Author: Tim Knight

Title: Slayer in Black

Copyright: February 2000

Rating: PG-13 (fight scenes)

Spoilers: Buffy: Season 2 until Phases.

Highlander: Season 5 until Season finale. Richie Ryan lives.

Nightbreed: Based on the novel, not the movie.

Chronicles of Wanderer: Witch Hunt.

Keywords: Buffy/Highlander/Predator/MIB: the Series/Renegade/Nightbreed/Serrated Edge (by Mercedes Lackey).

Summary: Set in the same universe as the Chronicles of Wanderer by Steve Pantovich. While the Wanderer and Section Seven head for the City by the Bay, Shaw Hunter and Kendra are caught between vampires and new players in town: A young Predator and the Nightbreed.

Legalese: All characters except those noted below with their respective rights, properties and copyrights are the property of their respective creators, authors, owners, producers and agencies. These characters are used without permission. No copyright infringement is intended or meant, and no money will be made from this story. This story may be copied in its entirety, and may be distributed as long as all copyright information remains.

The characters Shaw Hunter, Tobabaird and Agent I are mine. Anyone wishing to use them may contact me at doobytim@aol.com.

The characters Steve St. Wolf, Frank Iverson, Randi Jessup, and Joe N'Gato are property of Steve Pantovich, as is the universe in which this story takes place. Steve can be contacted at steve711@concentric.net.

Author's Notes: This story takes place approximately two months after the events in Born to Raise Hellmouth, and during the events in Witch Hunt, by Steve Pantovich. Kids hunting demons, men in suits, headhunting aliens, bloodsucking vamps, and coffee drinking worms. What a combination.

Dedications: Steve, for letting me use and work with his characters. To Rebekah, Mistress of the Red Pen and Letter Beta (reader). To Timbo, for not screaming when he found out we were both using the Predator concept.

Here are the changes from normal shows that may play a part in this story:

Buffy: 1. Due to her drowning at the hands of the Master in Prophecy Girl, Buffy is Immortal.

2. Passion and Becoming never took place, so Angel is evil, and Jenny and Kendra are alive and well. Kendra has taken up residence in Sunnydale and is attending UC Sunnydale.

3. Amy Madison is a full time Slayerette.

Predator: 1. The character Machiko Noguchi is from Dark Horse Comics, and the Alien vs. Predator crossover, "War." This story, however, takes place way before that story.


Part 1: That Time Again
(What Does Even The Slayer Fear?)

"This is about not being in class."
---Xander Harris
"The Pack"

Sunnydale Cemetery
Sunnydale, California
2 November 1998

"Well, well, well." the head of the group of six vampires chuckled. "What do we have here? Two little lovebirds, all alone."

The two teenagers stopped kissing, and rolled their eyes at the demons. The young man snorted.

"You know, honey, these guys are really stupid."

"No shit." Cordelia agreed. "Thinking we're a couple."

The leader smirked. "Then what are you?"

"A threesome, you blooddrinking bastard."

The vamps turned, just as the second female shot an arrow into one vampire's neck, dropping him to the ground, screaming at the blessed arrowhead burned.

Two more were immediately dusted from behind by Xander and Cordelia, who then drew Glock 21 .45 caliber pistols, as well as blessed silver daggers provided by their companion.

<The Hunter?!?> the leader thought, not understanding. <How did she.. it's a trap!!>

He turned both ways, looking for an escape route, but was surrounded as his remaining henchmen were destroyed. He waited to see what they planned.

"Well, Hunter, you want the last one?" Xander asked.

"Very well." The hooded figure with the red eyes said.

The leader snarled, "You merciless bitch."

The Hunter drew a sword, which lit up in dancing white flames.

"In truth, vampire, I am very merciful. Your death will be quick."

She quickly thrust the sword into his heart, and he vanished in a blast of smoke. She then placed the enchanted blade back into its scabbard in one smooth move that was an extension of the death stroke.

She looked at the other Slayerettes. "Adequate, Xander?"

Xander nodded. "Very adequate. They didn't know what hit them."

Shaw cocked her head. "They did not recognize our weapons?"

Xander and Cordelia sighed. Cordy explained. "Slang, Shaw. They weren't prepared for the two-pronged attack, and couldn't defend themselves."

She nodded. "Now I understand. Thank you, Cordelia."

"No prob."

"Well, girls, let's call it a night. Big day at school tomorrow." Xander said in a dry tone.

Shaw caught it. "You do not sound pleased."

"Of course not. You know what tomorrow is, right?"

"Yes. It is Tuesday. I fail to see the significance."

"Shaw, it's.. never mind."

Cordelia cut in. "Shaw, you want a ride home?"

The half-elven warrior shook her head. "No, Cordelia. The night is clear. I wish to simply enjoy the walk back to Ulric's."

"Your call. See you tomorrow."

Shaw nodded. "Good night." And she walked off into the night.

"She has no idea." Cordelia said. "Why didn't you tell her?"

"I didn't want to make her nervous." Xander said.

"Liar." she replied. "You want to see her reaction, to get even with her for Halloween. Hello, that was more mine and Amy's idea."

"I should have known." Xander sighed. "But really, I don't want her scared going into tomorrow. You know how high she sets her standards for herself, and what'll happen if she falls short."

"In English, be prepared for the fallout."

Xander just nodded his head.

*****

Sunnydale High School
Sunnydale, California
3 November 1998

"Ms. Hunter." Shaw's Math teacher called, handing Shaw a piece of paper.

Shaw looked it over, but it looked like gibberish. She couldn't make sense of it. She had noticed that other students were having emotional reactions ranging from fear to anger to pure excitement.

<What is the problem?> she wondered. <Could this be some Earth ritual?>

She decided to put the matter aside, placing the paper in her folder.

By the end of her third hour, Shaw was truly concerned. All of the students seemed affected in some way by the mysterious pieces of paper.

<Is this someone's magic?> she asked herself. <To cause these emotional reactions? I have to speak with Rupert Giles. So much for lunch.>

When the bell rang, she quickly set a brisk pace for the library. She walked through the doors, and went straight to the office.

Giles and Jenny were sharing some herbal tea, and quickly set the cups down at the determined look on Shaw's face.

"Shaw, what's wrong?" Jenny asked.

"Rupert Giles, Jenny, have you noticed the emotional states of the other students today?"

Jenny nodded, but Giles didn't. "I've been here all morning, Shaw."

"I believe someone may be using magic to affect them. It seems connected to papers that were passed around."

Jenny and Giles shared a look.

"Did you receive one?" At her nod, Jenny continued. "Why weren't you affected?"

"I am not sure. I could make no sense of it. Perhaps it is the partial resistance to mind control spells, from my elven blood."

"Can I see it, Shaw? I assure you, I am protected from such spells."

"As you wish." Shaw said, taking out her sheet. She handed it to Jenny.

Jenny gave the sheet a critical look, and looked back at Shaw.

"Shaw, perhaps you should sit down."

"Can you explain the language?" she asked, sitting on the couch.

Jenny nodded. "Yes, I can. I must say, I'm surprised."

Jenny handed the paper to Giles, who looked it over. He nodded. "Shaw, do you know what this is?"

"No, Rupert Giles. Can you identify it?"

Jenny looked at Shaw. "Shaw, it's your report card." At the look of bafflement on her face, she elaborated. "Four times a year, students receive these. It's an indicator of your progress. How well you're doing in your classes."

"It explains my.. level of success, or lack of it?"

Giles nodded. "Very correct, Shaw. You didn't know?"

"As I said, it made no sense to me."

"Well, you achieved an average grade in two of your classes.."

Shaw all but deflated. "I have done my best." she said softly.

"Yes, I'm sure you have." Giles said, still looking the paper over.

Jenny watched Shaw. "What's wrong? You look crushed."

"I have failed you, all of my teachers. Jonathan, Connor, Steven, and you two." she said, clearly upset.

Giles now looked at her. "Wherever did you get that notion?" he asked in amazement.

"From you. You said I achieved an average. . . grade in only two of my classes."

Comprehension flooded his face, and Jenny started giggling, drawing a look of anger from Shaw.

"Jenny, this is not a humorous matter!" she barked.

"Shaw, I may have given you the wrong impression. I apologize."

Shaw looked back and forth. "I do not understand."

"Come here, and I shall explain." Shaw walked behind his desk, looking over his shoulder. "In Math and History, your grade is a 'C.' That is an average mark. In English, as well as your Literature and Jenny's classes, you have 'B's.' That is good, above average."

"And this... 'A' as your assistant?"

"The highest mark you can receive."

Shaw looked at him. "Why did you give me such a high mark, Rupert Giles?"

Giles looked back at her. "I assure you, you earned it. I would not show favoritism."

"I would expect you to be stricter with me. That is why I am surprised. You two are my teachers in these matters."

Jenny giggled, drawing another glare from Shaw. "Shaw, this has nothing to do with the group. We treated you as a student, and treated everyone else the same, regardless."

Shaw slowly nodded as she finally got the point. "That is good. But what does this mean, in terms I can comprehend."

Giles smiled. "You're doing very well."

That compliment slowly sank in, and Shaw sat back on the couch. After a few seconds, she looked back at Giles. "How do I do better?"

Both teachers did double takes. "What do you mean, better?" Jenny asked.

"In Math and History. I wish to do better. Is that not right?"

"You could ask the others for help. Willow would be glad to help."

"Jenny, she already helps me with the computer. I would not want to ask too much of her, without giving something in return."

"Well, then," Jenny said, thinking, "perhaps you should think of something that only you could give her."

Shaw smiled. "Thank you. I appreciate your help. As well as explaining this."

"It was our pleasure." Giles said, handing her the sheet.

Shaw placed it back into her folder, and left the office. After waiting about twenty seconds to make sure she was out of her hearing range, Jenny and Giles started laughing.

"I can't believe she thought she'd failed." Jenny said. "Methinks our Hunter doth take this too seriously."

"Jenny, please. She takes it seriously because she truly wishes to adapt." he said. "Did you see the comments of her History teacher?"

Jenny shook her head.

"I quote: Unique opinions often spark lively debates. Intriguing student, slowly improving."

"But she doesn't see it that way. That's my point."

"That's why I approve of your suggestion she seek help from the others. So she doesn't try to handle it all alone."

Jenny's jaw went slack, then she smiled. "To get her to act as part of the group. Very devious, Rupert."

"I learned it from watching your matchmaking."

Both shared a chuckle at that.

*****

After school, Shaw met the others on the Quad, heading for Steve's for an afternoon training session. Xander had the usual quirky grin on his face.

"So, did you figure it out?"

"Do you mean the report card that you should have informed me of last night?" she asked archly.

Willow and Oz looked at each other as they caught the dangerous tone of her voice.

"So, how did you do your first time out?" Willow asked, trying to defuse any situation.

"I was not satisfied with the grades I received."

Cordelia and Xander shared worried glances. Xander mouthed "oh shit" silently.

"How bad was it?" Buffy asked.

"Jenny and Rupert Giles were.. surprised, as they put it."

"So spill, Doom and Gloom." Cordy called. "What did you get?"

"One 'A', three 'B's', and two 'C's.'" Shaw said. "I wish to improve the grades in Math and History."

The senior Slayerettes stared at her, wondering what was wrong with such a report card, but she didn't notice.

"I can help you there." Willow assured her.

"I know, Willow. I am going to give you something in return, but I wish to keep it between us."

"I don't like the sound of that." Xander muttered to Cordelia.

"And well you should not." Shaw called over her shoulder, a touch of humor in her voice, causing groans from the two.

Amy ran up, short of breath. "Sorry, been going crazy trying to figure out how to tell my dad about my grades." she said with a grin. "I got all B's. I'm on the honor roll!"

Amy almost collided with Shaw, who had stopped dead.

"Whoa, Shaw!" she said. "Warn someone about the sudden stops."

Shaw turned to Amy. "Your dad?" she asked. "Your father?"

"Of course. Who did you think.." she stopped at the look on the half-elf's face. "Oh, no. No way. I'm still getting used to this, and he knows nothing about my being a witch, let alone all the other stuff. Can you imagine his reaction if he learned the truth?"

Shaw lowered her head. "You are correct, of course. I apologize for being selfish, Amy. I simply wish to know more about the family."

"I can understand. Believe me, I can. I'm still trying to figure out how to bring it up in conversation. The relative part, I mean, not.. you know, the magic, the other dimension.."

"The ears?" Shaw added, a smile starting to creep onto her face.

"Yeah. I mean, NO!" Amy cried, then glared. "You're not making this apology very easy, you know."

"As easy as you and Cordelia made it for me on Saturday?" she countered.

"Touche. I'd like to call a truce on that too, no more pranks."

Shaw watched her, then nodded. "Agreed, Amy. Although I did enjoy the look on your face that day at the Mall."

"Shaw.." Cordy growled.

Shaw turned to her. "If you would cease interrupting, Cordelia, we could proceed to Steven's."

She turned away, leaving the others laughing at Cordelia's obvious frustration.

Cordelia turned to Xander and smacked him on the back of the head.

"Ouch! Why???"

"For being a bad influence on her."

*****

St. Wolf Residence
Sunnydale, California
3 November 1998

WHACK!

Willow blocked Shaw's thrust, and countered with one of her own. Shaw backed away, and spun in a circle, her practice blade aimed at the witch's neck in a backhanded swing. Willow ducked, and stood, only to duck again as Shaw used the momentum of her swing to launch a spin kick, her arms spread for balance.

Willow used Shaw's recovery to swing her wooden sword in a two-handed grip, and disarm Shaw of her similar blade. But as Willow began her backswing, Shaw's left hand darted forward and poked Willow's neck with one of the wooden blades Steve and the others used to hunt vampires.

"POINT!" Steve shouted.

The opponents backed off, and bowed to each other. They both walked over to the side of the gym, where Steve had set up a water cooler. Breathing hard, both sat on the nearby weight bench.

Xander and Cordelia were starting their own sparring round, but the Amazon and ranger ignored them as the others looked on.

"Sneaky." Willow said.

Shaw nodded. "Yes. I used the recovery to draw the dagger. I knew I had left myself open, but I have training in using two weapons at one time."

Shaw drank some water, then smiled. "Willow, you are improving with that sword."

Willow smiled back. "You're being kind."

"No, I am not." At Willow's frown, Shaw shook her head. "You disarmed me, even though I won. This is the first time that skill alone has not beaten you. I had to resort to an old saying."

"What's that?"

"Old age and treachery will always beat youth and skill."

"Very funny, Shaw." Shaw's age had become a running joke among the younger Slayerettes, which she took in stride.

"Willow, other than experience and years of training, you have the advantage. Physically, emotionally, and magically."

"Emotionally?" Willow asked.

"You are calmer, more... collected? You know of my temper." she said with a shrug.

"And magically?"

"Definitely. If it were spell to spell, you would win easily. I am limited to a certain number of spells each day, but you are not. And my magic is not really suited for offense."

Willow nodded. "You're getting better, too. Using that spin kick with a sword in your hand could not have been easy."

"That left me open to your counterattack, Willow."

Willow looked about to comment, but Steve walked over.

"Good round, you two. I heard you talking. Willow, Shaw's right, your improvement was easy to see." Willow blushed, and Steve looked to Shaw. "And you, you've been practicing. Good move, but you left yourself open."

At the lack of a reaction, he added, "Well?"

"You are correct. Why should I comment on that? My reaction time was too slow, so I must attempt to improve."

Steve nodded, a grin on his face. "Okay. And I heard about your

grades, keep up the good work."

Shaw nodded back, and Steve went to talk to Xander and Cordy.

"Okay, Shaw, you mentioned giving me something in return for tutoring?"

"Yes. To use a school phrase..." she finished the sentence in Elvish.

"What??"

"How does Elvish One-Oh-One sound to you?"

Willow's face went blank for a moment, then lit back up. "You mean.."

"If it is acceptable to you."

"I'd love to. That.. wait." she said. "Is this something to mess with Xander and Cordy?"

Shaw's shoulders sagged. "Willow, it is because of the help you have given me."

"In that case, I accept. Thank you." Willow grinned. "What about the others?"

Shaw shuddered. "I will not have Xander Harris making his jokes in the elven tongue. That thought.. worries me."

The two shared a laugh, which drew Buffy and Amy's attention.

"What's up?" Buffy asked.

"For helping with her math and history, Shaw's gonna teach me Elven."

"El-VISH."

"Oops."

"You have trouble with history, being fifty years old?" Buffy asked, incredulous.

"With only six months of that time being on Earth, Buffy."

"Ahhh." Buffy said, seeing the point.

"That's nice of you, Shaw." Amy said.

"I would be willing to teach you as well, Amy."

Amy watched her, then nodded. "I'll consider it."

Shaw smiled, and took a long drink of water, drawing stares from the three girls.

"Leave some for the rest of us, Shaw." Buffy ordered teasingly.

Shaw finished, and gave the Slayer an apologetic look. "It is warm in here."

"That's 'cause you're wearing that sweat suit. You should wear less."

Shaw started turning pink.

"Not in that way." Buffy said. "Like this." She showed off her tights and sports bra.

"No." she said sharply.

Buffy gave her a look at her tone. "Whoa, down, girl."

"I have my reasons, Buffy." Shaw said in the same tone. "I ask that you respect them."

"Okay, okay." Buffy said, walking away. Shaw heard her mutter, "What is up with that girl?"

Shaw started squeezing the cup she held, but Willow put a hand on her arm. Shaw looked at her, and the redhead shook her head.

"They do not understand, Willow."

Amy sat down on the floor in front of them. "Then let us. What is it?"

Shaw realized that Amy had heard her. "It was.. a choice between

morals and duty. Sometimes, the two are at odds."

"And?" Willow asked.

"I chose morals, but still fulfilled my duty." she said with a trace of bitterness. "And paid for it, on both sides."

"A 'damned if you did, damned if you didn't' choice?" Amy prodded.

"Yes, Amy. Exactly that."

"What happened?"

Shaw looked at Willow, who virtually saw her face go blank when she shut down her emotions. Shaw stood up. "Excuse me, Willow, Amy. I am not ready for this." And she walked out of the gym.

Amy shook her head. "See, she wants me to tell her about my side of the family, but says nothing about herself."

"She has her reasons, Amy. Trust me."

Amy gazed at her fellow witch. "You know something, Wil?"

"Not much more. It's gotta be one of those buried things that we were told about."

"So this is the first time she's mentioned it?"

"Yeah." Willow answered. "I know that she wants to talk. And she just lowered her guard a bit. It's not much, but it's a start. It scares her."

"She can fight vamps without blinking, she had a staredown with Angel, and will kill herself to save others." Amy said, barely above a whisper. "I'd hate to face whatever frightens her."

Shaw was sitting in Steve's living room when Buffy came out.

"Shaw, we're not done, you gonna join us?"

"Yes."

Buffy waited for her to add something, then turned. "Fine."

"Buffy?"

Buffy stopped, but didn't turn around. "Yeah?"

"Could we talk about this? Please?"

That last word shocked Buffy more than anything else. She turned and walked over, sitting down. "What is it?"

"I have my reasons for wearing this all of the time. I realize the dangers of dehydration, but.." she paused, seeming to gather her strength. "I do not want the others to see. Only Willow knows, but she knows nothing about the cause."

"Cause of what, Shaw?" Buffy asked, totally lost.

"My.. back is scarred."

"So you have a scar? What's the big deal?"

"Heavily scarred, Buffy. And I am not ready to talk about it. If you have something that will.. suffice, I will wear it. I only ask that nobody ask me what happened. I am not ready to discuss it yet."

"Okay. I'll be right back." Buffy went to her room, and returned a few minutes later with a black sports bra. "Here you go. And before you go modest, remember that you're gonna be fighting the boys." she added with a smirk.

Shaw blushed, but went into the bathroom. A minute later, she came walking out. Her face was almost crimson.

"Don't worry. You'll have too much to worry about to think about the boys staring. If they do, just do what you did to Xander."

Shaw walked towards the gym first, and heard Buffy's sharp intake of breath as she saw the truth.

"Shaw? One question, I need to know."

Shaw stopped dead in the doorway, drawing glances. "What?"

"Is.. whoever. . . dead?"

"Yes. By my own hand. And that is part of the problem, Buffy. Please, no more discussion."

"Okay. Let's go. You can do this."

"I have no choice." And Shaw walked in, and looked at Willow for support, and she gave her a supporting nod.

"Buffy." Steve said, making it a question.

She walked over to Steve. "It's alright. At least, I hope so. You'll see. I can understand, now."

"Understand what?"

"I'm not completely sure, myself. No more questions."

"Later. Shaw, you and Xander line up. Swords, and NO daggers." he ordered, looking at the half-elf.

"Am I not allowed to have any fun?" she asked, trying for humor, but failing.

"No. Now begin."

Shaw and Xander took up stances, and Shaw could almost feel the others behind her, staring. She put it down, concentrating on her opponent.

Xander went on the attack, but Shaw quickly dropped to one knee and used her sword to chop him on the outside of his left thigh with a two-handed swing, causing the nerves in both legs to short circuit. Xander went down into a kneeling position, and Shaw put the tip of the wooden blade under his chin.

"Do you yield?" she asked rhetorically.

"And if I don't?" he retorted with a smile.

"This." And she pretended to draw three straight lines across his chest, drawing laughs from everyone except Steve and Xander, himself.

"Why are you so surprised? You are the one who suggested I watch your television."

"And the only thing you picked up from it was 'Zorro?'"

"Among other things."

Shaw turned and walked over to the water cooler again.

Steve stalked over after her. "You want to explain that?"

"I won. He lost. What else is relevant?"

"Usually, you give them a chance. To gauge their skills. You just took him out in seconds."

"Yes. I was not comfortable, Steven. I am trying, but... it is difficult. Please do not ask."

"I understand. I was staring, too. I apologize."

"Do not. I do not need apologies. I need time to talk about it. And I am grateful for you allowing me that time."

"I've seen a lot. I don't think it would shock me."

"And the others?"

Steve nodded. "There I can understand. If you want to tell me in private, I could tell them afterwards. It's your choice."

Shaw looked at the Wanderer, and saw the truth in his eyes. "Not yet, Steven. I will tell you when I am ready."

"Okay, now go get ready for patrol."

*****

Part 2: The Eagle Has Landed
(A Hunting We Will Go)

"Be vewy, vewy quiet. I'm huntin' wabbits."
---Elmer Fudd

Sunnydale High Library
Sunnydale, California
5 November 1998

When Giles and Steve entered the library, Shaw was finishing Giles' paperwork. She looked up, and the guarded look in her eyes quickly faded. She nodded in greeting.

"Hello, Steven, Rupert Giles."

"Where were you this morning, Shaw?" Steve asked.

"I was here. I arrived early, assuming that the daily meeting was in the library. I took the chance to do some of the paperwork, to make Rupert Giles' duties easier today. Where was everyone else?"

"Giles called us all to my house. Ulric said you'd already left." Steve said. "We have a problem."

"Yes? What is wrong?"

"It seems that someone found an urn that supposedly contains the ashes of the man called the Dragon." Giles replied. "We're going to San Francisco to buy it, then destroy it."

Shaw's look became one of inquiry. "And who is this man? This Dragon?"

"Dracula."

Shaw's eyes closed. "Steven, please tell me that this is one of Xander's jokes."

"No, Shaw." Steve said with a shake of his head. "I'm sorry to say that it's quite real."

Shaw nodded, and a look of determination came over her. "When do we leave?"

"You don't."

"Steven, I have read that book. If this creature is half as dangerous as in the novel, you will need everyone in the group. If that thing is reanimated, people will die. Please notice that I did not say 'might,' I said 'will.' You might need a priestess such as myself, however limited my abilities."

"That's what we're here to discuss. If you'll permit me."

Shaw looked at both men. "Go ahead, Steven."

"First, I know about your dislike of cities." Steve began.

"I can put such discomfort aside for the mission, I assure you. If I have something to focus on, it will not be a problem."

"There's more. You don't know Kendra very well, but it's going to be a few days before she's ready to patrol. Joe N'Gato, a Knight of the Order of the Grail, has been helping with her therapy and training. But we can't wait to leave, and I do need everyone that is available. But, I also need someone to stay behind and hold the fort, to patrol while we're gone. When the locals find out Buffy and I have left town, they tend to get into a 'party mood.' So I want to put your proposal into action; you handle this while we're gone."

"You want the 'Hunter' to patrol for you?" Shaw asked, in understanding. "You trust me to do this?"

"Until Kendra's patrolling, at which time you take orders from Joe N'Gato."

Shaw sat down in the nearest chair. "Thank you, Steven. I shall do my best to honor this trust."

"I know. You've earned a measure of trust over this last month, and you earned a bit of respect with your actions the other night. I know it wasn't easy for you, but you showed that you're willing to drop the secrets for us, and we respect that. We'll see you when we get back. Giles wants to talk to you, then we have to leave."

"Good luck, Steven. May Mielikki watch over you."

"And you, Shaw." As Steve left the library, Shaw looked at Giles.

Giles sat down opposite her. "Shaw, I spoke with Principal Snyder on the way here."

"You have my sympathies." Shaw replied.

"I need to be serious. While we're in San Francisco, I shall need someone to run the library." His meaning was unmistakable.

"Rupert Giles.. Giles, I have classes to take."

"We agreed that you would be excused from your classes until after we return. You will still get credit, and you will be here all day. If a threat comes up, you can do research."

"This is more than fulfilling your duties, is it not?"

"It also gives you a place to go, to protect Father Johansen."

"That is a concern of mine. Thank you... Giles." she said, then grunted. "I find that discomforting. But calling you by your first name seems wrong, somehow."

Giles smiled. "We'll see you when we get back."

"I shall attempt to keep the damage to a minimum."

"What damage?"

"Use.. your imagination." she said, one corner of her mouth rising.

"I wish you hadn't said that."

*****

Giles Residence
Sunnydale, California
5 November 1998

Kendra got up and answered the door once the doorbell rang a second time. When she opened it, the new Slayerette, Shaw Hunter, was standing in the doorway.

"Shaw? What are you doing here?"

"Hello, Kendra. May I come in?"

Kendra nodded, and Shaw walked in. They walked into the living room, and sat down, Shaw on a sofa, Kendra in the chair.

"Kendra, how are you doing?" Shaw asked. "You are well?"

"Yes, Shaw." Kendra said. "Although I am still getting used to living here."

Shaw smiled. "I truly know how you feel. I.. am here to talk. About the next few days. Did the others talk about the arrangement?"

"Giles told me. You will handle patrols for a few days, then join Joe and myself." Kendra answered, then looked nervous. "Shaw, I don't mean any offense, but are you sure you can handle this? You aren't a Slayer, and Joe and I must admit, we are.. curious as to how you can patrol alone."

"Did the others tell you anything about me?"

The Slayer shook her head. "It was your decision, they said."

Shaw sighed. "Mielikki save me from well intentioned humans."

Kendra jumped a bit at that. "Humans?"

"I think you will have an easier time understanding than the others did. I am told your people have some knowledge of magic, and such."

Kendra nodded.

"Very good. I am half human, Kendra. My mother was Fey, or elven, to be specific. I have the ears to prove it," she said, attempting to lower the tension. At Kendra's look of confusion, she raised her hair, and Kendra's eyes widened a bit, but she nodded. "I have some of the long elven lifespan, and am fifty-three years old, the equivalent of an seventeen year old human female. I am a warrior, and a priestess in a manner similar to a Native American shaman. How I can patrol on my own is a combination of religion, magic, training, and experience that only Immortals can match or exceed. Of course, having an elf-crafted magical sword and several blessed daggers and arrows helps."

Kendra watched her, then nodded again. "Buffy said you would tell the truth."

"Yes. I do prefer to be direct and honest."

"Why did you stay here, after fulfilling the prophecy? You had no responsibility."

"To learn more about this world, to help in your fight. The greatest reasons, though, are friends and family."

"They did tell me about that." Kendra said, then looked back to Shaw. "How do you tell vampires from humans? Buffy and I have a sense that allows us to detect them."

"I have a similar ability." Shaw said mysteriously.

"What is it?"

"Turn the lights off, and I will show you."

Kendra got up, and turned the lights out, and turned back to her visitor. And backed up against the wall when she saw two glowing red dots at eye level.

"Turn them back on, Kendra."

Kendra couldn't do so fast enough. She walked back over to the chair, and gingerly sat down, her nervousness back in full force. "What is that?" she asked.

"Are you familiar with the term, infrared?"

