As hard as it might have been to believe, the dome surrounding Sunnydale had seemed to darken more in the last few hours, a rumble not unlike thunder filling the skies. The column of energy connecting the Hellmouth to the portal to Outworld had seemed to grow in power, the glowing intensifying, throwing wild shadows into the large window leading to Kahn's throne room. The Emperor himself stood on the balcony, staring outward, a smile on his face as he realized it was almost time.
In the room itself, Maeve and Mider were gathered with Shang, Mider carefully emptying the vials containing Robin and Liam's blood into a cup Maeve held. The Celtic witch waved her hand over the vial, muttering to herself as the vial glowed, the magic beginning to take hold.
"Give it another half-hour and we're ready," she nodded. She glanced up at the prison holding the humans and smiled. "30 minutes and you all have a front-row seat to the end of the world."
"Gee, thanks," Cordelia muttered.
"Hey, between that and listening to you rant about your good old days during the Black Plague, I'll take death," Xander announced.
"And seeing that ugly ass outfit of yours," Mulder threw in.
Taking her time since it might the last time she could enjoy herself like this, Maeve turned and held up the staff, letting out a burst of magic to give pain to the duo. "You know, I think I'm going to miss that," Maeve sighed as she lowered the staff.
"Spare me the gloating," Sheeva muttered to herself as she, Motaro, Scorpion and Baraka stood at one end of the throne.
"Let them enjoy it," Motaro growled. "Once the merger is complete, Kahn will have us exterminate them immediately." <And then, creature, you will join the rest of your people in the grave.>
Mulder grimaced a bit from the shot of magic he'd taken. He looked at Maeve, then turned to Scully. "Scully, can I ask you something?"
"Sure, Mulder, I have absolutely nothing better to do," Scully said sourly.
"When did you know you loved me?"
Scully turned to him, surprised by the question as Mulder went on. "When you were abducted and it hurt so much to lose you, I thought I was going to die. Then when you came back and I saw you and all the pain left.....That's when I knew I loved you."
Scully blinked back the tears in her eyes. "Funny. When I woke up and saw you standing over me, looking at me like that....That's when I knew I loved you too."
Buffy closed her eyes and sighed. "Please, God," she whispered. "Please let my Mom be safe, please."
<Shared memories, feelings of love.....> Amy thought to herself. <Face it, Amy, this just might be *it.*>
Kahn turned from the balcony and strode into the throne room, the epitome of swaggering arrogance. He glared at Mulder and Scully as they started to hum "Shall We Dance?" the hum quickly cut off by a blast of energy from Maeve. "Are we prepared?" he called out.
"Almost, my Lord," Shang said, adding another ingredient to the bowl. "Within half an hour, we will be ready to begin the sacrifice."
"And Earth will be mine," Kahn smiled. "And then I will spread my rule. Realm after realm will fall and I'll no longer have to use that idiotic tournament again. I'm ashamed I didn't think of this centuries ago."
"Ain't over til Roseanne does a soprano, pal," Xander bit out.
"You know, I think I'll miss you," Kahn smiled. "I'm almost tempted to keep you around as a pet. But, alas, I must eliminate you to begin my rule."
Maeve smiled as she held up the cup containing the magically-charged blood. "If I were you, I'd start concentrating on prayers and last words. I'll be happy to write them down for-----"
A sudden rumble went through the skies and the palace seemed to shake. Everyone glanced around, trying to figure out what was going on, even Kahn seeming to be taken aback at it.
"What the hell-----" Maeve began.
Shang turned, looking out as if searching beyond the castle walls for something. His eyes widened as he evidentially found it. "My lord! We have an intrusion upon our borders!"
"Thank you, Shang, I am always so uncertain as to what goes on within my own realm," Kahn muttered, looking about.
"My Lord, you don't understand," Shang went on, a tiny piece of desperation in his voice. "Something has cracked the barriers we have set up, something has entered Outworld!"
"That's not possible," Kahn said, turning to him. "Only Eternals have that power and I have already arranged the more powerful ones to stay out. Who could have such power and be so foolish as to actually attack me in my own home?"
At that brilliant cue, the doors to the throne room burst in, metal flying along with the bodies of a few dark-garbed guards. Everyone stared as the smoke cleared, three figures calmly walking into the room, down the steps leading to the center area where they stopped and faced the room, each with a light smile on their faces.
"Hello......" Robin started.
"Hello......" Liam added.
"Hello......" Aideen threw in.
"HELLO!" They all chimed.
"Please accept the imminent renovations to your palace and your forthcoming horrific beating compliments of Lords Oberon, McAllister and Fin Varra," Robin announced.
"Our lords are busy blowing their noses right now and as such have no time to waste on you pissants so instructed us to make their feelings known," Liam added.
"Which in this case is knocking the living shit out of you and your little gang of Bruce Lee rejects here," Aideen finished.
"Ooooh, are you gonna get it......" Buffy savagely grinned as she saw the three standing there.
Kahn glared at her, then at the trio. "The Goodfellow, I take it," he said, focusing on Robin. "At last we meet."
"Thrilling, isn't it?" Robin grinned.
"Ah, Maeve," Aideen smiled. "I see the times of tide haven't touched----" She paused and made a show of peering at the witch. "Oh, wait, now that I look more closely, I can see the tides of time have smacked you about quite a bit."
"Who the hell are you to talk to me like that?" Maeve hissed.
Aideen took on a hurtful look. "Oh, Maeve. Really, after all we've been through. Come on, take a good look, shrink me down, add some wings, red outfit-------"
Maeve's eyes widened as it connected. "YOU!"
"You're still kicking," Aideen said in a light tone. "Why shouldn't I be?"
"Friend of yours, Maeve?" Kahn announced.
"Just a faery about to have her wings clipped," Maeve bit out.
"Gonna have to wait a bit on that, lady," Sonya announced as she, Liu, Jax and Johnny entered the throne room. "Oh, great bloody guards, Kahn," Maeve erupted. "I'd better off hiring security from Jerry Springer!"
"You'd probably be stupid enough to get the guys from Stalag 13," Mulder smirked behind her.
Shang's eyes immediately flared as he saw Liu. "Liu Kang," he announced. "It's been a while."
Liu just stared back, keeping his fury within him. "I hope you enjoyed this life while it lasted," he announced. "Because I'm sending you back to the land of the dead without a return ticket."
"Oooh, good line," Johnny remarked. "I've gotta remember that for my next flick."
Xander's eyes widened as he realized who was standing there. "Johnny Cage!"
"Dude, kick!" Oz echoed.
"Wow, he really is better looking in person," Cordelia said.
"I'll say," Xander nodded. He paused as Cordelia looked at him. "Let's just chalk that up to me being trapped in here for way too long."
"Good plan," Cordelia nodded.
"Okay, here's the deal," Johnny said, stepping forward carefully and glaring at them all. "You've got one chance to get off our world and if you don't take it, you're going to be in a mess of shit so deep you'll never be able to see bottom and never dig to the top, just like the scum you are."
Maeve looked at him for a moment, bending her neck. "That was quite easily the worst Clint Eastwood impression I have ever heard."
Johnny leaned towards Liu. "Remember how I said Outworld felt like being back in high school? This is like being back in college with a drunken football team on a Saturday night.
Sonya cracked her knuckles. "On behalf of the government and people of the United States of America, we want you to get the hell off our world."
"How quaint," Kahn said. "It has been a long time since I personally crushed a military officer. It should offer a brief moment of entertainment before I move to your rulers."
"In that case, I'm the person to talk to," a strong female voice echoed and everyone glanced up to see a quintet move into the entranceway of the throne room, weapons ready, coats flapping in the wind blowing from the window as they faced off against the group inside.
Maeve's jaw slowly unhinged as she stared in horror at the last five people in the world she ever expected to see again. "No," she whispered.
"No," Mider echoed, his eyes wide. "It can't be......"
"Rhoan?" Maeve whispered, looking at her son, then tearing her gaze to his brother. "Lugad?"
"Well, isn't this the lovely family reunion, Mother?" Rhoan said, balancing his sword.
"Oh, darn it, I *knew* I forgot to mention something!" Amy said sarcastically.
Maeve looked at her, at the smiles she shared with Mulder and Scully, back at the Knights and it came together. "Oh, now this is just too much," she muttered.
"Who the hell are these guys?" Steve asked.
"You remember that big story Liam told us about the Mystic Knights?" Amy asked.
"Like we could forget?" Willow muttered.
"That's them," Amy grinned, nodding at the warriors.
"Amazing," Diedre said, staring at Maeve. "A thousand years and you still look like shit."
"Silence, Princess!" Maeve hissed.
Diedre took on a look of innocent surprise. "Now is that any way to talk to your daughter-in-law?"
Maeve's jaw dropped lower than ever, unable to think of anything to say to that.
Smiling, Angus leaned in to Ivar. "You know, I've dreamed about that look for over a thousand years," he muttered. "And it was worth it."
Maeve shook her head. "I suppose it's fitting. I rid you the same day I reclaim my birthright."
"You know, Maeve," Diedre said calmly. "I knew you were fanatical, devious, ruthless, murderous and amoral. But up until now, I've never realized you are also completely and totally out of your mind."
"Oh, and what have I been saying the last millennium and a half?" Angus announced.
Diedre shook her head. "My father really should have taken care of you a long time ago."
"Your father was weak," Maeve got out.
"Your mother was ugly," Diedre shot back.
"Yeah, usual in-law stuff here," Xander nodded.
Maeve looked to Lugad. "Lugad?" she said quietly.
"Mother bad," the creature bellowed darkly. "No joy for her."
"This is truly amusing and all," Kahn stated, not seeming concerned about the new arrivals. "But I really don't believe this effects what we're about to do. The blood is prepared, the sacrifice is imminent and the prisoners are ready."
"Yeah, about that," Johnny said, tapping his chin. "You saying you need them together like that for it to work?"
"It helps," Mider said, regaining his confidence much faster than the near comatose Meave.
"And you have to do this by a certain hour?" Liu pitched in.
"Which is coming soon and you won't be able to stop it," Shang nodded.
"Ah hah," Liam nodded, looking over the "sculpture" the Section members were in. "So, I'm assuming there's no way to get through that by conventional means?"
"Correct," Maeve said, licking her lips. "It has magical inhibitors in it."
"Figured as much," Liam nodded. He turned to Robin. "Robbie?"
"Ten," the faery said in a flat tone.
"I'm sorry?" Maeve frowned.
"What is he doing?" Mider said in bewilderment.
"Oh, he's just counting down," Liam said calmly.
"Counting down to what?" Maeve asked.
"Oh, to the signal to let the extremely pissed off and incredibly lethal helf-elf to go into Hulk mode," Liam smiled.
"Fi-----" Robin started, then paused. "Do the rest yourself."
A sound filled the chamber from above, a long and unyielding howl. Willow, Xander, Buffy, Steve and Cordelia all had the same looks of horror as they heard it. "Oh, shit," they all said.
"What?" Giles asked.
"We've heard that scream before," Buffy said.
"When?" Jenny said, startled by the noise.
"Central Park," the five put in.
"And the night in the library," Willow added.
"Oh, shit," Oz, Giles and Jenny said.
"What?" Mulder asked.
"Hulk Mode," Xander said.
As one, everyone looked up to see Shaw leap from a hidden spot at the top of the chamber, her sword on fire, letting out a primal scream as she slammed it into the side of the prison. Still screaming, Shaw slid down, her blade cutting a long incision into the sculpture, trails of flame following her stroke, the prison buckling under the magic in Shaw's sword.
Shaw landed on her feet, yanking her sword out and spinning it in her hands before facing the Emperor and his group, sword in a battle position. There was a long moment of silence then cracks began to appear within the surface of the prison, spreading out rapidly. Still glaring at Maeve and Mider, Shaw let out a kick that slammed into the prison. With a shake and a rumble, it came apart, melting into a pile as the Slayerettes landed hard on the ground.
"Well," Sonya remarked to no one in particular. "Now we know why he had Shaw hold back."
"Who the hell-----" Maeve said.
"If I'm not mistaken," Shang said carefully. "That's the half-elf you said wasn't going to be a problem and is now ruining our entire plan."
Slowly, the Slayerettes rose, the aches of their long imprisonment forgotten with a rush of anger at their captors. Jenny slowly looked up, glaring at the now more than nervous Outworlders. "I want them," Jenny hissed, her eyes glowing with anger. "I want them all."
"Only if you bloody beat me to it," Giles growled, ripping off his glasses and throwing them aside.
"Well, half-breed," Maeve said, licking her lips. "It seems I underestimated you. You have proven to be a wild card, after all."
"One must play the cards one is dealt," Shaw said coldly. "And in that, I feel truly sorry for you."
Maeve laughed. "You may be a wild card, half-breed, but look at what you're facing! We have a royal flush you can't beat."
Shaw slowly moved into a stance Duncan had taught her, her eyes never leaving Maeve. "You, as a group, may have a royal flush, but you will be facing this wild card alone, as your allies will be much too busy to protect you from my wrath."
Maeve looked at her carefully, trying to keep her confidence up despite the stare from Shaw, brandishing her staff. "Elfwoman, even alone, I am at least the equivalent of a full house."
"No, you only rate as high as two pair," Shaw answered. "And *that* is what will doom you."
"Oh, really," Maeve said cockily. "And just what pairs do I have?"
"Aces and eights," Shaw answered with doom.
"Okay, I think we've pretty much driven this metaphor into the ground," Liam announced.
Amy made a move towards Shaw but Xander grabbed her by the arm. "Don't do that."
"I want to make sure she's all right," Amy protested.
"Amy, what was the last sight she had of you?" Xander asked.
"Well, me being put under a spell and getting......" Amy paused as he eyes went wide. "Oh, shit."
"And that's besides the fact all of us have been captured and threatened with death," Xander added. "You want to see the hissy fit she's gonna throw?"
"Shit," Amy said again. "What do we do?"
"Only one thing to do," Xander said with an evil grin.
"Point her in the right direction," Xander said, nodding to the Outworlders. He stopped as he, Amy and Cordelia saw that Giles and Jenny had stepped forward to stand next to Shaw.
"Oh, shit," Buffy whispered. "Those guys are fucked."
"Why?" Steve asked. "Just because Shaw's in Hulk mode? That's a good thing here."
"Uh, Buffy," Xander called out. "Do I see *that* look in the G-Man's eyes?"
Buffy gulped. "Yeah."
"What look?" Scully frowned
"Remember what I've told you about him in 'Ripper Mode?'" Mulder asked his wife.
"The one that makes Shaw look like Ghandi?" Scully answered.
"I think so," Buffy threw in. "Well, he's there."
"And Jenny makes three," Amy sighed.
"Jenny?" Scully said in confusion. "Jenny's as bad?"
"Remember what her family did to Angel?" Xander announced. "You don't want to piss off a gypsy, Dana. And a gypsy Amazon, well....." He bit his lip and looked to Steve. "Wanna head over to your house and catch some TV?"
Everyone stared at him like he was crazy. "I assume that's a joke," Steve said.
"Well," Xander started. "Shaw's pissed, Giles' pissed, Jenny's pissed. You know what they're capable of alone, you really think we're needed?"
Steve looked at him, then at the trio and was surprised he was wondering the exact same thing. "We'd better stick around, just to be safe," he finally decided.
"Oh, you two," Maeve said, rolling her eyes. "Please, like this is actually supposed to....."
She broke away as she caught the look in Giles' eyes, a look that instantly silenced her. There was no trace of a stiff British upbringing, no librarian, no scholar. Instead there was the look of a savagery that even Maeve couldn't match and the ancient witch felt a chill run up her spine as she realized what she had done.
She'd unleashed the Ripper.
Kahn was taking this far more calmly than most would have assumed. He clenched and unclenched his hands at his sides, trying not to merely erupt in pure rage. "I'm afraid to say," he announced. "That I am not impressed."
"What about with us?" Rhoan said, hefting his sword.
"Still not impressed," Kahn said.
"Or us?" Liam announced, hands glowing with power.
"Still not impressed," Kahn repeated.
"Kahn." At the spoken word, everyone turned towards the large window. A blast of energy hit it, sending stones sailing about. As the smoke cleared, everyone could see Oberon, McAllister and Fin Varra hovering in the air before the hole. Behind them, stretching far and wide, were an army of faeries in armor, weapons held at the ready.
"Kahn," McAllister calmly repeated. "We'll be having some words with ye."
"Well, I'm impressed," Mulder grinned.
A grin covered Robin's face as he held up his hand. "Let us rock," he announced in a loud voice. "And let us ROLL!"
He threw out a hand and let out a massive burst of magical power that slammed into a squad of ninjas, scattering them. He spun around, hands moving and threw out a set of swords to Mulder, Scully, Buffy and Steve. "Start slashing, boys and girls!"
Any civility Kahn had was gone, anger in his features as he took in the invading forces. He no longer cared about the sacrifice or the merger, he wanted blood, badly. "KILL THEM ALL!" he yelled.
"Spread out all troops!" Oberon called out. "Cut off every avenue of escape and take the fight to them!" In moments, the faery armies broke off and began spreading throughout Sunnydale as the Slayerettes gathered together, the Knights and the Kombateers quickly moving to their side.
"All right," Maeve nodded. "You've got them, fine. Let's see what I can play with."
She gripped her staff hard as she muttered in an ancient tongue, whispering as she let the gem strike forth with power, a beam hitting the ground before them, forming a huge, monstrous shape. It was as large as a dragon with razor-sharp claws and a head marked with a trio of horns and a savage mouth of teeth, barbed tail thrashing behind it. "See how that grabs you," Maeve smiled.
The Knights glanced at one another and nodded. As one, they stepped forward, weapons ready in their hands. "Well, it's been a while," Rhoan said.
"Hope it's like falling off a bicycle," Ivar remarked.
"You mean a log," Angus said. "Or riding a bicycle."
"No, I meant what I said, I never could ride worth a damn," Ivar replied.
"Quiet," Diedre said. She glanced to her husband. "Ready?"
"At your command, your highness," he grinned.
"Given," she grinned back.
As one each of the Knights held up their weapon, Angus balancing his with the handle in one hand, the chain with the mace in the other, Maeve's grin fading as she realized what was about to happen. "Oh, shit," she whispered.
"Here it comes," Mider groaned.
Everyone else found themselves looking to the Knights as they held their weapons high and spoke.
"Fire within me!" Rhoan yelled.
"Air above me!" Diedre called out.
"Water around me!" Ivar chimed in.
"Earth beneath me!" Angus finished.
Instantly, a glow covered each of them, their chosen elements seeming to swirl about them, metal coming out of nowhere to cover each of their bodies. The three men had a similar style to their armor, Rhoan's the same fiery red and orange as his outfit, Ivar blue and gold, Angus silver and gold, a helmet covering them entirely, a slits in the eyes the only skin showing. Diedre's was white and gold, a heavy top and breastplate before ending in a near-skirt design with heavy boots and armlet gloves, a helmet covering her head with a mask design over her eyes, wings on either side.
"I hate that," Maeve muttered. "Every damn time they do that, I hate it."
"Why don't you just kill them in the middle of the transformation, where they're vulnerable?" Shang asked.
Maeve and Mider looked at him, then at each other, then smacked their heads "GAHHH!"
Shaw looked the four down carefully, focusing on Diedre. "That is your armor?" she frowned.
"What's wrong with it?" Diedre frowned back, looking down on herself.
"Exposed leg, no chin gaurd, not as much covering........"
"Chalk it up to sexist armor-makers," Diedre shrugged. She looked Shaw over. "What about you? You're not exactly protected either."
Shaw held up her bracers. "These are the equivalent of chain mail armor."
"And if you had regular armor to back it up?" Diedre asked.
"Please," Shaw sniffed. "How anyone can properly wield swords while encased in armor nearly equal to their own weight is beyond me. I prefer speed, agility and ease of movement and stamina. Plus, there is another consideration."
"Go ahead," Diedre asked, curious.
"Metal armor does not tend to stop bullets," Shaw answered calmly.
Diedre thought for a moment and nodded. "That makes a twisted type of sense."
"Scuse me," Angus called out. "But we do have a problem here." He nodded to the creature Maeve had called, who approached them carefully.
"We're a bit crowded in here," Rhoan said. "We need more room."
"Not a problem," Angus said, spinning his mace in his hand and slamming the ball down onto the floor. A rumble went out, cracks spreading out in the center of the room, around the creature before the floor broke apart, taking the creature, the Knights and several ninjas too, all falling several floors down.
"ANGUS!" Ivar, Diedre and Rhoan could be heard yelling.
"Sorry......." His reply went out.
"And that's the guy who lives on stealth," Johnny shook his head.
"Well, that was different," Mider said, glancing down the hole before looking up and seeing Shaw staring at him, Maeve and Mider with ice in her eyes.
"What is she staring at?" Shang asked, nervously.
"Us," Mider answered as Shaw's eyes coldly swung over them.
"I don't like that look," Maeve muttered.
"It looks like the eyes of one of my raptors," Shang said. He became aware of Maeve and Mider staring at him in horror. "What?"
"Raptors?" Maeve got out hoarsely.
Shang nodded. "My one weakness. Falconry. Amazing species of birds on some worlds...."
"That's not the raptors she likes," Maeve said, her face white.
"Eagles?" Shang frowned.
Maeve shook her head. "By any chance have you seen 'Jurassic Park?'"
Shang looked a bit embarrassed. "Well, yes, I thought the carnage would be amusing....." He broke off, his eyes widening as he realized what Maeve was getting at. "Please tell me you're not serious."
Shaking his head, Mider turned to Maeve. "This is all your fault."
"My fault?!" she shrieked.
"You did kidnap her kin! And hinted you'd have taken advantage of her if you'd had time!"
"It was your idea!" Maeve yelled back.
"Excuse me." The two turned to see Giles and Jenny stepping up to Shaw. "Don't waste time fighting amongst yourselves," Jenny said coldly.
"Too right," Giles said, his voice taking on a lower-class accent. "We'd want that bloody pleasure ourselves."
Jenny shot out a hand and launched a fireball, the three barely ducking as it exploded behind them. Muttering, Giles held up a hand and let a blast of energy shoot out that Maeve barely deflected with her staff.
"Okay, they're starting to scare me," Amy muttered.
"Amy, when they're like this, they scare me," Buffy sighed. "Come on, let's go."
She spun her sword in her hands and charged in, slicing a ninja down, Steve right behind her, the rest following to meet the onrush of black-garbed figures piling into the throne room.
Sonya watched as Xander back-flipped over one ninja, slamming his feet into another while Cordelia spun about, landing kicks on three ninjas around her. "Let me guess," she sighed. "Girls are Amazons, guys got the thing from Robin."
