Season Seven

The Master's Lair

The Master sat in her throne, absorbed in thought. It had been entirely too long since she was free last. Then a voice echoed inside her head.

V: Buffy Summers.

The Master jerked and stared around in anger and slight worry: Very few people knew her original human name, let alone able to talk to her inside her head.

M: Who are you?

V: Your last hope to escape the Hellmouth.

M: How do you mean? Why are you in my head? Show yourself!

V: I can't. I have no physical form. This is my only means of communication. Only the greatest of evils in the world can I contact and communicate with.

M: Who are you?

V: The literal embodiment of evil in the world; the source of all darkness.

M: Can I have a name?

V: I go by many titles. But I am known most commonly as The Evil that Is.

The Master sat up in her throne, looking both alarmed and interested.

M: You? I always wondered . . . your origins . . . your history and existence . . .

EI: I have come to you to guide you. I want you on the surface as much as yourself.

M: So, you're going to help me?

EI: Yes. The end is coming. The scales could tip either way. I want them in your favor. Whenever evil wins, I win.

M: The end of what?

EI: That's what you and I are going to determine together.

Caleb's Apartment, Day

Glory, Caleb, and Heinrich stood in Caleb's kitchen. Amy was watching TV in the living room. Adam had taken Drusilla outdoors to try to train her to fight.

C: Dreams?

GD: Yeah. I'm not sure if they're real or not. They always involve a girl being murdered.

H: You think it might be visions of the future?

GD: Maybe. I mean, don't Slayers sometimes have visions?

C: Well, yes. But, like everyone else, they can also have regular meaningless dreams. Besides the theme, were there any common traits in the dreams: The age of the girls . . . the killers . . . the locations?

GD: The locations are always different. The girls seem to be in their late teens or early twenties. The killers are never clearly shown.

C: Hm. I'll research those details with Amy and see if we can find anything.

Caleb walked into his living room to get a pile of books from his bookshelf. Glory looked at Heinrich.

GD: Do you think that the dreams are real?

H: In my experience, Slayers get visions when something bad is coming that they'll need extra time to prepare for. We should keep an eye out for anything bad.

AM: (V.O.) Hey guys!

Heinrich and Glory turned to see Amy running into the room, looking alarmed.

AM: I just saw on the news: They've rebuilt Sunnydale High!

Heinrich looked at Glory pointedly.

H: Things like that, for example.

Sunnydale High, Day

Warren wandered around in the school basement, looking dazed and confused. He kept stumbling and bumping into things as though he couldn't see them.

WM: Wha-wha-what am I? I don't know. Nobody knows. Nobody, nobody . . .

Since he had returned from Africa with his human soul, he been overwhelmed with thoughts of the atrocities he had caused with Jonathan and Andrew for over a hundred years. How had he gone from one of three most powerful and feared vampires in history, to falling for a Slayer and willingly getting his soul back? He had done it to make himself truly good so that Glory would accept him. But he hadn't counted on the main issue with having a soul: Remorse. Someone who had a history as bloody as his own, with a soul . . . he should have known that it would end like this. But he hadn't. He had thought only of the Slayer, of his desire to prove himself to her.

WM: Stupid, stupid, stupid. I did a stupid thing. Need to go, need to, need to, need to . . .

The torment of remembering all he had done before had made him near insane. He wished he could rip the soul out of his chest, but knew it was permanent. There was no escape.

WM: No escape, no escape, no escape, no, no, no, no . . .

The Master's Lair

In a room off The Master's main chamber, Xander, Willow, Andrew, Giles, and Faith sat grouped around each other, listening to The Master talking to . . . somebody.

XH: Ya know, I think she's finally cracked; gone nuts staying underground for so long.

FL: Like me?

XH: No, no, Faith, you're the good kind of nuts.

AW: (Incredulously) There's a good kind of nuts?

WR: Even if that is true, it isn't her fault!

XH: Why are you favoring her so much? You see the way she treats us!

WR: Exactly. She treats you all like simple minions. I, however-

AW: Excuse me? I'm higher in rank than any of you. I am a member of The Three!

WR: Don't you mean, The Two?

Xander laughed appreciatively.

XH: Well, actually, it's The One now. Real powerful group you guys were: One got himself burned by sunlight, one went soft and fell in love, and you lost your extraordinary vampire powers because of some toy gun a girl made.

AW: I am still as strong as any regular vampire!

XH: So technically, I can beat your ass now.

AW: (Snorting) As if.

WR: Wait, be quiet! If we listen, maybe we can tell who she's talking too.

M: (V.O.) What do you mean?

Pause.

