewise.

    DAWN: Kenny never said he was a thricewise!

    BUFFY: I said he was a thricewise. Leah said he was a thricewise. Giles said he was a thricewise and he only ever met him on the phone!

    Some time later again, Buffy is at the top of the stairs, about to leave Dawn’s room.

    BUFFY: You should get out, run around on the moor.

    DAWN: It’s frickin’ freezing! Why do we have to be in Scotland?

    BUFFY: You don’t have to be in Scotland. You have to be at Berkeley.

    DAWN: Believe me, as soon as I’m person-sized, I’m out of here.

    BUFFY: I got things to do.

    As Buffy steps out of Dawn’s room onto a circular stair going up, Dawn glares at her. Buffy glares over her shoulder right back.

    DAWN: I could swat you like a flea.

    BUFFY: Your butt looks big in those giant pants.

    Buffy begins climbing the circular stairs away from Dawn’s closed door.

    (NARRATION) BUFFY: How does that happen? How do we turn into twelve-year-olds all of a sudden every time we talk? Face it, we haven’t gotten along since…

    Buffy steps outside. Her face looks very sad as she stares out at the world around her.

    (NARRATION) BUFFY: … since we changed the world.

    The view becomes very wide, and we finally see Buffy and her friend’s new home. The castle sits high on a cliff side, and the view of the mountainous Scottish terrain is amazing. It appears to be sunset.

    (NARRATION) BUFFY: I miss my home.

    Buffy’s face turns toward us, looking as lonely as Dawn’s did.

    (NARRATION) BUFFY: I miss my mom.

    Buffy’s face turns down in profile as her thoughts wander.

    (NARRATION) BUFFY: I miss the gang. And churros. And sex. Great, muppety Odin, I miss that sex.

    Buffy’s face grows annoyed or angry as she loses her train of thought.

    (NARRATION) BUFFY: Ooh! I just *know* Dawn had sex with that Kenny and won’t say anything to me – but she’ll tell Willow. Fine, her first time and it all goes wrong with I’m *totally* well versed in and anyhow Willow’s the expert on boys since *when* now?

    Buffy reaches a hand to her forehead in frustration. She looks exhausted.

    (NARRATION) BUFFY: Outstanding. I can’t even feel *sorry* for myself in a linear fashion. Suck it up, Summers.

    Buffy sits with her legs hanging of the side of the castle wall. She is visible in silhouette.

    (NARRATION) BUFFY: You’re a big girl now.

    Halfway around the world, General Voll eyes are looking appalled through the slot in a metal door.

    VOLL: (whispering) Lord.

    Voll jumps back from the door, disgusted. He is in a hallway of what appears to be a laboratory or medical center. With him are the man in the brown suit and a doctor in a labcoat. He is looking at something we can’t see in a room or cell and doesn’t like it at all.

    VOLL: How it that thing alive?

    DOCTOR: Well, magic. Obviously.

    The three men leave the door and walk down the hallway. Other doors like that one are visible, as well as a nurse’s station.

    DOCTOR: We believe Subject One was keeping him alive. Keeping both of them alive, after the decimation.

    VOLL: But… I mean, did they eat? What did they eat?

    DOCTOR: Best guess? (stopping and looking at General Voll) Whoever else was trapped in there.

    Voll doesn’t enjoy the thought, and rubs his forehead under his hat.

    VOLL: Insane. At least tell me they had the decency to go insane.

    The doctor is moving toward a different cell as he responds to Voll.

    DOCTOR: Unstable, but surprisingly coherent. Subject One is the more vocal right now. Once our man underground got over his girly screaming fit, he told us her first words. (peers into the new door) “I’m gonna help you kill her.”

    Voll is very upset that that news, and begins waving his finger around.

    VOLL: Who compromised our intel –

    DOCTOR: Magic, General. You still have to learn the rules.

    VOLL: There aren’t any goddamn rules.

    DOCTOR: That’s sort of what I meant.

    Voll marches over to the door himself, ready to look in at Subject One. The man in the brown suit turns to the doctor with a question.

    MAN IN SUIT: Do you think she *can* help us?

    VOLL: What does she want?

    DOCTOR: Access to all our magical hardware. A weapons lab for her “boyfriend.”

    VOLL: You can’t mean they –

    DOCTOR: Try not to picture it. Also release and full immunity if they succeed in taking Buffy Summers down. And, well… she wants a lot of cheese.

    VOLL: (staring into the cell) Cheese. Of course. We got a name on this nut job?

    Inside the cell, a young woman is kneeling in a padded room. Her hair is unkempt, she’s wearing only a hospital gown, and is covered in bandages. In her hand, a green ball of magical energy is glowing as she stares at it, with a crazy smile on her lips.

    DOCTOR: Amy. She says her name is Amy.

    End of Issue #1

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    Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Season Eight, Issue #2
    “The Long Way Home, Part II”

    Prologue Summary:
    This story takes place after the end of Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season Seven.

    The Slayer population of the world has gone from two to nearly two thousand. Almost five hundred are working around the world with Buffy’s organization in squads – or “terrorist cells,” according to the American military. Buffy, Xander, Dawn, and a passel of Slayers are currently bunked out in a Scottish castle, where the latest mission revealed a strange symbol carved into human bodies.

    Also, Dawn’s a giant.

    Start of Issue #2

    The opening image is a hot cup of tea sitting on a napkin, beside a book. Beyond it are windows, looking into a courtyard.

    (NARRATION) GILES: I used to be a Watcher.

    In the courtyard, dozens of Slayers are fighting in chaos. Some are wearing black ninja masks, probably to separate them into teams. But there is clearly no sense of “sides” in this fight, just violence in every direction.

    (NARRATION) GILES: The organization existed since before there were cities. The Watcher’s Council, always moving, always secret, but very much alive. There were hundreds of Watchers. And one Slayer.

    Giles is seen standing in a balcony, holding his tea. He is dressed in slacks, an open necked shirt and a sweater. He’s been watching the fighting below.

    GILES: Enough.

    The Slayers all stop and look up at him. Clearly, he’s there as an instructor, and they stare up at him as if awaiting harsh criticism.

    (NARRATION) GILES: Scales have tipped of late.

    Giles is sipping his tea as he begins to review what he’s seen.

    GILES: I see some superior fighting out there. Technique and power that might just give Buffy Summers herself a run for her money. Impressive force. It is, of course, useless.

    Giles stares down at the young women, who look up at him in confusion.

    GILES: You’re all fighting alone. Getting in each other’s way, not protecting each other’s flanks… failing to use your single most valuable asset…

    A voice comes from behind the group of Slayers, the voice of their leader, picking up where her mentor left off.

    BUFFY: … each other. One Slayer fighting alone is formidable. Two is formidabler. Or… three? Mega-formidable. And after mega, it goes to mondo, then super, hyper, beaucoup d’crazy, stupid… it gets *exponentially* prefixy.

    Buffy and the Slayers closest to her are all armed with bokken, wooden practice swords. The three Slayers that accompanied Buffy on her most recent mission are all staring at her. Buffy is looking at them with complete confidence and anticipation.

    BUFFY: Leah. Satsu. Rowena. Would the three of you please kick my ass?

    The three Slayers jump into action and Buffy engages them. Buffy jumps forward and plants her foot in Satsu’s face, knocking her to the ground. She managed to dodge attacks from Leah and Rowena, sweeping Rowena’s surprised legs out from under her. In a moment, the three students are all at their teacher’s feet. Buffy has the blade of her practice weapon pointed at Leah’s throat.

    BUFFY: So. Three perfectly valid avenues of attack, good form – on three seasoned, well-trained *corpses*, one of whom, sidebar, has her best hair ever. Satsu, you’re making me think I need a new look. See me after.

    Buffy relaxes, letting the three Slayers gather themselves and their pride, and smiles.

    BUFFY: So, let’s break this down. The first clue this was going downhill? Clearly…

    And the image changes to from Buffy to Andrew.

    ANDREW: … Lando Calrissian’s outfit. And I know a lot of you were gonna say Ewoks, but that’s too easy.

    Andrew is sitting in a large ring of Slayers outside an Italian homestead at night. There are lanterns all around them. The scene suggests that they are having some kind of class or group-building session. Andrew continues his lecture.

    ANDREW: I love Empire. Of course I love Empire, let’s not waste time questioning my loyalties, but the moment I saw Billy D. in the hizzy I smelled the troubles. I mean it’s great that George Lucas wanted to have an African-Bespinian character in the mix, but then he shows up with the cape and the little bellbottoms and I’m thinking, “oh, he’s gonna help Han and Chewie just as soon as he finishes the magic show for the kids’ birthday party,” I mean, knock knock, common sense trying to get in, door’s locked, I’ll buy a race of teddy bears with unstoppable tree-trunk technology any day over that outfit on a *leader*. *That* outfit gets you but up, is what. Especially at a… pep rally in junior high where you were supposed to be dressed as a cougar. (quietly) From a friend, I heard that.
    The Slayers look at him in stupefied amazement. One of them is wearing a brass key as an earring.

    ANDREW: So. Does that answer your question?

    SLAYER: No.

    ANDREW: ‘Kay. What, uh, was it again?

    Another Slayer chimes in. She has a purple mo-hawk and sunglasses on her forehead.

    PUNK SLAYER: Weapons.

    ANDREW: Right, weapons.

    PUNK SLAYER: How come we have to use all this medieval junk? We could totally get some *guns*, do some real damage. We’re fighting demons here! Let’s up the ante!

    Andrew puts his hand on his forehead, exasperated at this Slayers enthusiasm.

    ANDREW: You didn’t listen to a word I said, did you?

    PUNK SLAYER: About Lando Calrissian?

    ANDREW: No Slayer carries a gun. Ever, end of talk, good talk.

    Andrew spreads his hands as he stands in the circle, ready to begin teaching again.

    ANDREW: ‘Kay. Let’s start up with headbutts, shall we? Some do’s and don’ts.

    Back in Scotland, in a forest, Dawn is taking a bath in a small pond. Her jeans are laid out over a tree top. Xander is with her, seated politely behind some brush so they can talk without him being able to see Giant Naked Dawn.

    XANDER: That’s overstating it, don’t you think?

    DAWN: I’m a giant. Everything I state is over.

    XANDER: She doesn’t hate you.

    DAWN: She does. She hates me.

    XANDER: I say thee nay.

    DAWN: Fine, nay. Buffy doesn’t hate me.

    As Dawn stops scrubbing herself for a moment, her eyes turn down sadly.

    DAWN: She just wishes I’d go away.

    Xander, facing away from her still, tries to reassure her.

    XANDER: She wishes you were at Berkeley getting an education in something other than stomping villagers, yeah. Doesn’t mean she doesn’t like having you around.

    DAWN: All she does is yell at me.

    XANDER: And you, what, recite sonnets? Sisters fight. It’s a rule.

    Dawn begins rinsing off, splashing water on her face.

    DAWN: What do you know? You don’t have a sister.

    XANDER: Have you seen this place? I got *all* my sisters ‘n’ me!

    DAWN: Right. Buffy and all her new and improved Slayer sisters.

    Hearing this, Xander turns his head toward her cautiously. When he speaks, she stares back at him in shock.

    XANDER: Dawnie… don’t roar a giant roar, but… did you make yourself big on purpose?

    Xander doesn’t get an answer. Instead, he gets drenched with a *SPLOOOSH* as Dawn splashes water on him. Chagrined and damp, Xander turns back toward her.

    XANDER: You know, I only have two of these outfits.

    Elsewhere, the sun is at the horizon in front of a building in the desert. There is a sign saying “Drextalcorp Recycling Technologies.” The man in the brown suit and General Voll are heard speaking from inside the building.

    MAN IN SUIT: We have insertion, sir. Our op should be in and out by tonight.

    VOLL: should.

    In a closer view, Voll points his finger at the man in the brown suit, clearly annoyed with indefinite answers. The inside of the building also has the “Drextalcorp” name.

    VOLL: You know how much good “should” does me?

    MAN IN SUIT: You’re gonna say “not much.”

    The two men enter an elevator, like something from “Men In Black” that descends into a deep bunker filled with military equipment, including tanks. “DrextalCorp” is a cover for a military installation, much like the Initiative was hidden beneath UC-Sunnydale.

    VOLL: I’m gonna say a good goddamn deal more than that. If we have coordinates on that bitch we should nuke the damn site.

    MAN IN SUIT: Yeah, okay. That’s gonna get us noticed. Then indicted, then hung.

    VOLL: hanged.

    MAN IN SUIT: Neither really works for me.

    In the still descending elevator, Voll continues to point his finger in the man’s face.

    VOLL: I don’t expect a suit like you to have that kind of commitment –

    MAN IN SUIT: What if it doesn’t work?

    Finally, the two step off the elevator into a hallway and begin walking toward a door.

    VOLL: There is no problem so big or complicated that it can’t be blown up. That’s not a saying we share with the public, but…

    MAN IN SUIT: (interrupting) We’re dealing with magic. Leave that to the magicians, okay? Working with Amy – the op – is the best way to go right now.

    VOLL: And if she blows it? We send that monstrosity she calls a boyfriend in next?

    MAN IN SUIT: That thing really is gross. And, yes, I think we do.

    Voll turns away from him, entering the door they’ve stopped at. It’s Voll’s quarters at whatever their base is.

    VOLL: I’m gonna get some shut-eye. Wake me with a report. Let’s hope it’s a good one.

    Once inside, Voll takes off his hat.

    VOLL: suit.

    (NARRATION) VOLL: Just a suit, walks and talks, has by chance a man in it.

    Voll begins removing his uniform shirt. On his dresser, he has a model bi-plane.

    (NARRATION) VOLL: Got no idea what’s at stake here.

    A close-up of Voll’s chest reveals that he has the same symbol on his chest that the dead men in Issue #1 did.

    (NARRATION) VOLL: No idea at all.

    Back in Scotland, in the castle, Xander and Buffy are walking down the hall together.

    BUFFY: You’re saying you think she became a giant to get my attention?

    XANDER: Maybe not consciously, but given her tsunamic reaction, I’d say I struck a nerve.

    BUFFY: But that’s so… *literal*

    We see them more closely as they carry on the topic. Buffy is reaching behind her head as if tired or uncomfortable.

    XANDER: Not subtle, no, but: giant. Point being, Dawn’s abandonment issues have abandonment issues: your mom, Tara, you – twice – plus the fact that she knows she was actually constructed by monks who… (pauses) she’s not real.

    The two stop in front of a doorway and face each other. Buffy’s arms are crossed in front of her, Xander’s hands are in his pocket. It appears to be Buffy’s door.

    BUFFY: She’s my sister. I’ve never told her anything else.

    XANDER: You made several thousand girls into Slayers. And moved in with them.

    Buffy looks more uncomfortable, fingering the hair behind her ear as Xander continues.

    XANDER: I’m not saying on purpose, I’m saying maybe this thricewise she was dating, this feminine-hygiene-product *Kenny*, put a whammy on her that manifested her internal blah de blah.

    BUFFY: And once again, sports fans, it’s all my fault.

    XANDER: Oh, don’t go there. There *smells* of you, you’ve been there so often. With the guilt, and –

    Buffy’s eyes look up at Xander’s searchingly as she interrupts him.

    BUFFY: I’m sorry. I’m tired. Just tell me now, so we don’t have to do a whole awkward-dance… are you coming to bed?

    Even as Xander answers, Buffy is taking him by the hand and pulling him into her room, starting to smile.

    XANDER: Buffy, we both know what a horrible mistake that is.

    BUFFY: I’ll be gentle this time. I can be gentle.

    Buffy no sooner has him in the room and the door closed before she cuts off any interruption – Xander can only give a *BUHMMMNNNNMMM!* -- by leaning in and kissing him. She is still kissing him when his head pops cleanly off his shoulders in surprise.

    BUFFY: Ooh!

    Xander’s head bounces away like it’s made of rubber as Buffy looks past his still standing body. This is clearly a dream sequence at this point, and the realism it started in is coming apart.

    XANDER: So, gentle.

    BUFFY: Oh, *balls*.

    Suddenly the glass breaks in the window Buffy is standing in front of, and a wind appears to start pulling her out the window.

    BUFFY: No, no, I can’t go outside, I’m afraid of the dark.

    XANDER: Buffy, you *are* the dark.

    Flying out the window, Buffy answers Xander’s head as his body still stands in the room.

    BUFFY: That’s what I meant.

    XANDER: This lint is so Scottish.

    Buffy is ripped backward all the way out of the castle wall, the sky red behind her.

    BUFFY: I make a wish that I don’t fall, I make a wish that I don’t fall –

    Suddenly, Buffy finds her hands and feet impaled on claws, bleeding horribly.

    BUFFY: AGGH! New wish! New wish!

    Still held spread-eagled on the claw, Buffy is raised up in front of the mouth of a dragon, its mouth open and flaming.

    BUFFY: I know you…

    DRAGON: Yesss… ssscream…

    The dragon shoots fire from its mouth that engulf Buffy’s dream self and burn her with an *AAAAIIIEEEE* scream.

    The next image is of Buffy in her bed. She is writhing in pain but still asleep, and the bedposts have wrapped around her wrists and ankles. Amy is standing above her, healed and dressed in a tan jacket, grinning viciously. She is holding a dagger and ready to stab down with it. The dragon’s voice was Amy’s voice, and she continues speaking.

    AMY: … I couldn’t bear it if this was painless.

    Amy jumps in surprise as the door to Buffy’s room bursts open with a *WHAAAM!* When the image turns, Xander is standing in Buffy’s door, dressed in ducky pajamas (blue on yellow) and holding a crossbow. He had four Slayers with him, all in various states of undress and all looking very angry.

    XANDER: Amy. Long time, no desire whatsoever to see.

    Amy is still standing over Buffy, her face appearing to be afraid.

    AMY: Wait. Wait. We can talk about this. After.

    Amy stabs down with the knife. The next image is Xander and the Slayers looking horrified as Buffy lets out a scream in her sleep of *NNNAAHH!* Xander wastes no time and fires a crossbow bolt into Amy’s shoulder. Amy lets out a scream of *AGH!* as the bolt strikes with a *THOOK*

    Two Slayers leap into action, jumping across the room as Xander runs forward with alarm to grab the dagger that appears to be sticking out of Buffy.

    XANDER: Oh my God.

    Xander pulls the dagger up. The blade is split four ways, clearly never having touched Buffy.

    XANDER: This is the crappiest sacrificial dagger I’ve ever seen.

    Amy knocks the two Slayers away from her with bolts of magical energy, and is clearly indignant at what Xander says.

    AMY: *What*?

    As Amy magically removes the crossbow bolt and heals her wound, Xander and the Slayers regroup in the doorway.

    XANDER: You really think we let Buffy sleep without mystical protection? This isn’t open-wand night in Sunnydale, sweetcheeks. You’re dealing with pros.

    In close-up, Amy’s face is both amused and vicious. She takes obvious pleasure in spelling out that her dagger had worked exactly as it was intended.

    AMY: Any of you *pros* notice she’s still asleep? She’s living a nightmare, genius, and the only thing that can wake her up…

    The image changes to Buffy’s face, still asleep, and still in pain.

    AMY: … is the kiss of true love.

    Xander and the four Slayers with him look completely dumbfounded by the news.

    XANDER: seriously?

    Outside the castle, Renee and another Slayer are standing watch on the rampart. Renee is armed with a crossbow, her partner has a large ax. Renee is waving her free hand dismissively at the other Slayer.

    RENEE: Please. There’s no love.

    SLAYER: No, right, of course, the sudden interest in comic books, James Bond movies, and *drywalling* has absolutely nothing to do with Mr. Harris.

    While her friend continues, Renee’s face reacts to something she is hearing.

    SLAYER: I’m not even bringing up volunteering us for the frickin’ graveyard shift, ‘cause that’s –

    RENEE: You hear that?

    The two Slayers lean over the rampart to investigate the new sound.

    SLAYER: Sounds like… clawing?

    The image changes to reveal that it is exactly that. An army of Scottish zombies were scaling the castle wall toward them. Dozens were already on the wall, with more in the bog below..

    Back inside Buffy’s room, Xander and Amy are standing on opposite sides of Buffy’s bed, discussing the particulars of Amy’s spell. In any other context, it would look like they were having a civil conversation.

    XANDER: So this doesn’t have to be someone she’s in love with.

    AMY: No, I said. Just someone truly in love with her.

    XANDER: But not friend-love.

    AMY: Right. Someone who wants to kiss her, like, they’re passionate about her.

    XANDER: And not a sister.

    AMY: Well, a *twisted* sister…

    XANDER: HA! But no, I hate you.

    From behind Xander, the door to Buffy’s room burst opens, as a dark-haired Slayer bursts in.

    SLAYER: We’re under attack! Full breach on the east wall!

    Xander and Amy both stay faced-off over Buffy’s bed.

    XANDER: Who’s breaching?

    SLAYER: Living dead, sir.

    XANDER: Man, Amy, you’re doing all the classics tonight.

    Xander turns back to the Slayers in the room, including Buffy’s “A” team of Leah, Satsu, and Rowena. Amy, looking smug, stands off to the side.

    XANDER: I need you three in the field.

    LEAH: What about th’bitch a’ the west here?

    XANDER: She’s bound by our security or she’d’ve bailed by now.

    Xander is in command mode now, and turns to the Slayer who came in to tell him about the attack. He points to Amy as he speaks.

    XANDER: Keep a guard on her and get our witches working on this “true love” crap.

    AMY: It’s real, Xander. Your star player’s out unless she receives a kiss from someone passionately devoted to her.

    Xander’s good eye looks angry in close-up as Amy goes on.

    AMY: Care to give it a whirl?

    Outside the castle, Slayers and zombies are fighting furiously. It looks as chaotic as the training session with Giles, but now it’s deadly serious.

    (NARRATION) BUFFY: Stop it.

    A sword-wielding zombie stabs Renee in the back. Her face twists in pain as she falls.

    (NARRATION) BUFFY: Please… it hurts too much…

    Buffy, in her dream, is huddled on a non-existent floor, apparently crying. Her eyes look hopeless when a voice calls out to her.

    DREAM MAN: You can’t give up that easily, Buffy...

    The Dream Man appears in front of Buffy, but is only visible from the neck down. He is thin and clad in a red shirt and black trenchcoat. He reaches out his hand to her as he talks.

    DREAM MAN: … I have so much I need to show you… my love…

    Back in reality, in the fight outside the castle, Satsu is fighting and calling Xander with a report.

    SATSU: “Kill the head” isn’t working! They’re not even slowing down!

    In the control room, Xander stares at the monitor and holds his hand to his head. He looks completely out of ideas as Satsu’s voice comes through the radio.

    SATSU: Orders, sir? Orders?

    In Buffy’s room, Amy ignores her guard completely and prepares to leave the castle. She sits in the window, preparing to turn out, but not before stopping to taunt the Slayers that can hear her.

    AMY: All that time underground with nothing to do but get stronger. A hundred Slayers and there’s not one person here who can take me on.

    In the next image, however, Amy’s eyes widen in what is either surprise or abject terror. An all too familiar voice calls out to her.

    WILLOW: As a friend of mine once said…

    And Willow is there, floating gracefully outside the window facing Amy. She’s wearing a flowing and folksy green and brown dress much like what Tara might have worn. Her arms are crossed maternally as she coolly stares down her old classmate and pet.

    WILLOW: … I’d like to test that theory.

    End of Issue #2

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    Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Season Eight, Issue #3
    “The Long Way Home, Part III”

    Prologue Summary:
    This story takes place after the end of Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season Seven.

    The Slayer population of the world has gone from two to nearly two thousand. Almost five hundred are working around the world with Buffy’s organization in squads – or “terrorist cells,” according to the American military. Buffy, Xander, Dawn, and a passel of Slayers are currently bunked out in a Scottish castle, where the latest mission revealed a strange symbol carved into human bodies.

    Also, Dawn’s a giant.

    Start of Issue #3

    The opening image is of Buffy’s “Dream Man” from Issue #2, still only shown from the neck down, and still reaching for her. He is standing in an empty space represented as a black and red blur.

    (NARRATION) BUFFY: “My Love.” He called me “my love.”

    When we see Buffy’s face, she is wide-eyed and staring. Her hand comes up to cover her mouth with surprise and, apparently, indigestion.

    (NARRATION) BUFFY: And then I threw up in my mouth a little.

    BUFFY: Ethan Rayne?

    As she says it, we see the man himself, smiling back at her.

    ETHAN: In the flesh, my love.

    The next image is Buffy, standing and holding the back of her head with one hand, the other hand palm-out toward Ethan in disagreement. The two of them are alone in a black space now.

    BUFFY: And again, a slight barflex. You *have* to stop calling me that.

    ETHAN: It’s an expression, pet. Like “pet.”

    BUFFY: Also not okay. How did you get in my dream?

    From above, we see Buffy grab Ethan by the shoulder as he chooses not to answer. Buffy is definitely upset and confused that he’s here, and Ethan is nonchalant.

    ETHAN: We haven’t oodles of time.

    BUFFY: You’re a chaos-worshiping wannabe sorcerer who takes up none count it *none* of my subconscious. Which means you *forced* your way into my dream.

    ETHAN: I just hitched a ride. And we’re not in your dream. We’re in your *dreamspace*

    Buffy lowers her head and closes her eyes, apparently already tired of this new development. She puts her right hand up to her brow as if fighting off a mild headache as she asks.

    BUFFY: Splainy. Dreamspace?

    The view turns back to Ethan. He is digging his fingers into the blackness around them and pulling part of it back like it was a curtain. Where the opening is appearing, blinding white light is pouring out.

    ETHAN: In brief. You are always dreaming every dream all the time. Even when you’re awake, a part of your brain is stirring that brew. Which one you choose to remember in the morning is based on your wishes, anxieties – in your case, your collective Slayer memory and prophecies are mixed in as well. It’s a vast and fascinating place. Everywhere you turn, a part of you.

    As Ethan speaks, Buffy takes his invitation and we see a close-up of her eyes as she looks behind the “curtain” Ethan has opened. She is squinting and shielding her brow with her hand to look.

    ETHAN: Want to see one?

    The next image is huge and detailed. In the background, there is a magenta colored mountain, a volcano, and it’s erupting high into the sky. Around the mountain, two trains are chugging up the hill, apparently about to collide in a tunnel through the mountain. In the foreground, three smiling cherubs are watching the center of the scene, and open white flowers are open as wooden stakes dangle in mid-air over them, as if about to stab into them.

    The center of the image is the most stunning. In the dream Buffy is being shown, she is dressed in a short, white nurse’s outfit, like a sex costume, complete with black garter, stockings and little cap. She even has a “Buffy” name tag. On either side of her, Angel and Spike are caressing her, both clearly naked. Buffy has an arm hooked through Angel’s own arm and has turned her hips toward him. Behind her, she has her other arm reaching up around Spike’s neck as he reaches toward the hem of her skirt. All three of them are wrapped around the chest and waist with heavy chains that also serve to conceal Angel and Spike from showing too much. Buffy’s eyes are closed in the highly erotic scene.
    Just as suddenly, the new image is of the actual Buffy in this dreamspace frantically pulling the “curtain” shut in embarrassment.

    BUFFY: Gak! Neh! Ho. No. That’s nothing… worth…

    Buffy is standing protectively in front of the curtain holding it closed, but even as she continues speaking, Ethan is walking away from her. He either wasn’t impressed or has already lost any interest in Buffy’s fantasy. He may not have even seen it.

    BUFFY: It’s just… ah, been a slow year…

    ETHAN: (over his shoulder) You’ve been trapped in this space. Not by me. But we’ve got to move fast if you’re going to be any help on the outside.

    Alone in the image, Buffy turns back over her shoulder, looking upward with concern.

    BUFFY: What’s going on outside?

    The next image shown is outside, high above the castle were we can see the Slayer vs. zombie battle still raging both on the castle walls and on the ground below. In mid-air, however, Willow and Amy are faced off in a flying, magical duel. The energy flowing around Willow is green and cloud-like and she fires energy at Amy. Amy counters it with her own power and neither gains an advantage. Amy’s own magic is represented as angular blue-white geometric shapes. Both women wear determined expressions, although Amy looks like she’s enjoying this fight most.

    AMY: Oh, man, this craft is *weak*. Didn’t you almost destroy the world one time?

    Amy lashes out in front of her with magic energy trailing from her hand. She is gaining an advantage on Willow and continues to taunt her.

    AMY: Now you can’t even put up a fight!

    Amy’s hands glow in white balls and she prepares to bombard Willow, who appears unguarded at the moment.

    AMY: What happened?

    Willow is shown facing Amy impassively. Amy’s most recent attack appears to be small black scarab-like bugs that are slowly covering Willow up, her chest, then over her hair, and then over her face as the image pushes in toward Willow’s eyes. Willow looks almost a little sad to be in this situation.

    WILLOW: I saw the big picture. But, you, Amy… you’re as self-involved as your mom was. You think I’m fighting you. I’m just absorbing your mojo. So I can decode it.

    And in the next image, Willow is no longer impassive. With exertion that shows on her face, Willow lashes out with power. Shockwaves are seen coming away from her and she rockets further into the sky. The black bugs were either destroyed or scattered out of sight.

    On the ground, a zombie is preparing to swing its sword at an un-armed Slayer, probably a killing blow. We see the green shockwaves of Willow’s spell reaching the ground at that moment, hitting all the zombies we can see.

    In the next image, the zombie which had been ready to attack has dropped its sword. Instead, it’s reaching a hand out to the Slayer it was about to attack. The Slayer looks very confused as the other zombies that can be seen all do the same.

    ZOMBIE: May I have this dance?

    Back in the control room, Xander is pointing at the monitors with both arms like a showman. The Slayers in the room and he can see in the monitors that all the zombies are now apparently trying to court the Slayers they had previously been fighting. It’s the beginning of a Zombie Ball. Incidentally, Xander has somehow managed to change into his more customary black and grey outfit and out of his ducky pajamas.

    XANDER: Ladies, and other ladies… the indescribable Rosenberg.

    Back in the sky above the castle, though, Willow and Amy are still fighting. A green and white glow surges around Willow as we see her approaching/

    WILLOW: The army was the pressing issue. Light show’s a distraction.

    The image switches to Amy, who is summoning a small ball of energy in front of her.

    AMY: So’s the army.

    In the next image, we see Willow blown backward by Amy’s attack, looking alarmed. The blue-white energy around Willow is shown as something almost like digital distortion.

    Back in the dreamspace, Buffy is apparently on her back, staring incredulously around her as she hears a dream version of herself speaking.

    DREAM BUFFY: You’re lying. That can’t be happening!

    We see the real Buffy tumbling helplessly downward through space, while Ethan falls as though he has jumped. In the background, a red-hued image of a much younger Dream Buffy is standing walking through school, past lockers. On either side of her are a boy and a girl, although it may not be Willow and Xander. This dream may be from all the way back at Hemery High.
    DREAM BUFFY: But I finished school? Why do I have to take French again?

    DREAM BOY: Exams are today.

    BUFFY: (to Ethan) Oh! I always have this one! Can we stop and delete this one?

    ETHAN: I told you, lamb: time is a factor.

    We are shown a much wider look at the dreamspace that Buffy and Ethan are falling through. Buffy is still tumbling, Ethan still dropping gracefully as though he’s much more used to this experience. In the background are countless “dream-cubes”, representing dreams Buffy has stored in her. A brief survey of these and we can see old enemies: Caleb, the Master, the Judge. We see images of her friends: at graduation, the group apparently having taken a picture together some time after “Chosen”. There are also other moments: Buffy and Angel facing each other. Buffy’s mother as she found her on the couch. The First Slayer. A notebook that says “Buffy & Angel 4 ever”. There is even an image that looks suspiciously like Joss, tucked in amongst images of Dawn, Faith, and non-descript others.

    ETHAN: Your enemy’s opened her flank a bit. Interfering with someone’s dreamstate means attaching a bit of one’s own.

    In the next image, Buffy and Ethan appear to land and there are no longer any “dream-cubes”. Buffy lands almost on her head while Ethan lands smoothly in a crouch.

    ETHAN: There’s a memory here we need.

    Back outside, Willow is still covered in the digital distortion representing Amy’s magical attack. Willow’s face is growing from alarmed to angry. In a closer look at Willow’s eyes, they have turned black. Small veins are showing around her face.

    In the next image, Willow looks furious, and her face is definitely the face of “DarkWillow.” Her hair has even started darkening. With a *WWHHMMP* She claps her hands together in front of her, magical power exploding out as she does.

    We see Amy reacting to this. She has drawn up her arm and leg defensively from the attack, but she’s smiling and clearly not harmed by it.

    AMY: Now you’re starting to make this interesting. What else you got?

    The image turns to Xander’s face inside the control room. He is holding a hand up near his blue-tooth earpiece as if talking to someone.

    XANDER: Say it with me now: Fe Fi Fo…

    And outside, we see Dawn towering over Amy. Dawn’s face is grinning and mean, and her sneaker is already hovering over Amy as the witch turns up in fear.

    DAWN: … f%$#king fum.

    With a *SMLOOOSH*, Amy is driven into the muddy ground outside the castle, her hand the only thing visible from under Dawn’s foot.

    The battle won for the moment, Willow floats up near Dawn’s head, magic shown coming from her hands as though working on something. Dawn looks much calmer as she looks down at what Willow is doing.

    WILLOW: Language, sweetie. How come you’re a giant?

    DAWN: We totally have to talk. Are you evil again?

    WILLOW: It’ll fade.

    We see a wider view, Dawn with a hand on her hip against the night sky and Willow hovering beside her. Slayers on the ground are watching as Willow works. Willow has contained Amy in a glowing green box and is levitating her off the ground. Willow’s hair has already turned red again.

    WILLOW: She just really pissed me off.

    Back in the dreamspace, Buffy is standing under a curve of red metal bars.

    BUFFY: This is what you wanted to show me? Along those lines, what *is* this?

    ETHAN: No…

    As Ethan continues, we get a wider look. Ethan is sitting with his arm across his knee, reclining on a pile of newspaper. Buffy is actually standing inside a metal wheel, like in a hamster – or rat – cage.

    ETHAN: … we’ve gone too far back.

    Buffy and Ethan both stand, Buffy brushing hair off her ear as she appears to recognize her surroundings.

    BUFFY: Whoah, whoah… I know all this. This is Amy’s cage. *Amy*’s doing this?

    ETHAN: I didn’t know her name.

    As Buffy looks around, the surroundings appear to have changed into a sort of slimy cave. The whole image is shown in the same red hues that the “dream-cubes” were. Ethan explains from behind her.

    ETHAN: I can’t see outside myself. But I connected with her, and she saw me. I think you’re here. Walk about.

    Buffy does so, walking around with a hand on the wall. The surface looks almost sinewy. On the ground, a creature with an ax lays dead, or inanimate. It appears to be a “Gamorrean Guard”, the pig monsters from “Return of the Jedi.”

    BUFFY: Nice place. I’m starting to miss my giant dragon.

    In a new image, Ethan is show standing in a cage or cell. The three walls are made up for beams shaped like the letter “X”. Ethan appears to be unaware of it, however.

    BUFFY: So what are you doing in there?

    ETHAN: Where am I?

    BUFFY: Cage. Crossbeams, like X’s. So this all, what, means something?

    Buffy is touching her chin thoughtfully as she thinks aloud.

    BUFFY: Three X’s. Triple X. So it’s either Vin Diesel or porn, neither of which is real attractive.

    In a new image, Ethan is standing next to Buffy again. His face is thoughtful, and hers is a little confused.

    ETHAN: I’m more an antique Roman than a Dane.

    BUFFY: Did I mention I’m not crazy good at symbolism?

    ETHAN: Just remember what you see here.

    As he says this, Ethan turns to look right at Buffy.

    ETHAN: Twilight is falling. You’re going to need all the help you can get. Pet.

    And then we are back in Buffy’s room, looking down at her on her bed. Her arms and legs are no longer bound, and her arms are crossed across her stomach. Fittingly enough, she could be Sleeping Beauty.

    Next to her bed, Willow and Xander are staring down at her. Xander’s arms are crossed tightly and he’s clearly worried. Willow looks thoughtful. Behind them, Leah is visible watching, and Dawn’s eye can be seen looking in the window from outside.

    WILLOW: Serious magic is kinda like improve, Dawn. You can’t just stop it cold; you gotta adapt.

    DAWN: Is that why I’ve got an army of the undead playing Pride and Prejudice around my ankles?

    WILLOW: Don’t worry; as soon as the ball’s over, they’ll leave.

    A close up of Willow shows her looking down sympathetically at Buffy.

    WILLOW: She looks tired.

    In a wider look, Xander still has his arms crossed. Willow is gently placing her hand on Buffy’s waist. Behind them, Leah is not alone. Several other Slayers have arrived.

    XANDER: She’s asleep.

    WILLOW: You know what I mean.

    XANDER: It’s been a long year. And you’ve been where now?

    WILLOW: We’ll talk. This is a true love spell.

    XANDER: Rumor has it. How do we deal?

    We can see the faces of everyone in the room, and Dawn’s outside the window, as Willow lays it out for them. Amy wasn’t lying, and everyone in the room looks a little stunned.

    WILLOW: Buffy needs to be kissed by someone who’s in love with her.

    As we look at Buffy’s face close-up, Willow makes an even more awkward announcement.

    WILLOW: And someone in this room is.

    The faces of all the Slayers look between each other. Xander is still looking toward Willow and Buffy from near the foot of the bed. Willow looks actually angry as she turns around to speak to everyone in the room at once.

    WILLOW: They might not even have realized it, and they probably don’t want anyone to know about it. So everybody’s gonna shut their eyes – and keep ‘em shut if they wanna keep ‘em – and that person will step forward and give Buffy a kiss.

    We look at Xander’s face in close-up as Willow speaks to the room next to him. He looks like something is weighing on him, but there is no telling what it is.

    WILLOW: Okay?

    Back in the dreamspace, Buffy touches her fingers to her lips.

    BUFFY: I have a funny feeling on my mouth.

    And in her bedroom, Buffy sits up suddenly. Xander looks startled from beside her at the head of the bed, and Willow is smiling.

    BUFFY: Cinnamon buns!

    In a close-up, Buffy looks a little embarrassed to see all these people in her room.

    BUFFY: Or… uh… I just had the weirdest – WILL!

    In a much different scene, a demon like the ones that Buffy fought on her mission in Issue #1 is standing in a torch-lit tunnel, speaking to a man. The man is sitting on a bench or throne that appears to be made of, or surrounded by, human skulls.

    DEMON: We are not amused.

    In a close-up, we see the man is Giles. He doesn’t look at all intimidated by the demon.

    GILES: No one’s exactly giggling on this side of the fence either.

    The demon leans in close to Giles, clearly upset. Giles begins to clean his glasses as they go on speaking.

    DEMON: Three of our brood slain!

    GILES: They broke protocol.

    DEMON: They were lured out there!

    GILES: I think they were, yes. Someone engineered that conflict – and sacrificed two young men in the process. I think we need to know who.

    Giles puts his glasses back on, and produces a piece of paper that he hands to the demon. The paper has the mysterious symbol the gang has been researching.

    DEMON: This symbol is meaningless to us. And we are not convinced this is not some Slayer trick. We have ever been enemies.

    Giles takes back the paper from the demon and stares at it levelly.

    GILES: And ever shall be. We’ll come to grips one day, but on a day we choose. We’ll not be led there like cattle. Right now, information benefits us both. If you learn anything…

    The image changes to Italy, where Andrew is talking on a phone with one hand and holding what appears to be a poker hand in the other.

    ANDREW: … we would *so* tell you about it. Seriously, we got nothing going on here. I’ve looked through so many books I’ve got parchment fingers. But my mom used to order this special dermatological soap because hoisin sauce makes me rashy –

    XANDER: (through the phone) Just keep an eye out.

    Back in Scotland, Xander is walking alone down a corridor, talking to Andrew on his blue-tooth.

    ANDREW: (through the phone) Oh, we’re on alert. You think Amy’s attack and the symbol are linked?

    XANDER: Just a whole lotta question marks coming up at the same time. Wanted to make sure you’re not seeing any action.

    ANDREW: I wish! We’re just trying to think of games to stay awake in Dullsville, Italy.

    Xander arrives at his destination. He is looking in the doorway of their infirmary. Inside, Slayers are treating each other’s wounds from the ferocious zombie battle.

    XANDER: Sounds good enough to me.

    ANDREW: No, trust me…

    Back in Italy, Andrew is still holding his poker hand, and behind him, several Slayers are playing around a table. The game must be strip poker, since more than a few of the athletic young women are down to their underwear, and one is reaching around to unhook her bra. On a couch off to the side, another Slayer is reading a comic book (titled Fray).

    ANDREW: … you’d be bored stiff.

    In the Slayer infirmary, on a bed alone in an alcove, Renee is laying over on one side. She is bandaged up from several wounds, including the stab wound to her back. Her clothes are somewhat torn. Her face looks inconsolable as she ignores the other Slayers moving around behind her.

    In the next image, she is turning her head as she hears Xander talking to her.

    XANDER: Well this is really unimpressive.

    Xander turns a chair around backwards and takes a seat on it at the foot of Renee’s bed as he continues speaking.

    XANDER: One attack by the undead and Renee has to take a nap, “oh I’m all run through with a broadsword, I have to lie around and heal…” Back in *my* day, which was about a week and a half ago, we took our lumps and got back up and cried like babies and quit and then put on weight.

    In the next image, Renee is rolling onto her back to sit up.

    RENEE: I should’ve seen ‘em coming. They shoulda never got over that wall. We lost girls because of –

    XANDER: Oh, are you still talking?

    A close-up of Xander shows him placing his chin on his hands over the chairback. He is smiling reassuringly as he talks.

    XANDER: You mess up, Buffy’ll kick your ass. Assuming she’s not in a mystical coma, in which case I or a qualified representative will kick your ass. You raised the call and you stood your ground. It was solid soldiering, so shut up and heal.

    Renee is smiling mildly in her own close-up. She looks reassured. Her expression may reveal a small crush on Xander.

    RENEE: You’re so butch.

    XANDER: Almost a kind of masculine vibe, don’t you think?

    Elsewhere in the castle, Buffy and Willow are in a dungeon where Amy is being held. The room has no furniture other than a wooden wardrobe against a wall. Buffy has changed into more modest pajama pants and robe. Amy is held unconscious in a spell similar to what Giles used on DarkWillow to confine her. Willow is hovering in front of her, using magic to try to get some insight into Amy’s power and motives.

    WILLOW: She teleported here. I’m gonna run a trace, see where she came from.

    BUFFY: You definitely think she came alone?

    WILLOW: A couple of her spells reeked of tech. She’s working with someone.

    BUFFY: Okay. Hey, speaking of where the hell have you been…

    We see a closer look at Willow as she concentrates on Amy. She doesn’t look back at Buffy as she answers.

    WILLOW: Yeah, it’s been a funky time. We’ll get into it.

    Buffy steps closer to Willow, looking up to where her friend is floating a foot or so off the ground. For the first time, Willow looks back toward her, but doesn’t stop working her mojo on Amy.

    BUFFY: Well, how you been? How’s Kennedy? Are you still –

    WILLOW: She died.

    Buffy’s hands fly up to her mouth in panic. Willow drops to the floor and puts her hands up to explain when she sees Buffy’s reaction.

    BUFFY: Willow…

    WILLOW: Oh no! She’s fine! Mystical thing, only lasted a month. We’re taking it slow for a while. She’s sort of in her own space, but it’s cool. I always tell that wrong.

    Buffy smiles as Willow goes on.

    WILLOW: Seems like things are hoppin’ here…

    BUFFY: Same old. ‘Cept for Dawnie; she’s definitely not mama’s little girl anymore.

    WILLOW: Yeah, what’d she do? Bone a thricewise?

    Some point shortly thereafter, Xander walks into the dungeon. We see him standing in the door, already speaking as he steps in.

    XANDER: Place is more or less locked down. Can I get a sit rep on ratgirl before –

    Xander sees what he has walked in on. Willow and Buffy are hugging with joy, laughing loudly at some story Buffy has been sharing.

    WILLOW: (laughing) Oh, no, no…

    BUFFY: … And I was *covered* in it! Covered!

    XANDER: Wait! What? A funny?

    Xander walks closer to them, curious and excited. Buffy and Willow start to settle down, Willow standing with her arm around Buffy’s shoulder as the Slayer catches her breath.

    XANDER: There’s funny bonhomie happening and I want in!

    BUFFY: No… ahh… ahh… girl thing.

    XANDER: Girl thing? With girl parts? Now I really need to know!

    WILLOW: Slow year, Xan?

    In the next image of them, Xander is crossing his arms defensively. As Buffy speaks, she brings her fingers back up to her lips thoughtfully. Willow is looking at Xander with a look of amusement.

    XANDER: Oh, I’m getting *plenty* of action, Elphaba. I’m Action Jackson.

    BUFFY: (to herself) “Slow year”… I said that… God, my *dream*…

    WILLOW: (to Xander) Hey, I believe. You were the biggest ladies’ man in Sunnydale, Harris. *I* even went in for smoochies, and I don’t truck with the stubbly crowd.

    Xander turns his head down in embarrassment. Willow has a much similar awkward look. Both might be reacting to Buffy’s expression – she’s just thought of an important question.

    XANDER: Of course, according to my parents the action I’m getting right now should make my last remaining eye go blind…

    BUFFY: Hey! Who kissed me?

    WILLOW: (changing subjects) Hold up, guys, I’m getting a reaction.

    The image changes to see Willow looking over at the unconscious Amy. Willow’s magic is flowing again in green waves from her hands.

    WILLOW: Let’s see where you’ve been hanging out.

    Around Amy’s head, images appear of men in metal suits, images probably from the Army base.

    XANDER: Girls, I’m pretty sure that’s not the kingdom of the faerie-folk.

    BUFFY: A military installation? Oh, if the Initiative is back…

    The view changes to show Willow’s face in close-up, Buffy behind her, and Xander behind them. All three are staring at something changing around Amy in front of them.

    BUFFY: Now why does this remind me of a cavern…?

    WILLOW: This is a portal.

    Suddenly, we see Amy’s eyes snap open. They are black, like Willow’s have turned in the past. She appears to have been feigning sleep throughout. An instant later, we see Amy leaning back, still restrained but grinning victoriously, into a blue-white tunnel of magical energy. Willow is dragged helplessly after her, her legs kicking out into the air.

    WILLOW: It’s a trAAHHH!

    Buffy reacts instantly, leaping toward the tunnel to follow, but it has already closed. The witches are gone. Buffy flies through the space they disappeared and crashes into the wardrobe by the wall, shattering it.

    Xander also leaps into action. In close-up, he shouts instructions into the blue-tooth he wears.

    XANDER: I need mystics in the basement level *now*! We need a portal re-opened! Alpha Team, suit up and stand by. Where are my mystics?

    Buffy sits up in the fragments of the wardrobe. Her face looks beyond angry.

    BUFFY: We’re being played, Xander. I’m not liking it.

    Far away in the military base, Willow is lying on a metal table. She is restrained, seemingly by magic, at both ankles, both wrists, and around the neck. A cart next to the table has all sorts of bladed tools. Amy’s voice is heard as Willow tries to get a look at her surroundings.

    AMY: Great, big all-powerful Earth-mother witch goddess…

    Amy is shown leaning in menacingly over Willow as she continues to mock her.

    AMY: … and she still falls for a rope-a-dope.

    Willow’s face grows angry as Amy continues her speech.

    AMY: Of course, we’re contracted to bring in the Slayer, but I’m pretty sure she’ll show. Too late, of course…

    WILLOW: “We”…?

    We see into the room from close to Willow’s point of view. There is a man in the shadow of the room. His voice is presented as being distorted, somehow inhuman. This is clearly Amy’s “boyfriend”, finally ready to join in the proceedings.

    BOYFRIEND: I can’t tell you how long I’ve waited for this. Well, I can. To the hour. Killing Buffy Summers is gonna be a party. She’s pissed me off more than a little.

    A close-up on Willow shows her eyes widen. She clearly recognizes Amy’s “boyfriend” as he steps into view.

    BOYFRIEND: But you, Rosenberg…

    The next image is of the man who’s been speaking. He’s a walking nightmare. All we can see are blood and muscle, for the man does not have any skin. It’s Warren Meers, of course, the man Willow flayed and murdered almost three years earlier. He’s leering liplessly over her. And he’s holding a shining saw in his hand, surely ready to do unspeakable things to the captured witch.

    WARREN: … You *really* got under my skin.

    End of Issue #3

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    Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Season 8, Issue #4
    “The Long Way Home, Part IV”

    Prologue Summary:
    This story takes place after the end of Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season Seven.

    The Slayer population of the world has gone from two to nearly two thousand. Almost five hundred are working around the world with Buffy’s organization in squads – or “terrorist cells,” according to the American military. Buffy, Xander, Dawn, and a passel of Slayers are currently bunked out in a Scottish castle, where the latest mission revealed a strange symbol carved into human bodies.

    Also, Dawn’s a giant.

    Start of Issue #4

    The first image is a familiar face in close-up. It’s Warren, and we’re back in Season 6. He is sweating and looks afraid, and is clearly bound in the trees the way he was in “Villains” before Willow flayed him. A voice is speaking over this memory, Warren’s voice, as he remembers what Willow said to him.

    WARREN: Bored now.

    The next image is a tight close-up on Willow’s eye. She is clearly surprised and apparently afraid. Warren continues taunting her and explaining himself.

    WARREN: Do you even remember that’s what you said? Last two words of my human life, so I remember probably better. You were upset.

    We see Amy’s face from a low angle. Her expression is clearly pleased as Warren begins to talk about her. She is definitely enjoying this.

    WARREN: Kinda spiraling, is what they say. Which is, hey – I’m not excusing where I was at, so don’t think – I mean you – if Amy hadn’t been watching you, she would never have started watching me. Watching *over* me.

    We see Warren in flashback again, looking more terrified as Willow faces him. His voice continues to explain his survival.

    WARREN: Do you know she had maybe a four-second window after my skin came off before I died of shock alone? That flash-paper disappearing trick was pretty hokey, we kid about that, but thinking on your feet? This is the girl. Her magic is my skin.

    And now we see Warren’s present, skinless face in close-up. He is smiling cruelly as he reveals still more of his history.

    WARREN: That time we came up with the spell for you and your girlfriend – and hey, *that* was quick, I was still learning to walk again and you’re already in the fresh trim… I remember thinking and it comes up again in this situation, I just have to wonder…

    And we again see Willow’s eye in extreme close-up, still afraid. Now, there is the fine and lethally sharp point of a scalpel held almost perfectly to her pupil.

    WARREN: Are you bored *now*?

    The next image takes us to Scotland, outside the castle, where Dawn and Buffy are standing. Dawn is clearly enraged, and Buffy stands with her arms crossed at Dawn’s feet. Dawn is so angry that she is punching the masonry of the castle, breaking off huge chunks of the wall.

    DAWN: (screaming) AAAAGGKH!

    We see Buffy in close-up. She has put a leather jacket on over the khaki pants and white shirt she was wearing when Willow was taken.

    BUFFY: Dawnie, you know you’re not as proportionally strong as you are large.

    We see Dawn, calming, holding her right hand in her left. The knuckles of her right hand are bleeding from where she punched the castle.

    DAWN: I know! I just – this hurts a lot – I can’t let something happen to her.

    BUFFY: If they manage to re-open the portal –

    Dawn is shown from over Buffy’s shoulder, gesturing helplessly.

    DAWN: I’m too big! I get it! I’ve been *super-sized*! I’m *useless*.

    The image reverses to show Buffy looking up at her sister with genuine concern over what Dawn has said.

    BUFFY: That’s not –

    DAWN: Just bring her back. I trust you to do that, I do, Buffy, but *do it*. I’m not trying to slam you, I swear, but…

    The view shifts to a close-up of Buffy’s profile. She looks hurt by what Dawn says.

    DAWN: … Will is like a mom to me.

    The next scene is of Buffy standing in the castle besides Xander. Her hands are on her hips and his are crossed high with his hands under his arms. They are staring straight ahead as they catch up.

    XANDER: Oh I bet you loved hearing that.

    BUFFY: How much longer?

    The view shifts and we see the room from above. It’s the basement where they were holding Amy. Two young women, apparently the mystics Xander requested, are standing in front of the broken wardrobe, gesturing and reading from books. Behind them, Xander and Buffy watch patiently as they discuss their plan.

    XANDER: Teleportation’s not an exact magic, Buffy. And as good as these girls are, we’re not sportin’ a Giles, so… they say a couple hours. Portal echo big enough for… maybe one or two guys, tops.

    BUFFY: What can I do?

    XANDER: Figure out who your moving buddy is.

    In the next image, we are seeing both Buffy and Xander in profile. Xander is staring straight ahead still, very stoic. Buffy, standing on his right, turns to look at him with concern, apparently sensing him wishing he could go with her.

    BUFFY: (quietly) Xander…

    XANDER: I’m not a fighter. I got no magic. If there’s any kind of satellite bounce I’m your eyes and ears. That’s it.

    The view reverses to just Xander’s opposite profile, from Buffy’s point of view. He looks a great deal older than he usually does, and he’s still staring straight ahead.

    XANDER: It’s Will. We play it smart. And we remember she’s stronger than all of us.

    Back in Amy and Warren’s lab, we see a close-up on Willow’s hand and the glowing bond holding her at the wrist. Her hand and arm are shaking, as if she’s fighting to escape. Warren’s voice is taunting her.

    WARREN: And therein lies, it’s very operatic, your downfall. You’re just so *strong*.

    We see another extreme close-up of Willow’s eye as Warren continues. Now, however, her eye is being held open by several metal tools holding her eyelid open. Her eye is bloodshot, and a tear is running free.

    WARREN: All your power is siphoned into those bonds. The stronger you get... try it. Go dark. I wish you would.

    In a wider look, we see the length of Willow’s body where she is laid out in the lab. Warren is holding her chin and apparently digging into her eye with his scalpel. Willow screams wordlessly as her body convulses in pain.

    WARREN: I think you might.

    In the castle, we see Buffy’s face in close-up. She is staring intently as she chooses her partner on this mission.

    BUFFY: Satsu.

    The next image stands alone and at slightly wider margins than the others. Five female figures are standing together. One with yellow eyes, apparently wooden skin, and leaf-like hair. The next appears to be made of blue flame or some kind of energy. The third, in the middle, is almost an abstract version of Willow herself, with two-toned skin. The fourth appears animal in nature, like a werewolf. The fifth figure is blank white space shaped like a woman. In that space, there are countless mathematical expressions at different angles. The second figure, made of blue flame, speaks.

    FIGURE: For goodness sake, yes. Grant her access.

    In the next image, we see who Buffy is addressing – a room full of her Slayers. Satsu is in close-up, just beside and behind her are Rowena and Leah, and several other Slayers fill the room. As Buffy continues to give Satsu her orders, most of the other Slayers, particularly the other two on Alpha Team, look obviously disappointed not to have been chosen. Satsu looks nervous, but ready.

    BUFFY: Get your favorite blade and be ready for anything and the mother of anything.

    And in the next image, we are back in the military base, but instead we see Gen. Voll and the man in the suit. They are reacting to Willow’s screaming and look alarmed.

    MAN IN SUIT: We heard screaming.

    From over their shoulders, we see they are looking at Amy, who is standing in front of the door to her and Warren’s lab, clearly not intending to let them come in.

    VOLL: And you’ve disabled our cameras.

    AMY: I know, I’m sorry, but guys: there is no way Buffy is not gonna come after this subject.

    Voll and the man in the suit look surprised that Amy has planned this out as she explains. Maybe they are surprised to be out of the loop.

    AMY: You just have that big atomo-phallic thing pointed at the portal and you’ll get your Slayer. She’ll come after this witch like a dog after dogs$#%, I swear to God.

    In tight close-up, Amy’s face is full of wicked glee.

    AMY: But the witch belongs to my boyfriend. They have a history.

    As Amy finishes, we see Buffy in the castle. Her face is all business, and not at all friendly. She is opening a chest or armoire and claiming the scythe from its apparent storage place.

    AMY: She’s kind of a history *major*.

    Next we see Alpha Team and several other Slayers together in what is apparently Satsu’s bedroom. Leah and Rowena are sitting on her bed, Rowena slumping, still looking upset that Buffy didn’t pick her. Satsu is kneeling beside her bed, getting a katana that she stored there. She appears to be embarrassed to have all these other Slayers watching her.

    SATSU: It should’ve been one of you.