"Yes, a bit. It is a light spectrum that is based on heat emanations, rather than visible light."

"That is how I see in the dark. People do not tend to believe me until they see for themselves. And vampires do not generate body heat."

Kendra smiled as the idea penetrated. "So you cannot mistake humans for vampires."

"Exactly." she said, returning the smile. "To use Buffy's words, a nice system."

"Is it magic?"

"No, genetics. From my mother's side. As well as the infamous ears."

Kendra laughed at the joke, but stopped, thinking Shaw might take offense. "I'm sorry."

Shaw sighed. "Now I see Xander's point."

At Kendra's renewed look of confusion, she elaborated. "He calls my sense of humor a 'work in progress.'"

Kendra got that one, and giggled a bit.

"Kendra, I look forward to working with you."

"Be careful, Shaw. We, Joe and I, are concerned about you being out there alone."

"I have an idea on how to make it easier."

*****

Willy's Alibi Room
Sunnydale, California
5 November 1998

The vampires and demons in the bar looked up as the short, black-haired woman walked in. She was wearing blue jeans, a trenchcoat, and boots. Shades hid her eyes in the low lighting. She looked normal enough, but they could sense a hint of "other" about her. They also recognized the look of "predator" in her body language.

The woman walked up to the bar, where Willy was serving drinks to a couple of wandering vamps.

"Hello, William." she said in a soft voice.

Willy nodded congenially. "What can I do for you, lady?"

"Information."

"What do you want to know?" he said, smiling.

She shook her head, and took a hundred dollar bill out of her pocket. She slid it over to the bartender. "I am here to provide it. With this money, you will buy each of these others a beer each, and keep the change. They will spread this information. Preferably, as quickly as possible."

Willy nodded. "Go ahead."

"It seems that the Wanderer and the Slayer have left this town." she began.

"That's not news."

"Perhaps not, but they have asked the Hunter to handle their duties in their absence. And she wishes it known that she is declaring the season open upon any vampires that have not left within five days. At that point, she will join the second Slayer and a fellow warrior in their patrols."

The patrons of the bar started shuffling nervously at that news. The air of tension shot skyward.

Willy choked. "A Slayer AND the Hunter, working together?"

"Yes. I look forward to working with the Slayer." Shaw said, lowering her glasses and showing Willy her red eyes.

Willy's own eyes started bugging out. The vampires in the bar started wishing there were someplace to hide.

"Oh, shit. Oh, shit."

"William, it is not polite to speak in such a manner." Shaw said, starting for the door. One vampire had the bright idea of charging her, but once he got near, Shaw turned, and the vampire gutted himself on Soulreaver. He vanished in a burst of light. Shaw walked back over towards Willy, who seemed about ready to have a coronary. She placed another hundred on the counter.

"For a second round, in that one's memory." She turned and walked towards the door. However, she couldn't resist one parting shot before she left.

"Enjoy the drinks."

*****

Unknown Location
North of Sunnydale, California
Early hours
6 November 1998

A soft whirr sounded as the craft's landing gear extended, as the vehicle prepared to land. After some seconds in a hover position, the craft landed with barely a sound.

The creature slowly turned off the power to various instruments, and left only minimal systems running.

The creature walked into his quarters and started checking his armor and weapons. Ceramic armor, capable of withstanding many projectile weapons. His arm claws, made of an unknown metal and capable of slicing through solid titanium. His shoulder blaster, able to fire short energy bursts. And his staff, with serrated blades at each end. He nodded in satisfaction, and prepared to have fun.

It was time to hunt. Time to hunt.. ooman.

*****

Section Six Headquarters
Under New York City, New York
Early hours
6 November 1998

"XLTCPQURZP."

"Go ahead, Bob."

"SZWPRRKCL."

"Damn. Get J and K up here, now."

J and K walked into the office of their superior, and quickly sat down.

"What's up, Zed?"

Zed looked at J, then turned to K. "We've got an unauthorized landing, K."

"Identified?" K asked solemnly.

"Yautja."

"Great. Let me guess; a youngster."

J looked at his partner. "Okay, K, what's a Yautja?"

"Imagine an interstellar big game hunter on safari, Slick."

"And you said youngster? As in a teenage alien Bwana?"

K gave the rookie one of his enigmatic smiles. "In a nutshell, yes."

"Why is that bad?"

"Because, J," Zed said, "The Yautja's entire culture is based on the Hunt. But they have one sacred law: Do not hunt intelligent species. Occasionally, a youngster gets it in his head to break the rules."

"Like hunting humans?"

K nodded. "They take the head, skin it, clean it, and hang it on a wall like a trophy. The good thing, Slick, is that a grownup will be hot on Junior's trail, only a day or two behind."

"So it's up to you two to stop Junior, until Daddy shows up."

"Where did he land, Zed?"

"North of Sunnydale, California. You two, plus L and I, are going within the hour."

"Why L and I?" J asked.

"There are rumors of a high death rate in that town, I want you to see if it's alien related. If you add a Yautja to the mix.."

"Oh, great."

"And I is going because of his... specialty." K said, nodding.

"What's I's specialty?" J asked.

Zed and K looked at each other, and they nodded. Zed turned to J.

"J, what I am about to tell you is classified 'eyes only.' That means you tell no one, outside of K, L, or myself. We're the only ones who know. I is.. not exactly like most humans."

"In what way?"

"He's Immortal, Slick."

"Immortal?"

"He can't be killed, permanently, short of being decapitated. He can tell you the specifics, but in short, he doesn't age." Zed finished.

"How old is he?" J asked, not really wanting to know.

"Six hundred and forty-nine years old, pup." I said, walking into the office. "Born in what is now Eastern Arizona, in the year 1349 by your white-eye calendar." the trim Apache said with a big grin on his face.

J moaned. "No wonder you're the expert in combat instruction."

"Exactly, pup." I said. "I hear we got a Hunter loose?"

"Yep." Zed answered with a nod. "North of Sunnydale, California."

"Not too far from the old stomping grounds. Zed, you realize that my people had more sense than to build a town there? Bad medicine."

"Don't tell me you're a medicine man, too."

"Hell no, J." I said, laughing. "I was a warrior, and a tracker, nothing more. But I've seen sights that make some of our alien friends look cuddly."

"I don't wanna know, then." J said, grimacing.

"Enough chatter. We've got a rebellious teenager to catch and send home without supper. J, K, I, grab L and head out."

"So, L, you ready to go?"

"One moment, J." L said, packing several grenades into a bag. "Yautja hunt using infrared scanners. Therefore, we're packing flash grenades to scramble his sensors."

"L, I have one problem with I going along."

L turned to J. "What is it, J?"

"Well, Zed told me how Junior hunts. And, well, I.."

"He's willing to take that risk, J. And he's the best tracker we've got. He's the best hope we have of finding the Hunter."

"So what's Sunnydale, California like?"

"Small. Thirty-eight thousand people. Two college campuses. And one mall, zoo, and beach each. The best way to describe it is that it's a one Starbucks town."

J and L walked out of the lab, closing the door behind them.

Four heads poked up behind them.

"Starbucks?"

"The Mecca of Coffee."

"Oh, baby."

"California, here we come."

*****

Part 3: Tourist Trap
(A Hunter Sees the Hunter, A Hunter Tracks a Hunter, MIB Tracks a Hunter, And Everyone Hits Sunnydale)

"Frankly, sir, it's a clusterfuck."
---Gunny Highway
Heartbreak Ridge

Sunnydale Cemetery
Sunnydale, California
7 November 1998

The three vampires were dragging their victim towards a crypt, attempting to get the girl out of sight so they could enjoy their snack. Somehow, the terrified teenager broke free, and started running for the gate.

"Heeeelllpp!"

From a tree limb in her path, Shaw cursed. <Harmony? This greatly complicates things.> Quickly removing her coat and sword, Shaw crouched on the branch. When Harmony passed under, Shaw rolled forward, somersaulting to the ground. As she landed on her feet, she used the momentum to hurl a wooden knife with all of her strength into the lead vampire.

Luckily, she hit him in the heart, eliminating one threat. Of the remaining two, one held back, but the other charged her. Shaw whipped a silver blade into his chest, and then spin kicked the dagger as the vampire fell forward. She broke the dagger through one of his ribs and into his unbeating organ. He vanished in a cloud of dust.

The third looked hesitant, hungry, but cautious about this woman.

"I'll, like, leave man. Let me leave, Slayer."

"I am not the Slayer. Did you enjoy the drinks?"

The vamp sank to his knees. "Oh, shit, Hunter. I'll leave, I promise, man."

"You should have thought about that before you attacked that girl." Shaw snarled. "Stand up, now."

The vampire slowly rose. He couldn't have been more than twenty when turned, probably a gangbanger. Being a vampire hadn't changed his clothing style.

"Please don't kill me. I.. I'll leave tomorrow." he pleaded.

"So be it." Shaw said. "Close your eyes."

He did, shaking in his boots. Shaw executed a spin kick..

..and the vampire howled, clutching his genitals.

"If I see you again, I will use a dagger." she promised.

Shaw walked away, leaving him wailing pitifully. She stopped by the tree, retrieving her sword and coat. She focused on her hearing, and heard a soft sobbing noise. She quickly trotted over to where Harmony lay propped against a large tombstone, crying. Her clothing had been partially ripped and completely disheveled.

Shaw knelt and softly called, "Harmony."

Harmony jumped, and looked, not seeing who was next to her. "No, no, no, leave me alone." she mumbled. "Leave me alone..."

"I play the flute, not the bagpipes."

Harmony's eyes crinkled together at that comment, but what mattered was that it seemed to penetrate. She slowly focused. "Hunter?"

"Who does not wear a kilt." she said, trying to get through. <I am not good at this.>

Now Harmony realized who was there. "Shaw? How.."

"I heard your cries for help. I came looking. I.. saw the three men who were chasing you." <Focus, human. You are still in danger. >

"Oh God. We gotta get outta here."

"They will no longer be a problem." Shaw said, hoping the honesty in her voice would spur the girl to action. "But we must leave."

"But those three.." she said, then started withdrawing again. <There is only one way. > Shaw thought in disgust. <Goddess, forgive me. > Shaw slapped Harmony across the face. It had the desired effect.

"Ouch!" Harmony shouted. "How DARE you!"

Shaw glared into her eyes. "I dare because I just risked my life to save yours, you ungrateful fool. I defeated those three, but they might have friends nearby. If you want to see your home again, you will come with me now!"

"Fine." Harmony snapped. She got up, and Shaw led her quickly out of the cemetery, constantly looking around. "Hunter, if you hit me again.."

"Harmony, I just defeated those three.. gang members in hand to hand combat." Shaw said. "And I could have been hurt, or worse, doing so. I may be new to America, but I do understand that one normally says 'thank you' when someone saves their life, or perhaps their virginity. So do not threaten me, or you can walk home alone."

"Virginity?" Harmony repeated dully.

"I saw the.. look in their eyes. I am sorry that I struck you, but we were in danger, and I had to get you out of there."

"Oh God. Hunter, how did you.."

"Yes?"

"You're an orphan from Scotland!"

"Yes, and if you had bothered to read further into my PRIVATE records, you would have discovered that my father and grandfather were members of the Special Air Service." <Due to Steven and Willow's computer skills. >

"The what??"

"The English version of your Navy SEALs." Shaw said lightly. "Like the Charlie Sheen movie?"

"Oh! I saw that. But how.."

"I learned some martial arts from my father before he died.. in battle." Shaw said, faking sadness. "You should have seen what I did to the last.. man."

"What?" she asked.

"Think of a Russian ballet."

"Swan Lake?" Harmony asked, confused.

Shaw shook her head. "The one about Christmas."

"The.." Harmony trailed, then her jaw opened. "You kicked him?!?"

"With a spinning karate kick. I do not do things halfway."

"Eeewww."

"Please keep in mind what he had planned for you."

Harmony cringed. <I hate to be cruel, but she must learn to be careful.> Shaw thought, then spied that the Bronze was still open. She quickly steered the blonde towards the club.

"Hunter, my home's.."

"The Bronze. A public place. The crowd will be safer," she spoke in rapid sentences, not giving Harmony a chance to argue. "You can call your parents. Driving you home will be quicker than walking."

"Oh. Okay. Hunter, uh, thanks. But.."

"You have a reputation to maintain." she finished.

"You understand."

"No." Harmony frowned, and Shaw smiled. "I am only a highland lass from Scotland, after all." she finished with a wink. "Your secret is safe with me. Now call your parents. Father Johansen will not be pleased with me as it is."

Shaw watched the girl get on the phone, then left, feeling glad that someone would sleep peacefully that night.

*****

Only a few minutes after the Hunter left, the remaining vampire rose. He was still clutching his groin.

"How can this be, man? I'm a vampire. The ultimate predator." he whined.

He heard something behind him, and whirled. He saw.. something, a distortion of light, rippling as it moved towards him.

The vampire cringed until the figure became visible, and relaxed. The new arrival was seven feet tall, lean yet muscular, and carried a wicked, bladed staff. Obviously, he was a demon of some sort.

"Aw, man! You had me scared, dude."

A starbolt ripped through the vampire, scattering his body parts all across the ground.

The creature picked up the vampire's head, and nodded.

"Ooman?" he asked, then shook his head. "Vamper."

The ultimate predator? It would be much more fun to hunt.. Vamper.

*****

Sunnydale Motor Lodge
Sunnydale, California
7 November 1998

"Can I help you?" George asked.

"Yes." the man in the black suit said. "Three rooms."

"Okay. Can I get you to sign your names?"

"We're here on company business. Immigration, Section Six." K informed him.

"I understand." George said, nodding. "Undercover?"

"That's classified." K said, with a slight grin.

"Okay." George said with the same grin. "204 through 206. Here are the keys."

"Thanks."

Once K had handed out the keys, the four agents started setting up in L's room, since she was the scientific expert.

"Okay, labrat," I said jovially, "what's your fancy technoplan for tracking our young Predator?"

"These sensors," L said, smiling at I's teasing and indicating certain equipment, "will detect any nonhuman biosignatures inside Sunnydale. It won't detect the Yautja while he's cloaked, but once he becomes visible, he'll leave tracks that we can follow."

"Why does he even become visible?" J asked.

"Honor." K and I said at the same time. They grinned at each other, and K nodded.

"Yautja honor, pup. He stalks the prey cloaked, but becomes visible, to give the prey a chance to fight. Survival of the fittest."

"Our Junior's a good sport." J said with a frown.

"Right, Slick. We'll start tomorrow night." K said firmly. "We need to be fresh."

The male agents were leaving when a thud sounded from one of L's equipment cases. The agents drew their sidearms, and aimed at the case as it popped open.

"Sunnydale!"

"Starbucks!"

"COFFEE HEAVEN!!" the four shouted, but stopped dead at the sight of four energy weapons aimed at them.

"What are YOU doing here!" J shouted.

The four worms cringed. "Uh, hi J."

L looked at them. "Why are you here?"

"Uh, one Starbucks town."

"The Mecca of Coffee."

"Sunny California."

The MIB's sighed, and put away their weapons. J walked over to the short yellow aliens. "I'll make you a deal, guys. Make yourselves useful, and I'll personally bring you each a cup, every day. You help L in here, you don't touch anything unless she says so, and you don't leave. Got it?"

The worms looked at each other, talked, and nodded.

"Deal, J. You promised."

"Good. You step out of this room, and I'll feed you to the Yautja."

The worms' eyes bugged out as they realized WHY they were in California.

"Yautja?"

"Hunter?"

"Young Hunter." I said, with an evil grin. "Behind you."

"AAAAAAAHHHHH!!!!"

The four worms dove under L's bed.

"Thanks, I." L said sarcastically.

"You're quite welcome, dear lady." I said, bowing. "Now if you'll excuse me, I have a dream quest to perform."

I walked out of the room.

"Uh, K, is he serious?"

"I don't know, Slick." K said, another enigmatic smile on his lips.

*****

Unknown location
North of Sunnydale, California
Early hours
8 November 1998

The small craft landed, a perfect touchdown. The second craft was a miniature version of the one it was next to, built for speed rather than comfort.

As the craft set down, the pilot swore continuously.

The pilot removed her helmet, and shook her hair loose. The black tresses fell well below her shoulders, and she straightened her five-foot-one frame. She walked over to the rack that held her gear, and shook her head. <If I find that youngster, I'll make him wish that Topknot didn't want him back! >

The woman took out a small mirror, and quickly wiped the sweat off her brow. She gazed at the small lightning bolt-shaped scar on her forehead.

<Full circle, Broken Tusk, old friend. > she thought. <Welcome home, Machiko Noguchi. >

The Japanese-American-turned Hunter moved to gather her gear, remembering the last time she'd been on this planet.

*****

**WARNING! FLASHBACK SEQUENCE AHEAD!**

Amazon Jungle
Western Brazil
17 January 1996

<God damn! What the fuck happened! > Corporal Machiko Noguchi thought. <These cartel fucks were torn open from the inside! >

Machiko's Force Recon team had been sent to clear out this cartel hideout, but someone had beaten them there. She was preparing to call the el-tee when the screaming started.

She ran out, and saw something that made her blood run cold.

A silver-colored.. thing, with a long cranium, fangs, a tail and clawed feet and hands.

It was quickly decimating her teammates. Noguchi targeted the creature with her M-16 and opened fire. Bullets bounced off the thing's head, doing nothing.

Noguchi cursed. <I need something bigger.> She looked, and saw Jackson, his weapons scattered all over the forest floor.

"Noguchi! Don't leave me here!" Martin cried. "Help me!" He was firing his SAW, ricochets bouncing into nearby trees.

"Just pickin' up a party favor!" she shouted, picking up Jackson's AT-4, and aiming it.

"Oh, fuck!" Martin shouted, trying to run.

The silver-toned creature grabbed Martin with a claw just as Machiko fired the anti-tank rocket. The projectile exploded on contact with the thing. A loud piercing scream filled the jungle.

The smoke cleared, and Noguchi's blood ran cold. All the rocket had done was rip an arm off, and there was no sign of Martin. The creature looked at her in rage.

Suddenly, an energy blast tore into it, followed by two more. The two foes turned to see a large creature, decked in armor, and loaded with weapons. The gun on its shoulder fired again, right into the creature's head, but it didn't have much effect.

Machiko grabbed an incendiary grenade off her belt. "Hey, Silver!" It drew "Silver's" attention, and it turned. She lobbed the grenade right into the thing's mouth, and it quickly swallowed it. Five seconds later, the creature exploded, corrosive acid flying all over the place. Noguchi dove for cover.

After the rain of green fluid ceased, a piercing howl shook her to her bones. She looked up. <Oh, fuck! >

The creature had removed its helmet, revealing a large forehead, and dreadlock style braids. Small eyes watched her, and four mandibles framed his fanged mouth.

Machiko drew her K-Bar, hoping to present enough of a threat to make him back off. "Come on, asshole. Try me."

The creature seemed impressed, but cocked his head. He tapped his chest. "Yautja." He then pointed to her. "Ooman?" He seemed confused.

"Human? Yeah, I'm human."

He shook his head, and pointed to Jackson. "Ooman."

"I'm human. Female."

The "Yautja's" eyes brightened in understanding, and he nodded. He tapped himself, then pointed at her. "Hunter?"

Noguchi's eyes rose. "Yeah, I'm a hunter, of sorts."

He nodded. "Broken Tusk." he said in broken English, tapping himself.

"Is that your name?"

He nodded.

"Machiko Noguchi." she replied, tapping herself.

He shook his head. "Small Knife." Then, in his language, "Duothadi."

Noguchi was confused, until she remembered her Ka-Bar. She sheathed it, and performed a perfect bow.

He nodded. "Come? Hunt?"

"Where?"

He pointed towards the sky.

As his meaning sank in, she looked around, and made her decision.

"Shit, yes."

Machiko's eyes misted as she remembered that fateful day. She'd been on many Hunts, and now she'd come home.

<First thing, find out where I am, and what's happened over the last two years. Second, find the youngster and get in touch with the clan.>

Machiko left the craft and walked off into the night.

*****

Part 4: Stakeouts Galore
(A Predator, A Half-Elven Ranger, An Ex-Marine and MIB, Yet None Of 'Em Has A Vamp Hunting License)
(And Who's That On The Bike)

"Adventuring usually consists of a few minutes of fighting, surrounded by hours of sitting in poor weather, feeling miserable."
---Elminster the Mage
Spellfire

City Hall
Sunnydale, California
8 November 1998

<Nice to see the old skills haven't faded.> Machiko thought gleefully. <Maybe it's good the youngster chose 'Mayberry' to hunt in.>

Machiko had broken into the town hall early Sunday, and had spent the last several hours reading local newspapers, getting a feel for the events of the past two years.

<Seems the Chief couldn't keep it in his pants. And what crappy taste in women. That Lewinsky broad.. Ugh.> she thought.

Noguchi froze as she heard a noise from outside. Backing against the door, brandishing a .44 she'd stolen from a local pawnshop, she cracked the door open. She saw two men walk into the Mayor's office.

<A politician that works on Sunday? What's the world comin' to?>

She strained her hearing, trying to pick up their conversation. Failing, she crept down the hallway, and leaned against the door to the office.

"So, Williamson, report. What's up?"

"Well, sir, the Hunter was as good as her word. She's opened the season, as she put it. She's covering for the Wanderer's group, and as per her style, being less than subtle."

"Did we ever find out exactly WHAT she is?"

"Uh, yes sir. She's half human, and.."

"And?" the Mayor, Noguchi figured, asked in an impatient tone.

"Fey, sir." the one called Williamson said.

<What the fuck? The Hunter's a frickin' Yautja. What is this shit?>

"Fey. Which eliminating would cause no end of problems with certain beings?"

"Yes, sir. It's rumored that the Lin-Kuei owe her an honor debt, as well."

"And she now works for the Wanderer." the Mayor sighed.

<That couldn't be the infamous legend? Nahhh.>

"It actually seems to be an alliance of convenience, sir. He hunts to protect the town, whereas she hunts for revenge for the deaths of relatives. There are also rumors of a rogue demon, hunting others, sort of a safari-style hunt."

<The youngster. But what's this other shit?>

"Any information?"

"No, the demon hasn't been seen. At least by anyone living."

"Okay, let's call it a day."

<Shit!> Noguchi knew she couldn't hide quickly enough, so she waited for the door to open. As soon as the person's shadow started to move, she fired a shot into the room, aiming upward to miss any of the people. She heard both men hit the floor, and she took off running. She quickly vanished out the back entrance to the building.

"Who the heck was that, Williamson?"

"I, I don't know, sir. I only saw the barrel of a .44 Magnum."

"Think whoever it was heard anything?"

"If so, nothing to report on." Williamson said. "I don't think we discussed anything that would force us to take action."

As Noguchi walked down the streets of Sunnydale, she was deep in thought.

<What the hell was that about? Hunters, demons, the Wanderer? They must have been discussing the youngster. Hell with it.>

She decided to put that stuff out of her mind. She had a mission to concentrate on.

*****

City Limits
Sunnydale, California
8 November 1998

A motorcycle quickly pulled over to the side of the road as the rider pulled up to the Sunnydale sign. The man pushed down the kickstand, and got up to stretch.

<Bobby and Cheyenne were right. This was a good idea. A two-week break, and I'll be as good as new. Sixkiller Enterprises can go on without me for awhile.>

He sat back down, and rode into town, spraying sand behind his back wheel.

As the rider left, J and K emerged from their hiding place. K keyed his communicator, and checked in.

"L? Testing, one two."

"I read you, K."

"What's the word?"

"Human, all right. The sensors work like a charm."

"Harley."

"Nice bike."

"Cool wheels."

"Be quiet, you four." L's voice came over the comm.

"At least they were watching the equipment, L." J said.

"L was watching it.. very intently." I said over the channel.

The sounds of worm laughter pealed over the net.

K smiled, and cut the link. "Let's go, Slick. I want to patrol tonight. See if we can't troll Junior."

"After we get the rest of these set up, right?"

"You got it, Slick."

*****

Sunnydale Motor Lodge
Sunnydale, California
8 November 1998

J and K walked into L's room, and J sat down at the table. J looked around, and called L. "Where are the guys?"

"In the bathroom." L said. "They've been in there for an hour."

"Since L gave 'em an 'if looks could kill' glare." I said. L gave him a similar glare, and he shrugged. "They're scared to come out."

J smiled. "Then I guess we can drink this coffee."

I and K were nearly bowled over by a yellow stampede running for the table. The worms took up the large cups and walked over to L's bed, which was the only clear spot in the room.

"Thanks, J."

"You the man."

"You saved us."

K looked at L. "So, are you ready to turn on the sensor net?"

"We were waiting for you two."

"Okay, so what's the way this thing works?" I asked.

"Simple. It'll start by detecting every biosignature inside the city limits, and then eliminate the human signatures within sixty seconds. After that, all Earth-based lifeforms, such as mammals and birds, etceteras. Anything left is unknown."

"Let's hit it." J encouraged.

L switched on the sensor net, and thousands of signs were illuminated. Almost immediately, the signs started fading. After five minutes, the last animal readings dissipated.

"Oh, my God." L muttered.

There were well over one hundred signatures left in the net.

"Can you narrow it down?" K asked.

"Just a second," L said, tapping some buttons. "It'll cycle through all known alien forms, and tag them."

After two minutes, J said, "I know you tested this, L. I saw you."

"Only five knowns?" I said, frowning. "What are they?"

"Let's see. Four, sitting on my bed." The agents groaned. "One,

Junior. He's in.. the cemetery?"

"The others?" J asked.

"Unidentified." Even as L spoke, two of them blinked out of existence. So did the Yautja. "He killed two of the unknowns."

"Look at this." K said. "One unique signature, in the park. With two more of the same unknowns."

Inside of five minutes, the unknowns vanished.

"We've got TWO Hunters?" J snapped.

"Damn. L, stay here. I, you're with us."

"Where we headed, K?"

"To the cemetery. The others can wait. L, how long can you keep this net running?" K asked.

"An hour at a time, with a recharge of two hours. I can keep it up indefinitely, if I run one section for an hour at a time."

"Do it." K ordered.

J, K and I walked briskly through the cemetery. There was no sign of the Predator, but they were looking for bodies.

"Nothing. No body parts at all." J said. "Why is that a bad thing on this job?"

"Because it usually means dinner." I said.

"I, there's someone over there." K said, pointing at a man approaching.

The man was white, wearing gang colors, and smirking as he nodded while approaching.

K's comm chirped.

"Go ahead, L."

"K, that's one of the mass unknowns."

K nodded to his partners, who started to draw their weapons.

"Freeze! MIB."

"Whatever." the ganger said, running up and grabbing K.

K tried to pull the trigger to his icer, but the thing grabbed him and threw him into J. Both agents fell to the ground, and the thing went after I.

The thing threw a clumsy punch, which I dodged, and countered with a reverse punch, an elbow smash, another reverse punch, and a roundhouse kick. The fake ganger staggered, and ran for his life. I started to give chase, but someone, or something stood up from behind a tombstone and shot something and hit the creature, which promptly burst into a cloud of dust.

I ran at the shooter, and got a sight of glowing red eyes, which disappeared as it took off. I stopped at the pile of dust that was the only remains of the "man" that had attacked him and his partners.

"What the hell was that?" J asked.

"Which one?" I returned.

"What happened, I?"

"Well, while you two were getting closer," I smirked, "I put a whoopin' on our boy, who decided to cut his losses."

I picked up an object, and shook his head.

"Someone, or something, stood up and shot the boy with this, an he was literally dusted." I said, indicating the pile on the ground.

"What was the weapon?" K asked, and his eyes widened slightly as he saw what I was holding.

A wooden arrow with a silver arrowhead.

When the MIB's returned, L was setting up diagrams.

"What happened?" she asked, noticing the dirty uniforms.

"One of our mass unknowns attacked, tried to run, was shot by another unknown with a bow." K said.

"I can tell you, the second unknown was the unique signature from the park." L said. "But I had to switch areas, so I lost it."

"The 'unique' is about five-six," I stated. "And a crack shot with a bow. And it gets better. I couldn't track it, this thing knows what it's doing."

L stared. "You lost a trail?"

"And no sign of Junior." J said.

"Let's get some sleep." K ordered. "Have the worms take shifts. If Junior shows, get us immediately."

The Yautja paced in frustration. He'd killed two Vampers by cutting off their heads, but they had burst into dust. The first one hadn't when he shot it in the stomach.

The Hunter paused. Was a stomach or chest shot required for his trophies? That was worth a consideration.

