Episode 9: Web of Lies
Willow and Tara are back in Sunnydale. Cordy wants to report to the Elders so she orbs out. Bob wants the girls to continue their mission, but they tell him they have other things that they need to do first. The town is very quiet. Since the destruction of the hellmouth nexus in the Dragon and the Phoenix, supernatural activity is at all time low. Their friends are all away on various errands of their own (and thus not appearing in this episode). Some things are as they left them; the Bronze is still closed, but there is a new bar in town, “Hanger 61” that is a converted airplane hanger.
Tara needs to go to campus to pick up her transcripts so she can apply to grad school. Willow joins her.
On campus they notice that people are starring at them a lot. At first they think it is because they are holding hands, but it is more than that. They decide to stop a student, who gets too flustered to talk. Finally they get someone that can speak them, but all he wants to know is if they are doing their webshow tonight. Confused they ask for details and get a url. Back at home they try it out, but first Bob interrupts by saying that outside of small pack of vamps there is nothing on this town, no demons, no ghosts, nothing. It is like the metaphysical equivalent of a ghost town, pardon the pun. By this time the site loads and it is a pay porn site featuring Willow and Tara and a bunch of other naughty witches! The site is very x-rated and there is a notice that tonight at midnight PST there will be another free show.
Willow hacks in immediately and tracks down the source to a rundown hotel outside of town. The go there to discover Amy and Beth have been using glamours to disguise themselves as Willow and Tara. But that is not the worse part, Amy and Beth then proceed to use magic to kick Willow and Tara out and they put up a shield even they can’t get through.
Willow and Tara head back to the house where they hit the books and the computers. They discover that recently a lot of young men have been admitted to the ER with symptoms of massive dehydration. Normally this might stand out, but the supernatural activity is so low that it is accepted as the norm. Willow coordinates the times admitted and all happened within six hours of Amy and Beth’s free broadcasts. Tara is able to determine that the symptoms perfectly match that of a succubus attack.
Eventually they piece together enough information that leads them to believe that Amy and Beth are somehow using succubi (most likely the other girls) to drain people over the web. Since they are drawing from an audience of thousands they only need a little bit from each, though some are more prone to succubi attacks. Willow checks the subscriptions and it seems the largest audience ever is due tonight. And midnight is just a few more hours away.
A young woman gets off a bus. She is wearing a long heavy coat that seems out of date as well as too much. She walks away from the bus after conferring with a piece of paper in her hands. He movements are not unnoticed as a solitary vampire begins to follow her. A nearly imperceptible signal and soon more gather.
The young woman, no more than a teenager really, moves forward, headless of her surroundings. She turns down an alley and the vampires close in.
“Not so fast little lady. Don’t you know it isn’t safe to walk the streets alone?” Laughs as she looks around only now seeing her mistake.
“I am afraid this will have to cost you. An' here we only have one price for everything.” The vampire switches to game face. The woman squints at the vampire and says “Kyuuketsuki?” The lead vampire looks confused then suddenly bursts into flames. Soon the gathered crowd one by one bursts into flames. They scream and soon there is nothing left but ash.
Unaffected the young woman goes back to looking for her address.
Cordy confirms that there have been succubi in the area. Tara asks if the pact they made with the Mormo and Lilim will extend to Succubi and Cordy say she doubts it as succubi are fiercely independent. Bob returns and tells the girls that something has killed the last pack of vampires in town. He doesn’t know what it was, but all that was left was ash.
The cast plans to assault the run down hotel just before midnight, reasoning that Amy and Beth will need the shield down to get the essence from their web broadcast.
They get to the hotel and prepare their attack when they are all stopped by a ring of fire. Willow is able to dispel it with ease (more ease than I wanted her too) and soon they are confront by the young woman from the cut scene. She doesn’t talk to them but attacks with magical bolts of fire. Willow and Tara are able to dodge them (thanks to the then new magical dodge rules we had made for Ghosts), but Bob is not so lucky. He is hit and it hurts. Not a lot of damage, but enough to know that he can be hurt. The girls attack with magical strikes of their own, but they seem to have no effect. They do notice that with every hit the cross the girl wears around her neck glows green. Cordy orbs in, grabs it and orbs away (but not as far away as she wanted). A magical bolt from Willow sends the girl (Robin) down. In the attack though they missed their chance and the barrier has been down for several long minutes.
They burst into the hotel room expecting to see the live show, but instead they seem Amy and Beth glowing as energy is pouring into them. The Succubi are standing around the webcam and drawing the energy from it into the other witches.
Amy and Beth monologue a bit while getting ready to fight. The sucbubi are drawing magical essence from the viewer via a computer that Amy found when she went to go recruit the three nerds to help in her revenge plans. Not finding them she found all this equipment and a huge stash of net porn. Amy joined her a couple months back; she had left home right after Willow and Tara did and came straight here. Amy and Beth get all the magical boost from the viewers, who are dying now, and the succubi get all the souls. There is no need to film this time as the succubi are feeding each viewer their own personal show via illusion.
