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DeadWar: Schism 1.04 (Generation of Vipers)

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  • DeadWar: Schism 1.04 (Generation of Vipers)

    Disclaimer: All characters created by Joss Whedon and co. are property of Joss Whedon and co. All original characters here are mine. Opinions expressed by the characters are their own and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of either Joss or myself.

    Rating: PG

    Beta: Frogfarm

    Characters: Ensemble



    There was a city here. Once. Now all that remains is a shambles of burning wreckage, charred buildings collapsing into the streets. We are looking down on that wreckage, zooming closer.

    There is a GIRL, suspended in the air mid jump-kick, wearing a shiny black jumpsuit. Surrounding her is a ring of seven VAMPIRES. None of them are moving--or rather, everyone is moving very slowly, in BULLET TIME.

    CLOSEUP on DENA's face, hair streaming around her; her jaw is set, her eyes hard and utterly without remorse or regret.

    DENA's foot collides with a VAMPIRE's face, distorting it, and the action zooms forward as regular time resumes. DENA pivots, kicks, punches, and pivots again, her feet and hands a blur of motion. In a matter of moments she has staked six out of her seven opponents. Time slows again, briefly, as she yanks a street sign from the ground and swings it around to cleave the last VAMPIRE's neck.

    BUFFY (off-screen): You're good.

    BUFFY, clad in grey t-shirt and slacks, strides out of a burning building as it crumbles around her, seemingly untouched by the flame that swirls around her, reflecting in her yellow eyes.

    DENA: You're evil.

    BUFFY: And yet I've done most of your work for you.

    DENA (shrugging): Thanks.

    BUFFY: Hey, I got the place all to myself now. No more sharing. Now start trying to hit me.

    DENA (with a snicker): What do you mean, trying?

    BUFFY I'm stronger, faster, and a whole lot smarter than you. So there's no way in hell you can beat me, Miss Greer.

    DENA: Funny--this isn't hell.

    She holds out her right hand and beckons BUFFY to attack.

    BUFFY: Of course it isn't. What may not be expected (lunging forward) in a place where there is no darkness?

    They fight. BUFFY is indeed very strong and very fast, but somehow DENA always seems to be a step or two ahead of her, blocking her punches and sidestepping her kicks. Soon BUFFY is having to catch or deflect DENA's punches, and every time she has to grab DENA's right fist the tattooed cross sears her flesh. Much sooner than we might expect, DENA knocks BUFFY to the pavement, prone, and brings a heavy boot down on her face; we see pieces of BUFFY's skull flying as she dusts.

    The rolling clouds of smoke become rain clouds, flashing with lightning, and almost immediately a torrent of rain drenches the streets, putting the fire out. DENA takes a bow and looks around as if waiting for something to end.

    Instead, we hear a voice humming the tune of UB40's "Red Red Wine". SADHA, looking amused, strides up the street, unconcerned that the rain is soaking her through.

    DENA: What the hell are you doing here?

    SADHA: I'm looking for a fair fight, that's all. Put down your weapon, shaman, and let us see who is the stronger.

    DENA (looking at her empty hands): Weapon? Huh? What're you yammering about?

    SADHA: Your weapon, shaman. Cast it aside. (She gestures at DENA's right hand as the camera focuses on the tattooed cross.)

    DENA (raising the hand, cross facing us and SADHA): Uh, you might've noticed--this doesn't come off.

    SADHA (mocking) Sad to see a girl's faith fail.

    DENA: If you're not gonna--hey!!

    DENA's hand has begun to blister and blacken around the edges of the tattoo, as if it were burning her. Abruptly her hand bursts into flame despite the pouring rain. She beats at it with her other hand, but only succeeds in spreading the fire to her other arm. As the fire spreads over her, her screams mingle with SADHA's laughter.

    CUT TO


    DENA leaps upright in bed, gasping for air. Her alarm is going off.

    She studies her tattooed right hand, which is unharmed. Tentatively she stretches it out into the sunlight coming in the window. Nothing happens.


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

    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:
    Sarah Michelle Gellar as Buffy Summers
    Callum Blue as Brandon Ravensdale
    Camille Winbush as Ugandan Slayer
    Alexa Davalos as Gwen Raiden

    ACT I


    REGAN is climbing into the passenger seat of a shiny green pickup truck. The driver's seat is already occupied by JANINE, a tall girl with platinum blonde hair; MIRIAM, a green-eyed redhead, scoots into the middle. REGAN gives MIRIAM a quick, friendly hug as JANINE puts the truck in gear and drives off.

    JANINE: Hello again.

    REGAN: Hey.

    JANINE: I'm having trouble believing your roomie's really too scary for us to come inside.

    REGAN: Well, let the charm fall out of your shirt around Dena and you'll find out.

    JANINE frowns and lifts up the chain necklace she's wearing, which has a small silvery pentagram at the end.

    JANINE: Damn. People like that suck. How'd you end up living with her anyway?

    REGAN and MIRIAM glance at each other.

    REGAN: It's a long story. You know what a Slayer is?

    JANINE: An old rock band?

    REGAN (patiently): We're...warriors. We have supernatural strength, a few other powers. They made us a long time ago to kill demons. Only, I don't, really. There used to only be one of us at a time, but not any more.

    JANINE (taking this in stride): Seriously?

    REGAN (with a nod): Totally. Like I said...long story.

    JANINE: I thought you were friends with Miriam, though?

    MIRIAM: We were neighbors growing up. Hell, the way things are right now, my parents didn't want me leaving for college until I told them Regan was coming here too.

    REGAN: I'm really not a violent person. I...don't like killing...anything. Not even in self-defense, if I can help it.

    MIRIAM: Well, I just won't mention that last part to Mom. She'd have me out of this dimension before you could say "Belgar's bones".

    REGAN: Death is ugly. I know it's a part of life, but there's no good reason it can't wait till we're done with the rest. Except that some people, demons and humans both, are buttholes. Anyway, Miriam doesn't visit my place, I visit hers, because Slayers can mostly sense she's not human. And you should be careful too if you have to come over for some reason. No magic, and probably no girlfriend. I'm sorry.

    JANINE: No worries. If Dena didn't tear me a new one, Kath would. She hates me taking risks. How'd you end up rooming with this...this bitch, and why's she leave you alone? Are you stronger, or did you zap her, or what?

    REGAN: I can't seem to get the magic down for some reason. And Dena's stronger. But since we're both Slayers she thinks of me as some sort of misguided sister. Mister Giles had me come here to college when I started because he thinks we're going to rub off on each other--she's too violent and I'm not violent enough, the way he thinks. He's the "head Watcher". The Watchers train us to fight, or they used to--things got all complicated a few years ago and a lot of Watchers died.

    JANINE takes a puzzled look out the window, where dark clouds are building up in the distance.