Hunting Vampers was much more fun than hunting Oomans. He decided to try again.

*****

The Bronze
Sunnydale, California
8 November 1998

Shaw watched as a pair of vampires emerged from the Bronze. She slowly drew an arrow, but stopped as something rippled in the light.

Something emerged from a cloak of invisibility, a large humanoid wearing armor, and weapons, as well as some type of helmet.

<A ta'narri? Goddess, this night has been difficult enough as it is.>

The ta'narri walked towards the vampires, who grinned.

"Want to cause some havoc, buddy?"

"Vamper."

The ta'narri swung his arm claws, quickly gutting the vampire on Shaw's left. The second started to run, but was quickly cut down by an energy burst.

Shaw's jaw was open. <I cannot believe this! This ta'narri killed two vampires! Why?!?>

The ta'narri quickly sliced each vampire's head off, picked them up, and turned invisible.

Shaw shook her head, attempting to understand what she'd just seen.

<What in the name of Mielikki? He took their heads as trophies.> she thought. <He is hunting. But, is he doing it for sport, or for some darker purpose?>

Shaw yawned, and shook her head again. <I can research in the morning. I need some sleep before school.>

Shaw turned and started walking home.

*****

Machiko was tired. She hadn't slept since arriving, and needed some rest, but had no money for a room.

<No good bastard youngster.>

The sound of a motorcycle brought her back to her senses. She looked, and saw a man on a Harley.

<Well, maybe I can get a few bucks.>

She silently stalked over, and saw the guy inside the gas station.

<Hit him hard and fast, knock him out, steal some moolah, but make sure he's safe.>

As he walked out, she trailed him. Once he left the lighted area, she lunged.

As was quickly thrown. She rolled, and spin punched him in the chest. She punched again, but he grabbed her arm, and threw her against the gas pump.

"Sorry, sweetheart, but I don't play rough."

Machiko's eyes widened as she recognized the voice. "Oh, fuck! Fuck!!"

"Didn't think I knew the arts, huh?"

"Shut the fuck up, Badge Boy. It's me, Raines!"

"What the.. Noguchi?!?"

"No shit, Sherlock."

"You're dead." Reno said.

"Then how come my frickin' back hurts?"

Reno let her go. "What happened to you?"

Machiko dodged the question. "What the hell are you doin' here, Reno?"

"It's a long story, Machiko." Reno said tersely.

"Looks like we both got long stories."

"Why'd you attack me?"

"To get money for a room. Been gone a long time, Raines."

"We'll go to my room, and we can talk."

Once they'd talked, Reno was staring at the wall. "I don't know what's worse. Your story, or the fact that your gear proves it."

"Tell me about it."

"So this youngster is what you're after?"

"Yeah, I catch him, there's people I can contact to send him home."

"Who's that, Noguchi?"

"Government people, don't ask."

"How can I help?"

Noguchi stared at him. "Are you nuts? He'd rip you apart!"

"I was a cop, now I'm a bounty hunter. I can track."

She considered that. "Okay, Badge Boy. It's a deal."

"No problem, Jarhead."

*****

Part 5: Get Togethers
(Things Get Even More Confusing)

"May you live in interesting times."
---Chinese curse

Sunnydale High Library
Sunnydale, California
9 November 1998

Shaw sat at Giles' desk, working through a small mound of Monday paperwork, quickly sorting it by date and priority. After the first half hour, she started shaking her head.

<How does Rupert Giles do any research at all?> she thought. <These Earth people and their need for paperwork.>

After an hour, she had finished a third of the paperwork, and decided to take a break by sorting through the returned volumes. She quickly went through and finished much quicker than she had hoped. As she finished, she heard someone enter the library. She exited an aisle and nodded a greeting.

"May I help you, sir?" she asked in her "student" voice.

The man nodded. "Sir Steve said to meet you when the time was right."

<Sir Steve? Ah. Good.> "You are Joseph N'Gato?"

"Yes. I take it you are Shaw Hunter."

"The same. Kendra is ready to patrol?"

Joe blinked. "You're just like Sir Steve. You get right to the point."

"I shall take the comparison as a compliment. Thank you."

"You're welcome. And yes, she'll be ready tomorrow night, Ms. Hunter."

Shaw grinned. "Joseph, if we are to fight together, I would prefer less formality. A little less, at least."

Now he laughed. "Okay, Shaw. Did Steve tell you of the arrangements?"

"Yes. You are in charge, Joseph. I will patrol tonight, then join you and Kendra tomorrow." Shaw said. "Joseph, I saw something strange last night."

"What happened?"

"A.. demon of some sort, I suppose, killed two vampires. While I personally have no problem with this, it was what happened afterwards that concerns me. He took their heads, and left the bodies behind."

"Do you know why?"

"If I go by my own experience, I believe he took them as trophies. That would be my guess as a ranger, and hunter."

"His appearance?"

"Six and a half feet, perhaps seven. Lean and muscular. Strong; he beheaded one blooddrinker with one swing of some form of arm-mounted claws. Artificial, metal, not natural. And an energy burst of some kind, which I believe was technological in nature." she reported. "He wore some kind of helmet, so I cannot describe his face. That, more than anything else, will make determining his identity somewhat difficult."

"You did well, memorizing that much."

"Also, Joseph, he can become invisible. I shall do my best to determine his purpose here."

"Very well. I'll inform Kendra-" he broke off as Shaw quickly moved up and embraced him. He stammered, "Uh, Ms..."

"Hunter!"

Shaw release Joe, who looked at her in complete shock. She looked over his shoulder, and smiled. "Good morning, Principal Snyder."

Joe quickly got the point.

"Not for you, Hunter. I warned you about..."

"Principal Snyder, this is Joseph N'Gato." she said warmly.

"I can't care less about your boy..."

"Sergeant Joseph N'Gato of Her Majesty's Special Air Service." Shaw added. "Joseph, this is Principal Snyder, the Head Master of my school."

Joe gave her a look, and turned to Snyder. "Sir, Shaw.. Ms. Hunter has told me of the regard she holds for you."

"Who are you?" Snyder demanded.

"Sir, you are setting a poor example for our school." Shaw said softly.

"What?" he asked, caught off guard. "Who is he, Hunter?"

"Joseph is a member of the Special Air Service."

"A pilot?"

Joe took over. "Sir, the SAS is Her Majesty's equivalent of the Green Berets and SEAL teams of your American Army and Navy."

Snyder's anger turned a bit to fear, as he understood the comparison.

"What are you doing here?"

"Sir, Joseph served under my father in the SAS." Shaw said. "Joseph was on the mission on which my father.. passed away."

"Oh.. uh..."

"Sir, the mission was classified, and thus Lieutenant Hunter's family was never given the specific details of his death. Now, since Ms. Hunter here is the last surviving relative, and nearing legal age, it was allowed for me, on personal leave, to come here and inform her of the mission on which her father died for the Queen." Joe said, playing up the part.

"I see." Snyder lied. "Go ahead."

"Sir, this information is top secret. Only Ms. Hunter can hear it."

"I can hear it."

"No, sir, you cannot."

"Then she won't either."

Shaw looked ready to cry. "Principal Snyder, please. I have waited several years to hear the truth. Would you deny me this? The only chance to learn about my father's sacrifice?"

Snyder looked extremely uncomfortable. He played with his tie, then nodded.

"Fine. You have one hour, then leave."

He quickly walked out of the library.

"What a thoroughly disgusting individual." Joe said, then turned to

speak to Shaw, who was holding her sides, rocking in silent laughter.

"You think quickly, Shaw," he said.

She just nodded, laughing so hard she couldn't talk.

"You found his reaction amusing? I suppose you are right."

Shaw shook her head. "The look on your face at the beginning."

"You did catch me somewhat off guard. How did you know?"

"Elven hearing." Shaw said, wiping tears from her eyes. "But seeing 'the troll' was worth it."

Joe sighed. "I can see that this will be a unique partnership."

"You know Steven, you know Kendra, and now you know me."

"I will get even with Sir Steve for this."

*****

Sunnydale Cemetery
Sunnydale, California
9 November 1998

As the moon continued to rise, Shaw was growing bored. She had been out for three hours, and no vampires, nor the new hunter, had made an appearance. <Not that I am complaining, Lady Mielikki, it is just that I feel I am missing something.> Shaw thought. After a few seconds, she made a decision. <One more hour. If I do not see anything, I shall retire early.>

Shaw climbed the back fence of the cemetery, and stalked silently through the graveyard. After several minutes, she heard voices on the wind. She crept forward, and spied a group of five beings walking. One of the creatures carried a torch, negating Shaw's infravision, but allowing her to see that three of the five were not human. The two that appeared human were female, one adult and the other not out of her fifth or sixth year.

Shaw stood stock still, as to hear their conversation.

"C'mon, Narcisse, hurry your sorry ass up." a reptilian-style humanoid snarled. He looked to be the most dangerous.

"Shut up, Peloquin. We have plenty of time." Narcisse replied. He looked like he'd had the skin ripped off the side of his face.

The third nonhuman, whose head was shaped like a crescent moon, just shook his head in amusement.

The child looked frightened. "Mama, the crypt feels strange. I'm scared."

"Don't worry, Babette." her mother said in an accent that reminded Shaw of a Vistani she once knew.

<Oh, no. They're taking them. Selanne, I repay my debt.>

Shaw donned her shades, and ran, attempting to get ahead of the group. She found a thick tree, and quickly climbed it. Once out of sight, she put herself into a position to drop onto the things herding the two women.

The reptilian, Peloquin, was in front. He slowed a bit, seeming cautious. He started looking around, sniffing.

"Trouble?" Moon-face asked.

"I'm picking up a scent, Pettine." he said. "A smell of.." Shaw jumped, drawing Soulreaver and a dagger. "..normal."

However, he was nonetheless surprised when the half-elf landed in front of him and gutted him with a dagger. Shaw released the dagger and backhanded him in the temple, knocking him to the ground.

Pettine moved forward, and Shaw landed a crescent kick to his jaw, sending him crashing to the grass. He dropped his torch, which fluttered out.

The one called Narcisse moved forward, but Shaw threatened him with her sword, and forced him back. She put herself between him and the two women.

"Take your daughter, Romany." Shaw ordered. "I will cover your escape."

Peloquin got up, and drew Shaw's dagger out of his gut. "You will die slowly for this, normal."

"Perhaps, but the Romany will escape."

Narcisse grinned. "Two on one, pretty girl. Even with that sword, you can only stab one of us."

Shaw nodded, and uttered a quick prayer. A flaming scimitar appeared in her left hand, and her lips formed a grim line. "I shall see your sword, and raise you one scimitar."

Peloquin looked a bit more cautious. "Wizard." he growled.

"Priestess, actually. But I do share your opinion of wizards in general."

Peloquin breathed, and smoke came out. He started changing. Shaw prepared herself to strike.

Pettine groggily stood up, and saw the situation developing. "Oh shit."

A voice shouted, "Peloquin, no!"

Both Shaw and the reptilian looked in surprise at Babette, who was the one who had screamed.

"Romany, get your child to safety!" Shaw snapped.

"We are not Romany, mortal." the mother said softly.

Shaw looked at them, and saw blue infrared signatures. Shaw's anger rose. "You turned your own child into a vampire?" she said seethingly.

Peloquin, who'd been preparing to charge, stopped short. "We are not vampires, normal."

"Then what are they?"

"My name is Rachel. We are Nightbreed." she supplied.

Shaw recognized the name from earlier research. "You are from the Tribes of the Moon?" she asked, drawing looks of shock from the three males.

"Yes, mortal, we are." Rachel answered.

"Goddess, forgive me my stupidity." she said. Shaw dispelled the flame blade, and slowly sheathed her sword. "I apologize for my unprovoked assault. I thought the women were Romany. I.. sought to protect them."

Peloquin sneered, but Pettine nodded. "You were doing a good job," he said wryly.

Babette smiled. "She wanted to help me and Mama."

Shaw looked at the child. "How did you know that, little one?"

Rachel smiled, too. "Babette is an empath."

Shaw looked at Rachel. "I have a similar ability, for creatures of nature."

"Now what, normal? You gonna get your friends and exterminate us?"

Shaw turned her gaze to Peloquin. "Define 'normal.'"

"Human." he said with a snarl.

Shaw smiled, which made him growl louder. "Allow me to disappoint you, Peloquin."

She removed her shades, allowing the three males to see her eyes.

Peloquin's eyes widened. "What are you, woman?"

Shaw paused, then spoke in Elvish. {If you can understand this, you will have your answer.}

The three males and Babette looked confused, but Rachel smiled a bit, and Shaw gave her one in return.

"Rachel, why is the Tribe here? This town is dangerous."

Rachel's smile settled into a neutral mask. "We wish to make a home here."

Shaw shook her head. "Do your leaders have any idea what this place is like? What lies under it?"

"What nonsense are you spouting?" Peloquin snapped. "And what are you?"

"Very well, if it will silence your prattling." she said. She removed her ponytail, and shook her hair loose, revealing her ears. "Are you satisfied now?"

The Nightbreed actually seemed to relax a bit, now that they knew the nature of this woman.

"Oh my God. It's Lady Spock."

Shaw quickly turned and grabbed Narcisse by the throat. "I will give you one warning. If you say one word more about that television show, I will hurt you." She released him. "Although I now understand Peloquin's disposition."

Pettine looked at her sidelong. "How is that?"

"He must tolerate this one's attempts at humor."

To everyone's surprise, Peloquin actually chuckled.

"Rachel, I would speak with your leader. He must be informed of the dangers of Sunnydale. Also, I can provide information on those who protect it, including myself. If he allows, I can arrange a meeting between us, perhaps to discuss an alliance."

"Why should we trust you, Faerie?" Peloquin asked.

"For your information, my father was human. And as I attend the local high school, I know how to keep secrets."

"Such as?"

"I am half-elven, carry a magical sword, wield shamanic magic, and hunt vampires. Do you still have to ask that question?"

"Tell me, if you can, in six words or less, what makes this town so dangerous."

Shaw smiled at him. "Is that a challenge?"

Peloquin nodded, showing off a toothy grin.

"Sunnydale sits atop the Hellmouth. Five words, I win."

The four adult Nightbreed now started to look nervous.

"That the reason for all the bloodsuckers?" Narcisse asked.

"And why my friends and I protect Sunnydale." Shaw said. "Now, will you permit me to speak with your Tribe?"

The adults looked to Pettine, who nodded. "We can take you."

Rachel added a caveat. "You must swear to keep our secret."

Shaw nodded. "Unless your leader allows me to inform my allies. I know what it is like to see people suffer persecution. Is this adequate?"

The Nightbreed, even Peloquin, nodded.

*****

Ruined Church
Under Sunnydale, California
9 September 1998

Shaw watched the various Nightbreed stare at her with looks ranging from curiosity to fear to hostility. None of the looks were positive. She purposely ignored them, defiant in their gazes.

"Lylesburg will be the one to speak. We must answer for you, unless he asks you directly, or if there is a question that only you can answer."

"Yes, Rachel. But do not tell him of my heritage, or of the Hellmouth. I must do so."

Rachel smiled. "He also knows your mother's language." Shaw nodded.

The Nightbreed that had escorted her took up positions alongside her, as if to form a square around her. Shaw waited at the foot of the stage, impatiently waiting for Lylesburg.

Finally, he approached, being followed by a human-looking Nightbreed, who looked at her with a look of amused interest.

"Why is this normal here, Rachel?" he asked.

"I will ask the questions, Boone." Lylesburg said. "Peloquin?"

"She attacked us as we approached the crypt." he said, drawing shouts of anger from the crowd.

Pettine stepped forward. "She thought Rachel and Babette were normals of Romany descent, and sought to protect them, especially the child."

The hostile reaction died a little, but not completely.

"And when she discovered the truth?"

Rachel smiled. "She immediately ceased her attack, greeted us as members of the Tribe of the Moon, and politely apologized for her mistake."

Boone tapped Lylesburg. "May I ask question of Pettine?"

Lylesburg nodded, and Boone spoke. "How skilled was she, Pettine?"

The moon-faced Nightbreed blushed. "She knocked Peloquin and myself to the ground, and placed herself in a guard position between Narcisse and Rachel in less than thirty seconds."

"How did she attack you without being seen?"

Peloquin answered. "She dropped out of a tree. Very clever."

Shaw gave the reptilian a cocked eyebrow, but he merely shrugged. However, she did not miss the murmurs of respect at his praise.

"And why did you bring her here?" Lylesburg asked, finally getting to the point.

"She has information about this town, and requested to speak with you. There is a war of sorts here, and she represents forces that protect normals."

"You are in error, Rachel."

The crowd shouted at this breach of protocol, but Lylesburg waved his arms to quiet them down. "On what is she in error, normal?"

"Sunnydale is but one of the main sites of this war. Also, I do not 'represent' my group, I am merely a warrior. I came to propose a meeting between my leaders and yours, at a neutral site if you so choose."

"And if I do not choose this?"

"Then I will keep your secret. I have my own to keep, among them the fact that I hunt vampires."

That drew gasps of surprise from the crowd, and Lylesburg seemed impressed. "Very well. Introduce yourself."

Shaw bowed. {I am Shawukay Madison Redarrow, daughter of Trocar Flamingarrow of the Clan of Madison, and Miyana Redstar, blood kin of the House of Nightstar of the Tuatha du Danaan. I am half-human, and half-elven.}

Lylesburg and some of the older Nightbreed seemed very surprised by her admission, and the younger ones were shocked, even after Rachel's translation. Lylesburg quickly recovered.

"Very well, young Fey. What is the information you wish to give us?"

Shaw switched to English. "Most importantly, Master Lylesburg, your feet are resting directly over the Hellmouth."

Lylesburg paled. "You can prove this?"

"Young Babette is an empath. She says this place feels 'strange,' to use her words."

Lylesburg looked to Rachel, who nodded. He turned back to Shaw. "We still wish to make a home here."

"I fulfilled a similar desire here. I have kin in this town."

"I see," he said musingly. "What forces do you fight against?"

"Those who would open the Hellmouth. Black Mages, demons, hundreds of vampires. Oh, also the occasional Cenobite, one of whom met his demise in this very chamber two months ago."

"And who are your allies?"

Shaw hesitated, pondering her answer. "I will only name those who reside here. Their names can wait, but their descriptions might suffice. I must protect their secrets, as I have vowed to protect yours."

"That is enough. Please proceed."

"Currently, most of my group is elsewhere. Three of us remain to patrol, however."

Peloquin gaped. "Only three?"

"Yes. Myself, a Knight of the Grail, and the current Slayer."

That drew murmurs of surprise among the audience.

Boone's mouth dropped a bit. "An impressive trio."

Lylesburg frowned. "There are rumors of one called 'the Hunter.'"

Shaw sighed. "Among humans, I am known as Shaw Hunter."

Boone and Peloquin chuckled, but the leader did not.

"And those not present? They are normals?" he asked, showing disapproval.

"Are you familiar with Immortals?"

Lylesburg nodded.

"Very good. Our leader, and his second in command, are Immortals, the Wanderer and the Slayer."

"An Immortal Slayer?" Pettine asked in awe.

"It was her first death that summoned the current Slayer, the one here in Sunnydale." Shaw answered. "The leaders wield Demon Slayer and Vampire Slayer, two of the Swords of Destiny."

"Why are you saying this, young lady?"

Shaw's eyes grew narrow. "Are you insinuating that I would lie, sir?"

Lylesburg smiled. "Your response confirms your truth, but I had to be sure."

"Very well. Of the other members of my group, there is a third Immortal, the wielder of the Sword of St. Catherine, last used by the human saint known as Joan of Arc. We also have several witches, and the Watcher for the Slayers."

"What is a Watcher?" Boone asked.

"Mostly, a combination of researcher, guide, sensei, and in this case, father figure." Shaw said.

"Can you tell us what type of leader this Wanderer is?" Lylesburg asked.

"He holds the rank of Knight Lieutenant in the Order of the Grail, and has friends among the Council of Dragons and Oberon's Children."

"Such as yourself?"

"No. He is my leader, as well as my teacher in human fighting arts."

"And she's a good student, apparently." Pettine muttered, drawing a small amount of laughter.

"But it doesn't tell us what type of man he is." Boone said. "Does he serve anyone but himself?"

Shaw must have given something in her glance, because Lylesburg nodded. "Please tell us. If he is worthy of someone's trust, perhaps he is worthy of ours."

"You will not believe me." Shaw said sadly.

"Try us." Boone said with a smirk.

"Very well. The Wanderer is the sworn champion of Merlin of Camelot and his wife, Niume."

A loud, collective gasp of surprise sounded throughout the chamber.

"I said you would not believe me," she muttered.

"Can you give us any other examples?" Lylesburg asked.

"Do you know of the vampire attacks in Los Angeles earlier this year?"

"We know of them."

"The Wanderer was the leader of the army that eliminated seven hundred vampires and twenty demons."

"Who was in this army?" Boone asked, unsure he wanted to hear it.

"I am told the army included over forty Immortals, four Amazons, both Slayers, a werewolf, a Gargoyle, two Los Angeles Special Weapons and Tactics teams. The Special Investigations Unit of the San Francisco police, and at least four special forces and anti-terrorist units of the American military, along with a ninja clan, the son of a Shao-lin priest, and the wielder of a third Sword of Destiny joined the fight as well."

"And a partridge in a pear tree." Narcisse sang.

"The partridge died in combat." Shaw added, drawing a deep laugh from Narcisse.

"Where were you during this time?" Lylesburg asked.

"In Paris, killing an Immortal who threatened my teacher, a son of the MacLeods."

"Who was this person with the third Sword?" Boone asked.

Shaw grinned at him. "You might have heard of the sword. It is known as Excalibur."

"He commanded the Once and Future King?" Lylesburg muttered, complete awe in his voice. Similar awe could be felt from rest of the Nightbreed.

"That is the answer to your question, Boone. The Wanderer is the type of man that even Arthur Pendragon will willingly follow. They, along with the Immortal Slayer, led the charge in the final battle. They teamed to weaken the demon Throlog, the Aztec God of War."

"They didn't kill him?" Peloquin asked.

"That duty fell to the Avatar of Shiva." Shaw said, and then added with an innocent expression, "Did I forget to mention him?"

"Unbelievable."

"Master Lylesburg, I had a similar response, despite the fact that my own kin was present. She personally fired several silver bullets from a military rifle into Throlog's head."

Lylesburg spent nearly three full minutes pondering, rubbing his chin, but finally nodded at the half-elf.

"Lady Shawukay, I will agree to your proposal, if only to meet this man. How shall we proceed?"

"When he returns, I will give him the proposal. I will NOT let him know of your location. I can come here with his decision, and give him your terms for a meeting, numbers, location, and time. But, your people must beware of vampires until then, as there are only three of us."

"Why you as a messenger?" Boone asked.

"I am known to my group, and to your people. They might accept a half-breed elf sooner than a human, even an Immortal one. Also, I am uniquely qualified to handle this duty."

"How?" Lylesburg asked, sounding suspicious.

"Being half-human, I can understand their caution about the unknown. Being half-elven, I know of the need to hide in secret among humans. Being someone who has lost kin to vampires, I see them as the reason for the fight in Sunnydale." she informed him. "Finally, seeing as the high school library I assist in is directly over our heads, I have some concern about noisy neighbors."

Lylesburg gave her a strange look.

"That was supposed to be humor. I do work in the library above."

"Very well. I look forward to meeting your leader." he said. "Peloquin, Rachel, please escort our guest to the surface."

The two Nightbreed started walking with the half-elf towards the stairs.

"He was impressed with your honesty." Rachel assured her.

"I am glad for his patience. Diplomacy is not one of my strengths."

"You did well."

"Thank you. Peloquin, keep that dagger. It will protect you."

"How is that?" the reptilian asked.

"It is blessed. It will affect vampires as a cross or holy water would, but it is a dagger. Plus, it has your germs on it."

Peloquin growled softly, but didn't comment.

Rachel and Shaw merely smiled.

*****

Part 6: Donnybrooks
(Everyone's Fighting Everyone, And The Poor Vamps Are Caught In The Middle)

"Lllllllet's get ready to rumbllllllllllllleeee!!!"
---Michael Buffer

The Bronze
Sunnydale, California
10 November 1998

Reno and Machiko were sitting at a table; enjoying some beers while the local kids danced and joked while the band on the stage played. To Reno and Machiko, it appeared the kids didn't care that the band didn't sound very good.

"So what do you think, Raines?"

"Hey, you're the one who's living with these things, Jarhead," Reno said. "I'm just your backup."

"Yeah, I know. That youngster pissed me off."

Reno laughed at her attitude, then slowly set his drink down. He caught Noguchi's attention.

"Noguchi, look at that guy, talking to the brunette."

She did, and shrugged. "Yeah, so what? He's hittin' on her."

"She looks stoned."

"Yeah? What of it?"

"He doesn't look like a dealer, she looks clean. Plus, he isn't drinking."

"Think he drugged her Coke?"

"Maybe. He's leading her outside. I wanna make sure this is kosher."

Noguchi smiled. "Kinky fucker, ain't ya, Badge Boy?"

"Let's go," Raines said, not bothering to comment further.

They followed the couple outside, where the man had the girl by the throat, and his eyes glowed as he turned to face Noguchi and Raines.

"Go away, and you live," he snarled.

"What the hell?" Reno said dumbly, but Machiko didn't hesitate. She pulled out a disc of some kind, clicked a button, and hurled it like a discus. The man moved to the side, but the disc shot through his stomach, out his back, and through his neck, before returning to Machiko's hand. The man crumbled into a cloud of dust.

Machiko was now the one staring. "What the fuck?"

"You don't know what it was?"

"I figure it was an alien o' some sort," she said with a shrug. "Hadda save the kid's life."

"Shit. Let me check on her." Reno walked over and touched her shoulder. "You okay, kid?"

The girl still looked a bit dazed, but shook her head, trying to clear it.

"Yeah, I'm okay. What happened?"

"Guy tried to drug you, we stopped him and drove him off."

"Who the hell are you two?" she asked.

Reno smiled. "Reno, LAPD. My friend's Machiko, she's Corps."

"What the heck is Core?" the girl asked.

"Marine, honey," Noguchi said with a grin. "The few, the proud, the insane."

The girl smiled, too. "Oh, shit. I bet you two kicked his ass. Thanks a lot!"

"No problem. Now go call your folks."

The girl walked back in, and Machiko laughed.

"Great. As if the youngster wasn't bad enough, now we got some other alien to watch out for."

"At least it's not boring."

Noguchi glared at Reno. "Shut the hell up, Raines."

*****

Sunnydale Pier
Sunnydale, California
10 November 1998

Shaw crept forward, slowly gaining on a trio of vampires tailing Joe and Kendra. Two of them started to move forward, and were speeding to get ahead of the pair.

Shaw laughed, as this was exactly what she'd wanted. She drew an arrow and nocked it into the bowstring. As the two lead vamps turned to step in front of the Knight and Slayer, and the third stopped to prevent a retreat, Shaw shot her arrow into the one in the rear.

The vampire went down with a scream, the wooden shaft sticking out of his ribcage. It distracted the other two long enough for Kendra and Joe to pull out their weapons.

Joe quickly fired his silenced pistol, dusting one vampire as the wooden pullet pierced his heart.

Kendra grabbed the remaining vampire as he charged, and she tossed him to the ground, and then kicked him in the neck as he rose. He went to his knees, grasping at his throat. Kendra quickly staked him, and he vanished in a burst of ash.

Shaw drew Soulreaver and beheaded her target, and quickly sheathed it again, to avoid showing their location from the magical flames on the blade.

Shaw heard Joe and Kendra arguing over something, and walked over to them to see what was wrong. She quickly determined that Joe was criticizing the length of time it had taken her to kill her opponent.

"You took too long, Kendra. You could simply have staked him, but instead threw him to the ground."

"I was reacting to his attack," Kendra insisted. "I'm sorry if I do not move quickly enough on my first patrol in six months."

"And you've been training for two of those months," Joe said, countering her argument with a frown. "You should have done better."

Shaw cleared her throat, drawing their attention. When the two looked at her, she set her gaze on Joe.

"Joseph, do you have any criticism about my opponent's demise?" she asked in a soft voice.

The Knight of the Grail shook his head. "No, Shaw."

"Then you are stupid."

Joe and Kendra's eyebrows both shot skyward with that statement, although a bit of a grin curved the Slayer's lips.