    The next image is a close up of Rowena and Leah. Rowena looks despondent and says nothing. Leah is smiling graciously, and appears to be trying to keep Satsu relaxed.

    LEAH: Ya dinna think we know that? Personally, I think Buffy jus’ wants ta die looking at yer great hairdo, but it’s her that’s boss.

    We see the blade of Satsu’s sword in her hands. In it, her reflection stares back out at her wide brown eyes as Leah gives her one more piece of advice.

    LEAH: Don’t embarrass us.

    In the basement again, Buffy and Satsu are ready for battle. Buffy has changed into jeans and a denim jacket, similar to her drop gear from the first issue. Her hair is up in a short ponytail. With a gloved hand, she is sliding the scythe into what appears to be a self-styled holster for it on her left-hip, like a gunslinger.

    Satsu is pulling on a long glove. She is wearing shoulder and knee-pads over her outfit, which consists of a blue skirt over black tights, and a tanktop with what appears to be padded armor. Her katana is slung over her left shoulder.

    In the background, Xander is directing traffic of his mystics and other Slayers, organizing them for opening the portal. Buffy is giving Satsu a last minute briefing and instruction as they get ready. As she listens, Satsu looks anxious.

    BUFFY: Kill any demon you see. Humans you go for the wound unless they get stupid.

    SATSU: Humans?

    BUFFY: Willow said Amy’s magic was mixed with technology. You fight *with* me, not next to me. Do I need to say that again?

    SATSU: No, ma’am.

    The next image, the two Slayers are in close up. Satsu still looks nervous, Buffy is determined but relaxed.

    BUFFY: Did you bring any lip gloss?

    SATSU: Oh yeah.

    BUFFY: I’m all cracky.

    Buffy is shown applying Satsu’s lipgloss as she speaks. As she finishes her instructions, she pauses, as if she is surprised.

    BUFFY: We get Willow and we get out. If she can’t leave for any reason then neither can I. If I tell you to bail you do it without a word, you get out and you regroup. Hnh

    Buffy pulls the lipgloss away from her mouth and looks at it. Satsu is giving her a sidelong glance.

    BUFFY: (to herself) Cinnamon.

    In the next scene, we see Willow falling through the air, as Buffy and Ethan did through Buffy’s dreamspace. Behind her, the five female figures stand as giants in the background, speaking to her.

    WEREWOLF FIGURE: This refuge is only temporary, as you know.

    FLAMING FIGURE: We cannot undo what is happening on your plane, but your heart can bide with us until you are free.

    Willow is shown coming to a landing smoothly on her feet. The five figures are gathered around her, now the same size as ordinary people.

    WILLOW: Would that be free as in “unbound” or free as in the other thing?

    FLAMING FIGURE: We can’t know and won’t try. Look over the edge.

    Willow is shown looking over the edge of a cliff, with the flaming figure standing beside her. Below are whirling flames, with what look like people in them, in various positions. It is an image of complete chaos and probably great pain.

    WILLOW: This is me.

    FLAMING FIGURE: Yes. We hide your agony by reformulating its presentation. What you’re seeing is possibility. Thoughts, courses of actions, pieces of what you could be. Ending.

    In close-up, Willow looks stunned by the idea, and scared. The woman made of blue flame behind her looks concerned for the witch.

    FLAMING FIGURE: He’s lobotomizing you. Do you have a plan?

    In the military complex, a soldier armed with a rifle is shown in close-up shouting orders. There is a small ball of light forming in the air in front of him.

    SOLDIER: We got movement! It’s opening!

    We see the room he’s in from a wider view. In it, there are several soldiers off to the sides. In the center of the room, facing the ball of the light where the portal is opening, there is a giant device. It’s spherical with a barrel-like shaft on one side, facing the portal. It has laser tubes and a vapor around it, like a cooling system. It is clearly a large weapon.

    SOLDIER: Everybody clear!

    In the castle, the basement is a hustle of activity. Two mystics are harnessing a glowing green ball of energy, opening the portal. Xander is giving orders to the Slayers there working, as well as to Buffy and Satsu.

    XANDER: Get it in place! You got zero seconds! Buf, if that thing’s any use it’ll be right away. You jump in after and land fighting.

    BUFFY: Yes sir Mister Watcher sir.

    XANDER: I’ll Watcher your *butt*, lady.

    BUFFY: Your grammar is not so much.

    In the next image, Xander is checking his watch as Buffy and Satsu move into position walking past him. Xander’s face is all business. Satsu looks anxious as she follows Buffy. Buffy is smiling affectionately over her shoulder to Xander as he gives her one more ‘order’ before the portal opens.

    XANDER: Bring me back a witch.

    In the military compound, the cannon points menacingly to where the portal will open. It hums a *MMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMM* as it powers up. Soldiers stand on either side, waiting for the shooting to start.

    Buffy and Satsu are shown from behind, staring into the Portal as it bursts open. A voice is heard shouting from the other side of the blinding light of the portal.

    SOLDIER’S VOICE: It’s open!

    And then we see the soldier, an officer, who is speaking, in close-up, giving the command.

    OFFICER: Fire!

    With a *THOOM* the cannon blasts energy into the portal. The beam appears to be a couple of feet wide, ready to annihilate anything in its way. The officer stands impassively next to the machine, with his hands behind his back as the soldiers in the room shield their eyes. When the beam reaches the portal, it disappears into thin air…

    … and in the castle, we see the beam emerging from the portal as the various Slayers and others shield their eyes. The beam strikes a large, curved mirror and is reflected back into the portal…

    … where in the next image, it demolishes the cannon with a *KRWHUHBOOM*. Soldiers are scattered in every direction by the blast.

    SOLDIER: Ahh! Ahh!

    XANDER: Magic.

    In the castle, Xander is standing near the smoking mirror, commenting on the damage they just did.

    XANDER: It’s all done with mirrors.

    In the base, the officer is shown on a steel balcony, holding a fire extinguisher and putting out a burning man’s clothes. Soldiers are all over, trying to recover, both on the floor below and a balcony on the opposite side of the room.

    OFFICER: Sound off! Who’s hurt? Stay calm, dammit!

    In the next image, as the smoke clears, Buffy and Satsu are standing in the middle of the room full of injured, disoriented soldiers. Satsu has her katana drawn, and Buffy is holding the scythe in it’s sword/spear posture. Both of them are ready for a fight.

    BUFFY: No. Panic.

    The next several images depict the Slayers going to work, literally carving their way through their enemy. Bullets fly around the room as the pair acrobatically disable soldier after soldier. Buffy wields the scythe in every conceivable way, swinging it like a bat to bludgeon one soldier, blocking an attempted attack with a rifle butt using the blade.

    Crossing the room, Buffy plants her foot on a soldier’s helmet to leap into the air, and does a flip to land in a straddling position across the throat of another, bearing him to the ground.

    In the next image, Buffy and Satsu are side by side again. One of Satsu’s shoulderpads is revealed to be the head of a teddy bear. She is punching a soldier who was trying to draw a pistol on her. Buffy kicks the officer in the face and sends him sprawling.

    The two Slayers stand triumphant in the next image. Around them, there is still smoke and fire from the explosion. All around the room are injured soldiers, many unconscious, some struggling to get up. Many appear to be dead or dying. Satsu still has her sword drawn to cover Buffy. Buffy herself stand over the officer who has pulled up into a sitting position.

    BUFFY: So.

    The officer is shown staring up at her from below, her clenched fist visible. He looks angry and frightened. His mouth is bleeding.

    BUFFY: We tried to be nice here but some of these men are dying. There’s one person in this complex powerful enough to heal them. You can tell where she is…

    We see Buffy’s face in close-up, and it is a harsh, threatening expression.

    BUFFY: *Or*.

    Back in the castle, Xander is shown, apparently back in the command center. In front of him are several monitors, showing images of the compound – Buffy looking around in one, the hilt of the scythe in another. The images are coming from cameras Buffy and Satsu have. Xander and Buffy talk through their radio.

    XANDER: Hey, we’re up! What’s the what?

    BUFFY: (through the radio) Military installation. Initiative-y, but way more of your tax dollars at work.

    XANDER: Willow?

    BUFFY: (through the radio) We’re en route.

    In the compound, we see Buffy delivering a high kick to knock out another solder with a *WHMP* that sends him flying backwards. Satsu is following her, covering Buffy’s back with her weapon still drawn.

    XANDER: (through the radio) Amy’ll be waiting for you.

    We see a close-up of Buffy peeking around the wall into another hallway.

    BUFFY: You got any idea where all this is?

    XANDER: (through the radio) Yeah, G.P.S. is coming up… wow.

    BUFFY: Where are we?

    Buffy is shown signaling with her hand to Satsu to wait where she is. Buffy is preparing to enter the hallway.

    XANDER: (through the radio) About two miles south of Sunnydale.

    (NARRATION) BUFFY: Sunnydale. Well.

    Buffy steps into the hallway with the scythe drawn. We see her facing Amy, who is guarding the door to the lab where Willow is kept. Amy is floating in mid-air, sitting in the lotus position. With her powers she appears to be manifesting a monster made of smoke or energy. She is grinning with the same glee she had when fighting Willow.

    (NARRATION) BUFFY: I’m the one who wanted to go home.

    The next image is of Willow, in her dream or trance space, the cliff. She is standing next to the flaming blue woman. All around them, small humanoid shapes fall through space, apparently the probabilities and pieces of Willow that are being destroyed by Warren.

    FLAMING FIGURE: Your body is almost dead. You can’t come back from a natural death, dear. Not even you. Do you not fear?

    We see Willow’s face from the flaming blue woman’s perspective. Willow is turning toward her with a smile on her face.

    WILLOW: Did I ever tell you about my best friend?

    In the hallway, Buffy is shown in close-up. Her face is determined, ready for this fight with Amy. Around her ear, we see the combination blue-tooth and camera that allows her and Satsu to communicate with the castle.

    BUFFY: I like to think, in a way, that she’s part of me. That even when she’s gone, a part of her is with me.

    In a close-up, we see Buffy’s eyes have turned black, just like Willow’s do when she taps into her power.

    BUFFY: ‘cause it is.
    We see Satsu in the hallway, searching the soldier they knocked out. In the foreground, green energy is beginning to course over Buffy’s fist like electricity.

    SATSU: I got one, sir.

    XANDER: (through the radio) On my mark, pina colada.

    The next image is of Buffy as we’ve never seen her. Her right fight is covered with a huge glove made of the green energy, and she is punching Amy’s energy monster in it’s stomach, knocking it away. With her left hand, Buffy is making a green shield that is blocking an attack of Amy’s magic. The scythe falls away from Buffy, abandoned in this fight.

    In a close-up, we see Amy regrouping. She is forming a black ball in front of her, like she’s preparing a new attack on Buffy. White energy flows around the ball. She taunts Buffy, who gives as good as she gets.

    AMY: This is a *lightshow* You don’t have a particle of her strength.

    BUFFY: I saw your dreamspace, Amy.

    We see a close-up of Buffy, only it’s not Buffy. It’s the face of Catherine Madison, glowing in green energy. Buffy’s magic is creating an illusion to distract Amy.

    BUFFY/CATHERINE: I saw your nightmare.

    We see a wider view of the hallway. Buffy is hovering off the floor, green electricity crackling around her and her pony-tail is floating in mid-air. Amy is hovering also, the black ball still in front of her, but she is hanging loosely in the air. From the hallway, Satsu responds to a command through her radio and throws something. It bounces off all the walls and the ceiling as it heads toward Amy.

    XANDER: (through the radio) Now!

    In close-up, Amy’s face looks confused, hurt, even ashamed for a moment.

    AMY: (quietly) Mom…?

    At Amy’s feet, we see what Satsu has thrown. It is a hand grenade, and it settles below Amy’s hovering feet.

    With a *BAOOM* the grenade explodes and fill the image with orange fire. Only the frame of the door is visible.

    When the blast clears, we see Buffy and Satsu stepping through the broken door to Warren’s lab, both of them with weapons out. Warren looks up at them, holding the scalpel. The blade is covered in blade.

    WARREN: No!

    In a close-up, Buffy looks horrified and confused.

    BUFFY: You. Who?

    The view changes to show Amy, who has come around, grabbing Warren from behind around his shoulders. Behind her, she is opening another portal and is going to pull Warren through it.

    AMY: Time to go, sweetie.

    WARREN: This isn’t over, Slayer.

    We see Buffy and Satsu from behind, and the portal is already closing as Warren continues his fading taunting. Buffy couldn’t care less about giving chase, and rushes over to Willow’s side.

    WARREN: (fading out as he speaks) I just do not get tired of saying that

    BUFFY: Will!

    Buffy is shown ripping the bonds around Willow away, her face the picture of panic. Behind her, Satsu looks angry at what’s happened to Willow.

    BUFFY: NNNAAAH!

    In a tighter close-up, Willow’s hand reaches up to grasp Buffy’s shoulder. The Slayer still looks horrified and concerned.

    WILLOW: (weakly) Buffy?

    The next image shows Willow’s face in close-up. She is smiling and apparently completely unharmed. She does not even appear to be weak.

    WILLOW: Problem?

    In the castle, Willow is seen sitting up on the table on one monitor, and Buffy smiling brilliantly in another. The mood in the command center seems delighted, although Xander tries to maintain focus for everyone. In addition, the entire room appears to be shaking.

    XANDER: Okay, let’s stop patting ourselves on the back till we have extraction. And someone ask Dawn to stop jumping up and down.

    Back in the base, we see Buffy leading Willow and Satsu out of lab and down a corridor full of numbered doors. Buffy is carrying the scythe loosely at her side, Satsu’s sword is still raised. Buffy and Willow are conversing as they search the place.

    WILLOW: I don’t have a bunch of healing left, but I should be able to stop the worst of it.

    BUFFY: You can turn them into moss, as long as it’s healthy moss. I promised to –

    The view changes to show us what has caught Buffy’s attention. A soldier is laying unconscious on the ground. He is posed in the same position that the Gamorrean Guard in Buffy’s dreamspace of Amy’s cage was.

    BUFFY: Hey. Deja thing.

    We see Buffy standing in front of a door. It is marked as number 30.

    BUFFY: Roman numerals. Triple X. Thirty. Okay, Ethan.

    Buffy is shown putting her shoulder to the door to open it.

    BUFFY: You got yourself a “get out of jail free” card. But I hear the words “my” or “love”…

    With the door open, we see into the room. The cot in this cell is unmade. Against the far wall, Ethan Rayne is dead. He has been shot in the head and the top right quarter of his face appears to be gone, although it is hidden by shadow.

    The view reverses, and Buffy, Willow, and Satsu all look into the room in silence. A pistol is brought up to aim at Buffy, and is fired with a *KLIK* that indicates a misfire.

    The next image shows Buffy reacting to the attack. General Voll is holding the gun. Buffy has already blocked the gun down as Voll fired it again. This time it fires with a *BLAM!* but the round goes harmlessly to the ground.

    WILLOW: Buffy!

    Buffy is shown grabbing and throwing Voll across the room toward Ethan’s cot, hitting the wall. Willow and Satsu both look stunned by this outburst of violence.

    BUFFY: Heal the soldiers and see who else they’ve got in these cells.

    We see a close-up of Voll where he lands. His uniform shirt is now open and the symbol can be seen.

    VOLL: No one worth much. The only one who could have helped you was Rayne.

    Buffy catches sight of the symbol and her face shows her alarm at recognizing it.

    BUFFY: The mark…

    VOLL: Twilight.

    Voll is seen in close-up as he sits up.

    VOLL: Is coming. For you, for all your monstrous spawn… it all ends very soon.

    From over Voll’s shoulder, we see Buffy pointing indignantly back at him.

    BUFFY: Are you talking about the girls you are protecting the world from –

    VOLL: Evil? Demons? Where do you think your power comes from? Oh, wait, *you already know*. You’ve upset the balance, girl. Do you really think we were going to sit by and let you create a master race?

    The image changes and we see Buffy, Willow, and Satsu all contemplating this. Buffy’s face looks unimpressed.

    BUFFY: This isn’t about demons at all, is it? It’s about women. It’s about power and it’s about women and you just those two words in the same sentence, don’t you?

    VOLL: You think it’s only *men* want to bring you down?

    In a close-up, Voll looks tired but unsympathetic.

    VOLL: You’re not human. You’ve been to war with demons, with the First, but believe me you picked the wrong side. ‘Cause God help us, if you win then you’ll decide the world still isn’t the way you want it and the demon in you will say just one thing. “Slay.”

    The close-up moves closer to Voll’s bloodshot eye as he lays out the situation for Buffy.

    VOLL: We’re not waiting for that to happen. We will wipe you out. Not just monsters anymore. It’s you against the world. You’re at war with the human race.

    We see Buffy’s face, staring straight out of the image. We are looking from Gen. Voll’s eyes. Buffy looks surprised by this pronouncement.

    BUFFY: Oh.

    Buffy looks to her left, thoughtful. Then she looks down. Then she looks right back up into General Voll’s eyes, her face once again determined and looking forward to a fight.

    BUFFY: Kay.

    The issue ends on an image of a new Buffy logo, with “B”, “V”, and “S” all interwoven. The letters are red on a black background. Like a battleflag.

    End of Issue #4

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    Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Season 8, Issue #5
    ”The Chain”

    Prologue Summary: This story takes place after the end of Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season Seven.

    The Slayer population of the world has gone from two to nearly two thousand. Almost five hundred are working around the world with Buffy’s organization in squads – or “terrorist cells,” according to the American military. To combat the threats that have followed Buffy’s new visibility, two other Slayers are scattered around the globe, serving as her decoys.

    Start of Issue #5

    The opening image is of the face of a demon. He is green and has ram horns, a lipless, fanged mouth, and yellow reptilian eyes. He is speaking a name very familiar to us.

    DEMON: Buffy Summers…

    In a wider view, we see that this demon is standing in front of a group of other demons in a large cavern. He is triumphantly holding a woman over his head with both hands. She hangs limply, wearing an orange tank top and capri pants. The other demons are looking on in awe as he completes his declaration.

    DEMON: … IS DEAD!

    In the next panel, we see from above the demon down to the horde below him. As he continues to exult, they jump and cheer for him. While he speaks, a voiceover also appears. It’s the voice of “Buffy”, the decoy Slayer.

    DEMON: Know that Yamanh of Hoht has killed the Slayer! Scream his name, dance his clan’s warstomp, for his is mighty and merciless!

    (NARRATION) “BUFFY”: The funny apart about all this?

    The image pushes in on the Slayer’s face. She is almost a perfect doppelganger for Buffy, but she is bleeding and broken, and clearly dying or already dead.

    (NARRATION) “BUFFY”: I never even met her.

    The next image is out of context entirely; a young man, wearing a sports jersey staring down as if to someone on the ground. When he asks his question, his tone appears to be angry or alarmed.

    BOY: Who the hell are you?

    And with the next panel, the context changes again. We see the same Slayer that Yamanh apparently killed, “Buffy”, crouching in a cave with a katana in her right hand. She looks exhausted and is probably supporting her weight with the sword. There are cuts and bruises on her arms and face. In front of her, a fairy is hovering, and trying to warn her away.

    FAIRY: This if f@#%ed up. You have to leave. Now.

    The next image is “Buffy” in profile, lowering her head as she answers. The fairy hovers closer, clearly concerned.

    “BUFFY”: I leave, Yamanh’ll bring his whole army upstairs and that’s what I was sent here to stop.

    FAIRY: He will *kill you*.

    “BUFFY”: Could be.

    We see “Buffy” from over her shoulder as the Fairy flutters up to her face to press her point.

    FAIRY: So you have to go.

    “BUFFY”: Get to the surface. Tell them he’s massing and where. Tell them they have to hit him now.

    FAIRY: I didn’t lay my faerie eggs inside your ear canal to watch you die.

    In the next image, despite her injuries and fatigue, “Buffy” manages to give the Fairy a very nonplussed stare.

    When the image shifts back to the fairy, she has coolly turned her back to “Buffy” and is studying her fingernails nonchalantly.

    FAIRY: I said something else.

    “BUFFY”: Eggs?

    FAIRY: It’s not fatal. And I didn’t do it.

    “BUFFY”: *Go*.

    A close-up for the Fairy reveals how concerned she is for the Slayer.

    FAIRY: Be here when I get back.

    “BUFFY”: Slayer’s honor.

    In the next image, “Buffy” is shown closing her eyes and accepting a gentle kiss on the forehead by the tiny fairy. As the Fairy departs, the Slayer begins to narrate into a change of scene again.

    FAIRY: I love you, Buffy.

    (NARRATION) “BUFFY”: Here’s how it works.

    When the image continues, we see three young women in private school uniforms sitting at a lunch table outside their school. One with blond hair sits cross-legged on top of the table. Another with red-hair sits normally at the table. In the foreground, a girl with short, dark hair sits with on the bench with her back leaning against the table.

    BRUNETTE STUDENT: It’s so unfair. It’s fascism is what it is.

    In a close-up, we see the quiet anger on her face as she continues. Behind her, the red-haired student is eating a sandwich while talking with her.

    BRUNETTE STUDENT: We all get detention ‘cause Holly “Trampo” Braeburn leaves her panties in the utility closet?

    REDHEAD STUDENT: Okay so how is that fascism?

    BRUNETTE: Please. Crack a book.

    We see her looking back over her shoulder at her fellow students. The redhead continues to eat her lunch while the blonde pantomimes crudely as she joins in the conversation.

    BLONDE STUDENT: How does that even happen? How could you forget to put ‘em back on?

    BRUNETTE: You’ve really never touched a boy, have you?

    BLONDE: I wouldn’t touch Mike Billenger without a hazmat suit. (more quietly) Is that what they’re called?

    REDHEAD: You could’ve turned her in.

    In the next image, the brunette student is still answering over her shoulder, with an expression of slight disdain.

    BLONDE: If you knew they were hers, we didn’t *all* have to get boned.

    BRUNETTE: Duh, that’s where it’s fascism.

    VOICE: (from out of view): HEY!

    The image reverses and we see a young man has come up to the table. It’s the same boy we saw earlier, coming to speak to the three girls.

    BOY: Any of you seen Holly Braeburn? I need something from her.

    In close-up, we see the brunette answer him by way of identification. As she comes to a realization, she grins in amusement.

    BRUNETTE: Mike Billenger.

    MIKE: Yeah, I know you?

    BRUNETTE: Oh my God! Maybe the panties weren’t *hers*!

    She doesn’t get to continue, because in the next image we see her flying backwards from the table, as if she has begun convulsing, or some invisible force has thrown her to the ground. The other two girls and Mike Billenger look on in alarm.

    BRUNETTE: *HGK*

    The next image changes the context again, as we see a close-up of a severe looking Giles. He is beginning a lesson, apparently for new Slayers.

    GILES: And now I will tell you about the chain.

    And in the next panel, we’re seeing what the brunette student must be experiencing within her. She is our narrator, “BUFFY”, becoming a Slayer for the first time on the day of the battle of Sunnydale. The image shows her floating upside down in the posture she flew. Behind her, we see the First Slayer, in the same posture, and a Slayer behind her, and another behind her, and so on, into the distance. The background is a swirling red vortex. Images of various demons fill the redness, including the Master, and a Turok-han. Floating next to each image of a Slayer, is an image of the Scythe.

    (NARRATION) “BUFFY”: So, it’s different, I guess, for different people Some, it’s a tickle. They don’t even know. Or a rush. Fun. But for me, becoming a Slayer was like Mike Tyson in your face – and not punching-you Mike Tyson, ripping-your-ear-off-with-his-teeth Mike Tyson. The powers, the shared memories, the… truth. The unbelievable truth.

    The next image is a close-up of a black woman with short dreadlocks. She is Rona, one of the few Slayers to survive the Battle of Sunnydale. Her expression is cool but not unkind.

    RONA: There is no truth.

    The entire next page is a series of images that appear to be taken from a television commercial, either real or imagined, performed by Andrew and Vi, another Slayer from Sunnydale. First, we see Vi, dressed amusingly in a June Cleaver-esque lavender dress, complete with an apron over her skirt, breaking a glass vase she is trying to pick up.

    VI: Oh! I broke another one!

    We see Andrew, in a sweater vest and tie, with his hair ridiculously gelled into a peak at his forehead, and holding a pipe, lean out from behind a wall. Vi is holding her hand up to her mouth in embarrassment.

    ANDREW: Something wrong, honey?

    VI: I can’t control my strength! And I’m having dreams that are strange and disturb me.

    We see Andrew in the foreground, looking straight into the “camera” of the commercial as he holds his pipe thoughtfully. Behind him, Vi has her hands on her hips as she listens to him with great interest.

    ANDREW: Dreams of being another girl, in another time?

    VI: That’s amazing! How did you know?

    In the next image, Andrew has produced a pamphlet and is showing it to the camera. Vi puts a finger to her lips curiously, peaking over his shoulder at it.

    ANDREW: This pamphlet came in the mails! It explains how many modern women and girls are suffering from this unnamed condition.

    VI: There’s a support group?

    We see Andrew holding a finger up affirmatively, holding his pipe in his lips as Vi beams in the background.

    ANDREW: That’s right! Just dial 1-800-CHOSEN-1 to meet girls who have this alarming yet fun condition.

    And the commercial ends with Andrew and Vi standing side by side, laughing with pleasure at what they’ve learned.

    VI: I will! Now I won’t be the only girl breaking vases.

    ANDREW: Ah ha ha!

    And the next panel shifts the scene again. We see “Buffy”, still brunette, staring dubiously ahead as she takes part in some sort of meeting, like counseling or an interview.

    “BUFFY”: This is a cult, right?

    We see that she is sitting in an office chair, facing a woman leaning cross-armed against a desk. She appears to be someone associated with Buffy’s organization, possibly a surviving Watcher trying to adjust to her new management.

    WATCHER: What do *you* think it is? What do you think is happening to you?

    (NARRATION) “BUFFY”: She talks for a good long while.

    The next image shows us six young women, including “Buffy”, gathered on a large mat in the middle of a gym. The gym is large and includes a boxing ring. “Buffy” is holding one arm with her other hand shyly, and appears to be getting introduced to the group.

    (NARRATION) “BUFFY”: I listen. I don’t have a choice, way I’ve been. And truth is, it’s not cheesy like the commercial.

    In a close-up, we see “Buffy” is hugging one of her new Slayer sisters, and tears are running freely from both eyes.

    (NARRATION) “BUFFY”: It’s actually amazing.

    We see “Buffy” in training with Rona and two other Slayers, one of which is recognizable from Andrew’s group in Rome, the punk Slayer who wanted to use guns. They are practicing stake moves with Rona leading them.

    (NARRATION) “BUFFY”: I couldn’t put it into words. The one time, that guy did pretty well though.

    In another scene of their training, Rona has “Buffy” and other Slayers in a basement, facing a snarling, chained vampire.

    (NARRATION) “BUFFY”: He was visiting. I guess he’s pretty well-known. So by extension of extension, yes I’m famous and fabulous.

    And we see Slayers, about twenty of them, in the gym. They are standing in the ring, sitting on the ring apron, or cross-legged on the mat, all facing a podium that’s been placed in the gym.

    (NARRATION) “BUFFY”: But not really. You know ironically I’m probably less famous *because* of the name.

    We see the podium from the audience. Giles is standing there in a suit coat and t-shirt, his hair smoothed back. To his left, we see the Watcher from earlier and Rona is on his right.

    GILES: First I’m going to tell you what you probably already know.

    (NARRATION) “BUFFY”: They even have another girl using it – way more high profile. Doing the party scene in Rome.

    In the next panel, we’re back in the caves. A small but vicious looking demon is crawling through a tunnel and grinning.

    (NARRATION) “BUFFY”: I’ve never been to Rome.

    DEMON: Hmmn. It’s been so long since I ate anything… sun-ripened.

    In the next image, the demon’s grin vanishes as its reaching hand comes flying off its arm.

    DEMON: Hey now –

    The next panel shows “Buffy” suddenly having pinned the small demon to the cavern floor. She is in the same outfit as when we first saw her and she is holding the monster’s throat with her left hand. Her right hand is holding her katana behind her arm, having just used it to cut off the demon’s hand.

    “BUFFY”: I left you one to wipe with. Assuming you – no. Eck. Tell Yamanh of my extraordinary mercy.

    The image moves to a close-up of “Buffy”’s face. It is sweaty and intense, nearly obsessive. She is baring her teeth.

    “BUFFY”: Tell him Buffy Summers is coming for him.

    In the next image, “Buffy”’s fairy friend is peaking out from behind a rock. She looks scared and sad.

    (NARRATION) “BUFFY”: The name. What power.

    And the scene changes again, and we see “Buffy” at the moment she was Called again. She is lying prone on the grass, unconscious.

    (NARRATION) “BUFFY”: Not the greatest power, though.

    We see Giles again, in the middle of his lecture. “Buffy”’s narration is intercut with his speech.

    GILES: The chain is something that

    (NARRATION) “BUFFY”: you know what? You’ve probably heard this. It’s pretty standard stuff. How we’re all

    GILES: Connected to one another

    (NARRATION) “BUFFY”: All over the world and through history and make a difference and we’re all equal and do for each other and it isn’t bulls#*%, he was actually really articulate, but… well it’s one thing to *hear* it.

    In a new scene again, we see six Slayers, including “Buffy” and the punk Slayer from Andrew’s team, standing back to back in an alleyway, surrounded by vampires. They are prepared to fight.

    SLAYER: This is it. This is really it.

    “BUFFY”: We just gotta, we gotta, we gotta…

    PUNK SLAYER: Just stay out of my way, amateurs.

    We see another vampire jump down from a rooftop above them, wielding a broadsword.

    He lands between them, scattering the Slayers as “Buffy” completes her thought in narration.

    (NARRATION) “BUFFY”: “… We gotta focus.

    We see “Buffy” fighting back, kicking out from a crouch and sending a vamp in a mesh shirt flying.

    (NARRATION) “BUFFY”: “Adapt.

    In another image, a vampire has one of the Slayers cornered and is moving in.

    We see “Buffy” leap up with a powerful uppercut from between the two, with her back to the vampire.

    The vampire recovers and sinks its fangs into “Buffy”’s neck, causing her to open her mouth in pain and blood to flow from the would.

    The next image shows “Buffy” reaching back and grabbing the vampire by its shirt for leverage.

    And she flips him over her shoulder and onto the stake of the Slayer she rescued. The vampire dusts.

    (NARRATION) “BUFFY”: “Work together.”

    In close-up, we see two of the other Slayers grinning after the fight.

    SLAYER #1: I can’t believe you did that!

    SLAYER #2: That was *so* large!

    When we see a wider view, they aren’t reacting to “Buffy”’s heroic rescue, but rather to the Punk Slayer, whose name is mentioned as SIMONE. She is holding the vampire’s broadsword and apparently finished the other vamps while we were watching “Buffy” rescue her fellow Slayer.

    SLAYER #1: That guy scared the crap out of me!

    SLAYER #2: He was like eight feet tall!

    SLAYER #1: You should totally get to keep that sword.

    In the next panel, Simone is walking away casually. In the background, we see the rescued Slayer helping “Buffy” to her feet.

    SIMONE: (muttering) Rather have a gun…

    RESCUED SLAYER: (to “Buffy”) I can’t believe that.

    We see “Buffy” get to her feet, holding her bite wound with her left hand. The rescued Slayer is supporting her arm.

    “BUFFY”: Yeah, I got a souvenir, too. Bet I make squad leader.

    The Slayer she rescued faces her with a sincere expression, as “Buffy” holds her bloody hand in front of her.

    RESCUED SLAYER: You took the bite for me. Think Simone would have done that? Besides…

    The scene shifts back to the same office we saw “Buffy” in with the Watcher. This time, she is sitting in the chair, but it is Rona talking to her, seated at the desk and looking at her with her hand thoughtfully on her chin.

    (NARRATION) RESCUED SLAYER: (from previous scene) “… I hear Buffy’s got a neck wound, too.”

    RONA: The hair.

    We see from over Rona’s shoulder as she sizes up “Buffy”. The younger Slayer sits patiently as Rona examines her from behind the desk.

    RONA: Need a serious dye job, and you’d have to maintain it yourself. Body type, height are good… have to pad the bra a little, but… we’re counting on these guys never to have actually seen her. You get what all this is?

    A close-up on “Buffy”’s face shows her to have a pretty clear understanding. Her expression is sober.

    “BUFFY”: You want me to be Buffy.

    RONA: Sounds a lot more glam than it is. We’d be sending you underground. Under actual ground. No one up here can know you’re her, no one down there can know you’re not.

    From over “Buffy”’s shoulder, we see Rona, looking serious, as she explains in more detail.

    RONA: It’s deep cover and it’s unbelievably dangerous. We know next to nothing about the under-community, except they’re strong and they might be headed up. Yamanh’s the name down there.

    “BUFFY”: If you know his name…

    RONA: … Then he probably knows hers, so yeah, a decoy might keep him occupied, might do some internal damage.

    We see Rona in close-up as she sums up “Buffy”’s concerns.

    RONA: I’m lookin’ at you for this so I gotta figure you want the truth. As in…

    And we see “Buffy” in the next image, in her new hair and outfit, armed with her katana, standing at the lip of a deep tunnel into the ground. She is preparing to descend by a line into the seemingly bottomless hole.

    (NARRATION) RONA: (from previous scene) … “Why me?

    The next image shows “Buffy” descending the tunnel wall in near total dark.

    (NARRATION) RONA: “Did I get the hardest, darkest path to walk ‘cause I’m strong, I’m good, I can handle the heavier burden?

    We see “Buffy” climbing up a different cave wall after her descent, her face with silent effort and determination.

    (NARRATION) RONA: “Or am I weak, expendable. The one that won’t be missed. The truth?

    The next image is of “Buffy” standing in a large cavern. She is holding up a torch against the dark mouth of yet another tunnel.

    (NARRATION) RONA: “There is no truth.

    We see the decoy Slayer some time later. She is lying naked on the cavern floor staring up passively. Several green slug like creatures are covering her, crawling over her, while a pair of Fairies hover above her.

    (NARRATION) RONA: “There’s just what you believe.”

    In the next scene, we see “Buffy” sitting up but still naked. The Fairies float at her side, while the slug creatures return to what appears to be their leader, a larger slug creature with various legs or such, as well as a necklace made of a human skull and other bones.

    SLIME DEMON: You pass the test. The last one to fall this far, years ago, he gave us your language. And this pretty necklace, because he didn’t pass.

    The view changes back to “Buffy”, who looks dazed. The Fairies are carrying her clothes back to her. One of the fairies is the one we saw with the Slayer.

    “BUFFY”: Everything’s kinda swimmy…

    SLIME DEMON: Now your odor will please all the slimefolk. Safe passage is assured.

    NEW FAIRY: This stench? We won’t abide it!

    FIRST FAIRY: We will scrub you with briars for a hundred days!

    “BUFFY”: Yeah, that’s not a comfort. Now everybody stop talking for a minute.

    We see the Fairy from earlier looking back at “Buffy” and the Slime Demon watching from its perch while the Slayer continues to speak.

    “BUFFY”: The demon horde are eating you guys alive. The only way you’re gona survive is to get in this together.

    SLIME DEMON: Blasphemy!

    FAIRY: They’re slime! They’re *made of* slime!

    “BUFFY”: Hey, I don’t wanna hear it!

    We see the Slayer standing with her hand holding her forehead. She looks a little disoriented, but has her shirt back on.

    “BUFFY”: Yamanh’s troops are coming up and they will go right through you to get to my people. You have to stand together – and that includes the Ravenclan and the… that thing that looks like a leaf-blower.

    A close-up of “Buffy” shows she is staring at the Fairies and Slime Demons.

    “BUFFY”: This is how we live. Together. With each other. *For* each other. Otherwise…

    The next image shows the Slayer sliding her pants up over her bare hip as the creatures look on.

    “BUFFY”: Otherwise there is no life in these caverns and I don’t have to worry about what happens to it.

    In a close-up, the Slime Demon looks at “Buffy” doubtfully.

    SLIME DEMON: You are throwing us to the wolves.

    We see a close-up of the familiar Fairy, looking nervous and uncertain as “Buffy” answers.

    “BUFFY”: The wolves are *here*. But you have each other. You have a will to survive.

    In a wider-view, we see the Slayer now fully dressed, her katana sheathed in her left hand. The familiar Fairy is gesturing back to her in amazement, her mood brightening.

    FAIRY: And we have the Chosen One. Even Yamanh knows enough to fear the name Buffy Summers.

    SLIME DEMON: The Slayer. She will truly face the blackness?

    The image shifts back to an overhead view of “Buffy” when she was Called, unconscious on the grass with the two girls and Mike Billenger staring down at her.

    (NARRATION) SLIME DEMON: ”Not turn and run back to the light?

    We see the students looking down from ground level, all uncertain of what’s happened.

    MIKE: What’s going on?

    REDHEAD: Was that like a joke?

    In a tight close-up of “Buffy”’s eye, we see her come around. She is hearing a *SKREEEEEEEEEEEEEE*.

    A wider view reveals that a tractor trailer has swerved off the road and is roaring across the yard toward the students. The *SKREEEEEEEEEEEEEEE* of its brakes indicates it is not going to be able to stop. Buffy” reacts on instinct and lashes out with a powerful kick that knocks the lunch table and the two girls out of the trucks path.

    The next image shows her getting to her feet in time to palm thrust Mike to safety, but the truth is far too close for her to move…

    … and we see the truck take her head on with a *WHUMP*.

    The young Slayer is launched clear of the stopping truck by the impact.

    We see her skid to a halt in the grass as the people she rescued run toward her.

    MIKE: Are you okay? God! We woulda been *mashed*! How did you…

    And the image changes to what we already saw; Mike looking down at “Buffy”.

    MIKE: Who the hell *are* you?

    Instead of an answer, the scene shifts back to the Slayer in the caverns. “Buffy” is fighting toe to toe with Yamanh, punching him in the gut and getting him off balance.

    (NARRATION) “BUFFY”: But that’s not the point. There’s always a name.

    Yamanh is shown recovering his balance, and knocking the Slayer backwards with a double fist across her chin. She looks almost unconscious from the blow, and blood spatters from her mouth.

    (NARRATION) “BUFFY”: Lincoln. Hitler. Gandhi. The name can inspire terror, awe…

    The next image shows a battle in progress. Yamanh’s demons are being attacked by Fairies, Slime Demons, men with wings, presumably the Ravenclan, and some kind of dragonfly like creatures that “Buffy” thought looked like leafblowers.

    (NARRATION) “BUFFY”: … Sometimes great things.

    In a close-up, we see Yamanh’s fist holding the Slayer up by the shirt. Her eyes show no fear but she seems clearly beaten in the fight.

    (NARRATION) “BUFFY”: But there’s millions of people go into making a name. People facing things they couldn’t imagine they would.

    The view reverses, and we see a vicious Yamanh rearing his bloody fist back for the killing blow.

    (NARRATION) “BUFFY”: In the moments that matter, even our own names are just sounds people make to tell us apart. What we are isn’t that.

    The next image brings us back to where we started. “Buffy” is being held in the air by Yamanh, and his horde stands looking up at him celebrating, having driven back the other creatures that the Slayers had rallied to fight.

    (NARRATION) “BUFFY”: The real questions run deeper. Can I fight? Did I help? Did I do for my sisters? My comrades, children, slimy slug-clan…

    The next panel stops the demon celebration. From the top of the cavern, a large team of Slayers is descending on lines to bring the fight to Yamanh and his demons. Satsu, Leah, and Rowena are all visible leading the assault.

    (NARRATION) “BUFFY”: There is a chain, between each and every one of us. And like the man said, you either feel its tug or you ignore it.

    Yamanh throws “Buffy” aside like a doll, staring up at the overpowering force coming to destroy him.

    (NARRATION) “BUFFY”: I tried to feel it. I tried to face the darkness like a woman and I don’t need any more than that. You don’t have to remember me.

    The next image turns away from the battle. We see only “Buffy”, broken. Dead. Laid out awkwardly on the cavern floor and staring up.

    (NARRATION) “BUFFY”: You don’t even know who I am.

    The last image is of the fallen, nameless Slayer alone on a white background. Her head has fallen gently to the ground and her eyes have shut.

    (NARRATION) “BUFFY”: But I do.

    End of Issue #5

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    Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Season Eight, Issue 6
    “No Future For You, Part I”


    Prologue Summary: The Slayer population of the world has gone from two to nearly two thousand. Almost five hundred are working with Buffy’s European-based organization in squads – or “terrorist cells,” according to various military forces. Enter Faith, the pioneer of Slayer-related dirty work, whose talents as a fierce fighter continue to garner the attention of her former Sunnydale compatriots.

    Start of Issue #6

    The opening image if of a statue face, in close up, on the top of a building. It’s cheeks are cracked and its eyes are closed.

    (NARRATION) FAITH: “Oh, the places you’ll go!” Mom used to read me that book before she tucked me in… nights she was sober enough, anyway.

    A wider view on the next page shows the top of the building as part of the Cleveland skyline. A young woman is sitting near the top of the building, reclining with an arm across her knee on a perch just below the statue’s face. She is wearing either a leather or dark denim jacket and dark pants.

    Cigarette smoke is wafting into the air. Even at a distance, there is no doubt it’s Faith.

    (NARRATION) FAITH: But Dr. Seuss never tells you that even with brains in your head and feet in your shoes… you can still end up in Cleveland.

    In a close-up, Faith blows smoke out her nose, her lips pursed and her eyes half closed. In the background, a noise is sounding a *DEET DA DEET*, but she ignores it.

    (NARRATION) FAITH: “Alone will be something you’ll be quite a lot.” Least the Doc was right about that.

    In the next image, we see the sound is coming from Faith’s cellphone, the screen of which says “Robin Wood – Mobile”. It continues ringing a *DEET DA DEET* tone.

    We see Faith, standing up on her perch as she answers the phone. Her right hand is on her hip, cigarette between her fingers, as she greets the former principal.

    FAITH: I’m impressed, Mister Principal. Most exes are too proud to make the late-night booty call, but not you, huh?

    WOOD: (through phone) Hello, Faith.

    We see Wood’s end of the conversation, where he is standing inside what looks like a rundown house. He is dressed in a black turtle-neck, as if part of some kind of tactical gear. Behind him, three Slayers are in a fight with five vampires. Four vampires, rather, as one of the Slayers has pinned one to the floor and stakes it with a *PAFT*.

    WOOD: Afraid this is business, not pleasure.

    The image moves back to Faith, whose expression appears to be mixed with boredom and distaste. She casually flicks away her cigarette, as she responds to Wood.

    FAITH: Ah, gotcha. You and your noob squad need a hand from big sister.

    WOOD: (through phone) Actually, we have this nest under control. But one of the vamps we captured, before she got turned… she used to be a single mom.

    Wood is shown in close-up on his profile, his expression sad.

    WOOD: She had children, Faith.

    Faith is shown with her face looking similarly sad as she thinks of the implications of what Wood is saying.

    WOOD: (through phone) I swear, I never would have bothered you if I thought any of these girls could take care of them, but –

    FAITH: Just text me the address, would you?

    WOOD: (through phone) Thank you. Sincerely. And, um, how’ve you been? Are you still –

    Before he can continue, we see Faith snapping the phone shut. She has pulled a grappling hook out of her waist band and fires it with a *SPANG* as she starts to get moving.

    FAITH: So long, Robin.

    The grapping hook is shown lodging into the wall of another building.

    (NARRATION) FAITH: “You’re off to great places…”

    And we see Faith, soaring through the Cleveland night sky on a zipline by her left hand, with a crossbow in her right. Her expression is determined.

    (NARRATION) FAITH: “… today is your day!”

    When the image changes, we’re seeing an old house from the outside, a spent cigarette butt on the street in close-up. Faith is visible in silhouette on the porch.

    Next we see Faith standing in the door, stepping into the house tentatively.

    FAITH: Yo. Anybody home?

    VOICE: Ehhn.

    The view reverses, and we see a little girl huddled in a corner of the room where Faith can see her. She is blond and has bows in her hair.

    GIRL: Eehhhhhhn.

    The next image if of Faith approaching the girl cautiously, her hands out to be unthreatening.

    FAITH: Shhh, everything’s gonna be cool, kid. Can you tell me where your brothers and sisters are? Are they—

    In close-up, we see the girl’s eyes. They are yellow, her brow is warped – this is what Wood was afraid of. She is a vampire, and growls at Faith with a *HSSSSSS!*

    Faith is shown pulling a stake from her coat regretfully.

    FAITH: Damn.

    In a wider view, suddenly there are at least five other children… all vampires. Faith draws back in surprise.

    FAITH: Dammit.

    And we see a picture on a dresser in another room… pictures of the family that these kids belonged to. Shadows from another room show Faith working through the room with her stake with a *PAFT*.

    The image moves out, and we see the same pictures through a window from outside. Another *PAFT* settles another one of child vamps inside the house.

    And next we see the house from almost the same distance from which it was first seen. *PAFT*, *PAFT*, *PAFT*, and Faith’s work inside is finished.

    In a new image, dawn is breaking over Cleveland. We see a building, presumably where Faith’s apartment is.

    Inside, the Slayer herself is opening the door to her apartment. Her stake hangs loosely in her hand and her jacket is draped over her other forearm. Her head is hanging despondently. The apartment itself appears to be in disrepair. The walls are cracked, and laundry hangs over the radiator.

    With a *SHUNK*, Faith angrily jabs her stake into the wall – the kind of helpless physical outrage we’ve seen from her before.

    A voice from behind her gets her attention, and we see her angry brown eyes in close up as she turns to look.

    VOICE: Long night?

    The voice is coming from Giles, who we see on the reverse view leaning casually against the counter of Faith’s dirty kitchen. He is wearing dark slacks and a sweatshirt with a yellow submarine on it, and is drinking a cup of tea he’s brewed for himself.

    GILES: I must say, for cupboards this bare, you have an exceptional selection of chamomiles.

    In close-up, Faith’s face has relaxed, but her expression is still dubious as she answers Giles’ remark.

    FAITH: What, those smelly bags? Use ‘em on the dark circles under my eyes.

    In a wider view, Giles is wiping his lips with a napkin, and Faith has sat down at her breakfast bar to face him where he stands.

    GILES: Yes, well…

    FAITH: What brings you to my neck, Giles? Haven’t clocked you since the Sunny D went from being an outie to an innie.

    As they speak, Giles looks sideways at Faith, who is averting her glance. As she speaks, she’s clearly feeling defensive about her ties to Giles or anyone else.

    GILES: I have no idea what that means, but it’s good to see you, Faith.

    FAITH: You can skip the friendly uncle routine. I ain’t your beloved Buffy, I’m the go-to girl for dirty deeds done dirt cheap, right? So what do you need me to kill?

    Before answering her, Giles has stepped past Faith. We see him in close-up as he takes off his glasses. He’s not facing Faith as he speaks, who watches him from her seat at the breakfast bar.

    GILES: I’m afraid this isn’t an ordinary mission.

    FAITH: Which makes it different how exactly?

    GILES: The stakes are higher, as are the rewards. My sources tell me that you’ve twice attempted to purchase a forged passport.

    We see Faith has turned around and sat on top of her counter, scratching her hair with what might be embarrassment. Giles cleans his glasses as they converse, but still doesn’t look her in the eye.

    FAITH: So, I was looking to do a little globetrotting. That a crime?

    GILES: Yes, actually. But I suspect the truth of the matter is that you want out of this second-rate hellmouth. Out of this *life*. If you accept my assignment, I can offer you safe passage to the nation of your choosing. You’ll be given a generous annual stipend and be permitted to live out the rest of your days however you see fit.

    In close-up, we see Faith’s reaction is amazed but mostly disbelieving by her expression.

    FAITH: Yeah, right. I’m an escaped con. A murderer. Why would the same Watchers Council that tried to ice me suddenly make with the pension plan?

    From over Faith’s shoulder, we see Giles looking out her window. He puts his glasses back on as he answers her.

    GILES: For all intents and purposes, I am the Watchers Council. And I’m personally authorizing your “early retirement,” just as I’m authorizing this directive.

    FAITH: Must be one hell of a target. What are we talking here, a Nisanti demon? A Buski golem?

    In close-up, we see Giles finally look back over his shoulder at Faith. His eyes are full of the significance of what he’s going to ask.

    GILES: A Slayer.

    In the next image, Giles head is down and his hands are in his pockets. Faith has pulled her legs up and is sitting up on her counter as she processes what he’s said.

    FAITH: Wait, *huh*?

    GILES: In my generation, there was a single girl given the strength and skill to fight the spread of darkness. In your generation, there are nearly *two thousand* women with the powers of the Slayer, and not all of them have chosen to use their newfound abilities conscientiously.

    In close up, Faith’s face hardens. She may think that she’s an example to Giles.

    FAITH: You don’t say.

    We see Giles in close-up as he turns to face her.

    GILES: If the girl in question were merely guilty of the same mistakes you once made – considerable though they may have been – I would opt for rehabilitation. But according to every augur in my employ, including the Great Bearded Wizard of Northampton, unless this young lady is terminated before fall’s end, she will usher in –

    In a wider view, Faith jumps off the counter to her feet as she interrupts Giles, still standing in front of her window.

    FAITH: – the end of the world, right? You’ve got apocalypse written all over your face.

    GILES: This isn’t a game, Faith. I’m not talking about staking the undead, I’m asking you to end the life of a human being.

    In close-up, Faith stares levelly as she answers.

    FAITH: Heard you the first time. So, who is this evil bitch, anyway?

    From Faith’s question, the entire scene changes to show us an image of a beautiful, smiling young woman with short, dark hair and blue eyes.

    YOUNG GIRL: I think I should like a puppy.

    In a wider view, the same girl is seated on a large white horse. She has a very proper, aristocratic riding outfit on, complete with scarf blowing gracefully in the breeze. Behind her, a man in a red coat is mounted on a black horse. He has red hair, and is holding a black folder or book in his hand. In the background, we see they are riding on a large estate.

    YOUNG GIRL: But a proper hound, not one of those rubbish little rats the other girls are stuffing into their Louis Vaittons.

    MAN: Might we concentrate on the matter at hand, Lady Genevieve?? Your… *unique* station in life demands a rigorous education, and the foxhunt is the most important chapter of those studies.

    In a close-up, Lady Genevieve looks down, sullen and pouting.

    GENEVIEVE: I hardly slept a wink last night what with those godforsaken nightmares, so kindly piss off, Roden. Unless you want me to tell his grace the Duke what you’re *really* tutoring his daughter to…

    The Lady loses his train of thought, and she looks up, turning her head as if she’s detected something.

    GENEVIEVE: Hold a moment. I can feel it.

    In the next image, Lady Genevieve leaps from her mount, with Roden behind her watching with approval.

    GENEVIEVE: She’s close, isn’t she? She’s hiding right over there!

    RODEN: Excellent. Now finish it before she goes to ground.

    From a ground’s eye view, we see past the Lady’s riding boot to where a young girl is hiding behind a tree. She appears to be wearing a green school uniform, but it is dirty and torn.

    “FOX” GIRL: What *is* this? What the hell do you *want*?

    We see the Lady approach the girl. She raises her hand to her mouth, thoughtfully. In the foreground, the hidden girl she’s found looks terrified.

    GENEVIEVE: Hnf. This is about as far from “fox” as one can get.

    “FOX” GIRL: Look, I don’t know how many other people you nutters have kidnapped, but this time…

    Suddenly, the terror turns to a vicious snarl as the girl kicks out and strikes

    Lady Genevieve in the gut with a *WHUMP!* Genevieve doubles over in pain at the attack.

    “FOX” GIRL: … you snatched the wrong girl!

    GENEVIEVE: *Uhnf*!

    In a close-up, we see that the attack hasn’t nearly harmed Genevieve, just stunned and angered her. She stares with an angry curl on her lips and mud stain on her blouse where she has been kicked.

    GENEVIEVE: You filthy little commoner.

    With a *KRAK!*, Genevieve backhands the girl clean off her feet. We can see blood spatter from her face where she has been struck.

    GENEVIEVE: I loved that shirt.

    In silhouette, we see the two girls alone on the landscape. Genevieve staring down at her victim, and the other girl, landing awkwardly, head-first, with a *WHUMP*.

    In the next image, we see that the girl is dead. Her neck has been broken by Genevieve’s backhand, and her face is contorted in pain as her head lays turned awkwardly to the side. Genevieve covers her mouth with both hands as she stares down in surprise. Whether she actually regrets killing the girl is unclear, but she definitely didn’t expect to do so with one punch. Roden steps off his horse behind her.

    GENEVIEVE: Oh, god. I… I thought you said this one would be as strong as me. I thought she was another Slayer!

    RODEN: And she was, Gigi. Which makes this a most impressive blooding.

    In close-up, Genevieve still looks panicked, her hand still over her mouth. Behind her, Roden smirks with an arched eyebrow, gesturing with his right hand behind him and summoning a swirling blue magical energy.

    GENEVIEVE: We… we have to hide her body. I’ll have Daddy call his solicitors in case anyone –

    RODEN: Don’t worry your precious head.

    The next image shows Genevieve, still standing over the girl’s body, her hand on her cheek now. Roden, next to her, is still casting some sort of spell.

    The two horses behind them are staring into the air, where two large winged demon-shapes have appeared, made of what appears to be storm-clouds or porous dark stone.

    RODEN: The boys will clean up after you.

    Next, we see the “boys” are doing just that; the two monsters are picking up the dead Slayer’s body as Genevieve whirls around to confront Roden as we look over his shoulder.

    GENEVIEVE: Listen to me, you sad Irish witch. I’ve jumped through every nasty hoop you’ve put in my way, and now I want what was promised me. I want what’s *mine*.

    RODEN: First of all, witches are new-eating old hags. I, on the other hand, and a passably attractive warlock. Secondly, you’re just going to have to be patient. As a wise man once said, you can’t have any pudding…

    In a new, tight close-up, we see the book Roden has been holding. It’s black cover has a red image that’s familiar and unpleasant – the crescent sunset and rising star that symbolizes Twilight.

    RODEN: … if you don’t eat your meat.

    In a new scene, we see an establishing panel outside a building. The American flag on the side indicates that the scene is still in the U.S.

    Inside the building, we next see a large ballroom or banquet room, set for a large event with fully set tables. Giles and Faith are inside, standing next to one of the tables.

    FAITH: I thought this stuck-up debutard lived in Jolly Olde. Why are we still chilling at the mistake by the lake?

    GILES: We’ll leave for England when your training is complete.
    We see Faith, arms crossed on her chest, turn her head to look up at Giles with a little amusement. He has turned his head to stare back over at her, but both of them are still turned toward the table in front of them.

    FAITH: No offense, Professor Turtleneck, but I kinda doubt there’s much you can teach me about the wonderful world of wetworks.

    GILES: Faith, were this a garden-variety assassination, I would have used a rifle and done the deed myself. But my intelligence suggests that along with being one of the wealthiest, and thus most-protected, heiresses in the British Isles, Lady Genevieve Savidge has somehow found a way to mystically defend her estate from conventional attack.

    Giles continues to speak, and Faith turns to face him, raising a hand against what she thinks he’s suggesting. She is smiling, though.

    GILES: The only chance you have finishing this Slayer is by getting close to her through subterfuge and cunning.

    FAITH: Hey, I likes me some kink, but if you think I’m going downtown on this chick, you chose the wrong chosen one.

    From overhead, we see Giles gesturing toward the table as he continues, ignoring Faith’s misunderstanding of the word ‘cunning’. Faith has crossed her arms again to listen.

    GILES: This is about infiltrating her world. I’m going to help you fit into high society in time for you to attend the fancy dress party that Lady Genevieve is throwing for her nineteenth birthday.

    FAITH: They seriously call their fancy dress parties “fancy dress parties”? You limeys are even uptight when you get down.

    We see Faith throw as dismissive hand over her shoulder as she begins to walk away past Giles, who turns as she goes by him.

    FAITH: But whatev, I think I’ve banged enough bankers to know how to fit in with higher tax brackets.

    GILES: I assure you, the British class system is about much more than wealth. You’re going to have to become intimately familiar with peerage, diction, etiquette, classical –

    FAITH: Dude, how high *are* you? There must be a *billion* girls better suited than me for this My Fair Lady crap.

    As Giles tries to keep Faith from leaving he reached out and takes her by her left arm to stop her. Faith freezes with a look of genuine shock and even fear at the sudden contact.

    GILES: Better suited than *I*. And yes, there are. But the reason I came to you is because –

    The image changes to one shadowed in blue. Faith is in the exact some posture as when Giles took her arm, but it’s a memory of hers we’re seeing. A short, cruel looking man or boy is gripping her arm, and instead of hearing Giles, Faith hears the words that must have been spoken at the time.

