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DeadWar: Schism 1.01--"Compromised"

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  • DeadWar: Schism 1.01--"Compromised"

    First, I'd like to apologize for the delay. It took me some time to get started on this story, and then I had trouble finding a beta. It shouldn't happen again.

    Disclaimer: Certain characters in this fiction belong to Joss Whedon, as does the Buffyverse setting as a whole. All original characters belong to me.

    The lyrics to "God's Got an Army", including the chant in the teaser, are property of Carman.

    Beta: Valyssia

    Rating: PG

    TEASER

    EXT. STOCK FOOTAGE OF HOUSTON --NIGHT

    A brief montage of aerial shots of Houston, Texas, ending with a slow pan over Rice University, a sign with its name, and, finally, a crowded row of rental houses in various states of mediocre repair.

    CUT TO:

    EXT. RENTAL HOUSE--NIGHT

    This building is in a little better shape than the others; we can tell this because we can see two of them close by on either side. Its tan paint is mostly intact and its yard has been recently trimmed. We hear the sound of blows landing on something heavy as we

    CUT TO:

    INT. RENTAL HOUSE--MAIN ROOM

    We're looking at a lone pencil on the floor, sitting within an arc of unlit candles. A pair of crossed legs covered in faded jeans can be seen along the top of the screen as the pencil, untouched, begins to jiggle weakly. Slow zoom out to reveal REGAN, a young African-American girl with slightly wavy hair wearing jeans and a plain grey t-shirt. Her hands are resting palms-up on her legs, her eyes closed tightly as she struggles to concentrate despite the continued thuds from somewhere off-screen. The pencil begins to rise, verrrry slowly.

    DENA (O.S., as if to a military training chant): We're not afraid to stand and fight! (Thud!) We cast out demons left and right! (Thud!)

    The camera pulls back still further to reveal DENA behind her, a somewhat older girl with dark blond hair tied back as she punches a bag dangling from the ceiling; a few sweaty strands have escaped and hang limply. She's wearing a light brown tank top and shorts, as well as ear buds connected to the CD player clipped to her belt.

    DENA (chanting): We're strong in battle, strong in prayer! (Thud!) We tell Satan "Get outta here!" (Thud!)

    This last sentence is somewhat louder, and the pencil clatters to the floor as REGAN's concentration breaks.

    DENA (chanting): Sound--

    REGAN leaps to her feet, spinning to face DENA with her fists clenched, and dodges between her and the punching bag to snatch the buds from DENA's ears.

    REGAN (angrily): D'you mind? How'm I supposed to concentrate with you shouting at the top of your lungs?

    DENA (just as mad): Who said you were supposed to? I'm doing something useful--training--while you're calling up demons over there. Don't know what you got Called for, 'cause it's pretty much wasted on you.

    REGAN: Why? Because I don't like to fight? Demons like fighting. Gangs like fighting. Me, I've got better things to do with my time.

    DENA: Yeah, well, soldiers and police don't like fighting either, but it's their job, and ours too. How 'bout you get off your butt and do it every once in a while?

    REGAN winces suddenly and frowns at the door just before DENA scowls and turns toward it as well. A beat later, someone begins to knock loudly. DENA grabs a stake from a pile on an end table and stalks wordlessly toward the door, with REGAN trailing unhappily behind her.

    DENA opens the door to reveal SADHA standing in a pool of light cast by the street lamps. She's a handsome, slightly plump East Indian woman in a practical blue blouse and slacks, apparently just entering middle age. SADHA raises an eyebrow calmly, sizing her up.

    SADHA (lightly): Looking for two Slayers. I'd say you're one of them. Miss Greer?

    DENA: That's me. And you must be tonight's vampire-with-a-death-wish.

    SADHA: Actually, I'm your Watcher. Assigned by Rupert Giles himself. Mind if I come in and have a look around?

    DENA (rolling her eyes): Talk to the hand.

    DENA raises her right hand, its back facing SADHA rather than the front as would be usual for this gesture, and we see that she has a large blue cross tattooed on the back in a very simple, blocky design. SADHA recoils with a hiss, vamping out as she does

    DENA (continuing sarcastically): Thought so. (She glances over her shoulder quickly.) Regan!

    REGAN sighs unhappily and reaches to her neck to pull out a small cross on a thin chain, with a yin-yang symbol in the center. She holds it out with a grimace.

    REGAN: Please just leave. I'm not in a fighting mood tonight, not even for undead mockeries of life.