M: (V.O.) No, of course I don't! But how?

Pause.

M: (V.O.) A coma? But why do we need him?

Pause.

M: (V.O.) Yeah? Well, he'd better be. When?

Pause.

M: (V.O.) Fine. I'll wait.

Silence fell for over a minute. Willow turned to the others.

WR: It sounds like she's receiving instructions from something.

RG: For what?

WR: She'll have to tell us at some point. Let's just wait it out.

Then, almost as if on cue . . .

M: (V.O.) Willow! Faith! Get in here! I have job for you both!

Willow and Faith looked at each other uncertainly, then got up and entered The Master's room.

Caleb's Apartment, Night

GD: (Disgustedly) I can't believe this.

AM: Why rebuild the school? Don't they know what that means?

C: They wouldn't. Very few people know about the supernatural.

AM: But some people must have seen some vampires and stuff, right?

C: People have a tendency to rationalize what they can and forget what they can't.

GD: What does the school being back mean, really?

C: Most likely that something big is coming.

GD: Heinrich told me exactly the same thing about my dreams.

AM: Smart old guy, isn't he?

GD: Old, certainly. Smart, probably.

C: Where is he, anyway?

GD: He's checking out the school. Amy and I sorta have the creeps going back there.

C: (Sighing) You can't let personal fears interfere with your mission.

GD: Their not! It's still being done. Just not directly by me.

Before Caleb could respond, his front door opened. In walked Heinrich, dragging Warren behind him.

H: Look what I found cringing in the basement.

Glory stared as Warren staggered over the threshold, partly supported by Heinrich. He fell to his knees and looked up at Glory with extremely bloodshot eyes.

WM: You . . . I . . . me . . . you . . .

AM: Is that Warren?

GD: What happened? What did you do?

Warren started giggling uncontrollably. Glory backed away from him, looking at Caleb and Amy imploringly. They looked at her with equal looks of uncertainty. Glory turned to Heinrich.

GD: What's wrong with him?

H: Well, I found him muttering to himself in the basement of the school. Something has turned him insane.

GD: Obviously.

H: I'm not finished. I also sensed something new about him. I don't know how he did it, but . . . he has a soul now.

A shocked silence followed, broken only by Warren's continued mumbling and giggling.

AM: A soul? Like you?

H: Yeah. This was almost exactly how I was at first: Overcome with guilt over what I had done. But I was just a common vampire who lived for a very long time. He was a member of The Three. The things he would have to remember . . .

He trailed off, looking down at the mumbling and laughing ensouled vampire. Glory didn't know what to do or say for a while.

GD: He did it for me, didn't he?

Everyone looked at her.

C: I'm sorry?

GD: He got his soul for me. He wanted to be good, and knew he couldn't the way he was. So he must've . . .

The all looked down again on the pitiful, squirming vampire on the floor, unsure of what to do.

Sunnydale Hospital, Night

Willow and Faith wandered the halls of the hospital, looking for the right room. The Master had just sent them to pick up a new recruit here: someone who was apparently very important. The building was almost completely deserted. But then, how many people would be here at one in the morning anyway?

FL: So, who is this mysterious new recruit?

WR: I don't know: someone who's been out of action for a while. Apparently, he's been in a coma since Xander sired you.

At last they found the right room and entered. A man was lying on the bed in the center of the room. He had a beard and his hair was much longer, due to having been in a coma for four years. Willow waved her hand over the bed and chanted a spell in Gaelic. As Faith watched outside for anyone coming, Willow clenched her fist and a light shone through the room. The man awoke with a start. He looked up at Willow in confusion.

WR: The Master needs your help. Come with us now. She says you'll want a second chance.

Wesley Wyndam-Pryce got out of bed and followed the two vampires out of the room eagerly.

Caleb's Apartment, Day

Adam and Drusilla came in as Caleb and Amy were discussing their recent soul problem.

DE: Hi guys!

C: Oh. Hello.

AM: How'd it go?

AW: Well, we covered the basics. If there was a trivia battle going on, she'd be a shoe in.

AM: So lots of brains and little brawn, huh? I can relate to that.

DE: Really? You know about Star Wars, Star Trek, James Bond, Doctor Who-

AW: No, Amy, you really can't. Where's Glory?

C: Downstairs with Heinrich and Warren.

AW: Wait, Warren: The vampire!

AM: Yeah. He's a little delicate right now.

AW: What do you-?

C: Apparently, to prove himself to Glory, he went and got his soul back.

AW: Wow. Seriously?

AM: He's sort of . . . nuts right now, so they're trying to calm him down.

AW: Then what?