"Bingo," Liam nodded, his hands glowing with power. He glanced to Robin. "Shall we dance, laddie?"
"Let's go," Robin nodded as they leaped into the fray, the Kombateers following.
"You'll take the high road and I'll take the low road, and I'll kick Kahn's ass before ye..." Liam sang out as they jumped into battle. In moments, the sounds of battle echoed as fists and kicks flew about, ninjas sailing, injured or dead, to the ground, some knocked into the large hole in the center of the throne room.
Snarling, Kahn moved forward only to have a fist smash into his face. Stunned, more by the audicty then the blow, he backed away to see Oberon standing before him in full armor. "Oberon!" he hissed. "We had an agreement!"
"What can I say?" Oberon shrugged. "I was persuaded to double-cross you before you could double-cross me."
"Then you'll just die by my hand sooner than I had planned," Kahn hissed, holding up a hand.
Oberon was quite calm as he shook his head. "Sorry. I have an army to run. Besides, someone else already called dibs."
"Dibs?" Kahn frowned. "What do you mean-----"
A blast of energy smacked into his back, blasting him off-balance, over the ledge of his balcony and sailing to the ground below. Gasping, Kahn brought himself up to see Titania floating down before him, spear in hand and a light smile on her lips. "A pleasure to finally make your acquaintance," she said as she stabbed out, Kahn barely avoiding the blow as she unleashed another energy blast at him.
Around the city, the battle was joined, ninjas and faeries going at it. The Outworld soldiers were powerful and well-trained but not as powerful as those of the faery lands. Ninjas were blasted down, set on fire, trapped as rats, sent into buildings and more, faeries zipping through the city streets, weapons flaying about they went at it hard and fast in the streets, stray energy bolts blasting apart some buildings.
Inside the palace, the fight was spreading out a bit, Kahn's elite starting to get into it. Scorpion paused near the edge, his arm ready to unleash his spike when a figure appeared before him. Scorpion paused as Sub-Zero carefully stepped forward and shifted into a fighting stance. "For the betrayal of our clan," he said. "And for the crimes committed against it, prepare to meet your devil. Again."
He leaped forward, the two exchanging blows and blocks, neither going for their powers just yet, satisfied to keep it just to themselves right now. Sub-Zero launched a kick, Scorpion grabbing his foot and throwing it up, Sub-Zero flipping about to kick him in the chest, knocking him away and then launching a fist, Scorpion blocking it and knocking him back.
"Hey, I thought Mr. Freeze was a bad guy," Xander announced.
"Yeah, so?" Cordelia said, punching a ninja so hard she broke his jaw.
"So, how come he's beating on banana-boy like a red-haired stepchild?"
"He's on our side on this," Sonya announced as she kicked a ninja back. "But don't expect him to be a conversationalist."
"Figures, he's going after the one guy who talks less then he does," Johnny shot out, launching a kick into one ninja's face.
Jax crushed a fist into one ninja's face, the jaw shattering under the cybernetically enhanced blow. A backarm took out two other ninjas. "Elf-girl got it wrong, I've got it going on here!" he grinned.
A roar caught his attention and he saw Motaro charging him, the Centaur's fists smashing into his chest, knocking Jax back and to the edge of the pit. Motaro charged again, Jax barely dodging, the Centaur's momentum carrying him over and into the pit. Before Jax could even grin, Motaro's tail smacked into him and carried him over.
"Jax!" Johnny yelled.
"Don't worry, he can take care of himself!" Sonya yelled back, punching a ninja down hard.
Liu did a spin kick to one ninja and then a figure caught his eye. He glared at Shang, who threw off his coat and hurled it aside, stepping forward and moving into a fighting stance. "Well, Chosen One," he hissed. "I owe you more pain than you can ever imagine."
"You chose your punishment, Shang," Liu said, stepping forward. "By serving Kahn. At least now, I know it will be hand-to-hand, no tricks. Or has it been so long, you no longer know how to fight fair?"
Snarling, Shang lunged forward, hands like claws towards Liu's throat, the Asian man kicking him back as they began to fight. Kahn had centuries of experience but Liu could tell it had been a long time since he went for simple hand-to-hand combat and that gave him an advantage, albeit a small one.
"Hello, Mider," Fin Varra said as he and Oberon stepped forward, McAllister helping organize the battle outside. "It's been too long."
Mider hissed, magical bolts flying along his nails. "I won't go back," he snarled. "Never."
"Oh, don't worry," Oberon said with an evil smile. "By the time we're done, there will barely be enough to fit you into a goblet, let alone a cave."
Letting out a yell, Mider threw out his hands and let energy spike outward and at the two. Fin Varra and Oberon calmly held up hands to ward the bolts off and then launched some of their own at Mider, blasting him out a wall through the palace. Mider halted himself, hovering in mid- air as the two faery lords came before them, magical bolts flying as they went at it, lighting up the darkness within the walls.
Maeve watched in shock as the ninjas went down hard and fast under the assault. Sub- Zero and Scorpion had broken off near a corner, exchanging furious blows. The pile of fallen ninjas was growing with every punch and blow, the empowered men and Amazons smashing aside the ninjas, the swords glowing, magic hitting. Shaw, Giles and Jenny were attacking with fury, Maeve staring as Giles snapped a ninja's neck and took his axe, slicing down another as Jenny let out a blast that set another on fire.
As the last of the bunch went down, Maeve saw her chance. She spun her staff in her hands, muttering under her breath as she tried to gather all the vicious power she could. Stepping forward, she let out a yell as a bolt of energy emerged from her staff. Seeing it, Shaw held up her sword, sending the bolt smashing back, Maeve barely ducking.
Maeve stood up, staring in shock at her staff, shaking it a bit. "This can't be," she whispered. "That was supposed to be a wide-angle blast to incinerate you all!"
"Looks like the Wicked Bitch of the West can't hang, Xander," Cordelia smirked.
Maeve shook her staff, still in disbelief. "I don't understand! I should have so much more power than this, what happened?!"
Xander rose, a grin on his face. "Hey, Cordy," he said lightly. "Remember all those times I pissed Maeve off by insulting her and she blasted me?"
"Yeah, how many times was it?" Cordelia frowned.
"I lost count," Buffy shrugged.
"And I enjoyed each one!" Maeve yelled, still examining the staff.
"Yeah, but that's a lot of energy to use up just to get back at someone," Xander shrugged.
Maeve froze, her eyes widening as she slowly looked up at him, his words connecting. "No....." she whispered.
"Wait a minute," Cordelia said. She, like everyone else, was staring at Xander in shock. "You can *not* mean......."
"She said she had to use magic to keep the portal open too," Xander smiled.
"You mean------?" Cordelia couldn't complete the thought, she was so much in awe right now.
Maeve just shook her head. "You knew," she whispered. "You son of a bitch, you knew the whole time." Her eyes widened further as it fully came to her. "You set me up. You were setting me up all the while! You forced me to insult you so I'd waste my power!"
"I only act dumb, sister," Xander grinned savegly.
"And of course, pulling that mesmerism spell on us didn't help either," Mulder smiled.
"I'd like to introduce you to my partner in crime," Xander grinned, putting an arm on Mulder's shoulder, the FBI agent making false bows of modesty.
"What?" Cordelia asked in shock.
"Mulder?" Scully said, her eyes as wide in amazement. "You knew?"
Mulder shrugged. "Well, when we woke up, it hit me just how much power it must have taken to teleport into the Faery Kingdom, entrance three magically-gifted people, all of whom have some protection spells on them, and teleport out. When Xander started insulting her, I got the hint and decided to throw my two cents in."
"And I couldn't have burned off as much energy without you," Xander smiled. "Sorry I couldn't tell you guys but I didn't want to tip her off by having her blast a different one of us every minute or so. Might have made her suspicious and she could have put it together and quit."
Buffy just shook her head in shock. "Xander and Mulder figured out how to weaken Maeve and none of us did."
"Goddess, I'll be hearing about this for the next century," Scully moaned.
"Three," Mulder grinned at her.
A clatter of footsteps got their attention and they looked up to see a fresh horde of ninjas enter the throne room. "Oh, good," Giles hissed. "I was getting bored." Without a word, he and Jenny leapt in, punching, kicking and slashing anything that got in their way, the axe Giles carried flashing in the light, a look of savage intensity on his face that even Steve was thrown by.
"And he's a librarian?" Johnny asked. "Hate to see what he does to kids who don't get their books in on time."
"Damn," Sonya muttered. "If the British had had more guys like him in 1776, we'd still be a colony."
"By the Lady," Shaw whispered, her own anger fading a bit as she watched two people she thought of as civilized elders plow through the ninjas with a ferocity that would have put a Harper to shame. "I have never seen anything like that."
"If we had video of you and Ares, you would," Xander said.
"You know, Xander, maybe you're right, maybe we're not needed," Steve said.
"Maybe," Xander shrugged. "But we still owe this assholes bad."
"True," Shaw said, slowly craning her neck to where Liu and Shang were still fighting. "Go ahead. I shall catch up."
"Me too," Liam smiled, seeing where she was going. "I have some fun to dish out meself." They slowly moved away as the others joined Jenny and Giles, smashing down the Outworld troops whose screams filled the air as they fell to the anger-driven assault of the Section team.
"Hate to say it, but I think we could use a little extra drive here," Sonya announced.
"Not a problem," Oz said. He concentrated and began to shift, fur springing over his clothing, his posture shifting as he turned into full wolf mode and charged at the troops.
"Holy shit," Johnny whispered. "What is that?"
"Oh, he's a werewolf," Willow shrugged.
"You're dating a werewolf?" Sonya asked, still staring at Oz.
"Yep," Willow said, her eyes taking on a light glow as a hand started to bristle with energy. "And I make do." Muttering under her breath, she let out a fireball that knocked several ninjas back.
"Damn," Sonya whispered. "That elf was right. These guys do have it all over Special Forces."
"Consider who they fight," Johnny pointed out. "And how often."
Maeve hadn't survived 1400 years by not knowing when it was time to cut and run. While the humans were occupied and no one else seemed to be looking, she hoisted her skirt and got ready to run. She'd gone a half-dozen steps when a powerful man in blue armor and a hard expression blocked her path. Maeve took one look at him and froze. "Et tu, Torc?" she whispered after a moment to absorb the shock.
"What can I say?" Torc said. "Leaving my soul for dead after a few centuries got old."
"You're Immortal," Maeve said in disbelief. "You never mentioned that."
"The last thing I wanted was to give you more power over me," Torc said darkly.
"Well, I'm surprised," Maeve said, starting to recover from the shock. A thought struck her. "You trained them, didn't you?"
Torc nodded, his sword held carefully before him. "After they were killed in a Northmen attack, shortly after you were exiled."
Maeve raised her eyebrows in mild surprise. "The Northmen? Well, that's a surprise. I thought they'd wait a little longer before they took my advice on the weakness of Kell's defenses."
She got a little thrill of overdue satisfaction at the look of dismay coming over Torc's face. "You?" he whispered.
"If I couldn't have Kells, no one could," Maeve said in a cold tone. "You should have known that by now." She shook her head. "Ah, Torc, if only you had stayed with me. I'd have shown you sights that would have chilled your spirit."
"You're forgetting," Torc said with a tight smile. "I've already seen you naked."
Maeve's face fell and she whipped up her staff. She may not have had as much power as she wanted but it was enough to send a bolt that knocked Torc down. Maeve moved over him, her gem held to his face. "I'm going to bring you to a level of pain you could never imagine in your worse nightmares," she hissed.
Despite the pain, Torc kept up the smile. "Please. It took me two centuries to regain full sensation in my testicles again after you and me."
Snarling, Maeve aimed the staff at him but was knocked back as Aideen appeared, shoving her away. "Ye don't mess with my lad," the faery snarled.
Maeve stared at her, then at Torc, who was getting back to his feet, putting his hand in Aideen and her eyes widened in shock yet again. "Oh. Please. Be kidding me."
"What can I say?" Aideen smiled. "He wanted somebody who actually had a heart to be with."
Maeve stared at her, then at Torc. "You-----and HER?!"
"She's more woman than you could hope to be," Torc grinned as he and Aideen shared a kiss, Maeve starting to feel ill as she backed away, Torc and Aideen advancing towards her. Before they could get too close, a roar sounded and they both turned to see Sheeva charging at them. Instantly, they fell back from the assault, trying to defend themselves the best they could against the four-armed female.
Maeve backed away, trying to run but suddenly an arm caught hers and yanked her back. "Oh, I don't think so, girlfriend," an Irish voice sounded and Maeve found herself facing a woman with long red hair and a smile. "Who in the hell are you?" she asked.
"Just someone who doesn't want you to miss out on the fun to come," Callieway Burton smiled. She held Maeve tight as a fist clenched by her side. "Oh, and if I were you.....I'd pack some polish." Before Maeve could ask what she meant, Callie threw out a punch that knocked her down, then brushed at her gown before moving to where Sheeva was.
The creature had just knocked down both Torc and Aideen, fists ready to deliver killing blows when a soft "ahem?" caught her attention. She spun to face Callie, looking her up and down. "Who are you? I'll crush you like a bug, you worm!"
"Very nice, a simile and a honynom in the same sentence!" Callie nodded. "I'm just someone wondering why you're doing your best to protect the man who's ordered the deaths of your people."
Sheeva stared at him, her anger forgotten in confusion. "What are you-----"
Callie reached out and touched her forehead and instantly, Sheeva's mind was filled with images of destruction, of four-armed corpses ripped apart by centaurs and Outworld ninjas. Sheeva's eyes snapped open and she paused as betrayal and anger filled her.
"I do believe now is an excellent time for a defection," Callie said lightly. In response, Sheeva threw her head back, all four arms extended and let out a scream before leaping away.
"What the hell did you do?" Torc asked as he got up.
"Evened the odds a bit," Callie smiled as she stepped back. "Tell Liam.....We're almost even."
"Almost?" Aideen said, raising an eyebrow.
"Well, I'm not exactly counting the things I know he's going to do in the future," Callie smiled before vanishing yet again.
"So she married Liam four times?" Torc shook his head. "That explains so much."
The trail of black-garbed bodies made quite the sizeable pile on the floor as the Scoobies punched, kicked and slashed their way through the Outworld troops. Bolts of energy filled the air as the witches threw out magic. Giles was giving his magical abilities a rest, preferring instead to slash anything that got in his way with an axe. Johnny and Sonya took the rear, trying to take shots at any random ninja that got through and into their way, Sonya not used to playing clean-up.
"Are we just punching randomly or do we actually have a point here?" Steve called out, slicing a ninja down.
"Merger may not be able to go down without the sacrifice," Robin said, blasting a ninja back. "But the portal to Outworld is still open and we need to close it off ASAP or Kahn's going to wipe Sunnydale off the face of both worlds."
"Great," Xander said, smashing a ninja's jaw in with a kick. "Still on a timetable."
"It's what it is," Amy shrugged as she blasted a ninja down. She heard a sound like a metal saber being drawn and drew back as she turned around and thus, the sharp blade from Baraka's wrist missed her throat and sliced a cut on her cheek. Amy cried out as she went down, holding a hand to her bleeding face.
Robin watched her go down and his face went dark. The legends say that faeries are gentle creatures, sprites more interested in mischief than anything else. But as with humans, faeries have their breaking point. Push them too far, anger them too much and they will let loose a fury that may cower the darkest of demons.
Robin Goodfellow had reached that point.
He slowly turned to face Baraka, his eyes glowing with anger and power as he slowly stepped forward and held up a hand, finger pointed at Baraka. "That what you like, little man?" he asked, his voice cold and booming with energy. "You like pushing down little girls, you like cutting them up?" His face took on an evil smile. "Well, if you're going to play with knives.....you've got to be expect to get cut."
There was a shudder and a rattling throughout the hallway. Without warning, every single sword, dagger and other sharp weapon floated up in the air, the axe yanked out of Giles' hands as did the Immortals' swords. Baraka's eyes widened as he saw the slew of blades coming right at him. Before he could react, the blades were going at him, slicing at his body, a flurry of flashes as the swords cut him. Blood few about, Baraka lost in the whirlwind of blades, his screams a horrible sound as the multitude of swords kept right at him, slicing every inch of skin available and then underneath. Baraka's screams cut off as the swords severed his vocal cords.
Robin simply stood, a smile of satisfaction on his face, arms outstretched as the blades kept on cutting Baraka up, unheeding of the splash of blood that hit him. After a few moments, he lowered his hands and the swords dropped to the ground. Baraka's body had been stripped almost to the skeleton, bone showing in a few places. The body stood for a moment before collapsing to the floor in a limp pile.
Robin's smile grew a bit as he looked down on the creature who had harmed Amy. "Flawless victory," he whispered.
He turned to face the others and was struck by the looks of utter horror on their faces. He sobered, wiping away the blood on his face as he moved to Amy. Jenny and Willow were beside her, combining their energies to try and fix her wound. Robin gently pushed them aside and touched her face, letting a small, for him, burst of magic that healed her cut without a mark. "Sorry," he said softly. "I just....lost it for a minute."
"It's okay," Amy said hurriedly, touched by how good she felt at what he had done. "It is."
Shaking her head, Buffy tensed as she felt someone behind her. She spun around to see Joyce standing there. She kept her gaurd up in case of a trick but then looked at her mother's eyes. Seeing a wave of love and relief that no illusion or shapechanger could duplicate, Buffy felt herself enveloped in her mother's embrace. "Mom...." she whispered, fighting off tears.
"Oh, God, Buffy," Joyce cried. "I was so worried......"
Buffy backed up a bit. "Mom, you shouldn't be here, it's not safe....."
"Oh, it's okay, honey," Joyce said, waving a hand. "Shaw already took care of that with some spells."
Buffy's look became dubious. "Spells?"
"Protection ones," Joyce added. "And that's all," she emphasized.
"Oh, okay," Buffy nodded, relieved. "But, seriously, Mom, you should stay out of this, find a safe spot and try and hide out until this is over, okay?"
"Okay, honey," Joyce said, giving her another hug.
"Let's clear the way down to the bottom," Steve said, holding up his sword. "Spread out from there."
"We got a strategy?" Xander asked.
"It's the final battle, Xander," Robin pointed. "There's only one strategy to use. Hit anything that's not on our side."
Jax let out a grunt as Motaro's tail smashed into his mid-section sending him smashing through a wall and to the outside. Jax had been careful to land on the Centaur upon their fall to the lower levels but had been winded. Motaro had taken the fight to him from there, smashing Jax about a bit and now outside.
Jax got to his feet, trying to get his bearings. He could see the massive battle between the faeries and Outworlders continuing, black-garbed corpses littering the ground but the battles still raged. A roar caught his attention and he looked up to see Motaro smash through the hole and come at him. "Okay, Mr. Ed," he muttered, standing up. "Let's get it on."
He ran and smashed a fist on Motaro's face, the centaur reacting but not seeming to feel much pain, simply smiling as he smashed Jax with a fist that nearly took his head off. Jax tried a few more punches but they were blocked by Motaro. Jax was getting nervous, he'd never had this much trouble in a fight before. He could hear the servos in his arm coverings whining with stress from the blows and knew he was getting more damage than their designers intended.
Motaro raised his hooves up, smashing them down on Jax. Instinctively, he raised an arm in defense, the bionic covering taking the full impact, smashing it. Jax yelled as Motaro clutched his arm, ripping off the covering and holding it up as a trophy as Jax fell back, rubbing at his naked arm.
"Yield, human," Motaro said. "You had enough problems with your machine. Without them, you are helpless."
"Like my people, Centaur?" Motaro turned his head to see Sheeva standing before him, a look of raw hate on her face.
"Sheeva," Motaro said lightly, not making the connection with her fury. "Come to help me finish off this pathetic excuse for a human?"
"No," Sheeva said tightly, taking a step forward.
"Good," Motaro sniffed. "He's my kill anyway, biped." He turned back to Jax, ready to deliver the killing blow but Sheeva's next words froze him.
"Like my race?" Motaro's eyes went wide as he realized what Sheeva must have found out. Before he could stammer a denial, she held all four of her hands together, energy starting to come between them. "FOR MY PEOPLE!!" Sheeva screamed as she unleashed a fireball, blinding him. She charged forward, fists smashing onto his face and chest, kicks smacking into his skull and in between his front two legs, smashing Motaro back, the Centaur flopping on his side, yelling in agony.
Jax stared at him, then back at Sheeva in confusion and a bit of suspicion. "What the hell did you do that for?"
"I have my reasons," Sheeva said tightly.
"But you're evil!" Jax yelled. "You're on Kahn's side!"
Sheeva looked at him, a touch of sadness in her voice. "Do you think heroes are the only ones who can see honor and loyalty as virtues? Kahn has betrayed mine."
"So, you switching sides?" Jax still couldn't believe this was happening.
Sheeva shook her head. "Not so much as avenging my people."
"What'd he do to them?"
Sheeva was silent. "What was that race in what you call the Second World War.....The Jews?"
"Shit," Jax muttered. He looked at her and could see the sincerity in her eyes. "You gonna stay and help?"
"No," Sheeva shook her head. "I am needed in Outworld. The Princess Kitana is taking advantage of this conflict and leading a rebellion against Kahn. They could use another pair of hands."
"Or two sets?" Jax nodded.
The slightest of grins came across Sheeva's face. "Perhaps." The grin faded. "If nothing else, I must find if any of my people have survived."
"Good luck," Jax said, giving her a thumbs-up with the non-armored fist.
Sheeva nodded, then bent her head. "There is one thing you can do for me."
Sheeva gestured towards Motaro, who was starting to stagger back to his feet. "Kill that son of a nag for me."
"With pleasure," Jax nodded, pounding a fist into one hand as he turned to face Motaro.He knew Sheeva had already vanished behind him as he looked down at the broken piece of metal on the ground before him. He glanced at the remaining attachment, flexing his arm slightly as he remembered Shaw's words. With a defiant flourish, he ripped the cybernetic piece off, flexing both arms as he moved to Motaro. "Let's finish this," he muttered.
Motaro staggered back to his feet, still shaky from the attack from Sheeva. Jax moved in, his fists smacking into Motaro's face, the centaur jerking from each hard blow, Jax throwing a kick in for good measure. After a series of blows, Jax moved up and onto Motaro, straddling him like a horse, clamping his legs hard around Motaro's throat, hooking his feet together and clenching hard, cutting off Motaro's oxygen. The centaur choked as he felt Jax grip his horns, using them as handholds. He bucked and moved as best her could, trying to throw Jax off but the black commando held on tight, yanking back on the horns so Motaro's neck was held back by his legs.
