April 4th, 2010

kaiju

Ch 17 - Coming of the Scooby Army




Coming of the Scooby Army
Ch 17 - A Temporary Calm


Xander sat across from his visitor, pouring over the lists she had written while forking salad into his mouth. Every so often, he’d make a notation on his own notes using something she’d written down on hers….


“… And you say he wants to ‘help us’? Do you trust this guy? I mean, I guess that’s a dumb question, considering….”


Xan gave a quick smile and a shrug to Tara before returning to the list in front of him. “I think he’s on the up and up this time. He’s definitely throwing a guilt-fest and he’s scared of what Willow or Buffy is going to do.” Switching tacks in mid stream, he added, “I’ll have to look at the floors at Giles’. Hopefully I can do some sort of patchwork, but if we have to replace them, that’s going to be a fortune. And, there’ll be no way to cover that up from the landlord.”


“Here’s the court papers,” Tara pointed to a packet that hadn’t been gone through, yet. “I’ll take them with me and help Dawn fill them out later tonight. Unfortunately, the clerk told me that they’d be taking a statement as well from Ms. Sinclair and Ms. Portlynn… I thought it would be an automatic thing, but apparently the Court can turn down Dawn’s application for emancipation if they feel it’s ‘not in her best interest’. And so far, Ms. Sinclair hasn’t seemed very impressed with our parenting skills.”


“Maybe we can have Spike attack her and come to her ‘rescue’… should buy us about a thousand brownie-points,” Xan grinned.


That caused Tara to break into a smile, too, and she was glad she had come over. Xander was the only one of the group left who she felt was helping her deal with the day to day stuff. Spike was focused on Dawn’s safety and too… blunt… to deal with the authorities and Willow was all about the Buffybot and Buffy’s alleged entrapment.


Tara sighed and rubbed at her eyes.


“Hey, you okay?”


“Oh, yeah! Absolutely.”


“T.”


She gave him a beleaguered sigh. “I’m just exhausted Xan. I’m fine, really. Let’s just get through this latest crisis and then I’ll collapse for a week.”


His reply was pre-empted by a knock at the apartment door. When he took a peek through the spy hole, he found Detective Stein waiting.


He opened the door with a puzzled expression, “Rick? Hey come in. How is Carole?”


“She’s fine, thanks,” Rick rushed in, carrying several folders. “I need to talk to you. Hi, Tara. I think I’ve got a ‘Sunnydale situation’ maybe.”


“Okay. Slow down and take a seat,” Xan pointed to the dining table.


“Here Rick, let me get you a plate and fork,” Tara added.


“No, thanks… I want to get back to Carole. I just wanted to know if you guys can look over this stuff. I’ve made copies of some police reports and then arranged them in a chronological order… it points to something disturbing.”


“Not surprising in this town,” Xan muttered.


“So, I’ve learned. But, this is personal. I think whatever is going on is what caused Marsha to come to the house with that gun.”


“Detective Gannon,” Tara clarified.


He responded with a nod. “Just take a look at these and then we’ll talk. Whatever is happening, I feel like it’s a ‘Hellmouth’ thing. I’m hoping that you guys will give me some answers I’m not going to get with regular police work. Assuming there is such a thing around here, anymore,” he added with a trace of bitterness.


With this, he marched back out of the apartment.


“He’s not taking the supernatural very well,” Tara worried.


“No,” Xan shook his head, before meeting her gaze. “No, I don’t think he is.”

oooooooooooooooooooo


Around 3pm, Tara came into the Summers home. As she walked past the softly beeping answering machine, she gave a brief glare at the device. She was assuming that it would be the social worker wanting to discuss something with ‘Buffy’ and she didn’t really want to deal with that at the moment.


“Dawn! Willow? Anyone still home?!” She was standing near the staircase leading to the second floor, but didn’t hear a response. With a roll of her eyes, she went directly to the basement door and cracked it open. “Will?”


“I’m here,” she called up.


“Have you eaten, yet?”


“No, but I’m fine.”


Tara again rolled her eyes. She knew that Willow had probably gone all day without a bite. She was probably overdosed on caffeine and killing her eyes with the poor amount of light down there, too.


Zipping around the kitchen, she threw together a few bologna sandwiches and dumped a few Doritos onto a plate. When she came up behind Will, she found a manifest of some sort, but it was garbled in ‘almost English’.


Willow looked over her shoulder and as soon as she saw the plate of food, her stomach loudly growled.


“Honestly, Will, you’re going to make yourself sick,” Tara complained as she set down the plate and leaned in for a deep kiss.


“I’m okay. But, thanks… those sandwiches look good enough to marry right now.”


“So, what’s this,” she pointed to the screen.


“I’m going through a manifest of this tiny museum in Mut, Egypt.”


“Mut? Where in the world is that… and why? And, why is it all in mangled-English?”


“Oh, well, the manifest is only online in Arabic. I’m trying a translation program, and you can see it’s not very good.”


“What are we looking for?”


“The Urn.”


“Oh. Still no luck, huh? I’ve never even heard of ‘Mut’, have you tried Alexandria or Cairo? No, of course you have… you’re smart,” Tara smiled.


“I have. All of the major cities, which is why I’m now wandering through every remote oasis town in the desert… I wish we’d hear from Anya with good news. God,” Willow shook her head in amusement, “I’m wishing we’d hear from Anya!”


The two lovers shared another kiss before Tara briefly rested her hand on the other’s shoulder. “Well, I want to see that you’ve eaten the next time I come down here. And, you should really work upstairs where there is more light. Maybe, if there’s some money left over after the major repairs, we can talk to Xan about wiring another light over your work space.”


“That would be good,” Willow nodded. “But, I’m gonna stay down here ‘til dinner. I like the quiet. Plus, I’m sort of bouncing back and forth between the robot and the laptop when I need a break from one or the other.”


“Okay,” Tara bent down and kissed her forehead. “There’s a message on the machine upstairs… maybe it’s Anya.”


“Yeah, right. It’s that woman….”

oooooooooooooooooooo


In London, at Heathrow, Giles’ heart hammered in his chest as he and Ms. Mills deplaned. Not that anyone would realize it, of course. His Watcher training had made him a master at hiding signs of stress or fear and after all of the monster attacks, abductions and dealing with Buffy and her friends he had done, this was to be a breeze.


Or, so he kept telling himself.


The terminal was crowded with people and it was easy to tell the natives, who strolled with a clear purpose, from the tourists, who wandered looking lost and confused. He led Lavinia, holding her hand tightly, as they weaved through their fellow travelers on the way to the luggage unloading area.


They didn’t get far. From the crowd, a hand suddenly grabbed at Giles’ elbow and then there was another set of hands grabbing his other upper arm. In front of him, as if he appeared out of the ether, stood Mr. Travers.


“Rupert Giles. By my authority as designated through the Executive Council of the Watchers Council of Great Britain, I hereby inform you that you are under arrest pending a complete review of your recent activities.”


Giles felt a surge of dark energy pulse through him along with his anger at being treated this way. He was here by choice… the Council wouldn’t know a damned thing if he hadn’t voluntarily supplied the information.


The gathered men and Lavinia saw inky darkness blot out Giles’ eyes as his indignity was clearly reflected in the look on his face. Light violet-pink strings of energy raced down the cloth of his shirt and streamed into the men’s hands that held him.


It had no obvious effect. And, before things could escalate further, Travers had placed a pendant over his head.  The hanging jewelry was a clear, tear dropped shaped crystal and with a single Latin word uttered by Quentin, Giles suddenly felt all of his strength lost. His knees buckled, and a swoon overcame him.


“Th-this wasn’t necessary,” Ms. Mills angrily gritted through her teeth. “He was cooperative!”


“Step back ma’am,” one of the unnamed gentleman now supporting Rupert warned.


“Ms. Mills?! I had no idea that you would be here, my dear. I did not know that you and Rupert were acquainted, nor that you were in Sunnydale,” he appeared annoyed. “I’ll have to speak to our Intelligence wing about that.”


“I don’t like being spied on, Quentin. And since my divorce from Russell, there is no reason for the Council’s Intelligence operatives to be keeping a tab on my whereabouts. Now, what is the meaning of this appalling behavior… Rupert is here voluntarily.”


The two gentleman escorting Giles began to walk away, with him staggering. As Travers fell in behind them, Lavinia marched at his side, incensed. She looked around for airport security or a bobby, but they were completely absent from the entire area… no doubt due to the Council’s oversized influence in England’s upper echelons….


“Relax, my dear. No permanent harm has been done. We’re simply being proactive in our precautions.”


“You’re being an ass.”


“Ms. Mills, I’ll remind you that you have no opinion in official Council business and you are no longer in America. I have no idea why you have gotten involved at all, but I can have you detained by immigration, if you cannot remain civil. Now, allow us to do our job, yes?


“Mr. Giles, do you wish to make a preliminary statement,” Travers continued, ignoring the woman’s verbal sound of frustration at his side.


“I do not… at this time,” Giles looked at the hands which tightly held him. “Other than to agree with Lavinia that this was unnecessary.”


“Perhaps,” Quentin said, “But best not to take chances on your having second thoughts about cooperating….”

oooooooooooooooooooooooo

End Ch 17

kaiju

Ch 18 - Coming of the Scooby Army




Coming of the Scooby Gang
Ch 18 - Bad News


Tara sat at the kitchen island with a sandwich and stared at the hallway. She couldn’t see it, but she knew the red light was blipping from the phone and it was mocking her resistance. She knew she was going to be the one to listen to Ms. Sinclair’s latest demand to speak to Buffy. She also knew it was going to be her that would have to call the woman back and make up something, and really, how many excuses were going to fly at this rate?


After briefly switching her focus to the basement door and allowing herself to fantasize that Willow was going to come up any second now and inform her the robot was back online, she gave a short groan and walked into the living room. On the credenza abutting the staircase, the phone’s little red light was flashing and every thirty seconds it gave a slight beep. She hated it.


Taking a deep breath and holding it, she pressed the key and listened….


“Tara, call home,” a male voice she instantly recognized hoarsely said.


Tara stared at the phone for a moment longer, a chill running down her back as she exhaled. Donnie wouldn’t have called her just to say ‘hi’ even before she fell out with the family over her decision to stay in Sunnydale. And the obvious distress in his voice, evident over even so short a message had her dreading calling Louisiana. Whatever was going on down there, it wasn’t going to be pleasant.


Slowly she picked up the receiver and taking another deep, cleansing breath dialed the number in Petite Crique.


After the third ring, Donnie’s rough voice said a hello and for just a split second Tara wished to hang up the receiver, but instead she returned the greeting.


“Hi, Tara. You need to come home. Dad’s dead.”

oooooooooooooooooooooooo


Dawn and Kevin sat at the kitchen table in the Stein’s home ostensibly working on a report due by the end of the week for school. Actually, there was far more stealing glances at one another or ‘accidentally’  brushing fingers as they both reached for the bowl of potato chips in front of them.


“So, there’s this art program at the community center that I’m checking out.”


“Yeah? That sounds cool,” Dawn smiled.


“I guess. I mean, yeah, it would be cool. So, ah, about that movie… I mean I know it’s not this weekend, but do you have any idea at all? I mean, is there anything at the movies that you haven’t already seen?”


“I haven’t given it any thought,” she lied casually. Thinking about what sort of movie to watch with Kevin on their first date was taking up most of her brain power… most of the rest was taken up with wondering about when their first kiss would happen. She just hoped he wouldn’t lose his soul, turning into a murderous stalker and end up being sent to Hell. Her sister already did that.