"My grandfather would have taken me over his knee for missing such an easy shot, a stationary target with no idea of my presence. I am in excellent shape, I have three times your combined experience, elven vision in addition, and I made a mistake. Yet you do not criticize me."

Shaw turned to Kendra. "Now, Kendra. Your kick did lack sufficient force. If you had put a bit more power into it, you could have broken his neck, saving having to stake him."

Now she turned to the bald-headed N'Gato. "And you. First, you could have moved to her aid after shooting your target, rather than watching her form. If you thought she was moving too slow, you should have offered her your aid. Next, Kendra does have a point to some extent. You, of all people, should know that all of the training in the world does not substitute for field experience. She did not hesitate, and cleanly defeated her opponent. Just because she is not up to your standard as of yet does not give you the right to demean such a clean victory."

Joe started to speak, and Kendra began to grin, but Shaw cut both of them off.

"And the two of you together! After defeating your opponents, instead of making sure there were no other vampires in the immediate area, you immediately drop your guard and begin arguing like lovesick children." Shaw let an evil grin onto her face. "Granted, Kendra has an excuse due to her youth, but you, Joseph, do not."

At her "lovesick" comment, Joe and Kendra promptly moved at least five feet away from each other, glaring at Shaw rather than each other.

The half-elf nodded in satisfaction. "Praise Mielikki for blessed silence," she said, before turning and walking away.

*****

South of Sunnydale, California
Early hours
11 November 1998

The abandoned building showed signs, many signs, of only having been recently lived in. The man standing in the center of the building took in his surroundings, and looked through the leavings.

<Yep. Nightbreed were here, just recently.> he thought. <This Council, whoever they are, said they'd pay good money for body parts. Sigh. I hate long-term contracts.>

Gib Cain stood up, and nodded in satisfaction. <Sunnydale, here I come. Hmmmm. Maybe I can get that werewolf pelt, as well.>

Cain walked out, and climbed into his '94 Humvee, loaded with firearms and hunting equipment, and headed north at a leisurely clip.

*****

Sunnydale California
12 November 1998

J and K rode around town in the LTD, checking for any sign of the Yautja, having had no luck thus far. J was starting to let his frustration show through.

"K, I thought you said that Daddy would be only a day or two behind Junior," the junior agent said. "Did he stop for directions?"

"Don't know, Slick. For all we know, they could have gone home already. But we have a lot of unknowns in this town."

"And since when does our luck run that good?"

"Exactly," K said with a smirk.

K's comm chirped, and he activated the link. "K here."

"K, this is I," the Immortal MIB's voice said over the line. "Junior's in the park."

"Got it. We'll take it from here." K cut the link, and pushed the button to "soup up" the LTD. "Fasten your seatbelt, Slick."

The LTD shifted, and took off at speeds heading towards a hundred and fifty miles an hour.

*****

Weatherly Park
Sunnydale, California
12 November 1998

J and K ran into the park, a light breeze blowing at their backs. The scanners couldn't pick up the Predator, which had to have recloaked, but there were three of the unknowns in the area.

"One hundred yards, this way, K," J said, drawing the Noisy Cricket.

"There they are," K said, seeing the three unknowns.

The three unknowns stopped their walk, looking at the approaching agents cautiously.

"Agents J and K, MIB," K shouted. "There's a Hunter in here, and he's looking for you guys. You need to find someplace safe, and quickly."

The unknowns looked nervous, and looked at each other. One stepped forward a bit. "Did you say the Hunter?"

"Yeah," J snapped. "So beat feet, guys. Don't wanna have your heads on the wall."

The unknowns looked at each other again. "How do you know about the Hunter?" the spokesman-by-default asked.

"We've been tracking him for a few days, trying to get him out of here," K assured him.

"Him?!? The Hunter's a her!" a second unknown shouted, just before being cut in half by a starbolt.

The other two turned around, their faces shifting, ridges growing over their eyebrows, and their eyes shifting to an eerie yellow color. The Predator fired another starbolt, cutting a second unknown into two pieces.

"Vamper," he said.

J and K drew their weapons. "Freeze, Junior!" J shouted. "MIB!"

J fired the Noisy Cricket, the recoil knocking him back six feet. The energy blast hit the Predator square, and sent the hunter flying back even further than the man who'd fired the shot, sending him off into the trees. K had prepared to fire his icer, but saw the third unknown taking off.

"Slick! The unknown's escaping!"

J looked over, and it gave the Yautja enough time to cloak. J started after K, frustration growing in him again.

After five minutes, an invisible being severed two heads, and carried them off, the heads appearing to float in midair.

*****

Sunnydale Motor Lodge
Sunnydale, California
12 November 1998

J and K walked into L's room, and I and L looked over at them.

"No luck, K?" L asked.

"Not much," K admitted. "Two unknowns got blasted, Junior escaped, and so did the third unknown, who lost us by jumping into the sewer system."

"Any good news?" I asked with a grin.

"Yeah," J answered, glaring at I's humor. "I blasted Junior, but I had to help K chase down our sewer-hopper. Junior called them 'Vamper.'"

L rubbed her chin, thinking. "I've never heard of an alien form called a Vamper," she said, then looked over in the corner. "How about you guys?"

The worms looked at each other, and started talking.

"Vamper?"

"Don't ring a bell."

"Never heard of him."

"Me neither."

They looked at L as one and shook their heads.

"Great," J said.

"Descriptions?" I asked. "Did you get a good look?"

"They look human," K said, thinking back to the park. "But when they're threatened, ridges appear over the eyes, the eyes glow yellow, and they're fast. The guy we lost could have been an Olympic sprinter."

"You're sure, K?" L asked, somewhat in doubt.

"I recruited Slick after he ran down a celeaphoid, on foot," K replied. "This guy outran that." He looked over at I, the Apache being deep in concentration. "You alright, I?"

I jerked just the smallest bit in surprise. "These 'Vampers,'" he started, "did you get a look at their mouths? Their teeth?"

"No, now that you mention it. You know something?"

I shook his head, laughing at himself. "Just old wives' tales, K. Old Earth legends. I wouldn't worry about it. Let's call it a night."

*****

Sunnydale Cemetery
Sunnydale, California
12 November 1998

The lone vampire remaining from what had started out as a quartet ran full out, trying to escape the three people chasing him. They were slowly gaining ground, and he moved out of sight between two crypts, after leaping and turning the corner into the space between the two crypts.

N'Gato started to give chase, but Shaw quickly grabbed his arm. He looked at her to order her to let him go, but held back at the concern in her eyes.

"Joseph, wait. Please," she said in concern.

Picking up the worry in Shaw's voice, Kendra extended her Slayer sense.

Shaw uttered a prayer, and a shimmering, gigantic hammer came into existence. Shaw concentrated, and the hammer slammed down into the earth over which the vampire had jumped. It disappeared, heading under ground.

Shaw dispelled the hammer, and said to Joe, "It is a trap. We have to leave, quickly."

"It's too late," Kendra said in fright. "There are twenty of them, all around us."

As she said that, several vampires started emerging from hiding spaces, surrounding the hunters on three sides. The Slayer, Knight and ranger backed up against one of the crypts.

"This is not good," Joe said, stating the obvious. "Shaw, I hope you have a spell for this."

"Healing spells would not be of much use in this situation, Joseph."

"Great. We're facing death, or worse, and you make jokes. We need reinforcements, badly."

Joe heard a sharp intake of breath from the half-elf, and turned his head. "Shaw?"

"Do you know what you are asking of me?" she asked, with something neither Joe nor Kendra would expect from her; horror.

"You have such a spell?"

"Yes, but I will not. . ."

"Cast it. Now!" he said. "That's an order."

Shaw's face went ice cold. "Very well, Joseph N'Gato." Her eyes closed. "May the Lady forgive us," she said, then turned to Kendra. "Kendra, here."

She threw Soulreaver to the Jamaican Slayer, whose eyes gleamed; she'd seen what the weapon was capable of. Shaw conjured a flame blade, concentrated for a moment, and handed it to Joe.

"I need twenty seconds, Joseph," she said in a cold voice. "You will then have your precious reinforcements."

"Just do it," he snapped.

The first two vampires that had the bravery to rush Kendra and Joe were quickly dispatched, as were the next three who tried to follow in their companions' footsteps.

Joe and Kendra heard Shaw praying furiously, and Kendra could hear the loathing and sadness in her voice.

"Get them, before the Hunter finishes that spell!" the apparent leader shouted.

A trio of vampires rushed to follow his command, but somehow tripped six to eight feet in front of the twin sword wielders. All of those still on their feet looked at the scene in confusion, until Joe and Kendra saw exactly why the vampires had fallen on their faces. Each of the three vampires had rotting, worm-eaten hands clutched around their ankles. Several pairs of arms emerged, followed by heads, and a rotting smell filled the area, causing Joe to gag. The bodies continued to rise, clearing the cemetery dirt, wriggling to escape the earth.

The vampire leader started to look concerned, looking in all directions.

"My God," Joe whispered in horror. "What are they?"

Kendra, born and raised on an island famous for such magic, instinctively knew exactly what they were seeing.

"Zombies."

An even dozen of the walking corpses finished emerging, attacking and grabbing, then biting, any vampire within reach. Their inferior strength and speed made them poor opponents for the vampires, but the psychological effect more than made up for it, as several vamps lost their courage and broke ranks, heading for whatever hiding space might be nearby.

The leader attempted to rally the eight vampires that were left, but Kendra used her Slayer strength to hurl her borrowed sword straight into his gut. As he was bathed in a white glow, he made the mistake of trying to draw the sword out by grabbing the hilt.

The electrical discharge blew him into several hundred tiny pieces of gore.

Joe and Kendra waded into the remaining group, Joe swinging his scimitar of magical flame, Kendra using Mr. Pointy to stake two vamps, before picking up Soulreaver and eliminating a third. Finally, the vampires were eliminated, but the Slayer and Knight were still surrounded by zombies. They backed up towards Shaw, waiting to see what happened next. As the final dust cleared, the zombies simply stood there, watching, and waiting patiently.

"Rest."

The lone, soft word drew the attention of the two, and they turned to see Shaw standing there, blood smeared across both cheeks, with the blood itself being smeared by tears flowing freely from horror-filled eyes. She held a dagger in her right hand, and there was a small amount of blood on the silver blade.

Shaw narrowed her eyes a bit, concentrating. "Rest," she repeated.

Joe and Kendra turned back to the zombies, which slowly began descending back into the earth. It was a truly scary sight, as the zombies sank, the earth rippled around them, not even looking as if it was being disturbed. The grass flowed around the descending corpses like water, until finally the last traces of the bodies disappeared.

Joe and Kendra stared, making sure that they would not rise again, and began to turn back to their companion.

<I can see why she didn't want to cast that spell.> Joe thought, genuine sorrow for her rising in his heart.

"Shaw. ."

The ranger was fifteen feet away, leaning over a tombstone, the sound coming from her plainly that of one disgorging the contents of her stomach. After a minute or two, she stopped retching, and her shoulders shook as she cried heavily.

"Shaw, I'm sorry. I didn't know. ."

The half-elf whirled on him, rage and horror in her eyes. "What in the Nine Hells did you think would happen?!? That I would simply wiggle my thumbs and conjure up the entire army of Evermeet?!? How could you order me to cast such a spell?!?"

"I should have allowed you to voice your objections," Joe said, in an apologetic tone.

Shaw calmed down a bit, but she was obviously still terrified. "No, Joseph. You made the only viable decision," she said, tears still flowing. "I will not dispute that. But I just violated one of my beliefs to fulfill my duty!" After that short outburst, she added in a small voice, "Where does one draw the line, Joseph?"

"I don't know, Shaw. But you saved our lives; if we had died, who would protect the town?"

"And what happens when the others find out what I just did?" she snapped. "Will they hate me? Will they fear me?"

Shaw turned on the Knight. "How will the only kin I have that even knows I exist react when she finds out I disturbed the rest of the dead?!?"

"They will understand, Shaw," Kendra said, walking over and returning the longsword to its owner.

"Can you guarantee that, Kendra?" Shaw asked, looking at the Slayer. "With absolute certainty?"

Kendra nodded. "With absolute certainty, Shaw."

Shaw just watched her, and nodded once, still crying.

"Joseph, Kendra, I apologize. I hope that you can understand. I do not believe in disturbing the dead," she said softly. "It is an abomination."

"The magic isn't evil, Shaw," Joe insisted. "Only the use to which the magic is put."

"And I do not fear you, Shaw," Kendra added. "We owe you our lives."

"No. It was you who allowed me to. ." she stopped, shaking her head. "Both of you, give me your holy water, now."

The others looked at each other strangely, but complied. Shaw sat down on the ground, crossed her legs, and began pouring the contents onto the ground.

"What are you doing?" Joe said in confusion.

"Be silent," Shaw ordered him, and closed her eyes and began praying. She continued for five full minutes, and Joe and Kendra both felt. . .something change in the air. Shaw slowly opened her eyes, and looked around. After a few seconds, she nodded in satisfaction.

"What did you just do?" Joe demanded.

Shaw didn't answer. "Kendra, reach out with your special senses. Tell Joseph and I what you feel."

Kendra closed her eyes, and extended her gift. After a few seconds of concentration, a tight smile touched her lips. "About fifty feet in every direction, I feel. .peace. I feel peace. If peace were tangible, something you could touch. ."

Joe looked down at the seated half-elf. "You consecrated the ground."

"Yes, Joseph," Shaw said softly, a sad look in her eyes. "I know the effect that it will have upon vampires who enter the circle. Hopefully, this will balance any debt for what I did here tonight."

Kendra opened her eyes and stared at Shaw in awe. "Shaw, this. .is a good thing, what you just did."

"Thank you. Joseph," she said, shakily standing, "I cannot patrol anymore tonight. This has taken much of my energy. Can you drop me at Ulric's, please?"

Joe nodded. "Of course. I am sorry, Shaw. I hope you can forgive me for violating your beliefs. Will we see you tomorrow?"

Shaw considered it, and looked at the Knight of the Grail. "Would it be permissible for one night off? I believe I could use it."

"Of course. You have more than earned it, Shaw."

Shaw nodded, and the three began making their way to Joe's car.

*****

Part 7: Confrontations
(What's An MIB's Worst Nightmare? An Alien Attack Armada, A Doomsday Device, Or A Female Klingon On Her Period)

"Are you the police?"
"No, ma'am. We're musicians."
---Elwood Blues
The Blues Brothers

Sunnydale High School
Sunnydale, California
13 November 1998

Shaw walked through the early morning air, the moon setting as the time approached six-thirty. She wanted to arrive early, to do some research on the ta'narri, who had taken two more heads the previous night, according to Joe and Kendra.

<I cannot believe this ta'narri is hunting for sport. It does, however, make our job easier.> she thought. <I wish I had seen his face. It would make determining his identity much easier.>

As she walked through the Quad, she heard something approaching her. She tensed, preparing to turn and strike.

"Uh, Shaw Hunter?" a male voice asked tentatively.

Shaw relaxed a bit as she recognized the voice, if not the person. She turned to see a large teenager, probably an athlete, walking at a brisk pace to catch up to her.

"Yes? May I help you?" she asked neutrally.

"I thought we should talk. But, I thought you might prefer some privacy," he said. "Thought I could give you some help."

"Help? With what?" she asked. <Did he somehow find out?>

"Maybe we should go to the library," he offered.

Shaw's guard went up two notches, and she looked at the person under hooded eyes.

"Perhaps. If you feel. ." she broke off as a vampire entered the Quad, and started towards them.

"Well, well, well. A before-bed snack," he said snidely.

Shaw readied herself, but remembered the young man next to her. "Who are you?"

"Larry," he remarked, looking at the vampire.

"Get to the library, now."

"What are you. . ."

"NOW!" she shouted, pushing him towards the doors. He headed in, and Shaw backed in after him as the vampire started to run for the door.

Shaw started running. "Follow me, now. We have to get to the library." <To the weapons.>

"Hunter, what's--" he started to say, but stopped as he saw the door being broken into several pieces, and saw the vamp's game face.

Larry ran, following Shaw, but as they neared the library doors, she stopped and turned, and before he could stop, she grabbed him and judo tossed him through the doors.

As he started to get up, Shaw cast a protection spell over the doorway. "Larry, do not leave the library, no matter what," she said, and turned to face the vampire.

The vamp moved more cautiously, having seen her cast the spell. "Well, one bite's better than none."

Shaw drew a dagger out of her boot. "Blooddrinker, you have chosen the wrong day to antagonize me. I escaped your trap last night, I lost several hours of sleep, I have work to do here, and I have just started my cycle."

The vamp stopped. "So you're on PMS. Whoopty do. Who are you?"

"Shaw Hunter."

The vampire started to look uneasy. "Did you say, Hunter?"

"Yes."

"THAT Hunter?"

"Yes."

"And you're on your period?"

An evil grin touched Shaw's lips. "Yes."

The vampire started shaking. "I'm in deep shit."

"Ohhhhh, yes."

Shaw hurled the dagger straight into the vampire's gut. The vampire went to his knees, clutching at the blade. Shaw ran up and delivered a crescent kick to his jaw, and followed it up with a spin kick as he turned his head back.

As his jaw broke, Shaw grabbed the dagger out of his stomach and thrust the blessed blade into his heart, and the vampire disintegrated.

Shaw looked at the pile of dust on the floor in disgust, and turned back towards the library.

And saw Larry in the window, looking on in dumb shock.

<Oh, no.> Shaw thought. <This is going to be a very bad day.>

The half-elf walked up to the door, and cast a spell to remove the invisible barrier. She walked in, and started to head for the office.

"Uh, Shaw?" Larry asked dumbly.

"Yes, Larry?"

"Please don't tell me that was what I think it was."

"What do you think it was?" she asked as she walked through the office door.

"A vampire," he said, and then turned towards the office when she didn't answer. He walked to the office, and saw her sitting at the desk, checking some paperwork. "Well?"

Shaw looked at him. "Yes, Larry?"

"Was that a vampire?"

"You asked me not to tell you," she replied, going back to her work.

"How can you sit there as if nothing happened?" Larry asked, dumbfounded.

"I am not. I am sitting here as if I have work to do." Shaw said. "I believe you said that we should talk."

Larry sat down, and said, "I think I'd rather talk about what just happened."

"I would not," Shaw said in irritation. "Please discuss what you met with me to discuss."

"I think I deserve some answers, Shaw."

Shaw looked up from her work. "Larry, I am exhausted, I am frustrated, I have work to do, I just killed a vampire, and I am on what Americans call 'a period.' And, if I recall correctly, I just saved your life. So tell me again what you deserve, or better yet, what you will deserve, should you push me too far."

Larry looked confused. "Uh, could you simplify that?"

"Possibly. Are you familiar with the phrase concerning craniums and posteriors?"

"Are you saying I have my head up my ass?" Larry asked in a threatening tone.

"I am saying that you will, should you, as Americans say, 'piss me off,'" Shaw snapped. "And before you say another word, please refresh your memory as to what I just 'handled' in the hallway."

"Okay," Larry said weakly, and then he began to regain his confidence. "Okay. I've seen you around school, and I've seen the way you look at Amy Madison."

"Yes. What of it?"

"Well, I can tell you've got feelings for her," Larry offered.

"Yes, I do. What is your point?"

"Well, I've seen her dating a guy named Robin, and frankly, I don't think she returns your feelings."

"I know this," Shaw said with a shrug. "I am giving her the time to determine how she feels about our relationship."

"Shaw, you're not getting the point," Larry said.

Shaw sighed. "Then make your point. As simply, quickly, and understandably as possible."

"I don't think you have a chance for a romantic relationship with Amy."

Shaw just stared at him. "Larry, are you attempting to. . .spare my feelings? You are trying to lend me help, in a way?"

"Yes, Shaw, I am."

"That is the only reason why I shall not beat you into a state of unconsciousness."

Larry's jaw dropped.

"My feelings for Amy are not romantic, they are familial," Shaw added with steel in her voice.

"Familial?" Larry said quietly. "As in family?"

Shaw jerked, in surprise, as she realized what she'd just revealed to Larry. She buried her face in her palms.

"Oh, no." she said, her voice sounding hollow, "Amy is going to murder me when she finds out I told someone."

"How would she find out?" Larry asked.

Shaw dropped her hands and glared at him. "The reason for the current state of our relationship is because I did not tell her as soon as I knew the truth. It has been hard for both of us, Amy in particular. I swore that there would be no more secrets between us. That is how she will find out."

"You're related? But she's American, and you're Scottish."

"Our twice-great grandmothers were sisters. Alison Madison, my ancestor, left America to explore other places. She married, and I am sure that you can figure out the rest."

Larry smiled. "That's a strange story if I ever heard one."

<You have no idea.> "Larry, only a few trusted friends know of this. Amy's parents do not, because I told Amy to use her discretion in this matter. And I will not tolerate them finding out from a third party."

"Meaning me?"

"Meaning, more likely, certain American females with a talent for giving out information that is none of their concern."

Larry chuckled. "Meaning Harmony, Aura, etcetera, etcetera," he said. "Trust me, Shaw, I can keep secrets."

"Why should I trust you, Larry," Shaw asked, the challenge plain in her voice.

Larry seemed to be considering something. "How trustworthy are you, Shaw?"

"Please remember that I am hoping to keep certain 'information' about certain 'things' out of your hands."

"Touche," he muttered. "Okay, Shaw. A secret for a secret. I'm gay."

Shaw cocked her head. "Why should a state of extreme happiness be kept a secret?"

Larry sighed heavily. "Shaw, I'm gay in the way that Americans mean gay."

Shaw considered that, and nodded. "You are referring to sexual preferences."

"Yes, Shaw," he said, waiting to see what her reaction would be.

Shaw went back to her paperwork. Needless to say, Larry was stumped.

"Aren't you going to say anything?" he asked.

Shaw looked at him. "No, Larry. You shared this in confidence, and I will not tell anyone in any way, shape, or form without your consent."

"You don't care that I'm gay?"

"Of course not," she said. "I know that there are more important things to worry about, than how someone lives his or her life."

"Like what?" he asked.

Shaw closed her eyes. "Larry, I do not want you involved in that. It is bad enough that you saw me. I have the identities of others to protect."

"Surely you could use some help."

"Larry, you saw how easily I destroyed that vampire, yes?"

Larry nodded. "Yeah."

"I have the LEAST amount of experience in the martial arts out of those of us who hunt vampires," Shaw said. "I routinely suffer sound defeats in hand-to-hand training. However, there are only two people in the group that can beat me when it comes to combat with swords. My only advantage in unarmed combat is that I fight dirty."

"What martial arts do you learn?"

"Karate, judo, tae kwan do, akido, tai chi, kung fu, fencing, kenjitsu, Zen sword, stick fighting and archery."

Larry just stared in shock. "You know all those?"

"No, I am learning them. I have some prior training with my father and grandfather. They were in the SAS," she said, hoping to end it there.

"I know what the SAS is," Larry said, and Shaw mentally groaned.

"My God, Shaw," he added, running his hands through his hair, "you're a female Bruce Lee."

"Hardly," she snapped. "I do not wish to be a movie star. I want to help others, not to make money. As for a career, I find that I have interest in being a librarian, or going into antiques."

"Okay. Now, back to vampires. Will you let me help you?"

"No," she said. "Larry, please listen to me. These things are dangerous. The only reason I have survived this long is because I have these skills, and friends who keep me from fighting alone."

"Well, I'd like to help. This is my home," Larry told her.

"It has become my home, as well. Very well, Larry. I will inform my leader of your request. He has ways of determining whether or not you would be suitable for this. That is all I can promise you."

"Can you tell me anything about your leader?"

"Larry, I am not going to go into this again. I will say two words about him, and you will not ask anything else. Are we understood?"

"Okay, as far as your boss goes."

"Green Beret."

Larry stared at her. "Oh, shit."

"Please do not speak that way in my library."

"Okay, okay," he said, picking up the dangerous tone of her voice. "Fair enough. Now, how about your secrets?"

Shaw stared him down. "I beg your pardon?"

"The magic, or whatever you did. And those eyes?" He looked at her with a look of "Get out of this one" in his eyes.

"You are too observant for your own good," Shaw said softly.

"Thank you, Mr. Wizard," Larry said.

"An above average attempt. But I will tell you, I am no wizard."

"Sure, you aren't," he said with a smile.

"Larry, do you know what would happen if the truth were to become known? Thousands of people, including people I care about, would die."

"That's why you could always use more good guys."

"Larry, I said I would talk to my leader," Shaw said wearily.

"Okay. But one more question; are you human?"

"What I told you about Amy is the truth. And I do not take being called a liar very well."

"Okay, but. ."

"Larry, you have two choices. You can walk out of this library, or you can exit this library in the same manner that you entered it."

Larry got up. "Shaw, I understand you're trying to protect me. But you can't do everything yourself."

"I learned that several months ago, Larry," Shaw said evenly, and then gave him a look of compassion. "Larry, I know how Americans treat those who are different. Like you."

"Yes," Larry said with a nod.

"In the same way as they do those of mixed race."

"Like you, Shaw?"

"Like me," she confirmed. "And if one parent happened not to be human?"

"You're one of the good guys, Shaw. I saw that a few minutes ago," he said, waving towards the hallway. "It doesn't matter what genes you carry, but what you do."

Shaw just watched him.

Larry shook his head. "Remember, if you need help, come see me."

He turned and started to leave.

"Larry."

He looked back at her. "Yeah, Shaw?"

"Your word?" she asked, her arms folded.

"Of course."

"Fine. First, I am not a wizard, mage or witch. To use one of those despicable stereotypes your people have for your native tribes..."

"Yeah?" he asked, confused.

"Me heap big medicine woman," she said in a deep voice, and the switched back. "That is my type of magic. As for who I am, I have only two rules."

"Name them."

"First, I DO NOT work for a fat, red-clothed human from the North Pole. Second, there will never be a single mention of Vulcans in my presence. Are we understood?"

Larry watched her as he processed what she'd just said, and his eyes lit up as he got the joke under the warning.

"Got it, Shaw."

"Good," she said. "Now, if you will excuse me, I have work to do."

*****

"HUNTER!"

Shaw stopped in mid-song, and groaned. <Not again! I actually manage to finish early, start practicing for the first time in two weeks, and now HE shows up!>

Shaw set her flute down, and walked out of the office, and sure enough, there stood Snyder. However, there was someone standing next to him.

"Yes, Principal Snyder?"

"What was that noise?" he demanded.

"Celtic music." she answered. <Something very similar to music on Toril.> "I finished my paperwork, and no books have been returned, so I wished to practice. Was that wrong?"

"Uh, well, no," he said. "But you didn't turn in your paperwork."

Shaw sighed. "I apologize. Would you like me to get if for you?"

"Later. You called the police? About a break in?"

"Yes, I did, sir," Shaw confirmed.

"I'm Detective Stein," the second man said, introducing himself. "Can you tell me what happened?"

"I arrived early to start on my paperwork. I am covering for the librarian while he is out of town. I heard someone breaking in through the door, which I am sure you saw, and when he entered, I asked him his purpose."

"And what happened next?" Stein asked, writing notes.

"He made rude comments about me, and attacked me. I showed him how poorly I take such comments, as well as those who vandalize my school," Shaw said, letting a little anger bleed through.

"How did you 'show' him?"

"A crescent kick, followed by a spin kick, to the jaw. I am sure that I broke his jaw, if the sound was any indication. He then ran out."

"And then?" Stein asked.

The half-elf shrugged. "I called your department, and returned to my work."

Stein looked at her funny. "That's it?"

"Was I supposed to follow him?" Shaw asked, feigning confusion.

"No. Can you describe this man, Ms. Hunter?"

Shaw thought for a minute, then smiled. "I can do better, if you have a few minutes."

The detective nodded, so Shaw led him over to the computer. She logged on, and called up one of Willow's programs.

<Thank you, Willow.> she thought as she started typing. <Your help will save me a lot of time.>

She used the program, one for making sketches, to draw the head of the vampire that she'd killed. After five minutes, she finished. "That is him, sir." <At least you will not accidentally punish someone else.>

"Okay, I'll write this down. ."

"No need, Detective," Shaw said, clicking two buttons and setting the printer into motion. "His height, three to five inches taller than me, weighing twelve, perhaps thirteen stone."

"Stone?" Stein asked, completely lost.

Shaw sighed. "One stone equals fourteen pounds, sir," she said as she shook her head. "I must learn to speak as Americans do." <I must keep up appearances.>

"Got it. Thank you, Miss. Principal Snyder, I'll see you later."