    JANINE: Listen, I don't know why you'd let them do that to you, but if you ever get worried, come to me, okay? We'll--

    REGAN: I know, but I really am supposed to train. Just in case. For world-ending stuff. Don't worry, if she ever gets violent on me I'll leave.

    JANINE: I was going to say we'd turn her into a toad or something, but, yeah, that too, definitely.

    MIRIAM: What makes people be like that? Sometimes I think I don't understand humans at all, and I've lived on Earth since I was...well, more or less a toddler.

    JANINE (sneering): My guess? She's repressed. It's the usual thing. She's a virgin, isn't she? (REGAN nods, although JANINE continues right over her, sounding annoyed.) She needs to get laid. In fact, odds are she's into girls and won't admit it. The real hardcases are like that a lot of the time. If I meet a girl I think can stand up to her, I'll mention her to you, okay?

    REGAN: I...I think that might be a bad idea. If we weren't in a moving vehicle I'd show you how strong we are.

    The sky is darkening rapidly as clouds roll across it.

    JANINE: You realize it's not wrong to teach her a lesson, as long as you're willing to accept the consequences.

    REGAN: I told you, I don't hurt people.

    MIRIAM: It's not about hurting her, Ray. But Janine doesn't understand about you and magic.

    REGAN: I really never have been good with the spell part of things. And when I was called--when I actually became an active Slayer, I mean--it got worse. I don't know if it's the energy being diverted or what.

    JANINE: That's weird. (She looks out the window again; rain has begun to patter softly on the roof.) Wow. It was supposed to be clear today. Sorry. You were saying...I've never heard of that. But then I'd never heard of Slayers either. Anyway, we can try and get some heads together and think of something today. What do you think? Repression, bad for the body and the soul.

    REGAN: As long as we don't hurt her.

    JANINE: You really are fixated on the nonviolence. (Pause) I have to ask. You're not sweet on her, are you? Just a thought.

    REGAN (firmly): Trust me, I'm straight. Just between boyfriends at the moment, what with starting college. And pacifist.

    JANINE (dubiously): Okay. Well, you're going to be in good company. Your first meeting of the Rice U. Student Pagan Association for the semester, coming right up.

    The truck pulls into the driveway of a large private home.

    JANINE: This is Adrian's house. His parents are cool with us, and his dad likes to cook out. Are you vegetarian too?

    REGAN: Yeah, but not vegan. I love eggs too much.

    JANINE: Miriam, you?

    They begin to get out of the truck.

    MIRIAM: Constitutionally incapable. I've got to have meat.

    JANINE: No problem. (softly and conspiratorially, to REGAN) You're sure you don't want to hurt her? Even just a little?

    REGAN (irritated): I don't do violence, okay? (Lightning cracks, thunder rumbles, and the rain turns heavy.) Just let it go.

    JANINE: Okay, okay. Just kidding.

    As they sprint for the house, JANINE wears a curious frown.

    CUT TO


    Death Cab for Cutie's "Grapevine Fires" begins to play in the background: {When the wind picked up, the fire spread/And the grapevines seemed left for dead}

    RAVENSDALE is sitting at a wrought-iron table outside a small but upscale restaurant. The sky is overcast, and periodically a spray of rain passes through the area, which means that this patio area is nearly deserted. Unconcerned by the weather, he's eating heartily. Then a fly lands in his soup; he spoons it up with a slice of potato, seeming ready to eat it too.

    {And the northern sky looked like the end of days/The end of days}

    SADHA sighs, appearing to his left.

    SADHA: You really ought not to eat that.

    RAVENSDALE: Of course not, Mistress. I was just going to toss it aside.

    SADHA (shaking her head): Look at me, Ravensdale.

    {And a wake-up call to a rented room...}

    Music fades out.

    She sits down in front of him and fixes his gaze with hers.

    SADHA (continued): Listen to me and do what I tell you. There will be no eating of bugs. And you will not call me "Mistress". At the very least, not in public.

    RAVENSDALE (woodenly): Of course not, M...Madam. Why would I eat insects?

    SADHA: Conduct your personal affairs as you like. All I ask is that you continue to bring word of Wyndham-Price's actions to me, and that you not do the reverse.

    RAVENSDALE: Naturally, Madam.

    SADHA (making a face): There. That's done with. (She waves a hand between them.) Rather nice weather, wouldn't you say?

    RAVENSDALE: Quite convenient, especially for Texas. Still, it is a bit warmer than I prefer. But you aren't on fire, which is very desirable.

    SADHA (with a laugh): Yes, I like it that way too. So tell me, what are Roger and his personal Slayer up to at the moment?

    RAVENSDALE: He destroyed the message you sent him. He's determined that the Helm of Kasparov was a ruse, and claims to be waiting for you to make the next move.

    SADHA: Yes. He seems to do that a great deal. Unfortunately I'm trying to do the same.

    RAVENSDALE: Patience is a virtue, Madam. And, strategically, it's to his advantage if he can simply respond to your activities, just as it is to you in reverse.

    SADHA: Except that neither of us gains anything so long as both are inactive.

    RAVENSDALE: If you will pardon my impertinence, Madam, that isn't the case, especially by your philosophy. If all vampires did nothing but wait for someone to respond to their presence, Slayers could afford to do the same. There would be peace.

    SADHA (making a dismissive gesture): Ah, yes, my philosophy. But I can't very well expect him to follow my philosophy, can I? So his motives have nothing to do with that.

    RAVENSDALE: Perhaps, if you continue to behave peaceably, he might take the hint?

    SADHA (barking a laugh): It's good to see I haven't damaged your sense of humor. No, even if that were the case--and we both know it isn't; Roger will never believe such a thing is possible or desirable--we're in the middle of a crisis. I can't afford to sit idle, not for long.

    RAVENSDALE: What, then?

    SADHA: He's attacked my Slayer with his. Perhaps it's time I reciprocated.

    RAVENSDALE: Is that wise, Mistress?

    SADHA (mildly annoyed): Under the circumstances, Ravensdale, nothing is wise. There are merely different degrees of foolhardiness. More to the point is whether it's practical. She's still chafing at taking direction from a vampire. Ordering her would be pointless. Fortunately, I have another method at hand.

    SADHA fishes in her handbag and removes a small golden medallion, a disk with raised flowing symbols. The music resumes.

    SADHA (continued): A little adjustment should fix matters up nicely.

    { warn us it's only a matter of time}

    RAVENSDALE: If you say so, Mistress.

    SADHA: Ravensdale. Please? It isn't necessary to advertise that you're in thrall.

    {Before we all burn/before we all burn}

    RAVENSDALE: I would never refer to you as Mistress in Mr. Wyndham-Price's presence, Mistress. Or that of his servants, either.