In the living room, they heard Carole on the telephone making dinner reservations for she and her husband for later that evening. There’d been some discussion of Dawn staying alone for the night, but after what had happened over the last several days, it was decided she’d have to go back to Tara for the evening.


Dawn more than half suspected that they were more worried about what she and Kevin would be up to on their own.


As if I’d have a boy over without them being home. As if I’m even close to ready for sex, she thought nervously, with a glance in Kevin’s direction. She could feel her face heat up and that just made her more embarrassed.


“You okay,” he suddenly asked. “You look a little perspirey.”


“Oh! Uh, yeah. Sure. I, uh, I’m just, uh… it’s just a thing.”


“Oh. Okay,” Kevin smiled questioningly, before turning back to the book on Dawn’s report subject he was skimming for her.


Oh my God, Dawn panicked, I am so humiliating myself! Get a grip, Dawn… Kevin hasn’t even made a real move yet and you’re already thinking about sex! Spike is so going to kill me if he even suspects I’m having those thoughts… or he’ll terrify Kevin right out of town!

ooooooooooooooooooooooooo


“Anything? C’mon,  man, point me in the right direction while we got some daylight,” Keith Campbell said irritably.


Tangina sighed, annoyed. “How many times do we have to go through this? I’ve told you, I’m not in control of these things. Sam tells me what he wants to tell me when he wants to tell me.”


“He’s playing games!”


“Keith. Chill. She’s doing the best she can,” Donna told him, while she flipped through the channels of the small television in the motel room. The sound was turned down so as not to disturb Tangina, but she still seemed to be having difficulties since they’d come to Sunnydale a few days ago. And, Keith wasn’t the most patient man she’d ever known.


“They could have bit more people last night, more parents! We were so close to finishing them for good,” he bunched his fists in frustration. “Those stupid guys….”


“We’ll get them, Honey,” Donna sighed.


“I’m sorry, but Sam is just not here,” Tangina walked away from her spirit board in frustration. “There’s something weird about this town. I wonder if we’re on a ley line?”


“I wonder if you’re ‘friend’ is a big fake.”


“That’s not fair! He’s got us this far,” Tangina nearly yelled. She was very sensitive when it came to Sam.


“Of course he has,” Donna soothed. “And, we’re grateful. Even Keith. He’s just… passionate about killing those things.”


“I’m going for coffee,” Tangina grabbed her jacket and stomped out of the room.


“Keith….”


“I know, Donna, I know. I’ll apologize later to her. I’m just … frustrated. This is the third time we’ve been right there and they got away.”


“I know,” Donna got up from the bed she’d been laying on, propped against the headboard. Taking him in a large hug, she rocked him gently. “I know it’s hard. I know you need this to put your parents’ death behind you, but you could be a lot more … diplomatic… around other people.”


“I leave that to you,” he grinned and kissed her forehead. “You’re the peace maker in this family.”


“Then as a peacemaker, I think we should ask for help.”


“From who? Not those weird guys?!”


“They weren’t weird, Keith. They knew what they were doing and they know this town inside and out. We’re strangers here. We could take hours going through every building and still miss where our bad guys are hiding out… you know I’m right.”


Keith sighed. “Damn it. You probably are. As usual,” he smiled at her. "I'll think about it."

ooooooooooooooooo


Willow heard Tara come down the stairs and when she sensed her behind her, she said over her shoulder, “Nothing yet.”


When she didn’t respond, Will gave a glance over her shoulder and froze. Tara looked at her shell shocked, her mouth open like she was struggling to come up with anything to say.


“Tara? Tara, what is it,” she immediately left her seat and embraced the other woman. “Hey, you okay?”


“I-I don’t know. I… my dad. He had a heart attack.”


“Oh, no. I’m sorry, Baby… is that who was on the phone?”


Tara nodded her head. “He’s dead, Will. My daddy died.”


Willow looked at her stunned and then embraced and held her as Tara shook.


“I don’t… I’m not sure what I’m feeling.”


“You’re in shock, Baby. C’mon, let’s go upstairs. I’ll make hot tea … we’ll sit for a bit, okay?”


“Yeah. Okay. Willow? I have to go home. I have to. How can I not? He’s my father.”


“Of course you’ll go home, Tara. That’s not even a question. I’ll go with you. Xander can watch Dawn….”


“Oh. Okay. I-I don’t know what things will be like… with Donnie… and Beth. I-I don’t even know if they want me there,” Tara said as they made their way up into the kitchen.


“Tara, stop worrying about everyone else. You’re dad has passed away. You worry about what you need and that’s gonna be to go home and say good bye to him.”


“Okay. Thanks, Will. I-I think I’m not really with it, yet. I-I’m more in shock than sad… is that weird?”


“No,” Willow responded firmly. “This came out of the blue, and you’re feeling stunned. It’s totally normal.”


“Yeah. Y-yeah… I can’t stop shaking.”


Willow kissed her deeply once she had her seated at the kitchen island. “I’m gonna get you something hot to drink. You just sit here until the shock wears off.”


“Will? Thank you. I love you.”


“I love you,” Willow put her hand briefly over Tara’s trembling one. “We’ll get through this, too, like we have the other bad stuff.”

oooooooooooooooooooo

End Ch 18

rear window

Ch 19 - Coming of the Scooby Army




Coming of the Scooby Army
Ch 19 -  Danger on the Horizon


Nevada:

“Listen, I’m telling you guys that this town is ripe,” Warren Mears stated with as much authority as he could manage under the circumstances. “All you have to do is ride in and do what you do.”


“And we should risk it because…,” the demonic gang leader questioned.


Warren didn’t like the way that this thing was looking at him, nor his ‘crew’. It was disconcertedly like he was a possible meal… or play thing. The demon he was addressing was an odd mottled, pinkish-tan colored being, heavily built with muscle and with earrings puncturing his pointed ears, his flat, nose-less face, even the sides of its neck. Many of the other demons surrounding him were similarly adorned, and all wore a look that clearly said he was most unwelcome. He was glad he hadn’t brought Andrew, as the other young man would surely have spoiled everything with the peeing of his pants.


Warren however did not do so. He instead took a step closer, up into the face of this demon biker and grinned a ‘tough-guy’ smile, ignoring the ripe scent and the smell of old leather that hadn’t been cleaned in months, if not years.


“Because, right now, the Hellmouth is unguarded,” he nearly whispered, as if he were in a conspiratorial partnership with the thing in front of him. He looked around at the two dozen creatures waiting for the word that he was fair game, “The Sunnydale Slayer has taken a sabbatical,” he said far more loudly. “The town is vulnerable… as is the portal.”


He confidently met the gang leader’s eyes and smiled, “It’s just waiting for someone who can do something with it.”


There was general murmuring among the crowd in the abandoned former bar, but Warren kept his attention on the Gang Master. It was his call on whether he would be stripped of his flesh and consumed right now, or whether there would be a deal.


“How do you know this,” the demon gang leader asked, full of suspicion.


“Uh-uh. I’m free to leave, then I share the details.”


The demon leaned into Warren’s face and huffed fetid air in his face from a mouth full of teeth were made for tearing apart prey. “You’re not in a position to bargain, Human.”


“If I can’t leave, then there’s no point in any of this,” Warren pointed out, sounding far more full of bravado then he actually felt. “Do you want the details of Sunnydale’s defenses or not?”


“The Slayer wouldn’t just wander away….”


“The Slayer isn’t exactly the type that you’re used to. She tends to ignore her handler and take off on her own errands. Right now, she’s not there.”


“Then we don’t need you,” the demon grinned savagely. “You’ve already told us what we need to know…,” it’s clawed hand grabbed him by his shirt front.


Warren brazenly knocked the hand away from him with a look of disgust, “Except, I didn’t tell you about the witches… or the vampire… standing with her. Do we have a deal or not?”


“Why would a human deal with us? Why sell out your town… your world,” the demon not unreasonably wondered. In the meanwhile, Warren clearly picked up an undercurrent of excitement going through the crowd around him.


“Because, I’m anti-Slayer. And, I’m anti-Sunnydale. That’s all you need to know. And right now, the Slayer’s virginal kid-sis is waiting for some demon man enough, pardon the expression, to ‘take’ her, if you get my drift.”


The demon narrowed his eyes at him and then burst out in a roar of laughter. “This weak man is free to go,” he shouted out to his followers. “When he’s told us what we need to know about this virgin and how to overcome the Hellmouth’s Guardians!” He leaned once again into Warren’s face, “But if we arrive and find the Slayer there, we will come for you,” he added.


Warren grinned and nodded.

ooooooooooooooooo


Later in the evening, Willow was on the phone with Xander from the Summers’ home. Upstairs, Dawn was in her room with the radio down low.


“Tara told me about her casting to help Dawn stay hidden. It was relatively easy for me to finish . She shouldn’t have an issue with going with Cordy at the end of the week.”


“How is she doing,” Xander asked, looking out into the twilight over Sunnydale from his apartment balcony. “God, that’s a stupid question.”


“No, she’s okay,” Will said with a voice full of sadness. “I mean, this is a really bad time for this to come up, but she’s not falling apart or anything.”


The news of Tara’s father’s death earlier in the day was a sucker punch to the young witch, but Willow had run a steaming bath after she’d gotten her over the initial shock. She was up in Joyce’s bathroom now, soaking with another hot cup of soothing tea.


“Tell her how sorry I am.”


“I will. But, I have to go with her Xan. I have to. I’ve emailed you the stuff I’ll need and the approximate costs for the Buffybot. I need that stuff tomorrow so I can get her up and running before we take off for Cajun Country.”


“Of course. I’ll see to the money. Have you heard from Giles?”


“No. But, considering the Council, I’m not sure we will. I’m hoping that Lavinia will update us though. You may want to stop at the house and check the machine for any messages when we’re gone.”


“And Dawn,” he asked.


“Sad. But handling it. After Joyce and Buffy, the death of someone she didn’t really know and didn’t like isn’t really bothering her much. She’s mostly hurting for Tara’s sake.”


“Yeah. Listen, Spike just came out here, so I need to fill him in….”


“… He stayed over? Should I read anything into that, she says supportively.”


“Not yet,” Xan replied with humor. “But, you never know.”

ooooooooooooooooooooooooo


Dawn sat on her bed looking over her work from the library. The Steins were having another evening to themselves, so she was back at home, which she didn’t at all resent. Her heart ached for Tara and she wondered, not for the first time, if this had something to do with her. Not that there was any reason to think so, but there seemed to be a lot of death since she ‘popped up’ in her ‘family’s’ life. Xander’s dad… her mother… her sister… now Tara’s dad… and almost Carole.


She sighed and again wished she knew more about herself, her origins, her weird nature….


With a sigh, she turned her attention back to her homework. Kevin had done a good job of making notes in his elegant script and she had sheets of paper spread out in front of her. She was now writing, long form per her teacher’s instruction, Van Gogh’s life - focusing on his melancholy. It was something she could currently relate to all too well.

oooooooooooooooooooo



“Update me? Giles?” Spike struck a match and lit a cigarette.


“No, no word from our wandering Watcher. Tara’s dad died - heart attack.”


“Poor White Wicca. On the other hand, ‘who cares’. The man was an asshole.”


“Yeah. But it was her dad…, it doesn’t really matter that he wasn’t so nice now. So, Dawn is going to stay here, if the Steins are busy sexing until she goes to Cordy.”


“Vision-girl,” Spike blew smoke directly in Xan’s face, his scowl apparent.


“I know. You don’t want her out of eyesight. But she needs time away, Spike.”


“She’s not normal. Every witch, psychic and seer is going to detect her from miles away,” the vampire complained.