In his struggle to dislodge Jax from off of him, it never occurred to Motaro that all he had to do was strike out with his tail, either with an energy bolt or spiking Jax with it. But then, centaurs were never known for their brilliance and thus Motaro felt his strength leaving him as his bucking and weaving slowed. His breath now in harsh chokes, Motaro drew all his strength together for one final attempt to throw Jax off. It failed, Jax holding on tight, his grip actually seeming to increase as he held onto Motaro, the centaur slowly falling to the ground. His arms and tail flayed about, the motions slowing and then ceasing as with a final gasp, his eyes closed and he went limp.
Jax held on for another two minutes, long after Motaro's tail had ceased twitching. Loosening his legs, he gathered his strength and yanked back as hard as he could on the horns, the snapping from Motaro's neck all the answer he needed that the general was dead.
Jax stood up, brushing at himself and heaving with breath. He let a final kick go into Motaro's side and then let out a tired grin. "A horse is a horse, of course, of course," he found himself muttering. "Unless he's a dead asshole."
Sub-Zero flipped past a kick from Scorpion, feet lashing out at the yellow-clad ninja. Scorpion took a glancing blow and rolled with it, spinning about and coming back to his feet. He launched a foot at Sub-Zero, the other ninja catching it and lifting him up and away. Scorpion spun about in the air and came back, feet slamming into Sub-Zero's chest, knocking him back.
Scorpion rushed Sub-Zero, throwing a punch at him. Sub-Zero spun about, rolling behind Scorpion, slamming an elbow into his back and a kick to add to it. Scorpion hit back with a kick that knocked the wind out of Sub-Zero. The blue-clad ninja was at an exceptional disadvantage. While his blows caused damage, the fact was that he was facing an opponent not of this earth, whose own blows hurt much more, especially when delivered with blinding speed.
Sub-Zero looked up in time for a kick to hit him in the face. He landed hard on his back as Scorpion moved over him, kicking away at his ribs, Sub-Zero rolled off, trying to focus his energies even as he blocked Scorpion's blows. He knew he had the chance to get one all-or- nothing attack, if he could get Scorpion away enough for it.
He flipped back to his feet, kicking at Scorpion, then running to a wall, the yellow ninja following. Sub-Zero put his feet on the wall, moving up a few feet before flipping back. He kept his eyes on Scorpion as he threw his fists out. Just as he'd hoped, Scorpion shimmered for a moment, then vanished.
Sub-Zero stood in place, eyes darting about, making it seem that he was nervous about where Scorpion was hiding. In reality, he was drawing his energies into himself, preparing for his defense. He had only attempted this once but he had no other choice in battling a foe such as this.
"GET OVER HERE!" a voice boomed out. Sub-Zero spun, seeing Scorpion behind him, his arm already outstretched to unleash his spike and tendril. Sub-Zero waited until it was a few feet away and then flipped himself back.
Behind his mask, Scorpion's eyes widened as he saw an icy replica of Sub-Zero standing where the ninja had been. He expected his spike to shatter it but instead, the moment it touched the statue, it began to freeze, a wave of ice covering it, flowing towards him. Scorpion tried to yank the spike away but it remained stuck, the wave of ice coming towards him.
The ninja realized there was only one thing to do. He smacked his foot up and into the tendril of ice, shattering it to pieces, then let out a howl of pain at the effort. A soft "ahem" caught his attention and he looked up to see Sub-Zero standing there, hands clenched around a glowing blue ball. "You never led an honorable life," he intoned. "And therefore, you do not deserve an honorable death."
He unleashed the ball, sending out a wave of icy spikes that struck Scorpion full on, sending him flying into a wall, impaled by almost a dozen icy knives. Grunting with pain, Scorpion suddenly realized that his body was freezing, the spikes working ice into his system. His struggles were soon in vain as his joints stiffened and he found himself turning into an icy statue. His eyes remained fixed with pure hate even as his face froze over.
Sub-Zero stared at the blue-white humanoid figure impaled on the wall, arms still reaching towards the spikes covering him. He took a running start, then leaped up and struck out, feet smashing into Scorpion, turning the ninja into a thousand pieces. Sub-Zero stood amongst the remains, looking down at them. "Do yourself a favor," he intoned. "When you get to Hell again, this time stay there." There was a blur and he was gone.
Liu and Shang's fight had worked away from the throne room and was now in the hallways of the palace, Shang backing up as Liu took the fight to him. Shang blocked a kick and punched Liu but the monk hit him with a blow to the chest, knocking him back. Snarling, Shang held up his hands, calling on the little energy he had to launch a fireball at Liu. Liu moved, putting his feet on a wall and kicking away, flipping past the ball as it smacked into a wall.
Seeing a chance, Shang moved in, kicking again at Liu, getting a shot to his mid-section, then his face that rocked the champion back. The exchanged more blows as they backed away, coming towards several of the bodies of Outworld troops the Sunnydale team had left behind in their rampage earlier.
Liu kicked Shang down, sending him onto a group of bodies. Reaching out, Shang grabbed a blade and sliced outward, opening a small cut on Liu. He spun about, the blade whistling, Liu backing away to dodge the cuts. Shang struck out again with a blow of energy. It didn't have the same devastating effects as it would have had with full power but still knocked Liu away. An evil smile came upon Shang's face as he held up the blade. "Perhaps this is best," he said in an evil tone. "It has been far too long since blood spilled by own hand."
"Couldn't agree more, old chum," an Irish brogue cut through the air and Shang turned to see Liam throwing out a bolt of energy. Instinctively, Shang held his sword to block it but it still knocked him back. He looked up to see Shaw lunging at him, her blade spinning about as she attacked him.
Shang blocked her blows, with quick and strong strokes, sparks and flame bursting with every slam of the blades onto each other. Shang quickly showed he had a lot more experience than Shaw but the Harper had anger and vengeance going for her, adding to the power of her blows. But she still left an opening, enough for Shang to get in and smash the butt of his sword onto her face, stunning her long enough for a kick to her gut sending her onto her behind.
Shang raised his sword to deliver the killing blow, not even pausing to gloat but instead sending it down at Shaw. A hand caught the blade perfectly on the edge and Shang looked up to see Liam smiling at him. "I'd be leaving the lass alone, if I were ye," he said.
"They send a clown to fight me?" Shang hissed.
"I think this is the part where I'm supposed to say it takes one to know one," Liam grinned back. The grin fell as he hauled back and smashed a fist into Shang's gut, sending him flying to the other end of the corridor.
Liam turned and offered a hand to Shaw. She took it and he pulled her up and into his arms, his lips pressing onto hers for a long kiss. Shaw froze in place, her eyes closing as Liam kept the kiss up. He finally broke away and smiled at her, waiting for her reaction.
Her fist smashed into his jaw, knocking him on his ass as she stood over him. "I will excuse that as a sign of stress and the tension of battle," she hissed. "And thus, I will not exact physical violence upon you."
She turned back to see Shang scamper to his feet and start to run off. Behind her, Liam got back to his feet, rubbing his jaw and smiling. "Oh, you've got a winner here, old man," he muttered. He unleashed a bolt that nearly took Shang's head off, the sorcerer running off, rubbing at his singed ponytail.
Shaw grunted as she held up her blade, spinning it in her hands as she got ready to follow, Liam behind her. He moved forward and grabbed Shaw by the arm. "Hold up, here."
"He is mine, Liam!" Shaw yelled, grabbing her hand away from him.
"Ye have to catch him first, lassie," Liam pointed out with a grin.
"I would, if you would cease blasting at him," Shaw hissed.
Liam sighed. "Lass, what happens if you lost that last bit of rage ye're working on right now?"
Shaw looked at him, her animosity cooling a bit as his words effected her. "I will grow fatigued as the adrenaline fades."
Liam shook his head. "Try exhausted, lass. You haven't slept in over a day. So, I'm just giving you incentive to stay pissed off."
"Then that explains the kiss," Shaw nodded with a slight grin. She moved off to chase at Shang. "Then you had best keep up, Danahure," she called over her shoulder.
"Lord, I love this woman," Liam muttered.
"And I thought Sonya and Johnny were bad," Liu said, rubbing his jaw as he came up behind the leprechaun. "Come on, let's try and catch up with her."
"Oh, I can only hope to do that," Liam smiled as they took off.
Shang raced down the hallway, trying to catch his breath. This was definitely not what he wanted. Normally, he'd be taking advantage of the chaos to try and find a way to gain some power but for now, he just wanted to get out of this with some semblance of life.
He rounded a hallway and stopped, staring at the group of extremely pissed-off humans wielding weapons, all of whom were staring right back at him. "Dibs on the Fu!" Xander yelled out as they started to advance. Shang, naturally, took off right in the other direction. Before the gang could go after him, another wave of Outworld ninjas attacked, forcing another fight.
Shang knew he was much lower in power than he wanted to be and knew there was only one thing to do: Take someone's soul to strengthen himself. Unfortunately, he was hardly going to be able to do it when the humans were in a pack and they didn't appear to have left any ninjas alive for him either.
Shang came to a corner and stopped. Standing before him, dressed in what appeared to be leather armor, hands behind her back, was a very attractive woman. Shang smiled and slowly came forward. It shouldn't take too long to disable her and get a soul out of it. Before he had taken more than a dozen steps, a beautiful red-haired woman stepped out of the shadows.
"Who the hell------"
"Just borrowing from a Lin Kuei," Callie smiled.
"You are no ninja," Shang sniffed.
"No, just a seer," Callie shrugged.
"Hmmmm....." Shang smiled. "I've never drained a seer before."
He started to move forward, only a few feet before Callie spoke again. "3....2....1....."
Shang stopped, staring at her. "What are you-------"
He cut off with a loud gasp as a giant scimitar slammed into his chest, sending him flying to the end of the hall, collapsing in a pile. Shang stared at the sword in his chest, then looked up at the armored woman who smiled at him as she walked up. She reached over and yanked the blade out, then gave Shang a little smile, his last sight before his eyes went dull and his body slumped.
"Funny, I thought you'd be about two inches to the left," Callie shrugged. "Good to see you again, Millie."
"Don't call me that," Shaw's goddess announced as she cleaned off her blade. She paused as she felt a presence coming to her. "Callie, you------"
"Need to go," Callie nodded. "Shaw and Liam are coming."
"Callie, do not-------"
"Call her Shaw? Tough, that's what she is now and you know it. See you again?"
Millie snorted. "You, no doubt, will see me sooner."
Callie laughed in agreement as she vanished in time for Shaw and Liam to come from another hallway and stop at the scene before them. They stared at Shang's body, then at the woman standing before him.
"Hello, Daughter," Millie smiled. "Hello, Liam," she added, her smile a little less. She nodded to Shang. "I was just doing what little bit I could to help out. And to prevent this kind of situation from happening again."
"How'd you-----" Liam broke off as he looked at Shaw. "Oh, you've been talking to yer daughter."
"That, and the fact you are extremely lucky I was in when Artemis called on me."
"Why didn't you just do the possession bit or let the lass play Avatar for ye? Would have saved you a trip."
"The Lady does prefer to handle things personally, Liam," Shaw said gently.
"Except for you, Shawukay," Millie smiled. "Excuse me." She knelt down and dug her hands into Shang's neck, under his skin and yanked, pulling out what appeared to be a withering transparent shade that bore a resemblance to Shang, holding it tightly. "Time to take this one where it belongs," Millie smiled.
"And where is that, My Lady?" Shaw asked, curious.
"To wherever afterlife he deserves," Millie shrugged. "And I'll make sure he gets there this time."
"Mother," Shaw asked carefully, looking at Shang's corpse. "Where did you learn that maneuver?"
"From your memories," Millie answered. "A movie you once saw." Shaw nodded knowingly as Millie vanished with the shade.
"What movie?" Liam frowned.
"The Robin Hood version Angus hates," Shaw answered.
"Ah, Costner," Liam nodded. He paused. "Wait a minute, that was Morgan Freeman who did the throwing bit."
Liam sighed. "Millie always had to be a showoff." He glanced up as the others came rounding the corner, Oz in his human form, stopping as they saw Shang's corpse. "Wow," Cordelia said. "You did good, Shaw."
"It was not me, Cordelia," the Harper answered. "It was the Lady."
"Millie's here?" Robin said in disbelief.
"She was," Shaw answered. "She left with Shang's spirit in her hands after she dispatched him."
"I was supposed to defeat him!" Liu angrily said. "It was my duty!"
"You killed him before, laddie," Liam pointed out. "She just took care of his shade."
"I hope she makes sure he gets to Hell this time," Liu muttered.
"Count on it," Shaw nodded.
"Now what?" Liam asked.
"We've still got plenty of assholes to take out," Steve announced. "Can't let Robin and Liam's people have all the fun."
"Well, we're good at it," Robin smiled as they moved off.
Rhoan let out a yell as he smashed through a tree, his armor protecting him from the impact but not the pain. Maeve's creature howled loudly, long-necked head whipping about as it tried to get at Ivar. The Knight of Water let out a blast of lightning from his trident to knock the head back, Diedre adding a blast from her crossbow that brushed it a few more feet back as Rhoan got back to his feet.
A shuffling got his attention and he turned to see a ninja coming at him, a sword in its hand. Sighing at the interruption, Rhoan held up his fist, a small cannon popping out of his gauntlet and sending out a burst of flame that killed the ninja.
Rhoan turned back, his sword glowing with flame as he moved forward. "Maeve's getting rusty," he called out, slightly muffled by his facial covering. "These things used to be a lot tougher."
"We're all a bit out of it," Angus nodded, smacking the monster's tail with his mace. "But I think we have better things to do."
"Shock and rock?" Diedre asked.
"On it," Ivar nodded, spinning his trident about and jamming it into the creature's tail. He let out a command and a huge burst of electricity ripped through the creature, causing it to howl. Angus spun his mace in his hands, the ball suddenly unleashing what appeared to be cannonball- like projectiles that slammed into the creature's head and neck, smashing bone and erupting out the other side. With the double assault, the creature slumped to the ground, twitching for a bit before expiring.
"Didn't know if that would even work again," Ivar remarked as he pulled his trident out of the dead creature.
"The classics never go out of style," Angus smiled as the four Knights saw the rest of the humans come to them. All were staring in wonder at the scene before them, faeries and ninjas brawling it out, several buildings damaged, dark-clothed figures littering the ground around them.
"Looks like quite the party," Xander nodded. "No wonder the Irish are involved."
"Got that right, laddie," Aideen smiled as she and Torc joined them. She glanced at the creature and sighed. "Ah, Maeve never could come up with a creature worth a crap."
"Yeah, these guys can't hang much either," Jax shrugged as he approached. Sonya looked at his bare arms. "What happened to those fancy-shit bionics?"
"Decided elf-girl was right," Jax said.
"I am happy to see you took my advice," Shaw nodded.
"Yeah, yeah," Jax nodded. "Once I got rid of those things and let loose, I could fight better than ever."
"You have conquered your insecurities, Jax," Shaw announced. "That is important."
"Thanks, Hunter," Jax nodded.
"An impressive victory."
"What can I say?" Jax grinned. "It is SO hard being this pretty."
"How hard can it be to shave your head?" Shaw asked dryly.
Jax snorted as he realized she was joking. "Very funny, half-elf."
"So, where's that Centaur asshole?" Johnny asked.
Jax grinned. "Ready for the glue factory. And get this, that Sheeva lady helped."
"Say what?" Cordelia asked. "That four-armed bitch helped?"
"Seems Kahn decided to go after her people," Jax answered. "So, she's over there now to help out."
<And that is as great a cue as any for us.>
All the Sunnydale residents turned, startling the others as they focused on the group of cats and dogs standing before them. "Well, it's about damn time," Steve said, glaring at the hound in the lead. "Where in the hell have you been while we've been strung up all day?"
Duke gave the canine equivalent of a shrug. <Well, you didn't expect us to take on someone who took all of you guys down in a minute, do you?>
Steve stared at him and nodded. "Good point."
"Just where have you guys been?" Buffy asked, glaring at Sarah.
<In the sewers.>
Buffy paused, thinking. "Motaro and Sheeva said all the vamps and demons went into the sewers."
<Hey, we had to kill time.>
<Plus, something else,> Lassie added. Willow listened and then nodded. "Good job."
"What?" Steve frowned.
"Seems some people got away and hid in the sewers too," Willow explained. "The guys here kept them safe from the vamps wanting some free meals."
"Good job," Steve nodded.
<Keep that in mind next time you're picking up snacks> Duke said. While it was physically impossible for dogs to smile, he did a good job of creating the effect.
"Um, is something going on we don't know about?" Johnny asked. "Again?"
"Spirit Guardians," Robin explained. "Telepathic connection to their owners."
"That's actually far more believable than most of what I've heard the last few days," Johnny said after a moment.
"Guys?" Willow said, looking worried suddenly. "What about our families? I mean, where are------"
<We already scouted> Lassie replied. <They're in some camps Kahn's set up around town, mingled with the rest. Scared, but okay.>
<Kahn doesn't seem to want to waste the effort transporting any prisoners to Outworld.> Duke added.
"Makes sense," Steve nodded. "He figured all of Earth would be Outworld soon enough, no need to waste energy."
<Well, we've got plenty to spare,> Duke announced.
Steve shook his head. "Okay, start making up for lost time."
<You got it,> Duke said. There was a moment of silence and then the pets took on their wolf and sabertooth tiger forms. <Let's have some more fun> Duke announced as they took off running.
The Knights and Kombateers simply stood and watched in amazement as the transformed animals started to plow into a group of ninjas and centaurs, howls filling the air as they bit and slashed at the Outworld creatures.
"Okay, screw you guys, I'm going home," Johnny announced. "Telepathic shape-shifting pets is where I draw the line."
"And here I thought this town had it all," Rhoan said, holding up his sword. "Come on, let's join them." He and the Knights moved off with surprising speed.
"I don't get it," Mulder said, shaking his head. "How can they move so fast with all that armor on?"
"What is that stuff made out of?" Scully wondered.
"It doesn't have a name," Aideen smiled.
Her smile faded as Shaw spoke up. "Metoric steel, admantine, cinnabar, with touches of enchanntments from archwizards------"
"For God's sakes, lass!" Aideen cried out in surprise. "Save us *some* secrets!"
"They asked a viable question," Shaw said in innocence.
"But you're ruining our aura of mystery," Aideen pointed out. "It's part and parcel of the whole myths and legends thing. It's a good fraction of why we're looked at with awe by humans."
"I ceased to consider such things since learning MY home was being used as the basis for a series of books and role-playing games thought to be fiction," Shaw answered calmly.
"Spoilsport," Aideen pouted as they moved off.
Bolts of energy lit up the sky, most centering on Mider flashing out magics at the Faery Lords, the smiles on their faces letting any who saw them know that Mider wasn't as much of a threat as he had hoped to be, his attacks easily blocked and he was barely able to put up shielding to block theirs.
Down below, Titania thrust her spear at Kahn, the Emperor attempting to block it, allowing the Faery Queen to smack him in the face with a savage backhand. Kahn spit out a glob of blood, wiping at his chin. "Not bad for a woman," Kahn smiled.
With a growl, Titania launched a kick at his groin but Kahn grabbed her foot and hurled it back, almost snapping it. Kahn raised a hand to let out a blast of energy when he felt someone behind him. Instinctively, he spun around, his fist sailing back. He saw Liu falling back, his fist only catching him on the side, the fighter rolling with the punch so it didn't do much damage.
"You think you can face me, boy?" Kahn hissed as he moved over to where Liu was getting back to his feet. To his mild surprise, Liu had a large smile on as he rose to his feet. "Oh, I was hoping you'd do that," he smiled as he rubbed his head.
"What?" Kahn asked, curious. "You hoped to attract my attention so I can rip you limb from limb?"
"No," Liu shook his head. "I'm smiling because you just struck the champion of Mortal Kombat without provocation."
Kahn's eyes went wide, his jaw falling as he realized what he had just done. An electric feel came to the air and before he knew it, he was struck in the chest by a massive bolt of lightning, sent sailing back to the ground. He looked up to see lightning form into a figure, arms crossed, hair blowing, a light smile on his lips.
"Oh, look," Raiden said in a chiding tone. "Someone just broke a rule." He held out his hand and unleashed another bolt of lightning, Kahn barely able to dodge it. Snarling, the Emperor attacked Raiden head on, the two god-like beings exchanging blows of electric power as they moved through the battlefield.
In the park, the Slayerettes, Knights and Komabetters fought it out against the Outworld troops, whose numbers were being added to by reinforcements called from the portal. Unknowingly, Kahn was calling troops away from the sudden rebellion breaking out in his own dimension but at the moment, he had much bigger problems on hand.
"Well, come out ye blacks and tans, come out and fight me like a man....." Liam howled, magic blasting from his hands as he fried ninjas left and right.
"That's the fifth straight song he's done!" Jenny yelled. "I can't believe he's memorized so many of them!"
"Memorized?" Robin sniffed. "His people wrote most of them."
Shaw's sword sliced down two ninjas as Amy let out a burst of magic. Amy glanced to her cousin, seeing a batch of ninjas coming towards them. "Shaw! On your six!"
Shaw turned to see them and nodded. "Wrath of God!"
"Got it," Amy answered with a grin. "Goddess Hectate, hear my will, from the heavens, let rain spill!"
Instantly, a burst of rain covered the oncoming troops, a small patch in the middle of the park. "What the hell are they doing?" Sonya muttered, glancing at the two.
"I don't know," Jax shrugged, punching one ninja absently. "Maybe they want to get the fight called on account of rain."
No sooner were the words out of his mouth than Shaw made an incantation and a wave of her hand. Instantly, a bolt of lightning sailed down and struck the soaked ground around the ninjas. Basic scientific fact took hold and in seconds, the entire pack was electrocuted.
"Whoa," Jax said, staring at the fried fighters.
"What you said," Sonya nodded, also staring.
"Oh, Sonya?" Robin called out. "What was that you were saying about teamwork earlier?"
"I forgot," Sonya shrugged. "And I take it back anyway."
"I love this woman," Liam grinned as he punched a centaur so hard, its neck snapped.
"So, Rob, how's the pool?" Johnny called out.
"What pool?" Liam frowned.
"On whether you survive or not," Robin answered, sending out another bolt.
"Please," Liam sniffed. "We've been in much worse than this."
"I mean surviving with Shaw," Robin smiled. "So, far it's three to one you don't last a week."
"After what you just saw, it's money in the bank."
"You know, I'm starting to like these guys," Buffy said, slashing out with her sword.
