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Darth Masq, Sith Lord of Philosophy
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Amor Fati, Part 2

Amor Fati

Part 2

(October 31, 2009)

Written by: Masquerade

Act Three

INT. HOTEL ROOM - HYPERION HOTEL - MORNING

The curtains are IN FLAMES. Illyria clutches the kerosene lamp and pivots around. She starts towards the bed. Wide-eyed, Gunn dodges around it and intercepts her halfway. He grapples for the lamp. Illyria grits her teeth.

ILLYRIA
Wesley was correct.
My place now is as ash and dust.

Wincing with effort, Gunn TUGS the lamp from her grip. She stumbles back with a glare as he lurches around her towards the curtains, fumbling to turn the lamp off. The smoke alarm BLARES. Gunn lowers the lamp to his feet, then grapples at the burning curtains. He yanks them to the floor and stomps on them to smother the flame.

Illyria drifts towards him, her expression blank. Gunn gathers up the curtains and lamp and stands. He veers around her.

INT. BATHROOM

He dumps the armful into the bathtub and turns on the shower. Steam and smoke rise from the shredded, charcoal-colored lump. Gunn exhales, then turns.

INT. BEDROOM

Illyria is where he left her, an ice sculpture in the center of the room. She watches as he climbs onto the desk and YANKS the fire alarm out of it socket. The DEAFING WHINE ends abruptly. He steps down, giving her a brief glance.

GUNN
Put some clothes on before the management gets here.

He scans the floor for what she was wearing, then turns to find her clothed in her skin-tight leathers and a distant gaze. He sets his hands on his hips.

GUNN
You're right about one thing...
your world's never coming back.
You need to learn to live in this one.
Finally.


INT. HOTEL LOBBY - THE ANUNNAKI DIMENSION

TIGHT SHOT of Professor Roth. The hotel guests pass her, drawing her attention to - UPWARD PAN - Connor, climbing the staircase handrail. The guests mount the crumbling remains after him, using each other to boost themselves over the rubble. One man closes in on Connor. Connor KICKS him away and continues climbing.

Melanie's grip on her gun tightens. Quickly, she heads to the stairs, releasing the gun's safety. A tall, burly man blocks her path. She raises the gun. He doesn't budge. She SHOOTS HIM in the chest and continues past him. Then, slipping the grip of the gun under the belt of her slacks, she mounts the rail.

INT. SECOND FLOOR

Connor leaps down onto the balcony.

CUT TO - INT. MOUTH OF THE CORRIDOR

He looks down each wing, then veers right and tugs at the knob of the first door he comes to. He raises a foot and KICKS DOWN THE DOOR.

CUT BACK TO - INT. LOBBY

WIDE SHOT - Melanie struggles her way up the handrail. Several hotel guests have reached the top. After a moment, she leaps down after them and races into the corridor.

INT. CORRIDOR

LONG SHOT, her POV - Connor KICKS DOWN another door and heads inside.

Melanie pivots and heads towards the closest door of the left wing. Down the hall, a bellhop with a luggage cart glances up at casually. His eyes widen and he scurries towards her. She raises her gun and SHOOTS. The bellhop is knocked back. She turns and tries a key in the door. Then another. Then looks over, startled, as the bellhop RISES, blood seeping into his vest.

CUT BACK TO - Connor exits another hotel room. LONG SHOT, his POV - The hotel guests entering the hallway turn left and CLOSE IN ON MELANIE. Connor looks on quizically for a beat, then heads in that direction as well. Melanie twists around towards him.

MELANIE
Don't stop looking!

Several guests turn on him with malevolent expressions. Connor raises his sword. They step back, but not far. He dodges around them and KICKS DOWN the door Melanie was trying to open. He enters. The guests follow him in.

INT. NEARLY DEMOLISHED OLD-FASHIONED HOTEL ROOM

Connor stoops over a fallen dresser and tugs out drawer after drawer, tossing each away. The guests duck from them. Finally, Connor rises with frustration. With a determined scowl, he raises his broadsword again and swings it widely, sending guests dodging aside. Somewhere OFF SCREEN, there is a sudden roar of a flame, followed by a DEAFENING SHRIEK.

Connor bolts into the corridor to find -

INT. CORRIDOR

- Willis staring at the PILLAR OF FIRE that was Melanie Roth. He glances towards Connor, then tugs out his shirt tails to show him the puckered scar of his stab wound.

WILLIS
Disciples of the Patrons don't die easily.
(a downward glance at Melanie)
...That one had it coming.

All that remains now is a skeletal cinder littering the carpet. Connor looks away, grimacing. Then, with a glare, he veers around Willis and heads up the hall. Casually, Willis raises his cane. An arc of electricity HITS THE WALL behind Connor and SCORCHES IT. With a wary glance back, Connor quickens his pace.

Then he SLOWS, facing off with - MORE HOTEL GUESTS, now emerging from their rooms. Risking a glance around them, he notes - LONG SHOT - most of the doors of the wing now hang open. He pushes forward, GRABBING the first guest to block his path and THROWING HIM at another. Then he raises his sword against a third. Suddenly, his neck and arms are SEIZED FROM BEHIND. Multiple hands force him around. They can't, however, get the sword from his grip.

Willis approaches at a stroll.

WILLIS
Now...we can get things back on track.

Connor STRUGGLES in the grip of his captors. Willis halts in front of him. He narrows his eyes, musing.

WILLIS
I believe when we left off...you were enjoying life
at your girlfriend's and enrolling in art classes.
(provocative beat)
Tell me that's not more appealing than the life
everyone's telling you you should live.

CONNOR
(matter-of-factly)
I can't.

A knowing smile from Willis. Connor's gaze drifts briefly over to the remains of Melanie Roth.

CONNOR
But she couldn't live with the price you're asking.
(then returns to Willis)
How can I?

With that, Connor KICKS the legs of the guest directly behind him and BUTTS the man's head as he doubles forward in pain. Willis backs away. Connor TWISTS out of the grip of the others and SURGES FORWARD. He is on Willis in a second, grabbing him up by the arm and SKEWERING HIM THROUGH. Willis collapses to the floor, impaled, chuckling weakly.

WILLIS
Didn't I say....

Connor steps over him. He yanks out Angel's sword.

