(October 31, 2009)
Written by: Masquerade
Previously on The Destroyer...
INT. STONE CHAMBER - BENEATH THE GATHERING MANSION - DAWN
Angel stands near the far wall, ax at the ready, facing off with -
HIGH SHOT - THREE COCKROACH-FACED DEMONS on the upper-level platform, ARMED WITH SWORDS. One by one, they charge down the stone steps, headed for him.
And his son.
Connor lies unconscious on the ground behind Angel. Angel advances slowly, putting distance between Connor and the imminent fight, then HESITATES, throwing a quick, anxious glance upwards.
His POV - The LIGHT OF DAWN filtering down from the gaps in the high stone ceiling is still indirect and diffused.
With a determined look, Angel throws up his ax to - CLANG! - meet the sword of the first demon to reach him, then KICKS at another demon trying to get around. The demon falls back into the third, sending the third tumbling. Before the second demon can catch its footing, a TREMOR passes through the chamber, knocking that demon to the ground as well. Angel whirls on it, ax high, then sacrifices the kill to dodge the other way and block the first demon before it gets around him.
CLOSE-UP of Connor, oblivious.
DISSOLVE TO -
EXT. GLOWING REALM OF WHITE AND BLUE
Connor gazes around uneasily, but there is nothing in the dazzlingly bright realm to look at, not buildings, or furniture, or people. Until -
It's about time you got here.
He whirls around and is stopped short by what he sees. A moment of stunned silence passes before he manages -
CUT TO Cordelia, wearing a white dress and lounging on a white chaise lounge in the white and blue space.
CONNOR REILLY walking to classes, swinging a SWORD in a street fight,
FAITH THE VAMPIRE SLAYER, taking aim with her CROSSBOW at a multi-armed, blade-swinging DEMON,
and AIDEN WALSH, sitting at a TABLE with a BOOK opened in front of him.
J. August Richards
Rachel Leigh Cook
EXT. GLOWING REALM OF WHITE AND BLUE - CONTINUOUS
Cordelia reaches over to a crystal end table and picks up a large, curvy cocktail glass filled with a frothy Piña Colada. She stretches back, sipping from a straw. Connor approaches, giving the space another anxious once-over.
Where are we?
Cordelia looks around.
My new place.
I always wanted fancy digs with a view,
and this is about as fancy as it gets.
No. You're just visiting.
(she levels a matter-of-fact gaze at him)
Someone had to talk to you in plain English,
and no one does that better than me.
She sits up, bringing her legs around the side of the chaise, then pats the spot next to where she is sitting. Connor drifts closer.
Cordelia, what's going on?
She sips at her drink as he sinks down beside her, then sets it aside.
What's going on....
(a beat; she wipes her lips with the back of her hand)
Well, right now, you're in a musty old room under a creepy mansion.
And as for the weirdness...
I'm thinking it's 'cause you got hit in the head
with a giant rock.
Connor takes this in, brow knit.
(musing with a chuckle)
After Jasmine was born,
all I did was hallucinate, twenty-four hours a day.
Not much else to do, what with the coma and all.
This gets Connor's puzzled attention.
So I'm hallucinating?
Going on one of those...whatchacallit,
spirit-walk vision-quest things.
Connor's puzzled expression melts into surprise.
You're my guide?
Because A, I'm dead, and B...
(she flips at her raven locks)
...Not a blonde.
She follows this up with a very Cordeliaesque look.
And before you bring it up,
that Professor Roth...person isn't your guide, either.
She never was.
But I made a delivery to her.
Yeah, 'cause she's the only blonde you ever
made a delivery to.
Cordelia sighs, rolling her eyes.
Even though it kills me to say it--
'cause she already thinks the world revolves around her--
there's only one blonde who can teach you what you need to know.
Then she glances away again with a frown.
Although I'm still fairly certain that
comes out of a bottle.
After she does the whole pep-talk thing,
(she paces slightly, her back to him)
you'll need to fetch the Dagger of the Nyazians.
Shiny. Pointy. Bejeweled. Probably worth thousands.
(she muses thoughtfully)
Too bad you can't sell it.
You can't sell it.
Connor shakes his head.
No one knows where it is.
Well, luckily for you, I have a great view,
so I'll give you a hint.
Suddenly, the BLUE-WHITE is GONE, replaced by PITCH BLACK NIGHT. Connor rises to his feet. Whispering voices surround him the darkness. Then, as quickly as it appeared, the black is gone. Connor seeks out Cordelia, turning.
Where was that?
Their...realm or whatever you call it,
where they live.
If you can call it "living."
After a dubious beat, she focuses in again on Connor. Her expression melts into a loving gaze. Connor grins shyly, his eyes dipping away.
I know how hard you've fought all your life,
how you've suffered.
His lips compress.
Some of it, I heard about from you.
Some of it, I saw first-hand...
(a sympathetic smile)
And some of it, I've seen watching you from here.
Connor looks taken aback.
I do watch over you. Every day.
I cheer you on,
...got lots of experience with that.
(then sadness fills her face)
my heart just breaks for you.