"Tell me about it," Xander grinned. "Us and Cage, how sweet is this?"
"You want cool, buddy, check this out," Johnny smiled. He lined up against a larger ninja and ran forward, leaping up to do his shadow kick, those who hadn't seen it before actually stopping and staring at the flowing images coming together into a massive kick.
"Damn," Jenny muttered. "He does something not even Shaw can do. I guess that's humility there."
"Won't last long in this town," Giles remarked as he cut down another soldier, the battle continuing to rage.
There was a blast of energy and Kahn and Raiden came in, both exchanging blows that sounded like thunder. Kahn blasted Raiden with a punch. The Thunder God flew back, the leaped forward, flying out with both fists outstretched, spinning as he plowed into Kahn, sending the Emperor flying back. Raiden landed on his feet and shot a quick smile at the amazed Sunnydale residents before going back for Kahn.
"Damn," Mulder muttered. "Shaw wasn't lying, he really does look like Connor."
"Really?" Robin asked. "I don't see it."
Everyone stared at him in amazement. "Robin, what are you talking about?" Steve asked in disbelief. "That's almost an exact double of Connor!"
"No, I mean, I literally can't see it," Robin explained. "I'm an Eternal, we don't see things the same way you do?"
"Excuse me?" Amy asked in confusion.
"What, you think Artemis is really a babe in leather? That Oberon and Zeus are really elderly men? They take forms you can accept in your minds. Me, Liam and Aid aren't like you, we see them much differently."
"How?" Amy asked.
"You don't want to know," Robin muttered and Amy decided to take his advice and keep fighting.
"Would the Lady be included in that?" Shaw asked as she slashed a ninja down.
"Actually, Millie's pretty close to what you see her as," Robin answered. "And if that doesn't frighten you, I don't know what will."
Between the armies fighting in the streets, the battle between Mider and the Eternals above and the confrontation between Kahn and Raiden, it was hard to find a place in town that could be termed safe. The best Joyce could do was the high school, rushing inside through a broken door and finding her way to the one place she could think of that didn't invite trouble: The library.
Inside, shelves and tables were overturned and leaning against one another. In the center, the light from it almost blinding, the core of energy connecting the Hellmouth to the portal to Outworld flowed. Joyce paused inside, staring up at the bright cone of energy, seeing the Eye in the middle of it, slowly turning within the cone.
A cry got her attention and she turned to see a pair of ninjas coming to her. She ducked one's sword thrust and punched him in the face. She turned to the other and kicked him in the groin, watching him gasp in pain. She then thrust a knee forward and smashed into her face, the anger of what had been going on the last few days coming over to make the blow enough to knock the ninja out. She turned and kicked the other ninja in the gut, then brought her hands together and smashed them on the back of his neck, sending him down and out.
She stood over them, heaving with breath, still feeling a little tense after it all. She looked up at the cone of energy, the Eye in the middle of it, and an idea slowly came to her. She looked at her hand for a moment, weighing the thought carefully. "Protection from magics," she muttered to herself.
Before she knew it, Joyce was scaling a ladder attached to one shelf that was still standing, enough to get a good leap going. She hung on the edge and licked her lips as she stared at the core of energy and the Eye in the middle of it all. "If this doesn't work, Shaw Hunter," she stated out loud. "I am going to become the most annoying ghost you've ever known."
Before she could talk herself out of it, Joyce took a deep breath, then leaped up and out, willing herself to stay airborne enough to hit the cone at just the right spot. She was in mid-air when a wall burst open and Raiden flew in, thrust by Kahn's powerful shoulder block, the Emperor following inside.
Joyce barely noticed as she hit the wall of the cone of magical energy, her body feeling like she was touching a live electrical wire but still keeping her senses. Instinctively, she held out her hands and grabbed at the Eye, tearing it away from its frozen spot as she hit the other end of the cone and emerged out the other side. She landed on a broken shelf and slid the way down to the ground, gasping with breath as she landed.
She brought herself up, wincing at the pain in her thighs as she stared at the two men fighting. From what Robin had said, the big man had to be Kahn and she let a small smile come to her lips. "Hey!"
The two paused and turned to look at her, both widening their eyes as they saw what she was holding. "Guess what?" Joyce hissed with a venom that amazed herself. "It's time someone gave you a black eye." She held the Eye up over her head, muscles tensed.
"NO!!!!" Kahn yelled, realizing what she was going to do. He tried to move but Raiden held him back as Joyce brought the Eye down hard to the ground, shattering it into a thousand pieces. A moment of silence passed and then a loud rumble went through the town. As one, the three looked up at the cone as it seemed to brighten for a moment, then begin to fade.
"Well, well," Raiden smiled. "Looks like someone's about to be cut off." He grabbed the stunned Kahn and held him tight. "Allow me to be the first to throw you out." He yanked and hurled Kahn right into the middle of the core. Kahn froze in place, a scream coming from his throat as the energies began to pull at him. The library buckled as the portal's energies began to fade, with the effects felt immediately.
A sudden sharp wind came up, almost like a tornado, except instead of stuff being blown about, it was sucked away. Specifically, anything from Outworld suddenly found itself yanked away and up into the portal. Ninjas, Centaurs, warriors of other kinds, weapons, the strange decorative structures they'd put into place also taken away. Bodies of dead troops mixed with live ones crying out, failing their arms, legs and tails as they flew upward, disappearing into the large hole in the sky that was beginning to shrink as the connection was cut. Kahn's palace came apart from the top up, bricks flowing up and into the portal, making it seem like a massive vacuum cleaner was sucking it up from top to bottom.
"Well, this is different," Buffy remarked, watching a ninja whip by her as if yanked by a wire while she felt absolutely no pressure at all. "What the hell's going on?"
"Somehow, I think someone else has saved the day for a change," Robin remarked. "Well, it breaks the monotony."
Inside the library, Joyce stared in amazement as the cone began to shrink, the darkness from outside lessening, the massive dome flowing away from the limits, back to the portal, which was also shrinking with the cone, the last of the Outworld raiments flowing into it easily. In the center of the cone, Kahn seemed to be in agony as it shrunk around his body, barely enough to hold his form.
Kahn's screams increased as he felt himself pulled in the tiny pillar that was left, the energies of both the portal and the Hellmouth flowing back into their respective places. Joyce turned her face away as a bright blast of energy came out from where Kahn was, his screams echoing inside the library as a final blast unleashed.
Joyce looked back as the light faded, seeing the floor back to normal, the hole in the roof showing that the portal and the dome were both gone. "Wow," she whispered.
"Good thinking on the Eye, Joyce," Raiden announced. Joyce turned on him.
"Who the hell are you?"
"Raiden," he answered. "God of Thunder, Protector of the Realm of Earth, the man who just threw the bad guy into the portal which pretty much ripped him between two dimensions."
"Really?" Joyce said, putting her hands on her hips. "Well, job's done, do you have anywhere else to be?"
Raiden looked at her, then chuckled. "Like mother, like daughter," he remarked before teleporting away, leaving Joyce with a smile on her face.
"And damn proud of it, buster."
"Ladies and gentlemen," Mulder announced. "We are Section Seven.....And the bad guys have left the building!"
The group had converged on the high school, trying to see just what had happened. The faery armies were reassembling outside, ready to do battle again at a moment's notice just in case, leaving the humans to check out the damage.
"Damn," Johnny announced. "Glad I'm not on clean-up detail here." He glanced over at Giles, who was looking at it with an utter look of shock. "Oh, God," he said, almost in tears. "My beautiful, beautiful library."
"It's okay, Rupert," Jenny said gently, patting his arm. "It's okay."
"Outworld is gone." Everyone yelled and jumped as Sub-Zero came from the shadows. "How does he do that?" Jenny asked.
Sub-Zero looked at them all and bowed. "Scorpion is dead. Outworld is defeated." He glanced at Shaw. "My debt has been paid. We are now even."
"Yeesh, he makes you look sociable," Willow muttered to Shaw.
"Yes, but he does not have my sense of humor," Shaw remarked.
"And for that we're all grateful," Willow rolled her eyes.
Shaw nodded, then turned and looked at the library, rubbing her face. "Shaw, what is it?" Amy asked.
"Amy, it is.....I....." Shaw couldn't go on, just rubbed at her face.
"Shaw?" Cordelia asked as she came up. She was a little taken aback when Shaw moved and hugged her tightly, tears in her eyes. "I was so worried for you," the elf whispered.
"Hey, Shaw, it's okay," Cordelia said, holding her. "We handled it, we survived."
Shaw broke off and hugged Xander, who had come up to them. "I am glad you are both alright," she said, trying to break away.
"Hey, don't stop on my account!" Xander grinned, taking a smack from Cordelia.
Shaw let a smile come onto her face as she released him. "I see your imprisonment has not changed you much."
"What about you?" Xander asked, smothering a grin.
"What do you mean?" Shaw frowned.
Xander and Cordelia both made a show of looking her up and down, Shaw looking at them in confusion. "What are you looking at?"
"Not at, for," Cordelia explained.
"Well, we saw Hell's Ninja being sent after you guys so you saw him, right?" Xander asked.
"Yes," Shaw said, wondering where this was going.
"And you fought him again, right?" Cordelia added.
"Yes," Shaw repeated, not seeing where this was going. "I do not see your point."
"Funny you should bring that up," Cordelia smiled.
"So, how many healing spells did it take this time?" Xander asked good-heartedly.
Shaw was completely lost by now. "For what?"
Cordelia kept on looking. "Come on, Hunter, 'fess up. Where's the hole?"
"Well, your new toy is even more powerful than the one you had the first time you fought Banana-Boy," Xander pointed out. "We figured the new hole would look bigger."
Shaw took on a sickened expression as their point finally became clear. "Xander, Cordelia, that is disgusting. For your information, I did not receive any wound like my first time with Scorpion at any time in this affair. I was far more concerned with all of you."
Cordelia held up her hands in defense. "Hey, don't get pissy. We were just making a joke."
Shaw looked at them in surprise. "You are serious?"
"You didn't know?" Xander asked in astonishment. When Shaw shook her head, he let out a big grin. "WE GOT HER!"
Shaw just shook her head in amusement as the two laughed. "No, I did not receive any wounds. Although my eyes are still raw......"
"From what?" Cordelia asked, ceasing her laughter.
"I have not slept in twenty-four hours," the elf said.
"HUH?!" Xander and Cordelia asked in disbelief.
Shaw smiled. "Got you." She looked back at the library and sighed, the sad expression coming back to her face. "Now what?" Amy asked.
Shaw shook her head. "Amy..... I....."
Shaw looked at Liam, then at her cousin and sighed. Obviously, Shaw was upset about letting herself loose like that, added onto her massive concern for all the others and the fact they had to see her lose control like that. She moved over and put a hand on Shaw's shoulder. "Shaw, it's okay, really. We knew this might happen, we understand. You can deal with it."
"Amy," Shaw whispered. "I....I cannot do this alone."
"You don't have to," Robin said as he came up. "Really, you don't. That's why you have us."
Shaw looked at both of them, tears in her eyes. "You will help with this? No matter what happens, on your words, you will help me?"
"You have my word," Amy said, hugging her.
"Same here," Robin nodded.
Shaw backed up a bit, smiling. "You promise?"
"Sure," Amy said.
"Hell, yeah," Robin nodded.
"Good," Shaw said, wiping away her tears. "Giles will be happy."
Amy and Robin stared at her, then at each other, then back at her in confusion. "What?" they both asked.
"He and I will need your help," Shaw pointed out.
"What?" Amy and Robin repeated.
Shaw spread out a hand. "You do not expect us to clean this library by ourselves, do you?"
There was a moment of silence before Liam threw his head back and howled with laughter as he looked at Robin and Amy's flummoxed expressions. "I LOVE THIS BLOODY WOMAN!!"
"As much as the idea of seeing Robin at hard labor is appealing, we have a different idea," a large booming voice came out. Everyone turned to see Oberon, Titania, McAllister and Fin Varra step into the library. Between them, with two blackened eyes, singed hair and missing part of one ear, clothes torn and battered, was Mider, who was quickly thrust onto his knees.
"Oh, great," Xander muttered. "It's King Frogger."
"Don't piss me off, Harris," Oberon announced tightly. He glanced at Robin and nodded. "I think we have one more task to complete before we take our leave." He looked to the others and nodded, all of them raising their arms and letting magic flow from their hands around the library and outward. There was a glow and when it faded, the library was just like it had been before the entire Outworld incident began.
"The magic is spreading out to the rest of the town," Oberon announced. "All will be as it was, save for any casualties made."
"Sadly, in Sunnydale, that won't be noticed too much," Giles said, looking much happier at seeing his library back in order.
"We'd best be getting Mider to his new home," McAllister said, clenching hard on the faery's shoulder, causing him to cry out in pain. "A nice little pocket dimension with all sorts of pleasure awaiting him." He glanced over at Liam. "Coming back with me or later, Danahure?"
"Actually, my Lord," the leprechaun carefully said. "I was thinking of staying a bit."
"You are?" McAllister asked.
"You are?" Robin said with a grin.
"Nice town," Liam said, looking around. "Good people," he said with a glance at Shaw. He turned and smacked a hand on Robin's shoulder. "Me best friend and every other day is Doomsday. Course I'm staying."
"YES!" Robin yelled. "The Limerick and Shamrock Connection rides again!"
"Oh, God help us," Buffy moaned. A loud noise came the hallway and everyone turned in time to see Maeve running in, looking over her shoulder, suddenly tripping on her skirt and sliding on the floor. She looked up to see the unfriendly faces staring at her and blanched. "Oh, bloody hell."
"Oh, goody," Buffy muttered. "I was hoping we'd get to her."
Metallic footsteps came from the hall and the Knights, Torc and Aideen burst in as Maeve got to her feet, turning to them. "Nowhere left to run, Mother," Rhoan announced, sword pointing at Maeve.
"What are you going to do?" Maeve asked, licking her lips in nervousness. "No prison can hold me. And you're not about to kill your own mother." She suddenly stiffened as she felt a blade at her shoulder.
"Perhaps," Shaw said in a voice of ice. "But I have so such compunctions, I can assure you."
"Now wait a minute, this is not how to do things!" Rhoan barked out. "We don't go around killing defenseless people, even if they are our enemies. It's immoral, it's unjust and it makes us no better than she is."
"This is how Diedre would handle the situation," Shaw said.
"What?!" The princess asked in shock as Maeve smiled at some defense, no matter who it was.
"She is your mother-in-law and some traditions should not be broken," Shaw said calmly.
"Good point," Angus nodded.
Rhoan shook his head. "I won't allow you to kill her. Never mind that she's responsible for thousands of deaths, that she betrayed her own people, that she's murderous and ruthless and amoral and psychotic------"
"You're not exactly pleading her case very well, Rhoan," Angus pointed out.
"The point is," Rhoan stressed. "That she is a living, breathing human being and is no longer a threat. And to kill her now would be just plain murder."
"She tried to sacrifice my family," Shaw said. "All of them."
"Even Mulder and Xander?" Angus asked.
"Every family has a black sheep," Shaw shrugged.
Rhoan carefully took a step forward. "Shaw, I understand your anger. And don't tell me I don't. But there's nothing you can do, there's nothing you can say, there is not one single word in the English language that gives you the right to dispense justice as you see fit."
Shaw spoke one word. "Dibs."
"Well, there's that," Angus nodded.
Maeve snorted. "You won't do it. You think we didn't research you and your friends?"
"Oh, *now* she's into research," Xander said. He took great satisfaction in how Maeve's first reaction was to hold up her staff, then realize her magic was gone.
"The point is," Maeve hissed. "Your anger, impressive as it is, has its limits. You won't torture anyone, just make it quick and clean."
"Perhaps," Shaw nodded, slowly pulling the blade away. She looked at Maeve's grin of triumph and raised an eyebrow. "But then, it is not me who called dibs."
Maeve's face fell. "Who then?"
Maeve turned to the voice in time for a fist to smash into her face, rocking her back. She looked up to see Joyce step forward from the hallway, a fist ready. "That was for dumping a dead body in my house," she said coldly. She launched another punch that shook Maeve. "That's for blowing up my shop." Another punch was thrown. "That was for trashing my jeep."
Maeve shook her head as Joyce came back, throwing a left-right combo at her. "That's for all the costs of having to rebuild and restock." Maeve swung her staff, Joyce catching it and pulling her in, punching her hard in the stomach, knocking the wind out of Maeve. "That's for the redecorating my house is going to need."
She grabbed the staff out of Maeve's hands and broke it over one knee. "Thanks," she said as she gripped the two ends and smashed one into Maeve's face. "That's for 48 hours of anguish." She smashed the other into Maeve's chest. "That's for all the teleporting." She kicked Maeve in the gut and smashed one staff end, then the other, into her skull. "That's for trying to kill my daughter." Another two blows came. "That's for trying to kill my friends."
Maeve was bending over, heaving for breath, Joyce leaning down, both clubs held together. She launched into a series of blows and kicks that spun Maeve around. "That's for anything I might have forgotten. And this......this is for me." She swung both clubs up and into Maeve's jaw, smacking her down onto the floor, spitting out blood and a tooth.
Maeve gasped as she felt Joyce sit on her body, one broken club edge pressed against Maeve's throat. Maeve looked up at Joyce and felt a chill of total fear come over her as she saw the fury in the elder Summers' eyes. "You don't deserve to call yourself a mother," Joyce hissed.
"Joyce, no!" Steve was as taken aback by this sudden assault as everyone else but was thinking fast to try and stop Joyce from committing a huge mistake. "She's not worth it!"
"She threatened my daughter," Joyce said in a chilling tone.
"Mom," Buffy said gently but with a tone designed to get through to her mother. "Please. Don't do it, not for me. You do this, you'll never be able to live with yourself."
"I'm beginning to learn to live with a lot of things, Buffy," Joyce said in a voice that gave her daughter chills.
"Mom, please." Joyce turned to look at her, then back at Maeve. "What would you do?" she said to the downed witch. "If you were in my place, what would you do?"
Maeve let a trickle of blood exited her mouth as she answered. "I'd kill me."
Joyce nodded. "I should. God knows, I should."
She yanked the stake away and then raised it up and slammed it down........
One inch away from Maeve's face.
"Then I'd be just like you, wouldn't I?" Joyce asked, a slight smile coming onto her grim look.
Maeve let out the burst of air she'd been holding in. "I knew you couldn't do it."
"Is that why you screamed just now?" Joyce smirked. She slowly rose, her eyes never leaving Maeve's, then hauled back and punched her in the face, knocking her out.
"Mom's large and in charge," Angus announced as everyone stared at Joyce coming up.
"God help me if we get married," Steve muttered.
"What do you mean if?" Buffy managed to get out.
"Woman missed her calling," Sonya remarked. "That's a commando just waiting to happen."
"She's worse than a commando, Sonya," Jax remarked. "She's a mother. They're scarier than we could ever hope to be."
"I feel so sorry for Steve," Xander muttered.
"Why?" Cordelia frowned.
"Because when it gets out Joyce saved the day while he was trussed up in an art deco piece, he'll never live it down."
"So, what about her?" Torc asked, nodding towards the unconscious Maeve. "Rhoan's right, we just can't kill her."
"Leave it to me," Robin announced, coming forward and taking hold of Maeve. A flash filled the air and they were both gone. Steve looked at the spot where they had been and then back to the others. "I don't want to know where they've gone, do I?"
"Unlikely," Liam shrugged.
"I suppose that's our cue to leave," Oberon said as he dragged Mider up to his feet. "Danahure, tell Robin to be expecting me to call on him later about something."
"Aye, and I'll be wanting to talk to ye too!" McAllister nodded.
Fin Varra paused and looked towards Lugad, who stood apart from the others. Slowly, he walked forward and looked him in the eyes. "There's a place for ye in Tir Na Nog. A place where you can be accepted, free and maybe even happy. If ye're interested."
Lugad looked at him for a long moment, then nodded. "I go," he said.
"Lugad?" Rhoan asked startled. "You....you won't stay?"
"Can't," Lugad shook his head. "Not my world. Too different. Wouldn't fit in."
Rhoan looked at him and slowly nodded. "I'll come and visit you soon. I promise."
"I know," the creature nodded. Rhoan moved forward and hugged him tight. "I love you. Brother."
Johnny glanced at Sonya and saw her wiping at her eyes. "Are you crying?"
"Dust from the battle," Sonya waved her hand.
Johnny nodded and leaned towards her. "I won't tell."
The faeries and Lugad walked off, Titania pausing before turning around and facing the humans. She took a step forward and looked Buffy in the eye. "Miss Summers?"
"Um, yeah?" Buffy asked.
"Titania, Queen of the Faery Lands," the woman said, extending a hand. "It would please me greatly if I may have the honor to shake the hand of the daughter of the bravest mortal woman I've ever known."
Buffy limply took her hand and shook it, glancing at Joyce. "Wow, Mom, moving up in the world."
Titania smiled and moved back to the other faeries as Mider looked up in pain. "How?" he said in a tone of utter defeat. "How could you possibly win?"
"Old song, Mider," Rhoan boasted. "You wouldn't know it. I get by with a little help from my friends."
"And he's going to be meeting quite a few new ones to come," Oberon said as he and the other glowed, a series of bright flashes showing them teleporting away.
"Well, ding dong, the witch is dead, Outworld's gone, I'm going to bed," Johnny announced, clapping his hands together.
Buffy looked over at Joyce. "Um, Mom, how did you do that? I mean, the kicks and punches and stuff?" Her eyes widened. "Robin didn't-------"
"No," Joyce smiled, shaking her head. "No, self-defense classes at the Y three nights a week. Now that I know what's in Sunnydale, I might as well be prepared."
"Man, Steve's never going to live this down," Oz muttered.
"What?" Willow frowned.
"That he spent a day strung up in a bad art deco piece and Joyce saved the day."
"Mom, you okay?" Buffy asked in concern. "You kind of had me scared there."
"I was scaring myself," Joyce agreed. "That anger, that fear, all of it just pouring out of me....It was really dangerous, honey."
"Well, you handled it okay, Mom, and I'm happy for it."
"That's good. Oh, by the way, can we stop at a hospital? I think I broke every bone in both hands."
In his office a flash of light showed the return of the Mayor. He carefully put his staff back and moved to the window, looking out at the damage. "Oh, this will be tough to sweep under the rug," he sighed. "Ah, well, omelettes and eggs, omelettes and eggs."
"I'll say this for Oberon," Steve nodded as he entered his home. "He and his friends do good clean-up work."