C: We don't know yet.

The Master's Lair

Wesley stood before The Master.

WW: So, y-you want my help to open the Hellmouth and kill the Slayer?

M: Precisely. I was advised that you would be perfect for this.

WW: Who advised you?

M: My guide. Now, since everyone thinks you are dead, you'll prove an effective weapon.

WW: What will I r-receive if I help you?

M: You were going to rule part of the town with The Principal, weren't you?

WW: No. I only served him. He showed me the true path of ambition.

M: Well, how about this then: not only will you get to kill the Slayer for me . . . you will also get to have your revenge on Caleb.

Wesley grinned eagerly.

WW: Yes. I would like that very m-much. What do I do first?

Caleb's Apartment, Day

In the basement, Warren had stopped mumbling and laughing. He now sat in the corner as though comatose, staring at the wall. Glory and Heinrich were watching him.

H: I kinda feel sorry for him. I mean, I know how painful that is. Having a soul after so long, living with what you did.

GD: So do I, a little. I mean, if he's so determined to be good, I'll help him recover, but it won't go any further than that.

H: Because he's a vampire?

GD: Because he might not yet know the difference between good and bad. I mean, he's only been technically 'good' for a few months, including the days he had no soul and still helped me.

H: I think he could be helpful. I mean, he was a member of The Three. With that comes great power.

GD: Yeah, but he could just as easily use it against us, too.

H: Glory, do you really think he would have gone and gotten his soul back, then come back and attack you? He got it for you in the first place.

Warren stirred a little. They watched as he turned his head toward them.

WM: Glory?

GD: Hi Warren.

WM: You're still here? I thought you'd . . . not be.

GD: I'm still here to help you, until you can manage by yourself.

WM: But . . . but . . . I want to be with . . .

GD: No. You can't. I can't.

WM: But . . . soul . . . ?

GD: Yes, you have your soul. You are good now. I won't kill you. But I can't be with you.

Warren got unsteadily to his feet and approached her imploringly.

WM: I . . . did this . . . for you. To see I meant it. I felt something before. I didn't know what it . . . was. I know it was love now. My soul . . . says its love . . . for you.

Glory looked at him, half pitying, half irritated. Heinrich moved forward.

H: Look. I know what you're feeling now. I have a soul too.

WM: You're with . . . her?

H: As a friend and teammate. Not romantically.

Glory winced as a sudden mental image of herself and Heinrich kissing appeared in her mind.

WM: Then I . . . can be that too?

H: Sure. You can help us out. That's what it means to be good: To help people.

Warren looked hopefully at Glory.

WM: Can I . . . can I help you? Save people?

GD: Of course you can.

Back upstairs later, Glory, Caleb, Amy, Adam, Heinrich, Drusilla, and Warren stood in Caleb's living room.

C: First order of business is to find out whether Glory's dreams are real or not.

WW: They are.

Everyone turned to see Wesley, looking very overgrown and even more disheveled than before, standing in the doorway.

C: You. But you're . . .

WW: Dead? Not quite, just g-got knocked into a coma. Thanks to you.

GD: What are you doing here?

AW: Sorry, who is this guy?

AM: Wesley Wyndam-Pryce: An ex-Watcher. He pretended to be helping us before.

WW: I was under orders from my boss to kill you before.

GD: Your boss is dead now.

WW: Not my new one.

H: Ah, new evil in town?

WW: No. Actually, she told me she's b-been trying to kill you all for years.

GD: The Master.

WW: Good, so you haven't forgotten.

GD: You said my dreams are real? What are they about?

WW: Potential Slayers dying.

H: What?

AM: Huh?

GD: What?

C: Oh dear.

GD: Potential Slayers?

WW: Yes. Well, Caleb, any remorse I had for trying to kill you before is g-gone now. You put me in a coma for four years. I will p-pay you back in kind.

With that, he shot out of the house.

GD: (To Caleb) Potential Slayers?

C: Yes: Girls who may be called as the next Slayer. Most are unaware of their supposed destiny, while others have already been assigned to their Watchers by The Council.

H: So The Master is having Wesley kill potential Slayers?

C: Of course! He's was a Watcher! He knows how to track down . . . Damn it!

He slammed the kitchen table with his fist.

C: They're going to try to extinguish the line of Slayers.

AM: But how? They can't kill every Slayer on Earth, can they?

H: I think The Master may simply be trying to get under Glory's skin to distract her from something else.

AW: But I thought The Master's goal was to open the Hellmouth and be freed?

C: Yes, it is. But, it is possible that she may be working with something else as well, collaborating goals.