Her tender regard lingers on him for a moment. Then, with a wry scoff -
Other times, I wonder what the hell you're thinking,
like with that skank Alix...?
Connor chuckles, chagrined. Cordelia brushes aside his bangs with her fingertips.
Always hiding behind that hair,
looking out at the world like it's your enemy.
It's not. It needs you.
(Connor frowns grudgingly)
Doesn't mean people are always going to be nice about it.
They can be really, crappingly ungrateful.
She lowers her hand.
But at the end of the day,
they're alive to be that way.
Connor stares down, brow pinched. His hands slide into his pants pockets. He is silent for a moment, then -
The weird ladies in that one place said...
I had a choice.
Cordelia gazes at him with a mix of worry and tenderness.
You do. You can walk away from all of this.
No one can stop you.
What will happen if I do?
Cordelia grimaces as if longing to answer him, but finally just shakes her head.
I can't tell you that.
It has to be your choice.
Connor turns away, disgruntled.
Well, the choice sucks!
A lot of choices do. Welcome to life.
Connor is quiet for a moment.
...Will it make any difference what I do?
The tender regard is back.
You're your father's son.
You won't stop until you've made a difference.
Cordelia approaches him and gently takes his hand.
She starts forward across what passes for a floor in this featureless place.
(stumbling after her)
Where are we going?
DISSOLVE TO - EXT. COURTYARD OF AN ANCIENT TEMPLE - DAY
Connor strolls alone across weathered stone dotted with the small leaves of the tree branches hanging nearby. Doric columns and a low walkway ceiling, also of the same aging stone, lead off to a STATUESQUE STRUCTURE of marble columns and steps. Wisps of clouds streak the azure sky.
Now where are we?
He turns. Cordelia is gone.
INT. BENEATH THE GATHERING MANSION - SHORTLY BEFORE DAWN
Buffy and Spike creep through a narrow rock tunnel, Buffy in front, sword raised. They approach - LONG SHOT, their POV - a large chamber that is GLOWING FAINTLY.
Suddenly, a horned, red-hued Carnyss DEMON LEAPS out from the shadowed niche in the rock wall, SWINGING A HEAVY MACE.
Buffy throws herself against the tunnel wall just as the mace comes down where she stood. Spike leaps at the demon and shoves it HARD, unbalancing it. A beat later, Buffy SKEWERS IT WITH THE SWORD. The demon drops. Buffy exhales.
That was close.
Spike nods. Buffy yanks the sword back out, then draws in a fortifying breath. She eyes the chamber ahead. Bringing her sword back up, she starts forward again. Spike snatches up the Carnyss' mace and follows.
Buffy's POV, PANNING - Dusty, bare, and MURKILY DARK, with multiple entrances. Through one, we can see the source of the faint glow. Buffy starts towards it, then halts. Spike tenses beside her. They pivot towards the sound of approaching footsteps. A beat later, the shadowy forms of FAITH AND HER SLAYER TEAM emerge through another entrance.
The ECHO of Faith's voice in the chamber makes them all stiffen warily for a moment. Finally, Buffy relaxes and lowers her sword. Faith approaches and gives her a pat on the arm.
Glad to see you got out of that mess down there.
Faith and Spike trade a nod, then Faith glances around, frowning.
I don't know. We haven't seen him.
She beckons them into a murky alcove near the back wall of the chamber. Their voices drop to hushed whispers as they regroup there.
Reckon he's with Connor.
Was, last time I saw.
(then, to Faith -)
So do we have a plan?
Faith nods authoritatively.
We have a plan now.
We're going to blow this place to kingdom come.
I like it.
(then he hesitates)
Do I have to wear a glowing amulet again?
Faith shakes her head.
No abracadabra involved.
(she raises two fingers)
One'll disrupt their spell down in the pit--
according to Nigel, that'll stop the gate-thing.
The other's gonna rig the mansion with C-4
and collapse their secret hideout down here.
And hopefully, the demons along with it.
Won't collapsing the cave stop the spell?
Faith parts her lips to answer, but is interrupted by the rapid beat of FRESH FOOTSTEPS. The group turns. They eye the various doorways, weapons at the ready. A few seconds later, the footsteps halt, and RONA edges into the same entrance Spike and Buffy used, sword poised. Rona's POV - Shadowy figures, lurking. Slowly, one of them becomes Faith, arms and sword out at her sides.
Rone, it's just us.
She glances back, gesturing her girls forward.
Think we lost them.
Mary, Deb, and Choon-yei don't look quite as certain, and continue glancing back as Faith leads them into the alcove. The assembled group hunch down there in a circle, weapons low, eyes alert.
(to Spike, voice hushed)
Faith's right, we have to disable the spell separately.
I saw a lot of falling rock due to the quakes.
They bounce right off the happy-fun ball.
The willowy blond slayer on Faith's team frowns with concern.
What about the people who live around here?
Won't some big explosion wreck other stuff?
Buffy looks briefly puzzled by this.
Where are we?
The Army Ops guys have been relocating the locals since dawn,
telling them the quakes made their houses unsafe.
(with attitude, under her breath)
Well, they will be after we blast a giant hole
in the ground.
