Author:   Carroll Fox

working off Steve Pantovich rough draft

 E-mail Address: hawk@storyverse.info    

Title:  Faith's Story 

Copyrighted : March 01 2009 

Category: Crossover

Rating:   For Mature Readers � Depictions of Violence, Sexual Situations, Foul Language as well as Descriptions of Horrific Acts

 Spoilers:      A few, but who cares?

 Keywords: X-Files/Highlander/Buffy the Vampire Slayer Crossover with many guest stars.

 The following TV series have been included in the story.  Disclaimers appear at the end with the cast list.

Xena, Warrior Princess

La Femme Nikita

 

The following novel series have been included in the story.  Disclaimers appear at the end with the character list

Casca - The Eternal Mercenary

Bureau 13

Red Sonja

 

Summary:  After Kendra was seriously injured in COTC, a new Slayer was called.  The Council of Watchers has kept this fact from the group in Sunnydale.  This worked out fairly well until she runs into something she could not handle alone and looses her watcher.

All disclaimers appear at the end of the story.

 Any character whose names and descriptions are used are the property of their original owners, and no copyright infringement is intended or meant.

 No money can be made from this story.  It can be distributed freely so long as it is kept in its entirety, with all notices and copyright information intact.

 The characters Wanderer/Steven St. Wolf, Frank Iverson, Brother Aaron, Robert McCallister, The Knights of the Order of the Grail, Randi Jessup, Brian Jessup and this story are Steve Pantovich�s.  Anyone wishing to use them, please contact the Wandererverse panel at the Wandererverse Revival Yahoo Group.

 The character, Robin Goodfellow is the property of Mike Weyer and used with his permission.

 Comments and criticisms are appreciated; please post to the above referenced e-mail address.

 Author's Note's:    If you were lucky enough to read Steve's rough draft of this story stand by for some serious rolls,  I went north from his second scene.

 X-Files   Mulder and Scully are married and Immortal - so Non-Relationshippers beware.

 Highlander:    It was Steve�s view that Richie Ryan shouldn't have died at the end of the fifth season, so here he hasn't.

 Buffy the Vampire Slayer:     Buffy is an Immortal and this series splits from the second season show, Innocence.

 Casca, the Eternal Mercenary: Various of Casca's friends are Immortal including the love of his life, Lida.

Introducing Felicia Winningstar and Toby Sterling  these are my characters to be used with my permission only.

I would thank Ruth and Jack for their encouragement to keep me going on this story.   Thank you Ruth for your Editing skills and Jack for your his sharpening skills to help out with the contingency of the Wandererverse.

Relief Pitcher�s note:

In memoriam: It should go without saying that I would like to dedicate this story to a great writer, Steve Pantovich.  Steve passed away in April 2007 due to complications from pneumonia.  Even though alot of this story is of my own design, I want give him alot of the credit.

 

On with the story

Thanks Hawk

 

 

 

Midnight
At an Abandoned Warehouse

As the Slayer and her Watcher approached the warehouse along the dingy, rain-slicked sidewalk of Atlanta's Sawyer Street, her Slayer-senses screamed so loud to her, it drowned out the part of her mind that told Faith to make both herself and her Watcher turn and beat feet away from there. Then she saw them in the dim light of a street lamp near the rear loading dock of the building and she silenced the frightened part of her mind, as always. She crept toward them in the shadows, holding her breath so the undead guys couldn't sense her until it was too late. Then she sprang from beneath the stairway onto the loading dock, stabbing with the stake into the chest of one of the vampires even before her feet touched down. As it died, she grabbed the throat of the other guard with her powerful left hand, silencing it just before she slammed the stake into its heart with her right.

She then scanned the muggy darkness while her Watcher gently touched her shoulder from behind.  �Less than five seconds. Excellent work, Faith," Linda Pryce whispered to the dark-haired Slayer.

Faith flashed the elder woman a quick grin right before she felt the tingle in her abdomen. When she finally spied her target, she raced off after it like a cheetah. She covered twenty yards in a flash and tackled the vampire that had just rounded the building�s perimeter. The vampire, still garbed in the cheerleader outfit she'd worn in life, tried to yell out a warning, but Faith's punch in its throat throttled its air flow. Then, when the vampire female reached for its own throat, Faith slammed down her stake into its heart.

As the dead cheerleader�s ashes floated down to the pavement, Faith rolled to her feet and trotted back to Linda who waited by the back entrance. "The door�s unlocked, Faith," Linda whispered.

The Slayer nodded as she stared at the door. "Let's do it, boss lady." As she turned the nob and gently opened the door, she whispered, "Stay behind me, Linda."

She peered into the massive, dimly lit space as she stepped inside. Linda's hip pressed against her butt as the Watcher turned to shut the door behind them. Then there was a little creak from one of the door's hinges, a tiny sound that most humans wouldn't have noticed. Yet it sounded like a foghorn to both the predator and the prey she hunted.

Three vampires turned at the sound and when they saw them, yelled, "Intruders!"

Faith snarled. "Son-of-a-bitch!" she snapped as her internal vamp-dar went off the scale. Tons of the bloodsuckers rushed the Slayer and her Watcher. Her eyes opened wide for a split second; she'd never seen this many of them together during any of her previous hunts and she knew they were in big, big trouble. "Linda! Take off! I'll handle the first ones and be right on your tail!"

However, Linda didn't run. She stood by her Slayer�s side and said, "Go, Faith! Call Wesley for reinforcements and return for me then. I'll cover you."

Faith whirled on her Watcher and snapped, "What?!? You can't last more than ten seconds against all these undead guys!"

Then before Linda could respond, the first line of vampires was upon them.

In that split-second, Faith swore it would be to the creatures� everlasting dismay.  As the Slayer, Faith was a fearsome nemesis for any vampire. As a young woman trying to protect her beloved guardian, she was far, far worse.

Faith gripped stakes in both hands as her face contorted with fury. She twirled the weapons, ducked, and simultaneously jabbed them into the groins of the first two vampires. She whirled away as Linda stabbed through the backs of her doubled-over victims into their hearts with her pointed quarterstaff, dusting them. Then the Dark Slayer cut off two more vamps as they stepped forward. She slammed the side of her weapon against a large male vamp's chin and launched a powerful sidekick into his wiry companion's belly. Faith's preternatural strength sent the thin vamp sprawling into several others, hard enough to smash them down to the floor. As she spun out of the kick, the Boston Slayer saw a female vampire reach for her. She swept her left stake up, batting its arms aside, and plunged the right stake into its exposed rib cage. As the female vampire disintegrated, Faith jammed her left stake into the large male, dusting him, and used her right to block a kick launched at her by another. Then she used her left stake to penetrate the kicker's heart through its back, sending it screaming back to Hell, while she whirled and backed stabbed another with her right hand. Moments later, she growled like a wolverine, causing two more vampires to rear up in surprise, fear evident on their ridged faces. Without hesitation, she stabbed forward, destroying both fang boys with cold, cruel efficiency.

Faith chanced a quick glance at her Watcher and felt a relieved grin flash onto her face as she watched Linda use her pointed quarterstaff with deadly effectiveness to dust three of the vamps Faith had knocked down before. Just as her Watcher moved to attack another vampire, four vamps rushed Linda from behind and took the Watcher down.

"Faith!" Linda screamed as she struggled in her captor's grasp. "Get away!"

Faith snarled and whirled to help her Watcher. Then when she felt the powerful grasp of several supernaturally strong hands grab her, she realized her error and felt her heart sink. <Stupid! Stupid! Stupid! > she chided herself as she struggled to escape and save Linda. There were at least six of the undead guys and gals piling on top of her to pin her to the ground. She was able to kick two of them aside before another four dived in to secure her arms and legs. She felt tears spring to her eyes as she continued to struggle futilely.

Then she saw him. It was the Master, dark skin, tall with blond hair and gruesome. "So you two have been the ones causing me all this trouble? Who are you?" he demanded.

"I'm the Slayer and I'm going to kill you," she spat at him.

The Master chuckled and drawled, "I don�t think so, little girl. I believe that if you really are the Slayer then she,� he indicated Linda with a sweep of his hand, �must be your Watcher.  I think I�ll kill her first and spare her the sight of seeing her charge die at the hands of a vampire."

Faith gritted her teeth and redoubled her efforts to escape.  However, she only succeeded in making him laugh even harder. When she glared at him, she saw the pleased gleam in his eyes. "So the Watcher means something to you?  Good . . . then watch her die, Slayer!"

He grinned then clamped his mouth onto Linda's throat, tearing it with his fangs as Linda screamed. Faith wanted to turn away but couldn't as she watched the monster greedily suck her guardian dry.

Faith saw Linda's eyes flutter as the beast grunted and slurped while it jerked her body closer to him allowing him to drain her life's blood. As her Watcher looked over the creature's shoulder, her eyes locked onto Faith's. They were filled with both sorrow and love before the creature jerked once more.  Then her eyes became still and empty.

Once it was done, the vampire dropped Linda's body to the floor like it was a piece of garbage. As he turned toward the Slayer, she smelled the blood, Linda's blood on its breath. The Master grinned and started to stalk toward her. "Ah," he said, licking his lips. "Watcher blood is almost as good as a Slayer's. She was superb as an appetizer. Now for the main course. . . ."

Seeing the vampire stalk toward her Faith intensified her struggles trying to break free when a deep male voice barked from somewhere behind her, �Not in this lifetime,� shortly followed by the blast of a gun. 

Faith stiffened as she felt an intense heat coming toward her and closed her eyes.  A moment later, the pressure that was levied against her was gone.  When she opened her eyes, she glanced all around her and discovered that she was covered by a shower of dust  

She watched the master vampire turn to face this new threat as the man walked into the light cast by one of the warehouse�s fixtures.  The newcomer stood at least six and half feet tall and was built like a tank.  He calmly placed the cut down double barrel shot gun in a custom holster on his right side and drew a silver katana from a scabbard strapped to his back and a stake from his belt.

Almost hypnotized like charmed snakes by the man�s attack, the other vampires cringed while the stranger stalked forward and struck the nearest vampire.  The vampire, a young, recently turned gang banger, simply stood there with a look of shock as the man beheaded him.  Soon the recently departed vampire�s dust hadn�t even settled before the stranger dispatched two more vampires.