The Master's Lair

M: There is a way to open the Hellmouth manually?

EI: Certainly.

M: How?

EI: There is a seal in the basement of the new High school which, as you should know, was built directly on top of the Hellmouth and you. This seal is one of many official doors to the Hellmouth. Open the Seal of Danzalthar, and the Hellmouth will be unleashed.

M: Good. Now the most important thing: How do you open it?

EI: Blood.

M: Who's?

EI: It doesn't matter. What matters is how much is given.

M: Then how much?

EI: As much as it needs.

M: You're not being very helpful, you know.

Pause.

M: Hello?

Nothing.

M: Damn it! Must've pissed him off . . . or she . . . or it . . . whatever.

She looked at Xander, Willow, Faith, Giles, and Andrew standing in front of her.

M: The Evil that Is has informed me that blood will open the Seal of Danzalthar in the new school's basement. Once this seal is opened, the Hellmouth will be open enough for me to be freed, then we will proceed to open it entirely to unleash the Old Ones back upon the Earth, and I can finally kill the Slayer. Xander and Giles, you two will go open the seal.

XH: Why?

M: You can't fight and Giles should do something useful for once.

XH: I can fight non-humans!

M: Regardless, you are going. Now!

Xander grumbled something under his breath and followed Giles, who looked slightly hurt, out of the cave and into the tunnel.

AW: Where does this leave us then?

M: We wait. I will know once the seal has been opened. I will feel this cave's hold on me release.

WR: What about that scruffy guy?

M: He's still organizing the deaths of all those potential Slayers.

AW: (Skeptically) You can't kill off the entire line.

M: I know. It is merely a distraction for the Slayer until I am freed.

WR: What about the Watcher's Council? They won't let that continue.

M: Well, the Council has been, let's just say, put out of business by our rogue Watcher ally.

At that moment, Glory, Heinrich, and Warren emerged into view.

GD: Hey, just thought we'd check in on you guys. See what's going on.

M: Slayer!

Andrew eyed Warren with distaste.

AW: So, you're officially with her now, are you?

WM: Andrew. Sorry about Jonathan.

AW: It's your fault he got killed! If you had just stuck to the plan, we would have taken her down!

M: Warren, something is different about you since last time. You seem to have . . . an aura now.

FL: He has a soul.

AW&M: What?

GD: How did she know?

FL: The pixie lights floating all round his head and heart, so bright and pretty . . .

AW: A soul, Warren? A stinking human soul?

WM: I wanted to be good. A soul means goodness.

M: It also means feeling, which is weakness.

H: You know, we didn't come down here just to exchange puns.

M: Yes, why are you here?

GD: Just wanted to see if you were planning something. I mean, I'm sure you didn't revive Wesley just for the sake of it.

M: What makes you think I will tell you my plans?

GD: Well, I'm sure I already know most of it: You woke up Wesley to hunt down and exterminate potential Slayers to distract my attention. You're collaborating with some other big bad to achieve a common goal of opening the Hellmouth and freeing yourself. Plus, something about the high school is crucial to what you're doing.

M: I'm impressed. I thought you needed Caleb to do all the thinking for you.

Glory was tired of punning. She ran forward and threw a punch at The Master. She staggered backward, then lunged forward and knocked Glory down. Heinrich battled Faith and Willow at the same time, while Andrew made straight for Warren.

Sunnydale High, Night

Xander and Giles entered the basement.

RG: Where's the seal? There's nothing here but dirt.

XH: Oh, great! Not only do we have to cut ourselves for this thing, but we also have to dig it up?

RG: How do you know it has to be dug up?

XH: You have no slice of brain, do you? Come on.

He and Giles grabbed a pair of shovels that just happened to be there, along with a pick axe, and went to work.

A few minutes later, they uncovered a circular metal seal with a goat's head with its tongue sticking out on it. Xander and Giles looked at each other.

RG: So who has to . . . ?

XH: I vote you.

RG: No! You should-

XH: I already voted you. I can still kick your ass, you know.

Giles sighed, then vamped out and, wincing, bit into his wrist, causing a trickle of blood to fall onto the seal. It glowed brightly. Giles continued to let the blood fall until a corner of the seal sprang open.

RG: (Weakly) Th-that should be enough.

XH: Sissy.

The Master's Lair

The Master gasped. She knew that Xander and Giles had been successful. She shoved Glory aside and strode toward the exit of the cave. There was no interference to stop her.

M: Yes! At last! I'm free!

Glory looked at her in shock.

GD: How . . . ?

M: The Hellmouth has been opened! Well, partly, at least. The entrance was in the basement of the school. Now I am free to rise to the surface and, eventually, kill you personally.

