As he left the group, Charlie half slid, half walked down the side of the hill toward the warehouse. As he moved he conditioned himself toward the alter ego that he hated so much but kept him and a lot of innocents alive. As he reached the door of the warehouse in question he smelt the mixture of feces, blood, piss and fear and steeled himself against what he knew he’d find on the other side of the door. Then he pushed it open and was challenged even before he could enter the building.
“Hey, boy! You picked the wrong door!” a ragged voice snapped from just beyond the door, closely followed by the clicking of the hammer of a gun being cocked back. “Normally I’d have just drained you and be done with it, but we still need a few sacrifices for the cere….”
Before the vampire could finish his sentence, Charlie moved with the speed only his demon could possess. He twisted at the hips, knocking the shotgun away from his body; then he grabbed the barrel and twisted it against the rotation of his opponent’s wrist. Then with a quick jerk, he snapped the other vampire’s wrist and wrenched the shotgun away from him. A split second later, Charlie twisted the shotgun around and slammed both barrels brutally into his assailant’s guts, doubling him over like a folding chair.
Charlie then jerked the weapon up and with his left hand, grabbed the stunned vampire by the throat and contemptuously threw him to the side. “You dumb piece of shit, don’t you know who I am?”
“I don’t know and I don’t care,” a second vampire said as he entered the area. Charlie sensed the power and the age of this new vampire and the demon inside him shook with fear while Charlie struggled to push past it.
“Is that a fact? Well, then, how do you wanna settle this?”
The unknown vampire smiled viciously at Charlie and drawled, “The way I settle everything; you know, with your blood and guts spread all over the floor.”
“Charlie, is that really you?” someone called from the crowd. Suddenly the swelling crowd parted to allow a teenage vampire boy to approach Charlie and his adversary. As the boy reached their side, he turned to Charlie’s opponent and said, “Hey, Mandale, you might wanna rethink the whole idea of killing this guy, he’s a bit more than he appears. Back in Sunnydale when I left he was the only one who stood against the Slayer and her army and be able to live to tell about it. Fact is, after they fought, no one saw the Slayer for about a week or so.”
“That’s not saying much; she’s still alive,” Mandale noted as he shot a contemptuous look at Charlie.
“Well you’re right about that,” the teenage vampire agreed then sarcastically added, “But wait! So is he.”
A low murmur ran through the crowd as Mandale examined Charlie once more.
Charlie, in response, studiously ignored Mandale as the boy turned toward him and asked, “What are you doing in this neck of the woods, Charlie?”
“Things got a little hot in Sunnydale, kid. Even though I busted up the Slayer pretty good, every time I turned around, that bitch would send for another group of fighters to join her little gang. So now, even the Hellmouth is pretty much off limits to us Undead Americans.”
The boy nodded at Charlie then sneered. “Well, that’s okay about Sunnydale, Charlie, because soon, it’s going to be safe for us here. We have a master who’s killed four Slayers. Why even his lieutenant managed to kill three of them by himself.”
“Who, this clown?” Charlie asked as he pointed to Mandale.
“No,” the boy said, shaking his head while he began to lead Charlie deeper into the warehouse. “Mandale is strong, older than any I’ve ever met, but he’s not the top dog. The leader is named Kakistos. Guy is so old his hands and feet are cloven hooves.” Soon, they arrived at a heavy door where the kid took his place to guard it as he said, “His lieutenant is no stranger to that Buffy chick. His name is Angelus.”
“Angelus,” Charlie asked as he rubbed his chin and tried to fight down the sinking feeling in his gut. “I’d heard he was dead.”
“So did I, but he’s alive, so to speak, and in charge of a huge army,” the boy said proudly.
“Cool! Anything that would spook Buffy is okay by me, my man. Say, what’s behind this door, little dude?”
“Sacrifices to raise Lettealt-she’s a major demon from the second level of Hell. She’s promised to give both Kakistos and Angelus ultimate power, but to raise her we need three hundred healthy teenage women.”
“Do tell…sounds like a tall order, kid. How many of the sweet darlings do we have on hand?” Charlie asked as he looked around and took a quick head count of the vampire population.
“Over half; we have a target in mind to get the rest tonight. But we have to wait until Stanley finishes his assignment,” the boy said as Mandale stepped up to them.
“So, Charlie, do you want to join us?” Mandale asked as he toyed with a nine inch dagger with gems embedded in the handle.
“If I don’t,” Charlie quipped as he narrowed his eyes at the other vampire and moved to the side to get some room, “are you going to stick me with that?”
“That’s exactly what I’m going to do,” Mandale snapped as he lunged with the dagger toward Charlie’s gut.
Suddenly, just as Charlie dodged his enemy’s thrust, an explosion blasted the front door several yards into the room, followed by the flash of a bright sunburst which caused a lot of vampires to combust.
Charlie had expected the attack but was in no position to help the raiding party as he was in a fight to the death with a much older vampire. As he jumped back to avoid another slash, his jacket flew open, allowing him access to his mp5. Charlie drew it with a fluid motion and burnt half a clip into Mandale which sent the bloodsucker screaming back to hell. Then he turned his mp5 on some nearby vampires and it spat a steady hail of wooden death that stopped just as the hot barrel swung toward the teenaged vampire boy. By now the rest of the building was a battle ground as his back up moved into the building with pistols, swords, and the occasional flaming torch to vanquish the vampires as quickly as possible.
“Boy,” Charlie said with a wicked smile to the frightened young vampire, “you’ve been real helpful to me.” Then in a hard voice, he snapped, “Now tell me where this Stanley went and what’s his assignment and I’ll let you go for old time’s sakes.”
“C-Charlie,” the boy stammered, “what’s going on? Who are these people?”.
“Never mind them, boy. Now tell me what I want to know!” Charlie growled as he held a wooden dagger over the boy’s undead heart.
“He’s at the FBI headquarters-his job is to eliminate a girl they believe to be another Slayer.” The boy cried out as he turned to run. Moments later, the kid was able to make it around a corner before he screamed and was vanquished by a fireball.
Charlie coolly turned toward the witch he’d known would take care of the Sunnydale kid and was brought up short when he saw her hard, liquid black eyes.
“You were going to let him go!” she accused while a fireball began to form between her shaking hands. “Of course you were… after all… you’re one of them, aren’t you? So, soul or no soul I’m sending you back to Hell where you belong.”
“Hold it, little girl,” Charlie drawled, trying to calm the angry woman with a false sense of ease he certainly wasn’t feeling at the time. “Let’s not lose our heads, all right? I knew you were there and knew you wouldn’t let him go. But I had to get the information he had so we can use it against the other vampires.”
“So you can help them kill the Slayer, you mean?” At his look of surprise, she scoffed at him. “Yes, vampire, I heard the boy say that to you, too.”
“Then what’s your problem, kid? We got to get over there and help the Slayer out!”
“My problem?” she repeated. “My problem is that you’re an abomination of nature,” the girl accused as her eyes narrowed slightly. “You have to die.”
Charlie watched closely as her arm jerked up then at the last second he flung himself to his left allowing the fireball to blow the door to the prisoners’ room off its hinges.
After he landed, Charlie shifted his body and sprang toward the girl, hoping to knock her out before she could launch another mystical attack against him. Suddenly, though, everything went dark and he had no idea what was going on. He was weightless as his body appeared to float in nothingness.
It was a strange sensation.
After she missed the vampire with her fireball, she hurriedly called up another fireball as the vampire was almost upon her, his arms out stretched. At that moment, she knew he would kill her. She panicked and abandoned the fireball spell and tried to call upon another when suddenly her senses went black-she couldn’t feel or hear anything… Something was wrong, something unexpected and very wrong.
As Felicia Winningstar forced her way into the building with the first wave of the attack, something pushed her onward although she wasn’t sure what it happened to be. As she strode deeper into the building, completely ignoring the vampires who hurriedly backed away from her and failing to notice the hapless one that exploded into dust when it was stumbled into her, her companion, Toby Sterling, asked, “What’s that?” as he pointed at Felicia’s cleavage where a pendant hung from her neck and glowed brightly.
“Later, Toby,” she snapped when she saw the prison’s door shatter from the explosion of a large fireball against it. Then, almost in slow motion to her enhanced senses, she spied Patty Louise draw energy from the air to create another fireball as she tracked Charlie, the vampire who worked with Section Seven in Sunnydale, with her eyes. She also watched how fast Charlie moved, ready to defend himself from the young witch.
Just as Charlie leapt she shut out everything else around her and cast a spell she’d not tried in a long while, a spell her mentor had taught her years ago.
“Dark box swallow those in my vision keep them safe till I call for them.” Her voice was strong; the light nestled in her cleavage grew brighter still brushing a few vampires that happened to be too close to her. As the last word left her lips, her vision went dark and her legs buckled from under her. She felt her body fall into something strong but soft before she was slowly laid down upon the floor.
“Felicia, what’s happening?” Toby asked as he shot another vampire who got too close to her. He heard Felicia cast a spell and was just fast enough to catch her before she hit the ground. The glow in her cleavage had grown brighter and had grown to encompass her body. Even though he was frightened by what had happened, he knew somehow that she would be okay. Toby the saw several of his teammates and snapped, “Taz, Mark, Jill, come cover her.”
As the three people moved toward Felicia, Toby moved deeper into the warehouse, a pistol in each hand. He noticed Ali and Stalker were gliding through the ranks of the vampires like a hot knife through butter. The pair destroyed ten vampires before any of his group could vanquish three, using only swords and wooden stakes.
So engrossed was he in the battle, he missed the vampire who slipped up behind him. Fortunately for Toby, Ali saw his peril and moved to counter it. “Watch out!” she snapped and when he ducked, she swung her blade and decapitated the vamp that had targeted him.
Unfortunately for the little red head, while she had focused on Toby’s attacker, she’d failed to notice the vampire that had drawn a bead on her. The creature shoved a gun into the middle of her back and pulled the trigger three times in rapid succession, killing her instantly. As her body collapsed to the floor, Stalker turned his double barrel shotgun on his lover’s murderer and fired it at the beast. Two large fireballs ejected from both of its barrels and obliterated Ali’s killer as well as six other vampires into atoms. Then, like a sentry, Stalker stood over Ali’s body, his shotgun now hanging useless on his belt while he held an mp5 in one hand while his other held his sword.
Toby then moved to Stalker’s side, unsure how would shake the bigger man out of his daze.
“Son, come on we can’t help her and the others need our help.” Toby urged but received no reply from the bigger man. Shaking his head Toby decided to leave the giant who he hoped could protect himself. He had to go help the others; the fight was far from over.
Even as he raced off, he knew the fight had cost his people dearly. He’d noticed two of his men on the ground dead due to their throats being torn out. As he came across the third he could tell the battle was almost completed as the gunfire from deeper in the warehouse began to die down. Before, it had been the din of automatic fire, now he heard single, well placed shots.
Moments later, as he entered the main area of the warehouse, Toby was shocked to find Charlie the Souled vampire floating in the air near the door where the prisoners had been held, while Patty, the group’s most knowledgeable witch was being held in stasis. Both of their eyes were covered in a solid white film. He was not sure what had happened but he guessed it had to do with Felicia.