CONNOR
"Not easily" isn't the same thing as "not at all."

He bends down and grabs Willis up by his patchy gray hair, then draws back the sword and ARCS IT DOWN. Willis' body slumps lifelessly. Connor turns on the hotel guests.

CONNOR
Catch.

He tosses them Willis' head, then sprints foward, shoving them aside and MAKING A BEELINE for the remaining closed door at the end of the hall. He KICKS IT DOWN and enters.

INT. HOTEL ROOM

WIDE SHOT - Generic wallpaper and fallen paintings, but no furniture save for one toppled-over DISPLAY CASE of steel and unbroken glass. Connor approaches it and kneels. TIGHT SHOT - A black silk pillow lies askew. The DAGGER OF THE NYAZIANS stands tipped against the glass, point down.

Connor stares at it. He guffaws.

CONNOR
Wow.
I thought maybe after all this, it wouldn't be here.

He takes his sword into his other hand, then draws back his fist and SLAMS IT INTO THE GLASS. The glass doesn't break. He frowns. He brings back his fist again and delivers BLOW after BLOW, his frown twisting into a feral grimace. Finally, the GLASS SHATTERS. Connor pauses, drawing back his blood-stained hand. He swallows, expression wary. LOUD THUDS draw his attention around.

His POV - The hotel guests RUSH IN AT HIM.

Quickly, Connor reaches inside the shattered glass and PULLS OUT THE DAGGER. He rises and pivots, long blade in one hand, short blade in the other. He sneers through fallen bangs.

CONNOR
(low and guttural)
Who's...first?

The hotel guests glance at each other, then turn tail and run. Connor glares after them and follows.


DEMONS (V.O.)
Ch'un cha! Ch'un cha!
Ch'un cha! Ch'un cha!
Ch'un cha! Ch'un cha!
Ch'un cha! Ch'un cha!

INT. CHAMBER HOLLOWED OUT IN ROCK - BENEATH THE GATHERING MANSION

WIDE SHOT - The dead cockroach-faced demons are gone. Rona, Kahoko, and the willowy blond slayer gather around the DEEP CREVICE Angel and Connor fell into earlier. Unceremoniously, Rona tosses in the Box of Gavrok, waits, then gives the others a nod. They veer around the crevice. A QUAKE shakes the ground, knocking the girls briefly astride. They huddle low beside the far wall. Rona shrugs the military-issue backpack off her shoulders and sets it down by her knees.

RONA
(quietly)
This is it, Kahoko.
Still feel up to it?

Kahoko gazes at her intently.

KAHOKO
(murmuring)
Six-five, bottom of the ninth.
A runner at third.
(suspenseful beat)
Fly ball to left field!

She mimics catching the ball and chucking it back infield. A grin.

KAHOKO
How do you Americans say it...?
"Piece of cake."

Rona hands Kahoko the backpack, then turns to the willowy blond slayer as Kahoko slips it over one shoulder.

RONA
Ready?

The slayer nods and unlatches the strap holding her crossbow to her back. They rise in unison. One by one, they slip into the fissure that leads to the main cavern.

CUT TO - INT. CAVERNOUS UNDERGROUND CHAMBER

DEMONS
Ch'un cha! Ch'un cha!
Ch'un cha! Ch'un cha!
Ch'un cha! Ch'un cha!
Ch'un cha! Ch'un cha!

VERTIGO CRANE SHOT down the length of the jagged stalagmite boulders. The slayers enter the cavern behind them, then gape up.

WIDE AERIAL SHOT - DEMON SOLDIERS fill the cavern floor, eyes on the bulbous, hovering KEY OF PANDEMONIUM. It fills nearly the entire space of the cavern now and has eaten away HUGE CRATERS in the rock walls where it has expanded. Directly beneath it, the robed sorcerers stand circled, hands interlocked, legs parted to brace themselves, their chanting lost under the deafening chorus of the demon hoards.

The ground SHAKES AGAIN. The slayers grapple for a boulder, struggling to peer beyond it. As the tremors abate, Rona leans in to Kahoko.

RONA
(low)
This is gonna be tricky.
One good shake'll knock you off balance.
But those hell-monks seem to be staying on their feet,
so they're not gonna be easy to mess with.

Kahoko peers up.

KAHOKO
The ground seems to shake...
when that huge ball expands.

Rona nods her agreement, then positions herself between up the boulder and the wall. She begins to ascend, feet and hands gripping. Kahoko goes next. The blond slayer finishes reattaching her crossbow to her back and follows.

RISING UPWARD CRANE SHOT FROM THEIR POSITION, shooting higher and higher, right through the bulging sphere and ending at an OUTCROPPING halfway up the ROCK WALL.

INT. OUTCROPPING

Mary, Deb, and Choon-yei approach the ledge, camping packs on their shoulders. Their POV - The only thing visible of the cavern is the energy sphere. Just then, the Key LURCHES TOWARDS THEM, eating through solid rock. They back off quickly, then stumble as the cavern SHAKES. Mary tumbles over. Quickly, she sits upright and shrugs her pack off her shoulders, then starts to unzip it.

MARY
Let's get this stuff unpacked.

Choon-yei shucks off her own pack and kneels. Deb lowers her pack and glances back towards the tunnels. She strides towards them, hefting her sword.

DEB
I'll cover you.

Mary pulls out a LONG, COILED ROPE with a retractable pulley on one side and a handle on the other.

CGI SHOT sinking through the rock beneath her, ending at another outcropping closer to the cavern floor. Demons perch there, craning their necks to see the activity below - REVERSE ANGLE - partially obscured by the Key of Pandemoium. Then the attention of one of them is drawn directly below them. The demon startles.

LONG SHOT, the demon's POV - Rona inches on her belly across the peak of one stalagmite boulder. Kahoko is behind and to one side of her. The blond slayer has just reached the top. She gazes around, unlatching her crossbow.

DEMON
Slayers!

Its cry is drowned out by the continued CHANTING. Quickly, it gets the attention of two nearby comrades. Clutching swords and axes, the demons LEAP DOWN TOWARDS the boulder.