Upon the death of the third vampire, the master vampire screamed, "Kill that mother fucker!  I want him dead!" 

The surviving vampires rushed forward to do their master�s bidding; however, only a portion of their numbers reached the blond giant as several more were dusted as if by magic.  Then behind the survivors of the horde that battled the big man, a lithe, red headed woman landed from a nearby catwalk on the balls of her feet and swung a fine long sword, decapitating several of the surprised creatures.

Shaking off her stupor, Faith collected a stake and joined her rescuers� in their battle.  The Slayer managed to dispatch two more vampires while the red haired she-devil claimed the heads of another pair of creatures. 

Meanwhile, a panicked master vampire continued to admonish his rapidly dwindling forces.  �Attack, damn you!  They�re only fucking humans!  What in Satan�s name is wrong with you?!�  Apparently realizing that his cause was now a lost one, he turned to flee followed closely by the only other vampire who didn�t partake in the fighting.

When she spied the master vampire�s attempt at escape, Faith growled and tossed the vamp she�d been fighting twenty feet away from her.  Then she snatched up Linda�s discarded quarterstaff and launched it at the Master like a spear.  Her aim could not have been more perfect as it flew toward its target like a heat-seeking missile.   Then, at the last possible second, the Master whirled, grabbed his lackey by the shoulders and shoved him into the spear�s flight path.  While the lackey�s dust settled on the dirty warehouse floor, the Master made his escape through a doorway.

When he was gone, tears welled up in Faith�s eyes and a tortured groan was torn from her throat.  She crumbled to her knees beside Linda�s still body and picked up her slain Watcher�s head.  She held her fallen mentor close, rocking back and forth, and softly cried as the two strangers finished the few remaining vampires. 

She was barely aware of her surroundings as she grieved when she heard the big man say, �That bastard got away, Ali!� 

�The operative words are �for now,� Stalker.  We�ll get him.  It�s only a matter of time,� the flame-haired female snapped.  Then somewhere close to Faith, the Slayer heard the woman to say, �We have a survivor here.�

�We should have had more,� Stalker grumbled, �if only that bastard would have told us a day sooner.�

�Don�t go there; we can�t change the past, love.� 

So consumed by her grief, Faith chose to ignore them and continued to cradle the only thing that had made life worth living during the past year. 

�That girl is gone.� Stalker said as he came closer.  Then he shook his head and said, �Come on, Ali.  We have to leave before the cops show up.�

�Stalker, wait a moment.  Did you see what she was able to do during the battle against those vampires?�

He apparently hesitated for a moment before he nodded and said, �Yeah, I saw, but we still we have to go,� he said as he turned to leave.  �We can call the police when we�re clear.  I�m sure they�ll take good care of her.�

           

Same Warehouse

4 am

Bailey Malone, SAC of Atlanta�s VCTF along with his team moved into an old warehouse which they had been told was the Vampire cult�s headquarters.   

The task force broke up into groups of four and each group crept through the building looking for anything that might give them an idea of what happen.  So far all they were able to find was a large stack of bodies in a corner all appearing to be drained of blood.  Just as they were ready to walk out of the building, one team that had followed a trail of haphazardly-thrown-about boxes came upon a girl who sat in a corner, rocking back and forth while she cradled a dead woman�s head in her lap.

�Hey, Bailey!� Special Agent Sam Waters cried out as she started to move toward the girl.  However, when she saw the protective look in the girls� eyes, Sam hesitated and came to a halt.  �Get over here, quick!�

Following the sounds of his profiler�s voice, Bailey rushed to her followed by three others who were searching with him.  He slowed down when he saw Sam�s situation and signaled the others to continue their search.  Then he walked over to Sam while his eyes were glued to the girl.  �What is the situation?�

�A survivor, she appears to be fine physcally, but I am worried about her mental state.�

�After looking around this slaughterhouse, I�m worried about MY mental health,� Bailey growled.  Then he glanced at a police officer and said, �Go get the coroner in here; let�s get this place cleaned up.�

�We have a cellar over here,� yet another agent called from the far north side of the buiding.  �What do you want us to do?�

�Foster, go take a look and take your team with you.  Oh, and Foster, no heroics, all right?  I want you to do it by the book.� After the man hurried off to do as he instructed, Bailey looked around the room and said, �From what I�ve heard this is as bad as LA was.  And we�ve all heard stories about what happened there.�     

Sam nodded at Bailey then turned back to the girl.  She knelt down while making certain she was just out of the girl�s reach.  �Honey, are you okay?�

The girl said nothing and continued to gently rock while she held the dead woman close.  After several attempts to get the girl to talk without results, Sam stood up and pronounced, �I think she�s catatonic, Bailey.�

He nodded and said, �Be that as it may, she�ll need to be placed in solatary, Sam.  I don�t want anyone to talk to her until we find out what�s going on.� 

Sam nodded and Bailey turned to leave to go and check on Foster�s team.

When the coroner arrived, Sam talked to the girl in a soothing voice and somehow managed to persuade the girl to release her precious burden so the coroner could do his job.  Then Sam gently guided the girl from the horrendous scene of carnage, away from the warehouse and out into the light of day.   However, when Sam started to put her arm around the girl, the dark-haired teen quickly shrugged it off. 

As Bailey moved toward them to protect Sam from the distraught girl, Sam shook her head at him, causing him to hold up.  �I�ll take her in,� she said as she steered the girl toward their car.  �I have enough information to start on my report and since we don�t have another female agent with us...�

�All right, I�ll see you at the pit later today.�  Bailey dismissed her with a wave of the hand as he watched the team prepare to enter the basement.  �All right, teams one and two will do the advance three and four will be back up.  No heroics and move in slowly.  Keep communication channels open.�

Moving down into the basement, teams one and two carefully paralleled each other, each man dreading what they would find.  However, even their most dreadful nightmares were nothing compared to what they witnessed.  The first two men who entered the room were veterans of many years, each having served more than one tour in Nam.  They immediately emptied the contents of their stomachs onto the floor when they found it covered with bodies of all ages.  Bones that had been picked clean were stacked in a circle built to hold a fire with skulls at the five points of a pentagram with large femurs tying them into the circle.

Backing out of the basement the two lead men tried to clear their mouths of the sour taste of their own bile.  Wiping their lips, the older of the two glared at Bailey with hard eyes.  �Oh�my�god�I�ve never seen anything like that!  It�s something out of a horror movie!  I saw some pretty bad things in Nam, but nothing from back then even comes close to this!�  The man then opened a water bottle, poured some on a napkin and wiped his face.  Then he took a swig and rinsed out his mouth before he added, �Those pictures you made us look at from LA? Not even close to this shit, Bailey!�

The other man squeezed his eyes shut and murmured, �There were kids down there no older than my son, Bailey, eight or nine years old; they had their whole lives in front of them.�

Seeing how his most experienced men we�re affected by what they�d seen, he ordered the others out of the hole and wondered how those in LA were able to handle it.  It was at that moment, he knew he needed to bring in some help; he and his men were in way over their heads in this.  Bailey then drew out his cell phone and called Assistant Director Kersh in Washington, D.C.

�What is it, Malone?� Kersh almost screamed into the phone.  �Do you know what time it is?�

�Yes sir, I do, but I need some help and I need it desperately.  We just turned over a case that will probably make LA�s Vampire cult case pale in comparison.�

�Jesus Christ, Bailey.  Let�s hope not,� Kersch said as he rolled out of bed, alert and aware now.  �I�m sending you the agents from the X-Files.  Mulder and Scully will be on the next plane out from Reagan to Atlanta.�

***** 

Part 2

Who Watches the Watchers?

9:00 a.m. the same day

Boston, Mass.

�Wyndham-Pryce residence, Wesley speaking,� the young Watcher responded as he answered his telephone.

�Mr. Wyndham-Pryce, my name is Detective Jackson.  I�m with the Atlanta police department,� the man on the other end of the connection said.  �I need your assistance in identifying a body here in Atlanta.  Your name was in her organizer as the person to contact if anything went wrong.�

�Linda?� Wesley exhaled as a tight feeling gripped his chest.  �Please god, no, not Linda.�

�Sir, I understand if you�re unable to see her�like this.  Do you know of anyone who could identify the body here in Atlanta?�

�N-no�I�m unaware of anyone who could do so.  I will be down there as soon as possible,� Wesley said as he wrote the address down before he terminated the call.  Then he rubbed the stubble on his chin while he caught his breath, trying to steady himself against the racking pain in his heart.  Moments later, he picked up the phone and placed a call to the Council of Watchers. 

�Good morning,� a woman answered the phone.  �May I help you?�

�This is Wesley Wyndham-Pryce,� Wesley snapped in a sharper tone than he�d intended.   �I need to talk to Lord Appleby right now.�

�Hold on, Mr. Wyndham-Pryce, I will patch you through.�

A couple of clicks later and the authoritative voice of Appleby was heard to say, �What is it, Wesley?  This had better be important!�

Reining in his temper, Wesley kept his voice as steady as possible.  �The Atlanta police just called me, they wanted me to come and identify the body of Watcher Linda Price.�

�What of the Slayer?� Appleby asked his voice on edge, �Does she still live?  Where is she?�

�They didn�t mention her, I�m afraid.  I will try and locate her when I arrive in Atlanta,� Wesley snapped.  What in the bloody hell was the matter with the man, Wesley fumed.  Didn�t Linda�s death have any affect on Appleby?

�Wesley, I don�t have to tell you that your primary function is to locate the Slayer and bring her back to the Council.�

�Of course, sir,� Wesley replied and hung up the telephone.  Then he said, �I shall retrieve the girl but first I must see to Linda.�

*****

(Questioning Someone Can Sometimes Be Truly Scary)

Atlanta County Jail

Solitary Wing

1:00 PM EST

When Sam entered the interrogation room, she noticed that the girl, who had been identified as simply �Faith,� was in shackles.  Turning to the guard, her eyes ablaze, Sam opened her mouth to protest but was cut off by the guard.  "Look, before you scream bloody murder, we only cuffed her after she went nuts and hurt some of the other prisoners!�

�How in the hell did that happen?  She was supposed to be kept away from anyone else.�

The guard seemed to be a little nervous in the face of Sam�s fury.  �S-she went to take a shower and a few of the other inmates wanted to have some fun with her."