    SADHA: I should hope not. (standing) And again...stay off the bugs, Brandon. They're not good for you.

    {Before we all burn....}

    CUT TO


    DENA's Jeep is parked outside the fence of this block of tennis courts within a larger park. The courts are worn and strewn with leaves, indicating they're used, and cleaned, infrequently. DENA and SOLITA are facing each other on the same side of one net, wearing tight dark jackets against the chill. DENA has on a pair of heavy black thick-soled boots like the ones she wore in the dream.

    {Before we all burn.... Music fades out.}

    DENA: I wanna be clear on this, kiddo. This isn't full combat training. Your parents said self-defense, so we're doing self-defense. I don't want to hear about you going out on patrol, okay? Maybe when you're older.

    SOLITA: Mister Osbourne says Slayers always fought when they were called, no matter how young they were.

    DENA: Well, yeah. But that's different. There's more of us now. You're just a kid. You don't hafta jump right in. Oh, and he'd laugh his butt off hearin' you call him that.

    SOLITA: Huh? Why?

    DENA: Y'know, he's a musician, and people get confused about what his first name is. Dunno why he likes the joke, though. Ugh.

    SOLITA looks blank.

    DENA: I'll explain some other time. Or he can. I don't get into that stuff.

    SOLITA: What do you get into?

    DENA: Stomping demons back to hell where they belong. Um, put your hands up in front of you.

    SOLITA raises her fists.

    DENA (cont.): No, no--hands open for now. It's been a long time since I was at this point, so bear with me, 'kay? I'm gonna throw a punch, and I want you to block it.

    SOLITA: Which hand?

    DENA: about you work that out yourself? You're one of us. Let your gut tell you what I'm up to.

    DENA swings--not very hard or fast--with her right hand. SOLITA catches it easily.

    SOLITA (frowning): Am I that much stronger than you?

    DENA (a little concerned): No, no, I'm going easy on you. Last thing I want is you going home all beat up.

    This time DENA feints a similar punch from the left, then drives a genuinely hard right for SOLITA's face instead. SOLITA isn't fooled, though she isn't quite fast enough to block it properly--but she half dodges, half knocks the blow aside, and manages to avoid being hit. DENA rubs her wrist where SOLITA struck it.

    DENA: Good instinct. Okay, keep blocking. And dodging--dodging is good. Some things hit too hard to block, unless you want a broken arm. But for now, let's focus on blocks--don't dodge unless you're gonna get hit.

    SOLITA: You think I'm fast enough to see that?

    DENA (with a shrug): I don't know. I don't know how strong or how fast you are. (She tries to get a left hook past SOLITA's guard and fails.) All I know is I haven't hit you yet. Oh, and you went home from the hospital a day after that pickup clobbered you. You could be better than me. (SOLITA catches a straight right that shoves her back slightly.) Which, not to brag, is pretty darn good.

    DENA's punches speed up. SOLITA still only has to dodge about one out of every four.

    SOLITA: Is this really how you send demons to hell? I mean, do you not need a priest?

    DENA: You kill something evil, it pretty generally goes to hell. As for the other thing...I don't wanna get into a big theological dustup, but truth is, I am a priest. (seeing SOLITA's confusion) It's a thing. We can look it up when we go home.

    SOLITA begins to say something just as DENA clips her on the jaw. Distracted, she rubs her face.

    SOLITA: Ow. Bith my tung.

    DENA (pausing for a moment): Occupational hazard. I don't usually bother with my nails any more, either. You all right?

    SOLITA: Bien.

    DENA begins punching again without waiting for SOLITA to get her hands up, but the younger girl doesn't seem to have any trouble.

    SOLITA: It doesn't bother you, sending people to hell?

    DENA (a little angry, punches matching the emphasis of her words): I don't kill people. I don't even fight humans unless they're dumb enough to attack me or someone around me. And if I ever see you hurt a person, or hear about it, I'll hunt you down myself. Got it?

    SOLITA nods, a little frightened by DENA's intensity.

    DENA (focused, punctuating her sentences with blows): A demon is not a person. Demons are always evil. It's just the way they are. Humans have free will. We make choices. Demons don't, not any more anyway. So hell's where they belong. Think of it like...prison. Feeling guilty for killing demons'd police feeling guilty for hauling in criminals. It's just dumb.

    SOLITA: It doesn't bother you at all?

    DENA: Nope.

    SOLITA: Why is it our job? We're just girls.

    DENA (shrugging): Guess it's what God--

    Unexpectedly DENA gets a punch through, hitting SOLITA hard and squarely in the chest. SOLITA staggers back a few steps, then lashes out, hitting DENA dead center to the gut.

    The punch knocks DENA off her feet, and she flies backward into the net, bringing it down.

    SOLITA rushes over to crouch next to her. DENA doesn't get up, but she's breathing, coughing, and after a moment she shoves SOLITA carefully away.

    DENA (coughing): Dang. I'd have your...counterattacks down.

    SOLITA: Are you all right? You didn't hit me that hard.

    DENA (seizing SOLITA's arm to help her up): Guess you're just that tough. I'm impressed.

    SOLITA: Will I have to start fighting now?

    DENA: Not till you know what you're doin', kid. (She slaps SOLITA on the back.) We haven't even started on kicks yet, and I love my stompy boots. Let's get back to it.

    CUT TO


    CAPTION: Two days ago...

    Piano music is playing in this rather traditionally-constructed building, accompanying what sounds like a small number of enthusiastic but mostly-weak singers. The lights are dim, seemingly by design, reflecting from yellow stained-glass windows.. As the camera pulls back, we see a cluster of people sitting in the pews closest to the altar; a speaker's dais is currently unoccupied.

    CONGREGATION (singing): last I lay down/I will cling to the old rugged cross/and exchange it someday for a crown.//Oh that old rugged cross/stained with blood so divine/has a wondrous attraction for me/for 'twas on that old cross....

    The music fades somewhat as the camera turns to focus on three people in a section of the sanctuary off to the right. One of them, a MIDDLE-AGED BLACK WOMAN in a conservatively-cut grey dress, is attempting without much success to get a second to drink from an insulated cup while the third, a dignified but melancholy ELDERLY MAN, looks on. The would-be DRINKER, a young red-haired man, is staring vacantly into space.

    PASTOR AGNES: ...know how much trouble you went to for him, son, but maybe this isn't the kindest thing for him. The truth is, we can't get at but a fraction of them this way, Harold.

    HAROLD: I ain't givin' up on him, Pastor. He's my sire. As much bad as we did, Aggie, this's the guy who helped me make my way in the world. He meant good for me, even if not for much of anyone else, an' I owe the boy a shot at redemption.