The blond slayer glances up to see them in MID-LEAP. Quickly, she aims her crossbow and SHOOTS. One demon cries out, glances off the edge of the boulder, and drops out of sight. Rona rolls over on her back and KICKS AT another as it LANDS, sending it FLYING BACK.

RONA
(attention sideways)
Kahoko, now!

A third demon drags Rona up by her dreadlocks. She swings her sword, her feet stumbling for footing; the demon GRABS HER WRIST. The two stagger around, struggling. LOW SHOT - Kahoko retrieves a grenade from the military-issue backpack and scans her target area. Then she pulls the pin and LOBS IT below. CUT TO - The grenade explodes harmlessly against the energy sphere.

KAHOKO
(with dismay)
Kuso!

The explosion catches the attention of the demons. They TURN TOWARDS THE BOULDER.

The blond slayer quickly reloads from her quiver and shoots Rona's opponent in the back. It falls over her. Rona pushes it off and SHOVES it from the boulder. Kahoko yanks the pin from another grenade and lobs it, lower than before. CUT TO - It hits an armed demon guarding the sorcerers and EXPLODES. Bits of demon and shrapnel FLY BACK, sending several of the sorcerers TUMBLING. It is enough to break their concentration, and their circle.

Rona lurches to her feet, poised to face the demons NOW SWARMING UP THE BOULDER. Kahoko drops another grenade on the swarm, then ducks. It EXPLODES. The blonde stumbles as she shoots a bolt towards the outcropping above. She reloads and shoots another. A demon falls.

Suddenly, a THUNDEROUS GROANING SOUND like fatigued metal catches everyone's attention. They gape up as the bulging key of pandemonium begins to SAG LIKE A PIERCED BALLOON.

Demons stagger back, staring. Then all HELL BREAKS LOOSE. They begin shouting and running. A few continue to CLIMB the stalagmite boulder. The slayers draw into a tight, defensive circle, fists, feet, and weapons at the ready. Above them, the energy of the key continues to dwindle. Kahoko squints up at it. Then her attention is drawn in another direction. She points.

KAHOKO
Rona, look!

LONG UPWARD SHOT - From above, THREE ROPES wing down from a high outcropping, drawn by steel weights.

The first one to land almost beans Rona. She grapples for the end of it and yanks off the weight, then CHUCKS THE WEIGHT at the first demon to reach the top of the boulder. She presses the handle into Kahoko's hand. The blond slayer KICKS another demon in the face and snatches up a rope handle now dangling off the edge. She yanks off the weight.

With a TUG, Kahoko and blond slayer's ropes begin to retract, lurching them into the air.

CUT TO - The last rope handle has landed on the cavern floor ten feet away. With a determined look, Rona skip-runs and LAUNCHES HERSELF off the boulder. Gravity takes hold before she reaches the rope. Her arc intercepts it further down. She grabs it and hangs on tight. The rope jerks and starts to retract sluggishly. Rona looks down. A DEMON has hold of the bottom and is reaching for her leg. She KICKS at it, repeatedly. The demon inches down the rope, grappling, then finally is KNOCKED LOOSE, its hand still gripping the weight.

LONG UPWARD SHOT - In a hail of flung weapons and rocks, the three slayers ascend the vast cavern.


INT. HOTEL LOBBY - REALM OF THE ANUNNAKI

Hotel guests scurry, bag and baggage, toward the revolving door exit. Behind them, the far wall of the lobby TEETERS PRECARIOUSLY and CRASHES TO THE FLOOR. The blinding light that merely sliced in before ECLIPSES THE ROOM, then slowly COALESCES in shades of gold, yellow, red, and orange.

CUT TO the crumbled staircase. The bellhop and remaining guests clamber down the teetering debris, peering over their shoulders. Connor appears behind them on the second floor landing. The light show below reflects on his pensive scowl.

His POV - A GELATINOUS MASS writhes like a living thing in the center of the room.

Connor sets a hand on the balcony wall, then leaps up and OVER. He lands in a crouch, eyes on the mass. His father's broadsword is in one hand, and - LOW TIGHT SHOT - the Dagger of the Nyazians is tucked into a deep thigh pocket. He starts toward the exit, then -

- DIVES INTO A SOMERSAULT as the writhing energy REACHES OUT A TENDRIL to grab him. He rolls up to sitting, then lurches to his feet and staggers after the hotel guests. They show no interest in him as he dodges past them out the gaping hole that once was the revolving door.

EXT. THE REALM OF THE ANUNNAKI

There, he pauses with uncertainty. The escaping hotel guests fan past him in all directions and DISAPPEAR. Connor turns his wary attention to a patch of blackness ahead. Then a structural GROAN whirls him around. The bellhop veers around him. The desk clerk and concierge are last out the door, panicked, as the ceiling within COLLAPSES.

Connor circles back around and looks into the blackness. He lowers his hand to one side to - LOW SHOT - finger the hilt of Dagger of Nyazians. Then he stands tall, takes a deep breath, and strides into the blackness, his father's sword out before him.

CUT TO - INT. SECOND FLOOR - SEKHMET - MORNING

Connor exits into the dark corridor and walks several steps before he pauses, noticing - his POV, ahead - there is no one in front of him, and - he turns - his POV - no one behind. Slowly, uneasily, he circles back around and heads to the stairwell.

CUT TO - INT. CLUB MAIN FLOOR - A MOMENT LATER

IN FRAME - The door beyond the bar labeled "Employees Only" opens. Connor exits to find - REVERSE ANGLE - Buffy atop the bar, fending off three M'Fashnik with a SPIKED AX. A fourth demon lies face-down on the floor on a bed of twisted metal and glass. Buffy kicks one demon away, then SWINGS THE AX AROUND to bury the blade in another's skull. Now weaponless, she back-flips off the bar as the third demon climbs up after her.

With a determined scowl, Connor charges the M'Fashnik, catapulting himself up from a fallen stool and SKEWERING it.

LONG SHOT, Buffy's POV - The demon she kicked earlier is heading towards Connor.

Buffy does a horizontal roll over the bar, snatches up a full bottle of Patrón and HEAVES IT at the demon. It BEANS the demon in the head and sends it flailing. Buffy shakes her head in mock-dismay.

BUFFY
Tequila. Drops you every time.

Connor WRENCHES the spiked ax from the skull of the dead demon.