�So you shackle the victim and let the guilty ones go?�

"Hold on there!  This little bitch ain�t the victim and for your information the others are in the infirmary with multiple fractures. We weren�t going to take a chance of her doing the same to us, so we cuffed her.�

"Did she attempt to attack one of the guards?" Sam asked, her voice deceptively sweet.

"No.  When the guards came and told her to settle down, she did what they asked."

Sam nodded and directed, "Good.  Take the restraints off her."

"Lady, do you realize how dangerous that girl is?" the guard demanded as she looked at Sam like she was crazy.  "She put six of the toughest females in this prison in the infirmary."

Sam continued to glare at the guard for a moment before the other woman relented and muttered, "All right, I guess it�ll be your funeral."

Sam watched closely as the restraints were removed from the teen-aged girl.  Then, after removing the restraints, the guard moved over to one side.  Suddenly, with a wave of the hand, Sam dismissed the guard.

The guard glared at Sam as though she was insane, but complied.   "I�ll be outside if you need me." 

Sam ignored the guard and kept her eye on Faith, noting that the girl had watched the whole thing play out without the slightest reaction.

****

Faith forced herself to stay calm as she watched the other two women face off.  The FBI agent seemed to be cool, but it was still too early to tell.  However, she felt a little more at ease when the guard had left the room.

"Hello, Faith.  I�m Special Agent Sam Waters.  I�m with the FBI.  How are you doing?"

�Five by five,� Faith replied.

A confused look crossed Sam�s face momentarily before she caught herself and asked, �According to the guard, you had some trouble earlier?�

�Nothing I couldn�t handle,� Faith deadpanned while she pretended to scrutinize her nails.  �When am I getting out of this joint?�

�We�re going to need you to stay here for a few days longer just until we have a better idea about what�s going on.�

�I don�t know anything from nothing,� Faith murmured.  Then, like quicksilver, Faith�s nonchalant mood changed into a yearning one.  �What about Linda?�

�Is she the woman you were holding?�

�Yeah.�

�Linda�was she your sister?�

�S-sort of, she was my best friend,� Faith said as tried to fight back her tears.  �She was like a mom to me.�

�Oh, Faith�I�m so sorry for your loss.�

�Thanks,� Faith said, her heart in her throat.  �What�s going to happen to her?�

�We found an organizer with her name on it in your car.  It had a number to contact in case of emergency.  I was told that they contacted a man at that number this morning.�

�Who�d you reach?�

�A man named Wesley Wyndam-Pryce.�

�They should have contacted her aunt, Marion Price!� Faith snapped.  �She lives in Boston!�  Then her anger seemed to skitter away.  �What about me? Am I under arrest?�

�No, Faith!  Don�t think that, sweetie.  Until we find out what�s going on, you�re a material witness.  You�re here in protective custody.  We�re trying to keep you safe.�

Faith barked a harsh laugh at that and crossed her arms under her breasts, causing Sam to slightly envy how well-endowed this young girl happened to be.  �Keep me safe, you say?!  Guess that�s not working out too well now, is it?  Look, I really don�t know anything that could help you and I don�t need no protection.   If you don�t believe me, ask that guard.�

�I would much rather talk about what happened in that warehouse.�

�Yeah, well, I�d �rather� not.  My guardian was killed in that goddam place!  I almost died there with her!�

�Yes, but you didn�t die, did you?  How come you didn�t die, Faith?  Who saved you?�

The girl stared morosely behind Sam, seeing the horrors of that night again before she whispered, �Two people came in and chased away the crazies who were holding me down.� Faith lied smoothly to the agent, almost believing it herself, at least for the moment.

�The people who saved you, did they kill all those people?� Sam asked while she opened her notebook.

�No.  When they came inside, the people who�d killed all of those people ran off and left me.�

�Why would they leave?�

�I don�t know, maybe the swords they carried had something to do with it, or the gun he carried.  That thing looked as if it could waste a lot of people at once.�

�Can you tell me what they looked like?�

�One of them was a guy, a monster hunk of a dude almost two feet taller than me, with blond hair.  The other was a hot little red headed chick maybe a few inches shorter than me.  They both carried swords-he carried a Samurai sword that moved like lightning, while she used a sword like the ones that you see on Robin Hood.  They both seemed to have had a lot of practice with them.�

�But you said they didn�t kill anyone?�

�I didn�t see them kill anybody.  Those guys weren�t with the group that had caught me and Linda.�

�Is there anything else you can tell me?�

�I�ve told you everything that I know.�

*****

Sam sat back and closed her note book.  Her gut told her that there was more than what the girl had said to her but she was uncertain as to how she could get Faith to reveal more information. �Want to tell me what happen in the locker room?� Sam asked changing tactics.

�Would be my word against theirs,� Faith said as she leaned back in her seat. 

�Why don�t you tell me and let me make up my own mind.�

�All right.  That guard?  She told those women to hurt me.  I guess she likes to watch.�

�That�s a bold accusation, Faith,� Sam said as she wrote a note in her book //check out guard//

�When I was brought here I was put in a room by myself.  One of the guards said I was put in solitary confinement.  Doesn�t that mean I�m supposed to be away from the others?  How did six inmates happen to get in the same shower with me at the same time?�

Sam had to agree with what Faith on that one.  Sam stood up and motioned for Faith to do the same.   Then she opened the door and said, �Come on, Faith, you�re coming with me.�

�You just can�t take her out of here,� the guard said as the pair walked out of the interrogation room. 

�I can and will,� Sam snapped at the guard before pushing her aside and heading toward the front.  �She has just been classified as a material witness, and for your information, she never was a suspect.�

As they entered the waiting room, Sam watched as Bailey stood up and advanced toward her.  �Is there anything I can do?�

�Sir, I would like to request that we take Faith to VCTF and keep her there in protective custody as a material witness.�

�Alright, I�ll go sign the paperwork.� Bailey said as he turned to the guard.  �Is there anything I can do for you, officer?�

�No, sir,� the guard said dejectedly as she turned and reentered the cell block.

�Why don�t I feel comforted by that?� Bailey asked following Faith and Sam out of the building.

�Six inmates were allowed to attack Faith in the shower, Bailey!� Sam snapped, her fury palpable to her supervisor.

�How the hell did that happen?� Bailey growled, as he looked at Faith.  �I know I told them I wanted her in solitary confinement.�

�Don�t worry about it, dude.  I�m five by five,� Faith said with a shrug of her shoulders. 

�So what happened?� Bailey asked looking from Faith to Sam.

�She put the six of them in the infirmary,� Sam said.  At Bailey�s shocked look, she added, �I want a full investigation conducted regarding both the attack and the guard who was assigned to Faith.�

�I�ll see to it,� Bailey said while he looked Faith over. �Are you sure you�re okay, young lady?  Should we stop by the hospital and have the doctor check you for injuries?�

�Nah, no need for that, pal.  Like I said, I�m five by five.  All I want to know now is when I�ll be able to leave?�

�Soon,�

�Do you know anything about Linda�s burial plans?�

�Mr. Pryce will be here tomorrow to claim her,� Bailey said.  �I understand he�s anxious to see you as well.�

�I just bet he is,� Faith said under her breath as they proceeded toward the Atlanta�s FBI Headquarters.

###

Chapter ##

Enter the Watcher

1:15 pm

 

As he exited the airport, Wesley hailed down a cab and ordered the driver to take him to the Medical Examiners Office.  By now the tracks of his tears were the only evidence of the racking sobs he�d had the night before.  Soon, he would see her again and complete the last duty he would ever do for her.

As the cab travelled along the Atlanta streets, Wesley wondered what he would do when he finally came face to face with the Slayer.  It was no secret that he was not her favorite person in the world.  However, he knew she�d want to be at Linda�s funeral so for at least that brief period of time they�d be together and she would have to talk with him.  He knew he could make her listen to reason.

Once he�d reach his destination, he entered the building and was lead to the back room where he was shown to a drawer, which held the body of Linda Price.  Upon seeing the woman�s body on the cold metal slab, Wesley�s strength left him for a second as his legs threatened to buckle under him.   

�Her name is�was Linda Price,� Wesley said as he looked tiredly at the assistant.  �May I have a few moments alone with her to say my goodbyes?�

�Of course,� the young man replied as he left the room. 

When the other man was gone, he leaned over her and whispered, �I will always love you.�  Then he pulled out a pencil sized stake from under his jacket.  Leaning down he kissed her on the forehead while he shoved the stake deep into Linda�s chest straight through her heart.  Pushing the stake under the skin so it wouldn�t show, he continued to whisper in her ear.  �This should keep you safe and protect your body and soul, my love.  May God welcome you into his fold, protect you and keep you.�

With his last duty to her done, he left the room.  Then he stopped at the assistant and asked for the whereabouts of Faith.  The man told him she was being held at the FBI headquarters on the next street over.  Then Wesley left the building and headed to the hotel where he�d previously reserved a room.  Once he was inside his room, he settled in and decided it was time to do what he had put off since he�d first learned about Linda�s fate.  Picking up the phone, he dialed the operator and requested to be put through to Marion Price.

�Hello,� a friendly female voice answered the phone.  Immediately, he hung up the telephone.  What in God�s name was wrong with him?!  How could he break such horrible news to the poor woman on the telephone?  No, this was something he would have to do in person.

Dialing his travel agent he ordered first class tickets from the Atlanta to Boston.  He would have four hours to make it to the airport which gave him enough time to shower and then get on the road to the airport.  True, he had some misgivings about meeting Marion Price but it was something that he felt honor bound to do.

****

Clarion Hotel

Atlanta Downtown

�Dammit!� the large and dangerous man snapped.  �That bastard used the girl to escape from us, Ali!�

Stalker fumed as he polished his sword, trying hard to calm himself but failing miserably.  �They�re up to something�you feel it too, don�t you?�

�Yes�it�s just that I don�t know what they�re up to.  Tonight, let�s hunt on the other side of warehouse row,� Ali said just before she entered the bathroom to take her morning shower to cleanse herself and savor her afterglow after a rousing bout of morning sex. 