    BOY: – you’re a worthless *whore*.

    When the memory fades, we see Faith whirl on Giles. She has taken a fork from the table and stabs him in the bicep of his left arm with it. The surprise and pain on his face is as intense as the anger and indignation of Faith’s.

    FAITH: DON’T *TOUCH* ME!

    GILES: GAHH!

    In a wider view, we see Faith look abashed and ashamed, covering her mouth with her hand but still holding the fork in the other. Giles is grimacing in pain as he grips his wound with his other hand.

    FAITH: Oh. Oh, man. Are you…?

    GILES: I’ve – nnn – survived worse.

    We see a close-up on Faith, looking down in shame. Behind her, Giles removes his suit jacket. When Faith speaks, she is quiet, apparently almost whispering.

    FAITH: Sorry, I… I don’t like getting pawed at. Not unless I paw first.

    GILES: Duly noted.

    The view reverses, and we see Giles arm revealed as he rolls up his sleeve. Blood is trickling down his left arm. Faith looks over to him, her hand going back up to her hair again, somewhat embarrassed.

    FAITH: How bad did I get you?

    GILES: It’s fine. You hardly broke the –

    FAITH: Hey.

    A tight close-up on Giles’ arm shows what Faith has seen, for the first time: the Mark of Eyghon, still tattooed on Giles arm.

    FAITH: When did *you* get ink?

    The next image shows Giles turning his head away in exasperation, holding his arm.

    GILES: Faith, do you honestly think you’re the first young person to have stumbled upon the notion of rebellion?

    A close up on Faith shows her eyes closed, head down, dark hair framing her face as Giles continues.

    GILES: Do you think you’re the first who ever let an innocent person get hurt because of your own stupidity?

    Faith is still hanging her head as we see Giles step up to her side. He is looking down at her paternally as he rolls his sleeve back down to cover his wound.

    GILES: You and I aren’t so unalike. But those of us who refused to pay the piper during our adolescence have a responsibility to shoulder the most unpleasant costs of adulthood.

    In a tight close-up, Faith’s eyes open, but she doesn’t raise her head. When she speaks, she is quiet again.

    FAITH: It was a salad fork, right?

    From over head, we see the two of them where they began, standing next to the banquet table, although they have changed sides. Faith is pointing to the place setting from which she grabbed the fork to stab Giles.

    GILES: I beg your pardon?

    FAITH: The thing I stabbed you with? It was the salad fork, wasn’t it?

    GILES: Er, no, actually, the salad fork has a shorter handle and a wider tine base.

    We see that Giles is smiling now, pleased with Faith accepting his lessons.

    GILES: But that’s as good a place to start as any.

    A new scene places us outside the castle in Scotland. From inside, a voice calls out. The voice belongs to Xander.

    XANDER: Fear my awesome power!

    Inside the castle, we see Xander in a training room standing in front of a heavy bag. He is dressed in sweat pants and shirtless. He’s wearing padded gloves on his hands and looks like he’s about to practice boxing.

    XANDER: For lo, like Kurt Russell before me, I am a formidable eyepatch-clad opponent. And lest you think I refer to Captain Ron, let me assured you that the one-eyed character of which I speak is none other than the mighty Snake Plissken, who taught me the very ass-handing I’m about to deliver unto you.

    BUFFY: (entering the room) Careful, Xander…

    We see the close-up of Buffy as she enters. Her hair is in two braids and she’s smiling slyly as she sees Xander.

    BUFFY: … you’re going to taunt that poor bag right off its chain.

    XANDER: BUFFY!

    The next image shows Xander ducking behind the cover of the heavy bag, peaking out shyly. His voice fades out as he realized how he has been found.

    XANDER: Sorry, heh, thought I had the ol’ danger room booked for the whole late-night slot. So I could be alone with my, you know… sweaty… shirtless… shame.

    From overhead, we see Buffy turning away from Xander and moving toward a sofa in the training room. She is wearing a white camisole and pink pajama pants.

    BUFFY: What inspired this sudden training montage?

    XANDER: Oh, Renee asked if we could be sparring partners tomorrow, so I figured I should reacquaint my body with non-Dance Dance Revolution-related movement first.

    In a close up, Buffy repeats Xander’s phrase back to him. Her face suggests she’s baiting him, halfway between a smiling and puzzled.

    BUFFY: “Sparring partners”?

    We see Xander react, raising an indignant finger and his good eye wide.

    XANDER: Don’t you arch your eyebrow at me, young lady. Renee and I are just pals. Our workout sessions will be as non-physical as pugilistic-related activities can possibly…

    In a wider view, we see Xander fade off as he sees Buffy sitting facing toward a window. She is running her finger idly through the condensation on the glass and she looks distracted.

    XANDER: Buff? You okay?

    In the next image, we see that Buffy has drawn the Twilight symbol in the window and is staring at it with concern, resting her hand above her forehead.

    BUFFY: Sorry, I’m in full-on fret mode about this whole “Twilight” gimmick. We still don’t know what this thing has to do with uncle Sam declaring shock and awe on us, right? You heard anything more from our friend in the library?
    Behind her, Xander is pulling his shirt back on. It’s a Sunnydale Swim Team t-shirt.

    XANDER: That’s a nugatory. Giles has been incommunicado for a few weeks now. But I’m sure he’s got too many *new books* that need shelving to worry about a classic that’s already been checked out, you know?
    From a wide view, we see Xander standing next to Buffy, looking down at her. She is slouching on the sofa, staring at the floor.

    XANDER: Um, not that anyone is checking you out, of course. Not anyone here, I mean. In this gym. Right now. Also, has anyone seen where I left my bad analogy?

    BUFFY: Made more sense than the dream I just bolted out of.

    XANDER: Trouble in slumberland?

    We see Buffy’s face as she stares up at him. She looks weary, maybe a little afraid.

    BUFFY: I’ve been having repeat’s of the same bad episode every night this week. There’s this… *thing* chasing me, and no matter how hard I run, it always ends up scoring the pounce. But right before it swallows me whole, the big smelly looks me right in the eyes and says, “the Queen is dead.”
    The next image shows the creature Buffy has been dreaming of. It has an almost feline body, but a forked snakes tongue, and wings like an eagle. It’s mane is made of green energy, some kind of fire. It is similar to a chimera, but much bigger.

    CREATURE: Long live the Queen.

    In a new scene, we see a building, apparently in England. It could be Giles home. Curiously, a man in a vest and suite with a subtle smirk and a young blond haired woman in a pink jacket are stepping away from a red phone booth. From inside the building, Giles is asking a question.

    GILES: One last question before your car arrives.

    Inside the building, we see Giles in a library or living room, probably his own residence.

    GILES: According to Debrett’s correct form, who takes seating precedence at a formal dinner – a dowager, peeress or the wife of an incumbent baronet?

    FAITH: (from upstairs) I have no sodding idea!

    In a close up, we see Giles glancing over his shoulder in the direction of the loft upstairs.

    GILES: Marvelous. I dare say your accent is nearly passable.

    FAITH: (still upstairs) Good, because I still suck at everything else you taught me.

    We see Giles is still looking at one of his books as he responds.

    GILES: You’ll be fine, Faith. Does your selection work all right?

    FAITH: (from upstairs) If the goal is to make me feel like a complete idiot, then yes.

    When the view changes, we see Faith standing on the steps coming down from upstairs. She is wearing a formal gown, a dark green, off the shoulder dress with a wide flowing skirt. She also wears long matching gloves and a jeweled choker. Her hair is done up more carefully than we’ve ever seen it. It’s probably the most beautiful Faith has ever looked in her life, whether she feels it or not.

    FAITH: So. How we doing here?

    We see Giles staring at her over his shoulder, speechless. He appears to be amazed by Faith’s transformation.

    Lowering his glasses, Giles finally answers in a language Faith can understand perfectly.

    GILES: Five by five.

    The image fades to black, with the message “to be continued”.

    End of Issue #6

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    Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Season Eight, Issue 7
    “No Future For You, Part II”


    Prologue Summary: The Slayer population of the world has gone from two to nearly two thousand. Almost five hundred are working with Buffy’s European-based organization in squads – or “terrorist cells,” according to various military forces. Enter Faith, the pioneer of Slayer-related dirty work, whose talents as a fierce fighter continue to garner the attention of her former Sunnydale compatriots.

    Start of Issue #7

    The opening image is an extreme close-up of a knife. It’s uniquely serrated and very familiar. It’s being held in a hand wearing a handcuff. In the knife blade, we see a reflection of Faith’s face, looking surprised and afraid. We’re on the roof outside her apartment, and it’s “Graduation, Part I”.

    (NARRATION) FAITH: This is friendship.

    In a wider view, we see the girl we know is holding that knife – it’s Buffy, with a hardened expression, standing against the brick wall backdrop of the building’s roof.

    (NARRATION) FAITH: Step one: you finally meet somebody you dig, somebody you can groove with, somebody who doesn’t seem like all the other phony losers out there.

    BUFFY: What’s the matter, Faith? All that killing, you afraid to die?

    The image reverses to Faith, wielding a steel bar like a staff.

    (NARRATION) FAITH: Step two: they share a little of themselves with you, you share everything with them.

    FAITH: That’s mine.

    From a wider view, the two Slayers move toward each other, weapons ready.

    BUFFY: You’re about to get it back.

    (NARRATION) FAITH: Step three: it all goes to crap.

    We see Faith’s head snap to the side in a new image as Buffy lands a punch.

    (NARRATION) FAITH: They hurt you.

    From the same angle, we see Faith answer with an elbow into Buffy’s face, knocking her backwards.

    (NARRATION) FAITH: You hurt ‘em back.

    And then we see them as we saw them before, standing, arms locked, on the ledge of the rooftop, Faith’s hand closing on Buffy’s throat.

    (NARRATION) FAITH: Or maybe it’s the other way around.

    FAITH: Man, I’m going to miss this.

    (NARRATION) FAITH: Whatever.

    And then we see the moment itself, Faith’s face gasping in pain and surprise, and Buffy drives her own knife into her stomach with a *SHINK*.

    (NARRATION) FAITH: Someday, you might find a way to forgive each other. But it won’t be like it used to, ‘cause that pain never really fades away.

    In a tight close-up, Faith’s eyes tell a story of something like betrayal.

    FAITH: (quietly) You did it.

    (NARRATION) FAITH: And in the end, no matter how many wicked good times you had together, you woulda been better off flying solo all along.

    The image pulls back, and although we are still close-up on Faith’s face, the flashback has ended. Her hair is up and styled as it was when she was preparing for Genevieve’s party, but her face still looks unhappy.

    (NARRATION) FAITH: Anyway, live and learn.

    When the image switches, we see that Faith is stepping out of a limousine, and about to walk up to join a crowd gathered at Genevieve’s party at her family estate. Her chauffer is staring at her as she gets ready to walk up the path to the mansion.

    (NARRATION) FAITH: Almost die and learn way more.

    VOICE IN RADIO: Faith, are you online?

    In a new image, we see the voice is coming through a microphone from Giles into an earpiece Faith has. Giles is sitting in his library giving her instructions, with a cup of tea beside him.

    GILES: I’m here to help you talk your way out of trouble, but it’s important that you keep conversation to a minimum. The goal is to eliminate your target as quickly as possible, then head for the extraction point.

    We see a close-up of Faith’s cheek, her eye staring to the side dubiously as she reached up to pluck the earpiece from her ear. Whatever he is saying is cut off when the earpiece comes free.

    GILES: (through radio) I know how difficult this must be for you, but once it’s finished, your slaying days are over and you can—

    FAITH: Sorry, Giles.

    From behind, we see the earpiece land in the landscaping where Faith has thrown it over her shoulder. She walks toward the entrance.

    FAITH: I’ve got enough voices in my head already.

    VOICE: Pardon me!

    We see who has called Faith, it’s a man standing at the entrance to the mansion. He is dressed very formally, in a red waistcoat with tails. He is clearly checking invitations. To his left, a large man is armed with a submachine gun tucked under the arm of his tuxedo. Faith is standing out of line as other guests enter.

    MAN: Would you mind stepping this way for a security check, miss?

    FAITH: You call this security? Daddy wouldn’t let me go to the market without more firepower than what you children are carrying.

    In a new panel, Faith is spreading her arms as she is wanded by the armed bouncer. Her expression is pure arrogance, showing contempt and inconvenience at the treatment.

    FAITH: Not that his excellency the Viscount of Avalon would ever send his daughter on a servant’s errand.

    The image reverses to show Faith standing in front of the men again, waiting to be allowed to enter.

    BOUNCER: She’s clean.

    FAITH: Which is more than I can say for you, you absolute gorilla.

    MAN: If I could just see your invitation, then?

    The next image shows Faith with a look of outrage and indignation. She is holding her fingers against her chest in a gesture of alarm and insult.

    FAITH: Do you honestly expect me to wave around some cheap piece of parchment like a bleeding sped in line at the cinema?

    We see Faith glaring down impatiently at the man with the list. As he answers, he is gesturing her inside.

    FAITH: Let me inside before I have you sent back to whichever stable-house detail your superiors mistakenly pulled you off of.

    MAN: You’re one of them, all right.

    In a close-up, the man looks weary and annoyed.

    MAN: Give her worshipfulness my love.

    The next image is another tight close-up of Faith’s eyes. A bead of sweat is forming on her forehead, and her eyes betray her anxiety.

    (NARRATION) FAITH: Keep it together, kid.

    In a wider view, we see that Faith is in Genevieve’s receiving line, cocking her head slightly to see her target. Genevieve’s back is to us, and she’s accepting a card from a man with an indulgent smile. The line behind Faith is very long, full of others waiting to pay their courtesy to the lady of the hour. Genevieve’s short hair is capped by a sparkling tiara.

    (NARRATION) FAITH: If the G-Man is right, I’ll be doing the world a huge favor stabbing this spoiled skank in the heart.

    In another close-up, we see Faith’s gloved hand reaching up to the golden rod holding her hair up. She grips it loosely.

    (NARRATION) FAITH: I’ve done worse than this without losing a wink… so why the hell am I shaking so bad now?

    Faith pulls the handle, revealing that her hair is being held up instead by a concealed knife. She’s ready to make her move.

    (NARRATION) FAITH: Just stick it in her and let the girl bleed.

    Next we see a close-up of Lady Genevieve. Her face contorts in a sneer of annoyance.

    GENEVIEVE: This is insufferable!

    We see the entire receiving line across the ballroom from far above. Genevieve has snatched the card away from the indulgent guest and begins to berate him. On a balcony above, we see Roden’s red hair as he stares down. He is flanked on either side by his stone demon servants.

    GENEVIEVE: It’s supposed to be a receiving line, not a damn lecture series. Just hand me your inane birthday cards and be on your way!

    RODEN: (to himself, from the balcony) Hmn.

    The next image is of Roden, his demons on either side. He is holding the black book we’ve seen in front of him, with the Twilight logo printed on it in red.

    RODEN: See that lovely rack, fourth in line to meet Lady Genevieve? Keep an eye on her, would you, lads? Girl is making my wand tingle, and not in the good way.

    In a closer view, Roden’s eyes look black and his expression cruel.

    RODEN: If she so much as curtseys too shallow, turn her bones to dust.

    In a completely new scene, we see the castle headquarters, high on its cliff side. We hear a voice coming from the castle grounds, with an awkward question.

    VOICE: This is about sex, isn’t it?

    We see that the conversation is between Dawn and Willow. Dawn, still a giant, is standing beside a tall apple tree, plucking fruit and shaking it down into a wheelbarrow on the ground. Willow is hovering in mid-air beside Dawn. Trails of blue energy show her moving lazily through the air, her hands crossed behind her back as Dawn continues from her question.

    DAWN: Because everyone keeps trying to give me the birds-and-the-bees speech, which I outgrew ten years and six hundred shoe sizes ago.

    WILLOW: No one’s trying to lecture you, Dawn, but none of my spells are going to shrink you like a cotton sweater until I know exactly what mojo your loverboy used. And speaking of clothes, have you been wearing the same outfit ever since you… blossomed?

    We see Dawn casually throw a handful of apples into her open mouth as she answers.

    DAWN: What, did my proportionate stench tip you off? *mmnf* ‘Cause unless Lane Bryant redefines “plus-sized” in a hurry, it’s only gonna get worse.

    In the next image, Dawn has dropped to sit on the ground with one knee raised, her hand resting on her forehead in exasperation. Willow floats along next to her as she continues to press the issue.

    WILLOW: I swear, I’ll un-embiggen you the second you tell me what incantation your significant other used while you two were… being significant together.

    DAWN: You’re worse than my sister, Willow! Why is everyone so sure this is Kenny’s fault?

    In a close-up, Willow’s face is sympathetic, but honest.

    WILLOW: Um, because he’s a thricewise? I’m as sensitive to profiling as the next gay wiccan jewess, but not every stereotype is untrue.

    We see Willow hovering up right to Dawn’s face with an encouraging smile. Tears are starting to flow from Dawn’s eyes.

    DAWN: You don’t understand, he was the only guy on campus who treated me like a friend, not a… a walking pair of boobs.

    WILLOW: Oh, sweetie. Don’t talk like that. Boys are into you because of your legs, not those itty-bitty things.

    As Dawn wipes a tear, she does smile at Willow’s gentle shot. She’s interrupted by a new voice.

    DAWN: Heh. I missed you, Will. But the truth is—

    VOICE: Ms. Rosenberg?

    We see that the new arrival is Renee. She is waving up to Willow and Dawn. She is dressed in what appears to be her customary tactical outfit, similar to what Xander has been wearing.

    RENEE: Sorry to interrupt, but Buffy was wondering if you could give her a hand with the castle’s new defense system?

    The view changes to Renee’s perspective. Dawn has busied herself with the apple tree, and Willow floats down to Renee with her hands up to stop Renee before she continues.

    WILLOW: First of all, what did we discuss about calling me by my mother’s name?


    RENEE: That I’d be turned into a baby goat if I didn’t knock it off?

    WILLOW: Very good, Renee. And please tell *Ms. Summers* that I already double-checked our perimeter’s enchanted moat this morning.

    Renee’s face looks awed and cautious around Willow, and she raised her hand in a small gesture to indicate that Willow doesn’t quite understand.

    RENEE: Actually, she said she was looking for, and I quote, “laptop-geek Willow, not broomstick-action Willow.” I think she needs help figuring out the new radar stations we just installed.

    WILLOW: Right, I forgot we added G.I. Joe to the long list of people who want us dead.

    Willow’s face looks serious as she speculates about the new threat. Dawn jumps in with an answer as Willow asks.

    WILLOW: But the best surveillance gear in the world is only going to tell us the chicken-hawks are on their way. What are we supposed to do when they actually get here?

    DAWN: Whatever we have to.

    In a close-up, we see Dawn looking down, her expression neutral. She is eating another handful of apples.

    DAWN: All’s fair.

    The scene changes again, and it’s night outside Lady Genevieve’s mansion. There are no more guests assembled or people outside the entrance, but a lone figure on the balcony above.

    (NARRATION) FAITH: This is it.

    We see Faith in close-up on the balcony, her eyes again. She looks frustrated and smoke floats around her face.

    (NARRATION) FAITH: She is do dead.

    We see a wider view of Faith smoking on the balcony, staring off into the night. As she tries to motivate herself, a voice calls from behind.

    (NARRATION) FAITH: Yep, I’m going back in there and finishing the job the second I put this thing out. Maybe I’ll polish the pack first, just to steady my –

    VOICE: Mind if I bum a fag?

    We see Faith blowing smoke rings indifferently as she answers.

    FAITH: What do I care? You can bum whoever you…

    And when Faith turns, we see who has joined her on the balcony. It’s Lady Genevieve, smiling angelically and holding her hand up gingerly ready to reach for a cigarette if offered. Faith’s own smoke rests loosely in her fingers.

    FAITH: Oh.

    The next image is a wider view of the balcony, with Faith extending her pack to Genevieve and the younger Slayer accepting one.

    FAITH: Right. Help yourself.

    GENEVIEVE: Cheers.

    In a close-up, Genevieve’s blue eyes are the only contrast from a face that otherwise looks a lot like Faith’s. She lights the cigarette as she vents.

    GENEVIEVE: I just had to get away from the vast sea of idiots in there. They’re all so hopelessly fake they make me want to slit my wrists.

    We see Faith leaning against the side of the balcony, watching Genevieve take her first drag.

    FAITH: I know what you mean.

    The two Slayers are shown, visibly relaxing around each other. Genevieve is smiling graciously as she complains about the party. As Faith listens and agrees, she smiles almost jubilantly at what Genevieve is saying.

    GENEVIEVE: If it weren’t for my fascist tutor, I’d blow out of here and catch the Amy Winehouse show at Shepherd’s Bush.

    FAITH: God, I love her! I still can’t believe that voice comes out of a little white girl.

    In a close-up, Genevieve’s face saddens a little as she answers.

    GENEVIEVE: I like any song that can make me cry while everyone else is dancing.

    In a wider view, Genevieve introduces herself. She looks almost embarrassed as she does so. Faith continues to smoke, with her free hand crossed across her chest guardedly.

    GENEVIEVE: I’m Gigi. Obviously, yeah?

    FAITH: I’m… Hope. Hope Lyonne.

    In close-up, Genevieve blows smoke through her nose as she sizes Faith up.

    GENEVIEVE: Lyonne, eh? I think I might have met your parents at one of those horrid ceremonial introductions. How are they these days?

    As Genevieve leans against the side of the balcony, Faith looks away, her arm still held across her chest.

    FAITH: Dad may as well be a ghost and mum is a filthy drunk.

    We see Genevieve moving closer to Faith as she answers, clearly feeling a connection. On the other hand, however, Faith is reaching up to pull her assassin’s weapon from her hair as she answers.

    GENEVIEVE: You sure we’re not sisters?

    FAITH: Who knows? Maybe in a different –

    Genevieve’s expression turns to surprise, not because she’s being attacked, but rather because Faith has been lifted straight up into the air from in front of her, her shoes falling off and her cigarette dropping away.

    FAITH: *Uhf!*

    The next image is of Faith, caught under each arm by one of Roden’s huge stone demons, dragging her into the night sky. Faith’s face is completely freaked by the sudden change. She still has one shoe dangling from her foot, and her knife is caught with the handle sticking out of her hair.

    (NARRATION) FAITH: What the #^%*?!

    FAITH: *What the #^%*?!*

    From the balcony, Genevieve screams up at the demons.

    GENEVIEVE: She’s a guest, you imbeciles! Let her go!

    We see Faith, still caught in their arms, looking down at Genevieve on the balcony maybe 50 feet below.

    FAITH: (to herself) Or, on second thought…

    In the next image, Faith screams in alarm as one of the stone demons appears to bite into her shoulder, causing a small spray of blood.

    (NARRATION) FAITH: Frickin’ gargoyles? I hate Europe.

    FAITH: *AHHHHH!*

    We see Faith, desperate, swing her head back forcefully into the gargoyles face with a *SPAK*.

    (NARRATION) FAITH: Well, this either works or it don’t.

    The knife caught in Faith’s hair lodges in one of the gargoyle’s eyes. The monster responds with a *RARRAAAAHH!* of pain and surprise. It also appears to let Faith go.

    In a wider view, we see the gargoyle has let go of its grip, sending Faith swinging by her other arm toward the other monster. The gargoyle she headbutted claws at the knife in its eye.

    (NARRATION) FAITH: I wish I had Giles for this, at least to say goodbye.

    As Faith completes her swing, she leaps unto the other gargoyle’s back in midair. It tracks her with its eyes, but is too slow to react.

    (NARRATION) FAITH: But I just had to throw him away.

    We see Faith, straddling the gargoyle’s back, reach around and dig her gloved fingers into its eyes. It reacts with a pained *RRRRR!*

    (NARRATION) FAITH: Why am I such a dick to every guy who’s the least bit nice to me?

    The next image shows the gargoyle falling, Faith still clinging to its back and blinding it with her hands. It flails its arms and legs as it drops.

    (NARRATION) FAITH: Will you shut the hell up, stupid? That’s dead-girl talk! Get your empty head in the game before –

    Faith’s thoughts are cut off as we see from a wide view that she and the gargoyle hit the ground. The impact of their landing sends dirt and sod flying over an entire wing of the mansion.

    We see Faith, the dust clearing, struggling to her feet. Her hair is undone, and her dress and gloves are ripped all over.

    FAITH: (quietly) Nnn…

    From behind Faith, we see that as she turns to sit up, the gargoyle is already back on its feet, looming over her.

    FAITH: Just *try* to grope me, frat boy. I’ve made bigger bruisers than you cry like little –

    The next image shows Faith driving a powerful fist straight forward into the gargoyle with a *KRAK*. Her face shows all her rage and power behind the attack.

    But next we see it was ineffective. Faith’s knuckles are bleeding horrible and she’s holding her hand like it’s broken.

    FAITH: *NAHH!*

    The next image shows Faith looking up into the sky, seeing the gargoyle she had freed herself from flying straight down at her.

    (NARRATION) And right on cue, here comes Bachelor #2.

    We see Faith turning the other way, toward the gargoyle on the ground with her, its fist pulled back to strike.

    FAITH: Yo, rock.

    The other gargoyle is shown reaching down as it plunges from the sky.

    FAITH: Meet hard place.

    From a wide shot, the gargoyles collide as Faith leaps into the air from between them. They crumble into fragments and so much gravel as they hit.

    The next image shows Faith landing almost smoothly on the ground scattered with gargoyle debris. Her forehead is bleeding.

    FAITH: *HA!*

    We see her get to her feet. Her head is hanging and she reaches up behind her head with her right hand. She’s bloody all over, and her dress is barely staying on her.

    FAITH: Ow.

    And then we see her give out, collapsing to the ground.

    From above, Faith is shown laid unconscious in a pile of gargoyle rubble. Genevieve has gone down to the lawn and is covering her mouth with both hands in concern and perhaps amazement. Beside her, Roden stands by staring at the scene.

    GENEVIEVE: Bloody hell.

    The next panel is black.

    Next, we see the same blackness, but with a cross-hatch of light appearing in the center. Voices can be heard, Roden and Genevieve.

    RODEN: I’m begging you, snuff her out now.

    The image brightens and rough shapes appear as the voices continue.

    GENEVIEVE: No, she isn’t one of your disposable street urchins. This Slayer is a fellow blue blood.

    RODEN: She’s a Viscount’s kid, not a sodding princess!

    GENEVIEVE: Precisely. The whole point of this little soiree was identifying possible threats to my impending coronation, which a lowly banker’s daughter is clearly not.

    The image clears, except for a darkened ring around the edge. Roden has taken off his jacket, but is still holding the Twilight book in front of him. Genevieve is staring at him, looking almost protective of Faith.

    RODEN: Not a threat? Are you mad? She turned my boys to rubble!

    GENEVIEVE: After they attacked her unprovoked. And she was *brilliant*. I could use someone like her at my side. Trust me, this girl and I are on the same wavelength.

    The image clears completely and it becomes clear we’re seeing through Faith’s eyes. Roden is looking down at her suspiciously. Genevieve is gesturing at him to be quiet, and looking down into Faith’s face with a look of genuine concern.

    RODEN: One cigarette and you’re ready to make her your best mate? You don’t even know –

    GENEVIEVE: Hush, she’s coming around.

    We see a close-up of Faith’s face. Her hair is undone completely and let down against her confused face.

    FAITH: Where…?

    From above, we see Faith is in Genevieve’s room, in the Lady’s own bed. A large armoire is against another wall. The bench seat at the foot of the bed has a Winnie the Pooh bear on it. Genevieve has changed from her ball gown to a plaid pleated skirt and a white blouse tied at her midriff. Roden has not moved from the foot of the bed. Faith uses her hands to push herself into a seating position in the bed.

    GENEVIEVE: It’s all right, Hope. This is Roden. He’s from Belfast, but don’t hold that against him.

    RODEN: Lady Genevieve, this is a profoundly bad –

    We see that Genevieve is ignoring him. She smiles warmly as she takes Faith’s hand for a moment. Faith looks like she’s still trying to clear her head.

    GENEVIEVE: I realize how confusing this must be for you, but you’re not like other girls. You’re part of a long line of very important, very powerful people.

    FAITH: Um, duh?

    GENEVIEVE: I’m not talking about nobility, I’m talking about an ancient force that you and I and a lot of other girls have tapped into.

    We see Genevieve stepping away from Faith toward the armoire. She begins to pull it open as she continues, and her smile takes on a harder edge – perhaps ambitious, perhaps just vicious.

    GENEVIEVE: Roden says I’m going to lead the lot of us to take our rightful place at the head of this wretched society. Right after I destroy the woman holding us back… and take her mantle as queen.

    FAITH: Queen?

    The next image is of Faith’s face, still slow and confused. Roden stands behind her staring indifferently at Genevieve.

    FAITH: You… you want to kill *Elizabeth*?

    GENEVIEVE: No, Hope.

    The last image if of Genevieve, her smile much closer to a sneer now, gesturing inside the armoire. The entire display is full of pictures of Buffy. Some are from the mission in 8.01, as we see Buffy holding the disruption device, talking to Leah and Alpha Team, all taken from above. Other images show her smiling, talking to others, looking around. Buffy has clearly been under surveillance for a long time. In the center is a large photo of Buffy’s face, drawn over with the red Twilight symbol. A dagger holds that picture pinned to the armoire.

    GENEVIEVE: Not Elizabeth.

    End of Issue #7

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    Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Season 8, Issue #8
    “No Future For You, Part III”


    Prologue Summary: The Slayer population of the world has gone from two to nearly two thousand. Almost five hundred are working with Buffy’s European-based organization in squads – or “terrorist cells,” according to various military forces. Enter Faith, the pioneer of Slayer-related dirty work, whose talents as a fierce fighter continue to garner the attention of her former compatriots.

    Start of Issue #8

    The opening image if of Faith’s face as we last saw it – a close up of her surprise as she looks at the pictures of Buffy, who Genevieve has targeted. Beside her face, in black and white, we see an image of Faith’s memory of Buffy as she was, a teenage girl with a short dress and a leather jacket, a vampire turning to dust as she stakes him.

    (NARRATION) FAITH: Her.

    The memory gives way to a wider view, and we see Faith, staring straight ahead in disbelief, with Genevieve standing beside her chair, sneering slightly at the same images. They’ve moved into an office, walled with view screens showing different video of Buffy. There’s a map of the UK on the back wall behind them, with pictures of different girls, Slayers, pinned to it. As if to remind us of Genevieve’s youth, there’s a mirror ball hanging from the ceiling.

    (NARRATION) FAITH: It’s always about her.

    GENEVIEVE: The mighty Slayer who’s the very fount of all our power is called *Buffy*. Can you even believe it?

    FAITH: No.

    The next image is looking down at them from the ceiling of the office. Faith is leaning forward in the office chair, as if studying the video of her old friend and enemy.

    (NARRATION) FAITH: Giles sent me on this suicide mission ‘cause he said it was about saving the world… but really, it was just about saving his golden girl.

    Genevieve is shown in profile, her arms crossed thoughtfully as more footage of Buffy and her people plays behind her.

    GENEVIEVE: It cost me what some might consider a fortune to buy up every second of grainy surveillance ever shot of this girl and her increasingly awful hair. I’ve been studying her for months. She’s good, but not without her weaknesses.

    A close-up shows Faith looking back over her shoulder to her hostess as she asks her the obvious question.

    FAITH: And you’re really going to… to murder her?

    (NARRATION) FAITH: What do you *think*, dummy?

    Genevieve is still in profile and has moved closer to one of the monitors, pursing her lips as she answers. She is staring at a close-up of Buffy in the display as she speaks, and it’s as if they are looking each other in the eye.

    GENEVIEVE: Murder makes it sound so pedestrian, Hope. No, Buffy is a misguided monarch who’s held women like you and me back for too long. She deserves to be *assassinated*.

    The next image if of the two Slayers in close-up, as Genevieve has whirled around to face Faith, leaning over her. She is holding Faith’s neck on either side, firmly, like a close friend, but her face is a sneer. Faith looks back up at her with an expression that makes her seem very young.

    GENEVIEVE: And when I take her crown, *our* glorious new reign will begin.

    FAITH: And the two of us are going to reign over *what*, exactly?


    GENEVIEVE: Buffy has forced our kind to be the serfs of this world, when we should be lording over the masses. Once she’s gone, we can finally lead her brainwashed Slayers out of the shadows of servitude and into the light of—

    VOICE: (interrupting) Getting ahead of ourselves, aren’t we, Lady Genevieve?

    The new voice belongs to Roden, leaning into the office through the door, wearing a blue open collared shirt. Faith and Genevieve both turn to look at him, but the younger Slayer holds on to Faith’s shoulders, still leaning over her.

    RODEN: If you’re quite finished with your video countdown, your parents have finally left for Venice. We have much to prepare for this evening’s battle.

    In close-up, Genevieve stares at him evenly as she appears to have stood upright again.

    GENEVIEVE: No, *you* have much to prepare, Roden. I, on the other hand, have been ready for ages, which is why Hope and I are going to take the day to plan for the less-immediate future.

    A wider view shows Genevieve with her hands on her hips, staring back down at Faith. Roden watches from the door. Faith’s attention has returned to the monitors, and she’s resting her cheek on her hand.

    GENEVIEVE: As long as Viscount Lyonne won’t mind his daughter staying for another playdate, of course.

    FAITH: Dear old Dad? He could give a toss if I lived or died…

    When the scene changes, we see Giles – the “dad” Faith undoubtedly had in mind just then. A tight close-up shows his Faith, full of anger and panic, as he screams into a walkie-talkie.

    GILES: *FAITH!*

    The image pulls back, and we see Giles, looking calmer, standing in the woods outside the Savidge Estate. He’s wearing a light jacket and a messenger bag. Behind him, a similar dressed dwarf is swinging a huge hammer. His swing is stopped in mid-air as it collides with an invisible barrier at the edge of the forest, sending orange sparks in every direction.

    GILES: Faith, do you copy? I’m still at our rendezvous point outside the estate. I’ve been waiting here all night. If you can hear me but just can’t respond, know that I’ve hired a freelancer to help –

    DWARF: (in mid-swing) *ARSE-FIRE!*

    A close-up on the dwarf shows an apologetic look in his eyes. His skin appears almost wooden.

    DWARF: Apologies, sir. Not even the Hammer of Hamner will break through this barrier. Afraid your secret agent is on her own… presuming she’s still active.

    From over the dwarf’s shoulder, we see Giles turn his head in response, still holding the walkie-talkie near his mouth.

    GILES: Don’t even talk like that, Trafalgar. My operative was born for this mission. There’s no chance she’s been… been killed in action.

    TRAFALGAR: I didn’t mean K.I.A., Rupert. This target of hers, the one that’s gonna bring about the end of all things, she must be living the high life, no?

    As Trafalgar gets to his point, the image tightens on Giles eyes, looking more worried through his round glasses.

    TRAFALGAR: What if your girl’s gone native?

    With the question asked, we cut back to a new scene and a close-up of Faith. Her eyes are closed and a peaceful, open-lipped smile washes over her face. At her neckline, she is covered in suds.

    (NARRATION) FAITH: Only chumps believe in heaven.

    The image pulls back and we’re looking down at an opulent bathroom. Faith and Genevieve are both luxuriating in a huge bubble bath. They are reclined facing each other, leaning back on rolled towels and staring at the ceiling as they talk.

    (NARRATION) FAITH: But if it did exist… I figure it wouldn’t be too far from this.

    GENEVIEVE: What do you think I should use for the anthem of my coronation? Something old-school like the Clash or best-band-ever-of-the-moment like the Arctic Monkeys?

    FAITH: Split the difference, maybe?

    We the two in profile, facing each other as they sit up with the same sudden inspiration.

    FAITH/GENEVIEVE: (simultaneously) *STONE ROSES*.

    In a tight close-up, we see Genevieve’s face. Her words are endearing, but her blue eyes and smile look too ambitious, perhaps hungry, to be warm.

    GENEVIEVE: See, I told you we were kindred spirits. I knew it from the very first moment I looked into your eyes.

    The intensity of that image lightens as the view moves out to look across the tub from behind Faith at Genevieve, who is leaning back again. Faith’s hair is clipped up to her head to keep it from getting wet in the bath.

    FAITH: If you’re willing to settle for *me* as your best mate, you really need to get out more.

    GENEVIEVE: Would that I could, but my overlords never even let me go to school with other kids, for fear that my beautiful mind might be polluted by their filth. I’ve had to endure a decade of homeschooling with increasingly pervy tutors.

    As Genevieve stands to dry herself, the view reverses from her side to face Faith. Genevieve stands fully up out of the water, and only chivalrously placed soap bubbles conceal her more intimate parts from sight.

    FAITH: Where did you meet the Irishman, anyway?

    GENEVIEVE: At one of my mum’s interminable fundraisers. At first, I thought Roden was just another filthy pedo, but then he said he knew about my nightmares?

    FAITH: *Nightmares*?

    GENEVIEVE: The most horrible ones imaginable, more real than life itself. You have them, too, don’t you?

    A close-up on Faith shows she does. She brings her hand to her forehead in a gesture of weariness as she answers.

    FAITH: Only every night.

    The next image is of Faith looking over to Genevieve, who is tucking a tile in above her chest.

    GENEVIEVE: I haven’t had a decent evening’s sleep since my first tampon. But Roden explained that he has this ancient book that says our night terrors will stop once and for all as soon as this Buffy slag is snuffed out.

    FAITH: How do you know he’s telling the truth?

    A close-up of Genevieve’s smile, almost coy, doesn’t give the impression that she takes much time before answering.

    GENEVIEVE: One way to find out, yeah?

    The view moves overhead as Faith climbs out of the tub herself, the same discreet bubbles and distance preserving her modesty. Genevieve is reaching into a cabinet, presumably to get her a towel.

    FAITH: I’m serious, Gigi. What if Roden is really carrying around some kind of… of *demonic cookbook*, and he’s just tricking you into gathering enough Slayers to bake into a bloody pie?

    GENEVIEVE: Don’t be absurd. Roden may be annoying, but he’s the only person in my life who’s done right by me at every turn. Why would he lie to my face?

    We see Faith tucking her own towel into place as she looks toward Genevieve. The younger Slayer is brushing out her short hair, sitting cross-legged in front of her large vanity. The two are reflected into infinite distance.

    FAITH: Look, I’ve had older guys in my life before, too.

    GENEVIEVE: Ooh, naughty.

    FAITH: It wasn’t like that, Gigi. They… they used me, Gigi. Told me what I wanted to hear to get me to do their dirty work for them.

    A close-up of Genevieve shows her smiling brightly, unworried by what Faith is saying. Faith looks on from behind her with an anxious, sincere expression.

    GENEVIEVE: Hope, we’re gorgeous, powerful young women. We’re always going to attract the attention of dirty old men. The trick is making them feel like they’re exploiting us, when in reality, *we’re* exploiting *them*.

    FAITH: Unless that’s just what they want us to think.

    The image goes very close to Faith, her brown eyes round with worry.

    FAITH: Gigi, please. Don’t go after this girl.

    We see Genevieve looking back at Faith, her smile irrepressible, still teasing her hair. Her happiness and Faith’s fear are, again, reflected in the vanity mirror.

    GENEVIEVE: I appreciate your concern for my well-being, love…

    As Genevieve finishes her answer, the image shifts. We’re in Scotland, and the castle is watching over the valley below it, silhouetted by daylight as flowers grow on the beautiful hillside around it.

    GENEVIEVE: (continuing) … but what makes you think *I’m* going anywhere?

    The next image is inside the castle. Specifically, the control room. In the background, several Slayers work busily over their stations, some of their mystics working from their private dais, others going from here to there.

    In the foreground, Buffy is sitting on the central platform with her legs crossed lazily, smiling as she watches Willow work, green magical energy flowing from her outstretched hand to one of the video displays. Both women are smiling, dressed for a very casual day. Buffy is wearing a black tank top with spaghetti straps and khaki flood pants and keds. Willow is wearing blue jeans and a knit white blouse.

    WILLOW: Ms. Tech’s Mystic Tech Support has got your radar system online and running the latest version of Linux at no extra charge, ma’am.

    BUFFY: You, young lady, have the least egg-like head of any egghead ever. Hey, do you think we should invest in some sonar, too?

    Next we see the two friends from across the room, between the faces of two Slayers studying a screen. Buffy is standing behind Willow, who is still using her magic on the display, floating it toward its home.

    WILLOW: Um, our castle is kind of landlocked, Buff.

    BUFFY: But we’ve got a moat! Maybe we need something that can tell us if it’s crawling with Navy frogmen. Or an army of man-frogs.

    WILLOW: I’m all for the shiny new gizmodos, but… how the heck can we afford all this stuff?

    Willow looks over back for an answer as we see her from over Buffy’s shoulder. Buffy’s hair is pulled back into short pigtails. Willow continues to float the display without needing to watch it.

    BUFFY: We have friends with pockets deeper than the ones in Dawnie’s giant pants, Will. But some donors like to stay anonymous, you know?

    WILLOW: And what happens when the soldier boys behind this Twilight thing actually breach our mystery benefactor’s not-inexpensive defenses?

    A close-up of Buffy shows her smiling warmly. She appears to be trying to keep the serious topic from breaking the light mood between them.

    BUFFY: Well, at first I was thinking we could challenge them to a few rounds of Scattergories, but then I realized *fighting* would be way more emotionally satisfying.

    We see the two of them again. Willow is still smiling, but appears to be taking this more seriously than Buffy as she pushes the subject. She is still floating the display as she answers.

    WILLOW: You know what I mean. It’s not like we just stake these grunts in heart, right? Not killing humans is what separates us from the bad guys.

    BUFFY: No, not being *bad* is what separates us from the bad guys.

    WILLOW: My healing spells can only repair so much, Buffy. You’re really ready to go all Slayer on human beings? For keeps?

    The next image shows Buffy in a slightly wider image, by herself. Slayers continue to work in the background. Buffy raises her hand thoughtfully as she answers.

    BUFFY: I honestly don’t know. I guess we’ll cross that bridge wh—

    Buffy is interrupted – in the next image, she vanishes in an orange cloud with a *FWOOMP*, so suddenly nobody even notices right away.

    From above, we see Willow turn around and stare at the empty space where Buffy was standing. The display crashes and shatters on a counter of workstations. Other Slayers react in alarm as Willow puts her hands over her mouth.

    WILLOW: … Did I do that?

    In a new scene, we see Roden, reading from the Twilight book he carries, his free hand stretched out ominously, and his voice supernaturally severe. Yellow and orange energy flows around him as he says his incantation.

    RODEN: As a loyal servant of the magic hour, I beseech you to bring the first of the last to me.

    When the view widens, we see Roden is standing next to the curtains in a huge, open room. Suits of armor and trophy animal heads adorn the walls and wings of the room, and the balcony on one side. It appears to be a large loft converted to a training room. The floor is cleared of equipment and furniture, as if ready for battle.

    In the middle of the room, Buffy appears in another orange cloud. She is standing as she was and still mid-sentence after the apparently instantaneous trip.

    BUFFY: – en we get… to…?

    A close-up of Buffy shows her eyes widen in true confusion, her posture unchanged.

    BUFFY: *Wha*?

    Next, Buffy doubles over, disappearing almost out of view, as she vomits on the hardwood floor.

    BUFFY: *hwuuhh*

    In close-up, Buffy looks up, anger in her eyes as she wipes her chin with the back of her hand.

    BUFFY: My chicken caesar wrap. Whoever you are, you are *so* gonna pay for that.

    And suddenly, we see Faith in close-up. Her eyes are wide and her mouth open, unprepared for Buffy’s arrival.

    FAITH: Oh, no.

    From over her shoulder, we see Faith is looking down from the darkened balcony of the training room. Buffy is standing face to face with Roden, her hands on her hips in a demanding posture, and Roden looking casual and unafraid.

    FAITH: You brought her *here*.

    We see Faith leans over the rail in helpless confusion. She’s dressed herself after the bath in a white button down shirt, much like the one Genevieve had been wearing earlier.

    GENEVIEVE: (from behind her, out of the image) Everything’s going to be fine, Hope.

    And we see the younger Slayer over her shoulder, her face gleeful with hostility. She is wearing a padded armor vest, and is pulling a large broadsword from its place mounted on a suit of armor.

    GENEVIEVE: Just stick to the shadows and enjoy the show.

    Next we see Genevieve alone, ready for battle. She’s holding the broadsword up in front of her and it glints in the dim light of the balcony. Her face isn’t quite crazed, but it’s definitely ferocious.

    GENEVIEVE: This will all be over shortly.

    Back on the training room floor, Buffy is in the middle of lecturing Roden, stick a finger up to his face as she threatens him. He stares back down at her indifferently.

    BUFFY: You better have a kick-ass reason for bringing me here… or I’m gonna do way worse than hork all over your floor.

    RODEN: As a matter of fact, the guidebook says you’re about to *bleed* all over it, as well.

    In close-up, Buffy’s anger is unquestionable.

    BUFFY: Try again, red. It’s gonna take more than a woozy tummy to put me down.

    GENEVIEVE: (from off-screen) Have you forgotten your manners, colonist?

    We see Buffy turn over her shoulder, away from Roden, but it’s too late. Genevieve is right behind her, raising her hand in an innocent wave.

    GENEVIEVE: When in the presence of royalty…

    With a *KRAK*, Genevieve lands a high kick across Buffy’s face, sending blood spraying as she staggers. Genevieve is sneering, holding the broadsword ready to attack.

    GENEVIEVE: *… you belong on your knees.*

    The next image is of Buffy. She is wiping blood from her chin and crouching over her knees – she was stunned, but never lost her feet even with the sneak attack.

    BUFFY: Slayer, huh? Guess they’ve really relaxed admission standards if they let a Rennfaire reject like you into the club.

    From above, we see Genevieve, holding the broadsword in front of her as the two Slayers face off. Buffy assumes a defensive posture, maybe six feet away. Roden stands off to the side, still completely casual.

    GENEVIEVE: Unlike you, I’m no pretender to the throne. You’re about to have the unique honor of being halved by the honourable Lady Genevieve Savidge.

    BUFFY: What is that, British?

    Genevieve bares her teeth as she takes a swing with the sword at Buffy. Buffy ducks under the attack and moves in closer as she talks, and taunts.

    BUFFY: For the people who invented girl power…

    Buffy, still ducking her head from the attack, swings her head up and strikes Genevieve with a vicious head butt to the nose with a *KRACK*. Genevieve pinches her eyes as blood sprays from her nose. Buffy’s face almost growls the rest of her witty banter.

    BUFFY: *… your sense of sorority sucks.*

    In extreme close-up, Genevieve has opened her eyes. She is grinning, blood running down her lip, and over her teeth.

    GENEVIEVE: *Brilliant.*

    From a wider view, we see Genevieve counter attack, upper-cutting Buffy with the hilt of the broadsword with a *WHAM*. Buffy leaves her feet with the force of the hit.

    Next we see Genevieve standing over Buffy after she hits the ground. She raises the broadsword high, intending to chop down for the kill. Buffy looks up, anticipating her.

    GENEVIEVE: I appreciate you putting up more of a fight than the *last* Slayer I felled.

    BUFFY: *What?*

    Buffy reacts by swinging her left leg out, sweeping Genevieve off her feet.

    GENEVIEVE: *UNF!*

    In close-up, we see Buffy’s hand lock over the hilt of Genevieve’s broadsword as she drops to the ground.

    BUFFY: That wasn’t just empty bragging, was it?

    As Genevieve hits the ground, Buffy kips up to a crouch in front of her, broadsword in hand.

    BUFFY: You were given a gift… and you used it to *HURT* innocent girls?

    Now it’s Buffy sneering down at Genevieve, the broadsword raised over her prone enemy just as Genevieve had been over her a moment before. At some point in the fight, Roden retreated to the balcony, and yellow power emanates from his hand as he prepares to use some type of magic.

    BUFFY: *Other SLAYERS?*

    Suddenly we see Faith in a new image, diving forward with hands outstretched and yelling a warning.

    FAITH: *BUFFY!*

    We see from Faith’s view, and Buffy stares at her in surprise from where she stands.

    BUFFY: Faith?

    Still from Faith’s view, Genevieve is staring at her in surprise from where she sits.

    GENEVIEVE: “Faith”?

    From a wide view, Faith runs toward Buffy, who turns to look at her in surprise, standing between the curtained window and the charging Faith.

    BUFFY: What are you –

    The next image shows Faith running through Buffy in a tackle, grabbing her around the waist. Their momentum has taken them straight through the glass, which shatters around them as the sail into the evening sky.

    We see Faith and Buffy falling, turning in the air, amidst a rain of glass. They are plummeting toward Genevieve’s pool. One of Buffy’s shoes has come off as she falls.

    (NARRATION) FAITH: Please be the deep end. Please be the deep end. Please be the –

    The water in the pool explodes outwards as the two Slayers hit the pool with a *SPOOSH*.

    The next image shows the two struggling to their feet, completely soaked. They are in water that’s not even waist deep.

    (NARRATION) FAITH: Shallow. Of course.

    FAITH: *hhhhhh*

    BUFFY: So you… decided to start… your own evil Slayer club?

    Before Faith can answer, we see that Buffy has closed the distance, driving her right fist into Faith’s stomach viciously.

    BUFFY: Why am I not surprised?

    FAITH: (reacting) *OOF!*

    From over Buffy’s shoulder, we see she is drawing back her fist to hit Faith again. Faith, clutching her side with one hand, extends a hand toward Buffy, for her to stop.

    FAITH: *DAMN, B! JUST CHILL AND LISTEN!*

    The next image is as if Faith can’t resist – her outstretched palm turns into a sharp backhand, like she wants to get even.

    FAITH: *I’M ON YOUR TEAM!*

    BUFFY: (reacting) *AHN!*

    Buffy isn’t slowed, and we see she has pounced forward, knocking Faith backwards off balance and following her as they talk and fight.

    BUFFY: You have a hilarious way of showing it. I can’t *believe* I ever thought you’d changed.

    FAITH: *It ain’t like that! Your boy Giles sent me, you know… undercover!*

    From a sideview, we see Buffy lash out, punctuating her words with a powerful upthrust fist that knocks Faith backwards into the pool. The blow looks so powerful that surely anyone but a Slayer would be knocked out… or worse.

    BUFFY: *YOU’RE LYING!*

    In close-up, we see Faith pulling her head out of the water. Her eyes are furious.

    BUFFY: Giles never trusted you any more than I did.

    In a sideview again, Faith flings herself forward, launching out of the water at Buffy with a roar of rage, who is taken by surprise. Her words seem to have sent Faith over the edge.

    FAITH: *[/b]RAAAHH![/b]*

    (NARRATION) FAITH: Do it.

    In a close-up of the two, Faith has Buffy around the throat with both hands. Water sprays off of them. Buffy’s face contorts in surprise, and she clearly can’t breathe. Faith’s face is a mask of pure outrage and anger.

    (NARRATION) FAITH: Whenever she’s around, you’re the villain.

    In the next image, Faith plunges Buffy downward into the water, still strangling her. Buffy’s hands are above the surface, flailing.

    (NARRATION) FAITH: But as soon as she’s gone, you’re the hero.

    In close-up, Faith, drenched, has her eyes shut and her whole face twisted in frustration as she continues to strangle Buffy. Buffy’s hands grasp futilely out of the water, trying to free herself.

    (NARRATION) FAITH: That’s right. Never forget how deep she cut you.

    The view reverses – we see Buffy’s face underwater, bubbles flowing out of her open mouth as Faith’s grip digs into her throat. Her face is terrified. Helpless.

    Dying.

    (NARRATION) FAITH: Never forget how deep.

    Somehow, Faith catches herself. In a new image, she pulls Buffy up from the water by her shoulders as suddenly as she plunged her under it before.

    FAITH: *SHUTUP!*

    We see a close-up of Faith’s face, with Buffy’s visible behind her – they are both standing and the fight has stopped. The energy has gone completely out of Faith’s eyes, and she looks completely miserable. Buffy collects herself as she tries to figure out what happened.

    FAITH: Please shut up.

    BUFFY: *hhh* Who… who are you talking to?

    In a wide view, we see the sun has almost set at the Savidge Estate. Faith and Buffy face each other, a couple feet apart. Faith’s head hangs, as if ashamed. Buffy holds her face, as if making sure it’s still attached.

    FAITH: (quietly) I wish you’d just go away.

    In close-up, Buffy holds her own throat protectively.

    BUFFY: What do you –

    Before she can complete the question, the next image shows that Buffy has vanished as suddenly as she arrived, in a cloud of orange smoke. Water splashes to fill the space she just vanished from.

    Next we see Willow in close-up. We’re back at the castle, and Willow’s face is furious as she chants a spell. Her eyes have turned black.

    WILLOW: Vriik hrr nisanti!

    From above, we see the control room. Green energy moves in circles around Willow’s hands as she stands open-armed. Buffy has appeared in front of her in the same small cloud of smoke. She is still holding her throat, and water is already pooling at her feet from her soaked clothes. Various Slayers look on from around the room in amazement and worry.

    WILLOW: Oh, thank goddess. I’ve been trying to get a lock on your astral signature, but I accidentally teleported a Norwegian truck driver and two marmosets before I finally found you.

    The next image is of a soaked Buffy, faced away, toward Willow, as Willow looks at her closely, checking on her. The bystanders look on curiously.

    WILLOW: That was some scary bad voodoo that grabbed you, Buffy. What happened? Who did this?

    The view reverses as Willow waits for an answer, but Buffy, again, ducks almost out of sight and vomits on the floor from the stress of teleportation.

    BUFFY: *hwuuhh*

    In close-up, Buffy has the same look of anger as she did arriving at Genevieve’s home, and wipes her chin again. But now, her anger has a new target.

    BUFFY: Get me Giles.

    Back at the Savidge Estate, Faith stands alone in the pool, her hair and shirt clinging to her. She looks completely desolate.

    (NARRATION) FAITH: Buffy…? All alone. Same as always.

    We see Faith sitting on the deck of the pool, one leg still in the water. She’s beaten, physically and emotionally. Her thoughts are interrupted by Genevieve approached unseen from behind her.

    (NARRATION) FAITH: Whatever. Too tired to fight anymore. Too tired to –

    GENEVIEVE: You let her go, didn’t you?

    The last image shows Genevieve standing behind Faith. Her face is stained with tears, mascara, and blood. Her eyes suggest not only the humiliation of Buffy beating her, but worse, the feeling of betrayal at the Slayer in front of her. She is wielding a battleaxe, ready to swing like an executioner.

    Faith is barely even acknowledging her, looking back slightly with regret on her face, just waiting for the killing swing.

    GENEVIEVE: I thought you were my friend.

    End of Issue #8

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    Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Season 8, Issue #9
    “No Future For You, Part IV”


    Prologue Summary: The Slayer population of the world has gone from two to nearly two thousand. Almost five hundred are working with Buffy’s European-based organization in squads – or “terrorist cells,” according to various military forces. Enter Faith, the pioneer of Slayer-related dirty work, whose talents as a fierce fighter continue to garner the attention of her former compatriots.

    Start of Issue #9

    The opening image is the familiar, smiling face of Mayor Richard Wilkins III, wearing a suit jacket and an open-necked striped dress-shirt. It’s a flashback, like Faith’s already had.

    (NARRATION) FAITH: Evil scumbag.

    MAYOR: Oh, one more thing before you go.

    We see who he’s talking to; of course it’s Faith. She’s wearing the same pink cotton dress we saw her wearing in “Graduation, Part I”, and she’s pulling her hair back over her ear with the same shy, eager to please expression she usually wore when hearing the kind words of her bizarre adopted “father”.

    (NARRATION) FAITH: That’s what most people think of the last guy who put me in a dress.

    FAITH: What’s up, boss?

    The view shifts over to see the Mayor from behind Faith – he’s stepped toward her, and as he speaks, is looking down at her kindly. This is a conversation we never have seen before between them.

    MAYOR: Do you really need to be so goshdarn formal, Faith? Mayor Wilkins is a servant of the people, not vice versa. Why don’t you start calling me Richard?

    FAITH: Yeah, okay. Sure thing.

    We see a close-up of the Mayor as he continues to speak to her, still acting (or even believing) the role of a father.

    (NARRATION) FAITH: But I don’t know. Dude may have been a bit of a snake… but he wasn’t a dog.

    MAYOR: I’m sure Miss Manners would take issue with me telling you this instead of writing it on a proper piece of personalized stationery, but I just wanted to say…

    The view reverses to a close-up of Faith. She is smiling brightly, beaming from his praise.