CONNOR
Buffy!

She turns just as he tosses it towards her. She catches it by the handle and climbs over the bar. The demon gapes up from the floor as - demon's POV - Buffy looms over it, ax high.

BUFFY
And in the morning,
you always have a splitting headache.

Demon's POV - She brings the ax down. BLACK OUT.

CUT TO - EXT. CLUB SEKHMET

Connor trails Buffy out of the club, then nearly collides with her. He steps around to see - WIDE SHOT - a LARGE BLACK HUMMER, idling in the street just beyond Professor Roth's Lexus. A Wolfram and Hart operative in black fatigues steps down from the passenger side. He has a trio of grenades hanging on the belted sash across his chest.

BUFFY
...More friends of yours?

He cocks an M-16 rifle at Connor.

CONNOR
(casually)
Friends of my dad's, really.

BLACK OPS SOLDIER
Afraid this is where he gets off.

Connor hits the pavement just as the soldier FIRES. Rat-tat-tat. Buffy dives. Rat-tat-tat. Then she scrambles up. Connor rolls behind the Lexus just as the soldier re-aims. Buffy TACKLES the soldier and takes up his rifle. She aims it at him, then -

Click-click.

Turns it on another soldier, who has exited the Hummer and raised his own rifle. LOW SHOT - Buffy clamps a foot down on his fallen comrade. She is jostled by his struggling as she and the second soldier face off. Then a THIRD SOLDIER appears around the front of the Hummer. He takes aim at the Lexus.

THIRD SOLDIER
Come out from behind there!

Buffy glances back over her shoulder.

BUFFY
Connor, don't move!

The soldier takes aim at the Lexus and FIRES. The Lexus sags as a tire deflates. Buffy balks, unable to take her rifle off the second soldier.

The third soldier smirks and turns away from them all, taking aim at - THROUGH HIS SITES - Angel's Plymouth.

CUT TO Connor, crouched behind the nose of the Lexus. Rat-tat-tat. LONG SHOT, Connor's POV - The front of the Plymouth is battered repeatedly, then the car finally SAGS. Connor gapes.

CONNOR
My dad's car!

BUFFY
(murmuring)
Time to stop playing nice.

She risks a glance at the soldier below her, then, eyes and rifle on the second soldier, reaches down and SNATCHES a grenade off the first soldier's sash and pops the pin with her teeth. She pivots and CHUCKS IT at the ground several meters in front of the Hummer. It EXPLODES. The second soldier turns and gapes as the Hummer and the third soldier are THROWN UPWARDS. Then the second soldier CRIES OUT as a bullet shatters his knee. The third soldier lands on a car on the far side of the street, setting off its alarm. Buffy pivots and dodges behind the Lexus. Connor frowns.

CONNOR
Oh, great, now we're both stuck back here.

Ignoring him, Buffy rises and TAKES AIM at the first soldier as he lurches to his feet. She shoots and dives down. He wails and grabs at his thigh.

BUFFY
There's a van over there.

Connor looks to his right.

CONNOR
Probably belonged to those Gathering goons.

BUFFY
Then we should get it back to the mansion for them.
(she nudges his shoulder)
When I say go, go. I'll follow and cover you.

Connor nods and inches back toward the nose of the car as Buffy rises to survey the Black Ops team. Her POV - A smattering of neighborhood residents have emerged from the loft buildings along the street. They don't approach the injured soldiers. Then a distant siren turns Connor's head.

CONNOR
(to Buffy, with urgency)
We have to get out of here!

Buffy nods. She rises slightly, eye on the street through the windows of the Lexus.

BUFFY
Go!

Connor bolts towards the van. Buffy rises and follows slowly, facing the soldiers, her rifle raised. The second soldier lurches to sitting and TAKES AIM. Rat-tat-tat. The neighborhood onlookers dive for cover. The soldier falls back down, wincing. Buffy gapes over at where the bullets hit the wall of a building, then turns and quickly bolts towards the van.

INT. VAN

Connor has already broken into the passenger side. He reaches over and lets her in.

CONNOR
Do you know how to hot-wire it?

BUFFY
The keys are probably on the demons.

Together, they peer back towards the club. Between them and the dead Gathering demons are three moaning, wounded, PISSED-OFF Wolfram and Hart Black Ops soldiers. Buffy breaks the bottom of the dash open and squints at the wires.

Connor looks on anxiously, then cranes to peer in her side-view mirror. IN THE MIRROR - One of the Ops soldiers is limping towards them, aiming a rifle.

CONNOR
You might want to hurry....

TIGHT SHOT - Buffy touches the stripped-back brown wire to the stripped-back red wire.

BUFFY
(with frustration)
C'mon, c'mon.

And again. Zzzzzzt! The engine ignites. Buffy taps the gas peddle a little, then finally exhales.

EXT. STREET

The van peels away in a squeal of tires.

REAR ANGLE - The soldier FIRES--rat-tat-tat--then lowers his rifle and collapses again.

BLACK OUT.


END OF ACT THREE

Act Four

INT. BENEATH THE GATHERING MANSION - MID-MORNING

SLOW DOLLY SHOT through a DARKENED TUNNEL - A torch lies on the ground, embered end dying. Distantly, shouts and footsteps echo from multiple directions. Shadows appear and disappear off the walls ahead.

REVERSE ANGLE - Rona raises a hand to halt her team, then LONG SHOT - creeps towards an approaching intersection. She dives back around as demons thunder past them. She waits, then gestures them forward.

RONA
We're close...
but that means there's gonna be more of them.

A very human panting TURNS THE SLAYERS AROUND. Faith jogs up, surveying the group.

FAITH
You got everyone?

RONA
Yeah.

FAITH
Great.

Then she backs up again.

FAITH
'Cause I just laid the last charge,
and you got less than a minute to get them out of here.

With alarm, Rona pats her team forward into the intersection. The slayers take off. Then -

RONA
Where are you going?

FAITH
(disappearing into the darkness)
To find those damned vampires!

She is gone. With dismay, Rona turns and follows the others out.


INT. CORRUGATED DRAINAGE PIPE - MID-MORNING

LOW SHOT - The metal cover of the underground access hole FLIES OPEN. Demons clamber over each other, making their escape. One by one, they disappear into the depths of the pipe. Only to face -

Emerging from the darkness - Slayers, all WITH SWORDS.