“Darrel, Tom, get these two out to the car, but be careful.” Toby ordered as he surveyed the area. “Crystal, John, go and collect Felicia and be careful with her. Couple of you other guys go help out Stalker and his girlfriend, get them in the car and let’s head back to base. The rest of you get moving; you know what needs to be done, let’s close this place down permanently.”
The group moved with a purpose and began to follow his orders and transport the freed prisoners to the nearest hospital. Meanwhile, their three dead comrades were taken to the morgue, where they were put into the furnace straight away. No one wanted one of their own to come back as a vamp and no one was going to take any chances.
Toby Sterling had the group load up Stalker, Ali, Patty, Charlie and Felicia in his van and were on their way to his headquarters when he heard a sharp intake of breath. He took a quick glance over to Felicia as he figured it was her but found that she was still out. In the back he heard Stalker start to softly cry as he talked to someone. A quick glance in the mirror caused him to almost crash when he noticed Ali and Stalker in an embrace. Toby slammed on the brakes as he pulled the car over and jumped up out of his seat and bumped his head as he pulled out his sword cutting a groove in the overhead fabric as he did.
“Push her away, Stalker,” Toby ordered as he advanced with the sword. “She’s a vamp, kill her.”
“No!” Stalker ordered as he grabbed Toby’s wrist in his own iron grasp. “She is not a vampire. I’ll explain it to you later, but not right now, I just want to hold my girl.”
“Prove to me she’s not a vamp before I go anywhere,” Toby argued as he tried to pull his wrist free.
“Do you know a vampire with a heart beat?” Stalker asked with a grin as he dragged Toby over by his hand and forced it on Ali’s neck where he knew Toby would feel the beating pulse.
His eyes widened as he dropped his sword, Toby asked. “How? I saw her take three bullets; no one could have survived that.”
“Let’s go, Toby, I’ll explain more to you later. Right now we have to regroup and find out what the hell is going on.”
Toby could only nod before he returned to his seat and drove the van to their headquarters where the others were already waiting.
The three unconscious people were made comfortable in different rooms; a guard was placed outside Charlie’s room. More than a few eyes fell upon Ali and the same question ran rampant around the room. “How was she alive?”
Seeing the accusing stares directed her way, Ali stood up and faced the group thinking fast. Seeing more than one fearful look toward her and a lot of mistrust she took a deep breath before trying to explain her situation. “I know what you all must think, and I am equally sure none of what you’re thinking is close to being the truth. So let me calm your fears first. I’m not a vampire or anything else undead. Still don’t believe me, come and feel my pulse. Come on, as many of you that it would take. I am not undead.”
As expected she was rushed by the group each of them trying to feel her, although Stalker had to stop a wandering hand or two from a few men and women. Once they were satisfied that she was alive, one young man said. “Damn it, I saw you shot, no one comes back from three or four bullets blowing through the body. I witnessed the shots; they were all around the heart area.”
Before she answered the young man, she pulled a simple silver ring off her finger, showing the room the ring before she started on a very carefully woven lie that she had prepared since meeting up with Section Seven.
As she looked over her audience she began the story, while she watched for anyone who might doubt her story. “You all know about the LA war, right? Well I was initiated into this world during that war. The vampires had killed my mother and were saving me as a snack when two operatives of Section Seven stepped in and saved my life. I did what I could to help them and one of them gave me this ring. He said it would heal me totally if I kept it on. All of them have a ring like this; he gave me his. The ring was given to them by a man much like Felicia, only he was much older and more powerful. I don’t know if it will work again and I would like to return it to Section Seven one day.”
“I’ve heard stranger stories,” the boy who questioned Ali in the first place said as he sat down on a couch.
“Someday I would like to meet this cleric,” Felicia said as she entered the main room helped by two men. “He must be the one Charlie spoke of.”
“Sorry, no one knows where he is or if he is still with Section Seven,” Stalker said with a shrug, “after the battle in the Forum, he walked out of Sunnydale and no one has heard of him since.”
“Felicia,” Toby said as he stood while Stalker was talking. “Are you okay?”
A fleeting smile graced Felicia’s face. “I’m fine, please have Patty and Charlie brought in here. I must find out what happened between the two of them.”
Quickly the two in question were brought into the room and a blind fold was placed over both pairs of their eyes in preparation of bringing them out of stasis.
Felicia got into position to stop either of them from attacking the other before she whispered the words. “Room of darkness, release your captives so I may find out their secrets.”
“Hello” both subjects yelled as if they had been doing it for a while. “Anyone here?”
“We are here,” Felicia said her voice stronger than she felt. “Calm down.”
“What the hell was that about?” Charlie growled as he reached up to take off his blind fold. “Why are you all just sitting around? We have to go.”
At the same time Patty reached up to take her blindfold off, she looked over to Charlie her protest louder than his, and her words grew angry grasps and looks from the crowd. “He was going to let a vampire go free.”
“He would never,” Stalker snapped as he looked at the group.
“A vamp can’t help itself,” the man who wanted to kill Charlie at the airport said.
“Kill me later if you want,” Charlie snapped his hand held up when Stalker started to say something. “But right now, we need to get to the FBI headquarters and help Mulder and Scully. They need our help.”
“How do you know this?” Felicia asked as she looked Charlie over. “I sense you’re telling the truth as you know it, but how?”
“The vamp I was going to let go told me,” Charlie snapped, as the group gasped at his confirmation of Patty’s accusation. “Sure I let him go; right into the hands of someone who was around the corner who I knew would kill him.”
“That is something most of the Sunnydale group uses; they tell them I won’t kill you.” Ali said with a smile. “I didn’t say anything about someone else killing you.”
“After hearing him say he was going to let a vampire go, you’re still going to back him?” the man asked.
“A better question would be are we going to stand around and debate his intentions and let the FBI agents die?” Felicia asked as she looked the group over who had already begun to move toward the door grabbing their weapons and making sure they were loaded.
“Five different cars, the FBI building is on MLK near First, let’s cover all six exits. Use channel 23 for primary comms, secondary use your phones most of you have Nextel.”
“I should have done this earlier,” Stalker said as he pulled out his cell phone and called Mulder.
“I’ll call your dad; we need to get help here fast.” Ali said as she pulled out her own cell phone as they listened to what Charlie had to say about what he learned from the vampire.
Mulder glanced down at his watch for the tenth time in the past five minutes before he looked over to Scully who was talking with the Thunder Bunnies. “Scully I have to call Steve; we’re going to need help.”
“Honey, we have already talked about that, there is nothing he is going to be able to do about our present situation. I have already put our situation on the board and we both know that board is monitored 24/7. I doubt anyone will call just to tell us they’re on the way but I‘m also sure someone is coming.”
“I know but still I wanna hear a friendly voice,” Mulder said as he hit speed dial only to have someone yelling in his ear already on the phone.
“Mulder damn it, don’t do that!”
“Stalker? Is that you?” Mulder asked as he looked at the phone. “I didn’t mean to call you.”
“I know I called you while you were going to call a friendly voice I got that.” Stalker snapped. “Listen; be careful a hit squad of vamps is on the way to you, we will be there in a minute or so.”
“They’re already here,” Mulder said his voice low. “We have a hundred or so outside; however, we have enough firepower to keep them at bay unless they decide to rush us.”
“Don’t sweat it,” Stalker said his voice taking on a lighter tone, “Where are they?”
“Bastards are lined up outside.”
“Lined up huh?” Mulder heard Stalker say just before the pitch of the motor changed. The phone was dropped and someone yelled. “Everyone hang on, we are bowling for vampires.”
Scully, Mulder, the Thunder Bunnies and Faith watched in shock as a large white van mowed down over half of the vampires, closely followed by two cars racing around the other corner with two people in each car sitting on the window sills spraying the street with wooden bullets.
Faith snapped out of her stupor first-her eyes never left the blond vampire; she watched as he directed a counter attack and knew he had to die before the vamps could counter the surprise attack. Before anyone could do anything she snatched up a piece of wood and charged out the door calling to the blonde vampire.
“Hey, proxy boy,” Faith snapped as she found the vampire in an alcove away from the main fighting. “Still looking for a little Faith?”
“My master wants you,” Stanley said as he looked darkly at Faith, trying to wrest control over her mind. However the Slayer spirit in her was much older than he and much stronger.
“He’s going to have to wait,” Faith said as she moved in with the makeshift stake only to have him swat it away, then the fight was on.
Stanley tried to use his height to his advantage, as he tried to keep Faith out at arm’s reach for him. Faith however was short and fast. She moved in under his defenses, striking at certain targets before falling out of his reach.
However, when Stanley chanced a look at something behind Faith’s back, the Slayer knew that something was fast approaching her six. Using his attention on the sneak attacker, she slipped under Stanley’s arms and kicked his knee with everything she had-sending the leg into a backward bend which forced him onto the ground. She followed up that move with a spin in time to see another vamp which had tried to sneak up on her and threw the stake which sent the second of her opponents to its final death.
“This is for Linda, you dead piece of shit!” Faith snapped as she turned back to Stanley and savagely drove her fist into his throat. She followed that up with a palm strike to the nose, forcing the cartilage and bone shards into Stanley’s brain. Then after the stricken vampire flopped onto his back, Faith doubled both of her fists and pounded on his heart, much like a person would do if they were trying to revive a drowning person. However her strike was delivered with considerable force and the addition of a wooden stake.
Faith fell to the ground as the vampire exploded in dust, tears from her face mixing with it and turning it to a paste. Then she rolled up into a fetal ball and allowed the anguish of the past few days and the loss of Linda wash over her. She felt more than heard two people move over to her and she glared at them through her tear-stained eyes. “Can’t a girl get a little privacy around here?”
“If that’s what you want ma’am,” the older of the two said as they turned around but did not leave.
“Well, if that don’t beat all! Two heroes who happen to be gentlemen, too. Will wonders never cease!”
“Wouldn’t say I was a hero,” the younger said his back still facing her. “More like an idiot with a bit of a death wish.”
“What do you think a hero is?” Faith deadpanned as she stood up. “Let’s get back to work.”
Inside FBI Headquarters
“Faith!” Mulder screamed as he drew his sword out of its scabbard while he chased the brunette. “Faith, get back here! Damn it, Scully, that girl is going to be the death of me!”
“Maybe you should take her over your knee and spank her,” Scully suggested as she followed her husband to the broken window moving to meet the rush of vampires who tried to get away from the carnage that was taking place in the streets.
“That works for me, Scully,” Mulder said as he attacked the first vampire that made it through the door, taking its head before he moved on to his next opponent.
Fearful of stray bullets hitting friendlies outside the building, the Thunder Bunnies slung their weapons and drew their swords as they moved into hand to hand combat with the vampires which had forced their way into the building. The stem of vampires into the building was limited because of the access paths. Already the Thunder Bunnies were able to reinforce the non-broken glass which allowed the doors to remain closed, so the only way into the building was through the already broken windows.
Fighting side by side, Mulder, Scully and the Thunder Bunnies were able to keep the vampires out while the fighting outside intensified.