He sent a smile in the direction of the bathroom as he recalled how good she�d felt when she�d ridden him hard and tumbled over the edge.  Although he�d loved her for years, being an eleven hundred year old woman trapped in the body of an eleven year old girl had always kept him from ever thinking of consummating his love for her.  Being such a large man, he�d been afraid he could hurt her if he�d ever acted upon his urges.  Although she was an Immortal and any injury would heal instantly, he feared there was a risk of psychological trauma to her and that was an unacceptable risk to him. 

However, their lives had changed irrevocably during the desperate battle in Los Angeles.  Afterwards, the Sunnydale �Weird Sisters,� the three witches who worked with Steven St. Wolf and Buffy Summers, cast a spell that physically aged Alison�s appearance to that of a twenty-five year old woman.  Now, nothing stood in the way of her being seen for who she really was and for their ability to share their love with each other. 

�Hey, honey,� he called out to her, �I�m going to call my dad while you take a shower.  Maybe he�s heard something more that could help us with this.�  Then he proceeded to dial a familiar telephone number. 

�Montana Madhouse,� the soothing voice of his mother said after two rings.  �What can we do for you?�

�Hey, mom,� he said, his voice carried the smile on his face over the line.  �Ali and I are in Atlanta.  Something big is going on, kind of like what we faced in L.A.  Have you heard anything about it from your sources?�

�No, son, we haven�t heard about any activity on the east coast.  The action board pretty much shows all the action seems to be occurring out west.  What have you come up against?�

�So far, we�ve seen a lot of drifters.  Last night, though, we found a large nest of them; it was warehouse that held around a hundred bodies or so.  We eliminated about thirty but the head honcho got away.  We did come across a sole survivor.  She was a tough little fighter for a skinny thing,� he said then told them about her activities during their battle with the vampires.

�Very nice report, son,� his father drawled, cutting in to the conversation from the other line.  �It does sound like something big is in the works.  Do you want us to help?�

�Hi, Dad!  It�s nice to hear your voice.  As for the offer of help�I don�t think we need any for the moment.  We�re still trying to get a handle on what�s going on in Atlanta, but if you hear anything that would be of interest to us, please let us know.�

�You can count on it, son.  You and that little lady of yours had better be careful.  I mean it, son.  If it gets too hot to handle, don�t hesitate; call us and we�ll come a-running.�

�Don�t worry, Pop; I won�t let our pride get in the way of our mission.  Innocents always come first.�

�Good, son.  I know we can count on you.  Make certain you keep us posted, all right?�

�All right, Dad.  Oh�Ali�s calling me.  I�ve got to run!  I�ll call you tomorrow, okay?�

�Okay, son.  Take care!�

�You, too, Dad.  Bye!�

Then after he hung up the telephone, Stalker lived up to his name as he quietly crept into the bathroom, stripped off all of his clothes, and caught his lover in the shower completely by surprise.  While she shrieked playfully, he engulfed her in his powerful arms and gently hugged her close.  Then he began to nuzzle her neck and she sighed.  Moments later, she turned to face him, reached up with her right hand to his cheek and pulled his face down to seal their love with another kiss.

****

Montana

Casca del Romain

After he�d hung up on his wayward son, Casey Romain strode over to their status board, which was a six by four eraser board with a detailed map of the United States on it.  The whole west coast was outlined in red, the mid-west was colored in pink, the lower east coast was yellow and the upper east coast was gray.  There were numbered gold and blue dots spread all across the map and the dots turned out to average one for every two states.  Under the board was a corresponding list of names for each dot found on the board.  These were a list of groups affiliated with Section Seven. 

The Immortal Legionnaire then picked up a pad and pencil and scanned down the list for someone who might be near Atlanta.  When he found someone, he grabbed a nearby telephone and placed a call.

�What are you doing, Casey?� Lida asked.  �You know he is going to be very upset if you  interfere in his business behind his back!�

�I�m not getting involved, love.  I simply decided to call a few people to let them know what�s happening in Atlanta.  Far be it from me to send in the cavalry�well, not yet anyway.�

His wife shot a mock scolding look his way for a moment before her expression softened into one of maternal concern.  �How much trouble do you think our little boy�s in?�

He sighed deeply and shrugged.  �Lida, the boy found a hundred bodies in a warehouse.  He�s seeing things I had hoped to God he�d never see.  Unfortunately, he can�t just leave this thing alone and live his life away from this hell.  And if he has to be involved in this, I don�t mind stacking the odds in his favor.  Better that he be angry at me than dead.�  

He turned from his conversation with his wife and sat down at the computer while she moved close behind him and pressed herself into his back, giving him the support and comfort of her presence.  He called up the police blog for the Atlanta area, quickly scanned the entries, and finally came across an interesting report.  He scrutinized it carefully and found the reference to the survivor that his son had mentioned earlier.  However, instead of being sent to the hospital, the report stated that she�d been taken into custody.  Continuing his investigation, Casey hacked into the Atlanta P.D.�s daily reports and uncovered another incident involving seven inmates.  Six of them were taken to the infirmary after a confrontation with a single inmate.  Then that inmate, a girl known only as �Faith,� was taken into protective custody by the FBI�s Violent Crimes Task Force

�All right, Lida,� Casey said.  �Let�s connect the dots, shall we?  First, we have a warehouse that had a lot of vampires.  Joshua and Ali managed to wax about thirty of them.  They find over a hundred bodies stacked in a corner and a young teenage girl who happened to still be very much alive.  According to Joshua, she was alive and strong enough to destroy two vampires before Ali could dispatch even one up close.  This young lady was also able to throw a quarter staff like a spear at the Master.  Later in a shower, she defended herself against six other inmates, putting them all in the infirmary.  Who do you know who is capable of doing all of that?�

She shrugged her shoulders and murmured, �Hmm�I don�t know.  I suppose Sonja, perhaps, Gabrielle, and, of course, Buffy or Ken�� Then at that moment, Lida derailed her own train of thought and her eyes shot wide open.  �No!  Tell me you�re not suggesting...�

Casey shook his head from side to side.  �No, I�m not suggesting anything!  I�m just laying out all the facts.�

�Yes, but Casey, if that girl is another Slayer, what are we going to do?�

He glanced at her and said, �I guess for the moment, we don�t do anything.  We�ll honor our son�s wishes and wait for him to call us unless we have more information confirming that the girl is Buffy�s and Kendra�s sister Slayer.�

****

 

Chapter XX

Duty is a terrible thing.

Wesley Wyndham-Pryce sat on a bench waiting for his flight to be announced, his mind jumbled with a myriad of thoughts.  This was something he never contemplated, telling someone they�d just lost a child or family member.  It was something they never talked about at the Watchers school.  Why, it only just now occurred to him that there was a question regarding whether a Watcher was supposed to notify the Slayer�s parents! 

No, he wasn�t looking forward to this whatsoever.

He stood up and started toward the gate where his plane was to depart from.  When he reached the metal detector, he noticed a young couple, dressed in professional attired, coming down the walkway.  He had seen them before; he was sure of that, perhaps in a picture or in a report at Council headquarters.  Then, at that moment, he realized who they were.  The woman was Agent Scully, the man Agent Mulder, two people who was tied to the group out of Sunnydale.  They were definitely a pair to stay away from.  If they were here now, it could only be as a result of the local vampire activity.  Then he began to wonder if they�d learned about Faith yet.  He would have to hurry and return to Atlanta before they found out about the third Slayer.

****

Hours later, Wesley deplaned in Boston�s Logan Airport and proceeded to the curbside to hail a taxi.  As he rode in silence, he tried to determine the best way to break the terrible news to Marion.  The woman was going to be devastated; it was no secret she was against Linda�s choice to join the Council. 

Finally, as the cab pulled into the drive way of a Victorian house, he wiped his face before he approached the main door to the sound of sharp barks from inside the house.

�Who�s there?� a female�s voice called from the other side of the closed door.

�My name is Wesley Wyndham-Pryce, Miss Price,� Wesley called back.  After a moment, he added, �We met a few years ago.�

�I remember who you are, young man,� a handsome elder woman with blond hair replied as she opened the door. �What I don�t know at the moment is why you�re here?�

�Well,� Wesley started but he choked on his own saliva.  He bit his lip before he tried to continue. �You see�unfortunately, I have some dreadful�well�actually, it�s terrible news, I�m afraid��

�Linda,� she cried then her legs buckled from under her.

Wesley moved quickly to catch her before she hit the ground and carried her over to the porch swing.  He checked to make sure she was safely seated before he said, �I am truly sorry for your loss, Miss Price,� he said his voice soft but firm.  �She passed last night in Atlanta.�

�Lie to me, Wesley,� she pleaded.  �Tell me she died in her sleep, not at the hands of one of those monsters!�

�She passed peacefully,� Wesley cooed, granting her the gentle deception.  �I have made arrangements to have her remains transported here for burial.�

�What of Faith?� Marion asked her voice barely above a whisper.

�She�s still alive.  Apparently she�s in police custody for the moment.  I just came to give you word of your niece.�

�Thank you, Wesley,� Marion said as she truly looked at him for the first time.  �You loved her, didn�t you?�

�With all my heart and soul,� Wesley whispered then tried to wipe his emotions away along with the tears.  �We had planned to get married.�

�Yes, she told me that.�  Marion sniffled.  �And Faith? Will you become her Watcher now?�

�I don�t know,� Wesley said as he stood up to leave.  �I must go now, but I will return with her in two or three days.  I hope that will be enough time for you.�

�I will be fine,� Marion said as she also stood, �please find out what you can about Faith.�

�Yes, of course,� Wesley said then turned to walk down the drive to the waiting taxi. 

*****

Chapter XX

Atlanta VCTF headquarters

Nightmares & talks

3:00 am

Sam Waters peeked up from her report for the thousandth time and glanced at her computer monitor with the image of her new charge on it.  Faith was sleeping on a cot in another room and looked to be at peace until, apparently, the nightmare had returned.  Sam watched in fascination as Faith kicked off her covers almost like she was fighting for her life, her body tense like she was strapped to a rack as if she was being held down.  Her feet and arms jerked without lifting off of the bed while her head seemed to be locked in one position.  Then all of a sudden the girl shot upright like a bolt and screamed.