DISSOLVE TO - The grunts and shouts of the hacking session echo as, silhouetted in morning glare, Buffy and Connor enter the pipe through the loose grate. They look on for a tense moment, then Buffy proceeds to the access hole.

BUFFY
It's under control,
and we got an elsewhere to be.

Connor follows her down.

INT. BELOW THE CORRUGATED PIPE

Rona BOLTS UP THE TUNNEL on the heels of her team. LONG SHOT ahead - Just then, Buffy and Connor leap down. Rona waves them back.

RONA
Go! Go! Go!
Go back, now!

CONNOR
What's going on?

An EXPLOSION ROCKS THE TUNNEL, knocking everyone off their feet. Immediately, Buffy rises to all fours. She nods Connor back towards the hole. He positions himself at a crouch beneath it then LEAPS UP, grabbing at the edge.

INT. CORRUGATED DRAINAGE PIPE

ANOTHER EXPLOSION tosses him about as he heaves himself up to sitting. He rises and pivots, kneeling, then leans back in and grasps Buffy's hand as she leaps up towards him. He lifts her up into the corrugated pipe.

CUT TO - EXT. DRAINAGE CHANNEL - A MOMENT LATER

Connor and the slayers stumble out into daylight, battered and filthy. Connor's gaze settles on the mansion. He squints at it with a pinched brow. His POV - It is a crumbled, caved-in SHELL OF ITSELF. Smoke curls from it in a thick cloud. Connor's expression sinks, aghast.

CONNOR
My dad's still in there....
(he looks around)
And where's Faith?


INT. LOBBY - HYPERION HOTEL - MID-MORNING

Gunn slides his business card across the counter towards the scowling clerk.

GUNN
Send the bill for the damages here.

The clerk picks up the card and reads it. He scoffs, gaze returning to Gunn.

CLERK
You're her lawyer?

Gunn turns without comment and recedes across the lobby. The clerk shakes his head, filing the card away under the counter.

CLERK
Why doesn't that surprise me.

CUT TO - EXT. FRONT COURTYARD

Gunn exits one of the double doors and pulls it shut. Illyria waits on the far side of the fountain in FULL BLUE visage, staring out at the street. CLOSE-UP - Her jaw tightens. SUPERIMPOSED OVER her icy stare is the BURNING, CRUSHED Box of Gavrok. One SPIDER-CLAW dangles through a crack in its casing, twitching, unable to escape. Gunn approaches her. Illyria turns her head towards him, staring down. He halts at her side. She goes back to staring out at the street.

PROFILE CLOSE-UP -

ILLYRIA
(quietly)
There's nothing left for me in this world.

Gunn scrutinizes her intently.

GUNN
You don't know that.
It's a weird, weird place.
(earnest beat)
I've known my share of demons trying to figure out ways to deal,
and your best teacher's inside you.

ILLYRIA
Winifred Burkle.

She circles towards him.

ILLYRIA
If I abide, will you help me, Charles Gunn?

Gunn nods.

GUNN
Yeah.
And so will a lot of other people.


EXT. DRAINAGE CHANNEL - MID-MORNING

Connor, Buffy, and the slayers stare with devastation at the smoldering husk of the Gathering mansion. Then -

FAITH (O.S.)
Yo, guys!

Connor whirls and looks up. Faith throws them a wave from the bridge overpass above.

CONNOR
(with buoyed relief)
Faith!

The RUMBLE of approaching vehicles turns Faith around. Her POV - Two green Hummers pass behind her on the bridge, trailed by a caravan of bulldozers, dump trucks, and cement mixers. Faith acknowledges them a wave, then turns, mounts the bridge rail, and LEAPS DOWN into the channel. She is instantly SMOTHERED by Connor's embrace. She steps back with a chuckle.

FAITH
Worried about you, too, Junior.

CONNOR
(wide-eyed)
Where's my dad?

FAITH
He and Spike are in the tunnels a couple of blocks
south of here. They're gonna need our help.

She steps around Connor until she's eye to eye with the assembled group. The girls gaze back, breeze-blown and dirt-smudged.

FAITH
(raising her voice)
Any demons that escape will be heading out that way now.
The Army guys have the streets above ground covered.

CONNOR
(with determination)
Then let's go.

He starts towards the concrete embankment. The slayer team follows. Buffy waits for Faith to fall in at her side. She glances up after Connor with a smile.

BUFFY
He's a natural at this.

FAITH
(musing beat)
Totally.

BUFFY
Better tell him where he's going.

FAITH
He'll figure it out.

Sharing a grin, they head towards the embankment.


INT. SEWER TUNNELS - MID-MORNING

TRACKING FRONTAL CLOSE-UP - Spike races up the tunnel clutching his mace, hot on the heels of -

his POV, ahead - DEMONS, RUNNING.

SPIKE
That's right, bloody cowards!
Head straight for the--

He skitters to a halt as they climb over each other to scramble up a ladder that ascends a shaft into daylight.

SPIKE
Bugger.

Spike whirls just in time to see YET MORE DEMONS DESCENDING ON HIM. He raises his mace against the steel-point halberd ax of the first one to reach him. CLUNG. WIDE SHOT - The slayers around Spike take on the others, but several demons manage to slip past them. LONG SHOT - A series of overlapping metal clangs bring CONNOR AND MORE SLAYERS down from above. The demons dodge back the way they came.

CUT TO - INT. CROSS-SECTING TUNNEL

The demons cut around a corner only to be stopped by -

ANGEL
Going somewhere?

Angel's ax blade clashes against a sword that swings towards him.

He is joined seconds later by Connor, Faith, Buffy, and the blond willowy slayer, who pin the demons between them. Angel swings and blocks, sparing one worried, relieved glance for his son. Faith cuts her way through the crowd of demons to join Angel on the far side. Buffy takes on a bulky Kungai twice her size with a fan kick. Or maybe three times her size. She downs it quickly, then stabs it through. The blond slayer dodges after an escaping demon, and SHOOTS IT with her crossbow as it escapes down the tunnel. With gritted teeth, Connor CUTS THE THROAT of a demon from behind with his blade, then sees -

another sneaking up behind his father, who is deep in battle with his own opponent.