Mulder noticed the van as it stopped in front of the FBI building; the side door slid open letting Ali, Stalker and about six other men he didn’t know out to attack the vampires like they were born to it. As he watched the vampires were slowly eliminated by the rescuers and soon all that could be heard was single gun shots from around the building.
“Somebody get me a status report,” Mulder yelled as the shots died down. He took a moment to look around the room getting an estimated count of the dead agents. “Get the dead off the floor, let the locals know we have it under control; I don’t want them in this room.”
“Just what the hell are you doing, Mulder?” Bailey asked while he and Sam came out of the room. “I demand to know what is going on right now.”
Ignoring Bailey for the moment, he turned to Faith who’d just reentered the building accompanied by two men. “Faith, are there any more vamps close by?”
Faith zoned out for a moment before she shook her head. “None that I can feel.”
“What is your effective range?” Mulder asked.
“I don’t know, we never got around to measuring it,” Faith said as she looked at Mulder. “Who are you? How do you know about my abilities?”
“I told you, when you tell me yours, I’ll tell you mine.”
“Enough of this! What are you both not telling me?” Bailey barked at both Mulder and the Slayer. Waving a hand around the room he continued, “I want the truth and I want it now!”
“All right, first let’s get this mess cleaned up. Get a couple of your agents out here to handle questions and clean up, let the locals know that you were attacked but we will handle it.” Mulder ordered. “I need to talk to a few of my friends to find out what they learned, and then we can go over it with you.”
After Bailey walked away to organize the cleanup of the pit, Mulder called over Stalker and Ali, and noticed that a man and woman were with them.
“Hello, Stalker, Ali, how did the warehouse go?”
“Took out a whole lot of vamps, lost a few of our people, and found out some intelligence that’s pretty damn scary. By the way, this,” he indicated with a sweep of his hand toward the man and woman standing beside him, “is Toby Sterling and Felicia Winningstar. He runs one of the local groups of hunters associated with Section Seven and she’s part of the group.”
Mulder shook hands with both of the newcomers before he turned back to Stalker and lead him toward the interrogation room. “What happened at the warehouse?”
“Found a large nest-had to get back up, and we found out a few things.”
Sometimes the Truth is weirder than the lies.
After Scully, Caitlan from the Thunder Bunnies, Faith, Sam and Bailey had joined Mulder and the others, Mulder asked Stalker, “Okay, so what did you find out?”
“It’s some kind of power giving ceremony. A local master wants to call upon a high level demon for more power and he needs approximately four hundred teenage girls to perform the task. We set about half that number free tonight.”
“Tell them the names of the vampires,” Ali said.
“Let’s see, there’s Mr. Trick, and Kakistos,” Stalker said then after a few moments, he added, “oh, and Angelus.”
“Angelus?” Both Scully and Mulder shouted. Then Scully said, “I thought Hammer got him in New York?”
“So did the gang in Sunnydale,” Ali added. “Who’s going to be the brave soul who’s dumb enough to tell Buffy that he’s still alive and kicking, so to speak?”
Mulder simply sighed. “I guess I win the booby prize. I’ll do it.” Mulder said as he turned to Bailey before taking a deep breath. “Bailey, I guess we’re just going to have to throw you in the deep end and hope you can swim. Things are definitely going to get hot around here.”
“Like they weren’t an hour ago?” Bailey sarcastically observed.
“Mulder?” Sam asked as she looked over to Faith who sat in her seat with a smug look on her face. “All of this? Do you mean Faith was actually telling the truth?”
“Vampires, Demons, Witches, Bureau 13 and all the other things you thought were just stuff from scary movies,” Mulder said simply as he took a seat, “they’re all real. Unfortunately for you, you’ve just been tossed into this fight now. I’m sorry you’re in this position but that’s the way the cookie crumbles. What you do with this knowledge and how you approach it is up to you. However, this situation must be handled and we’re the best you’ve got, so there it is.”
“What do you want us to do?” Bailey asked as he sank back down into his seat.
“I’ll make a call to get some experienced help out here. In Los Angeles, they worked with the LAPD and were able to take care of the problem with minimal loss. Hopefully, they’ll be able to do the same here,” Mulder said as he took out his phone while he watched a troubled Bailey for a response. “As for you, you can help by using your influence with the local police force to run interference for us.”
“A cover-up?” Sam asked. “It’s well documented about your stance against cover-ups.”
“We realize how this must sound,” Scully said. “But given the situation, how do you think the populace would react if they were to find out vampires were real?”
“There would be wide-spread panic and fear that would force people to form isolated pockets for protection. It would throw us back into the Middle Ages,” Mulder said before anyone had a chance to answer Scully. “That’s exactly what the vampires and the demons would want humanity to react and we can’t allow that.”
“Who’re these people you’re calling?” Bailey asked and pointed toward Ali and Stalker. “And who’re these two?”
“Also, what does Faith have to do with this?” Sam asked
“That’s something Faith should have discussed with you but right now I really don’t have time to waste so let’s address that issue right now. Before I go on, though, I’ve got to have your word that what I’m about to tell you won’t leave this room.”
After he received nods from both agents, he continued. “Faith is a Slayer; she was possessed by an ancient spirit which endowed her with the power and speed it takes to fight the darkness.”
“Wait a cotton-picking minute!” Faith shouted as she jumped to her feet, “Are you telling me I’m Possessed?”
“Only in a very limited manner,” Mulder hurriedly explained because he knew it wasn’t conducive to one’s longevity to be the one to upset a Slayer. “The Spirit simply enhances abilities that you were born and slightly alters your DNA. It doesn’t control your actions. That’s why the Watchers always try to find the girl when she’s very young, so they can train her to be on the side of good. Believe me, an evil Slayer would be something terrible to behold.”
“Are you saying Faith is some kind of a…a…superhero?” Sam asked incredulously.
“Give her some spandex, boots, and a cape and she’d be the real thing,” Mulder drawled. “The problem is that it’s a role that’s often forced upon these girls. They have nothing to say about it, and their expectant life span, until recently, was a year or two, tops.”
“You said was?” Faith sputtered when Mulder stopped talking. “What’s that supposed to mean?”
“We can discuss that later,” Mulder said as he focused back on Bailey. “Sir, can we count on your support?”
“Who exactly are these people you’re bringing in?” Bailey asked again. “Who’re these two,” again he indicated Toby and Felicia, “and who’re the people outside?”
“These two belong to the local chapter of the group we’re calling in. His name is Toby Sterling, and she is Felicia Winningstar. The main group is called Section Seven.”
“I’ve heard of them,” Bailey said after a moment, “They were the group in LA a few months back, weren’t they? The group no one knows who they belong to?”
“Bailey, they’re your best chance to keep your city from being destroyed. I will explain everything you need to know if they become an issue, I promise.”
“All right, but I want full disclosure.” Bailey said.
“It’s going to be a pleasure working with you Bailey,” Mulder said with a grin, “Steven St. Wolf, he’s the leader of Section Seven, is going to like you.”
“I don’t give a rat’s ass if he likes me or not,” Bailey snapped. “If this guy does anything to level my town, I’m going to bury him and you along with him.”
Mulder simply nodded and said, “This meeting is adjourned. Meanwhile, I’ll make the call. Get Faith’s walking papers; we’re going to need to take her with us.”
“I’m not leaving her side until I know she’s going to be safe.” Sam Waters said as she followed Scully out the door.
Mulder walked over to a corner of the room out of earshot of the others before he pulled out his cell phone while Stalker and Ali answered the questions Bailey threw at them in rapid succession.
“St. Wolf residence,” a young man greeted when the phone was picked up, which brought a smile to Mulder’s face.
“Hello, Brian, is Steve or Buffy at home?”
“Hello, Mr. Mulder,” the boy replied after a second. “Yes, they are, give me a minute to get them.”
Moments later, St. Wolf came on the line, breathing heavily. “All right, Mulder, talk to me. What’s the situation?”
“Steve, it’s pretty serious. Pack your bags and get here quick. If you have a few friends available, bring them, too.”
“We’re packed and ready. We’ll be there in six hours, tops.”
“Thanks, friend. See you shortly,” Mulder replied then hung up the phone.
St. Wolf’s Residence
“Must be serious,” Steve said as he hung up the phone, “Mulder didn’t even try to get a barb in about me being short of breath.”
“What did he say?” Buffy asked as she wiped the perspiration off her face after putting her wooden sword down.
“Said he needed us,” Steve replied as he started dialing his phone. “Get the gang over here; we’re taking Xander, Oz, Cordelia, Willow and Randi along for the ride. Shaw, Amy, Robin and Larry will protect Sunnydale while we’re gone.”
“St. Wolf, I think Gabrielle and I should crash this party along with you,” Sonja noted from her back on the bench press seat as Gabrielle spotted her.
“That goes without saying, Red,” St. Wolf said.
Buffy called out to him and said, “Xander’s coming over with the others in tow,”
“We’ll meet you at the airport,” Gabrielle said as she grabbed Sonja’s hand and dragged her out of the room where she ran into Willow Rosenberg. “Willow do you want a ride to your house?”
“We all keep a war bag here at Steve’s.” Willow smiled as the two ladies hurriedly left the house. “Maybe you two should think of doing the same.”
“We just might,” Sonja said as she headed for the front door followed by Gabrielle, “but for now we’ll meet you at the airport.”
A half hour later the entire Scooby squad was sitting in Steve’s front room wondering what was going on. Finally Steve and Buffy came down from upstairs each wearing the black jumpsuit that Section Seven had adopted since the LA fight. They both were carrying their war bags which told the group a lot.
“What’s up?” Xander asked as the pair reached the living room.
“We have a situation in Atlanta,” St. Wolf said. “Amy, you, Shaw, Robin and Larry will be staying here; I’m taking Buffy, Randi, Willow, Cordelia, Xander, Oz, Giles, and Jenny.”
“What’s the situation?” Xander asked again, “I read the database, but is there anything more we should know?”
“Sorry, Xander,” Steve replied as he looked over the group. “What is on the Database is all we know right now. I just got the call from Mulder to come a-running; he didn’t have time to describe the exact nature of the problem.”
“We’re actually going in blind?” Cordelia asked as she snuggled up to Xander. “Isn’t that like the first no-no rule?”
“Yes, Cordelia, it is but Mulder should have some firm Intel for us when we get there, so don’t worry, we’ll be all right.”
“We believe that Casca and a few of his friends will be there either before or shortly after us,” Buffy added.
“Be good to see him again,” Xander said with a sly look over to Cordelia before he kissed her on the cheek. “Wonder who he has with him.”
“We have a plane ready for us.” Steve said while he looked strangely at Xander before he continued. “Xander, Oz collect your preferred sniper rifles, six mp5’s and enough pistols to go around. Willow stock up on your spell components, we have to be ready for anything when we go.”
“Steve,” Randi asked from where she sat. “Are you sure you want to take me?”
“Feeling a bit off?” Cordelia asked with a smile.
“A bit,” Randi replied as she bit her lower lip.