“Got it covered. The mojo from Tara and Willow will keep her cloaked.”


“I’ve been clear about my objections to this.”


“You objected to her going to L.A.,” Xander reminded him. “We’re going to keep her closer. Neutral ground between us and them.”


“Not. The. Point.”


“Spike, you can’t keep smothering her.”


“Like Hell.”


“I’m serious. The decision has been made. And we don’t want you following her.”


Spike turned away and gazed out over the night, his grinding teeth working silently. “This is a bad idea,” he finally said.


“We’re people. We make bad decisions. But, this one is necessary. Between Buffybot and you and the witches, and even me, Dawn is feeling trapped. She needs oxygen.”


“I’m assuming you mean that metaphorically.”


“You need to… loosen the grip on her. She needs you to.”


“The last time I trusted her to her own, she got killed. Buffy would never forgive me if she knew,” he said quietly.


Xander came up behind him and slung an arm around his waist, pulling him to him, “That wasn’t your fault. And, I think she’s learned her lesson. With Cord’s weird vision-powers, she should be okay for a weekend.”


“Not promising that I won’t slip out after her, but I’ll try.”


“That’s all we can ask,” Xander nuzzled the back of his neck.

oooooooooooooooooooooooo

End Ch 19

kaiju

Ch 20 - Coming of the Scooby Army




Coming of the Scooby Army
Ch 20 - Trials and Tribulations


Spike and Xander Harris wandered through the cemetery near his apartment. The gravestones were dark shadows in a lightless landscape and, not for the first time, Xan felt a pang for Hyena. Bitch though she was, his nighttime eyesight was better when she’d been present. He still dreamed of her and thought he heard whispers from her once in a while when he awoke suddenly.


“Let’s make our way in the general direction of the motor lodge,” Xander told the vampire. “I want to check on Donna and her boyfriend.”


“Sure.”


“Spike….”


“You’ve been clear: Dawn is going, I’m not following. I don’t want to talk about it anymore. I’m not going to be happy no matter what comes out of your mouth about it.”


“Where’s a vampire attack when I need one,” Xan muttered.


Spike only snorted in his general direction before lighting another cigarette. “I’m bothered that we haven’t heard from Giles.”


“You’re bothered? About Giles not being over your shoulder? That’s new.”


“I’m worried about what he may be saying; don’t want a bunch of Council twits tramping about… not all of ‘em would bother understanding that a vampire with a chip in his head can be an ally, if not exactly a white knight.”


“Giles wouldn’t bring up anything that would cause them to come here. As far as they’re concerned, Buffy is still in charge and they know how much trouble there will be if ‘she’ thinks they’re butting in.”


“Magic, Xan. Magic. You never know what they’re using it for… for all we know the Watcher is on a rack being interrogated with truth spells and spilling everything he knows about Sunnydale.”


“Thanks for giving me something new to worry about. And, I don’t believe you. But, thanks for scaring me, anyway,” Xan sighed into the night. “It’s been too quiet lately.”


“It has. I’ve taken out a few vampires here or there, but….”


“Something big coming… so early?”


“Can’t say…,” Spike stared off, scanning the darkness around them.

oooooooooooooooo


In the cheap and tacky hotel room, the girl calling herself Tangina sat on the floor. Her back was propped against the mattress and her legs splayed out in front of her. Between them sat the witchboard and its immobile planchette.


Tangina breathed slowly and deeply, trying to become receptive to Sam, her spirit advisor. Keith and Donna had left, she worried and he angry (as usual) when Sam wouldn’t answer her question about where the vampires were that they sought. She told him to just wait for her to come up with something, but he was impatient (as usual) and being a prick (as usual) about it and told her he’d just wander aimlessly around town. Like, he was just going to so happen to run across them….


Whatever, Tangina rolled her eyes, before shaking out her hands and trying to meditate again. It wasn’t usually this difficult to reach Sam and he wasn’t the type to ignore her… at least he hadn’t been until they’d arrived here.


Oh, come on Sam! You’re really damaging my psychic-cred here.


The flat triangle on its base of three points twitched under her fingers momentarily before the entire board flew up off of the floor and across the room, startling a scream from her. In the back of her mind she heard the voice she imagined Sam would have if she could ever talk to him aloud whispering one word… ‘Danger’.

oooooooooooooooooo


The Hellmouth Wisp, now trapped within what passed for Dawn Summers’ soul, gazed mesmerized upon an ever shifting three-dimensional vista. It could feel Dawn’s energy twining around and through it, but it was no longer fearful or disturbed by it. This girl It had wished to possess and inspire into murderous deeds was different than anything It had encountered before, and while It knew It had been trapped, It found Itself no longer afraid of being destroyed.


Around the insubstantial thing, there were scenes as if from the girl’s viewpoint. As if the Wisp-being were seeing through her eyes, but these things weren’t occurring in the real world. Through her physical sight, It could tell she was alone, looking at papers and generally being boring.


In this space within however, she was seeing entire worlds: a vampire with a soul leaping in front of someone she instinctively identified as ‘sister’ and taking a bullet meant for the Slayer, a vast panorama from a beach gazing out over a purple sea, an underground cave or tunnel of some sort - the dark dirt staining her hands, holding some man identified as a son - blood streaming from his nose and mouth, a classroom full of small children listening in rapt attention to whatever their teacher - Dawn - was saying….


It was very much like this girl had an entire multi-verse of realities within her, if only she could see them. It could not hear any of these worlds… in this space It was deaf to these internal realities and to the outside world where It had so recently had Its fun and frustrations.


It could see not just other-earths, but entirely other realms: worlds of eternal shadow, hell dimensions, bright and shiny mountains with winged humanoids soaring… each vision more fascinating than the last. And none of them staying in view nearly long enough for It to get any but a brief idea of what each world would be like. It imagined this is what it would be like if It was connected to the Hellmouth that It had traveled through to get here - portal upon portal just waiting to be opened all contained in a single point in space/time.


The next vision to appear around It was a dark night except for the star-filled sky. There was a two lane road surrounded by desert and it was leading toward Sunnydale. It did not know how It could determine that, since there were no road signs, but It believed it without question.


On the road was some sort of two-wheeled vehicles that Dawn’s mind identified for It as motorcycles. And upon these were demons… two dozen of them… and they were coming to wreak havoc. It knew this and It was pleased.


And, It was disturbed and fearful for the girl… which It found disturbing in and of itself. It was being changed somehow and didn’t want to be, but didn’t know how to stop whatever was happening to It.


The scene shifted again to a world where Dawn’s bleary hand was holding a smeary stake. As if she were crying heavily. The hand jabbed outward into the chest of a vampire - a middle aged woman who identified as ‘mom’… and then the scene shifted again to a new world….


But the Wisp found Itself distracted by the vision of the motorcycling demons on their way to Sunnydale… it had been more ‘solid’ than the others either before or after it.

ooooooooooooooooooooooo


Rupert Giles found himself appalled and angry as he sat on a backless bench in the center of a large circle. The room was built of virgin wood, by some Order or another hundreds of years ago. Surrounding him were row upon row of benches laid out in a giant circle and leading up six rows deep. From the shadowed reaches of these benches eyes peered at him, some judgmental and glaring, others sympathetic and others unfeeling either way.


Somewhere in the rows was Lavinia Mills. It was unusual for a ‘civilian’ to be in the venue, but as she already knew too much anyway, Quentin made the necessary arrangements for her to attend this hearing. She was to act as a character witness of sorts and as resident expert on Sunnydale, since Giles wouldn’t allow the Slayer or any of her intimate circle to travel to England - despite her repeated attempts and Quentin’s strongly given advice.


In front of him, also on a long curved bench, were eight women and three men dressed in long robes and wearing various symbols hanging from silver chains around their necks. This was the Coven that the Watchers Council had forged strong ties to in the very earliest history of the organization. Though the Devon Coven technically remained a separate entity, the links between the two organizations were so many and so daily that they effectively acted as one. They were often called upon to act as jury in cases where magical abuses were involved among Council staff.


Giles could feel the resentment that would ordinarily cause the dark magic still permeating him to want to explode forth at those who sat in judgment of him. But he was currently chained by both wrists and feet to the floor. All of the metal from the cuffs to the ring in front of him that the chains that were attached to it were made of heavy iron with ivy branches woven into the chain links. The chamber floor and ceiling were covered in Celtic lettering and symbols stopping him from unleashing his magic on the hoard around him.


The Watchers sitting in the stands spoke to one another, looked over files prepared about him or just sat sizing him up. The witches in front of him sat stony-eyed and peering at him with curiosity. He could feel their magical senses, immune to the symbols and anti-magic incantations protecting this space, feeling him out and it only served to strengthen his anger.


Not that he didn’t already know that this was coming, and he wasn’t resentful because of any perceived injustice. He knew his strong negative feelings were generated by his dark magic ‘infection’ and he knew that the witches in judgment of him knew it as well. At least they weren’t likely to take offense and hold his wanting to reach out and hurt them against him….


This place was lost in the deep woods of the Yealm valley with both the illusion of a broken down and tiny cabin and fear inducing magicks to protect it from intrusion. He’d only been here once before during his last year in London, just before being dispatched to ‘take control’ of his Slayer.


‘Take control of…’, that had turned out to be a laugh. But Buffy had proven herself unexpectedly adept at both recognizing the responsibility of her power and, after a rough start, accepting of it and she’d grown to appreciate his role in her development once her initial resentment had passed. And, of course, when he’d stopped acting the pompous ass that these people had turned him into….


It had taken him longer than it should have to understand her reluctance, her deep desire to be more than just an automaton in young girl’s form that the Council had assumed she’d be… a living weapon that they could wield at their leisure. They’d never talked about it, why not he wasn’t sure, but clearly much of her initial resentment of him was probably tied to Merrick.  There could be little doubt that John Merrick had swept into Los Angeles like he’d owned the place and had initiated the Council’s program as they’d all been taught. And Buffy, having already been through that once only to have her ‘mentor’ killed so quickly surely was hesitant to accept another into her life - especially since she’d never wanted to have ‘super powers’ and the responsibilities that they came with. He would have realized the emotional impact of that death on her if he also hadn’t been brainwashed by these sanctimonious, authoritarian group of old, fat men.


Another wave of resentment and hatred for those surrounding him now rushed through him, but he struggled to tamp this down, knowing that these feelings were being amped up by his condition. Besides, the Council wasn’t all bad - it had given him a purpose once he’d decided to accept it and they had given Buffy information on Glory and on how to contact a Guardian to help her. More, they’d come to a truce with her, allowing her to receive their assistance, without their iron control….


No, no they aren’t all bad, Giles thought as Quentin presented his opening statement in this farce, But I’ll still crush you all!

oooooooooooooooooooooo

End Ch 20

kaiju

Ch 21 - Coming of the Scooby Army




Coming of the Scooby Army
Ch 21 - Extinction


The tiny village of Los Rocas Pacificas sat nestled against the base of the Sierra Nevada mountain range only a dozen miles from Walker Lake, from which it took much of its fresh water. The population of 124 were quickly diminishing in number amid heart rending screams of horror, confusion and death. The village had suffered its share of tragedies, mostly due to the occasional earthquake or the desert camper who’d failed to take an adequate amount of water out with them, but this was tragedy on an entirely different scale.


Communications from and to the small settlement were completely cut off and the loud sounds of raucous laughter, burning buildings, and the screams of civilization being brutally pillaged echoed out into the desert night and filled the air above the doomed villagers.