    MAYOR: … thank you.

    We see the two of them again, the Mayor beginning to gesture with his hands as he contemplates what they’ve accomplished together. He continues to pile on the praise, to Faith’s happy embarrassment.

    MAYOR: I honestly don’t know if I would have been able to pull off my little campaign to clean up our fair city without you… but I sure as heck wouldn’t have enjoyed myself half as much.

    FAITH: Um, cool. No prob.

    In another close-up, the Mayor’s kind words go up another notch. His face shows completely sincerity in what he says.

    (NARRATION) FAITH: Everybody thinks he was, like, exploiting me or whatever, but that’s not how it felt.

    MAYOR: My dear Edna May, rest her soul, she and I never had a chance to bring a child into this world. But when I look into your eyes, I see a daughter she would have been proud to call her own.

    It’s too much for Faith, and in a close-up, she can’t meet his eyes, instead, looking down to her side.

    (NARRATION) FAITH: So I totally get how chicks can get mixed up in the wrong crap.

    FAITH: Thanks.

    Next we see them from behind, standing together in Faith’s Sunnydale apartment against its semi-circular window. The Mayor has his arm around Faith’s shoulder.

    (NARRATION) FAITH: Even today, it’s still hard to look back at my time with that guy…

    MAYOR: Now why don’t you change into your play clothes? The blood of innocents is a real pain in the neck to wash out of cotton blends.

    The scene changes as Faith completes her narrative thought. It’s not the gently and paternal Mayor, but instead a close-up of Roden, a yellow magical glow around his head and his eyes black. He is sneering down at the Slayers below.

    (NARRATION) FAITH: … and feel anything but loved.

    RODEN: That a girl, Lady Genevieve.

    The next image shows us what he sees, and what we saw, from above now. Faith, wet and exhausted, sitting beside the pool looking more than just tired, and Genevieve standing over her, wielding a large, double-bladed battle axe.

    RODEN: Murder this backstabbing slag.

    In a close-up, Genevieve’s face is twisted in anger, her mouth open, her eyes furious and mascara washed down her cheeks by tears.

    GENEVIEVE: I let you into my home, *”Hope”*. Into my sodding *tub*.

    We see Faith turning to look up at her. He is half-sitting and half crouching, leaning over to one side as she starts to get back up. She’s looking up at Genevieve with an expression that is sober but not unkind. When she answers, she’s dropped all pretense, speaking with her own voice and not the accent Giles taught her.

    FAITH: *Boo hoo*, so I gave you a fake name. Get over it, Gigi. I didn’t lie about the stuff that matters, so why don’t you drop the *Medieval Times* prop and talk to me like a –

    Faith is interrupted, her face struck into profile as we see that Genevieve has jabbed her with the handle of the axe with a *THOK*.

    GENEVIEVE: *Shut it!*

    We see Genevieve in close-up again. Still very angry, but also a little unguarded – she’s hurt by what’ happened.

    GENEVIEVE: You’re not even English, are you? Where is that horrid accent from anyway? New York?

    A close-up on Faith show’s her wiping some blood from her lip from the axe strike. But there is at least a twinkle of amusement in her eyes at Genevieve’s guess.

    FAITH: Ouch.

    We see Faith plant her fingers lightly on the pool deck, bracing to make a move.

    FAITH: That hurts.

    Faith makes her move, and sends a kick into Genevieve that literally launches the younger Slayer off the pool deck and across the grounds. Genevieve is shown arcing dozens of feet through the air, the axe still held loosely, toward the green house on her estate.

    The next image is of Genevieve crashing through the glass wall of the green house, spraying glass around her and flying through a row of hanging plants.

    When Genevieve starts to sit up, gripping the axe, we see Faith has already cleared the distance to the green house following her, and is standing in the broken window, looking in at her.

    FAITH: For the record, I’m a Boston girl. You know, like the tea party?

    From ground level, we look up along the blade and shaft of Genevieve’s axe. She and Faith are faced off, with the latter unarmed and extended a cautious hand, palm-out. Behind them, a tall statue of a woman decorates the green house, in front of a large rosebush.

    GENEVIEVE: I don’t care *what* sad little colony you crawled out of. Your station in life is about equal to that of my bloody personal shopper. You’re hardly fit to be slain by a Slayer...

    Genevieve finishes the thought as she swings the axe out with a vicious *SSHIINNK*. Faith leaps up, lifting her feet to avoid the blow. The axe, as hard as Genevieve has swung it, embeds in the garden statue. It’s blades stick out to either side of where it gets stuck, with the shaft sticking straight out into the space Faith just leapt from.

    GENEVIEVE: … much less to *be* one.

    We see Faith land gracefully, balancing her feet on the shaft of the axe, looking down at Genevieve. The younger Slayer steps back, looking stunned by the display of agility.

    FAITH: You think I asked for this?

    In an instant, we see Faith’s leg has flown forward, kicking Genevieve in the face with a *KRACK* as she balances on the ask. Genevieve is knocked backwards by the attack.

    In a close-up, we see Genevieve wiping away her own blood now as she recovers. Her mascara-stained eyes show only defiance

    GENEVIEVE: You’re even less entitled to your power than that blow-dried Princess of Wales was to hers. I should have listened to Roden.

    As Genevieve watches, ready for an attack, we see Faith gracefully vault from the axe handle, shown flipping in three tranluscent motions. She answers as she leaps.

    FAITH: Who, *Lucky Charms*?

    As Faith lands, she whirls to look at Genevieve. From a grounds-eyes view, we see Genevieve’s feet leave the ground as she attacks.

    FAITH: If you want someone to be pissed at, try him. Trust me, dude is gonna be the death of you.

    GENEVIEVE: He may push me, but Roden’s also my best mate.

    An extreme close-up of Faith’s wide-open brown eyes shows a reflection of Genevieve as she flies through the air at her, fists raised back to drive into Faith.

    GENEVIEVE: Something I doubt you’ve ever had.

    The scene changes, and we see a close-up of Giles. His face is anxious, and he’s turning to react to something he’s heard.

    TRAFALGAR: (from out of view) RAHHHHH!

    From above, we see why the dwarf is upset. His hammer has shattered against the glowing orange magical barrier around the Savidge Estate with a *KERRRACK*. He is looking over at Giles reproachfully.

    GILES: Hell.

    In close-up, Trafalgar’s face looks resigned. He holds the smoldering shaft of his broken hammer uselessly.

    TRAFALGAR: It’s over, Rupert. We’re not getting onto this girl’s grounds any more than a bloodsucker is coming into my hutch without an invite.

    We see Trafalgar has already turned and started to stride away, perhaps indignant. Giles, hands in pockets, calls after him.

    GILES: You can’t give up, Trafalgar.

    TRAFALGAR: Tell that to my last hundred wives. I’m sorry, but it’s gonna take arts darker than mine to get you to the other side.

    In a close-up, we see Giles’ cell phone. He apparently heard or felt it, and the display shows the caller ID – “WILLOW MOBILE”.

    GILES: (to himself) Speaking of witch…

    In profile, we see Giles answering the phone. He looks relieved as he begins talking, assuming its Willow on the other end.

    GILES: Thank heaven you called. I’d hoped to protect you from all this, but I may require your assistance remotely deactivating a mystical –

    BUFFY: (through the phone) Shut up, Giles.

    In the castle, we see Buffy, holding Willow’s phone in one hand and ringing water out of her with the other. Buffy’s face looks very upset and still embarrassed. Behind her, Willow and Xander look on uncomfortably, and around them, at least seven Slayers look on with interest.

    GILES: (through the phone) Buffy?

    BUFFY: *Her*. You’re working with her and you didn’t even *tell* me?

    We see Giles, on his end, rubbing the bridge of his nose under his glasses. His eyes are closed – this isn’t the conversation he wanted to be having.

    GILES: I… I can explain later. Please, lives are at stake.

    On Buffy’s end, she’s only more upset.

    BUFFY: Yeah, like mine. Your femme Nikita just tried to stuff me down a pool drain.

    GILES: (through phone) *What*?

    We see Buffy opening her arms in exasperation as she lays into Giles. She’s still got a towel over her shoulders. Xander, behind her, and Willow, in the foreground, both listen forlornly. One of the Slayers watching looks stunned to see Buffy so upset.

    BUFFY: Faith and her new droogs ‘ported me into the middle of the British Invasion, but Willow conjured up my ticket home.

    GILES: (through phone) And you left Faith behind? Buffy, you have to put Willow on the line.

    BUFFY: Not until you tell me exactly what the hell is going on.

    The image changes to one of Giles, a silhouette standing alone amongst the bare trees outside Genevieve’s estate, the shattered hammer at his feet.

    GILES: … No. I don’t want you to be any part of this.

    In the castle, we see a close-up of Buffy. Her face is as if something just broken inside her. The anger is gone, and her eyes are wide and maybe a little wet as she lets the phone drift from her ear.

    In a wider view, Buffy holds the phone out to her right for Willow to take it. Willow reaches for it tentatively. Both her and Xander look like they want to reach out to Buffy, seeing how visibly hurt she is. Buffy’s eyes and almost her whole face are in shadow, but her lips, and her posture, both slump despondently.

    BUFFY: Do what you can for him.

    WILLOW: Is… is everything okay, Buffy?

    XANDER: Er, maybe the boss just needs some alone time.

    As Buffy walks away, we see her look back over her shoulder in close-up. Her eyes looked brighter when they were hidden in shadow.

    BUFFY: What other kind is there?

    The scene changes again, and we’re in the greenhouse. We see a close-up of Faith’s face being knocked sideways as Genevieve lands a cross-punch with a *WHAM*. Faith’s eyes are half-closed as the blow lands.

    In a wider view, we see Faith flying backwards and landing in a rose bush, destroying it and the lattice work around it.

    FAITH: Ahhn!

    In the next view, we see from behind Genevieve, stalking forward as Faith begins to stand up from the ruined flowers. Genevieve is holding a pair of green-handled hedge clippers in her right hand.

    GENEVIEVE: Look, now you’ve gone and ruined Mother’s stupid rose bush. I’ll have to get Roden to grow me a new one before she returns.

    FAITH: If your boy wizard is such a pal… where the hell is he now?

    In close-up, Genevieve’s eyes gleam intensely, despite her face being a smear of blood and make-up.

    GENEVIEVE: He knows I can handle myself. He trusts me.

    And we see Genevieve let fly with the clippers. We see them up close as they fly away from Genevieve like a thrown dagger towards Faith. The young Slayer isn’t swayed.

    GENEVIEVE: He adores me.

    We see Faith snatch the clippers out of the air by the blade before striking her, gritting her teeth.

    FAITH: Maybe he does, maybe he don’t.

    The next image is of the two Slayers, charging toward each other from across the greenhouse. Faith lets the clippers fall to the ground as she moves. Behind Genevieve, we see the axe still embedded in the garden statue, the trapped blade pointed out.

    FAITH: But either way, part of you knows something ain’t right… ‘cause you’ve never deserved to be loved by anybody.

    GENEVIEVE: What I *deserve* is… is everything that was squandered on unworthy tramps like you. Your blood is my birthright, and as soon as I’ve wrung the last drop out of your kind, my nightmares are going to end.

    We see the two converge, and in another series of translucent motions, Faith cartwheels into Genevieve, building momentum for a kick that takes the younger girl in the stomach.

    FAITH: If you’re so sick of the bad dreams… then wake the #^%* up.

    We see Genevieve flying through the air backwards. The space is an empty orange except for the Lady… and the statue directly behind her. And the blade.

    In extreme close-up, Faith’s eyes widen in horror as she sees Genevieve’s doom, knowing it’s too late.

    FAITH: (quietly) No.

    The view reverses to Genevieve’s face. It looks like it did earlier – mostly young, and hurt. Her eyes are wide. We hear her land with a bloody *SHUNK*.

    The next image shows blood begin to leak from the corner of her open mouth, her eyes already falling slightly.

    GENEVIEVE: (quietly) Hhh

    We see Genevieve, propped up against the statue with the blade clearly dug through her back at the shoulder blades. Her legs are splayed open clumsily and her arms hang limp at her side or in her lap. From the ground level, we see Faith’s shoes as the older Slayer runs forward.

    FAITH: I’m sorry. I’m… I’m so sorry.

    The net image is of the two together, Faith crouched down next to Genevieve. Faith’s eyes are wide, still horrified at the mistake. Genevieve’s eyes are open, but staring without focus between her feet as she speaks her last words.

    FAITH: I never meant –

    GENEVIEVE: Yeah. But it’s like the song goes…

    And so, in a tight close-up, Genevieve dies. Her mascara-stained eyes are shut, and a single tear of blood runs down her chin from her lips.

    In an even closer view, we see the fattened drop of blood fall from her chin.

    The next image is seen from above. Genevieve, dead against the statue, and Faith, kneeling in front of her, her hands held up to her face. We can’t see or hear if Faith might be crying. But we do hear Roden’s voice from behind her.

    RODEN: Hell.

    The next image if of Roden, hovering outside of the broken greenhouse window, his hand stretched out toward Faith. He is holding the Twilight “guidebook” in his left hand.

    RODEN: Looks like I backed the wrong filly.

    In a close-up, we see Faith is crying, almost uncontrollably in fact.

    FAITH: You’re some kind of goddamn magic man, right? *Heal her*.

    From a wider view, we see Roden touching down in the greenhouse, and lashing out with a burst of yellow magic energy that coils itself around Faith like rope.

    RODEN: Why bother? My orders were to train the Slayer to end all Slayers. Genevieve here was just a dead end.

    FAITH: *NAHH*!

    The two face each other in close-up as Roden draws Faith towards him.

    RODEN: You, on the other hand, may be exactly the bird I’m looking for.

    FAITH: Not if you were the last warm body left, Red.

    RODEN: Even though you and I could make Buffy disappear forever?

    The view shifts and we see Faith’s face, the anger surprised from it.

    FAITH: Huh?

    With a flourish, we see Roden release his magical grip on Faith, who recoils from him as she kneels on the ground.

    RODEN: I saw the look in your eyes when you and Summers were going at it. I know you’ll never be happy so long as she’s out there.

    The next image shows Roden, his face conniving, holding the Twilight book up, it’s symbol facing out.

    RODEN: Lucky for you, I’ve been promised clemency from the coming purge… so long as I assist in destroying the blonde-headed bane of your existence. The guidebook will show us how.

    In a close-up, we see Faith has accepted the book from him. She stares at the cover sadly.

    And then we see her looking back up at Roden. Her face hardens as she stares back at Roden.

    FAITH: Thanks.

    The next image shows Faith, her eyes closed, lashing out and clubbing Roden across the face with his book. Blood sprays from his lips from the sudden blow.

    FAITH: But I ain’t much of a reader.

    RODEN: *UNHF*!

    In an extreme close-up, though, we see Roden’s eyes glowing back, yellow energy gathering around his face. His skin begins to show black veins.

    RODEN: Keep it anyway, luv.

    From a wider view, we see him attack. He strikes out with a charge of yellow energy like he’s thrown a baseball, and Faith blasts across the greenhouse into the opposite glass wall with a *KERSHRINK*.

    RODEN: I already know how it ends.

    We see Roden standing in the newly opened hole in the greenhouse. His hands a glowing yellow now, and the energy crackles around him as he readies his next attack.

    RODEN: Lord, nothing sadder than an over-the-hill Slayer. Girls like you are supposed to shuffle off this mortal coil when you’re young and fresh, not when you’re starting to sag a bit.

    The next image shows us Roden send a blast of energy into the ground at his feet. The result is immediate – a stone fist forms out of the ground outside the greenhouse where Faith has landed, and squeezes the Slayer in its grip. She drops the Twilight book as she’s caught by surprise.

    FAITH: *Wha*…?

    In a close-up, we see Faith’s face staring at the sky where she’s trapped by the squeezing fist. Roden stands near her, looking down at her almost sympathetically.

    FAITH: *AHHHHHH*!

    RODEN: So long, Faith.

    We see Faith in close-up, trapped in the rock. Instead of fear, we see Faith staring back at him defiantly.

    And when the view reverses, Roden is staring down at her uncertainly. Behind him, we see Giles, holding the green clippers up like a dagger, his face deadly.

    RODEN: The hell are you smiling about?

    In instant later, we see the blade of the clippers pierce Roden’s back. His vein covered face contorts in pain.

    RODEN: *GAHH*!

    A moment later, we see Faith fall to the ground, the rock fist exploding around her without Roden’s magic concentrated on it.

    FAITH: *NNF*!

    The next image shows another extreme close-up of Roden, eyes black, energy forming around him again. He’s glaring back at Giles over his shoulder.

    RODEN: Well.

    In a wider view, he lashes out at Giles with bolts of his yellow magic, striking Giles with a *FWOOOM!* The clippers are still in his back, but his attack glows around Giles like it’s fire.

    RODEN: If it isn’t the kennel master.

    The view widens again, and we see Giles, prone on the ground, his clothes smoking, as Roden advances on him. The wizard pulls the clippers out of his back casually. As he taunts Giles, we see Faith behind Roden, picking up the Twilight book.

    RODEN: They’re all gonna die, you know. Every last one of your bitches.

    FAITH: (calling out to him) *Giles*!

    We see Faith, crouching in the rubble of Roden’s magic rock fist, hurl the book across the grounds.

    FAITH: Thinkfast.

    And we see Giles catch it on the fly, surprised.

    From above, we see Giles crouching. He’s flipped open the book and found a spell. He holds out his hand toward Roden as he uses the book.

    GILES: VRIIK NISANTI HRN!

    The view reverses, and Roden stands in front of Giles, open-armed, and apparently unaffected. Giles still crouches, ready to use the book again. Behind Roden, Faith tries to get back to her feet.

    RODEN: You desperate old git. Did you honestly just try to use one of my own containment spells against me? I can break out of any mystic field ever enchanted.

    GILES: I know.

    In close-up, we see Roden’s face – or what’s left of it, since it’s already boiling over, bulging, ruining. What’s left of it looks helpless and disbelieving as he reaches for his own face.

    GILES: That’s why I put it inside you.

    In another close-up, Giles face, spattered with blood, stares at Roden coldly.

    GILES: Burst.

    And the field does. We see Roden hovering in the air, but only from the shoulders down. From the neck up, we see only the bottom of a cloud of blood as the wizard’s head explodes. His fingers and legs jerk helplessly as he dies.

    A close-up of Giles shows his face looking weary, and drained.

    The next image, though, shows a hand, Faith’s hand, land on his shoulder gently.

    FAITH: Come on.

    From above, we see the two standing on the glass and rubble strewn grounds of the Savidge Estate, Roden’s body on the ground in front of them. Giles holds the book open, hanging from his hand. He and Faith just look at each other.

    FAITH: We’re done.

    The next image changes the scene. It’s day, outside of Giles’ home.

    Inside, we see Faith, back in her own clothes coming down the stairs. She’s wearing dark jeans and a sleeveless tee-shirt with a cartoonish baby devil on it. She’s holding her jacket, and she still looks unhappy. Giles is waiting at the bottom of the steps, in a pullover, holding a manila envelope.

    GILES: Morning. How are you holding up?

    FAITH: Not my first rodeo. How about you, Conan the Librarian?

    In a closer view, we see both of them, not meeting each other’s eyes.

    GILES: Yes, well, it’s a side of myself I’d rather not expose to those under my watch, but I have used lethal force before.

    FAITH: Don’t make it any easier.

    GILES: No. No, it doesn’t.

    In a close-up, we see the envelope Giles is holding. He opens it to show Faith the contents. In his hand, he holds a U.S. passport.

    GILES: Regardless, congratulations on a most honorable discharge. I’ve secured you a new identity as well as a one-way ticket to –

    FAITH: Thanks, but I’m not ready to punch out just yet.

    We see Faith, pacing out into Giles’ living room as she explains. Giles stands behind her, quietly fingering the passport.

    GILES: I thought you were done with bloodshed.

    FAITH: I am. But there are gonna be other Gigis out there. If I stopped stabbing and started, I don’t know… playing social worker to the Slayers, maybe I could help walk a few bad girls back from the brink.

    In close-up, Giles holds his thumb up to his chin as he considers her idea.

    In a wider-view, Faith take his silence a skepticism, turning away from him as if embarrassed.

    FAITH: You think it’s a lame idea, right?

    GILES: On the contrary. I was wondering if I might be able to join you. A war is coming, but perhaps there are battles you and I can win before either of us has to take the field.

    From above, we see Faith slipping on her denim jacket as she turns back towards Giles.

    FAITH: Appreciate the offer, but I think I’m done taking orders, even from guys I dig.

    GILES: Actually, given your most recent performance, I was envisioning more of a partnership between equals. We could perform those peacekeeping missions ill suited to others in our line of work. Maybe I could be the Steed to your Peel?

    The view changes and we look at Giles from beside Faith. Her expression is a little confused, but not unhappy. Giles adjusts his glasses as he answers Faith’s awkward question.

    FAITH: God, I hope that’s not as gross as it sounds. And anyway, wouldn’t me and you starting a two-man band go down lousy with your main girl?

    GILES: I’m afraid I wouldn’t know. Buffy and I… aren’t on speaking terms at the moment.

    We see them together, facing each other with Faith reaching up to touch Giles arm. They are smiling at each other a little. Accepting and encouraging each other.

    FAITH: Then I guess we’re on our own, huh?

    GILES: It would appear so.

    The scene changes again as we hear Giles finish his thought. It’s near dark in a remote area. A black helicopter flies toward a mountain top, a flat-topped spire of a mountain.

    GILES: (continued) But perhaps we can be on our own together.

    The next image is on the mountain top. A black woman in military uniform walks away from the helicopter amidst the dirt swirling out from its landing.

    MILITARY WOMAN: Twilight? You there? “I humbly request your audience” and all that crap.

    In a close-up, we see the woman holding up her left palm. The blood red Twilight symbol is tattooed on it.

    MILITARY WOMAN: I bear your mark, now give me my damn audience.

    VOICE: Calm yourself, Lieutenant Molter.

    In a wider view, we see that the woman, Lieutenant Molter, is standing in front of a man hovering several feet in the air. We only see his boots, near eye level in front of her. The lieutenant turns away as she reports to the flying man in the boots.

    LT. MOLTER: You’re not gonna be walking on air when you hear what I have to say. Our man on the inside confirm that Summer is still alive. Your goons failed.

    TWILIGHT: Roden and Genevieve were not my minion… they were my targets.

    LT. MOLTER: What are you talking about? This whole operation was about neutralizing two of your own soldiers?

    The view reverses, and we see Twilight himself. The hovering man is clad in a black trench coat and black pants. He wears a gold armor chest plate over a set of black tights and wrapped belts. The armor has the twilight symbol on it. His face is concealed by a black mask with no eyes, nose, or mouth, only a gold and red pattern highlighting the idea of a face. The lieutenant looks up at him with what might be fear or amazement, or perhaps both.

    TWILIGHT: No. it was about manipulating our enemies into waging this ugly war for us, a tactic crucial for bringing the age of magic to a close. By pitting Watcher against warlock and Slayer against Slayer, we have pushed even the ‘victors’ to remove themselves from the chessboard.

    We see them both in a wider image. They are silhouetted by the setting sun, seen over the clouds from the top of this high mountain top. Lt. Molter has her arms spread, as if exasperated by this explanation. Twilight lands near her, his coat tails blowing against his legs from either the breeze or the helicopter.

    LT. MOLTER: Who cares about a couple of rooks when the queen is still in play? How can you see this as a victory when Buffy’s narrow ass lives to fight another day?

    TWILIGHT: Let her have the day, Lieutenant.

    We see Twilight in close-up, staring outward at the setting sun.

    TWILIGHT: Night falls soon enough.

    The last image is the same stylized logo of the letters “B”, “V”, and “S” we first saw in 8.04. It’s red on black, announcing the end of the arc, and the next phase of the coming war.

    End of Issue #9

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    Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Season 8, Issue #10
    ”Anywhere But Here”


    Prologue Summary: The Slayer population of the world has gone from two to nearly two thousand. Over one hundred are working with Buffy and Xander in the highlands of Scotland. Honing their fighting skills and forming powerful squadrons to fight the forces of evil, even the non-mystical military type, these Slayers must prepare for an impending war with humans and a mysterious new Big Bad, Twilight.

    Also, Dawn: still large-ish.

    Start of Issue #10

    The opening image is of Buffy, lying on towel at a beach. She looks amazing, wearing a white and pink polka-dot bikini, her left leg bent up at the knee as she enjoys the sun. Next to her is a bag, an iPod, a sunglasses, and a bookmarked hardcover book titled “Lestat”. A voice calls her name from nearby.

    VOICE: Buffy Summers?

    In close-up, Buffy doesn’t open her eyes when she answers, determined not to be disturbed.

    BUFFY: Depends. If you’re anyone other than Daniel Craig, then no, I’ve never heard of her.

    VOICE: Well.

    The view reverses, and beside Buffy, we see that the speaker is, in fact, Daniel Craig. He is wearing a blue speedo, and his arms are crossed across his chest. His posture is relaxed and confident, and the muscles are rippling.

    DANIEL CRAIG: That works out well for everyone, then.

    We see Buffy sit up in alarm from Mr. Craig’s point of view. She points at him in disbelief.

    BUFFY: Holy cats! You’re you! How did… what’s the why now?

    DANIEL CRAIG: I didn’t mean to startle you.

    The view reverses, and we see a smiling Mr. Craig holding Buffy’s sunblock up for her to see.

    DANIEL CRAIG: But I’m afraid you’re turning a bit red.

    In close-up, we see Buffy smile delightedly at the offer, as a voice chimes in from out of view. It’s a dream sequence of sorts, a fantasy, now being interrupted.

    WILLOW: (from the ‘real world’) That’s it?

    The next image shows Buffy and Willow together, with Buffy’s arms wrapped around Willow’s shoulders, like she’s getting a piggy back ride. Buffy is wearing a yellow jacket with daisies on it, and the wind is whipping both of their hair.

    BUFFY: You don’t like Daniel Craig?

    WILLOW: No, he’s got a thing, it’s just… the beach? Rubbing oil? It’s a little generic.

    We see Buffy in an even tighter close-up, her face visible beside Willow’s right ear. She is wearing an anxious expression.

    BUFFY: Well, I’m having trouble concentrating! It’s not that I don’t have other places I’d like to be…

    The image widens, and we see what Buffy is anxious about as she finishes her statement. Willow is flying, arms spread wide, a joyful smile on her face. Buffy is clinging to her back as they soar through the sky, presumably somewhere over Britain, looking quite a bit less happy about the whole thing.

    BUFFY: … I’m just feeling really… present.

    In a wider view, we see them from below, looking like nothing so much as Lois Lane clinging to Superman as he flies.

    WILLOW: Come on! We’re flying!

    BUFFY: You’re flying. I’m dangling.

    WILLOW: But you’re bad-ass Buffy! You slay! You jump out of helicopters!

    BUFFY: They’re lower down. Why can’t we teleport, again? Or hitch?

    In a close-up, Willow appears to have her eyes closed, flying by some other sense of direction.

    WILLOW: Because I’m not positive where it is. We’re close, though. I’m gonna bring us down a bit.

    From a wider view, we see the two silhouetted against the land far below, probably a couple thousand feet. Willow has her arms extended and is diving, and Buffy is clinging with one hand, being dragged along helplessly.

    BUFFY: That’s bettNOT BETTER! *LESS BETTER*!

    The scene changes, and we see a close-up of Xander. He is smiling, and looks like he has a day or more’s growth on his beard.

    XANDER: You can open them now.

    The view reverses and we see Dawn’s face, lit up with surprise and happiness, clapping her hands at what she sees.

    DAWN: *Oh my wow*! How did you do this?

    In a wider view, we see Dawn kneeling, bringing her to eye level with Xander, who is standing on top of a giant suitcase. They are in the hay loft or barn attached the castle, where Dawn sleeps. She is still grinning as they discuss this new present.

    XANDER: If you can’t bring the mountain to mohammed…

    DAWN: But how –

    XANDER: We’ve got a couple of real comers in the wiccan squad. I figured, until Willow can make you small…

    We see Dawn reach over and begin to pull open the case, interrupting Xander. Xander is unfortunately straddling the seam in the case where it opens, and Dawn is a little too excited to notice.

    XANDER: … we could at least make your stuff… but wait though –

    DAWN: I can’t believe it!

    XANDER: Hoah now –

    In the next image, we see Xander plummet out of view, into the suit case as it opens beneath him.

    DAWN: Please let my boots be in here –

    XANDER: *Ahh! Man down!*

    From inside the suitcase, we look up at Dawn, who is looking into the luggage with her eyes narrowed.

    DAWN: Uh, Xander?

    XANDER: (muffled) I dn’t lff you hnymore.

    The scene changes, as we see Willow and a woman standing in a cabin. Willow is wearing a wool coat, but the woman with her is wearing only a sleeveless, backless dress to fight off the blizzard blowing in through the door.

    WILLOW: It’s too dangerous! We can ski down these crazy Alps in the morning, but till then, television’s Tina Fey… we must find a way to keep warm.

    The fantasy is cut off again, and we see Willow and Buffy flying over a village. Buffy is a little more well settled now, sitting cross-legged on Willow’s back.

    BUFFY: Okay, that’s solid. You get to ski –

    WILLOW: – And there’s hot cocoa which we discover later.

    BUFFY: And Kennedy?

    In a close-up, we see Willow look back over her shoulder, her expression cool.

    WILLOW: She’s not… it’s a fantasy game, Buf. No significant others.

    From a wide view from below, we see them in silhouette as they fly over a factory. Paper blows around near the ground.

    BUFFY: So… still significant.

    WILLOW: Yeah, she really is.

    BUFFY: I just haven’t… seen her… but then I haven’t seen you that much – but I know you two are… well that she can be… *bratty*… but not bratty… are we there yet?

    The next image shows the two of them landing. Willow slides gracefully to her feet out of the air, and may have simply dumped Buffy off, since the Slayer lands on her butt painfully.

    WILLOW: We are there yet.

    BUFFY: (as she lands) *HYAP*!

    In a wide view, we see Buffy dusting herself off as she gets to her feet. Willow stands next to her waiting. They have arrived at a small cabin, with chipped paint on the brick walls. A woman in a long purple flowered dress sits at a table outside, with a pitcher of water next to her. She does not greet them.

    BUFFY: *This* is the lair of Sephrilian? It’s not the *guest* lair, or something? I thought he was a big noise.

    WILLOW: Sephrilian walks between worlds. Reality tends to buckle around those guys.

    BUFFY: It’s bigger on the inside.

    WILLOW: That’s my guess.

    As they walk toward the cabin, Buffy points over at the woman. Willow looks in that direction, but doesn’t seem concerned.

    BUFFY: And the lady on the lawn?

    WILLOW: Never met her, but I figure that’s the Minder.

    BUFFY: “Minder”? Did Giles tell us lots of stuff while I dozed?

    WILLOW: Any unstable reality field is potentially dangerous, even cataclysmic.

    As Willow finishes her thought, we see the woman in close-up. She is smiling secretively, and appears to have noticed Buffy and Willow finally.

    WILLOW: (continued) So someone has to watch over it.

    The next image shows the woman standing as Buffy and Willow near her.

    WOMAN: Willow.

    WILLOW: Hey, Robin.

    In close-up, we see Buffy looking at Willow in confusion. Willow looks sad and a little weary already.

    BUFFY: I thought you hadn’t met.

    WILLOW: We do later on.

    BUFFY: And I’m just gonna ride with that.

    The view changes, and we see Buffy and Willow facing each other, with Willow turning her head toward the cabin. Robin stands between them, looking at Willow.

    WILLOW: He’s in there; I can feel him thrashing.

    ROBIN: Believe me, so can I. He’s not in a very good mood.

    BUFFY: Well, we’re hoping to make things better. One way or another.

    We see Buffy and Willow from over Robin’s shoulder as she lays out some ground rules for them.

    ROBIN: You know the rules, right? No big mojo in the field. Even if things get dicey.

    BUFFY: If things get dicey, I get slay-ey. But that’s not what we came for.

    WILLOW: We’re just here to talk.

    In close-up, we see Robin close her eyes sadly.

    ROBIN: There’s a chance you’ll wish you hadn’t.

    In a wider view, we see that just as quickly, Robin has looked up. She places her hand gently on Buffy’s arm and Buffy and Willow listen to her. The mountain air blows through all of their hair.

    ROBIN: Oh, that was gloomy; I didn’t mean to be gloomy. The important thing is that you rescue the prince.

    BUFFY: Um… yeah?

    WILLOW: Even *I* didn’t follow that one.

    ROBIN: No, it follows you. Good luck!

    The next image is of Buffy and Willow walking together, with Robin waving to them from behind. As Buffy figures out the ‘minding’ concept, Willow points at her in approval.

    BUFFY: So “minding” an unstable reality means containing it, right? Means time and logic and everything’s just bendy in the brain, am I close?

    WILLOW: See? Giles *said* you were awake sometimes…

    We see the two from overhead. Willow stands by the door to the cabin, ready to open it, pausing only to listen to Buffy’s next thought.

    BUFFY: That’s gotta be a little *wearing*, standing brain-guard twenty-four seven. Who signs up for *that* gig? I mean, being a Watcher isn’t the most glamorous, but –

    WILLOW: You don’t volunteer to be a Minder, Buffy.

    As Willow finishes explaining to Buffy, we see an image of Robin, her hair and dress flowing in the wind and she looks out to the sea from high on the cliffside. Her arms are crossed and she looks sad, fragile.

    WILLOW: (continued) You get chosen.

    A small image shows the latch of the door to the cabin shutting, locking with a *CLIK*.

    The next image shows Buffy and Willow inside a dark cavern, at the top of a curving staircase that disappearances into the distance. Buffy widens her arms helplessly as she looks at it.

    BUFFY: You know what I love?

    WILLOW: An endless staircase?

    BUFFY: A staircase with no end at all. Aren’t there any *escalators* to hell?

    As they walk down the steps, we see them in silhouette, moving through shadows.

    BUFFY: *Oh*! If we go through a time loop and this all happens again I’m gonna say, “if things get dicey, *I’ll* do the dicing.”

    WILLOW: Ah, esprit d’escolier.

    BUFFY: Willow! What’s happening? I can’t understand you! It’s getting inside us!

    In a close-up, we see Willow looking at Buffy reassuringly. They stop on the steps.

    WILLOW: It’s French, cutie. You really are afraid of the dark, aren’t you?

    BUFFY: Hey, the demons are after us, the humans are after us, this whole “Twilight” thing is looking very creepy and hey, Faith tried to kill me again! My grip on reality is not that grippy. I’m protective of it.

    The two start walking again, and we see the stairs stretching out in front of them.

    WILLOW: Faith. Never been a fan. But don’t worry about this trip. I got your back.

    We see them farther in the distance along the stairs.

    WILLOW: Let’s play a game.

    The scene changes and we see Dawn and Xander in the castle. Dawn has laid her suitcase down and Xander is in it, relaxing with his arms across the edge of the bag and sitting on Dawn’s clothes. Dawn is sitting, happily sniffing her clean socks.

    DAWN: Oh, blessed sockies, you still have dryer smell!

    XANDER: So. Did I do or did I do?

    DAWN: You are frikkin’ Santa, Xander. You’re sure I didn’t hurt you?

    The view changes and we see Xander sitting in the suitcase. He’s smiling as he answers, holding up a piece of white fabric with a frilly trim.

    XANDER: Snug as bug. It’s nice and silky in here. Silky and lacy and…

    Xander’s eyes widen in panic as he makes a connection. He drops the white fabric.

    XANDER: … frilly…

    From a wider view, we see Xander running across the clothes in the suitcase in embarrassment. Dawn smiles down at him knowingly.

    XANDER: *Frilly*! Lord of *Hosts, I’m in the frillllly*!!!

    DAWN: Relax, Tiny; it’s a camisole.

    In close-up, we see Xander again fall in between some of Dawn’s clothes.

    XANDER: *Whoah*!!

    DAWN: Seriously, Xander…

    In the same image, we hear Xander.

    XANDER: Well. Look at that.

    From above, we see Dawn pull back the clothing to reveal Xander, crouching next to a framed picture in Dawn’s suitcase of her and a blond-haired boy in a blue jacket.

    XANDER: Hello, Kenny.

    In a new scene, we see Buffy standing in a large ballroom, her hair up beautifully, wearing a period ball gown. To her left and right are two men – one wearing a period suit, and the other wearing a sweater and pant combination that looks almost exactly like what Xander wears.

    BUFFY: The baron suspects us. We need a distraction. Little Women Christian Bale, you and I will waltz obscenely close in plain view, while Reign of Fire Christian Bale saddles the horses. It’s a hard ride across the moors, and then we’re just one hot-air balloon ride from freedom!

    The fantasy dissolves again, and we see Buffy and Willow at a distance. The stairs have given way to a wooden bridge. In the air around them, bat-like creatures fly around.

    WILLOW: See, *now* you’re pulling from the top shelf. That’s beautiful. I don’t even know where to start.

    BUFFY: I like Kennedy, you know.

    They stop again, and we see from beside Willow as she looks over to Buffy. The Slayer holds her hands hesitantly as she tries to explain.

    WILLOW: Still not sure where to start.

    BUFFY: I just mean… you don’t ever bring her around, and I wanted you to know you could, you don’t have to be…

    WILLOW: Embarrassed?

    In a close-up, we see that Buffy isn’t getting her point across. She looks awkward and embarrassed herself as she tries to explain.

    BUFFY: No no no! I didn’t – I mean you’ve never really explained where you went, and you come by and you’re always alone, and kinda cagey about… stuff…

    In the next image, a giant, red orange clawed hand shreds through the bridge and sends Buffy and Willow flying. Buffy has a moment to feel relieved for the interruption.

    BUFFY: Oh thank God.

    The view reverses and we see the demon that attacked them. It is tall, taller than Dawn. It’s mid-section has a giant mouth, filled with sharp teeth. The red claws are attached to arms there. A long neck extends upward and wraps around in a “face” made of four metallic tiles with different colored faces, one yellow, one silver, one red, one orange. They all have different expressions. The monster also has wings. This demon is SEPHRILIAN.

    In the foreground, Willow lands on top of Buffy, as if she tried to catch her in flight but failed.

    SEPHRILIAN: YOU DARE?

    BUFFY: *Unh*!

    In a close-up, amid swirling dust, we see Willow getting off of Buffy, apologizing.

    WILLOW: Sorry, Buf. Flying doesn’t fly in here.

    BUFFY: It’s good. It’s good. I’m spine.

    From above, we see the demon looking down at the two women, still trying to get to their feet.

    SEPHRILIAN: YOU REEK OF LIES!

    BUFFY: We haven’t – *unnh* – even said anything yet!

    SEPHRILIAN: I HAVE HEARD IT ALREADY, SLAYER.

    In the next image, Buffy stretches her arms agreeably as she answers. Willow stands to her left, just staring up at the giant demon.

    BUFFY: Well, for those of us who are all wacky and linear, I’m gonna say it anyway. The truth.

    In close-up, Buffy’s eyes show the sincerity of her request.

    BUFFY: We need your help.

    The view reverses, and we see from the ground up as Buffy continues. Sephrilian’s body fills almost the entire space.

    BUFFY: You walk in the human reality and the… the other ones. Ones. That makes you Tijacht, one of the demon elite.

    SEPHRILIAN: I KNOW WHAT I AM, HUMAN.

    BUFFY: Then you know where we are heading. The imbalance between our worlds is going to rain destruction on all our heads.

    In close-up, we see the four metallic faces, one angry, one happy, one sad, one worried.

    SEPHRILIAN: TWILIGHT. YOUR FEAR IS OBNOXIOUSLY SWEET.

    As Willow joins in the exchange, we see Sephrilian’s mouth drooling nearby her and Buffy.

    WILLOW: Do you know what it is? What it truly means?

    SEPHRILIAN: THE END, OF COURSE. OF THE STRUGGLE, OF THE HELLMOUTHS… THE FINAL TRIUMPH OF THE BASE HUMANS OVER THE DEMONS. IT’S YOUR LIFE’S GOAL ACHIEVED, SLAYER.

    In extreme close-up, Willow stars ahead darkly, sadly as she hears Sephrilian sum it up.

    SEPHRILIAN: THE DEATH OF MAGIC.

    The next scene is back in Scotland. In a close-up, we see Dawn looking at her photo sadly, maybe near tears.

    DAWN: It’s all my fault.

    From above, we see Xander sitting on her knee as she sits cross-legged. He gestures for emphasis, probably to make up for the size difference, as he disagrees.

    XANDER: It is not your fault. Look, the only thing less trustworthy than a thricewise is a *guy*. You had natural… person… urges and this *dode* took advantage.

    In a wider shot, we see them together in the middle of Dawn’s room.

    DAWN: It’s not that simple.

    XANDER: I know Willow got temporarily stumped, but that doesn’t reflect on you, it reflects on him, and I will not hear another –

    DAWN: I lied to Willow.

    In close-up, Dawn brings her hands up to cover her face. She is either crying or ashamed, or both.

    DAWN: I didn’t sleep with Kenny.

    In the same image, Dawn confesses the real problem.

    DAWN: I slept with his roommate.

    The scene changes, and we’re back in the demon’s cavern. Buffy is looking of to Sephrilian, despondently.

    SEPHRILIAN: LIES.

    We see Sephrilian towering over Buffy and Willow as it rants against humanity. It always looks a moment away from attacking them.

    SEPHRILIAN: LIES, DELUSIONS, GROSS SIMPLIFICATIONS… THESE ARE WHAT MAKE MANKIND. NO FAULT IN IT; YOUR BRAINS COULD NOT CONTAIN THE HORRIBLE BEAUTY OF TOTAL AWARENESS. YOU RUN FROM IT, AS FROM A PREDATOR. YOU ESCAPE.

    From above, we see Sephrilian lower its ‘face’ to Buffy and Willow.

    SEPHRILIAN: EVEN FROM EACH OTHER.

    In a close-up, the four face panels open up, revealing a blinding light as they separate.

    SEPHRILIAN: TAKE A LOOK.

    The light grows even more brilliant and we see Willow and Buffy both shielding their eyes.

    BUFFY: Will, I don’t think we wanna be here anymore!

    In close-up, Willow answers as she shields her eyes with her hand.

    WILLOW: I don’t think we are.

    In the next image, we see Buffy and Willow standing in front of an open bank vault – it’s a vision of a past event they are seeing. In the vault, several women are busily cleaning it out, taking gold bullion, jewels, cash. Although we only see them from behind, Leah and Satsu are clearly recognizable, as well as a Slayer who looks like Renee, and a blond Slayer who might be Rowena.

    WILLOW: Are these Slayers?

    BUFFY: In a Swiss bank? That’s crazy nonsense. I’m sure I would have found out.

    Even as Buffy protests, however, the blond Slayer turns around – it’s not Rowena, but Buffy herself. Her expression is actually a little dark, not unhappy at all. She’s holding a diamond big enough that she probably couldn’t close her fingers around it, and holding another bag full of loot.

    PAST BUFFY: Get a move on, ladies! We’ve got two minutes before those… so sparkly… before those guards wake up!

    The image reverses as the vision disappears. Willow raises her fingers to her chin thoughtfully, and narrows her eyes disapprovingly. Buffy, wide-eyed, tries to protest and explain.

    WILLOW: So the mysterious benefactor bankrolling the Slayer army…

    BUFFY: It’s all insured! It’s a victimless crime! And we totally found a Watteau the Nazis hid and sent it to the Tate! That happens in a minute! (quietly, surrendering) It’s only money…

    In close-up, Willow points her finger toward where they were watching the robbery scene.

    WILLOW: And money changes everything. This is where it all starts, Buffy. What your enemies saw. Slayers acting above the law, and endangering their most precious possession: their possessions.

    We see the two together, Willow still pointing in the direction of the vanished robbery. Buffy catches site of something else, and she points to it with a mischievous grin. She may not even be listening to Willow anymore.

    WILLOW: This is the first domino.

    BUFFY: Ooh! Look! Here’s a you bad thing!

    In a new image, we see another vision of a past event, of a much different sort. Willow and a green skinned, white haired demon woman of some kind are together in a driving rain storm, the sky green, leaves blowing. Willow is naked, her hands discreetly across her chest and some kind of tentacle or serpentine tail from the woman holding her wrapped around her waist. Willow’s expression is lustful, and the woman holds her around her shoulder with one hand and strokes her cheek with the other.

    WOMAN: Are all my secrets laid bare now? Have you found what you need? Or shall I show you more?

    The view reverses and we see Buffy’s face, her mouth a small ‘o’ of surprise, her eyes wide. Willow just looks at her.

    BUFFY: Wow. Your bad is way better than mine.

    At the castle, we hear Dawn telling the story, over an image of herself at a party. She is kneeling on a sofa, locked in conversation with a boy in a dark jacket. He’s smoking, and looks brooding and intense.

    DAWN: Nick. I’d been dating Kenny for about two months. And it was really good: Kenny was sweet, and romantic, and he didn’t push… then there was this house party – I wasn’t drinking or anything – but I saw his roommate Nick and… Oh it doesn’t matter! There was talk, and then less talk and I’m a skank, Kenny was heartbroken when he found out and now I’m *acres* of skank and it’s just what I deserve. I thought I’d be able to tell Willow, but… how you do you explain something like that?

    The next image shows Xander, standing up on Dawn’s sneaker, his chin in his hand.

    XANDER: This “Nick” fellah, he was, perhaps, something of a bad boy?

    DAWN: Yeah.

    XANDER: Cigarettes, dirty hair, didn’t care what anyone thought, never gave you the time of day, but he seemed to be in pain deep down?

    DAWN: Yuh-huh.

    XANDER: And for the big money… did he in any way play in a *band*?

    DAWN: Bass. Vocals. I’m a satan.

    In profile, we see Dawn hugging her knees as she looks down to Xander on her foot.

    XANDER: Dawnie, stop. You are hereby guilty of being a cliché. And that’s it! You ever see the first guy *Buffy* slept with in college?

    DAWN: Riley?

    XANDER: *Oh* how she wishes.

    In the next image, we see a close-up of Dawn. Her eyes are shut, but she looks a little relieved. She’s holding Xander up on her palm.

    XANDER: This is all good news. Now we have a real lead on whatever mojo Kenny might’ve used. And more importantly, it was *me* you opened up to. I’m special.

    DAWN: You’re wheedly.

    XANDER: I’m specially wheedly. But doesn’t it feel better to get it off your chest?

    In a close-up, Dawn doesn’t answer. She just stares sadly out one of the open portals in the wall of her room.

    XANDER: Dawn?

    In the cavern, we see a close-up of Robin. She has appeared with Buffy and Willow amongst the things they are being shown.

    ROBIN: So, how’s it going?

    In a wide view, we see the three women standing together in what appears to be a belfry, or a chapel of some kind. It could be a room in a castle, perhaps even the Slayer’s castle, or it could be some other place made of stone. In the center of the room, a black podium stands alone, and a red egg-like object floats in the air above it. The egg is broken, however.

    BUFFY: More like “where.” Will?

    WILLOW: I was never naughty here. I don’t even… Robin, has this happened yet?

    In close-up, we see Robin looks anxious again as she realized where they are.

    ROBIN: Oh. I didn’t think he’d show you this.

    The view reverses, and we see what Robin is looking at. Buffy and Willow both turn their heads to their right to see it.

    In the distance, the three women stand in silhouette in the misty room. In the foreground, another Buffy is lying on the floor, holding herself. Her arms are covered in bruises and cuts, her pants and tank top torn in places. She looks like she’s been beaten pillar to post by something, but we don’t know what. Most surprising is her tears, streaming down her face as she lies there. No enemy in a fight has ever made her cry, so she’s feeling something more than just physical pain – she’s in anguish.

    BUFFY: What happens to me here?

    In close-up, we see Robin’s profile as she looks sidelong at Buffy before answering her.

    ROBIN: Betrayal. The closest, the most unexpected.

    From over Robin’s shoulder, we see Buffy pointing to the vision of herself.

    BUFFY: Who…

    ROBIN: I have to be outside now.

    We see Robin standing calmly from above as she explains her sudden decision to leave.

    ROBIN: You’re about to cause a disruption.

    The next image shows Robin vanishing, leaving only an outline. Willow looks alarmed, both by the disruption idea and Robin’s disappearance. Buffy, however, has no interest. She is just standing, facing Willow, focused only on the one, awful question she asks.

    WILLOW: We need to get out of here. Sephrilian’s playing –

    BUFFY: Is it you?

    In close-up, from over Buffy’s shoulder, we see Willow look back. She doesn’t look insulted, just pitying.

    BUFFY: Is that why we’re both in this –

    WILLOW: No. I won’t betray you.

    In the next image, though, we see Willow look away, unable to face Buffy.

    WILLOW: Any more than I have.

    The scene changes. We’re not seeing a vision, but just a flashback, a memory of Willow’s. In it, we see a young woman with narrow eyes and a pony tail, pointing accusingly at Willow. It’s KENNEDY, one of the Slayers to survive Sunnydale and Willow’s girlfriend.

    KENNEDY: How can I not think it?

    WILLOW: That I’m *ashamed* of you?

    KENNEDY: You keep me away from Buffy. Out of her circle. And you’re not that subtle about it.

    The view reverses, and Willow is desperate, putting her hand on Kennedy’s shoulder to sooth her. The younger Slayer looks back over her shoulder at her. They are in a luxurious apartment of some kind, an unrecognizable city skyline behind them.

    WILLOW: Honey, I really don’t –

    KENNEDY: You know I’d die for you… oh wait – I *did*! Admittedly, it was mystical, and kind of mellow… but headline: death! And I didn’t say a *word* about your six-month mystical walkabout…

    From above, we see Kennedy stand in the center of their living room. She is wearing a yellow mid-riff tank top with a radiation symbol on it and short jean shorts. Willow, still seated on their love seat, is wearing a white blouse with loose cuffs and what look like black leggings.

    WILLOW: It’s not you. It’s… from before.

    In close-up, we see Kennedy’s dark eyes fill with realization.

    KENNEDY: Tara, or course.

    The next image is looking down at Willow in close-up. She is lowering her face, as if ashamed, and closing her eyes as she explains.

    WILLOW: I *have* kept you from Buffy. I think I’ve even stayed away myself. Until I saw Warren I didn’t realize it, but…

    We see Kennedy has slid onto the love seat next to Willow as she listens, placing a hand on her girlfriend’s shoulder.

    WILLOW: (continued) When Buffy died… I couldn’t admit it, but Tara and I were happy. Not in general, I mean we mourned, but together… and Buffy was happy too.

    The scene changes, and it’s Buffy looking at Willow, not Kennedy. But Willow is still lowering her face in shame. Buffy looks at her, thunderstruck.

    WILLOW: But I had to bring you back. Long before Sunnydale went south – goddess, from the day you died – I never considered any other option.

    And the next image is back in Willow and Kennedy’s home, with Kennedy looking instead of Buffy.

    WILLOW: So back she came, and misery and violence and… Warren f$%&ing Meers, who tried to shoot her dead and hit my love instead.

    In close-up, Willow stares ahead sadly as she continues.

    WILLOW: We could have moved on. Raised Dawnie, moved somewhere nice… but I chose. I chose to put Tara in a bullet’s path.

    In the cavern, we see Buffy and Willow. They are close together, both with their eyes closed, both looking miserable. A tear falls from Willow’s eye.

    WILLOW: I chose you over her.

    In the apartment, Willow is crying there as well, except Kennedy is wrapping her arms and holding her lovingly.

    WILLOW: I can’t do that again… to the woman I love.

    In the cavern, mist swirls around them and we see Buffy and Willow in silhouette again. Their backs are two each other, both with their arms crossed. They are several feet away from each other, but have never looked farther apart.

    The next image is the same, except with Sephrilian’s multi-paneled head dipping into view as he speaks.

    SEPHRILIAN: ALL MY FACES ARE THERE TO SEE.

    The view reverses, and we see Buffy and Willow still back to back, not looking at each other, but both glancing at the demon as it continues.

    SEPHRILIAN: BUT YOU HUMANS... YOU HAVE TOO MANY. I WOULD BE RID OF YOUR KIND.

    The next image shows Sephrilian’s whole body, mouth open and drooling as if ready to attack them.

    SEPHRILIAN: I WELCOME THIS WAR. I KNOW YOUR WEAKNESSES. AND SOON ALL MY BRETHREN WILL AS WELL.

    In close-up, Buffy’s face looks more resolved.

    BUFFY: Hail Mary.

    In the next image, Buffy is on the move in an instant. From above, we see her charge toward Sephrilian, whose giant arms are silhouetted above her.

    SEPHRILIAN: YOU INVOKE THE WRONG – WHAT –

    In a wide image, we see Buffy take a running charge, leaping to a wall and vaulting her legs against it to launch herself toward Sephrilian’s head.

    Buffy is shown in mid-air in close-up, her arms reared back to strike the monster as she gets closer.

    Below, Willow, her eyes black for a moment, hurls a trail of green energy into the air toward Buffy.

    In mid-air, we see Buffy grab the trail of energy, and it manifests like a sword in her hand. In one motion, she brings the energy blade around cuts through Sephrilian’s neck cleanly.

    As she lands, cat-like, we see the demon collapse, it’s decapitated ‘head’ falling off to one side. Willow is already turning to face her, warning her of the danger they’ve created.

    BUFFY: Touchdown.

    WILLOW: Buffy, the magic… this place is gonna…

    In the next image, Willow is cut off. They are outside the cabin, being knocked through the air as it explodes. Robin stands in front of the inferno, casting some sort of blue energy from her hands to contain the blast. Inside, the shards and debris of the cabin fly apart.

    We see Buffy and Willow both land hard on the ground.

    In extreme close-up, the flame of the explosion reflects in Robin’s eyes.

    Then we see that the explosion has gone out with a *PHHHWWWWOOOOIIIIT*, and the debris of the cabin falls safely to the ground.

    The view reverses, and we see Robin helping Willow to her feet. Buffy gets up by herself a few feet away.

    WILLOW: I can’t believe you contained that whole surge! Sorry about the mojo abuse –

    ROBIN: No, no! The field’s stable now! You guys bought me some time off till I’m reassigned. I’m really grateful.

    BUFFY: Glad we could accidentally help. Do you remember being in there? What we saw?

    From over Buffy’s shoulder, we see Robin looking at her apologetically.

    ROBIN: I’m sorry. If I projected a remnant in there, it went when the field closed down. But I imagine it wasn’t something fun.

    The view reverses, and Buffy stares back at Robin with a sad look on her face.

    BUFFY: It was demons.

    In close-up, we see Willow in profile, looking miserable and still near tears.

    BUFFY: Playing games.

    The last image is of Buffy and Willow walking away. We see them from ground level, behind Robin’s legs. They are on either side of her, and walking away separately, at a distance, as the sun sets behind the mountains ahead of them.

    End of Issue #10

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    Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Season 8, Issue #11
    “A Beautiful Sunset”


    Prologue Summary: The Slayer population of the world has gone from two to nearly two thousand. Over one hundred are working with Buffy and Xander in the highlands of Scotland. Honing their fighting skills and forming powerful squadrons to fight the forces of evil, even the non-mystical military type, these Slayers must prepare for an impending war with humans and a mysterious new Big Bad, Twilight.

    Also, Dawn: still large-ish.

    Start of Issue #11

    The opening image is one we should remember. A young girl, maybe twelve, is standing in close-up at the plate of a softball field. Her blue eyes and button nose are framed by her yellow jersey, ballcap, and helmet. Behind her, we see the catcher, waiting for the pitch, and the umpire behind her. The girl is smiling a ‘Mona Lisa’ smile, like she has a secret.

    (NARRATION) BUFFY: Once upon a time… I did something good.

    As Buffy’s narration continues, we see other images, memories from that time. The first is of the scythe, glowing in bright light beneath Willow’s hands, surrounded by candles.

    (NARRATION) BUFFY: I didn’t do it alone, of course – but that’s the point. I found a way to share my power.

    The next image shows the faces of Rona and Vi as they were in the Hellmouth when they became Slayers. There is a soft orange glow around their heads, to indicate that burst of power.

    (NARRATION) BUFFY: Girls all over the world were given power – not just *strength*, though that does come in handy – but purpose. Meaning.

    The next image is in a school. A Japanese girl is on the floor, apparently having fallen in a hallway by some lockers. It’s Satsu, in a school uniform. She is smiling. She is weeping. She, too, is wrapped in that soft orange glow.

    FELLOW STUDENT: Satsu?