Faith throws her a sharp glare, leaving the girl looking chastened. Then, to Buffy -
The demons in this place have been making
the neighborhood a death-trap for months now.
Most of the people are gone.
(to the blond slayer)
Which means their property values are
already in the toilet.
Booting people out of their houses
is sometimes the only way to save their lives.
That, and we just don't have the manpower to
take on all these demons hand-to-hand.
We don't have enough of that, either.
This is your battle, Faith, do what you gotta do.
(she rises to her feet)
I have to find Connor and Angel.
Spike sputters at this.
There's something I have to do.
She pivots to leave. Just then, Faith notices the weapon in Buffy's hand.
Yo, B, that's my sword.
Buffy glances down at it, then raises it at a safe sideways angle.
(with a hint of Buffy attitude)
Explains why they were using it in
some kind of anti-Slayer ritual.
She tilts the weapon hilt-down towards Faith. Faith takes it with a sour frown. Mary, watching intently, rises and proffers Angel's broadsword.
You should take this. It's Angel's.
I got it off the vamps that stole it.
Buffy reaches for it with a grateful nod.
Thanks, I'll get it to him.
With Angel's sword firmly in hand, Buffy turns to Faith.
Faith gives her an acknowledging nod. With that, Buffy pivots and strides off. Spike rises to follow, then frowns and sinks to kneeling again.
So is this the part where we pick teams?
Actually, Rona, Kahoko, and a few more girls
are going to stop the ritual.
You and me are gonna....
The rhythmic thud of overlapping footsteps draws Faith's attention around. She rises, a sword in each hand, just as a FOURSOME OF POINTED-EARED HELLION HOODLUMS enter the chamber. They startle at the sight of the slayers and scuttle back to flee. Faith steps over to Mary and presses the extra sword into her hand.
Then Faith is on them. The slayers leap up after her. Spike joins them, clutching his mace.
A Hellion rips a draped steel chain from its chest and uses it to LASSO Faith's sword and TUG it aside. Faith struggles to loosen it, then finally just KICKS the demon away. Mary charges the Hellion as it SLAMS into the rock wall and STABS IT THROUGH. Spike bludgeons a Hellion, then takes the demon's shiv from his hand and, with a horizontal slice, cuts his throat. The other two Hellions don't have a chance against a small squadron of slayers.
After a heated moment, Faith untangles her sword from the chain, surveying the slaughter.
(with a pant)
These ones won't be reporting back
that we're here.
Rona frowns dubiously.
Don't you think they know by now?
INT. STONE CHAMBER - JUST AFTER DAWN
Angel SHOVES one cockroach-faced demon HARD so he can HACK another with his ax, then whirls and darts after the third as the second stumbles back howling and grappling its face. He grabs the third demon by its leather sash and flings it away from his son. CLOSE-UP - From the intent effort on his face, it is clear he is only staving off the inevitable.
Just then, a petite figure SOMERSAULTS DOWN, landing firmly on her feet. Buffy raises the broadsword against a downward stroke from the first demon. CLANG.
Angel sags with relief and lunges after the third. Buffy SKEWERS her opponent. Then Angel spies the demon with the face wound CREEPING TOWARDS CONNOR.
Buffy nods as Angel charges the demon looming over his son and gives Angel's previous opponent a swift side kick that sends it SKITTERING ACROSS THE FLOOR. With an upswing of his ax, Angel lops off the demon's head. Buffy closes in on her opponent and stabs it through the gut, pinning it like a dead insect. She backs away, exhaling, then scans the chamber for more. Satisfied there aren't any, she finally turns to see -
Angel crouched beside his son, fingertips to Connor's neck. Buffy retrives her sword and approaches.
How is he?
He rises, anxiety etched into his features, then smiles gratefully at the sight of her.
I'm glad to see you alive, too.
(a wry chuckle)
I was here to rescue you.
Buffy gives him a reproving gaze.
You should know by now....
You rescue yourself.
I appreciate you guys coming here.
A TREMOR passes through the chamber. Both Angel and Buffy shoot their feet apart to brace themselves. After it passes, Angel kneels down beside Connor.
Well, now it's my son that needs rescuing.
Buffy gazes down with concern.
He was hit on the head.
He's been unconscious for...I don't even know how long.
He raises Connor up by the arm and hoists him over one shoulder. Then, retrieving his ax, he stands and circles around.
I need to get him to the hospital.
Angel, it's past dawn.
How far do you think you'll get?
(she holds a hand out to him)
Let me take him.
Buffy, you've seen all those demons.
Now's not the time for you to be driving off--
Faith has a plan. She doesn't need me.
(then, with discomfort)
And besides, I got here in the first place
because those demons want something from me.
Might be good if I made myself scarce.
Angel still looks uncertain.
Also...I think I have to do this.
Not you, not someone else. Me.
Take him to the hospital? Why?
(with a shrug)
Call it a feeling.
I've been having dreams about Connor.
Nothing that made much sense,
except for the one about the Amulet, now, I guess....
Angel nods grudgingly.
(Buffy stabs the broadsword into the ground)
Angel gives it a brief glance and grins. Then he shakes his head.