    PASTOR AGNES: And if redemption was a thing we could just hand out like candy canes, Harold, I'd have nothing to say to you. But you know we don't manage to get more'n one in five, if that. Every one we staked or burned or beheaded was someone's spawn, maybe someone's sire, not to mention someone's son or daughter, sometime or another.

    HAROLD: Then don't it make Gregory more special, not less? We got 'im back, Pastor, out of all the ones we've lost.

    PASTOR AGNES (putting a hand on his shoulder): I don't want to let him go either, Harold, but the point I'm trying to make is, sometimes you do all you can an' it isn't enough. He's old, Harold, even if he don't look it. He has his soul. That may be all we can do for him, and not much of a favor at that.

    GREGORY manages at this point to take a swallow.

    HAROLD: We're here with you, son. I'm not lettin' 'em take you back. I'm not lettin' 'em hurt you, neither. You hang on.

    PASTOR AGNES: She'll come for him, you know.

    HAROLD: Let 'er.

    PAN OUT, back across the congregation, whose singing fades back in, faintly..

    CONGREGATION (singing): ...face/revel in his love and grace/in that City where they need no sun....

    DeadWar: Burden of Proof
    Out Now.
    Avatar by Barb
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  • #2
    ACT II


    OZ is slouched casually on the futon, watching television, when SADHA enters via the kitchen. She stops and waits for him to notice her, rather than speaking.

    ANNOUNCER: ...overall gang violence continues to increase in our local community as well as cities elsewhere in the United States and the world. Serious incidents were reported as recently as last night in New York City, Seattle, Saint Louis, Moscow, Sydney, and most recently Beijing, where armored vehicles have entered the streets in an attempt to contain rioters.

    OZ raises an eyebrow, perhaps in response to SADHA's presence, or perhaps regarding the news.

    ANNOUNCER: Still no word from Nashville authorities on whether the bombing at Vanderbilt University is connected to the general unrest, but the governor of Tennessee has gone on record demanding that National Guard troops be returned from the Middle East to deal with the violence at home.

    The television cuts to a press conference scene just as OZ shuts it off.

    OZ: Seems to be a lot of PCP on the streets lately.

    SADHA: Your President regretfully suggests that peaceful opponents of the war make a stronger effort to keep their colleagues under control.

    OZ: Well, naturally. Any "protestors" on the streets here?

    SADHA: It's oddly quiet. Personally, I was hoping to reconnect with my heritage today--I was certain that in a city this size there would be a Sikh temple, even in the...does Texas qualify as "Deep South"?

    OZ (nodding): This part.

    SADHA: ...but if so, I couldn't locate it. Perhaps the weather will persist, but I can't honestly hope for that under the circumstances. A shame. I suppose, though, that after more than a century, even my hometown would feel like a foreign country. I took care of other business instead.

    SADHA comes the rest of the way into the room and sits down on a folding chair near the futon.

    OZ: Anything to do with Dena?

    SADHA: Not directly. She's off attempting to train the Munoz girl.

    OZ: Are you even trying to work with Dena?

    SADHA (startled): I'm doing the best I can manage, Oz. She's extraordinarily headstrong.

    OZ: No kidding. So why keep telling her to kill you?

    SADHA: I'm certain Angel would say as much. I could become a danger at any time--

    OZ raises an eyebrow.

    SADHA: That's not at all the same thing. You would simply be a beast--no offense intended. I would retain my full intellect and knowledge.

    OZ: Dena knows that. The difference isn't you. It's her. She could kill either of us without batting an eye.

    SADHA: Well, she should, if--

    OZ: But there's no "if" here. You keep telling her what she wants to hear. "I'm not a person. I don't have any rights. Use me, or kill me if you want."

    SADHA: All of which is quite literally true, and, given my past, quite just. And if she doesn't hear it, she will simply stop listening to me. It's necessary to guide her, not force her. I can't make her obey me, Oz.

    OZ: Do you know why I didn't stay in Sunnydale?

    SADHA (tilting her head, puzzled): You said that Willow had moved on. What does that have to do with anything?

    OZ: I could've stayed to help. Gone back to college. Willow falling for someone else didn't force me out of town. Do I look like a guy who can't let go?

    SADHA: True. So why didn't you?

    OZ: I nearly killed Tara. And then the Initiative caught me and stuffed me in a box, the same as any other demon. I had to ask myself, "Do I deserve to be here?"

    SADHA: It wasn't your choice to attack her.

    OZ: Are you sure? I smelled her on Willow. I got angry. And I changed.

    SADHA (after waiting a moment for him to go on): You believe you deserved it, then?

    OZ: That was it. I didn't know. What I knew was, I hated it and I wanted out. I didn't want to be experimented on. I didn't want to die. If I deserved it, then maybe everything the Initiative did was right. If I didn't deserve it, then was what we'd been doing really that different?

    SADHA: So now you have your answer.

    OZ (shaking his head): I don't. I came to help because, if someone doesn't find an answer soon, I don't think there'll be anyone left to offer it to.

    SADHA: That bad?

    OZ: I think...what we're looking at...(he doesn't finish)

    SADHA: I asked my father once how he reconciled the duties of a Watcher with the principle of compassion for all beings. He told me humanity was enough for any one person to worry about. I don't think it was the answer of a very good Sikh, but in all my time as a Watcher I don't know that I found a better one. (bitterly) Of course, I was human when he said that. (after a pause) You're not going to tell me I count as human?

    OZ: Angel liked to hear that. I never thought he believed it, but he liked it.

    SADHA: Should he not have?

    OZ: Angel's whole schtick was, he was alone. The only one of his kind. (He moves decisively to put a hand on her shoulder.) You're not.

    CUT TO


    This room of ADRIAN's spacious middle-class home contains several couches focused on a fireplace, although not many of the thirty or so STUDENTS are actually sitting in them. Most of them are cross-legged on the floor or standing near the back wall, talking, REGAN and JANINE among the latter.

    REGAN: ...don't see any way you could get her drunk, short of spiking something. Third, Dena doesn't strike me as a happy drunk, even if you did. She's more likely to hit someone than hit on them. It's just not a good plan, okay?

    JANINE: Damn.

    REGAN: Look, I know there are some people like that, but you're just making a guess. It's too much risk.

    JANINE: Fine, but I think you shouldn't be ignoring how she--

    A very short girl with blond curls, wearing chemical-stained jeans and t-shirt, bounces into the house through a screen door.

    KATH: Hey folks! Sorry, I had a late lab. Some doofus in the last session before us screwed up the interferometers and everybody was getting bad results and I had to work out what was wrong.

    She closes the solid door behind her, then goes over to JANINE and wraps an arm around her waist.

    KATH: We've got a newbie?

    JANINE: A frosh, anyway. She's no neophyte. This is Miriam's friend Regan Stacey.

    REGAN: Sorry I missed the first couple of meetings. I had other stuff to take care of.