After he left, Shaw could feel Snyder looking at her.

"I am sorry that he escaped, sir," she said as she logged off.

"Just get me your paperwork," he snapped.

"Of course." Shaw got up and headed for the office, smothering a smile. <The better to get you out of my library.>

*****

Grand Lawn Cemetery
Sunnydale, California
15 November 1998

A trio of figures watched from the shadows as the two young women entered one of the smaller cemeteries in Sunnydale.

"I can't believe this town has a dozen graveyards," J muttered.

"With all these unknowns here, I'm not surprised," K answered, keying his communicator. "L, your verdict?"

"Got it. Our 'unique' signature, accompanied by one human female."

"Human? We'll have to be careful," I said. "Let's bag us an alien."

Shaw and Kendra were patrolling, and Kendra kept glancing at Shaw. The ranger finally got impatient with her looks.

"Kendra, what is wrong?"

"Shaw, you look as if you're nervous," the Slayer said. "You have too much energy."

"It is a thing about being female," Shaw said irritably.

Kendra looked at her. "You mean that elves. ."

"Of course!" Shaw snapped, and rubbed her forehead. "Kendra, I am half human, and I truly do not wish to discuss these things."

Kendra dropped the matter, and jumped when Shaw suddenly whirled, drawing her sword from under her trenchcoat.

Kendra turned into a defensive stance, and saw three men approaching at a relaxed pace. Kendra extended her senses, and quickly determined that they were humans. The three men, one white, one black, and one American Indian, all had the look of professionals. She also noticed that they were all wearing suits and sunglasses.

Shaw uttered a quick prayer, and Kendra felt a spell come over her. She looked at Shaw, who said, "Translation spell. I am speaking Kartakan, not spoken on Earth."

Kendra smiled. "Buffy was right. You do fight dirty."

"I am female. Play along, Kendra."

The white man nodded to the girls. "Ladies, I'm Agent K. I need the young lady with the sword to come with us for questioning."

Shaw shook her head and spoke. Kendra listened, then translated. "She says she won't leave me alone out here."

"You have to come with us, ma'am," K said.

Shaw pointed at Kendra and spoke sharply, and Kendra looked shocked.

"It is not too dangerous without you," Kendra said, in anger. "I can

do fine."

Shaw shook her head firmly.

"Look, lady," J said, growing impatient, "We know what's out here. We've seen you taking them out."

I held up a hand, silencing J. "Miss, tell your friend that I'll escort you home. You have my word no harm will come to you."

Shaw looked him over, and spoke, her words clearly a question.

"What nation?" Kendra asked, in true confusion. "He's American."

I laughed. "Apache."

Shaw gazed at him, and nodded. She sheathed her sword, and started removing her coat and weapons, then handing them to Kendra, even her boot daggers. She gave a quick speech, and Kendra nodded.

Kendra looked at I. "She wants assurances that her property won't be taken from me."

I looked at K, who nodded. "Okay, I. Take her home."

Shaw looked at Kendra, and lightly hugged her. She whispered, "Kendra, the one called I is the most dangerous. Leave him unconscious, but unharmed if possible. Do not comment. I fight dirty, I have magic, and I am not in the best of moods."

Kendra had to work hard not to laugh. "Those two are in trouble."

"No, they are in, as a vampire said, 'deep shit.'"

Kendra backed up. "Be careful."

I walked up and escorted Kendra away. Shaw watched them go, worry on her face. She folded up her coat and tossed it to J, who tucked it under one arm. Shaw started walking, with one person on either side of her, one step behind.

After twenty paces, Shaw cast a light spell. "SHIRAK!!"

The spell took effect, blinding the unprepared agents. Shaw turned and gave K a spinning sweep kick that dropped him onto his chest.

<Hands out of use for a couple of seconds.>

She then grabbed J and judo tossed him onto his partner's back, and both uttered loud 'oofs' as the rookie landed on his partner. Shaw grabbed her coat and took off running.

J got up, blinking to clear his eyes. He managed to make out the girl running for the far edge of the cemetery. He took off after her, leaving K catching his breath and holding his sore ribs.

I was walking Kendra towards the gate, his hand gently grasping her left elbow. When he heard Shaw shout, he instinctively turned back towards the noise. It gave Kendra the opening she needed.

The Jamaican dropped Shaw's gear, grabbed I's arm, and turned him around, driving her knee into his stomach. As he bent over with a groan, she chopped him on the back of the neck, and I went down, but managed to grab Kendra's ankles and yank her off her feet.

Kendra crashed to the ground, and I moved to pin her down.

And received a right cross straight to his jaw for his troubles.

A second punch followed, and stars exploded in I's vision. A circle kick to the temple sent him into unconsciousness.

Kendra jumped up, grabbed her partner's items, and headed off into the night.

Shaw ran as fast as she could, but she could hear one of the people gaining on her. She realized that she would have to devise a plan.

<What is the last thing he would expect me to do?> she asked herself, and mentally smiled. <Of course.>

Shaw stopped dead.

J wasn't able to slow his momentum as Shaw stuck out her left elbow and caught the agent flush on the chin. J dropped to his knees like a drunk.

She threw a knife-edge at his neck, but he blocked it and threw a clumsy punch, which she dodged.

The agent regained his feet, and the two started trading moves, blocking and dodging.

<He is good. His teacher is to be commended.>

As the two jockeyed for position, Shaw decided to try a move that she'd seen performed on television.

Shaw jumped straight up, and wrapped her legs around J's neck. She then somersaulted backwards, bringing J straight over and rolling him onto his back.

As J slowly regained his feet, Shaw put her left foot in the crook of his arm and jumped, her right foot connecting solidly with J's skull. He flipped over in a 360-degree circle, and was knocked out.

Shaw kippuped, and after quickly scanning the area, took off like a startled deer.

K stumbled over, and saw J groggily standing up, holding the back of his head.

"What happened, Slick?"

"K, this thing took me cold! Man, I thought MY speed and reflexes were sharp."

"They are. I'd say nearly maximum for a human," K offered. "Hers were that high up?"

"Heck, yeah," J said angrily. "I'm surprised she didn't take my head clean off."

K gave his partner his infamous grin. "Don't let I hear you say that."

"I did hear it, and he ain't complaining," the Apache muttered as he walked up to the others. "Damn girl packs a meaner punch than a horse on loco weed."

"She took YOU down?" J asked in disbelief.

I nodded. "Yeah, pup. She did. I've never seen a human move that fast, or pack that much power. I never stood a chance once she got the jump on me."

"Let's get back to the motel," K ordered. He quickly keyed his comm. "L, our unique and her friend got away. Beat us up quickly and easily."

Stunned shock was palpable in L's response. "All three of you? That's impossible."

"I wish," J muttered.

"At least someone still believes in me," I said in a joking tone.

"Did you get a recording?"

"We did at that," J said, patting his jacket pocket. "Live, and in living color."

*****

Sunnydale Motor Lodge
Sunnydale, California
15 November 1998

L and the worms all wore stunned expressions on their faces as the male MIB's walked in, a physical and visual mess.

"Must me nice, being Immortal," L said. "You heal fast."

"Doesn't do much for the aches," I said. "Or for the ego."

The worms giggled at that, but shrank back at the glare that they received from the Apache.

"J, throw the recording into the holoplayer," I ordered. "I wanna analyze this thing's fighting style, maybe determine her race. I want as much detail as possible."

"Got it, I," J said, sliding the minidisk into the player and setting the controls.

I sat in a chair, and hit the remote. As the hologram of the unknown's escape started playing, I watched the burst of light and the girl taking J and K down. He quickly hit the pause button.

"I can't believe this, K," he snarled. "This girl took you two? I have got to intensify your training."

"Wait a minute, I," J protested. "This girl's good."

"She's okay, I'll grant her that. But watching this at half-speed..."

"Uh, I," J said worriedly, "that's one-third speed. You said you wanted detail."

I looked at J, then back at the projector. "Oh, shit."

L and K stared, but J spoke up. "Going down from half to a third moves her up from 'okay' to 'oh, shit?'"

"Yep."

I hit the player, and watched the rest of the short fight between the unknown and J. After watching J be knocked out, the recording died. Shortly after, I started bellowing out in laughter.

"Gee, thanks," J said.

"Sorry, J, but you're gonna feel bad. You did okay, I'll say that much, but I was expecting some kind of alien fighting art, not this."

"Like what?" K asked.

"Watch," he said, rewinding the tape enough to replay the last two moves. "The first move, it's called a hurancurana. The second move, the one that took J out, is called an izenguri kick. Certain members of a very specific group of warriors, together, use those two moves. You may have heard of some of them."

"Who are they, I?" L asked.

I gave J an evil grin. "Hulk Hogan, Steve Austin, Bret Hart. ."

"You gotta be kidding!" J snapped. "She knocked me out with--"

"Professional wrestling moves," I finished, and started laughing again, joined by the worms.

"L," K said, "put her picture in the computer. Check DMV, bank and credit records, and employee lists. Check for a match."

"One more thing. She wasn't trying to hurt J. The knife edge he blocked, she aimed her forearm at his neck, not her hand."

"She just wanted to book," J said. "To get out of Dodge."

"Hmmmmm. . ." K said. "L, check state records, too. I get the feeling we're overlooking something."

"Hey, I," J asked, "what about the girl that whooped your butt? That good?"

"No, that strong and fast. I'd say she had the strength of four men," I said, rubbing his jaw. "Steroids 'R' Us."

L and K looked at the computer screen in frustration. "No matches, K."

"There has to be something we missed," K said firmly. "Try again."

J looked at K. "You know, K, I know you're the stoic Jack Webb type and all, but you're taking this awfully well."

"What do you mean, Slick?"

"What do I mean?!? K, we've faced bugs, bounty hunters, Alpha, alien invasions and a Yautja, but we just had our butts handed to us by a pair of teenagers!"

K turned to J. "Say that again."

J shrank back. "We got our butts kicked?"

"Yes, but by who?"

"Teenagers?"

K smiled. "Good thinking, Slick. L?"

L also smiled. "Got it, K."

"Uh, thanks, K." J looked at I "I?"

"Beats me. This once, the Grand Old Man of MIB and the Kid are both stumped."

"J said 'teenagers,'" L said, tapping some keys. "Here we go, K. Accessing student records, Sunnydale High School."

Less than thirty seconds later, K smiled. "Bingo."

L nodded. "Hunter, Shaw Madison. Junior, age sixteen. Attending Sunnydale under the 'Let's Get Together' program. . wait a minute. K, that's a program for exchange students."

"Check immigration for a student VISA."

L did, and continued the brief. "Here we go. Place of birth, Loch Scholl, Scotland."

"Wait a minute," J said. "She did not have a Scottish accent."

"This one's done her homework," L said in admiration. "Father, Troy Carl Hunter. Mother, Miya Ann Hunter, maiden name Redstar. Paternal grandparents, deceased. K, the dates for her grandparents are the same. And AFTER her parents."

"Her 'parents' died first?" K asked.

"Yes. Let's see.. mother at two, father at ten, and grandparents at thirteen. And. ." she paused, "father AND grandfather are listed as Special Air Service, British Special Forces."

K whistled. "This one HAS done her research."

"I have a listed sponsor in New York, and. .she's actually living with a Catholic priest!" L said in surprise. "I have his address in front of me."

"A military brat," I said. "Damn good cover. It even explains her fighting skills and the strange accent. Military life means travel, especially for a kid."

L switched sites. "I even have military records for the father and grandfather. There are some holes, however."

"Such as?" K asked.

"No maiden names listed for the grandmothers, and not much for the maternal side, other than mother and her parents. I have birth certificates of at home live births, but nothing beyond that generation, on the maternal side. The paternal side goes back to the great-great grandparents. That's a fairly obvious discrepancy."

L went back to the school records and started looking. "I, listen to this. Special interests include Celtic and Irish music, languages. .and archery."

"She actually listed that?" I said, surprised.

"Yes. And listen to this; counselor comments state her as 'secretive and private, but bluntly honest. Does not hide details when revealing information.'"

L pressed a few buttons.

"Let me get this straight," J said, "this butt-whoopin' alien is posing as a high school student?"

"So it would seem, Slick," K said with a nod.

"You're both wrong," L said. "I'm looking at her attendance records and test scores."

"Meaning?" I asked.

"She isn't posing as a high school student. She IS a high school student."

The three male agents looked at each other at this information.

"L," I said, "are you telling us that this thing kills unknown aliens at night, and by day.."

"She's getting an education," L finished. "Two point eight GPA, and she's improving. K, do you remember your first encounter with her?"

"Yes. She killed an unknown after. . .he attacked us."

"I've got a theory, K. She's actually attending this school, she lists her interests, and she even listed herself as an exchange student. As much as she can do so, she's made her records true."

K nodded thoughtfully. "Bluntly honest."

J started to look uneasy. "Uh, L, if her school and immigration stuff is more or less true.."

"What is it, Slick?" K asked, picking up the worry in his tone.

"What about her family records?"

L looked at K, a surprised look on her face. K just shook his head. "No wonder she ran off."

"So this unknown could actually be. .a kid?" J asked. "And alone, to boot?"

"Learning about Earth by attending high school," I said in wonder. "And killing unknowns that attack people."

"L, what classes does she take?"

"Let's see," L said, and read off the list. "English, Math, World History, Basic Computers, and Comparative Literature. Currently excused from classes. . . and running the school library while the librarian is out of town."

"She's running a library?" I said. "That takes some brainpower."

"And it helps us," K said. "We can pay her a visit in private tomorrow."

"K, are we gonna bust her?" J asked his partner.

"I want to talk to her, get her story, and find out what's happening in this town," K said. "Why?"

"Well, if she really is a kid, and alone, maybe we could help her. That is part of the job, after all. And after the way she handled us last night, I don't want to make her angry at us."

I laughed. "Rookie's got a point on that last one, K."

"Agreed. All four of us will head out in the morning."

*****

Sunnydale High Library
Sunnydale, California
16 November 1998

A stray sound caught Shaw's attention, so she quietly set her paperwork down. She stealthily walked up to the doorway, and saw the very last thing she wanted to see.

The same three men from the previous night, joined by a short blonde woman.

"Miss Shaw Hunter?" the one called K asked politely.

"Yes, can I help you 'gentlemen?'" she asked in a cold tone.

J flinched. "Uh oh. She's still miffed."

"What is miffed?"

"Never mind," J snapped. "We need to talk, kid."

"No, we do not," Shaw said. "I have work to do. If you wish to come back after school, I can talk to you then."

"We're not going anywhere," J told her.

Shaw started to comment, but jerked and looked at the door. She looked over to K. "Principal alert."

The four people started putting on sunglasses.

<What in the Abyss are they doing that for?>

Snyder walked in, furious. "Hunter, what are these people. ."

K pulled out a neuralizer and flashed Snyder, who stopped, a glazed expression on his face. K pocketed the device, and smiled.

"Sir, we're with Immigration. We came to you over some questions with Miss Hunter's paperwork. ."

". .and you were very pleased with their courtesy," Shaw interjected, drawing glances from the people. "You escorted them here, and will proceed home, for a well-deserved day off."

After a few seconds, Snyder came to, "Gentlemen, lady, I'll leave you here with Hunter. Good day." The principal turned and walked out of the library.

"How long does the effect last?" Shaw asked in curiosity.

"Only until tomorrow morning," K said with a slight grin.

"That is too bad. It would make students' lives much easier."

"Back to business," J said. "We need to talk to you."

"The main reason for waiting until after school just left," Shaw said with a grin.

"Miss Hunter, we're MIB," K said as the agents removed their sunglasses.

"All right," Shaw said, plainly not knowing who that was. "And that would be?"

"Come on, lady," J said sarcastically, "we know you're not human."

Shaw's eyes widened. "Shirak!"

A small globe of light formed over I's face. The other agents started drawing weapons.

Shaw cast a protection spell, a blue glow forming across the library. The MIB's stopped.

"Dulak!"

A small globe of darkness positioned itself in front of Shaw, who turned and ran into the office.

J ran up to the wall and started pounding. "A force field? Where does she get this stuff?"

"I don't know, J," L said, pulling out a scanner and flipping it on. "According to this, there's nothing here."

"Uh, can someone help me here?" I asked, a ball of light over his face. "I can't see."

"I'll get this," J said, pulling out the Noisy Cricket.

"Hold up, Slick," K ordered, putting up a hand. "She can't go anywhere. We'll just wait her out. Remember, we're just here to talk to her."

"Well, she obviously doesn't think so," J said.

Shaw started looking through her purse, an Earth item that Cordelia had convinced her to carry about a month before. Currently, it was proving to be a source of frustration, rather than convenience. In fact, it had Shaw imagining a scene involving a certain Amazon, a flaming sword, and salted wounds.

<How do these Goddess-blasted Earth women find anything in these things?!?> she screamed. <I am going to kill. . .finally!>

Shaw pulled out a card with the number to Steve's hotel room, but stopped short. <It will take them hours to get back here, and they have their own mission. Blast!> she snapped. <They cannot teleport. . .>

An idea went off in Shaw's head. She looked back inside of her purse, and pulled out a second card. She quickly dialed the number on the card.

<Giles will murder me when he receives a bill for this.>

"SERRA offices, Toby Baird's office," a female voice answered.

"You are not Toby," Shaw said.

"He's busy, can I take a message?"

"I have to speak with Toby immediately. It is an emergency," she said, frustration growing.

"Miss, you cannot simply. . ."

{Listen to me now! If I do not speak to Tobabaird now, his precious secret will be the first story on American news programs by the end of this night!}

After a second, the female responded, "One moment, please."

A few seconds later, seemingly an eternity for Shaw, a cold voice answered. "What do you want?"

"Can you teleport?"

It was quite obvious that this wasn't the answer he'd been expecting. "What??"

"Can. You. Teleport?" Shaw snapped off.

"Who is this?" Toby asked.

"Your dance partner."

"I have a lot of dance partners." Humor was growing in his voice.

{How many will have Moira McClarity thrash your elven computer analyst posterior across Paris while dancing to 'Drowsy Maggie!!'} Shaw screamed at him.

"Who in the name of Oberon are you??" Toby asked.

<Try this.> "I kill vampires."

"Oh, no. Shawukay, what's wrong?" Genuine concern was now in his voice.

"Only the fact that I currently have four humans, who know that I am NOT, after me, with only a spell of protection between me and them. A spell that has never been tested against Earth technology."

"Okay. Where are you?"

"In the office," she replied, looking back at the doorway.

"Exactly! Details!"

"In the office, school library, Sunnydale High School in Sunnydale, California," she rattled off.

"Shawukay, please tell me you're not living next to the Hellmouth," Toby pleaded, horror in his tone.

"Tobabaird, I am currently trapped two hundred feet directly above it and one of only three people available to keep it closed!!" she snapped.

"I can be there in ninety seconds. I need you to hold out until then," Toby instructed.

"Understood. Toby. .thank you."

"Hang up. I'll be there."

K was running his hand along the invisible wall, trying to find a weakness.

"K, how long can this thing last?" J asked, just as the girl walked out of the office, a grim look on her face.

"Long enough, J," Shaw stated. "I will thank you to leave now."

"Can't do that, Miss Hunter," K said. "We need to talk to you."

"Like you needed to 'talk' to me last night?" she retorted sharply. "I seem to recall that you need something called a 'warrant' for such things."

"Yep. She's done her homework, alright," the blinded I said glumly.

Shaw looked at him, and she seemed to concentrate. The light disappeared, and I stood up.

"Thank you, Miss," he said.

"You can thank me by leaving," she snapped.

"Now look here, you little alien. ." J started, but never finished as Shaw launched into a tirade in another language. J winced. "Uh, K?"

"Yeah, Slick?"

"I've heard that kind of talk before."

"From what?" K asked.

"From sailors," he said.

Shaw stopped talking, and started backing up towards the office again. J drew out his weapon again, bringing her to a stop. She narrowed her eyes and her voice promised great pain.

"If you damage so much as a single page in here, I will hurt you very badly."

J gulped.

Suddenly, a voice came from the office. "Drienne!"

Shaw turned and ran towards the office, but she stopped just before going through the door.

"J."

J looked at her, and his jaw dropped as she gave him a strange salute, a full smile on her face.

"Shawukay!" the voice in the office called harshly.

Her smile vanished, and she ran in.

J moved forward, trying to break his way through the wall. And he fell forward when nothing impeded his progress. He landed heavily on his stomach.

"I can't believe that of all the things to learn on Earth," I said, chuckling, "that she learned to give someone the finger."

J got up and ran into the office. "K, they're gone!"

K looked at L. "Teleportation?"

L shrugged. "I have no idea, K."

"This mission just keeps getting stranger every minute," K muttered.

"It's not just a job, it's an adventure."

K and L glared at I.

*****

Part 8: Convergence
(MIB Attends Bloodsuckers 101, And A Ranger Learns That Coffee And Pointed Ears Don't Mix)

"Can't we all just get along?"
---Rodney King

Sunnydale High Library
Sunnydale, California
16 November 1998

J walked out of the office, shaking his head in frustration. "I can't believe this! I thought this was a kid, an orphan. And she's made us look like idiots twice!"

I chuckled, earning a glare from J. "She didn't make us look like idiots, J. We underestimated her, plain and simple."

K and L nodded, and K started to issue orders.

"J, go back into the office, check for anything that might indicate where she went. L, look around for anything strange. I, stand by the door, flash anyone that comes in."

"Got it, boss man," I said, moving off to the door.

"We have to find her, and sit her down for a very long talk."

*****

Johansen Residence
Sunnydale, California
16 November 1998

Shaw and Toby materialized inside of Shaw's room, and Shaw staggered a bit from disorientation. Toby had to hold her for a few seconds while she recovered.

Shaw looked around, and quickly realized where she was. "How did you. ." she started to speak, but turned on Toby. "You entered my mind?"

"Only to determine a close, safe location, Shawukay," Toby assured her.

Shaw's expression softened, and she nodded. "Shaw. Shaw Hunter," she said, turning for the closet. "That is who I am now."

"I don't get it."

Shaw stopped. "Read my memories. From our meeting, until now," she said with a great deal of reluctance, and then opened the closet door.

As she began pulling out weapons, she felt a light touch in her mind.

"Shaw, do you know how hard it is to read you?" Toby asked, and she could hear the concentration in his voice.

She didn't turn around, instead throwing Soulreaver and several daggers on her bed. "Explain."

"You've got a strong empathic ability, but it's raw, untrained," Toby said. "Add to that the fact you've got one of the strongest wills I've ever seen. ."

"Meaning, I have a psionic ability that I cannot turn off, and I am very stubborn."

"Yes," Toby snapped, then he focused. "It's almost impossible to break through, it'd be difficult even for a fully trained telepath."

Shaw checked the edges on her daggers, and started putting them on her person. She felt Toby leave her mind.

"You've done all this in six months?" he asked, with awe in his voice. Awe that made the half-elf feel uncomfortable.

"Yes, Toby. It was the mission that I was given," Shaw said, and then turned to Toby, sword in hand. "Are you ready?"

"You bet. Where to?"

"The library," she said, her tone indicating "where else?"

"What?!? I just rescued you from there!"

"Toby, I did not ask you here as a rescuer," she said firmly.

"Then what am I?" he asked, totally confused.

"Reinforcements."

Toby's jaw dropped, then clacked shut. "You died, Shawukay."

"Yes, I did. And do not call me that. Shaw Hunter is the person I have become," she said, and softly added, "It is the person I want to be. I do not want to ever be that uncaring again."

"You were glad you died. Why?"

Shaw turned away, and he could hear the emotion in her voice. "Because up until that moment, I still doubted myself, as to whether or not I truly cared. When the decision had to be made," she stopped, and turned back to the elf, her eyes glistening, "I did not hesitate. I did not even think. My only instinct was to do whatever it took to fulfill that prophecy. I felt manipulated, I felt mistrusted, but it simply did not matter at that moment. I was, for that moment, the person I was before revenge took over my life."

"And now?" Toby asked, nodding for her to continue.

"I have regained some of my hope and my idealism. But, it is tempered by realism, experience, and an edge that I have found is needed here," she said, no doubt in her voice. "I know that all things are possible, but one must work for them. And, I know that I still have work to do, to become a better person."

Toby nodded. "I understand. Okay, what's the plan?"

"Can you teleport the two of us into separate parts of the library, at the same time?"

"You don't ask for much, do you?" Toby asked wryly. "Okay, but you should know something. That Apache?"

"Yes?" Shaw asked.

"He's really old, like Connor and Moira," Toby said with an evil grin. "I knew him two centuries ago. Whatever those people are there for, it's not to hurt you."

"I see," Shaw said with a slight undercurrent of anger in her voice. "Send me inside the library doors, you enter inside the office. They will have someone there, looking for clues as to my whereabouts."

"You're sure of that."

"Of course. They are human." Shaw said with a grin.

"You know this because they're human," Toby said doubtfully.

Shaw's grin increased. "They are also men."

Toby sighed. "Alright. Let's get this over with."

*****

Sunnydale High Library
Sunnydale, California
16 November 1998

"K, I've found something," L said. "A stash of weapons."

"What kind?" K asked. "Lasers, plasma blasters, sonic beams?"

"No," L said, shaking her head. "Daggers, a couple of swords, a hand axe, and a crossbow. Also, several wooden stakes."

"Hmmmm." K looked over at the doors. "I, anyone coming?"

"Not a soul, K," the Immortal MIB stated.

"Keep watching," K said, and began to turn towards the office when a flash caught his eye.

He turned back to see I on his knees, with Shaw Hunter, her hair pulled back in a braid, revealing pointed ears, holding a flaming longsword at I's neck.

"Nobody move, or this one pays the price," she said.

L and K both stood up and started to move forward, but Shaw dug the sword a little into his neck.

"There can be only one," Shaw said grimly.

"She knows about me, K," I said in shock. "How did you find out?"

J called from the office. "Uh, guys, she's back. And she's a he."

"She's out here, Slick," K shouted, and looked back at Shaw. "It appears that we have a standoff, Miss Hunter. Now what?"

"That depends on your friend," Shaw said, looking in I's eyes. "Raymond McGuire."

I's eyes narrowed in anger. "You know that Irish fuck?"

"I killed that 'fuck'," she said, and removed the sword from his neck. "Someone vouched for you."

"Who's that?" I asked as he stood.

"Uh, guys, this guy's got a sword pointed at my chest," J called.

"Miss Hunter, would you mind asking your friend to come out here so that we could talk?"

Shaw put her left hand on her chin, seeming to think about it. "I am not certain. You did try to abduct me, you barged into my library. . ."

"Miss, don't mess around," I snapped.

"I dunno, Stalking Rattler," the male voice called from the office, "Shaw's pretty stubborn when she sets her mind on something."

"Oh, no," I said, his eyes closed as he raised his head to the ceiling. "Not him."

"Yes, sir, Stalking Rattler, sir," Toby called with a smile, as he backed J out of the office before sheathing his sword, "It's me."

"You know him, I?" K asked.

"Yeah, I know this Vulcan lookalike.." he said before finding Shaw's sword at his neck again.

"What did you call him?" she asked through gritted teeth.

"Let me guess, Tobabaird. She doesn't like Star Trek," I said.

"Hates it with a passion," Toby said, grinning at I's predicament. "Shaw, put it away."

Shaw looked reluctant, but followed his order.

I looked over at Toby. "Tobabaird, what are you doing here?"

"Reinforcements. And you?"

"We're hunting aliens," J snapped, and cringed when Shaw launched into one of her "speeches."

Toby's jaw dropped six feet, and it took him several seconds to recover. "Shawukay!!"

Shaw stopped, but continued to glare at J with a look that promised death.

"How old is she, Toby?" I asked.

"Fifty-three," Toby answered, still somewhat surprised at the 'fluency' of her language.

"What?? You let this kid out on her own?!?" I said in total shock. "A wet behind the ears Magus at fifty-three years of age?!?"

"First off, Shaw's half-elven, making her equal to seventeen or eighteen, but she's a full fledged adult," Toby said, and his grin grew evil. "And she's not a mage, she's a priestess."

"You're elves?" L asked, taking a professional tone. "Or in Miss Hunter's case, half-human?"

Shaw stared at L, who looked uncomfortable until a light grin touched her face. "Toby, why is it that it was a woman that was the first human that did not assume that one half or the other was something dark and sinister?"

I was looking at Shaw, his shock now turning to fear. "Are you telling me that I pissed off a half-elven medicine woman?"