She turned and entered the tunnel. Andrew, Willow, and Faith followed her. Warren looked after them.

WM: This isn't good.

GD: No. We have to tell Caleb.

Caleb's Apartment, Early morning

Caleb, Amy, Adam, and Drusilla were all asleep at the kitchen table when Glory, Heinrich, and Warren burst in (Heinrich and Warren trailing smoke from the barely risen sun).

AM: (Still asleep) Cooking bacon, mom?

GD: Wake up, guys!

They all woke jerkily. Caleb fiddled for his glasses.

C: Glory? Ah . . . sorry. We couldn't find any . . .

GD: The Master's free.

C: What?

GD: The Master is free.

C: I . . . how?

H: She mentioned something about an entrance to the Hellmouth being in the school basement and that it was opened enough to let her out.

C: So it's not entirely open?

GD: No, but it will be if we don't do something about it.

H: She's on her way there now to complete the process.

AW: But it's day out now.

GD: Two of them are already there. She and the rest will have to lie low until tonight.

C: Well, we must not let them finish opening the Hellmouth. Did you overhear anything else?

WM: Um, I heard them say something about that Wesley guy.

H: Yeah, he's obliterated the Watcher's Council.

C: Sweet Jesus.

AM: You mean he's killed them?

GD: Uh huh.

AW: What does this mean?

C: That we are alone. It's us against The Master now. This is the end of it all.

DE: (Dramatically) The Final Frontier . . .

Everyone ignored her.

AW: How should we respond?

GD: The only way we can: Attack in full force.

Sunnydale High, Evening

Xander and Giles sat on the floor in front of the seal, waiting for the others to arrive.

XH: It's been nearly ten hours! The sun must've set by now. Where are they?

RG: How should I know?

Right on cue, the door of the basement banged opened. The Master, Willow, Faith, and Andrew stepped inside. The Master looked down on the seal in the floor.

M: This is it? Not at all what I had in mind.

XH: What did you expect, a plaque saying 'The Master is #1' on it?

M: Shut up and get off the floor, you two.

Giles and Xander got to their feet as The Master stood before the seal, talking to herself (Or rather, to The Evil that Is) again.

Caleb's Apartment, Evening

Since it seemed likely some of them could die in this final fight, Glory had told all her friends to do whatever they wanted, as if today was their last day on earth, until tonight. Adam had gone to see some friends of his who were still in the military after the downfall of The Initiative. Drusilla had gone to the comic book store (She was a nerd, after all). But she, Caleb, Amy, Heinrich, and Warren had stayed at the apartment. She, Caleb, and Amy really had no particular place or people they wanted to see or visit, while Heinrich and Warren couldn't go anywhere even if they wanted to (Sun issues).

AM: Is this really the end of everything?

C: One way or the other, yes.

GD: If this is the last day I'm alive, this is the way I would want to spend it: With all my friends.

C: Thank you. I feel exactly the same.

AM: Me too.

WM: If we do end up stopping them opening the Hellmouth, or even if we somehow destroy it, then what?

H: Depends: If we stop them opening it, we keep guarding it; if we destroy it, we can leave this place behind if we want to; and if we don't die and it's opened, then we'd be fighting until we die: in other words, we'd be screwed.

GD: Nice encouraging pep talk there.

H: That's the blunt truth of it.

C: Well, let's pray that options one or two happens then.

They sat in silence for a while. Caleb looked down at his watch.

C: It's almost sundown. We'd better get ready.

They got up from the table. Caleb and Glory went into the living room with Amy. Warren hung back with Heinrich.

WM: So . . . would you say that I'm your friend?

H: Huh?

WM: Do you consider me your friend?

H: Uh, well, sure. I mean, I've kinda grown attached to you, by a common bond. You know, the soul sharing.

WM: Yeah. I just thought that if I die tonight, I would at least die having friends. Real friends.

H: We're all your friends: Me, Glory, Caleb, Amy, everyone.

WM: Oh. Yeah, I just thought . . . we had a particular partnership of sorts. Two vampires with souls . . . fighting evil together . . . sharing a unique condition . . .

H: That is true. But my circumstances of getting a soul were different than yours, you know.

WM: Yeah, sure.

H: Well, I'm going to go outside for a while. Go help the others prepare.

WM: You don't need to prepare?

H: I've been doing this for more than nine hundred years of my life and death. I've been prepared for this my whole existence.

Heinrich turned and walked out of the apartment and into the darkened courtyard. He stared up at the stars for a few minutes until a noise nearby made him look around. A man stood before him, dressed casually with his hands in his pockets.