    KATH: Hey, it's good. Just keep to the ground rules--no hassling people about doing magic or different beliefs--and watch for alerts.

    REGAN: Alerts?

    JANINE: There've been some weird outbreaks of mystical violence lately. Sounds like you know more about those than we do, actually. We've got some text codes for things like "Keep your head down" or "Get together for a binding spell," stuff like that. We'll need to get your number, if that's okay.

    REGAN: That could come in handy, actually. But you shouldn't put yourselves in any danger.

    JANINE: You should talk.

    ADRIAN'S MOM (offscreen, calling out): Food's on! Get your stir-fry, get your grilled chicken and brats!

    KATH: Let's get it in from the patio before it starts raining again. What's up with the weather today, anyway? Somebody screwing around with the natural order?

    REGAN (shrugging): You never know.

    EXIT ALL in a mass rush for the food.

    CUT TO


    The grey sky casts a pall over the manor house that ROGER WYNDHAM-PRICE has occupied. It's not raining--for the moment--but there are puddles here and there on the patio where he's sitting, sipping a glass of tea. His SLAYER is doing kata on the lawn, wearing a rather damp outfit consisting of an old tank top and shorts.

    ROGER: Astonishing that this is the birthplace of iced tea. It seems so civilized in most respects.

    RAVENSDALE (offscreen): The region has its attractions, certainly.

    He enters and--at ROGER's gesture--sits down, holding a glass of tea.

    ROGER: It's time to kill her.

    RAVENSDALE, with the glass to his mouth, begins to splutter.

    ROGER: Not the girl. I wouldn't think of disposing so casually of such a valuable asset. The renegade.

    RAVENSDALE (struggling to compose himself): You had me worried for a moment, sir.

    ROGER: I thought you were going to perform one of those vile and disgusting acts reserved for American teenagers with your tea.

    RAVENSDALE: Are you certain this is the best time? She could have any number of contingency plans in motion.

    ROGER: One of her Slayers is barely worthy of the name. The other is, apparently, as likely to help us as interfere. But I certainly expect her to be ready for an attack by a Slayer, or a number of them. Therefore I've hired appropriate help for our girl.

    A cell phone rings in ROGER's pocket. He takes it out and opens it, then listens for a moment.

    ROGER: Yes, yes, guard her if you feel you must. (He hangs up.) That will be her. I have it on good authority that she stays bought, as they say, so I don't expect she'll be dangerous to us. And if she is, guns won't be of any use.

    RAVENSDALE: A mercenary, sir?

    ROGER: Of a sort. I must admit I'm curious regarding the source of her abilities--demon blood, perhaps? That would be unfortunate.

    A pair of SECURITY GUARDS enter, flanking a WOMAN IN A YELLOW SLICKER.

    RAVENSDALE: That's a rather garish look for a mercenary.

    GWEN RAIDEN (pulling back her hood): Yeah, well, I don't like getting wet. So where's the money you promised me?

    CUT TO

    It's begun to rain again here, and SOLITA is huddled on a table bench, under a shelter for picnickers. She has a couple of bruises on her arms, adding to the impression of vulnerability--she really is just a child, after all.

    DENA enters from the shelter's restroom, holding a fistful of wet paper towels that she removes from her blackened left eye.

    DENA: Hey, kid, see? It's no big. These things happen. You're gonna make one monster of a Slayer one of these days.

    SOLITA (quietly): I don't know that I want to.

    DENA: I'm gonna be fine. These things, they heal right up for us. It'll be like new in a day or so, just like you never hit me.

    SOLITA: Yes, that is what Regan says. As if it never happened. And the demons, they leave no bodies.

    DENA: Most of 'em. Look, don't let Regan get you down. She thinks too hard for her own good. (snorting) And she calls me repressed.

    SOLITA: I don't understand. What's "repressed" mean?

    DENA (amused): If you actually read your Freud, repression's the price of civilization. It means you don't follow all your impulses just because you have them. Ever not stick your hand in the cookie jar? That's repression. But Freud also had this idea that it damaged people, which is bull. Even if it did, being able to live like human beings instead of naked in the woods more than makes up for it.

    SOLITA: Then you don't seem very repressed to me.

    DENA (bursting into laughter): Everybody's repressed. You've started noticing boys, though, right? Regan thinks because I don't jump into bed with my boyfriend every time I get the chance, I must be all messed up inside.

    SOLITA (blushing): I don't know much about boys. They tell me things in school, but it all sounds so strange.

    DENA: You'll get the hang of them. Don't sweat it for now. But it's like this. You have impulses. Not just sex, all kinds of 'em. You're not gonna follow them all, and it'd be dumb to try. The important thing is, your impulses don't know right from wrong, and you have to learn which ones are okay to follow and which ones aren't. Otherwise, you cause all kinds of trouble for yourself and everyone else.

    A dark form clambers through the trees nearby.

    SOLITA: And Regan doesn't believe you should do that? It sounds...obvious.

    DENA: I honestly don't get her. At all. Anyone remotely civilized is repressed out the wazoo. The more, the better.

    SOLITA: So when I wanted to hit you, before...?

    DENA: Well, we were training to fight demons. I know you didn't really want to hurt me. See, that's how repression works--there's always some good use for your impulses, and always some bad ways to use them too, and you just have to learn which is which. One day I'll get married to Marshall and we'll (makes confused hand motions)...well, maybe I should let your parents explain that, but the point is it'll be okay. But it's not okay until then. Same way, it's bad to hurt humans, but killing demons is always good, so training to kill them has to be too. Just don't go overboard.

    SOLITA: What about Sadha? You don't kill her.

    DENA (uncomfortable): Sadha's...more useful the way she is right now. But yeah, eventually she'll betray me. Demons do that. They can't help it. (thoughtfully) I'll have to kill her first, before she has time to plan it out.

    More dark shapes can be seen prowling behind the shelter. DENA frowns, as if sensing something amiss, but shakes it off.

    SOLITA: It just seems kind of mean.

    DENA: If they had a choice to do anything else, it would be. But they don't. At least not any more..

    SOLITA: What will happen to her soul when you kill her?

    DENA (a little hesitant, for once): I...she lived and died a long time ago, Solita. I think she knows where she's supposed to be. Ask her what she thinks she deserves. Look, what do you feel about fighting? How'd you feel training with me today?

    SOLITA (with a small grin): It was fun. I had a lot of fun. But I hurt you, and that's not fun.

    DENA (waving it off): We heal fast. It's nothing. You just have to remember that when you hurt a demon, that's not the same thing, okay? It's okay to enjoy it when it's a demon you're hurting. (She grins broadly.) It's like being in charge, you know? You've got a life in your hands, and you have the power to just crush it and snuff it out. And the best part is, because it's a demon you have the right to. It's power, and it's yours. You're Chosen.