The team had spent the last hour checking out Sunnydale from the magical effects sent out by the faery lords. All the buildings were back to normal, with no signs of damage, Joyce quite happy to see her shop back in a semblance of order although it, like her car, still needed a little cosmetic work. However, there was one magical effect they were having some trouble with.
"Why did they have to alter our family's memories?" Willow complained. "My mom and dad think absolutely nothing weird has happened since what would have been Outworld's attack."
"Same here," Cordelia sighed, shaking her head as the team followed Steve in. "I'm not totally complaining, it does make it easier for us to keep the whole thing secret. It's just....it weirds me out, you know? That they can just have their memories altered just like that. It's sorta scary."
"Count yourself lucky," Scully muttered. "Try having someone controlling your thoughts and actions....." She shivered and Mulder held her tight. "Hey," he told his wife. "Look at the bright side."
"What?" Scully asked, knowing he was trying to cheer her up.
"Think of all the ways we can have fun with Connor with the Raiden resemblance."
Scully grinned and gave him a quick kiss. "I love you."
Before Mulder could reply, the group came into the living room to face a group waiting for them. "Hello there," Rhoan said, smiling as he held up a glass of ale. "About time you all got here."
"We've been waiting for you," Angus said, sipping from his beer while propping his feet up on a coffee table. "Took longer than we thought."
"What the hell are you all doing here?" Steve asked. "We've busting our asses checking on stuff and you've-----"
"Checked and made sure all traces of Outworld are gone," Liu interrupted. "Just in case any survivors tried to leave a little trap or anything to mess you all up as a last act of revenge."
"Which they didn't," Aideen smiled. "I've made sure of it. Oh, and bolstered those protection spells around homes and stuff, they were a little rough around the edges after all this."
"Plus, we've checking around town to make sure things are okay with people," Angus announced. "Which, surprisingly, they are."
"I just don't get it," Sonya muttered, shaking her head. "How can these people possibly forget all about an invasion from another dimension and their town taken over?"
"Forget about heads in the sand, these people haven't seen the surface in years," Ivar remarked.
"Sadly, that's Sunnydale," Steve nodded.
He looked over to where Johnny was and saw his shirt partly ripped. "What happened? Vamp try to get you one?"
"Worse," the actor said, shaking his head. "I made the mistake of checking in on that Bronze place and was nearly ripped apart by teenage girls. If it wasn't for Liu, I'd have never gotten out alive."
"We'll decide if that's good or bad later," Sonya smirked.
"Watch it, lass, you're stepping on my lines," Angus smirked.
"So, you're Angus, huh?" Xander said. "You know, Amy was telling us you're basically just an Irish Immortal version of me."
"Should I be honored or insulted?" Angus asked dryly.
"Both," Cordelia replied. "But mostly insulted."
"HEY!" Xander and Angus said.
"Much as I love you checking on things for us," Steve announced. "You could have waited before breaking in. Don't you know a man's home is his castle?"
"Ah, Steve?" Cordelia pointed out. "Their home *was* a castle."
"Come on in, all," Aideen said, waving her hands and causing a large keg to appear out of thin air. "Figured we could all be in the party mood right now."
"Well, I have been wanting a good drink since this started," Giles nodded.
"Sorry, lad," Aideen smiled. "Just good old Irish brandy here, nothing English."
"I'll live with it," Giles said as they moved into the room.
"Wait a minute," Steve announced. "We need a keg of soda pop too."
He became aware of the Irish people all staring at him like he'd just grown another eye. "For the kids," he clarified.
"Laddie," Torc said in a careful tone. "You don't invite the Irish over and expect them to bring anything but alcohol."
"Well, I didn't invite you, remember?" Steve pointed out with a smile.
"He always like this?" Diedre asked Buffy.
"Yep," the Slayer smiled.
"You deserve him, then," Diedre smiled, shaking her head as Aideen conjured up a keg of soda pop for the teens. They moved into the room, all except for Amy and Shaw who stood at the back.
"Amy, are you sure you are all right?" Shaw asked. "No aftereffects of the spell Maeve used?"
"Nah," Amy said, shaking her head. "Just pissed I got caught off-guard like that! I thought I had better defenses!"
"She did have quite a lot of experience," Shaw said. "And her magic was strong, boosted by a dark source of power. You should not feel bad for it overwhelming you."
"Would you have fallen for it?"
Shaw looked insulted. "Do not be ridiculous."
"Oh, right," Amy nodded. "The resistance thing, I forgot."
"That only works three times out of ten," Shaw pointed out.
"The empathy thing," Amy guessed.
"It can be penetrated by enough power," Shaw shrugged.
Amy frowned. "Then how would you keep from falling under it?"
Shaw let a tiny smile come onto her face. "By focusing my hearing on her maniacal laughter and using it as a focus to keep from going under all the way."
"Smartass," Amy muttered. "Why didn't you just say you'd close your eyes?"
"What do you think my first course of action would be?" Shaw said, her smile widening.
Amy sighed again, shaking her head. "Well, at least you weren't around when that Baraka freak cut me."
"What?" Shaw asked, stunned and reaching to her cousin. "Are you all right?"
"Yeah, yeah, Willow and Jenny helped me heal," Amy shrugged. "But Robin....What Robin did to him. Shaw, he just ripped Baraka up, cut him to pieces and that smile when he----" She broke off and rubbed at her face. "He scared me, Shaw. He really scared me then."
Shaw gently rubbed at Amy's shoulder. "He was obviously worried for you," she stated carefully. "Little surprise, given what you share. Try to think of it that way."
Amy smiled and gave her cousin a hug. "Thanks, Shaw." She broke the hug off and let a little smile come onto her face. "So....Made a decision yet?"
"About what?" Shaw frowned in confusion.
Amy rolled her eyes and jerked her head towards the red-haired man hoisting a beer. "Liam! Come on, Shaw, you like him, don't you?"
"Well..." Shaw said, a slight flush to her cheeks. "The kiss was....."
"Kiss?!" Amy started, her eyes shooting open. "Wait a minute, you kissed him?"
"No," Shaw clarified. "He kissed me."
"But there was definite lips-on-lips action there, right?" Amy asked.
Shaw sighed. "Yes, there was. It was a spur of the moment action, Amy, one he surprised me with and I made it clear he was not to do it again by punching him in the jaw."
Amy rolled her eyes. "Great way to get on his good side, Shaw." The smile came back as she looked at Shaw's embarrassed expression. "So, come on. How did it feel?"
"I said it was----"
"I know," Amy nodded. "But how'd it make you feel?"
Shaw brushed back a strand of hair and looked at her cousin in seriousness. "I cannot remember ever feeling such peace at any time in my life."
Amy's grin shot wide open, leaving Shaw to moan at her mistake. "Oooh, you've got it bad......"
"I have nothing, Amy," Shaw stressed. "It was a one-time occurrence."
"Probably not the way he sees it," Amy smiled. She was a bit surprised when Shaw looked away, seemingly unsure. "Shaw? What is it?"
"Amy, I.....I do not know what to think," Shaw finally admitted. "It is completely confusing, as it was with Raidon and......"
"Duuuuh!" Amy smiled. "That's the way romance works, Shaw."
"Amy, I do *not* love Liam," Shaw stressed. "I....."
"Shaw?" Amy interrupted.
"Robin told me Liam plays a mean fiddle."
Shaw stared at her, wondering briefly if Maeve's spell was still messing with Amy's mind. "And.....?"
"You're doomed, cuz," Amy grinned.
"Remember what you said about you and Liam having nothing in common to build a relationship on?"
"Yes, what about it?" Shaw frowned.
"Well, he plays a musical instrument, you play a musical instrument....." Amy waited a moment for it to fully hit Shaw, who moaned loudly as she buried her face in her hands. "And you, of course, find this amusing," Shaw moaned through her hands.
"Yeah, but think about this," Amy grinned. "What will Cordy or Buffy say when they find out you met someone without any help from any of us?"
Shaw's face came out of her hands and a look of relief came onto her face. "There is that advantage."
"How's my favorite gals?" Robin grinned as he came up.
"Where have you been?" Amy frowned.
"Had to take care of Maeve," Robin shrugged.
"Where did you put her?" Shaw asked, curious.
"Trust me, it's a place she belongs, leave it at that," Robin smiled.
"Come on, let's go join the party," Amy smiled as she moved to the living room. Robin and Shaw watched her go, Robin smiling. "You okay?"
"Better," Shaw nodded. She looked over to Robin and thought. "Robin....She told me what you did to Baraka. Are you all right?"
Robin was silent for a long moment, looking down at his feet. "When he cut her," he finally said in a low voice. "It hurt me. I can't explain why but it did. And then it took all this rage in me, rage I thought I had pushed aside for years, it all came in a rush."
"I know how that feels," Shaw said softly. "I had to go to that place of rage myself today. And even though it was to save my family.....I did not like it. So I know how you feel, Robin."
"I thought I'd pushed it aside," Robin said in the same quiet tone. "I thought I had it under control. It's been so long since I cut loose like that, I honestly didn't think I had it in me anymore."
"You always have it, Robin," Shaw nodded. "Always. But how you deal with it is what makes you the kind of person you are."
"Makes me wish there was twelve-step program for it," Robin sighed.
"There is," Shaw smiled. "Family."
Robin smiled back, then looked to where Amy was. "Did she press you on Liam?"
"Unfortunately," Shaw said sourly. "Robin, do not tell me you are encouraging....."
"Oh, no," Robin smiled. "Nope, not me." A sudden look of horror came on his face. "Oh, no."
"What is it?" Shaw frowned.
"I just realized," Robin stammered. "Now that you're giving Liam a shot----"
"I never said I was-----"
"There's one woman here right now that they'll want to try and set up."
Shaw followed his gaze to where Joyce was standing, her eyes going wide. "Oh, the Lady help us." She shook her head and went to the party, Robin ready to follow when he heard a voice in his mind.
<Hey, Rob?> Liam's accent came in. <Just where did you send the Blair Bitch?>
<Stuck her in the trophy with Amy's mother> Robin matter-of-factly answered.
<Hey, Catherine ever gets out, she's gonna be pissed. I figure getting a look at how bad a mother can be just might turn her around. You never know, okay?>
<Hope ye know what yer doing, Robbie.>
<So do I.>
"Wow, Ivar used to be in the Crusades?" Cordelia asked. "Man, that's a big club for us."
"Well, keep in mind, he was on the other side," Rhoan pointed out as he sipped at his drink. "Best not to bring it up, it's something of a strong subject with him."
"Well, tact has never been Cordelia's strong suit," Mulder remarked.
"Look who's talking," Xander shot back.
"Mulder, Xander?" The two turned to see Shaw coming to them, looking impressed. "I wanted to congratulate you both. Your tactic to depower Maeve was most inventive."
"Shaw is congratulating us," Xander said to Mulder. "This is a good day."
"I must admit to being surprised by how far you were willing to go to make it work."
"What?" Mulder said, sounding hurt. "Taking punishment in order to pull off victory?"
"Yes," Shaw nodded.
"What can we say?" Xander smiled. "We learned from the best."
"Thank you," Shaw nodded.
"Um, Shaw?" Mulder said carefully. "Not you."
Now it was Shaw's turn to look hurt. "Then whom?"
"Rocky Balboa," Xander and Mulder replied in unison. "But you come in a close second," Xander hastily added.
Shaw thought for a moment, then shrugged. "I can live with that." She rubbed her chin. "Did you really call Mider drider bait?"
"Yep," Xander smiled. "You taught me well on that score, that whole 'insult the enemy' thing really works."
"Adequate, Xander," Shaw said, rubbing her chin. "I shall have to redouble my efforts."
Cordelia and Xander both stared at her in surprise. "Oh, come on, Shaw!" Xander said in disbelief. "Don't tell me you can top that!"
"Well, there is the insult I gave to Oberon," Shaw remarked off-handily, getting another stare from the duo.
"You insulted Oberon?" Cordelia asked.
"I spat in his face, insulted his upbringing, then when he insulted the Lady, she took control of my body briefly so I could knee him in the groin."
Cordelia and Xander stared at her, jaws trying to work against the massive shock they both felt. "Shaw," Xander finally got out. "Do you know what Oberon did to us the first time we met him?"
"Turned you into frogs, yes, Robin mentioned that," Shaw nodded.
"And you did that to him," Xander said. He turned to Cordelia and shook his head. "We are so dead."
"He knows now not to antagonize or insult me or you," Shaw pointed out. "Not after what I did to him."
"You mean, what the Lady did to him," Xander replied.
"Which explains what side of the family she gets *that* from," Cordelia muttered.
Shaw smiled. "What I get from Amy's side of the family is temper. And my sadistic streak when playing practical jokes."
"Rub it in, Hunter," Cordelia snarled. "You realize what's gonna happen now, with all these new guys we know?"
Shaw put on a show of innocence. "What is that, Cordelia?"
A look of utter resolve came onto Cordelia's face. "I'm gonna get Buffy, Will, Amy, Faith, Randi and Kendra when they get back and we're gonna get your half-elven ass hitched without you knowing it."
Shaw smirked. "Of course you are," she said as she started to walk off. She paused and turned back to the duo. "But if I were you, I would save myself the embarrassment of failure."
Xander and Cordelia watched her walk off and looked at each other. "Oh, that's it," Cordelia announced. "She is SO gonna get set up."
"Want me to help?" Xander volunteered, then yelped as Cordelia smacked him on the head.
"Hell, no! This is an Amazon's job!"
"Oh, yeah, that means a lot now," Mulder snorted.
"Actually, Cordelia, I have to agree with him here," Scully sighed. "Artemis didn't come to our aid in this at all. Ares tried to fight and he got nailed by Zeus for it."
"I can't believe it," Jenny muttered as she and Giles came up to the group. "I just cannot believe she wouldn't come help us."
"You fail to consider one thing, Jenny." Everyone turned to see Shaw come up. "Zeus hurt Ares, his own son. What do you think would happen to Artemis had she interfered?"
Everyone seemed to consider this, but Mulder pressed on. "Let's face it, the Gods weren't there for us."
"I have to agree with Mulder," Jenny nodded gloomily.
A mysterious smile came onto Shaw's face. "We were not abandoned by all the Gods, Mulder. There is one power in particular that was a great aid in this affair."
"Yeah, yeah, Raiden," Mulder nodded. "But he only interfered after Kahn broke the rules."
"That is not who I meant," Shaw smiled. By this point, everyone realized she was setting them up for something but had no idea what. Mulder decided he started this, so he might as well be the one to bring it together.
"Okay, Shaw. Name *one* God who didn't leave us twisting in the wind."
"I cannot name *one* God," Shaw answered.
"I can name a Goddess, though," Shaw smiled, her pendant starting to glow a bit.
"Oh, *that* was helpful," Mulder said, rolling his eyes.
"It ended his arrogant attitude, did it not?" Shaw pointed out.
Mulder thought about it, then slowly nodded. "That it did. Good point."
"What did she do?" Jenny asked worriedly.
"Well, let's just say divine intervention led her to live up to her nickname," Mulder said dryly.
Giles' eyes went wide. "She did that to Oberon?" As Mulder and Scully nodded, Giles turned to Shaw: "What in the world would possess you to do something like that?"
At Mulder and Scully's snorts, Giles knew he had walked right into something, a feeling Shaw's smile seemed to cement. "My mother made me do it," she replied, pointing at her pendant with a completely innocent smile on her face. She turned and walked off, the others staring after her.
"Is she talking about......" Jenny couldn't quite say the name.
"Yep," Mulder nodded. "She came in, set up shop and kicked some ass. Specifically Oberon's."
"Mulder, I'm a medical doctor, I know anatomy," Scully said lightly. "Ass is not the region of the body she kicked."
"I stand corrected," Mulder smiled as the others stared.
Shaw made her way towards one end of the room, Liam nearby, lifting a glass in toast. "How's it going, lass?"
"Well," Shaw answered lightly.
Liam looked at her and spoke in true concern. "You're dead on your feet, aren't you?"
Shaw looked at him for a long moment. She then concentrated and her face blurred a bit to show the dark lines under her eyes that had been hidden by glamour. "I knew it," Liam nodded. "Been taking up a lot of concentration to do that, eh?"
"I did not want the others to worry," Shaw whispered, the fatigue she'd been fighting off for nearly a day and a half showing in her voice.
Liam glanced around to see no one was looking his way. He took Shaw by the arm and a flash of light came out. It faded to show them in one of the upstairs bedrooms. "Come on, lass," Liam said, moving her over.
He was soon aware of Shaw's hand clutching his throat but looked at her with little fear. "Shaw.....Ye need sleep. That's all, not what you're thinking. That's never been my style, ye can call Robbie on that. Just trust me is all. I think I've at least earned that much from you."
Shaw looked him in the eye for a moment, the nodded, moving to the bed. She lay on top of it and the huge wave of tiredness washed over her. She felt Liam unlace her boots and pull them off, along with her jacket but that was it, his hands pulling down the covers.
"Liam," she said softly. "I am sorry if I-----"
"Tu ra lu ra lura," Liam said softly. "Tu ra lu ra li.......Tu ra lu ra lura....Hush, now don't ye cry......"
As the old Irish lullaby flowed into her ears, Shaw shut her eyes and let Liam sing, his hands pulling the cover over her as he did. His voice, along with all she had been through, combined to lull her to sleep. But before she did, a memory came over her.
It had been after returning from the past, the emotions of Raidon's death flowing over her as she lay on her bed at her home, crying. She had looked up to see a note sitting on her pillow, a note she knew hadn't been there before. Confused, she opened it and read it, the note still at her home, its words coming back to her.
"You will get better. You will recover. You will find love again. Don't be afraid of it, just go
with it. Your love will be returned in full and more. And if you act upon it, you will feel a greater
peace than you've ever felt before.
PS. Don't worry. In a few months, you'll know what it means."
That last thought flashed into Shaw's mind just before sleep overcame her and she was lost in blessed oblivion.
Amy glanced up as Liam came back down the stairs. "Hey," she frowned. "Where's Shaw?"
"Just put her into bed," Liam smiled. "She needed rest."
Amy's eyes went wide as she instinctively reared back a fist but was cut off by Liam's laugh. "Oh, please. Even I don't work that fast. She needed sleep, Amy. She didn't go to bed at all in the last day. You guys got stuck in that thing, the Knights and Joyce and the others got some but not her. She's been on the go for almost 24 hours without any and was doing a lot of magic to boot, she was dead tired. Adrenaline can only go so far, even half-elves need their rest."
"Oh," Amy said, relaxing. "Sorry."
"No problem," Liam shrugged. "She actually doesn't need too much so just a few hours and she'll be back on her feet, no problem."
"So, what'd you do, put a sleep spell on her?"
"Something even more effective. Tu-ra-lu-ralu."
"No one can stay awake through a well-sung Irish lullaby."
"Okay," Amy said. She paused and looked at Liam. "Liam.....I think I should say something. I've seen how you and Shaw carry on, everyone has. In case you and Shaw do try to start something.....Well, she's kind of had a rough life."
"I know," Liam nodded. "She let me read her mind."
Amy's eyes widened again. "She did that?"
"I know, I know, it's a big step for her," Liam nodded. "But she evidently trusts me enough to do it and let me see it." He sighed and shook his head. "God, that life, what those bastards did to her, it's a miracle she's so strong. Makes me respect her all the more for it."
Amy swallowed and looked at him. "If you hurt her......"
"I swear on everything I hold dear that I will never intentionally or knowingly cause her pain."
Amy looked at him carefully. "Intentionally or knowingly?"
"Best I can do," Liam shrugged.
Amy looked at him for a long moment, then nodded. "I'll take it."
Liam chuckled as the two of them headed back to the living room and were both surprised to see the Knights and the Kombateers seeming to break away and head towards the door.
"What, leaving already?" Liam frowned.
"Well, we were talking and decided these lads and lassies don't quite have the energy for the sort of partying we're looking for," Angus pointed out.
"So, I've decided to take them to a place where one is always guaranteed a good time and good drinks," Robin smiled. "Willy's."
"Willy's?" Giles said, raising his eyebrows. "You're going to take them there?"
"Why not?" Robin shrugged. "Vamps and demons that are left are still pretty quiet, provided they even remember what happened. And I think this is one bunch that can handle themselves."
"You sure?" Steve asked.
"Steve, please," Robin announced. "What could happen with three Eternals, two Special Forces Operatives, the champion of Mortal Kombat, an actor, four Immortals with mystic armor and weapons and their Immortal teacher going to a bar filled with vampires and demons?"
"At least twenty thousand in damages," Buffy grinned.
"Please," Angus said, insulted. "I've done worse than that in the Vatican."
"Just don't ruin the jukebox," Buffy stressed. "It's one of a kind."
"No problem," Robin smiled. "We just want to blow off some more steam and figure this will be a good place to do it."
"Good point," Steve nodded. "And we could use some rest after all that's happened. You guys will be back, right?"
"Of course," Robin grinned. "Provided we're still sober."
"And we'll be vastly disappointed if we are," Angus laughed as the group moved off, leaving the others staring after them.
"Well, that's an interesting bunch," Giles said in a classic understatement.
"Oh, they get wilder as it goes," Mulder said. "And they're all pretty damn good at the fighting too."
"Really?" Steve said, seeming a bit more interested then he should have been. "How good?"
"Well, the Knights are all 1400 years old, Torc's 1800, the Kombat guys have some good skillls....." Amy's voice trailed off as she saw Steve rubbing his chin in thought. "Wait a minute, what are you planning?"
"An idea," Steve smiled. "Maybe something that can finally pay Robin back a bit too."
"How so?" Buffy frowned.
"Well, you know how he just enjoys springing surprises on us in sparring," Steve said, to nods from all who could remember his empowerment of Mulder, Xander, Oz and Giles when he first came and his later powering of Larry. "Maybe it's time we give him a sparring surprise of our own."
"How?" Jenny asked, seeming interested.
"Let them have their fun and we can get some sleep," Steve explained. "Then call up later, invite them by tomorrow morning for a little 'get to know you' meeting........"
"And then take them down hard and fast," Buffy grinned. "No major damage, just to show them who's the top dogs around here."
"Bingo," Steve said.
Mulder shook his head. "You just want to stop them from going around boasting how they saved the day today while you got trussed up."
"And the problem is.....?" Steve smiled.
"No problem, we're with you," Mulder grinned back.
"If it shuts them up about the whole Irish superiority thing, I'm for it," Scully nodded.
"Shaw would definitely go for it," Amy nodded. "This is right up her alley."
"Okay then," Steve smiled. "Curtail the party for now, get some sleep and get ready to see the same look on Robin's face that he sees on all of us from time to time."