Guy: Hello, Heinrich.

H: Who are you?

Guy: My name is Ethan Rayne, worshipper of Peace, and a messenger of The First Good.

H: The main force of good in the world?

ER: Just the one.

H: Why are you here?

ER: To give you this.

He took out of his pocket something that looked like an amulet with a crystal center on a gold chain. Heinrich eyed it as Ethan held it out to him.

H: What is that?

ER: Something that will turn the tide of the coming battle. It will help your chances of winning.

H: How? What does it do?

ER: That's for you to find out.

Heinrich took the amulet cautiously and examined it.

H: But why me?

Looking up, he saw that Ethan had already disappeared into the gathering darkness. He shrugged and walked back into the house.

Glory, Caleb, Amy, and Warren stood in the hallway, holding swords and axes.

C: Heinrich, come over here and grab a weapon. What's that?

He eyed the amulet in Heinrich's hand.

H: Dunno. Some guy who claimed he worked for The First Good gave it to me. Said it was crucial to the battle.

AM: The First Good?

C: The good equivalent of The Evil that Is.

GD: What's The Evil that Is?

C: Oh, sorry. It's an entity that has no physical prescience and is the source of all evil in the world. It has only been known to communicate telepathically with other evil beings. The First Good is the other way around: Source of all good, communicates with good people and such.

AM: Oh.

H: (Holding up the amulet) Does this mean I'm supposed to wear this during the fight?

AM: Well, that's what you're supposed to do when someone gives you a necklace, isn't it?

Heinrich reluctantly put the chain around his neck.

H: Where're Adam and Drusilla, by the way?

C: They're going to meet us halfway to the school. Adam is waiting with Dru at the comic store. He didn't feel it was safe for her to be wandering the streets at night on her own to return here.

GD: Okay then, let's do this.

Glory shouldered her sword and led them out of the apartment.

Sunnydale High, Night

Twenty minutes later, Glory, Caleb, Amy, Heinrich, Adam, Warren, and Drusilla stood facing the newly rebuilt High School. Nobody could think of anything to say. Each was thinking about what was about to happen and how it might end. Then, at the same time, they all moved forward into the school toward battle.

Down in the basement, The Master stood in front of the seal. Xander and Willow flanked her, while Giles, Faith, Andrew, and Wesley (Who had just arrived) stood behind them. Her hands were raised over the seal.

RG: What is she doing?

WW: The Evil that Is is g-giving her instructions on how to open the seal without blood.

The Master started chanting in several languages randomly until the seal glowed again and opened fully this time, revealing a dark hole in the ground.

M: Yes! Come on.

XH: Down there?

WR: The Hellmouth has to be triggered by dark energy. All of us down there should be more than enough to activate it.

They all climbed down a stone spiral slope into the depths of the Hellmouth. It was dark, spacious, and cavernous, with stalagmites and stalactites sprouting from the floor and ceiling.

XH: (Impressively) Wow.

M: How long?

XH: What?

WW: She's talking to The Evil again.

XH: Are you sure she's not crazy?

GD: I'd say so.

They all looked up in astonishment. Glory was peering down into the hole.

GD: I mean, trying to destroy the world? That's pretty insane.

WR: We're not destroying the world, we're taking it over.

GD: By releasing demons and wiping out humanity?

AW: Get out of here!

GD: Sorry, but we have a reservation here to kick your asses.

She and the others descended into the Hellmouth.

DE: But the Helmouth's already been opened it, hasn't it? We're standing inside it right now!

C: The seal, yes. But in order to activate the Hellmouth, they had to come down here and let it feel their dark energy.

DE: (Panicky) Which they've already done!

C: Oh . . . yes . . . they have . . . damn it.

AM: I guess stopping them opening it is out of the question now?

M: So, is this a death match then, Slayer?

GD: You bet your already dead ass it is.

M: Kill them all!

The Master, Xander, Willow, Faith, Giles, Andrew, and Warren all morphed into vampire visage and everyone charged.

Caleb and Wesley made straight for each other.

WW: R-Ready to die?

C: No, I'm ready to finish what I started.

Caleb drew back his axe, but Wesley seized it and threw it across the room. They engaged in another hand to hand fist fight.

Andrew and Warren faced each other with looks of contempt.

AW: Ready to join Jonathan in hell, traitor?

WM: I've already been to hell while I was with you guys.

Next to them, Xander and Heinrich circled each other.

XH: Well, your time is just about up, old man.

H: Not before yours is, lab rat.