    SOLITA scrunches up her face and says nothing.

    DENA: You'll understand when you're older. Even Regan'll probably understand if she doesn't get killed. We're Slayers. It's like we're sisters. (She punches SOLITA lightly on the shoulder.) I'm a little bratty, and she's the weird geeky one, and you're the youngest.

    SOLITA (distracted): When I fight, then, it's supposed to feel good?

    DENA: Yup. Totally. That's what we are.

    There's a loud crash from offscreen. DENA's head whips around.

    DENA: Aw, hell, my car!

    CUT TO


    CAPTION: Last night...

    This small room's walls are lined with panels, most bearing the name of the corpse hidden within. In spite of that, the room is polished till it almost seems to shine. A heavy chair like a throne stands at one end, with VAMPIRES surrounding it, some kneeling, some moving about, one holding a goblet full of blood. A scaled hand reaches out from the throne to take the goblet as the camera pans around.

    The VAMPIRE seated in the throne bears a deeply-grooved forehead; like her hands and forearms, her neck and chin have erupted in serpentine scales, which rise partway up the back of her head and vanish beneath her jet-black hair. When she opens her mouth to sip at the goblet, we can see that her fangs have grown long and curved like those of a venomous snake.

    VAMPIRE SERVANT (fawningly): Is it to your taste, honored Regina?

    REGINA: Pah. Hardly. Bland, bland, bland.

    SERVANT: My apologies, honored one. Between the Turned One and her lackeys, it is no longer safe to bring the living here. If you like, I can set the microwave for another several seconds.

    REGINA: I thank you, Leonard, but the problem is not with your efforts. Slayers come and Slayers go, and this too shall pass.

    LEONARD: We have located Gregory, most noble Regina, but there is a difficulty. One of his spawn has re-ensouled him.

    REGINA (face twisting in rage): Is there no end to this madness!? (She rises from the throne, kicking the kneeling VAMPIRES aside.) How do they expect him to endure the burden of a human soul? Why do they care about such things? If they want us dead, then let them halt this farce and kill us!

    LEONARD: My lady...shall we attempt to retrieve him?

    REGINA (pensively): He is as my son, Leonard. My own spawn. Gather the warriors to fight, but I shall return Gregory myself. (She sweeps a cloak around her shoulders.) When the sun sets tomorrow, we attack.

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


    • #3
      ACT III

      EXT. PARK -- DAY

      In a matter of seconds, the park has gone from peaceful and virtually deserted to a milling battlefield of VAMPIRES; there don't seem to be that many, but they're moving so fast it's difficult to tell. The driver's-side door of DENA's jeep has been bashed in, its window shattered, and the passenger's side door is practically blown off; a woozy-looking VAMPIRE begins to rise to his feet a yard or two beyond. DENA seizes him by the coat, pulls him up, and stakes him.

      DENA: Nobody trashes my car!

      Another VAMPIRE leaps onto the Jeep's roof from the opposite side. DENA angrily hurls the stake at her, but it hits her chest lengthwise and bounces off. DENA snarls and grabs another out of her jacket.

      DENA: Solita, get behind me. You've got my back, okay? (She fishes in her pockets for another stake.) I've got more stakes in the Jeep, so we need to get there.

      SOLITA (taking up a position loosely behind DENA): I...I...I thought you said this was just self-defense, basic stuff.

      DENA: It was. Now you're gonna have to use it. Sorry, kid. I'll explain to your mom and dad if they make a stink, but this is how it goes.

      SOLITA: Are you sure--?

      DENA: I've seen worse. We'll both be just fine, long as you do what I say.

      The two begin making their way toward the Jeep, both moving sideways. DENA kicks the legs out from under one VAMPIRE as they move; SOLITA is about to trade blows with another when it vanishes in a cloud of dust. By the time the dust clears, whoever staked it is already gone. They reach the Jeep (the VAMPIRE on top has gone), and DENA yanks out a gym bag. She hands a stake to SOLITA and wraps the straps around her own shoulders.

      SOLITA (panicky): But we need to go!

      DENA: Look at the way they're moving. We can't get away in a Jeep, not with the doors open like that. They'd be on us before we could get up to speed. Vampire fights can go on for blocks, and that's with three or four of them. This...heck, I don't know what this is, but just look at how many there are. Besides, like I told you....?

      SOLITA (flinching): It's our job?

      A kicked VAMPIRE goes flying over their heads.

      DENA: Just remember, most people are a lot worse off than you. At least you have your Slayer powers. They don't.

      SOLITA: O-okay.

      DENA: Just follow me, okay?

      The VAMPIRE from the Jeep appears in front of DENA.

      SOLITA (nervously): Ella esta...this one feels different, Dena. Like Sadha.

      DENA (annoyed, to the vampire): A soul? C'mon...who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? (stakes her)

      DENA and SOLITA begin making their way across the park.

      CUT TO

      The sky is spitting rain intermittently as a squad of POLICE hastily try to set up a blockade with their cars. People are running all over, screaming. A sixth-story window shatters as a body flies through it and begins to fall; a few moments later a second leaps after it. One POLICEMAN fires at a man fastening his teeth into a woman; the vampire barely even flinches and goes on feeding.

      POLICE SERGEANT (through a loudspeaker): Everyone please return to your homes! We are attempting to get the situation under control. Return to your homes!

      A vampire with her hands around another vampire's throat slams him into one of the police cars; they roll across the hood, struggling, ignoring the POLICE completely.

      A band of VAMPIRE HUNTERS in ragged trenchcoats appears from an alleyway, carrying stakes, crosses, and crossbows.

      SERGEANT (loudspeaker, off-screen): Please return to your homes and allow us to handle this!

      LEAD VAMPIRE HUNTER: Sorry, officer, but you haven't got a clue what you're dealing with here. You're the ones who should go home.

      The LEAD HUNTER takes aim with her crossbow at a plate glass window and fires just as someone is slammed through it; the VAMPIRE dusts amidst the shower of glass.

      The SERGEANT looks to his squad for backup just in time to see the nearest member be yanked out of sight. A moment later, REGINA replaces him.

      REGINA: I'm afraid I'm out of your jurisdiction, officer. (She seizes him and clamps her jaws onto his throat, dropping him after only a moment.) This is my domain.

      REGINA strides forward, ignoring the POLICE as they fire on her. She does take notice of the VAMPIRE HUNTERS aiming crossbows at her--as the volley flies toward her, she vanishes in a blur of motion, then reappears with her hands around their LEADER's neck, snapping it.

      REGINA (mocking): "You haven't got a clue what you're dealing with here." Go hide in your hovels, vermin.

      The HUNTERS scatter in panic as REGINA walks on through the chaos.