As the Section members nodded and smiled, thoughts jumping ahead to the fun the next day, none noticed the figure who had been listening in from the doorway. As she backed up and into the kitchen, Joyce frowned. After all that the Knights and Kombateers had done, she couldn't believe her daughter and her friends were planning a surprise ambush on them. The more she thought about it, the more Joyce figured this was just not right and a little warning at least would be the courtesy. She figured it'd be a few minutes before the gang broke to their own homes. Then, she'd see just who would get the last laugh.
The footsteps echoed softly through the hallways of Sunnydale High School, finally stopping as the man came to a halt before the large trophy case. He leaned down and looked at one trophy in particular, a cheerleader's trophy. As he stared at it, Robin could see the eyes of the trophy flash at him malovently.
"Hey, Maeve," he grinned. "Hope you like your new home. On that note, let me talk to your roomie." The glare continued and Robin's face darkened a bit. "Don't be that way, Raccoon Face. I'm not here to gloat. Just let me talk to her."
The eyes went blank for a moment, then returned, only now it seemed they were a new pair, still glaring at him, but with a different type of hate. Not as bad as Maeve's but still hard. "Hello, Catherine," Robin smiled. "I know you're getting used to company after so long so I'll be brief. I hope you and Maeve are getting to know one another. You've no doubt discovered that she knows quite a bit about you already and Amy as well. And you've seen me in the halls from time to time and I can imagine you being more than a little surprised that I could tell you were in here a while ago. And when you got that little note I dropped you around Christmas time from what you could call your better half. But I don't think we've actually had a major talk. I think it's time we fixed that. Maeve can give you the skinny, I'll just hit the quick points here."
Robin stood up, taking in a deep breath. "I love your daughter, Mrs. Madison. I love her more than I've loved anyone in my entire life and believe me, that covers a lot of ground." He leaned in, his face becoming a bit dark, that old anger coming back a little. "And I'm here to tell you right now, on the chance that you ever get out of that trophy, if you *ever* try to hurt her or anyone she cares about, except me, of course, I can take care of myself, then I will make shacking up with Maeve here look like a vacation."
Robin moved back up, still staring at the trophy. "Ask Maeve how she treated her children and then think about what I'm about to tell you. It doesn't matter what you did to her, it doesn't matter that you were such an incredible bitch that you tried to take away twenty years of her life just to make *you* feel better reliving your glory days, it doesn't even matter that you tried to kill the people she's come to think of as family. Even after everything you've done to her, Amy still loves you."
Robin paused, seeing something only his eyes could see. "Yeah, that's right. She still loves the mother who nearly drove her crazy taking away her body and using it to hurt people. She doesn't talk about it, she's almost perfect almost hiding it but I can see it. I can hear the few times she mentions you, I can see it in her eyes and it's definitely there when she lets me read her mind. Memories don't lie, Catherine and you still make up a good portion of them. But in case you get ideas, she's got so many friends now, you wouldn't stand a chance trying to get revenge against her. Maeve can give you details but here's the highlights."
Robin took a breath before replying. "You've got three Immortals, two of whom wield Swords of Destiny, one is the personal champion of Merlin, the other is the Slayer and another carries the blade that once belonged to Joan of Arc and before you think that's sacrilegious, Joan herself gave it to her. You've got, not counting Amy, three Amazons, a ball buster, a Wiccan and a gypsy. And I'm sure you know all about gypsy reputations and can thus imagine what sort of payback she could bestow upon you should you try anything on Amy.
"Then, you've got three men, empowered to an Amazon level. One's a mage, but for all his faults, he's also British and when he gets riled, you at your worst would be a Girl Scout against him. One has the memories and if needed, the abilities, of a Green Beret. And the other is a rock guitarist and a werewolf and I'll let you figure out which of those is worse. Trust me, you don't want him getting his paws on you. Being stuck in a trophy is heaven compared to growing a fur coat every full moon.
"Now, there are three very important people in Amy's life right now, the most important people to her. One is the young woman you've probably seen Amy hanging around a lot. Black hair, hazel eyes, tough attitude, lack of contractions can drive you nuts. What you probably don't see, thanks to hair and makeup, are the pointed ears of an elven. Half-elven actually. She's a warrior and a priestess but you can't blame her for breaking with the family tradition."
Robin paused as he saw something on Catherine. "What? Oh, I didn't mention that? Remember that old Madison family mystery about Alison Madison? No, not your baby sister, the other one. Yeah, her. That elf is Alison's great-granddaughter." There was another long pause as Robin lifted an eyebrow. "What? No comments about finally knowing that deep, dark family secret? I thought you'd love knowing your long lost cousin is such a fine woman, much like your own daughter. Now, while it is tempting as Hell to give you Shaw's greatest hits, I don't have all night so I'll let Maeve handle that. Oh, and Maeve? Be honest with her. I'll know if you're not and you don't want me mad at you again. I will say this, something I haven't said to the others. Shaw sees Amy as just as fine a person as she is and Shaw was capable of picking up and using *two* Swords of Destiny, knowing full well what kind of power she had, and then gave them up after using them to kill this pit fiend. And I agree with Shaw. Amy is that kind of person, so think about what kind of daughter you've got risking her life every night to help save the world."
A comment made Robin look surprised. "What's that? Pride? What right do you have to be proud of her? You weren't a mother to her when she needed you, you've got no right to feel proud of her. The mother she's found, other than the one who gave all your roommate all her bruises, is a foster mom of sorts, maybe your double's letter mentioned her. Artemis, Greek Goddess of the Hunt. Oh, yeah, Amy's an Amazon, Arty saw a spark in her that she likes and gave her the choice to join her followers, which she took. And I might as well mention, you even scratch one of the Amazons and you'll have their patron Goddess on your ass and she's almost as bad as I am."
Robin smiled. "And that brings us finally to the third important figure in her life. Me. I don't think we've ever been formally introduced. Robin Goodfellow, servant of the Lord Oberon, High Lord of the Faery Kingdom. Yes, THAT Robin Goodfellow, I pulled the stunt from the play but I am *not* Puck, William made a mistake. But that's why I saved myself for last, to let you know what you'd be in store for if you ever tried to come after Amy in any way. Shaw would kill you quick even though you're family to her too. Arty, she might kick your ass for a few centuries or hand you off to Hades for fun but in the end, she'd probably forgive you. But me?"
The smile fell. "Your daughter is the best thing that's happened to me, the one thing worth being human. I love her with all my heart and I swear, mother or not, if you do anything to hurt her, you won't even be able to imagine the horrors waiting you when I'm through." Robin clapped his hands together. "So, in closing, let me say this: You've no doubt been thinking about what that note from the other you in the other reality said and you'll be rooming with Maeve for a while and I'll be checking in too and maybe, just maybe, if you think about it and you try it, and if I think you're actually considering giving motherhood a chance again, I might just drop a line to Michael."
He bent his head. "Michael who? Oh, come on, you know Michael! The Archangel? Who do you think it was who shifted that spell and put you in here in the first place? Yep, HE'S the one you've really gotta convince you've changed and he's an angel so he'll know if you're sincere or not. My word carries weight but it is just a word. You've got to do the real work. So, you do have a chance at a pardon someday, Catherine, if you do the work. But just remember this: You've got a faery who loves your daughter, a half-elf who's family, a Goddess who treats her like a daughter oh, and have I mentioned, everyone in the family loves me and Shaw? That means YOUR mom will come down on you too if you try something."
Robin's face relaxed a bit. "But most of all, Amy is out there. And she loves you and she hopes someday she can see you again, see the mother she remembers, the mother she wants back. At least to make up with things if nothing else. Think about that.
"Oh, and one last thing. Don't let Maeve walk all over you. Don't take her shit. For all your faults, from what I've heard, you're one of the few people who can stand up to that Lone Ranger-mask wearing slut. Give her a kick in the ass for me."
Swallowing, Robin turned and saw Liam and Aideen standing before him, both smiling. "How did you------"
"Ye never could resist a grandstanding moment," Liam smiled as he came forward.
"Had to get it off my chest is all," Robin shrugged.
"Mind if I add something?"
Robin stepped back, arms outstretched, letting Liam come forward and look the trophy in the eye. "I'm a friend of Robin's, a leprechaun," he said. "I may not know your daughter well but I do know she's a strong, caring and wonderful woman and a hell of a lot more than you deserve. As for her cousin.....I'll be keeping an eye on both. Ye want to try something with me? Lassie, I'm full blown Irish and have more magic than you could hope to hold. That makes me crazier than Robbie and therefore more dangerous to you. So think on that."
"Right, give the lass a break," Aideen said, stepping forward. "Hey, Cath, turn it over to yer roomie."
Aideen waited until the dark eyes shifted to a new evil, smiling as she knelt down to look at them. "I just wanted to let ye know this is more than you deserve," she said in a light tone. "Remember all those spells ye cast on yourself to keep yourself young and beautiful all those centuries? Well, without the magic that's been sustaining you all these years, they'd be fading away very quickly and ye'd be dust right now. I just wanted to let you know that Rhoan and Lugad have washed their hands of ye. Ye were never a mother to them, Maeve, not in any way, shape or form. You may have given birth to them, but that was it. That was your worst crime, Maeve, more than any other. A woman who turned on her own children. That's why you're really here."
She turned on her heel and walked back to where Robin and Liam both stood, smiling at her. "Not bad," Robin said approvingly.
"I wanted to let Catherine get a good idea what she's in for," Aideen shrugged. "Who knows, might help her change."
"Hope so," Robin nodded. "Amy still misses her a lot. She might be open to having her get out."
"And if she gets out, then Maeve stays in?" Liam smiled.
"You know me," Robin grinned back. "I'm a sucker for poetic justice."
"As I know too well." At the powerful voice, the three turned to see Oberon, McAllister and Fin Varra standing in the hallway, the three faeries quickly bowing to their lords. "Oberon," Robin said. "What are you doing here?"
Oberon shifted his jaw a bit, letting everyone know he'd rather not be doing what he was about to do. "In regards to your courage in issuing the challenge of Calamdu Un Starv......"
Robin's face brightened as he suddenly realized what was about to happen. "Yes.....?"
Oberon tightened the jaw again and continued. "And your abilities in battle today...."
Oberon bit his lip. "And your....PATIENCE.....in regards to being in human form for nearly a year......"
Oberon closed his eyes and steeled himself. "I hereby release you from your oath and allow you to once again gain full use of your powers while in human form."
"CHA-CHING!" Robin shrieked, letting out a burst of light from his hands as he howled with laughter, feeling the power returning to his veins, Liam and Aideen watching in interest. "I'M BACK, BABY! THE MERRY WANDERER IS BACK!"
"Oh, yeah," Liam grinned. "The Connection is on full power and ready to ride through Sunnydale!"
"Not full on yet," Robin smiled, calming a bit. "I'll keep it quiet from the guys for a while, wait for the right moment to let them know."
"Ah, the two of us are going to light up this town," Liam said, clapping Robin on the shoulder.
"Regarding that," McAllister announced. "We have a little problem."
The three faeries looked at him. "Problem?" Robin said, face falling.
"We have it on authority," Fin Varra began. "That you three let loose a little info on a certain document."
Robin and Liam shared a look, then pointed at Aideen. "It was her fault!" they both yelled as Aideen stared in shock.
"While you can imagine how unhappy several of the Eternals are about that getting revealed to any mortal," Fin Varra announced. "We understand it's out now and it's just something we'll have to deal with. Artemis and Millie do seem satisfied Amy and Shaw will keep their words and keep quiet and Joyce will do the same."
"For now," Oberon muttered darkly. "I'd prefer to simply wipe their memories of it and be done with it."
"We won't let that happen," Liam said darkly.
"We'll make sure there's some safeguards against them accidentally letting it out," Robin said, trying not to upset his lord so quickly.
"That's besides the point," Fin Varra shook his head. "What matters right now is that the three of you have a very deep connection to these people, a connection that has to be addressed right now.
Oberon let a small smile come onto his lips as he spoke. "As you three should know better than anyone, cosmic forces need to be maintained and balanced out. Now, should Robin and Liam stay here with their full and complete powers intact, they would be upsetting that balance. And that would mean bringing their equals to the Earth plane."
"And I think I speak for everyone when I say, I don't want to meet the evil versions of you two," McAllister added with a slight smile.
"That is a frightening concept," Robin nodded. "So, what are you saying?"
Oberon smiled and spoke. "We have talked and have come up with a solution to check such an imbalance."
Liam turned to Robin. "Right, refresh my memory. Has there ever been a time these three talked and something good came out of it?"
The three lords drew themselves up and Robin and Liam knew this was going to be official. "If you wish to remain upon the Earth plane," Oberon began. "Then you must promise, upon all your sacred oaths, that while on this plane, you will not use full power."
Robin's jaw dropped. "Wait a minute, you mean I'm back on the restrictions?!"
"No," Oberon shook his head. "You can use your powers anytime and any way. However, you will not be permitted to go to.....oh, let's say a level or so below Merlin on the power scale."
"And that's only in extreme cases," McAllister added. "Also, this means you will no longer have a finite source of energy, you'll have to conserve what you do have. So, you won't be able to do just any old prank any old time like the old days."
"Plus," Fin Varra smiled. "You only use your magic in battle against nasties. NOT to lord it over the others in training. So, when you're sparring with one of your allies, it's basic fighting, no magic unless they unleash some extreme stuff."
Robin groaned, holding his face as Liam just stared in shock. "Now wait a-----"
"Save it, Liam," Robin sighed, bringing his face up. "Been there, done that, bought the t- shirt, listened to the original cast album, read the novelization, ate the Happy Meal tie-in. They're laying it down and if we want to stay in Sunnydale, we'll have to go with it."
Aideen couldn't help but titter. "Tough for you two, eh?"
"Aideen," Fin Varra said gently. "That includes you too."
Aideen's face fell like a rock, her eyes widening in shock. "But.....but....." she stammered. "I've been here for centuries and there's been no......."
"Sorry," Fin Varra shrugged. "But this is out of my hands. You want to stay on Earth, stay with Torc, then you have to agree."
"We're not totally heartless," Oberon said in far too light a tone. "Should you decide to leave the Earth realm for another dimension, your full powers can be accessed. But if you're on Earth, it's a lower level and to be used sparingly."
"But.....But......" Aideen choked. "You mean....I'll have to cook.....clean.....wash....by hand?!"
"Well, there's always a few spells for that," Fin Varra pointed out. "Course, that will be a drain on your energy, so you might want to do it the old fashioned way a bit more."
"Her record's stuck," Robin remarked offhand.
"We're actually supposed to swear to this?" Liam said, still in disbelief.
Oberon smiled. "Take it or leave it. Or, I should say, leave Earth."
The three looked at each other and took a deep breath. "We swear," they all muttered. As soon as they did, they felt a tingle go through their bodies and felt a little more diminished, definitely more human. "Well, glad that went without incident," Oberon said. He glanced to Robin, speaking in his mind. <Hope this satisfies you, Goodfellow.>
<It'll do> Robin shrugged. <My Lord? About the kids.....Are you....>
<I'll take no retribution on them for what happened> Oberon answered. <Titania was right, it's worth it to be able to lord something over Zeus for a change.>
<I've seen the way Danahure looks at her. Having him go after her is worse than anything I could dream up.>
Liam was at that moment having his own telepathic conference with McAllister. <So, ye really want to stay here that much?> the Leprechaun Lord asked.
<I do> Liam replied. <I like it here.>
<And a certain half-elven lass had nothing to do with it, I'm sure?>
<Go get her, laddie.>
<I'm not sure who I feel the more sorry for> Fin Varra told Aideen. <The lad or the lass.>
"Well, we've tarried here enough," Oberon finally announced. "We do have to get back." He glanced at the three diminished faeries and smiled. "Enjoy your new homes. And try not to go overboard." With that, he, McAllister and Fin Varra teleported away.
Robin, Liam and Aideen stared at the spot they'd been. As one, they slowly turned to the trophy where the eyes were now dancing with mirth. "Shut up," they announced.
Even for a bar such as Willy's, the appearance of the Knights and the Kombateers was enough to get attention. All the figures inside, mostly demons, were still getting used to what had happened. Unlike the humans, they remembered the Outworld attack and also remembered having lost a few hundred vampires and assorted demonic figures to the attackers as well as the Spirit Guardians. Needless to say, it would take a while for the number of demons in town to rise, even given how the Hellmouth always attracted attention. So, unlike most of the people in Sunnydale, the crowd had a good idea who these humans were and were giving them a wide berth.
"Nice bunch," Johnny said as he tapped at the table, waiting for his drink and trying to contain his nervousness. "You sure we should be here?"
"Hey, the faeries said it'd be okay," Jax shrugged. "And it's probably the only decent place in this dump town to get some good beers."
"Hopefully, they'll be grateful for what we've done and give us a wide berth," Sonya said, giving some vamps her best stern glare.
"They're demons, Sonya," Diedre announced. "They're not known for good manners or gratitude." Before anyone could reply, the doors burst open and Robin, Liam and Aideen walked in. Several of the inhabitants of the bar tensed. They knew Robin by reputation and knew a visit from him was never good.
As soon as they entered, Aideen leaned over the bar and grabbed Willy, pulling the startled bartender in by his shirt until he was a inch away from her. "Whiskey," she announced. "Keep it coming hard and fast. Got it?"
"Um, sure," Willy swallowed as Aideen put him down. He shook his head and moved to the bar. He'd already put up with wild stories from his customers about attackers from another dimension, stories made all the scarier by the fact the tellers weren't drunk yet. The last thing he wanted was to piss off an insane Irishwoman. Instead, he turned and started to get together drinks.
The humans watched as the three faeries collapsed into seats, all with sour expressions. "Ah, this something you want to talk?" Liu asked.
"No," the three replied darkly.
Aideen groaned and rubbed a hand through her hair. "Oh, this bloody sucks," she moaned. "What I have to do now without power......"
"And what there is gets cut down badly," Liam added with a sigh.
"Welcome to my world the last eight months," Robin shrugged.
Before anyone could ask what the three were talking about, a newly made vampire stepped to his feet, moving towards them. "Hey," he barked out. "We don't want you here."
"If it weren't for us, you'd be a dust pile right now," Ivar interjected. "A little respect is called for, I believe."
"I don't care," the vamp pressed. "You don't come here and expect to be treated like us."
"Hey, ease up," Willy said. "Everyone's welcome, long as they can pay."
"I don't care, Willy!" the vamp yelled. "I don't want these guys around, not even for a meal. They're Irish, that means they taste horrible."
There was a very long silence at that point, broken when Angus pushed his chair back. Rhoan put a hand on his shoulder. "Angus------"
"Don't worry, no trouble," Angus said in too light a tone. "Trust me."
Torc watched him stand up, then sighed, reaching into his pocket and pulling out a wad of pills. Rolling them up, he pitched them onto the bar right before Willy, who looked at them in confusion. "For the damages," Torc announced.
"Damages?" Willy said in fear.
"Trust me," Torc said, turning back to Angus who was coming up to the vampire.
"Oh, boy," Jax muttered. "Should we help?"
"Oh, right, like I'm gonna help them," Johnny said. As everyone stared at him, he added. "I'm gonna kick their asses if they don't save some for us."
"We're vastly outnumbered, Johnny," Liu pointed out.
"Relax," Robin's voice came, sounding a bit more chipper than before. "These are the flunkie level demons the guys smack around every night. This'll be a sparring match."
"Okay," Liu shrugged. "We'll go on Angus' signal."
"What signal?" Sonya asked, confused.
"You'll see," Liu nodded.
"He's thinking like us," Rhoan smiled.
"Yep," Ivar sighed. "The poor man's doomed."
"Pardon me," the Irishman said. "But are you holding yourself to that comment?"
Obviously not recognizing a threat when he saw one, the vamp pressed on. "I eat you, I'm picking pieces of you out of my teeth for months."
Angus nodded, glancing back at the others. In a lightning fast move, his sword was drawn and in an arc heading right to the vamp's neck. The vampire didn't even see the blade that decapitated him, turning him into a pile of dust.
"And he actually asked me to trust him," Rhoan sighed as the assorted vamps and demons came to their feet, glaring at the Knights with looks of murder. In a flash, the Knights were on their feet and ready to fight, with the Kombateers behind them.
Willy didn't wait for the first punch to be thrown, he dived down behind the bar and put his hands over his head as the sound of punches and grunts and screams filled the air. Willy grimaced with every sound of breaking glass and furniture and grunt of pain. He glanced up to see a demon move in quickly, reaching for the shotgun Willy kept behind the bar. Before he could reach it, he froze, literally, ice covering his flesh as he stopped. Unseen by anyone but Willy, a pair of hands pulled the gun away from the frozen hands and handed it to Willy. The bartender's eyes widened as he took in the man's appearance. "Oh, shit," he said hoarsely. "Not one of you!"
"Such language is an indication of weakness," Sub-Zero intoned. The blue-clad ninja handed the gun back to Willy. "This is not the place for such weapons," he intoned coldly. "Put it away where no one can reach it and let the fight continue in an honorable fashion."
"Um, sure," Willy nodded, taking the gun away and looking at it. He looked up and started as he saw the man had vanished. "How does he do that?" he muttered as the sounds of a brawl echoed around him.
Joyce had never been to Willy's before but she'd heard Buffy and the gang describe it so she knew the general area. She had been a bit nervous but she remembered Shaw saying the protection spells would keep working for at least another day so she figured she'd be okay. She hoped she could find the place on her own. Stopping and asking someone for directions to the nearest demon hangout wasn't a smart move, even in Sunnydale.
She needn't have worried. The snake-like being lying outside a shattered window let her know she was in the right place, as did the door partly on its hinges. Pushing it open, Joyce looked into a room of chaos. Tables were broken or overturned, a chair hung by its legs on one wall, several mirrors and windows were in pieces, glass and liquid covering the floor, mixing with the unconscious demons and the several piles of dust. By the bar, a man stood, his hands propped under his chin, staring in utter sadness at the remains of his bar.
In the middle, glasses hoisted, the Knights, the Kombateers and the faeries stood, Diedre in the middle, singing. "But take 'em all with a grain of salt and this we've got to say.....We toast old Ireland, dear old Ireland, Ireland Boys Hooray......"
"Well," Joyce said, getting their attention. "Sorry to interrupt. I see you've started the party."
"Joyce!" Robin grinned. "What brings you by?"
"Wanted to check on you," Joyce said. She glanced over to see the one piece of furniture in the bar that wasn't scratched. "Oh, good, Buffy was worried you'd ruin the jukebox."
"Buffy?" Willy said, looking up.
"My daughter," Joyce replied.