The demon, Razor, and his motorcyclists swarmed the houses of the people, raping those who caught their fancy and mercifully slaughtering the rest. Not that the former were spared - they just took longer to die.

oooooooooooooooooooo


With Wednesday night quickly advancing, Willow sighed with relief and smiled at her ‘best friend’ as she grinned back widely. “Let’s test your reflexes. I’m not happy with the way you keep getting damaged.”


“The Slayer can take a lot of punishment,” she exclaimed much too chipperly. “And I heal very quickly!”


“Uh, yeah. Still, it’s important that you keep yourself in good shape for the several days I’ll be gone with Tara. Xander and Spike won’t be able to make repairs if you get disemboweled again.”


Willow turned to walk away from the Buffybot, standing against the wall of the basement, when the robot suddenly threw her arms around her. With a bruising squeeze the robot thanked her for ‘helping’ her, nearly lifting her off of her feet. The robot then continued to exclaim how they were best friends and how it loved Willow - but not in a ‘Tara way’ because that would be inappropriate and violate the ‘relationship table’ of her database.


“Okay, okay,” Will pushed the robot off. “We need to deal with this haphazard mentioning of your ‘databases’ and any other robot-centric references before we get back to the physical tests,” she sighed at the machine. “Take a seat on the floor and I’ll get the laptop connected again.”


“I should patrol! It’s night time. Vampires come out at night. Where is Guy-les?”


“Arrrgh,” Willow groaned wearily. “Giles! G-I-L-E-S, but with a ‘J’ sound in place of the ‘G’! I thought we fixed that.”


The Buffybot smiled, “It’s funny that his last name is spelled with a G, but makes a J sound. English is a funny language!”


“Not so funny from my side of things,” Willow deadpanned back, “but let’s see where the mispronunciation is originating….”

ooooooooooooooooooo


“How’s our guests,” Xander asked Spike as they did a sweep of the Burnside Medieval Bed & Breakfast, the abandoned castle-like structure that visiting vampires seemed drawn to.


“Lots of infighting. They haven’t found the vampires, yet. The Keith bloke is pissed off, girlfriend is insipidly supportive and medium-chick is worried about the spook she’s used to gettin’ answers from, but who is not in the talking mood.”


Spike had spent the last few nights tailing them around more than patrolling, under Xan’s direction and then complaining of his boredom when he checked in.


“Any signs of the vampires?”


“Hard to tell with me playing baby sitter, but I’m betting they’ve taken off. If they were on the run this long, there’s no reason to think they were interested in squatting on the Hellmouth.”


“Okay…, if they were still in town,” Xan said as he came to a halt and looked around the dark hallway they were currently in, “This is the place I’d figure they’d be.”


“Only if they were stupid. This place sticks out like a neon-sign flashing ‘vampire residence’ into the night.”


“Dracula and Vanessa liked it well enough,” he pointed out.


“Like I said… stupid,” Spike smirked. “We should get you back to the apartment.”


“It’s only… eleven thirty. And we’ve been sort of less than thorough in our patrols lately,” he sighed tiredly.


“You gotta work in the morning, while I’m sleeping. I don’t like the puffy eyes you’re sporting.”


Xander had gotten a subcontracting gig clearing the wreckage of Glory’s old penthouse building, now lying in rubble thanks to Giles. It wasn’t much, certainly not paying anything near what he was making during the new mall project, but anything was better than wasting all day worrying about Dawn and bills and Social Workers and bills and Anya-Oz-Willow (which he wasn’t sure Tara had told her yet) and bills…. Basically it was better moving rubble than obsessing on the bills at Buffy’s house. He was going to be relieved when the Magic Box was back in operation and pulling in some kind of profit.


Of course those thoughts only had him shift his obsession to what was going on in England, so he quickly focused back on his conversation with the blood-sucking demon-guy at his side.


“Not that I don’t appreciate the concern, but I’m fine… mostly. It feels good to do some physical work again, and I just want to take a quick look downtown before I turn in. After you escort me home,” he said amusedly, “since you think I’m a dainty flower, you can then check in with Willy’s new place. Remind him, he can relocate above ground if he wants.”


“I have mentioned that, as I’ve already told you,” Spike pointed out. “He gives a weasely nod and ignores me. And, I don’t think you’re a flower… but I also want you to stay in one piece.”


“I’d like that too,” Xander assured him. “I’m just saying that I’ve walked around a lot at night and I’ve been fine… well… usually.”


“Usually isn’t good enough for me. I will be swinging by the Stein house, too, to check on Dawn… make sure no other gunwomen have dropped by for tea….”

ooooooooooooooooooooooo


Upstairs on the top floor in the bedroom she shared with Willow, Tara angrily whispered over the phone, “She’s special! We are together and nothing you say is going to make me feel guilty over my girlfriend coming with me!”


“You think I give a shit about whether you’re tapping some dyke,” Donnie harshly… and loudly… said from his end. “I don’t care if you’re with a dude, a chick or some combination! Daddy couldn’t stand witches! You know that. It’s… wrong… for you to be dragging some mojo-tossing bitch down here!”


“I’m a ‘mojo-tossing bitch’, too. You want me to ignore coming down, as well?!”


“You do want you want, you always fuckin’ do,” Donnie exclaimed. Just before slamming the phone down on her ear, he added, “But I don’t want some strange witch at my daddy’s funeral!”


Tara slammed the phone down on the sudden silence from the line and stewed a bit before closing her eyes and meditating. She felt a lanky, furry body brush up against her and smiled as she pulled Ms. Kitty into her lap.


“Brothers, Ms. Fantastico! You’re very lucky you don’t have family issues to deal with.”

ooooooooooooooooooooo


At the Stein’s home, in the spare bedroom, Dawn tossed and turned wide awake. With a beleaguered sigh, she got out of bed and went into the bathroom connected to her ‘new room’.


She dug under the clothes in her luggage, still unpacked, and into her feminine hygiene product box until she felt the small bottle of sleep aid that she had turned to more and more frequently to help her sleep.


This is becoming an unhealthy habit, Dawnie, she thought as she popped two of the miracle pills. Buffy and mom would not be happy and you really need to stop using these so often.


She gave herself a wry grin in the mirror before returning to bed.


On the other hand, if it’s sleeping pills or insanity via insomnia… no contest, she sighed.

ooooooooooooooooooooooo


Ch 21

Winter Ferry Pic

Ch 22 - Coming of the Scooby Army




Coming of the Scooby Army
Ch 22 - The Day Before Doomsday


Dawn happily and giddily tapped her foot under the table, suffused with happiness. It was Thursday! The following day would be the last for summer school and by tomorrow evening, she’d be in a spa with Cordelia, who was like a whiz when it came to fashion and make up and knowing the best places to eat and shop and get pampered.


On her right, Kevin gave her a grin as well, “You are just a bit too happy to be leaving tomorrow.”


“Sorry,” she laughed, “But you just have no idea….”


They were in the high school library with the rest of her small class. Their summer session teacher was sitting in a corner near the door, obviously bored. She kept glancing at the clock in between reading pages of her gothic romance paperback. She’d decided that today would be ‘library day’ in order to give the kids a last chance to finish up their term papers - or so the excuse was; Dawn suspected she just wanted to avoid anymore work, but didn’t want to get in trouble with Ms. Portlynn.


Kevin, technically, shouldn’t even have been there. He didn’t have summer school and wasn’t part of the class. But he wasn’t the only ‘research assistant’ present, as there were at least six extra people in the room. Their teacher was beyond the point of caring, however, as long as they all at least put in the appearance of working on their papers.


Dawn’s had been finished the night before, so she and Kevin were basically doing a read through and looking for spelling and grammar errors. Partially, anyway. Mostly, they were just flirting and making plans for when she returned from her weekend away.

ooooooooooooooooooooooooooo



Upstairs at the Summers’ house, in Willow and Tara’s room, the red head had two suitcases opened and half full of clothing. She had stopped packing however and now kneeled on the floor. In front of her splayed in a semi-circle around her were five candles. In the center was one of slate grey, made of beeswax. Two more were to the right and left of this one, also lit, but black and made of soy. Each candle had a single black stone in front of them, and in front of all of this was incense, smoldering. The tableau was completed by a Tarot card - ‘The Hierophant’ - chosen to represent the woman sitting downstairs in the kitchen at this moment.


Willow chanted softly, eyes focused solely upon this card. Under the bed, Ms. Kitty Fantastico could just be heard growling softly at the magical mist emanating from Willow. From the Habitrail, Amy could be heard squeaking and rustling. She was sitting on her haunches, nose pointed straight up toward the top of the cage where she waved it back and forth, scenting the air.


As Willow felt herself reaching the point of no return, where the spell would need to be released or interrupted, she picked up the other Tarot card she’d laid within reach nearby. She placed this new card, ‘The Moon’ over the old and quickly flipped both over so that their faces were now hidden.


Accompanied by a small snap in the air, she whispered, “My will be done, so mote it be”….

ooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo


In the kitchen, sitting at the island with coffee between them, sat Tara, Dawn’s social worker and the newly restored Buffy robot. Tara couldn’t keep from chewing at her lower lip, as her eyes darted between the other two with her.


“So, as you can see, Dawn could clearly benefit from some sort of mild intervention,” Golda Sinclair shared with ‘Buffy’. “I’m not suggesting psychological help per se, Dawn appears to be very well adjusted for the most part. I’m only saying that once a week, she should have the opportunity to speak with someone in confidence - a councilor who’s discretion she can be confident in and where she can speak freely about anything that may be bothering her.”


“Yes. I see that,” Buffybot grinned widely. “But, she can tell me anything! We’re sisters!”


“W-well, I’m sure she appreciates that. But sometimes, children in Dawn’s position, being cared for by a sister in place of a parent can feel… stifled, in expressing their true opinions - perhaps because they’re afraid to be a quote-burden-unquote. A councilor would allow her to express things she may feel guilty about saying aloud to family.”


“What do you think,” Buffybot frowned as if in thought as she turned to Tara beside her.


She was just feeling a sense of relief that the robot’s responses seemed relatively normal, when she very suddenly stopped frowning and grinned maniacally instead.


“W-w-well, of course, we want to help Dawnie in any way necessary,” Tara said, directing her comment at Golda. “If you believe Dawn may need this, we’ll cooperate.”


“I like Dawn! I think she’s a very sweet girl. I want to help her, because she’s my sister,” the Buffybot exclaimed enthusiastically.


“Uh. Yes, yes, of course,” Ms. Sinclair responded. The girl was weird and she was beginning to wonder if scheduling a random drug test might not be a good idea. “Uh, moving on, I wanted to bring up your father. I understand that since the divorce, he’s appeared less and less in Dawn’s life - such a shame, but a very common story these days, I’m afraid. What I wished to know is if there is a current address for him and I noted that in the financial forms I had you fill out, there is no mention of child support….”


“I’ve never met my father,” Buffy chirpily said, causing Tara to choke on her sip of coffee.


The robot slapped her back, aggressively, leaving what was sure to be a bruise.


Tara managed to sputter, “She means that we haven’t seen him in a long while. He’s uh, he works overseas… a new life….”


“Hank Summers is irresponsible,” Buffybot frowned deeply, sounding slightly angry. A split second later and she grinned beamingly again, “Thankfully we have Giles!”


“Yes, I see Mr. Giles on a lot of your responses,” Golda said, looking over her forms. These, naturally, had largely been filled out by Giles himself on Buffy’s behalf. “He appears to have played a major role in the family. I’m disappointed he returned to England before I could have an in-depth conversation with him.”


“Giles went to England,” Buffybot repeated, still grinning. “He does that.”


“I’m afraid it couldn’t be helped,” Tara quickly intervened. “There was a, uh, family emergency.”


“Yes. But, can I ask when we expect him back for an interview,” Golda continued.