Sam sprang from her chair and rushed down the corridor. When she reached the door, she forced herself to calm down then she slowly opened the door.  Faith�s screams had stopped but the teen now sat rocking to and fro again.  Sam noted the tears streaming down the girl�s cheeks while Faith whispered to herself.

�It�s all right, Faith,� Sam said as she slowly advanced toward the girl.  �You�re safe now.�

�Linda,� Faith croaked once and continued to rock back and forth.

�I am sorry, honey,� Sam replied as she sat next to Faith and drew the girl gently into her arms.  �It all will get better, I promise.�

In response, Faith shook her head and muttered, �You don�t know what you�re talking about, you stupid bitch!  You�re wrong!  It won�t get better.  It�ll never be better!  There�s just too many of those bastards!�

�There�s too many of whom, Faith?� Sam asked, hoping for a break through.

�It�s hopeless,� Faith murmured, her mind lost again in her horror.  �It�s my destiny.  No one can share it with me.  Looked what happened when I did.  Look what happened to Linda,� Faith spat just before she began to sob again.

�Tell me, Faith!� Sam pushed, �Tell me who did this to Linda?�

�No,� Faith snapped as she shoved Sam away.  �Don�t try to get close to me!  P-please stay away from me!  Stay in the light; stay safe.�

Faith then withdrew and lay back on her cot, placing her hands behind her head and staring up at the ceiling. 

 

However, Sam had seen enough of Faith�s �tough act� to recognize that the girl was attempting to hide how much she was really hurting on the inside.  Unfortunately, for the both of them, Sam simply didn�t know how to snap the girl out of it.  Finally, Sam stood up to leave and said, �Faith, when you�re ready to talk I will be here.�  Then she walked out and softly closed the door behind her.

 

*****

Faith shuddered after Sam had left the room.  Her nightmare had really shaken her to the core but she couldn�t give in and let the fear beat her down.  There was too much at stake.  Soon Wesley would come for her.  He�d know what to do.  He had to.  But until then, she had to stay cool and not take any of these Feds into her confidence.  If they found out who she really was, it might leak out and they would come�HE would come for her and this time she was sure he�d finish the job unless those two who�d helped her before showed up to save her pretty little ass again. 

She sighed deeply and brushed her deceptively powerful hand through her dark brown hair.  Who in the hell were those people and what exactly did they know? Obviously, they knew about vampires.  Had the Council been wrong? Were there others out there in the fight?  If Wesley didn�t come soon, she�d have to blow this joint and look for those two.  Maybe they�d join forces with her to help her bring that bastard down. He killed Linda and had wanted to kill her.  Unless he was slain, she�d never be safe. Tomorrow, she thought as she heard a door close down the hall, tomorrow. I�ll hunt him down and kill him for what he did to Linda.   Then Faith forced herself to close her eyes and hoped that the nightmare wouldn�t return to haunt her for the rest of the night.

****

Atlanta Airport

As Mulder and Scully deplaned, a man of medium height dressed in a dark bureau suit approached them.  The agents were surprised to see that Atlanta�s Agent In Charge (AIC) had come to meet them himself.  Normally, an AIC would send an assistant to pick them up in an attempt to assert his authority and importance from the start.  Mulder, for his part, had never seen one come to the airport to greet lower level agents before.   

�Special Agent Bailey,� Mulder greeted guardedly as he offered his hand to the other man in greeting.  �I assume you needed to talk to us right away?�

�I suppose you could say that, Agent Mulder.  I�m just glad that you could get here so quickly,� Bailey replied as he shook each of the agents� hands.  �I hope we can stop whatever this is before it gets too far out of hand.�

�Some would say after a hundred bodies, it�s a bit late for hopes such as that, sir,� Scully deadpanned.

�I suppose you�re right, Agent Scully.  The situation is far worse than the press has let on.�  Bailey said as he led the pair out of the terminal.  �We held the really gruesome stuff back and nothing was said about it in the report I sent to your office.�

�Would you like to tell us now?� Mulder asked as he tried to figure this man out.  So far he had not tried to overshadow them or put them in their place. 

�I would rather get you settled into the hotel we�ve arranged for you.  Our office will cover the charges for it, so don�t worry about your expense account.  You will also be afforded a bureau car during your stay.�  Bailey said as they entered his car.  �But I must insist that you both freshen up and rest a few hours before you start to work on this case.  Oh, and one more thing, don�t eat before you come to look at the pictures.  Believe me when I say that even a hardened criminal would break down at the sight of them.�

�Please don�t tell me that they eviscerated bodies,� Mulder said as he accepted the keys to the room and the loaner car from Bailey. 

�How did you know?� Bailey asked as his face paled.  �That is exactly what happened in that warehouse.�

�Was there a fire pit made of bones near by?� Scully asked as she drew her cell phone from her coat pocket.

�Yes, damn it!  How in the hell did you know that?� Bailey almost screamed, �Did something like this happen in LA?�

�Yes, yes it did, sir.   I�m afraid your case has a lot of similarities to the one in LA.  However, we won�t know more until we examine your files.  Also, we need to speak to the profiler you have working on the case.�

�I�ll arrange for you to speak to her.  Well, I�ve got to run.  Take care and I�ll see you at the pit later today,� Bailey said as he turned to walk away.

Moments later, after Scully had finished her call, the FBI agents entered the hotel elevator.  �I just talked to Willow,� Scully said as the elevator door closed.  She pushed her body close to Mulder and said in a hushed voice, �Steve wasn�t there but she told me she would update him about Atlanta as soon as possible.  She wants me to post what information we have on Section Seven�s Secure database.  They�ll review it and contact us when they�ve got something.�

Mulder nodded as he dialed a number from memory on his cell phone. 

�Who are you calling?�

�Gordon.  If this is going to be as bad as LA, having one of their teams on standby would be a very good thing.�

 �Hello, Mulder,� a deep voice answered the phone after the second ring.  �How can we help you?�

�I need to speak to Gordon; we have a situation in Atlanta.�

�One moment,� the voice said followed by a few clicks while the phone was patched through to the director of Bureau 13.  A few seconds later, Gordon growled, �All right, Mulder.  Talk to me!  What�s the problem now?�

�We�re in Atlanta.  There may be signs that some Undead Americans may be up to no good here in a big way.�

Gordon sighed.  �Swell.  What�s the story?�

�At this time, we don�t know all the particulars, but here�s what we know.  There was a warehouse with over a hundred dead bodies not including the eviscerated remain found in the basement.  Someone decided to roast some marshmallows and built a fire pit with their bones.  Do you have anyone who can help us out until we can get some backup together?�

�I have the Thunder Bunnies here on standby; if you need them call the alternative number and place your phone in the center of a twenty foot circle.  Keep us advised how things are going.�

�You have access to the Section Seven�s database, don�t you?� 

�Section Seven�s what?�

�It�s a system that Willow and Jenny put together for passing information throughout the organization.�

�That kind of information should not be accessible to the general public.�

�It�s not.  Trust me; you would have to be better than the Lone Gunmen to even think about breaking into it."

 �All right, I�ll look into it.  Keep me informed, Mulder.  And remember, if you call the Bunnies, make certain that the area around your phone is clear.�

�We will,� Mulder said as he hung up the phone.

�What did Gordon say?� Scully asked as she closed her laptop.

�He�ll have the Thunder Bunnies standing by for us.�

Scully nodded and said, �All right then, Mulder.  Let�s go to the pit and talk to this girl, Faith.�

***

Meeting allies in the strangest places

As Ali and Stalker strolled nonchalantly from their hotel room to begin their patrol of the warehouse district, she was caught up in their own thoughts about what had happened the night before during their rescue of the dark-haired girl.  There was something special about her, Ali had no doubts about that, even though Stalker had told her to just forget about the girl.  Now they were going back to the warehouse district to find the big vampire that had escaped.  She wondered briefly just how big this whole thing was and turned to Stalker.  �Honey, should we post an outline of what�s going on here on the database?�

Stalker hesitated for a moment before he shook his head.  �Not right now, baby.  We don�t have a whole lot to go on yet.  If it�s just this one vamp and we take him out tonight then everyone would think we called fire in a swimming pool; it wouldn�t be the brightest thing we could have done,� he said just before the door to their left opened and the �Immortal� buzz struck them both.

�We don�t have time for this!� Ali growled as she reached for the hilt of her sword.  �Let�s keep the introductions short, shall we?�

�Wow,� Mulder said as he came through the door, recognized Stalker and realized who the willowy and hot-looking red haired woman had to be.  �Alison, is that you?  I know Steve said his witches� spell had worked but�WOW!�

�Keep your eyes in their sockets, Mulder,� Stalker growled playfully.  �Or maybe you want me to sweep Dana up too?�

�Point taken, big guy.  Really though,� Mulder said as the four laughed, shook hands and hugged, �you look amazing.�

�Thanks,� Ali acknowledged his compliment with a blush.

�What are you two doing here?� Stalker asked suddenly, his voice coated with suspicion.  �Did my dad call you?�

�No, the local FBI office needed our expertise,� Scully said as the four of them headed toward the elevator.  �What kind of trouble are you two in?�

�Nothing we can�t handle.  Last night we took out thirty vamps or so in a warehouse.  Unfortunately, the big player escaped,� Stalker said.

�So you missed the hundred dead bodies, and the Bar B Q pit in the basement?� Mulder asked, Both Stalker and Alison winced at Mulder�s revelation.  The agent then seemed to take pity on them and said, �Might as well team up and see what we can put together on this one.�

�Sounds fair,� Ali agreed. �We�re headed to the warehouse district.  Hopefully, we might run into the escapee.�

�We have to go to the local office and talk to a few people,� Mulder said.  �By the way, did you happen to see a girl they found at the scene?�

�About five foot six, brunette, brown eyes, can move like a cat through the brush, and quicker than a lizard hunting a hole?�

�Say what?� Mulder asked as the elevator door closed. 

�This girl you asked about?  She was strong, fast, and knew how to fight,� Ali said, her eyes squinting for a second, before she added, �in fact, she reminded me a lot of the girls Steve�s surrounded himself with in Sunnydale.�

�She�s an Amazon?� Scully asked in amazement.