“Don’t worry, Randi, we all had the jitters when we started out,” Cordelia said as she placed her arm around the girl. “You don’t have anything to worry about, you’re ready, and I’ll feel comfortable with you at my back.”
“Really?” Randi asked as she looked at Cordelia.
“No question,” Cordelia replied as she looked over to Buffy, “Right?”
“None at all,” Buffy smiled as she joined the two girls on the couch.
“Randi, you earned a spot on the team, and I’m sorry if I haven’t treated you as a member before this.” St. Wolf said to the three girls. “Now if you’re done with the crying circle we’ve some friends to pull out of the fire.”
Atlanta FBI Building
“They’ll be here in six hours.”
Mulder's announcement to the
gathering of agents and vampire hunters who sat around the table made Faith's
stomach feel like she'd suffered a dropout during a ride on the rollercoaster
from hell. 'Christ,' she thought, 'B and K are really alive and on their
Unaware of her discomfort, the FBI agent turned to the new guy and said, "Toby, is there a place close by where we can set up a headquarters? If so, we need to make it happen and do it fast. This place has been compromised. The vamps will keep on attacking until they can get Faith so we need to move her to a safer location."
“Shouldn’t be a problem,” Toby answered. “Felicia owns some land on the north side of town with a barn big enough to house most of us. I think we can use it as a staging area, too.”
“Of course,” the new lady agreed in a warm voice. “It’s not often I have visitors.”
“Great,” Mulder said, “We have about four hours before we have to pick up the Sunnydale gang at the airport. That gives us plenty of time to clean this place up and get the barn set up for a staging—”
“Agent Bailey!” an agent blurted out, cutting off Mulder as the other man raced through the door, “we have twelve dead and two who are seriously wounded, one of them I’m afraid won’t make it!”
“Damn it!” Bailey exploded.
“If you don’t mind,” Felicia interjected as Bailey and the other agent started out the door. “I might be able to help.”
“Are you a medic?” Bailey asked.
“I am,” Felicia said as she passed Bailey on her way out the door.
“I’ll help,” Ali said as she followed Felicia, “I do have a bit of medical training.”
“Let me assist as well,” Dana said before she turned to Mulder and added, “Get the med kit.”
Meanwhile, as the others tried to deal with the wounded, Faith was lost in her own thoughts, still unconvinced she’d heard Mulder correctly. /One of the big things they told me about the Slayer gig was that there was only one Slayer at a time. If both B and K are alive then how did I become Chosen and did the Council lie to me about it all?/
As she followed the rest of the group, the slight queasiness she’d felt inside the room intensified as they entered the outer room where more people were gathered to help clean up the Pit area. Moments later, she realized that the feeling seemed to grow the closer she got to Felicia.
“Keep the others back,” Felicia whispered to Ali, apparently unaware that Faith’s Slayer hearing overheard everything she’d said to Red. “I do not wish them to know of my powers.”
“I can do that.” Ali grinned as she looked around. “How long will it take you?”
“It all depends on how badly they are hurt,” Felicia said. Then she raised her voice and said, “Please everyone, keep back while I work.”
Faith was not sure what the hell Felicia meant by that statement, but she knew magic when she felt it and the sensation definitely began to make her skin crawl. She watched as Ali split off from Felicia and grabbed a hold of the large stranger. Then the pair moved to keep the rest of the agents away from where Felicia and Dana worked.
She watched closely as Felicia knelt down by the agent whose neck was torn open, his blood still oozing out steadily. Felicia opened her purse and removed a piece of white cloth and pressed it against the wound while her other hand brought forth a small medallion which she placed on the outside of the cloth covered only by her hand. Then she began to murmur lowly so that even Faith had a difficult time hearing her. Soon, a sort of billowy fog began to form. It rolled out and covered her hand and the agent’s neck. Moments later, the fog rolled back into the cloth which was soaked in blood. But no more blood leaked out and the agent's breathing grew steadier. Faith nodded her head as she looked over to where Dana with Ali’s help worked on the second agent.
Faith then noticed Ali as the other woman had moved over to help Dana and saw that she was crying.
“Oh, Richard,” Ali softly whispered then gently kissed the man’s forehead. “Will he make it?”
“I don’t know he lost a lot of blood,” Scully replied as she sat back. “He needs to be stitched up and I don’t have the necessary equipment to do it.”
“Agent Scully,” Felicia whispered as she knelt down by Richard’s side, “please care for Ali; I will see what I can do for this young man.”
Scully appeared to be ready to say something to the other woman, but was cut off by Ali who said, “Come with me, Dana. Trust me, she’ll be able to help him in ways that you never could.”
“What are you talking about? Who is she?”
“She’s a cleric, sort of like Shaw.” Ali replied lowly. “I’m not sure how good she is, but if she says she can handle we ought to let her try.”
Faith narrowed her eyes at the witchy woman as she watched Felicia repeat the steps she’d used on the first agent. Although the fog again appeared, it was lighter than the first time. Additionally, Faith could also tell that Felicia had a harder time with it as a light film of perspiration appeared on the woman’s face and her breathing became ragged and choppy.
“Looks like she’s struggling, Ali,” Scully said as she started to move toward the woman.
“Wait a moment, Dana,” Ali urged
Faith watched the fog dissipate before she glanced at Felicia’s face and found it had turned white as chalk. Her head slumped down then she started to fall back. Faith acted quickly and caught Felicia before her exhausted body struck the floor. A second later, Toby Sterling moved up beside Faith and took the woman from her with a smile on his face as he accepted the weight of the woman.
“How is she?” Ali asked.
“She just pushed herself too far, I’m afraid. I’ve seen it before.” Toby said as he motioned two of his men over. “We will take care of her.”
“Is there anything I could do?” Ali asked as she looked under the cloth that covered Richard’s neck seeing healthy pink skin. “She saved a friend of mine; I owe her.”
“We all do,” Toby said as he stepped back to allow his men to lift Felicia. “She’s a wonderful person.”
“How did she do it?” Bailey asked with an awestruck voice as he looked down at the two agents that only moments ago had been fighting for their lives.
“Does it really matter?” Scully asked with a twinkle in her eyes “Just be glad that she did.”
“I am glad; it’s just not normal, though.”
“Were those things that attacked us normal?” Ali asked from where she was cleaning Agent Richard Bryan’s neck. “I suppose we ought to say, ‘welcome to our world, Agent Bailey!’”
“You can take comfort in the knowledge that there is light in the darkness.” Scully said with a smile.
Bailey reached down and pulled the bandage away from Agent Bryan’s neck to show the skin was pink but healed. “That is amazing.”
“He’ll be okay. He’ll need some juice and some rest but he’s going to make it,” Ali noted.
“Simply amazing,” Bailey murmured just as Mulder approached their group.
“We’re leaving now; Faith will be coming with us.” Mulder told the senior agent. “Agent Waters is coming as well. We’ll use her as liaison between our group and your office. If you need us, call her.”
Casca Romaine's Montana Ranch
“Okay people, saddle up,” Casca said to his guests as he walked out of his office. “We’re on our way to Atlanta.”
“Now you’re talkin,” Gus Beiderman whooped as he jumped out of his seat. “Been a while since I been to the tables.”
“Not sure I approve of this,” Teacher said as he looked at his host. “Gambling was never my favorite thing to do.”
“Don’t think that’s what we are going for,” Hurvolf added. “I got an email saying St. Wolf was on his way to Atlanta.”
“What?! Oh, Hell no!” Glam wailed. “What’s that crazy son of a bitch doing in Atlanta?”
“Board says there’s a lot of action in Atlanta; Stalker's there isn’t he?” Hurvolf asked as he turned to Casca who’d already gathered his gear near the door.
“He is,” Casca confirmed as he walked toward the kitchen. “Hey, honey, where did we put that bag for Xander?”
“Dear,” Lily said in a hard voice as she followed him into the kitchen reaching under a cabinet and pulling out a small paper bag. “If Joshua is in trouble, we don’t have time for your personal little war with Xander.”
“It’s not personal,” Casca smiled as he accepted the bag before he left the kitchen, as he passed the group in his front room he told them. “If you don’t want to tag along on this little trip, you can stay here but stay the hell out of my liquor cabinet.”
“Awe hell, guys, we might as well go along,” Glam groused good-naturally “What’s the point in sticking around here if we can’t taste the grape or drink mead.”
The trip to the airport was uneventful, as Casca called a few more of his friends and told them to arrive at the address that Mulder had provided to him. Soon, they dropped Lily off at the tower, and continued to their private plane and loaded it with the weaponry they had carried with them from the ranch.
For the twentieth time, Wesley asked himself where in heaven’s name were they taking her?
The Watcher had tailed the motorcade that carried Linda’s Slayer for the past forty five minutes, apparently managing to do so discreetly since there was no sign they’d had seen him. As he continued to follow her, his mind began to sift through the harrowing memories of the past few days.
After he’d left Marion Price’s residence, he’d taken the first flight back to Atlanta and visited the city morgue to make arrangements for the transport of Linda’s body back home. Soon thereafter, he’d found out that Faith was being held at the Atlanta’s VCTF building of the FBI. He’d made his way to the building and had hoped the agents would allow him to talk to Faith and convince her to return to Boston with him to attend Linda’s funeral.
He’d taken a room at the Hilton hotel across from the FBI building with the hopes of acting on his plan. As he’d sat by the window, practicing the speech he intended to use to convince the local authorities to allow him to take custody of Faith, he was startled by a loud boom immediately followed by the sound of shattering glass. He’d seen the vampire’s desperate assault on the FBI building as well as the rescue led by the driver of a large white van who’d plowed through the vampires. Soon, a group of fighters had leaped from the van and gleefully attacked the vampires while the driver, a giant of a man, had stepped out of the van wielding an assault rifle. He’d raked the line of attackers and caused four of them to explode in a shower of dust. As ridiculous as it had seemed, somehow his bullets had been able to dispatch vampires.
Then, moments later, he’d stiffened as he’d seen Faith charge out of the building directly toward a large blond vampire who’d appeared to be in charge. His breath had caught in his throat as Faith literally threw the large vampire into a recess of the building where’d she made quick work of him before two of the new attackers had joined her side and escorted her back into the building.
Twenty minutes later, the Federal agents and the vampire hunters had had joined Faith at the van. Not wanting to lose her now, Wesley had rushed down the stairs and jumped in his own rental car to follow the group.
Now, as the motorcade approached a wrought iron gate, he pulled his car over to the side of the road and sighed heavily. “When does it ever get easier?”
“Not today, mister,” someone said outside of the car where Wesley couldn’t see him. However, the Watcher distinctly heard the cocking of the hammer of a gun. “Slowly get out of the car and keep your hands visible at all times.”
“Bloody hell!” Wesley snapped as he shut off his car’s ignition.
“Bloody steel, actually,” the man dryly responded. “Now, get out, shut up and start toward the gate. Oh, and for your sake, you better not make any sudden moves or try any funny stuff.”