    SADHA (interrupting before DENA can speak): I'm not your Watcher, Regan. Just hers. I think I prefer the two of you address me as Ms. Kaur, for the moment, but aside from that I can forgive a little rudeness...given the circumstances. All the same, you will accept my authority.

    DENA (with a snort): I've met Mr. Giles. Didn't like him much, and he didn't like me, but I'll believe he assigned a vampire as anyone's Watcher when hell freezes over.

    DENA waves the stake in her left hand.

    REGAN (uncertainly): Ms. Kaur...you really ought to go. Maybe we can talk about this later when--

    DENA (looking over her shoulder): Talk? Hah! You invite her in, and I'll leave you to her. Nobody gets in here but our real Watchers, so till they show up you can--

    SADHA's right hand crosses the threshold and slams DENA roughly against the door, knocking the stake from her hand. She strides in, shoving REGAN aside, and walks over to lean against a slightly ragged armchair.

    SADHA: Thank you. Now we can discuss the matter like civilized people.

    THEME PLAYS; CREDITS ROLL

    In this farewell
    There's no blood
    There's no alibi
    Cause I've drawn regret
    From the truth
    Of a thousand lies
    So let mercy come
    And wash away
    What I've done
    I'll face myself
    To cross out what I've become
    Erase myself
    And let go of what I've done


    Theme: "What I've Done," Linkin Park

    Starring:
    Aishwarya Rai as Sadha Kaur
    Ellen Muth as Dena Greer
    Erica Hubbard as Regan Stacey
    Roy Dotrice as Roger Wyndham-Price
    Ivana Baquero as Solita Munoz
    and Seth Green as Daniel "Oz" Osbourne

    Guest starring:
    Callum Blue as Ravensdale

    ACT I

    INT. RENTAL HOUSE--MAIN ROOM

    DENA scoops up another stake from the end table in a smooth motion, advancing on SADHA, who continues to lean casually against the armchair.

    DENA: I take back what I said about Mr. Giles. He's an idiot.

    SADHA: Hmm. Well, I'd say you were fairly quick on the uptake, yourself, except that no one would say that about Rupert Giles unless she were a complete fool.

    DENA swings at SADHA; the blow is competently executed, but SADHA dodges it easily so that DENA's fist makes a dent in the wall. SADHA shrugs and attempts to sweep DENA's feet out from under her with a kick; DENA stumbles but manages to stay upright.

    REGAN: You two are ruining the vibes in this house, you know that? I'll be cleansing the place for a month.

    DENA: Quit kibitzing and get over here! I think this one's not gonna be easy.

    SADHA drives her fist into DENA's stomach, but DENA shrugs off the blow.

    SADHA (drily amused and totally unconcerned): You think not? Buffy Summers had difficulty fighting me.

    DENA attempts to plant a right cross on SADHA's jaw, but SADHA catches her hand without much trouble. Smoke rises from where she's touching DENA's tattoo.

    SADHA (continued): And, despite this clever little trick, you're a cheap imitation...nothing more.

    SADHA begins to squeeze, shoving DENA backwards to the floor as she does. Suddenly she spins halfway around to block REGAN's blow.

    SADHA (continued): Weak, Regan...very weak. Do you train at all?

    REGAN (determinedly): I'm not a violent person. But for things like you...

    REGAN yanks the punching bag loose from its ceiling bracket with a crunch and whacks SADHA with it.

    REGAN (continued): I make an exception.

    SADHA staggers backwards, stumbling over DENA, who has just gotten to her feet, and knocking her back down.

    SADHA: All right...innovative. I suppose I've seen worse technique. On occasion.

    DENA pulls SADHA down on top of her and knees her in the back. SADHA attempts to leap to her feet, but REGAN has arrived with a stake, and SADHA has to roll off to one side instead. DENA rolls forward and up, now standing next to REGAN as she looks around for a weapon to use. She grabs REGAN's stake out of her hand.

    DENA: Give me that. You'll poke your eye out.

    REGAN turns away toward the outside door, where DENA dropped her stake earlier.

    SADHA: One of these days, you two will have to learn to work together. You're doing very poorly at it so far.

    SADHA slams her forehead into DENA's face, causing DENA to stagger backwards, dazed.

    SADHA (continued): I don't suppose either of you has noticed yet that I have a soul? Regan's files say her intuition is particularly acute.

    REGAN has retrieved the stake and is approaching SADHA on the opposite side from DENA.

    REGAN (irritably): I've noticed. As far as I'm concerned, you're just that much more unnatural.

    SADHA: Well. That will make this all the more difficult, I suppose. It's a good thing you're not mine. And you, Dena?