"Yep."

"On her cycle," Shaw barked at him with a snap.

I sat down and groaned. "Oh, crap."

"While directly over the Hellmouth," Toby finished. I looked at Toby, doubt on his face, then to Shaw, and his doubt vanished as he saw her nod in anger. He stood up, walked over to the wall, and started banging his head.

"K, if I killed Zed when we get back to New York, who'd be next in line to run MIB?"

K thought about it, and answered, "I would."

"You want the job?"

"No, not really," K said sourly.

K went over to Shaw, who tensed up a bit. "Miss Hunter, I apologize for this. I assume you now understand why we wanted to talk to you. MIB, or Section Six, to use our official designation, are a hidden branch of Immigration. We police alien activity on Earth, and provide refugees from other planets with a haven. We have a Yautja, an alien, hunting down these unknown aliens that you fight."

Shaw gaped, and anger flashed in her eyes. "Unknown aliens?!? Are you insane?!?"

"Quite the opposite, actually."

"Miss Hunter, how do you know about Immortals?" I asked.

"Connor told me after I killed McGuire," Shaw answered. "Four times before I did it correctly."

I and J shuddered.

"Connor MacLeod, your sponsor?" L asked.

I whirled on L. "L," I said in a "you are dead meat" tone, "why didn't you tell me that last night? Connor MacLeod is one of the finest Immortals to ever exist!"

L gulped. "Uh, we thought the records were faked."

I rubbed his face. "Like I said in New York, bad medicine."

"I," Shaw said, "we need to talk. In private."

"I," K asked, "are you sure about that?"

I nodded. "I know Toby, as much as I wish I didn't." Toby smirked. "I think I can trust her. Let's go, Miss Hunter."

The half-elf and Immortal walked into the office, and Shaw closed the door.

"Okay, what do you want to talk about?"

"First, did you receive a manuscript and translation of it, earlier this year?" Shaw asked. "About what was called the 'Game?'"

"Yeah," I said, surprised. "How someone knew about me I didn't know, but I got it. Why?"

"It was the truth. I can explain," Shaw said, and quickly told him of the events in L. A. earlier in the year.

"Any Immortals hear this?" I asked.

"Over sixty, including Cassandra, Connor AND Duncan, and Methos, as well as the Immortal I call leader."

I looked at her. "And he or she is?"

"The Wanderer," Shaw answered. "Certainly you have heard of him. . and Section Seven?"

I fell into a chair. "Jesus H. Christ. No wonder you beat J and K like that. If you're trained by the Wanderer. I mean, I knew he was a shithot government agent, but damn. Who trained him?"

"Duncan."

I groaned. "Great. The Boy Scout trained the Wanderer. He's a regular goody twoshoes." I sighed. "Coulda been worse, I suppose. Coulda been trained by Connor."

"For your information, I was trained by Connor," Shaw said, anger rising inside of her. Apparently, I picked it up.

"Sheesh. It was a joke, Shaw."

Shaw considered his tone. "Very well. Now, on to the important matter. This Yautja, as you call him, is actually making my duties easier. I thought he was some form of demon."

I started laughing. "And what did you think our unknown aliens were?"

"I KNOW what they are, I," Shaw said. "And I can prove it by going over the events of last night."

I stopped laughing at the surety in her voice. "Oh, really? How?"

Shaw gave him an evil grin.

<Now I know she was trained by MacLeod.> I thought.

"Do you remember the girl you were going to escort home?" she asked, humor in her voice.

I nodded, rubbing his jaw. "Who was that steroided freak?"

"The Slayer."

I looked at her, and then dropped his face into his hands. "Oh, shit. No wonder I got my ass kicked. And what we thought were aliens?"

"Yes," Shaw said, chuckling. "Do you feel better about losing your fight with Kendra?"

"Actually, yes," I said, starting to chuckle himself. "Keep in mind, I've heard of the Slayers and such, but never encountered them. K and the others are not going to like this."

"I have a plan to convince your friends," Shaw said. "Please play along. I need their trust. If you trust me, they will follow your lead."

"Knowing that you fight over the Hellmouth, I think I can trust you. It's Tobabaird I have a problem with. His sense of humor is almost as bad as Connor's."

Shaw smiled. "I know."

I groaned.

The pair exited the office, rejoining the four people waiting for them.

"Well?" K asked.

"K," I said, "can you and J catch one of the unknowns, and bring it to the hotel?"

"Alive and unharmed," Shaw added. "He must be healthy for me to prove what they are."

"Yes. We can have L run tests on it," K said. "Miss Hunter, would you consent to giving us a sample of your DNA, so that we can avoid future mistakes? That's why we couldn't classify you according to known Earth beings."

Shaw looked unsure, and looked to Toby. "Toby? If they know about this, what then? I am not the only one who would be affected by this. What about you and any others?"

"I trust Stalking Rattler. He's good for his word," Toby said with a nod of approval.

"Very well," Shaw said, drawing a dagger and cutting off a long piece of her hair. "Is this sufficient, K?"

"Yes, Miss Hunter," he said, accepting it and putting it in a ziploc bag normally used to hold evidence.

"Miss Hunter," L inserted, "what about your records? There are some holes in them, not many, but mainly on your mother's side. Which I assume is the elven side of your heritage?"

"Yes," Shaw said evenly. "I have nothing for that. I used variations of my parents' and grandparents' names, but I have no elven relatives here. I am not from Earth. At least, this Earth."

As the agents started looking at each other, Toby spoke up. "Shaw, tell them what you can. They said themselves they help people."

Shaw nodded, and began giving details that she thought relevant. It only took a few minutes, but the agents were shaking their heads.

"Holy alternate universes, Batman," J said.

"Shaw, you know that your records list you as a junior?"

"Yes, L," Shaw nodded. "What about it?"

"Well, you would legally be required to 'return' to Scotland after the school year was over," she clarified.

Shaw snapped at her. "No! This is my home now. This is where my kin and friends live."

Toby moved over to her. "Shaw, calm down. I said they can help you."

Shaw looked at him, uncertainty showing. "How?"

"Simple," K said. "Your great-grandmother was an American, and the last ancestor that lived here. If we do the tracing to her sister, that would link you and your cousin. Also, we can do something with your maternal records, perhaps provide more records further back, to avoid any future problems. And we can substitute human DNA for the elven half, for any 'official' records. And since you don't have any relatives, fictional or real, in 'Scotland,' we can arrange for you to stay in America. When you 'officially' turn eighteen, you can choose to go to Scotland, using England's citizenship laws, or stay in America and, eventually, legally become an American citizen. Of course, you'd still have to attend school, being a 'junior.'"

"Why do you make it sound bad? I greatly value this," Shaw said.

"Most kids don't like school," Toby pointed out.

"And we can alert Amy's parents. ."

"No!! It is Amy's choice!" Shaw spurted, before calming down. "I will not, as the phrase goes, go behind her back in that manner. I swore that she would be the one to tell them."

"All right, Miss Hunter," K said, raising his palms in a "calm down" gesture. "We'll respect your wishes."

Shaw nodded, still surprised at this turn of events. "Thank you."

"Okay. We'll meet your group later. We'll bag one of the unknowns, and you can show us what they are."

"Agreed," Shaw said, still somewhat distracted.

As the agents started to leave, Toby cleared his throat. "Shaw, I think that J deserves an apology for your language?"

Shaw looked at J, who smirked. "Yes, he does. J, I am sorry for speaking to you in that manner."

"Thanks," he said.

"And I apologize for kicking your ass last night," she added, going into the office.

J's jaw dropped, and Toby just shook his head in embarrassment.

"J, she actually thought you had a fair amount of skill. She's just getting your goat," Toby said.

"A FAIR amount?" J asked in irritation.

"Considering that she's training under the Wanderer, who's Immortal, and she once trained under Connor MacLeod, she's comparing you to Immortals. By the way, the Wanderer runs the now infamous Section Seven." I said to soothe J's ego.

"Wait. She's comparing me to Immortals?"

"Two of the best," I assured him. "If she thinks that, it also means she approves of my skill."

Toby laughed at him, and it drew a glare.

"You think something's funny about that?"

"Yeah. During her little scrap with J, the only thought she had, and keep in mind I read her memories with her permission, that didn't involve escaping was that J was 'good,' and that his teacher was to be commended. Considering who she was comparing you to, that's very high praise. Shaw doesn't impress easily."

"Good enough for you, J?" I asked the rookie.

"Hell yeah, if I'm good compared to you," J said, getting back at I, who glared.

"Just wait until we get back to New York, pup."

J gulped.

*****

Sunnydale Motor Lodge
Sunnydale, California
16 November 1998

"Can you tell us what's going to happen?" Joe asked as he pulled into the parking lot. "Do you trust these people?"

"Yes, at least as far as the Immortal goes," Shaw said. "Toby trusts them, and I trust him."

"What is it? I can hear the humor in your voice."

"Well, the fact that what I thought was a demon is actually an alien," Shaw said, "was somewhat. .surprising."

Toby laughed. "Wait until you see the looks on their faces, Sir Joseph."

"What do you mean?" Kendra asked as they got out of the car. Apparently, she still wasn't used to the idea of seeing a male elf.

"When they find out that their 'unknown aliens' are actually vampires."

The four walked up to the room number they'd been given, and Shaw knocked on the door.

L opened up, and let a small smile come to her face. "Come on in, Shaw. Bring your friends in, too."

The group walked in, and sat down in extra chairs that had to have been brought in from other rooms. The agents looked suspicious at the two extra people, and K stood up.

"Miss Hunter, would you care to handle the introductions?"

"Of course, K. Please, call me Shaw, though." As K nodded, she pointed to her companions. "You have met Tobabaird. This is Sir Joseph N'Gato, of the Knights of the Order of the Grail. And finally, Kendra McPhereson, who you have already met," she said, looking at I, who winced and pretended to pierce his heart in good humor. "Joseph, Kendra, these are Agents J, K, L and I of Section Six, Immigration."

As everyone nodded to each other, Joe spoke up.

"Shaw has told us of your mission, as well as the help you are giving her. It is a pleasure to meet you."

"You're with the Order?" I asked. "I thought they were legends."

"Like Kendra?" Shaw asked innocently.

"Keep rubbing it in, Hunter," I said with a mock glare.

"Don't start, you two," J said.

"She's just trying to lower the tension, pup," I said. "It's all in fun."

K nodded. "Alright, let's get started. L, have the guys bring him in."

L walked over to the bathroom, and opened the door. The worms came out, pushing a gurney with someone strapped to it, his face distorted, and struggling to no avail. He was screaming something, but a gag of some sort kept anyone from understanding him.

The worms walked over to J. "Coffee?"

J smacked his head. "K, how about it? I could use some."

"Okay."

The worms rushed over and started pouring cups. They offered cups to Joe and Kendra, who took them while staring at the short aliens. When they offered one to Shaw, she hesitated and looked at Kendra, preparing to say something. And the worms got a good look at the half-elf.

"Look at that sword."

"Xena."

"Hottie."

"Vulcan mama."

Shaw's stood up, and the worms backed up at the fiery gaze in her eyes. Toby just uttered a soft, "Shaw."

The worms quickly got the point.

"Oooooo."

"If looks could kill."

"We'd be fried."

Finally, Shaw sat down, and looked at Kendra again.

"Kendra," she began, "the others have been badgering me to try this liquid. For some reason, I shy away from it. Your opinion?"

"Try it, it's good," Kendra urged her with a grin.

As she started to reach for the cup, I said, "Elves are allergic to caffeine, Shaw."

Shaw stopped in mid-motion. "What?" she asked, and then looked over at Toby. "Why did you not inform me of this six months ago?" she asked, her temper still short.

"You were more interested in Scotch and dancing at the time," he reminded her with a smirk.

Shaw's face flushed as she felt the shocked glances from Joe and Kendra.

"You drink Scotch?" Joe asked.

"Once. And I am an adult, Joseph," she informed him.

"And you can dance?" Kendra asked.

"Not like you or the others. I dance to Celtic music," she snapped. "And we have more important matters to discuss."

At that moment, the door burst in, and the MIB's and Slayerettes started drawing weapons.

"Where the fuck have you been!!" a Japanese woman shouted. "I been tracking that bastard youngster two weeks, and you're sitting here having coffee with a buncha Vulcans!!"

Shaw jumped up and launched into a tirade, and the woman and the man accompanying her both drew back in fear. Toby just closed his eyes in resignation.

<She would call you here during that time.> he thought.

"Shaw."

Shaw stopped and snapped her gaze at Joe. "What." she said in a cutting tone.

"What's wrong with you?"

"I can tell you that," the woman said with a grin. "That time of the month?"

"Yes," Shaw snapped.

K stepped forward. "You would be the one the clan sent after Junior?"

"Duothadi, aka Machiko Noguchi, formerly Force Recon, at your service," she said, and raised an eyebrow at the sight of the gurney. "Hey, me and Reno killed one of those fucks last week. Attacked a girl, and we smoked his ass."

"You would be Reno?" K asked the man.

"Yeah," he said, "although Machiko handled the thing. I just watched the fun."

"You just watched?" J asked.

"Hey," Machiko said, "Badge Boy's a bad ass karate dude. But I sorta beat him to the punch with a discus."

"Good job," K said. "Come on in."

Noguchi and Raines walked in and just stood against the wall. "Drinkin' coffee while that thing's strapped down. And I thought you were kinky, Raines."

Reno smacked her on her arm. "Shut up. What's going on?"

K introduced everyone in the room, and Reno and Machiko were somewhat surprised at the revelation of elves, although Machiko smiled.

"Shouldn't be surprised, I guess. And I'll remember about the Vulcan remarks," she said, smiling at Shaw.

"Good," Shaw said.

"Miss Hunter was just about to show us just what these things are," K said. "Shaw, why don't you proceed?"

Shaw nodded and walked over to the gurney, where the man was struggling. Shaw favored him with an evil grin at his look of hate.

"Would the Slayer mind joining the Hunter?" she asked.

The look of hate was replaced with one of dread.

Kendra walked over to the other side of the gurney and nodded. "Go ahead."

Shaw looked over her shoulder at the others. "Watch carefully," she ordered.

She placed her left hand on the man's cheek, and a hissing sound started, and smoke began to rise from under Shaw's hand. The man screamed in pain, and J wasn't happy.

"What the hell are you doing to him?"

Shaw removed her left hand, and tossed something to L, who caught the item. Shaw turned to J and K.

"Finish it."

Kendra whipped out something and drove it into the man's chest, and he disappeared in a cloud of dust, which coated the gurney.

The worms were impressed.

"Oooo."

"Now you see him."

"Now you don't."

J and K both jumped out of their chairs, rage in their eyes.

"Give us one reason not to run you in for murder," K said in a dangerous voice.

"J, K, and any others who did not know what that thing was," Shaw said in a neutral tone, "look at the 'murder' weapon."

She turned to L. "L, what was the object that I used to burn the man?"

L looked at it, and confusion was rampant on her face. "It's a cross. A crucifix."

"J, what was the instrument of death?"

J looked at what Kendra held up in plain sight. "It's a wooden stake."

"And what do these two things add up to, L?" the half-elf asked, looking at the scientist.

After only a few seconds, L's face went white. "Oh, shit."

That drew looks of utter surprise from J and K, while I just smiled.

"What's this all about?" J and Machiko asked at the same time.

"Certainly you can figure it out," Shaw said. "Fact, a crucifix burned his face. Fact, a wooden stake into his heart killed him. Fact, it is nighttime outside. Taken into consideration as a whole, what do these usually add up to?"

K mused over it. "Normally, I would say. ." he stopped and looked over at I. "Old wives' tales?"

"Like I said, I've seen things that make our alien friends look cuddly. First time I've seen one of those, though, in the undead flesh."

"Kendra, here," I said, "is what is called the Slayer. She's given the mystical strength, speed, and skill to fight those things. That's why she treated me like a red-headed stepchild last night."

"Sorry," Kendra said in embarrassment. "I was trying to get you away from Shaw."

"I'm just glad you weren't Immortal," he added.

"Ah, you know about Buffy," Shaw said in an evil humor tone.

"Who's Buffy?" I asked.

"The previous Slayer. And the Wanderer's love," Shaw said.

"Wait a minute. The Slayer is only called when the previous one dies."

"Yes." Shaw answered, her grin growing as evil as the tone of her voice.

"But. ." I said, and fell silent as he realized what she was hinting at. "Oh, shit. What happens to me when they find out we wanted to take you in?"

"They'll probably thank you for the help, and get a good laugh about the whole thing." Joe said.

"Uh, wait a minute," J said. "Isn't Junior huntin' these bloodsuckers?"

"Yes, J." Kendra told him.

"Junior's doing a good deed?" Machiko asked, a grin forming. "Well, this may not be so bad after all."

Shaw nodded with a smile. "It has made my, Kendra and Joseph's job easier."

"You three do this alone?" K asked in slight disbelief.

"Hardly," Shaw said, and she looked at Joe. "Shall I tell them, without giving names?"

"Actually, that might be a good idea. This way, we can contact each other, should the need arise."

"Very well," Shaw said, "K, we have three Immortals, two of whom carry enchanted swords, the third wielding the Sword of St. Catherine. We also have four Amazons, three of whom are witches, as well as several others. The Wanderer can also call for help from various groups."

"Such as?" K asked politely.

Shaw looked to Joe, who nodded and answered. "The Knights of the Grail, and members of various agencies, including Green Berets, Army Rangers, Navy SEAL teams, the FBI, and the CIA, as well as their British, German, French and Australian counterparts."

"What's the big deal about this St. Catherine thing?" J asked.

"The sword belonged to Joan of Arc, J," I said.

"Shaw," L asked, "is your cousin an Amazon?"

"As well as a witch," Shaw confirmed.

"That sounds really weird," J said.

Shaw frowned at him. "As weird as a half-elven warrior priestess from another dimension?"

"Good point," I said, starting to laugh. "So what can we do?"

"We could split up into teams, so we can cover more ground," K said. "Any objections?"

"First priority's finding Junior," Machiko said. "Imagine if he was helping us."

"You might almost feel sorry for the bloodsuckers, huh?" J asked, grinning.

"Almost, but not quite," Reno added.

"Agreed," K said. He looked over at Joe. "Sir N'Gato, you're familiar with this town, could you come up with balanced teams?"

"Perhaps," Joe said, looking over at Reno and Machiko. "Miss Noguchi, how good is Mr. Raines?"

"Shit. Better'n me, an' I was Special Forces, and I been running with the Yautja for two years."

"All right," Joe said, nodding. "Agent L and her four 'friends' can stay here, to coordinate the three teams."

"Okay," K said. "What're the teams?"

"First team, yourself, J and Kendra. You and J work together, and Kendra knows the town, plus being the Slayer will give you an edge along with your technology. Second team will consist of myself, Machiko and Reno. My training is the equal of Miss Noguchi's and Mr. Raines having had his skill supported by Machiko, we should be able to handle anything. Third team, Shaw, Toby and I. They have magic, technology, and sword skills in one."

"Sir Joseph," Toby said, "do you have a personal problem with these vampires?"

"No, why?" Joe asked, slightly confused.

"It is simple, Joseph," Shaw said. "A warrior shaman, a warrior mage, and an Immortal together? A vampire would have to be suicidal or insane to come within five miles of this group, for our combined sword skills alone."

That set off a round of soft laughter among the assembled people.

Joe got the discussion back on track. "I, did you happen to bring your sword?"

"Hell, no," I said, a frown coming to his face. "Didn't think I'd need it out here. Kind of tough to wear it with the suit."

"I have access to an armory," Joe said, "but I am somewhat hesitant to allow anyone access to the house."

"I can help there, Joseph," Shaw said. "I have a small collection of weapons that I do not use."

"What's the list?" I asked her.

"A double-bladed battle axe, formerly owned by a demon," she started. "An eighteenth century French rapier taken from a Musketeer-turned-vampire, and a bastard sword no longer needed by an Irish bastard."

"McGuire's sword?" I asked, laughing at the same time. At the half-elf's nod, he said, "That'll do."

"Toby?" Shaw asked.

Toby cast a quick spell, and vanished. Two minutes later, he reappeared with a sword in his hands.

"Here you go, Stalking Rattler."

I took the sword and did a quick exercise routine. "Very nice, good balance. Thanks for the loan, Shaw."

"Just remove any germs before you return it," she said, sitting down.

I just shook his head.

"Okay," K said, "let's call it a night, and we can meet here tomorrow. We have a Predator to find."

*****

Part 9: Tag Teams
(Isn't It Strange? All These Aliens In Town, And Not An FBI Agent In Sight)

"Certainly, there's someone that needs killing."
"No, Major. You've killed them all."
---Major Payne
"Major Payne"

Weatherly Park
Sunnydale, California
17 November 1998

Cain bent over, looking at the tracks in the dirt. He put his hand next to the track to get an idea of the size of whoever had left the print.

<Yep. Big Nightbreed.> he thought, a sadistic grin coming to his face. <Earlier tonight. That means that this is where they're staying. Well, it gets easy from here on out. Just cap a few, take 'em to this Council of Wizards, or whoever they really are.>

Cain stood up and began making his way through the brush towards his truck.

<This is gonna be a piece of cake.>

Cain opened the back of his truck, and pulled out a rifle case. He reached back in, and took out an infrared sighting scope, and began to assemble the rifle.

*****

Sunnydale Motor Lodge
Sunnydale, California
17 November 1998

"All right," L called, "everyone check off by teams. Alpha?"

"Ready," J said. The rookie carried the Noisy Cricket, a couple of wooden knives, and was wearing a cross.

"Ready," Kendra said softly. She carried several stakes, and some knives.

"Ready," K finished, armed with his icer, a cross, and a laser pistol accurate at ranges up to two hundred yards.

"Alpha check," L said, and looked to Joe N'Gato. "Beta?"

"Ready," Joe called out in a brisk tone. He was wearing standard-issue Order combat armor, and was armed with an Uzi, a .45 caliber pistol, and several wooden knives.

"Let's rock," Noguchi called out. She was decked out in her Yautja battle dress, including the arm claws, shoulder blaster and helmet. She was also carrying her purloined .44 Magnum, and an Uzi borrowed from Joe.

"Ready, L," Reno said with a sigh at Machiko's antics. He was wearing a bulletproof vest, and was carrying two .45s, the magazines carrying a mixture of wooden and silver bullets, and a folding shotgun with a mix of shells. Two Bowie knives, blessed by Shaw, completed his gear.

"Beta check," L said, nodding. "Charlie team?"

"Check," I said simply. He carried a laser pistol, several knives, both steel and wooden, and his borrowed bastard sword.

"Yo," Toby said in a Sylvester Stallone voice. He carried an elf-crafted silver sword, and was covered in elven plate armor. His long brown hair was tied back into a ponytail.

"I am ready," Shaw said, her voice like iron. She carried Soulreaver, several silver daggers, and was wearing her bracers, ring and headband.

"Charlie check," L finished. "K, your team heads for the park. Sir N'Gato, your team patrols the Bronze. I your team hits the cemetery."

The team leaders all nodded, and started heading out. Shaw touched Toby's arm, getting his attention.

"Toby," she said softly, "how do you work amongst humans every day? All that stands between me and my secret being revealed is how I arrange my hair."

"Glamour," Toby told her. "You've been here long enough, I'll get you started before I leave. Then I'll contact the group in Sun Descending, let them know about your group. They can be a great help."

Shaw just stared ahead. "I am starting to feel overwhelmed by everything that is happening," she said. "I will need time to evaluate all of this."

"You need to concentrate on the mission, Shaw," Toby said firmly.

"Of that, you need not worry," Shaw told him, her eyes becoming mere slits. "I will not let the others down."

*****

The Bronze
Sunnydale, California
17 November 1998

Reno walked into the Bronze, and quickly scanned the club. Everything seemed to be okay, so he started heading for the back door. As he walked, he could feel several "patrons" watching his progress. Finally, he reached the rear exit, and walked out.

<Trolling for vampires.> Reno thought in wry humor. <Working undercover was never like this.>

He quickly moved to the end of the alley he'd walked into and hid behind a dumpster. He pulled out the shotgun and jacked a special shell into the chamber.

<Wooden BB's. Who would have ever have come up with that?> Raines thought, and then remembered what had been done before Joe N'Gato assembled the shell. <And Shaw put a blessing on them. She is a sneaky one.>

A few minutes later, two men walked out, looking around. "So, where is he?" the first one, a teenager by the look of him, asked his partner.

"Don't know," the second person answered, shrugging his shoulders. "You wanna go back in?"

Reno stood up and smiled. "Don't go back in on my account. You wanted to see me?"

The two men jumped, and smiled when they saw that Reno was alone.

"Yeah, we did," the second man said. "Just the three of us."

"Sorry," Reno said, "but I don't think my friends would oblige you."

At that cue, Machiko disengaged the camoflague on her armor, and Joe changed the setting on his armor from urban terrain to the normal black color. The vampires quickly found themselves surrounded.

"Who are you?" the teenager asked, confusion giving way to knee-shaking fear.

"I'm LAPD. The lady's Special Forces, and the last guy's a New York taxi driver," Reno answered.

As Joe snapped a sharp gaze to Reno, Machiko laughed.

"Truly, the most dangerous one of all," she added.

The second vampire turned towards Machiko, but she quickly dispatched him with a swing of her arm claws, and he disintegrated.

The teenager rushed Reno, who looked to be the least dangerous, being the only one not in armor.

Reno quickly used the vampire's momentum to throw him headfirst into the dumpster. As the vampire staggered back, Reno executed a snap kick, snapping the vamp's kneecap. As the vampire fell to one knee, Reno reached around his neck, and snapped it, and the creature collapsed to the ground like a stringless puppet.

Once the vamp dropped, Machiko pulled off her helmet, her hair drenched in sweat.

"That's it?" she asked, in a less than impressed tone. "These are the big bad bloodsuckers? I've run into tougher squids, especially Ryback."

"They usually travel in larger groups," Joe told her abruptly.

"Imagine a group of seven hundred in one place."

"Can't be worse than the mall at Christmas," she countered, and laughed at Joe's killing gaze. "Sheesh, can't you take a joke, Kojak?"

Reno smacked her on the arm. "Cut it out, Jarhead. What next, Joe?"

"Let's check in with L, and get new directions," Joe said, still glaring at the grinning Noguchi. "The Yautja's obviously not here."

*****

Weatherly Park
Sunnydale, California
17 November 1998

"Gotcha, L," J said, his hand over his earpiece. He nodded and turned to K. "Joe's group says nada. Took out two vamps without a shot or a sweat."

Kendra smiled. "That is surprising. I would think that they would have had to save Joe's life," she said in a superior tone.

<Damn, she's got it bad for him.> J thought.

K seemed to be thinking the same thing, if his smile was any indication. "New tactics, Slick. Kendra, can you sense any vampires around?"

"No, K," the Slayer replied. "Not within one hundred feet. Why?"

"We need to look at this from Junior's perceptions," K said. "We need to look for the vampires, rather than letting them find us."

K looked at the Slayer. "Kendra, if you were a vampire, where would you hide, waiting for an easy target?"

Kendra considered it, and nodded. "Follow me," she ordered, and took off at a brisk pace.

They quickly covered a quarter mile, and Kendra suddenly dove into some brush lining the jogging path. A few seconds later, a vampire was literally thrown onto the nearby track.

"Kendra, drop!" J shouted.

J fired the Noisy Cricket, and the concussive blast threw the vampire over thirty feet, where he landed, broken and bloody.

Two more vampires leaped out of the brush like flushed game birds and started running away from the MIB's.

And the Yautja appeared directly in their path.

A starbolt ripped one vampire apart, and the other looked lost, not able to determine which direction to run in. The Predator walked forward, and his arm claws lashed out, eviscerating the second creature. As the vamp fell, the Yautja reached down to take the head.

That was when Kendra arrived. As the Yautja looked in her direction, the Jamaican threw a left cross that cracked the alien's helmet, and apparently stunned him a little. As he staggered back, Kendra threw a roundhouse that finished the work her first punch had started. His helmet flew away in three pieces.

"Kendra, back off!" K shouted as J fired his weapon.

Kendra backflipped out of harm's way as the Cricket's beam struck Junior, and he flew backwards, striking a tree dead on, cracking the trunk. He staggered forward, and Kendra connected with a flying kick. This time, however, the Yautja was prepared. He blocked her next punch and connected with a backhand that sent the Slayer tumbling backwards. The starbolt launcher started to charge.