“I’m afraid I don’t know,” Tara admitted with obvious reluctance. “His family issue is… severe and, um, may take some time to sort out. But, he’s really come through for us anyway! Even with this hardship, he’s made sure that Buffy and Dawn are capable of looking after themselves.”


“Right, I see he’s arranged for this stipend from something called ‘The Council’… all very mysterious,” Golda gave one of her fake laughs that Tara recognized by now as exactly that… fake. “I can’t seem to locate much information about them.”


Buffybot opened her mouth to respond, causing Tara to quickly kick her artificial leg and a bit too loudly rush over her, “They’re an exclusive British social club! It’s all, uh, very old world and traditional and, uh, exclusive.”


“The Council are run by jerks,” Buffybot shared.


Willow! Did you have to include that, Tara worriedly thought.


“They act snobby and are always trying to control everyone. I’m glad I quit! Although, I have information that I’ve rejoined, but not the reasons why - Tara?”


“Uh! Uh… I-I th-think that Giles had to have you, um, officially be a member… uh… for the stipend. H-he must have, uh, taken care of that for you…,” Tara stammered. She hated when her stutter returned like this - she knew it always made her seem evasive and nervous and that was the last thing she wanted to seem in front of Ms. Sinclair, but having Buffybot interact with people was always a risk, no matter how many times Willow tried to update her databases to contend with people outside of the Scoobies.


Which, at least she hasn’t mispronounced Giles’ name, brought up Slaying or vampires or referred to her databases, yet, so I should count myself lucky, she thought. She wished that Golda would wrap this up and leave.


At that moment, Golda herself felt a wave of slight dizziness pass through her. She reached up and rubbed her forehead, trying to ignore the slight nausea she felt.


“Uh,” she started, rubbing at her eyes now, “Uh, I wanted to discuss this gentleman living here, too. I’m not comfortable with Dawn returning to the house with someone who calls themselves ‘Spike’ here, especially when he seems so… well… uh, he has a certain ‘quality’ I’m not comfortable with having a young teen girl around.”


“Spike protects Dawn,” Buffybot grinned widely. “He takes my place when I have to recharge….”


“… her mental batteries,” Tara nearly screamed, before she caught herself in the nick of time enough to lower her voice… a bit…, “Uh, when she turns in to sleep. Sh-she and Spike, uh, both watch out for Dawnie… and we do, too. I mean we… we… all do… watch out for Dawn.”


“Hmmm…,” Golda squeezed her eyes tightly. “Well, I wanted my, uh, my… my concern, uh noted. I’m… I, uh, there was something else… it’s escaped my mind, now.”


“Ms. Sinclair? Your pupils are dilating strangely,” Buffybot commented.


“Ms. Sinclair? Are you alright,” Tara added at nearly the same time.


“I-I think so. I’m just… feeling off today. I’m sorry, it’s been a very tiring week,” she smiled apologetically. “I can’t seem to focus. Uh, where were we… oh, right! I noticed the front and back doors sitting in the hallway, are they to be installed sometime soon?”


“Oh yes,” Tara assured her. “We’ve received a report from the inspector and thankfully the damage has been mostly cosmetic. Xander is working this week at a site, he’s in construction remember? And he’s coming over this weekend to install them. He’s also ordered a new front window, which we’re expecting in about a week or so. I’m hoping to get the painting done by next weekend… I’m afraid this weekend, I have a funeral out of town.”


“I see. Well, this is good news. Th-there was something… something…,” Golda glanced through her notes, but appeared to be having trouble with finding what she’d been looking for. In fact, she seemed to be getting more distracted as they went on. Tara noted a light sheen of perspiration on her forehead now.


“Your heart rate has increased,” Buffybot shared. “I am also detecting moisture along your upper lip and on your forehead….”


“Y-you… how did you know my heart is beating faster?”


“First aid training,” Tara interceded again, before Buffybot could respond. “She’s, uh, she’s had first aid training… uh, military first aid… from Riley… her, uh, her boyfriend. Um, ex-boyfriend… or, uh… he’s on duty, now….”


“Riley is nice! He should come back,” Buffybot grinned.


“Th-this is new,” Golda said. “I, uh, I don’t have…, uh… is it possible to complete this interview later. I’m afraid I’m not feeling very well. I-I uh, I can’t seem to focus… I’m so sorry.”


“Of course,” Tara said with relief. That’ll give us time to work more on Buffy’s responses to questions. “Are you alright? Can I get you water… or call someone?”


“Oh, no, no, dear, thank you. I-I just need to, uh… to…,” Golda grabbed up her folder and the briefcase she’d carried in. “I, uh, I apologize… I… I’ll call later…,” she said as she quickly made her way out of the rear side-door.

ooooooooooooooooo


Willow had returned to packing, nervously chewing at her lower lip. There were no traces of the paraphernalia used for her spell casting lying out, except for the scent wafting through the air. She kept glancing at the bedroom door and listening for footsteps. Finally, after what seemed like hours, Tara came into the room.


“Incense? That’s nice,” she said with a glance. The burner had been moved by Willow to one of the nightstands at the side of the bed.


“Yeah, things were kind of musty smelling in here. How did things go with that woman?” Willow quickly turned away to reach into the closet for a skirt, afraid that Tara would see or sense her nervous, rapid breathing.


“Oh, fine, I think. The robot is still having trouble with conversing with people who don’t know everything, but I think I covered. Are we just about packed? Can I help out with anything,” the blonde said, obviously distracted.


“No, no… I’m fine,” Wills returned with a small smile. “Uh, so… things went good, then?”


“Oh, sure. I mean, Ms. Sinclair suddenly had to leave… I think she may have been coming down with something.”


“Really?”


“Yeah. Maybe a stomach complaint, or something. I don’t mean to sound mean, but I’m glad. I was having a nervous breakdown trying to cover for Buffybot’s weirder utterances,” Tara chuckled now, before running her hand distractedly through the suitcase. “Uh, Will? I think you’ve packed enough for us to be gone a month… we’re only going to be there for the weekend.”


“It’s not that bad. A-and, I just wanted to make sure you had everything you want when we’re there. I-I know that things are going to be tough down there for you.”


“Not really… okay, that was a small lie,” Tara sighed. “But, I’m not that girl who grew up afraid of her own shadow, anymore. If Donnie thinks he’s going to bully me while I’m there, he’s really wrong this time.”


“Bully? Who’s bullying? I was talking about the funeral.”


“I’m fine, Will. Don’t worry about it,” Tara replied as she turned and left the room. She was going to have to warn Willow about Petite Crique - but not right now. She just didn’t have the energy to get into it….

oooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo


Standing about twenty five miles outside of town, up the side of the Nevadas, Razor used his mystical, telescopic vision to spy on Sunnydale. Not that even he could see much from this far away, but it was good enough to pick out the shape of the town, the power and phone lines running into it and the worrisome military base just outside of its limits.


“The human didn’t mention a base,” Razor said bitterly.


“Do we abort,” his right hand man, Spar, frowned angrily at this snag.


There was a moment of silence before Razor finally growled back, “No. We’ll just have to hit the base first - maybe we’ll pick up some interesting toys while we’re there….”


“Are you sure,” Spar had lowered his voice. Razor didn’t mind being questioned by his second, in fact, he liked that somebody ‘kept him honest’ and helped him think things through. But he also wouldn’t tolerate any show of dissent in front of the others. “We usually avoid these sorts of situations and Vrlug The Pestilence made it clear when we were allowed to travel here that he didn’t want the human’s ire aroused against the Underworld. I’m pretty sure this is the sort of circumstance he meant.”


Razor shrugged with a side glare, before turning his attention back to the base, where men and vehicles traveled around like children’s toys from this distance. “We have the Hellmouth to boost our abilities. We have a missing Slayer. And, as long as we’re careful to interrupt their means of communications, we’ll have them all dead long before they can report our… different… nature. Think of the fame we’ll gather if the Slayer’s town is burned to the ground by us. Maybe we’ll get lucky and the gate will open,” he grinned at his right hand. “Who knows? We could start the downfall of humanity right here.”


Spar liked the sound of that, however unlikely it was….

oooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo


Riley picked up the satellite phone in northern Alaska. His immediate superior, Colonel Ellis was out with most of the troops of the Meta-black Operations Team taking out some Ice Goblins that had been causing a problem for Barrow.


On the opposite end of the line, someone from the Pentagon greeted him by name, despite his not having given it. The voice on the other end, measured, nearly emotionless and obviously used to giving orders and having them followed ordered the teams brought back in.


“I understand Ma’am, but Colonel Ellis’ team is traveling dark - no communications. The I.G.’s have some equipment they stole and can monitor our transmissions.”


“I see,” the woman’s voice never changed inflection. “Upon his arrival, you’re all to report to Nome on the double. Leave any equipment you can’t carry, we’ll pick it up for you. You’re going to Nevada… a small town there has… experienced trouble. Your kind of trouble. You’re to investigate, track and destroy. The transport plane waiting for you will have a complete dossier waiting with the details we have. Good Luck, Lieutenant Colonel - have Ellis contact the usual channel when you’ve arrived in Nevada.”


“Yes, Ma’am,” Riley returned, but the voice on the other end was already replaced with a dead line.

oooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo

End Ch 22

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Ch 23 - Coming of the Scooby Army




Coming of the Scooby Army
Ch 23- Down to Two….


Friday morning was a bustle of activity for all of the Scooby Family. Well, except for Spike naturally, who was in his ‘dead sleep’ in the guest room at Xander’s apartment.


The rest were at the train station with multiple bags of luggage piled around them. Dawn was nearly hopping in excitement, while Willow and Tara were more somber.


“Have Cordelia call me when she meets you,” Xander said.


“Yes, yes! You’ve told me that four times, Xan! I’m not a moron,” Dawn grinned. “And, I’m gonna be fine,” she put her hand over the pendant she wore. It was designed by Tara with some extra power from Willow to keep her nature hidden.


“That’s ‘cause I know the second you see the horses, you’re going to completely forget to call,” Xander grinned back at her. “And, you’re not the one who is going to have a ball of neurotic vampire pacing around her place waiting for news.”


“I love you, Xan, but boy am I not gonna miss you this weekend.”


“Well, that’s a fine thing to say,” he gave her his best impression of ‘sad puppy eyes’. “And this about the guy who’s going to have doors put on her house, too.”


Dawn’s reply to that was cut short by the sound of the train’s whistle and her squeal of excitement.

oooooooooooooooooooooooooooo


Across the ‘Pond’, Giles sat glumly in his holding cell. It was a sparsely decorated room, stripped of anything that couldn’t be nailed down or would allow him to trace any sigils or symbols. Except for the bars over the door, it was more like a monk’s  room and one of the more severely austere sects, too,  than a prison cell. This didn’t make him feel any better about it. The magicks over the room fit around him as snugly as a strait-jacket and it made the air feel more dense and close than it would have ordinarily.


“So… will you stay for my execution? Or do you need to rush home,” he asked facetiously and bitterly.


“I don’t think it’s that bad, Rupert,” Lavinia Mills told him. “They seem to be listening very carefully to the details of Glory’s assault.”


“And my subsequent actions. I am so sorry, Lavinia.”


“About the women?” She made a pshaw sound with her mouth and a waving aside gesture with her hand. “You think you’re the first mage who’s magic went straight below his belt line?”


“You’re trying to be supportive,” he told her. “But I know I’ve hurt you. It was never my intention. And, there will no doubt be more details to come that you’re not going to want to know.” He reached out for her, but carefully not too far. The magical barrier between them packed quite a punch, as he found out when he’d gone to throttle Quentin for being a smug bastard. “Perhaps you should go on to Latvia. Perhaps it would be better for you to forget me and all of this mess.”