Ali shook her head.  �No, even stronger than them or you, Dana.  More like Buffy or Kendra, I�d say.�

Scully�s eyes shot wide open at that.  �She�s a Slayer?!�

�Can�t and won�t say for sure,� Ali responded as the elevator door opened, �But I will say this. She threw a make shift spear the length of this hotel with frightening accuracy.�

Mulder whistled as he looked across the six hundred foot long motel lobby.  �That is impressive.�

�You should have seen her!� Ali gushed. �She was magnificent!  That girl did it in one fluent motion, not to mention the two vamps she took out before I even got my first one.�

�Destructive poetry in motion, would be the best way to describe her,� Stalker begrudgingly offered just as Ali had finished her sentence. �I wouldn�t mind working with her again.�

 �All right, we�ll check her out.  Meanwhile, you two be careful.  You have our phone numbers, right?� Mulder asked as he opened the car door for Scully.  Receiving an affirmative nod from Stalker, he said, �Call us if you get in over your head.�

***

Decrepit warehouse

�You�re sure she was a Slayer?� an eight foot tall master vampire with cloven hooves for hands asked the vampire that had escaped the night before. 

�She said she was and she fought like one.  Believe me, if she�s not a Slayer, she�ll do until the real thing comes along!�

�What of the pair who decimated my clan?� the monstrous vampire demanded.

�Master, they moved like lightning and were heavily armed with weapons that worked against vampires.  I had to escape to warn you of them.�

�Are you sure you didn�t run to save your own worthless neck?� the Master wondered, his voice dark and forbidding.

�Well, lookie here, isn�t this delicious?  A scared demon�I don�t believe we have need for one of those, I�m afraid,� an African-American vampire said as he walked into the room from behind the blond vampire. 

Just as the dark vampire raised his hand which held a stake he started to bring it down on the blonde vampire�s back, the huge vampire snapped, �Hold your hand, Mr. Trick!  I still can use this worthless piece of offal.�

�I agree,� another vampire drawled as he stepped out of the shadows at the master�s left side.  �Waste not, want not, that�s what I always say.�  This new vampire was six foot tall with dark brown hair, dreamy eyes, and a mouth to die for.  Indeed, his face looked quite young and�angelic.  �Trick, we really don�t need to thin out our own ranks; if a Slayer�s around we certainly don�t need to do her job for her.  So sparky,� Angelus asked in congenial yet deadly manner, �tell me what did this slayer look like exactly?�

�She was kind of short, maybe five foot six with dark brown hair and eyes, and a body that wouldn�t quit.�  The vampire answered the question as his eyes were drawn to the new vampire.  �You�re Angel, right?  Story�s out you were a Slayer�s pet.�

Before anyone in the room could move a muscle, Angelus had the vampire by his throat and pressing him back into the stake Mr. Trick still held, driving it deep into his side.  Even though the wound was not deadly to the vampire, apparently it was still quite painful.

�Well, this demon�s still got issues about it, pal, so I tend to get a little cranky when some yahoo throws it in my face!  A word to the wise�don�t ever take me lightly again because if you do, next time I�ll kill you,� Angelus growled as his face morphed into its demon.

�Relax, Angelus,� the Master said as a smile crossed his face at the violence played out in front of him.  �If she is a Slayer, this is truly a wondrous thing! She would be perfect for our dark ceremony.  Having her essence will give us better control over the dark lord.�  Then he turned to the blonde vampire and directed, �Stanley, I want you to take a strike team and retrieve the girl.  Oh, and Stanley?  Don�t bother coming back here without her.�

After Stanley had rushed off, Angelus growled.  �I don�t believe it!� he snapped as he turned to the Master, �Kikistos, it doesn�t make any sense!  There�re only two slayers and they�re both in Sunnydale.�

�Whether this little lamb is or isn�t a Slayer doesn�t matter,� Kikistos said as he turned to leave the room.  �She stood against us and was the chief instigator of the death of over forty of our kind.  Clearly, her actions cannot go unpunished.�

�If they are going to succeed, Stan�s group is going to have to kill everyone in that building,� Mr. Trick said as he glanced down at his PDA.  �That�s a federal building and the government tends to be a bit touchy about folks attacking a federal law enforcement agency and all.�

�It will be a massacre.  Perhaps it�s time we left a message for the government to leave our family alone,� Kikistos grumbled as he strode toward the door.  �Just make certain they bring the girl back here.  Also, if the other pair shows up again, kill them.�

�I just hope that Stan can come through during crunch time, Trick, old buddy,� Angelus murmured.  ��Cause I really don�t wanna face that Sunnydale group again, and if this goes into the crapper, that�s exactly what we�re going face!�

 �Don�t worry about it, Angelus, my brother,� Mr. Trick drawled as he put his PDA away.  �I�ve already drawn up a contingency plan.�

�What of Kikistos?�

�He�ll either join us in the current century or he�ll be defeated like the others,� Mr. Trick replied causally.  �However, one thing�s for sure; this brother ain�t into reliving the fate of the passengers on the Titanic.  In other words, I won�t go down with a sinking ship.  But for now we wait.�

####

Atlanta VCTF headquarters

�Faith,� Sam said as she entered the girl�s room.  �I would like you to talk to two specialists that are coming from Washington.�

�What are they specialists in?� The girl asked as she continued to do pushups. 

�They specialize in the occult.� 

�You�ve got to be shitting me!� Faith drawled, as she stood up and shot a bemused look Sam�s way.  �And these two are going to do what exactly?  Investigate the vampire serial killings here in Atlanta?�

�They were with the LA Police Department when they worked on that case.� Sam said, her words and confidence dying when she noticed the look of contempt on Faith�s face.  �Faith, talk to me.  What do you know about Los Angeles?�

�I know it wasn�t LAPD that stopped those serial killers,� Faith spat, her composure slipping as she exposed the lie.  �It was a girl named Buffy and a scared rat named Rupert Giles.  And if I ever see that guy, he�s a dead man!�

�What�re you talking about?� Sam asked now confused more than ever.

�The LA vampire cult,� Faith said as she wiped the sweat off her forehead.  �The cops didn�t handle that case.  They may have been involved but I highly doubt they saved all those people.�

�Who is this Buffy and Rupert Giles?�

�You�re not gonna give up are ya?� Faith asked after she sat down.  �Are you sure you want to know?  Once you do, it�s not something you can just forget and I�ve heard of people going insane when they know what�s really going down.�

A knock on the door interrupted their conversation, closely followed by Special Agent Bailey�s entrance through the door.  �Agent Mulder and Scully are at the Clarion.  They will be here in about an hour and would like to talk to both you and Faith.�

�I assumed that they would,� Sam replied as she stood up. �Say what you will about Mulder, and I know not much of it is good, he is the best profiler in the agency. If there�s anyone who can put this mess together, he�s the man to do it.�

 �Well, he should be here shortly.� Bailey then pointed at Faith.  �Has she told you anything yet?�

�I don�t think she knows anything,� Sam said as she looked at Faith.  �I think she was just in the wrong place at the wrong time.�

�Don�t be daft, Sam!� Bailey snapped.  �This girl took out six inmates and I checked on them.  You know what I found?  They all were in jail convicted of murder charges.  They were also known for being tough fighters.  Yet she took them all and won all by her lonesome without even suffering a single scratch!  Make no mistake, Sam, this girl is up to her eyeballs in this.�

�S-she�s just a girl,� a shaken Sam argued.

�I don�t think so but we�ll see what Mulder has to say about it,� he said and stormed out of the room.

�You know,� Faith murmured after he�d left, �these �specialists?�  They won�t be able to do anything about the vampire cult.  They might try but believe me when I say they�re going to be in way over their heads.�

�Faith, tell me,� Sam pleaded as she took a seat, �what do you know about all this?  What happened in that warehouse?�

Faith simply shook her head and leaned back in her chair.  Then she slowly exhaled a breath she�d held for so long deep inside and said in a soft, quiet voice, �Sam, all those things you thought that haunted the dark places, the things that hid under your bed at night but were told by grownups couldn�t be true, well, they�re true.  They�re real.  Vampires, Sam, vampires, are horribly real.�  Then, when she noticed the stunned disbelief on the profiler�s face, Faith grimly chuckled and added, �I knew you didn�t really want to know the truth.  I told you not to fall into the darkness.  I begged you to stay in the light.  But, NO!� she mocked, sneering at the woman and drawing out the �o� in her last word for several seconds.  �You couldn�t leave it alone now, could ya?  All right then.  Now you�re going to see what a nightmare my life is up close and personal because you couldn�t just leave it alone and use the good sense that God gave to an ant and stop asking me questions about this shit, you stupid bitch!�

�Faith!  Get a hold of yourself!  There�s no reason to lie to me,� Sam retorted as she stood up, �I would like to be your friend, but if you insist on telling me lies, well I have no patience for it.�

�Fine!  Then suit yourself,� Faith said as she pushed herself away from the table to return to her place on the cot.  �Lucky for you, you�ve got a choice.  You can choose not to believe.  As for me, it don�t matter none whether I believe it or not.�

Then she stared at Sam with the eyes of the damned and muttered, �I live it.�

###

Sunnydale

Offices of Wolfhead Detective Agency

�All right, Willow, what�ve you got?� Steven St. Wolf asked. 

�Dana and Fox are in Atlanta and according to their entry they�re working on a case very similar to the nightmare you guys faced in LA.  They�ve reported that eviscerated bodies and bones used for a fire pit were found in a warehouse along with over a hundred bodies stacked on top of one another.  Whoa, look at this!� she chirped as she read something that appeared on her computer monitor.  �Casca from Montana just posted something.  It seems his son Joshua, aka Stalker and Ali took out thirty vampires in that same warehouse in Atlanta, leaving a girl behind for the authorities to find who showed remarkable strength, speed and skill with weapons.  Unfortunately the big bad of the situation got away.  Stalker and Ali intend to track him down tonight.�

St. Wolf stroked his chin in thought for a moment before he began to bark out orders to the young witch.  �Place the core team here in Sunnydale on standby, Will.  We�ll wait for Scully�s next post to find out what we are going to do.  Get Charlie over to Iverson Air tonight ready to fly.  We�ll send him to go undercover for Mulder and Scully.  Perhaps he can help them find out what�s going on.�

�I�m on it,� Willow said as she proceeded to carry out his instructions

�I�ll call Iverson Air,� Oz said and picked up a phone line. 