They lunged at each other, but Xander noticed the amulet around Heinrich's neck. He burst out laughing, pointing at it.

XH: You're wearing a necklace? Ha! That's the way you want to be remembered? Wearing a neck-

Heinrich socked him in the face in response.

Willow and Amy shot bolts of magic at each other, which rebounded off each other; Adam shot his taser rifle at Faith, who ducked; Drusilla held off Giles with a cross and sprays of holy water from a spray bottle, while Glory and The Master looked each other down as any two mortal enemies would do.

M: So, here we are: The end of our long, pointless battle.

GD: Oh shut up and fight already.

Glory bent away from The Master's first blow, then twisted, letting her leg swing into her. The Master stepped backward a few steps, then came back at Glory, knocking her ten feet away to land on the ground. Glory staggered to her feet, feeling dazed. The Master grinned.

M: Just some extra assistance. Really helps out, doesn't it?

She knocked Glory down again.

M: Ever heard of The Evil that Is? Well, he's on my side . . . or she . . . or it . . . Whatev-

Her head jerked backward by the uppercut to the face that Glory gave her.

GD: Doesn't mean I still can't fight you.

Meanwhile, Wesley and Caleb fought more brutally, each trying to overpower the other. Wesley finally got a lucky punch in and Caleb fell to the ground. He picked up Caleb's axe, which happened to be sitting near to where their fight had concluded. He raised it over his head.

WW: Hm. This is becoming rather like Déjà vu, isn't it? Goodbye.

The axe came down but, continuing with the exact bizarre replay of their last confrontation, Caleb took out his dagger and jabbed Wesley in the chest with it. He twisted it this time though, to make sure that it was fatal. Wesley dropped to his knees, gave Caleb a look of surprised anger and shock, then keeled over sideways onto the ground. Caleb dusted himself off and got up, looking down at Wesley.

C: Yes, it was rather like Déjà vu, except with a better outcome this time.

He looked around at the other battling couples. He saw Warren send Andrew flying backward into the wall, and Heinrich's sword cutting a long slash into the left side of Xander's face.

Things are going rather well so far. We may have a chance at this after all.

Then he saw Drusilla being drained by Giles, Amy being shot out of the air by Willow, and Glory being tossed around effortlessly by The Master. Caleb hurried over to Giles and engaged him next, trying not to look at Drusilla's body lying nearby.

Up over all their heads, Amy suddenly found herself overwhelmed by Willow's power. Channeling too much dark magic would be dangerous to any humans attempting it. But Willow wasn't a mere human: She was a vampire. She could manage to hold and channel more power than regular witches, such as herself. She struggled to find a way around Willow's spells, then realized that she had only one desperate hope left to her; her eyes flashed black as she summoned even the darkest powers within her to try to overpower Willow. But it wasn't enough, and she suddenly found herself rapidly looking for a way to break off and regroup instead. It was too much; she had already drained her powers too much. Then Willow sent a powerful burst of dark magic that she couldn't avoid. Excruciating pain hit her, and she fell down into blackness . . .

Glory fell again to the ground. Her arm had been broken earlier and she had bruises all over her body. The Master stood over her, shaking her head.

M: You know, I really thought you'd give me a harder run for my money. Not that I'm complaining, or anything.

Glory spat blood out of her mouth.

GD: You . . . had . . . help . . . bitch!

M: Going out in style, are we? Well, when I'm in charge of the world, I'll be sure to mention your impressive final moments.

She raised her sword.

Then Warren grabbed the blade before she could finish the swing.

WM: No you don't!

M: Warren. Go cry over your soul and stay out of this.

WM: Don't hurt her.

The Master smiled mockingly.

M: Awww. Concerned for your imaginary girlfriend, even though you know she doesn't feel the same way? That's sweet. And foolish.

Warren picked up Glory's sword and slashed at The Master, who looked amused at his attempted valor. As they fought (Or rather, as The Master easily avoided all of Warren's blows), Glory felt her Slayer healing coming into effect, mending her wounds rapidly.

M: You do realize that you can't win or hold me off, don't you?

WM: It doesn't matter. I'm good now. I love that girl, and I'll die defending her if I have too.

M: As you wish.

Glory had heard everything. She looked up in time to see The Master's sword swing and pierce Warren's neck. Warren staggered and turned to face her. They looked into each other's eyes. Warren's last thought before he exploded into dust was the knowledge and satisfaction that the last thing he would see was Glory's face, looking at him with appreciation and sorrow, knowing that he had died defending her.

As Warren's ashes settled to the ground, Glory got to her feet, ducked under The Master and picked up her sword again.

M: Don't you hate it when guys do that?