“Stop it! I’m not leaving. Those judges are going to know that everything you might have done was to protect the world… the entire world, Rupert! It isn’t your fault that you weren’t prepared for the influence that dark magic would have over you. Nor is it your fault, or anyone else’s,” she stressed, “that the cleansing ritual in Sunnydale didn’t take hold.”


“I hope you’re right,” he spun from her and went over to his cot, where he sat heavily. “I really do. But, I’m afraid of what they’re going to do. I… I must admit… I think I’m most afraid of… of losing….”


“… your power? The magical energy?”


He glanced at her and nodded before hanging his head in shame.


“Oh, Rupert. Again, you think you’re the first mage to be seduced by the power and control magic offers. When will you understand you’re just human? You did the best you could and now you’re sick… but it isn’t any better or worse than any other addiction. We’ll get you through this. So will the Council. They’re not going to execute you - they’re going to take care of you.”


“What if… what if I’m never the same? What if I’ll never be reliable for the children, again?”


“That won’t happen. I know it won’t.”

oooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo


“You don’t have to stand here for an hour, Xan,” Tara said, after Dawn’s train north pulled out.


“Like I’ve got better things to do?”


“I’m just saying.”


“Yeah, Xan. We’re two powerful witches in broad daylight,” Willow added. “If you need to get back to the site?”


“We wrapped up yesterday,” he shared. “I’m officially back on the public dole. Who knew that construction in Sunnydale actually had lulls?”


“Well, while your standing here, anyway,” Tara grinned, “Let me remind you that Buffybot is sitting in the basement of the house.”


“She should be alright on her own,” Willow said. “I’ve installed a timer on her, so she’ll know when to get up for patrol. I’ve included some pretty restrictive limits on her activities that I’ll remove when we get back. It should allow her to engage any strays, while avoiding getting herself torn up until I can be here to fix her.”


“And, Miss Kitty should be set,” Tara mentioned. “Don’t worry about her box - I just emptied it this morning. She has fresh food and water.”


“I’ll check on her anyway,” Xan smiled back. “I’ll be over there Sunday with a few guys from work to hang those doors. Any special instructions for Amy?”


“She should be set, too,” Willow said. She sadly added, “Poor Amy. I feel bad that I haven’t been able to reverse her stupid spell… she really should have turned that Fairy Tale Demon into a rat, instead.”


“Well, we’re doing what we can,” Tara shrugged. “I mean, you know, Hecate isn’t somebody to be called on lightly - especially if you don’t make sure you can call on her to reverse your incantations. We have this really old crone-witch in the bayou… I’ll look her up while we’re there. If she’s still alive, she may be able to give us a counter-spell.”


“Don’t worry about a thing, guys,” Xander said. Growing solemn for a moment he leaned in and kissed Tara’s cheek. “You just focus on your family right now. Things here will be fine. After all, it’ll only be a few days and without the living tornado of Dawn what could really happen?”


“Groan, Xander!” Willow sighed in mock exasperation, “Haven’t we learned by now that we never ask questions like that? Bad boy - no Spike kisses.”


“Uh, yeah…,” he said uncomfortably “… my bad.”


ooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo


Out in the vast desert surrounding Sunnydale, outside of its limits so that no one would detect them, Razor’s men baked in the harsh, late summer sun. It seemed to have no appreciable effect on them, despite their utter lack of water and their consuming gallons of cheap whiskey.


“This is boring,” Garrote complained.


“When do we roar in,” Barbwire asked.


“Tonight. That’s the way that the boss wants it,” Spar half complained. He saw no reason to sneak in under cover of darkness… the humans relied on guns these days and the pellets would find little effect against their skin. For reasons mystic, only bladed weapons forged by a mortal would harm any of them. The modern human military had forsaken such tools a very long time ago.


Garrote looked westward over the heat-shimmering sands. “This is going to be so good….”

ooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo


Fifteen feet underground, at the end of one of the warren of tunnels that snaked through Sunnydale, a tall creature sat at a makeshift bar. It was dressed in long black robes, covering it from head to toe. One hand was tucked within a long sleeve, while the other grasped a bottle of human beer. The face of the creature was mostly hidden within a deep cowl, aided by the weak lighting that Willy had managed to string around the cul-de-sac.


“It is not that aiding the Slayer brings me any sort of joy,” it was complaining between huge swallows of beer. “However, in this case….”


“How sure you ‘bout this,” Willy wheedled. “I cause a stir - waste her time, she might decide trashing this place would be just as fun as crashing my old joint. And, there isn’t a lot of room for me to go any lower.”


“I have complete confidence in your ability to find a place deeper in the muck. But yes, I am sure. My visions are very rarely mistaken.”


“Very rarely? Very rarely?!”


“No one is perfect. However, in this I am right. The Marauders are coming - and very, very soon. I fear the Hellmouth is about to become a rather uncomfortable place to live - even more so than it is under the Slayer‘s watch….”

oooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo


“I want to leave,” Tangina insisted.


“We don’t know where to go,” Keith insisted. “We haven’t gotten a direction since your imaginary friend decided to clam up!”


“Stop being an ass,” she screamed at him. “I didn’t have to come this far, you know! Unlike some of us, I had a life!”


“Guys, stop,” Donna Rumboldt stepped between her boyfriend and their psychic companion. “This isn’t helping anything!”


“We’re in trouble, here,” Tangina insisted. “The last message I got was that we were in danger. And, this whole town has me on edge. This place is wrong. I know it!”


“But Keith’s right,” Donna said. “We don’t know where to go….”


“Yes, we do. We go home,” Tangina said snottily. “We forget about the obsession and we get the fuck out of here!”


“You wanna go, you go,” Keith Campbell yelled. “But you go on your own dime! Don’t expect me to let my parent’s killers go free ‘cause your intangible boyfriend decided somebody else was more worth hanging out with.”


“Keith! Knock if off,” Donna turned on him. “If Tangina says she senses something wrong here, we should listen to her.”


“Thanks, Donna,” Tangina said, “But ‘listening’ to me is useless if you won’t follow my advice. Sam said we’re in danger and now I can’t get anything from him no matter how much I focus on the Board. I’m telling you we should get out of here… right now. We should already be on the road with Sunnydale in the rear view mirror.”


Keith gave a disgusted snort and banged his fist on the small table in the motel room. He stomped the few steps to the window and angrily yanked at the drapes, and glared out over the sun-drenched parking lot.


“Okay, look,” Donna said, having gotten used to playing peace maker the last week between her two bickering companions. “I have a compromise. One, Tan - give us two more days in town to find a lead. Who knows, maybe the vampires ran out of town? Give us a chance to find out for sure. Two, Honey - we need to ask for help from those guys.”


“What?! It’s their fault we didn’t kill them all in the first place!”


“I don’t care! We’re wasting time and money and getting nowhere fast. They obviously know all of the nooks and crannies in town - we ask for help. We check out where they tell us to look and then whether we find our vampires or not, or figure out which direction they’ve taken off in or admit the trail is dead - we follow Tangina’s advice and we get out while we can. Agreed?”


Having a moment of hesitation, Tangina reluctantly nodded. Keith stood silent and gazing out of the window.


“Keith.”


“I can’t let them go. I can’t.”


“If they didn’t stay in town, we’re losing valuable time with them in the wild,” Donna said softly. She came up behind him and laid a hand against his back. “We ask for help - we know for sure.”


“Fine,” Keith frowned. “Fine, but I don’t care how cold the trail seems - I’m not giving up until every one of them and all of their ‘new recruits’ are dust….”

oooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo


Later that evening, just after sundown, as Donna and Keith were knocking on Xander’s apartment door and Tangina was pacing nervously in his hallway and waiting for him to answer, men and women in uniform began screaming and dying in horror outside of town….

oooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo

End Ch23

Winter Ferry Pic

Ch 24 - Coming of the Scooby Army




Coming of the Scooby Army
Ch 24 - Strike


Spike stirred shortly after the limn of the moon came up over the horizon. As he came into the living room, he stopped short in surprise at the three humans standing in Xander’s apartment.


“An unpleasant surprise,” he muttered. “And, how’s Dawn,” as he turned toward Xan.


“One - get something to eat and stop being an ass. Two - she’s fine and squealey. Sit down, guys. I’ll get some beers….”


“Just soda for me if you have it,” the spooky girl calling herself Tangina said.


Xander Harris had been around magic long enough to get a sense when somebody was a caster and this chick with the odd eyes was it. Donna immediately sat, while Keith took a minute to glare at Spike as the vampire made his way to the refrigerator, before finally sitting.


As Spike grabbed out a blood bag and tossed it into the microwave, Keith stood again in alarm. Unnoticed by the two in the kitchen, he unsheathed a wooden stake from his belt and stood there pale and glaring.


“Keith? What are you doing,” Donna asked in alarm with a harsh whisper, having not noticed what was happening in the kitchen.


“Blood! The dude has blood! He’s a vampire!?”


Before anyone could react to his shocked indignation, Keith was running for the kitchen. Xander tried to tell him to hold on so they could explain, but the reaction to getting in the way was a fist that sent him crashing into the cabinets and to the floor.


Spike had spun with demon reflexes and blocked the swung arm and the lethal point of wood heading true, straight for his chest. Without thinking, a hand flew up - palm out - to hit the angered young visitor under the chin, but the chip intervened, hard, and instead he hit the floor with a pained yelled.


Keith lashed out with a foot, catching the vampire in the side of the head further throwing him off balance, “You tricking bastard!”


He raised the stake again and started on a down swing that would drive the weapon deep into the back of the vampire’s neck, when he was knocked awkwardly off of his feet by Xander.


“Stop it, goddamnit!”


In the meantime, Tangina stood with her eyes wide as Donna rushed into the relatively tiny kitchen, just adding to the mass of confusion and limbs and bodies tumbling over each other. Spike was now on his hands and knees, drops of blood coming from his nose to splash on the tiled floor. He was driven head first into the linoleum as two male human bodies landed heavily on him.


Xander was grabbing at Keith’s wrists, while he was struggling to shake off the fellow human.


“Donna - a knife! The guy’s a thrall!”


“Hey, I resent that! I haven’t been in a thrall since Dracula!”


“Keith, stop! What’s going on? What’s a vampire doing here,” Donna tried to grasp what had happened in the last two minutes to cause such sudden chaos.


As she grabbed at Xander, further complicating matters, Tangina had pulled out a small dagger that she wasn’t fully confident in. She felt frozen to the floor, unable to move even though her brain was telling her to run.


Spike, having recovered by now with a choice swear word or two, grabbed at Keith’s ankles bringing the young man down, with a mild zap by the chip. Clearly ankle grabbing wasn’t considered deadly violence, but it wasn’t considered a non-threatening move either. Spike swore again.


Xander in the meantime was overleveraged shoving against Keith’s aggressive moves and when he went down, Xan started stumbling forward. Instinctively, he reached out for a hand hold and found himself grabbing a hold of one of Donna’s breasts… she tried to recoil with a scream, but he was still flailing on his way to the floor and grabbed again at her, snatching her arm. Both went down in a tumble of limbs on top of Keith and Spike each of whom were trying to  simultaneously regain their feet and attack/defend against the other.


By this time, Tangina finally got her feet to move, but instead of heading for the front door as her brain insisted, she rushed into the kitchen next. Snatching a head full of Xan’s hair, she yanked his head back as far as it would go and placed her small dagger to his throat.