Willy looked at her in horror. "You're the Slayer's mother?" he whispered.
"Yes," Joyce nodded.
Willy rolled his eyes up and fainted dead away before her. Joyce just stared and shook her head. "Figures. I have to come to a bar of demons to have someone falling over me."
"What'd you want to talk about?" Rhoan said, sipping his drink.
"Well, now that you've finished cementing Irish-Demon relations," Joyce said, looking about. "I've got some news you might be interested." She quickly told them about the plans the gang had for the surprise sparring and what they planned to rub it in the faces of the new arrivals. Needless to say, they didn't take it well.
"I knew it!" Angus yelled. "I knew it! We step in, we save the day, we do the hard stuff, they decide to ambush us for it! No one respects the Irish! No one!"
"I can't believe this," Liu muttered. "Seriously, this is how they get their kicks? Playing stuff like this on people who just saved them?"
"They think of it as a test," Joyce shrugged. "I thought you should at least have some warning."
"To kick your daughter's ass?" Sonya said, holding up an eyebrow. "You've spent two days worried sick about her and now you're turning us loose on her?"
"Okay, let's clarify," Joyce said, holding up a hand. "First of all, they're not planning anything extreme for you, that's not their style. Okay, maybe a broken rib or two for the Immortals but they know they can heal fast. They just want to have fun taking you by surprise, flaunting how good you are. Now, I love my daughter but every now and then, like every kid, she needs a little lesson in humilty. And I know you won't do anything extreme on them so it's even, way it should be."
"You know, I like her, I really do," Diedre smiled.
"Did Shaw plan this?" Liam asked.
"No, she was asleep but I have little doubt she'd agree with it," Joyce replied.
"Lord, I love this woman more by the minute," Liam smiled.
Aideen shook her head in disbelief. "Nice bloody friends ye've got, Rob. Rob?" She turned around. "Rob?"
The others all turned to see Robin rubbing his chin, a smile stretching wide over his face, his eyes slitted as he took in what Joyce had just said.
"He's up to something," Liam said, a grin coming onto his own face. "I know that look."
Robin slowly looked up, his eyes moving over all the humans, the smile seeming to widen more. "Ladies. Gentlemen. I have a proposition for you."
The mood inside the training room was anticipation mixed with confidence. After a full night's sleep, the entire Section group was ready to "test" their new allies, in a way they knew best. All had dressed in loose clothing, casual enough to fight in but not to make the newcomer suspicious of any sparring. Buffy, wearing a loose t-shirt and jeans, looked up to see Shaw entering, wearing sweat pants and a shirt that covered her back fully. "Hey, Shaw," Buffy said. "You okay?"
"Much better, yes," Shaw replied, nodding. "The full night's sleep did help."
"Amy tell you what's up?"
"She did," Shaw nodded. "And I must admit to being intrigued."
"No worries about taking them by surprise?"
"Sometimes that is the only way to truly gauge one's abilities, in a time when they least expect attack."
Nodding, Buffy paused before speaking. "Look, Shaw, I wanted to talk to you about my mom."
"What of her?" Shaw frowned.
"She told me you took care of her before the fight," Buffy said. "And....I wanted to thank you for it. Her safety really worried me and I was happy that you were able to help her out with that."
"It was an honor to do so," Shaw replied. "Your mother means a lot to me as well, Buffy and I would do nothing to bring harm to her."
"Thanks, Hunter," Buffy smiled, patting her shoulder. Shaw nodded, licking her lips, seemingly unsure what to say.
"I am not...the best at putting my emotions into words....." she began.
"The actions speak louder type," Buffy nodded with a grin. "Me too."
"Exactly," Shaw agreed. "But....she helped me quite a bit with this battle as well, helped me keep my own sanity through it all. I....do not know how to properly thank her for that."
"Hey, the way I see it, I owe you," Buffy stated. "Big time."
Shaw took that in, nodding. "Very well. Then I shall call in that debt now."
"Huh?" Buffy asked, confused.
Shaw leaned in close, glancing towards some of the other Slayerettes before turning to Buffy. "Where is Joyce?"
"Um, at her gallery," Buffy said. "Saw her quick before I left, she just smiled and wished me luck. Why?"
"Buffy, Amy, Willow and Cordelia have spent months attempting to find a romantic interest for me. And you know how some of their efforts have turned out."
"Larry and Jacob," Buffy nodded.
"Exactly," Shaw said. "After....Raidon, they pretty much left me alone, gave me time to let go. And I have done that."
"Wait a minute," Buffy said, holding up a hand. "Are you asking me to tell Amy and Cordy to stop setting you up? Hell, they might try to get me to help."
"Not exactly," Shaw said and Buffy was surprised to see her blushing a little. "The fact is, I believe I may have found....a possible interest."
Buffy grinned. "Liam, huh?"
"I said it was possible," Shaw stressed. "And, for the moment, entertaining the possibility simply to drive Amy and Cordy mad as payback for their past efforts is quite intriguing."
Buffy rolled her eyes. "Only you could take the idea of dating and turn it into psychological warfare."
"All I want to do is to be able to explore the possibility without interference from them," Shaw went on. "I want to figure this out on my own terms, Buffy, not with pressure or attempts to get me and Liam in compromising situations."
"Okay, so you want me to tell them to back off," Buffy said, thinking she understood.
Shaw shook her head. "That will not dissuade them, Buffy. They will still try to play matchmaker."
"Well, sure," Buffy said. "But if you and Liam....."
"I did not mean me, Buffy."
"So....what? Faith or Randi? Not Larry, he's put his foot down on that."
"Then who still needs to be....."
"Buffy, think about it," Shaw said patiently. "Who is the one person remotely involved with the team here in Sunnydale who does not have a romantic partner of some sort?"
"I don't know," Buffy shrugged. "Only one who comes to mind is my......" Her voice broke off and her eyes widened as she realized what Shaw was saying.
The elf smiled as she patted Buffy's shoulder. "Consider yourself warned," she nodded as she moved off. Buffy stood in place for a few moments before turning and moving to where Amy and Cordelia stood talking.
"So, she likes him?" Cordelia was saying. "And he kissed her too?"
"Yes and yes," Amy nodded, smiling. "How do you like that? Months of work and it looks like she may hook up with someone with no help whatsoever from us."
"Talking about Shaw and Liam?" Buffy said in a light tone.
"Yep," Amy nodded. "They seem to go well together."
"So....." Buffy said carefully. "You're going to stop trying to set her up with guys?"
"For the time being," Cordelia smiled. "Course we might try to get her and Liam to get it together soon."
"Cool," Buffy nodded. "Oh, one thing."
She reached over and gripped Amy and Cordelia by the backs of their necks, squeezing in a firm but not too painful hold as she leaned in close to hiss in their ears. "You even try to set my mother up with someone and Outworld is going to seem like a picnic." She broke off the grip and moved up, smiling as she turned and walked away.
The two Amazons watched her go, rubbing at their necks. "Sometimes, I forget what she is," Cordelia sighed.
"What? An Immortal Slayer?" Amy frowned.
"Nope," Cordelia said. "A loving daughter."
"I don't get it," Amy muttered. "How could she have------" She broke off and immediately began marching to where Shaw was, Cordelia shaking her head in a "I should have known" gesture.
"Hey, guys!" Robin said as he came in, the others giving him looks. "What's up?"
"Just getting ready for some training," Steve said in an easy tone. "Where are the others?"
"Oh, they'll be by," Robin announced. "They just needed to recover a bit. We were partying most of the night."
"Really," Giles said, keeping his tone careful. "Will they be all right?"
"Ah, not their usual levels but good enough," Robin said. "Why?"
"Oh, no reason," Giles said, turning and thus missing the tiny hint of a smile on Robin's lips as the faery turned to move over to where Shaw and Amy were.
Shaw saw Amy coming and knew what she was about to say. "Amy."
"How could you tell Buffy I would set someone up with Joyce?" Amy demanded.
"I merely suggested the possibility," Shaw clarified. She bent her head. "Or would that be probability?"
"Ha ha," Amy said sarcastically. "Shaw, Joyce is old. Finding someone for her....."
"She is younger than I am, but you attempted to find someone for me," Shaw pointed out with a slight smile which Robin matched.
After stammering, Amy went on. "Then why'd you------"
"Amy, my first experience with love ended badly. There is someone we know who has had bad feelings about a past relationship. Or, rather, the only relationship I know her of having."
Robin shook his head. "Don't bother, Shaw, they wouldn't have a prayer of pulling this off."
"Pulling what off?" a confused Amy asked. "Hey, Cordy and I can set *anyone* up!"
"Including someone who wanted to shove a knife into Liam's heart?" Shaw said lightly.
It took a moment for Amy to understand who she was talking about and her eyes widened. "You.....you mean.....you can't be serious!"
"You are still upset with her," Shaw shrugged.
"Well, yeah, a little......"
"What better way to get even?" Robin added. "Besides, you Amazons love challenges and this is a challenge."
"This would be *so* out there...." Amy muttered, rubbing her chin. "Maybe if we got some help......"
"I know Aphrodite would *love* seeing her sis get hitched," Robin smiled.
"I'll have to talk with Cordy and Will and Jenny....."
"Do not forget Dana," Shaw added. "Or Andrea if you can ever find her. And Maxine."
"Right, right," Amy muttered as she walked off. Robin and Shaw watched her go and turned to one another, smiling. "Oh, very good," the faery said with pride.
"You guessed my intentions?"
"You know, I don't think it's quite hit them yet that the reason Artemis hears their prayers so well is that she can read their minds at any time. So she'll know what they plan before they figure it out."
"One must know limits," Shaw shrugged.
"Suppose, against all odds, they do set Arty up with someone?"
"The Lady does tend to consider all the possible outcomes to her endeavors, Robin," Shaw smiled.
"Ah, that's why I love you like family, Shaw," Robin smiled. "Which, of course, reminds me....."
"Of?" Shaw frowned.
Robin smiled, only one with a slight edge to it. "Exactly when do I tell the guys you insulted my mother to her face?"
To his surprise, Shaw looked quite calm as she replied. "Perhaps around the time I tell them that she told me that if you ever adopt someone as family without checking with her first, your ass will be kicked across the Faery Kingdom."
Robin's smile vanished. "She said that?" he asked with a slight twinge of fear.
"I apologized to her for my unfortunate outburst," Shaw clarified. "And she gave me that message."
"Good old Mom," Robin muttered. "Well, so much for that chance to see the guys looking shocked."
"Do not worry, Robin," Shaw said, smacking his arm. "You will always have an opportunity for such enjoyments." She moved to join the others and thus didn't see the smile coming across Robin's face, joined by the light humming under his breath with a theme that sounded very suspiciously like the music from the prelude to the famous fight scene from "The Quiet Man."
The Buzz cut through the gym, the looks on the faces of Buffy, Steve, Mulder and Scully letting the gang know it was showtime. They stood to see the Knights and the Kombateers enter, Liam and Aideen near the back, each throwing Robin a brief, but knowing, look.
"So, you guys have been to California before?" Sonya was asking.
"Came here during the Gold Rush," Rhoan answered. "Were there when they opened the Golden Gate Bridge."
"We've also visited Disneyland every year since it opened," Diedre smiled.
"As much as I know it leaves me open to smart remarks," Ivar admitted. "I once spent a few weeks with the Black Panthers."
"I was a technical advisor on the Flynn Robin Hood movie," Angus smirked.
"Me and Aid ran a bar in the southern end in the 1920's," Torc put in.
Sonya stared at them all, then shook her head. "I can't talk to you people."
"Well, nice to see you all up and about," Steve said as the Scoobies carefully moved forward. "Have fun?"
"Well, it was a nice place to hang out," Liam announced, rubbing his chin. "I've been to wilder, of course."
"Really?" Shaw asked, raising an eyebrow. "Have you ever been to McClairty's pub in Paris? Or any of the taverns of Troil?"
Liam grinned. "You know Moira?" Shaw nodded in surprise. "Well, she knows ex-wife 197. Trust me, the taverns these lads are used to make Moira's bar brawls look like a dull night at the Bronze."
Shaw stared, evidently still taken aback at the idea that Liam knew Moira, allowing Steve to step up. "So are you guys okay?" he asked, trying to keep his tone light and casual. "No hang-overs or anything?"
"Hey, just because I'm Hollywood doesn't mean I've got a license to drink and act out anyway I want," Johnny announced. "It's being rich and famous in Hollywood that does that."
"On rare occasions, even we know our limits," Jax grinned.
"Really?" Mulder said as he and Scully moved up behind Steve. "That's sort of disappointing."
"I agree," Scully added, her muscles starting to tense as she and Mulder got ready. <On three?>
Nodding, Scully went on. "You should let us teach limits for you."
With that, she launched a kick at Diedre's mid-section while Mulder threw a sharp jab at Rhoan's face, to be followed by a blow to his chest. The plan was that the newcomers would be too taken aback by the sudden assault to realize what was going on. The rest of the Section fighters would then step in and being the sparring to see just how long it would take for a decent defense to be made.
That strategy was blown out the window in approximately two seconds.
Without even seeming to strain herself, Diedre caught Scully's foot easily, holding onto it tight and giving it a twist. Scully was startled to feel herself being spun around, stumbling as she came around to face Diedre. With a smile on her face, Diedre leaped up, legs pumping out to land four quick kicks to Scully's face and chest, knocking her down on her ass.
At the same time, Mulder had found his lightning-fast jabs easily blocked and batted away by Rhoan. The Irishman had a knowing smile as he landed a quick punch to the face, another to Mulder's jaw, then spun and lashed out a boot that hit Mulder in the stomach, sending him flying down right by Scully.
The Slayerettes' cocky expressions and confidence fell, replaced by shock at seeing the two agents manhandled. They all watched as the Knights and the Kombateers stepped forward, each wearing the same cocksure expression the Sunnydale residents had held only moments ago.
Slowly, taking his time and making it nice and dramatic, Johnny Cage pulled a pair of sunglasses out of his front pocket, unfolded them and slid them on. He brushed at his hair as he looked up, smiled and spoke the line that he had made a national catchphrase.
Johnny moved in, kicking out at Shaw, the elven taking the boot to her mid-section in surprise. She backed away as Johnny moved in and started to launch a fist at him. Johnny easily caught it, brushed it aside and struck at Shaw, hitting her with a kick. Hissing, Shaw backed up, trying to build enough concentration for a spell. Johnny didn't let her, moving in and delivering a series of punches and kicks, most blocked by Shaw, but every now and then one would get through and cause the elven to gasp as Johnny showed off skills that made his moves on film look amateurish.
Steve recovered to launch an attack at the first major threat he saw: Liu Kang. The monk easily blocked two of his blows, then launched a few of his own, blasting Steve with a hard left and a kick to his gut, smashing the Wanderer back. Steve managed to pull out his sword and swung, Liu easily evading the blows, ducking under one sweep to hit Steve on his ribs, Steve grunting as he felt a rib nearly snap. Liu whipped out a kick that took Steve hard in the face, knocking him back.
Buffy moved to help her boyfriend but was blocked when Sonya grabbed her by the shoulder. The Slayer lashed out a backhand but Sonya caught it, twisted Buffy's arm around and elbowed her in the gut. Buffy bent over with a gasp, allowing Sonya to stand right next to her, pinning one of Buffy's arms with her own, holding onto the younger woman's shoulder with the other, then lashing out a kick that snapped Buffy's head back. Sonya released her grip but Buffy recovered faster than she expected, kicking Sonya in the chest, then reaching out to try and get her into a head lock. The commando responded by launching a kick behind her back, the heel of her boot catching Buffy in the face, knocking the Slayer back as Sonya moved in.
Jax cracked his knuckles as he found himself facing Oz. The young man quickly showed that what he lacked in facial expressions, he made up for in skill, leaping up to strike both feet at Jax's face. The black commando caught him by the feet and gave a yank, sending Oz sailing to the ground with a grunt.
Jax looked at his arms and smiled. "Damn, this is better than that metal crap and more natural too."
Oz looked at him, at the new skills he was showing and was the first one to put it together. "Oh, shit," he muttered as Jax moved in, hurling punches at Oz, the musician hard pressed to keep up with them. He realized that Jax was making the attacks so strong and fast to keep Oz from getting the concentration together to turn into a wolf. And the worse part was, it was working.
Willow's attempt to go to Oz was blocked when she found Ivar in her path. "Um, they said you were a gentleman," she said, trying to buy some time for a spell.
Ivar smiled even as he spun and launched a blow to Willow's chest, knocking her back. He kicked her in the gut, sending her down to the floor. Willow looked up to see Ivar holding a hand down to her. "I am," he explained.
"Oh, good," Willow said, taking his hand.
"But you're an Amazon witch and I'm not stupid." Ivar yanked and Willow found herself pulled off her feet, spinning in the air and landing hard on her back, knocking the wind out of her. She looked up and yelped, barely able to avoid Ivar's foot smashing down towards her chest. As she rolled back to her feet, she saw the black man still wearing that odd smile as he moved in to attack.
Angus took his time as he faced Cordelia and Xander. The two had quickly drawn some wooden practice swords from a nearby weapons stand, trying to figure out a way to defend themselves without permentely hurting anyone. The two leaped forward, thrusting their wooden blades towards Angus, aiming for the throat and gut. Angus easily jumped up, flipping over the two, his feet lashing out, one boot hitting each teen on the back, pushing them off-balance.
Landing in a roll, Angus moved to the rack and took down his own wooden sword, twirling it in his hands as he turned and faced the duo. "So," he smiled. "You two have any sword experience?"
"We've practiced," Cordelia stated, getting back to her feet.
"And we've watched Robin Hood a dozen times," Xander added.
"Flynn or Costner?" Angus frowned.
The two teens looked at each other, uncertain, then back at him. "Costner," they answered together.
"HA!" Angus laughed. "You're toast!" He moved in, sword a blur in his hands as he easily blocked the shots being made by the duo, his own wooden shaft making it through their defenses to give smacks on their bodies, more than a few on Cordelia's ass, causing her to cry out as Angus laughed.
"Watch it, pal!" Xander said, trying to hit Angus, who blocked the blow. "I'm the only one who gets to do that!"
"Xander!" Cordelia yelled, whacking him with the sword, then yelping as Angus smacked her ass again.
Real swords were flashing nearby as Rhoan and Diedre dueled with Mulder and Scully. The two Irishmen were easily outdistancing the two FBI agents, sparks flying with every smack of steel on steel. Mulder swung a low blow with Rhoan leaping upwards, twisting in the air, his sword still managing to lash out and deliver a few barely blocked blows by Mulder.
Next to them, Diedre and Scully traded some dueled shots, each moving about as they did, Diedre using only one hand and sneaking in a quick punch or kick with every few blocks. Scully lunged forward, smashing her sword on Diedre's, the two moving in close together, pushing on each other. "Now, now," Diedre said in a light tone. "You know you can't match my age and wisdom."
"Bitch," Scully snarled.
Smile in place, Diedre smashed her head forward and onto Scully's stunning the redhead. "That's Princess Bitch," she announced as she spin-kicked Scully to the ground.
Giles and Jenny of course moved to help the teens but an "ahem" got their attention and they turned to see Torc before them. "I think we should let the young ones handle things themselves," he announced. "And we elders do the same."
Giles slid off his glasses as Jenny moved into a fighting position. Torc nodded, then leaped up, showing a speed and agility that belied his size, feet smashing into the two teachers, knocking them back. He was immediately on the move, kicking at Jenny as he smashed a fist into Giles' face, then kicking Giles as he hurled a punch at Jenny. The Amazon recovered enough to catch it and smacked Torc with a backhand. The Irishman rolled with it to kick Giles again, the Englishman managing to come back with a shot of his own.
Amy was completely taken aback by all of this, trying to figure out how to hit first when a flash of light nearly singed her hair. She turned to see Aideen with a wide smile on her face. "So..." the faery smiled. "I know you're good in the sack with Robbie. Let's compare fighting, shall we?"
"Oh, shit," Robin muttered as Aideen moved in and started trading blows with his girlfriend. Amy was good, but she was still human and even depowered and unable to use most of her magics, Aideen was a good fighter, as proven when she leaped into the air and smacked a kick into Amy's face, knocking her back. Amy looked up to see Aideen hovering in the air, dancing a quick Irish jig, her feet pounding on nothing.
"Well," Liam remarked to his groaning best friend. "I assume you'll be free for some fun tonight?" He laughed as Robin groaned louder, wincing as Aideen landed on her feet in time to catch a boot into Aideen's chest and firing a ball of energy which the faery ducked under and hit the witch with another blow to the face.
Steve threw a kick out at Liu, the Mortal Kombat champion catching it and lashing a boot between Steve's legs. The Wanderer gasped as Liu pulled back, holding up his hands, gathering energy. As Steve looked up, Liu hurled both hands forward, palms smashing into Steve's chest, the Wanderer swearing it felt like they were on fire. He went sailing several feet back, landing hard on his chest, gasping for breath.
Buffy was doing her best, her Slayer skills good but barely enough to handle Sonya's commando training, the older blonde managing to hit Buffy with several hard blows and kicks. Buffy managed to block a punch and swiftly launched a two-kick-punch combo then moved in, shoving a shoulder under Sonya and using strength and leverage to send her down on her back.
Moving forward a bit to get a start, Buffy turned, then ran and leaped up, intending to land on Sonya. Sonya leaned back, weight on her shoulders, palms on the floor, then pushed upward, sending herself sailing into the air. Buffy could only stare as Sonya flew towards her, feet smashing into Buffy's chest and then suddenly kicking out, one foot after the other, creating the amazing sight of her bicycle-kicking Buffy almost to the ceiling. Lashing out with one last kick, Sonya managed to flip back, landing on her feet as Buffy came down hard to the ground.
Oz took a hard blow to the face, grunting as he fell back. He lashed out a kick that managed to catch Jax off guard, tripping him up. Flipping back, Oz started to concentrate, getting ready to shift. Coming to his knees, Jax held up a hand and then brought it down, smashing a fist right into the floor. A rumble came up as the board broke, throwing Oz off balance. Jax moved in and swung one more powerful fist out, sending Oz to the mat, stunned.
Willow spun herself around, kicking out at Ivar, trying to use her lighter build to her advantage. Her previous thought that gentleman's behavior would cause Ivar to hold back proved to be wrong, not surprising given how he'd probably beheaded a few women during his long lifetime. That experience came to play with Ivar ducking her spin, then coming up and letting his leg shoot up, smashing Willow right in the middle, driving the breath out of her. Ivar turned, one hand reaching to the ground to hold himself up as his feet shot up to smash Willow down, sending her flying several feet across the floor, landing right near the equally stunned Oz.