What begins is a Battle Arcane from the Ghost of Albion rules. Amy and Beth vs. Willow and Tara. Of course I have Amy and Beth more powerful. The battle begins and goes for a few turns. Cordy and Bob are busy fighting off the succubi. The entire time Amy taunts Willow telling her about all the people that are going to die.
Robin wakes up and comes into the hotel room. Willow tells her to destroy the computer, Willow and Tara can’t break the Battle Arcane and Cordy and Bob can’t get near it. She doesn’t seem to understand, so Tara repeats it in Latin first and then Japanese. Getting it, a lance of flame launches out and destroys the computer, webcam and the link. Amy and Beth power down and Willow and Tara get in their last blow rendering them unconscious. The succubi then “shimmer” (demonic teleportation) out, escaping.
Tara quickly runs up to the prone girls and cuts a strand of hair from each to perform a binding spell. She binds Amy’s and then Beth’s powers. Willow joins the spell, and Robin gives her aid, speaking the incantation in Latin.
There is a tense scene where Robin is looking Willow and Tara up and down. Tara tells her they don’t want to fight anymore, they just wanted to stop these two. Cordy orbs between them and tells her if she won’t believe them, believe her. The girl, stunned to see a Whitelighter again this time bows her head low. She tells Tara she was only following orders from her Superiors. The orders were simply, go to Sunnydale, find the two most powerful witches and bring them in alive if possible or dead. But if the witches have a Whitelighter such as Cordy, then they can’t be evil.
Robin tells them who she is working for, Solomon HQ, but knows nothing else. She says she can’t go back to Rome empty handed, so she decides to take Amy and Beth with her. After all, she says, they were more powerful. Willow, in a fit of revenge, glamours Amy and Beth to look like her and Tara respectively. Saying, well they wanted to be us so badly.
The equipment is all destroyed and the Cast leaves before the Solomon pick-up team comes to claim Robin and the fallen witches.
Back at home Tara is watching the news and there has been a rash of ER cases, which authorities are claiming is due to the college dorm food. Willow is online searching. Cordy reports back that Solomon is the real deal, a group of witch hunters dating back to King Solomon himself. She says that they only hunt evil witches and have been focusing on that. Willow hacks into their databases and discovers that the order to get them came from the highest levels and their names were mentioned specifically in the order, but were ordered to be removed when field agents got the assignment. She discover that the request to have them “bagged and tagged” came from Morgan, the leader of the Witches Committee.
Lot going on here. Robin of course is Robin Sena from Witch Hunter Robin. I had been wanting to do another assassins go after Willow and Tara episode, but only have the assassin turn sides to help them. The setting up of Amy and Beth was one of those things that came up in the writing and it fit so well I had to use it. I had plans to use them again after this, though originally this was going to be a double episode.
Robin taking out the vamps was snark on my part. The original series spent so much time and energy in the kill and here comes my guest star who can kill them WITH HER MIND! Yeah, snark.
Again we have Willow and Tara performing the finale magical spell with another witch. This time it is Robin for 3 witches, before it was the Charmed ones for 5. We still have 7 as one of magical numbers to go. Plus a binding cast by three witches (“The power of three times three”) is very powerful.
The Witches Committee sent Robin after them, feeling that Willow and Tara were not going to do what they wanted. Again more doubt on their real agenda. Did they stop them thinking they were going to close the portal and that is what they wanted, or did they try to stop them thinking the girls were going to open it up and they didn’t want that.
The astute will notice a lot of things here that later made it into the Ghosts of Albion rules. Obviously the Battle Arcane (“Magical Duels”), magical dodges, philosophies got their start here, and the spell “Barrier Reduction Bolt”. This is also where the primary offensive spells “Azure Wave” and “Energy Dart” came from.
I brought in Amy, Beth and succubi, and really underused them all. I only had vauge stats for succubi since I didn’t see them as combat monsters. The pairing of Amy and Succubi pleased my Tara player who had once commented that Amy was probably half-succubus anyway.
The succubi were all named after various TV critics that claimed killing Tara was a good idea back in S6.
No. We were not bitter at all. For the record they were Amy, Wendy, Wanda and Kristen (the twins), Kitty and Candy. Sure not “demonic” names, but it worked. A prize if anyone can tell me who these people were.
The main feature of this episode was though the girls had come home, this was not the same place. Their friends were gone, the places they hung out were gone, even the supernatural creatures were all gone. And to top it all off the one thing new in their lives, the “mission”, followed them home and almost killed them. The Awakening was not waiting for them.
"Hanger 61" is an homage to this alternative bar I hung out at in the late 80s, "Hanger 9", which was an airplane hanger, and this dive goth bar "611" I was at in the early 90's.
The "massive dehydration" line was an in joke. Alyson Hannigan was doing an interview (for Jay Leno I think) years ago where she mentioned she had worked at a video store for a while. She talked about this customer who would come in and rent this stack of porn every morning and return them the next day for another stack. She said she always wondered why he wasn't dehydrated or something.
Up next: What is scarier than facing vampires, demons, hell gods and ancient timeless evils??
Having your parents over to dinner to properly meet your lesbian lover.