The pair advanced to the gate where they were admitted without any words exchanged. The unknown assailant kept just behind and to the left of Wesley making it hard for him to see who it was. He was then pushed against the wall, his hands flat while his legs were pulled back and spread apart. Next a pair of strong hands quickly patted him down and found the stake he carried at the small of his back and the small pin knife he kept in his shirt pocket. Once he was thoroughly checked over, he was shoved into the barn where over thirty fighters turned from their prior conversation to look at him.
Barn 10 miles north of Atlanta
“This will be a good base of operations,” Mulder said to the group of fighters that included Faith. “The core of Section Seven will be here in about three hours. So let’s get started by pooling together all of the intelligence we’ve gathered.”
“Here’s a map,” Toby said as he tacked a large map of Atlanta on one wall. Then he started to place pins on the map while he gave his report. “These red pins show the most activity, the blue is the calmest, the white pins mark the warehouses that we’ve already assaulted.”
“I took the liberty to type up the intelligence we have put together so far,” Joshua said as he held up a piece of paper. “It’s not a lot but it gives us an idea what’s in the works.”
Mulder accepted the paper and quickly read it. “We can run this across Steve and Giles and see what they can come up with.”
“What do you think they can tell us that we don’t already know?” Sam asked. “There’s not a lot here.”
“I don’t know, but right now their probably our best option.” Mulder said as he studied the map. “If we can see a pattern, maybe we can locate their nest.”
“How do you do something like that?” a young man asked as he joined Mulder at the map. “Do you have any idea where they might be?”
“Sometimes you can step back and look at the pins and you can see a pattern, see how they form a sort of circle?” Mulder says as he pointed out the red areas. “Now this would normally indicate that the nest was in the middle here somewhere, however since we know we are dealing with at least one vampire who knows our procedures we can rule out that idea.”
“So then what’re we going to do?” The young man said slapping his left fist into his right hand. “I hate waiting.”
“Nothing,” Mulder said his eyes still on the map. “Right now the best thing we can do is rest, let the wounded heal, and wait for Charlie and the others. Charlie might come up with something but he won’t report back until night fall at the earliest.”
“Do you really think we can trust a vampire?” one of Toby’s men asked. “He’s a monster.”
“Listen punk,” Stalker growled as he started toward the guy. “Charlie is a good man, I won’t stand here and let you or anyone else shit on his honor.”
The young man angrily turned toward Stalker then swallowed when he noticed the giant who stood in front of him. “You would place the city’s safety in the hands of a demon?”
“He’s not a demon; he’s got a soul and a conscience.” Joshua said as the muscles in his arms tensed. “And he’s my friend.”
“Knock it off, both of you,” Mulder snapped at the two bickering men. “Charlie is a tested asset. He’s working for us. Now, why don’t you drop your pointless vendetta and use your energy on something more productive!”
Just as Mulder finished his speech to the group of vampire hunters, a young man was shoved into the room so hard that he fell to his knees and drew Faith’s undivided attention.
“Wes, what in hell are you doing here?” Faith strode to his side and shot a warning look at the men who had manhandled the Watcher. “Hey, pal, why don’t you back off before I have to drop you, all right?”
“We found him on the road,” a middle aged man said in a harsh voice. “He’d been tailing us. He followed us here, stayed back far enough to keep out of sight, but his headlights sparked off one of the road signs near here and I caught a glimpse of it. I figured I’d invite him in.”
“I came to talk to you, Faith,” Wesley said as he struggled to his feet and tried to straighten his tweed jacket. “Linda is scheduled to be buried forty-eight hours from now; I’ve come to take you there so you can pay your last respects to her.”
“I’m sorry, who are you?” Sam Waters asked as she examined the man in the tweed. “And what do you have to do with Faith?”
“He’s a Watcher,” Scully said. “We ran across him months ago when he came to visit the Sunnydale team.”
The young man’s face grew a little pale at the mention of his trip to Sunnydale. “Yes…well…now, I’m here to take Faith to Linda’s funeral,” he announced in an edgy voice. “Are you going to deny her that opportunity because of our organizations’ differences?”
“Who’s Linda?” Toby asked. “And what’s a Watcher?”
“It’s not a ‘what’ but a ‘who,’” Mulder said, his eyes locked Wesley. “The Council of Watchers is an organization based in the United Kingdom. Its function was supposedly to train and support the Slayers. Instead it seems that it uses the girls to further its own cause and guides them to their deaths. This man is here to try and take Faith back to them.”
“Mr. Mulder, wasn’t it? I am not here seeking combat against you or your organization,” Wesley replied in a voice which matched Mulder’s for its coldness. “But I swear by all that is holy, I’m here to escort Faith to Linda’s funeral, nothing more.”
“Then you won’t mind if I accompany you both, will you?” Agent Waters said while she stood next to Faith and placed an arm around the girl’s shoulder. “Cause she’s not going anywhere without me.”
“No,” Scully said. “Sam you’re going to be needed here as a liaison between Section Seven and your office. I’ll accompany Faith.”
“If that is the only way you will allow her to attend the funeral then I have no problem with the arrangement.” Wesley said as he looked Dana over. “Just please be discreet.”
“I’ve been to a few funerals,” Dana replied coldly.
“Fine, I shall make the arrangements. May I use your telephone?” Wesley asked and one of Toby’s men handed the Watcher his cell phone.
As Wes placed the call, Faith whispered lowly to Sam and Scully, “Do you think he’ll try to force me to go back with him?”
“I don’t know, Faith,” Dana said. Then, after a pregnant pause, she added, “If he does try, though, I’ve got a few tricks up my sleeve. You’ll be safe enough, I promise you.”
“Tricks, you say? What kind of tricks?” Sam asked. “Will Faith be all right?”
“She’ll be fine,” Dana replied smoothly. “I know a few people in Boston and since I’m a Federal agent, I can call upon the local offices for help if necessary.”
Moments later, Wesley completed his call and called out to the ladies. “I’ve made arrangements for the three of us to fly to Boston. Moreover, I have secured accommodations that will allow you to make yourselves presentable for the funeral. As far as I know the Council will not have any representatives in the area so there should be no complications.”
“You’d better see that there aren’t any complications, sir.” Dana said as she shot a hard look at him. “If Faith makes the choice to return with you then so be it. We won’t force her to come with us but you don’t have the right to force her to go with you, either. Perhaps she’ll choose to join both Buffy and Kendra in Sunnydale where she can flourish under the support system that the Council would never allow Faith to have. “
“What do you mean by that?” Sam asked.
“The Council believes that the Slayer has a sacred duty to fight the darkness by herself. The Council also mandates that the girl must keep her identity a secret. While protecting her identity might be a good thing, the other is not. With only the assigned Watcher to the girl as her sole support, the life expectancy of a Slayer is less than a year. Buffy has been doing this for three years, Kendra for two. They both have a solid support group and will survive a lot longer.”
“Why would a girl subject herself to this?” Sam asked before she glanced at Faith and found the girl was staring hard at Scully.
“The first thing the Council does when they find a new Slayer is to isolate them from their family. The girl is normally around 13 to 17 years of age. You will agree at that age a girl’s confidence is at its lowest, with all the changes going on in her body, most girls can be easily manipulated.”
“How do they get them away from their parents?”
“I was a run away,” Faith said simply, without bitterness.
“I was told that Kendra’s family offered her to the Council. They felt it was their duty,” Scully explained. “It’s a mystery to me how people know about the Slayer line, but they do and a lot of families gladly offer the child up for the greater good.”
“What about this other girl, Buffy, you said her name was.”
“Buffy’s her own person,” Scully said with a shrug. “She has a mind of her own and neither of her Watchers were really able to control her. But they both loved her. Her first Watcher, Merrick, sacrificed himself to a vampire to give her more time to prepare herself to defeat the creature. Her second Watcher, Rupert Giles, has been like a surrogate father to her. He gave her the support she needed and allowed her the freedom of staying with her family and friends. I believe this is why she lasted so long as a Slayer.”
“But what about the whole ‘in every generation there is one girl thing?’” Faith asked as she looked to Wesley for an answer.
“We believe that when Buffy died for that minute or two before her friend Alexander Harris brought her back to life, a split in the Slayer line was formed,” Wesley said. “How Buffy maintained her strength, speed and skill is still something we have not been able to explain.”
“Could it be that something is left behind?” Sam asked. “I mean when the Slayer’s essence moves on?”
“No, if that were the case, the Slayer line would have disappeared along time ago,” Wesley reasoned. “Even if Buffy had kept a small portion of her Slayer abilities because she had been revived, that should have meant that Kendra should be weaker than a normal Slayer and then when it left Kendra to go to Faith it would have made Faith weaker still. However, all of our tests proved that Faith is as strong if not stronger than Kendra was.”
“Wesley you seem like a compassionate man,” Scully observed. “How can you condone the abduction of young girls?”
“We don’t abduct anyone, Agent Scully,” Wesley huffed. “I know for a fact that Linda gave Faith a choice. Faith chose to take up her calling of her own free will.”
“Excuse me?” Faith snapped at Wesley and Scully. “I’m standing right here!”
“I’m sorry, Faith,” Wesley smiled warmly at the Slayer.
“Don’t worry about it, Wes. I was just yanking your chain,” Faith drawled. “But now what do I do?”
“That is something only you can decide,” Scully replied. “I can only say do what is best for you. The rest of them will say the same thing if you choose to come back. None of us will try to force you to do anything against your will.”
“Are you implying that I would?” Wesley asked, a hard note in his voice.
“No, Mr. Wyndam-Pryce. What I am merely pointing out is that whatever she decides to do, it’s up to Faith to make that choice.”
“Although I won’t stand in Faith’s way, Agent Scully, I can’t speak for the rest of the Council.”
“We’ve had our run-in’s with the Council,” Scully said. “After our last encounter do you think they would be foolish enough to go against our ideas in this matter?”
Wesley’s face went white as a sheet. “No, I suppose not.”
“What happened?” Faith asked.
“Let’s just say that the Council found out just how easily its organization could be circumvented and leave it at that.” Scully replied with a smile as Wesley’s face turned a shade of sickly green.
“It’s really up to me?” Faith asked as she turned first to Scully, then Sam, then finally Wesley.
“Yes,” it was Wesley who answered after seeing both Sam’s and Scully’s faces. “No one will force you to do anything you don’t want to.”
“I still have one question before we go,” Faith said as she turned to Scully. “You said B and K are still alive? I was told they were both dead, that G-man ran and left them to die.”
“First off let me assure you that they are both alive and well,” Scully noted as her voice grew quite cold. “Second, Rupert Giles would never run from anything; he would gladly give his life to save either Buffy or Kendra from serious harm. Giles treats those girls like they’re his daughters. Believe me, Faith, Giles is not the man you’ve been told he was.”
“If we are going to make the flight, we must be on our way.” Wesley said as he turned to head out the door.
“Think I offended him?” Scully asked with a smirk as both she and Faith turned to follow him out of the barn.
Far East side of Atlanta
“Oh my,” Mr. Trick drawled as he took a good look around the mansion they’d just taken over. “This certainly fits the bill, my brother,” he said to Angelus. The handsome vampire had turned the impressionable young woman who lived in the mansion then allowed her to feed on her family before decided to kill her because she reminded him of Buffy. “This is a lot better than those dank wet warehouses.”