      CUT TO

      ROGER is standing in the doorway, attempting to give instructions to GWEN and his SLAYER. However, both of them are staring in horrified fascination at the television, which is displaying scenes of the battle elsewhere in town. The SLAYER says something agitated in Kiswahili, which ROGER waves away.

      ROGER: Gwen, this situation constitutes excellent cover for your attack on the renegade. Even if her associates were to see her destroyed--

      GWEN: Are you out of your damn mind? Or did you just go completely blind in your old age?

      ROGER: Ms. Raiden, I assure you, the situation distresses me as much as it does you--

      GWEN: I'll be the judge of that, thanks.

      ROGER (continued): --but I don't have the luxury of responding purely on a tactical level to such things. I have the obligation to formulate overall strategy, and vampires destroying vampires is something I can only applaud and hope continues. Now, I need you to come at the renegade from a separate direction--

      GWEN: I don't think so.

      ROGER: I have paid you a great deal of money--

      GWEN reaches into her jacket pocket, extracts a packet of cash, and tosses it at his face. He catches it awkwardly.

      GWEN: Here's your deposit back. People are dying out there, and you want me to hunt down some rogue Watcher and kill her too?

      ROGER: She is a vampire.

      GWEN: Funny thing--last vampire that got in my way turned out to be a good guy. You, on the other hand, sound like a callous ******* hiding in a mansion while the city burns around him, and that gives me a bad feeling about following your orders. Now, I'm leaving, and if I get to the fight in time, I'm going to try and save as many lives as I can. (She turns to the SLAYER and makes beckoning gestures.) You coming with me?

      The SLAYER begins to move toward her, then looks nervously at ROGER, who scowls disapprovingly and says something in Kiswahili. Deeply upset, she sits down.

      GWEN (to ROGER): Just what is it you've got on her? Fine, have it your way. I'm gone.

      ROGER: I was given to understand you were a mercenary.

      GWEN (walking out): I am. But I have standards.

      CUT TO

      OZ's van is flying down a street full of rental homes and small college apartments.

      INT. VAN

      OZ is at the wheel, his expression a blank mask of concentration.

      SADHA: Still believe I'm worth defending?

      OZ: One riot should change my mind? You slept right through the sixties, didn't you?

      SADHA (offended): That's not a valid--

      A VAMPIRE comes flying across their path, bouncing onto the hood and shattering the windshield. The van veers back and forth across the road as OZ fights to stay in control, until the unwanted passenger loses his grip and is thrown off.

      SADHA: I don't believe we're going to get much further.

      OZ (bringing the van to a halt): Riot's come to us.

      SADHA: I have faith in my Slayer to perform her task of defending the town as best she can. What of yours?

      OZ: I have faith they'll kill vampires. Not so sure about the town.

      VAMPIRE (off-screen): C'mere, human-lover!

      A massively-built VAMPIRE in gym clothes yanks the passenger door open and grabs SADHA by the upper arm.

      BODYBUILDER VAMP: I can smell the soul on you, freak! Tell me where Gregory is and I'll put you out of your misery!

      SADHA: Tempting offer.

      She slides her dagger out of its sheath left-handed and cuts off his hand in one swift motion.

      SADHA (cont.) : But I have work to do.

      She flips her feet around out of the van and into his groin, landing in a crouch atop him as he crumples.

      SADHA (cont.): Now, who's Gregory and why do you want him?

      CUT TO

      It's raining heavily here, and the STUDENTS are all clustered by the patio window, staring at the vicious battle going on outside. A trio of vampires seems to be under attack by multiple assailants, but the rain makes it impossible to tell how many attackers there are or to see anyone's features clearly.

      "Grapevine Fires" plays softly in the background.

      ADRIAN: Holy goddess!

      REGAN (angry and miserable): Coming through! Make a path! Coming through!

      REGAN presses her way through the crowd toward the patio doors.

      JANINE: Regan, what're you doing? It's dan--

      REGAN: My job.

      KATH: I thought you were a pacifist.

      REGAN: I'm a Slayer. These are vampires. They're not really alive anyway. (to herself) They're not really alive. I'm just doing what I have to do.

      MIRIAM (over a crack of thunder and nearby lightning): Ray, let us help you!

      REGAN (half-opening the door and turning): Guys, it's not your thing to worry about. You're safer in here.

      Everyone else flinches and gasps as a VAMPIRE slams into the empty space of the open doorway right behind an unconcerned REGAN.. It gets up and charges back into the fight.

      KATH: Some of us know magic, too. We can fight beside you.

      REGAN (growing more frustrated): Listen to me. What I'm about to do is ugly, and disturbing, and sick. You don't need to be part of this. You don't want to be part of it. I don't want to be part of it, but it's the lesser of evils, and I have an obligation. You don't. Got that?

      She turns and attempts to go out, and MIRIAM seizes her left hand. The rest of the group begins to follow suit, forming a loose chain that ends with ADRIAN, who takes hold of her right wrist since she's gripping the doorknob with that hand.

      JANINE: We're with you.

      REGAN: Aw, hell. Okay, follow my lead. There's something I guess I've kind of wanted to try out, and I never had enough energy of my own to make it work.

      REGAN opens both patio doors and shifts so that ADRIAN can grip her hand. The group squeezes outside onto the patio. As they go, bookbags and backpacks begin to spontaneously open behind them, spilling pencils out into the air.

      Music growing louder. {...and the news reports on the radio...}

      REGAN: Just keep your focus, okay? Let me guide the group's energy.

      The pencils are joined by all manner of wooden debris from the ground--fallen branches and twigs and bark, and a few broken bits and pieces of wood that emerge from underneath the patio.

      {...said it was getting worse...}

      The wooden debris forms into a circle that whirls protectively around the STUDENTS; a couple of vampires racing across the yard are caught in the bombardment and almost instantly impaled.

      Without warning, REGAN lets go her grip on the others' hands and strides out through the ring of debris, which parts around her and immediately closes again. She stalks towards the three VAMPIRES, who stop trying to escape through the yard and two of whom look up at her from beneath slicker hoods that partially conceal their faces. The third vampire simply seems to stop there, ignoring her.

      Some of the STUDENTS try to follow and are stung by flying splinters; they retreat.

      HOODED FEMALE VAMPIRE:'ve got to help us. We just want to get--

      {As the ocean air fanned the flames}

      REGAN: You pieces of crap. This is your fault, isn't it?

      HOODED MALE VAMPIRE: We're on your--

      {But I couldn't think...}

      REGAN kicks him in the groin, then just as easily swats away an attacker approaching from behind her.

      REGAN: You are not on my side, you unnatural, impure perversion of life.

      CUT TO
      the students, eyes and mouths wide open.

      KATH (wincing): Ouch.