Keep it, in case you run into more goons.
(pointing at his ax)
And you're going to fight with that?
Angel looks at it with humor.
Actually, it's kinda working for me.
(he nods towards the exit)
Go. My car's parked by the sewer entrance
a few blocks from here.
Buffy grabs the sword and turns. Angel follows with Connor. They exit. LOW PAN BACK INTO the chamber. The demon Buffy stabbed to the floor sits up, groaning and bleeding from its gut.
EXT. ANCIENT TEMPLE - DAY
WIDE SHOT - Marble steps rise to an intricately-carved set of DOUBLE DOORS framed by stately columns. Connor opens one and enters.
His POV, WIDE SHOT - White-gold columns circle around a gray marble floor under domed glass. Sweeping arches rise from floor to ceiling, creating alcoves along the walls. In each alcove sits a wrought iron bench lit softly by an ornate stained glass window. In the reverent silence, Connor's footsteps are deafening.
His pauses between two columns. His POV - A RELIEF SCULPTURE is carved in one--a creature with the head of a bird, a human torso and legs, and outstretched wings. Slowly, Connor circles amongst the columns, examining the reliefs on each of them. PANNING - A coiled, multi-headed snake with human-like facial features; a dragon with razor-sharp teeth, covered in shaggy hair; a tall, bony figure with a bald scalp and featureless eyes; a muscular warrior with long hair and a blade.
Suddenly, from everywhere and nowhere, VOICES CALL OUT, echoing through the room -
He is here!
The One Sired by the Vampire With a Soul.
Connor stops and darts around, staring upwards. His jaw tenses.
Who are you?!
He takes in the room with increased wariness. Then his gaze settles on -
another relief sculpture. It has the head and torso of a woman and the jagged, multi-jointed trunk and legs of a praying mantis. The hair and face of the woman are CHILLINGLY FAMILIAR.
(one by one)
We are the benevolent.
We are they who watch.
We are from the beginning.
Connor stares at the relief, a scowl brewing on his face. An accusing gaze rises towards the ceiling.
I know who you are.
(he whirls around)
You're the ones that made it so my mother
could get pregnant!
The ones trying to yank my strings!
Connor strides into the center of the room and turns this way and that.
You are of us.
You are the miracle child.
Connor throws up his hands.
So that means I should do whatever you say?
Silence. Connor waits, looking up and around. Then, just as he looks away with a scoff -
The essence of humanity is choice.
His sneer melts into uncertainty.
(one by one)
Many have taken choice from you.
She that was named Jasmine took it from the world.
She that was named Jasmine betrayed us.
The dark ones that stalk the world betrayed everything.
Connor gazes up with renewed suspicion.
...What do you know about that?
(one by one)
They are chaos.
Balance must be restored.
Connor stares off across the floor, anxiety tightening his brow.
Yeah, I know.
The hope humanity offers is balance.
CLOSE-UP of Connor's pensive contemplation. Finally, he raises his stare to the silent ceiling. DISSOLVE TO Connor's upturned face, bathed in warm light. OFF-SCREEN, we hear the purr of a car motor. And a familiar voice.
Okay, got it. Thanks, Vaughne.
A soft beep, followed by a muffled series of thumps.
INT. ANGEL'S PLYMOUTH - MORNING
Connor blinks with disorientation. His eyes drift to Buffy. She gives him a glance as she sets her right hand on the steering wheel.
EXT. GATHERING MANSION - MORNING
Angel descends, ax in one hand, then slows, caution creasing his shadowed features. He ducks into a niche in the rock. The scuffing of multiple footsteps is audible a moment later.
Faith appears, the brunette slayer behind her. Spike takes up the rear.
Faith tenses for a beat, then lowers her sword. Angel emerges from the shadows.
Did Buffy find you?
So where is she? Where's Connor?
Angel lets his worry surface for a moment.
Connor was hit on the head pretty badly.
Buffy took him to the hospital.
She never heard of 9-1-1?
Angel shoots him an annoyed glare.
She said she needed to do it,
and I appreciated that.
(then, to Faith -)
She also said you had a plan for finishing this.
I do, but I'm going to need you guys
to hang tight while I go above ground.
INT. ANGEL'S PLYMOUTH - MORNING
Connor takes in his surroundings, eyes at half-mast.
My dad's car.
(glancing at him)
How's your head feel?
Connor raises fingertips to his scalp and grimaces.
Like it got pelted with rocks.
A wince; he lowers his hand. He struggles to straighten himself in his seat. Buffy stops him with a hand to the chest.
Don't try to sit up.
Just be glad you're awake.
(her eyes search the road)
She spies what she's looking for and - WINDSHIELD SHOT - slows the car into a right turn.
Back at that creepy mansion, helping Faith.
It was a little sunny outside.
I told him I'd take you to the hospital.
My dad's a hypochondriac.
I've got the resiliency of--
Of a vampire?
Connor's eyes dip.
Buffy comes to a halt at a red light, then offers a concerned gaze.
I'd just as soon have you checked out,
to be on the safe side.
She peers out the windshield.
Probably should have taken a left here.