“It suits my…” Kikistos began as a young vampire burst into the house bowling into Mr. Trick who in turn fell into Kikistos and interrupted the elder vampire. “What the hell is going on?”
“Master! Stanley is dead; they were waiting for us!” the young vampire said hurriedly.
“What of the others? I sent over nine dozen vampires with that fool!”
“They’re all gone, master. It was a slaughter. We thought we had them then a second group attacked us using guns with bullets that could kill us.”
“How many was in this second group?” Angelus demanded. “Did you see any of them?”
“No, but it was the Slayer who got Stanley. I saw the whole thing; she took him out in about the same amount of time as it takes you to drain a human.”
“You watched the whole thing?” Mr. Trick asked his left eye brow rose. “You couldn’t help Stan take her down?”
“There was just too many! Randolph…yes, Randolph…he told me to come and warn you.”
“And what, pray tell, happened to Randolph?” Kikistos asked, his eyes focused on the younger vampire like a laser beam.
“A red haired woman destroyed him. She used a sword-he never stood a chance.”
“Damn it!” Kikistos exploded as he reached out and ripped the young vampire’s head off. “Who are these people?”
“We have to act fast and stop them in their tracks,” Angelus said. “Buffy and her gang aren’t here yet but you can bet they will be the minute they find out what’s going on here.”
“How many brethren can we field?” Kikistos demanded from Angelus.
Angelus tilted his head for a moment before he said, “A hundred, maybe as high as one hundred fifty.”
“Damnation!” Kikistos screeched. “Peter!”
“Hold on,” Mr. Trick said, his words although spoken softly, grabbed Kikistos attention and not in the good way. Before Kikistos could start to advance he hurriedly added, “We might be able to handle this group”
“How are we supposed to do that?” Kikistos asked
As if an answer to his question a very slim man dressed in black robes followed by two very shapely and scantily clad female vampires entered the mansion. The women stayed behind the man as he stopped and surveyed the main chamber of the abode. Then his eyes rested briefly on Angelus before they moved to Mr. Trick.
“Trick, I believe you have something for me?” The words were said in a raspy voice.
“Our arrangements were that you would have something for me, before I gave you anything.”
“And so it was,” the man said as he stepped aside to allow several other vampires to enter into the room bearing an elongated case. “Put them here.”
As the cases were placed on the floor, one of the vampires who’d carried the cases inside tore open the first box and brought out a heavy looking vest. The second case was opened to reveal more of the same.
“Your enemy has developed a bullet which can kill you. They used it with much success in Los Angeles. Believe me, I know. I was there. These are the latest in bullet proof vests, as long as your people wear them they have no fear of the wooden bullet the hunters will use.”
Angelus picked up one of the vests out of the box and looked it over before he dropped it back in the box. “They didn’t only use guns in LA. And they sure the hell didn’t use guns in Sunnydale. They used swords and these don’t protect the neck.”
Mr. Trick unconsciously rubbed at his neck at Angelus words, “True, our necks would be vulnerable, but I for one don’t intend on letting them get that close. I also ordered guns.”
“Remember your part of the deal,” the man in the robes hissed as he watched the three masters move toward the boxes. “The Wanderer will be here within a day’s time. I want both him and his cursed slayer in my lair, preferably alive, but dead would work just as well.”
“You know for a fact they are coming?” Angelus asked as he turned back to the Mage. “Can you tell me when they will get here?”
“I can only tell you that when they do get here the sun will be high in the sky and they will land at the local Iverson Air freight. “
“What do you get out of all this?” Angelus asked as he looked over the man and his two vampire concubines, “besides the death of that asshole and my former main squeeze?”
“Revenge,” the man snarled which caused his hood to fall off showing a human face that was paler than any vampires; his skin was a milky white almost as if it had no pigmentation at all. His eyes were like lumps of coal and his lips were thin lines. “That bastard killed my brother, and he is responsible for the death of over a hundred of my kind. I want the girl so I can make him watch her die. If they’re dead when you bring them to me, I’ll simply raise them both just so he can watch her die all over again.”
Angelus watched the man as he pulled the hood back in place over his head and turned to leave the room. At the door he stopped to say, “Mr. Trick, my nourishment please. Have it delivered to my lair.”
Angelus waited until the Black mage left the room before he pulled out his cell phone and dialed a memorized number which was answered almost immediately.
“Willy’s Bar,” the voice of an old acquaintance floated through the receiver.
“Willy, what’s going on in Sunnydale?”
“What do you mean, Angel? Things are pretty quiet here.”
“Is Buffy still in town?” Angelus growled, “Don’t even think about holding out on me.”
“She was earlier tonight,” Willy said, “She and her boyfriend came in here the other night and trashed my place.”
“I want to know the minute you find out she’s leaving town,” Angelus snapped. “Do this or I will come back and you won’t have to worry about your place.”
“Why must it always turn to violence?” Willy asked. “Information is costly, you know.”
“I will pay if the information comes in time.” Angelus replied just before he hung up.
“Who is this Willy character?” Kikistos asked
“Just a worm in Sunnydale, but he does have his ears in that town, if Buffy leaves town with her group he will call. He’s too scared not to.” Angelus said as he turned back to Trick. “Okay, now how are we going to set these hunters up?”
“Simple,” Trick said as he laid out a map before he continued. “As I have planned we have used warehouses in a circle, each of them an equal distance from this warehouse in the center. By now the hunters should have already put it together. But since they have not taken the bait yet, I sent eight of our brethren out to St. Jude’s. It’s a girl’s boarding school-to noisily take as many girls as they can and bring them to the warehouse. Unlike the others this warehouse has a sewer access; once they enter they will leave the girls in a locked room as they make their escape by the sewer. The hunters will enter, once they are inside, we slam the trap shut. The skies will be filled with their screams as they burn. The ones who are lucky enough to escape will run right into our guns.”
“What are the chances of it working?” Kikistos asked
“Better than anything we have tried to date,” Trick replied. “They should be at the school now, once they get the girls and start them toward the warehouse-I think we should have a lot of vampires moving that way. Make sure no one is seen with a gun of any type.”
“The locals might fall for it,” Angelus admitted grudgingly. “But the Sunnydale group never will.”
“Angelus, my brother, don’t be so glum, chum! Buffy and her crew aren’t all powerful! They won’t know what’ll hit them. This plan is fool proof. All we have to do is wait for them to enter after they see our group go inside.”
“We’ll see,” Angelus muttered as he retrieved a vest and followed the other two masters group out the door.
Two hours later
“There they are.” Trick said as he watched eight vampires lead just over two dozen girls into the warehouse. “Keep your eyes peeled boys. If our bait did their job right, there should be a flurry of activity in this area in about twenty minutes.”
Trick smiled at the whispered congratulatory remarks. Even Kikistos nodded his head in approval. Only Angelus seemed to be not fully satisfied at how the plan was progressing.
“It was done as you had planned it,” a vampire announced as he came to a halt next to Trick. “We had to kill two women at the school to get their attention.”
“You’re sure you were followed?”
“Yes, I was afraid they would start shooting, but since we stayed in the middle of the group they simply followed us.”
“Do you know where they stopped following you?”
“No, when I turned to look at the door they were gone.” The vampire said after a second. “I think they left a watcher over there behind the old tower but I couldn’t swear to it.”
“Leave the watcher alone. I want the hunters to enter the building. If they find their man is gone they will become suspicious.”
“What now?” the vampire asked Trick.
Mulder continued to study the map as the team broke up into small groups to talk things over. For the fifth time in as many minutes he glanced down at his watch. Then he grimaced. The waiting was starting to get to him.
Just as he looked at his watch for the fiftieth time, a man came through the door, his wild eyes searching the place before he found Toby and reported.
“They struck St. Jude’s! There were about eight, maybe ten of them. They took about thirty girls to the warehouse on Coconut and Main. Ralph stayed behind to watch the place.”
“So it was too obvious?” The man who had a problem with Charlie earlier snapped at Mulder as he picked up his weapon. “Now they probably have the women they need to perform the ritual.”
“Wait,” Mulder snapped as the rest of the room reached for their guns and started for the door.
“Wait for what?” the man said as he turned on Mulder. “You heard him; they have hostages! If we wait any longer they could kill them.”
“It’s too easy,” Mulder said as he followed the others out the door and looked down at his watch again. It was still three hours before Steve and the others would arrive. However, it was three hours the hostages might not have.
Mulder was deep in thought as he rode with Toby over to the warehouse where the girls had been taken. As they pulled up next to Ralph he exited the van and slowly took a look around. Even though he couldn’t see anything that looked out of place, he still had a strange feeling about the whole thing.
“This is it,” Toby said as the group gathered around him. “What have you seen so far, Ralph?”
“Besides the original ten, another twenty entered the building.” Ralph reported. “There’ve been no screams, so I guess they’re still alive.”
“Have you seen any movement?” Mulder asked as he continued to examine the area.
“Hey, man,” Charlie’s nemesis snapped as he advanced toward Mulder. “You’re not in charge here; Toby is.”
“Michael, shut up!” Toby snapped as he moved between the FBI agent and the hot head. He turned to face Mulder before he continued. “Agent Mulder, what do you think we should do?”
“We should split into two groups. One of them will enter the building while the other stays out here as back up. I would prefer to wait for reinforcements, but since we aren’t given that opportunity, let’s do this carefully.”
“All right,” Toby said as he turned toward the rest of the group. “Michael, you take your group along with Patty and secure the girls. You are to eliminate any vampires in the building if you run across them. My group will remain out here as back up.”
“Will Felicia be staying out here?” Mulder asked.
“Yes. Michael, our resident hot head here,” Toby indicated with a smirk, “has a group of about sixty people which includes Patty. She’s a bit of a hot head, too but once she’s in the middle of a fight, she’s as cold as ice and deadly as sin.”
“I can believe that,” Mulder drawled. “Section Seven has a couple of witches and after I’ve seen some of the things they do…well it makes a man think.”
Toby nodded his agreement then quickly sobered. “Are you sure about this, Mulder? I mean wouldn’t it be better if we went in there with them?”
“I didn’t even want them to go in, Toby, but Michael was too gun-ho about this.” Mulder said as they watched the group enter the building. As the door closed behind the other team, Mulder caught movement in his peripheral vision. “Looks like someone jumped the gun a bit.”
“Look alive, people,” Toby hissed as he saw it, too. “Ted, Robert, keep a sharp eye out; I’m betting they have someone watching us.”
“These Vampires are smarter than the run of the mill,” one of the two men mentioned as he stepped into a darkened area of the house they stood near.
“They have at least one vampire who’s fought against St. Wolf and Summers and survived,” Mulder informed the group. “That alone would give them an idea how we operate.”
“What do you think they’re going to do?”
“They’ll attack the warehouse,” Mulder said as he watched the last of their people enter the building. “I’ll bet that warehouse is empty.”
“But we saw them go in,” Ralph said.
“Sewer access,” Mulder guessed before he pushed Toby to the ground as gunfire filled the air. “Everybody down!”
“Robert’s been hit,” someone called out as the gunfire died. “We have a dozen to our rear.”