    DENA swings her stake at SADHA, who leaps backward (away from both girls) and out of the way.

    DENA (snarling): I don't compromise with demons. I slay them.

    SADHA: Ah, yes...so do I.

    SADHA seizes DENA's wrist and slams it against the wall, breaking her grip on the stake.

    SADHA (continued): So if I cast out demons by the power of demons...by whose power do you cast them out?

    For the first time, DENA wavers uncertainly. SADHA takes advantage by using her hold to swing her into REGAN; both girls retain their footing, but only just.

    SADHA (continued): And if I cast out demons by the power of demons, then Satan's kingdom is divided against itself...and has an end.

    DENA (standing in front of REGAN as if to hold her back, nervous): You've done your homework.

    SADHA: True. Does it matter? I can quote scripture to my purpose...but do you have any idea what purpose that is? Perhaps we share a goal.

    REGAN shoots DENA a distrustful look and tries to get around her.

    SADHA (continued): An end. You'd like that, wouldn't you? Well, so would I.

    DENA (disbelieving): You want to die?

    REGAN seizes DENA's arm.

    REGAN (shocked): Don't tell me you're thinking of trusting her.

    DENA (shaking her off): Not an inch.

    SADHA: I'm willing to die for what I care about. Aren't you? What's more important to you, anyway? Killing one vampire, this instant? Or killing more of us, because you have help? Because you've been properly trained? You have choices I've lost, Dena. Be certain you make the right ones while you can.

    DENA is clearly wavering; REGAN tries to get past her again and takes an elbow in the gut for her trouble.

    DENA (uncomfortably): I like this a lot less than you, Regan. But she's making sense. We can dust her any time. She makes a wrong move, we kill her. We'll have another Watcher around soon; if we really have to we can all sleep in shifts.

    REGAN (angry now): She's dead, Dena. She's a thing. I can feel her. She grates on my nerves just being in the same room. It can't be that different for you, not to mention your demon phobia.

    DENA: It isn't. But that's the difference between us. It doesn't matter what I like. What I'm supposed to do...that's what matters. Put the stake down. And we'll...

    She glances at SADHA, whose expression is carefully blank.

    DENA (continued): ...talk.

    REGAN (with a sigh): Fine. Just don't expect me to stay in the same room with her the whole time.

    DENA: I can manage without you.

    SADHA (smiling thinly): I'm surprised. I didn't expect you to be the one to see reason.

    DENA (grim): I want to see you cast out demons. Tonight.

    SADHA shrugs and makes a move toward the armchair.

    SADHA (lightly): Done.

    DENA: I'm Chosen. My powers come from God.

    SADHA (her smile quirks upward on one side): Well, then. If you're sure.

    FLASHES OF the ocean, followed by an aerial of London

    FLASH TO

    INT. STUDY--DAY

    Wide bay windows are open to the morning sunlight in this large, extravagantly furnished room; each of the other walls is lined with bookshelves. ROGER WYNDHAM-PRICE is sitting at the dark wooden desk near the back wall, with a SECOND MAN standing stiffly at attention in front of it. The SECOND MAN is thin, clean-shaven with jet-black hair, and wearing a black business suit.

    ROGER (flatly): The Helm of Kasparov.

    SECOND MAN: So my sources tell me.

    ROGER (in a skeptical tone): In Houston, Ravensdale?

    RAVENSDALE (stuffily): The Gem of Amara, the Glove of Mynhegon, the Word of Valios, and a surviving DuLac Cross--among several other things--were all found in a small town in California. Houston may not be a hellmouth, but these agglomerations of humanity can support far more demons, and often contain as many artificial supernatural phenomena. Perhaps more.

    ROGER: Then you believe the renegade is on the verge of finding the Helm.

    RAVENSDALE: Not in the slightest, sir.

    ROGER frowns at him appraisingly.

    RAVENSDALE (continued): On the contrary, it's clearly an attempt to panic you, to produce rash moves on our part. She leaked this information precisely to lure you to her. The Helm said to amplify a vampire's power of enthrallment? Even if it exists--and that is not at all certain--the information is an obvious bluff.

    ROGER: Then we should call it? Do nothing?

    RAVENSDALE: That sounds like an appropriate move to me.

    ROGER (shaking his head): An obvious bluff, Ravensdale, and obviously meant to be called. Consider why it took over a century just to discover the renegade's existence. She is a master of elaborate plots, wheels within wheels. There is no way for us to determine whether she means for us to go or stay; this game of bluff and counterbluff can proceed without end. The only thing to do is to go to Houston and see for ourselves--but cautiously.