Another pointed look at Connor.
And hypochondriacs obsess about their own health.
Angel's just being a dad.
Connor doesn't reply for a moment. He stares out the window without seeing the traffic pass by. Finally -
He never should have been.
And Darla should never have been a mother.
(his gaze sinks)
But they were.
Someone decided...they should be.
And so they had you.
...And so they had me.
He brows pinch, taking in the enormity of it; of everything. Finally, he aims that incomprehension at Buffy.
Why do you do it?
The Plymouth starts forward again. Buffy throws him a curious double-take.
Fight. Keep fighting.
Someone has to.
But haven't you ever wanted to do anything else?
Buffy guffaws and rolls her eyes.
(a grudging shrug)
...For the first few years.
Connor waits expectantly. She shakes her head.
But...too much happened. Too much was at stake.
Before I knew it, it was just...my life.
Connor's tone is somewhere between incredulity and desperation.
So you just let..."destiny" tell you what to do?
What's written...in some old book?
Buffy looks taken aback for a beat, then shakes her head.
I stopped listening to prophecies a long time ago.
I just do what I think is best in a situation.
Connor looks ahead with a disgruntled frown.
Yeah, well, unfortunately,
I already know what some of them say about me.
A wry look twists Buffy's lips, heavy with the weight of long experience. She mulls over her words for a moment, then -
Let me tell you something about "destiny."
She has Connor's attention.
Destiny's not the something that's gonna happen
no matter what you do.
Destiny's that thing you do, no matter what,
'cause it's the right thing to do.
Connor ponders this with a pinched brow.
We make our destinies because of the kind
of people we are....
I mean, take that guy Sahjhan.
The demon I killed when I got my memories back
the first time?
He hears you're gonna kill him,
and he can't let it go.
He keeps coming after you and your family
until you've got no choice but to kill him.
She shrugs, her hands squeezing the steering wheel.
Guy created his own problem, if you ask me.
'Cause that's the kind of guy he was.
(still with the knit brow)
So what are you saying,
you finally decided to be a Slayer
'cause that's the kind of person you are?
I am a Slayer.
Nothing was going to change that.
CLOSE-UP on Connor's thoughtful gaze. Buffy continues, impassioned -
I had these abilities, these instincts,
and a conscience.
No one could have stopped me if I chose not to fight,
but I didn't. I couldn't.
A silent beat.
So maybe in the end...I didn't have any other choice.
I couldn't stand by while people got hurt.
Buffy guides the Plymouth into the center of an intersection and halts. She scrutinizes Connor as the left turn signal ticks softly.
You didn't ask to be born.
I didn't ask to be a Slayer.
But here we are.
Connor stares forward, absorbing this. Then his eyes drift to - his POV, through glass - cars, waiting at the red light. A male commuter sips from a coffee cup. Two women enter the intersection, deep in conversation. A mother stands on the corner opposite, her infant dozing in a stroller. Then the Plymouth turns left, and the view shifts away.
SIDE TWO-SHOT - Buffy is in the foreground. The city passes by outside.
As for that prophecy Giles and Gunn have been working on,
about "the end of all demon life..."?
(a contemplative pause)
...I just think, if it's true, well,
other than it meaning a few people we love
won't be around anymore, nothing would make me happier.
Connor's gaze sinks.
There's just one problem with that scenario.
The Dagger of Nyazians. No one can find it.
It's at a club called "Sekhmet."
Connor peers up, startled.
(glancing at him)
It's a nightclub in Long--
Yeah, I know, I've been there.
What's it doing there?
(with a shrug)
I mean, it's not there exactly--
it's in some other dimension.
Now Connor's expression is wary.
...Who told you that?
The coven in Hollywood tracked its energy to
that club before they lost the trail.
(innuendo creeps into her voice)
Then...this morning? They get a phone tip
that it's in this other dimension,
which you can get to inside the club.
Connor takes this in pensively.
Oh, and that dimension is supposedly destroying
itself as we speak.
A "phone tip"?
Buffy scoffs softly.
From the person who says she stole it
in the first place.
Tell me that's not hinky.
We should go get it.
Buffy throws him a mom-frown. Then, earnestly -
Connor, Faith's got it covered.
We don't need the Dagger to keep that gate-thing closed.
Her attention is drawn back to the road as they pass through another intersection.
Damn, that was Roscoe!
Connor looks at her pointedly.
But we'll need it someday, won't we?
Buffy slows the Plymouth and - THROUGH THE WINDSHIELD - pulls into the center lane. The car halts there, left signal ticking. Buffy shifts her attention from the oncoming traffic to her passenger, then raises a hand towards his injured head.
What about your head?
I promised Angel--
Connor ducks away.
That phone call was probably a set-up.
EXT. CITY STREET - GRANADA HILLS
The Plymouth veers out of the center lane and back into traffic. LONG SHOT as it speeds away.
TIGHT SHOT of a brick-like C-4 CHARGE. A tense, suspenseful instrumental starts up over -
INT. A TORCH-LIT ROCK ENTRYWAY - GATHERING TUNNELS
A demon guard drops under Spike's studded mace. Angel kneels beside the rock wall and tucks the C-4 charge into a niche in the earth. Just then, a TREMBLE passes through the tunnel. He dodges back, then relaxes as the explosive does not detonate.