�So we�re just going to sit around and cool our heels?� Buffy asked, her voice betraying her Slayer-self�s disappointment that she wasn�t engaged in the hunt.

�Right now, we�re doing all we can do,� St. Wolf said as he sat back in his chair.  �If we mobilize and it�s nothing but a small threat then we wasted time and effort that might be better spent elsewhere.�

�It�s going to be a long night,� Willow drawled after she hung up the phone with Charlie.  �He said he�d be at the airport in fifteen minutes.�

�Now we do the hardest thing,� St. Wolf said as he watched Oz talk on the phone. 

�We wait.�

####

FBI Headquarters

Atlanta VCTF division

For the eleventh time in the past hour, Faith cursed like a sailor at the person most responsible for the fucked up situation she found herself in at the moment.

I�m a fucking idiot, she snapped inwardly at herself.  She had no clue about what she was going to do now; the one person she felt she could have trusted had walked out once she knew the terrible secret.  She hated herself for snapping at Sam like that but the woman had it coming.  Faith tried to shake off her guilt and began to seriously look around the room wondering how she was going to get out of there.  The Slayer inside her warned her that they would be coming for her and being stuck in a thirty by thirty room waiting for her execution was not conducive to her longevity. 

The guys who stood guard were nice enough to ask if she�d wanted or needed anything.  However, they�d given her the impression that she was being held prisoner.  She had just about made up her mind to just force herself past the guards and let the chips fall where they may when Sam entered the room followed by a thirty-something couple.

�Hello, Faith,� Sam greeted her coolly.  �I would like you to meet Special Agents Mulder and Scully.  They are the specialists I told you about earlier.  Would you be so kind as to tell them the story you told me earlier or are you going to try to jerk them around with another one of your charming fantasies?�

Faith slowly checked the newcomers out.  She knew these two were pros.  They gave no sign of any emotions and studied her like she was a prize heifer at auction. 

She tilted her head a bit by way of a greeting and drawled, �So you two helped solve the LA Vampire case, huh?� Faith didn�t even bother to mask her contempt of them and added, �I suppose you just walked in with your shiny badges and told them to go home and be good little boys and girls.�

�Actually I went in with a sword and I cut out their black hearts.� Mulder offered without raising his voice, �And Scully killed more than a few with a stake and a sword.�

�What the hell is going on here?� Sam snapped as she glared first at Mulder then at Faith.  �Mulder I demand to know what you�re talking about.�

�It�s outside of your clearance,� Scully cut in as she placed her arm around Sam and lead her out the door.  �Let�s leave them alone and get some coffee.  I�ll explain everything to you, I promise.�

Faith watched as the short red head lead Sam out of the room while Mulder reached up and unplugged the power to a small video camera that was mounted in the room.  �Now let�s find out what you really know.�

Faith took another look at Mulder and when she spoke, there was note of uncertainty in her voice.  �W-ho in the hell are you?  What do you know about my life?�

�I know vampires are real.  I know demons are also real,� Mulder said as he sat down and studied her intently.  �What I don�t know is who you are and what your interest in all this is.�

�I can�t tell you what I am, who I am,� Faith said in a whisper.  �I can�t tell anyone.�

�Faith, listen to me!  There are a lot of lives at stake here.  I�m sure you know that.  But we don�t have time for games here, so let�s just cut to the chase.  I know about the Council of Watchers, Faith.�

�Are you with them?� Faith asked her eyes narrowing with suspicion.

�No, I�m not with them.  But I know about them and I think I know about you.  You�re a Slayer, aren�t you?�

�I never said that,� Faith snapped and folded her arms under her breasts in a self-protective manner.

�So we�re back to playing games again,� Mulder said as he stood up to reactivate the camera.  �I was hoping you would be a bit more like the others.�

�Wait!� Faith snapped stopping Mulder from hooking the camera up.  �What do you mean?  What �others� are you talking about?�

�We all have our secrets, Faith and you won�t get any information from me until you open up and give us what we need to know.�

####

 Lobby of FBI headquarters

�What do you know about all this?� Sam demanded as they left the room and entered the main lobby of the building.  �I will not allow you two to confuse that girl anymore than she already is.  I have never heard of anything more ridiculous in all my life!  Vampires, for Christ�s sakes!  Scully, this isn�t a movie!  This is real, honest-to-God life!�

�Yes it is,� Scully agreed.  �Believe me, Sam, there are things out there that will make you rethink your entire world view and make you question all the knowledge you received from your parents. Unfortunately that girl in there is stuck playing a role I�m sure she doesn�t want but was forced upon her. You called us here to help, and we will, but you�ll have to let us do our jobs.�

�She�s not the �job,� Scully!  She�s just a kid!� Sam screamed just before one of the large main windows to the lobby shattered inward. 

As the window splintered into a thousand shards, a solid wedge of six bodies charged though the now open space.  Then Sam heard a man call out from the back of the crowd.  �Get the Slayer! Kill the rest!�

�Everyone, get back to your offices and lock your doors!� Scully barked as she swept her hand up and back under the collar of her duster and drew out her long sword.  Missing the stunned look on her fellow FBI agent�s face, Scully then raced forward and attacked the onrushing hoard. 

###

Mulder had just reactivated the camera when Sam came rushing into the room.  �Mulder, we�re under attack!�

�Sam, stay here with Faith!� Mulder snapped just as a brunette blur flashed past and shoved him aside.  When he realized that Faith was racing toward the lobby, he yelled after her.  �Faith, get back in here!�

�Not on your life, dude!� Faith screamed back over her shoulder.  �This is what I live for.�

Moments later, Faith exploded into the main office and stopped for just a second to grab a handy mop.  She broke it in two over her knee and rushed into the fracas that involved several humans and a few vampires that had the upper hand.  She used her makeshift stake with deadly efficiency killing four vampires before Mulder could even make it out of the room where they�d held her.  However, right behind the now sword wielding Federal agent stood five women dressed in some kind of armor and packing serious heat.

###

Faith�s room

�Damn Slayer,� Mulder grumbled as he shoved the table against the far wall hard, shattering it into kindling.  Then he flipped open his cell phone, took a quick glance around, judging the space before he dialed a number from memory.  Moments later, he dropped the phone onto the floor and jumped into a corner.  �Sam, against the wall now!�

Sam complied and a second later, five beautiful women suddenly appeared from nowhere in the room.  They were dressed in some kind of dark armor and each was armed with high tech weaponry.  They held their weapons at the ready and the barrels of their guns swept the room scanning for targets. 

�Balder,� a statuesque blond with a Stoner M2 machine gun barked out as she aimed her rifle at Mulder.

"Horatio," Mulder countered as a bead of sweat crept down his forehead. 

"Cerebus," the blond said, finishing the code sequence and lowering her rifle.   �What�s the situation?�

�Come with me,� Mulder ordered as he charged out of the room followed by the five newcomers.   As they entered the main office, the women rapidly assessed the situation and began to fire at the vampires with precise shots, decimating the ranks, leaving Mulder and Scully to deal with individual targets inside the building. 

Even with their withering fire, one of the women, the one with the Stoner, was attacked from behind by a vampire who�d gotten past them. He grabbed her hair and snapped her head back, exposing her long slender neck.   Just as he was about to bite her, his face expressed his agony for a moment before he became particles of dust, revealing Faith standing behind them with a gleam in her eye.

 �Don�t know where you hotties came from but keep it up and I�ll watch your backs,� Faith snapped as she raced over to where some vampires had lined up several agents along a wall. 

�Get the girl, Get the Slayer!� the words were chanted over and over by the vampires who pushed themselves into the office building. 

�Mulder, what the hell is going on?� Bailey screamed as he fired his service revolver into the attacking crowd with little effect.

�Bailey, get your agents back into the war room and lock the door,� Mulder said as he used his sword to cleave through a vampire. 

Mulder then noticed that Faith had rescued one of the Thunder Bunnies from having a real pain in the neck.  Then he noticed that it suddenly had gotten very quiet.  He watched as Scully cut the head off of the last vampire who had managed to make it into the Pit.   As the armored women joined Scully, Mulder moved toward them, leaving Faith off to one side, her eyes scanning the darkness just outside the building.

�Are we secure?� the blond asked.

�We need to check the dead and wounded,� Mulder ordered as he looked around the room where no less than fifty agents laid about in various stages of health. 

Then, at that moment, a voice from outside the building called out.  �Send out the girl!  Send her out and we�ll let you go free.�

�Not a chance in hell!� one of the armored women said as she fired a few shots out into the darkness.  Looking through her starlight scope she muttered.  �Mulder, take a look.�

Mulder peered into the darkness but couldn�t see a thing.  �What do you see?�

Instead of answering him, she unsnapped her scope and handed it to him.  As he brought the scope up, Mulder�s heart sank when he scanned the front of the building and spotted at least a hundred or so vampires. 

�Send her out; this is your last warning!�

�Do what he says!� an agent whispered from the back, �One for many, that�s acceptable, isn�t it?�

�The agent who said that had better be joking,� Bailey snapped as he scanned over the down looking agents.  �We�re here to protect and serve, people!  Now grow a spine and get your guns ready.�

�There�s nothing you can do here, Bailey,� Scully said as she placed a gentle hand on the agent�s shoulder.  �Take your people and hold tight in the war room.  We�ll hold down the fort out here.�

A stunned Bailey stared down at the tiny red head for a moment before he shook his head.  �No, Agent Scully, this isn�t just your fight!  They attacked my people and now I�m going to make them pay!� 

�Bailey!  Think, man!  You shot at those things point blank and they still came at you.  If it hadn�t been for Faith, you�d be dead.  I don�t have time to explain right now, but I promise once this is over we will.�

Reluctantly, Bailey started to move toward his people and grumbled, �All right, Agent Scully.  I�ll hold you to that.  But in the meantime, what are you going to do about the ones outside?�

�Wait them out,� Mulder said. �We have enough firepower to keep them out and sunrise is only seven hours away.�

�I�ve got a better idea,� Faith said as she moved closer to the group her eyes locked on a spot outside.  �Invite that blonde headed bastard in here.  Tell them he won�t be harmed by any of you.  He just has to face little ole me.  If he wins, they can have me.  If he loses, they get to go away empty handed.�

�They�d never agree to that,� Mulder said as he turned to face Faith, �And I would never agree to anything that would risk losing you, either.�

�You don�t have to, pal.  I�m the boss of me and I can agree to it myself!� Faith snapped.  Then she turned toward the broken windows and shouted, �Hey, Blondie!  Yeah, I know you can hear me and all!  Want to prove how tough you are?  Why don�t you come on in and get me.  I swear to you that the others won�t get in the way or give you any grief.  It�ll be just you and me, winner takes all.�

�Come out Slayer and you�ll save the others.  If you stay inside, I�ll have them all killed.�

�Bite me, fang boy!� Faith spat.  Then she glanced at Mulder and Scully.  �What now?�

###

Across town on warehouse row�

Ali watched as a vampire slipped into a warehouse before she turned back to Stalker and noted, �That�s eighteen.  I think I smell a trap.�

�It�s a trap all right,� Stalker agreed as he looked first left then right. 