“Freeze, or the guy gets it,” she yelled into the general din of commotion. Not that she would actually use a knife on a person; she was shaking so hard she was sure that she was about to faint, but she had to protect Keith and Donna from the vampire’s minion in the room.


It had the immediate effect she wanted. While the vampire had instantly shifted into its real face, and snarled at her, it stopped scuffling.


“I mean it,” she added in a  panicky tone.


“I’ll break your face,” Spike growled out, glaring at Xander’s position. He was formulating on whether he could tackle the bint before she could carry out her threat. It was a close call with his awkward position, half fallen on his butt, against the oven.


Keith in the meantime scrambled to grab his dropped stake, which was laying half under Donna’s thigh. “Move,” he yelled at her.


She did. But she shifted more on top of the stake on the floor, causing him to give her a frustrated shove. She responded with a shockingly loud and sharp slap to his face, bringing him to an immediate halt, “Stop! Everyone just calm down a second, I need to fucking think!”


“He’s a vampire! What the hell is there to think about,” Keith pointed out, as he began to claw at the stake protruding from underneath her leg.


“He saved us! Why would he do that? Think a minute,” Donna insisted.


“Not to be rude,” Xander interrupted, straining to look behind him. “But you’re giving me a bad kink in my neck,” he threw over his shoulder at Tangina.


“Oh, sorry!” She released her hold, but still kept the dagger point against the side of this throat.


With a strained grin he added, “And ‘Freeze, or the guy gets it?’ Really?”


“Well, it’s my first hostage taking.”


For several heartbeats, everyone looked at each other speechless and unmoving. Finally, Spike said, “Well somebody either continue attacking or let’s break apart and go to neutral corners for chrissakes.”


“I’m voting for separating so we can explain, myself,” Xander suggested.

oooooooooooooo


On the Sunnydale Army base, which was actually just outside of the town’s limits, things were in a state of chaos. The computers were down, communications were disrupted and walkie talkies were producing only a static-filled whine. There was the sound of gunfire coming from all directions from outside and Colonel Randall Jacobs took a deep breath to calm his nerves as he reached into his desk for his service issue officer’s pistol. He didn’t know what the hell was going on - the shaking and white as a sheet enlisted man before him wasn’t making much sense. It seemed like some psycho, or multiple psychos were shooting up the base and targeting his men and women. The soldier was repeating “they’re not human” and although Jacobs remembered all too well his briefings during the 314 Lab Recovery mission, he wanted to believe that they were under attack by some mortal humans. If not, they were in some real shit, and they’d never been attacked like this by the so-called demons, before. Why now?


Giving the young man, all of eighteen if he was a day, a shove toward the office door as he barreled out behind him, he started barking orders. He wasn’t a tactical sort of guy and this would be the first time that he’d had to do  more than mock-battle. In the back of his mind, he was surprised and proud at how calm he felt. The training he’d received over his military career was coming to the fore and he felt confident, smart and in control of the situation.


Across the base, men were retreating as they pumped automatic weapons fire into the enemies tearing through them, and watching them not being stopped.


“Angle toward Command and Control,” a military police sergeant yelled. “We’ll make our stand there - get to Jacob’s building…!”


His strong and commanding voice was cut in mid-order by a high pitched scream as Barbwire’s claws dug deeply into the man’s back. With a self-satisfied grin, the demon snapped the spine and then looked around with sheer delighted laughter for his next target.

oooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo



In the Summers’ basement, the Buffybot ‘awoke’ with the suddenness of an electronic device. She scanned her surrounding both visually and aurally. When she didn’t see nor hear anyone, and while she headed for the basement door, she pulled up her database marked Scooby Scheduling - there she found that she mustn’t expect to see Sister Dawn, Best Friend Willow or Friend Tara because all of them were color coded as ‘Out of Town’.


With her large grin, she passed Ms. Kitty Fantastico at her water dish in the kitchen, “I’m heading out Kitty! The evils of the night will fall to Buffy - The Vampire Slayer,” she solemnly swore with a huge, incongruous for her tone, grin on her face.


While ‘Buffy’ headed out on patrol, Jonathon was banging around under his desk. His internet connection had just crapped out a minute ago while he was in a secure database. If he didn’t get back into it to wipe out his presence, there was going to be even more trouble for him than he was already in. And all for nothing, too. There had been no area police reports entered, at least not digitally yet, on Warren Mears or Andrew Wells.


Right now, he was stuck in Pasadena’s system and although he knew a lot about computers, he was pretty sure their Data Center guys would pick up the intrusion on a security sweep. As he checked his cables and modem and found nothing wrong, the lights began to flicker in his bedroom….


Oh, oh, Jonathon thought. He’d lived in Sunnydale too long and seen too much for him to not assume that problems wouldn’t eventually boil down to a supernatural cause. Just as he wondered if he should call Xander Harris and just ask if there was something he could help with or not, the lights went out for good….


Buffybot meanwhile, was strolling down her residential street. Her first stop was to be the site of the Sunnydale ruins. Willow’s last update to the Sunnydale Topography Map file indicated that the old school was removed, but no one could remove a Hellmouth. Her first sweep would be for stragglers hanging around the portal before they had a chance to establish a base camp.


Above her the street lamps flickered briefly before going out altogether. “Oh, good! It will be far easier to do my job, now,” she spoke far too loudly for somebody walking down the street alone. A split second later, in a voice every bit as loud, she added, “Oh no! The vampires and evil demons will have their jobs made easier!”


Caught in the logic loop, her facial expression spastically changed from grinning wildly to disappointed frown every five seconds. If she met anyone else, they were surely going to think she was suffering some form of fit.


Buffybot determined that she needed to resolve this dispute before she continued with her patrolling. She did an about face on the sidewalk and changed course. She knew that Spike(!)- or Xander could tell her whether to be happy or frowny over the lights being out.

ooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo


“This place is even more fucked up than I thought,” Keith bitterly complained.


“So, like he actually … lives with you and everything!?” Tangina had found it hard to keep her mouth from hanging open agape since Xander had explained the bare minimums of Spike’s situation.


“This is sick! Kill him, man. He’s helpless - don’t let him have the chance to be unhelpless,” Keith insisted.


“I get the chip thing, mostly,” Donna opined, “But that doesn’t mean he’s really trustworthy, right? I mean, he’s still a vampire through and through?”


“Yeah. He’s a vampire. He’s also a hero who helped save the world at least twice now.” (1)


“I don’t believe it! Sounds like horseshit of the naïve,” Keith nearly yelled. “He’s a thing! That is all he’ll ever be.”


“Should I just leave,” Spike finally spoke up with clear annoyance, “All of this ‘he’ as if I ain’t standing right here in the damned room.”


“Sorry, Spike,” Xan clapped him on the arm.


“Don’t move anywhere,” Keith took a step in a threatening manner. “You ain’t leaving here.”


Spike smirked and before Xander could intervene threw out a sarcastic, “Cause Xena, Sword Princess is going to get in the way?”


“This could be going better,” Xander muttered under his breath, but loud enough for everyone to hear.


“We’re just in shock,” Donna said, apologetically. She realized that she did that a lot whenever she was with Keith.


“I’ve just never seen this. We’ve never seen this… situation… before,” Tangina added. “I mean, everything with fangs we’ve come across has been a kill or be killed situation… not that I know firsthand. I mean, I mostly just stayed tucked in the hotel room,” she shrugged.


“No, you’re completely right,” Keith glared at the room in general and Xander and Spike in particular. He grabbed up the bottle of beer that Xander had produced once their sparring was halted by this agreement to talk and swallowed half of it in one go. “This… creature… may pretend to have human friends, or whatever, but you can bet he’s planning on breaking out his copy of ‘To Serve Man’. You’re an idiot and it’s going to get you killed,” he added to his host.


Xander had had about all he was going to take of Keith’s belligerent attitude and was about to tell him in the clearest possible terms. It was obvious the ‘vampire hunter’ wasn’t going to listen to anything they had to say. He didn’t want to think of Spike being in a battle for his life out there and have to worry about somebody back stabbing him, when the chip prevented him from seriously defending himself. It was time to order these people out of town and to kick their collective asses if they wouldn’t leave… enough was enough.


Before he could make the ultimatum, the lights in the room flickered oddly and then went out completely. Xander automatically side-stepped in front of Spike, putting himself between the vampire and Keith, in case the guy (who was still clutching his stake way too menacingly) tried to take advantage of the sudden darkness.


“I got it,” Spike moved off. The apartment was surprisingly dark without the streetlamps in front of his veranda, but of course, the vampire wasn’t inconvenienced in the slightest. Xander sighed to himself as he thought about Hyena - he’d see pretty well right now himself, if he hadn’t had to get rid of her to protect everybody else….


Just as Spike struck up a match and started to fill the room with candlelight, an explosive sound rocked the night outside. It came from the northwest of town and the clear glow of fire split the darkness for a moment. Car alarms sounded off in the distance and everyone in the apartment ran for the veranda to take a look….

oooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo


On the army base, the armory attendants lay in ripped and torn uniforms. A woman soldier from Sunnydale, Anna Behest, Private First Class, stood her ground as four of the ugliest things she’d see since Sunnydale High graduation grinned at her. She briefly flicked her glance over the six others, but none of them moved from their positions in thick pools of blood on the floor. She sure wished she had some flaming arrows and a bow right then.


In her hands, she held tightly to a fire fighting axe. She saw that the guns everyone was using wasn’t having much of an effect against their attackers and that had led to her abandoning her own for her current weapon instead.


When she was helping that weird girl, Buffy, and her semi-cute in a Sunnydale-loser-club way Xander to save their lives from Mayor McGiantReptile, the Buffy girl claimed that guns wouldn’t help. There had been a lot of her students to bring it up, but everyone had known that ever since Buffy had arrived in town, the mortality rate of the student body had dropped. The adults may have remained deliberately clueless, but the students knew that if Buffy claimed something was true or false in monster fighting, then she was the one to listen to.


Anna made some feints with the axe, backing over the fallen shelves of ammo and reams of paper and survival gear and other hodge-podge equipment that had been strewn around the floor during her and the others’ fight for survival. Her heart ached for her fellow soldiers - not that she could take time to search for vitals at the moment to make sure they were actually dead. But Archer had lost his head from his shoulders and McManus had a hole punched clear through him - they were goners. Like she was gonna be if she didn’t keep her mind focused on what she was doing.


I can’t believe I got assigned back to Sunnydale! The whole point of joining the fucking Army was to get the hell out of this twisted ‘burg, she railed. But you know what, that’s fine. I ain’t fucking dying here, anyway!


Behind the four demons that were stalking as close as they could to her without coming into range of her ready axe (which she noted was interesting - they had shown no such hesitation about running through a barrage of gunfire - so she had confidence she made the right choice) were two more of the burly, noseless things. They were taunting her in ways that brutal men of war had taunted women for ages, but if they thought that their promises of sexual violence were going to turn her into a helpless daisy, they were ignorant of modern women. She wondered if they were trying to piss her off so that she’d swing wildly at one of them and then leave her flank wide open - well, she was a bit smarter than that.


Private Behest finally felt the door she’d been stumbling toward at her back. It swung open as she bumped into it, and she gave a silent thank you to the universe. She had been thinking ahead, but hadn’t come to any conclusions about how exactly she’d work the security keypad without being swarmed.


Once inside, one of the creatures gave a loud ‘fuck this’ and charged her, receiving her axe planted squarely in its forehead. She quickly used the protruding handle to shove him toward his fellows before his legs buckled. Breathing heavily in a mixture of relief and terror in equal parts she engaged the security locks, hearing the heavy bank-vault like door engage.