    RAVENSDALE: By "ourselves", you mean..?

    ROGER: Yes, yes...I will be going. (with a touch of impatience) That...cyborg fiasco damaged my credibility among the surviving Watchers. Quite aside from this scheme itself, it's important that I be seen and, if necessary, my identity be tested. The longer I sit here ensconced in my private residence, the less trusted I will become. All the more so given the sheer number of Slayers still lacking guidance. That sentimental fool Rupert Giles...absurd that he should be the one to end up taking charge.

    RAVENSDALE: Then you'll be taking protection, I assume, sir?

    ROGER gives a short nod and rises from behind the desk.

    ROGER: All for the best, I'd say. (He pauses, looking out the window.) We have a veritable army on our hands, Ravensdale. After millennia of "one girl in all the world," suddenly there are thousands. Any Watcher worthy of the name would have led us to victory over the forces of darkness and put an end to this war at last. Instead...chaos. It's a disgrace. A blot on the Council's history, as bad as the First's attack or worse.

    RAVENSDALE turns to go, leaving ROGER to his musings.

    RAVENSDALE: I'll have your belongings prepared for travel, sir.

    ROGER nods again. RAVENSDALE closes in on the camera as he leaves the room; as his face comes closer we see him assume a wry grin. Faint, ominous music sounds.

    FADE TO BLACK

    END OF ACT I
    Last edited by Mabus; 13-11-07, 07:43 PM.
    DeadWar: Burden of Proof
    Out Now.
    Avatar by Barb
    Feedback is always welcome here.

  • #2
    ACT II

    CITY STREET MONTAGE--NIGHT

    Cars zoom past the camera, lights shining, bodies reflecting the lights of the big city. In the last shot, a Jeep comes careening around a corner at high speed just as the stoplight changes to red.

    INT JEEP--NIGHT

    DENA is at the wheel, looking calm and in control; SADHA, next to her, unclenches her hand from the door.

    DENA (scowling): Leave a mark on my car and you'll be paying for the repairs.

    SADHA (still light, but slightly strained): Of course. I have nothing to worry about unless we collide with a semi carrying a load of logs, or the car explodes. Still, your safety might be better served if Regan were to drive?

    REGAN, in the back seat, nods enthusiastically.

    DENA: It's my car. I know what I'm doing. Lay off already.

    The Jeep veers sharply to the left. DENA is grinning widely as they leave the main road for a side street.

    REGAN: Is there enough money in your expense account to buy me a car, Ms. Kaur? I'd be happy to drive from now on.

    SADHA: I'm honestly not inclined to buy things for people who call me an "unnatural creature."

    The Jeep jolts violently as it hits a bump in the road.

    SADHA (continued): But I'll consider it.

    REGAN (uncomfortable): It's the truth, though. It's what you are. You're not dead. You're not alive. It's like you...block energy, twist it.

    SADHA: Ah. I'm a disruption in the flow of qi.

    REGAN: Uh-huh.

    The Jeep whips around a corner and is nearly hit by another car, which swerves to avoid the collision.

    DENA (turning to shout out the window): Dumb ass! Learn to drive! (defensive, as the others stare at her) He was across the center line. I'd have had plenty of room otherwise.

    SADHA (with a shrug): I see. (turning back to REGAN) I'm sure your parents taught you not to disrespect people for things they can't help.

    REGAN: It's different.

    DENA (muttering): You're not a person.

    REGAN (ignoring DENA): This isn't about the color of your skin or how old you are. You're just...(she trails off)

    SADHA: Dead? I'm sorry, but there really isn't much I can do about that.

    DENA (muttering): I can.

    The Jeep makes a violent turn, forcing everyone to lean left.

    REGAN: Being around you is like listening to fingernails on a chalkboard. It's just...bad. I'm really sensitive to these things.

    SADHA (as the vehicle stops suddenly): Again...my apologies. Perhaps you should stop being so sensitive?

    Everyone begins to get out of the car.

    EXT. CEMETERY--NIGHT

    The car has stopped in the parking lot of a dilapidated cemetery. Many of the headstones have worn blank, and some are fallen. The grass has recently been mown, but not very well; tufts of it stick up around the markers.

    REGAN: I can't do that.

    SADHA: Well then. You know how I feel. (she turns toward DENA) This doesn't look like a hot spot for fledgeling vampires.

    DENA: It's not. Young ones are stupid. They don't know any better than to have turf wars all the time.. There's a gang here with an older leader. I haven't been able to take it out. It gets respect, even from other kinds of demon. You kill it, I'll maybe believe you a little.