    (NARRATION) BUFFY: Connection.

    The next image is also familiar – Buffy, wielding the scythe, facing off with a sneering Caleb in the burial ground where she killed him. The scythe is glowing with that same power.

    (NARRATION) BUFFY: Saving the world means keeping the status quo. But apocalypses come because the world is trying to change. It has to. That either means chaos, and the morons chaos inevitably employs…

    The next image is of Buffy, standing at the head of a group of other Slayers, leading them through a set of katas. All of them are alight with that same glow of power.

    (NARRATION) BUFFY: Or it means moving forward. To something better. And I did that.

    Suddenly the image shifts to something much more jarring. A scratchy video feed or tape f young women in an armory of some kind. We can see four of them, and two guards on the floor, unconscious or dead. They are Slayers, led by Simone, the punk Slayer from Andrew’s team. She and another Slayer are holding submachine guns, and two others are carrying crates of ammunition. Simone is signing with her index and pinky finger and sticking her tongue out at the camera in defiance.

    (NARRATION) BUFFY: Yay me.

    The image changes and we see Buffy in close-up, staring forlornly ahead, apparently watching this on one of the monitors in the castle’s command center. She has her chin resting in the outturned palms of both hands. Behind her, Xander is watching as well, holding a steaming cup of tea in his hands.

    XANDER: Her name’s Simone Doffler. Came up with the Chicago squad till Rona shipped her over to Andrew in Italy. Thought a less urban environment might soften her “rough edges”.

    BUFFY: Sounds like passing the buck to me. Those other girls Andrew’s as well?

    The view shifts to show the two in profile, alone in the command center. Buffy reaches back to accept the cup of tea Xander is offering her. Her head still rests glumly on her other hand.

    XANDER: One of them. The other three we haven’t I.D’ed. I’ve contacted the squads and no one’s run off. If they’re Slayers, they’re not ours.

    BUFFY: Guns.

    We see from over Xander’s shoulder that Buffy is sipping her tea, looking back at the scene on the monitor.

    XANDER: This is bad for us, Buffy. Andrew’s wiccans wiped the guards’ memories, but anybody finds out a Slayer’s packing boom-sticks – forget about what she’s planning to *use* them for – and your Twilight bunch is gonna go ape-feces.

    In extreme close-up, we see Buffy looking sadly into the mug she is cradling in both hands.

    BUFFY: Yeah, the good folk who think we’re not human. They’re gonna love it when we start acting exactly like we are.

    Xander has taken a sit to Buffy’s side, and she looks over to him on her left.

    XANDER: So we find her. She peeps that little mo-hawk out, we’ll play whak-a-mole -- *before* she starts something.

    From above, we see the two of them alone in the dark room. Buffy is slouching in her chair, Xander just behind her in his own, now with his chin on one hand.

    BUFFY: Don’t give her so much credit, Xan.

    As Buffy stands, she hands the tea back to Xander. His face reflects surprise at what she says next.

    BUFFY: *I* started it.

    Next we see Xander in close-up as he looks over to Buffy. She is facing another bank of monitors, one hand on her hip and another running through her hair, facing away from him. She looks tired and thoughtful.

    BUFFY: Willow says my little Thomas Crown Affair was what got people so riled up in the first place.

    XANDER: is that why she took off so suddenly? ‘Cause you’re an international jewel thief? Which is, sidebar, incredibly sexy?

    In close-up, we see Buffy’s face as she answers. She looks sad in another way now, thinking of what went on with Willow when they went to the cabin.

    BUFFY: No, the Willow thing is… it’s complicated.

    XANDER: It’s always complicated with girls. That’s why I need a *man*.

    BUFFY: That would be nice…

    The next image is from over Xander’s shoulder again, and he clearly just realized how what he said sounded, and holds his hands up as he begins to clarify quickly. Buffy looks back over he shoulder at him with a hint of a smile at the joke she doesn’t even have to make.

    XANDER: I mean a guy. Not a *man*, a *guy*, for the guy bonding.

    BUFFY: Well, Andrew…

    XANDER: Do you really need to finish that sentence?

    BUFFY: No, it’s a nice length now. Any other pressing items?

    From above, we see Xander walking Buffy away from the command center. He has his hands on either of her shoulder and is gently pushing her along. She allows it, apparently welcoming some closeness in general.

    XANDER: Well, I was saving this for your birthday, but… we did locate a vamp nest.

    BUFFY: Oh goody! It’s been ages. Just for me, or do I need a squad?

    We see them walking toward something more brightly lit, silhouetted as Xander keeps an arm around Buffy’s shoulder.

    XANDER: I’d bring a date.

    BUFFY: Then I’ll take Satsu. She did good work extracting Will, and… I’ve kind of been meaning to talk to her.

    They arrive at a door, and as they finish their talk, Buffy is already pushing it open. It’s brightly lit behind it, compared to the darkened corridor they are leaving.

    XANDER: Everything cool?

    BUFFY: Uh-huh. Just more complicated girl stuff.

    XANDER: Well, you can head out in the morning.

    We see the two in close-up as they turn to enter the door. They both wear expressions of surprise at what they see.

    XANDER: Probably not too early.

    The next image is a huge panorama of the main hall of the castle. There are dozens of girls there, Slayers, probably whatever mystics they have, and even Dawn, all piled in. Dawn is relaxing in the center of the room, and like the others, is dressed to party. She is allowing herself to be used as furniture, with a Slayer on her shoulders, others climbing around on her legs, and cradling two in one hand while drinking from an open keg in another.

    Elsewhere, Slayers are serving themselves drinks, dancing, and generally have a great time. There are speakers and turntables on the wall, and lights, and apparently magical decorative lights floating in the air. Buffy and Xander watch all this calmly from a balcony around the room where they’ve entered.

    In a close-up, Buffy is resting her hands on the banister, looking down with an almost-smile. Xander also looks happy as he explains what they’re seeing. The two of them look every bit as if they are the ‘parents’ here, watching the kids have fun.

    BUFFY: Is my little sister getting drunk down there?

    XANDER: A: She is in fact of legal age in Scotland, B: we couldn’t afford enough beer to get her drunk if you stole the *Yankees*, and C: “little”?

    Buffy and Xander continue to talk in voiceover as we see a couple images of the party below. The first is of Dawn smiling brightly to the two Slayers in her hand. They appear to be sharing a joke or a story.

    BUFFY: She seems happier. Like a weight’s been lifted.

    The next image shows familiar faces – Renee is dancing enthusiastically, as is Satsu. Leah and Rowena stand nearby, enjoying the party.

    XANDER: I guess. I didn’t notice.

    BUFFY: This was a good call, Xan. The party. They needed it.

    XANDER: You gonna join ‘em? Get on the dance floor?

    In close-up, we see them both again, just their faces. They are standing very close as Xander tries to encourage Buffy to join in.

    BUFFY: I don’t know…

    XANDER: Come on, let’s show them how it was done back in the day.

    BUFFY: Which day was that?

    XANDER: I think it was a Thursday. You wore blue. Seriously, Buff…

    The scene changes as Xander’s words carry over. Buffy fits the description he’s making in this image, vaulting onto the roof of a building in a Scottish city. Her hair is in two tight braids, and she’s wearing the same sleek, dark padded armor she wore to rescue Willow. Fingerless gloves, shoulder pads, knee pads, some utility pockets. A small cross around her neck. The only color is in the weapon she carries… the signature red metal of the scythe, held loosely in her left hand.

    XANDER: (cont) … you spend too much time alone.

    The next image shows Buffy vaulting again, but off the roof top, head first.

    We see her in a series of three movements flipping, then extending, then landing in a crouch neatly on the street below.

    The next image shows Buffy standing to the right side of our frame, looking at a watch on her right wrist impatiently. She already has the scythe back on her hip, and has her left hand on top of it.

    A moment later, we see what she was waiting on. Satsu falls gracelessly into the image and lands in the mud with a *SMUUSH*. Buffy, for her part, doesn’t flinch, but does comment on the sight.

    SATSU: Hoo*ow*!

    BUFFY: And what have we learned?

    In close-up from the ground, we see Satsu’s face is covered in mud. Buffy is standing near, looking down at Satsu.

    SATSU: Scotland is slippery?

    BUFFY: Do I look amused?

    SATSU: I can’t really say.

    From above, we see Buffy run a hand over her head as Satsu gets to her feet, still dripping mud from her face. She has her katana sheathed on her back.

    BUFFY: Wow, you look… actually, you look like me in a dream I had one time.

    SATSU: I’m not as fast as you.

    The next image shows the two of them. Buffy is smiling a little at Satsu, and is pulling her sleeve up over her palm. Satsu looks embarrassed as she fingers the mud on her face.

    BUFFY: You will be.

    In a close-up, we see Buffy cradle Satsu’s cheek in her left hand, reaching toward her with sleeve-covered palm of her right to clean her face. Satsu looks… slightly awkward.

    BUFFY: You’re my best fighter, Satsu. You could lead this crew some day.

    Satsu permits the contact, but doesn’t look Buffy in her eyes. Buffy looks a little stern as she firmly holds Satsu in place and cleans her off.

    SATSU: Are you leaving?

    BUFFY: Hold still. You could lead this crew or you could be a corpse if you don’t figure out a few key rules. Of which number two is not landing on your face.

    In extreme close-up, Satsu looks much more uncomfortable. The hands on her face aren’t cleaning anymore, and Buffy is more just holding her cheeks. Clearly an awkward moment for Satsu, at least.

    SATSU: Did we… skip number one?

    BUFFY: Number one is you are always in danger. Right now, you’re in terrible danger.

    SATSU: … Why…?

    In a wider image, Satsu’s awkwardness is broken as she is suddenly flying through the air. Buffy has kicked her solidly in the stomach, sending her flying into the cemetery they’ve arrived at, toward a crypt, where four vampires are entering to sleep. The edge of the sky is brightening, as dawn prepares to break.

    BUFFY: You’re in love with me.

    In extreme close-up, we see Satsu’s face, completely stunned. The vampire that has grabber her is baring its fangs, reaching to bite her.

    Before it can, we see Satsu flip him over her shoulder, as two other vampires move in behind her.

    SATSU: Stupid lip gloss.

    We see Satsu pull her sword free as she stakes the vampire that attacked her with her free hand. It’s beginning to dust. Behind her, a female vampire charges. Between them, a third vampire is suddenly speared with the mounted stake of the scythe, which Buffy has thrown from out of view. It, too, begins to dust with a *PAFT*.

    BUFFY: It wasn’t just the lip gloss. I sorta woulda figured it out anyway. And I’m pretty sure other people have.

    The next image shows Satsu lashing out behind her back with her katana, cleanly decapitating the female vampire that was reaching for her. Her face, however, is almost panicking.

    SATSU: Are you kicking me out?

    The view shifts, and we see Buffy, charging forward at the fourth vampire. The sun is beginning to rise in the distance. Buffy wields a stake as she leaps.

    BUFFY: You are *so* missing the point. I think it’s the sweetest thing ever.

    The vampire flips Buffy over his head and onto a crypt as she reaching him, and she lands with a *WHUMP*. Her stake flies away from her.

    VAMPIRE: The sweetest thing will be your bloo—

    BUFFY: Ack! Please. We’re talking.

    We see from behind Buffy as the vampire jumps at her. She begins to pull her feet up between them as it closes in. Buffy and Satsu continue to talk with Satsu out of the image.

    SATSU: Don’t make fun of me. This isn’t some crush…

    BUFFY: Yourkiss couldn’t have woken me up if it was.

    VAMPIRE: Now, girl, you will feel the wrath of –

    BUFFY: Oh *God*! Nobody cares about your wrath! Satsu, I do remember what it’s like to be in love.

    In the next image, we see Buffy has launched the vampire into the air as it climbed on top of her, using both feet to kick away. As it climbs in the air, it catches rays from the rising sun, and catches fire.

    VAMPIRE: *GHAAAH*!

    BUFFY: I know how much it can hurt.

    From above, we see Buffy deftly get back to her feet, even as the dust from the vamp begins to fall. It dies with an *AAAAHHGGG* and a *PAFT*. Satsu stands beside her, holding her sword down at her right.

    BUFFY: And honestly, I think it’s kind of awesome. You’re hot, you have great taste, you’re a hell of a Slayer and you smell good.

    SATSU: But you’re not gay.

    BUFFY: Not so you’d notice.

    As Buffy reaches down to reclaim the scythe, she looks back toward Satsu. The other girl is seen in silhouette, only her sword reflecting light. She looks disappointed.

    BUFFY: The fact is, knowing that someone , you know, that someone really cool feels that way about me, it makes me less… little bit less lonely.

    The view shifts and we see that Satsu is now crouching near Buffy. Her face still has a little mud on it, and the two are looking at each other openly.

    SATSU: Then what’s wrong with –

    BUFFY: It’s fine for me. It’s bad for you.

    In close-up, Buffy is eyeing the blade of the scythe thoughtfully as she goes on.

    BUFFY: People who love me tend to… oh, die…

    We see both Slayers in close-up, Buffy looking away and Satsu staring at her sympathetically.

    BUFFY: … Maybe go to a hell dimension, or burn up, or they start letting vamps suck on ‘em and they leave, they all leave, even my friends, sooner or later everybody realizes there’s something wrong… something with me, or *around* me, or…

    We see Buffy with only a white background. She has brought her hands to cover her face and there is a long tear running down her cheek.

    BUFFY: Wow. Did not mean to end up there.

    Before Buffy can continue or Satsu can reply, the situation changed drastically. From a wide view, we see Satsu only has time to jump back in surprise and stare – a blur of motion rams into and through Buffy with a *KRRAK*, sending her into the crypt she just climbed off of, pulverizing it completely. The impact was at car-speed, if not plane-speed; Buffy didn’t see it coming.

    BUFFY: *AAHH*!

    We see Buffy at ground level, lying on her back. She is bleeding from her nose and mouth, grimacing in pain. In the foreground, two booted feet step into the mud with gentle splashes, with Buffy visible between the legs.

    BUFFY: Ah! God… Ah God…

    TWILIGHT: The Chosen One. Always in pain

    In close-up, we see the masked face of Buffy’s attacker. Even with his face covered, he manages to convey disdain and condescension.

    TWILIGHT: …And always complaining.

    In a series of images, we see Satsu’s futile attempt to leap to Buffy’s defense. The first show the blade of Satsu’s katana swing into view behind Twilight, striking at his neck. He blocks it behind his back with his right fist, and the blade snaps.

    TWILIGHT: Just like a girl.

    The next image shows Twilight’s left fist striking Satsu in the face, spraying blood away from her mouth. She’s still holding the useless broken sword in her hand.

    The next image shows Satsu flying backwards, and Twilight’s boot visible where he’s kicked her away from him. She lands hard, hitting her head on another crypt.

    The view shifts to show Buffy, back on her feet, and Twilight facing each other. Buffy is lunging forward, swinging the scythe upwards between Twilight’s legs to cleave him like she did Caleb. However, this time her enemy blocks the swing his his right hand.

    TWILIGHT: I know that move, Slayer.

    In close-up, we see Twilight has grabbed Buffy and pulled her close to him, almost kissing distance. Buffy’s eyes are wide, in alarm, maybe even fear.

    TWILIGHT: Let me show you some of mine.

    The next image shows them burst into the air. Twilight is carrying Buffy by the front of her shirt, and her mouth is open in momentary panic as they fly upwards. On the ground, we see Satsu slumped against the crypt she landed against, blood pooling on the ground beneath her.

    TWILIGHT: Understand this, girl. You cannot fight me.

    Buffy still has a few tricks left, however. We see her plant her right foot on Twilight’s stomach and kick up through his chin with her left, flipping backward. His head flings back as she breaks free.

    Next, we see Buffy, having flipped clear, plant the pick-blade of the scythe into Twilight’s left boot. He looks down in surprise at her.

    In a series of images, Buffy swings from the shaft of the scythe to launch herself back into the air behind Twilight, ending up climbing onto his back.

    In the next image, Buffy has his him in her grip, the blade of the scythe at his throat.

    BUFFY: Understand this, *ass-clown*: I probably will anyway.

    In close-up, we see the blade of the scythe under Twilight’s chin. His masked face doesn’t look worried, however, despite Buffy’s fierce expression as she holds him.

    TWILIGHT: I’d expect no less. But I watched you and the witch; it seemed that you didn’t like flying.

    BUFFY: I get used to things real fast.

    TWILIGHT: Very well, then

    The next image shows Twilight flying over the morning sky, the city below, with Buffy holding on to his back. The blade at his chin doesn’t seem to worry him in the least. Buffy’s face is awake with surprise once again as they fly.

    TWILIGHT: Let’s ride.

    From a wide view, we see the two of them fly through a wooden water tower, with a *KRSSH* as they hit and a *KRSSH* as they come out, water raining down. They are moving very quickly, like a missile.

    In a closer view, we see Twilight has rolled to his right, dragging Buffy along a rooftop, digging up shingles as she tears through. Buffy is wincing in pain.

    TWILIGHT: Do you know that I actually came here to talk?

    In another wide view, Twilight steers them toward another building, topped by what looks like a steeple.

    We see Buffy as he drops her from his back. She is peddling her arms and feet as she falls uncontrolled, her face surprised. Behind her, Twilight rams into the steeple with a *WH-KASH*, breaking it free of the building.

    The next image shows Buffy skidding awkwardly to a landing on a rooftop.

    BUFFY: Ahh!

    In close-up, we see Buffy looking up from where she’s gone to her hands and knees to recover. A shadow crosses her face as Twilight taunts her from out of the view.

    TWILIGHT: But there you were… going on about how hard it is for you, and, well

    In a wide view, we see Twilight silhouetted in the morning sky, holding the steeple over his head, with the spire tilted down like a spear. Buffy is back on her feet, staring up at him. She looks resolute, waiting for him to make a move.

    TWILIGHT: …[/i]I just hate to see you cry[/i].

    In extreme close-up, Buffy stares up at her attacker. Her face is smeared with blood, dirt, and bruises, her hair unkempt after the beating.

    BUFFY: Go ahead. Church me. Plenty more where I cam from.

    We see the steeple plow into the rooftop at Buffy’s feet, sending her to the ground, but not aimed to kill her. It hits with a *KSCHHCK*.

    The view reverses, and we see Buffy charging up the angled slope of the steeple, scythe in hand, ready to attack. Twilight is still talking as she charges, from out of sight.

    TWILIGHT: Well, that’s the issue, isn’t it?

    We see Buffy swing widely in front of her, and Twilight dodges it in mid-air, still talking to her.

    TWILIGHT: One Slayer was all right, but *all* these girls… the world can’t contain them. And they will suffer for that.

    An extreme close-up shows the chest plate of Twilight’s armor, and his symbol there.

    TWILIGHT: I’ll not kill you now. My first gift is my last. I know that you meant well. But you have brought about disaster. And it falls to me to avert it.

    The view reverses to a close-up of Buffy. She is seeing and recognizing the symbol and what it means.

    BUFFY: Twilight. That’s you.

    TWILIGHT: Have you made a difference? Have your Slayers helped change anything in this world?

    From over Buffy’s shoulder, we see she is still holding the scythe at the ready. Twilight floats in mid-air several feet away.

    TWILIGHT: Have they helped you?

    In close-up, Buffy just stares up silently. She has no answer.

    In a wider image, we see her only in silhouette against the now brightening sky. A voice chimes in voiceover.

    VOICE: You didn’t kill her.

    In a new scene, Twilight answers in voiceover, but the image is of Buffy and Satsu. Buffy has come back to the cemetery and found Satsu. Buffy is leaning against a large headstone and is cradling Satsu against her. The other Slayer is sobbing as Buffy comforts her.

    TWILIGHT: (voiceover) That’s been done. To little effect.

    SATSU: I let you down…

    BUFFY: Shhh… no…

    TWILIGHT: (voiceover) The trick is to strip her of her greatest armor

    We see Buffy in profile, holding Satsu’s head against her heart, as the sun shines in the distance.

    TWILIGHT: (voiceover) …[/i]her moral certainty[/i].

    In a different scene, we see from over Twilight’s shoulder as he addresses a group made up of several demons of various size, as well as two humans in army uniform, one of whom appears to be Lt. Molter.

    TWILIGHT: However hapless she may be about her personal life, this girl has always firmly believed she was on the side of right.

    The next image is the same, except Twilight is reaching up under his chin with right hand, pulling his mask up as he speaks.

    TWILIGHT: And if there’s one thing I’ve learned about the Slayer

    In close-up, we see that Twilight has lifted his mask up past his chin, but no farther. With his free hand, he scratches at the side of his neck with a *SCRITCH SCRITCH*.

    He pulls the mask back down.

    TWILIGHT: Sorry. Itchy neck. Where was I?

    The scene changes, and we’re in the infirmary at the castle. Satsu is in a bed, wearing a pink shirt and holding a teddy bear at her side. Her face is covered with bandages and she is looking down. Buffy is seated at the foot of her bed, her face also heavily bandaged.

    SATSU: You were explaining how people who love you get hurt. Should I look out for that then?

    In close-up, Buffy looks warmly at Satsu as she answers.

    BUFFY: So I can skip the power-point presentation, huh?

    SATSU: Are you okay? That creep did such a number on you…

    BUFFY: I’ll heal.

    In a wide shot, we see they are alone in the room. Buffy reaches out and takes Satsu’s hand.

    BUFFY: We’ll heal.

    The scene changes, and Buffy and Xander are walking along the castle rampart during the day.

    XANDER: So the bad guys have a super-powered spokesmodel. Huzzah.

    BUFFY: This guy’s not a figurehead. He’s got power I’ve never seen. And he’s…

    From behind Xander, we see Buffy in close-up as she stops to look him in the eye, asking a difficult question.

    BUFFY: *Are* we doing any good? We’ve been fighting more demons, but… but it just seems like there’s more demons to *fight*, and, what, is that because of us?

    In extreme close-up, Xander smiles back at Buffy, his face certain in his response.

    XANDER: Buffy. Turn around.

    From above, we see the two of them look down castle grounds below, and the dozens of Slayers down there.

    XANDER: I live with a bunch of Slayers. Dozens of girls who are… so *filled up* with purpose, with confidence they didn’t have before… the walls are vibrating with it. I can’t sleep, the place is so charged.

    The view reverses and we see Buffy is leaning against the stone wall along the rampart. She is looking over at Xander, smiling fondly.

    BUFFY: You really need to ask Renee out already.

    XANDER: Stop changing the subject to true things. Maybe now we’re only cleaning up messes, but we’re just getting started. What you’ve created here is a lot more than just monster fighters. It’s… you know, ah…

    We see a close-up of Buffy in profile, looking sad again.

    BUFFY: Connection. Why can’t I feel it?

    The view reverses, and Xander rubs his chin as he answers.

    XANDER: Maybe you don’t get to. Maybe the leader, the girl who brings it all together, is the one that has to give that up.

    Down below, we see the Slayers, happily training and sparring with each other. Up in the distance, we see the shapes of Buffy and Xander watching them.

    BUFFY: Yeah.

    In close-up again, Buffy stares ahead with resignation on her face.

    BUFFY: Yay me.

    The last image is the stylized Buffy logo, red on a black field.

    End of Issue #11

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    Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Season 8, Issue #12
    “Wolves at the Gate, Part I”


    Prologue Summary: The Slayer population of the world has gone from two to nearly two thousand. Buffy and Xander have established a base in the highlands of Scotland where they continue to train Slayers, and command their forces around the world, building their defenses against new threats. Willow comes and goes; Buffy has cut Giles off; and Dawn’s a giant. They’ve battled familiar foes, deranged zombies, and military goons, but only Buffy has faced the elusive new enemy apparently behind it all: Twilight.

    Start of Issue #12

    The opening image is seen through the familiar round lenses of binocular vision. In the magnified image we see two wolves in the foreground, one standing, one sitting. Behind them, behind the tree line, two more sets of eyes are visible. All the eyes are a glowing, harsh red. Possibly natural, but only possibly.

    XANDER: (VOICEOVER) … Or maybe they’re panthers.

    The view reverses, and we see a close-up of Xander holding the binoculars up with his left hand, staring through them with his one good eye.

    XANDER: No, no – I was right the first time. Those are wolves. We got wolves at the gate.

    From a wide view, Xander and another figure, Renee, are visible as small silhouettes on the castle rampart. Fog blooms up around the castle in the hills, and the moon fills the night sky behind them.

    RENEE: I’m gonna need you to be sure on this one. Wolves: common sight along the moors. Panthers… not so much.

    Next we see the two in close-up, Xander handing Renee the binoculars. He is standing beside and slightly behind her, like he is going to teach her to shoot pool. It looks briefly intimate as Renee glances up at him with a small smile.

    XANDER: Yeah, you better check me. I got no depth perception here. For all I know, it’s a swarm of bees.

    In close-up, we see Renee now looking through the binoculars. She’s studying the ground below but starts a separate conversation.

    RENEE: You don’t have to do this, you know. I mean, I’m cool.

    XANDER: Do the what now?

    We see the two of them together, but now both of their faces are turned down and a little saddened – Renee’s embarrassed at what she’s saying, and Xander possibly disappointed in what he’s hearing.

    RENEE: Last time I pulled sentry duty, Scottish zombies swarmed the castle. I get it. I screwed up. Not gonna happen twice.

    The view shifts and we see past Xander to Renee looking him right in the eye.

    RENEE: You don’t need to babysit me. (then, quietly) Definitely wolves by the way.

    The next image is wider, and we see Xander holding out both index fingers in his familiar “wait a second” gesture. Renee looks away from him slightly.

    XANDER: Okay, hang on. Nobody’s babysitting anyone here…

    In close-up, Xander loses his train of thought, holding his fingers thoughtfully up to his chin with the new idea he’s having.

    XANDER: If anything, that fantasy comes much later and only if we both agree to it and have a safeword.

    In a wider view, Xander gets back to his point. We see him pointing out into the night sky, showing it to Renee as they continue talking. She is smiling now, happy to hear his reassurance.

    XANDER: Trust me, I’m on my own time here.

    RENEE: Really?

    XANDER: Are you kidding me? Look out there – the moon is full, the stars are bright, the fog is particularly fog-tastic…

    The image pulls out wide again, and we see the castle gate from ground level. Amidst the fog, the wolves are advancing, stalking forward to the apparently idle fortress as Xander completes the thought.

    XANDER: … who wants to be alone on a night like this?

    Off Xander’s apt question, the scene shifts to Buffy’s bedroom. We look down from the ceiling to see Buffy in bed. Satsu is there with her. The pink sheets are a tangle, tastefully covering them. Satsu is lying with her head on Buffy’s right shoulder, her arm draped over Buffy’s waste. Buffy’s left hand is resting on her forehead, palm out. On the floor, we see a pair of jeans, a pair of panties, a stuffed animal. They have clearly just then finished having sex.

    BUFFY: Wow.

    The next image shows the two lying in bed from alongside, Buffy still staring at the ceiling. Satsu lifts her head a little when Buffy talks, and Buffy’s speech is punctuated by gaps that can only be explained by her trying to catch her breath.

    BUFFY: That was… that was… wow.

    SATSU: Yeah…

    The view reverses and we see the two in close-up, Buffy staring up, Satsu looking at her. Both have beads of sweat on their foreheads. At the end of the panel, a voiceover chimes in transition us out of this private moment.

    SATSU: “That was wow” pretty much covers it.

    VOICE: You’re supposed to say ‘easy miss, I’ve got you…’

    And in the next scene, we see that it’s Andrew who’s speaking. He is arm in arm with Willow, flying through the night sky. He’s holding a suitcase in his right hand while Willow holds him on the other side. Willow’s face looks a little weary, looking more tired from the company than from the trip.

    ANDREW: (cont) … and then I say ‘you’ve got me? Who’s got you?!?”

    WILLOW: I’m supposed to call you ‘miss’?

    ANDREW: ‘Lois’ is fine.

    From a wide view, we see the two of them silhouetted against the full moon, like E.T., as they approach the castle. The fog is thick along the grounds.

    WILLOW: If you start with that “can you read my mind?” speech again, I’m dropping you.

    ANDREW: ‘Here I am like a kid out of school…’

    We see them diving smoothly toward the castle in a closer view.

    WILLOW: You know, most people just scream and hold on for dear life when I fly them places.

    ANDREW: I took a Dramamine.

    WILLOW: Ah.

    As they near the surface, they fly over a barn. From inside, two pajama-clad, giant feet stick out – Dawn is asleep inside.

    ANDREW: Is that Dawn down there?

    WILLOW: Yep.

    ANDREW: She sleeps in a barn?

    WILLOW: Only when it looks like it might rain.

    From behind, we see Willow has arrived and let Andrew get on his feet on the rampart. He is waiving to her from a door as he goes inside, while Willow hovers a few feet above.

    WILLOW: You want me to give you the grand tour?

    ANDREW: Nah. That Dramamine’s making me wobbly. I think I best retire to the boudoir, m’lady…

    In close-up, we see Willow smiling warmly at him as he goes inside. The fog is building behind her.

    ANDREW: (cont.) I could use a quiet evening tonight.

    The next image shows Willow still hovering and smiling down, but behind her, in the fog, a woman’s face and hands are materializing. She’s wearing a top-hat, and her bangs come down over her face.

    Next we see Willow caught around the face – the woman has materialized completely in mid-air behind her, and has Willow in her grasp before the witch can react.

    The scene changes and we’re on the rampart again. Xander is looking out with the binoculars, while Renee stands beside him, leaning forward against the side wall. She’s smiling coyly as she speaks.

    RENEE: You know, there are better ways to do this.

    XANDER: Do what?

    RENEE: Spend time with me.

    We see Renee in close-up, smiling wider as Xander looks back at her. Her openness has his attention.

    RENEE: I mean, off the top of my head, you could, you know… take me out.

    XANDER: You want me to *assassinate* you?

    RENEE: No. On a date.

    In close-up, we see Xander, a little stunned.

    XANDER: Oh.

    The next image is from the same angle, but now Xander is opening up a pleasant smile.

    XANDER: Renee, would you like to go out with me?

    We see the two of them in profile, looking at each other, their ‘uniforms’ matching, romantically lit by the moon above.

    RENEE: I’d love to.

    XANDER: Okay then.

    The next image shows them silhouetted as they walk back into the castle through a nearby door. The fog is pouring over the walls, as if following them.

    RENEE: But first, we should probably deal with our wolf problem.

    XANDER: I know. I’m not even sure who we alert. A zoo? Do they have zoos in Scotland?

    RENEE: Nope. Scotland’s a primitive society. Their men hunt with clubs and their women wear corsets to bed.

    XANDER: I don’t want to go out with you anymore.

    The scene changes and we’re in Buffy’s bedroom again. As before, we look down from the ceiling. But now Buffy and Satsu are symmetrical, lying on their sides, facing each other, both with their hands curled up between pillow and cheek. The only things visible in the room are them, the pillows, and the sheets – as if the rest of the world doesn’t exist for them just then.

    SATSU: So…

    In extreme close-up, we see their faces just inches apart as Satsu continues with her very important question.

    SATSU: How do we handle tomorrow?

    BUFFY: What do you mean?

    Satsu sits up slightly in bed, still leaning toward Buffy, though.

    SATSU: I mean… I know what this is. I know you didn’t just… turn gay all of a sudden.

    BUFFY: Right. Wait…

    The view reverses and Buffy sits up in bed, suddenly anxious, her eyes wide.

    BUFFY: *How* do you know that? Did I do something wrong?

    From a wider view, we see Buffy now self-consciously holding the sheet up over her breats, gesturing nervously as she speaks.

    BUFFY: Because I’m flying blind here. It’s not like they make instruction manuals for these sorts of things.

    SATSU: Actually, they do.

    BUFFY: Okay, but *I haven’t read them*.

    In close-up again, we see Buffy’s face from beside Satsu’s cheek.

    BUFFY: I didn’t get a lot of prep time here and I think that should be taken into consideration before final grades are given.

    We pull out out wide again, but the bed is “back” now, we see them from the footboard. They are both sitting up, covered by the sheets. Satsu looks at ease, Buffy still nervous.

    SATSU: Trust me. You didn’t do anything wrong.

    BUFFY: But I didn’t do enough things! You did more things than me!

    SATSU: And you let me. You were amazing.

    Buffy visibly relaxes as we see past her shoulder to a close-up of Satsu. The younger Slayer is smiling, not shying away as she was in the previous issue.

    BUFFY: I can live with amazing. What was your question again?

    SATSU: What do we do about tomorrow?

    The view reverses, and now it’s Buffy we see past Satsu. Buffy’s face looks wan, still a little tired from the sex.

    BUFFY: You mean the whole “we slept together” thing?

    SATSU: For starters.

    The next image shows Buffy’s face in close-up, at the far right of the ‘frame’, the entire background just shadows. Her eyes are half open, her lips half-smiling. She’s not panicked now, not upset, just thinking.

    BUFFY: I don’t know. It’s like… I had a wonderful night. And… it’s been a while since I said that. So… tomorrow, I’m gonna think about what we did. And I’m gonna blush. And then I’m gonna smile.

    Then we see the two of them together. Buffy pulls her hand through her hair before resting her head on it. Satsu, hearing what Buffy is saying, looks down, clearly disappointed.

    BUFFY: But I’m not sure it goes any further than that.

    SATSU: I get it.

    BUFFY: You sure?

    SATSU: Yeah. We’ll leave it at “we had a wonderful night”.

    The image pulls out wider, and Satsu has gotten out of bed, gesturing her thumb toward the wooden door to Buffy’s chambers. Buffy reaches out to protest, touching Satsu on the shoulder.

    SATSU: I should probably get going…

    BUFFY: No. That’s not what I’m saying. I mean…

    We see Buffy’s face as she continues. Satsu sits back down in the bed next to her as they speak.

    BUFFY: You can stay ‘til morning.

    SATSU: Really?

    BUFFY: Yeah. But do me a favor, though… don’t mention this to anyone.

    SATSU: I won’t say a word.

    In extreme close-up, we see Buffy looking at Satsu, starting to smile again. As she finishes, though, a voice cuts in from outside – Xander, who apparently is used to entering without knocking.

    BUFFY: It’s not that I’m ashamed or anything. It’s just… you know, for now… it’s better if we keep this between us.

    XANDER: (from out of the image) Okay, probably nothing to worry about…

    We see Xander in close-up as he pushes open the door to lean in, already halfway into his report. Buffy shouts in protest, but too late.

    XANDER: … but there seems to be a wolf and/or panther situation I should bring to your –

    BUFFY: *Xander* –

    The next image shows Xander standing just inside the open door. He is visible from between the two lithe and tastefully shadowed backs of Buffy and Satsu, both sitting in bed, covering their bodies with the sheets. Although we can’t see him, there may in fact be another, entirely separate Xander, standing beside the real one.

    XANDER: *Oh Merciful Zeus*!

    The image reverses, and Buffy and Satsu both pull up the sheets, their mouths open in protest.

    BUFFY: *Xander, get out of here*!

    In a close-up, we see Xander clip his right palm over his good eye, embarrassed.

    XANDER: I didn’t see anything, I swear!

    In profile, we see Xander, shaking as he fidgits, still covering his eye. Renee’s voice is heard through the door as she comes to check on their report.

    XANDER: Oh my eye. My burning, beautiful eye.

    RENEE: (from out of the view) What’s the verdict?

    And now we see Renee has entered, standing next to Xander, once again visible between Buffy and Satsu on the bed. Xander uncovers his eye and looks at her, his face looking like he wouldn’t mind falling on any one of the ornate weapons on Buffy’s wall behind him.

    RENEE: Are we supposed to sound the alarm?

    And that’s when Renee turns to see the scene on the bed. She stares blankly at Buffy and Satsu as Xander answers her.

    XANDER: I wasn’t aware we had an alarm for this, but yes. Sound the alarm.

    The image reverses, and we see Satsu, the sheet pulled up to her chin, shyly hiding as she and Renee greet each other. Buffy, for her part, is trying so desperately to clothe herself, she has fallen off the bed with a *WHUMP*.

    RENEE: Satsu?

    SATSU: Hi Renee.

    BUFFY: Please *shut the door*!

    Buffy’s demand serves to cue Andrew to walk in the room. He is wearing a stocking cap and pajamas, thumbing out toward the hallway and what he’s seen.

    ANDREW: Okay, to be fair, I’m still a little woozy from my medicine…

    We see Andrew flick on the lightswitch with a *click* -- he is looking at Xander and Renee, who are, for their part, staring together, wide-eyed, at Buffy and Satsu.

    ANDREW: But I’m pretty sure a dozen wolves just ran past me in the hall.

    BUFFY: (from out of the image) *ANDREW*?!?

    The next three images are of Xander, Renee, and Andrew, from left to right. First, we see Xander looking off to his right, away from the others. Renee looks up at the ceiling helplessly. Andrew smiles pleasantly when greeting Buffy.

    ANDREW: Oh, hi Buffy. Hi nude asian girl.

    Next it’s Xander looking at the ceiling, his mouth open as if letting out a heavy sigh. Renee studies her shoes. Andrew cocks his head a little, as if contemplating a post-modern painting.

    Then it’s Xander looking over to Andrew, Renee glancing along with him, when Andrew puts his hand on the back of his neck and asks the reasonable question.

    ANDREW: How much Dramamine did I take?

    The view reverses, and Satsu is holding her head in humiliation, while Buffy’s hand reaches up from the floor to grab her pajama shirt off the bedpost. A voice calls in from outside the window as she does this – Dawn’s voice.

    BUFFY: *EVERYBODY GET OUT OF MY ROOM*!

    DAWN: Buffy, the entire barn is filled with bees and –

    As Buffy pulls on her shirt, she and Satsu both look over to see Dawn’s astounded face filling the bedroom window.

    DAWN: *Oh my God! Buffy, what are you doing*!?!

    BUFFY: *Dawn*!

    The next image shows Xander, clapping himself on the head as if he’s had an epiphany – it’s made him smile. Renee looks up at him dubiously.

    BUFFY: (from out of the image) *This isn’t what it looks like*!

    XANDER: Oh, thank God. This is a dream.

    RENEE: I don’t think it’s a dream.

    Waving her off, we see Xander help himself into Buffy’s desk chair. Renee stares at him with her hand on her hip.

    XANDER: No, I’ve had this one before. You’re here. They’re here. I’m just gonna go sit in the corner and wait for Willow to arrive.

    Nobody has a chance to answer this idea before the ceiling explodes inward with a *KRRRWHAM!*, sending a rain of debris into Buffy’s room. The two lovers both drop back into the bed, while Xander, Renee, and Andrew jump out of the way.

    From above, we see Willow land in the pile of debris – she’s been thrown through the ceiling. Buffy leaning over the footboard to check on her.

    WILLOW: Ow.

    BUFFY: *Willow*!

    In close-up, we see Buffy’s worry as she shouts in panic.

    BUFFY: *Oh my God – what happened*?!?

    WILLOW: (quietly, wounded) I think we’re under attack…

    In a close-up of Willow, we see blood dripping from her nose as she tries to push up from the floor and looks over at Buffy.

    WILLOW: (quetly) Why are you naked in bed with Satsu?

    The image shifts back to Buffy, who is furiously putting clothes on, apparently no longer caring who can see what.

    BUFFY: Where exactly are these wolves?

    The scene shifts, and a wolf looks around a corner in a hallway.

    Next, we see it at a metal door with a coded keypad. The door is marked “ARMORY”.

    The next image shows the wolf ducking as if to sniff at the door, but instead, it begins to dematerialized, turning into a wisp of fog.

    Inside the armory, the fog starts to rise from under the door.

    It takes shape, floating in mid-air.

    And then we see it coalesce into a man’s shape, wearing a single breasted suit, buttoned up, a red scarf, and with long hair.

    From behind, we see the man reaching out to the object of their mission – Buffy’s scythe, the ancestral weapon.

    Behind the intruder, more fog pours into the armory.

    When that fog materializes into another man, taller, also long-haired, the first one is holding the scythe, looking at it longingly.

    SECOND MAN: Kumiko brought down the witch. We’ve engaged the Slayer forces at the perimeter.

    We see them both in profile, other weapons, less important, ignored on the walls.

    FIRST MAN: Any confirmed fatalities?

    SECOND: None so far. They’re stronger than we expected.

    FIRST MAN: Oh, don’t sound so dour, Raidon…

    We see his eye staring wickedly at the glinting edge of the scythe in close-up as he finishes his thought. He’s so fascinated, he doesn’t realize that the armory door has opened, because we hear Buffy’s voice from outside.

    FIRST MAN: The future is bright.

    BUFFY: (from out of the image) Okay, I try to be miss share-and-share-alike…

    We see Buffy in close-up, holding up the armory door. Angry doesn’t begin to describe her. Behind her, Slayers are fighting wolves, bats, bees.

    BUFFY: But I *really* don’t like it when people touch my stuff.

    In response, we see the man holding the scythe point at it wordlessly, as if asking if this is what Buffy meant.

    Next we see him poke it’s handle with his finger, looking right at Buffy when he does.

    Then we see him shrug innocently – he touched her stuff, so what?

    So what is the next image – Buffy drives her right fist into his face, shattering shelving behind him, but not shaking his grip on the scythe.

    We see the man’s face at ground level, Buffy at the door looking down, ready for more. She’s slipped into a pink camisole and pajama pants. Between them, the other man turns back into fog.

    The next image is from the same angle – and the man is a vampire, slipping into gameface with a grin. Behind him, his friend has rematerialized… as a panther. Buffy no longer looks so certain, her arms open cautiously as she looks at the big cat.

    BUFFY: Did your friend just turn into a kitty?

    Buffy’s distraction is the moment the vampire needs; he comes up quickly and sends Buffy flying into the armory wall with a back fist.

    We see the panther-vamp, Raidon, take the scythe in its teeth as the vampire reaches down.

    VAMPIRE: Go.

    As Raidon bounds from the armory, the vampire stares down at Buffy, who watches helplessly as the panther escapes.

    VAMPIRE: ‘Bye now.

    And then he disappears in a puff of fog.

    In a close-up, we see Buffy looking up where he had vanished.

    BUFFY: Okay. That’s new.

    In the hallway, Raidon bounds past Slayers still fighting the other shape-shifting vampires. They either don’t notice what he has, or can’t stop him.

    From behind, we see him begin to leap toward an outside window, the moon visible outside.

    Raidon bursts through the window with a *KREEESH*. As he does, Kumiko, the vampire who grabbed Willow, flies up from the ground, where more Slayers are fighting outside.

    We see her grab the scythe from Raidon’s jaws as she flies past him, his drool on the handle.

    As Raidon drops to the ground, Kumiko rockets up, smiling.

    From the ground, we see her shadow racing past the moon in the distance.

    BUFFY: (VOICEOVER) I’m not saying it makes sense…

    The scene changes, and we see the gang gathered in the command center. Xander, Buffy, and Willow are all on the center dais. Willow is sitting against the rail, holding a cloth to the back of her injured head. Xander has his arms crossed, listening to Buffy. Buffy is next to him, gesturing in exasperation at what she saw. She has also slipped on a cut-off UC-Sunnydale hoody over her pajamas. Satsu is standing, but on the step below the others. Various other Slayers are gathered, sitting on the floor or standing in the back of the room. Behind them, the vampire who stole the scythe is smiling on the main display – a video feed of him during the robbery, visible through static.

    BUFFY: … but a vampire punched me and then turned into *fog*.

    XANDER: We got similar reports from the frontlines…

    The view reverses, and we see Satsu, and behind her, Leah, Rowena, and another Slayer – Alpha Team has all congregated on this side of the room. Satsu looks forlorn, like she’s staring across the grand canyon.

    LEAH: Yah. Definite transmogrification abilities.

    ROWENA: Saw ‘em flit between wolves, panthers… even bees.

    On the dais, Buffy looks over at Willow for explanation. Willow sits up, still holding what looks like ice against her head.

    BUFFY: How is that allowed? They’re *vampires*. Did I miss a meeting or something?

    WILLOW: Believe me…

    The next image shows Buffy looking down soberly when Willow says what she has to say. Behind her, Satsu hangs her head – sad, embarrassed. Even Xander looks a little surprised, since he knows what Willow means. Although we only see part of her face, Willow looks like she’s staring at Buffy very pointedly when she says it.

    WILLOW: Nothing seems to make sense tonight.

    Buffy apparently ignores this, turning back to Xander for consulation. Behind her, Satsu is eyeing her leader, and other Slayers listen.

    BUFFY: They took the scythe.

    XANDER: I know.

    BUFFY: The *scythe* scythe. My scythe. That *can’t* be a coincidence – they must know about the spell.

    XANDER: Yes, granted. This counts as “bad”.

    We see Xander look over his shoulder at the vampire on the display as he tries to sound positive.

    XANDER: But we’ll track ‘em down. How many Japanese vampire goth gangs can there possibly be out there?

    The view shifts, and we see Willow sitting up again, weighing in. Buffy looks over at her.

    WILLOW: Are we even sure they *are* vampires? I mean, when was the last time we saw a vampire turn into a swarm of bees?

    In close-up, Buffy agrees with Willow’s confusion, before slowly realizing.

    BUFFY: *Right*! That’s what I’m saying! I just said that! Since when do vampires turn into wolves…

    From a wider view, we see Willow and Buffy both turn and stare at Xander as the figure it out.

    WILLOW: Or… panthers…

    BUFFY: Or fog…

    We see a close-up of Xander, his eyes wide in suspicion.

    XANDER: What? Why’s everybody staring at –

    Xander’s expression turns slightly horrified – he’s made the connection.

    He lowers his head, shutting his eye unhappily.

    XANDER: Aw crap.

    The scene changes, and we see Xander and Renee together in a light helicopter, one that’s entire cabin is plexiglass. Xander is piloting it, and they converse through the necessary headsets.

    RENEE: This isn’t exactly what I meant by “date.”

    XANDER: I know.

    RENEE: I was thinking something less… helicopter-y.

    XANDER: I’ll make it up to you.

    From above, we see the helicopter on approach. Below, there’s a huge, gothic castle, maybe bigger than the Slayers’ own. Alongside, there’s a stone tower with steps that apparently also serves as a helipad.

    RENEE: I’m not even sure what I’m supposed to be doing here.

    XANDER: You just need to keep an eye on me. Make sure I don’t do anything strange.

    They land the helicopter, and continue discussing it as they climb out.

    RENEE: What do you mean “strange”?

    XANDER: It’s nothing to worry about, it’s just…

    We see the two of them in silhouette as they approach the castle’s front door, a torch burning beside it.

    XANDER: Sometimes when I get around this guy, I start acting… wonky.

    RENEE: Like wonky how?

    In close-up, we see Xander’s eyes wide in alarm as the door opens with a long *CREEEEEEK*. Renee is still staring at him intently, wanting an answer.

    RENEE: Xander, like wonky *how*?

    On the other side of the door, we see him – Dracula, the dark master, the unholy prince (-bater, in both cases). He stares evenly at Xander from inside the door.

    DRACULA: Hello, manservant.

    We see Xander alone in close-up, looking back at Dracula gamely.

    XANDER: Hey. How’s it going…

    The last image shows Xander in the same close-up, but now lowering his head in resignation. When he speaks it seems as if the word is almost dragged out of his mouth against his will.

    XANDER: (quietly) Master.

    To Be Continued

    End of Issue #12

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    Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Season 8, Issue #13
    “Wolves at the Gate, Part II”


    Prologue Summary: The Slayer population of the world has gone from two to nearly two thousand. Buffy and Xander have established a base in the highlands of Scotland where they continue to train Slayers, and command their forces around the world, building their defenses against new threats. Willow comes and goes; Buffy has cut Giles off; and Dawn’s a giant. They’ve battled familiar foes, deranged zombies, and military goons, but only Buffy has faced the elusive new enemy apparently behind it all: Twilight.

    Start of Issue #13

    TIME: Fifteen Minutes Earlier…

    The opening image is an extreme close-up of a man’s face. His brown eyes look sad and thoughtful, and his lined and rough face is framed by long white hair and a thick mustache. As he speaks, a voice, a servant answers him from out of the image.

    OLD MAN: I’m so alone.

    SERVANT: Master?

    The view widens, and we see the old man slumped in a sitting position, wearing a thick, violet robe with a pillowed lapel. There are stains on it. He also has a long beard covering most of his bare chest. The background is a pattern of shadows against a red wall.

    SERVANT: (from out of the view) The moon has risen. It’s a lovely evening. Perhaps we could try to get you outdoors…

    From an even wider view, we see that the room is a luxurious hall, with a large wood fireplace on one side, a tapestry hanging above it depicting one glorious battle or another. On the walls there are animal heads, coats of arms. A suit of armor stands near the fireplace. There is a bust standing on display, but covered by a cloth. The old man is holding a wine bottle, and other empty bottles are scattered around, as well as discarded clothing of some kind. We see the servant for the first time. He is a a small, elf-like purple-skinned man wearing bloomers and a tuxedo with tails.

    SERVANT: I took the liberty of loosing an Albanian boy in the hedge maze. I thought we might have a hunt.

    OLD MAN: No thank you, Butterfield.

    BUTTERFIELD: Are you certain? He’s quite small. And frightened.

    We see Butterfield in a closer view, pulling open curtains in front of a window, smiling encouragingly back over his shoulder.

    OLD MAN: (from out of the view) Yes, I’m certain. Shut the curtains.

    BUTTERFIELD: Perhaps you’d like to change out of that bathrobe, at least.

    OLD MAN: No, I’m quite content in this robe.

    The view reverses, and we see the old man is standing, walking toward Butterfield. His shoulders are slumped, and he looks bored, despondent, or both.

    BUTTERFIELD: Allow me to launder it then, Master. You vomited cabbage and rubbing alcohol all over the front of it.

    OLD MAN: Begone from my sight, Butterfield.

    In close-up, we see Butterfield’s face, his wide yellow eyes showing concern for his master.

    BUTTERFIELD: Master, the servants are… concerned. You rarely leave this room, you spend your time stumbling about in a liquor-drenched oblivion, you haven’t killed so much as a peasant in months… people are beginning to wonder aloud…

    The view shifts, and we see the old man from behind as he stands alone, staring out the window into the night sky.

    BUTTERFIELD: (from out of the view) What has become of the mighty Dracula?

    We see Dracula in profile holding the curtains, wine bottle still in hand. We see two additional pieces of art – a portrait on the wall of a blonde-haired woman in a Victorian gown, perhaps a wedding dress. Below that, another bust, this one looking like it may have been modeled after Xander. As he speaks to Butterfield, he becomes distracted by something.

    DRACULA: I told you to leave me be, Butterfield. I assure you, I’m fine. I don’t require help from you… or from… anyone…

    In close-up, we see Dracula’s profile, as he stares up out of the window.

    Next we see him put his hand up to cover his mouth in surprise. His fingernails are long and cracked.

    DRACULA: Butterfield?

    BUTTERFIELD: (from out of the view) Yes, master?

    DRACULA: On second thought…

    The view shifts, and Dracula has turned and is walking from the window. He has handed Butterfield his wine bottle. Outside, we see a helicopter approaching his castle to land.

    DRACULA: … fetch me a razor.

    TIME: Now…

    The scene shifts, and we see Dracula holding the door open, facing Xander and Renee as he was at the end of 8.12.

    DRACULA: Yes, manservant, what is it?

    XANDER: We need your help.

    DRACULA: Oh? Do you now? Well, unfortunately, this is not a good time…

    The view shifts and we see the three in profile. Renee watches Dracula doubtfully as the vampire faces Xander.

    DRACULA: Butterfield has just loosed an Albanian boy in the hedge maze, and if I’m not quick to slaughter him, his blood will become alkaline from the terror. Perhaps you could come back later. Say – next month some time.

    The next image shows Dracula pushing the door shut, but Xander catching it in his hand, not ready to give up.

    XANDER: No – we need to talk to you now.

    DRACULA: I’m sorry, I don’t know what to tell you.

    XANDER: *Please, master*. I beg of you. It’s important.

    The view reverses, and Dracula has opened the door again. His face is severe, but gratified.

    DRACULA: Oh. Very well. Come inside, manservant. Your moor can wait out in the stables.

    Next we see Xander and Renee, equally aghast at Renee being referred to as Xander’s ‘moor’.

    XANDER: Wha – no. No no no no. She’s not my moor. That’s… ha… that’s terrible, master. This is… this is Renee. She’s my, um… uh… she’s with me.

    Dracula narrows his eyes skeptically as he answers in the next image. He still stares only at Xander, not paying any attention to Renee.

    DRACULA: *Is* she now?

    XANDER: Yes. So she doesn’t need to wait in the stables. Anything you say to me, you can say in front of her.

    DRACULA: Magnificent. Then please, enter. Both of you.

    We see Dracula turn and lead them into his castle. Renee is only a step behind him, her face scowling. When Dracula speaks, Xander throws his hands up at the potential embarrassment to follow.

    DRACULA: I’ll alert the kitchen. If I know my manservant, he could use a plate of hot mealworms before he changes into his manservant bloomers.

    Xander holds his index fingers up as Renee looks back at him. Xander clearly looks like he wants to rethink her being here.

    XANDER: Okay, maybe you should wait outside, actually.

    RENEE: Absolutely not.

    XANDER: For the record, I’ve never worn manservant bloomers.

    RENEE: I don’t even know what that means.

    We see Renee and Xander from behind as Dracula sweeps down the hallway into the castle. Renee looks back at Xander with genuine concern.

    XANDER: I’m just sayin’. Maybe it’s for the best. Hey – you could go look for that Albanian boy…

    RENEE: Xander, knock it off…

    The view reverses, and we see Dracula’s face in close-up. His brown eyes are now alive and vital, and his lips are curving into a sly smile as he listens back at the exchange between Renee and Xander. In the distance, Renee is gesturing emphatically toward Dracula. As she speaks, a voiceover leads us into the next scene.

    RENEE: I’m not leaving you with this guy.

    VOICE: (in voiceover) He will haunt your soul…

    The scene changes, and we see Andrew standing, arms-crossed, alone in a white background. He is wearing a tuxedo, black over a white vest. It comes with a cloak with a wide, up-turned collar behind his neck.

    ANDREW: (cont) … and his gaze holds the power to make you his slave. You must stay on guard at all times around him. For he is the lord of darkness.

    VOICE: (from out of the view) Yeah, okay, we know who Dracula is.

    The scene resolves into detail, and Andrew is standing in front of a green chalkboard. A number of Slayers are sitting on the ground in front of him. They are outside the castle, holding a training session. The chalkboard has a number of details about Dracula written on it –
    [indent]KNOWN POWERS
    Transmogrification
    - (bat, wolf, night panther, fog, bees)
    Piercing Hypnotic Stare
    Impervious to Stakes
    Romantic Undertones
    (technically not a power)
    [indent]

    ANDREW: Oh, you *think* you know who Dracula is, but I suspect your knowledge comes strictly from what you’ve seen in the motion pictures, little on.

    SLAYER: *You’re* the one wearing the replica George Hamilton outfit from Love at First Bite.

    We see Andrew lean down to the Slayer who spoke, reaching into his jacket pocket for something.

    ANDREW: Okay – A.) big extra credit for noticing, and B.) it’s not a replica, it’s *his*, I bought it at an auction and have the C.O.A. to prove it.

    SLAYER #2: So is Xander still, like, under Dracula’s spell?

    In a wider view, we see Andrew turn to answer the question, while holding his C.O.A. out to the first Slayer who spoke. For her part, she’s clearly unimpressed.

    ANDREW: Hard to say. I mean, certainly, Dracula’s gaze has some long-term effects, but… we suspect that, in Xander’s case, they’ve also become fast friends.

    SLAYER #1 (quietly, to her friends) I really don’t need to see the C.O.A.

    As Andrew puts away the paper, he leans down to answer the question of another Slayer, a girl with glasses.

    SLAYER #3: Okay, but… how did *that* happen?

    ANDREW: Well, they first hit it off when Dracula came to Sunnydale. Then they stayed in touch – the occasional letter here and there…

    A fourth Slayer leaps in with another question as Andrew clasps his hands patiently.

    ANDREW: And then Xander went and lived with Dracula for a few months.

    SLAYER #4: Wait -- *what*?

    ANDREW: Yeah – it was sort of like semester at sea, only with harpies instead of co-eds.

    Andrew maintains his formal posture as he turns and answers more questions.

    SLAYER #4: What the hell are you talking about?

    ANDREW: Xander took a leave of absence and went to Transylvania. It was right after Anya’s death – he needed some guy time.

    SLAYER #5: And – so Buffy just allowed him to go *hang out with Dracula*?

    In close-up, we see Andrew’s face looking thoughtful.