The music continues as we DISSOLVE between a SERIES OF SCENES -
INT. NARROW STONE STAIRWELL - BENEATH THE GATHERING MANSION
Two armed demons mount the stairs and pass through the doorway that leads into the mansion. HOLD ON the door as it closes. Then PAN UP TO the high, shadowed ceiling. Faith is suspending herself there, stretched between a protruding stone structural support and a wall. More C-4 charges are attached to her belt. She lets go and drops down. Secure on her feet, she heads down the stairs and lays a charge in a crevice under the loose stone of the bottom step.
Then startles as the door at the top OPENS.
The brunette slayer descends with the BOX OF GAVROK tucked under one arm. Another quake sends her free hand groping for the wall. After it passes, she continues down. Faith joins her as she exits out of the stairwell. The music fades momentarily.
How'd it go?
(handing the box over)
I got caught in the hallway.
Stuffed the demon under the desk I found that sitting on.
INT. THE UNDERGROUND TUNNELS
Rona and her team emerge into flickering torchlight. They take the Box of Gavrok from Faith.
EXT. CORRUGATED PIPE ENTRANCE
A HALF-DOZEN SLAYERS gather before the grate, armed and ready.
INT. SEWER TUNNELS
MORE SLAYERS creep through water-stained concrete to take up position at a T-intersection.
EXT. RESIDENTIAL NEIGHBORHOOD - GRANADA HILLS
LONG SHOT down one street - Empty of people and vehicles, save one slow-moving, non-descript commercial truck. The two young men inside casually scan the passing houses and side yards.
EXT. ANOTHER STREET - Metal barricades have been set up, guarded by what appear to be police officers.
The music fades. DISSOLVE OUT.
EXT. WAREHOUSE DISTRICT - LONG BEACH - MORNING
LONG SHOT between Buffy and Connor's heads - Across the street and down half a block is CLUB SEKHMET.
It looks closed.
(a grudging beat)
Which makes sense at seven o'clock in the morning.
Connor reaches for the door handle.
Guess I'll have to break in.
A RAP at the passenger side window startles him. THROUGH GLASS - Professor Roth. Connor stares back stonily.
DISSOLVE TO A MOMENT LATER. TWO-SHOT - Melanie Roth is in the back seat, the blade of Angel's broadsword across her lap. Beside her, Buffy uses her free hand to rifle through Melanie's bag. She pulls out the gun and takes possession of it. Melanie's intent gaze is on Connor.
I'm an Initiate of the Anunnaki,
which means I can enter their realm.
If you enter with me,
the portal will have to part to let me pass.
Connor eyes her circumspectly.
This isn't a trick.
I've finally read the prophecies.
I know now why the Patrons want you.
"Is the key to the future."
Yeah, I read that book, too.
Melanie lurches forward, clasping the back of the front seat.
Then you know why you have to claim the Dagger!
Buffy raises the sword slightly, expression cool. Melanie sits back with a glance at her. Then her eyes sink with evident shame.
My job...was to disable you,
to prevent you from using it.
Why not just kill him?
It wasn't my death they wanted.
They had plenty of chances.
Melanie's attention darts back to Buffy.
The Anunnaki gain power through the corruption of human beings.
The more potential for good they have, the better.
(again with the Buffy-tude)
Well, then this is convenient for you.
Two birds, one stone....
Melanie's eyes widen with alarm.
No. If you are who I think you are,
you can't go with him into their realm--
you can't risk it.
(a gesture at Connor)
But he has to go.
Connor still seems skeptical.
What's the catch?
Melanie's eyes drift away again grimly.
I won't lie to you.
Then they are on him again.
When you cross into their dimension for the first time,
you'll become an Initiate, like me.
Connor's expression grows guarded.
Whoa, wait a minute--
Melanie holds up a hand to cut her off, not taking her eyes off Connor.
But that's the thing.
Their dimension is destroying itself.
That was part of their plan--
corrupt a human being with potential like you have,
and they'd gain all the power they need to break out
of their prison dimension.
Buffy settles back, listening.
Power like that would destroy it in the process;
but since they'd be able to return here, to Earth,
it wouldn't matter.
But if their dimension is destroyed while
they're still trapped there,
you'll be an Initiate of nothing.
Buffy's brow rise in challenge.
Is it still going to be destroyed?
(she gestures at Connor)
I mean, he hasn't been "corrupted."
But he was.
He was over the edge.
(she gapes at Connor with incomprehension)
Something...something brought him back.
Buffy and Connor share a glance. Recovering, Melanie continues.
Listen. Their dimension is too far gone.
The destruction has slowed, but it's irreversible now.
That gives you just enough time to get in and out,
if you go now.
Buffy still looks dissatisfied.
What's in all this for you?
Melanie's gaze grows long and pensive.
I have been...trying to get out of my pact
with the Anunnaki for decades.
(her eyes return to Connor)
So they cut a deal with me--
they'd set me free if I helped them get you.