    SADHA: And if we fight, but I lose?

    DENA: I'll believe you more, and I'll call Mr. Giles to apologize.

    DENA starts off into the cemetery towards a large mausoleum. The others follow her reluctantly.

    SADHA (drily): That's a rather perverse system of incentives. What about the gang? Surely you don't expect me to fight them all?

    REGAN: Most of them will be out hunting at this hour. He keeps just a few around as sentries. We've killed some of them before. They're not the problem.

    DENA: I've killed some of them before.

    REGAN rolls her eyes with a put-upon sigh.

    DENA (continued): We'll keep the minions off you. You take the boss.

    SADHA: I don't suppose you know his name?

    DENA (sarcastically): Why? You think it might be a friend of yours?

    SADHA: Unlikely. Most of my...friends...killed themselves. Stakes. Sunlight. That sort of thing.

    DENA: Not you?

    SADHA (after a beat): I understood there were more important matters than my immediate demise. (They arrive at the mausoleum.) No guards?

    REGAN (quizzically): We should have run into them by now.

    DENA tests the door, which is locked. She takes a step back and kicks it open.

    REGAN (continued, aside to SADHA): She's not much with the stealthiness. Likes the direct approach better.

    SADHA (with a shrug): Evidently it's worked for her so far, and she doesn't seem interested in my guidance.

    CUT TO

    INT CRYPT

    The mausoleum is coated in a thick layer of dust, with several sets of tracks. A few heavy coffins are scattered about on platforms; the one furthest from the door is open. REGAN, DENA, and SADHA leave more tracks as they enter.

    REGAN: Now what?

    DENA (glancing at SADHA): Never gotten this far before, and we didn't even have to fight for it. Something's wrong here.

    DENA walks off toward the open coffin to investigate, while REGAN studies the tracks. SADHA runs her fingers through the dust on the nearest coffin, frowns, and raises them to her nose. She seems about to speak, when DENA shouts wordlessly.

    SADHA: Find something?

    DENA (smug): Secret passage. Bottom of this coffin's missing.

    DENA climbs onto the platform and jumps into the coffin, falling directly through.

    INT LOWER CRYPT

    As DENA drops through a hole in the ceiling, we see bits of broken furniture scattered around the room amidst a quartet of brick pillars. Nothing is particularly recognizable except a tattered mattress lying against the wall with the padded layer ripped open. As the camera pans, we hear REGAN and SADHA dropping through as well.

    REGAN (looking around, still confused): Not seeing a climax here. (Her nose wrinkles as if she smells something unpleasant.)

    DENA: Maybe it moved out.

    SADHA (unhappily, her face tight): He's here.

    REGAN: I feel him, but how do you know?

    SADHA: I feel him too. But I suspected as soon as we entered the crypt. Older vampires usually prefer tidier surroundings than this, unless they worship something that demands otherwise, in which case we'd be knee-deep in slime or intestines or something of the sort.

    SADHA walks slowly, almost casually, toward the farthest pillar.

    DENA: 'Scuse me? What are you yammering about?

    A low moan emanates from the other side of the pillar.

    SADHA: You said others wouldn't fight him...that he was respected. For his power, I presume. Among vampires, respect tends to cover fear, and to be accompanied by jealousy. I'm not surprised you don't understand, Dena. You seem to understand very little.

    SADHA crouches down next to the pillar, and as she does so the camera rotates so that we can see the profile of someone else behind it.

    SADHA (continued) I, on the other hand, know these things from...experience. (more softly, not looking at the Slayers) I'm sorry. Was it all of them, or just you?

    The camera continues panning until we can see the deeply-lined face of an ELDERLY VAMPIRE. He is huddled in on himself, rocking against the pillar. The VAMPIRE doesn't respond audibly, or even look at her.

    REGAN, and after a moment, DENA, approach more cautiously. DENA is gripping her stake with white knuckles, her face set; REGAN holds hers loosely, looking unhappy.

    SADHA (continued): He's very old indeed. Twice my age, perhaps. Possibly more. I see why you weren't able to take him.

    She stretches out a hand as if to stroke his arm, then stops, looking up at them watching her.

    REGAN: He has a soul...doesn't he?

    SADHA (nodding): He has a rival, most likely somewhere in town, one who wasn't powerful enough to attack him directly. So rather than fight his minions, they...destroyed them from within.

    SADHA moves her hand slowly in front of the VAMPIRE's face. He doesn't seem to notice.

    DENA holds out her stake to SADHA, her face fixed in a disgusted expression.