K fired his icer at the same time J fired the Noisy Cricket. The icer froze the energy weapon, and Junior got blasted again.

Kendra jumped up and charged after the Hunter, and J cursed.

"Damn! I can't get a clear shot!"

"I'm calling for backup," K shouted as the MIB's ran after the two combatants. "L, we found Junior. Call in the others."

At the hotel, L nodded as she received the message. "Confirmed, K. Beta and Charlie teams, Alpha found Junior. Location, Weatherly Park. Report immediately."

The worms were talking amongst themselves as the digested the news.

"Yautja."

"Oh, baby."

"Big fight."

"Let's get ready to rumble."

"Gotcha, labrat," I whispered. He looked at his two teammates, who were waiting for the message. "J's team found the Yautja. Kendra's going toe to toe with him."

I turned towards the LTD. "Come on. We can be there in two minutes."

"I've got a quicker way, Stalking Rattler," Toby said. "Take my hand."

I stopped. "Yeah, right," he snapped. "Let's go. We can top one fifty in the LTD."

"And we'll teleport," Toby said, as he and Shaw disappeared in a flash.

I gaped for a split second, and sped towards the car, swearing in Apache. He reached the car, and as he began to reach for the handle, a second flash reflected in the windows. He turned around to see Toby standing there.

"Need a ride?" he asked, a shit eating grin on his face.

"Kiss my ass, Nimoy."

The Yautja slashed his arm claws at Kendra, but she ducked and punched him in the stomach. She followed it with a snap kick to the jaw, which made the Yautja howl in pain. His gaze snapped back at Kendra, and she froze for a split second at the predatory look. It cost her.

The Predator grabbed Kendra's arm and threw her with all of his might. She flew nearly ten feet, barely rolling enough to absorb the impact of her landing. As she stood up, the Yautja started to pull out a discus of some type.

A bright flash in the distance stopped him, and both he and the Slayer looked. Kendra recovered first and ran up and delivered a brutal one two combination. The Yautja staggered, but then got through her defenses and slashed Kendra across the stomach with the discus. Kendra fell back, her breath leaving in a "whoosh."

{ELEGARD AQUILAR!}

The savage cry drew the Predator's attention away from his opponent, and he turned just as a dagger flew through the darkness and lodged itself into his left breast with a sick sounding "thok." He howled in pain, and was distracted just long enough for Shaw to close the distance. The Yautja threw a slash with the arm claws, but Shaw dodged back and ripped open his stomach with a slash, and then drove the sword into his abdomen with a savage thrust.

Junior attempted a weak slash with the discus, but Shaw parried it, knocking it out of his hands. She uttered a quick prayer, and grabbed the Yautja's arm, and he froze in mid motion.

Shaw heard someone coming up, and she whirled, bringing the sword up to a defensive position, relaxing when she saw that it was J and K, nearly out of breath. Shaw turned to the bleeding Slayer, and went down to one knee.

"One moment, Kendra," she whispered, and Kendra could hear the worry in her voice.

Shaw cast a healing spell, and placed her hands on Kendra. The wound knitted itself back together as the golden light on the half-elf's hands faded. A second flash in the distance went off, but no one noticed.

Kendra slowly stood, and nodded to Shaw in appreciation. "Thank you," she said, still a little weak.

Shaw nodded, and turned to the Hunter, and lifted her sword in one hand, walking towards him.

"Miss Hunter, what are you doing?" K asked.

The ranger looked at K. "I am going to heal his wounds, and then I will cancel the paralysis spell."

J's jaw flopped a bit at her intentions. "Are you nuts, Hunter?!?"

"No, J, I am not. But he will die if I do not act quickly," she said. "Nor will I leave him a prisoner in his own body."

"But, Shaw," he said, but never finished as he saw the look of pain in her eyes.

"J, that happened to me once," she said, closing her eyes as her head lowered. "Someone cast that spell on me, and it nearly drove me insane. And do not ask me what happened, because it is none of your affair."

Shaw walked up to the Yautja, and cast another healing spell, laying her hands on the Predator, thick, luminous green blood smearing on her hands as the glow flared, then dissipated.

Toby and I came running up at that time, and looked over at K.

"So you found him, huh?" I asked.

"The vampires found him," K said with a twitchy grin. "and he and Kendra went ten rounds all over the park until Shaw showed up to help. But Kendra kept him here."

Shaw was talking to the Yautja. "Listen to me, very carefully. I just saved your life. I will release you, but you will wait here, and take no action. If you so much as look in the wrong direction, I will finish what Kendra started. Duothadi will be here soon, and she will deal with you then."

She touched the Yautja, and he staggered as he regained his balance. He stood up and glared at the half-elf, whom he towered over. He grunted something in his language.

Shaw nodded, a look of disgust on her face. "Yes, vampires call me 'the Hunter.' But you hunt for sport," she said, the disgust in her voice matching that on her face. "I used to hunt for vengeance. Now, I hunt to protect others."

The Yautja said something, and pointed to his forehead.

"My scar?" she asked, and looked over to K. "What is he referring to?"

"Yautja Hunters, adults, bear a scar on their foreheads that signifies they are worthy of the Hunt," K said. "Like certain adulthood rituals for Indian tribes."

Shaw nodded at the reference, and looked at the others. "All of you, turn around, and do not look."

J started to comment, but her glare stopped him. After looking at each other, the MIB's, Toby and Kendra turned around.

Shaw turned back to the Yautja. "Watch, and I will show you my scars," she said, revulsion in her voice.

Shaw turned around, and lifted her shirt over her shoulders. After waiting ten seconds, she lowered it back down.

Shaw faced the Predator. "Is that sufficient enough for you?" she asked, a note of daring him to challenge her in her tone.

The youngster nodded his head, and spoke again.

"An enemy, who I killed for that, and for killing four innocent beings," she replied. "Now be silent until Duothadi arrives."

Shaw looked over at the others. "You may turn around."

The group did, looking uneasy and sending small glances Shaw's way. Shaw shook her head and started walking away.

"Shaw, where are you going?" Toby asked.

Shaw stopped and held up her hands. "To the pond, to attempt to clean this mess off of my clothing and hands," she called, a note of disgust in her tone.

As she faded into the shadows, Joe's team came up. Joe went over to K's group, while Machiko stalked over to Junior, while Reno just stood off to the side.

Joe and K shook hands. "So, are all of you all right?" Joe asked.

"J and myself, yes. Kendra and Junior had a slugfest, and we couldn't keep up with them," K said, pride in his voice. "Kendra kept him busy long enough for I's group to show up and settle the matter. I'll tell you, Sir N'Gato, I wouldn't mind recruiting Kendra and Shaw for MIB."

"Their partners wouldn't survive the experience," J muttered, which set the group into laughter.

K turned his attention to the Yautja, who was standing at a rigid position of attention as Noguchi chewed him several new sets of buttocks in the Yautja tongue.

Reno spoke up at this point. "What happens now, K?"

K shrugged lightly. "That's up to Miss Noguchi, Mr. Raines."

The agents turned at the sound of Shaw walking up, cussing under her breath about the stench of the green mess on her clothing. Toby started to chuckle, which drew a vicious snap in Elvish from the ranger, and Toby's jaw dropped, and then he started to narrow his eyes.

Shaw's eyes went dangerously thin. "Do not anger me, Tobabaird."

Joe walked over to her. "Shaw, take a break," he ordered briskly.

"No," she said, and Joe's eyes widened a bit. "Not until I am certain that Kendra and that thing that wounded her are completely healed."

"I'll take care of it," he assured her. "Now, take a break."

Shaw stared at him, and her temper seemed to settle, so quickly that the Knight could almost feel the change radiating from her. Her expression went soft, and she walked off without further comment.

Joe watched her, then walked over to Toby. "Tobabaird, what is her problem? This has to be more than. . .biology."

Toby nodded. "Changes in her thinking patterns have a lot to do with it."

At Joe's inquiring look, Toby explained. "For a long time, the way she thought, the only way she was allowed to think, was on a day-to-day basis. On the world she was stuck on, you thought about surviving that day, that night. If you thought long term, you weren't likely to last long, if at all."

Joe nodded in understanding. "And that's changed?"

"No, it's still changing," Toby said, looking at her as she started walking over to Machiko and Junior. "She still thought day-to-day for a while. Then, she allowed herself to go a week or two down the road. Now, with what Section Six is gonna do for her, she's been thinking about what can happen months, perhaps a year or more, from now. Her schooling, her training with the Wanderer, her friendships. She's realizing that she can make plans for the future, and she's not sure how to go about it."

"I hadn't realized that, Tobabaird," Joe said. "Thank you."

"Neither has she, Joe," Toby said with a rueful smile. "Not fully. She's slowly realizing it, and she'll be able to deal with it, provided she looks for help. Which is the hardest thing for her to do. She prefers to do the helping, rather than accept it. Overall, it's distracting her when she doesn't have a specific task at hand."

Toby flashed a grin at N'Gato. "Of course, how and when it happened, combined together, doesn't make it any easier for her, or for the rest of us."

Joe cracked a smile and nodded. "You are correct there, Tobabaird."

Shaw walked over to Machiko, who was speaking somewhat more pleasantly with the Yautja, and Noguchi looked over to her.

"Whatcha need, Hunter?"

"I wanted to be sure that he is fully healed," Shaw said, acidly adding, "despite the fact that he injured my friend."

"He's okay," Machiko said. "And I been tellin' him about these bloodsuckers. He don't like the idea o' the things."

"Did you tell him that we appreciated his efforts, as long as he hunted the proper prey?"

"Oh, yeah. In fact, he's sorry he's gotta go home. He likes your skill, and he does NOT want to fight Kendra again," the ex-Marine said with a friendly sneer.

"Does he have to return home?" Shaw asked, considering the Yautja with a look. "He could be a very valuable addition to the fight. It is too bad he did not bring any friends."

"Are you crazy?!?" Noguchi snapped. "It's not like Junior can blend into a crowd here, or even in L. A.!?!"

"How about in New York?" Shaw inquired, looking straight at J, K and I.

Noguchi followed her gaze, and shook her head. "Yer not crazy, yer sadistic."

"Yes," the half-elf agreed. "But truly think about it. If a Yautja can verify the 'excitement' of hunting vampires, it might convince a few to, shall we say, help 'cull the herd.'"

"Controlled hunts?" the Hunter asked, to which Shaw nodded. "Oh, shit. It just might work, Hunter. And, truthfully, I kinda miss L. A. I could set up on the West Coast, coordinate with Junior."

Both the Japanese woman and half-elf turned to the Predator.

"Whadda ya think, youngster?"

The Yautja let out a loud, chopping noise, which drew everyone's attention.

"What's Junior laughing about, Miss Noguchi?" K asked.

"We got us a plan, G-Man," Noguchi said, walking over. "We got a plan for Junior's penance, for leaving home, and for the fangy fucks."

"Let's hear it," K said in approval.

Toby and Joe walked over to Shaw, who had a large grin on her face.

"What's this plan you two cooked up, Shaw?" Toby asked, worry in his question.

"Read my thoughts, and share them with Joseph and Kendra."

"That bad?"

Shaw shook her head. "That original, Toby."

Shaw felt a touch in her mind, and after a few seconds, it vanished. Toby was starting to laugh.

"You told me it was difficult to read my mind," Shaw said.

"I just know how much power it takes to get through," he responded. The elven Magus turned to Joe. "With your permission?"

Joe nodded, and Toby's eyes narrowed just the slightest bit. A few seconds later, Joe's jaw clenched, while Kendra looked around in confusion.

"He is angry," Shaw said, looking at Toby.

"Nope," Toby contradicted her, smiling. "He's worried about what to tell Steve."

"Oh. Much better."

Kendra started giggling, which drew Joe's ire, and that only made her giggle harder. That is, until Toby projected the "plan" into her mind. She started coughing at the thought of multiple, full-grown Predators hunting vampires.

"You think it is not a prudent idea, Kendra?" Shaw asked mischievously, walking over and patting the Slayer on the back to help stop her coughing.

"No, I do not," she coughed out.

"Joseph? You think this, as well?" she asked the Knight.

"Yes, I think it might be a mistake."

Shaw started backing up, looking back and forth between Joe and Kendra.

"Goddess, I am having a good day, am I not, Toby?"

"How so?" he asked her, sincerely confused.

"Shaw?" Kendra asked.

"I saved Kendra's life, I saved the Yautja's life, and I have arranged for new allies in our fight," she stated. She turned and started walking to the MIB's. "But surely there is no way I can top getting Joseph and Kendra to actually agree on something. One must quit while she is ahead."

*****

Part 10: Separations
(People Start Heading Elsewhere)

"On the road again..."
---Willy Nelson

Weatherly Park
Sunnydale, California
17 November 1998

"Shaw, why do you pick on them like that?" Toby asked.

Shaw stopped, not looking at him. "Is it not obvious? At least, to anyone but the two of them."

Toby smiled. "Yeah, it is. And you're subtly trying to get them to realize it?"

"Somebody must, to cover for Cordelia and the others," Shaw said with a noncommital shrug. "And the true reason you want to talk?"

"I figured, we could start your first lesson on glamour, while we're on down time," he told her.

"Surely you are joking," Shaw said, her eyebrows rising, "I may not be a wizard, but even I know that it takes hours of study to learn even the most basic spells."

"This isn't wizardry, it's part of being elven," Toby replied. "Can I use some telepathy on you? It'll expedite matters a bit."

Shaw looked at him, and he was surprised by the approving look on her face. "Go ahead," she said with an enthusiastic nod.

As she felt the touch in her mind, he thought, *Look towards Los Angeles.*

She did, and she felt something "open" in her mind, like a doorway opening, and she "saw" a bright light emanating from that area.

"What is that, Toby?" she asked, her voice full of awe.

*The source of all magic for the Los Angeles area, similar to what you would call 'the Weave' back on your world,* he explained. *The source for all spells, but not inborn abilities, such as psionics or your resistances. What I just did was simply 'activate' the ability to sense such sources, which you can tap into for glamour. After you've done it a few times, you'll be able to do it at will, without having to tap these sources.*

Shaw whispered, "Thank you. This will take away much of the pressure that I feel."

"I know," Toby said as he broke the link, and the light vanished from Shaw's senses. "Now, try it on your own."

She did, having to concentrate to find that ability, but eventually she did.

"I can see it now," she said, the concentration evident in her tone. "And now?"

"Imagine your ears looking like a human's," he instructed in a soft voice, so as not to break her concentration. "And concentrate."

She did so, and Toby watched as an illusion tried to form over her ears, looking foggy and indistinct. Finally, she let the air out of her lungs with a "woosh," and the illusion disappeared.

"I did not succeed," Shaw said, looking at Toby.

"Not bad, though," he said. "Remember, this will take some practice. I'd suggest trying it in front of a mirror, so you can see your progress. In time, you will be able to create illusions of hair and eye color, skin tone, and things for disguises."

Shaw nodded thoughtfully. "Infravision?"

"Sorry," he replied, knowing what she was asking. "Cover that with glamour, you'll be blinded."

Shaw shrugged, and looked behind Toby, sighing as K and I walked over to them.

"It would appear that the lesson is over," she muttered, and Toby laughed at the disappointment in her voice.

I walked over to Shaw, and K stayed one or two steps behind. "Are you crazy?" I asked.

"No, Machiko Noguchi says that I am sadistic," Shaw said with a slight grin. "But, surely you can see the benefits of this idea."

K smiled a bit. "I told you she thought this out," he told the Apache MIB. "She's thought it out, and has a counter to any argument you can come up with."

"You know I'll find a way to get even with you for this," I warned her.

"Do your worst, Stalking Rattler," Toby said, grinning.

"K, can you imagine Zed's response to this scheme?" I asked his friend.

"To the Yautja, or the vampires?" Shaw asked innocently, drawing a glare from the Immortal.

"Now, I have an idea of how to get even with you," he said, turning and walking away.

"Any ideas as to what his revenge will be, Toby?" Shaw asked the fighter-mage.

"Nothing harmful, just something you can't change."

Shaw chuckled, and looked to K. "K, truly, is there any problem with this?"

"Only Zed's reaction, when we walk into HQ with Junior in tow," he said. "But we can handle that. You guys did some good work tonight."

He pulled out a card, and handed it to Shaw. "Our number, if you ever need help, or to have the Wanderer get in touch with us."

"Understood," she said with a nod. "I would not mind fighting by your side again. But please, get J some more practice."

K just grinned at the joke, and walked off as Joe and Kendra came over, with K and the Knight exchanging handshakes as they passed each other.

"Shaw, Section Six and the others are making their plans to head home," Joe said. "Do you want to bid them farewell?"

Shaw nodded, and started walking over to the group of humans and the Yautja. Joe waited a second or two, and turned to the Magus.

"Thank you for your help, Tobabaird," he said, extending a hand which Toby took. "It was an honor to fight beside you. Perhaps we might do so again."

"Perhaps, Joe," the elf said as he watched Shaw talking to Machiko and the Yautja. "I'm going to visit some kin nearby, and you'll be able to get in touch with them, should the need arise. Also, Shaw could use some exposure to the others."

Joe nodded. "I'll inform Sir Steve. Again, thank you."

"My pleasure," he said, flashing a grin towards Kendra. "And it was a pleasure and an honor to work with a Slayer for the first time."

Kendra blushed, and looked at the ground nervously. N'Gato smiled at her discomfort.

Shaw rejoined the group and smiled at Toby. "It was good to see you again, Tobabaird. We make a good team, but hopefully the next time will be a little more restful."

"So, do you think I'll get that dance the next time?" he asked with a shining smile.

Shaw's own smile vanished, and she cocked an eyebrow. "Overconfidence has killed many a mage, Tobabaird."

Toby frowned as Joe and Kendra both fought a losing battle against laughter. Shaw turned to the both of them, and frowned a bit.

"The two of you have no room to laugh. Kendra was nearly eviscerated, and according to J, Kendra said that Joe had to be. . .bailed out."

She turned and left with Toby, both of them laughing as the Knight and Slayer stammered in disbelief. After a few seconds, they looked at each other, and backed away, each glaring at the other.

*****

Sixkiller Enterprises
Los Angeles, California
18 November 1998

Bobby Sixkiller looked up from the massive pile of paperwork on his desk, and he raised his eyebrows as Reno walked in, being followed by a short Oriental woman, looking to Bobby of having the appearance of a stone-cold killer. He looked at Reno, and smiled as he welcomed his friend back from vacation.

"Hey, Reno," he remarked, "you're back a few days early. Was it that restful?"

Reno and the woman just glared at him, leading Bobby to think, <What did I say?>

"Oh, yeah, Cochise," the woman snarled, "Except for the vampires, the vampire hunters, the aliens, the elves, and the government agents, it was great. Just fuckin' great."

"Machiko," Reno said with a resigned sigh.

"Uh, Reno, did I miss something here?"

"Not really, Bobby," Raines said. "I'll fill you in. This is Machiko Noguchi, former Force Recon, spent the last two years in Black Ops. Legally 'dead,' so she needs a new identity and a job. She's almost as good as me, and I thought we could use some help."

"Really," Bobby mused, and Reno could see the look in the Indian's eyes that translated into "profits." He favored Machiko with a look of speculation. "Special Forces, huh?"

"You got that right, Cochise," she said with a grin.

Reno sighed, "Machiko. ." and Bobby laughed at him.

"Anyone who makes Reno that irritated, I gotta get to know," he said, standing up and offering his hand to her. "Welcome to Sixkiller Enterprises. But don't call me Cochise."

"Okay, Crazy Horse," she said, drawing a glare. "Call me Jarhead like Badge Boy, and we'll be even."

Bobby's smile returned, and he said to Reno, "Looks like Dixon will be in trouble."

*****

Section Six Headquarters
Under New York City, New York
18 November 1998

Zed looked up from his paperwork as the agents walked in. He set the sheets down, waiting for J, K, L and I to be seated before speaking up.

"Is this report of yours serious?" he demanded in a sharp tone.

"Yes, Zed," K said to the head of MIB. "It's all true, every single word."

Zed sighed heavily. "Okay, I'll take your word for it. I've had certain rumors saying the same thing, from my superiors, through their sources. But whose half-baked idea was it to actually invite Yautja to come and play here?"

J started looking nervous. "That was Machiko and Shaw's work."

"And who are Machiko and Shaw?" Zed asked L.

"Machiko Noguchi, formerly a corporal in Force Recon, USMC," L stated. "Also known as Duothadi to the Yautja. Now in Los Angeles, handling things there."

"And the other one?"

I snorted heavily. "Shaw Hunter, half-human, half-elf, warrior, medicine woman. ."

"Elf?" Zed gasped.

"High school student, fifty-three going on seventeen," I continued.

"A fifty year old high school student?!?" Zed gasped.

"From an alternate universe," K added.

"WHAT?!?" Zed gasped.

"With human relatives from THIS universe, and currently a 'recruit' of sorts for Section Seven," I finished, grinning all the while.

"I don't want to hear anymore," Zed told the group, reaching into his desk for some aspirin. "All right, Duothadi's handling things on the West Coast, who's taking care of this end?"

J's nervousness shot skyward. "That'd be Crotalus, our new intern."

"Who's Crotalus?" Zed asked, looking around.

"Translated, it means 'Rattler,'" I said. "Formerly known as Junior."

Zed nearly fainted as he realized the implications of that statement.

"Where is he now?" he croaked.

"Someone's showing him around," L said with a smile, "getting him acquainted with Earth."

"This is Heaven."

"Our favorite place."

"Welcome to MIB."

"Try this."

The Predator took the item which he was offered, and sniffed it. He put the cup into his mouth, and chewed it, swallowing it, and its contents, in one gulp. He nodded and belched in satisfaction.

"Coffee," he growled.

*****

Weatherly Park
Sunnydale, California
18 November 1998

Cain slowly tracked the Nightbreed he'd wounded, having shot the female in the leg. The creature was running, trying to escape. Which was just what the hunter wanted.

<That's it, baby.> he thought, a twisted grin on his bearded face. <Lead me right to your hidey-hole.>

He adjusted his infrared goggles, and spotted more traces of blood. Nodding to himself, he continued his stalk.

Rachel limped as quickly as she could, trying to make it home and lose the man that had shot her. However, she was slowed by the burden in her arms.

"Mama, my head hurts," Babette whimpered softly.

"I know, Babette," her mother whispered. "I'm trying to block out the pain."

Rachel lamented that she couldn't use her ability to become smoke, for she could not leave her daughter behind.

As she hobbled towards the cemetery, a figure came into the brush, only a few yards behind. She limped faster, until a voice called out to her.

{Rachel! Stop!}

The Nightbreed stopped, hopping as she turned on one leg to see the Hunter approaching her. The Hunter took one look at the ground, and her red eyes told her everything she needed to know.

"Rachel, Joseph and Kendra are coming. What are you doing out here?" Shaw asked, deep concern in her voice.

"A normal shot and wounded me," Rachel said, in great pain, "but I cannot leave Babette."

"Let me see the wound," Shaw said, kneeling next to her. She looked at it, and nodded softly. "This will only take a moment, Rachel."

Shaw began a prayer, casting a healing spell on Rachel's wound, but she was unable to finish before Joe and Kendra came running up.

Joe stopped at the sight of the woman carrying the small child. "Are you all right, Madam?"

As Rachel nodded yes, Kendra narrowed her eyes. "Joe, she is not human."

"Shaw, what is she?" Joe demanded, fingering his side arm.

"Joseph, if you draw that disgusting firearm, I will gut you where you stand," Shaw snapped, still checking the wound area, to make sure it was completely cured. "It is Rachel's secret to tell, not mine. And I will not allow her or her child to come to harm."

Rachel looked at Kendra and Joe with suspicion, and asked Shaw, "Do you trust them?"

"With my life," Shaw answered.

Rachel nodded, and looked to Joe. "I am Nightbreed."

Joe and Kendra looked at each other, not knowing the name. Shaw shook her head at their ignorance.

"Joseph, they are recluses, hermits. They are only looking for a home," Shaw told her companions. "They want only to be left alone. Not that it is very likely on the Hellmouth."

Rachel watched as the trio exchanged looks. Finally, Shaw looked at her. "Rachel, go home. And hurry, because things are likely to become violent for this hunter."

Rachel glanced nervously at the Knight and Slayer, and Joe nodded. She headed off, and Joe waited a few seconds before turning to the half-elf.

"You knew about this," he accused her. "Why didn't you tell us?"

"I promised them that I would only tell my leader," Shaw replied. "They agreed to my proposal to a meeting, between our leaders and theirs, should Steven agree to this. They know to avoid us, to prevent any mistakes that could lead to a fight we cannot afford."

"You should have told us, Shaw."

"And look at what your immediate reaction was, Joseph," Shaw countered. "Your first reaction was to reach for your weapon, when she was wounded and carrying her child. And before you say, 'Sir Steven will hear of this,' I promise you that he will, and I will ask him to bring the matter to everyone."

Shaw started to move in the opposite direction, and Joe called out to her.

"Where are you going?"

"There is a killer coming this way," she told him. "Either follow me at a distance, or swing off to each side of me."

"What about you?" Kendra asked, worry for the ranger in her voice.

"I am bait, Kendra," she said. "I am not human."

Kendra winced. "Shaw, I did not mean. ."

"Kendra," Shaw cut her off in exasperation, "Pointed ears. Glowing eyes."

"Then you're not mad?"

"Of course not," Shaw said, surprise clearly coming through. "Except, perhaps, for one thing, which Cordelia and I discussed before the others left." She shrugged. "It is not very important, at least as far as I am concerned."

Kendra put on hand on her partner's arm. "Shaw, please. If you or the others are mad at me for something, I'd like to know."

With seemingly great reluctance, Shaw nodded. "The other females are apparently a bit upset that. ." she hesitated.

"Go on," Kendra prompted.

"That you and Joseph will not admit that you have the 'hots' for each other."

And Shaw took off running the opposite way, in the direction of the hunter.

Kendra sputtered for a few seconds, before turning to N'Gato.

"Whose idea was it for her to work with us?" she asked.

"Sir Steve's," he answered in the same furious tone.

"I will get even with St. Wolf for this," the angry Slayer muttered, and took off after Shaw.

"You will have to wait in line," N'Gato said.

Cain followed the blood trail, smiling at the fact that the Nightbreed female was still running. He decided to make it a bit more challenging, and so he removed his goggles. After all, this was almost too easy.

"This is gonna be so simple," he said to no one in particular. "Some easy money, and a short vacation before the next job."

He slung his hunting rifle over his shoulder and pulled out a taser and a .38 caliber Saturday Night Special.

"No reason this can't be up close and personal," Cain remarked.

Suddenly, he was forced to stop short as a figure stepped out of the shadows, gripping a flaming sword, her glowing red eyes narrowed in anger. He quickly stepped back, away from the eerie blade.

"I take it that you are the 'hunter,'" she said, making the last word an insult.

Cain grinned. "Yeah, honey, thanks for making my job easier."

The woman laughed, although her voice had absolutely no humor in it.

"You idiotic human, you are hunting Nightbreed, yes?" she laughed.

Cain fingered the pistol, nervous at her confidence. "Yep. Good money for yer innards."

"Oh, really. Elf ears are worth money?" she asked, her humorless grin spreading. "Or, in my case, half-elf ears?"

<What??> he wondered. "Yeah, right, bitch."

{Kiss my posterior, you pathetic shard of orc dung.} she snapped.

{Business before pleasure,} he responded. "Worked for Unseelies before. Shit. Sorry, but I'm after Nightbreed for now. But I have to stop comin' to this town. The episode with the werewolf was bad enough, to be beat to the trigger by a little redheaded witch. I coulda throttled that little whore. ."

His words were cut off as the woman shouted an Elvish curse and prepared to strike, and Cain couldn't bring the pistol to bear from the angle she was at. So, he brought his left arm around and triggered the taser.

The three coils shot out, shooting into the halfbreed, and hitting her with thirty thousand volts. She jerked convulsively, dropping her sword before falling to the ground in a heap.

"Sorry, chickie, but I got a Nightbreed to track," Cain said, and he took off along the blood trail, leaving the woman behind, still twitching as if she were having a seizure.

From the distance, someone watched, with keen interest, the scene playing out before him. He rubbed his bearded chin in thought, deeply considering his course of action. Finally, he nodded, and with a final look at the spasmodically shaking warrior, he smiled.

He made a gesture, and turned and started walking away.

Shaw awoke with a start, and moaned at the pain she felt in her entire body.