She looked around the heavy weapons armory and realized there was no where left to go.


Now, what, she stared at the pounding coming from the other side of the vault door.

ooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo


End Ch 24

(1)  From Xander’s viewpoint, he is speaking of ‘Doomed’ in S4 and the Glory-saga of spanderverse. I doubt highly that Buffy bothered to go into details about how Spike did or didn't help stop Angelus in Becoming.


Winter Ferry Pic

Ch 25/End Chapter - Coming of the Scooby Army




Coming of the Scooby Army
Ch 25 - Last Stands


Within the fenced and secured Sunnydale Army Base, the death count finally began to decrease. Of course, that was mostly because there were dramatically less people to kill. So far a full half of the humans in the fight for their lives had lost. One demon was dead when a semi-experienced Sunnydale graduate had thrown her gun away for a fire axe and planted it into one of Razor’s men’s heads.


Now, the Private, Anna Behest, had found a bit of respite by locking herself in a secured, heavy weaponry vault. She was surrounded by various caliber of artillery shell, a small consignment of land mines and another small consignment of rocket propelled grenades. She looked around at the ordinance with her and began thinking about how she was going to be able to use it….


Battles like Anna’s were occurring throughout the military installation. Men and women found themselves cut off from their fellows as all communications from walkie-talkies to cell phones were disrupted. Many, many fell while wildly and desperately firing their pistols and semi-automatic assault rifles to no noticeable effect.


Others, isolated and tackled to the ground - both men and women - screamed in horrendous torture as their orifices bloodily served to satiate the sexual impulses of their attackers. Their barbed penises tore through flesh, causing massive internal damage to those unfortunate enough to receive such attention.


Still others found better, if temporary, luck grabbing knives or letter openers or other pointed or edged metal objects. Several of Razor’s gang had puncture and slash marks from such random attacks, but they laughed off these injuries and continued their plundering and murdering.


In Command and Control, ten of the demon gang, including Razor and his most trusted minion, Spar were sweeping through the one story floor, killing all that they encountered.


In the nerve center of the base, down a long elevator ride, survivors huddled. Four men were stationed just in front of the elevator with armor piercing rifles pointed at the closed doors. Jacobs paced angrily and nervously from one side of the small room to the other, glaring at the computer technicians trying to get something… anything… out of their dead consoles. It was like the entire base had been swallowed up in an electro-magnetic pulse - power, computers, phones - all of it was out. Even the underground control room, designed specifically to continue operating in the event of a near direct nuclear strike was operating on emergency battery power only. He briefly wished that Riley and his band of weirdo-fighters was here, but he had no idea where the M-bots were hanging out, nor any way to contact Washington to get them there.

ooooooooooooooooooooo


Riley Finn surveyed the looks on the faces of a couple of men approaching him and his superior, Colonel Ellis. It didn’t look like they had good news.


Which is why it didn’t come as a surprise when they reported they’d found no survivors in the wasteland that Los Rocas Pacificas, Nevada had become. So far they’d found ninety four dead, with enough parts to conclude three more. The latest numbers they had for the village was a population of one hundred-twenty four and Riley wanted to believe that a few of them managed to get out. They had military hardware in the sky circling the surrounding desert looking for survivors, but so far…  nothing.


“Have you seen anything like this before,” Ellis asked him. He’d been completely briefed on Finn’s background, of course, when Miller had recommended his acceptance into the unit. He often used Riley’s experience in the odd settlement of Sunnydale to gain insights into the foes they faced.


“No. But then, Sunnydale had a dedicated team to keep this very type of thing from happening.”


“Too bad we don’t have a… what’s she called? Destroyer?”


“Slayer. The Slayer.”


“Right. Too bad we don’t have a few of those here,” Ellis said, before directing the two reporting men to join up with the squad a few blocks over going from house to house. “You want to go talk to Corporal Bone-tosser… we need a lead on where our quarry has gone, and he gives me the creeps.”


Corporal Bone-tosser was actually Corporal Anton Seville, a short and thin-as-a-read, mocha skinned geek of the highest order, who none-the-less was a talented soldier. He had multiple roles in the unit, as they all did, really. He acted as back-up medic, translator of Aramaic symbols, part time laptop fixer and scout. But he also happened to have come from a long line of seers who got their start generations back in voodoo on the island nation of Haiti before they’d made their way two generations ago to the U.S.


Corporal Seville had inherited a gift for reading the bones of chickens or any fowl when combined with meditative chants. It was a skill that his grandmother insisted he learned, even though he was always embarrassed by the ‘primitive-ness’ of it. But when he’d been inducted into the Meta-black Ops Teams, he’d quickly realized that they could use his bizarre skill and had ‘come out’ to Ellis and Miller about it.


There’d been skepticism of course, as expected. But it hadn’t taken but a few encounters with some of the exotic energy wielding demons before Ellis became a lot more interested in his claims. Now, he was the go to guy when they’d lost a trail.


That didn’t make it any less obvious that Colonel Ellis was still deeply uncomfortable with him, though….


As Riley came up to the bespectacled young man sitting cross-legged on the ground, he glanced up. His dried old collection of bones were laid out in a circle that had been carved into the dirt. Symbols surrounding the circle that Riley had seen plenty of times in situations matching this, but he still didn’t know what they meant. He could see for himself that all of the bones were laid out in parallel to one another on an east-west axis. The were all crowded against one another on the westward side of the circle, as well.


Anton confirmed what Riley already expected.


“West, Sir. We’re headed west toward the mountains.”


Finn turned and gazed into the darkness in the direction of the Pacific Ocean. A cold chill ran down his spine, as well as a feeling of anticipation. He knew in his gut where this was leading.


“Sunnydale,” he whispered to himself. Buffy.

oooooooooooooooooooooooooooo


Barbwire punched the concrete wall in frustration. His raiders found themselves stymied by the woman hiding in the secured room beyond. She’d managed to kill Crusher with an axe blow when the idiot rushed her, and that was something he couldn’t let go, otherwise they would have just left her alone and moved on.


They’d already tried to break through the plaster and concrete walls to bypass the thick door, but were angered and disappointed to find more thick steel walls blocking their entrance to the room beyond. The woman’s refuge had been built like a safe room and with their vulnerabilities to steel, they found themselves unable to deliver any shredding blows to the walls or the door that blocked their way.


In a pique of fury, Rasper nearly tore the electronic lock off of the door, before Barbwire intervened. He had a plan….


Sending Bonespike to fetch The Mystic, they all cooled their heels waiting. The bitch was going to find herself ‘entertaining’ them for quite a while, much to her regret for making them waste all of this time.


When The Mystic returned with Bonespike, Barbwire pushed him in front of the door.


“Open it,” he commanded.


After several seconds of studying the barrier in front of them, he grinned. The Mystic was single handedly responsible for their ability to attack and destroy without the rest of the world learning about it until it was far too late, you see.


It was he who mystically disrupted electronics, radio waves, even mystical communication with his powerful natural abilities. He was of the same race as the rest of the Annaldi - with their tannish-pink skin, nose-missing faces, and muscular builds. But, he was also, like Razor, a mutant. Where Razor’s ability involved vision, The Mystic’s involved the disruption of the electromagnetic spectrum.


For this reason, he very often missed out on a lot of the fun. Razor, and the others as well, were always sure to keep him to the rear of the major action, forcing him to be happy with their ‘sloppy seconds’. On the one hand, it gave him power to be so valued and needed but on the other, it also made him somewhat of a prisoner. He’d learned to live with it, if not to be happy about it.


Now he stared hard at the electronic keypad keeping them from whatever Barbwire was after beyond the door. He didn’t bother asking and no one had mentioned the purpose for getting it opened. It really didn’t matter - it wasn’t like he was going to refuse. If he was lucky there’d be a room full of tender children waiting, unarmed, so the others wouldn’t immediately push him behind them in a ridiculous and irritating desire to ‘protect’ him.


His arms were outstretched, the palms of each hand facing up in the direction of the ceiling above. From his palms, two large pits - like stigmata wounds - emitted mystical blue flame. The color of the flames were perfectly matched in hue by the eldritch energy in his eyes.


In front of the demons, the pad began to squeak and ping….

oooooooooooooooooooooooooo


In the weapons vault, Anna Behest watched with growing horror as the keypad display on the inner side of the door began to randomly flash numbers. As the first, second, and third numbers of the code to get in froze on the display, she realized that she was fucked, in those exact words.


With a dawning sadness, but not nearly as much fear as she thought there would be, she looked over the heavy ordinance surrounding her. There were no launchers with the shells that needed them, of course - that would have made too much sense for the Army. Instead, they sat uselessly unless heaving them in the general direction of her assailants was going to be of any help.


Spying another fire axe behind the glass case in the room, she realized what she had to do. Anna thought of her mother and father in Sunnydale. She thought of her friends - some of them she hadn’t spoken to in a year. And, she thought about Buffy Summers and Xander Harris and the time when she was part of the bravest class of students who had ever overcome overwhelming odds. With no help but each other, they had saved the whole town. And, she’d been right there - doing her part.


It was the finest moment she’d ever had… the moment when she was the best that she could be… until now.


Private Behest silently wished everyone she loved good luck and as the last digit of the lock was entered and the heavy vault door began to swing open, she swung her heavy axe into the nearest explosive shell….

ooooooooooooooooooooooooooo



In Xander Harris’ apartment, the arguments about how safe Spike was were interrupted by a massive explosive noise rattling the windows. The outside was filled briefly with raging yellow and red light which quickly died down to a distant flickering.


William Schellden a.k.a, Spike, Xander Harris, Keith Campbell, Donna Rumboldt and Melanie Darns a.k.a. Tangina stood watching the glowing and obviously raging fire off in the northwest. Out on the streets, people left their homes and apartments to converse with one another over what was going on.


With the streetlamps completely out, the glow was even more pronounced and minutes later in rapid succession, another series of explosives rocked the town.


“Jesus,” Xander whispered.


“The Army base,” Spike said forcefully. “The only place nearby that would have the hardware to create that big a noise.”


“My God,” Tangina gasped. “This is what Sam tried to warn me about!”


“Sam,” Xander questioned, but Keith interrupted before he could find out who Sam was, and where, since he wasn’t with the rest of them in the apartment.


“W-what do we do? This can’t be vampires? I mean, they wouldn’t attack a base!”


“We don’t know it’s an attack at all,” Tangina pointed out. “It could be an accident.”


“Sunnydale doesn’t have ‘just accidents’,” Spike returned. Before anyone could respond any further he leaped over the side of the veranda, landing on his feet among startled spectators.


“Spike! What?!” Xander leaned out over the veranda, hand outstretched as if to hold the vampire back.


“Muster the troops - I’m checking it out - get ‘Buffy’!”


He dashed off at a very rapid speed toward the blazing Army base on the outskirts of town.


“Shit. This is going to be bad,” Xander muttered to his new companions….

ooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo

End Story


Spanderverse Series:
BTVS seasons 1-4.
Spanderverse: After 314
Spanderverse: Spike
Spanderverse: Dracula
Spanderverse: Burial
BTVS: Real Me
Spanderverse: Confusion of Three
Preludes
Tensions
Old Friends
Hospital Visits
The Risks of Glory
Hunting Our Needs
The Family We Choose
Falling Apart
Sunnydale Antics
Feints and Counter-Feints
Pathways
BTVS: The Body
Coming Together
Songs of Pain and Comfort
Battling with a God
Glory's Moment
Spanderverse: Points of View One
Spanderverse: Points of View Two
Spanderverse: Points of View Three
Spanderverse: Points of View Four
Rebuilding
Dawn
The Cost of Giles