After a pause loaded with unexpressed feelings of resentment on Piper and Raige's part, Phoebe asks for the skinny on Aneesa. Piper rattles off the relevant facts: "Harpy, part of a faction, kept wandering naked around the Manor and taking a dump with the bathroom door open. The usual stuff." She invites Phoebe to stay for dinner, but Phoebe must be on her way. The Sole "planned this whole romantic thing," you see. Piper's clearly disappointed to hear this, as she needs to discuss something with Phoebe. However, she chooses instead to roll her shoulders around while insisting they can chat whenever. Raige offers to orb Phoebe back to the penthouse, but Phoebe begs off. The Sole doesn't want Raige orbing over without calling first. Raige raises her eyebrows in surprise, but agrees to abide by The Sole's request. After another awkward pause, Phoebe promises to call them tomorrow and turns to head out the front door.
As soon as the front door clicks shut behind Phoebe, Raige whips out the valley-girl intonation and brats, "No. Orbing?" "Don't start," Piper warns. She's sure Cole means merely to "protect their privacy." Piper peels off to the kitchen, leaving Raige to pout alone in the hall. Raige stares into the middle distance and snots, "He's trying to protect something."
"I'm just trying to protect our assets," The Sole smarms as he gazes out the window of his apartment high above the city. "And the only way to do that is to cut our losses -- consolidate our resources." The window reflects a fiery sunset currently in progress across the bay behind the Golden Gate Bridge to remind us all how choice The Sole's current digs supposedly are. He turns from the window to babble some more corporate-speak at a group of middle-management types seated around a glass-topped conference table. The Sole's proposing a "merger." "Everyone here has similar agendas," he argues, "so why don't we work together to accomplish them?" His nattering halts when a Fury smokes into the conference room. The Sole chides her for being late and orders her to sit down. Get it? The middle managers are really dark demonic forces sent from the flaming maw of Hell. Isn't that clever? And all this time you thought middle managers were just soulless assholes. Also, how sad that The Sole Of All Evil is reduced to delivering Total Quality Management lectures to his minions. The Fury takes her place at the foot of the table as Belinda The Demonic P.A. Of Easy Virtue escorts a tardy Grimlock over to another seat. A skeptical gentleman in a leather jacket snipes about holding hands and buying the world a Coke or something, leading The Sole to blather on about new business models for a new millennium and wah. He makes a "demon-eat-demon world" non-funny that elicits a mangled grin from an extra made up to look like Tom Waits. At this point in the evening's proceedings, WGN would like you all to know a severe thunderstorm warning has been issued for Kenosha and Racine Counties in Wisconsin, so every single one of you should turn off the television and go hide in the bathtub in a show of solidarity with our cheeseheaded neighbors to the north. I, for one, wish WGN would take it a step further and switch over to live coverage of tornadoes slicing through downtown Milwaukee, because that would rule, whereas this scene does the exact opposite of whatever it is that ruling supposedly does.