<Now I know how evil ones feel when they touch my sword.> she thought dully. <Sometimes, I truly despise this bluidy Earth technology.>

She slowly stood, and grabbed Soulreaver from the grass. She leaned over, clutching her stomach at the strange tingling she felt in her gut.

<Must be an aftereffect of some sort,> she reasoned, moving off after the hunter.

Cain walked along the trail, chuckling to himself at the things that happened to him when he came here.

"Last time I come here," he said. "First, some blonde genetic freak, now a pointy-eared bimbo. Next thing you know, there'll be some blasted King Arthur wannabe getting in my way."

It was that moment that Joe N'Gato chose to step into Cain's path and drop the poacher with a brutal right hook. As the hunter dropped to the turf with a thud, Kendra came up behind Joe, sneering at Cain.

"Is this him?" she asked, revulsion dripping from her words.

"Yes," he responded. "Sir, I am Sir Joseph N'Gato, of the Knights of the Order of the Grail. The Nightbreed in this area are now under our protection. Leave now, and never return."

Cain slowly stood, rubbing his chin while unholy anger shone in his eyes. "What is it with you people?!? That Council of Black Mages, whoever the hell they are, pays good money for their innards."

Joe erupted in laughter, surprising both Kendra and Cain. "The Council was destroyed nearly six months ago! How could you not know?"

Cain let out an earthy curse. "I hate long term contracts," he mumbled.

He looked at the bald Knight. "Fine. The 'Breed are safe. But that werewolf. ."

He stopped speaking suddenly, and dropped his gaze to his midsection. Joe and Kendra copied his movement, tot see fifteen inches of illuminated blade, covered in blood and grayish intestines, protruding from the place his navel once occupied. Cain's eyes came back up, assuming a glassy look, and the sword quickly retracted, looking as if it were retreating into his body.

Cain fell to his knees, and, after a second or two, pitched forward, dead.

Joe and Kendra ripped their shocked gazes from the gruesome sight to Shaw, who stood there, her sword now pointed at the ground, with a look of sheer fury on her face.

"Shaw, what have you done?" Joe asked, no small bit of fear in his voice.

"Eliminated a threat to my friends," she said in a raspy voice. She closed her eyes and gritted her teeth as she clutched her stomach, and moaned.

"What happened, Shaw?" Kendra worriedly asked. "Are you hurt?"

"No," the half-elf answered, "shocked. He fired a taser at me. I can tell you, it is not a pleasant experience."

"I can imagine," Joe said, still concerned. "But, Shaw. ."

"He was hunting OZ, Joseph. A werewolf," Shaw snapped, regaining some of the timber in her voice. "And he threatened my best friend."

"Willow?" Kendra inquired.

"Yes," the ranger said. She looked at the body, and sighed. "Joseph, take Kendra and go home. I will take care of this."

"What are you going to do?" Joe demanded.

"Give him the burial that he does not deserve. Now, go home," she ordered, attempting to settle the matter.

The other two exchanged looks, but started to leave, Kendra muttering, "Be careful," to which Shaw nodded.

Shaw began considering what to do, when she felt something. Her eyes started flicking back and forth, as if she were watching something moving by at high speed. After a minute, she began searching the dead man's pockets, pulling out his wallet, some keys, and a cigarette lighter. She threw the lighter into the brush in disgust. She began gathering up his weapons when she heard a noise. After a brief pause, she sighed, standing up and holding the .38.

"Come out, Peloquin."

The reptilian Nightbreed exited the cover in which he'd been hiding. "Hunter," he said in his deep voice.

"What do you want?" she asked tersely.

"Is this the normal that shot Rachel?" he growled at her tone.

"It WAS the human who shot Rachel," she corrected. "And he was hunting one of my friends. A werewolf, as it turns out."

Peloquin looked at her funny. "You travel with a strange group, half-elf."

"If you say so," she replied with a shrug.

"So, what happens to the carcass of this asshole?"

Shaw looked at the corpse, then to the Nightbreed. She turned and started walking away, carrying Cain's equipment.

"Eat it, for all that I care."

*****

Johansen Residence
Sunnydale, California
Early hours
19 November 1998

Shaw burst into wakefulness, shaking and drenched in a cold sweat. After a split second of panic, she threw the covers aside and stepped onto the floor.

Shaw looked into the small mirror on her dresser, and simply waited for some time, searching her mind for something. After a bit, her eyes grew wide in horrified realization.

[Oh, no,] she whispered in fear. [Goddess, not this. It is not possible.]

It took the half-elf about five heartbeats to realize that she'd spoken in a language she'd never heard.

<That was not any of the Spanish or French I have learned from Steven. It was. .> Her horror grew as the name flashed in her mind.

[Gaelic.] she said, and then switched to English. "I have to get to Steven's."

She opened the dresser, and started looking for clothes, not noticing the flecks of blue electricity twisting in her eyes.

*****

St. Wolf Residence
Sunnydale, California
Early hours
19 November 1998

Joe N'Gato went into the computer room, looking at the monitor system to determine who was beating on the front door at this ungodly hour. He was somehow not surprised to see who it actually was.

He walked towards the door, not pleased in the least.

<Two o'clock in the morning.> he thought in irritation. <Apparently, they do not teach timing on her homeworld.>

The Knight of the Grail walked over to the front door, which was shaking on its hinges as Shaw pounded on it.

Joe opened the door, preparing to deliver a lecture on proper times for talking, but froze at the sight of her, hair unbound and disheveled, her face pale and eyes filled with fear.

She barged in past N'Gato, and Joe could tell she was clearly scared of something. She walked towards the couch, but stopped as Joe placed his hand on her shoulder, and her entire body went tense at the contact.

"Shaw, what is it? Do you have any idea what time it is?" Joe asked her.

"Joseph, something has happened," she said, the fear she felt plainly coming through. "I. . I need to speak to Steven."

"Shaw, they have their own mission," Joe reminded her. "What's wrong? Surely, I can help."

"No, you cannot," she said, shaking her head and hugging herself. "Only Steven, or someone like him can explain this."

"Shaw, you're tired. Go home and sleep. We can talk about this later."

"Joseph, you do not understand," Shaw pleaded, her agitation growing. "Something is happening to me. I am seeing things, remembering things not of my own memories."

Joe considered what she said, and shook his head. "It sounds like you had a nightmare. Not surprising, considering what Sir Steve's told me about your past. You've led a hard life."

Shaw laughed, a sound devoid of humor. <<And considering that I can now speak Arabic, despite never having heard that tongue? As well as Gaelic, which I spoke earlier tonight?>>

Joe just shook his head tiredly. "Shaw, I don't have time for this."

Shaw whirled on him, her eyes blazing, small blue-white arcs playing over her irises.

"Ye bluidy, incompetent, insensitive SASSANACH!" she screamed. "I'm havin' memories o' tha' sadistic son of a bitch I killed in Paris!"

Anger rose inside of N'Gato. "Shaw, I will forgive your anger and language, but you're speaking nonsense." He sighed, and started to move towards the stairs. "If you want to, you may stay the night. But I need some sleep."

"Ye bastard," she growled, and Joe turned to berate her.

And got peppered with thirty thousand volts from the taser that Shaw had taken from Cain's body.

Joe woke up slowly, his head aching as he came to. He tried to move, but found that he couldn't. He looked around, and saw the ceiling of the living room. From the feeling in his back, he was lying on the couch.

<How kind of her not to leave me on the floor.>

He heard someone moving around the living room, swearing in what he knew to be Elvish, from previous experience and the speech patterns. After about ten minutes, Shaw bent over him, moving into his field of vision. He could read the fear in her eyes, as well as frustration.

"Joseph, I am sorry for this," she whispered. "Listen to me. Please, truly listen. I am seeing memories that belong to someone else. I. .I am feeling anger, hate, and other things I thought left behind. I tried to find out, using Steven's computer, but things are 'classified,' so I must go to the source to find out what is wrong with me."

Shaw's eyes narrowed, and Joe found that he could move his head. Shaw crouched next to the couch.

"Joseph, I am too dangerous to be around," she said, a tear forming in her eye. "Please forgive me for this."

"Shaw," Joe said, trying to reach her, "if you are in there. ."

"I AM in here!" she snapped, a small arc in her left eye. "But so is something else, something evil. I will try to remedy this, but I cannot hurt the others. If I can, I will return, and I will accept any consequences for this."

Shaw turned from him, and started arming herself. Her sword and knives, and to Joe's immense shock, a Baretta nine millimeter pistol, which she inserted into a shoulder holster near her left arm. She also inserted a Bowie knife into a sheath at her right hip.

However, it was the item strapped to her left arm that gave Joe N'Gato pause.

"Where did you get that?" he asked hoarsely.

"From a new friend," she replied, picking up an Uzi, inserting a magazine and jacking a round into the chamber.

Joe's heart began to beat faster. "Shaw, where did you learn to handle that weapon?"

"I did not, Joseph," she responded, looking at N'Gato with a bit of dread in her voice. "Now, do you see why I am afraid? I cannot wait for the others to return, I might hurt them. I cannot do that to them. .especially Amy."

Shaw slung the Uzi over her shoulder and picked up a crate.

"What's in that crate?" Joe asked.

"Six Glock forty-fives, five thousand wooden bullets, and two thousand silver bullets," she rattled off quickly. "For some friends of mine."

The half-elf looked at Joe. "Joseph, I have placed warding glyphs on the doorways to the armory and the computer room. If you touch these doors, I cannot say what will happen. The paralysis spell will wear off in two hours."

With that, Shaw walked out of the house, leaving Joe to call after her.

*****

Mayor's Office
Sunnydale, California
Early hours
19 November 1998

The Mayor walked into his office, and saw Williamson sitting at his desk.

"Williamson," Wilkins snarled, "I don't appreciate being woken up at two thirty in the morning, especially when I have a golf game at nine that same morning. This had better be important, and get out of MY chair!"

"Uh, sir, uhm. ."

"He certainly is a long-winded one, isn't he?" an accented voice asked.

The Mayor turned around, to come face to face with the barrel of a pistol being pointed at him by a young woman, who stared at him evenly, bluish-white eyes boring into him, eyes the color of lightning. Staring down the barrel, the Mayor began to grow sweaty.

"The, uh, Hunter, I presume," he asked.

"You assume correctly, sir," the half-Fey said. "I shall be brief. I do not appreciate others taking an unwarranted interest in my affairs. It makes me think, perhaps, that I should, shall we say, return the favor."

"I see," he said, regaining his composure once he figured out that he wouldn't be shot down on the spot. "Well, perhaps we can reach an. . accomodation, of sorts."

"How so?" the Hunter asked coldly.

"Well," the Mayor began, wringing his hands, "perhaps a small financial gift could convince you to, say, keep your interests somewhat limited? Or, maybe, devoted to certain subjects?"

"I do not see any reason why I cannot agree to that. Here are my terms; I will not interfere with your business practices. I will not take a direct interest in your private affairs. Finally, you will cease all observations of my activities. If I find out that people under your direction are so much as looking at me, I shall eliminate any, to use a human term, 'red tape.' Are we understood?"

"Absolutely," the Mayor agreed. "Shall we say, fifty thousand?"

The Hunter seemed to think, and nodded. "In cash. I prefer simplicity."

The Mayor walked over to his safe, and Williamson paled at the thought of a vampire hunter equipped with that sum of money.

Wilkins quickly pulled out the money, and set it on the desk.

"I'll just get a bag for this. ." he said, stopping at the sound of a pistol hammer being cocked. "Or, maybe not."

The Hunter muttered something, staring at the money. Finally, she uncocked the pistol and holstered it.

"It was. .satisfactory doing business with you, Mister Mayor," she said congenially, placing the money in the pockets of her trenchcoat. She turned for the door, and just before exiting, she called over her shoulder, "The wind will be out of the east. Adjust your driving position accordingly."

She walked out, leaving the Mayor with a growing jolly grin on his face. Williamson fingered his tie.

"Uh, sir, can we trust her?"

"Yes. The one thing I've heard about the Hunter is that she takes her word literally," the Mayor replied. "So she won't be involved. And, it means we don't have to observe her."

The Mayor headed for the door. "I have to get some sleep. Close up behind yourself, Williamson."

As he walked out, Williamson heard the Mayor muttering to himself, "East, huh? The tenth hole will be a bitch. ."

*****

Willy's Alibi Room
Sunnydale, California
Early hours
19 September 1998

The bar went silent as the Hunter walked in, in her black trenchcoat and dark shades. She walked over to Willy, who was already shaking in his boots.

"What do you want, Hunter?" he asked weakly.

"Information, William," she said in a cold, yet polite tone. "How much you receive for it depends upon your answer."

"Uh, I see," he said, and the vamps started shaking too. "What's the question?"

"Do you carry Scotch?" she asked, humor entering her voice.

It took a second for that to process, and Willy's jaw nearly smacked the bar as it dropped. "Uh, yes."

"Excellent," Shaw said with a smile, a gesture that frightened Willy. "Two ounces, please," she ordered, placing a ten dollar bill on the bar.

"Uh, yeah, uh, comin' right up," he said, his hands shaking as he poured the glass.

He set it down, and cold icy fear grew within him as he waited to see what she had planned to pull. She grabbed the glass, drank the contents, and set the glass back down.

"Thank you, William," she told the snitch. "I am leaving town, and I do wish to get an early start."

She started walking towards the door, and the tension started to dissipate. As she reached the door, she whirled, brandishing an Uzi. Willy, being the only one prepared for something, quickly dove behind the bar.

Shaw opened fire, spraying the vampire customers with wooden bullets. Within ten seconds, sixteen vamps were dust in the wind.

Willy cowered in fear, as he heard the half-elf reloading the weapon.

"I must ask the Wanderer where he purchases such enjoyable items," Shaw said, talking to herself more than the bartender.

Willy stood up, trying to drop his heart out of his throat, while shaking like a leaf. "Do you realize what's gonna happen?!? Every vamp in town's gonna think I helped you set them up!!"

Shaw sent him a look of mock compassion, which didn't fool Willy.

"We cannot have that, William."

She brought the Uzi back up, and he ducked just before she unloaded the entire magazine into his mirror and bottles sitting behind the bar, shattering everything into a glittering shower of broken glass, continuing until the gun clicked empty.

"One moment, William. I am almost finished."

She then proceeded to load a third magazine, and sprayed the tables, spraying from left to right, spending particular attention to Willy's pride and joy, his vintage jukebox, which sparked when the light tubes were penetrated by the rounds.

Shaw reslung her Uzi, and began to turn. As Willy stood and took in the destruction she'd wrought on his establishment, she turned and smiled at him.

"One more thing, William."

Willy all but had a heart attack at that moment. "What?" he asked in a soprano voice.

"Ah'll be bahck."

And she turned and left, leaving Willy to bury his head in his hands and cry.

Two minutes after Shaw walked out of the Alibi Room, someone walked out of the men's room. He took in the scene, and nodded his head in approval.

Willy, hearing the door to the restroom close, looked up and nearly had a heart attack for the second time that night.

"Wha-wha-what are YOU doing here?!?" he squeaked out.

The bearded individual ignored him, just standing there, his left elbow on his right forearm, pointing at the exit the half-elf had just proceeded through.

"This one," he said, "has potential."

And he walked out of the bar, leaving Willy alone to wonder how HE had gotten involved.

*****

Part 11: Sincerely Yours
(Graffiti, Elven Style)

"Heeeeeeere's Johnny!"
---Jack Nicholson
"The Shining"

St. Wolf Residence
Sunnydale, California
19 November 1998

As Steve's Cherokee pulled into the driveway, several other cars pulled up alongside the curb in front of the house, as the Slayerettes returned from their mission to San Francisco. As the large group began exiting their vehicles, they stretched their limbs after the long trip.

Buffy walked over and grinned at Steve. "Well, honey, another group of bad guys swept under the rug."

"Yeah," he replied with a similar grin, grabbing her up into a hug. "Now we can get some rest. Or, at least, in a way."

Buffy's grin lit up even more, but she turned an impressive shade of pink when some of the other Slayerettes started laughing. "Do you mind?" she snapped.

"No, not at all, Buff," Xander said, "by all means, go ahead."

He doubled over with an "oof" as Cordelia elbowed him in the gut.

"And people say that I don't have any tact," she said.

"That's because you don't," Xander wheezed out, and that comment earned him another elbow.

"So, you think the rookies had any fun while we were gone?" Cordelia asked. "Hey, Steve, next time, take Kendra and Joe with you, let us have the easy duty. Let them get fireballs shot at them."

Randi walked by, her brother Brian in tow. "Excuse us, Steve. We don't want to listen to the Abbot and Costello routine."

"Tell Nick we said 'hi' when you call him, Randi," Willow said, drawing a blush from Randi and laughs from the group. Randi quickened her pace and disappeared through the door.

Jenny looked at Giles, a smile on her face. "So, Rupert, aren't you going to head for the library, and make sure it's still in one piece?"

"I hardly think that will be necessary, Jenny," the Watcher replied, a small smile forming. "I have every confidence that Shaw. ."

Joe and Kendra came rushing out at that moment, both with concern etched on their faces. The assembled Slayerettes turned to them.

"What's wrong, Joe?" Steve asked, releasing his embrace of Buffy as he turned to business.

Joe stopped in front of St. Wolf. "Sir Steve, we have a problem."

Xander and Cordelia looked at Buffy.

"So much for your 'rest,'" Cordy mentioned off-handedly.

"I'm going to strangle that girl," Steve muttered as he looked at the glowing letters on the door to the computer room. "Joe, you say that Shaw told you these were warding glyphs, right?"

As the Knight nodded, Steve turned to Willow. "Willow, cast a scrying spell on the door. Jenny, you and Amy take the others, minus Joe and Giles, to the armory, do the same. I want to know exactly what happened. Joe, you don't read Elvish, I assume."

"No, Sir," Joe replied. "What does it say?"

"Rough translation?" Steve said, "April Fool."

Joe stood there, stunned, and Kendra began giggling out of control. At his look, laughter only increased, and it drew a glare from the Wanderer.

"You think this is funny, Kendra?"

"If you consider that he was fooled by this, yes," she replied, but she did sober a bit at the tone of his voice.

"Then why did you not go in?" Joe asked.

Kendra's eyes snapped to the Knight, and they locked into a stare down as Steve sighed in frustration.

"Done, Steve," Willow called out, finishing her spells. "Illumination spell, completely harmless."

"Good, then she didn't want to hurt anyone," Steve said while wiping his forehead.

"Willow, check the computer, and find out what files she looked up."

Steve turned back to N'Gato. "Tell me again, what she did and said."

"Yes, sir," Joe said simply. "Shaw ran the poacher through from behind, and said she'd bury him. She seemed cold, distant. She was furious, said the hunter had been here before, hunting a werewolf. She also seemed to be in some pain."

Willow looked up from her work. "Shaw killed HIM?"

Joe nodded slowly to her. "Yes, Miss Rosenburg. Also, she said that he threatened you."

"What is it, Willow?" Steve asked. "Do you know this guy?"

"Yeah. He was hunting Oz, months ago," she said, remembering the events surrounding Oz's first nights in wolf form. "Just before you got here, Steve."

Steve shook his head. "She would do anything to protect the rest of us. Joe, in your opinion, was this justified?"

"I can't tell, Sir Steve. Something might have happened to her when she was hit by the taser," Joe said. "I don't know anything about elven biology, let alone half-elves."

"And when she came over?"

Joe thought about it. "She said she was seeing memories of someone else."

"Split personality disorder?" Giles asked, breaking into the conversation at last.

"She said they belonged to someone she killed in Paris," the Knight added. "I thought she'd just had a nightmare, until she handled an Uzi like she'd been doing so for years. I now think perhaps mind control, or a geas of some sort. Sir Steve, she was truly frightened."

"Someone she killed in Paris," Steve muttered, rubbing his chin. "Giles, refresh my memory. When was Shaw in Paris?"

"Late June, most of July," Giles said, a smile coming to his face despite the situation. "Training with Connor. That's when. ."

"She killed McGuire," Steve finished, horror growing as he began to understand what might have happened. "Willow, I need that info."

"She looked into yours and Giles' Watcher records. Looked up files on duels and Quickenings. She covered her tracks okay," Willow said, but shaking her head, she looked to Steve. "Steve, she doesn't have this level of skill. I mean, it's nowhere near mine and Jenny's abilities, but still."

"I agree," Giles said, adding his judgement to Willow's. "She learns fast, but not THAT fast."

"Giles, help me out here," Steve told the Watcher. "Shaw says she has memories from McGuire. How does someone get the memories and skills of an Immortal?"

"An Immortal is the only person who can do that," Giles said, frowning to himself as he recalled his memories. "when he or she takes. ."

"The other Immortal's Quickening," Steve finished. "Gods above, I hope that's not what happened to her."

"What?" Willow asked, and her eyes went round as the pieces fell into place. "Steve you don't think that Shaw could have. ."

"I hope not, Willow. She doesn't have the body chemistry to handle something like that. I can't understand how she took it in the first place."

"Steve," Giles said, drawing the Wanderer's attention, "if my understanding is correct, a Quickening is a form of magic, yes?"

"Possibly," Steve said, nodding for him to continue.

"So, by extension, an Immortal might be classified as a being of magic, similar to Oberon or Robin," Giles continued, "or Shaw. Having elven blood in her veins, she has certain ingrained magical abilities."

"Yeah," Willow pitched in, drawing the others' attention. "There's a phrase she told me, from her world, that says the same thing. Something about humans tapping a 'Weave,' her world's source of magic, but elves being 'part' of it."

"And Shaw, being half-elven, might have a small bit of that, however microscopic, in her," Giles concluded. "Who knows what effect it could have on her, being hit by a Quickening."

Before Giles could continue, Xander and Amy rushed into the room, followed short after by the others. Xander had a goofy smile on his face, while Amy was frowning.

"Amy, you first. What did she do?"

"Basically, the same thing she did down here," Amy said bluntly. "Light spell, to delay any look-see by us."

"Xander?" Steve asked, turning to him.

"She took exactly what she told Joe she took," he started. "But. ."

"Just tell us, Xander," Willow snapped, causing the others to stare at her. She NEVER talked that way to Xander.

"Uh, well," Xander mumbled, caught off guard just as much as the others, "she left four top of the line hunting rifles, some assorted handguns, a taser, and a bunch of scopes, ammo, etcetera."

"Wait a sec," Cordelia said, raising a hand, "are you saying she left stuff to replace what she took?"

"Yeah, Cordy," he confirmed. "In fact, if you don't count the Uzi she 'borrowed,' she gave Steve the better of the deal, if you add in all the extras like the scopes. Way better. We gotta teach Shaw proper economics."

"A trade, then?" Randi asked, to which Xander nodded. "Okay, so what do we do?"

"Nothing," Steve said firmly, drawing a unanimous group of stares from the others.

"Uh, honey?" Buffy asked, a confused look on her face, "we have one of our own, possibly mind controlled or psycho, running around with weapons she's never even picked up before, heading for parts unknown."

"Giles, tell the others what we've theorized," Steve ordered the Watcher.

After Giles related the theory, he looked at Steve. "So, what do we do?"

"We wait," he said, shrugging. "She's headed for the 'source,' as she put it, of Quickening information, which means she's headed for Seacouver."

"And in Seacouver is Duncan's group," Jenny added.

The group relaxed a bit at that announcement, although the concern was still high.

"Exactly. Between us and them, I think we can handle it," Steve said. He turned to the rest of the group. "Any objections? Speak freely."

No one spoke up, but Amy looked anxious. Steve caught it, and sighed. "Joe, you and Kendra handle patrol tonight. Everyone else, go home. We'll take this up tomorrow afternoon."

As the group left, Amy looked at Steve, who nodded. She stayed behind, and sat back down in the chair, and Steve and Buffy sat on the couch.

"Go ahead, Amy," Steve urged the witch. "Do you have a problem with this?"

"Well, yeah," she said, tension radiating from her body. "I'm thinking we should drag her back here, by her heels if necessary."

"We don't know where she is, Amy," Buffy said. "We only know she's probably between here and Seacouver."

"And rather than act rashly, we need to react if we hear anything," Steve put forth.

Amy sighed, and her shoulders sagged. "It's just, she ran off, Steve," she said.

"I understand, Amy," Steve told the Amazon. "She ran to try to solve the problem herself. Granted, it was a mistake, but her first instinct was to come here. She simply panicked about interfering with our mission."

"If this had just happened a day later," Buffy whispered, shaking her head. "Steve, what happens if we get her back?"

"We help her, if we can," St. Wolf said. After he looked Buffy in the eyes, causing her to cock her head in a questioning look, he said, "Amy, Buffy, I won't lie to you. This could hurt Shaw, badly. The sooner we get her back, the better." He looked at Amy. "Amy, I want you, Willow and Jenny to find some kind of spell to remove the Quickening energy from her, if there is such a spell. Use whatever resources you have."

Amy nodded her head, and looked hesitantly at Steve. "Steve, tell me something. What are YOU, specifically, going to do if she comes back?"

"That'll depend on what kind of shape she's in, Amy," the Wanderer said simply. "If you're asking if we'll kick her out, the answer's 'no.' I won't do that, for something that's not her fault. Up until this, you heard Joe, she handled it well, even this thing with the Nightbreed. He did mention some control problems, but he wasn't specific. I can tell that both he and Kendra were somewhat upset about something."

"Uh, honey, Kendra told me what her problem was," Buffy said, starting to giggle.

"Well, what was it?" Steve asked. "What's this problem she had?"

"Female stuff," the Slayer answered, and she got up and started heading upstairs, leaving it at that.

Amy was laughing now, and St. Wolf just looked confused. "Amy?"

"I can't believe it," she giggled, her face turning red. "The mighty Shaw Hunter suffers from PMS just like the rest of us."

"Amy, this isn't funny," Steve said, standing up. "She could be quite dangerous in the state she's in now. She may not know where she ends and McGuire begins."

Amy stopped laughing, and a frown came to her face. "Okay, okay. I get the point. We'll find her, right?"

"I hope so," he said. "No head home. I need some rest."

"Ohhh, sure you do," Buffy called from upstairs.

*****

Santa Carla, California
19 November 1998

As a cold Pacific wind blew through the alley, scattering papers all over the concrete, the Frog brothers readied their Super Soakers, while Sam nocked an arrow into his compound bow.

On Edgar's silent count of three, the exited their hiding place and fired on the group of vampires sitting in the alley. Sam shot one bloodsucker through the heart, while Alan and Edgar drenched a second as Sam's target thrashed about on the ground, screaming at the top of his lungs.

As Sam readied a second arrow, the final vampire in the group ran into the abandoned building this group had exited. Edgar ran over and staked the second vampire, who began wailing, he and his companion sounding like an unholy chorus.

As Alan stood watch, Sam looked around for any sign of latecomers. Seeing none, he walked over to Edgar as the vamps stopped wailing.

"Well, now that we know where they're hiding, do we go in?" Sam asked.

"Naw," Edgar said, shaking his head vehemently. "We'll come back during the daytime. Do a hit and run, stake 'em and head for the store."

"Okay, your call, Edgar."

Edgar looked at his brother. "Hey, bro, let's get out of here."

As the trio of vampire hunters prepared to leave, headlights entering the alley lighted up the alley. As the lights grew brighter, the saw a vehicle heading straight for them, blinding each man and ruining their night vision. The driver seem disinclined to slow down.

"Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!" all the screamed as the vehicle, a Hummer, stopped less than five feet away.

The driver exited the vehicle, but Edgar and his friends could not see his features, only a black shape, due to the lights shining in their eyes.

The operator of the vehicle calmly walked up to the vampires' hiding place, and walked in without pause.

"Uh, Edgar," Alan said, his eyes wide, "did I just see. ."

He never finished as the loud, deafening noise of an automatic weapon tore through the night, sending the three friends diving to the ground, their hands over their heads. After some fifteen seconds, the sounds died off.

Sam and Alan slowly stood up, but grabbed pavement a second time when the shots from some form of handgun began.

The gun wielder fired seven or eight shots, and silence fell again.

This time, the three hunters stayed on the ground for two full minutes, until the driver walked out, and turned the headlights off. As the driver walked to the front of the Humvee, Edgar and his partners could see that is was a woman who'd walked in and fired the guns.

All three mens' jaws dropped as the trenchcoat and shade-wearing woman walked up to them, cradling an Uzi and wearing a cold smile on her lips.

"Good evening," Shaw Hunter said. "I apologize for arriving late."

The End

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