Connor closes the gap between them and HACKS the demon over the head with his broadsword. Angel stabs his adversary in the gut with the ax. As their opponents fall, both father and son frown at their weapons, then at each other. Quickly, they switch weapons. A steady cacophony of clanging from the first tunnel draws Faith and Buffy's attention that way. They bolt towards it. Connor and Angel follow.

INT. THE FIRST TUNNEL

Spike finishes off one demon and starts in on another. Buffy appears and charges a third. The others fan out around her. EXTENDED WIDE SHOT of the CHAOS of BATTLE.

THEN TIME DISSOLVE TO -

IN FRAME - Spike brings down his mace hard on an opponent, and suddenly, nothing is moving in the tunnel, save two vampires with a soul, a kid from Quortoth, and a small army of slayers. They circle in a daze, exhaustion evident on their faces. A soft moan turns Faith around. Quickly, she steps over to a slayer lying against the sewer wall, clutching a bleeding upper arm. Faith kneels down to examine the wound, then looks back over her shoulder.

FAITH
(to Buffy)
You see anything else?

BUFFY
No.

SPIKE
Reckon most of 'em got buried in the rubble.

FAITH
Then the hospital's next.

Faith clasps the girl's uninjured arm reassuringly. Angel looks on.

ANGEL
Spike and I'll stay here and catch any stragglers.

Faith nods.


EXT. UCLA MEDICAL CENTER - AFTERNOON - ESTABLISHING

DISSOLVE TO a CLOSE-UP of Aiden, eyes open and blinking. Then Aiden's POV - The SQUARE PANELS of a hospital room ceiling. HOLD on that image as a dozen voices overlap OFF SCREEN.

FEMALE ONE
Why's he staring like that?

FEMALE TWO
Aiden? Aiden?

A hand waves back and forth in his field of view.

FEMALE THREE
This is creepy.

CONNOR
The smell in this building's gonna make me sick.

FAITH (O.S.)
Come on guys, the doctor's out in the hall.

The sound of shuffling feet.

FEMALE ONE
Get better, Aiden.

Faith's face appears in Aiden's field of view. She compresses her lips.

FAITH
We're gonna figure this out, Poind. Promise.

REVERSE ANGLE - Aiden blinks unresponsively.

INT. HOSPITAL CORRIDOR

The slayers loiter outside the door to Aiden's hospital room, looking solemn and worried. The girl injured in the tunnels has her arm in a sling. The witches Julian and Vaughne have arrived as well. Connor stands beside them and Rona, eyes on -

LONG SHOT - Faith accompanies a white-coated doctor to the counter of the nurses' station.

DOCTOR
I'm very concerned about your friend.

TIGHT TWO-SHOT -

DOCTOR
He's in what we call a "waking coma."

Faith greets this news anxiously.

FAITH
What's that mean?

DOCTOR
It means that...according to the brain scan,
he's responding to external stimuli--
sounds, primarily, and sometimes smells....
And his brain is going through normal cycles
of sleep and wakefulness.

FAITH
So...he can hear us?

DOCTOR
(nodding)
I'm fairly certain.

Faith absorbs the enormity of this.

FAITH
Why can't he answer?

DOCTOR
(struggling)
His condition is like...
Well it's sort of the opposite of sleep walking.

Faith listens with a knitted brow.

DOCTOR
You see, normally people have an inhibitory mechanism
that prevents them from acting out their dreams.
For sleep walkers, those mechanisms don't always work.
(a pause; he sets a hand on his hip)
In Mr. Walsh's case...he's not an unaware person acting as if they're aware.
...He's an aware person unable to respond.

FAITH
(overwhelmed)
Shit.

Then, anxiously -

FAITH
Can you fix it?

The doctor only cocks his head apologetically.

DOCTOR
That's up to the specialists in Chicago.

FAITH
Chicago?

DOCTOR
(puzzled)
His mother didn't tell you?

FAITH
His mother?

DOCTOR
She gave me her permission to talk to you about him.
I assumed you spoke with her.

Faith shakes her head and scoffs.

FAITH
I don't even know how to contact her.

She turns away, then pauses and glances back.

FAITH
Thanks.

She returns to her friends, simmering with frustration.

FAITH
His mother's taking him home.
Some hospital in Chicago.

Julian frowns deeply. Rona gives Faith a reassuring look.

RONA
They've got good hospitals there.
He'll still get the help he needs.

JULIAN
Maybe. But I don't think they know
what they're dealing with.

Faith's eyes drift to him with worry.

FAITH
What do you mean?

Julian and Vaughne trade uncomfortable looks. Then Vaughne digs in her Mexican shoulder bag and produces the SMALL VIAL we recognize as belonging to Aiden. She holds it out. Faith takes it.

VAUGHNE
We found this with his stuff in the library.

Faith uncorks it and sniffs. She grimaces.

VAUGHNE
It's a potion that enhances the ability
to uncover and absorb knowledge.

JULIAN
(with uneasiness)
One side effect...is increased sensitivity to people's thoughts.

Faith looks from Julian to Vaughne, confused.

FAITH
He could read our minds?

VAUGHNE
He probably...still is.

Faith's incomprehension gels into mortified dismay.

VAUGHNE
He may not actually be able to hear us,
you know, with his ears at all.

FAITH
Jesus.

She circles around to face Aiden's door.

FAITH
Then we can't just....

Rona sets a hand on her shoulder sympathetically.

RONA
I don't think we have much of a choice.
His mom's...his mom.
Who are we?

GROUP SHOT of Aiden's friends. HOLD, THEN -

BLACK OUT.


EXT. CARITAS - EVENING - ESTABLISHING

INT. CLUB MAIN ROOM

Lorne putters behind the bar, then glances up to see Spike approaching. He fetches a pint glass and sets it on the bar. Spike gestures his refusal as he halts behind a stool. He clutches the back of it, his expression agitated.

SPIKE
Just wanted to say my goodbyes for now.
I'm headed out of town.

Lorne puts the glass away.

LORNE
(casually)
Where are you off to?

SPIKE
Got some business to take care of here and there.
I'll keep in touch when I can.