“A few of you turn around and keep them off us.” Toby shouted, “The rest of you guard the warehouse.”
For the next fifteen minutes no conversation could be held as the sound of gunfire rocked the air. Mulder was puzzled as he unloaded this third, thirty round clip in his MP5 with no apparent effect. Mulder loaded his fourth clip only this time he slowed down his rate of fire. He picked a target, took careful aim then fired. He was only awarded with a puff of dust off the vampire’s jacket. Not sure what he’d just witnessed, Mulder took aim at another vampire but came up with the same results. Again he tried and again he came up with nothing more than a puff off the jacket. When he received the same result after his fourth target, he lowered his weapon and watched as the others were just as ineffective as he had been.
“Cease fire!” Mulder yelled as the others lowered their weapons and dipped down behind cover. “They have vests on.”
“Fucking great!” someone called out. “What do we do now?”
“I’m thinking,” Mulder replied darkly as he watched the vampires move toward the warehouse where Michael and his team were now bunkered in. “We are going…”
Mulder’s speech was interrupted by the large whooshing sound followed by a rocket which streaked across toward the warehouse. Mulder’s eyes widened as he realized that the men in the warehouse were about to be wiped out. Without thought he brought up his mp5 and unloaded it in the general path of the rocket and hoped it would stop the projectile.
The rocket was about ten feet away from the window of the warehouse when Mulder’s gun ran out with no apparent effect. Just as the rocket was about to enter the building, a fireball flew out of the window and impacted with the rocket which caused them both to explode.
The blast sent fire and debris out about twenty feet in all direction, the window where the fireball came out of was unrecognizable. Screams of pain came from the warehouse and outside about fifteen vampires were turned to dust by the fire.
“What the hell?” one of the men standing near Mulder screamed just before a bullet from a vampire’s gun hit him in the head.
“Get down!” Mulder ordered as he watched the others start to stand up.
“What the hell are we going to do?” someone called out.
“First off, get a grip!” Mulder ordered as a germ of an idea began to grow in his mind. “Keep down but start collecting wood and anything else that burns.”
“What about the incendiary grenades in the van?” Toby asked as he nodded his head toward one of his men who immediately headed toward the van. “Grab both boxes, Stan help him grab all the grenades we have.”
“You have incendiaries?” Mulder asked “What else do you have in that van?”
“Well the deck gun would have been a plus, but we barely had the room for us.”
“Where the hell did you get a deck—,” Mulder started then he shook his head. “Never mind, once the grenades get here, we’ll turn this ambush around.”
“Until then,” Ralph said as he took aim on a vampire who had just moved closer to the warehouse. He carefully pulled the trigger and watched as the vampire’s head exploded. “These new explosive shells will do the trick.”
“Yes they will at that.” Mulder observed.
Inside the warehouse, Michael was pissed. He had walked blindly into a trap laid by the vampires-worse he had led his team into it with him. They had found the kidnapped girls in a locked office, but were forced to put them back inside it when the vampires attacked. Bullets ricocheted wildly in the room and had already wounded one of his men.
“They are advancing,” someone called from the window.
“All right, grab a window and keep an eye out.” Michael ordered, “Don’t shoot until you can make a clean hit.”
“Damn it, Toby and the others aren’t shooting, it don’t look like our bullets are having much success.”
“Incoming north side!” came a scream from the front of the building.
“Everybody down!” Patty ordered as she stepped in front of the window. She lifted her hand which was by then filled with a fireball and threw the flaming projectile out the window at the rocket that hurtled toward them.
The two explosive weapons met within ten feet of the building which created a large fireball followed by a concussion which shattered all the windows in the house which faced north along with shooting fire and debris into the house hard enough to pierce the south wall killing two men who were standing there.
Patty slowly brought up her hand again a fireball formed the higher the hand came, by the time she had it shoulder height it was a red ball of flame which didn’t burn the hand that carried it. Patty whipped her hand back and threw it through the window. It grew as it flew, stopped only when it hit a tree that a vampire had taken shelter behind. The fire engulfed the tree and burnt the vampire as well as shot flames out in every direction and claimed three more vampire’s who tried to hide from the fire ball which shot out of the window.
“Fall back!” someone from outside screamed out as Patty threw yet another fireball into the mass attack of the vampires.
“Why aren’t the bullets taking effect?” a man who stood near Michael asked.
“Vests,” Michael said as a bullet hit a vampire with no effect. “They have bullet proof vests.”
“What?” almost everyone screamed.
“Everyone with a shotgun move to the front, keep your aim neck high. That should be enough to kill them.” Michael ordered calmly.
Michael watched as his men followed his orders and soon, their line of defense was in place, the shot guns had the desired effect on the vampires. Along with the odd fireball from Patty, the group held the vampires at bay.
“Now we wait for Toby to make his play,” Michael said as he watched for another attack by the vampires.
Iverson Air Depot
“Damn, it’s cold,” Xander grumbled as he stepped down onto the tarmac of the Atlanta airport, dressed in cargo pants and a flower pattern shirt. He rubbed his arms and said, “Think it will snow while we’re here?”
“You should have worn a jacket, you saw the weather report,” Cordelia snarked as he pulled a light jacket out of his bag.
“Who’d thought the weather man would be right.” Xander huffed before he turned to St. Wolf. “Hey, Steve, where’s our transportation?”
“Right behind you, kid,” a man’s voice said, causing both Xander and Cordelia to jump.
“Dammit, don’t do that!” Xander cursed as he spun around to face two men dressed in trench coats with an MP5 slung over each of their shoulders. A smile came across his face as he recognized the oldest of the pair.
“Thought you said these kids were good,” the youngest of the pair asked with a laugh.
“We are,” Oz said from behind them which caused the youngest of the pair to jump higher than Xander had.
“What the hell?” the young stranger exclaimed as he landed.
“Hey, Hans,” Oz greeted one of the men who helped them in LA.
“Let me introduce you to Perry,” Hans said as he indicated the young man who stood beside him. The boy had hair as black as a raven’s wing and eyes like coal; he stood 6’2” and had the appearance of a man straight out of the Kentucky hills feud families.
“Little jumpy, aren’t you, pal?” Cordelia asked as she covered her smile with her hand.
“How in the hell?” Perry exclaimed
“Told you,” Hans said with a laugh, “You pay attention to one and the other gets you cold.”
“St. Wolf,” Casca greeted as the two groups mingled. “What’s the situation?”
“Not sure,” Steve replied as the pair shook hands. “Agent Mulder will give us a run down when we get to the staging area.”
“They sent transportation, might as well get this going huh?” Casca asked as four large vans pulled up alongside the group.
“Soon as we get the plane unloaded,” Steve said as he watched their plane being unloaded into one of the vans. “Did you bring party favors?”
“We’re all carrying,” Casca informed Steve as he also watched the plane being unloaded. “You expect something big?”
“You know the motto.”
“Carry more than the enemy and then triple it.” Casca said with a grin.
“All right let’s mount up.” Steve ordered as the last crate was loaded into a van. “Casca, you, Lida, Buffy, Gabrielle and Sonja will be in the lead van with me. We can get in touch with Mulder and try to find out what’s going down.”
“Wait,” Mulder snapped as boxes which contained the grenades were broken open and several people started to grab the weapons. “First let’s form some kind of plan. If we just start lobbing them we won’t get anywhere.”
“What do you suggest?” Toby asked.
“These grenades are going to make noise and a lot of it,” Mulder said slowly as he looked over the group. “So we are going to have to use them sparingly.”
“I think I can handle that problem,” Felicia said then smiled. “I can cast a silence spell.”
“Wait a second,” Mulder snapped as he started to smile while he looked at Felicia. “Miss Winningstar, I would never ask this normally, but this might save a lot of lives.”
“What is it?”
“I heard a story from Xander that Shaw created an isolated rain shower once. Can you do the same?”
“Of course, but it would be quite localized, perhaps twenty by twenty foot square, why?”
“How long would it last?”
“About two hours or so.”
“That will get the group out of there,” Mulder mumbled to himself as he looked over to where the vampires were again moving toward the warehouse. “Now how do we get rid of them.”
“What do you have in mind?”
“I want you to create a shower between us and that warehouse and I want you to try and isolate it in sort of an elongated rectangle so the group in that warehouse can reach us under the protection afforded by the rain.”
“What good is that going to do?” Toby asked. “Those bastards are moving in on the warehouse again. Rain won’t stop them.”
“The rain itself won’t; however when she blesses the rain…” Mulder started and let them figure out the rest of his plan for themselves.
“Oh, that is wonderfully devious,” Felicia said as a wicked smile crossed her face. “I would truly love to meet your friends, Agent Mulder.”
“We can thank them if it works,” Mulder said before he turned to Toby. “Call Michael, tell him that once it starts raining to evacuate the building and stay in the rain. I have a feeling we don’t have much time.”
“What do you think they are going to try?” Toby asked as he pulled out his phone.
“They got out of there using the sewers; what would stop them from returning the same way.”
Silence reigned in the area as the rest of the group worked out what Mulder had said. Felicia stepped away from the group and started to cast her spells, at the same time Toby called Michael.
“Damn it, listen to me, Michael! You won’t melt! Just use the rain as cover and come to us. Oh, and get a move on!” Toby screamed into the phone. “Those bastards will be coming up from the sewers anytime soon; so you need to get out of there!”
Soon clouds formed in the clear blue sky and a good rain started to come down in a line about eight feet wide and one hundred and twenty yards long. The deluge was so dense it cut visibility down to a few feet. As the rain fell, Felicia changed her chant into a blessing, a prayer that would have to be worded right so all the rain that came from the cloud was blessed.
“Once they start moving the vampires are going to attack,” Mulder said as he looked over the rest of the group who all held grenades. “When they come out I want all of you to throw those pineapples into the middle of the pack as they attack. Keep them away from our group, remember Patty won’t be able to cast anything in that rain so it’s up to us to keep the vampires at bay.”
As Michael and his group left the warehouse with the kidnapped girls in the middle of their group a vampire stepped out from behind a derelict truck and started to scream a warning but was turned to dust by the first of many incendiary grenades that landed in the general area of where the vampires had launched their first attack. At the same time two vampires who’d been able to get close enough to the door screamed out in pain as the blessed rain caused their skin to smoke as they ran for the safety of the darkness.
“It’s working,” Toby shouted.
“I’ll be damned,” Mulder commented as he watched the group move inside the relative safety of the rain storm. “It really is working.”
“Didn’t you think it would?” Toby asked, his glee falling just a bit.
“Only heard they did it; never saw it done,” Mulder noted with a smirk.
“Let’s not tell Michael that last part, okay?” Toby drawled as his group continued to throw grenades on the vampires’ position until the fiends broke and ran. “Hold up, people! It looks like they’ve had enough.”
Then the rain suddenly came to a stop and Mulder asked, “Hey! What happened to the waterworks?”
“I got her,” Ralph said as he and another man picked up Felicia and carried her to the van.
“How old is she?” Mulder asked as he realized that Felicia’s exhaustion had caused the rain to stop.