�What�s on your mind, love?�

�Wonder what the city would pay to have those buildings,� he indicated several of the dilapidated warehouses that surrounded them, �disposed of?� Joshua asked his girl with a smile.  Then before she could answer him, he said, �Let�s go.�

�Where are we going?� 

�Remember that farm just outside of the city where we stopped a piece back?  We�re going there.� 

Several minutes later as they approached their car, Stalker said, �You drive, Ali.  I wanna call dad for some back up.  If I know that old nosey busy-body like I think I do, he probably has someone close standing by.�

�I like that old busy body and he�s more often right about when someone he cares about needs backup.� 

�Yeah, he is at that.  Perhaps he can suggest someone who has a rocket launcher or two,� Stalker drawled as they got into their car.  �I still think the best way to get this done is to burn them out.�

�I agree.  Maybe we can plant some explosives around the building?� Ali said as they drove away.

###

Montana

Casa del Romain

�Hello, son,� Casey greeted as he picked up the phone after reading his caller ID.  �How�s it shaping up in the land of cotton?�

�We just located another warehouse with unknown numbers.  I counted maybe twenty walking in, could have been more.�  Stalker reported.  �We�re going to need help with this one.�

�I have two groups of hunters in the area on standby; also, just read the data base, if you hurry to the municipal airport, Charlie, St. Wolf�s vamp from Sunnydale, will be arriving via Iverson Air.  Steven sent him to help Mulder and Dana, but their post said they�d be tied up with the local chapter for most of the evening.  I posted that you two would pick him up.�

�It�ll be good to see him again,� Joshua said, �What about the other two groups?�

�I�ll get them to meet you at the airport.  It should be a total of fifteen people,� Casey said as he typed on the computer in front of him.  �As I said, there are two groups; one is a group of nine, late twenties early thirties.  The leader of this first group is Toby Sterling; he�s a ex-marine with an attitude that makes most berserkers tame, but he�s cool as ice under pressure.  The other group is comprised of six young, early twenties kids.  They�re new to this fight, but they have two witches working with them and show a lot of promise.�

�Have the two groups ever worked together before, Dad?�

�Not to my knowledge, apparently they work on different sides of the city and never had a need before.  But they know of each other and share information.�

�Well, that�s good.  Okay, we�ll be at the airport in about twenty minutes.  Have them meet us there.�

###

Atlanta International Airport

Charlie took a quick look around as he disembarked from the twin engine Iverson Air jet that had carried him to Atlanta.  What he saw made him want to turn around and get back onboard.   On the tarmac were a gathering of men and women that his experience told him were there for a reason, and he was sure that reason was vampires.  Most of them carried weapons out in the open, shotguns he knew were loaded with dragon breath, a few AK�s and a few AR�s.  He even saw a Stoner.  But it was the women and men who weren�t armed who�d made him nervous.  A person had no business being down there without a weapon unless said person had something else that made them equal to the others, and, in his experience, that something was magic.  He�d seen enough of magic from Willow and Amy to know that was something he never wanted to be on the receiving end. 

Frantically, he searched the crowd for someone he knew.   He had been told Mulder and Scully would meet him here.  Obviously, something had gone terribly wrong and now he was left to face these hunters alone.  He did have one thing working for him, though.  St. Wolf had made him wear armor under his clothes and he knew for a fact that it would save him from everything up to the Stoner, so he would be okay unless, of course, one of those shotguns were aimed at his head and filled with dragon�s breath shells.

Realizing no one had noticed him yet, he calmly started to take a step backward back into the darkness of the interior of the plane when something happened that made that option superfluous.

�Hey, Charlie!� a very familiar female voice called from the back of the group.  He then noted the car that had just pulled up and the beautiful petite, red haired young woman and a equally familiar giant of a man.  �Come out of there, sweetie!  No one�s going to hurt you.�

�They�d better not,� Stalker growled as he looked over the group.  �First person I see pointing a weapon at a friend of mine will be nothing more than a spot on the ground.�

�Stalker, Ali,� Charlie greeted as he stepped out of the plane and noticed that many of the group had tightened their grips on their perspective weapons.  �They didn�t tell me you would be here.�

�Mulder and Scully are interviewing a girl at their office.� Stalker said as he took Charlie�s hand having advanced to stand next to the vampire.  Then he turned to face the group.  �People, we have a situation and this man is going to help us take care of it.�

�He�s a vamp.  Normally, I shoot vamps,� a young man said as he casually looked down the barrel of his big bore pistol.  �What makes him so special?�

�This MAN has a soul,� Ali snapped as she glared at the speaker.  �And he is on our side.�

�She speaks the truth,� a woman in white robes said as she took a step away from the crowd toward Ali then turned to face the group.  �You all know me and most of you know my story.  I don�t know how it is possible for a demon to have a soul but this one does have it.  Furthermore, his aura is as pure as anyone in our group.�

�Felicia, I do know you,� a man whose bearing held more than enough authority replied, �And I will stand on your word.  But that statement might have been one you could have considered more carefully before you said it in this company.  Other than our good vampire and Lady Alison, I don�t think there is one aura here that is even remotely clean.�

Smiling at the laughs that came from the stranger�s statement, Charlie knew he�d be okay and disembarked from the plane.  He hugged Ali and asked, �I heard Mulder and Scully had a job for me.  Are you working with them?�

�Yes, but right now we have a situation down by the docks; Ali and I counted no less than thirty vampires entering a large warehouse.  That many could mean only one thing,� Stalker said.  �We were hoping you�d give us a hand and find out what they�re doing inside that building before we raid the place.�

�Hell yeah!� The older man barked out with a laugh.  �That�d work!  We can give him a radio device and he can tell us what�s going on in there.  It�d be like going into a lit room.�

�That�s the plan,� Ali replied as she graced the older man with a lovely smile.  �You would be Toby Sterling, I presume?�

�Presume all you would like and I would be him,� the man said as he shook her hand.  �Casey said you two were something we�d have to see to believe.  But he didn�t say anything about a souled vampire.�

�As you can imagine, the knowledge that we have souled vampires working with us is not something we broadcast.  And no vampire is allowed to live after obtaining that knowledge.� Stalker said as he received the Toby�s nod of acknowledgement.  �I trust that you all don�t have a problem with this.�

�We have all read the Section 7�s SOP (standard operating procedures) and can work with them.  So, what�s your plan?�

�With Charlie being here, we can change things a bit.  We�ll send him in to get the lay of the land and when he returns from his little scouting trip, we�ll decide what to do at that point.�

�Sounds like a plan,� Toby said as he glanced at Charlie. �Do you feel up to it?�

The vampire simply shrugged at the man.  �It�ll be like a walk in the park, pal.  I do more dangerous things in Sunnydale on a daily basis.� Charlie said as he produced a MP5 from under his trench coat, racked the firing pin back and replaced it in his holster.  �I would like to meet some of your people but I guess we need to save it for another time.  For now, though, I�d appreciate the 4-1-1 on both you and the lady in white.�

�I�m Toby Sterling.  I guess I would be in command of the group in front of you when we are together.  The lady is Felicia Winningstar, she�s a medic but what she can do is far beyond anything you�ve ever seen.�

�Wouldn�t bet on that,� Charlie drawled as he carefully studied the woman from head to toe.  �You�re a cleric right?�

�I am,� she confirmed, a bit surprised. �How do you know?�

�I live on the Hellmouth.  We�ve got one, too and I�ve seen enough to know what you can do.  I�ve seen a cleric heal an energy drain, also heard of one who killed vampires just by looking at them.�

�Charlie,� Stalker said with a laugh, �stop showing off!  Let�s get going and you can ride with Ali and me.�

###

Ford Blazer following Stalker�s car.

�What do you think of him?� Toby asked Felicia as they followed Stalker�s car.  �The souled vampire I mean.�

�I gotta believe him; he knew too much not to be on the level.  What I wanna know is how did they do it?�

�He said they had a cleric,� Toby offered up.

�No cleric would do this, not a good cleric anyway.�

�Felicia, was it true what he said about a cleric being able to dust vamps without touching them?�

�On my home world there were more than a few who could have done it, but those didn�t adventure much, for they were retired to a temple of some sort.  They would be the level of cardinals in your churches.�

�So not something a beginner can do then.  What about that other thing, the energy thing?�

�I have told you before the vampires on my world drain your energy or life force, to reverse it would take something higher than the cardinal, more like an archbishop.  But they would never ensoul a vampire.  Clerics and those who follow our faith believe in natural life, ensouling a vampire would be like taking something that wasn�t yours.  In this case you�re taking a soul from a God.  That is something that does not sit well with clerics.�

�From all I have heard about the group in Sunnydale, they�re good people.  I don�t know why they did ensoul him but now, I�m glad they did.  If I had to guess, someone in Sunnydale has read Sun Zu.�

�So we�re going to back these strangers?�

�Yeah, I believe they will be straight with us.  Besides, Ronny�s been telling me something big is about to happen.  I hope they have more people on the way.�

�Is Ronnie all right?� Felicia asked as they came to a stop in a parking lot overlooking the docks.

�Ronny�s Ronny. When is he ever not all right?�

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