LORNE
Well, good luck with it.
That's a lot of responsibility you're taking on.

Spike looks taken aback.

SPIKE
What's that, now?

Lorne levels a gaze at him.

LORNE
The last time you were in here,
you were singing under your breath to Kenny.

SPIKE
Kenny who?

LORNE
Rogers?
The Ano-movic demon who was belting out
that rather uncanny rendition of "The Gambler"?

Spike scowls and shakes his head.

SPIKE
Bullocks. I don't even like that song.

LORNE
Don't worry, Champ, I won't tell anyone.
It's not my way when I'm reading.
Besides...I think everyone deserves a second chance in life.
Or unlife, I guess, in her case.

Spike nods his gratitude.

SPIKE
Take care of yourself, Green Jeans.

He gives Lorne a friendly pat on the arm, then wanders off towards the stairs.

CUT TO - EXT. THE ALLEY BEHIND CARITAS

LOW ESTABLISHING SHOT - Security lights illuminate the rear wall of the club, but not much more. The approaching footsteps are audible before the shadows shift into the lanky figure of Spike. He glances around, then opens the driver's side door of his beat-up Pinto.

INT. CAR

Drusilla is slumped in the passenger seat, head sagging to one side, unconscious.

EXT. ALLEY

REAR SHOT of the PINTO - Spike starts up the engine and peels away. HOLD ON the dimness of the alley. Then, REVERSE ANGLE - Alix stares out from the shadows of the building behind Caritas. Her GAME FACE morphs into a cool, human stare. She sucks absent-mindedly on a fingertip.

SINKING PAN - A man lies slumped at her feet, eyes closed and neck torn.


EXT. DEPARTURES CONCOURSE - LOS ANGELES AIRPORT - LATE MORNING

ESTABLISHING - The deafening roar of engines and the honking of cars. Faith wheels Aiden across the crosswalk towards the terminal doors, Gunn and Connor on either side of her. Aiden stares forward.

GUNN
...Flowers for Algernon, 's all I'm saying.
It's hard to be a regular guy
around all the superheroes,
especially when the world's on the line.

Gunn mounts the curb.

GUNN (cont.)
Lot of pressure to step up.

Connor taps a toe against the wheel of the chair as he strolls.

CONNOR (VOICE-OVER)
(kindly, but honestly)
You're an idiot, Aiden.

Wordlessly, Faith veers the wheelchair towards the ramp to the sidewalk and rolls Aiden up. Her face is expressionless, but her movements are abrupt. She halts the chair and leans in towards Gunn.

FAITH
(murmuring)
He knows what you're saying.

Gunn frowns, chagrined. He and Connor trail along as Faith wheels the chair through the sliding doors of the terminal.

INT. TERMINAL

WIDE SHOT - Mrs. Walsh paces before the busy ticket counter, tickets in hand. Her anxious expression pinches with distress at the sight of her son.

MRS. WALSH
(softly)
Aiden.

Briskly, she advances towards them -

FAITH
Mrs. Walsh.

- and grabs at the handles of the wheelchair, nudging Faith aside. Faith backs off, falling in with Gunn and Connor. Gunn sets a hand on her shoulder. Aiden's mother pats his cheek, pained, then darts a piercing look at Faith.

MRS. WALSH'S VOICE
(with evident disdain)
God, look at them.
Idiot kids
.
(simmering beat)
At least I'm getting him out of here.

She offers a thin smile.

MRS. WALSH
(aloud)
Thank you for bringing him.

With a grunt of effort, she attempts to turn the chair.

FAITH
Let us know how he's doing.

Connor darts a skeptical look at Faith.

MRS. WALSH
(without conviction)
Of course.
Now, if you don't mind,
our flight leaves in forty minutes.

She continues to struggle with the chair. Finally, Faith steps forward. Mrs. Walsh quickly positions herself between Faith and the chair, then waves towards a uniformed man in a blue cap.

MRS. WALSH
Skycap!

The skycap turns and walks towards her. Quickly, Faith dodges around her and clasps Aiden's arm.

FAITH (V.O.)
I'm not giving up on you, Poind.
You can count on that
.

Mrs. Walsh proffers a five-dollar bill to the man.

MRS. WALSH
Flight 720 to Chicago.

The man politely pinches the bill of his cap, then takes hold of the wheelchair handles. He draws Aiden back, turns him, then starts forward again.

SKYCAP
This way, ma'am.

Faith looks on as Mrs. Walsh scurries quickly to stay abreast of the chair. CLOSE-UP on Aiden's blank stare as he is jostled by the moving chair. His mother's gaze falls on him.

MRS. WALSH
Your father's going to meet us in Chicago.
They have some of the top specialists at
the university hospital there.

Gunn takes in Faith's disgruntled scowl as she gazes after mother and son.

FAITH
(bitterly)
She's not going to contact us.
She thinks this is my fault.

From the look on her face, it's clear Faith thinks the same. Gunn clasps a hand on her shoulder.

GUNN
Hey, Faith. It's not.
(she circles towards him)
Let me tell you something--
You and the other slayers,
(he gestures)
you didn't choose this life, it chose you.
Guys like me and Aiden,
we're part of this because we want to be.
Aiden made a choice to be here.

TIGHT SHOT of Connor. His eyes dip pensively. With a grudging frown, Faith turns to leave. Gunn and Connor accompany her out of the terminal.

GUNN
I mean I could have a cushy full-time at a law firm,
but I decided in less than a month that I'd only consult.
(his jaw tightens with convinction)
The war's not over, and I'm a soldier.

Faith shakes her head solemnly.

FAITH
No, it's not.

Then with a wry grin, she claps Connor's back.

FAITH
I know my big boom stole your thunder this time, Junior.

Connor chuckles. Faith's grin fades into an earnest look.

FAITH
But the day's gonna come when we're gonna
need that magic knife of yours.

CLOSE-UP of Connor's half-smirk, half-frown.

CONNOR
I'll be there.


EXT. ADMINISTRATIVE BUILDING - LOS ANGELES ACADEMY OF ART - AFTERNOON

INT. REGISTRAR'S OFFICE

Connor drifts through the doorway and pauses there awkwardly, book bag slung over his shoulder.