    DENA: So are we going to sit here making nice, or are we going to kill it?

    SADHA (with a deep, unhappy sigh): Yes, we're going to...kill him.

    She takes the stake and plunges it into the VAMPIRE's heart, reducing him to dust. SADHA stands up, handing the stake back to DENA, who looks at it as if it were covered in filth for being used by a vampire.

    SADHA (continued flatly, as if delivering a lesson): A vampire is either useful, or useless. I doubt you need to hear that there's no need or reason to spare a useless one. A useful vampire, on the other hand, can be worth preserving...though not out of any concern for its rights, as it has none. Should it become dangerous...simply do away with it. (she gestures at DENA's stake) I trust my point is clear?

    DENA (grinning wrily): Totally.

    CUT TO BLACK SCREEN

    END OF ACT II
    DeadWar: Burden of Proof
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    • #3
      ACT III

      CITY STREET MONTAGE--NIGHT

      Carman's "God's Got an Army" plays in the background. The Jeep appears in the last image, moving more slowly than before.

      ...a people with ears to hear/and hearts to respond/to the spiritual needs of the nations...

      INT JEEP--NIGHT

      SADHA and DENA are in the same positions as before. REGAN is huddling uncomfortably in the back seat.

      SADHA (in a calm but brittle tone): Are you satisfied, Dena? I've killed a demon, as you requested, and no doubt removed your worst problem. Others will, of course, move in to fill the gap.

      We're a showcase of what He'll do/When we are strong/In Jesus, to a whole generation...

      DENA (scornfully): Bothered you, though, didn't it? Looked like you felt sorry for him.

      SADHA: According to your belief system, I just sent him to hell, correct? And that hell is not his home, but is just as painful to him as it would be to you? Why should I not feel sorry for him?

      The world won't be the same tomorrow/because we're here today./The kingdom of hell is gonna feel sorrow/'cause our war-cry is--

      SADHA pokes angrily at the Jeep's CD player, shutting off the music.

      DENA: Hey!

      SADHA: I'm getting tired of listening to your noise. Is that all the music you have?

      REGAN (mumbling): She never listens to anything "secular". Or peaceful.

      DENA: I'm not a peaceful person. Who's that?

      DENA wrenches the Jeep into a turn, stopping in the driveway of the rental house. A van that was not present before is sitting in the driveway beside Sadha's compact car.

      REGAN (with a little groan): Do vampires drive vans? I need to ground and center sometime tonight.

      DENA rolls her eyes as everyone begins to climb out of the Jeep.

      SADHA: I've driven a van before.

      EXT RENTAL HOUSE--NIGHT

      SADHA strides toward the van. As she approaches it, the front door opens, activating a light. Backlighting makes it impossible for us to see who is getting out.

      MAN: I didn't think any Slayers were this old.

      SADHA: If you had any idea of my actual age, I'd be insulted. As matters stand.... My name is Sadha Kaur.

      MAN: Dena's new Watcher. Good luck with that. (He steps away from the van so that we can see his face.) I'm Oz. (He offers her a hand.)

      CUT TO

      INT RENTAL HOUSE--MAIN ROOM--NIGHT

      REGAN is setting up her arc of candles again, while DENA watches OZ and SADHA impassively as they take seats facing each other. SADHA is in the armchair; OZ settles onto the couch arm. He's wearing a faded concert t-shirt and jeans.

      SADHA: I don't recall seeing you in L.A. Did you have some other assignment?

      OZ: Giles called in a favor. It's getting ugly out there.

      SADHA: You're not official, then?

      OZ: As official as it gets. Just been doing my own thing a while.

      REGAN sits down on the floor, crossing her legs, and turns on a CD player with a recording of the ocean. DENA scowls at her, then goes back to studying the Watchers.

      SADHA: She seems to be something of a pacifist. Rupert evidently gave us the hard cases to mentor.

      OZ (with a shrug): Somebody's got to.

      REGAN appears to be muttering a chant under her breath, too low to be audible. Her eyes are closed. DENA sees this and approaches, deliberately kicking over the unlit candles and walking on. REGAN's eyes snap open.

      REGAN (shouting, leaping to her feet): Do you mind? I need to meditate!

      SADHA: Girls...

      DENA (heatedly): Then how come I don't? This is just one more of your black magic things, and I don't want it around me!

      SADHA: Oz, perhaps...? (She stands.)

      OZ: I'm on it. (also rising) Regan, you've got a room, right? We should talk.

      DENA (with a smirk): Thanks, Oz.