      {...of anywhere I would've rather been}

      REGAN draws back and punches one of the vampires full in the face.

      REGAN: You want me to pity you? You walking disease!

      REGAN's motions are stiff and jerky compared to DENA's, but her blows are focused and aimed for precision effect. She seems completely aware of both the two vampires she's fighting directly and the assailants who approach her from the sides.

      The rain begins to slacken.

      {To watch it all burn away}

      REGAN: You know I can feel you, right? Inside me. You make me sick. I mean, demons, they're just not from here, but make me want to puke. You're anti-life, anti-nature....You're monsters, and you exist to make us into monsters.

      REGAN grabs one of the vampires by the throat, and his hood falls away. It's HAROLD.

      REGAN: That's all you're here for. You want me to help you? I hate you!

      She slams her other fist into his mouth.

      {To burn awa-a-ay...}

      The rain ceases.

      CUT TO
      The sky, as the clouds thin with impossible, unnatural speed, and the sunlight begins to break through.

      CUT TO

      REGAN shoves HAROLD roughly away as he bursts into flames.

      REGAN (roughly): I hate you, dammit!

      Several other vampires smolder or catch fire as the shaft of sunlight that has caught HAROLD grows and other beams burst through the clouds, although another HOODED VAMPIRE manages to escape into a storm sewer. The third is nowhere to be seen.


      CUT TO
      EXT. PARK -- DAY

      DENA and SOLITA, who've worked their way a good thirty yards up the road, are suddenly alone as beams of sunlight sweep across the ground, incinerating their attackers.

      CUT TO
      EXT. STREET -- DAY

      OZ, reacting quickly, throws a ratty blanket over SADHA and drags her back into the van. Moments later, the edge of the clouds' shadow sweeps over them.


      CUT TO

      REGINA, smoldering, tears the cover from a manhole and dives in even as she catches fire. A bewildered S.W.A.T. TEAM looks around.


      CUT TO

      REGAN crumples to her knees. The whirling cloud of debris slackens and drops to the ground. The music fades out.

      REGAN (very quietly, almost a sob): Damn me, I hate you.

      JANINE (softly): Whoa.

      MIRIAM hurries over to REGAN's side and tries to help her up, but REGAN refuses to allow it. A few moments later the other STUDENTS begin to arrive.

      REGAN (very quietly, crying): Gods damn it, what are we supposed to do?




      DENA is sitting in an easy chair, looking even more sullen and angry than usual; SOLITA is perched on the chair arm, her eyes focused inward on worries of her own. She keeps sniffling, not sadly but as if she has a cold.

      SADHA enters from a side door, fidgeting with the hem of her shirt, and sits on the futon near DENA.

      SADHA: Regan's gone to bed. She said she's not feeling well, and I think I believe her.

      DENA (grouchily): Lame. You'd think she hadn't just kicked massive vampire butt.

      SADHA: Not everyone possesses your...unique coping skills.

      DENA: People screwing with my personal life is something I hafta cope with. Killing vampires is something I enjoy.

      OZ enters from the kitchen, carrying a tray of burgers, as DENA finishes speaking. He gives SADHA a significant glance, but she ignores him.

      OZ: Vampires enjoy killing, too.

      DENA: Don't play games with me. That's not the same thing.

      OZ lets SOLITA take a burger; he tries to move the tray out of DENA's reach, but she's too fast for him. She grabs two and digs in voraciously.

      SADHA: A pity I was unable to find out who this "Gregory" was.

      SOLITA (to DENA): Are you going to sit on opposite sides of the room all night?

      DENA, chewing on a burger, says nothing.

      OZ (studying a burger) : Mustard, ketchup, horseradish, burba root, pickles, extra salt...I think this is yours, Sadha.

      SADHA takes the burger and bites into it tentatively.

      OZ: I left it extra rare. Should have some blood in it still.

      SADHA doesn't respond, except to tilt her head back and forth and make a faint "hmm" sound.

      SOLITA (to DENA, rubbing her own nose): I think Marshall is just as upset by this as you are.

      DENA (grumpily): I know.

      OZ crosses the room and offers a burger to an unfamiliar COLLEGE GIRL with short dark brown hair, light brown eyes, uncomfortably large and apparently unsupported breasts, and a glare that nearly equals DENA's.

      OZ (evenly): Marshall...or should I say Marsha?...this one's yours.

      MARSHALL (taking the burger): Dena, anything you can do about black magic? I tried an exorcism but it didn't help.

      DENA: I dunno. I'm tempted to go upstairs and pound on her till she gives me the answer. (SADHA glares; DENA's response is defensive) I said "tempted", didn't I? I'm not gonna do it.

      SADHA: As a matter of fact, Regan managed to explain to me how to break the spell, despite being terribly distraught over what she did today. And before you ask, I actually don't believe she approves of this at all, or had anything directly to do with it.

      DENA: Yeah, sure, whatever. I'm not praying to her stupid false goddess.

      SADHA: Oh, nothing like that. (amused) It merely requires a kiss.

      DENA (shrugging): I'll go talk to my dad in the morning, Marshall. We should be able to figure out some kind of casting-out that'll take care of this. Stupid demonic spells. It might take a few days.

      MARSHALL (resignedly): Fine. Can I borrow some more of your pads? And a bra or two?

      OZ: Hers might be a little small for you.

      SOLITA (to SADHA): They are serious? (fishes out a tissue and blows her nose)

      DENA: What kind of hypocrite do you think I am, kid? Rules are rules.

      SADHA: I hate to break up this happy moment, but I really do suspect he should be male again by the time you're finished. Unless you insist on being very quick about it, at least.

      DENA folds her arms and rolls her eyes.

      OZ: Willow always told me breaking spells with escape clauses without using the clauses was kinda dangerous.

      DENA: Aw, hell. You tell anyone about this, and I will beat you up.

      She gets up and approaches MARSHALL/the camera, leaning down and puckering up in the least sexy way imaginable.


      "Grapevine Fires" plays.

      The black peels back with a zipping noise, revealing a MORTICIAN staring down at the camera.

      CUT TO

      {The firemen worked in double shifts}

      MORTICIAN: I'm afraid I can't explain it. He's entirely rigid, but it doesn't seem to be rigor mortis. The muscle tissue almost seems responsive under certain stimuli. There's no sign of decomposition at all.

      {With prayers for rain on their lips}

      POLICEMAN: I can't explain it either, ma'am. But the military's asked we ship him in ASAP. Don't ask; apparently it's classified.

      SHOT OF
      GREGORY's face as the body bag is rezipped. His left eyelid twitches.

      {They knew it was only a matter of time}


      Special Guest Star: Erica Durance as Marshall
      DeadWar: Burden of Proof
      Out Now.
      Avatar by Barb
      Feedback is always welcome here.