“No one really knows. She moved to this area about twenty years ago and mostly keeps to herself,” Toby replied as he started toward the van. “She has saved my group more than a dozen times this year alone. But for the life of me I can’t figure out why she does it when this is what happens when she exerts herself.”
“Maybe St. Wolf will have someone with him who can shed some light on the subject,” Mulder said just as his phone rang. He frowned as he looked at the caller id. “Speak of the devil,” he murmured as he answered his phone.
“Mulder, where in the hell are you?” St. Wolf demanded.
“About ten minutes from the meeting area. We’re on our way back though we had a little trouble.”
“Are you all right?”
“We have a few casualties,” Mulder reported. “And a few very fired up hot heads. Wait for us there, that place is as secure as you can get.”
“Yeah, both Buffy and Kendra feel it more so than I. According to the Slayers, this is beau coup holy ground.”
“You have no idea,” Mulder whispered. “Stay put we’ll be there soon.”
“Mr. Trick, your idea failed,” Kikistos grumbled as they entered the mansion. “What in the hell happened?”
“It was working,” Trick observed in defense of his plan. “Who knew they had a witch in their group? And I never expected that they would be able to control the weather like that.”
“It was working,” Angelus agreed, “They fell for the main trap, if we would have moved sooner to get our forces back into the building we could have wiped out all those who entered the warehouse.”
“No use crying over spilt milk,” Trick said as he opened his PDA to add a few notes. “We almost have the girls we need to complete the ceremony, now we just have to wait until the appointed night. If we stay here they won’t be able to find us in time. Then it will be too late.”
“You had better be right, Mr. Trick,” Kikistos said, “I will not accept another failure. Angelus, how many of our brethren made it back tonight?”
“Little over half,” Angelus replied as his cell phone went off. He looked at the caller id for a second before he answered it. “Hello, Willy…what’s going on?”
“Two of Buffy’s playmates just left my bar. They said they were just here to keep the population on their toes.” Willy replied cryptically. “This morning, one of my informants told me that Buffy left this afternoon in a private jet with a small group and their flight plan takes them to the Iverson Air Terminal in Atlanta, Georgia.”
“Thanks for the info, Willy. I’ll make sure a little something extra gets sent to you,” Angelus said as he disconnected the call and sighed as he turned to Kikistos and Trick. “Well, now we know what happened to our trap. That damned group from Sunnydale is here.”
“They must not be allowed to interfere with the ceremony,” a vampiric cleric announced as he walked in the room. “The moon will be in place in three days; if we miss it we will have to wait another three hundred years.”
“They won’t,” Angelus growled. “With the girls we already have all we’ll need is about twenty more, which I have already arranged to get from a shelter near Commons Boulevard.”
“Make sure that your vampires return here with those girls,” Kikistos growled. “And remember, no excuses.”
“Hey, have I ever let you down, Kinky?” Angelus drawled as he turned to another vampire who moved like a ghost. “This is Tilma, he has a group of thirty warrior vampires who will get the girls. They won’t fail.”
“Failure is not an option.” Tilma stated as he looked at Kikistos.
“Don’t say it,” Kikistos said as he turned around. “Do it.”
Buffy the Immortal Vampire Slayer was engulfed by a warm, delightful feeling as she stepped down from the SUV onto the ground outside a well-kept, old-fashioned barn with a quaint silo beside it. She glanced at her sister slayer who had also stilled as she stepped out of the vehicle.
“It is like nothing I have ever experienced before,” Kendra stated.
“It’s holy grown,” Buffy said as she remembered the feeling from the St. Francis of Assisi Monastery when she and Steve had visited it. “Steve, this is holy ground.”
“Yes I feel it as well,” Steve replied as he looked to Casca for further confirmation.
“It’s even stronger than the Monastery,” Buffy said. “What religious sect is this from?”
“There’re no signs or symbols.” Steve said as he looked around, “Or none that I am familiar with.”
“The door is open,” Kendra called out as she pushed the door aside to show the barn was empty.
“Looks like Mulder set this place up like a headquarters,” Willow said as she and Oz walked into the building. “I’ll set up over here; doesn’t look like anyone’s working off this bench.”
Buffy walked over to the status board and started to study it. After a minute or so, she lifted the clipboard but dropped it again after she looked over the situation. She stood frozen her eyes never leaving the clipboard, which drew the attention of everyone else in the room.
“Buffy? What’s wrong?” St. Wolf asked as he moved up behind her.
“He’s still alive,” Buffy whispered in a hollow voice.
“Who?” St. Wolf asked as he bent down, picked up the clipboard, and read it. “Oh shit, I thought Hammer got him.”
“What’s up?” Cordelia asked as she helped Willow set up her laptop while Oz and Xander broke down the guns for a cleaning.
“Angelus…he’s still alive,” St. Wolf said as he turned to Buffy.
All the Scoobies stopped what they were doing and turned to regard the Wanderer as they heard the dreaded name. They all had cause to hate Angelus and the reasons ranged from jealously, to fear, and to disgust. However they all agreed on one thing.
The vampire had to die.
“Dead boy’s still kicking, huh?” Xander stated as he let the bolt of a .50 cal sniper rifle snap in place. “Good. I always wanted to get the last shot at him.”
When the rest of the group reacted by growling their approval of Xander’s sentiments, Buffy snapped, “I don’t want to hear that talk, Xander, from you or any one else!” She then shot them all a hard look and said, “All of you understand this; we are here to do a job, not a revenge hunt. Forget Angelus for now, if we run into him so much the better but we’re here to save innocents and by God, that’s what we’re going to do! Got it?”
“All right, Buffy,” Cordelia grumbled softly before she turned back to help Willow.
Buffy looked at her once nemesis but now good friend and wondered for the thousandth time how things would have been if St. Wolf had never come to town and helped her forge the Scoobies into an effective team. Next she turned her gaze toward Willow who was also paying more attention to the monitor screen than normal. As she looked over each of her friends she realized that they were all a bit tense, more so now that they knew Angelus was around than normally would be the case.
“Hey, guys,” Buffy said, then waited until she had regained their attention. “I know having Angelus really rains on everyone’s parade, but we need to keep our eyes on the bigger picture and not get too hung up on having him in our hair so to speak.”
“Buffy,” Giles said in a soft voice that sent shivers down her back as he laid a hand upon her shoulder. “Are you sure you’re okay?”
The feeling of his grasp on her shoulder helped as always to strengthen her resolve, as did the care and love she could easily read in his eyes. Putting her own hand over his, Buffy looked straight at Giles before she said, “I have to be. We don’t know what’s going on here yet, but we do know that it’s going to be dangerous; if he brings nothing else to this situation he brings danger. We all have to be careful. He knows us too well and he’ll use his knowledge of us to his advantage.”
“Excuse me, but if Angelus is here, won’t he be watching for us?” Xander asked.
“Yes,” Giles said. “He might even try to lay traps just to pick us off one at a time.”
“It doesn’t matter,” Buffy observed. “No matter what, we have to stop the ceremony.” Buffy then turned to St. Wolf. “What about Charlie? Can’t we call him?”
“Unfortunately, we can’t; he’s undercover. We have to wait for him to call us or we risk exposing him. We should hear from him soon.”
Their conversation came to an abrupt halt when Mulder and his group entered the barn, with four people on stretchers. Quickly the Scoobies moved to help out where they could while Mulder and his people took seats to rest after what Buffy could’ve only imagined was a horrible experience.
“Mulder, where’s Dana?” Buffy asked breathlessly as she looked back toward the vans which had pulled up. “Is she all right?”
“She’s fine,” Mulder replied as Jenny, Cordy and Willow raced toward the door to look for their federal agent sister. “She took Faith to Boston.”
“Who’s Faith?” Buffy asked as she escorted the agent to a chair. “What is going on?”
“Everything is fine right now,” Mulder said as he looked at St. Wolf. “First, let’s get the introductions out of the way. We have a lot of things to go over and it will go a lot smoother if everyone knows who’s fighting beside them.”
“Agreed,” Steve said from his place next to Buffy.
“Steven St. Wolf, Buffy Summers,” Mulder said as he began to formally introduce the leaders of the groups. “This is Toby Sterling and Michael Parks; they are the leaders of two separate groups who work the Atlanta, Georgia area. A couple of people to note in their groups are, Felicia Winningstar, who is something of a cleric. I’m not sure much more about her except that she has the same basic powers as Shaw but might not be as powerful. The other lady is Patty Louise. She’s a witch. Again I’m not sure what her power level is but I would guess she’s at least as knowledgeable as Willow is. Miss Winningstar is currently unconscious due to casting spells that aided us in escape. Toby, Michael, this is Steven St. Wolf and Buffy Summers, the leaders of Section Seven and their core group. The other gentleman is Casca Romania, a good friend along with some of his friends from Montana.”
“Nice to finally meet you Mr. St. Wolf, Ms. Summers,” Toby said as he shook Steve’s and Buffy’s offered hands. “Maybe now we can get something done about these damn vampires.”
“We will do what we can,” Steve replied. “Once I get caught up on what’s happening, we’ll call in a few more friends and see about turning the tables on them.”
“Okay, let me tell you what I do know,” Mulder said as he brought the newcomers up to speed.
No one spoke for a good ten minutes after Mulder had finished the outline of what had happened since he came to Atlanta. The news of a third Slayer shocked St. Wolf and the rest of the Scoobies, but Buffy, Giles, and Kendra were clearly beyond that and looked as if they were going to go thermonuclear.
Finally, after failing to reign in her formidable temper, Buffy exploded. “What in the hell is the matter with you, Mulder? How could you let Dana go off with a Slayer in the company of a council member? Those bastards have a wetworks team, you know! They might use it to take out Dana and drag this Slayer against her will back to the Council! Mulder, you should have told Kendra and me about this other Slayer when you first heard about her, dammit!”
Kendra cleared her throat and the look on her face must have apparently caused Mulder to cringe, possibly in fear that the Jamaican Slayer might knock his head off. “I must agree with Buffy on this. We should have been informed immediately by you about a fellow Slayer, Agent Mulder.”
Buffy nodded fervently in agreement with Kendra’s statement. Then she continued to pounce on the hapless agent. “So now they’ve gone ‘la-la-la’ off to Boston, huh? Well, when was the last time you heard from them? Who is this new Slayer? Is she trustworthy? How do you know she won’t gang up on Dana with that Watcher and kick your partner’s ass or worse?”
“Buffy!” Steve snapped and the Immortal Slayer shot a scowl his way. “That’s enough! Can’t you see his decision was a tough one to make?”
“Oh, I haven’t even gotten started yet, Steve, and if you know what’s good for you, you’ll stay out of this! This is Slayer business and that mean’s Kendra’s, Giles’, and my territory; not yours!” Then completely ignoring St. Wolf and stunning all save her sister Slayer who was busy shooting a scary look at everyone else in the room that threatened ‘interfere-in-our-interrogation-of-this-poor-unfortunate-bastard-and-you-shall-die-a-horrible-painful-death’ and her Watcher, Buffy turned back to Mulder and purred dangerously, “Now, where were we, Fox?”