      SADHA: Dena, please come over here. We also need to have a discussion. Watcher to Slayer.

      Exit REGAN and OZ through a side door. DENA stomps over to the couch, sitting down beside the arm where OZ was.

      SADHA (continued): Black magic?

      DENA: She claims she has to banish something she calls "little nasties" after she fights. Not that she's even done anything since we stopped pounding on you.

      SADHA: Do you know that she doesn't? There are a number of basic balancing meditations traditionally taught to Slayers, to prevent possession, among other things. Not all demons have a physical form, as I'd expect you to know.

      DENA (scoffs): I've been into spiritual warfare since I was a little girl. I helped Dad cast out demons a long time before I knew I was a Slayer.

      SADHA (raising an eyebrow, intrigued): Really, now?

      DENA: A few times. Well...once or twice.

      SADHA: There are a number of basic exorcism rites the Watchers have gathered from many cultures, but I must admit I never mastered them. I supposedly have a certain amount of mystical potential, but magical theory has tended to elude me.

      DENA (rolling her eyes): It's not magic. Magic comes from demons. If they leave, it's because they're faking. Really casting out demons is a spiritual gift, like speaking in tongues or prophetic dreams.

      SADHA (with an amused smile): I see. (She glances at a pencil lying on the coffee table in front of the couch.) "If you have faith the size of a grain of mustard seed, you can say to this mountain--"

      DENA (interrupting): That's not my thing. I can't manage that, or healing. I can discern spirits, a little, but not very well.

      SADHA: Discern...? Oh. Odd that Regan is better at it, wouldn't you say?

      DENA: That's different. She's...it's not the same thing.

      SADHA: Of course not. That would make you and her the same. I see the difficulty. Naturally, you find that hard to deal with. Something of an arrogant little pup, aren't you?

      DENA shoots her a shocked, offended look.

      CUT TO

      INT REGAN'S BEDROOM--NIGHT

      REGAN is sitting on her carefully-made bed, scowling, while OZ leans against the opposite wall. A large picture of an older man and woman with a younger REGAN is hanging from the wall between them.

      OZ: It's not something outside you.

      REGAN: They're real. I can feel them. They want inside.

      OZ: Maybe. I can't prove they're not real. But if they want inside you, it's 'cause of something you have.

      REGAN (angrily): I don't like violence.

      OZ: I don't blame you. But you're a Slayer. That's always gonna be part of you. Trust me, I know.

      REGAN: I don't fight, Oz. I don't kill. It's just...not me.

      REGAN puts her head down, looking at the floor. OZ walks over and sits down beside her.

      OZ (softer, attempting a more comforting tone): People depend on you, you know. For protection. They want to live in a safe, peaceful world, same as you. But the world's not like that.

      REGAN (growing more agitated): It should be.

      OZ: Yeah, it should. So how are you going to make it that way?

      REGAN (upset): Violence just makes things worse.

      OZ: I'm sorry about your parents.

      REGAN looks up at him, startled.

      OZ (continued): It's in your files. About the Bringers. You were with your grandparents.

      REGAN (looking down again, still angry): So why don't you understand? I don't kill, Oz. I won't!

      OZ: So even if you could have done something...you would've let it happen?

      REGAN: It wouldn't be my fault! (She clenches her fists.)

      OZ: I think--

      REGAN looks up wildly at OZ and shoves him off the end of the bed; he goes flying across the room. She stands, putting up her fists. We can see her eyes now; the irises have gone white.

      OZ: Dena! Sadha! Some help he--

      REGAN drives a fist into his gut.

      REGAN (demonic voice): Just go away, damn it! Leave us alone!

      REGAN seizes him by the shirt and tosses him into the far wall, next to the family portrait.

      REGAN (continued): You don't get to make demands on her! Isn't her life bad enough already? Just go!

      OZ attempts to get to his feet, dazed, but REGAN dashes across the room to lift him by the shoulders.

      REGAN (continued): She doesn't want this!

      SADHA and DENA appear in the doorway. DENA folds her arms, looking smug.

      DENA: What'd I tell ya?

      REGAN drops OZ and spins to face DENA.

      OZ (weakly): Sadha...know any mojo?

      REGAN (her face contorted in rage): YOU!

      REGAN charges at DENA, who manages to throw her off by spinning with the impact.

      REGAN (continued, getting up from the floor): She doesn't want to live here! Not with you! She wants you dead!

      SADHA: I'm afraid I've never performed a successful exorcism, Oz, unless one counts killing the subject.

      OZ (leaning weakly against the bed): Damn.