She shakes her head.
But now...the stakes are too high.
If they get free, they'll enslave everybody.
And I'll be killed anyway, just because they can.
(to Buffy -)
I won't die with the entire world on my conscience.
Connor scrutinizes her thoughtfully.
Take me there.
TIME DISSOLVE TO - EXT. PLYMOUTH
Connor and Buffy wait beside the Plymouth as Melanie eases out the back. Buffy slams the door shut, then proffers the hilt of Angel's broadsword towards Connor.
Angel'd want you to have it.
Connor's lips part slightly. He accepts it and lowers it to his side. Next, Buffy holds out Melanie's gun, handle first.
This is hers.
Connor takes it and tucks it into a low thigh pocket of his Dockers. He gestures Melanie forward. She passes Buffy, then him, and starts towards the club. Connor follows.
DISSOLVE TO - INT. STAIRWELL - CLUB SEKHMET
They mount the dim-lit steps, Connor just behind and to the right of Professor Roth. She glances back at him.
I've made life very hard for you these past few months,
and for that I am sorry.
Connor says nothing.
But if we manage to kill the Anunnaki today,
every spell I put in place at their request will be removed.
You'll have your life back.
Connor chuckles wryly.
If I have time for it.
They reach the second-floor doorway. Melanie opens it and enters. Connor follows.
INT. SECOND FLOOR
They drift down the dark corridor, then turn the corner and slow. Their POV - The DEEP BLACKNESS that is the doorway to the Anunnaki dimension.
EXT. HYPERION HOTEL - MORNING - ESTABLISHING
A melancholy piano instrumental plays.
INT. HOTEL ROOM
LOW SHOT near the foot of the bed. Then, PANNING SLOWLY - The room is back to its contemporary décor, but a CHAOS of broken furniture and strewn ingredients from the ritual. Illyria sits slumped in the armchair wrapped in a blanket, blue hair tumbled. Her icy eyes stare into space. OFF-SCREEN, we hear the soft zrrrrpt of a zipper.
Gunn stands beside the bed, shirtless, fastening the button of his pants. His expression is haunted and distant, but shrewd.
...The way you used that word, "shell,"
I figured your skin was as hard as stone.
(he finally looks up)
Illyria remains expressionless.
Gunn bends over and snatches up his shirt from the floor.
I suppose that gets you some trouble with the Gathering...
how human you are.
His stare is pointed.
Her eyes drop in his direction.
I am not.
Gunn frowns grudgingly.
Yeah, I know that, too.
He sinks down to the sheet-strewn mattress and pulls his shirt on, then reaches for his shoes. His gaze is long and mournful.
Fred...is gone. Passed on. Whatever.
(he tugs the laces loose)
But there's...something...of her still inside you,
He pauses to gaze at her, then turns his attention back to pulling his shoes on.
...Her memories, her feelings.
Like an echo.
You can't shake it.
As are the human vermin that crawl across my world.
Gunn tugs the bowed laces of one shoe tight, his irritation evident.
You say that like we don't belong here.
He grabs up the laces of the other shoe.
(grunting softly as he works)
But this is our world, too. We evolved here,
(he throws a look at her)
...while your kind battled yourselves to death.
Illyria finally gives him a dark scowl.
Your kind drove us from the Earth!
But then, rather than rising to confront him, she slumps more deeply into the chair and shifts away. She is silent for a long moment. When she finally speaks again, her voice is a husky murmur.
And that's why I can't live here among you.
Can't join with the Slayer or her allies....
Her kind was the last enemy mine ever faced on this soil.
To join her would be a betrayal of everything I was.
Gunn lips compress with sympathy and uncertainty.
Yet if I return to the Gathering now,
they will destroy me.
Gunn rises from the bed with a matter-of-fact expression.
It was your brilliant plan to reincarnate yourself
in the first body you found.
You might have to live with the consequences of that.
Illyria glowers at the thought. Then, in a burst of energy, she rises to her feet, grappling the blanket to keep it on her body.
I am Illyria! God-King of the Primordium!
Gunn cracks up at the sight of her. But a beat later, he lets the seriousness of the moment sink back in. He shakes his head slowly.
Now you're something...in between.
Glower deepening, Illyria's eyes drop away. She spies something on the floor and reaches down with one hand, retrieving the tumbled-over KEROSENE LAMP. Examining it expressionlessly, she turns away, one hand still clasping her blanket to her chest. LOW SHOT - The blanket trails behind her as she wanders across the carpet.
Gunn looks on, brows knit.
She pauses near the window. TIGHT FRONTAL SHOT of her from the shoulders up as the hand not holding the lamp fumbles for the lamp's control. The blanket slips away, and the flame from the lamp LICKS UP.
Gunn's eyes widen in alarm.
What are you doing?
Illyria holds the lamp aloft against the curtains.
INT. K'SHAN'S LABORATORY - MORNING
TIGHT SHOT of the doorframe. A cockroach-faced demon falls against it, bedraggled and bleeding. K'shan gapes up from his work table. The demon's legs collapse beneath it. It sinks into a heap on the floor. K'shan kneels beside it and helps it up to sitting.