WIDE SHOT of the surreal montage of life in progress - Students of all colors, genders, piercings, and shades of hair stand in a long, snaking line, listening to iPods, chatting, talking on cell phones, filling out forms while shuffling forward, or staring at the overhead monitors with their constantly changing, silent menu of semester offerings. On the opposite side of the room, clerks behind a counter consult computer screens and assist students.

Connor glances around uncertainly, then steps up to the end of the line. He relaxes there, a pensive smile on his lips.


AERIAL SHOT - EXT. WOLFRAM AND HART HIGH-RISE - LA JOLLA - AFTERNOON - ESTABLISHING

INT. JASON'S GUELPH'S FORMER OFFICE

ANGLE ON the closed interior side of the door. A MUFFLED SHOT rings out. After a moment, the door opens. HOLLAND MANNERS enters, scratching at the faded bite scar on his neck with discomfort.

HOLLAND
Firing someone is never pleasant.

Lilah Morgan follows him in. She looks on as Holland approaches the desk and takes the lid off a banker's box. One by one, he fills it with office supplies and knick-knacks from the desk.

LILAH
We lost Tammy Pitts on his watch.
Angel is the enemy again, and his son has the Dagger.

Holland nods. He picks up the box lid and fits it back onto the box.

HOLLAND
Employees come, employees go.

He looks up. His POV, through the necro-plated glass of the office window - The buildings, streets, and hills of La Jolla.

TWO-SHOT as Lilah joins him at the desk.

HOLLAND
Our plans succeed, our plans fail.
(quiet beat)
But the firm remains.


INT. COFFEE HOUSE - EVENING

SUPER LEGEND:
A few weeks later


ESTABLISHING - The soft cacophony of overlapping conversations, the click of keyboards, the clatter of glasses and mugs, and piped-in jazz. Angel and Nina enter one after the other. Something OFF SCREEN catches Angel's attention. He points it out to Nina and they head in that direction. REVERSE ANGLE - Connor is seated, sketching. Sensing eyes on him, he looks up, pencil in hand. Angel and Nina halt at his table.

CONNOR
Dad. What are you doing here?

Before Angel can answer, Connor breaks out in a grin.

CONNOR
Is this the werewolf?

Angel chuckles.

ANGEL
Yeah.

NINA
I just go by "Nina" nowadays.

ANGEL
(gesturing)
Nina, this is my son, Connor.

Connor lurches up to his feet to shake her hand.

CONNOR
Have--have a seat.

He glances down at the chaos of books, paper, and pencils on the table.

CONNOR
Somewhere.

Nina pulls out a chair and sinks into it, scrutinizing Angel as he seats himself beside her.

NINA
I've been meaning to ask you...
how does a 250-year old vampire with
no social security number and no last name adopt a child?

ANGEL
Oh, Connor's not adopted. He's my biological son.

Nina gives Connor another, surprised, stare.

NINA
Okay, that's even more impossible.

Angel darts an exasperated look at his son.

ANGEL
Do I even want to start this story?
(his eyes rise, musing)
"There was this blonde in an alley...."

Connor quirks his eyebrows together.

CONNOR
Don't most of your stories start out that way?

Angel gives Nina a look, then - TIGHT SHOT - sets his hand atop hers.

ANGEL
(smiling)
Not all of them.

Nina's answering smile is wry.

NINA
I seem to recall meeting you through
the bars of a holding cell.

ANGEL
Actually, I think it was a park.

NINA
(frowning)
Does it count as our first meeting if I barely remember it?

They share a sentimental look that leaves Connor waiting politely. Nina breaks off to turn the attention back on him.

NINA
So Angel tells me you just started at L.A. Academy.

Connor gestures at the sketch he's been working on.

CONNOR
Yeah, this is actually...homework.

Nina reaches out hesitantly towards it.

NINA
Do you mind?

Connor shakes his head. She turns it around with her fingertips, then draws it closer. INSERT - An intricate drawing of a DRAGON-LIKE DEMON. Jagged hills form a backdrop behind it.

NINA
(scrutinizing it)
I've seen your dad draw things like this, but they're mug shots.
This looks like something out of a graphic novel.

Connor's grin is shy.

CONNOR
Well, that's what I'd like it to be...someday.

Nina scrutinizes him.

NINA
What do you think about what your dad does?

ANGEL
Oh, Connor can hold his own against a demon.
Or three.

NINA
(looking to Connor with surprise)
Really?

Connor nods. Nina's brow knits.

NINA
But you're not, you know, a....

CONNOR
A vampire? No.

He turns the drawing back around and stuffs it into a notebook.

CONNOR
Speaking of that,
I gotta get over to the Council building.
It's my night to lead patrol.

Nina chuckles.

NINA
Busy guy. In all this studying and fighting...
do you find time for a little fun?

Connor frowns wistfully as he packs up his things. His eyes rise to Angel.

CONNOR
Tracy...
decided she didn't like always wondering
if she was making her own choices,
or having them made for her.
(he glances down)
Can't blame her for that.

Angel offers a sympathetic look. Connor chuckles and glances at Nina.

CONNOR
But now?
I spend two or three nights a week
being the only guy surrounded by two dozen
very fit girls.

He stands, pulling his book bag over his shoulder. With a wave, he starts towards the door.

CONNOR
Later.

Angel watches him go, all grins. Nina throws Angel a knowing look.

NINA
You're beaming.

The grin immediately fades.

ANGEL
I'm not "beaming."

NINA
That was a beam.

ANGEL
Vampires don't "beam."

EXT. COFFEE HOUSE

Connor exits and heads up the street.

ANGEL (VOICE-OVER)
Okay, maybe I was beaming a little.

BLACK OUT.

THE END

Authors note: This concludes the series "The Destroyer". I want to thank everyone for reading and commenting. It's been a lot of fun. - Masquerade the Philosopher



Executive Producer      Joss Whedon
Connor       Vincent Kartheiser
Faith       Eliza Dushku
Aiden       Sean Maher
Gunn       J. August Richards
Angel       David Boreanaz
Rona       Indigo
Alix       Rachel Leigh Cook
Illyria       Amy Acker
Spike       James Marsters
Buffy       Sarah-Michelle Gellar
Lorne       Andy Hallet
Cordelia       Charisma Carpenter



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