Xander and Cordelia were on either side of Angus, both rearing back to deliver blows. After pausing to realize just how unbelievably easy this was going to be, Angus ducked, smiling as he heard the two "OW!" cries that let him know the two teens had hit each other. He came up to see them holding their heads in pain. "Well, I can see how you two work as a team," he nodded.
"Was that a putdown?" a pained Xander asked.
"Just going by what Shaw said," Angus shrugged. "You're proving her point."
"How?" Cordelia said even as she and Xander both thrust their swords at Angus. The Immortal did something unexpected. He dropped his sword and caught each wooden shaft in his hands. "You're both getting beaten so easily," he replied as he yanked the two in by their blades, pulling them off balance, then grabbing their heads and lightly, but firmly, smacking them together.
Mulder and Scully were still trying to get at Rhoan and Diedre, the two agents' clothing filled with minor but irritating cuts delivered by the Irishmen. Rhoan and Diedre shared a brief smile that communicated more than any telepathic conversation Mulder or Scully could have. Rhoan ducked and then rolled forward, knocking Mulder off balance. At the same time, Diedre grabbed Scully, spun her around and then leaped up, back flipping in the air and smashing a kick into Scully's face, sending her down right onto her husband.
Diedre landed and looked down at the two, shaking her head. "You know, it's really not necessary to kneel before me."
"Dear, they're not kneeling," Rhoan pointed out. "They're trying to get their breath back."
"Ah, it's been so long, I can't tell," Diedre smiled as she and her husband shared a long kiss.
Surprisingly, the most even battle was between Torc, Jenny and Giles. The 1800 year old Irishman was holding his own against the Ripper and the Gypsy, their blows coming in fast and furious, Torc able to block blows but not as agile to deliver styled kicks himself. Still, he kept them too off balance for magic, which just increased their frustration. And that was what Torc wanted. He knew an angry fighter was a clumsy fighter (Shaw notwithstanding) and as the pair, their faces tight, both kicked out at them, Torc decided to put his strength to good use. He leaned back, the duo's legs flying over him, then reached up and grabbed them. He came back up, holding Giles and Jenny and bringing smashing together, face first, then punched them both down as they were stunned.
Amy yelped as she saw Aideen fly towards her, legs extended. Aideen suddenly stopped and inch away, causing Amy to freeze in surprise. That was enough for the faery to lower herself to the feet, kick Amy in the gut, grab her by the shoulders and fall back, sending the witch sailing with a yell to land onto the mat, Robin wincing and suddenly beginning to think this might not have been such a good idea.
After her initial surprise, Shaw was rebounding, managing to strike out hard at Johnny with several well-placed kicks and punches. Johnny managed to avoid the lesser ones and nailing Shaw with a nice kick and punch to her ribcage. The fact that his sunglasses remained on even as he flipped back and kicked at her was starting to annoy Shaw.
The elven fell back, managing to hit Johnny in the gut and push him back. She moved in to hit another blow but Johnny unexpectedly fell to the ground, his legs spreading, fist hauling back to hit Shaw just above the spot between her legs.
Being a woman, the blow of course did not cause Shaw incredible pain. However, the force of it and the unexpectedness of the low shot did send her back several feet, holding her lower body in pain. She looked up and stared in wonder as Johnny leapt up, his body seeming to flash through the air as he moved towards her. By the time Shaw realized she was watching the shadow kick, his foot had touched her chest, the force smashing into her at once and sending Shaw flying back and hitting the wall with a loud gasp.
"Well....." Shaw said as soon as she could talk. "That was an exceptionally humbling experience."
The Kombateers and the Knights came together, exchanging high fives and laughs as the Scoobies let out groans and gasps. In the heat of the moment, Johnny took Sonya and gave her a kiss. Sonya broke away and punched him in the face, sending him back. "Try that again and I'll shove a hand grenade where the sun doesn't shine," she hissed. Then, she let out a grin. "The least you can do is buy dinner first."
"Hey, maybe I can get you a part in that 'Charlie's Angels' movie," Johnny grinned.
"I crap bigger than all three of them," Sonya sniffed.
"True," Johnny nodded. "Hmmm. Wonder if that part in the next 'Matrix' movie is still open....."
"Well, that was entertaining," Robin smiled as he came up, taking in the downed Sunnydale residents, who were starting to come back to their feet.
"Okay," Xander nodded, wincing as he stood. "Okay, I know what this is. McAllister?"
"Yep," Angus grinned.
"Nessoi?" Mulder put in.
"Always wondered if he was real," Liu said lightly.
"Stonehenge?" Giles nodded.
"I don't know what people complain about," Diedre announced. "I think Robin's design work was pretty good."
"He did it again," Xander groaned. "He did it again!"
"Did what?" Cordelia frowned.
Xander looked at her. "Cordy. Flashback time. Larry in February. Me and the guys last August."
Cordelia looked at him, then at Robin, eyes widening as she got it. "Oh, no. No, don't tell me......"
"Okay, I won't," Robin smiled.
Amy shook her head as she fixed a glare on him. "You gave them your empowerment?"
"What do you think?" Robin grinned.
"I think you're sleeping alone tonight," Amy muttered.
"It was worth it," Robin said under his breath.
Steve shook his head. "Robin......How could you......"
"Well, actually, I had a little help," Robin announced. He looked towards the doorway to the gym. "Oh, help?"
The Slayerettes stared at the doorway and their jaws dropped as Joyce walked in, smiling. "MOM?!" Buffy shrieked. "You.....you....."
"I overheard what you were planning," Joyce explained. "And, frankly, I didn't think it fair to do that after all these people have done for you. So, I decided to try and give them a little warning to prepare. Only, apparently, Robin decided to take it a step further."
"And a step approved by Oberon in case you're wondering," Robin said. "Funny, all I had to do was mention this would get one on Shaw and he was all for it."
"Yes, Johnny did seem to enjoy paying me back for some comments I have made the last few days," Shaw muttered. "I am just surprised the rest of you did not want to the same."
"Well, we wanted to," Sonya nodded. "But he drew the high card."
Steve shook his head. "I just don't believe this."
"Steve," Robin said, stepping up with a smile. "I appreciate you guys trying to pull some pranks, I do. It's one thing I can really get behind with you guys. But trying to pull one on me? Uh huh. I'm 55,000 years old, my friends and I've done more than you can imagine. I was pulling pranks harder then this when your ancestors were still hiding in caves. You can do your best, you can try your most but no one, and I mean NO ONE......puts one over on Robin Goodfellow."
"That's our Robbie," Liam smiled. "Always showing off."
"And giving us pains doing it," Mulder remarked.
"Ah, look at it this way," Robin announced. "I want the next guy who's thinking of taking over the world to get a look at us and decide to get into a safer line of work."
"Why'd you have to go to Robin?" Jenny asked Diedre and Sonya. "We could have talked to Artemis, you could have become Amazons."
"Sucking up to the Gods ain't my style," Sonya said, shaking her head.
"And an Irish Amazon?" Diedre asked dubiously. "That sort of demeans the honor."
"You wouldn't demean the honor of being an Amazon," Jenny stressed.
"No, I meant the honor of being Irish," Diedre clarified. "After that, anything's a step down."
Steve smiled and looked at Liu. "Well, at least you've got a reason for beating me so bad." He was taken aback when the new fighters broke out in laughter, shaking heads at Steve. "What?"
Robin smiled. "Steve, the rules of Mortal Komabt state it has to be a natural human fighter defending the realm of Earth. No magics. At all."
Steve's face slowly dropped as he realized what Robin was saying. "You mean.....?"
"He didn't get the empowerment," Robin announced. "The rules of Mortal Kombat prevent it. So, you got your ass kicked by a well-skilled but still utterly human fighter."
This time, the laughs came from behind Steve as he turned to face his team, who were giving him looks of sympathy despite the laughter. "I'm going to be hearing about this the rest of the week, aren't I?"
"Week, nothing," Xander announced. "We're talking months here, buddy."
"If someone were to take my head now, I'd classify it as a mercy killing," Steve sighed.
"Well, your skills do seem impressive," Shaw nodded.
"We're all 1400 years old, they should be," Rhoan said.
"Really," Shaw said. "It is nice to meet someone who has great wisdom and skill with age."
"I'm not sure but I think we've just been insulted," Robin muttered.
"Oh, I'm sure," Liam grinned. "Lord, I love this woman."
"Well, I think my asking price just went up a few million," Johnny grinned, flexing an arm. "And *my* eyes don't glow in the dark."
"Yes, well, you do have an advantage over me," Shaw nodded.
"Wait," Johnny frowned. "You don't have any empowerment deals?"
"My love for the Lady precludes me becoming an Amazon," Shaw explained. "It would conflict my faith. And I have never seen the need for enhanced abilities. I am quite comfortable with my own levels."
"So, you're what passes for normal with this group?" Johnny asked.
"In a way, yes."
Johnny looked at Jax. "I feel like I just picked on a kid."
"Careful, call her kid and she'll want a rematch," Jax pointed out.
"Actually, I am the equivalent of a seventeen year old human," Shaw remarked. "But only one person is allowed to call me kid."
"Who?" Jax and Johnny asked.
"Neither of you," Shaw smiled.
"Did she just insult us again?" Jax asked Johnny.
"Hey, she likes us," Johnny grinned.
"She does kind of grow on you," Jax agreed.
"Like the tyrannical older sister we never had?"
"Speak for yourself," Jax said sourly.
"At least I am not alone in not having an empowerment," Shaw said.
"The benefits of being the best at what we do," Liu smiled.
"Have you been coaching him on arrogance?" Shaw asked.
"Goodfellow." Everyone yelled and spun around to see Sub-Zero step forward.
"How does he-----" Xander started.
"We don't know how he does it, all right?!" Sonya yelled.
Sub-Zero looked to Robin. "I merely wanted to thank you for the offer you made me."
"Wait, you offered him the empowerment?" Buffy said in disbelief.
"He did," Sub-Zero nodded. "But I am quite happy with my skills the way they are. To take more would be an unfair advantage on others."
"I can sympathize," Liu nodded.
Sub-Zero looked at him. "But you are bound by rules. I am bound by honor."
"Are you saying I have no honor?" Liu asked, taken aback.
"I consider you the most honorable man I have ever met," Sub-Zero stated.
"Oh, thank you so much for the slam, Xander muttered.
Just as Steve was starting to moan a flash of light came and everyone turned to see Artemis standing before them, the Greek Goddess of the Hunt glaring at Robin. "Robin," she hissed. "You did it again?!"
"Arty!" Robin grinned. "Nice to see you again."
"So, that's Artemis?" Sonya remarked. "Funny, I figured she'd be taller."
"Talking back to the Gods, gotta love these guys," Mulder grinned.
"How could you do this?" Artemis demanded, missing the looks the Amazons were giving her.
"Hey, I don't need permission from you on my empowerments," Robin pointed out. "Oberon said this was okay, so I don't see how you can be so pissed. I did my best to help out my charges, just like the Oracles wanted me to."
"You humiliated my Amazons in battle!" Artemis stated. "AGAIN!!"
"Well, that was just the bonus," Robin grinned.
Artemis clenched her jaw. "Robin. I swear-----"
A flash of lightning filled the room and then came together into the form of Raiden, who crossed his arms and glared at Artemis. "Don't swear, Arty. It doesn't become one of your stature."
"What are you doing here, Raiden?" Artemis said, taken aback by the other god's appearance.
"Oh, just making a warning on behalf of the Elder Gods," Raiden said in a tight voice. "Something to pass along to your brethren. Next time Daddy decides to make a deal like this without telling anyone and goes behind the backs of the Elder Gods, Olympus is going to be needing one hell of a redecorating job."
Artemis stared at him. "You would war with Olympus?"
"If it tries to work against those under my protection?" Raiden stated. "Yes. I would and you know it."
"Yeah, and we'll help!" Cordelia yelled.
Artemis' jaw dropped as she turned and stared at them in disbelief. "What?" she choked out.
Jenny sighed and stepped forward. "Lady Goddess, we have been through something of an ordeal, one made worse by the fact that you evidently couldn't give us aid."
"We were strung up, had our home invaded, our families threatened, our world in danger and you wouldn't do anything about it," Willow said, showing a bit more anger.
"Don't give us that shit!" Cordelia yelled, surprising Artemis with her venom. "Ares breaks rules Zeus has made all the time! You could have done the same! Instead, the whole damn faery community gets together to take Kahn on and you do jack squat!"
"You could have at least warned us Maeve was in the Faery Kingdom," Scully added, face tight. "If it hadn't been for Robin getting things together, Earth would be doomed right now and you probably wouldn't care."
"I'd care, Dana," Artemis said softly, hurt on her features.
"You didn't show it," Amy said. "You let us down. Bad. How are we supposed to trust you? How do we know you won't do it again?"
"Lady Goddess, we give you our prayers and our support," Jenny stated. "But this is a major blow to that trust and one that may not be fixed."
"Whoa, whoa, whoa," Xander said, holding up his hands. "Come on, ladies, please, ease up on Artemis."
As one, the Goddess and the Amazons turned and stared at him in disbelief. A collective "HUH?!" went out as Xander stepped up.
"Come on, it wasn't her fault," Xander said in a calm tone. "Zeus expressly forbade her from interfering, not just her but all the Gods. But it really impacted her since he knew she had her worshipers on the front lines. Hey, you heard what she did to Ares, you think Zeus would go any easier on her? If she stood up to him, he'd have dropped her into the underworld or something."
"Or worse," Giles broke in. "Taken away the empowerments she had given you, making you all normal again and that would have spelled disaster now and in the future."
"And Zeus was keeping an eye on her to keep her from helping," Oz threw in. "Hell, she risked a lot just coming to tell Amy about the deal."
"You know, this was probably worse for her than anyone," Mulder pointed out. "Think about it, all she could do was stand and watch, unable to help, unable to fight, just watch while you were all put in mortal danger. Can you imagine how that must have felt?"
"And Arty cares about you guys," Robin said solemnly. "She truly does, she loves you all like daughters and she would have truly mourned you had anything happened. This was a lot worse for her than for you and frankly, your attitudes right now probably aren't making her feel any better."
There was silence as the Amazons absorbed his words and looked to their goddess. "We-- --" Cordelia stared. "We're sorry. We truly are. It was just a really bad time and we could have used you."
"We know it must have been hard," Jenny nodded. "And we know you would have helped if you could. We're sorry we've made this so hard for you."
Artemis stared at them for a long moment, then shook her head. "Saved by men. Ares is never going to let me live this down." She glanced over to where Raiden was chuckling. "Oh, shut up."
"Look on the bright side," the Thunder God smiled. "At least you're not Zeus, having the lords of the Faery Lands lord it over how they saved the day." He laughed as he vanished, a boom of thunder in his wake.
"He does have a point," Artemis admitted, shaking her head. "I suppose I should be going." A smile came onto her face. "Ares will be needing a new ice pack anyway."
"Lady Artemis," Shaw said in a respectful tone. "Did Ares truly attempt to stand up for humanity?"
"As amazing as it sounds, yes," Artemis nodded.
Shaw smiled. "Ironic, is it not?"
"What?" Artemis frowned.
"That the God of War is in pain this moment because he attempted to stand up for the very humanity that caused him to receive such pain from the Lady of the Forest," Shaw smiled.
Artemis thought about it and nodded with a grin. "That is ironic. I have to point that out to him." With a flash, she was gone, leaving the others to stare at where'd she been.
"I can't believe you just stuck up for her like that," Cordelia said, turning to Xander.
Xander shrugged. "Hey, it was all true. She wanted to help and couldn't and your attitude really didn't help soothe things over."
"I have to agree," Giles nodded. "After all she's done in the past, I think just a little more civility was called for."
"Hey, we were pissed," Cordelia stated. "We've been through a hell of a lot and she----"
Everyone turned to see a woman standing before them dressed in a light suit of leather armor. The woman spoke in a dark and commanding tone that let no one get in edgewise. "I could not help but overhear your comments about the Goddess of the Hunt. Well, I will have you know that I know Zeus on a personal note and if Artemis had attempted to go against him, you would be without a patron Goddess and your Amazon abilities would fade out in a matter of weeks, leaving you as the people you were before she came to love you like her daughters." Her eyes raked over Cordelia. "And in some cases, that would not have been a good thing."
As Cordelia's jaw dropped, the woman went on. "And I will have you know she felt the same guilt over not being there for you that my own daughter felt when she was unable to save those who had become her family. So, I will thank you to remove your heads from your asses and try to think of things from her point of view and try to see how much she is hurting, not just over not being able to help all of you but also of you all berating her for something far beyond your control. I was under the impression this was the new Amazon Nation, not the Bickering Bitches."
Dead silence filled the room, everyone taken aback by the woman's speech, especially the Amazons, with the exception of Jenny, who looked to be in thought.
"You....." Amy hissed.
"You have no right talking like that!" Cordelia barked.
"Yeah," Willow threw in.
"Damn straight," Scully nodded.
"Yes, she did."
Everyone turned to stare at Shaw. "She has every right because Artemis loves you all too much to tell you to your faces how immature you are being over this. And if you do not learn your lessons from this woman who just chewed you out, She might be tempted to do it *personally.*"
"I can't believe you're going against us!" Willow said in disbelief.
"I can," Jenny nodded.
"What?" Willow frowned. "You recognize that loudmouth?"
"We met once before," Jenny clarified. "I'm surprised you didn't recognize her, Amy. Aside from the fact the statue with her likeness is in Shaw's room, haven't you noticed any similarities between her and Shaw?"
"What, that they can both piss us off like no one's business?" Amy said sourly.
"What can I say?" Shaw smiled. "Like Mother, like Daughter."
The women stared at her, their eyes widening and jerking their heads towards the smiling woman, noticing for the first time the slight glow around her. "You're....." Willow started.
"Yes," Millie replied.
"We just got chewed out by Shaw's goddess," Scully said dully.
Willow looked at Amy. "Are you thinking what I'm thinking?"
"That we just may be wrong?" the other Amazon witch replied.
"Well, that," Willow agreed. "But also that if we don't think about this real hard, we're going to have Shaw AND her Lady on our asses."
"You had best believe that," Millie smiled.
"Really sticking in, eh, Millie?" Liam grinned. "First you took out Shang, now this."
"You killed Shang?" Liu said in surprise.
"Yep," Liam nodded. "Hurled her sword fifty feet across a hallway, split him right down the center. Told us she got it from Shaw's memories of the Costner Robin Hood."
"Ewwwww!" Cordelia let out.
"I don't believe it," Ivar muttered. "That was so long ago....."
Angus smacked Ivar on the shoulder. "I *knew* Freeman was copying you!"
Liu shook his head as he looked at Millie. "You defeated Shang? That was my job!"
"You already killed him in life, Liu Kang," Millie stated. "I merely disposed of his shade."
Liu looked at her and nodded solemnly. "Make sure he gets to Hell this time."
"Already taken care of," Millie smiled. She glanced over at Johnny, who immediately got the feeling he would be better off running and hiding. "Johnny Cage," Millie said in a light tone that still sent shivers up the actor's spine. "I must congratulate you."
It was hard to tell who looked more surprised, Johnny or Shaw. "Excuse me?" they both asked.
Mille glanced to Shaw, then back to Johnny. "My daughter can be....a tad arrogant at times."
"A tad?" Xander muttered.
"At times?" Cordelia threw in.
"She could use a touch of humility now and then," Millie went on. "Thank you for providing it." Her gaze hardened a bit. "But don't try it again without any warning."
"No prob," Johnny gulped out. Millie gave Shaw a smile, then vanished in a ball of light.
"Well, this has been interesting," Giles said, shaking his head.
"Understated as ever, Rupert," Jenny sighed.
Near the back of the group, Joyce had come up to Robin. "Robin, are you sure they won't be angry at you for this?"
"For this? Nah." The faery grinned. "It's when they find out I taped them getting their asses kicked and sent copies to the MacLeods and the Grail Knights that they'll be pissed."
"You like living on the edge, don't you?"
"I invented the edge," Robin threw back with a grin.
"Well, you'd better be careful," Willow said. "We might find a way to get back at you."
"How?" Ivar snorted.
An evil look came on Willow's face. "Got a computer?"
"Um, yes," Ivar frowned.
"Give me time."
"Well, back to the old rat race," Torc said, cutting off Ivar's worries. "Me and Aid have to get the bar set back up."
"So, you guys going your separate ways?" Steve asked as the Knights looked at each other.
"It's been a while since we saw the old homestead, hasn't it?" Rhoan smiled.
"Too long," Diedre grinned back, kissing him again.
"I could use a vacation right about now anyways," Angus nodded.
Ivar sighed. "Oh, why not? Give my students a break for a week or so."
"Well, good luck," Sonya sighed. "Me and Jax have to get back on the job, we've got work to do."
"Although it's gonna seem *real* easy after all this," Jax added.
Johnny looked at Sonya. "I don't suppose you can go AWOL long enough for a movie and dinner in L.A.? Got time before I gotta prep for my next shoot."
Sonya looked at him and smiled. "We'll see," she said.
"One condition," Johnny smiled.
Johnny looked over her combat outfit and smiled wider. "You're going to have to wear a dress."
"Okay, then I'm going too," Jax announced.
Sonya rolled her eyes. "I'm a big girl, Jax, I can handle myself."
"Oh, I don't care if you and star boy start lighting it up in a hotel suite-----"
"I just want the sight of you in a dress," the commando grinned as Sonya gave him a light smack.
Johnny smiled as he looked towards Shaw. "Keep it up, Hunter. Maybe someday you can be as good as I am."
"In overall skill or our shared specialized maneuver?" Shaw replied playfully.
"Maybe both," Johnny shrugged.
"About that autograph....."
Johnny grinned. "Don't push your luck."
Liu watched them all and shook his head, smiling. "I have to get back to the Temple of Light. I have to continue to train other fighters for the next tournament."
"Will it still go on?" Steve frowned. "With Outworld gone, would there be a need for it?"
Liu sighed. "Such things are old, St. Wolf, older than even Kahn. I have little doubt someone else will be in that tournament, intending to stage an invasion of their own. I will need to fight them and I will have to train others to follow in case I fall. It is hard to let go of one's prophecy and destiny."
"Tell me about it," Rhoan, Shaw, Buffy and Steve all replied.
Johnny turned to where Sub-Zero was. "So, what are you-----" He stopped as he saw the ninja had vanished yet again. The entire group looked around, trying to see where he could have gone. They all looked at one another and spoke the same thought that was on all their minds.
"HOW DOES HE *DO* THAT?!"