We...injured the boy...in the well-chamber,
but his father...got him out.
There was a Slayer....
More than one. Leaving corpses behind.
K'shan rises and turns.
...The boy can't be tracked.
The demon's eyes close. Its head slumps.
K'shan strides over to his bookcases and scans the tumbled-over volumes with an expression of desperation. Then the distinctive, muffled tone of a CELL PHONE turns him back to his table. From under the ancient scrolls, fallen candlesticks, and iron tools, he pulls it out. He stabs it with a thumb and brings it up.
CUT TO - INT. VAN - SOMEWHERE IN THE CITY
Seated in the van are four bulky M'Fashnik, dressed in workman's clothes and caps. The driver is on the phone.
Just thought you ought to know, boss--
the neighborhood's completely blocked off now.
Looks like the police, but it ain't.
Can't get in, and nothing's getting out.
INT. K'SHAN'S WORKSHOP
You've seen nothing get out?
Just a couple locals, half an hour ago, leaving.
What kind of car were they in?
K'shan whirls back towards the bookcases, and starts scanning again.
Classic Plymouth. Slick.
A Plymouth I can do.
A classic Plymouth that left the neighborhood
in the last hour....
He snatches a book from a high shelf.
(turning back to the work table)
I'll call you back shortly with its location.
He slams the book down.
Then kill everyone inside.
INT. SECOND FLOOR - SEKHMET - MORNING
Professor Roth stares at the portal to the Anunnaki dimension anxiously.
We'll have to be in physical contact
as we pass through the portal,
with me slightly ahead of you.
Connor nods, taking a fortifying breath.
But Melanie doesn't budge. She just stares.
What are you waiting for?
She throws him a vexed look. Then the soft squeak of the stairwell door WHIRLS THEM AROUND. Footsteps approach in the darkness.
Oh, did she neglect the part where,
if she enters a second time,
she becomes a full-fledged Disciple of our Patrons?
Melanie's expression sours as Willis steps out of the shadows. She crosses her arms.
If you're here to kill me, be my guest.
But could you wait...just a minute?
Willis scoffs with irony.
The Patrons wanted that pleasure,
but I can see now that was an indulgence on their part.
His eyes dart briefly to Connor, then he RAISES THE END OF HIS CANE towards her. On reflex, Connor steps between them. Willis' brows rise with amusement.
Look who's suddenly decided to step up and play hero.
Better, no thanks to you.
Connor steps back until the length of his sword permits him to hold its sharpened point under Willis' chin. Willis' eyes sink towards it casually, but he doesn't move. Melanie's jaw tightens bitterly as she stares Willis down with contempt.
The hell where I pay for my sins beats
the hell where I compound them for eternity.
Then abruptly, she grasps Connor's arm and pivots towards the portal.
Connor is dragged around, but turns back instantly. Willis dodges out of the way of a sword-thrust that comes a beat too late. Connor repositions himself with lightening instinct and STABS WILLIS THROUGH, pinning him to the wall. Willis' eyes widen in shock. Connor yanks out the sword, then turns, allowing Melanie to take him by the hand. Together, they BOLT TOWARDS THE PORTAL -
CGI SHOT - AND LEAP THROUGH.
EXT. REALM OF THE ANUNNAKI
They tumble to the ground together. Slowly, Connor rises to sitting. A man in a business suit veers around him, clutching a suitcase. Connor peers after him, then looks up.
His POV - The pitch black night of the realm has been RIPPED in multiple places by BLINDING, BRILLIANT MULTI-HUED LIGHT, like a torn velvet curtain. The whispering voices in the darkness are aloft with excitement and urgency.
Melanie scrambles to her feet, tugging the Anunnaki pendant from her neck. She tosses it away.
Connor rises and follows her. The panels of the disembodied revolving door hang loosely. A woman with a duffle bag dodges around them. Connor and Professor Roth wait for her to pass, then head inside.
INT. WIDE, OLD-STYLE HOTEL LOBBY
The chaos on the other side brings them to a halt. PANNING - The ceiling has BUCKLED IN and fallen debris has left the stairs CRUMBLING. There are yawning, jagged breaches in the walls, which sag perilously, casting a BLINDING LIGHT across the strewn furniture and up-ended floorboards. The few hotel guests in sight stand at the lobby counter, filling out forms or trying to get the attention of the clerk and concierge.
Connor looks with consternation at Professor Roth.
Where do I go now?
She compresses her lips.
I'm not sure, I've only been here once,
and they didn't trust me with any information about it.
(she pauses, thinking)
It wouldn't be out in the open anywhere.
TIGHT SHOT - Connor gazes up.
In one of the rooms, maybe?
He looks to Professor Roth, but she can only offer a feeble shrug. With a determined expression, Connor yanks Melanie's gun from his pants pocket and presses it into her hand, then turns towards the stairs. She glances down at it. With an agile leap, Connor climbs onto the teetering arm rail and starts up at a crouch, the fingers of free hand touching down for balance.
Slowly, the hotel guests and staff at the counter take notice of him and move toward the stairs.
Part 2 (click here)