    ANDREW: It wasn’t a big deal. Dracula’s fond of Xander. They have a… unique relationship. Xander taught him to ride a motorbike.

    We see Andrew turn his head, realizing something.

    ANDREW: In fact, I should write “motorbiking” up here under powers…

    As Andrew turns to find a place to note that on his chalkboard, one of the Slayers whispers a complaint to another.

    SLAYER #6: This is seriously his worst lecture since his one on that weapon from Krull.

    ANDREW: Hey, I heard that! And it’s called *the Glaive*, thank you very much…

    The scene changes, and we see inside the castle through a portal. Three silhouettes walk past it.

    VOICE: We got a hit.

    Inside, we see Buffy and Willow being led along by a Slayer we’ve never met. She is wearing the same style mock turtleneck that Xander and Renee both favor.

    SLAYER: Vampire sect in Tokyo’s been making waves in the demon underground. They’re known for going all wolfy when the mood strikes ‘em. Their leader’s name is Toru. He matches the description of the guy you tangled with in the armory.

    We see the three arrive in the command center, which is very busy – Slayers are everywhere, poring over paperwork, working the computer terminals, consulting each other, using cellphones. We can recognized Leah looking at something another Slayer is showing her on a computer.

    BUFFY: We didn’t *”tangle.”* He ran away before we could tangle. He’s an untangler.

    SLAYER: My point, ma’am, is that he sounds like our guy.

    The three women reach the dais, Buffy waiting with her hands on her hips. As they talk, the Slayer briefing Buffy activates the main display with a *CLICK*.

    BUFFY: Who found him?

    SLAYER: Aiko. One of ours. Assigned to field ops in Japan.

    BUFFY: I want to talk to her.

    SLAYER: Figured as much.

    On the viewscreen, the face of a Japanese Slayer, Aiko, appears. Her eyes widen as she realizes she’s talking to Buffy herself.

    BUFFY: Aiko?

    AIKO: Wow – it’s really you.

    BUFFY: Yep. It’s really me. How’d you get the intel?

    AIKO: Oh. You know…

    The next image shows us Aiko at her side of the conversation. She is standing in a room that’s a mess of broken furniture and slaughtered demons. The demons are all large, green monsters with painted faces. One is hanging limp with its head shoved through the wall. Another has three broken table legs through it’s back. Aiko is speaking into a camera phone of some kind, still holding the huge, purple-handled battleaxe. The blade is covered with demon blood.

    AIKO: I asked around.

    Back in the command center, we see Buffy’s eyes wide, as well as Willow’s behind her. Both looks suitably impressed, and Willow is even smiling a little.

    BUFFY: Are those Kabuki demons?

    AIKO: (through radio) They *were* Kabuki demons.

    BUFFY: Those things are vicious.

    AIKO: You’re telling me. I think one actually *scratched* me.

    We see from over Aiko’s shoulder as she looks at Buffy in the display of her phone.

    BUFFY: You got a location on those vamps?

    AIKO: Yep.

    BUFFY: Good. Keep surveillance, but *do not approach*.

    AIKO: Got it.

    We see Buffy in close-up as she answers, shutting down the viewer with a *CLICK*.

    BUFFY: I’m serious, Aiko. You wait for us. We’ll be in touch.

    In extreme close-up, we see Buffy turn over her shoulder to talk to Satsu, who looks up from one of the computer stations. Buffy’s eyes are intense.

    BUFFY: Satsu?

    SATSU: Yes?

    BUFFY: Prep the others. I want our team suited up and ready for transpo in less than an hour.

    In a wider view, Buffy is striding down from the dais. Satsu has stood up, about to get to work, but raises her hands questioningly as she asked for clarification. Buffy’s head is shown whipping around, impatient with the questions.

    SATSU: How many girls you want to bring?

    BUFFY: All of ‘em.

    SATSU: You sure that’s a good idea? We should probably leave behind a squad as a safeguard.

    BUFFY: This isn’t up for discussion, Satsu…

    The view reverses, and Buffy’s face is almost angry. She doesn’t face Satsu as she finishes her admonishment. Satsu’s face crumbles when she hears the words.

    BUFFY: I gave you an order. Get moving.

    We see Satsu lower her head before acknowledging the command. Willow watches the younger Slayer with concern.

    SATSU: Yes ma’am.

    The next image shows Buffy leaning over a computer terminal. Willow stands behind her. She’s clearly still eyeing Satsu sympathetically, even as she answers Buffy.

    BUFFY: Have we heard from Xander?

    WILLOW: I’ve been trying him. He’s not responding.

    In close-up, we see Buffy turn and look at Willow. It’s the first time Buffy looks like she’s slowed down.

    BUFFY: You think he’s in trouble?

    WILLOW: Well…

    The scene changes, and as Willow finishes her answer, we see Dracula, Xander, and Renee at tea. The Slayer and vampire sit opposite each other. Dracula looks indifferent, Xander looks uncomfortable, and Renee looks like she’s barely able to keep herself from trying to kill Dracula.

    WILLOW: (voiceover) I suppose that depends on your definition of ‘trouble’.

    XANDER: This tea is delicious, master.

    DRACULA: Thank you, manservant.

    The image changes with the ordinary gestures of conversation as Dracula and Xander make small talk. Renee watches with wary curiosity, holding her tea.

    DRACULA: Butterfield prepared it himself. He’s proving to be an excellent manservant. The best I’ve ever had. Truly, I’ve never been happier.

    XANDER: Good. I mean… that’s great. I’m glad to hear you’re doing well.

    Dracula turns to Xander to compliment him, making Xander look at himself with a mix of flattery of embarrassment. Renee gapes at Dracula.

    DRACULA: You’ve lost weight.

    XANDER: Can you tell? I’ve been trying to exercise more.

    DRACULA: Yes, it suits you.

    We see Xander effort to return the compliment and Dracula feign embarrassment. Renee continues to watch in befuddlement.

    XANDER: Thanks. You look good too.

    DRACULA: Oh, you’re just saying that because I complimented you.

    XANDER: No – I’m not! I promise.

    The small talk continues, as we see Renee plant her forehead on her palm, clearly exasperated.

    DRACULA: I can’t see myself in mirrors. I fear my best days are behind me.

    XANDER: No – you’re more handsome than ever.

    DRACULA: Do you really think so?

    XANDER: Yes!

    RENEE: Oh, for the love of God…

    In close-up, we see Renee’s face glaring.

    RENE: Will you two knock it off? We have business to discuss.

    We see Dracula stare across the table at Renee. Xander just sips his tea, but his words clearly shock Renee.

    DRACULA: Tell your moor to watch her tone, manservant.

    XANDER: Watch your tone, moor.

    As Renee gives Xander a withering look he realizes what he’s said with a wide eye. Dracula still stares at Renee.

    XANDER: I mean – hey! She’s not a moor. Also, she has a lovely tone. Also, we have business to discuss. We think someone stole your powers.

    DRACULA: What are you talking about?

    In close-up, we see over Xander’s shoulder at Dracula. The vampire is clearly skeptical that such a thing could have happened.

    XANDER: Some vamps attacked us. They had your ability to shape shift. Wolves, panthers, fog… the whole bit.

    DRACULA: Impossible. You were deceived. Some sort of confusion spell or glamour, perhaps.

    XANDER: No, master, they had your powers, I swear. We figured they must’ve ripped you off.

    We see a closer view of the three of them, Dracula and Renee staring at each other intensely, anger building. Xander is between them, looking anxious.

    DRACULA: That’s preposterous.

    RENEE: Or maybe you *sold* your powers to the highest bidder…

    The view gets closer and Dracula and Renee look ready to throw down. We see only the top of Xander’s face as he stares helplessly at the natural enemies.

    DRACULA: Manservant, your moor is one snide comment away from a swarm of bees.

    The next image shows them all in a wider view. They are now all standing. Dracula and Renee stare across the table, leaning toward each other. Xander has a hand on each of their shoulders, trying to keep it from coming to blows.

    XANDER: Okay, okay – calm down. Nobody wants a swarm of bees. We’re not accusing you of selling out, master, but… these vamps, they got a hold of your mojo somehow. Think. *Something* must’ve happened…

    The view reverses and Dracula turns and wanders from the table, his hand raised dismissively. Xander and Renee look on.

    DRACULA: It’s not possible, manservant. These powers you speak of – they’re part of the ancient magics. I risked my very *soul* to attain them. I am their worldly guardian.

    In close-up, we see Dracula’s face, angry.

    DRACULA: The very idea that some two-bit, run-of-the-mill vampires could just come along and… *take them* from the… (quieter) lord of… darkness…

    We see Dracula’s eyes go wide and his mouth open in realization of something.

    Then he covers his eyes with his hand.

    DRACULA: Oh balls.

    In a wider view, Dracula is seen only as a silhouette against the window. Xander and Renee both stand at a respectful distance.

    DRACULA: These vampires you speak of… they wouldn’t happen to be orientals, would they?

    The scene changes, and we see the Tokyo skyline, and a crowd of pedestrians at eye level. A couple voices debate murder.

    VOICE #1: Kumiko wants the kill.

    VOICE #2: She can’t have it.

    The view changes, and we see the speakers walking down the busy sidewalk. It is Raidon and Toru, the latter still wearing the red scarf over his suit coat.

    RAIDON: That’s gonna make her angry.

    TORU: I’m not particularly concerned with Kumiko’s state of mind, Raidon.

    RAIDON: Then you don’t remember what she’s like when she’s angry.

    In close-up, we see the two vampires in profile as they continue to discuss their colleague.

    TORU: I need her focused on the spell. She’ll have plenty of opportunities to slaughter things soon enough.

    The view reverses to show them in profile from the opposite side.

    RAIDON: I understand. But perhaps you should tell her that.

    TORU: You coward.

    RAIDON: Yes. Absolutely.

    We see Raidon and Toru from above as they reach a crosswalk, waiting with the other pedestrians.

    TORU: Kumiko can have the body when I’m done with it. That should keep her happy for now.

    We see the two standing side by side, both patient and still, apparently so they don’t tip of their tail.

    TORU: Where’s the Slayer?

    RAIDON: One block back. South side of the street. She’s good – she knows to keep a distance…

    As Raidon finishes, we see the object of their conversation in close-up. It’s Aiko, blending into the crowd, purple sunglasses on and a lollipop in her mouth.

    RAIDON: (from out of the view) … but she’s keeping a close eye on us.

    We see a wide shot of the busy street.

    TORU: Well then.

    The next image shows Toru in close-up. He’s holding something in his right hand, a small disk with a glowing red center. He stares at it with a smirk.

    TORU: Let’s give her something to see.

    The scene changes and we see Dracula’s castle from the outside. From within, Dracula is shouting in anger.

    DRACULA: *Filthy yellow swine*!

    Inside, we see Dracula burst through a doorway. He throws the doors open with his face snarling, almost in gameface, with Xander and Renee behind him, looking cautious.

    DRACULA: They think they can steal from Dracula!?! I’ll bathe in their blood!

    XANDER: Master – wait – back up. What happened?

    In a wider view, Dracula is leading them into what appears to be his armor. Exotic weapons and armor fill the walls. Dracula looks determined, and we can see Xander looking around while Renee spreads her hands at disbelief at the explanation Dracula gives them.

    DRACULA: To be honest, the details are a bit fuzzy… but I was at a Tibetan speakeasy, and I seem to recall copious amounts of rubbing alcohol, a heated game of pai-gow, and the pink slip to a Kawazaki Z1000.

    RENEE: Hang on – you sold your secrets for *a motorcycle*?

    The view switches, and Dracula is whirling to look over his shoulder at her.

    DRACULA: No. I *lost* my secrets *gambling* for a motorcycle. But I’m fairly certain I was cheated. There was a witch with them… I never should have let her deal…

    We see Dracula raise his arms, shaking his fist and bellowing in outrage. Xander covers his mouth in alarm, more at Dracula’s tone than anything. Renee just looks annoyed.

    DRACULA: Those *filthy yellow swine*!

    XANDER: You know, I really don’t remember you being this racist…

    A moment later, we see Dracula, calm again, pulling a key from around his neck. Xander notices this, and his interest, while Renee just puts her hands on her hips indifferently.

    DRACULA: You’ve located these vampires? They’re in Tokyo?

    XANDER: Yeah. So does that mean you’re coming with us?

    DRACULA: Let’s be clear about this, manservant…

    The view reverses, and Dracula points angrily back at both of them, specifically to threaten Renee. While Dracula uses the key to open a closet door, Xander looks stunned, and Renee looks unimpressed, like she’d like to see Drac try to carry out his threat.

    DRACULA: I don’t owe you anything, I’m not interested in your cause, and the next time your moor smarts off at me I will *slit her throat*.

    In a closer view, we see Dracula open the doors to the closet cabinet, and revealing a broadsword inside. Clearly this is a special one – the hilt and pommel are ornate, solid gold and sparkle in the room lights.

    DRACULA: I loathe Buffy Summers, her whole army makes me want to retch, and I’d just as soon see them wiped off the map once and for all. However.

    The next image shows Dracula, holding the broadsword in his right hand, and gesturing invitingly with his left.

    DRACULA: Nobody steals from Dracula.

    The next scene shows us an image of a cargo jet, a military style plane like a C-130, flying through blue skies. A voice speaks from inside as we see images from within.

    VOICE: Here’s the thing.

    The next image shows Buffy alone, her arms crossed, her hair in a tight double-braid like she wore into battle before. She’s wearing a pink sweater or jacket and is staring off, still looking angry.

    VOICE: She’s alone. She’s vulnerable.

    The view widens, and we see Buffy in silhouette at the far end of the plane’s cargo cabin. On the plane, we see the cargo cabin is full of Slayers, all wearing the same green tactical gear, some reading, some napping. It looks like the entire castle complement is on board.

    VOICE: And she has the weight of the world on her slender shoulders.

    The next image is of Willow in close-up. She’s wearing her own dress, clearly standing out amongst the Slayers. She is the one speaking.

    WILLOW: If that’s not a recipe for an ill-conceived one-night stand, then I don’t know my H.G.O.G.A. cookbook.

    SATSU: (from out of the view) You think I took advantage of her?

    We see the two o them sitting together. Willow is smiling, trying to keep the tone light, but Satsu looks a little offended at the suggestion.

    WILLOW: No – I definitely think there was some two-way advantage going on there. But you need to remember…

    We see Buffy again in close-up, her green eyes looking thoughtful, as Willow speaks about her again.

    WILLOW: She’s not like us.

    In another wide-view, we see Buffy standing alone while her Slayers pass the time.

    WILLOW: She’s the general. We’re the army. And that’s never gonna change.

    In a close-up, Willow and Satsu are in close-up. Satsu looks resigned and disappointed.

    WILLOW: Also, she’s not, you know…

    SATSU: A dyke?

    WILLOW: I was going to say “friend of Sappho,” but okay, whatever the kids are saying these days, I’m hip, I’m with it.

    From another angle, Willow is leaning over Satsu’s shoulder, very supportive.

    WILLOW: I just don’t want you to get your hopes up. That’s all.

    SATSU: I hear you.

    We see Willow pull back. She looks at Satsu with eager curiousity, and when she speaks, Satsu looks at her in surprise. A Slayer is sleeping on Willow’s right as they talk.

    WILLOW: Good. Now. What’s she like in the sack?

    SATSU: *What*?

    From a wider view, we see the two of them leaning toward each other as they chat, the rest of the Slayers paying no attention.

    WILLOW: Do you know how long I’ve wondered about this? Don’t hold out on me, sister.

    SATSU: I’m not telling you anything!

    WILLOW: Oh, yes you are! Did she make that high-pitched squeal? I call it her “shoe-sale noise…”

    The scene changes, and Aiko is walking down a crowded Tokyo street. She is holding her cellphone, presumably talking to Buffy again.

    BUFFY: (through phone) Aiko, what’s your status?

    AIKO: Full-on tracker mode. I’ve got visual confirmation on Toru.

    BUFFY: We’re touching down at around oh-five-hundred. Think you can stay on them ‘til then?

    AIKO: If I can’t you should take away my Slayer card.

    The next image shows Aiko, her phone put away, peeking around the wall into an alley.

    From above, we see her looking into the darkened alley, and a small red glow catching her attention from several feet inside.

    We see Aiko as she crouches, her sunglasses off. She is holding and studying the same red glowing disk Toru was holding earlier. Above her, Kumiko is flying, holding the scythe in her hands, sneaking up.

    The view reverses, and Kumiko shouts in Japanese as Aiko turns and sees her. While she shouts, a beam of red light fires from the stake-end of the scythe. It strikes the red disk in Aiko’s hand. At the same time, a fog gathers at ground level near the ambushed Slayer.

    KUMIKO: 逃げろ!

    In extreme close-up, we see a similar beam transfer from the disk to Aiko’s face, lighting her up with red light. Her mouth is open, perhaps screaming, as if in pain.

    The next image shows Toru in gameface – the fog was him, and he appears in an instant and strikes Aiko with a vicious left. The blow lands with a *CRAK* and the girl flies across the alley, destroying boxes.

    The image reverses and Toru glowers down at Aiko, some fog still floating in the alley. Aiko holds her mouth with both hands, looking completely surprised by the pain and the attack. It appears as though a heavy blood flow is pouring down her sweater.

    In a closer view, Toru picks Aiko up by the throat. She tries to speak, but can’t, still holding her mouth.

    AIKO: … hck… hck… hck…

    TORU: Shoot. I just broke your jaw, didn’t I? That’s unfortunate.

    In close-up, we see from behind Aiko’s head, Toru’s growling face in front of her, jaws open and fangs bared.

    TORU: I was hoping you could tell me what it’s like to be a regular girl again.

    In extreme close-up, we see only Toru’s fang as he prepares to bite.

    TORU: Must be terrifying.

    In another extreme close-up, Toru sinks his teeth into the left side of Aiko’s neck with a spray of blood and a *SHLLICCK*. He begins to drain the former Slayer.

    The next image shows Raidon appear out of the fog behind Toru as the leader finishes drinking.

    TORU: Raidon, I’d call that a successful beta-test

    We see Toru shift back to his human face, wiping some of Aiko’s blood from his lip with his thumb.

    RAIDON: Indeed.

    The last image is shown as Raidon makes his suggestion for their plans. We see Kumiko, still in her top hat, low cut blouse, bustier, and skirt, flying up into the Tokyo sky. She holds the scythe in front of her, and grins evilly at it. Behind her, on the roof of a Tokyo skyscraper, a much larger version of the same red disk used to deactivate and murder Aiko is mounted like a satellite dish.

    RAIDON: I think it’s time we take this technology global.

    End of Issue #13
    Last edited by KingofCretins; 03-04-08 at 06:26 PM.

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    Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Season 8, Issue #14
    “Wolves at the Gate, Part III”


    Prologue Summary: The Slayer population of the world has gone from two to nearly two thousand. Buffy and Xander have established a base in the highlands of Scotland where they continue to train Slayers, and command their forces around the world, building their defenses against new threats. Willow comes and goes; Buffy has cut Giles off; and Dawn’s a giant. They’ve battled familiar foes, deranged zombies, and military goons, but only Buffy has faced the elusive new enemy apparently behind it all: Twilight.

    Start of Issue #14

    The opening image is an extreme close-up of a girl’s face. Her Japanese features and wide, brown eyes are stained with black and red stains, some from blood and some from make-up. The eyes stare ahead, welling with blood; their owner is Aiko, the Vampire Slayer, and she is dead. Voices are heard from outside this close look, belonging to Buffy and Satsu.

    BUFFY: That’s her blood, isn’t it.

    SATSU: Yeah.

    BUFFY: What does it say?

    SATSU: “Tokyo he youkoso…”

    As Satsu continues her translation, the image pulls out much wider and we see the full horror. Aiko’s body is tied, spread-eagle, against the side of a Tokyo office building. At ground level, dozens of pedestrians stop and stare in horror at the murderous display. Under Aiko’s feet, Japanese characters are written in her blood, large enough to be read from anywhere on the street; it’s these that Satsu is translating.

    SATSU: (cont.) “Welcome to Tokyo.”

    The view reverses, and we see in the front of the crowd, are Buffy, Willow and a small crowd of Slayers. All of their faces are as horrified as the civilians, almost none more so than Buffy’s. She stares open-mouthed at the message she’s been left.

    From behind Buffy’s back, we see her turn slightly behind to instruct her troops.

    BUFFY: Help me cut her down.

    The scene shifts, and we see a Japanese castle, grand and towering and even more impressive than the castle fortress in Scotland, its counterpart. It’s set in deep, lush forest and the scene around it is beautiful.

    In a closer view, we see four Slayers, guards at the wooden gate to the castle grounds, stare ahead at something approaching them. They are armed, but their weapons are lowered as they away the arrival, pointing at it in disbelief.

    The view reverses to show us what they’re watching. It’s Buffy, walking alone, carrying Aiko’s body. Buffy’s face is hidden mostly in shadow, her expression grim and sober. Aiko’s body is wrapped carefully in cloth and Buffy carries her gently in both arms.

    From above, we see Buffy approach the gate and the resident Slayers wordlessly make way, pushing the gates open to allow her entrance.

    As Buffy enters the grounds, more Slayers look down from high walls, grief clearly already overcoming them as they realize one of their own is gone.

    We see Buffy from a distance behind, walking a path lined with grieving, crying Slayers. She leaves even footprints in the dirth path as she walks toward a small curtained building, a religious shrine.
    As Buffy enters the shrine, she approaches a statue with Aiko’s body.

    From a wider view, we see that Buffy has placed Aiko’s body on the dais with the statue, and has retreated to a corner of the shrine building, sitting down on the floor in the corner. Through the window, we see Slayers still watching her from a distance.

    In close-up, Buffy’s face finally gives in to what must be helplessness and dismay – she cradles her head in both hands as if blocking out noise, and her eyes look moist as she stares up at the ceiling. Behind her, the sky is still lit the soft blue of afternoon.

    In the next image, Buffy is seated where she was, except outside the windows it is clearly night; she’s been sitting here for hours. Now, she simply has her head lowered and her eyes closed. A voice calls out to her quietly, though, rousing her attention. It’s Willow, coming to check on her.

    WILLOW: (from out of the view) How long are you gonna stay up here?

    BUFFY: Just ‘til I figure out what to do next.

    In a wider shot, Willow is leaning toward Buffy with her arms open obligingly. Buffy places her hands on her knees as she faces her friend, looking as though she’s preparing to stand.

    WILLOW: Need some help? At the very least, I could conjure up some blankets for you. Who knew Japan was this cold?

    Willow’s arrival has roused Buffy enough that we see her get to her feet, already talking. Willow faces her patiently as Buffy starts thinking aloud.

    BUFFY: We have to get our hands on one of these vampires somehow.

    WILLOW: Yeah. Easy to say and so forth…

    BUFFY: There has to be a way…

    In a closer view, the two women face each other, bouncing ideas off of each other. Buffy is becoming more animated as they plan.

    WILLOW: Well, assuming we can even locate them…

    BUFFY: You saw how they strung up Aiko. They’re not exactly going lo-pro here.

    WILLOW: … then it’s just a matter of getting one of ‘em to hold still.

    Buffy gestures as she speaks to emphasize the problem they face. Willow, as she answers, raises a hand to her chin thoughtfully as she has a moment of nostalgia. A voice cuts in from outside the shrine as they talk, interrupting.

    BUFFY: Which is hard to do when they can turn into *fog*.

    WILLOW: If Giles was here, he’d say “precisely” and then rub his glasses on his shirt.

    VOICE: (from out of the view) I’m assuming you’ve considered using Carolina’s Grasp…

    The view changes and we see the speaker. It’s unmistakable Dracula. He is dressed resplendently, in a dark grey Victorian suit with a top hat, coat, and gloves. The only nod to modernism in his look is a pair of armless sunglasses. Behind him, Xander comes rushing after him, weighed down by a suitcase in each hand and another in each arm, Dracula’s travelling gear.

    DRACULA: I mean, you’re not *complete* idiots, are you?

    The view reverses back to Buffy and Willow, where the Slayer stares warily at the new arrival. Willow, for her part, looks past him with towards Xander with a look of mild relief.

    BUFFY: Oh good. It’s you.

    WILLOW: And Xander!

    BUFFY: Who’s grasping Carolina’s what now?

    As Dracula enters the shrine to continue trading barbs, we see from over his shoulder that Buffy has her hands on her hips, impatient already, while Willow gestures indignantly when Dracula talks down to them.

    DRACULA: It’s a rudimentary containment spell. Do you still have a witch in your employ?

    WILLOW: I’m standing right here.

    DRACULA: Ah yes. I should have recognized your acrid stench.

    The view turns to profile, where Buffy and Dracula both look impatiently. Ad Dracula makes his various demands, Willow looks off to the side, as if checking her armpits for odor.

    DRACULA: Go get two grams of crimson powder, a spring of dwarfwhistle, and some sea salt. I’ll teach you the incantation as soon as *someone* removes her nighties from the master bedroom.

    We see Dracula in close-up as he turns to leave, throwing one more demand over his shoulder. Behind him, we see Buffy as she points Dracula’s mistake.

    DRACULA: I need to get my coffin installed. The sun should be up before long.

    BUFFY: It’s eight p.m.

    DRACULA: Is it?

    In the same view, Dracula raises his hand to his face wearily. Behind him, Buffy stares at him skeptically.

    DRACULA: I’ve never understood time zones.

    We see Buffy and Willow turn to face Xander, who still has Dracula’s bags. Willow crosses her arms, hands under her armpits. Buffy puts a hand on Xander’s shoulder, welcoming him back.

    XANDER: Hi guys.

    BUFFY: You look terrible.

    XANDER: It’s been a long flight. He doesn’t travel well.

    DRACULA: (from out of the view) Oh, and also…

    The view reverses, and the vampire is standing over Aiko’s body, pointing to her like she’s on a buffet line.

    DRACULA: Is somebody going to finish eating this?

    In a new scene, we see a highrise in Tokyo, the one with the large red disc mounted on it. In the windows of the top floor window, we can dimly see two figures looking out. They are the vampires, Toru and Raidon.

    RAIDON: Tech support says we’ll be online within twelve hours up top.

    TORU: Tell them to hurry. The Slayer’s already on the ground.

    Inside the office building, we see the two vampires staring out the floor to ceiling window over the city.

    TORU: Where are we at on countermeasures?

    RAIDON: The robotics division is up and running. Though I still contend they’re wasting their time.

    In close-up, we see Toru in profile and Raidon facing him from the side. Toru is staring straight ahead, while Raidon looks up thoughtfully.

    TORU: You have no sense of imagination, do you, Raidon?

    RAIDON: I’m fairly certain it died with my soul.

    In the same view, we see Raidon still looking up, his expression as curious as it is thoughtful.

    RAIDON: What’s Kumiko doing?

    TORU: I think she’s praying…

    The view shifts and we see Toru and Raidon from below. Raidon wasn’t just being thoughtful, he was staring at the ceiling, where Kumiko is “standing”, feet to the ceiling, hands outstretched, eyes closed. Even though upside-down, she has her face turned as if looking up. From around her feet, a black mist seems to flow out from where she’s standing.

    TORU: Though it’s always hard to tell with her.

    In a close-up profiles, we see Toru still staring intently ahead, out the window.

    TORU: Let’s move a few squadrons around back to the Matsuya entrance. And tell our soldiers to be ready for anything…

    The scene shifts as Toru finishes his instructions. We see that it’s night somewhere in Toky, a residential district of some kind. A man with short black hair, wearing a leather jacket, is leaning against a lightpost and lighting a cigarette. His attention is caught by a voice calling out for help.

    TORU: (cont.) … I’m guessing these girls don’t hit us from the front.

    VOICE: Help me! Please – somebody help me!

    We see from over the man’s shoulder as he turns to find the source of the voice while taking a drag from his cigarette. A young woman is running toward him. It’s Renee, although she’s dressed oddly – she’s wearing a pleated plaid skirt, a white blouse, and a loose neck tie; a schoolgirl uniform. She’s gripping her hair in one hand and reaching out in desperation.

    MAN: What’s the matter, little one?

    RENEE: Oh thank God -- you speak English. Please help me – I’m so lost. And frightened.

    The view turns as Renee approaches, and we see the two facing each other. A tear trickles from Renee’s eye as she tells her story. The man holds his cigarette in his mouth as he begins to pull off his leather jacket.

    MAN: Where are you headed?

    RENEE: My parochial school was on a field trip to Shinjuku and I wandered off looking for the Bathing Ape store…

    The two begin walking into a park as Renee continues her story. The man has slipped his leather jacket around her shoulders, which Renee accepts graciously.

    RENEE: … and now I don’t know how to get back to my hotel because all the street signs in Japan are *in Japanese*. For some reason.

    MAN: All right, calm down. I’ll get you where you need to go.

    In a wider view, we see the two in silhouette, alone on the darkened, tree-lined path.

    RENEE: Really?

    MAN: Of course. Here – why don’t we cut through the park…

    The two are walking down a much narrower path into the trees. Renee holds the jacket around her; the man keeps his hands on her shoulders, as if protecting her. But all the while, he’s looking around, as if making sure they’re alone.

    RENEE: Thank God you came along when you did. I was *so scared*.

    MAN: Well, you have to be careful…

    In a close-up of the man, we see he’s no man at all – he’s a vampire, and he’s changed into game face. The cigarette drops from his fanged mouth as he moves to feed.

    VAMPIRE: You never know who you could run into out here.

    The next image looks up to Renee and the vampire from the ground. Renee is far from panicked, or even ready to fight. She’s smiling, looking up into the trees, already slipping off the vampire’s leather jacket. The vampire looks up, too, but in alarm. In the trees, Buffy and Xander are crouched, facing each other from branches on tree branches and looking down at their successful trap. Both are in their tactical gear, but Xander’s added a wool coat and is carrying a crossbow. Between them, Willow is standing in a tree branch, using one hand on the tree to keep her balance. In the other hand, she holds what looks like a small torch, but with a white glow instead of a flame.

    RENEE: Boy, you’re telling me.

    From behind Willow in the trees, we see the vampire has turned to run, but it’s too late. Willow shouts in latin, holding her torch out to the vampire. The white glow races out from it and wraps itself around the vampire.

    WILLOW: Constrixi deficio!

    In close-up, we see the vampire surrounded by the white-gold energy, as if being encased in it. Behind him, Buffy drops smoothly from the tree, already talking to her prisoner.

    BUFFY: So. Here’s the problem we keep having…

    From above, we see all five – Buffy has her hands on her hips, Xander casually keeps his crossbow on the vamp. Renee, now without the jacket, has her fists balled at her sides. Willow looks on with the torch ready to use. The vampire is now completely enclosed in a box of the white-gold energy. He’s become the mime in the invisible box, unable to escape.

    BUFFY: Every time we try to fight one of you guys, you turn into *air*…

    From beside the captured vampire, we see Buffy’s cold expression. She’s slipping some kind of back pack off as she continues to explain their problem with these new vampires.

    BUFFY: And it’s really hard to hurt air. At least… until you remember…

    We see Buffy in close-up as she finishes her explanation. She’s got a visual aid, too – she’s holding a gas can up in front of her for the vampire to see. Her eyes are wide but merciless.

    BUFFY: Air burns.

    The next image shows us the vampire in a box from behind Buffy. As she begins to question the prisoner, we see Willow has taken the gas can and is floating beside the top of the box. She whispers a spell and, with a *PZZT*, the box allows the nozzle of the gas can to poke through. She pours gasoline all over the vampire in the box, and the terrified demon is already ready to agree with anything Buffy wants.

    WILLOW: (quietly) Pressi.

    BUFFY: You’re gonna tell me everything I want to know.

    VAMPIRE: Okay, okay!

    BUFFY: And, to be honest, I’m hoping you choose to be difficult about it.

    In extreme close-up, we see Buffy and the vampire staring at each other through the wall of his cage. Buffy looks fierce, the vampire panicked.

    VAMPIRE: I won’t! I promise! Don’t burn me! I’ll tell you everything you want!

    BUFFY: Good. Where’s my scythe?

    VAMPIRE: Toru’s got it! He’s holed up in the Ashikaga building downtown!

    From the vampire’s side, we see the Scoobies staring back at him. Buffy’s arms are crossed impatiently.

    BUFFY: Why does he want it?

    VAMPIRE: He wants to reverse the spell you did. He – he wants to take away your powers. He wants to make all the Slayers human again.

    We see Willow lean in to face the now cooperative vampire.

    WILLOW: How?

    VAMPIRE: We have a witch – Kumiko. She can do the incantation. And we’re building a lens that can amplify the spell.

    In a wider shot, we see all the Scoobies are floored that this sounds like a real plan. None more than Buffy, who covers her mouth in horror. Xander places his hand on her shoulder reassuring her as he joins in the interrogation.

    BUFFY: Oh my God.

    XANDER: How long before this lens is finished?

    VAMPIRE: We’re on alert. It’s supposed to happen before dawn

    From above, we see the Scoobies contemplate the situation. Xander puts his hand on his face. Buffy reaches into her vest for something. The vampire, for his part, is still dripping gasoline. He has his hands on either side of his cage, begging to be let out.

    WILLOW: That doesn’t give us much time.

    BUFFY: We should get moving.

    VAMPIRE: Please – I told you everything I know. You have to let me go.

    In close-up, we see Buffy’s answer. She stares coldly at the monster as she raised a zippo lighter in her left hand. She casually flips it open and ignites it with a *CLICK*.

    BUFFY: I never agreed to that.

    The next image is a wide shot. All four Scoobies are walking toward us, down the path out of the park. Buffy and Willow stare ahead. Renee is already loosening her neck tie. Xander spares a glance back over his right shoulder to see what they’ve left. Behind them, the vampire’s box has turned into a self-contained inferno, glowing bright red and orange. Buffy’s voice overlaps from the next scene as the Scoobies walk away.

    BUFFY: (from next scene) “This is war”.

    The next scene takes us back to the Japanese castle base. From a wide view, we see Slayers gathered on the grounds. Buffy’s voice speaks again even though we can’t see her.

    BUFFY: I gotta make the tough calls.

    We see the Slayers on the ground from above – they are feeling out weapons, preparing for battle. Buffy’s voice continues speaking.

    BUFFY: You may not understand why I do what I do…

    As Buffy continues, we see her, standing on a high wall of the castle, looking out over the Slayers. She’s changed out of her tactical gear and is wearing a thick pink/red coat with a hood. Behind her, Satsu looks on with her hands open, clearly unhappy with what Buffy’s saying.

    BUFFY: But I need you to follow my orders anyway.

    SATSU: You want me to *stand down*?

    In close-up, we see Buffy look back over her shoulder. Her expression looks sad and worried as she tries to explain her orders.

    BUFFY: No. I want you to *lead*. The girls here who knew Aiko – they’re pretty shook up. I’m not taking them into battle.

    We see Satsu in close-up, also looking over her shoulder, but she’s doing it to look away from Buffy. Buffy has turned to face her, her hands out in a gesture of explanation.

    BUFFY: I need you to stay here and look after them. And I need you to help them bury Aiko.

    SATSU: You want me to stand down.

    We see the two in silhouette on the wall where they argue. At ground level, the anxious Slayers go on preparing for war, apparently oblivious to the heated discussion above them.

    SATSU: You said I’m your best fighter…

    BUFFY: That’s not what this is about.

    SATSU: You *know* I’m your best fighter…

    The view gets closer, and we see the two together. Satsu is emphatic, pointing at herself indignantly. Buffy has a hand out, but is almost completely passive in the exchange.

    SATSU: So you’re either leaving me behind to *avoid me* or *protect me*.

    BUFFY: Satsu –

    SATSU: I don’t know if I should be hurt or touched, but either way…

    In a close-up, we see Satsu’s face appear to relax as she has a moment of epiphany.

    SATSU: I’m not following your orders. Not this time.

    The next image shows Buffy looking on, speechless, as Satsu walks away. Satsu throws a dismissive wave over her shoulder as she walks away.

    SATSU: I’ll see you on the battlefield. *Ma’am*.

    We see Buffy in the same view, alone and still speechless.

    From the same view, we see Buffy suddenly reach up to her face – touching her lips with one hand and running the other through her hair.

    BUFFY: (quietly, to herself) I can’t believe I find it sexy when she calls me “ma’am”.

    The scene changes to elsewhere in the castle, and we see into a window, where two silhouetted figures are talking. It’s Renee and Xander.

    RENEE: I’m sorry. *What*?

    XANDER: Okay. Just here me out on this one…

    We see the two facing each other inside an armory. Training gear and weapons are mounted on the wall. Renee has changed back into tactical gear. Xander is in his customary uniform. He is holding two knives out toward Renee as they get equipped for the fight.

    XANDER: First dates are *always* awkward right? There’s so much pressure. You have to worry about what to say, and what to wear, and what to do… I get the bad butterflies just thinking about it.

    RENEE: (to herself) Is there such thing as a “bad butterfly”?

    As Renee slips knives into sheaths on her belt and vest, she watches Xander dubiously as he explains his first-date theory. Xander has two knife-wielding hands raised in exasperation as he shares it.

    XANDER: And that’s just the beginning of the date. *Then*, assuming it goes well, you have to worry about *the end*. “Is it too early to go for the kiss?” “If I don’t go for the kiss, she’ll think I’m not into her.” “But if I *do* go for the kiss, she’ll think I’m not a gentleman. And, quite possibly, slap me.”

    From above, we see Xander and Renee facing each other. Xander looks pleased with his reasoning, while Renee points down for emphasis at what she thinks is insanity.

    XANDER: And you look like you could slap pretty hard.

    RENEE: So… you want *tonight* to be our first date?

    XANDER: I’m saying, let’s *count* tonight as our first date…

    We see from behind Xander as he continues. Renee holds her hands up to get him to slow down as she summarizes.

    XANDER: Then, our *next* date will be our second date. And the second date is always more relaxing for everyone involved.

    RENEE: Okay, so, just to be clear…

    In close-up, Renee counts up the scenario on her fingers as she answers Xander’s suggestion.

    RENEE: When people ask what we did on our first date, you want me to tell them we… dressed me up like a schoolgirl. Used me as bait on the streets of Japan. *Lit a vampire on fire*.

    As Renee turns to continue counting out the flaws in their putative first date, Xander watches with his hands behind his back.

    RENEE: *Then*, geared up to go into battle with several hundred other girls…

    The view widens and we see Renee and Xander in the background as she points out, and gestures for emphasis, at the last on her list of problems. Xander looks on, seeing her point. The problem in question is Dracula, who is wearing a red shirt and black vest. He has his gold-hilted broadsword in hand as he, too, prepares for battle.

    RENEE: *And Dracula*.

    DRACULA: I resent that.

    As Renee and Xander face each other in the background, they lose interest in Dracula. Dracula, for his part, looks over his shoulder, trying to ignore them right back.

    DRACULA: I would never go on a date with the two of you. Even if you begged. So don’t bother asking.

    RENEE: (to Xander) Yeah, I’m not letting you off the hook on this one, Harris…

    We see Xander and Renee face each other in profile in a close-up. They are looking into each other’s eyes and smiling warmly.

    RENEE: This is absolutely not a date.

    XANDER: Okay.

    RENEE: But I will make one part easier for you…

    In extreme close-up, their lips come together in a tender kiss. Renee cups Xander’s cheeks in her hands as she pulls him to her.

    The next image shows them in close-up, smiling wide. Renee still holds Xander’s face in her hands as she reassures him.

    RENEE: Now you don’t have to worry about what happens at the end.

    Now it’s Xander’s turn to lead… he takes Renee’s face in his own hands and kisses her again.

    From a wider view, we see Dracula look awkwardly over his shoulder at the two, still kissing.

    From the same view, Renee has slipped her arms up around Xander’s back, their kiss deepening and completely ignoring Dracula. The vampire coughs for effect as he tries to get their attention.

    DRACULA: Ahem. We have to go to war now. Please stop that.

    As we leave the scene, we see the castle from a wide view outside as Dracula calls out for their attention once again.

    DRACULA: Hello?

    The scene shifts, and we’re on a downtown Tokyo street. The street is full, but not with people. It seems every pedestrian on this block is a vampire – Toru’s vampires. A voice from out of the view breaks down the odds for the attacking Slayers. It belongs to Xander.

    XANDER: (from out of the view) “By my count, they’ve got almost a thousand vampires total.”

    In another wide-view, we see a darkened alley off the main street. This is full as well, but of Slayers – ready to attack. Xander’s voice is joined by another, probably Buffy’s.

    BUFFY: (from out of the view) “The girls are in position around the perimeter. We’ve got numbers as well.”

    XANDER: “But again, we’re back to the same problem. The numbers don’t matter…”

    The next image shows seven warriors lined up together, on a rooftop. From left to right, we see Xander, Renee, Buffy, Dracula, Satsu, Andrew, and Leah. Xander, Buffy, Andrew, and Leah are all calmly looking ahead at the soon-to-be battleground. Renee and Dracula are looking at each other as they exchange barbs. Satsu is glancing at Buffy warily, possibly still upset about their earlier fight.

    XANDER: … We can’t fight these guys when they can just… disappear.

    RENEE: (to Dracula) And I don’t suppose *you* have any bright ideas…

    DRACULA: On how to slay vampires? Isn’t that your little crew’s area of expertise?

    In profile, we see Buffy in close-up, the leader settling all arguments.

    BUFFY: I’m not looking for a fight.

    We see her turn over her shoulder, in Xander and Renee’s direction.

    BUFFY: All that matters is the scythe. Once we get that back, they can’t hurt us.

    Seeing the flaw in her thinking, Buffy corrects herself.

    BUFFY: I mean, except, you know, in the traditional biting and stabbing and clawing sense. But we’ll deal with that when it comes.

    From above, we see it’s not a battle they are surveying, but an alley. They are looking down from a roof at a door into a building, a door guarded by three vampires. Andrew is leaning over with his palms on the side of the roof top. Buffy has one foot resting on that edge and her hand on her raised knee. As Buffy explains her plan, Willow answers from out of the view, tired of the distracting conversation.

    BUFFY: Right now, our only mission is to get into that building and retrieve the scythe. All we need is a *really big distraction* so we can slip in the back door…

    WILLOW: (from out of the view) Yeah, I *know*…

    The next image shows Willow levitating in the air behind them. Her arms are spread wide and yellow energy glows at her feet. The gang on the rooftop looks abashed.

    WILLOW: … And if you all could just *stop talking* for one minute, I could concentrate long enough to work my mojo.

    BUFFY: Sorry.

    XANDER: Sorry.

    RENEE: Sorry.

    In profile, we see a close-up of Willow. The yellow light is around her face now, eyes shut, as she says her spell in latin.

    WILLOW: Dea pro mihi, audite meus dico

    As Willow completes her spell, we see vampires on the street in close-up, waiting and ready for a fight.

    WILLOW: (from out of the view) “Patefacio prodigium pro nos totus.”

    We see the same vampires, but suddenly shutting their eyes against a blinding light that fills the entire street.

    Next we see them, but no longer ready for a fight. Their eyes are wide in alarm, mouths open, and they are pointing off down the street at something that’s appeared.

    The next image shows a new arrival… it’s Dawn. The giant woman towers over the street, dressed for a fight in jeans, a jacket, and gloves. She has her hand up to her mouth, a little surprised by the transportation, perhaps. At her feet, the hundreds of vampires are frozen in amazement.

    DAWN: Hi. Or, I mean… roar?

    And suddenly she’s on the move. Dawn clearly finds the emotion she was missing on the first take, as she begins tromping through the street. Vampires flee before her in terror. She smashes glass and concrete of buildings as she chases them down.

    DAWN: *ROOAAAR*!

    VAMPIRES: *IIIEEEEEEEEEE!!!*

    From the rooftop where the other Scoobies wait, we see Andrew gesture toward the street, where Dawn is stomping past them. Xander watches, too. As they take in the sight, Buffy calls out from behind them.

    ANDREW: Well there’s something you don’t see every day.

    BUFFY: (from out of the view) Okay, let’s go…

    We see the Slayer in close-up at the edge of the rooftop. Below, the vampire guards are running out of the alley to escape Dawn.

    BUFFY: Door’s open.

    The scene changes, and we’re in the Ashikaga building’s penthouse again. Toru is still standing stoically by the window. He has the scythe over his shoulder casually, held by the stake end. Buffy’s voice calls out to him from behind.

    BUFFY: (from out of the view) Yep…

    We see a close-up of Toru’s passive face as, behind him, Buffy and her team pour into the room, weapons ready.

    BUFFY: That is, in fact, a giant Godzilla woman wreaking havoc on your minions.

    From outside the window, we see into the large room. Buffy walks toward Toru to reclaim her scythe. The others come into the room in formation, weapons ready. Andrew, Leah, and Satsu are behind Buffy, Dracula, Willow, and Xander behind them, and Renee as rearguard at the door. Toru still ignores them, looking out the window.

    BUFFY: And to make matters worse, she’s a teenager, so… *moody*. Believe me, there’s no dishonor in surrender, despite what your culture says to the contrary…

    Many things happen together next. In a close-up, Willow grasps the side of her head, becoming aware of something. She reaches out and grabs at Xander’s sleeve to steady herself.

    XANDER: You okay?

    WILLOW: Something’s wrong…

    We see Buffy reach out to take the scythe from Toru, and her eyes widen in surprise as her hands slip both through the weapon and the vampire holding it.

    Next we see her confirm the problem – Toru is a hologram. His image is disrupted by Buffy’s hands moving through it. Buffy reacts, but too slowly, shouting out to her team.

    BUFFY: *Guys, it’s a – *

    Her warning is cut off by a horrible sound. We see an extreme close-up of Xander as his face is splattered with blood following an awful *SSHHRRACK!*

    The last image shows the source of the sound, and the blood. Toru is standing in the doorway, grinning malevolently. In front of him, he’s holding Renee by the back of the neck. In his other hand, he holds the scythe. He has stabbed her through the heart with it, and the stake end is all the way through her blood soaked chest. Renee’s eyes are wide in surprise but blank, and her fingers are flexing helplessly. She’s gone, in an instant.

    TORU: I believe the word you’re looking for is “trap.”

    To be continued

    End of Issue #14

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    Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Season 8, Issue #15
    “Wolves at the Gate, Part IV”


    Prologue Summary: The Slayer population of the world has gone from two to nearly two thousand. Buffy and Xander have established a base in the highlands of Scotland where they continue to train Slayers, and command their forces around the world, building their defenses against new threats. Willow comes and goes; Buffy has cut Giles off; and Dawn’s a giant. They’ve battled familiar foes, deranged zombies, and military goons, but only Buffy has faced the elusive new enemy apparently behind it all: Twilight.

    Start of Issue #15

    The opening image is an instant after the end of 8.14 – but here, rather than holding Renee impaled on the scythe, Toru sneers viciously as he yanks the stake free from her. The dying girl’s head hangs low, mouth open in surprise, hand reaching up to cover the gaping wound. It’s her own thoughts we hear to start the issue.

    (NARRATION) RENEE: Oh God.

    What follows is a series of images from Renee’s perspective, the first person. She sees the team turning back to look at her. Satsu, Andrew, and Buffy are drawing their weapons, Willow looks to a corner of the room in alarm. Leah and Xander, his face splattered with Renee’s blood, look directly at her. Leah is surprised. Xander is outright horrified. Throughout the room, Renee sees a fog unfolding from the ground up.

    (NARRATION) RENEE: Oh no. Stupid Stupid. Oh God this is bad this is so bad. What’s rule number one Renee? Oh God.

    The image we see is from a lower angle… an instant later, and Renee is falling to the floor. The fog has formed into Toru’s vampires, ambushing the team. Vampires surround Satsu, Leah, and Andrew immediately. Kumiko dives from the ceiling and tackles Willow towards the window. Xander is open-mouthed in panic, and Renee sees him reaching for her. The outline of her vision is turning white.

    (NARRATION) RENEE: Don’t fall. We gotta fight. There are so many of ‘em. Oh God. Where are they all coming from? Don’t fall.

    Renee’s point of view takes an angle as she slumps to the floor. The background is almost completely white. Behind Xander, Buffy is looking around for something to attack, while Satsu and Andrew defend themselves. In the distance, we see Kumiko and Willow crash through a window into the night sky. Xander is closer still, reaching for Renee desperately.

    (NARRATION) RENEE: Xander. Where’d my voice go? Xander Xander Xander. Oh God they’re everywhere. Please don’t let me fall. I can’t hear what he’s saying. Why can’t I. Oh God.

    From a completely white background, his face already vanishing from her eyes, Renee sees Xander at almost kissing distance, his pupil small with terror. Her words get smaller and smaller as she goes.

    (NARRATION) RENEE: I’m not ready. I hope he knows. I never got to tell him. Xander I’m not ready.

    Renee’s last thought in this life appears on its own, in small print, in the cold white margin of the page.

    (NARRATION) RENEE: I’m so scared.

    And then the perspective jumps free from the fallen Slayer, and the next image shows us the battle from over Dracula’s shoulder. Fog fills the open office space still as more vampires appear. Leah fires a crossbow into one vampire’s chest even as another tries to bite her. Some vampires are shape-shifted, as we see a panther and a wolf in the room. Amidst all the chaos, though, Dracula is watching Xander as he cradles Renee’s body in his arm. Her blood has poured out on the floor.

    XANDER: *Renee*?!

    The view reverses and we see Xander in close-up, Renee’s face close to his. Tears are streaming down his right cheek. Dracula watches stoically.

    XANDER: *RENEE*!

    The view shifts as Dracula leaps into action. He turns to get Buffy’s attention. The Slayer herself is staking one vampire, while another in wolf form bites her shoulder from behind. Behind them all, Satsu leaps through the air, her katana slashing through enemis.

    BUFFY: *Man down*!

    DRACULA: Slayer!

    BUFFY: Close ranks around Xander! *Now*!

    DRACULA: Slayer -- *Listen to me*!

    The view reverses again; Dracula has yanked the wolf off of Buffy by the scruff of its neck. He grips her arm intensely, holding her attention. Behind them, the fighting continues amidst the vampire fog.

    DRACULA: Get your witch!

    BUFFY: *WHAT*?!?

    DRACULA: I can stop them, but I need your witch!

    We see the two of them silhouetted in the office as they face each other – we’re looking in from outside the broken window. Dracula points to the shattered glass for emphasis.

    DRACULA: Go get her!

    BUFFY: I’m not leaving -- *I can’t leave Xander alone*!

    In close-up, Dracula is in full vamp-face for one of the few times we ever see. His eyes gleam a vicious, predatory orange, as he gives Buffy the reassurance she needs.

    DRACULA: He’s not alone.

    And in an instant, Dracula has turned away from her. We see the legendary vampire tearing through a crowd of his imposters, his claws drawing blood as they try to grab him.

    We see Buffy on the move. She plants her foot on one vampire’s back to vault herself free of the fight. She’s drawn a knife, and as she moves she calls out orders to Satsu. The other Slayer spares a look over her shoulder even as she beheads an opponent, surprised at the orders she’s being given.

    BUFFY: Satsu! You have command!

    SATSU: What!?! Why!?! Where are you going!?!

    BUFFY: I’ll be *right back*! I just gotta…

    From above, we see Buffy standing in the empty window frame, looking down from the ledge. Several stories below, the silhouettes of Willow and Kumiko are locked together in mid-air. Hundreds of feet below, the battle rages on the street.

    BUFFY: … Go get Willow.

    The view shifts outside as the silhouettes of the two witches crash into the glass windows of a building across the street with a *WHAM*.

    KUMIKO: Hello. We have not been properly introduced.

    In a closer view, we see the two match magic powers even as they tumble through the air. Willow’s power is represented as green, flame-like energy. Kumiko’s hands glow with a more angular red power.

    KUMIKO: My name is Kumiko Ishihara. Daughter of Kazuo.

    WILLOW: Incursio!

    KUMIKO: Decrete.

    Willow falls backwards and Kumiko follows her down, their hands still glowing as they match spell for spell.

    KUMIKO: I’ve been following your ascension for quite some time.

    WILLOW: *Percussus*!

    KUMIKO: *Consti*. Save your breath.

    We see them hit another building with a *KKSSH* of broken glass, but this time it’s Willow that takes the hit – Kumiko is in control, driving her pillar to post.

    KUMIKO: Or did you think you were Saga Vasuki’s only student?

    As they launch free of this building back into the air, Kumiko reaches out as if she wants to choke Willow.

    KUMIKO: We speak the same language, you and I.

    WILLOW: Good…

    In close-up, we see that the proximity is what Willow needed. Both of their eyes flash white as Willow grabs Kumiko’s cheeks and pulls the vampire’s eyes open.

    WILLOW: Talk to me.

    The next image shows us what Willow sees as her eyes turn a blank yellow in the foreground. Alongside her face, we see a vision of Manhattan. The entire city is ablaze. The snake woman from 8.10, apparently Vasuki who Kumiko mentioned, dances in the foreground. Her tail appears to reach all the way down into the city to coil around the Chrysler Building. In the foreground, the Slayer scythe floats near Vasuki. In the vision, the demon speaks to Willow.

    VASUKI: Darling Willow. Did you think I could not find you? Did you think you could hide from what you are? Or what’s to come?

    The view shifts out of the vision, and we see Willow’s face against a black background. She’s fainting as she mumbles.

    WILLOW: … Goddess…

    In close-up, Kumiko grabs onto Willow’s throat again as the unconscious witch begins to fall.

    Back up in the window, Buffy is holding her knife ready to stab. Her eyes are shut as she repeats a familiar mantra for all those with a problem with heights.

    BUFFY: … It’s just like a diving board it’s just like a diving board it’s just like a diving board…

    We see the two witches again. Willow’s eyes are barely open, and she’s helpless as Kumiko grabs her throat.

    KUMIKO: Don’t pass out on me now, Miss Rosenberg…

    From a wider view, we see Kumiko is strangling Willow as they fall. Behind her, though, Buffy is descending at a free fall, her knife pulled back with both hands to stab as she approaches. The giant lens is visible at the top of the building as we look up.

    KUMIKO: You’re gonna miss the best part.

    Before Kumiko can show Willow the ‘best part’, Buffy is open her. She plants both feet on Kumiko’s backside to drop into a crouch and thrust the knife down into the witch-vampire with a *SHLACK*. Kumiko shouts in pain and surprise and let’s Willow go.

    The next image shows Kumiko’s silhouette as Buffy shoves her free to separate them, and the Slayer grabs onto Willow as they continue to plummet.

    BUFFY: Not like a diving board! Not like a diving board *at all*!

    In close-up, Buffy’s eyes go wide as she realizes Willow’s out cold.

    BUFFY: Will? *Willow*? Um, I need you to *wake up now*…

    We see from ground level as Slayers and vampire engage on the streets. High above them, Buffy and Willow continue to drop to the street.

    BUFFY: … Wakeup wakeup wakeup wakeup…

    The scene shifts to the fight on the street. Slayers and vampire lock up toe to toe. The vampires are driving the Slayers back now, and we see one Slayer run through with a sword, and others bloodied in various ways. Rowena tumbles backwards in the center of the battle, a vampire-panther reaching a claw out towards her.

    ROWENA: We have to fall back! There are too many of them!

    We see she has been disarmed and has fallen to the street. She backs up from the panther as it prepares to pounce.

    ROWENA: That’s an order! *Fall back now*!

    Before Rowena is attacked, and before her order triggers a retreat, we see a giant green sneaker drop into view and crush the panther with a *WHAM*!

    Rowena looks up and sees Dawn glowering down at her, assuming command.

    DAWN: We don’t run.

    From the roof of the Ashikaga building, we see the silhouette of Toru and Raidon as they watch the battle on the street. Toru still holds the scythe over his shoulder. On the street, Dawn stands in front of the Slayers and turns to lead them toward the building.

    RAIDON: We’ve got a problem.

    TORU: Wait ‘til she gets to the intersection, then deploy counter-measures.

    From the street, Dawn is pointing to the Ashikaga building and its giant lens as she looks down at the Slayers to rally them. In front of her, though, the street is opening like a trap door.

    DAWN: Let’s go, ladies! We’re taking that building!

    We see the Slayers behind Dawn as she begins to stride forward. Rowena sounds a warning to what Dawn doesn’t see – the thing casting a giant shadow in her path.

    DAWN: Buffy needs our –

    ROWENA: *Dawn! Look out*!

    In extreme close-up, we see Dawn’s face as she turns around to walk into something’s giant fist. The punch lands with a *KKRAACK*, and blood drips from Dawn’s nose.

    In close-up on the street, Rowena covers her mouth in disbelief. The Slayers behind her are similarly stunned by what’s attacking now.