Glory charged and kicked The Master across the room. Then she heard Heinrich cry out in pain.

Turning, she saw him standing under the hole in the ceiling back into the basement, holding his chest. Then he jerked and a bright light shot out of the amulet he was wearing and through the ceiling. Sunlight fell onto him as he stared down at the amulet in shock.

C: EVERYBODY OUT OF HERE NOW!

Glory glimpsed Caleb and Adam hurrying up the slope and out of the room. She ran toward Heinrich, looking frantically around for Amy and Drusilla, waiting to see them get out before she left herself.

Then she saw Drusilla lying dead nearby and, a few feet away from her, Amy.

Forcing herself not to cry out in despair, she reached Heinrich, who was looking shocked.

H: Glory! I . . . I can feel my soul. It's . . . powering this amulet. It's destroying the Hellmouth!

GD: But . . . what . . . ?

H: Go! Get out!

GD: No! I can't! Not without-

H: There's nothing you can do for the others! It's too late! Save yourself! Go!

GD: Heinrich . . .

Xander, clutching at the deep cut on his face, which had also permanently blinded his left eye, staggered toward Willow.

XH: What's going on? Weren't we winning?

WR: Master! What do we-?

M: KILL HIM! KILL HEINRICH BEFORE HE DESTROYS THE HELLMOUTH!

The Master and the others charged toward Glory and the sun-bathed Heinrich.

H: Go! This is the only way we can win!

GD: (Crying) Win?

H: Leave now and I can get rid of The Master and the Hellmouth right here!

GD: But you'll die too!

H: I know. I've lived for nine hundred years. This is the way it should end for me.

They looked at each other for a long, final moment. Then the cave shuddered and rocks fell around them.

H: GO! NOW!

Glory ran past him and stumbled up the slope. Heinrich looked over at The Master and the other vampires.

H: Well, I guess we're all going down together.

The Master swung her sword back, but Heinrich had already disintegrated into dust before she reached him. The sunlight spread outward and over The Master and the others.

M: NOOOOOOOOOOO!

The last thing The Master heard before she combusted into dust was a voice in her head that stated:

EI: You failed. Now you die.

Xander, Willow, Faith, Andrew, and Giles all yelled in pain as the sun hit them too. Then the ceiling of the cave collapsed and buried the dust of their remains beneath it.

Outside, Glory staggered through the smoke billowing from the school toward two solitary figures standing in the distance. Caleb and Adam hurried forward and supported her away from the smoke, dragging her along the ground. She coughed rapidly and was sobbing.

C: Glory, it's alright. It's over.

AW: What happened in there?

GD: Heinrich. He . . . destroyed the Hellmouth.

C: The amulet?

Glory nodded silently.

C: Well, if we didn't have that amulet, then we would have lost and we'd all be dead.

AW: (Quietly) Um, Caleb? Seven of us went in there . . . only three of us came out.

Caleb lowered his head in sadness. Adam looked ahead at the sunken school and the destroyed Hellmouth, apparently lost in thought. Glory buried her face into Caleb's shoulder.

They had won, but at a terrible cost: The lives of Heinrich, Amy, Warren, and Drusilla.

Glory remembered the day she and Amy had first recognized the special bond of friendship between them when she helped them re-ensoul Heinrich . . . the day she ran into Heinrich in that alleyway seven years ago when she had just moved to Sunnydale . . . the day she comforted Drusilla after her two friends were killed by The Three . . . the look in Warren's eyes and his actions only a few minutes ago . . .

She released Caleb and wiped her eyes with her singed sleeve.

GD: Oh, Caleb? The Master was working with The Evil that Is. It was giving her advice and extra strength.

C: Oh, that makes sense. (Pause) I'm so sorry.

GD: No, it's fine. We knew the risks. I just didn't think it would be so . . .

Adam turned away from the school.

AW: So, the Hellmouth is gone and The Master is dead?

GD: Yeah. Heinrich got rid of them both with that amulet.

AW: I can't believe that it's actually over.

C: Well, there are other Hellmouths around the world to deal with, you know.

GD: Not now. Please.

C: No, of course. But we did cause a major setback against the forces of darkness.

AW: So, what do we do now?

Glory turned from the demolished school and looked at the road stretching ahead into the distance behind them. Adam and Caleb stood on either side of her, waiting for an answer, also turning and looking ahead at the distance with her.

GD: We live.

The End

Unfortunately, I was unable to find positions for Joyce Summers, Maggie Walsh, Robin Wood, and any other notable characters in this universe. Let's just assume that they do exist in some form, but are not a major part of the story here.