      SADHA: Now Dena...apparently she's your girl.

      REGAN feints a punch at DENA; when DENA dodges, REGAN sweep-kicks her feet out from under her.

      SADHA (continued lightly) : I'm told she has all the experience. Dena? Your move.

      REGAN attempts to hold DENA down; DENA manages to throw her off, tossing her against the legs of the bed.

      OZ: You're joking, right?

      DENA (from the floor): What? In the middle of a fight?

      SADHA: You wanted to see me cast out demons, remember? Now it's your turn. Prove to me which side you're on.

      DENA (looking a little pale): Um...demon...I command you in the name of Jesus. (uncertainly) Come out of her and, uh...depart from the region. Right.

      REGAN grabs DENA by the throat and begins to lift her off the floor.

      REGAN: Jesus, Jesus, Jesus...Geez! Do you have any idea how sick we are of hearing that name from you?

      REGAN lets go with one hand in order to punch DENA in the face.

      REGAN (continued): Who the hell are you to use that name, anyway?

      REGAN drops DENA to the floor and kicks her viciously in the ribs.

      OZ: Um...Sadha?

      SADHA (with a shrug): I can probably still bite your Slayer, if that's what you want. Would Rupert approve of that?

      REGAN: Damn hypocrite. Just die already. Who do you think you are, ordering us around?

      REGAN pulls back for another kick, and DENA grabs her other foot, yanking it out from under her and dragging REGAN over till they're face to face. DENA crouches above her.

      DENA (hotly): Who am I? I'm the Slayer. Get out! Get out and get lost! (She draws back her fist for a punch in the face.)

      REGAN's eyes close, and she convulses, throwing DENA off. DENA collides with the wall beneath the family portrait, shaking it.

      CLOSE-UP of REGAN's face as she opens her eyes. They're back to normal. REGAN coughs.

      DENA (sitting up): Ow?

      SADHA (with a tight grin): Well. Interesting technique. Bravo. (She claps slowly)

      DENA: Ow.

      END OF ACT III

      CODA

      INT MAIN ROOM--NIGHT

      REGAN is lying on the couch with a cold cloth on her forehead. OZ is sitting on the coffee table in front of her, and SADHA has taken her armchair again.

      OZ: We need more chairs.

      SADHA: I'll look into it.

      OZ (to REGAN): You okay?

      REGAN: Don't say I didn't warn you.

      OZ (shaking his head dismissively): You have to focus, that's all. You're the Slayer. The Slayer is you. Once you learn to accept what you are, this shouldn't be a problem.

      REGAN: Okay...if you say so. (beat) That hungry and horny thing...is that for real?

      OZ shrugs and looks at SADHA.

      SADHA: I'd have expected you to know that for yourself by now.

      REGAN: I told you...I don't fight much.

      DENA enters; she has a black eye and is biting into a huge homemade cheeseburger with everything on it. Everyone turns to stare at her.

      DENA (mouth full): Wha'?

      REGAN begins to giggle. A moment later, OZ and SADHA look at each other and share a chuckle. DENA swallows.

      DENA (defensively): Hey! This? Not a sin.

      REGAN laughs harder.

      DENA: You want horny, go talk to my brother, the family black sheep. Not me.

      SADHA shrugs as REGAN continues laughing in the background.

      OZ: Oh, yeah. (The others look expectantly at him.) Giles wanted me to tell you. He got a report after you left. A coven here says they think there's another Slayer in town. There are rumors...well, she might be working for Wyndham-Price's faction.

      DENA sneers.

      SADHA: They should be able to track her for us, then, and we can pick her up.

      OZ (shaking his head): They can't. She doesn't show up on detection spells. They had to compare reports to figure out it wasn't one we knew.

      SADHA (puzzled): Cloaked somehow? I've never heard of that.

      REGAN: Then we'll have to track her by...following the violence?

      OZ: Basically.

      CUT TO

      EXT PARKING LOT--NIGHT

      Ominous music.

      SOLITA is standing outside amidst a long row of cars, next to one with an open door. She's a young girl, no more than eleven or twelve, small and thin. The camera pans down and around slowly and we see, first, a dropped backpack on the ground right next to the open door.

      A dead DEMON is lying on the ground in front of her, just out of the row of cars. It has small curved horns and scaly orange hide, wearing only some kind of animal-skin pants. A ragged hole has been torn through its chest.

      SOLITA's trembling hands are coated in its gore.

      BLACK SCREEN
      DeadWar: Burden of Proof
      Out Now.
      Avatar by Barb
      Feedback is always welcome here.

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