    ROWENA: Oh my God!

    The next image reveals the new enemy. Even Dawn, knocked down by the punch, is staring up at it in amazement. It’s a giant robot, that looks like Dawn. It’s body is cold grey steel, but its head is covered with long black “hair”. Its eyes are glowing yellow lights.

    ROWENA: … They built a Mecha-Dawn.

    From above on the building, Toru looks over to Raidon as they watch the robotic Dawn, which also has a giant Godzilla-like steel tail, punch Dawn again.

    TORU: Well, there’s something you don’t see every day.

    MECHA-DAWN: *ROAARRR*!

    The two vampires turn away from the edge of the roof. Their silhouettes walk toward the giant lens. Around them, dozens of their vampires have assembled.

    RAIDON: Slayers are within radius.

    TORU: Good.

    RAIDON: Kumiko’s not responding.

    TORU: Less good.

    In a wide view, we see the roof is full of vampires. Raidon and Toru climb to the base of the lens, and we can see that Toru is handing his lieutenant his jacket.

    RAIDON: An understatement. We need her to do the spell.

    TORU: This is why we have secondary protocols, Raidon. I’ll do the incantation myself. Power up the lens.

    We see Toru face the lens. He raises the scythe over his head and begins to do the spell. The red light of the lens begins to waver and glow brighter.

    TORU: Makurayami inter canem et lupem

    In close-up, we see Raidon leaning over the technician operating the lens.

    RAIDON: What’s that noise?

    TECHNICIAN: Standard boot procedure. Lens mechanisms locking into place.

    In the same view, Raidon disagrees, hearing something else.

    RAIDON: No. Beneath that. It almost sounds like… screaming…

    A sound builds throughout those images, underlining the page with a giant *RRRRUMMMBLLEE*.

    The next image reveals the source of the sound as it bursts through the roof. Raidon and the technician turn to watch as Dracula bursts through the roof, his hand around a vampire’s throat and the other balled into a fist. He’s growling as he leads Leah, Satsu, and Andrew up onto the roof.

    Before anyone can react, Dracula has broken from the crowd and we see him tackle Toru away from the lens. The scythe flies free of his grip and into the air.

    We see Dracula land on top of Toru in the distance as he shouts back to the team.

    DRACULA: *Get the scythe*!

    Now it’s Satsu we see break free, leaping into action, planting her foot on a vampire’s face as she runs on top of the crowd.

    SATSU: On it!

    She leaps high into the air, diving forward and claiming the scythe as vampires watch her.

    And then we see her flight take her clean off the roof even as she secures the scythe in both hands.

    SATSU: Oh hell.

    The scene shifts back down to the street. In the distance, Dawn and Mecha-Dawn continue to slam into buildings. We see Buffy and Willow climbing out of a pool of water in the middle of the street.

    BUFFY: *Koff*

    WILLOW: *Koff Koff*

    BUFFY: Sidewalk into water?

    WILLOW: Short notice.

    BUFFY: I’m not complainin’.

    As the two begin wringing water out of their clothes, Willow focusing on her long skirt, they look up into the air with a surprising calm.

    WILLOW: Hey, isn’t that your girlfriend?

    BUFFY: She’s not my girlfriend.

    WILLOW: Whatever. That’s her, isn’t it?

    BUFFY: I think so…

    We see the two side by side, still staring up, still working as much water as possible out of clothes and hair.

    WILLOW: Be careful with her.

    BUFFY: I know.

    WILLOW: I’m serious, Buffy. I gotta look out for my sisters here.

    BUFFY: I hear you, Will.

    WILLOW: Good.

    The two now simply stand side by side facing us, but staring up to where Satsu is dropping out of the night sky.

    WILLOW: And just so you know… I never wanted to sleep with you either.

    BUFFY: What are you talking about?

    WILLOW: I’m sayin’ – it’s a good thing you didn’t try your little experiment on me. ‘Cause it wouldn’t have worked, Summers. You’re not even on my list.

    BUFFY: What list? There’s a list?

    The view doesn’t change, although water still drips from their faces.

    WILLOW: Yep. And you’re not on it. Not my type.

    BUFFY: Oh yeah? Well, then, you’re not on my list either!

    WILLOW: Good. I don’t want to be.

    BUFFY: Sure you do. It’s a very distinguished list. It has people like… um… Judi Dench and Eleanor Roosevelt on it.

    WILLOW: Ew. Just got the visual.

    BUFFY: And *other people too*. Those are just examples. Off the top of my head.

    The two of them **** their heads slightly sideways. They appear to be contemplating the falling Satsu like she’s modern art.

    WILLOW: We should probably go catch Satsu now.

    BUFFY: Yeah, I was just thinking that.

    Back on the roof, the battle rages on. Raidon runs frantically to the edge of the roof where Satsu disappeared, reaching up to an earpiece to call out a warning to the other vampires.

    RAIDON: Raidon to ground team. I need a retrieval – west side of the building. We’ve lost the scythe. Repeat: we’ve lost the

    The next image shows the scythe return – it’s in Buffy’s hand. Willow rises gracefully above the edge of the roof with a hard stare. On either side, she’s helping Buffy and Satsu fly up with her. Buffy has the scythe again, and a bloodthirsty expression. Satsu’s face shows the same mood as she wields her katana. Raidon looks up at them in abject panic.

    RAIDON: … scythe.

    We see Buffy swing the scythe out to Raidon’s waist, but he of course turns to fog from the waist down to avoid the blow.

    BUFFY: Oh, come on! Fog is *totally cheating*!

    The view reverses, and we see Dracula in the foreground as he catches sight of Willow. The witch is blasting a beam of yellow energy into one of the vampires.

    DRACULA: To me, witch!

    WILLOW: What does that even mean?

    DRACULA: It means *come over here*!

    We see Dracula hold out his gold-hilted broadsword to Willow, calling her to come take it from him.

    DRACULA: *Take my sword*. It’s one of the ancient relics. Bound with demon spirit – like your scythe. Angle a reverse incantation of Augustine’s Curse through the portal. It should negate the vampires’ abilities.

    We see Willow holding the sword in both hands – it seems too heavy for her – as she widens her eyes. She asks her question to Dracula’s back; he’s turned away before he answers.

    WILLOW: Why can’t you do the spell?

    DRACULA: Because I’m one of the vampires. *Go*.

    From a wider view, we see Willow fly up to face the still-glowing portal. She holds the sword out in front of her as she begins her incantation.

    WILLOW: *Aufero incuentatus… kritikus pillanatban jelen van*…

    In close-up, Raidon looks up and sees Willow. His eyes go wide in fear as he shouts desperately.

    RAIDON: *Stop her*!

    It’s too late. As Willow hovers, a burst of white light comes from the raised blade of Dracula’s sword and bursts into the portal with a *KRRRAAKKK*. The force drives Willow backwards in mid-air.

    WILLOW: *Lacrimo augustino*!

    From the street below, a burst of white light spreads out from the lens as Slayers and vampires battle below.

    The light fills the entire street and sky for a moment.

    On the roof, Buffy knows the tide has turned immediately. She stakes a vampire with the scythe and it dusts with a decisively finality.

    BUFFY: Scales are balanced again, girls! They’re vampires. We’re vampire Slayers.

    The rest of her command goes out over her commlink as Slayers begin to press the advantage, diving into battle with renewed vigor and staking vampires.

    BUFFY: (through radio) Time to do what we do.

    Down on the street, Mecha-Dawn shoves Dawn backwards into a building. The masonry collapses around her as she grimaces in pain.

    MECHA-DAWN: MY NAME IS DAWN.

    DAWN: That doesn’t sound anything like me!

    MECHA-DAWN: I AM A TEENAGE GIRL.

    DAWN: Then *why do you have a tail*?

    The robot answers with another punch that brings Dawn to the ground, pieces of building coming down with her. Andrew calls out to her through his own commlink.

    DAWN: *HHHNNNHHH*

    ANDREW: (through radio) Dawnie? Can you hear me?

    DAWN: Andrew?

    Up on the roof, we see Andrew looking down at the battle of giants, the full moon glowing behind him. He pumps his fist eagerly as he gives Dawn a strategy.

    ANDREW: Okay, Dawnie. Listen to me very carefully. Most Mecha creatures are susceptible to forced detachment of the control center. As long as it doesn’t have a backup brain in its neck, you should be able to defeat it through simple decapitation.

    Down on the street, Dawn looks up dubiously at the Mecha while she listens. The robot towers over her, still imitating Dawn.

    DAWN: What are you talking about? How do you know all this?


    ANDREW: (through radio) Hi. Have you met me?

    MECHA-DAWN: I LIKE BLUE JEANS. AND IRONY.

    From the roof-top, we see behind Andrew as he looks down. He looks exultant in the moment. It’s unclear if he’s answering Dawn or just taking a moment to appreciate it on his own.

    ANDREW: My giant-sized teammate is fighting a mechanized version of herself on the streets of downtown Tokyo…

    In close-up, Andrew raises his fists at the realization he is in his element at last.

    ANDREW: I’ve been preparing for this day *my entire life*!

    On the street, Dawn is back up on her feet. She dodges a punch by the machine and grabs its wrist.

    ANDREW: (through radio) Grab its head, Dawn! It should twist right off!

    MECHA-DAWN: I CRY A LOT.

    DAWN: That’s not true!

    In close-up, Dawn snarls as she gets the robot around the neck in a headlock.

    MECHA-DAWN: I OFTEN LET BOYS TAKE ADVANTAGE O MY WEAK EMOTIONAL STATES.

    DAWN: *No I do not*!

    With a new road, Dawn rips the robot’s head from its shoulders. The machine powers down with a shower of blue sparks.

    DAWN: *RRRAAAAARRR*!

    The scene shifts back to the roof. As Buffy finishes off one vampire, Raidon charges her from behind.

    RAIDON: Stand your ground, men! We don’t have to be wolves to drink their blood*!

    Buffy turns too slowly and Raidon grabs her around the throat.

    RAIDON: I bet you taste sweet, Slayer.

    Suddenly the vampire’s eyes widen in surprise. A voice speaks from behind him.

    VOICE: You have no idea.

    As Raidon bursts into dust, Satsu is revealed, stake in two hands.

    SATSU: (quietly) I can’t believe I just said that out loud.

    The view shifts to a close-up of Dracula as he reaches his hand out to Willow, who’s still floating above the roof. She throws his sword back to him at his request.

    DRACULA: Witch! I’ll take my sword back now.

    In close-up, we see a hand reach out to grab the sword as if flies.

    A wider view reveals it’s Toru, back on his feet, who now has Dracula’s sword.

    TORU: Just like an old man. He needs his cane to stand

    We see from behind Dracula as Toru approaches, sword raised. Behind him, his vampires are turning to dust as the battle turns against them steadily.

    TORU: He doesn’t know what to do with himself now that he’s an ordinary vampire again. Like the rest of us.

    DRACULA: My boy…

    We see Dracula spin toward Toru and land a back elbow even as he reclaims his sword. The younger vamp is surprised by the speed. Dracula’s reverted to his preferred human face.

    DRACULA: I was *never* an ordinary vampire.

    In a series of images, we see Dracula’s blade cut into Toru’s limbs. The first strike takes off Toru’s left hand.

    TORU: *HHHAAAAHH*

    DRACULA: Or did you forget who I used to be?

    The next cut takes off Toru’s right leg.

    DRACULA: I’ve killed more men than God’s plagues combined. And that was *before* I started eating people for fun.

    The third strike takes Toru’s right hand, and we see Dracula’s victim – that’s all he really ever was, clearly – stare in dumb amazement at his own dismemberment.

    TORU: *HNNNHHHH*

    DRACULA: The fields of Europe used to steam with the blood of my enemies. Trust me…

    Toru looks up at Dracula from his back. The legend is almost all cloak and silhouette, except for his brow. And the gleaming blade, dripping Toru’s blood.

    DRACULA: The vampire’s the least of your concerns. It’s the old man you need to worry about.

    Toru leans on his bloody arm stumps and looks up at Dracula defiantly.

    TORU: … Hnh… Then do it. Finish me.

    In a wider view, Toru begs for Dracula to kill him, but the older vampire turns and looks behind him as he refuses.

    TORU: You can’t leave me like this… hnh… you owe me that honor.

    DRACULA: It’s not my place to kill you…

    The view reverses, and we see it’s Xander that Dracula is watching approach. Even though the battle is still concluding on the roof, Xander walks forward calmly, ignoring the fighting.

    DRACULA: And you know *nothing* about honor.

    Without a word, Dracula extends the hilt of his sword to Xander, offering it to him. He accepts it without comment. His face is clouded with pain and loss.

    In a close-up, Xander looks down wearily. There’s no anger in his face, no bloodlust.

    Without a word, he slashes out with the broadsword and lops Toru’s head clean off. The vampire dusts without saying another word.

    The next image shows us Buffy in close-up. Her face is bloodied, but her eyes are wide with sadness and sympathy as she looks over towards Xander. Satsu and Leah are behind her, also looking on sympathetically. A voice calls to Buffy through the radio.

    VOICE: Leah to command. They’re rabbiting. They vamps… *they’re running away*.

    BUFFY: So chase them.

    On the other side of the roof, Xander lowers the sword as Toru’s dust blows away. Dracula stands a respectful distance behind him, not speaking or trying to comfort him. Buffy makes her orders clear through the radio even as she walks toward her friend, leaving Leah and Satsu together to watch.

    BUFFY: No prisoners. Seal off the streets. Cut them down as they flee.

    Buffy’s covered nearly half the distance to Xander as he lets the sword drop from his hands, clattering to the roof top.

    BUFFY: Kill every single one of them.

    In the foreground, Leah and Satsu turn away and return to the fight. Satsu echoes Buffy’s orders, understanding the purpose and the vengeance in them. In the distance, Buffy has reached Xander. He crumples to his knees in front of her, hugging her desperately around the waist. She holds his head and comforts him as best as such things can ever be comforted.

    SATSU: You heard her, girls! Go go go! Not one leaves. *Not one*…

    The scene shifts from the battle altogether as Satsu finishes the command. We see the Japanese castle at night, the headquarters of Aiko’s team.

    SATSU: (continued) “Nobody gets out of here alive.”

    The next image shows Xander in close-up. He’s wearing a yellow plaid shirt… and at least a full day’s growth on his beard. He looks completely broken inside. Behind him, Dracula approaches him, dressed again in his Victorian suit. They are outside the castle grounds.

    DRACULA: My ship is in port.

    We see them from behind as Dracula reaches Xander. Xander’s sitting down and Dracula looks down at him.

    DRACULA: Would you like assistance with your little ceremony before I take my leave?

    XANDER: No, thank you. I’d like to do this myself.

    The view reverses and in a wider view, Dracula accepts this and turns to leave. Xander is sitting on a garden bench. He’s wearing jeans, sneakers, and the shirt is open over a white t-shirt. At his side, a golden urn sits on the bench as well.

    DRACULA: Very well. Goodbye, Manservant.

    XANDER: Hey, Dracula…

    We see Xander’s good eye in extreme close-up as Dracula starts to walk away behind him.

    XANDER: If you call me “manservant” again… I’ll kill you in your sleep.

    In a close-up, we see Dracula turn his head, contemplating this.

    DRACULA: Hm.

    The view widens, and Dracula walks away, considering alternatives. Xander doesn’t look back, nor spare a smile.

    DRACULA: Perhaps you’re right. Something like “lacky” or “minion”, then.

    XANDER: Absolutely not.

    In an even wider image, we see the castle grounds again. As the scene moves away from Xander, Satsu’s voice pulls us to the next scene.

    DRACULA: “Houseboy”?

    XANDER: Still getting killed.

    SATSU: (from next scene) “I thought we’d act like nothing happened…”

    The next image looks into a bedroom window in the castle. Satsu and Buffy are sitting next to each other on a bed, facing away from us. Satsu is wearing jeans, and Buffy is in green capri pants and a matching shirt.

    SATSU: I thought we’d wake up and everything would be fine. But everything’s not fine.

    We see them from inside the room, still from behind. Buffy has her legs crossed away from Satsu, looking a little uncomfortable.

    SATSU: I don’t think I can be around you right now, Buffy.

    BUFFY: It’s me, isn’t it? I’m making it worse…

    The view shifts around and we see them from the front. Buffy is looking over to Satsu, trying to reassure her, and the younger woman keeps her eyes on the floor.

    BUFFY: I can change. I can be less… enticing. In a lesbian sense. That didn’t come out right. I can make it easier on you, I promise.

    SATSU: It’s not you. Or, I mean…

    We see from Buffy’s side as Satsu turns to look at her.

    SATSU: It’s *totally* you. But it’s not like it’s something you’re doing, it’s just…

    We see them from the front again. Buffy listens, watching Satsu patiently as Satsu tries to get it out.

    SATSU: I’m in love with you. And I need to *not be*. And that’s never gonna happen when you’re right in front of me.

    From Satsu’s side, we see Buffy, uncertain of what Satsu is asking.

    BUFFY: You want me to leave?

    SATSU: More like I should stay. Here. In Japan.

    The view reverses to Satsu in profile.

    SATSU: The Tokyo office needs a field leader. I guess I’m asking for a promotion.

    We see them from above as Buffy stands and thinks about what Satsu is asking her.

    BUFFY: It’s a lot of work, Satsu.

    SATSU: I know.

    BUFFY: These girls are raw. They need training. Most of ‘em aren’t ready for what’s to come.

    SATSU: I won’t let you down.

    We see Buffy in close-up, and she’s smiling as if she understands something more clearly than before.

    BUFFY: I know you won’t.

    In a wider view, Buffy knees beside the bed where Satsu is still sitting.

    BUFFY: I just hope… I just hope I didn’t hurt you.

    SATSU: Nah. I’m tough. And for what it’s worth…

    In close-up, we see Satsu smile warmly at Buffy as she admits her opinion.

    SATSU: It was one of the best nights of my life.

    We see Buffy in close-up as well as she smiles in return.

    BUFFY: Mine too.

    Buffy is still kneeling next to Satsu, looking up at her face.

    BUFFY: So.

    SATSU: So.

    BUFFY: What do we do now? Say goodbye? Go our separate ways and such?

    SATSU: Well.

    In a close-up, we see their faces get closer to each other, eyes locked on each other’s.

    SATSU: I suppose we could always save goodbye for tomorrow…

    The scene shifts away from them for a moment, and we see a ship, a sloop, in harbor. Dracula is silhouetted on the deck, looking out to the sea. A ship’s captain approaches him from behind.

    CAPTAIN: My lord, the crew would like to retire below. Unless, of course, you’ll be requiring further assistance this evening.

    DRACULA: No, Captain, that won’t be necessary…

    As Dracula continues answering the captain in voiceover, we move to see Willow. She’s sitting in a private room in the Japanese castle, meditating before a smoking bowl. A green cloud swirls around the ceiling. The snake woman, Vasuki, appears in the room in front of her, smiling slyly.

    DRACULA: (voiceover) “We have a cold journey ahead of us…

    The scene shifts again back to Buffy and Satsu. They are naked and kissing in the bed by candlelight, making love again in a tangle of sheets.

    DRACULA: (voiceover) “Find what warmth you can for now…

    Then we see Xander standing alone in the garden outside the castle. He is pouring the urn, and spreading Renee’s ashes on the soft grass.

    DRACULA: (voiceover) “And I’ll stand watch alone.”

    The last image is the cold black field and the “Buffy” logo, silent and unrelenting.

    End of Issue #15

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    Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Season 8, Issue #16
    “Time of Your Life, Part I”


    Prologue Summary: Today thousands of Slayers populate the world – forming squadrons, fighting vampires, demons, and, more recently, the U.S. military. Buffy and Xander continue to train an elite force of Slayers in the highlands of Scotland where they prepare to duel their fiercest foe to date: Twilight.

    Buffy’s fresh from another doomed relationship, and Xander has suffered another great loss. Now a mystical vision has directed Willow toward New York City and clues to the future of magic. And as for Dawn… she’s still experiencing some serious growing pains.

    Start of Issue #16

    The opening image is of Buffy, holding her scythe and staring ahead, ready to fight. She’s standing on what seems like a steamy urban rooftop, but wearing a cocktail dress.

    (NARRATION) BUFFY: Bad day. Started out bad, stayed that way.

    The next image is epic in scope, spanning two full pages. The rooftop Buffy was standing on stood over a huge, futuristic city. Futuristic, but dystopian – buildings look grey and cold, neon signs identifying their occupants. The air is vaguely green from lighting and pollutants. For hundreds of feet, traffic moves in layers of flying cars. It’s from this roof top that Buffy begins to fall as she throws an uppercut into the jaw of MELAKA FRAY, Vampire Slayer hundreds of years in the future. She’s dressed in magenta pants and a pink shirt, wears elbow pads and boots. Her dark hair ends in purple-dyed tips. She has a scythe, as well, and swings it at Buffy even as the older Slayer lands the punch.

    (NARRATION) BUFFY: Starting with, not chronologically, but in order of immediate importance… who the hell is this person?

    As they fall, they ignore the danger, attacking each other, but they plummet through the traffic, the ground hundreds of feet below them.

    (NARRATION) BUFFY: Also: where am I?

    Buffy and Fray continue to fall, narrowly avoiding a flying car, still locked in a fight.

    (NARRATION) BUFFY: Where’s everyone else?

    We barely see them in the distance below, obscured by the heavy traffic.

    (NARRATION) BUFFY: And seriously, what’s up with Dawn?

    Buffy’s question leads into a change of scene. We see Dawn, some time earlier, standing over the tree line near the castle in Scotland. She is gripping her abdomen, though, and yelling in pain.

    DAWN: AAHHH!!

    The scene immediately shifts again, and we’re inside the castle, in its command center. Rather than the usual bustle of activity, the room is mostly empty, all the monitors are off. Buffy sits on the steps of the center dais. Xander and Willow sit near her on chairs at the workstations. The three of them are talking and working on some Chinese takeout. Buffy has a huge pile of noodles on her chopsticks, ready to bite.

    XANDER: Man, you really haven’t lived till you’ve had Scottish Chinese take-out. Anybody want some more sweet and sour haggis?

    BUFFY: I think it’s chicken, Xander… although I’m not gonna guess which part –

    WILLOW: Ah, quitcher grousin’. Two days’ time we’ll be in the home of the best Chinese takeout in the world. Well, after San Francisco. And, I suppose, probably China…

    We see Buffy in close-up as she takes a full bite of noodles. The full mouth doesn’t prevent her from asking Willow a question. Behind Buffy, we see Xander still staring doubtfully at his food.

    BUFFY: Bht whuy nhh yrk? Is ht rulluh n guhd umdea to guh now?

    In close-up, Xander jumps in, having understood Buffy’s food-speak perfectly.

    XANDER: Chewbacca has a *point*, Will. Do we really want to be abandoning the fort on the basis of some goth vamp speaking in tongues?

    From behind Xander, we see Willow, hands in her lap, head lowered somberly as she answers.

    WILLOW: She wasn’t speaking at all. Someone was using her to send me a message. From… elsewhere.

    The view shifts around, and we see Willow glance over at Buffy as the Slayer perks up in response, sitting up as she pounces with questions.

    BUFFY: And that someone wouldn’t happen to be a really hot-even-though-she’s-got-kind-of-a-snake-body demon lady by any chance?

    WILLOW: Hoo? Bah? No no, you’re making up made-up things…

    The view shifts around to behind Xander as he sits forward, leaning over his lap in interest. Willow continues to stare at the floor.

    XANDER: Okay, explain how you know that. Slowly, with many visuals.

    BUFFY: What, you guys think I’m in charge just ‘cause I can hit things?

    XANDER: Only mostly…

    WILLOW: And, moving on…

    Willow raises her hands as she begins to explain the importance of her contact’s information.

    WILLOW: The fact is, Buffy’s scythe is the power source of our entire Slayer army. My contact – who shall remain name-and-snake-body-less – told me it would be found in New York.

    Buffy comes to her feet with a question as Willow closes her take-out container.

    BUFFY: But we got it back! How can it be found if it’s not lost?

    WILLOW: That message was sent for a reason. We need to find out what it means – before get attacked again. Before we lose another…

    The view widens to show Willow and Buffy both from behind Xander. Willow stares regretfully at him as she catches herself. Buffy immediate stares off at nowhere, facing one of the workstations.

    WILLOW: … Another fight.

    BUFFY: ‘Kay. Prosecution rests. Later on we can figure out who should come with –

    XANDER: *Guys*.

    We see Xander in extreme close-up after he has their attention. He looks down sadly as he opens up to them.

    XANDER: I appreciate the eggshells, but… Renee’s dead. I’m dealing with it. By myself.

    Willow and Buffy both look back at him with caution and sympathy as he goes on. His words suggest a firmness of tone.

    XANDER: I’m not being a *guy*; I’ll ask for help if I need it, but we can’t turn war councils into awkward pausathons because I lost someone close. We have to stay focused, so…

    The view shifts, and we see Xander sitting forward, leaning on his lap again as he demands information. As he does, though, a voice calls out to them from the entrance to the command center.

    XANDER: I need to know everything about the demon lover with the snake body and don’t shield me anything deviant, or… I don’t want to say kinky –

    VOICE: *Guys*!

    The view shifts to reveal the new arrival – it’s Leah, standing in the doorway, out of breath. She points behind her with her thumb.

    LEAH: In the orchard. It’s Dawn.

    The very next image shows Willow flying low along the castle grounds, hurrying to Dawn. Buffy nearly keeps pace with her on foot. Behind them, Xander chases after them.

    WILLOW: *DAWNIE*!

    Willow pauses in mid-air, and we see her view of the forest as Dawn’s voice is heard from inside the tree cover.

    DAWN: Ah… oh God…

    WILLOW: Dawnie! Wha’ts wrong?

    We see Willow drop gracefully from the air, her skirt fluttering around her as she lands. Dawn’s voice calls out to her.

    DAWN: *Don’t come in here*!

    We see Willow staring straight ahead and Buffy comes charging up, calling for her sister. Behind them, Xander is still doggedly running after them.

    BUFFY: Dawn? Are you sick? Can you stand?

    DAWN: (from out of the view) I *am* standing?

    BUFFY: You… you mean you… got shrunk?

    We Buffy and Willow in profile. Willow has her fingers on her chin thoughtfully. Buffy is smiling encouragingly as she fishes for reaction from Dawn. Xander stands on Buffy’s other side, sweating and panting from the long sprint.

    XANDER: Wuzzis? Shrunk? Whuh?

    BUFFY: *Yay*! Dawnie, yay?

    The view reverses to reveal Dawn. She’s of almost human height, but that is all. She is a centaur – her body a sleek brown with a thick tail that flows like her own hair. Her torso is as fit and attractive as ever – but she is forced to cover her breasts with hands. Her scowl reveals the sarcasm of her answer.

    DAWN: Neigh.

    The scene shifts again, and the sight is immediately daunting – it’s Twilight, facing something we can’t see. His jacket collar is turned up, and the background behind him Is blank gray space.

    TWILIGHT: Hmm.

    In a wider view, we see that Twilight is in a lab of some kind, set up in a building with stone walls. He’s not alone. Amy and Warren are with him. Amy stands patiently with her hands behind her back as the white-lab-coat clad skinless man looks indignant at Twilight’s reaction to his work.

    WARREN: ”Hmm”? F$&@ you, “hmm”. This is *primo*.

    AMY: Sweetie…

    In a closer view of Twilight facing Warren, the villain’s arms crossed patiently, Warren ignores his girlfriend and continues his rant.

    WARREN: Look, copperhead, we busted our asses on this baby. And it will do the job.

    TWILIGHT: Yes.

    We see Twilight alone in close-up as he responds to Warren’s outrage.

    TWILIGHT: It will do its part, I’m sure. But it’s only a small part in a great scheme.

    Warren steps closer to Twilight, still pushing. Amy has stepped around behind him, clearly on his side, but watches Twilight a little warily.

    WARREN: Hey, I have no skin. Which means I don’t have your cute little symbol carved in it. I’m in this for myself, and myself is telling you right now that *this baby*

    The view widens and we see what Warren has made. He and Twilight stand facing a giant missile. It looks perfectly dangerous on its own, but to add to the menace, it’s covered in painted magical emblems, has candles all over it, and a magic book of some kind open on a podium in front of it, clearly used to enchant the weapon.

    WARREN: …is gonna bring the noise.

    The scene shifts back to Scotland, and we see Buffy alone under the blue sky talking on her cell phone in private.

    BUFFY: Good. You’ll let me know where?

    Having gotten an answer, Buffy snaps her phone shut as she turns and walks toward Willow and Xander. The others are standing together a respectful distance away. Behind them, a small black helicopter waits to be boarded.

    XANDER: Come on, slowpoke!

    BUFFY: Sorry. I’m here.

    We see the three together, Buffy facing Willow and Xander. Willow looks at Buffy with a curious face, but the Slayer and Xander focus on each other, sharing last minute information.

    XANDER: This’ll drop you at the airstrip. Soon as something interesting happens you call in.

    BUFFY: Sorry to leave you holding the bag of oats…

    XANDER: Flicka and I will be fine. I don’t feel good about leaving my squad right now anyway. Git.

    Later, a private jet pulls up from the runway of an airport. We hear Willow’s voice from inside.

    WILLOW: This is nice, Buff…

    Inside the cabin, Buffy and Willow sit together in the spacious seats. Willow is poring through one of a few texts on her lap, while Buffy stares out the window. They don’t look at each other as they speak.

    WILLOW: More largess from your mysterious benefactor who is actually you stealing things?

    BUFFY: You know, we *do* have some legitimate funding…

    WILLOW: Ah, I’m just ribbin’.

    BUFFY: ‘Kay. Color me ribbed.

    We see them in a closer view, still not looking at each other. After what seems like an awkward pause, Buffy changes subjects.

    BUFFY: You got a time frame on this mystical event thingie?

    WILLOW: I’m guessing midnight.

    BUFFY: How come?

    WILLOW: I’m a witch. We like midnight.

    In close-up, Buffy continues to look out the window as she clarifies her interest in their schedule.

    BUFFY: I’m gonna need a couple hours. Gotta… take a meeting.

    WILLOW: Meeting?

    BUFFY: With a thing. It’s no big.

    From across Buffy’s face, we see Willow finally look at her friend, smiling with bemusement.

    WILLOW: I’ll respect your crypticality for now, Slayer. I still need to get some clue about the event.

    As Willow turns back down to concentrate on her books, Buffy glances over at her with a questioning look.

    BUFFY: I know you trust your source, but we really don’t know what we’re walking into, do we?

    WILLOW: Do we ever? We’ll be in and out in a day, and as for the possibility of encountering hostiles, well…

    Willow’s line continues over the next image, which brings us to a new scene. It’s the urban skyline of New York City, scene from above.

    WILLOW: (voiceover) “… I sent an advance team.”

    The next image shows Kennedy, standing solicitously with her elbow on the doorframe of the jetway Buffy and Willow are emerging from. She’s looking straight ahead; we’re seeing her as if we’re Willow.

    KENNEDY: Hey, red. Didn’t miss you.

    We see Willow and Kennedy embrace, locking their arms around each other’s backs and staring lovingly at each other as they banter their hellos.

    WILLOW: Didn’t even think about you.

    KENNEDY: Kinda forgot you.

    WILLOW: And I would know you from…?

    The moment breaks as Kennedy notices Buffy coming toward them. The senior Slayer has what appears to be all of their luggage under her arms and in her hands as she trudges along.

    KENNEDY: The boss of bosses. Need a hand with that?

    BUFFY: No, I’m good, I’m balanced…

    As they move through the airport’s luggage claim, Kennedy and Willow hold hands, with Kennedy shouldering Willow’s lone carry-on. Behind them, Buffy hurries to keep up.

    WILLOW: Buffy had an outfit crisis. We should have seen the warning signs.

    BUFFY: Well I’ve never been to New York – I want to look… New Yorky… and there could be weather.

    KENNEDY: Please. I don’t go to *Denny’s* without packing three bags.

    WILLOW: Sad but true but also cute.

    A short while later, we see Buffy in close-up. Her lips are pursed in wonder, and her eyes wide open. She’s standing up in a limousine, her head out of the sunroof and her ponytail blowing out behind her.

    BUFFY: Ooh…

    In a wider view, we see Buffy lift her arms exultantly as the limo speeds toward the city. Inside, Willow and Kennedy are talking business.

    KENNEDY: We’re working with the Manhattan squad on security and housing, but my group’s taking point on the op.

    Inside the limo, Kennedy and Willow are sitting on the rear bench. As they talk, they watch Buffy, who’s torso is visible as she continues to stand up through the sunroof.

    WILLOW: Violet’s okay with that?

    KENNEDY: She’s got plenty to do. The city that never sleeps doesn’t exactly… well, sleep. It’s vampire heaven. We’ll mostly stay out of their way – though they probably wouldn’t hate a little face time with the “great and terrible”…

    BUFFY: *Ooh! Ooh!* Empire State building!

    We see a closer image of Willow and Kennedy. Kennedy appears to smirk a little at Buffy’s behavior.

    WILLOW: She’s never been in New York.

    BUFFY: (from out of the view) I’m the King Kong of the *worrrrld*!

    WILLOW: Or, apparently, a limo.

    The scene shifts and we see a closeup of Violet, more commonly “Vi”, holding a small pointer. She’s dressed casually in a tank top, her red bangs held back by a clip.

    VIOLET: What can I tell you?

    The view widens and we see that Violet is addressing her team, the Manhattan Squad, in a highrise loft of some kind. At least eight Slayers, watch her, either sitting on the floor or standing. Willow stands as well. Off to one side, Kennedy and Buffy sit on a table. As Violet gives her briefing to the room, she uses a map as a visual aid.

    VIOLET: We’ve got mystical turf wars raging in almost every section of the city – and that’s just Manhattan. There’s dark mages gathering in Tribeca, Harlem is overflowing with Fyarls, and there’s a blood war in the financial district, which is actually status quo. Oh, and an angry spirit is attacking the cast of *Xanadu*, don’t ask me why.

    In another close-up, Violet gestures at the map with her pointer. The map is of Manhattan, with notable locations like Bellevue Medical Center and Thompkins Square Park visible. As she get to the information Willow was waiting for, the witch interjects.

    VIOLET: All of which means that tracing the mystical signature Willow sent our wiccan squad has been… a little tricky. We think – operative word “think” – it’s coming from this high-rise on 53rd and Lex. But it seems to be coming and going.

    WILLOW: (from out of the view) It *would* be.

    The view reverses. Willow steps forward to explain. Behind her, Buffy and Kennedy listen on. On the ground, Slayers whisper to each other. Whether they mean Buffy or Willow, they clearly think they are in the presence of superstars.

    WILLOW: I was looking for a… there’s not a word for it that we can say, but it’s sort of the opposite of an echo. Can I use your board a sec?

    MANHATTAN SLAYER: (whispering) Can you even believe she’s standing right here?

    We see the board in close-up as Willow begins to diagram her explanation. She draws a straight line, marking it with hashes.

    WILLOW: This is time, as we experience it. There’s the past, there’s now, and the far-off future.

    In extreme close-up, we see Willow draw concentric circles radiating from a point on her line.

    WILLOW: The event happens… sometime around here. But it’s a *temporal* anomaly, which means it affects the timestream almost exactly like a pebble thrown into a pond… and what your girls are picking up –

    We see only Willow’s diagram as she continues.

    WILLOW: – I hear whispering and we are not playing Pictionary so clam the hell up – … is the last subsiding ripple of the event. And event completely fluid *temporally*…

    The view shits to where Kennedy and Buffy are sitting, as they watch Willow get on a roll.

    WILLOW: (from out of the view) … But deadlocked *spatially*.

    KENNEDY: (to Buffy) How hot am I for teacher right now?

    BUFFY: You know she took over the computer-science class at Sunnydale? Wasn’t even a senior. My Will…

    In an instant, Kennedy turns and looks sharply at Buffy. As Kennedy warns her off, Buffy looks confused and exasperated at how much Kennedy apparently knows.

    KENNEDY: Hey, grubby paws *off*, Lez-faux.

    BUFFY: What? What have you – who said I –

    KENNEDY: I love that you’re in your experimental phase – ‘cause I really kinda thought you were a ‘phobe – but you put the moves on red and I’ll kill you like a chicken.

    BUFFY: (quietly) Hamnoo?

    WILLOW: (shouting, from out of the view) *I still hear whispering*!

    Back in Scotland, it’s nearly sunset. Xander and Dawn stand together watching it against the mountainous horizon. Dawn now has a form-fitting black sleeveless top on, so is free to put her hands on her hips, clearly unhappy with the change.

    XANDER: But at least we know they fade. And Will’s pretty sure we know the parameters. Three. Magic number three.

    Dawn crosses her arms, looking away from him. She takes little reassurance from his words. Xander looks up at her in genuine surprise as she sums up her situation.

    DAWN: Great. Three magic enchantments wherein my ass is huge.

    XANDER: Are you kidding? Dawn…

    As Xander finishes his question, we see Dawn look back in close-up. It’s unclear how much of her face is flattered or disbelieving.

    XANDER: (from out of the view) You really don’t know how awesome you look?

    From behind Dawn, looking down of course, we see Xander shrug, spreading his arms for emphasis.

    XANDER: You’re a frikkin’ centaur! Majestic creature of legend! I’m actually jealous.

    Dawn looks unconvinced, but more sad now than angry. She looks down and away, arms still crossed, as Xander relaxes. He still looks up to her face.

    DAWN: I sleep standing up. I pee a crazy amount of pee. I want hay – I actually *want to eat hay*. I don’t feel like a majestic creature of legend. I feel like a freak.

    In close-up, Xander looks down, his face a little resigned.

    XANDER: It’s temporary, Dawnbo. And it’s a lot better than trampling Tokyo. There must be a non-whiny way to deal with this.

    We see Dawn in close-up, her expression making words unnecessary – that was the wrong thing to say.

    XANDER: (from out of the view) Aannd, when I say “whiny”…

    It’s too late; the next image shows Dawn galloping away from him full tilt, toward the tree line. Xander puts his hands on his hips as he stands alone watching the last bit of the sun set between the mountains.

    We see Xander marching slowly back up the hill to the castle. He’s muttering to himself, not noticing the green streak racing across the sky toward the castle.

    XANDER: Mmm, this foot tastes delicious… ah, what are you gonna do? Who can fathom the mystery that is horse-slash-woman…

    In close-up, Xander takes notice, staring up at the sky with alarm.

    XANDER: What is that…

    He instantly sprints forward toward the castle. The green streak is Twilight’s missile, and Xander shouts in vain for Leah, for anyone as he runs forward. Far too late.

    XANDER: *NO!! INCOMING! INCOMING!*

    He’s blown backwards in mid-sprint as the castle erupts in a detonation of green flame and masonry. The shockwave hits him with a *FWH TOOOM!!*. The image of destruction is absolute. Surely none could have survived.

    The next image shows Xander sitting up in the grass – the horror and surprise settling on his face as the green flames light up the night sky. Kennedy’s voice leads us into the next scene.

    KENNEDY: (voiceover) “It’s quiet.”

    When the view shifts back to New York, we see Kennedy with her hands on the rail of a high-rise balcony, the wind whipping her dark hair around. Other Slayers stand on the balcony with her. Willow stands behind her, looking into a magic book. A glowing ball of yellow energy hovers over the witch’s right hand.

    WILLOW: Are you about to say that it’s “too quiet”, dear?

    KENNEDY: No, I’m gonna say I think we’re, okay, not to jinx… I think your source played us straight.

    We see from behind Kennedy as she turns to face her girlfriend. Willow doesn’t look up – there are now two glowing balls of energy around her.

    KENNEDY: ‘Course, I still wouldn’t hate a hint as to who your source is… or any indication *at all* about what’s supposed to happen here…

    In close-up, Willow’s expression tightens a bit, not wanting to indulge Kennedy’s leading question.

    WILLOW: We’re on the furthest edge of a temporal rift.

    KENNEDY: (from out of the view) Yeah, I saw a diagram.

    WILLOW: Oh, right. So, the event is in the future. But every time those ripples swell, anomalies can occur. Something may be coming through to us. Hopefully something helpful.

    The view reverses to Kennedy, who is still watching her girlfriend work.

    KENNEDY: it’s about the scythe.

    WILLOW: (from out of the view) Yes.

    KENNEDY: And Buffy has the scythe.

    WILLOW: Yes.

    KENNEDY: But we don’t have Buffy.

    The next image shows Buffy leaning out a sliding glass door onto the balcony, announcing her return. He is wearing the same gold, fairly skimpy dress we saw at the beginning of the issue, and smiles brightly as she calls out.

    BUFFY: You have me! I’m had, I’m on time I’m not in trouble hi.

    The view reverses and we see from behind Buffy as Kennedy and Willow eye her skeptically.

    KENNEDY: Well, I feel underdressed.

    WILLOW: Must have been *some* “no big”…

    We see Buffy standing alone, pulling the scythe out of the large shoulder bag she was carrying.

    BUFFY: I’m undercover! And I thought we weren’t expecting fighty. But I can change…

    An instant later, where Buffy was standing, a flash of white light fills the image with a *FWWIT*.

    And where Buffy was standing, we now see an eyeless demon, slouching and slobbering. One of its arm’s ends in a giant claw.

    DEMON: hhuurrrrrsssss

    The view shifts around to Willow and Kennedy, who both look very surprised by the switch.

    KENNEDY: The other look was fine…

    The next image shows Buffy, alone in a black space. She’s falling horizontally, with no reference, and her mouth is open in a scream.

    (NARRATION) BUFFY: So. Pain.

    Back on the Manhattan rooftop, the demon lunges toward Kennedy, who steps between it and Willow, already giving other Slayers orders.

    KENNEDY: *SLAYERS! Flank and contain!*

    We see Buffy again, still in pain, the scythe held in front of her. Her body is translucent in the red light, and her veins and organs visible through her silhouette as she writhes in the darkness.

    (NARRATION) BUFFY: New pain. *Most* pain.

    On the rooftop, Kennedy narrowly steps back from being gutted by the demon’s claw arm – it tears through her shirt and gashes her stomach as well.

    KENNEDY: Damn…

    We see Buffy again, but now she’s rocketing forward, toward a growing orange light in the black space.

    (NARRATION) BUFFY: And just when you think it’s never gonna end…

    The next image shows Buffy on the rooftop we saw at the start of the issue – she arrives with a *FWWT* of displaced air. She’s holding her scythe, looking around in bewilderment.

    And then immediately we see a close-up as her head is knocked backwards by a vicious punch to the jaw.

    (NARRATION) BUFFY: … it doesn’t.

    From behind, we see Buffy rocked by another punch – Fray has arrived, and throws an uppercut that knocks Buffy off her feet with a *CRAK!*

    Buffy lands hard on her upper back, dropping her scythe. Fray’s voice calls out sarcastically before Buffy can even try to sit up.

    FRAY: (from out of the view) This is *toy*!

    We see Buffy from above as she looks up at her attacker, utterly confused by both the situation and the words she’s hearing.

    FRAY: (from out of the view) You think you can spin me with a half-coi glam of a Slayer been dust more than two-cen?

    The view reverses and we see Fray from ground level with Buffy. She is dressed for a fight and ready to give one, holding her own scythe at her side. Behind her, the monkey demon she met in “Tales of the Slayers” stands on a heating unit, watching her and Buffy. Fray sneers at the other Slayer.

    FRAY: You’re lower than a *lurk*.

    The last image is of Buffy, trying to sit up, her scythe still on the rooftop beside her. She doesn’t even know where to begin.

    BUFFY: Uh… English?

    To Be Continued

    End of Issue #16

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    Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Season 8, Issue #17
    “Time of Your Life, Part II”


    Prologue Summary: Today thousands of Slayers populate the world – forming squadrons, fighting vampires, demons, and, more recently, the U.S. military. Buffy and Xander continue to train an elite force of Slayers in the highlands of Scotland where they prepare to duel their fiercest foe to date: Twilight.

    Buffy’s fresh from another doomed relationship, and Xander has suffered another great loss. Now a mystical vision has directed Willow toward New York City and clues to the future of magic. And as for Dawn… she’s still experiencing some serious growing pains.

    Start of Issue #17

    The opening image is of Melaka Fray, the Vampire Slayer. She is crouching alertly, one hand touching a large metal surface. Smoke and air wisp past her. She is wearing a green shirt that doesn’t quite meet her matching cargo pants. Her fingersnails and lipstick match the same purple that blends into her otherwise indigo hair. She has tape around her hand and her elbows.

    MEL: This is the place.

    In a wider image, we see that the metal surface Mel is touching is the side of what looks like a flying cargo van. The van, marked “B-42”, is racing along through the flying traffic of Mel’s city, Haddyn. Mel herself is crouching on the sidecar of a blue, flying motorcycle. Driving the bike is a blond-haired woman – Melaka’s sister, ERIN.

    ERIN: You’re sure?

    MEL: I got ‘em nosed. This is the nest.

    In close-up, we see Fray reach down with her right hand into the bike’s side car to retrieve a familiar weapon – her Scythe.

    ERIN: (from out of the view) Without an ock I can’t spill a whole van –

    MEL: I’m not gonna get you booted from the laws, sis.

    The view reverses, and we see Fray turn to instruct her sister while holding the blade of her scythe toward the side of the van.

    MEL: Just brake when I say.

    The signal is given without us hearing, because the next image shows the blurring motion of bike braking, the van speeding ahead, and Mel’s Scythe peeling back the metal side of the cargo vehicle as they decelerate. The vampires – lurks – inside look surprised.

    We see Melaka in close-up, her face cold and ready. Behind her, Erin looks amazed at the number of creatures in the van.

    ERIN: There’s so many…

    MEL: Can you lock in their router?

    ERIN: take me a min.

    MEL: A min?

    And before Erin can protest, Mel launches herself forward of the sidecar across the gap to the van. She is smiling enthusiastically. One of the vampires is leaning through the hole in the van, ready to meet her.

    MEL: I’m buying.

    We see Melaka and the vampire tumble through the air as she tackles him – they are falling through the Haddyn traffic, Melaka taking advantage in the weightless fight, holding her Scythe like a spear.

    In a close-up, we see Erin looking down after her baby sister, looking weary and worried.

    ERIN: (to herself) Does she alwy have to do that?

    In a wider view, Erin cuts her police bike across the backtrail of the van, using a beam of some kind to scan the vampires’ license plate.

    ERIN: Okay. Router lock active…

    Back with Melaka, she and the vamp are still falling, but there’s no sign Mel really notices. She has her legs coiled around the vampire and is screaming at him. For his part, he is surprised and has no idea what she’s talking about.

    MEL: *Where is he*?

    In an extreme close-up, we see Melaka’s eyes, one squinting, the other wide and almost crazy.

    MEL: *Where is Harth*?

    In the next image, we see the cargo van crash into a forcefield and explode with a *BWOOOOOM*. A router lock presumably being a way to direct a vehicle remotely. The forcefield covers a large stone statue of a bearded man holding a book in one hand and making what appears to be the “shocker” gesture with the other.

    Next we see Fray and the vampire land on the roof of another traveling car. Mel has the vampire pinned under her feet as she drives it into the roof, shattering glass. Her Scythe is aimed stake down at his chest.

    VAMP: This can’t hap! He promised us your world!

    MEL: Spled for you. *Where*?

    VAMP: He said the madwoman would save us!

    From the vamp’s point of view, we see Mel casually holding the Scythe in both hands, ready to finish him.

    MEL: What woman?

    VAMP: The dark-haired one. She’s lived for centuries, speaks in riddles and strange voices… he calls her the black hope, says she has power greater even than his. Please don’t give me th’ poke

    In a close-up, we see Mel’s face scowl mercilessly. As she stakes the vampire with a *CHK*, he collapses into green dust with a *PFFT*.

    MEL: Begging. Weak.

    From above, we see Fray smiling as she vaults backwards off the flying car. Her sister waits to catch her on her police bike. Erin’s question in voiceover takes us into the next scene.

    ERIN: (voiceover) “Do you know who she is?”

    The scene shifts, and we see Melaka walking across the floor of a large library. It has a sky-roof, wood paneling, and a stone fireplace. She’s set up a hammock in the corner, but it’s clearly the same room she’s led to in “Tales of the Slayers”. Erin stands in the entrance way, looking dubious.

    MEL: Not off top, but it sounds famil. Gotta scan the diaries again.

    ERIN: This place… you know, I still have that extra room…

    From behind, Melaka is poring over one of the shelves, looking for a book. She doesn’t turn when she answers.

    MEL: This is my home. Place welcomes me. Got histry in it, in these diaries, and since Harth got my memories, I’ve need. ‘Sides…

    Mel’s answer is cut off, and emphasized, when we see a six-limbed monkey with green glowing eyes leap onto Erin’s shoulders. The police woman is panicked as the creature babbles on her back.

    MEL: (from out of the view) You really set to share a flat with Gates?

    GATES: Mek mek!

    ERIN: *Dahh*!

    GATES: Mekrin-syppah!

    Next we see a much calmer Erin easing the monkey demon off her shoulders while Melaka, behind her, finds her book.

    ERIN: “Gates”?

    MEL: The last great Watcher. Sacrificed himself at the Battle of Starbucks.

    ERIN: “Starbucks.” Where’s that?

    MEL: Dunno. I’m slow getting through these – even all the ones in old ‘merican.

    In close-up, Melaka’s face is distracted by real curiousity as she turns slowly through one of the diaries.

    MEL: But I read about a madwoman ‘fore.

    The scene shifts, and we’re in a darkened room with a rounded opening that faces the uninvited Haddyn skyline. HARTH is in the room, as well as a woman in a flowing gown, excessively frilled. Her hair is dark, and we don’t see her face. Harth is bringing her a golden cup, with steam of some kind rising off of it.

    HARTH: I remember fighting you.

    In close-up, we see the woman accept the cup in her hands. It appears to be filled with water.

    HARTH: (from out of the view) In the dream, you hurt me. Not just fighting – you’re connected to someone I love.

    In a wide view, we see Harth step out through the rounded doorway and onto a balcony. He is overlooking what appears to be a shipping hard, and it’s full of vehicles like the cargo van Mel and Erin attacked.

    HARTH: And that’s the one, the Slayer of Slayers. That’s who I am in the dream. That’s who’s coming.

    The view shifts and we see the woman, cup still held in front of her, but we can’t see her face above her dark lips.

    WOMAN: Tonight. The princess leaves her kingdom for the forest of the now.

    The view reverses back to Harth, who’s eyes glow slightly as he stares back at her. He is resting one arm on the rail of his balcony, and seems uncertain of the woman’s idea.

    HARTH: I haven’t asked why you want her here. Or why you want my sister to find her.

    WOMAN: But you want to.

    HARTH: Aren’t they more of a threat to us combined?

    As the woman answers in voiceover, the view shifts to ground in the shipping yard. Harth’s vampires are pulling humans out of the vans. One has a young girl with pigtails over his shoulder, indifferent to her sobbing.

    WOMAN: (voiceover) “Your schemes are ingenious. Keeping your force mobile, spreading the beloved infection throughout Noram… you gnaw at the root of your world.”

    Back in the room, we see from over the woman’s shoulder that Harth is watching her hesitantly. She is raising the cup toward her face.

    WOMAN: But there is nothing a Slayer cannot overcome.

    HARTH: Then why call for another?

    In extreme close-up, we see the woman’s lips nearly close enough to the cup to drink from it, a lone drop of water slipping over the rim.

    WOMAN: Vampires gain strength from each other. Slayers, ultimately, don’t.

    From above, we see the woman suddenly turn and walk briskly from the room, the cup almost forgotten in her hand. Her long, purple dress flows behind her, and Harth just leans against the rail, gripping it in bewilderment.

    WOMAN: What happens in your time will cause your time to come, do you see?

    HARTH: I

    In close-up, we see Harth’s confused face as the woman calls back to him.

    WOMAN: (from out of the view) Ripples, child. Everything is ripples.

    The scene shifts, and it goes back in time. We see Willow, looking down, unhappy, alone against a plain blue background.

    WILLOW: This is my fault.

    The view widens, and we see Willow is cradling Kennedy in front of her, while another Slayer reaches into a first-aid kit. They are still on the Manhattan rooftop. Two other Slayers guard, while the Exchange Demon stands still, captured in a green energy field that appears to have been Willow’s work.

    KENNEDY: Nah, I zigged when I shoulda stabbed. I’ll heal up okay. Still, a considerate girlfriend would have *killed* that thing.

    WILLOW: I have to figure some things out first.

    The view reverses, and we see Willow has gotten up to move closer and look at the demon. Kennedy crouches behind her as the other Slayer is still tending her wound.

    WILLOW: This wasn’t a transmogrification, which is a huge relief.

    KENNEDY: Why?

    WILLOW: Are you kidding? Buffy can’t handle a zit. In this body, she’d kill herself.

    In close-up, we see Willow looking serious despite her joke.

    WILLOW: I think our new friend is from the future. And I think Buffy took his place.

    We see Kennedy holding her arms up with the other Slayer dresses her wound, wrapping gauze and tape around her waist.

    KENNEDY: I thought this temporal event thingie was supposed to help us.

    WILLOW: (from out of the view) so did I. Which means…

    And we see Willow again in close-up, her eyes wide with self-doubt.

    WILLOW: … this is my fault.

    The scene shifts again, and into Scotland. We see a wood-frame door shatter under strain, and Xander bursting through it as he knocks it down. He’s inside the castle, which is filled with green flame after the attack in 8.16.

    XANDER: *Gnaahh*!

    From above, we see the scene in front of Xander. He is at the entrance of the command center itself. The tables and workstations are all smashed under collapsed masonry. The master view screen is blank and cracked. Green flames burst on all the wood surfaces as well as on scattered debris. The dais on the side of the room has an opening into the floor, steps that lead down out of the room. On that side of the room, two Slayers carry Leah toward that stairway. It’s unclear if Leah is unconscious or worse. Alone in the center of the room, at Xander’s usual post on the center platform, is Rowena, working intently over the controls.

    XANDER: God…

    We see Xander come up behind Rowena, touching her arm urgently. Rowena, rather than intense, looks almost resigned as she works the controls.

    XANDER: *Rowena! Status*!

    ROWENA: Got most of the squad out through the tunnels.

    The view reverses, and we see Xander looking over her shoulder at the controls. When Rowena answers, she still seems affectless, lost in her own mind.

    XANDER: “Most.”

    ROWENA: West tower collapsed. At least seven.

    XANDER: Do you know what his us?

    From the same view, Rowena begins to break down. Her chin falls to her chest and she is wiping tears from her eyes as Xander tries to snap her out of it.

    XANDER: Soldiers die, Rowena. (quietly) They do it all the time. (normal) This is fried. We’re not calling for help.

    We see Xander take the younger girl by the shoulders, her body slack and her eyes full of tears.

    XANDER: Whatever hit us was mystical, okay? Flames are not bright green.

    In a close-up, we see over Rowena’s shoulder as Xander’s right eye widens at something he’s seen behind her.

    XANDER: Also, interesting sidebar, flames are not medieval cobra-faced foot soldiers.

    Behind Rowena, the very creatures Xander described are marching into the control center. They appear to be made of the green flame – muscular warriors with snake faces. The one closest carries maces made of green flame in either hand, and it crushes one of the few intact computers with a *WHCRASH!* of the mace hitting it. Xander still has Rowena by the arms, and pushes her behind him, toward the stairway escape.

    XANDER: Tunnels! *Now*!

    As Rowena stats down the steps, we see Xander taken in the shoulder be a green-flame arrow from one of the soldiers. He screams in pain as he falls.

    XANDER: *Ahh*!

    We see Rowena turn to head back up the stairs, barely able to see Xander’s face around the debris and fire.

    ROWENA: *SIR*!!!

    In a closer view, we see Xander on his side, propped on an elbow. A small line of fire separate him and Rowena as she tries to stay with him.

    XANDER: Get the Slayers out.

    ROWENA: Sir…

    XANDER: Or, yeah, maybe we should discuss the pros and cons and put it up for a vote. *GO*!

    As one of the green-flame soldiers stand over Xander, the man pulls the arrow from his shoulder, splashing some blood. Behind him, Rowena has escaped into the tunnels.

    XANDER: Nnnaaaaokay… I just gotta… snakes… green… fire…

    In an extreme close-up, Xander looks up to face what he might think is his last moment, since he’s defenseless.

    XANDER: I can’t believe I don’t have a pun.

    Before anything can attack him, the next image shows Dawn arriving – we see her use her powerful equine hind legs to drive the head of the soldier advancing on Xander into the stone walls of the command center. Xander looks up at her, astonished at his rescuer.

    DAWN: *Taaahh*!

    From Xander’s position on the floor, we see Dawn reach her hand down to help him to his feet.

    XANDER: You shouldn’t be here!

    DAWN: You’re welcome. Those things are forming all over the place.

    Dawn looks over her shoulder to where Xander is standing again, but he’s leaning forward against her back.

    DAWN: How bad?

    XANDER: Unless I can fall down and *throw up* my way out of here, I got nothin’.

    DAWN: Okay, okay.

    We see Dawn looking resigned to the situation before she decides.

    DAWN: You’re gonna have to… (quietly) … ride me…

    We see her in close-up, looking down as she quietly answers Xander’s request for clarification. Her speech is shown as almost imperceptibly small.

    XANDER: What?

    DAWN: (very quietly) Ride me.

    As Xander realizes what she’s saying, he reacts in alarm. Dawn, for her part, takes a second to look annoyed, either at his difficulty grasping the idea or at the idea itself.

    XANDER: Ah! Ride you!

    DAWN: Hennh…

    XANDER: *Aagh*!

    The next image shows them galloping across the grounds. Xander looks terrified as Dawn bucks and leaps around attack from more green-flame soldiers. Xander has two handfuls of Dawn’s long, dark hair.

    DAWN: *You’re pulling my hair*!

    XANDER: *I’m holding your mane*!

    DAWN: *My mane is my hair!*

    We see Dawn and Xander from behind as they speed away from the soldiers and escape into the forest. A question in voiceover by Erin Fray leads us into the next scene.

    ERIN: (voiceover) “Are you cert this is a good idea?”

    The scene shifts back to Melaka’s time, and Mel is hopping off Erin’s police bike onto a roof top, Scythe in hand. She’s now dressed as when we first saw her in 8.16.

    MEL: Have I ever had one? The books talk about this place. The last girl came here and was transformed, they says.

    Fray stands on the roof, Erin’s bike still hovering behind her, as she explains. Something appears to be watching from the shados.

    MEL: They say the madwoman’s power reached through the ages and changed her. Sounds hokum, but worth a peek. I find troubles, I’ll pulse you.

    Back in our present, we see Willow in close-up, talking to someone we can’t see.

    WILLOW: This is how it goes down.

    The next image is back on the rooftop with Melaka, but we still have Willow giving the voiceover as she explains what we’re watching. The exchange demon steps out to attack the future Slayer.

    WILLOW: (voiceover) “Years from now, someone enlists our big ugly demon friend to take down the Slayer. I’m guessing this was meant to draw her out.”

    We see Fray deliver a sharp side kick to the demon’s stomach, knocking it backwards. As it stumbles, a blue and white flash of light appears behind it – a portal opening.

    WILLOW: (voiceover) “Then whoever summoned big ugly opened a temporal portal, sucked him right in. From what he said, that wasn’t in the recruitment ad.”

    Back in the present, we see from behind Willow’s shoulder that she’s addressing a roomful of Slayers. Kennedy stands in the crowd of seven Slayers. Vi, their leader, listens at the front of the group with her hands on her hips.

    WILLOW: Whoever did this has way more power than I do. And they made very sure word would get out. To the magic community, to my allies, to me. We were played. We’re all pasties.

    VIOLET: Or possibly “patsies”?

    Willow’s voiceover resumes as the scene takes us back to the rooftop with Melaka. Except now, instead of the demon, a very confused Buffy is standing in Fray’s path, and the future Slayer is charging her.

    WILLOW: (voiceover) “Ooh! I suck at tough guy talk. But the point is, we don’t know anything about this person – or about this future Slayer, for that matter. So the question is, what’s waiting for Buffy in the future?

    We see Buffy and Fray plummeting through the air as they were in 8.16, Fray’s hand around Buffy’s throat.

    WILLOW: (voiceover) “And how do we get her back – before something bad happens?”

    The action shifts fully into Melaka’s time and the voiceover drops away. We see Buffy drop onto the roof of a long flying car, landing high on her shoulders with a *THUND*. Her Scythe’s stake end drives into the roof of the car, sticking in place. Fray gracefully lands on her feet, Scythe still ready.

    BUFFY: *Agck*!

    In a close-up, we see Buffy on her back, helpless, holding her hands up defensively.

    BUFFY: Okay. Okay. Stop. Please…

    The view shifts and we see Mel is unimpressed. She swings her own Scythe down with a mighty chop that hits the roof of the car with a *CRACK!* Buffy narrowly rolls away from the attack, still trying to get the other Slayer’s attention.

    BUFFY: *Stop slaying me*!

    MEL: Ghaah!

    Buffy is back on her feet quickly, and slips behind Melaka and locks the younger woman in a full nelson hold. Mel struggles against what she thinks is a demon attacking her.

    MEL: *Offa me, shifter*!

    BUFFY: *I am not shifty*!

    MEL: *That’s spin! You think I’m a slack*!

    BUFFY: *You are talking crazy-person talk.* Put your words in word places, *please*.

    The two Slayers stand face to face, wary, but no longer fighting.

    BUFFY: We both have Scythes. We both have awesome kung-fu movies. Turn-offs include smokers, insensitive men, and *vampires*. You with me?

    MEL: It’s not poss.

    We see the two Slayers from above, now calmly standing. At their feet, both of their Scythes are stuck in the roof of the car on which they are standing.

    BUFFY: We’re standing on a flying car. “Poss” is a pretty sketchy concept right now. So, what: future? Alternate, much cooler universe?

    From over Buffy’s shoulder, we see Melaka studying her face. She recognizes her, but looks uncertain.

    MEL: Buffy Summers.

    BUFFY: Present.

    MEL: Buffy Summers is dead.

    BUFFY: Occasionally. No, yeah, Willow gave that lecture – this is a future thing.

    We see from behind Fray as she watches Buffy crouch down and grip her Scythe. Buffy looks over the edge of the flying car as she talks.

    BUFFY: I’m all the time going off high buildings lately. (quietly, to herself) Boy, that just keeps going down, doesn’t it?

    MEL: Buffy Summers is *long* dead. Two cen, maybe more.

    Buffy looks back over her shoulder at the younger Slayer.

    BUFFY: What’s your name?

    MEL: Melaka.

    BUFFY: Cute. I time-travelled.

    MEL: Why?

    BUFFY: Kinda hoping you were gonna tell me. Is there somewhere we can talk? Somewhere less motion-sicknessy?

    MEL: Follow.

    Without another word, we see a wide view of Melaka bounding off two other flying cars and landing on a Haddyn rooftop. Buffy watches and calls after her.

    BUFFY: Okay, but I can’t –

    We see the car even further away, Buffy still standing on it.

    BUFFY: *I totally can’t do that jumpy thing*… hello?

    Some time soon after, Buffy and Melaka are walking around Haddyn at street level. They are alone in an alley, and draw no attention despite both carrying their Scythes openly.

    BUFFY: So am I still in Manhattan?

    MEL: Haddyn.

    BUFFY: So yeah, I guess. This is actually more like I imagined it than the one in my time.

    In a closer view, Buffy excitedly leans over Mel’s shoulder, enthusiastic about what she might learn. Melaka for her part looks confused by Buffy’s speech, as confused as Buffy herself was when they first met.

    BUFFY: And Willow said – she’s my best friend, you’ve probably read all about her – that this temporal event was gonna help us somehow, besides being a visual nifty, so maybe you’ve got the skinny on defeating Twilight!

    MEL: Uh… ‘merican?

    Fray stops to look at Buffy as the older Slayer asks her for more details on her time. The brick wall behind them is covered in fliers that say “THIS WARN YOU”.

    BUFFY: In my time, the Slayers have just recently been called, so we’re kind of flying blind. At the least I’d like to know how you guys are organized…

    MEL: “Guys”?

    BUFFY: Okay. Sorry. Slow. How many are you? Worldwide, how many Slayers?

    Melaka’s expression darkens slightly as we see her in close-up. If Buffy is kidding, she’s not amused.

    MEL: One.

    The view reverses and we see Buffy with a completely surprised reaction, disbelieving and confused as Melaka clarifies further.

    MEL: (from out of the view) Half.

    The next image shows them walking again, this time into the door of a run-down building.

    MEL: For cen there was none. I’m the first called since your time.

    BUFFY: And the “half” part?

    MEL: I have a twin.

    Inside the building, we see Buffy and Melaka standing in front of a glass wall looking out over the city, an elevator. Melaka shuts her eyes as she tells Buffy the story.

    MEL: His name is Harth. He was born with my memories, my… connex to the Slayers. I got books, old Watchers’ journals, but he knows… more.

    In a close-up, we see Melaka’s face reflected in the glass wall, looking down.

    MEL: And he was turned. He’s a lurk. He has all my world in his head, and he’s using it to gather them. To kill us. My Harth.

    In a wider view, we see the two of them together, and Buffy puts her hands tenderly on Melaka’s shoulders, moved by her story and her loss.

    BUFFY: I’m sorry.

    In the same view, Buffy tries delicately to ask for clarification.

    BUFFY: What’s a lurk?

    The scene shifts and we see Buffy and Fray standing in a well decorated room all lit in blue from the floor. While Buffy recaps the new language to herself, Melaka is looking down at the floor, yelling at something.

    BUFFY: vampires are lurks. A spin is a lie. Toy is bad, but spled is good. Boy, the English language is just *losing* it. (to herself) I should have treated it better…

    MEL: *Gunther! I can hear you down there! Turn on the rutting lights*!

    From above, we see what Melaka was looking at – the floor is glass, and below it is a water tank. As the lights come on, we see a purple skinned creature inside, like a fish. It’s Gunther, Melaka’s sometime employer and information source. Buffy looks down at the creature swimming below her with understandable surprise.

    GUNTHER: Mel*aaahhh*ka… you brought a friend.

    We see Buffy alone from in the tank, suddenly pressing her legs together and the hem of her dress tightly against her thighs.

    BUFFY: How long has he been down there?

    GUNTHER: (from out of the view) Orange polka dots.

    BUFFY: *Ack*! Mer-sleaze.

    The view shifts and we see up at the Slayers from behind Gunther. Buffy is still aghast, protecting her modesty carefully. Melaka is crouching down to look Gunther in the eye.

    MEL: Boss, this is Buffy. A Slayer, so don’t be an aquahog.

    In close-up, Gunther smiles up at Melaka, seemingly impressed at the idea of two Slayers, or perhaps just at the view he’d gotten.

    GUNTHER: Another Sssslayer?

    MEL: (from out of the view) From the past. Time-faddle, don’t know the why.

    The next image shows Buffy having dropped into a careful crouch, capturing the skirt of her dress behind her calves. Fray drops all the way to her knees while talking to Gunther.

    GUNTHER: (from out of the view) I don’t trade in magicks, dear.

    MEL: Haddyn don’t shake without your nod. Someone you know knows something I need.

    In close-up, we see Melaka staring down intently as she gives the details of what she’s looking for.

    MEL: Been chatter of a madwoman, strapping to Harth. If you haven’t heard it you will ‘fore long. Think maybe she’s the keycard to all this.

    We see Gunther floating, sufficiently surprised at the idea.

    In a closer view, he shrugs helplessly as he tries to protest.

    GUNTHER: I turn a blind eye to your hobbies, love. But you can’t expect me

    MEL: You don’t have to lift a fun, Gunther. Just want the chatter.

    The view moves focus on Buffy as Melaka and Gunther talk. Her eyes take on a very serious look.

    GUNTHER: (from out of the view) I’ve heard a little. A woman, alive since ancient timessss

    MEL: Lurks don’t age. What’s her play.

    BUFFY: (to herself) God.

    We see Buffy in close-up, holding her hand to the side of her face. A realization is sinking in, and it’s not a pleasant one.

    BUFFY: (to herself) This is really happening.

    MEL: (from out of the view) Does she at least have a name?

    The scene shifts before Gunther answers, and we see Harth looking down on the loading docks. Cargo vans are loading up with vampires. The madwoman speaks from behind him.

    WOMAN: It’s starting.

    HARTH: It’s going to be quite a battle.

    WOMAN: No…

    We see Harth turn his head slightly in close-up, and in the background, the woman starts to emerge from the shadows. Her hands are crossed delicately in front of her waist.

    WOMAN: Buffy. She’s starting to feel the weight of it. Of the world’s loss. Of her failure.

    The view shifts to Harth, who stares blankly at the woman. He seems concerned, but careful around around her.

    HARTH: You sound sad.

    WOMAN: (from out of the view) Does that surprise you?

    HARTH: But this is a great day for us.

    WOMAN: Why do you need to destroy your sister?

    As he answers, Harth turns around and leans over the rail again, clearly thinking it through. The woman patiently watches from behind him.

    HARTH: She’s the last thing I ever loved. We’re connected. Her pain is my joy. My… true love.

    We see from behind the woman’s head as Harth smiles back at her. Her hair is just the darkest shade of red.

    HARTH: And what in this world is stronger than love?

    The last image reveals the woman’s face at last. Despite the dark gown, the long black fingernails, there is no mistaking her long, dark red hair, her black eyes, or the thin, visible dark veins on her forehead. It’s Willow, looking more like she did when she tried to destroy the world than she ever has since. Her face, though, is full of sadness as she answers Harth’s question.

    WILLOW: Time. Only time.

    To Be Continued

    End of Issue #17

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    Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Season 8, Issue #18
    “Time of Your Life, Part III”


    Prologue Summary: Today thousands of Slayers populate the world – forming squadrons, fighting vampires, demons, and, more recently, the U.S. military. Buffy and Xander continue to train an elite force of Slayers in the highlands of Scotland where they prepare to duel their fiercest foe to date: Twilight.

    Buffy’s fresh from another doomed relationship, and Xander has suffered another great loss. Now a mystical vision has directed Willow toward New York City and clues to the future of magic. And as for Dawn… she’s still experiencing some serious growing pains.

    Start of Issue #18

    The opening image is of a stack of open books on a table. They are piled loosely as if being searched frantically, like we’ve seen before in the library, or the Magic Box. Here, though, they are in Melaka Fray’s library.

    (NARRATION) BUFFY: Nothing.

    The view widens, and we see Buffy from behind as she looks out Fray’s window. The books behind her have clearly been forgotten.

    (NARRATION) BUFFY: A few sketchy references that might be me, or my friends… some encouraging, some dire… at least one that’s too ridiculous to comprehend… but the rest…

    The view moves in and we see Buffy standing up straighter, but still looking away, out the window.

    (NARRATION) BUFFY: I created a race of Slayers. To tip the scales, to beat back the darkness. To make the world better.

    As the image goes to a close-up of Buffy as she looks down out of the window. She raises her hands to the side of her face, trying to grip the difficult thoughts she’s having.

    (NARRATION) BUFFY: But they’re not in the books. Not a mention. Nothing. And the better world…

    The view moved up over Buffy’s shoulder as she begins to lower her hands. We see what she sees – Haddyn at night, all steam and darkness, harsh fluorescents and hovering cars.

    (NARRATION) BUFFY: … turns out like this.

    The next image shows Buffy in close-up, letting us see her face for the first time. She is looking down, though, and a tear is running freely from her left eye while she carefully wipes others away with her hand.

    (NARRATION) BUFFY: Wow. Spoiler alert.

    The view shifts, and before Buffy can indulge her tears, Fray and her companion monkey demon, Gates, have dropped through the broken skylight into the room. Buffy turns in surprise.

    Buffy tries to hide her tears as Fray crosses the room toward her. Gates jumps unto the table with the books Buffy was studying.

    MEL: Gunther said there’s been a hum in the uppers. Lurks don’t usually truck that high.

    BUFFY: Yuh-hunh?

    The elder Slayer turns to face Fray as the younger girl pitches their next move.

    MEL: I fig we stake some lush haunt, lurks come out, we skin ‘em for stories. Yeah?

    BUFFY: Does any part of that sentence involve me beating something up?

    MEL: Think so…

    BUFFY: Include me in.

    In a wide view, we see the two Slayers walk side by side out the door.

    MEL: Books any good?

    BUFFY: I don’t know…

    The scene shifts as Buffy talks. We see Willow, present day Willow, in close-up as she studies one of her magic books. She is pointing at the page and staring at it unhappily.

    BUFFY: (continued) “I didn’t see the ending.”

    WILLOW: Frak!

    From above, we see Willow sitting cross-legged on a bed in pajamas and a t-shirt. Kennedy is leaning over her shoulder, letting her work, but being close. Other books are spread out on the bed in front of Willow.

    KENNEDY: Hey, baby, there’s no need to curse like a nerd. You’ll figure it out.

    WILLOW: I can’t leave Buffy stranded in some horrible unknown future –

    KENNEDY: And you won’t. You just gotta relax.

    The view shifts and we see Kennedy leaning closely over Willow’s shoulder, her face concerned. Willow stared at the book, perhaps ashamed.

    KENNEDY: Somebody slipped you a vision mickey. Your source, or whatever. Can you contact him? Her? *It*?

    In close-up, Willow looks up, suddenly inspired.

    WILLOW: Maybe I can…

    Willow whirls around on the bed and takes Kennedy by the shoulders, staring intently at her.

    WILLOW: Ken-doll, do you trust me and know that I love you and I’m not a crazy person and what we do is for the greater good cross your heart no backsies?

    KENNEDY: Duh. What do we gotta do?

    In an extreme close-up, Willow closes her eyes and looks back down.

    WILLOW: (quietly) Frak.

    The scene shifts and we see Dawn racing through the woods at a full gallop, Xander clinging to her and leaning forward. Sweat pours off her as the forest blurs by.

    The view reverses, and Xander is dropping back off of Dawn. It’s unclear if he’s hit something, lost his grip, or passed out from his injury, but Dawn looks back in surprise and calls out to him.

    DAWN: Xander!

    We see him sitting up after Dawn has stopped and gone back to him.

    XANDER: I’m okay, I’m good, I just… I didn’t break anything that wasn’t already shot…

    From over Xander’s shoulder, we see Dawn. She has her arms up, wiping her sweaty forehead.

    XANDER: How’re *you* feeling?

    DAWN: Like I was ridden hard and put away wet.

    XANDER: *Agh*! Dawn, that’s dis – oh. No. It’s just true.

    We see a wide view of them in the forest, silhouetted against the trees. Xander is still sitting. Dawn is looking around with her hands on her hips.

    XANDER: Well, thanks for the save, Black Beauty.

    DAWN: That’s “Chestnutty Beauty” and what the hell do we do now?

    XANDER: Yeah…

    We see Xander in close-up, facing toward our point of view. Dawn is looking too. They’re staring back in the direction they came.

    XANDER: I’m pretty sure those flamey snakey ren-fair monsters are still coming. And the escape tunnel leads in the other direction, so no hope of getting to the Slayers any time soon.

    DAWN: Big-picture me. Wherefrom with these guys? I just heard a bang.

    XANDER: Oh, it’s simple.

    Xander, in close-up, narrows his good eye angrily.

    XANDER: Bomb. Plus magic. Equals…

    The view shifts to a close-up of a still sweating Dawn, also looking angry as she realizes who attacked them.

    DAWN: Warren and Amy.

    XANDER: (from out of the view) The Laurel and Hardy of being a dick.

    DAWN: Man, I’d love to get them under my hooves.

    XANDER: Amen.

    From behind, we see Dawn pull Xander up to his feet. A voice calls out to them as they plan their next move.

    XANDER: But first we gotta find a way out of these woods, before there’s any more –

    VOICE: *Intruders must die*!

    XANDER: Why do I open my mouth?

    We see who called out to them. Three creatures face them. They are man-trees, trees with the upper bodies of men, branches growing out of them, green, leaf-like hair. Each of them have an arm that turns into a flaming sword, and the leader points to the “intruders” as he threatens.

    TREE-MAN: This place is forbidden to humans. To gaze upon the forest souls is inevitable death. Thus swears *Lorelahn*!

    The view reverses, and Dawn stares coolly at the tree-men. Her arms are crossed and her eyes narrow. Xander, still leaning over, puts up a finger to get their attention.

    DAWN: Yeah. Do I look human to you, tree-boy?

    XANDER: And more importantly, did you just say, “thus swears”?

    From between Xander and Dawn, we see that Lorelahn, the leader, is suddenly uncertain how to deal with them.

    DAWN: What’s your deal, anyway? With the fire and the branches and the sword – did you get caught in a *legend blender*?

    XANDER: *Ka*-ha-ha! No! No. Seriously, Lorelai –

    LORELAHN: Lore*lahn*. With an “ah” sound.

    XANDER: We got things following us that are way scarier than you, so how’s about you show us the way *out* of the forbidden thicket and we’ll call it a weird, horrible day.

    LORELAHN: Uh… it is death to…

    In a wider view, all five of them in the woods are now silhouetted, except for the three flaming swords.

    LORELAHN: What was scarier than us?

    The scene shifts again, and we’re back in the future. We see Gunther, Fray’s nominal boss, swimming through his tank past a collection of medieval weapons. He is swimming to investigate a *TAP TAP TAP* from in his home.

    The *TAP TAP TAP* gets more persistent as Gunther swims through a portal into the open area of his tank.

    In close-up, we see Gunther’s face scowling as he swims upward.

    GUNTHER: Lightsss.

    We see from Gunther’s view up into the room above his tank. The *TAP TAP TAP* is coming from a vampire, tapping a sharpened nail on the glass of Gunther’s tank. One of his guards lies dead on the glass floor, his blood smeered around, and soaked into the vampire’s shirt. Behind that vampire, Harth and two more henchman look on. Gunther’s mouth is open in anger at the intrusion.

    From behind Harth, we see Gunther swimming in his tank, somewhat blocked by the blood.

    HARTH: I’m beginning to think we have a problem.

    In close-up, Harth stares neutrally at Gunther with his blank, glowing yellow eyes.

    HARTH: I know you’ve been feeding my sister information about me. And that’s not really useful right now. What would you suggest?

    In close-up, Gunther stares up at him, not intimated.

    GUNTHER: I’d suggessst you leave before I kill you all.

    We see Harth crouching to talk to Gunther.

    HARTH: Threats aren’t really useful either. You know who I

    GUNTHER: Of course I know. Your thugs so much as crak that glass, the generators will kick enough sunlight into this chamber to roast a pig.

    From behind Gunther, we see up to Harth, who looks amused.

    GUNTHER: You don’t bring muscle to talk business. You want me scared, or dead, and neither’s on the menu.

    HARTH: Maybe not right *now*

    In extreme close-up, Gunther narrows his eyes, and hisses contemptuously at Harth.

    GUNTHER: I was born in the gutter, boy. Not near, *in*. I have worked, and killed, and dodged or bought the laws till I control half of Haddyn and I have done it without ever breathing air. Don’t think to outbeast me.

    From above, Harth turns and leads his men out the door. Gunther watches cautiously.

    HARTH: You have it spun, Gunther. We’re of a kind. After all

    From below, we see Gunther’s doom sneaking up on him – three vampires, swimming up at him inside his tank.

    HARTH: (from out of the view) Lurks don’t breathe either.

    The scene changes, and we see Buffy and Fray in what looks like a purple luxury sports car – a flying car – roaring through the Haddyn traffic. Buffy is driving, and Fray clings to the dashboard in alarm. A flying motorcycle rider going the other way flips Buffy the bird.

    MEL: *Jesu*!

    BUFFY: *Oh God*!

    MEL: *Jesu*!

    BUFFY: *Where’s the brake*?

    MEL: *What’s a brake*?

    We see the car curve upward, higher into the air.

    BUFFY: Okay. Okay. This is good. Up is good.

    MEL: I told you you’d cope it. (to herself) Wish I hadn’t…

    In the car, we see Buffy concentrating on the wheel while Melaka looks around.

    BUFFY: Hey, it’s my first time with grand theft flying auto – I think I’m doing well.

    MEL: Summers, you drive like a spaz!

    BUFFY: And *that* phrase stood the test of time?

    MEL: We had to grab this rig. Get low.

    From a wide view, we see the Slayers are crouching as the vehicle glides oer a wall with a glowing electric gate.

    MEL: Rig’s got access plates. It’s clear for the uppers. We’re not.

    In a close-up, we see Buffy’s profile as she tries to sort through the rules in Haddyn.

    BUFFY: So the top half of Manhattan is a gated community? Guess that’s not a shock. What are we looking for?

    We see Fray point off to the right of their car. A flying hospital van, labeled “ORGANFRESH”, is pulling into a hanger in the side of a highrise.

    MEL: That. There’s no medstore in that plex.

    In the hanger, vampires wrapped in tape and wearing raggy clothes jump out of the hospital van and attack medics and workers. Above, we see Buffy and Fray’s car flying by.

    MEDIC: Jesu! *Help*!

    In close-up, the Slayers look down at the attacks in progress.

    MEL: Let’s go.

    BUFFY: No.

    Melaka whirls incredulously on Buffy as victims call for help from below. The older slower holds onto the steering wheel and continues to fly past the hanger.

    MEDIC: (from out of the view) Somebody help me!

    BUFFY: Gunther said they send out hunting parties.

    MEL: And we need to stop them –

    BUFFY: No, we need to find out where they’re sending them *from*.

    The purple car cruises low near the hanger. Six vampires are attacking at least five people, one of them being thrown into the van and four others down and being fed on.

    BUFFY: You really wanna stop this from spreading? Stop your brother? Then you gotta look at the big picture.

    We see Melaka as she launches herself out of the purple car through the air, scythe in hand. She doesn’t look back at Buffy as she joins the fight.

    MEL: *You* look. I’m gonna do our *job*.

    Fray lands feet first on a vampire’s back, driving the scythe’s stake into it’s back. It’s already crumbling into dust as the other vampires notice her.

    One of the vampires, all wrapped up to protect from the sun, smacks the side of the van. The vampire driving the van looks back. Behind them, Fray begins carving through the other vampires.

    VAMP: It’s her! Go! Get out!

    From the car, Buffy looks down disapprovingly as Fray fights in a cloud of vampire dust.

    BUFFY: Dammit, Fray… I *know* I’m gonna crash this thing.

    As Buffy flies off in the car behind her, we see Fray in close-up as she beheads another vampire. The monster turns to dust.

    The vampires defeated, Fray walks over to the medic who was calling for help. She is holding her neck and kneeling on the ground.

    MEL: Let me see it.

    MEDIC: Am I infected? Am I gonna change?

    MEL: It doesn’t work like that.

    In close-up, we see Fray tenderly dabbing the medic’s bite wound with a napkin. Her face is unhappy and she talks to herself.

    MEL: “Big picture…” That spin’s for govvers. Not Slayers. Something’s skew with that girl.

    A voice calls out to Melaka, and we see the Slayer in close-up as she turns to look.

    VOICE: Anger won’t help. You have to understand Buffy.

    We see the source of the voice. It’s Willow, long hair, long dress, skin covered in dark veins and her eyes blackened.

    WILLOW: If you hate her she’ll be harder to kill.

    The scene changes, and we see Willow in close-up. Present Willow, naked, biting her lower-lip as she moans out amidst a green fog.

    WILLOW: So close… so close…

    The view widens, and Willow jolts up right to see Saga Vasuki hovering between her legs.

    WILLOW: Aa*aaahh*!

    VASUKI: I was wondering when you’d be back.

    In close-up, Willow looks at the demon seriously.

    WILLOW: You know I can’t… stay long. Little tricky getting here.

    VASUKI: But fun, no?

    WILLOW: You lied to me.

    Vasuki picks her fingernails indifferently as Willow watchers her.

    VASUKI: How simple you make it sound.

    WILLOW: Just tell me how to get Buffy back.

    Willow covers her breasts in her hands as Vasuki hovers closer to her in the swirling green mist.

    VASUKI: You cannot do it yourself?

    WILLOW: I don’t have that kind of power.

    VASUKI: Is that so?

    In close-up, Willow looks ashamed of her inability.

    WILLOW: Time-bending isn’t some cross-dimensional jaunt. And it’s dangerous. Only someone on the deep dark would mess with that.

    From behind Willow, we see Vasuki looking away with her arms crossed.

    WILLOW: So who told you –

    VASUKI: Someone I trusted.

    In an extreme close-up of her profile, Willow looks down, acting humble around Vasuki.

    WILLOW: I’m sorry. You know how grateful I am for what we… what you taught me. But this is Buffy. I need her back. We all do.

    Vasuki is looking away from Willow when she answers.

    VASUKI: The rift will reopen tonight.

    WILLOW: (from out of the view) Really? How do I –

    VASUKI: You will figure it out. Or you won’t. But I demand a promise.

    For the first time we see Willow and Vasuki face to face.

    VASUKI: If you open the rift… reach across. Bring her back.

    In close-up, we see Vasuki looking almost concerned about Willow.

    VASUKI: But do not look.

    The view shifts to Willow, whose face is confused by that request.

    WILLOW: Why shouldn’t –

    VASUKI: Because I ask.

    The next image shows Willow kneeling before Vasuki, head bowed. She doesn’t bother to cover her breasts, although they are obscured by the mist.

    WILLOW: Of course. Thank you.

    Vasuki leans in to touch Willow’s face. The witch is fading out of Vasuki’s realm.

    WILLOW: I seem to be going.

    VASUKI: So brief a stay…

    WILLOW: I’ll see you. Soon.

    VASUKI: Yes…

    In close-up, Vasuki looks at the space Willow vanished from.

    VASUKI: Do come again.

    The scene shifts briefly and we see Willow, sitting on the side of the bed, buttoning her pajama top. She looks down, ashamed. Beside her, Kenney lies on her stomach, naked and covered only by a sheet. She rests her cheek on her hand and smiles warmly at Willow – apparently having no idea what her girlfriend was just doing. We hear Melaka’s voice in the future leading us into the next scene.

    MEL: (voiceover) “You’re her, aren’t you? You’re the madwoman.”

    In the next scene, future Willow stares off, her arms crossed. Fray watches her from several feet away, her scythe still ready to attack if needed.

    WILLOW: I suppose I am. Don’t hold it against me, though. Don’t hold it against me, though. I’m fairly certain I’ve earned it.

    From behind, Fray raises her scythe slightly. Willow continues to look out into the Haddyn uppers, not paying attention to the Slayer.

    MEL: Worked it you’d be a lurk.

    WILLOW: You know I’m not.

    MEL: Not quite a human, either…

    In a close view, Willow looks down sadly.

    WILLOW: Not for some time now.

    From above, Fray holds her scythe ready to attack. Willow seems to be deliberately looking away from her, turning to keep Melaka behind her.

    MEL: I’m not killing any Slayer.

    WILLOW: She won’t show the same mercy.

    MEL: Why would we turn on each other?

    WILLOW: Because you want different things.

    From behind Melaka, we see Willow turn to glare at her, pointing out a contradiction in the two Slayers.

    MEL: We both want riddance on the lurks.

    WILLOW: The most important men in both your lives are “lurks”. You think it’s really that simple?

    The view shifts, and Fray has inched closer to Willow, still ready to attack. Willow looks completely indifferent to any danger.

    MEL: Yeah, you been bound to Harth awhile now, word is. You two have some big plan. Spinning me’s just a part of it.

    WILLOW: Your brother is interesting. Ambitious.

    In close-up, Willow looks down at her hand. A glowing green ball appears about her palm.

    WILLOW: My concerns are more personal.

    Fray immediately gets on the defensive as she watches the ball above Willow’s hand stretch down, extending like a candle.

    MEL: You wanna keep that hand?

    WILLOW: This is about as much magic as I can muster, so don’t fret.

    In close-up, the green light reflects Willow’s misery.

    WILLOW: I just need to show you something.

    The scene shifts into another part of Haddyn. Buffy is climbing out of the purple sports car, which she has managed to crash into the side of a rundown brick building.

    BUFFY: Well, that went better than I expected.

    Buffy drops down the side of the building, landing on a stone gargoyle.

    BUFFY: Now, I know that van’s parked close by…

    As she looks off to the right, she sees the hospital van parked in front of a distant building – Harth’s lair, apparently.

    BUFFY: Oh, futuristic *snap*!

    In a new scene, we see Erin Fray point a gun ahead, ready to fire.

    ERIN: *Stand down and offer submission*!

    The view reverses, and we see Buffy, hands up meekly, standing in the door of Melaka’s home. Erin was waiting inside and still has her gun drawn on Buffy.

    BUFFY: *Whoah! Hey*! I submit! Submissively! I thought this was Melaka Fray’s place. Could you not ray gun me?

    From behind Buffy, we see Erin put her gun on the table, relaxing. Her overcoat covers her dark magenta skintight police uniform. She reaches up and brushes her hair back.

    ERIN: I’m sorry. I was supposed to hear from Melaka, and…

    BUFFY: Are you her sister? The cop?

    Erin straightens up and looks over at Buffy.

    ERIN: I’m a law.

    BUFFY: Right. I’m a Slayer from a long time ago. Buffy. You may have read about me?

    Erin shows no indication she has as she slips off her overcoat and walks away toward Melaka’s table. Buffy follows her.

    ERIN: Where’s Mel?


    BUFFY: We split up. I found lurk central, but it’s massive – no way we’re storming that castle without some serious strategy. But if we wanna take out her brother… who, I’m suddenly getting, is your brother, too…

    Erin sits down at the table slowly. Buffy pulls a chair out to do the same, across the table.

    ERIN: And Melaka?

    BUFFY: She was taking out some vamps. I was telling her to chill, to look for the source instead of just running off all crazy –

    ERIN: Let me guess. Little sister didn’t listen.

    BUFFY: God, do they ever?

    The two women face each other from across the table, both visibly relaxed, leaning back in their chairs.

    ERIN: You have a sister?

    BUFFY: Five years younger. Total pain. Plus giant. Or, centaur, lately. I try to tell her anything, she does the opposite.

    ERIN: Sounds familiar.

    In a closer view, we see Buffy from behind Erin as they talk.

    BUFFY: You know, I thought about being a cop. A law.

    ERIN: Really?

    BUFFY: In high school. I took a test, said I fit a profile, if we had *your* outfits, I woulda signed up in a heartbeat. Is that pleather?

    From the side, we see Erin leaning forward, her hands thoughtfully under her chin with one finger up. Buffy raises her hand slightly when she interrupts to correct her.

    ERIN: Puffy, can I –

    BUFFY: Buffy. Sorry. With a B. Don’t want future history calling me “Puffy.” It’s just… you had a question?

    ERIN: You’re a Slayer?

    In close-up, we see Buffy’s face looking thoughtful as she answers.

    BUFFY: Yeah.

    ERIN: Why?

    BUFFY: Why? Why are you a law?

    Buffy doesn’t get a chance to hear Erin’s answer, because she is knocked out of her chair as bolts of electricity rip through her with a *ZZZZZZZOT*. She cries out in pain.

    BUFFY: *AAAGCHK*!

    The view shifts and we see Buffy face down on Melaka’s rug, unconscious. Erin is crouching over her, concerned. In the foreground, we see Erin’s gun in Melaka’s hand and the trail of smoke made from Fray shooting Buffy.

    ERIN: Mel… are you sure about this?

    MEL: I’m sure.

    ERIN: She just seems… Mel, what are we doing here?

    MEL: What we do.

    The last image is Melaka, shown looking up from the floor, holding the gun at her side and staring intensely.

    MEL: Saving the world.

    To Be Continued

    End of Issue #18

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    Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Season 8, Issue #19
    “Time of Your Life, Part IV”


    Prologue Summary: Today thousands of Slayers populate the world – forming squadrons, fighting vampires, demons, and, more recently, the U.S. military. Buffy and Xander continue to train an elite force of Slayers in the highlands of Scotland where they prepare to duel their fiercest foe to date: Twilight.

    Buffy’s fresh from another doomed relationship, and Xander has suffered another great loss. Now a mystical vision has directed Willow toward New York City and clues to the future of magic. And as for Dawn… she’s still experiencing some serious growing pains.

    Start of Issue #19

    The opening image shows us Willow in the future. Her hair still shows hints of red though it’s mostly dark. Her lips are dark blue, her skin veined, her eyes black. She’s standing against a mostly empty bookshelf, looking very sad.

    (NARRATION) WILLOW: I hate history.

    The view widens, and Willow looks at the floor. In the foreground, we see the top of a woman’s head.

    (NARRATION) WILLOW: Not the subject – I always loved it in school: the French-Indian War, the Medicis, 1066 and all that… history is all romantic adventure stories.

    Against a white background, we see Willow looking down at Buffy. The Slayer is unconscious, chained around the waist in a wooden chair.

    (NARRATION) WILLOW: Until you live it.

    In a close-up, we see Willow leaning close to Buffy’s face. She runs her dark fingernails gently along Buffy’s cheek.

    (NARRATION) WILLOW: Until you live long enough to be a part of it.

    The view shifts out again, and we see from the ceiling of Fray’s apartment. We watch from alongside the monkey demon, Gates. Willow kneels in front of Buffy. Behind the witch, Melaka Fray and Erin look on.

    WILLOW: I’d forgotten her excellent nose.

    The next image shows the Fray sisters less than impressed with Buffy’s nose. Erin crosses her arms, Melaka stands with her hands on her hips.

    MEL: What’s the plan? Cuz I’m still not killing a Slayer no matter *what* you showed me.

    The view reverses and Willow looks back over her shoulder to answer.

    WILLOW: You just have to keep her here. The temporal rift will open again tonight and I expect… I remember… there will be an extraction attempt.

    In a close-up, Erin looks doubtful.

    ERIN: So we send her back. How’s that a neg if she’s such trouble?

    In a closer-view, Mel looks down as she answers her sister’s question.

    MEL: She’ll end the world.

    From above, we see Willow stand up as Melaka walks toward her. Buffy is still unconscious.

    MEL: She’ll change the future, now she’s ocked it. No more now. No more us.

    We see a close-up of half of Melaka’s face, and her sister standing behind her.

    MEL: She goes back and a tick past highnight, we’re all what coulda been.

    We see Willow standing alone, looking down again, when Buffy’s voice calls out.

    BUFFY: (from out of the view) Oh my *God*!

    In close-up, Buffy is awake, looking in confusion at her friend.

    BUFFY: You went dark again? You are so in huge trouble for going dark. How could you even –

    Suddenly, Buffy catches her rising anger and lifts her head, worried.

    BUFFY: Is Kennedy okay?

    The view reverses and we see from behind Buffy as she looks up at Willow. The witch looks down at her disdainfully.

    WILLOW: It’s been two hundred years, Buffy. How you *think* she is?

    BUFFY: Okay. Fair enough. Let’s move on. Why am I shackled, why are you evil, and why isn’t anyone on my side?

    We see the Fray sisters looking on when a voice calls down from above – the other Fray, Harth.

    HARTH: (from out of the view) Actually, I have a few Q’s as well.

    The next image shows the rooftop of Fray’s place through the broken skylight. Harth and dozens of vampires are standing, looking down.

    HARTH: First, how come all my friends are having a party without me?

    We see from over Harth’s shoulder, looking down at the four women in the apartment.

    HARTH: Second, what has that witch been telling you?

    Inside, Willow looks up, as if scolding Harth. Behind her, Buffy turns to Erin, asking her for help.

    WILLOW: You should have been patient, Harth.

    HARTH: Why is that?

    BUFFY: (to Erin) You *really* want to untie me right now.

    In close-up, Harth glares down at Willow.

    HARTH: You told me Buffy’s coming here would cause our world to be. You told my sister the opposite.

    Willow, in close-up, looks up at him impassively.

    HARTH: (from out of the view) You’ve been spinning us all.

    WILLOW: Yes, well, I’m dark that way.

    HARTH: To what end?

    As Willow answers, she looks at Melaka, trying to explain to both of them.

    WILLOW: Death, of course.

    MEL: Whose?

    We see Buffy in close-up, still chained, her eyes wide, as Willow keeps talking.

    WILLOW: (from out of the view) You see what I’ve seen, you come and go as I have…

    From behind Buffy’s chair, Gates starts picking her locks. Buffy looks down at the monkey demon, looking alarmed but at least happy for some help.

    WILLOW: (from out of the view) You realize the most important thing about death isn’t who dies…

    We see from behind Willow as she watches Melaka closely.

    WILLOW: It’s who kills him.

    The next image is of Fray suddenly drawing her Scythe. Erin steps back cautiously. Buffy watches Willow as the witch continues to look indifferent to what’s going on around her.

    MEL: I told you I won’t kill a Slayer.

    WILLOW: If she gets back to that rooftop by midnight, you’ll never have been.

    MEL: You’re lying!

    In extreme close-up, Willow’s lips actually curve into a smile as she answers.

    WILLOW: I’m lying to *someone*. Would you bet your whole world it’s you?

    From the rooftop, Harth interrupts. His henchmen are snarling, ready to fight.

    HARTH: I have a solver: I kill everyone and… well, I don’t really care about the rest.

    We see Willow from behind as she responds, back to cool and ambivalent.

    WILLOW: This night isn’t yours, Harth.

    Harth looks angry at Willow’s attitude.

    HARTH: Your fortune-telling’s *tapped*, witch.

    WILLOW: Harth, you should be careful when you choose your enemies.

    HARTH: Your power’s but gone. You can’t stop an army by yourself.

    We see Willow in profile as she clarifies.

    WILLOW: Don’t plan to.

    The next image explains Harth’s mistake. From above the building, three aircraft, all heavily armed, open fire on Mel’s roof. The weapons open with with a *SHAAAKK*. It looks like they are firing bullets, but also an energy beam of some kind. Whatever the ammunition, it’s effective. Some of the vampires are cut to shreds, and others explode into green dust.

    Gunther is flying one of the ships, in a special water-filled ****pit.

    As vampires explode into dust, Harth dives for cover. Gunther’s voice fills the air, probably from a speaker.

    GUNTHER: *Three*? You think three lurks can best me on *my* surf?

    In close-up, the crime boss’ face is a vicious smile.

    GUNTHER: You insult me.

    In the apartment, Fray and Erin are staggering around in the falling vampire dust. Buffy shouts out to Erin.

    BUFFY: (from out of the view) *Erin! Listen to me*!

    As Erin turns, she’s might by a sharp uppercut from Buffy that knocks her to the floor with a *WOK*. Buffy is free, holding the chain in her other hand.

    BUFFY: That’s for “Puffy.”

    We see from behind Melaka as she reacts, but Buffy draws the unconscious’ cops sidearm too quickly, pointing it at Mel.

    BUFFY: I’m leaving. I don’t care about your world.

    From behind, we see Buffy calmly shoot Mel with the same stun gun the younger girl had stunned her with. The energy hits Fray with a *SHRAK* and she crashes into her bookshelves.

    BUFFY: I have to save mine.

    Buffy is running out of Fray’s apartment, leaving the flames and debris. She has her Scythe again. From behind her, Willow watches from a shadow outside Fray’s door.

    WILLOW: Not just yet, Buffy…

    As Willow whispers, we see Buffy break through a wooden door like a juggernaut, splintering the door with a *CRASH*.

    WILLOW: (from out of the view) You’re not done here.

    The scene shifts, and we’re in the woods near the castle headquarters in Scotland The green, glowing lizard soldiers are advancing through the tree-line. A voice calls out in the forest. It’s Lorelahn, the tree-man with the flaming arm.

    LORELAHN: (from out of the view) *Wood creatures! The time of battle is upon us*!

    The view reverses, and we see Lorelahn standing at the head of his own army. It’s made up of a dwarf, a couple of trolls with clubs, a giant baby chick, lizards, snakes, mushrooms, as well as others of his kind.

    LORELAHN: *Let us show these abominations the forest’s rage*!

    We see Dawn and Xander standing with the forest creatures. Dawn is wielding an enormous broadsword. Xander has a large dagger and is wearing, inexplicably, a helmet made out of a giant acorn.

    XANDER: Followed quickly by the forest’s denial, bargaining, and then short, painful acceptance.

    DAWN: Lorelahn’s right. We have to make a stand sometime.

    From behind Xander and Dawn, we watch the lizard soldiers advance patiently.

    XANDER: You’re just into guys with no lower half now, is what.

    DAWN: Don’t be gross.

    XANDER: You wanna nuzzle his root system.

    DAWN: I hope you die first. With the most wounds.

    XANDER: Pretty much counting on it.

    In the next image, the battle is joined. Lorelahn stabs into the helmet of one of the lizard soldiers with a branch-sword, and the other creatures attack.

    The view shifts, and we see Xander shout as he cuts one of the lizard soldier’s heads off with his dagger.

    XANDER: *GAAH*!

    The view reverses, and we see the dangling head begin to straighten itself.

    In a close-up, the lizard soldier’s head reattaches itself to it’s body.

    The view shifts and Dawn and Xander fight back to back. She kicked out with her hind legs at one of the lizard soldiers, while Xander fights sword to sword.

    XANDER: If we can’t do some permanent damage, this is gonna be a real speedy brawl. Remember my running-away proposal?

    Suddenly, a burst of energy and mist washes over the lizard soldiers, fired from off the battlefield. As the mist clears, the lizard soldiers are no longer glowing green. They are now just green skinned and wearing armor. They look truly confused, and worried.

    In close-up, Xander stares at the scene.

    XANDER: Huh?

    The answer comes from the tree line – Rowena stands at the head of a vast array of Slayers, survivors of the attack. Leah and Slayers of every ethnicity, armed with every sort of sword and axe and spear, stand ready to fight. Behind Rowena, two other young women stand with glowing blue energy around their hands – the ones who cast the spell.

    ROWENA: *Wiccans to the rear! Slayers*…

    In close-up, the young Slayer narrows her eyes.

    ROWENA: *F*%# ‘em up*.

    Lorelahn wastes no time, realizing the enemy is now trapped between them. As he issues orders, he beheads one of the lizard soldiers with his fire-sword arm, and this time, they bleed.

    LORELAHN: *Don’t let any slip through the line! They’re flesh and blood now*!

    As the battle rages, Dawn looks at the Slayers. In the foreground, Xander is smiling with obvious pride.

    DAWN: That’s your squad, Xan.

    XANDER: (quietly) All the ladies in the house go “yeah…”

    And snapping out of it, Xander’s in the fight. He cleaves one of the lizard soldiers through the head with his dagger.

    From above, the battle is all but over – with the Slayers in the fight, there is no contest.

    The scene shifts back to Fray’s time, and we see Buffy leap up on a rooftop and grab a passing vehicle flying through the night sky.

    BUFFY: *Kaah*!

    As the vehicle flies along, Buffy hangs on to it with one-hand, her Scythe in the other.

    (NARRATION) BUFFY: Don’t know how long I was out. Don’t know if I’ll make it before the temporal slip ‘n’ slide closes.

    We see her in silhouette as she lets go of the vehicle and lands gracefully on the ledge of a building.

    (NARRATION) BUFFY: Not entirely sure the building’s this way.

    Buffy climbs the side of a building, using the Scythe to chip out hand and foot holds.

    (NARRATION) BUFFY: All else is awesome.

    We see her reach the top, reaching over to pull herself to the roof.

    (NARRATION) BUFFY: And as for that Fray girl…

    The view shifts behinds Buffy’s shoulder as she climbs up. Melaka Fray awaits her, her own Scythe in hand, staring down.

    (NARRATION) BUFFY: Hold that thought.

    In close-up of her profile, we see Mel look down at Buffy, looking resigned.

    MEL: I can’t let you go.

    Buffy has climbed onto the roof, and is carefully picking up her own Scythe.

    BUFFY: Didn’t you listen to Willow? “It’s who kills you.” Pitting us against each other is her idea of game night. We are the Scattergories of evil.

    We see Melaka’s face, the wind blowing her hair around her face.

    MEL: Can you swear my world won’t mist out if you leave? My best bonds? My sister?

    Buffy is standing now, and she steps in front of Melaka, a short way from her. They know what this is coming to.

    BUFFY: You know I can’t.

    MEL: The big picture.

    BUFFY: It’s called the fate of the world, short view.

    In close-up, we see the understanding in Fray’s face.

    MEL: “Fate of the world.” Made sense… when there was only one.

    And the fight is on. Melaka flies across the roof and drives her fist into Buffy’s face. Buffy shoves back with her free hand at Fray’s face, and plants her left boot on Fray’s thigh.

    The next image shows Buffy using her foot on Fray’s thigh to somersault herself, kicking Melaka in the face as she flips.

    She has barely landed, though, as the younger Slayer sidekicks her in the stomach, sending her toward the roof’s edge. Willow’s voice sounds from a distance – she’s watching them.

    WILLOW: (from out of the view) Yes…

    We see Willow in profile, from wherever she’s watching. She’s anxiously biting her lower lip.

    WILLOW: So close…

    Buffy falls to the roof top, hitting hard enough to crack it.

    (NARRATION) BUFFY: She’s stronger than me.

    Buffy flips backwards to get back on her feet, narrowly avoiding being slashed by Fray’s Scythe.

    (NARRATION) BUFFY: On her home turf.

    Buffy runs across the rooftop as Fray chases her. As she runs, though, she swings her Scythe and cuts through the supports of a wooden water tank on the building roof.

    (NARRATION) BUFFY: And she knows what she’s fighting for.

    Fray realizes the danger and turns to escape as Buffy jumps to a higher level of the roof. Water beings to break out of the tank as it comes down.

    (NARRATION) BUFFY: But I’ve dreamed every battle a Slayer’s ever fought, and she hasn’t. I’m outgunned… but she’s outnumbered.

    The next image shows the water pouring out over the rooftop. It washes Fray right off the side of the roof.

    (NARRATION) MEL: Jesu! I’m such a needs!

    We see Fray falling past the flying cars amidst the water.

    (NARRATION) MEL: She’s got me scrambling! Like I’m fighting a history lesson! Stop awe-ing and finish it!

    Fray catches one of the flying cars with her Scythe and swings herself up, throwing herself back toward the roof, and Buffy.

    (NARRATION) MEL: She’s not some big head carved on Mount Walmore…

    Fray’s foot plants on one of the statues on the side of the building as she jumps back into the fight.

    But she’s not fast enough – Buffy catches her in the face with a piece of the wooden debris.

    (NARRATION) MEL: She’s just a tiny, whiney, long-dead Slayer…

    Fray reacts quickly, and back kicks Buffy in the side of the head viciously.

    (NARRATION) MEL: … in a damn unpractical frock.

    The scene changes, and we’re in the present. Amy and Warren are staring into a cauldron, watching their army get wiped out in Scotland.

    WARREN: So… we all get how this is Amy’s fault?

    In a wider view, the witch and the scientist turn around and walk toward Twilight. Twilight floats a couple feet off the ground. If he’s disappointed, he isn’t commenting.

    AMY: Sweetie, that’s not technically –

    WARREN: Technical is my domain name, baby, and the bomb delivered. Your spell casting was trumped by first-year Wiccans.

    AMY: You said they would die in the blast.

    Amy and Warren continue to argue over the attack. Twilight, though, turns and floats away from them, talking to someone else.

    WARREN: I scored *fine* fatalities!

    AMY: You’re the one who started blame-assigning…

    WARREN: You start with that self-actualizing womyn-jargon, I’m gonna build a robot you with no mouth.

    AMY: Well maybe I’ll conjure a love slave who has *skin*!

    TWILIGHT: Ah, young love

    We see Twilight from behind as he floats towards another man. His face is hidden in shadow, but he’s wearing cargo pants and a tank top.

    TWILIGHT: …isn’t it depressing?

    In close-up, we see the man’s chest. Under his shirt, the raised scar of the Twilight symbol is clearly visible.

    MAN: In my experience, yeah.

    TWILIGHT: (from out of the view) But you don’t tell her that.

    From behind the new man, we see Twilight floating in front of him, arms crossed. Amy and Warren look on from across the room.

    MAN: I tell her I’m her inside man. Her ever faithful. She’s so stuck in the past, man… when we had our secret meeting in New York…

    The view reverses, and we see this new man’s face. It’s RILEY FINN.

    RILEY: … she even got dressed up.

    The scene changes, and we’re on a Manhattan rooftop in present day, near sunset. Kennedy is putting a blindfold on Willow.

    KENNEDY: Just to be sure, you’re not gonna be throwing *knives* at Buffy, right?

    Willow, blindfolded, turns and kisses Kennedy on the cheek.

    WILLOW: It’s a precaution, hon. Don’t wanna accidentally see what you’re getting me for Hannukah.

    VOICE: (from out of the view) *It’s opening*!

    The view widens, and we see who called out – an apprentice mystic of some kind, getting Willow’s attention. A portal is opening, a two dimensional swirl of yellow energy. Melaka’s voice guides us into the future…

    MEL: (voiceover) “Jesu…

    The scene shifts, and in the future, Buffy is stepping toward the same portal. Fray lunges after her desperately, ready to cleave her with the Scythe.

    MEL: (voiceover) “no…”

    MEL: *NO*!

    The attack fails. Without even turning around, Buffy throws her bare left arm back. With strength we’ve never seen from Buffy, the block shatters Fray’s scythe. The wood splinters, the metal bents, and the axe blade flies apart.

    BUFFY: No.

    The older Slayer turns and firmly punches out Fray. She’s down and out, blood flying from her nose. But Fray wasn’t the last obstacle before Buffy can return home.

    BUFFY: I’m sorry.

    WILLOW: (from out of the view) About what?

    Buffy turns and sees that the dark, sad Willow of this future is standing in the portal, blocking her path. She tiredly plays small bolts of energy over her fingers.

    WILLOW: Failing?

    From behind Willow, we see Buffy staring at her. The breeze blows her ponytail back off her shoulders. The Slayer just stares at this strange version of her friend.

    BUFFY: You know I’ll go through you.

    WILLOW: And you know you’ll have to.

    BUFFY: Why?

    In close-up, Buffy’s face looks angry and offended.

    WILLOW: (from out of the view) Maybe I think the 20th century can soldier on just fine without you.

    BUFFY: I’m cute and blonde and popular but I’m not stupid, Will. You dragged me here and then told me exactly how to get out. Everything, every lie, to get us here. Why? What happened? Why does it have to be me?

    In extreme close-up, Willow can’t meet Buffy’s look.

    WILLOW: It’s a long story.

    No more words are needed. The next image shows Buffy drive the stake end viciously into Willow’s chest, lifting her up off the roof top. Willow screams, and bolts of electricity rip through her, and out of her.

    In a wider view, a bolt of lightning shoots upward out of Willow into the sky with a *BOOM*.

    In close-up, Buffy’s face is cold and alone, frowning.

    We see a close-up of Buffy’s grip on the Scythe as the stake sticks between Willow’s breasts.

    And in another close-up, Willow’s eyes are half closed as she looks at Buffy with… disappointment? Gratitude? There’s no way to tell.

    In a wide view, we see Willow begin to fall as Buffy pulls the stake free. From the portal, we see a pair of hands coming through – “Present” Willow, trying to grab Buffy.

    We see the live Willow, blindfold on, lean through the portal as the dead Willow drops to the ground. Melaka is back on her feet, and dives for her ancestor.

    We see Melaka through the shimmering portal in close-up – she’s too late.

    The image begins to turn white as we see the face of the dead future Willow.

    The scene changes, and we’re on the roof in Manhattan – in the present. Buffy is on her knees, looking at the roof. Willow pulls off her blindfold.

    WILLOW: Oh goddess… I was afraid I’d get the wrong –

    In the next image, we see from over Willow’s shoulder as Buffy looks up. She is sobbing helplessly as tears run down her cheeks.

    WILLOW: Buffy…?

    The Slayer is quickly on her feet, clinging to her friend. She grabs Willow around the waist, still crying. Smiling, though. Willow is clearly very surprised.

    BUFFY: I love you, Will.

    In a wider view, Willow accepts her, and they stand there, arms around each other, Willow comforting her friend. Kennedy looks on, confused.

    The view widens again, and we see the skyline as the sun is setting.

    KENNEDY: I’m watching those hands, you two…

    The scene changes again. Everything is white and blank. Except a voice.

    VOICE: Mel?

    The rooftop in the future reappears, the white fading away like a paint brush that ran out of paint. Melaka is kneeling on the wet roof next to Willow’s body. Erin has arrived on her police motorcycle.

    ERIN: Gunther ran Harth off, got here as soon – Mel? Did she go?

    From below, we see Mel looking helpless. Erin touches her shoulder.

    MEL: I failed. Again.

    ERIN: Mel, she’s gone.

    The older Fray crouches down and puts both arms around the Slayer’s shoulders.

    ERIN: And we’re not.

    Melaka turns to look at her sister.

    MEL: What does that mean?

    The last image is of the Fray sisters together on the roof, covered with blood and water. The debris of the water tower and Willow’s body surround them as they realize their world is still going on.

    ERIN: Means it’s a good day.

    The End

    End of Issue #19

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